Category Archives: Consumerism

Skip Christmas?

According to a recent BreakPoint article by Eric Metaxas, a new survey of Americans found that 45 percent would rather skip Christmas this year claiming they don’t have enough money to celebrate the holiday!

Times are tough and the economy is soft, but does it really all come down to dollars?

Ruth Haley Barton, in an Advent devotional, describes people feeling the pull of Black Friday and stores opening earlier. They didn’t want to leave family gatherings early but didn’t want to risk missing out on great bargains.

“You have to have these things to enjoy your children and your family…It shouldn’t be that way but in a sense there’s no way around it.  Everything ends up with a dollar amount.  Even your happiness.” 

Maybe it does all come down to the dollars! Maybe it is all about the stuff! Maybe we should skip Christmas!

Bonhoeffer

Or maybe not…

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor during WWII. Because he strongly and openly opposed Hitler and the Nazi regime he spent two years in prison and was executed just days before the end of the war. This excerpt is from a letter written to his fiancée Maria von Wedemeyer, December 1, 1943.

I think we’re going to have an exceptionally good Christmas. The very fact that every outward circumstance precludes our making provision for it will show whether we can be content with what is truly essential. I used to be very fond of thinking up and buying presents, but now that we have nothing to give, the gift God gave us in the birth of Christ will seem all the more glorious; the emptier our hands, the better we understand what Luther meant by his dying words: “We’re beggars; it’s true.” The poorer our quarters, the more clearly we perceive that our hearts should be Christ’s home on earth. ~ From Love Letters from Cell 92

While many today expect a lackluster Christmas due to not enough stuff, Bonhoeffer sat alone in a prison cell expecting a glorious Christmas because of no stuff. He understood that the absence of material things would make more room in his heart for God and the gift of the Christ child come to earth.

question mark orange So what will it be, skip Christmas or create space for God to make it something extra special?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Advent, Black Friday, Choices, Christianity, Christmas, Consumerism, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Divine presence, God, Religion and Spirituality

Black Friday – Sad but true! :-(

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Black Friday, Choices, Consumerism, Contentment

It’s MY choice!

I know it started way before my earliest recollection of it, but there seems to be no end to it. I’m speaking of that general notion that life is all about me.

It was a Burger King slogan that told me to “Have It Your Way.”

It’s a common thread in most advertising campaigns but it has reached a new high, or low depending on how you look at it.

The other day I was in the check-out line when I noticed gum with the label “UP2U”

I didn’t get it at first. Picking a pack of gum is my choice to begin with so why do I need one pack of gum with two flavors that gives me yet one more choice?

OOOOH, now I get it! Because it reinforces my individuality, my freedom to choose, the notion that life really is all about me.

Sure it’s only gum, but it’s MY choice!

Why pick gum with just one flavor when I can get a pack with two?

I want to feel empowered every time I choose which flavor to chew.

But wait! What happens if I don’t choose evenly? What if I run out of one flavor before I run out of the other? I won’t have any choice to make!

Unless I choose to go back to the store and get more multi-flavor packs of gum.

Whew! That was a close one!

Maybe one day I’ll be able to go online to order my gum and choose how much of each flavor I want! AWESOME!

That breeze you feel blowing across your face is from the rotation of the world as it revolves around me.

Me and MY choice! Ha Ha Ha! (He laughed in an evil, self-satisfied sort of way)

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him  deny himself and  take up his cross and follow me. 25 For  whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For  what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or  what shall a man give in return for his soul? ~ Matthew 16:24-26 (ESV)

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

 

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Filed under Choices, Christianity, Consumerism, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality

Are you hungry for God?

“…I don’t want to go to a church that values our experience of God above our hope in God.  As difficult as it is, and it sometimes can be agony, I want to experience my emptiness or loneliness and learn to hunger after God as I hunger for no one and nothing else.  I want to be convinced that no experience available to me in this life, from God or the devil, can satisfy that hunger.  Paul said it best: if there is no heaven, no better world where satisfaction is lasting and deep, then living like Jesus in this world is stupid (1 Cor. 15:19).”  ~ Larry Crabb in Real Church

A lot of focus in the church today has to do with creating satisfied customers so that they’ll return and our numbers will grow. More activities! More excitement! More buzz! But is this really of God?

Consider how we engage with one another as the body of Christ. We strive to support and encourage one another, which is good; but in the process we tend to rush toward solutions that will alleviate discomfort. We don’t want to see others struggling and if we’re honest, it makes us uncomfortable to be around those who are struggling.

But what if that period of struggling is exactly what God intends? What if God wants to use that dissatisfaction to grow in us a deeper hunger to find our ultimate satisfaction in Him alone?

When you walk away from your church gatherings, are you content with the amount of God you’ve encountered or are you hungry for more of Him?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Church, Consumerism, Contentment, God, involvement with the church, Relationship with God, Spiritual growth

Are we settling for more and missing the best?

Our Indiana taxes came back different from what I had figured because I missed one newly required document. Ugh! A local office helped with the proper form to file an amendment.

When the gal helping me commented on not understanding why this new form was required she also added that just a few years ago we were suppose to be headed towards doing away with paper forms – an attempt to simplify the process.

I’ve heard that before in regard to other areas of life but I have yet to see much evidence that life is getting any more simple. This is perhaps most evident in the field of electronics.

With each new gadget or app we are empowered to walk around with the world at our fingertips. New technologies are great, but they don’t automatically make our life more meaningful.

We can do life differently!

Enjoying simplicity is counter to the message our consumer culture is barking from all angles. Society constantly tries to manipulate us into buying and consuming more than we need.

I see restoration-minded Christians bucking the trend. Instead of buying things they don’t really need, they fast periodically from those habits that suck them in to this alternate reality.

Certainly, this way of life often takes more effort and creativity on the front end, requiring their full imagination and a willingness to part with unnecessary comforts. But in the long run, they seem to be creating a more sustainable and less contrived existence.
~ Excerpted from The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons

Jesus came to bring us the opportunity to experience real life through a relationship with the Father. But is that the core of our existence?

Take some time to pause and reflect on what it is that gets the best of or the bulk of your attention and energy.

In the scheme of our rhythm of life how much attention are we giving to pursuing greater intimacy with the Lord?

Are we enjoying His presence throughout the day or are we preoccupied with the stuff of life?

Are we settling for more and missing the best?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Choices, Consumerism, Divine presence, God, intimacy with the Lord, Life in General, Margin, Priorities, Relationship with God, Stewardship