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the pursuit of happiness

it's time for me to "rant"... about what i've been learning lately
what i've been praying about and thinking about

about this "american dream" that we have ALL bought into
(if we were born and raised here)
this thing that we all feel entitled to,
because our Declaration of Independence told us we deserved it.
that God actually gave us the right to pursue it...

it's a basic human right, didn't you know? the pursuit of "happiness".
which, to us, means: extra money, just to swim in it
big houses with all the upgrades, nice new cars with all the bells and whistles
100 pairs of shoes, 7 gray ruffly sweaters, 14 pairs of black pants
a million useless items in a junk drawer, throwing away extra food

that's all inalienable, right? if you are alive, you deserve those things
and no one (not even King George in 1776) can take that away from you... not without a fight.

we have a mindset here in America: i consume, therefore i am.

and i am as guilty as the next person. just because i shop at target and ross for my clothes,
and always look for the best deal, and buy things at thrift stores,
and tithe to my church, and give money to the homeless guy with the sign...

does NOT mean that i don't share in the sick materialistic addiction that has come to define this "great" nation.

i am an American. i am materialistic. i believe in the American "dream" above all else.

there. i said it... above. all. else. it's true.

if you were to observe my life and the things i spend my time doing
what i talk about, what i spend time researching every day...

you'll notice really quickly that it all centers around materialism.
around this "pursuit of happiness" that God has innately given us, according to Thomas Jefferson.

our pastor preached on this a few weeks ago. it was at that point that i knew i had to let it out
God put me in that church service to hear that sermon to cement everything He's already been teaching me.

somehow "happiness" and the pursuit of it has replaced JOY and the pursuit of it.

it's really the pursuit of STUFF. that will never love you back. that you never have enough of...
a pursuit that is completely and utterly insatiable.

if you go to the middle of Africa in a poverty destroyed, death stained, disease ridden village
where they know Jesus... they are happier than we'll ever be.

it's so funny how i used to thank God for blessing me by allowing me to be born in such a great country without war and disease and poverty.

but i wonder if i'm really the one who's been blessed? maybe it's them? maybe they've been blessed by being born in such poverty and despair because they really NEED Jesus.
their lives really are dependent on Him. they really know the joy of their salvation and they really do have the hope of eternity.

they just need Jesus.
it's like that song we used to sing in high school choir-
"you can have all the rest. give me Jesus".

truly, do any of us really believe that? look at the way we live.
do any of us REALLY agree with that statement?

you can have (almost) all the rest. {i'd love to keep Jesus, so don't get me wrong
please don't take Him away}
but please, also, don't take away my house. don't take away my disposable income. don't take away my family. don't take away my savings account. don't take away my full stomach. don't take away my warm shower or my overflowing (walk-in) closet, and definitely not my cable or internet or my cell phone. oh, and don't take my health or my job.
pretty much anything else you can have...

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

what am i doing about all this? something. that's for sure.

am i going to sell everything and give all i have to the poor? probably not.

{no, really, i'm not}

but i think that there are things i can do. i KNOW there are things i can do.
and it starts with an attitude adjustment and letting go of my sense of entitlement.
letting go of this conviction that somehow God has given me the right to pursue happiness.

one thing i know God has given me? the right to pursue HIM.

will you join me? i am confident that He will reveal precisely what He wants me to do.
because, after all, we were born here, in this culture and this era of materialism...
for a specific reason.

i'm going to start by picking up the book "Radical" and then by giving some money away.

oh, and also, i want to start seeing my stuff and these "blessings" for what they are.

modern technology, modern medicine, modern conveniences...

they're merely TOOLS. they are a means to an end.

not the end in themselves. that's where we've got it wrong.
this STUFF is our ultimate goal and the purpose for our lives.
we live and work and sweat and sacrifice so that we may consume. period.

be thankful for these tools because they can make your service to the Lord easier
or faster, or more efficient, or further-reaching...

but don't worship the stuff. don't turn the stuff into your god.


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