Did you know we hear or see 5,000 ad impressions a day? By age 20, your kid will have seen one million TV commercials each saying they need to have more.
I read somewhere once that in 1900 there were 10 basic essentials for life. In 2007, can you live without your cell phone? Things change.
What is a need? What is just a want? I'm pretty sure we're not seeing reality.
Imagine the entire population of our planet is represented by just 100 people. Who would be in the room with you? I find it interesting that 70 of them would not call themselves Christian. There would only be 30 white people. Seventy would be people of another color. There would be 51 women, 49 men. Out of that 100 people, 80 of them live in substandard housing. What does that mean? They don't have running water, electricity, or a solid roof over their head. Fifty of them are malnourished. The one meal they might get a day does not provide what the body needs. Seventy of them are illiterate. One is dying as we speak. (The one that's dying represents a little kid under the age of 10 that is dying every second, because they just don't have enough food.) Six of these 100 people have half of all the world's wealth. All six people live in the United States.
What if you represent the dad of the boy that's dying? Do you think it's reasonable to look across the room to the one who has so much money and say, "Is there a possibility you could help my family eat?"
What does this person with all the wealth do? Because he's living in America, he's fairly preoccupied with all he's doing with all his wealth.
• 24 percent of it is going to be for your house, your comfort. It's not just your mortgage payment, but the maintenance of how you live your life, including the lawn service.
• 19 percent is going to go into the health-care category. Insurance payments, prescriptions, Nyquil, cough drops, and whatever other remedies you need.
• 22 percent of your dollar is going to go to your pleasure; your recreational and personal needs. These are the things you really feel are important to enjoy life.
• You will put 15 percent of that dollar in your stomach.
• That last 17 percent is for what you drive. That's not just to make sure you have a nice ride, but for insurance, fuel, and making sure the oil gets changed.
Is there anything left at all to give to the guy whose son is dying?
Last year, secular, nonreligious people in America gave away an average of 2 percent of their income. Church folk gave away a whopping 3 percent of their income. We know the world has great need, but that's all that's left. All the categories of the dollar have already been allocated. That's the way America lives.
I'm sorry, it's actually worse than that. You see, so many of us have a hard time giving even 2 or 3 percent because what we earned wasn't enough! We overspent the categories.
In 2006, the average American spent 118 percent of their income every month. It was not enough for us, and it was not enough for our government that borrowed $546 billion last year.
In 1791, our national debt was $75 million. That's about the amount our national debt goes up every hour. We're spending money we don't have to the tune of about $1.84 billion a day! Every one of us has a $29,000 share in the staggering $8.79 trillion of national debt.
The Washington Times reported on Feb 13, 2007, "At the end of the current fiscal year, the national debt is projected to be 65.5 percent of GDP." And we're the ones on the planet who have it all! Something is really, really wrong.
This kind of sobering information makes me realize that most of the people in our community are actually in serious financial trouble. They're upside down in their finances. They don't have anything that looks like a budget. Many have taken the only nest egg they had, their home equity, and borrowed to consolidate consumer debt.
Currently, the average U.S. household consumer debt is $8,650. Could this mean my town of Fishers, Indiana is suffocating under $164 million of debt? I think that's low in our "keep-up-with-the-Jones" community. That's almost $30 million a year going out the door for credit-card interest. God in heaven must weep at that.
We don't have enough, in light of everything we have!
Can we really expect God to bless our prayers for more? We need to be better stewards. God can't be expected to bless "unblessable" behavior.
This is the most helpful thought I know: Stop thinking of yourself as an owner. You own nothing. You came into this world with nothing and you'll leave with nothing. That means God is the owner of everything in your possession. You're either a good steward or a bad one. God's not interested in what you can give him. He cares about what you're doing with the "whole dollar."
What are you doing with what you've been given?
Jesus once said, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon (your stuff)." Matthew 6:24-34 (NIV)
Can you imagine the difference we could make in the world if we simply got out of debt? If we gave first and lived on the rest?
True satisfaction comes from serving something bigger than yourself.