Materialism is hard to break free from, especially in our affluent culture. Even those of us who have very little are wealthy compared to a great deal of the world’s population. Wealth isn’t bad. It has the potential to do great good! If we would but use it … to help someone in need, to spread the gospel, to demonstrate the depths of our love. (And yes, I am very much speaking to myself!)

Today Valerie Comer, contributor to Rainbow’s End, reminds us to focus on true and lasting treasures.

X Marks the Spot

Who among us doesn’t get a little thrill at seeing a treasure map? We may not know what’s buried there, but it must be valuable, right? And so we set out, following the clues, hoping the treasure is worth it when we get there.

When my kids were little, we’d set up little hunts for their birthdays and Easter. Sometimes even for Christmas if they were receiving a large gift that wouldn’t fit under the tree. For a pre-reader, I’d draw two or three simple clues, like a basic potted plant with an x at the base. Beside the (real) plant, I’d set another piece of paper, this one with a different drawing, like a spoon, fork, and knife in a row. When they got to the silverware drawer, there’d be yet another clue, this time leading them to the treasure.

Clues for early readers are simple words for them to sound out. Then actual riddles they had to think about. When our kids got smarter than their parents, we gave up.

With each clue discovered and solved, excitement mounted. That treasure had better be worth all the hype!

These days adults get in on the action with geocaching, which is the practice of using a GPS (global positioning system) machine to zero in on a cache whose coordinates are found online. The true reward is spending time hiking outdoors and practicing our wilderness skills.

But these fortunes are only temporary. Will it matter in eternity what we valued here on earth? We spend so much of our time and energy wrapped up in the day-to-day we sometimes lose sight of the eternal. The only treasures we can take with us into heaven are souls. We know this. But do we act like it?

Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Valerie Comer‘s wealth can be found in her husband, kids and granddaughters. Her debut novella, “Topaz Treasure,” part of Rainbow’s End (May 2012, Barbour Publishing), is a contemporary romance in which the characters take part in a fictional church geocaching event. . .and learn what true treasure is all about.

Rainbow’s End (4-in-1 collection published by Barbour, May 1, 2012):

Join a geocaching adventure in the spectacular Lake of the Ozarks wilderness, with Lyssa, the reluctant volunteer whose former nemesis is now her chief sponsor; Madison, a city girl paired with an outdoorsy guy who gets on her very last nerve; cautious Reagan, who meets an equally cautious guy; and Hadley, who doesn’t know enough about guys to realize she’s met a womanizer. Will they find the treasure they’re looking for … or something else entirely?

“Topaz Treasure” (first novella in Rainbow’s End) by Valerie Comer

Closet believer Lyssa Quinn steps out of her comfort zone to help coordinate the Rainbow’s End geocaching hunt her church is using as an outreach event. She’s not expecting her former humanities prof–young, handsome, anti-Christian Kirk Kennedy–to be at the Lake of the Ozarks at all, let along in a position to provide sponsorship to the treasure hunt. How can she trust someone who once shredded her best friend’s faith?

Kirk’s treasure hunt takes him down a path he hadn’t intended as he searches for opportunities to connect with Lyssa and her intriguing sparkle. How can he convince Lyssa there is more than one kind of treasure? And can she remind him of the greatest prize of all?

Buy Rainbow’s End: (various links)

Read my review here.

Valerie Comer‘s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie grows much of her own food and is active in the local food movement as well as her church. She only hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, gardening and geocaching with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters. Check out her website and blog at

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Let’s talk about this!

We’ve all heard the story of the widow who gave all she had, and oh, how we admire her! But then, we skim off our plenty, pat ourselves on the back, and go about our privileged lives. Or we see a video on hurricane victims and war refugees, offer a quick prayer, then pass by the refugees in our own neighborhood … so we can make it to our hair appointment or to catch that next sale.

And I’m speaking to myself. God continually shows me the needs of His children–many in my own backyard. Each day He offers me a choice. I can stop and be a conduit of His love and an instrument of His grace, or I can make a thousand excuses as to why I really don’t have the time/money/resources to help.

How about you? When was the last time you gave enough that it hurt? (Not just of your money, but of your time.) If it’s been a while, how can you take steps to change that?

Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about radical obedience and living our faith out loud.

As I look around my house, wrapping paper strewn across the floor, packages lined on the shelves, and shopping lists still waiting to be fulfilled, a twinge of conviction nabs my heart. Each present, each tinsel, each afternoon shopping spree has the capacity to send our daughter a message–to train generosity or materialism. Each holiday celebration can either draw her heart further to Christ or center it more firmly around herself.

A while back I realized if I truly wanted to train compassion, I needed to pull her out of middle-class suberbia once in a while. It’s easy to long for X-boxes and other trinkets–to feel entitled and deprived–when you’re surrounded by friends who have those very items you lack. But surrounded by extreme poverty, by those who have little if anything to call their own, those wants begin to fade as something else rises in their place–compassion. Realizing this, my husband and I started to make determined efforts to place her in serving roles, around those who had far less than her. And we’ve noticed a definite change–less of the gimmes and a stronger desire to give.

What about you? What will you do to actively train compassion and contentment this year? Don’t buy into the lie that your children need one hundred gifts under the tree. In fact, those gifts you fought for, stood in line for, scrimped and saved to give them, could very well do more harm than good. Our children don’t need more cause to think of themselves, but instead, encouragement to look beyond and into the hearts of others.  

As parents, may we remember our greatest call is to train not the next CEO but instead, a fully-devoted follower of Christ. With each activity we plan and conversation we initiate, may the lofty call outlined in Philipians 2:1-8 burn fresh in our minds as we remember this call is not for us alone, but for our children as well.

1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

 5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

 6 Who, being in very natureGod,
   did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
   by taking the very natureof a servant,
   being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
   he humbled himself
   by becoming obedient to death—
      even death on a cross!

Lord, this Christmas remove materialism from my heart and home. Remind me to demonstrate it’s true meaning in how I spend my time, the things I buy, and the words I say. Prevent me from spreading the cancer of materialism into the lives of others and may I instead encourage radical obedience and full surrender.

Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about ways to show our children the true meaning of Christmas.

If you’ve ever visited a department store the day after Thanksgiving, you’ll understand the title. Materialism is one of my greatest struggles. I’ll do well for a while, practicing Philipians 4:11-12 (through an oft spoken mantra) but the minute I let my guard down, greed takes hold.

The holidays certainly don’t make it easy. If you spend much time perusing the mall, watching television or sifting through the mounds of spam mail, you’ll likely begin to feel rather discontent. Your sweaters look a tad shabby. Your car, much too old. Your home in need of a remodel. And the more you think about all the things you don’t have, the more discontent you’ll be.

My greatest struggle is with our daughter. We long to give our children the best, to see their face light up when they open that perfect gift, to watch them gather around the tree in anticipation…but before we know it, Christmas has flipped. It’s no longer about Jesus. Now it’s all about them–and us.

And we don’t realize our mistake until twenty years down the road when our children are consumed with self.

The best solution for materialism is to spend a day with those in need. We lived in Louisiana when Katrina hit. Seeing entire families lose their home and everything they hold dear had a way of curing the gimmies. Our church became a donation center. Congregation members and local grocery stores donated food, toiletries, clothes–you name it. And everything was stacked on clearly identified pews. There was a toiletry isle, crackers isle, underwear isle, you get the idea. This way, Katrina victims could peruse the isles and take what they need without having to ask. (These people were humiliated enough and the last thing we wanted to do was place them in an even more humiliating position.)

I was very impressed with the generosity our church displayed, but two young boys in particular touched me deeply. They were both from Russia and had been adopted from an orphanage a few years previously. I believe they were five or six. They approached their parents, toys loaded in their arms, and asked if they could donate some of their most beloved belongings.

It made my meager, skim-off-the-top donations look rather pitiful.

Why were they so willing to give? I believe it is because they related on a deeper level with these displaced families. They knew what it was like to have very little, and perhaps to lose what little you have. But their past experience didn’t lead them to hoard their treasures. To the contrary, it moved them to extreme generosity.

I like that term–extreme generosity. Listen to my husband’s favorite song:

I remember the fist Christmas we participated in Angel Tree. In one hand, I had a bag filled with games we’d purchased for our daughter. In my other hand, I had a paper angel with a name and a simple request printed on it. The girl was nine, and all she wanted for Christmas was a coat.

Wanna bless a child this Christmas? Wanna show him/her what Christmas is really about?

Here are some great ministries that can help you do that:

Operation Christmas Child

Angel Tree Ministries


Christian World Adoption

And give the best gift of all, Jesus Christ: Christ to the World

This video really resonated with me. CTTWIndia

Challenge question: What’s one thing you can do this Christmas to demonstrate the love of Christ?