Friday, August 06, 2010

Living the Good Life

We’re often asked how we came up with our name, Living Well.

We love that question because it gives us the opportunity to share what living well really means. Anytime you ask someone if they would live to live well, they will almost always answer “yes.” Any other answer might just be foolish. But, many don’t really know how to live well or what living well actually means.

We recently read a piece by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California, which relates to this thought of living well. His topic was “Living the Good Life.” Rick says that although “living the good life” is a well-worn phrase, many people don’t really know how to define the “good life.”

He states that some people confuse the good life with “looking good.” Our society certainly idolizes beauty and we spend billions every year on beauty products, plastic surgery, dieting, hair styling, the latest styles in clothing, and the list goes on…. Many are preoccupied with appearance – as if that is all that really matters in life.

Others equate the good life with “feeling good.” Their goal is the minimize pain and maximize pleasure. And, they will use whatever it takes to achieve it: amusements, virtual realities, drugs, alcohol, entertainment, pornography, and again the list goes on……

Did you know that the pleasure and entertainment industry is now the largest industry in America? Pastor Warren says that the old 60’s phrase, “if it feels good, do it” still is in effect today!

For many, the “good life” is confused with “having the goods.”

Their main goal in life is to obtain as many goods and goodies as possible. They make as much money as they can and then spend it, sometimes even faster than they make it! There’s an old bumper sticker that says, “The one with the most toys wins.” That pretty much sums up their view of the “good life.”

Warren concludes that none of these three lifestyles actually result in the “good life.” No matter what we do, we can’t stop the aging process. Pleasure should be a by-product of the “good life,” not the goal. And, the greatest things in life are not things!

What is the "good life?"

You are God’s workmanship, created….to do good works, which God prepared in advance for you to do. Ephesians 2:10

Living the “good life” is discovering and becoming exactly what God created you to be.

When you use your life to help others – “to do good” – and know and trust God, you will feel good.

Jesus said, “but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14) The presence of Christ (The Living Well) in your life allows goodness to overflow from your life.

That’s why we say “living well” is not a lifestyle ....
it’s a life source – Jesus Christ!”

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
Winston Churchill

Someone once described the contrast between a good life and a godly life as the difference between the top of the ocean and the bottom. On top, sometimes it's like glass -- serene and calm -- and other times it's raging and stormy.

But hundreds of fathoms below, it is beautiful and consistent, always calm, always peaceful.

Bill McCartney

Shopping for a Life

Marriage has no guarantees.
If that's what you're looking for,
go live with a car battery.

Erma Bombeck

Whenever we shop for an appliance or an electronic gadget, we start researching the possibilities. The options can be overwhelming. We look at the features, read the reviews, and examine the guarantees.

We are enamored with the gadget that does more/faster than anything we have owned. About a month after we buy the latest/greatest, a new gadget is out that has even more features. Discontentment sets in, but no guarantee covers this kind of discontentment.

The business world spends millions of dollars trying to discern the next trend. Some experts describe consumers of today as more individualistic. “Personal values rule, not social ones. Consumers are promiscuous shoppers. Smart consumers aren't loyal.” (Miriam Sultzman)

The leading sellers provide the best services. The buyer can return the product - no questions asked, no penalties, full refund.

Many people are approaching marriage and shopping for a mate with the same criteria.

What are the features I want in this person (product)? What are the criteria for performance? Will the person (product) make me happy?

Very little or no thought is attributed to my part in the relationship. If my happiness wanes, something is wrong with the person (product). I have no loyalty or long-term commitment to the person (product). Another person (product) would make me happier.

Our culture and laws make it possible to discard the person (product) with no questions asked (no fault divorce). The other person has no rights to stop the process. Many want 100% satisfaction guarantee when discontentment sets in.

Are we “shopping” for a happy life - or are we committed to our spouse and to pursuing godliness?

Side Effects
Two-thirds of divorces today end low-conflict marriages. They’re ending marriages that are not characterized by abuse or violence or very serious and frequent quarreling. They’re ending marriages that are often ending for reasons like people grew apart. They’re not sure if they love each other anymore. Somebody else at work is more interesting. Sometimes they’re ending for reasons that we can be sympathetic for — the people in the marriage are hurting. But a lot of this stuff is not on the radar screen to the child. What’s on their radar screen is the day their parents come and tell them they’re getting a divorce. That’s when that child’s world falls apart. (Elizabeth Marquardt, author of Between Two Worlds
About a third of high school girls do not expect to be successful at staying married, despite their desire for a life-time marriage.

Most people who initiate divorce are primarily concerned with their own feelings - regardless of the impact to the spouse, the children, or the society.

At the Fall, humans became self-centered and selfish, quick to blame others for their misery. Another way of life appears through God’s grace.... Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  (Matthew 5:6)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

LIVING WELL, August Letter

Back-to-school clothes and supplies cover the advertisements all around us. What style of backpack? What color of notebook? What fashion of clothes? Choices abound. We spend hours shopping for items that suit our tastes and express our personalities. A consumer mentality pervades our thinking.

Cultural and faith analysts began writing about “consumer religion” several years ago; the way Americans shop for a church, similar to shopping for a new outfit. Consumerism now describes Americans attitudes towards marriage - “consumer marriage.” We “shop” for a spouse and our marriages are evaluated as a consumer. This attitude joins with our desire to live the good life. How does this union line up with our faith? Our future? Our culture? Read the enclosure for an expansion of our thoughts on the subject.

Not only are the kids going back to school, but fall is a time for many adults to go “back to school” in learning about life. We have three classes starting in September - one for those thinking of or beginning marriage, one for the ones who are already well into their marriage, and one for people wanting to develop or sharpen their money management skills.

We have a wonderful new opportunity which makes it possible to schedule these classes. Since we moved into our current office space two years ago, we have been praying about an empty room next door/adjoining our office. The space is one room about 15’ x 22’ - a great size for a class! Recently, our landlord, (a great Christian guy) agreed to let us use the room without charge - unless someone wants to lease it (it has been vacant at least two years). If someone offers to lease it, we will have first option on leasing it ourselves. We have moved into the space believing that God will continue to provide it free or that He will raise up the funds if we should need them.

Experience tells us that we are able to reach a wider range of people - church or unchurched, different denominations - when we are able to conduct the class in a venue other than a church. Our desire is to see more people grow in the area of marriage and money. We are unable to meet with everyone who requests an evening appointment. A classroom setting enables us to multiply our efforts rather than only meeting with individuals or couples.

You are our strongest supporters and best advertising media! If you have never taken one of our marriage or money classes, we invite you to participate.

This opportunity also presents us with a challenge - we need chairs for people attending the classes (16 chairs at $371). We are thankful that we already have a projector and screen to show slides/videos for the classes. All of the teaching, training, and writing that we do requires many hours on a computer. Right now Donna is in great need of a newer computer (she could do twice as much work!). We seek your prayers to our Father in providing for this need in our ministry.

Donna has fully recovered from the African bug she brought back. We are gradually putting more pictures and information on our blog about the trip. We are thankful for the technology, which allows us share more pictures and testimonies than we can with paper and printing!

Thank you for your love, support, and prayers. Our love in Christ,
Donna and Ed Edwards

P.S. Please pray for the provision of chairs and a computer.