In part 4 and 5 of this series of posts on the possibility of living to 100, we will look at what longevity could mean for our lives. What does a life of significance, rather than mere success, look like? How do we break free from the conventional view of the three-stage life: education, vocation, and then retirement? Continue reading “Could You Live to 100 Years of Age? (Part 3)”
I remember early on in our marriage shopping for a new BBQ. The store had a sale on so I bought not only a whiz bang BBQ but also a heap of extras to go with it. In the end, I had overspent and busted our budget plans. It took a few months to recover from that impulse buying spree. Nowadays, when Nicole and I are discussing a possible purchase we will often say to each other, “Let’s not do another BBQs galore!” Continue reading “Beware: Impulse Buying!”
As I teenager I loved to play RISK, a board game similar to Monopoly, but in RISK the goal is to conquer the world, not just own the houses in the neighbourhood. Each player is dealt a certain number of countries and armies to placer on them. Then through the roll of the dice they choose to attack neighbouring countries endeavouring to conquer them and expand their territory. The winner is the one who eventually conquers the world. We played it for hours, even creating multi-day games through treaties and all sorts of secret strategies.
I also loved Geography while growing up and I have been privileged to travel to over 30 countries of our wide world in my fifty-six years on the planet so far.
In 2010, I visited Russia for the first time. I had an invitation to speak at a pastor's conference in Moscow which allowed me to then apply for an entry visa. The visa process was complex. Just ONE of the questions was, "What countries have you visited in the last 10 years (date of entry and departure)?" I needed extra paper for this one and it took hours to backtrack my overseas trips, as you can imagine.
During my first visit to Russia, I found the people to be friendly, very hospitable and they have a terrific sense of humour. I have now been back to Russia four times, having visited St. Petersburg and more recently two trips to Siberia – to the cities of Novosibirsk and Achinsk.
Here are a few interesting facts about Russia:
- Russia is a huge country. In fact, it is SO big that there are 11 time zones! Think about that.
- Moscow is amazing. So many people, so much history, such rich culture and so much traffic!
- St. Petersburg is truly one of the most beautiful cities in the world and home to the State Hermitage Museum with over 3 million artefacts including the original of Rembrandt's Prodigal Son painting.
- In Siberia, it gets so cold in the winter (-52 Celsius!) that people leave their car engines running 24 hours a day so they don't freeze.
- Russia is rich with history and both heroes and villians. If you love reading big books and want to grasp the full sweep of Russia's history, check out the 945 page historical novel by Edward Rutherford called Russka. It is an epic story, covering over 1800 years of Russian history traced through the generations of four families.
- Alexander Pushkin is Russia's most famous poet. He influenced many other writers such as Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Check out my wife's BLOG post on "From Russia with Love" for more about this creative poet.
This old building pictured above (with a huge below ground basement) is in the remote city of Achinsk, Siberia. It was once a storage place for vegetables for the Russian military. When I was there a few weeks ago week it was packed with 3,000 enthusiastic Russian Christians worshipping Jesus. See below for a short video clip.
Hundreds of these people are former drug addicts, alcoholics and criminals whose lives have been literally transformed by their experience of Jesus. Grace is still amazing! It reaches out to every person, even to the remotest places on our planet.
If you can ever visit Russia, please do so … with love.
Today we continue our series of BLOG posts reflecting on the question, "Do You Really Need MORE?"
We live in a world that continually seeks to make us dissatisfied with what we currently have and tries to motivate us to buy the latest and the greatest things. As a result, we end up with far more stuff than we really need. Where I live in Australia, many homes have a double garage. The trouble is many people can't fit their two family cars in the garage because of all the stuff they have stored in there. As a result, one of the fastest growing businesses in Australia is the the self-storage industry! People pay money for more space to store all of their things.
I'm as guilty as anyone in getting sucked in by the gravitational pull of materialism. I love new technology and I love books. There is a certain joy in buying a new book even if I haven't read the last few books I bought. Fellow book addicts understand. Those are two of my weaknesses. What about you?
Let's face it, material things always under-perform in bringing us true happiness. Yes, there is a momentary buzz from buying something new or better but before long that feeling fades.
Beware of impulse buying, which refers to unplanned expenditures that we make based on emotion. Some of us get excited at the very sight of the word ‘SALE’, an interest free offer or an offer of ‘2 for the price of 1’. Just because you can afford it does not mean you should buy it. If you buy something on sale, you are not saving, you are spending!
Research indicates that women do this more often than men. But men do it in larger amounts. Come one guys, that extra pair of shoes your wife recently purchased will not bust the budget as much as that new mega-size television you bought for the games room! In fact, when it comes to credit card debt, men owe an average of $450 more than women.
So, when is enough enough? Why don't we all step off the treadmill of endless consumption. Could less actually be more? Is it time to de-clutter, to give stuff away, and to down-size?
On this matter, the wisdom from the sacred text calls to us:
Ecclesiastes 4:6. Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind. NLT
Think about that. Could it be better for you to have less and with it joy and peace than to have more and the debt and accompanying stress that goes with it? I believe so. If your standard of living is creating pressure and anxiety in your life and relationships, why not lower it? Right-size your living expenses to match your income.
It amazing how much stuff we can accumulate through the years. There is something therapeutic about cleaning up, clearing stuff out and simplifying your life. Nicole and I have down-sized a few times in the last year and each time it has felt so good.
Think about it … do you really need MORE stuff?
We live in a society that continually encourages us to pursue MORE – more money, more work, more success, more relationships, more experiences and more stuff. Personally, I love working towards goals and continually accomplishing new things. But this constant achievement-orientation can become addictive and it takes a toll on us – physically, mentally, emotionally and relationally. I can testify to that first hand. In fact, I've experienced what it is to virtually wear myself out in the unquestioned climb up the mountain of MORE.