November 1, 2007

Guarding Greed

Mary Southerland

 

Today’s Truth

Philippians 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

 

Friend to Friend

I have seen the movie, “Guarding Tess”, several times. Even though I know the plot well, it draws me in every time I watch it. The unending quest of Nicholas Cage to control “Tess” is hilarious and all but impossible. My ability to control greed is a lot like that!

 

As the holidays approach, stores exhibit displays of Thanksgiving and Christmas at the same time! I find myself thinking about the “stuff” of the holidays, instead of giving thanks and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. I have decided to take charge of my focus this holiday season…and guard against greed.

 

After the Saturday night worship service, Dan was in his usual spot, down front, talking with those who had made a decision for Christ that night and meeting first time visitors to Flamingo Road Church. As I looked over the crowd gathered around my husband, I noticed Jenna, the five-year-old daughter of our worship leader, sitting on the edge of the platform, patiently waiting for Dan. After several minutes, Jenna was obviously tired of waiting, spotted me sitting on the first row and evidently decided I would have to do.

 

Jumping off of the stage, she headed straight for me, grinning and pointing to her mouth. “Mimi, guess what? I lost a tooth!” Carefully examining the illustrious gap, I exclaimed, “That’s great, Jenna! The tooth fairy will definitely come tonight!” A mischievous grin spread across her face as she responded, “Oh, he already came last night and brought me $5.00. So, my mom took me to the mall today and I bought lots of stuff!” Tooth loss has definitely evolved over the years. “That’s wonderful, Jenna,” I exclaimed, giving her a big hug. She did not hug me back and, in fact, seemed disappointed. I was confused and obviously missing some important point. Jenna’s next words explained it all, “Yes...but Pastor Dan always gives me money when I lose a tooth!” Ah, the truth comes out!

 

Reaching for my purse, I pulled out a dollar and pressed it into Jenna’s outstretched hand. With longing in her eyes, Jenna gazed at the money and softly said, “I wish this dollar was really $5.00 so I could go back to the mall and buy more stuff.” And there you have the very heart of man.

 

What happens when we live as if He is not enough and He is not all we want? Greed happens! And stress always tags along with greed.

 

Stress is a deadly disease that can wreak havoc in our lives...especially around the holidays. The frightening reality is that stress seems to run rampant, unchecked and in epidemic proportions through our relationships, our job, our home…every part of who we are. It does not have to be that way. In fact, a stress-riddled existence has never been and will never be part of God's plan for His children. No, but that would be Satan’s plan for us because he knows that stress is a powerful tool through which he can work. Stress is his invitation to set up shop in our lives.

 

Stress management begins in a personal relationship with God. Without Him, we are in eternal trouble. A little girl ended her bedtime prayer with “Dear God, I need you to please take care of mommy, take care of daddy, take care of my sister and my brother and please, please God, take care of yourself because if you don't we're all sunk. Amen!” I could not have said it better myself!

 

Let’s pray

Father, I choose today to celebrate the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas instead of being stressed-out and caught up in the “stuff” of the holidays. Please help me to focus on what is important and discard what is not. Give me eyes to see the needs around me…and find a way to meet those needs. Guard my heart against greed and an ungrateful attitude. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Now it’s your turn

Take the time to be alone and plan your holiday attitudes. Just as you plan meals, parties, gift-giving…and every part of the coming holidays, you can plan your attitude. Choose joy! Choose contentment! Choose to focus on God and His goodness to us. Make a list of your blessings…and keep that list with you during the holidays. Refer to it often and set your heart on peace.

 

More from the Girls

Stress happens! But we do not have to allow stress to control us. Most people who know me would describe my life journey as one of dealing with stressful situations. I have often thought my life is like a perpetual helicopter landing! “Escaping the Stress Trap” is my story…and it is probably a whole lot like yours. Check it out!

 

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