Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Treasure Challenge

As some of you know, I'm a big fan of Borders. They must really love me there! ;) But I think something has got to change. It seems that every time I go there, I lose self-control and I end up buying at least one book. Yes, in a way, it is funny. But it's a problem, too.

While I don't know if I actually fit the label "shopaholic," I know that I've been spending a lot more than necessary lately. From books (and lots of them!), to music on iTunes, to souvenirs . . . you name it, I've bought it. And I think that doing something to remind me of what I should really prioritize in my life would be a good idea. =)

So, here's my idea: For the rest of the summer, no more buying for myself!

Now, I don't want you to feel like you need to hold me to be accountable. I don't really want to put that kind of pressure on you, although it is helpful to me that others know my plan. Instead, I'm sharing this with you for two reasons:

1. Maybe by writing down exactly what I want to accomplish and why I want to accomplish it, I will have a better chance of sticking to the plan.

2. By sharing why this is on my mind, maybe you will be encouraged in your faith, as well.

Here are the only exceptions to the no-spending rule:
  • Necessities: I will allow myself to buy food (even occasional treats), personal care items, etc. when I need them.

  • Events: I will allow myself to contribute money if/when necessary in order to participate in events/activities with my family and friends. (This could include going to the county fair, a concert, etc.--anything I do with others that will create fun memories!)

  • Giving: I will allow myself to buy gifts, postcards, etc. for others. Especially with so many birthdays coming up!
(I could include emergencies on this list, but since I'm home with my parents for the summer, I'm sure if anything comes up they'll help me out! Oh, and I'll also be buying textbooks and such when school comes around, I'm sure!) =)

Basically, I need to stop buying books, movies, music, etc. for myself. Any more books I get this summer will have to be ones I get for free to review or ones I win in giveaways.

Now, here's the point of all of this! During my devotional time, I have been reminded of the importance of treasuring Christ above all else--above money, possessions, and even other relationships. The Radical Question by David Platt emphasizes the importance of giving our all to Jesus and being devoted followers of Him (at least from what I've read so far). It's important to remember that God comes first!

Another devotional book I've been reading (I'm now on my second time through) is Life as a Vapor by John Piper. Talk about a wake-up call! Our lives are so short; therefore, remembering our priorities is key. The reason I got this devotional book was because I saw it at our bookstore this last semester, and I recognized the author as the one who wrote a book we read in our Global Perspectives class (the book was called Don't Waste Your Life). I've noticed that in his books he often refers to our need to treasure Jesus, and by doing so, show others their need to treasure Him, as well. And Piper says that treasuring Him brings Him glory and us joy! How amazing is it that God gives us fulfillment and joy by worshiping Him?

"Deep in our hearts we know that we were not made to be made much of. We were made to make much of something great. The best joys are when we forget ourselves, enthralled with greatness. The greatest greatness is God's. Every good that ever thrilled the heart of man is amplified ten thousand times in God, its Maker." --John Piper, Life as a Vapor, p. 159-160

"The seeing of the healthy eye is not neutral. When it sees God, it sees God-as-beautiful. It sees God-as-desirable. That is why the healthy eye leads to the path of light: laying up treasures in heaven and serving God not money. The healthy eye is a single eye. It has one treasure. When that happens in your life, you are full of light." --John Piper, Life as a Vapor, p. 26 (emphasis mine)

I think The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn sounds like it promotes a similar idea--treasuring God first and using the money He has blessed us with to bless others and glorify Him. (I haven't actually read this book, so I can't say for sure.)

All in all, I know I have a lot to learn. Throughout the "Seasons of Humility," there's a lot of growth that must happen. What I really need to learn is to be thankful, content, and willing to trust it all in God's hands. May we all learn to share Job's attitude as shown in this verse:

"Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21)

Thank you for taking the time to "listen!" May this summer be filled with time focused on God and sharing His love with others! May we treasure Him above all!

(Pictures are from the Bald Hills area in northern California. My mother and I went there a few weeks back to see the lupines and take some pictures!)


Julia M. Reffner said...

Amber, Great post! I, too, have been thinking about treasuring Christ above all else. I think money and time can be the biggest indicators in my own life. For me its been my writing/blogging at times. As a homeschooling mom of two I don't have a lot of free time and sometimes I have to admit I feel envious when I see others writing 20,000+ words in a week. I'm lucky to get to 2,500 words in a week. I need to remember as I put the Lord first if He wants me to write this book it will happen. Just like the journey to publication is in His own time I have to remind myself that it may take me several years to complete a manuscript. On the other hand, if I'm not fully focused on the Lord and ministering to my family I will have wasted this time He's given me. This is what I need to keep reminding myself of every day. Amber, I truly appreciate the way that you live out the title of your blog by sharing your struggles, as we all have. May God strengthen you in Your plans to glorify Him.

Casey said...

LOL Amber, that is like me in Family Christian Stores, I have to go in the with mindset that I DO NOT have any money to spend unless I have been squirreling away one dollar bills.

That is wonderful that you are putting God first, and it is movtivation for us all. Your blog is great and I love visiting it, knowing you are trying to honor God, don't ever stop!!

And review setups are GREAT, I have read so many books that I normally never would have. He does provide in great ways. :D

bluerose_shelnut said...

I'm proud of you!! I've been spending too much on books lately, too. They're just so hard to resist... and you gave me yet another one i want to check out. The one by john Piper looks like one I need to read. Thank you for this post! You've got me thinking, too. :)

Amber S. said...

Thank you to all of you for your encouraging comments! :) I so appreciate them!

JULIA: Oh, I have so much to work on! But your words are such an encouragement! :) I know one thing I need to work on more, as well, is not always seeking attention. I thrive on comments! But I'm so thankful for your kindness. :)

And I think I understand how you feel. I, too, have noticed that there have been more and more people that have been able to write "The End" on their manuscripts, and it's hard not to be jealous (not that we don't love you, Casey!). ;)

But you are so right! If it's God's will for us to share the stories He has placed on our hearts, He will provide a way all in His time. I've struggled with wanting to finish writing the story I'm working on sooner, and one reason was because I thought it would be so neat to be one of the youngest published authors. But that's a pride issue, so maybe God is having this process take longer to teach me more about humility and giving Him all the glory. And if I'm not meant to ever publish this story, maybe He's just using the writing of it to help me grow and maybe encourage a few people that are close to me who might read it. God's ways are above our own!

All this to say: thank YOU, Julia, for encouraging me! :) May God give you peace about your writing, and may He bless you and your family!

CASEY: Then you can sympathize with me! ;) Although, even though this last time I went I was thinking, "I already went to Borders not that long ago AND I got some new books for my birthday," I STILL fell into temptation and bought two more! Hence the reason I need to have a set plan. :)

Thank you, as well, for your kind words! You are so nice, Casey, and I really appreciate all of your comments! It's so nice to have your support. :) Thank you!

BLUEROSE: Thank you! Books are definitely my kryptonite. ;) But I know I need to work on that! And doing these book review programs should help me stop spending money that should be set aside to help pay for college!

And as much as I probably shouldn't be recommending books right now, John Piper's book definitely encouraged and inspired me, and caused me to think deeply. I highly recommend it!

And I'm so glad to hear that this post might just help all of us think more about what we treasure most. :) Thank you for your encouragement!

God bless you all!


Julia M. Reffner said...

I understand what you mean about comments. It can be easy to get tied up with the temptations of blogging. I've recently had to stop checking blogpatrol for that very reason.

As for me, I think writing can be a selfishness issue. Its something I enjoy doing, but if I allow myself to yearn for "me" time too much that's not always a good thing. I'm so grateful God gives us "seasons" and just need to remember that it may take more than one season to finish my book.

Blessings on your weekend!

Ariel said...

I am the same way when I got to Borders!!! Leanne has to drag me away before I even come close to going in :P But I have Don't Waste Your Life (still need to finish it) and it's a great book. Good luck!

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

You're so lucky you have a Borders, the Borders at the local mall closed so now there is NO BOOKSTORE near me. Maybe you need to move in the PA area LOL for extra help avoiding temptation, you can't buy books if the store doesnt exist. :-P

I think it's great what you're doing here and you're setting a great example for young people everywhere about getting priorities straight! You go girl!

XOXO~ Renee

Amber S. said...

JULIA: It's nice to know you understand! :) I do tend to spend quite a bit of time on the Internet...yet another thing I should probably work on! And I'm so glad that God gives us "seasons," as well, and that He works in His own time--which is for our good! Thanks again for stopping by!

ARIEL: Thanks! It sounds like I'm not the only one who gets tempted at Borders. ;) We should start a group called B.S.A. (Borders Shoppers Anonymous). Just kidding!

Anyway, glad to hear you're enjoying Don't Waste Your Life. It is a rather convicting book with some great reminders! May God strengthen us all to make good decisions and put Him first!

RENEE: Maybe I should move to your hometown. ;) You're right--it would probably make it a whole lot easier to not buy books! It's a good thing that they have all these free book blogging/review programs!

Also, thank you for your encouragement! :D