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How to make a million dollars in a week

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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The Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir by Forrest Fenn (Credit: Dal Neitzel / Lummi Film)

Forrest Fenn has been called “the real Indiana Jones.”  The Texas-born, Santa Fe-based archaeologist and entrepreneur has been making headlines for decades, most recently in a feature article in the current Newsweek.  Fenn has been finding artifacts in the ground since he was a boy and making a living at his passion for nearly that long.  Steven Spielberg, Shirley MacLaine, Steve Martin, and Robert Redford are just some of his celebrity customers.

Now he’s garnering global attention for a new enterprise: buried treasure he invites you to find.  Fenn has filled a lockbox with a million dollars in antiquities and hidden it somewhere.  He wrote an ambiguous, meandering poem that he says points to the way to it.  (You can read and try to decipher it on the Newsweek website.)  Thousands of people have responded, creating treasure forums and attempting various expeditions.  If you have time and money to spend, you can join them.

What does the popularity of Fenn’s treasure hunt say about us?  A perceptive essay in the same Newsweek issue offers insight.  Megan McArdle responds to Richard Gere’s upcoming movie, Arbitrage, by delving into our fascination with get-rich-quick schemes.  From Charles Ponzi, the 1920s shyster for whom Ponzi schemes are named, to Bernie Madoff and other present-day financial crooks, she traces a common theme: we all want to get rich.  And we’ll do nearly anything along the way.

This information fascinated me: many of the victims of Madoff’s scheme knew his promises were too good to be true.  However, they thought that other people were being victimized and that they were the perpetrators.  They didn’t care if Madoff’s plan was legal or illegal, so long as it made them money.

I’ve never invested in a pyramid scheme and don’t plan to go mucking around in the New Mexico wilderness looking for Fenn’s treasure.  However,  I learned a long time ago that there’s no sin I cannot commit.  Satan’s temptation in the Garden is still the same temptation he whispers in all our ears: “You will be like God” (Genesis 3:5).  You can be the king of your own kingdom, the ruler of your own throne.  You can do it your way.

But you can’t.  Satan is “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).  He wants you to spend your life hunting for the treasure of this world, so you’ll miss the heavenly reward and earthly joy that your Father wants to give his children.  Jesus was clear: if you’ll “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,” he promises that “all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

Whose treasure are you seeking today?