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Idolatry still a modern-day problem, Billy Graham says

Published: Friday, April 27 2012 12:33 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this Dec. 20, 2010 file photo, evangelist Billy Graham, 92, speaks during an interview at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association headquarters in Charlotte, N.C.

Nell Redmond, File, Associated Press

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According to the biblical account, the Israelites practiced idolatry during Moses' absence by worshipping a golden calf.

Some say that although times and idols have changed, the substance is still the same.

Well-known American evangelist Billy Graham wrote in the Chicago Tribune this week that although bowing to idols of stone or metal isn't as widespread as it was anciently, people today can find themselves worshipping the idols of money, power and possessions.

"Take, for example, our preoccupation with money and material possessions. These aren't necessarily wrong, of course; we need them to take care of our loved ones and make our lives comfortable," Graham wrote. "But both can easily become "idols" that we slavishly follow and allow to become the most important things in our lives."

Graham quoted Matthew 6:24, and he pointed out that instead of just serving God, many also want to serve money. He writes that the way to avoid trying to serve two masters is by being committed to God.

However, some have criticized the environment around megachurches for trying to impart the word of God while seeking money. Most recently, televangelist Joel Osteen, who has planned a prosperity prayer rally at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., came under fire for his overly positive message that seems to some to appease an evangelical base while not offending others that might impact donations.

“Why do con artists work? Why do multilevel marketing schemes work?” Kevin Lewis, a theologian at the evangelical Biola University, asked in the Washington Post. “The Bible says, if you want to be prosperous, work hard and gain wisdom. Not, ‘Say the right words, and spiritual forces will make you healthy and wealthy.’ ”

However, others say Osteen offers the right amount of milk of the gospel to those who aren't ready for the meat of it.

"People want him to preach all this deep doctrine, and that’s like trying to get a 5-year-old to play pro sports," Michael Collins, pastor of the Extraordinary Life Church, told the Post. “Most people don’t have the basic aspects of faith, and Joel meets them right where they’re at.”

No matter one's opinion on how these services are viewed, Graham says to put Christ first and things will work out.

"Make sure of your commitment to Jesus Christ and seek to follow him every day," Graham writes. "Don't be swayed by the false values and goals of this world, but put Christ and his will first in everything you do."

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