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THE JEWELED LADY OF POMPEII
Of the 20,000 inhabitants of Pompeii, some 2,000 lost their lives, among them a woman who loved finery above all else. As the deadly rain of fire came down, she decided to run to the harbor and escape by ship. That was wise, but this rich and beautiful woman stayed behind just long enough to collect as much jewelry as she could carry. Snatching up her rings, she hastily thrust them on her fingers. There was no time to hunt for a box or a bag in which to cram her ornaments, so she picked up as many as she could hold, and rushed into the street, clutching her pearls and diamonds, her rubies and sapphires, her gold brooches and her earrings--a wealth of finery that would be placed at thousands of dollars today.
But she delayed too long. The poisonous fumes overcame her as she ran; and with all her trinkets she stumbled, fell, and died, clutching the things she prized so much.
There, under the ashes of Pompeii she lay; and when the excavators found her, she was still lovely, and her hands were still laden with jewels.
— Prairie Overcomer, Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations
THE BURNING OF THE BRANDS
British style writer Neil Boorman has decided to burn every branded thing in his possession. "I am addicted to brands," he confessed in a magazine article: "From an early age, I have been taught that to be accepted, to be lovable, to be cool, one must have the right stuff. At junior school, I tried to make friends with the popular kids, only to be ridiculed for the lack of stripes on my trainers. Once I had nagged my parents to the point of buying me the shoes, I was duly accepted at school, and I became much happier as a result. As long as my parents continued to buy me the brands, life was more fun. Now, at the age of 31, I still behave according to playground law."
Boorman finally realized that the happiness found in his possessions is hollow and short-lived, leaving him with a "continual, dull ache." So he's taking drastic action and turning to a life of simplicity. He summarizes: "The manner in which we spend our money defines who we are. ...In this secular society of ours, where family and church once gave us a sense of belonging, identity, and meaning, there is now Apple, Mercedes, and Coke. ...So, this is why I am burning all my stuff. To find real happiness, to find the real me.
Video: Brand Burning. Lori Quicke, Wheaton, Illinois; source: Neil Boorman, "Bonfire of the Brands," BBC Magazine (8-29-06).
Sermon Central Staff
THE DESTINY OF MATERIALISM
The lure of wealth, or what we might call the magnetism of materialism.
“Finns [people from Finland] who can’t get enough of winter swarmed to the northern town of Kemi for the opening of a sprawling ice castle that features a theatre, a playground, an art gallery, and a chapel.
“Thirty workers took three months to build a castle with 13-foot walls stretching for 1650 feet.
“An Orthodox Church chapel, hewn from ice, has been booked for weddings and christenings. The theater has a capacity of 3000 and features rock and pop concerts, musicals, modern dance, opera recitals, and popular operas.
[Here’s the kicker.]
“Construction and upkeep costs are estimated to be $1.1 million, yet the castle always melts sometime in mid-April.
“The melting ice serves as a reminder that all the material things in this world will one day pass away.”
(1001 Quotes, Illustrations & Humorous Stories for Preachers, Teachers & Writers, 329). From a sermon by Eric Lenhart, Seeds Among Thorns, 8/13/2010
THE LIGHTS OF HOME
In his memoirs, Chronicles of Wasted Time, Malcolm Muggeridge tells of events that took place in Africa in 1943. He was forty years old but his experience of those four decades had been of progressive disillusionment.
After Cambridge he spent three years in India, which shattered his early religious beliefs; and two years in Stalin’s Russia, which left his idealistic materialism in ruins. Even the Second World War only led to further disillusionment. He tried to enlist but was turned down on health grounds. He was accepted as a spy in the British Secret Service, but found that being stuck in Lorenco Marques, monitoring the German disruption of Allied shipping, far from glamorous. As a result he says: “Much of the time I spent wishing I was dead”.
To cut a long story short, one night, in sheer despair, he decided to end his life. He drove the six miles out of town, undressed, left his clothes on the beach, waded out in the dark cold water and started swimming. Quickly he was out of sight of the beach and could see only the lights from the distant town. But all of a sudden he began to tremble and then, without thinking or deciding, he began to swim back to the shore, his eyes fixed on the glow from Peter’s Café and the Costa da Sol. He says of them: “They were the lights of the world; they were the lights of my home, my habitat, where I belonged. I must reach them. There followed an overwhelming joy such as I had never ex...
THE 100 THING CHALLENGE
Have you heard about the 100 Thing Challenge? It's a "grass-roots movement in which otherwise seemingly normal folks are pledging to whittle down their possessions to a mere 100 items." It was started by on-line entrepreneur Dave Bruno, who believes in this simple truth: "Stuff starts to overwhelm you."
You should set aside a few minutes to read the whole article. It's filled with interesting quotes and stories from folks who have taken on the challenge. I also found the section featuring professional organizer Julie Morgenstern to be engaging if only because of the acronym she lives by: SHED--"Separate the treasures, Heave the trash, Embrace your identity from within, and Drive yourself forward." Not sure I need to list for you the angles on this one, but here goes: materialism, consumerism, identity, the tension of treasures (earthly/kingdom). (From Preaching Today).
THE SAD STORY OF FRANK SINATRA
FRANK SINATRA: Excerpt from a memoir by Tina Sinatra, Frank Sinatra’s daughter
His health was in tatters and his life mired in financial wrangles, but my father refused to stop giving concerts, "I’ve just got to earn more money," he said. His performances, sad to say, were becoming more and more uneven. Uncertain of his memory, he became dependent on tele-prompters. When I saw him at Desert Inn in Las Vegas, he struggled through the show and felt so sick at the end that he needed oxygen from a tank that he kept on hand. At another show he forgot the lyrics to "Second Time Around," a ballad he had sung a thousand times. His adoring audience finished it for him.
I couldn’t bear to see Dad struggle. I remembered all the times he repeated the old boxing maxim "You gotta get out before you hit the mat." He wanted to retire at the top of his game, and I always thought he would know when his time came, but pushing 80 he lost track of when to quit. After seeing one too many of these fiascos, I told him, "Pop, you can stop now; you don’t have to stay on the road." With a stricken expression he said, "No, I’ve got to earn more money. I have to make sure everyone is taken care of."
Since his death there have been constant family wrangles over his fortune.
CITY OF POMPEII
Clovis Chappell told the story of the evacuation of the city of Pompeii which was destroyed in AD 79 by an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. During the excavation of the city, there was found a body embalmed by the ashes of the volcano. It was that of a woman. Her feet were turned toward the city gate, but her face was turned backward toward something that lay just beyond her outstretched hands. The prize for which those frozen fingers were reaching was a bag of pearls.
Chappell says, though death was hard at her heels, and life was beckoning to her beyond the city gates, she could not shake off their spell. She had turned to pick them up with death as her reward.
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was going.– Hebrews 11:8 HCSB
There once was an old Christian who was often entranced by his love for the Lord. One summer evening, he was delving deeply into a scriptural text and while pacing about the room, he didn’t notice that his pacing had caused him to step outside. He continued down the street, meditating on the Word, and actually ended up in a nearby town, about two or three miles away.
In that town, another man who knew the old man was getting ready to begin the day’s work when he recognized the elder. He could tell by the teacher’s clothes that man had wandered there unintentionally.
He called out. The elder responded with surprise, “Why – what are you doing here?”
The man gently answered, “Teacher, you have wandered to my town.” Then, he took the old man home.
We would look at such a man, ignore his brilliant teaching and deep fervor for the Lord, shake our heads and mutter, “Must be early onset of Alzheimer’s.” But deep in our hearts there is a longing for such a passion. We want to be lost in something greater, deeper and more beautiful than ourselves.
Have you ever gotten so completely entranced by love that time and space simply slipped by unnoticed? I have a wonderful wife; beautiful, intelligent, talented – a truly great lady. Such a wife is a gift from God.
There have been times when my ministry has so overwhelmed me that I have been ready to quit. But I have gone home and as I listened to my lady’s quiet voice, watched her move confidently about her domain and deal patiently, but persistently with the children, I have become so entranced that I have forgotten my frustrations and became able to simply go on.
Christian, a great love is available to you. All that is required is that you put God’s kingdom above all else and this world will no longer seem like your...
Five-year-old Suri Cruise, the daughter movie stars Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, was seen last week throwing a temper tantrum in toy store. This is a five-year-old girl with a $130,000 Christmas wish list including a $100,000 pony! (Originally Published: Friday, December 23 2011)
It’s hard to believe that she would want anything more, but that’s the way we are wired. When we seek the things of the earth, we are NEVER SATISFIED.
I have visited Japan three times in the past several years. It is a fascinating place of great contrasts – primarily – great beauty contrasted with great sadness. You see from my observation, the Japanese culture is one of materialism, self-satisfaction, rigid order and sexism – all of this amidst some beautiful country sides and majestic mountains.
Several of the businessmen – and I say businessmen because of the literally hundreds of people that I met; only one was female – have a schedule that would end marriages in the US. Most have long commutes that begin at 5:00am or 6:00am arriving at their office around 7:30am or so, work all day until 9:30pm or so, then they go out and have dinner and drinks with their coworkers and customers, then they catch the last train home sometime after midnight only to start the whole thing over again just a few hours later. Several of those that I met keep basic toiletries, a pillow and a blanket at their desk and have been known to sleep in the office rather than going home. Many only see their families on the weekend and usually only one day is spent with family – the other is spent socializing for business purposes.
When I walked the streets of Tokyo I kept my head up and tried to make eye contact with the people to no avail. Everyone kept their head down, eyes focused on the ground under their feet. When you did catch someone looking up there was this… lifelessness in their eyes. I say that specifically, because there was something there – despair, hopelessness and great sadness – all the result of living out a life searching for something that does not exist in the material world.
Christ is not a part of their culture. Their culture lacks hope. Their culture is motivated by achievement. Yet their achievements only motivate them to achieve more and more. It’s an endless cycle with no end, no great reward. They have nothing above them to look forward to. They have no hope.