Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas, Consumerism and Ideas for Gift-Giving

Hello. My name is Robert and I'm a consumer.

Black Friday is tomorrow, so here are some thoughts I have on the topics of Christmas and spending money. I've never gotten up early to go shopping on Black Friday. In the past, it was because I didn't like traffic jams, long lines, and overly caffeinated and energetic people crowding all around me. Now, though, as my community has been taking part in Advent Conspiracy, I've learned that not only is consumerism bad for me, it's bad for others, plus this alternative story (worship fully, spend less, give more, love all) is so much better.

At the same time, I am often a sucker for a bargain, and I love the challenge of stretching my dollar (a positive way of saying I'm cheap). I'm a little torn. So I will probably buy some Christmas presents over the next few days, though it will most likely involve sitting in front of my laptop rather than going anywhere. What I've learned I have to watch out for is spending too much time trying to save money. It's really not worth hunting through online stores trying to save $5 on a Wii game for Adam. So I shall cease from doing as much research this year.

If you're new to this story, or perhaps just coming to the conclusion that consumerism does not equal happiness, then here are a few ideas to help you bring some change to your life/family/spending this Christmas.

One of our community groups put together a great gift-giving guide with lots of links and ideas.

Check out Trade as One's website, as well as the video I posted yesterday. They have a lot of great gifts you can buy for your loved ones that have multiple bottom lines.

The Simple Dollar has a 10-part series on great homemade Christmas gifts, including cookies, personalized cards & stationery, and meals in a jar. A lot of these ideas are very kid-friendly as well.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Trade as One

This is one of the videos we showed last Sunday night at NC.

Some Links

Here are some good articles and blog posts I've read over the last few weeks.

Trade as One
founder Nathan George writes about our spending habits here. Great quote: "The gospel calls us to live simply, to give generously and to buy ethically. When the church begins to see the other 98% of its people's incomes as capable of being engaged in the gospel, things get really exciting."

Mark Batterson writes about the importance of job satisfaction for team morale. He writes, "If the job satisfaction number is high (on their annual survey), then just about everything else will take care of itself because the motivation is there. If you love what you do, then you're going to have a 95% better chance of doing it well. If your satisfaction level is low, then your performance will inevitably suffer."

There is a 20-part series going on at The Simple Dollar on David Allen's latest book, Making It All Work. In the 14th entry he deals with the need to determine primary areas of focus. These could deal with work, family, hobbies, spirituality, health, etc. These are the things that are most important to you. At the end of the week, then, you can see how you've spent your time (and I would add money), and you will quickly determine what areas are being neglected and where balance is needed.

Seth Godin on where ideas come from. My favorite: "Good ideas come from bad ideas, but only if there are enough of them."

New Series on Men and Women

On Sunday night, December 5, our church is going to begin a two-week study on the role of men and women, both in the home and in the church. This is a very controversial issue, and one that continues to divide well meaning people to this day. So just as we have done in the past with other controversial issues, we want to base our understanding primarily on the Scriptures. There is nothing like a community being empowered to come to the Scriptures with both humility and confidence, and thereby determining how to live out what is read. It always excites me.

On our website I've compiled the primary passages that deal with this issue, plus a question for each passage for you to think about. You can download that document here. Over the next several weeks I'll be posting some of the more influential articles that have shaped me on this issue.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Clean Water Challenge

This marks the fourth year that our church has taken part in Advent Conspiracy. This year I wanted to take things up a level. It hit me a few weeks ago that our church has never really had to take a huge risk, be it financial or otherwise. We've never set any goals which seemed impossible by human standards. So, through a series of several conversations and a lot of thinking, praying and dreaming, I decided to the issue a challenge this past Sunday night for our church to dig a well.

The past two years we, along with friends we've invited to our annual Clean Water Party, have raised $500 for clean water. This year the goal is $5000, and rather than just sending in checks to Living Water International, we are partnering with them to build a well for a specific village in Northern Peru.

For more details, as well as how you can get involved, click here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Peabody in the News

There's a great article in today's Commercial Appeal about Peabody Elementary School, and specifically about yesterday's ThinkShow! Check it out.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

1898 Manila

My first "flip" is on the market. Check it out here, and if you know of anyone who wants to move into Cooper-Young, let me know!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Education Forum Tonight

Tonight we're having another education discussion for parents thinking about sending their children to Peabody next year. Some of us from this year's class will be sharing about our experience. Peabody's principal and a couple of teachers will be on hand to answer questions as well.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Andrew Ripp

Mandy and I saw this fella open for Dave Barnes last night. Enjoy!