Materialism- [the small pox of today]

MaterialismIt’s hard for me to look at a Range Rover and not want one. Their lines are smooth, they look Uber comfortable, and I  feel like I can take on a mountain with it and win. The other morning a Range Rover cut me off on my way to a meeting with a good buddy of mine. I felt everything inside of me tense up. Maybe that was because I was running 10 minutes late to my meeting or maybe it was because he had something that I wanted. It was hunter green, and it was new. The windows were tinted out, and the rims were classy. The only thing that my car and his car have in common is the color of the paint. My rims are not so classy, my windows are not so tinted, and I most certainly could not take on a mountain and win.

Welcome to my internal struggle with materialism. Materialism is the virus that grows inside of you convincing your mind that you need more and more and more.  Materialism not only affects your mind, It affects your eyes too.  They begin looking around at the things that you already have and it causes you to see them as old and out dated.  It’s like a set of contact lenses that magnifies every ding, imperfection, tear, or sign that your stuff hasen’t been unwrapped from their cellophane covering in a long time.  

I’m pretty convinced that materialism has been fed to us by the mass market like small pox blankets were to the Native American’s.  The more we watch and believe the commercials, the more we itch with the need to buy the latest and the greatest.  Be careful my friends!  You don’t need to drive what turns you on.  You need to drive what gets you there.  There is a big difference between need and want.  We get those two things mixed up very easily.  That’s part of the game of the materialism virus- it makes it harder to keep your head on straight.  

Richard Foster writes about the materialism virus.  He says this,

This psychosis permeates even our mythology.  The modern hero is the poor boy who purposefully becomes rich rather than the rich boy who voluntarily becomes poor.  Covetousness we call ambition.  Hoarding we call prudence.  Greed we call industry.

It is time to set possessions in their proper place.  It is time to find joy in the abundant gifts that God has given us.  After all Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  The writer of Hebrews says, “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, ‘I will never fail you nor forsake you'” (Heb. 13:5)

I’m praying that God shows me that it is more about the people around me than the possessions in my home.  I bet I’m not alone in this struggle… Where are you at with it? 

~Peter

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4 Ways to Reboot Your Spiritual Life

StillnessHave you ever felt like life is just flying by you?  Work is cranking out endless tasks and responsibilities… The kids have countless events that they need chauffeuring to…  There are multiple required social events on your calendar filling up your weekends… And some how you need to find time to just simply go to the bathroom in all that mess of a schedule.

This happened to me the other day.  I was in a rush to get as many things into one 24 hour day as possible.  I was running from one event to another and found that it was making me grouchy, irritable, and just down right testy.

I had to hit pause.

For about 40 minutes I simply sat still and watched life around me.  Instead of watching life go by I did my best to be fully present in the midst of it.  I sat and journaled and prayed and listened to some music.  In those 40 minutes I felt more refreshed and rejuvenated than before.

When life is flying by you and feeling out of control try these four things…

1. Pause

As difficult as this may be, there are times when you need to simply just unplug.  This might mean the dishes in the sink pile up for a little bit.  Or the lawn doesn’t get mowed today.  These things need to get done, but not necessarily right now.   Your pause could be 30 minutes, 2 hours, or even a full day.  It all depends on what you are willing to carve out of your schedule.

2.  Reflect

Our minds are moving a million miles an hour, thinking about thousands of different things.  It is a gift to stop and process what has been happening in your life the past few days, or weeks.  It could be as simple as answering two questions: Where have I seen God lately, and What has God been showing me through these past few days or weeks?

3. Pray

Prayer is our intimate connection with our Creator, our Heavenly Father, and our God.  Prayer is an act of depending on God in all things.  When I am running my life and going a million miles an hour, my greatest temptation is to believe that I can do it all on my own.  Prayer reminds me that I can’t.  I am desperately in need of God’s help and presence in my life.

4. Journal

There is something life giving about writing in a journal.  It has been a habit that I have added to my life for the past 8 years.  I have filled a few moleskin’s with the thoughts, prayers, and tears of what’s going on around me.  Writing is slow.  It causes you to think, and process.  Writing things out quite possibly can also help you figure things out.

What would you add to the list?  Leave a comment below.

~Peter

Quit Playing the Comparison Game

Romans 12:2Have you ever felt like you just weren’t enough?  I’ll be honest, there are times when I struggle feeling like I am enough.  I wonder am I good enough, am I strong enough, am I smart enough, am I thin enough, am I ______________ enough.  You fill in the adjective, I’ve wondered about it.  Jon Acuff said recently, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”  That’s tough for me.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”.  How true is that?

I was reading through Romans 12 the other morning when I came across verse 2 and it struck me in a whole new way.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:2 (the Message)

What a great reminder!  When I begin to play the comparison game and wonder where I am not measuring up I need to remember these few things…

1. Be Unique

Our world loves to put people into little boxes and categories.  If you dress a certain way, that means you are hipster, nerdy, sporty, or chic.  If you like to recycle you are a green tree hugger.  If you are a hunter you clearly don’t love animals.  Come on!  There are so many different pressures that we face.  The media, our peers, and the world around us want to desperately form us into their mold.  You don’t have to fit in that mold.

2. Be Flexible

God wants to transform you into a different person.  You don’t have to be like everyone else because God is in the business of making you, you.  The old me is exactly that- old.  It’s time to bring on the new.  This will happen over time and it will happen because He begins to change your thought process.  There are times when you need to be willing to not always be right, or change the way that you think about things.

3. Be Teachable

When you step back and see what God has been doing in you, the ways that He has been molding and shaping you, all of the experiences that you have had, and all of the pain that you have gone through, it is a little easier to see what God may want to do through you.  The last part of that verse says that you will begin to see what God wants to do through you, in you, and with you.  It will require you to be teachable.

I can easily get caught up in the comparison trap.  It is not a fun place to be.  I’m thankful that God doesn’t want us to stay there and provides a way out of it!

~Peter

Pain is not always bad

pain

“I never thought I was going to hurt this bad.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone share those words, or words like that with me.  I sat across the table from a woman recently, she had tears running down her face as she shared with me the struggle and the pains of her marriage.  It was a tragic story.  Her story was not a fairytale, or one of Hollywood’s romantic comedies.  Kate Hudson would never play this woman’s character.  Think more like Jennifer Lopez from Enough.

What do we do when life hurts get us down?  How do we respond when life doesn’t seem to be going the way that we expected it to go?

These are questions that I have had to answer for myself, and unfortunately I have people ask me those questions almost on a weekly basis.  We live in a broken world.  Our world is fractured with selfishness, greed, lust, anger, and pride.  Those are just a few of the ugly things that rear their heads in our world.  The good news is that Jesus came to heal not only our brokenness but the deep fracture that exists in our world today.

Pain is not always bad.  It is never fun to go through, but my experience has been that pain shapes us.  Pain has an incredible way of growing and developing our character.  Here are four things that I see pain doing in my life.

1. Pain causes us to Cry Out.

My wife Tiffany always makes fun of me, because whenever I get hut I vocalize it.  I can’t help but yelp when I mash my thumb with a hammer.  I can’t help but grunt when I twist my ankle.  That is me vocalizing what is going on inside of me.  When we go through pain, we need to vocalize what is happening.  Pain should cause you to cry out.  I’ll never forget laying in the hospital bed  almost 3 years ago now, unable to move, or even open my eyes because the pain was so intense.  All I could do was just quietly cry out to God, “Jesus help me… help me…”

2. Pain causes us to Slow Down

If you’ve ever broken a bone you know that life doesn’t go back to normal immediately after they set the bone.  The doctor prescribes a period of healing.  Sometimes it can be 6 weeks or more before you are healthy enough and before your body has been restored to the place where your bones can handle the stress and pressure on them.  Emotional pain has the same effect.  It should cause you to slow down and proceed with caution.  Your hurt causes you to test the waters a little bit before you dive right in.

3. Pain causes us to Think About the Root

I don’t know about you, but I never want to repeat painful situations.  If we don’t want to repeat the pain, then we better figure out what caused it.  After injuring myself I will never do that activity the same again.  You can’t right?  We have to figure out the root cause for the pain and then try to remedy it.  I was always taught that the most dangerous knife was a dull knife.  So now I try to keep my knives sharp because I remember the pain of cutting myself…

4. Pain causes us to Live Differently

Living in the wake of pain is not necessarily bad.  It does however have the ability to affect our daily patterns.  Sometimes pain is so difficult that it causes us to live totally different than before.  It may cause us to rely on God in a new way.  It may require that you wake up on a daily basis and change your routine.  We do this to avoid getting hurt again.

Pain is not always a bad thing.  I love what it says in James 1:2-4, “Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  That is not always an easy pill to swallow, but then again it is easier to go through pain when you know that there is something good that will come out of it.

Don’t be afraid to cry out in the midst of your pain.  Our God is there to listen!

~Peter

What kind of a mist are you?

The other day Pete Wilson, pastor at Cross Point Church in Nashville TN, blogged over on his site about a mist worth celebrating.  Here is an excerpt from his post.

This morning I was reading in James 4 and was reminded of this important truth.

James 4:14 “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

It’s true. We are but a “mist”. In other words, life is short. We’re here and then we’re gone. I could see how, at first glance, this verse might be a bit depressing. But for me it’s motivating.

James 4:14

My dad and I at Old Westbury Gardens

I couldn’t agree with Pete more.  I think about some of the people in my life who have been incredibly life changing to me.  I wrote about my dad here, and I spoke about him here.  My dad had an enormous impact on my life.  I am who I am today because of the way that he loved Jesus and the way that he loved me.  I think about some of the people in my life who have been in and out of it only for a few short years.  Friends like Chris, & Bob who have mentored me and helped shape my life.  There are so many others.

It is easy to think about all of the people who have had an eternal impact on your life.  What may be a bit more difficult to think about is what kind of a mist are you becoming?  Or what I mean is, who are you becoming, and how are you impacting the lives of others?  Do you have someone in your life who you are building into, encouraging, and loving on?  If not, you should find someone.  Do it fast, because as James says, our lives are like a mist, here and then gone.

Let’s make the most of the time that we have!

~Peter