I am certain, these guys were not talking about…

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Its hard to believe, another Summer is nearly over. Time just seems to move along so quickly.

One of the highlights from these past few months was a men’s gathering in the beautiful woods of Michigan.  I believe about 1500 men descended on the campground for the weekend.  This church sponsored event was called “Palooza” and it was an incredible time.
I’ve thought about that gathering a lot over these past few months,  and one of the most frequent thoughts that comes to my mind is that the focus of our corporate times was not in comparing our accommodations. When we met in a large group, our discussion did not tend to be about the size of our tent, or RV, or the fanciness of our grill back at the campsite.  In other words, the focus of our weekend was not about our stuff.  We were there to enjoy meaningful fellowship with other guys, and to benefit in many different ways from time spent over the weekend worshiping the living and loving God and to be challenged, and encouraged by passionate messages inspired by God’s Word–the Bible.
Both on Saturday night watching a special fireworks display, and Sunday morning, as we gathered one last time for a time of worship and hearing a Bible-related message, I would look around and see the expressions of men, young and old who were impacted by their experience that weekend.  It was truly a special time.
So, what’s the point in all this?
I believe living our lives should be similar to the weekend I just described.  Because we are all unique and our preferences, and circumstances vary so much, we will all live with different stuff. Some people will be able to enjoy very nice, and expensive things—good for them.   Other people, who don’t have as much money or just choose to live in a more simple kind of way, will find contentment with very modest resources–good for them.
I’m not sure of all the reasons why our culture focuses so much on “STUFF’,  rather than on the much greater experiences of enjoying deep relationships with others and seeking frequent worship of God. Just to clarify this last point, “frequent worship of God”,  I don’t mean being at church a lot every time the doors open,  though regular attendance at church is important.  What I’m referring to is keeping Him top of mind throughout the day, so that you understand He is the One responsible for  your life.  He is the Creator of if and the Sustainer of it.
Rather than being freaked out by acknowledging that our lives, including our thoughts and intentions are always transparent before Him, we should take great satisfaction in knowing that He cares so much for us and loves us so much.
At this Summer’s Palooza, I met a man who actually came to the event with no housing plans at all. Understanding that, I invited him to join us on our site, and if need be, and I was ready to share my pop up tent with him.  As things turned out, he was able to get sleeping accommodations in a mini-cabin.   Would I have been a little uncomfortable sharing a kind of cramped 2 man tent–yep.   But, that feeling would have been totally compensated by knowing that I helped a person in need.
Today, as you do life, let me encourage you to examine your own life and to pursue the things that are of highest importance.  Enjoy all the things that you have, but take some time to ask yourself if you are distracted in any way from really experiencing this precious thing called life because of your focus on STUFF?  Again, it’s not a question of how quality is your stuff, or how much you have (or don’t have), but rather if you are spending more time thinking about it, than on the deeper things of relationships with others and with God.  Seek to live your life without any regrets!
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Do you know that you are most likely “rich”?

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Do you know you are most likely “rich”?

I don’t know about you, but at times, I can look at a Bill Gates or Warren Buffett and say, “now, those guys are rich (which also means, “I am poor”). I can also look at others in the area where I live and notice their very nice houses and cars and say, “those people are wealthy” (which also means, I must be poor).

However, although I face the temptation often of playing the comparison game and thinking about all the things I don’t have, I think its also fair to get a different perspective on the issue of wealth on a global scale and recognize that I really am rich:

These are excerpts from Andy Stanley’s “how to be rich”
– a salary of $37K would represent that you are in the top 96% of the world–you are rich.
-bad cell phone coverage–that’s a rich people problem
-where to go on a vacation–that’s a rich people problem
-computer crashed – that’s a rich people problem
-flight delays – that’s a rich people problem
-having a watering ban–that’s a rich people problem (but just remember that many people, mostly women, carry jugs on their heads for hundreds of yards just so they can water for cooking and drinking. They couldn’t even imagine a place where there is so much water that people spray it over their lawns)

Looking at life from a bigger perspective, I am rich (as probably you are as well).
Today, I want to take a pause from my “pursuit of wanting more” and enjoy the abundance of all I have (whether its more or less than my neighbor has).

How “Satisfied” are you? –book review – Jeff Manion

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Are you contented in life? Are you satisfied with where you are in your present circumstances?
These are meaningful questions and challenge us to give an honest response.
Although the majority of us are far more wealthy than we think, many are still discontented. There are many reasons for that and in this book, you will find out some of those very real temptations, and thoughts that can move us away from a place of contentment.
The author gives many practical helps for dealing with finances that I believe will help guide you to a place of financial stability, though it will take longer for some, than for others.
You will certainly enjoy reading this book.

Observations from the beach…

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Awhile ago, I watched some boys spending hours creating a sand castle complex that was unbelievable. The towers of the castle were made with great detail. The moat was designed well and even had water in it. People couldn’t help but stop as they walked near it to express their appreciation for the work that went into this beautiful creation.
I had heard there was a hurricane in the forecast and knew this castle was temporary.

As I reflected, I appreciated the scene before me.
* the father never seemed to stop his boys from building the sand castle even though, I believe, he knew of its temporary life
* although the boys had put much work into their project, by the end of the following day, they would have nothing to show for all their hard work
* regardless of how well their “sand project” turned out, the storm was coming. The hurricane would hit that beach whether there was a sand castle or not. It was on its way.
* Although the effort by the boys was much appreciated by passers-by, the bottom line was the sand castle would be gone soon. It would not last.

So, what’s the point to all this? Its perspective.

Like the certainty of the hurricane that was coming to the beach, so too the reality of our limited time on earth is a given. The issue of how big or small our “sand castle” is doesn’t affect the certainty that an end will come for each
and every person.Perspective is important in that we need to ask ourselves why so many of us strive to build bigger and better “sand castles” (stuff), when we can’t take it with us when we die. Others may appreciate what we do, or what we have, but in the end, “so what?” Its all going to get blown away by the coming storm.

Please understand that I believe life should be enjoyed (just like, I’m sure the boys were enjoying themselves on the beach), but it is important for us to always keep things in perspective. People matter and Relationships matter. The endless pursuit of stuff is not really worth the stress and damaged relationships that can occur, especially when, in the end, all our “sand castles” won’t really matter.

People matter and relationships matter.