Good Friday: Part Two

Let me suggest an alternative lifestyle—the biblical alternative. Read carefully these words of Paul found in Philippians 4, from the Message translation, “I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am“.

Most of my life, I’ve struggled between being a giver and a spender. For the last few years, I go to a bookstore, not just to shop for myself but to see if there’s a book some of my friends or the staff would like.  I’ve learned the joy of giving. Not just money, but hugs, cards, clothes, tapes, books, whatever the Lord prompts me to give.

Contentment is hard in a consumer society. Advertisers push you to be discontented and dissatisfied. They want you to want more stuff. This is a battle of the will and the wallet. The best way I know to fight it is to give yourself first to the Lord and then be a steward of what God’s given you.

If you are on the altar, you’ll be more committed to investing in things eternal. You’ll find ways to get freed up financially so you can do more for the kingdom. You’ll enjoy life because you will no longer be a puppet always having your pocket strings pulled.

Here’s a suggestion. If you are in bondage to debt or consumed by the desire to have, decide now that things have to change. Limit the amount of credit cards you bring out with you or go on a “cash only” basis when you shop.  If you want something, make a note of it and return in a few weeks…if it is still there than it is meant to be.

Some have never learned the joy of giving. I’m not sure why. The point is to start small until it becomes part of daily life. On this day, Christ have his life that we may find God and be dead to sin. He asked us to live as He lived, adopted for the modern age.  We, of course, cannot be free from our Earthly responsibilities; there are some elements to our lives requiring material products. The point, do not be ruled by your consumer desires. Christ gave His life for you.

Good Friday: Part One

We are a society driven by consumerism and marketing. There are millions of ho-hum products out there from aging cream, cars, televisions, tablets, and smartphones.  We are spenders and consumers. We are also a society of debtors with credit cards our biggest downfall, the illusion of wealth.  Living from paycheck to paycheck, we pay minimum payments and continue our quest of material things. We clip coupons to save a few dollars at the grocery store and look for bargains in every store, even watch television shows for guidance and entertainment. Few of us have the resources to get what we want when we want it. Therefore, it is imperative that we pay double-digit interest to insure that we keep up. This is not to say that some things we cannot live without due to modern living, it is the excess we must be concerned with.

We want, we take, we consume. We expect the next purchase to satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. We hope the new car smell will last past the first payment. We want the house that others long to have. We want, we want…but are we ever satisfied?

Take a walk through your house, closets, storage room, and garage for a moment. Really. Do it right now. This article will be here when you are finished. Trust me, I’m not leaving you hanging here.

Now that you are back, did you see anything that made you think, “Why did I buy that?” or “What was I thinking when I charged that?” Did you find any clothes you just had to have that are now out of style? Did you really need that iced coffee with a Styrofoam sleeve?

Be honest, did you find anything there that makes you so content that you don’t need anything else? Solomon thought he could get to the point where he had everything he wanted. He never did. He did get to the point where he realized that having everything wasn’t all there was to life.

Solomon had it all, but it didn’t satisfy him. He didn’t have to use a credit card; he paid on gold. Solomon called it all “chasing the wind.” Funny thought, really. If man were evolving as some say he is, you would think he would have learned the lesson of Solomon by now. After all, on our middle income level, how could we ever get it all? And if we did, would we be happy? NO! Just ask Solomon.

Be Generous this Easter

The eternal struggle of parents when raising their children is balancing the need for happiness and that of generosity. In today’s age this struggle is especially difficult with getting the latest technological device. I will admit, as a child I was one of those torn between selfishness and generosity.

Most of us are familiar with Acts 20:35 ”….it is more blessed to give than receive.” Do we really get that or understand what that means?  I absolutely love the holiday season and birthdays to bestow upon those I love presents and they as well. What about the stranger who is begging roadside or the homeless woman who has two children to care for? Do you give them? If you do, do you enjoy giving to them?  Or do we run down the list of possible reasons why they “got themselves into that position?” Or, do you jump to conclusions that they are dressed too nice and are too clean to be poor?

In this journey called “life” I have so much more to learn, but there are a few central truths that I think I have grasped — one is the spirit of being generous.  I absolutely do not want to be the one who is out to get more and more and demand that I get everything due me. For instance, I recently began reading a book on St Francis of Assisi and his life of poverty and worship. I have been so moved by his ideals, charisma, and love of God that I purchased a necklaced medal the price of which was $45. Looking at the receipt I began to feel guilty, that this was too high a price for God and St Francis of Assisi. With that I returned the item, found a similar more worthy pendent at $1.78 putting the rest aside for charity. A few years ago, Facebook launched a service where you could have your friends and family donate money to charities instead of purchasing you gifts, I did this for my birthday and Christmas. On my way home from this purchase I cam across a beggar on the roadside and gave him $5 and never felt better. But that is another point, the act of generosity is not to be for self-gratification because that only defeats the purpose. 

Generosity can also be acts leading to another persons day being a bit brighter. Some note worthy acts can be to pay for another persons coffee or maybe allow that rude driver to pull out in front of me without  slamming on the horn. 

So, as Easter approaches be more like Jesus and St Francis of Assisi by making a decision to be generous with your time, talents, and financial resources. “Start by doing what’s necessary”; said St Francis of Assisi, “then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” You will be glad you did.