Tuesday, December 11, 2012

SPEND LESS (follow up)

On Sunday Night it took me a long time to fall asleep and when I finally did go to sleep I did not sleep well.  There were so many things racing through my mind.  Stats we had talked about that morning popped into my mind.  A thought I couldn’t get past is the blessing that I have to sleep in warm house and in a comfortable bed… and even letting my dogs in to sleep in the laundry room on their soft beds while there are families sleeping in their cars in single digit temperatures.  I must admit Sunday (December 9) was a great Sunday at Paragon BUT it wasn’t an easy Sunday.  A lot of things weighed on my mind as God spoke.  I am not sure if the message shook you up at all, but it hit a nerve with me.
If you weren’t able to make it in or to the service, the message is online in its entirety… but I want to give you a quick overview of what “Spend Less” of the Advent Conspiracy series covered.  You might think from the title, it was all about “spending less money” and you would be correct in your assumption, but it was so much more than that. 

A RECAP OF SOME DISTURBING STATS - Do you realize how much money Americans spend on things that are not as important as we make them out to be…
  • In 2011, Americans spent 470 BILLION DOLLARS on Christmas Gifts between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.  That is $714 per person… and even more astounding, over 10 million dollars a minute.
  • In 2011, Americans spent 42 BILLION DOLLARS on their pets alone.  Now, I LOVE MY DOGS, but there is something wrong with that stat… and I said something Sunday about my dogs that may have upset you (you’ll have to listen if you weren’t there) and you may not have agreed with me and may never agree with me but I ask you to understand where I am coming from and please put it into perspective with the OTHER STATS I shared… the ones that REALLY should have upset you.
Listen to this…
  • It would take roughly TWO BILLION DOLLARS to provide clean drinking water to the entire world.  That may not seem like a big deal, but over 30,000 people die every week from diseases caused by unclean drinking water.  27,000 of those deaths are children under the age of 5.  That is hard to fathom because we are not there, we don’t see it, and here in America we go about our regular day with a clean crisp bottle of purified water within the reach of our hands almost 24/7.  Take a second and transplant yourself to a rural village in Africa… sitting in a hut watching your 4 year old cry out because the water he drank gave him dysentery and now he is withering away from dehydration and will probably die by the end of this week.  A very serious question… does the 42 Billion we spend on our pets seem a bit excessive now?
  • Another crazy stat… Every 15 seconds, somewhere in the world, a person dies from hunger related causes (meaning 3-5 people have died since you started reading this).  According to statistics, it would take roughly 30 BILLION DOLLARS a year to end world hunger.   30 BILLION a year is A LOT OF MONEY… but think about the 470 Billion we spend in ONE MONTH on a lot of stuff that we DON’T really NEED (clarify... NOT don’t really want - but don’t really need).   That 470 Billion would take care of world hunger for over 15 years.
What if we would just spend a little less money and a little less time on the wants in our lives?  How could that change the world?  You must know that SPEND LESS is more about not wasting time and money than not spending at all…  When we fully realize what Christmas is all about, realize that it is all about Jesus; it should change who we are and how we live.  It will start with us Worshiping Jesus Fully… That will carry over to us SPENDING LESS on stuff that doesn’t really matter and be concerned with what God is concerned with, having the same priorities Jesus does.

As I close, there are two things I want to share with you..

ONE - The quote I closed with on Sunday from CS Lewis - Mere Christianity (p 86) in which Lewis is talking about what we should see from Christians in the realm of Social Morality…

“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give.  I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.  In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard of common among those with the same income as our own, we a probably giving away too little.  If our charities do not at all pinch us or hamper us, I should say they are too small.  There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”

What would our world look like if people of faith began acting on Lewis’s suggestion?  This advent season, let’s give it a try.

TWO - WHAT TO DO TODAY?  Here are a few ideas to consider…
  • Be considerate when spending money.
  • Set your budget and know your limit (try to go debt free)
  • Before you start buying, consider each person you are buying for and focus more on their needs… rather than focusing on their wants.
  • Consider your CORE VALUES and whether what you are buying reflects those values.
  • Buy Less Stuff.