This past weekend my wife and I took a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It was only the second time there for my wife. She had been there one other time with a group from a church we served back in the late 70s. As for me, I had been there a number of times before; as in, before the end of 1970. It had been thirty-eight years since I last set foot in Gatlinburg. That time I was on a date with a girlfriend from nearby Johnson Bible College where we were both students. A lot has changed since that time. I now have a wife that I love more than life itself, and Gatlinburg has become a commercial people trap.

At most of the venues we took in we were met by someone who wanted to take our picture. This was after we had parked the car for $5. The pictures usually took anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour to be ready. The cost was in the $20 to $30 price range. Without doing anything more than parking a car and having your picture taken you could be out $35. That's a nice meal at many restaurants. I used to be able to say that was a tank of gas for most vehicles, but that kinda went south on us all. Surprisingly, gas was the one value there. Here at home gas is around $3.90 a gallon. In Gatlinburg it was only $3.79. Go figure.

The point is this; if parking and pictures cost that much, what did the actual attractions cost? Put it this way; if you have $1,000 and want to take in three attractions a day you'd be broke in about three days. And that's not counting the cost of meals and lodging. Yet, the town was packed. My wife and I waded through throngs of people who were sightseeing, shopping, waiting in line for attractions and looking for someplace to get a relatively cheap meal. People will go to Gatlinburg at the drop of a hat, spend their hard-earned money and not lose a moment's sleep over it.

When it comes to their church, many of those same people will grudgingly drop a one or a five into the offering plate on Sunday morning. If they happen to be gone a Sunday, well, that's a "freebie." They don't give anything. Then they wonder why the youth program has to have a bakesale or the preacher has to have a second job. The "entertainment value" of church doesn't compare with Gatlinburg, King's Island or an Alaskan cruise. It's not worth the money. Ask a preacher who the people are that give to a church and he'll tell you that they are the same ones who do all the work in a church.

In the "Sermon on the Mount," Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21 Look at your checkbook or charge card statement. Look long and hard at it. Does it reflect a heart that is sold out to God? Are those two items filled with gifts to the kingdom of God, benevolence for the poor or the needs of your neighbor? Yeah, I know, the church is always asking for money. But so does your cable provider, video rental store, cell phone company and favorite sporting activity. Last time I checked, the church was the only one tied to God and His kingdom. Where is your treasure?