In my own struggle to overcome unhealthy beliefs about money, I recently found my way back to an old text on the limitations of wealth. I was startled by how these words from antiquity feel so remarkably modern. And what blew me away even more than the freshness of these ancient words is the profound insight behind them.
MYTH #1: More money will fulfill me emotionally and spiritually.
TRUTH: “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).
MYTH #2: More money will enrich my social life.
TRUTH: “As goods increase, so do those who consume them” (Ecclesiastes 5:11).
MYTH #3: More money will open doors to all sorts of practical benefits.
TRUTH: “And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?” (Ecclesiastes 5:11).
MYTH #4: More money will ease my anxiety.
TRUTH: “The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep” (Ecclesiastes 5:12).
MYTH #5: More money will protect me.
TRUTH: “I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners” (Ecclesiastes 5:13).
MYTH #6: More money will provide me comfort and security.
TRUTH: “I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: . . . wealth lost through some misfortune so that when they have children there is nothing left for them to inherit” (Ecclesiastes 5:13-14).
MYTH #7: More money will mean I’m successful.
TRUTH: “Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands. This too is a grievous evil: As everyone comes, to they depart, and what do they gain, since they toil for the wind?” (Ecclesiastes 5:15-16).
MYTH #8: More money will allow me to stop working and enjoy life.
TRUTH: “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink, and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” (Ecclesiastes 5:18).
MYTH #9: More money will make me happy.
TRUTH: “I have seen another grievous evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on mankind: God gives some people wealth, possessions and honor, so that they lack nothing their hearts desire, but God does not grant them the ability to enjoy them, and strangers enjoy them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil” (Ecclesiastes 5:19-6:2).
MYTH #10: More money will do more for me than the money I already have.
TRUTH: “Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 6:9).
So, so blessed by what happened at church this morning. The blessing wasn't in the things typically associated with a great Sunday. It wasn't in a huge crowd. It wasn't in perfectly themed worship songs. It wasn't in a polished sermon.
Today's blessing was in witnessing the Gospel's power to heal human brokenness.
. . . And in witnessing broken humans honestly and courageously opening themselves to God's healing.
. . . And in witnessing the congregation's leaders fanning this flame of authentic community.
Here's what happened. Rather than a canned Communion talk, the one giving the Communion talk tearfully read a Scripture about drinking the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, confessed that he had been doing so for the past two years by carrying resentment towards his brother, and then in front of the whole church asked his brother to forgive him and invited his brother and his brother's family to break the Communion Bread with him and his family. A tearful embrace followed at the front of the auditorium as friends gathered to pray with them.
Then the preacher ditched his prepared sermon. Instead, he went unscripted and shared two things from his heart. First, he humbly apologized to the congregation for something he said a couple weeks ago that came across as insensitive. He clarified his intention and then simply said, "I'm sorry."
Then he passionately cast a vision for the congregation (while an elder seated behind me passionately affirmed him)--a vision for the church being a safe place for broken people to be honest about their struggles and receive support, love, and healing. "There are plenty of churches that will kick a man or woman when they're down," he said with fire in his eyes, "but I don't want to be a part of a church like that." He prayed for God to accomplish the mighty work of safe, authentic community within the congregation. After the prayer he celebrated an anonymous single mother--and all other strugglers--for having the courage to simply show up on Sunday, and then he closed with these affirming words: "You make me proud to be a part of this church."
As most folks around here have discovered, the housing market in Middle TN is red hot. The market in each of the eight Middle TN counties is booming--each for different reasons. Here's a quick run-down of the #1 most attractive feature of each of the eight Middle TN counties I track:
Let me know what questions you may have about a particular part of the county you live in. I'm always happy to run the numbers on your neighborhood and zip code, which will provide insight into your home's value.
So I just ran the latest numbers for eight Middle TN counties as of Friday, June 30--the final day of the 2nd quarter. I've rated each county's market strength according to eight criteria (which are listed at the end of this post). Based on my diagnostics, the eight counties are listed as follows according to market strength (the lower the score the stronger the market):
Here's a summary of how the counties stack up to one another in each of the eight categories:
When a pen runs out of ink, we don't hesitate to throw it away and get another one. And when a light bulb burns out, we don't think twice about discarding it. The thought of refilling the pen with ink or mending the filament inside the bulb never enters our minds. Even if a repair were somehow possible, it would be far too impractical to be regarded a sensible option.
In the ancient world, long before Bic and Edison, reeds were used for pens, and lamps were employed for light. When a reed became bruised, bent, or splintered, the virtually worthless stick was quickly discarded and replaced--just like our out-of-ink pens. And, much like our burned-out light bulbs, when a smoldering wick inside the lamp began giving off more smoke than light, that valueless piece of flax was promptly traded out for a brand new one. Even if it were possible to somehow mend the reed or wick, such monumental efforts for such worthless objects would hardly be prudent.
The problem in the ancient world was that, just like those bruised reeds and smoldering wicks, imperfect people, too, were discarded. Ironically, religious people were the first to break these bruised people and extinguish their flickering hope. The religious establishment pushed these rejects to the margins of society and backed as far away as possible. (They even named their particular sect the "Separatists" to show their commitment to standoffishness.) To the Pharisees and those like them, damaged people lacked value and were certainly not worth the massive effort it would require to rehabilitate them--if such a feat were even possible.
Then along comes Jesus: feeding the hungry, healing the sick, eating with sinners, forgiving prostitutes, letting adulteresses off the hook, calling tax collectors down from trees, sharing living water with five-time divorcees, and promising paradise to dying criminals. As Matthew, in his gospel, is recording Jesus' unrelenting efforts to redeem these irredeemables, he recalls a beautiful prophecy from Isaiah about the promised Messiah:
"A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out."
Rather than breaking and snuffing out, Jesus expends himself for the expendables. He does the most for "the least." He is marginalized for the marginalized, broken for the broken, wounded for the wounded. Jesus is so committed to his mission of mercy that he becomes a bruised reed for bruised reeds like us. ("He was bruised for our iniquities.") And he becomes that smoldering wick for smoldering wicks like us . . . so that we can have light and life.
And . . . so that we can extend mercy to other bruised reeds (out-of-ink pens) and smoldering wicks (burned-out light bulbs) like us.
Here's to a Merry and Merciful week,
When surveyed, residents shared these three reasons for living downtown:
David is walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Or perhaps he's running--fleeing for his life from the jealous wrath of King Saul. No doubt young David is scared, weary, confused, and discouraged. He and his rag-tag army of marginalized misfits are sneaking from cave to cave, constantly looking over their shoulders for signs of Saul's elite army on their tail.
At this pivotal moment in the life of David and in the story of Israel, who else shows up to encourage and comfort David but Jonathan, who happens to be both King Saul's son and David's beloved friend? Despite Jonathan's love for his father and his natural human ambitions to succeed his father as king, the prince perceives God's plans to prosper David's future.
Jonathan seeks out David in the desert caves and utters to his father's enemy these words of friendship and hope: "Don’t be afraid. My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this” (1 Samuel 23:17).
In a recent Bible class, Stan Smith distilled Jonathan's words of encouragement down to these three encouragement-inducing expressions:
Know anyone who's scared, weary, confused, or discouraged? Want to help them find strength in the Lord? These three simple statements might be the perfect place to start.
So I just ran the first quarter 2017 numbers on Middle Tennessee's housing market. Here's my one insight for each of the seven counties:
If you're wondering what your home is worth in today's market, let me know and I'll run these stats on your particular neighborhood. Just call or text me at 615-336-6686 or email me at Daniel@TheMusicCityRealtor.com.
What stats are most impressive to you? Or what trends are you noticing in your part of the county? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
After a recent dinner, Haven and I went to Michaels to buy some Elmer’s glue (a critical ingredient for slime, the latest elementary-school craze). We wound up coming home with a lot more than glue . . .
As soon as our car doors open, a voice calls to us across the parking lot. A homeless man on the curb outside Michaels asks if we’d like to buy a paper for a dollar, which will go toward the night’s hotel room. Since Haven has always enjoyed supporting our city’s street vendors, I give her a dollar and she gladly swaps it for the paper.
Delaying our entrance into the store, the man begins sharing with us an honest glimpse into his life: his late nights on the street gathering enough money for a room; his days finishing his degree at Lipscomb University; his dream to become a child psychologist; his former life as a soldier in our nation’s armed forces; and a vague reference to his wife’s poor health. As Haven and I are taking in this couple’s situation, I’m struck and touched by the absence of self-pity in the man’s account of what has become his life. Somehow this man and his wife exude joy and freedom as they tell their sad-but-true tale.
After several minutes of one-sided conversation, Haven and I eventually head into the store, and halfway down the main aisle toward the much-anticipated glue, Haven pauses, leans into me, and buries her moist eyes in my chest. This couple's struggles are a lot for both of us to take in.
We press on, find the glue, locate my 40% off coupon, pay, and walk out with glue in hand. “Do you know Warren? He’s a minister at Harpeth Hills,” the homeless man asks as soon as we exit the store. I do know Warren, which leads us into a discussion of mutual friends and common church experiences, and also greater insight into this couple’s life: limbs amputated after an encounter with a roadside bomb; home foreclosed on by the VA after the 2010 Nashville flood; wife battling lung cancer and Alzheimer’s; the sum total of their worldly possessions stuffed in a pair of backpacks at their feet.
But there’s more to their story than struggle. Each day the same sun that rises and shines upon us also shines upon them. And each night angels descend with the darkness and surround them with hope and help.
The wife, Edie, tells me how she and Steven began fighting with one another after losing their home. Edie soon tired of the arguing and instead began speaking hope into their situation. “God will send his angels to help us," she'd repeatedly tell herself and Steven. And according to this couple, every night for the last 7 years, God has sent his angels to help. Then Edie adds, “And you are our angels tonight.” I’m convinced it’s the other way around.
Steven picks up where Edie leaves off and continues counting their blessings. One Sunday when the bus didn’t pick them up, they walked all morning until they finally arrived at church—Steven’s leg bleeding where the prosthetic attaches to his flesh. Upon their mid-service arrival, the congregants parted like the Red Sea as Steven and Edie were welcomed to the front. There Dave, the minister, grabbed a wet towel and washed the wound. Steven’s protesting was silenced by Dave’s insistence, “If Jesus can wash feet, so can I.” The church took Steven to the hospital and then took up a special contribution to cover a two-week stay in a comfortable hotel.
This is the same church that, upon Edie’s diagnosis of lung cancer, pledged to surround her with prayers for healing. “Don’t pray that I’ll be healed,” Edie protested, “but pray that the pain won’t be too much to bear and that I can die singing praises to God in this church. I want to go out of this life the way I’ll be coming into Heaven.”
“When she dies,” Steven adds, “a part of me will die.”
“But you’ll be alright,” comforts Edie. “I’ll be watching over you.”
Haven and I can no longer keep the tears in our eyelids. We cry with this bruised and battered couple. We embrace. And we finally go our separate ways—Steven and Edie to their hotel, and Haven and I to our home.
But first Haven and I spend a few moments in the car feeling the weight of the strangely beautiful moment we've just experienced together. We sit beside each other and weep some more. Finally, when I can see clearly enough to drive out of the parking lot, Haven speaks fervent words through her sobs: “We take almost everything for granted.”
Yes, we most certainly do. But these rare, up-close glimpses of gracious, joyful survivors like Steven and Edie have a way of putting things back into their proper perspective . . . all because God used a simple trip to the store for Elmer’s to remind us of the glue that holds us together.