Consumers

Lattice

In his book, Rekindled Flame, Steve Fry tells of moving to Nashville and talking to some Christian recording executives about a potential project.  When asked what he was working on, he told them about wanting to write a worship musical that focused on the character of God.  To his surprise, they were very cool to the idea.

Frankly, they said, most believers wouldn’t buy an album about God.

Seriously?

Yep.

According to their demographic studies, that kind of project wouldn’t appeal to most Christians.

Later he met with a book editor that he knew had his finger on the pulse of the Christian marketplace.

“I want to write about God!” he said. “I want to take snapshots of the many wonders of His character and just focus on Him.”

“I’d like to help you write that kind of a book,” he replied. “In fact, the Christian market desperately needs that kind of book. But honestly, the average Christian is not going to buy a book about God.” The editor added:  “The only way you can get the average believer to read a book about God is to somehow show them how God benefits them.”

I want to say I’m surprised, but I’m not.

I want to say I’m offended, but I’m not.

I want to say I’m the exception… [click to continue…]

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ChickenSomebody just stumbled into a chicken-and-egg situation. And I’m not talking about foxes in the henhouse.  This is more of the “What came first?” variety. And the answer to that proverbial question has profound implications for your life.

Here’s the back story…

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published a report outlining how the average American spends his or her money.  Assuming you’re average, you spend a third of your income on housing, 17% on transportation, 13% on food, 11% on insurance, and 7% on healthcare. Entertainment lags back at 5% and the average American gives 4% to churches or charities. Interesting, there was no mention of debt service, at least in the report I read.

Of course, who’s average, right? So Derek Thompson of The Atlantic did some more figuring.  He split up income categories into quintiles – the top 20%, the bottom 20%, and the three in the middle. He then compared how the top fifth spend their money proportionally, compared to the bottom fifth.

Would it come as a shock that there is a difference? [click to continue…]

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hersheykisses

Economics doesn’t have to be difficult.  Just ask my three-year-old grandson…

Understanding Liberalism (True Story)

Cohen:  Papa can I have a treat?

Papa:  What do you want? [click to continue…]

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This may be a leap, but let’s assume for a minute that you know what it is you want, and you’re pursuing it.  I don’t mean what you’re conquering in your search for lunch.  I’m talking destiny, journey-of-desire stuff.  Maybe it’s to influence or gain the approval of someone.  Maybe it’s wisdom to make good choices or the ability to do something that’s hard or impossible for you right now.

Regardless, have you ever noticed that sometimes getting there feels like an eight-lane highway?  And other times, the minute you start moving in that direction it feels like you just turned onto a muddy jungle trail?

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the journey launches like gangbusters, but then stalls or stagnates?

Chances are, you came to a fork in the road and made a wrong turn.

Robert Frost was right in his famous poem about the two roads and choosing the one less traveled by.  What he failed to mention was that life or any worthwhile pursuit is a series of forks in the road, not just one.  One road leads to a path that makes it easier to pursue your dreams; the other leads to mediocrity, failure, and defeat.

Appearances are Deceptive

Paths that lead to mediocrity and failure are well-worn and popular.  They require the least mental effort or “soul work.”  But what starts off as the path of least resistance quickly turns to the path of resistance-beats-my-brains-out.

Other paths may appear to require a lot of work or may leave you feeling isolated and alone.  But somewhere in that spiritual, emotional, and mental work you activate forces that begin to carry your load, increase your speed, and move you in the direction of your truest desires.

The other tricky part about these forks in the road: [click to continue…]

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grasshopperThis week a friend sent me a poignant and compelling image that describes what it’s like to live in a climate or with a spirit of fear.  But the image is so strong, I think it describes anybody who feels as though they are in a no-win situation.

I feel like a grasshopper on the ocean hanging onto a leaf.  I cling to the leaf to keep from drowning.  If I eat the leaf to keep from starving, I lose my life preserver, and drown.

I’ll tell you later what he learned in the process.  But can you relate? [click to continue…]

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The Estate Sale

by Andy Wood on July 11, 2008

in Consumers, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, Money

Estate SaleI have eye-opening experiences in odd places.  I want to tell you about one that took place a few years ago at a house on 80th Street in Lubbock, a few houses away from where we used to live.  Our former neighbors were having an estate sale, and I have to confess, I’m a sucker.  So I strolled down to take it all in.  The sale was professionally managed, well organized, and quite thorough.  They were selling what appeared to be everything that wasn’t bolted to the walls or floor.

Like most estate sales, this was a trip back in time.  And somewhere amid the 8-track tapes, 70s-era stereo, and the costume jewelry, it happened.  Somewhere in my own mind, I was standing in the middle of my own estate sale.  Watching crowds of strangers pick over my treasures that, over the years, I had spent tens of thousands of dollars on.  Seeing them bargain with somebody over curtains or books or something – for dimes on the dollar, of course.  “Dear God,” I half-exclaimed and half-prayed, “tell me there’s more to my life than old stuff to be bartered over!”

As I continued to wander through the house, I could identify with the fun and excitement of this family as they had purchased that new appliance, received that special Christmas gift, or took advantage of those today-only prices and sales.  In so many ways, this was a typical American family.  Nice house.  Nice stuff, albeit touched by time.  And now all of it was being left behind.

It’s bad etiquette, I suppose, to actually ask about the people whose possessions we’re pilfering through.  Are they still living?  Do they have family?  Could I be standing next to their daughter or niece?  But I couldn’t help but wonder.  As I stood in what once was their home, I felt sure I was looking at a poor reflection of who these people really were.

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LaughterI mentioned in my previous post that it’s possible to live in such a way that laughs at the future. Just so we’re clear, we’re in “life hack” territory.  We’re talking about what to do with your money, your time, your relationships, your attitudes, and your spirit.

Look at this biblical description:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” (Proverbs 31:25)

What is it about this woman that put her in a place where she wasn’t wringing her hands every time somebody predicted the end of life as we know it?

1.  Establish trust in those who know you best.

“Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm,all the days of her life” (v. 11-12, NLT).

For years I assumed that her husband trusted her in a moral sense, but this is much deeper.  This man trusted her with his business, his family, and his money.  She had earned his trust.  How?  By adding value to his life.

By doing a little more, being faithful to tasks assigned, or by keeping the trust of those who know you best, you create a compelling future.  Take it from somebody who has both earned and betrayed trust:  it takes months and years to earn trust, and you can destroy it – and your confidence in the future – in a matter of minutes.

2.  Buy like an investor, not like a consumer.

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Scarlett“I can shoot straight, if I don’t have to shoot too far.” 

“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

-Scarlett O’Hara, “Gone With the Wind”

Everybody is fascinated with Scarlett.  But nobody wants to admit how much like her we can be.

One way to understand LifeVesting is to define it in terms of what it isn’t.  LifeVestors have four alter-egos:  consumers, hoarders, gamblers, and codependents.  Today I’d like to introduce you to the first.

While in the purest economic sense everyone is a spender, the Consumers I’m talking about are takers.  They spend their money, their time, their relationships on today’s wants and needs.  Their primary focus is on themselves – though not always in an intentionally selfish way.  They come to church for what they can get out of it.  They spend their time and money in ways that, when spent, are gone forever.  For them, there is no other moment but now.  Tomorrow will take care of itself. 

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Temporary PrayerCovenant Lakeside Hospital is under construction. Hey, it’s a hospital – nothing unusual about that. But down the hall and around the corner from what is normally the main entrance, there is an interesting sign. In big, bold, red letters on a yellow background, the Pastoral Care office trumpets, “TEMPORARY PRAYER ROOM.”

People pass this on stripped-down concrete floors, and the word “temporary” is routinely used with “under construction.” So nobody questions what the sign means. This is the place to go until the normal prayer room is available again.

But my twisted brain being what it is, when I saw it last week, it stuck me as kind of funny. [click to continue…]

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