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Posts Tagged ‘Materialism’

Call me a conscientious objector if you like, but for the sake of my sanity, I stay home on the day after Thanksgiving.  (Introverts like me much prefer a warm blanket and a quiet cup of coffee to parking lots and stores full of hyped-up shoppers.)  But this year, I broke my own rule.

As I neared the shopping center, the traffic and my pulse quickened.  I seriously began to doubt my decision.

Just when I was about to give in to an all-out fit of anxiety, I stopped myself…

…took a breath…

…and repeated these words to myself.

 

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.”

 

I don’t know why the King James Version of this verse (Isaiah 26:3) came to me, but I think the words are beautiful.

“…perfect peace…”

Yes, I thought.  I would love to experience perfect peace.  But how can I when the world is so crazy?

The answer lies in the second half of the verse.

“…whose mind is stayed on Thee.”

I smiled to myself.  I looked around with new eyes.  Suddenly, people fighting over parking spaces, pushing ahead in check-out lines, and speaking rudely to sales clerks didn’t faze me.  I became an observer of the chaos rather than a participant in it.

And you know what?  I felt… peaceful.

The world can go perfectly mad during the month of December.  You and I don’t have to play along.  We can have a mind stayed on the One who gives perfect peace,

the One whose birth we anticipate,

the One whose name is Prince of Peace.

 

 

There is a new entry this week on the Simplicity page: simpler cookware

 

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The game MONOPOLY was invented in 1934 at the height of the Great Depression by an unemployed man from Pennsylvania.  Parker Brothers rejected the game, citing “52 design errors.”  Undaunted, the man sold 5,000 handmade copies, approached Parker Brothers again, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, over 250 million games have been sold in 103 countries in 37 languages.  5,120,000,000 little green houses have been constructed for the game.  Estimates are that nearly 500 million people have played the game of MONOPOLY.*

Holy cow.  We do have a taste for the green stuff, don’t we?

Why do we chase after money, pine for it, mourn the lack of it, or flaunt the wealth of it?  People who have lots of it are considered “successful”, while those who lack it (supposedly) deserve our sympathy.

Growing up in Montana, I saw people who couldn’t afford three squares a day or a Christmas present for their children.  Then during my career as an opera singer, I interacted with patrons of the arts who could buy a car with the change in their Gucci wallets. 

I’ve known some godly poor people, some messed up poor people, some messed up rich people and some godly rich people.  Apparently, a person’s bank account balance does not rise or fall in proportion to their character.

I have wondered over the disparity, though.  Why are there “haves” and “have nots”?  Has God “blessed” some people with money and forgotten others?

And what about tithing?  Why would the God of abundance require us to give ten per cent of everything we make?  Couldn’t He just provide for us all?

Here’s my take, for whatever it’s worth:

Money is only a tool in God’s hand to grow us as human beings.

Perhaps the lacking of money is meant to teach dependence upon Him, the benefits of simplicity, or humility.  Perhaps the having of money is meant to teach generosity, that material possessions don’t bring lasting joy, or that wealth is not a barometer of the heart.  Perhaps tithing is for our benefit – to teach us to give what we have so freely taken.

Perhaps it is all meant to draw us to Him.

This is God’s modus operandi.  Whatever He chooses to give or withhold is meant to teach us and draw us into deeper relationship with Him.

Let us regard money as the tool that it is.

And let us pursue the Carpenter, not the chisel in His hand.

 

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:23-25, NIV)

*Source: Hasbro web site

 

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Across the street from an upscale neighborhood is a tiny, white, cinderblock house.  Its occupant, an older man in overalls and a John Deere cap, sits in a lawn chair beneath a large maple tree, watching the world go by.  When the weather is bad, he watches from the cab of his truck.  Sometimes, I see him tending his garden plot, but most days, he just watches.

I drive by his house every day.  I don’t know his name, but his mailbox reads, “Ernest and Lois T…”  I call him Ernie.

One day as he was watching me drive by, I decided to do something crazy.  I waved at him.  He gave me this look that said, “Who are you?  (Weird broad…)”

The next day, I did the same thing, with similar results.  But I persisted.  One day, he waved back.  Now, whenever we drive by, I say, “Wave to Ernie!” and we all wave.

I’ve never gotten the guts to stop my car and talk to him, but I do wonder.  What does he see from his lawn chair in the gravel driveway?  Did he watch as those big houses were being built across the street?  Did he once farm the land where those houses now sit?

As near as I can tell, Ernie doesn’t chase after the things of this world.  He lives a simpler life than the rest of us.  We run around like hamsters on a wheel, trying to get ahead.  We make it our business to acquire all the stuff we can.  We want to be on the cutting edge of technology.  We work way too many hours to support a lifestyle we can barely afford. 

And all the while, Ernie watches…

If Jesus rode a bike past his house, Ernie would see Him.  The rest of us would mutter under our breath about cyclists and play chicken with oncoming traffic to get around Him.  I think Ernie’s way is better.

Jesus taught that chasing after bigger and better material things only leads to disappointment.  Why?  Because they have a shelf life.  They will die, rot, rust, decay, get broken or be stolen.  And not one thing may be taken with us when we die.  Instead, we are to focus on the things of God.

If you happen to see Ernie watching as you drive by, give him a wave – or better yet, a salute. 

He’s got it right.

 

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”  (Matt. 6:19-20, NKJV)

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