"Wanna get rich quick?"
The phrase is used by countless authors, gurus and even Christian leaders who try to provide an easy formula for wealth and happiness, especially during recent economic challenges.
But Central Christian Church Senior Pastor Jud Wilhite has a different solution for millions of Americans who feel strapped financially.
"Wanna get rich quick?" he posed. "Be rich in God."
Preaching to his Las Vegas congregation in a series titled "Strapped," Wilhite encouraged Christians to make 2010 different from the previous year. Rather than wasting time worrying over money and the economy, congregants were called to live the new year with greater faith, hope and trust in God.
"The question really is 'do we have our joy because of good things in our life or because of a good God in our life?" he asked.
The Las Vegas pastor reminded Christians of the spiritual resources that are abundant and available to them – including God's love, grace, forgiveness, peace, and hope.
"It's possible to have joy even when everything around you is collapsing," he said. "Even if you're strapped financially, you can have an abounding sense of spiritual riches in your life ... if you just realize it and remember it and celebrate it in your life. It can sustain you in your darkest night. It can give you hope. ... It can allow you to hold on to God no matter what you're facing."
Reading a well-know biblical passage from 2 Corinthians, Wilhite said, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich."
Some teachers today have taken that passage and "twisted it to reduce it only down to money as if Jesus came and live and died just so we can have a big bank account," he noted.
"There's so much more the Bible is talking about," he stressed, as he explained that the passage refers to experiencing the benefits of salvation, not necessarily monetary wealth.
"It's not that God will give us everything that we need, it's that He already has given us everything we need."
Addressing the suspicion that some Christians are likely to carry when it comes to a pastor talking about money, Wilhite made it clear that he wasn't preaching the monthlong "Strapped" series to get money out of the congregation. He acknowledged the prevalence of financial scandals and corruption in churches and stressed that Central Christian Church is transparent. Anyone who wants to review the church's financial books can do so, he noted.
"We're not doing this series so the church can get your money. We're doing this series so that money doesn't get us."