Seeking satisfaction? Perhaps a little more money, a new car, a different job, less weight, or a place at the beach? Something that would make everything right with your world? Thank God that your ticket to satisfaction isn’t the attainment of whatever’s posted on your refrigerator. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,” Jesus said, “for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). The means to incredible, abundant fulfillment comes through the unexpected catalyst known as godly character. In Satisfaction Guaranteed , Bill Ritchie guides you on a fulfilling pursuit of the character of Jesus. A one-of-a-kind assessment tool, available both in the book and online, helps you celebrate your progress!
Can’t Get No Satisfaction?
Everything on your “must have” list is checked off. But—help!—now it’s filling up again!
Why does fulfillment seem so slippery? Why can’t you get a lasting grip on it?
The secret to satisfaction is really no secret at all. It’s just completely contrary to everything you hear. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,” Jesus says, “for they shall be satisfied.” But what about that new car, house, computer, outfit, girlfriend, vacation…?
Inside the pages of this book, you will find the answer. With a refreshing outlook on the satisfaction that has eluded you, Bill Ritchie will help you:
· Identify the character qualities that make it happen
· Cultivate these qualities in your life
· Gauge your progress in realizing your heart’s desires
Every person on the planet has been designed for satisfaction. There is a way to find and keep it. Guaranteed.
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Random House|
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By BILL RITCHIE
Multnomah PublishersCopyright © 2006 Bill Ritchie
All right reserved.
Chapter One(Can't Get No) SATISFACTION
Sometimes it's a vague uneasiness. Sometimes it's a longing that goes bone deep. Sometimes it's a frustration that boils over into destructive anger.
Sometimes it's a quiet despair that drains you dry and gradually leeches all the color out of your world.
You sense it in the crush of your busiest moments, and feel it even more in those rare intervals of life when everything is quiet and you're all alone. You're not satisfied and you know it. But you don't know why. And you have no idea what to do about it.
When it comes to customer satisfaction, those 800 numbers on the cable channels offer a promise almost as much as a product. They say, "Satisfaction guaranteed," and you know it's a lie. They can't do it; they don't possess it; they can't give it. No product or service on Fox or CNN or the Food Channel will so much as touch that yearning in your gut ... in the core of your core ... in your heart of hearts. But millions buy the products anyway, just to see if it might be true. Can satisfaction be delivered by UPS 2nd Day Air? Probably not. But then ... what if ...?
You can't get a large group of people anywhere to agree on most anything. But one thing will get everyone everywhere on the same page every time.
Everybody wants to be satisfied.
It doesn't matter if it's a week-old baby in a bassinet or an old man in a nursing home on a ventilator. It's the same for an Eskimo in a fishing boat in the Arctic Sea as it is for an executive in an Armani suit in a Houston high rise.
You want it, too.
Not the suit ... but the pursuit. You want satisfaction. So do I.
Of course we do. It was wired into us at birth. People may disagree about what satisfaction looks like or how to get there, but the fact remains.
Everybody wants to be satisfied.
The world's marketers play off that intense, personal desire in a million ways. And that's where that universal phrase pops up again and again. We've heard it promised ad nauseam but it never goes away. Retailers will use the phrase until the world stops spinning, because they understand our desire, our just-under-the-skin yearning.
It's ridiculous, of course. It's only sales hype. Marketing buzz. No one can guarantee satisfaction. Not really. Not in real life.
But what if they could? Would you be interested enough to give their claims a second glance?
In this book, I will demonstrate that satisfaction-real, lifelong, soul-sustaining satisfaction-is more than a phantom dream or a will-o'-the-wisp longing that can never find fulfillment. To be even more specific, I will show you how to find that which generations innumerable have declared unfindable.
I guarantee it.
But what's more important, God guarantees it.
Who knows more about satisfaction than the One who planted that ache and craving-that seemingly unquenchable thirst-in the deep places of the human soul? If He can't tell us where and how to find it, then ... we might as well call that 800 number and see if the Remote-Control Salad Shooter or that combination hammer/flashlight/cell phone will do the job.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE (REALLY)?
Many would answer that question with the phrase "Just a little bit more."
I'd be satisfied if I had just a little bit more than I have now. Those who assume that money is the source of satisfaction will tell you (if they're honest), "If only I had more money, then I'd be satisfied."
Fair enough. But how much is more? What qualifies as enough? More is exactly that: a larger amount than we currently have. For a five-year-old with a stack of shiny copper pennies, it's just another handful. (And then on to nickels?) For the wage earner who makes $35,000 a year, more may look like $50,000. But $75,000 would bring only temporary satisfaction to the person who is increasing from $50,000 on his way to $100,000!
And the person at two hundred grand? Well, he or she doesn't really have quite enough to achieve that lifestyle just barely out of reach. A little bit more would do it. Maybe.
Satisfaction always seems to be a matter of having just a bit more than we have at the moment.
The same is true with the stuff that money buys. The apartment dweller dreams of owning a house (right? have you been there?), while the homeowner with a two-car garage needs a larger garage and a bonus room above it to store all his toys! As the family gets bigger and older, the kids need their space. And college and retirement are right around the corner! But let's step back and take a good look at this matter of money and satisfaction. The truth is, Americans have never had so much. Never in our history. Think about what we take for granted. We have cable TV with flat-screen monitors to watch our favorite programs in high definition, so it will feel like we're really there! We install speaker systems that could raise the dead (or our next-door neighbors), remote control devices to control everything that has an on/off switch, and cordless phones so we can always be multitasking. We have cars with DVDs, GPSs, and elaborate security systems to rival those in our houses.
And that's just the beginning. If we lack any of these things (or a numberless host of others), we feel somehow impoverished, like we aren't really full members of the real world.
A friend of mine told me about trying to explain to his twenty-three-year-old son that in a time of unemployment and relative poverty, it might not be wise to go in debt financing his sixty-dollar-a-month cell phone plan. The dad mildly suggested that it wasn't all that long ago that nobody had cell phones, and most of us seemed to survive just fine. That's where he lost the young man. His son simply couldn't conceive of life without a cell phone. You might as well ask him to survive a winter without shoes.
Let's put this in perspective. In the last half of the twentieth century, American society has gone from no televisions to one in every room. One home telephone on a party line has been replaced by omnipresent cell phones in every purse and on every belt clip. The convenience of electric typewriters with erasable paper was quickly upgraded to home computers-now with voice-recognition software!
There's just no question about it: We've never had so much stuff! In fact, our abundance has created the problem of relative poverty. People actually think of themselves as poor because they're not as well-off as a neighbor or friend or TV personality! And if they have to move backwards from a cable modem to dial-up service for the Internet, it's an affront to their sense of well-being.
While we operate with the myth that more money will bring us satisfaction, it doesn't. Although we are vastly wealthier than we have ever been in our history, the incidence of clinical depression has increased significantly in our culture. And studies consistently show no notable relationship between personal wealth and personal satisfaction. Wealth doesn't even show up on satisfaction's radar. Amazing! But no matter how many studies there may be, I don't think we really believe that-at least, not in our case. (If I won the lottery, I would be the one happy exception. Right!)
The apostle Paul warned his young friend, Timothy, about the deceit of riches: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (1 Timothy 6:10).
In other words, these folks went hard after money to scratch that inner itch in their lives. But instead of finding satisfaction-to their amazement-they found wounds and pain beyond adequate description. The New Testament word used for "pierced" literally means "put on a spit." It conjures up a terrible picture of being pierced through and then roasted alive. Not my idea of a satisfying life!
In the book of Proverbs, a man named Agur wrote these words in his prayer journal: "Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, 'Who is the Lord?' or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God" (Proverbs 30:8-9, ESV).
IF ONLY ...
Some people live their whole lives in the land of "If Only."
You may not find the coordinates on MapQuest or be able to put your finger on it in a world atlas. Even so, it seems to be the destination resort for untold multitudes looking for a little satisfaction in life. Chances are, you've visited this wistful, unhappy place a few times yourself.
If only I just looked different ...
One glance in the mirror and the thought rushes back: If only I were more beautiful. Or handsome and studly. But what does that really mean? Do we need to be taller, maybe? Or in the case of some girls ... shorter? Does it entail being more muscular, more curvy? Should we have darker hair, more hair, whiter teeth? Whatever it takes, Americans endure the risk, pain, and expense of the lifts, tucks, dyes, transplants, and tans in the belief that the payoff is worth it. ("Satisfaction guaranteed!")
Believe it or not, they line up for injections of botulism virus in the forehead, convinced that the temporary paralysis of those delicate facial nerves gives an unwrinkled, youthful appearance. But when they're pushing seventy, is anybody honestly going to think they're still thirty-nine?
If only I were thinner ...
The $50 billion weight-loss industry keeps reminding Americans that they, too, can shed those unsightly pounds before swimsuit season opens! While it's true that as a nation we are obese and could stand to tone up, we also run the risk of being fixated on diets and dieting. That's what accounts for the struggles with bulimia and anorexia, which have led to way too many sad and untimely deaths. Underneath it all is the sense that if only we looked different, then we'd be satisfied. The truth? We'd be thinner, perhaps, but satisfied? Not likely.
If only I could just feel good ...
That certainly sounds reasonable. Physical pain and chronic illness really take a toll on satisfaction as well. It would be wonderful just to feel good for once! But the football knee or the out-of-whack back or the anemia from the chemotherapy or the pesky migraines have a way of taking the fun out of life.
Unless you've been there, it's easy to underestimate how much pain wears on the psyche. I had one of those up-close-and-personal encounters with nagging pain myself after I recently fell and broke my shoulder. For months the aching and awkward sleep positions awakened me numerous times each night. As a result, I never felt rested in the morning, regardless of how many hours I'd logged between the sheets. Physical therapy three times a week for eight months with assigned "homework" was time-consuming drudgery. But I can tell you this: It allowed me to understand from the inside what somebody with chronic pain and weakness has to contend with.
It would be wonderful just to feel good for once! That's the same kind of wishful thinking that underlies reliance on alcohol or illegal drugs. Be it as a means to deal with pressure, a release valve for stress (or just the strain of life in general), some feel that if they could just ease the pain a bit, life would work better for them.
It usually begins rather benignly with, say, a drink after work with friends. But sooner than they might think, one drink has a way of taking on a life of its own, ultimately controlling their every move. I'm not really an alcoholic, they reason to themselves. I can quit whenever I desire. Really? So why don't they?
Methamphetamine is the current drug of choice. Talk about devastating! People steal, put their kids at risk, and generally do whatever they need to in order to score more. The psychological hit of meth is apparently so powerful people feel invincible, like they can work or play for days on end, needing no sleep at all. So they do. The problem is it's all a fantasy. The drug lies to them, all the while luring them to their own destruction-yet giving them good feelings along the way. So where does it end up?
One police officer in Oregon has made it a personal hobby to publish pictures of meth users as they have been photographed in repeated arrests. The first picture of one young woman was that of an attractive, full-of-life individual with her whole future ahead of her. A couple of years later in her next arrest photo she looked like she had aged at least twenty-five years, with facial skin looking like she'd been hit with buckshot!
So did meth satisfy her needs?
Only if she wanted to have rotting teeth, disintegrating internal organs, and the potential of infertility!
THE LIST GOES ON
The list of things people pursue to find satisfaction grows longer and more varied, depending on who is searching. Success, fame, security, intimacy or a host of other options appear attractive, but in the end, they all promise what they can't produce. People give their lives to chasing these objectives, yet they never find what they seek. To quote that aging rocker Mick Jagger they "can't get no satisfaction." In fact, they become increasingly dissatisfied.
Is it possible our own bodies hold clues for answering this? Consider the human body and how it functions in daily life. You eat, but regardless of how delicious or plentiful the food, you always get hungry again. You drink your favorite beverage; it's tasty and satisfying like always, yet you still get thirsty again. The same thing is true for your sexual relationship with your spouse. As exciting and beautiful as that experience might be, the feeling that accompanies the encounter simply doesn't last. Why is that?
In reality, the "satisfied" feelings accompanying all these basic functions of life are intentionally designed to be transient. Simply stated, if the actions weren't repeated, life would not continue. If we didn't eat, we'd die of starvation. If we didn't drink, we'd expire of dehydration. If we didn't reproduce, the human race would cease to exist. So in order to encourage life, the Creator built the same imperative into these three basic physical functions ... the need to go after more!
Here's where things get really interesting. Although the usual, presumed sources of satisfaction aren't able to deliver the goods, there is a satisfaction that endures.
Over and over again, the Bible guarantees it.
It's found in the spiritual realm of our lives. Just as God wired us to need food, water, and sex, He has woven into the fabric of life itself a drive for meaning, fulfillment, and happiness.
It never goes away.
It can never be quenched or satiated by anything else.
Pascal called it a "God-shaped vacuum." And it has everything to do with the cultivation of a life that looks like Christ.
THE SECRET OF SATISFACTION
So ... does this mean that all Christians experience a satisfaction denied to their nonbelieving neighbors?
Not at all.
Curiously enough, Christians often experience the same dissatisfaction as those who have no relationship with God at all. Though they apparently love God and know their sins are forgiven, they fail to understand that the something they are looking for has everything to do with Him. Built into our DNA is a longing for a relationship-a living, breathing, walking, talking friendship-with the Creator.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expressed this foundational truth this way: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (Matthew 5:6, ESV).
"Shall be satisfied ..."?
Sounds like a guarantee to me.
Excerpted from SATISFACTION GUARANTEED by BILL RITCHIE Copyright © 2006 by Bill Ritchie. Excerpted by permission.
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