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What is Enough?

Robert Thomas Quiring —  April 9, 2014

PrintThe richest person in history, John D. Rockefeller, was once asked, “How much is Enough?”  His response, “Just a little bit more.”

We have this innate human characteristic to always want a little more – to believe that we never have Enough.  Additionally, Ad companies spend billions of dollars a year to remind us that we don’t have Enough.  Companies spent $65 billion on TV ads in 2012 in just the US.

Someone recommended I read J.D Roth’s book Your Money: The Missing Manual and I was fascinated when he began talking about how intricately our happiness is linked to our notion of Enough.  He went on to argue that chasing Enough distracts us from the most important things in life: friends, family, church, and activities that give us true joy.  The things that actually do make us happy.

And as Christians, think of how important our understanding of Enough is for our relationship with God and our relationship with our neighbor.  I am guilty of being blinded by the thinking of, “I will work on that once I have Enough.” I will work on my relationship with my friends…  I will work on my relationship with my partner…  I will work on my relationship with God…  But what if I always want just a little bit more? Continue Reading…

RTQAsh Wednesday is here once again, which means we are entering the season of Lent.  I’ve been reflecting, more than usual this year, on Lents gone by and trying to decipher what’s most important to remember in our Lenten disciplines.  So, here goes…

Lenten disciplines are not about:

  1. Personal Willpower – Lent is not our second chance to make New Years’ resolutions.  In high school, I looked at Lenten disciplines as a personal willpower challenge.  I asked, “Am I strong enough to do this,” rather than, “Will this remind me of my dependence on Christ?”
  2. Irritation – we miss out on all of the spiritual benefit if we complain about our discipline all the time.  If – when you think about Lent or your discipline – your main reaction is frustration – then you either need to hit the reset button or find a different discipline.
  3. Pride – it’s not about proving our spirituality.  Our society teaches us to win at all costs and that mantra can transfer into even our spiritual lives.  If someone is sharing their discipline with you and one of your reactions is, “My sacrifice is bigger,” it’s time to refocus on what Lenten disciplines are about.
  4. To-Do List – we go through life checking things off of our to do list.  It’s possible -because I’ve done it – to do your Lenten discipline everyday and get nothing out of it.  I contend that it would be more helpful to have one day of faithful discipline rather than going through the motions for 40 days.

Lenten disciples are about:

  1. Dependence on Christ – Lent is about being fed by Christ in areas of our lives where we are usually fed by the world.  Many people believe they can save themselves – but they just haven’t managed to pull it off yet.  Lent is a time to reclaim the knowledge that we cannot save ourselves and put our dependence in Christ.
  2. Spring-Cleaning – we clean out those things in our lives that are messy or that we don’t need anymore.  And we start new practices and routines.  Lent is a time to see and feel the light of Christ, however, oftentimes our messy lives can block us from seeing all of Christ’s light.  Lent is a time for us to do some spring-cleaning of our lives – so Christ’s light can fully shine.
  3. Humility – we are reminded that we are not all that and a bag of potato chips – preferably ruffled.  We are reminded of our spiritual poverty and our brokenness; and we’re reminded that Christ walks this journey of life with us.  We are not big enough to even handle all of our personal problems, but Christ is big enough to handle all of the world’s problems.  As we realize this and are repeatedly reminded of it especially during Lent – our pride is kept in check.

Let us remember that we are journeying through the season of Lent together.  And we need to be encouraged and reminded why we are doing what we are doing throughout this season.

What have been your experiences with Lenten disciplines?  Anything you would add to the list or take off?

RTQ“I am an expert on Jesus and Netflix,” I recently told a youth at my church.  That statement is definitely bending the definition of “expert,” but I have spent a lot of time studying Christianity and watching Netflix.  Why am I telling you this?  Because Christianity and Netflix are full of stories.  During the day, I try to teach the stories of Scripture.  At night, I watch stories that have been written for entertainment.  In this day and age, we are inundated with stories!  And we have been conditioned to be constantly on the look out for new stories, for entertaining stories, for boundary breaking stories.

With this in mind, pastors and teachers stand in front of a group at church and read stories from the Bible.  Stories that are often hard to comprehend, not new, and are boundary breaking in a very different way.  What do we do?  Proclaim that the stories of the Bible are the living Word of God?  They are, but I have found that proclamation doesn’t help if you don’t do some legwork.  The legwork is discussing stories in our world today and using different tools to delve deeper into our Biblical stories.  So, here are five ideas about how we can just that:

1.  What is the goal of the story?  Spend a class talking about what the goal of a story is.  What is the goal of entertainment? (TV shows, movies, books)  To entertain.  To reach the biggest audience possible.  To make money.  What is the goal of the Bible?  To tell the story of Jesus and God’s people.  To teach us how to live.  To reach the biggest audience possible.  How should we read these stories differently?

2.  Act it out.  Sounds too simple, but this can really make a story jump off the page.  It also adds a change of pace from reading a story multiple times.  Plan it out beforehand or do it spontaneously. Continue Reading…