Tag Archives: Market

Spiritual Scarcity

Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift….”
1 Corinthians 1:7a (NIV)

A few weeks ago I was wondering exactly where my property line lay in relation to a few adjacent lots. There are metal property pins driven into the corner of each lot, but most of them have been buried over time. So, I put out a plea on Facebook for a metal detector as I figured that was what I lacked to find the pins, and a friend brought one over to me. In the process, however, another friend messaged me a link to an iPhone app. I never knew it, but my iPhone can act as a metal detector. Who knew. All along I had what I needed right in the palm of my hand.

You don’t have enough….”
What you really need is….”
If only you had….”
You’ll never, until you have….”

Along the journey through life I have come to realize that our economy and our culture is predicated on an innate sense of scarcity. A market is driven by supply and demand. If a company is building a supply of widgets that they want to sell to the masses, then they must somehow create a demand for it. The marketing and branding gurus go to work convincing us that we want that widget. We need that widget. Our lives are less fulfilled without it and life would be more comfortable, satisfying, and complete if we only had this widget.

Scarcity is the underlying belief that I am not enough and I don’t have enough. We are subtly fed this message day in and day out without us ever being aware of it. Along the way, I’ve come to the realization that it seeps out of mass media into my very soul. It affects the way I view God and my spiritual thought and belief system.

If only I was a gifted [fill in the blank]….”
God won’t ever be happy with me because I’m not….”
I would feel closer to God if only I had….

In the opening of his letter to the followers of Jesus in the city of Corinth, Paul reminds them that they don’t lack any spiritual gift. Other teachers were trying to convince them that what they “really needed” was to be baptized by this particular teacher, or the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues, or this, or that, and et cetera. Paul made it clear. You’ve got what you need. You just don’t realize it.

On this Monday morning when my soul is weary and I’m staring out at long week ahead, it is easy to feel a sense of lack. It seems that what I really need is scarce and I’m starting the week in a deficit of [fill in the blank]. It is good to be reminded that as a follower of Jesus I am blessed with “every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) God has spiritually provided all that I need. It’s time to realize it, and accept the realization.

 

 

Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 7

I am publishing my travel journal from our trip to Edinburgh which  took place June 1-8, 2015. I am posting my journal entry and pictures from each day in chronological order.

Our last full day in Edinburgh was sunny and relatively warm. It would turn out to be the nicest day of our entire trip and a wonderful way to end our time in Scotland. Wendy and I got up and, while Wendy showered, I walked up Victoria Street to the La Barantine Patisserie for an Americano. We got ready for the day and grabbed the bus to the Royal Botanic Gardens, which was the same route we’d taken the day before to Taylor’s flat, but just a few stops before.

Wendy and I walked down Arboritum Road toward the entrance to the gardens and enjoyed the sunshine. It felt absolutely wonderful as we walked. It was about 4-5 blocks to the main entrance of the Gardens and we entered the visitor’s center to find Taylor browsing through the gift shop.

We entered the gardens and immediately walked to Inverleith House, an old mansion in the middle of the gardens which contains a contemporary art gallery. Taylor had done an internship there this year, helping them investigate opportunities to build patron support. There was a show by Nicholas Party in the galleries called “Boys and Pastel” which Taylor had helped install. Not only did it have the artist’s works, but the artist had chosen colors and designs for the walls of each room, which Taylor had helped paint. We walked through the exhibit and took pictures. The gallery was nice with big airy rooms and a lot of gorgeous sunlight.

We then began a tour of the grounds. The Botanic Gardens were wonderful and it was such a lovely day. The flowers, the smells, and the landscape were breathtaking and we took our time leisurely walking about. After a while Wendy plopped down on a stretch of grass, stretched out her arms, and basked in the sunlight. Taylor and I joined her and we began a trend as several more visitors eventually joined us nearby. We lay on the lawn, took in the sun, and enjoyed conversation together. I think we all could have sat there all day, but there were other things on our agenda.

Taylor wanted to take us to a small outdoor market that was a hike of several blocks from the Botanic Gardens. During her year in Edinburgh, Taylor has worked two days a week at Steampunk Coffee, a coffee roaster and coffee bar in North Berwick. Steampunk has a mobile coffee stand housed out of a VW van that is a regular at this particular outdoor market. We enjoyed walking through the market and seeing all of the vendors. I especially liked the vendor who makes different sauces with Scotch whiskey.  We bought some Scottish made chocolate and a chocolate fudge muffin before heading for the bus stop.

Taylor had planned a girls date of high tea with Wendy. They got off the bus near the shop, Eteaket, where they had a 2:00 reservation. It is on a lower level with a small outdoor patio where they had tea in the sunshine. Wendy had a fabulous “girls” time with Taylor and she marveled at the huge selections of teas from which she could choose.

Meanwhile, I rode the bus a few more stops. Taylor had told me to get off when I saw the Royal Mile, but I realized that we were passing St. John’s Church on the opposite side of Edinburgh Castle. A quick check of the bus route told me that this was as close as I was going to get since the Royal Mile starts at the castle, so I hopped off and began a long trek up castle hill to the Royal Mile.

As mentioned in yesterday’s entry, I had wanted to do a Scotch Whiskey tasting while in Scotland and knew that neither of the ladies would have any interest. By luck, Jon De Haan and Gabe Spencer had arrived the previous night and when I mentioned doing a tasting they both eagerly agreed to join me. We met at Rabbie Burns Pub on the Royal Mile which had been recommended by a friend of Taylor’s.  Jon and Gabe had just arrived and were looking at the menu as I walked in the pub and we switched to a larger table. We figured we wouldn’t want to do a whiskey tasting on an empty stomache, so we ordered lunch. I had a burger and an ale called Caldonia Best. The boys each joined me in the Caldonia Best, but ordered bangers and mash.

There were three different levels of whiskey tasting that each included four different types of Scotch. Jon and I both chose the same one (the lower priced flight), but Gabe went for broke and ordered the highest price. He was, however, happy to share so we each got to try eight different types of Scotch. It was a lot of fun and I was amazed at the differences in color, aroma, and flavor. There were a couple of varieties that were similar, but for the most part each was quite distinctive. It was fun to have a couple of other guys to share the experience and I enjoyed Jon and Gabe’s company immensely as we chatted away and compared our impressions of the whiskey. I preferred the smokey, peat tinged whiskeys from Islay myself.

Before all of the Scotch was consumed, Taylor and Wendy arrived and joined us. There followed an hour or so of pleasant conversation. Jon and Wendy got into a spirited debate centered on Harry Potter, and whether it was Harry’s mother or father who first appeared out of his wand at the end of the fourth book. The answer would prove whether Rowling had made a mistake or not in the logic of the book. It was fun to watch them spar. Eventually, they put their argument aside. We decided it was time to go. Hugs all around and both of the lads agreed to come visit Vander Well Pub next time they were in Pella.

Wendy had to grab a requested scarf for our friend, Becky, before we left the Royal Mile. We left Taylor to hang with her friends while we hit a few more shops. Wendy and I then headed back to the hotel to freshen up.

Taylor joined us about an hour later after escorting Jon and Gabe to The Elephant House. We left the hotel and trekked to Central Methodist Hall which is now home to Central Church where Taylor has worshipped this year. Wendy and I really enjoyed experiencing worship with her and meeting her friends there. I thought it the perfect way to end our week. Wendy and I loved the mostly younger crowd who gathered there and the Spirited worship. The pastor, Carl, gave a great message on Revelation 5 and then the congregation split into various prayer stations for prayer and meditation.

We left a little early before the service concluded and were greeted at the exit by Pastor Carl, who seemed a nice gentleman. Taylor led us to a restaurant, Nando’s, which she had been telling us about all week. It’s a Portugese chicken restaurant and we had our last meal together in Scotland before walking back to the hotel.

Taylor hung out with us for a few minutes as she had a wee bit of a wait for her next bus home. We hugged and said our good-byes, which was certainly bittersweet. It had been so good to see her after eight months, but we took solace in the fact that she will be home with us in seven weeks. After Taylor left, Wendy and I began the process of packing for our trip home as we watched “Bridesmaids” on the telly. I pulled up the Cubs vs. Nationals game on my iPad and as we climbed into bed we watched the Cubs take the four game series 3-1 with a 6-3 victory. It would be a short night before our long journey home.

The flight out of Edinburgh went without a hitch and we arrived at Chicago-O’hare a few minutes early about 12:40 on Monday afternoon. Our 5:30 flight to Des Moines, however, was cancelled and we scrambled to get rebooked on the 7:10 flight. That flight was also delayed. Wendy and I ended up hanging out at the airport and watching the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup from the Berghof in Concourse B. Our flight eventually took off for Des Moines at 11:45 p.m. and we landed in Des Moines at 12:40 a.m. Tuesday morning. After our drive back to Pella it was about 2:15 a.m. when we finally got to bed. We’d been up for 26 hours straight. The second 24+ hour day we’d had in 8 days.

Edinburgh Travel Journal: Days 1-2
Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 3
Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 4
Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 5
Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 6
Edinburgh Travel Journal: Day 7

Ezekiel’s Leading Market Indicator

1929_Black_Tuesday

Your wealth, merchandise and wares,
    your mariners, sailors and shipwrights,
your merchants and all your soldiers,
    and everyone else on board
will sink into the heart of the sea
    on the day of your shipwreck.
Ezekiel 27:27 (NIV)

Reading the newspaper (the actual paper and ink newspaper) is a old school habit that has become a little luxury for Wendy and me. Growing up as a “Paperboy,” I learned early in life to enjoy taking a few minutes each day to read through the news. I long ago grew tired of the way our regional newspaper, The Des Moines Register, became little more than a giant circular advertisement with regurgitation of syndicated content from the AP wires. Wendy and I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and enjoy reading and discussing the news of the day with our breakfast each morning.

One of the things Wendy and I have come to observe about “the Journal”  is the laughable way that economic indicators grab headlines. One day the front page signals that we’re back to the economic glory days of the Roaring ’20s and the next day the headlines scream that we’re teetering on the brink of another Great Depression. There is little doubt that the paper caters to its core constituency of business and investors who tend to look at everything in life through the lens of commerce.

In today’s chapter, Ezekiel continues his prophetic message of doom for the ancient city-state of Tyre. The prophecy, however, takes a sudden turn worthy of a front page mention on the Wall Street Papyrus of their day. Ezekiel, whose prophetic messages centered around religion and idolatry, turns his prophetic lens on Tyre’s economy.

Situated on the Mediterranean coast, Tyre was an important harbor of trade back in that day. Ships from northern Africa, Greece, and southern Europe regularly sailed in and out of Tyre. The trading ships of Tyre had a strong reputation. Ezekiel, however, prophesies that their ships and their economy are about to sink.

My high school history teacher once told us that if we really wanted to find out what is really going on in the world we should “follow the money trail.” I have never forgotten it, and have found it sage advice. Greed is a powerful force, and economics regularly gets the better of our strongest moral principles and religious virtues. Ezekiel’s message in today’s chapter seems to tap into that knowledge of the human condition. Business often scoffs at religion and politics. Commerce seems to think that it will always find a way to escape and make a buck off the suckers in the world. If you want to strike fear into the heart of the business class simply threaten their bank account. Which is exactly what Ezekiel was doing.

What I Really Need More of: Contentment

Double big gulp
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just as Death and Destruction are never satisfied,
    so human desire is never satisfied.
Proverbs 27:20 (NLT)

When I was a kid growing up in Des Moines, the local DX gas station just a few blocks from our house was converted into a 7-11 store. I would ride my bike to the 7-11 to purchase pop and candy. I remember when the “Big Gulp” made its debut. Pop came in small, medium, large and then they introduced the 32 oz grand-daddy of them all. I loved getting my Big Gulp and showing my bicycling prowess by riding hands-free back home while holding my ginormous drink.

Go into a 7-11 today and I find that the Big Gulp is now the smallest option. You can get the Super Big Gulp or the Double Big Gulp. What a great word picture for where we are as a culture.

I find that contentment is both elusive and ignored in our society. You will hear precious few sermons about contentment from pulpits on Sunday. Even our churches are driven by the “bigger is better” paradigm in this age of “Mega-churches.” Our economic system is based on lack of contentment driving non-stop desire which drives the market with consumers wanting more, better, faster, cooler, and bigger. Bigger is better. More is better. You can never have enough.

As a result I find myself overfed, overstimulated, oversold, overstressed, over scheduled, inundated, and indebted. The merry-go-round is spinning out of control and I am in desperate need to get off.

Extracting ourselves from the spinning, out-of-control ride of life begins with a pesky little character quality called contentment.