Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Do You Calculate Value Versus Cost In Your Spending Habits?

Photo by Ryantron
Tightwad Philosophy

It can be difficult to spend money on beneficial, long-term, somewhat expensive items for those of us who have a natural bent toward saving money, paying off debt, and not spending money on frivolous stuff. Many times, people who are conscientious about their debt-free journey and wise spending habits have difficulty parting with money, even for stuff that would benefit them or their families in the long run. Many would call these people tightwads or extremely frugal in their spending.

I can relate to the tightwad way of life. I have a natural leaning this way. But, I'm also not into extreme couponing or thrift store shopping, either. I have my limits on when or where I can save a buck. I'm also willing to spend more money on certain items or services. I take time to weigh the value of what I want to spend money on versus the cost. Let me give you some examples.

Examples Of Calculating Cost And Value

Mac vs. PC: A few years ago, I made the move away from the PC world and went to all Mac from my computing needs. If I was a true tightwad, this would not have happened, because the price point of  Apple products is much higher. But for me, the perceived value of a better product enabled me to be willing to spend more money.

Food Choices: If given the option on where to eat lunch with a buddy on a specific day and the choice was between McDonald's or Chipotle, I'm picking Chipotle even though the price point is slightly higher. Why? Because I value the food as better for my healthy lifestyle. I don't mind paying a few extra dollars for a better tasting, higher quality, healthy lunch. Same goes with the grocery store. I don't mind paying a little more for healthy fresh fruits and vegetables. I value the long term benefits of healthy eating over the cost.

Personal Counseling and Coaching: Spending money for someone to listen to my problems or to push me to grow, are you kidding me? Yes, believe it or not, spending money to pay people to help you can be incredibly beneficial over the long-term. Let's say you paid a personal coach $10,000 for one year to push you in your career. And, in the process of your career growth, you made an additional $20,000 just in that one year. At the very least, you doubled your investment in that one year. Plus, there's a very high likelihood that you will continue to reap the benefits of that professional coaching for many years to come.

Car Insurance: We have an excess of car insurance ads on TV these days, all trying to lure you away from your present company to another one in order to save a few bucks a month. The question I always ask, though, is what kind of service are you going to get for the money you may be saving if you just happen to total your car? With my current company, I have received exceptional, quality service over the years. I value that more than saving a few bucks, and that's why I stick with them.

Do You Consider The Value In Your Choices?

So, how about you? Do you calculate the value of price points in your spending habits? Or, is your tendency to spend purely on the cheaper, lower cost items, no matter what?

If you do take the time to calculate the value on what you spend money, do you have additional examples to add to my list above? If so, I'd like to hear your stories. Share with us in the comments below.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How To Pray For God's Power And Plan In Challenging Times

Photo by bamakodaker
God's Hand And Plan

In the history of the early church, we see tremendous growth (Acts 2-3) followed immediately by persecution (Acts 4) as Jewish leaders attempted to snuff out this small group of Jesus freaks. In Acts 4:24-31, we see the leaders of the church in Jerusalem gather to pray for God's help in the face of adversity:
When they heard this, they all raised their voices to God and said, “Master, You are the One who made the heaven, the earth, and the sea, and everything in them. You said through the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David Your servant: 
Why did the Gentiles rage
and the peoples plot futile things?
The kings of the earth took their stand
and the rulers assembled together
against the Lord and against His Messiah. 
“For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that Your slaves may speak Your message with complete boldness, while You stretch out Your hand for healing, signs, and wonders to be performed through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness. (Acts 4:24-31, HCSB).
In this prayer, we see five ways in which the early church leaders prayed for God's help in the face of challenging times.

5 Ways To Pray In Challenging Situations
  1. Start with a spirit of adoration. The early church opened their prayer with acknowledging that God was their Master. He is the One who made the entire universe. He is all-powerful and Almighty God.
  2. Remind God of His work in the past. These early church leaders then reminded God of His recent work and will concerning all that Jesus had to endure. This was understandably still fresh on their hearts and minds.
  3. Pray specifically about your current circumstances. Next, they prayed for the situation they found themselves - "consider their threats."
  4. Pray for boldness on our part as God's servants. After they asked God to consider the threats being made against them, they then asked the Father to give them boldness as they proclaimed the gospel message. They didn't want to live in fear of these threats.
  5. Pray for God's miracle-working power. Finally, they asked God to work miracles in a difficult situation. They looked to Him and His power. They were completely reliant on the supernatural power of the Lord.
Our God Answers Prayer!

Praise the Lord. We serve a God who answers prayer! Of course, we don't always receive the answer we desire, but God is always faithful to His promises and His hand will always accomplish His plan.

After His disciples prayed in Acts 4, God did grant them boldness. He filled them with the power of the Holy Spirit and they went out boldly proclaiming the gospel. God gave them exactly what they needed to accomplish His plan.

What challenges are you facing today in your life? How's your prayer life? Are you leaning on the power of God to accomplish His plan, or are you relying on your own strength and maybe even your own plans?

Follow these 5 steps as you pray through difficult circumstances and see God's strength revealed as He accomplishes His plan in and through your life.

Also, check out these related posts:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Want To Take Personal Responsibility For Your Spiritual Growth?

Photo by Rusty Blazenhoff
The Progression Of Growth

In just a few short weeks, I'm about to have my third daughter. My other two daughters are now 12 and 10, so it's been a little while since we've had a little baby in the house!

For those of you who have children, you know how interesting the development of your children can be. They start out as helpless little babies that need constant attention. Then, over time, they suddenly grow up right before your eyes. Over a few short years, they develop the critical skills necessary to move from total dependence on their parents to (hopefully) independence, and then they move out!

Spiritual Growth For The Christian

Spiritual growth in the life of a Christian works much in the same way. In Hebrews 5:11-14, we read these words regarding spiritual growth:
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
In this passage, the writer of Hebrews is chastising a group of believers for not being proactive in their spiritual growth. He tells them that they're still acting like baby Christians who need to have the elementary principles of the faith continually re-taught to them. They've been believers long enough that they should be very mature in their theology. They should already be teaching others the fundamentals of the faith.

So why weren't they mature already? What happened? From this passage, I see two reasons these believers were not as mature as they should have been:
  • "Because you no longer try to understand." These baby Christians just rolled over and gave up! They stopped trying to progress in their faith journey.
  • "Who by constant use have trained themselves…" These immature believers didn't understand that consistent training would lead to spiritual maturity. They needed to take ownership of their spiritual walk on a daily, consistent basis.
Unfortunately, those of us who are mature believers, see this a lot within the body of Christ. We see baby Christians who are on fire for the Lord at first, and then they slowly fade out. Sure, when they're first saved, they're excited to learn more about Christ and soak everything up like a sponge. But, unless they gradually learn how to get off the "milk" of the Word and into the "meat" of the Word through personal instruction, then they will never mature. They will most likely fall away from the faith.

In Conclusion | Two Thoughts

As I wrap up this post, I have two thoughts for you to consider, today. First, if you still feel like you're in that baby Christian phase of your relationship with the Lord, then focus on your development. Take responsibility for your spiritual growth. Dig deeper into God's Word, daily prayer, and weekly church attendance.

Second, if you're a mature believer in Christ, consider becoming the "spiritual parent" to some baby Christians. In the New Testament, we definitely see a pattern of discipleship with mentors and mentees. Jesus mentored Peter, James, and John within His group of 12 disciples. Barnabas took Saul (Paul) under his wing after Saul's conversion on the Damascus Road. Then, the Apostle Paul mentored Timothy as his own "son in the faith" (1 Timothy 1:2).

As a disciple of the Lord, take responsibility for your own growth. Then, go out and mentor another believer in their spiritual growth.

Also, check out these related posts:

Friday, November 2, 2012

3 Biblical Reasons To Vote About Money Issues This Election And Feel Great About It

Photo by League of Women Voters of California
A Blog Post Irritated The Fire Out Of Me

I recently read a post from a Christian thought leader who was chastising all the Christians who are about to go out and vote solely on the basis of money. I believe the intentions of this person were mostly good. I understand the intent of their post. But, I respectfully disagree with their thought process for a few reasons.

First, if you vote for a candidate who doesn't understand key fundamental financial principles, then you're shooting yourself in the foot and probably the head too. You're also hindering the Body of Christ. Here's why. Everything we do is related to money. Why do we fight the obvious? I'd rather have a guy in office that follows more closely the financial principles of Dave Ramsey than my broke golfing buddy.

The President's role is an executive role. We need a leader who can look at the financials of the United States and make better choices in order to get us back on track. Our current President hasn't even submitted a credible budget for the last three and a half years. And then, some of us wonder why America is now headed toward the fiscal cliff. Sheesh.

Second, I disagree with this Christian thought leader on the basis that it's not the President's job (or any politician for that matter) to take care of the poor. I'm pretty sure this thought leader was trying to say that because certain politicians say that they care about poor people, then that lines up with Scripture and we should vote for them - hogwash. Honestly, the worst thing this country has ever done was get into the charity business. The government is not very good at it.

Jesus gave the mandate of taking care of the poor to His disciples and the universal church, not to governments. And, for the record, there are a lot of politicians who say that they care about poor people, but their talk doesn't line up with their walk. Words are useless. I'd rather have a politician in office who has a proven track record of high, personal, charitable giving then one who just talks about helping people. America has to stop spending money on a bunch of stuff we can't afford.

I Am Voting Based On Money Issues

I am a Christian and I will be voting on money issues this election cycle for a variety of intelligent, even faith-based reasons.

Money touches and impacts every facet of our lives. If you don't believe that statement, then do a little experiment. Stop paying all of your bills and don't spend a dime on anything. See how long you and your family lasts on that plan. You might be able to last one week to one month, but sooner or later your utilities will be shut off, you won't have any food to eat, your car will run out of gas, and your home will be foreclosed on. Unless of course, you lean on Uncle Sam to take care of all your needs.

It's not the job of the US government to make sure that you have a car, house, cell phone, food on the table, or (dare I say it) even health insurance. It's also not the government's job to make sure your next door neighbor has this stuff either. The original intent of our founding fathers through the Constitution was for the federal government to be small and unobtrusive. We have wandered far away from their intent and their wisdom.

Taking care of personal financial needs is the responsibility of individuals themselves, extended family members, and finally the Body of Christ. I realize that's probably not a popular statement right now in this country, but it's the truth.

3 Biblical Reasons I Believe Christians Should Vote About Money This Election
  1. God wants us to be able to provide for our families. "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." (1 Timothy 5:8, NIV). It's not the role of the US government to put food on my table, a roof over my head, or gas in my cars. As a man, husband, and father, God Almighty has given me the mandate to get out there and earn a living in order to provide for my own family. I'm voting for the guy who is going to at least make the attempt to get government as much out of the way as possible, so that I have more money in my pocket to accomplish my role as family provider.
  2. God wants us to be able to give extravagantly back to Him through our churches as well as the poor. "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys." (Luke 12:33, NIV). We can't give as effectively to our churches, other charities, and the poor when the government is confiscating a large part of our finances through irresponsible fiscal policy. Christians, it's our responsibility is to help others in need; it's not the government's responsibility.
  3. God wants us to enjoy our material blessings here on planet earth. "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." (1 Timothy 6:17, NIV). It's okay to be middle, upper class and have a little money in the bank in order to be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Under our current economic situation, I'm not seeing a whole lot of enjoyment or encouragement. In fact, the current administration has put the country in a terrible financial funk by blaming all the rich people for the mess (dumb idea). People are worried and depressed. I'm voting for the guy who is going to at least make an attempt to get government as much out of the way as possible so that we all have more money in order to enjoy life.
Frankly, I'm tired of not being able to do more in these three areas. It's time for a change. America is better than this. The United States is the greatest nation on the planet. This election cycle, let's vote for people who are going to move the country back to extraordinary instead of maintaining our current status of mediocre.

How Will You Vote?

So, how do you plan to vote this election? Are you going to vote for candidates who say they're going to help people, but their economic policies have proven over the last four years to do the exact opposite?

As a Christian thought leader, I say it is okay to vote on the basis of money. Of course, we don't want to be consumed by financial greed or selfishness. This runs contrary to God's Word. As citizens of this country, though, we do have a voice in the direction that this country is headed. Frankly, I believe we currently have a lack of executive leadership, especially in the area of sound fiscal policy. For me, this is more than enough reason to vote for the other guy.

No matter your political philosophy or party, though, be sure to exercise your right to vote this election day.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

3 Steps For Utilizing The Power Of Money

Photo by spacepleb
The Power Of Focus

What happens if you take a magnifying glass, a dried leaf, and a bright sunny day? Well, with the magnifying glass, you can focus the sun's rays into a pinpoint beam of light onto the leaf and set it on fire!

Or, what happens if you can dam up a lazy river and channel the water to move at a higher rate of speed? Well, then you can focus the energy of that water into hydroelectric power.

When you can focus the potential power of anything (such as sunlight and water in the above examples), then you can accomplish amazing results. The same thing could be said regarding money.

In our society, money has tremendous power, or at the very least, a lot of potential power. Money can be an extremely useful tool to accomplish amazing, life-changing activities. You could feed the homeless. You could provide for the needs of your family. You could support the ministries of your local church. You could buy a house. You could help a friend in need. You could purchase and construct water wells in Africa. You could invest money to grow at a higher rate of return for your retirement.

3 Steps For Utilizing The Power Of Money

Because money has so much potential power for good in this world, we need to know how to tap into this important resource. Instead of blasting all those "evil rich people," why not attempt to figure out how to focus the power of money to be a force for good in this world. God can use the power of focused money to build His Kingdom.

Here are three steps to tap into the power of money:
  1. Embrace the power of money. You can fight the power of money or you can embrace it. Here is what I mean. Some people (maybe a lot of people) have a messed up view of money. They're afraid of it. Perhaps, they're greedy for more of it. They don't understand how it works. They believe it's a "zero sum game" (meaning if I have more than you, then I must have stolen this additional money from you). Money has a tremendous amount of potential power to be used for good or for bad purposes, dependent completely on the person wielding control of said money. I would encourage you to embrace the power of money in order to be a force of extreme good in today's society.
  2. Pray for money power. Should I pray about money? Does God really like that? If your heart attitude is right about money, then I believe praying about money in the right way is totally appropriate. In the past, I've prayed for the means to be able to give more. I've prayed for the means to be able to have additional money in order to pay down my debt snowball faster. I've prayed for additional resources in order to take care of the needs of my family. I believe prayer in these financial areas was totally appropriate, unselfish, and in the center of God's will. Praying for a new Hummer or a McMansion; probably not so much.
  3. Harness the power of money. So, once we have embraced the power of money and prayed about the power of money, then we need to harness the power of money. We need to become very intentional about what we are doing with the money that God has blessed us to manage. We need to have detailed cashflow plans. We need to be giving at least at the level of the tithe (10%) back to God through our local churches. Our money can have tremendous power if we are able to focus it 
Do You Have A Grip On The Power Of Money?

So, how about you? Do you feel like you have a handle on the power of money? Have you embraced the potential power of the money God has blessed you with? Do you pray about utilizing the power of money in the right way? And have you been able to harness the power of money to be able to utilize it to its maximum potential power?

I would encourage you to follow these three steps and watch what happens. I think you will be amazed at the results. Focus the power of money in the right way and allow God to use it for His Kingdom purposes.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

4 Steps To Move From Intention To Accomplishment

Photo by Calsidyrose
Direction not intention determines our destination - Andy Stanley

Intention Is Easy

I don't know about you, but I intend to do a lot of stuff. I'm forever making to-do lists. I'm just the type of guy that likes to get things done, especially easy items that I can quickly check off my list and move on.

There are other items that cannot be so quickly dismissed. For example, let's say I need to lose 30 pounds. I could attempt to work out all day, lose the weight, cross it off my list, and then move on to my next to-do item. No, you and I both know it doesn't exactly work that way. The process of losing 30 pounds takes daily actions and discipline in order to accomplish this goal over time. It's not a "one and done" type of activity.

Or, take another example. Let's say I have the intention of raising Godly kids. I can't have just one round of good night prayers and call it good. I can't pray the sinner's prayer with my daughters when they're six years old and say "mission accomplished." Again, it's a series of daily discussions and spiritual activities that prayerfully will lead to my raising a family that loves the Lord.

Intending to accomplish big goals and dreams such as these are great things, don't get me wrong. You can intend to do these all day long. But, unless you set up your life, your thoughts, your activities, and your daily habits to lead you in the direction of your intentions, then the intentions are pointless. You probably know the old proverb, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions!"

4 Steps To Accomplish Your Intentions

So, if you don't want to live a life of unfulfilled intentions, what do you need to do? Here are my thoughts on four ways to accomplish your intentions:
  1. Establish The Vision. In order to know what you desire to accomplish, you need to establish the vision. Perhaps, you have a vision of being debt free. Maybe, you have a vision of a family that is sold out to the Lord. Or, you want to live to age 100. Whatever visions or dreams you may have for yourself, your family, your business, or your church, get those clear in your mind and write them down.
  2. Take Action. Okay, so once you have a vision for what you desire, then you must take action. Write down a list of "baby steps" that you can take to get to your ultimate destination. For example, let's say you have a vision for a family that is sold out for the Lord. What small, regular steps can you take to help you reach that destination? Perhaps, those steps might be: attending church each Sunday as a family, having a devotional and prayer time before bed each night, modeling Godly behavior before your kids, and taking opportunities to talk about spiritual truths at every life opportunity.
  3. Evaluate Your Action. Once you have an action plan and you're following through with those small actions, then you need to occasionally stop and review those actions. Are these actions actually moving you to your intended destination or not? 
  4. Change Action As Needed. So, if after evaluating your current actions you are not moving in the direction of accomplishing your intentions, then it's time to stop and change your action plan. Seek out some counsel and guidance on the matter. Find somebody who has accomplished your intended vision. Pick their brain for a better action plan, then move back to #2, and start again.
What Direction Are You Headed?

After reading this post, where are you headed? Do you have a bunch of intentions, but no clear direction to get you down the path of those intentions? Or, do you have a direction that you're heading, but it doesn't seem to really be accomplishing your intended vision?

Take some time today to evaluate your current intentions and direction. Then, follow these steps and get after it!

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How To Think Inside The Box, Not Outside Of It

Photo by Per Olof Forsberg
Outside The Box Can Be Overrated

"You just have to learn to think outside the box."

"We value creative people who think outside the box."

"The only way our company is going to grow is if we all start thinking outside the box."

I'm sure we've all heard statements similar to these. I believe many of us want to be creative, original, "outside the box" innovators. The problem we can run into, though, is if all these great "outside the box" ideas do not have the necessary resources "within the box," then we run into problems.

Let me give you two Bible stories that illustrate what I'm talking about.

The Widow’s Olive Oil

In 2 Kings 4:1-7, we read the story of a widow who was getting hounded by creditors. She had debt that needed to be paid off, but she had very limited resources. In fact, as she looked "inside the box" of her home, she pretty much concluded that she had nothing.

She told the prophet Elisha that she only had "…a small jar of olive oil." That's what was inside her box. In her mind, these limited resources would not be enough.

Then, Elisha had the widow borrow empty jars from her neighbors. Taking the empty jars, plus the little oil she had left "inside her box," she was to keep pouring that little bit of oil until all the empty jars were filled. Then, Elisha told her to go and sell all of the olive oil. He promised her that she would have enough money to pay off her debts PLUS have money leftover to live on.

The Boy With Two Loaves And Five Fish

In John 6:5-13, we read the story of God feeding the five thousand through a miracle that Jesus performed with only five small loaves of bread and two small fish.

You see, when Jesus made the decision that He wanted to feed the people that had come out to the countryside to hear Him preach, He asked His disciples what was "inside their box" at that particular moment in time. The only food resources they could come up with were the small loaves and fish of a young boy.

Jesus took these limited resources that "were in the box," and He worked an incredible miracle.

What's In Your Box?

Okay, so by now I'm sure you're thinking, "Larry, these are great Bible stories, but how does this apply to me?" Hey, I'm glad you asked. Here's some real life application.

First, we must be realistic and accept what is inside our own boxes. If we're trying to accomplish a great task for the Lord, but our resources seem extremely slim, then we need to accept for that moment in time what our actual resources are to accomplish the work. Use the limited resources to the best of your ability.

Second, give thanks for your limited resources inside the box. We can all wish we had more time, more money, more people, or more talent. We can all look outside our boxes, our spheres of resources, and want more outside of the box and place into our own boxes. The reality is that we have what we have for this moment. Praise God and thank Him for what He has provided for you to accomplish the mission.

Third, pray and ask the Lord to bless and multiply your limited resources within the box. Nothing is too small for God. He can stretch and multiply whatever He has given you to accomplish His Kingdom purposes.

"Inside the box" thinking includes the following: Accept. Be thankful. Pray for God to bless and multiply whatever is in the box for His honor and glory.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Secret To Avoiding The Selfish Pursuit Of Wealth

Photo by Monkey Boson

When "Stuff" Gets In Your Eyes

We live in a pretty amazing world right now, don't you think? With last week's announcment from Apple regarding the release of the iPhone5, I was reminded of the incredible technical advancements that have transpired over the last 5-7 years. And, this technological revolution is only going to accelerate in the next few years. Check out this really cool video from Corning Glass regarding the direction that we're probably headed with all of our smart phones and tablets. I can't wait to see how these advancements will evolve!

With all these technological advancements coming our way, it's really easy to fall into a desire for the accumulation for more and more stuff. Having the latest and greatest phone, tablet, clothes, car, or house is fun and exciting! Why would I or should I be content with last year's model? That's not too hip or cool here in the 21st Century!

As a Christian though, can I truly say that a selfish pursuit of wealth, whether it's money or stuff, is a noble, worthy thing? Would Jesus be pleased with my money choices as I upgrade my iPhone 4s to an iPhone 5? Hmmm, that's a very interesting question.

God's Word Should Be Our Focus, Not "Stuff"

In Psalm 119:35-37, we read these words from The Message version (this is good!):
Guide me down the road of your commandments;
    I love traveling this freeway!
Give me a bent for your words of wisdom,
    and not for piling up loot.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets,
    invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
The Psalmist's prayer to God is asking the LORD to divert his attention from the distracting "stuff" of this world and back on to Him. Right here, in these verses, the Psalmist gives us the SECRET to avoiding the selfish pursuit of wealth - God's Word is the answer!

If you struggle with any form of "stuffitis," then God's Word is your cure. You can truly break the hold of this worldly pursuit by getting into God's Word. Read it every day. Let His wisdom soak into your thoughts. Be satisfied in Him and His daily provision. Don't be as concerned with what you have or don't have. He will provide exactly what you need.

The Financial Benefit Of Being In The Word

A few verses later in this same Psalm, the Psalmist lays out the benefit of being in the Word:
I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts (Psalm 119:45, NIV).
Did you catch this profound statement? Being in God's Word and following His wisdom brings about ultimate FREEDOM from the pursuit of material gain. When we allow His words to penetrate our hearts and minds, then we are able to gain a proper, eternal perspective. The worldly pursuit of "stuff" makes no sense in the light of eternity.

Freedom is an awesome benefit. When we can allow God's Word to control our thoughts and actions, then we are no longer controlled by sin and the desires of the flesh.

Are you experiencing freedom in your life right now? If not, allow God's Word to bring you freedom from loot, toys, and trinkets.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hate The Player, Not The Game

Photo courtesy of PT Money
I Hate Money!

I recently heard a former Financial Peace University student make the statement, "I hate money." I know this person struggles with both the income and the outgo sides of the money equation.

Unfortunately, this former student doesn't truly understand the money game. They have some faulty "money scripts" running in their subconscious mind. They don't have a complete understanding of the game and how to play it. They're blaming the game when they should be blaming the player.

It would be better if this particular person looked in the mirror and determined that the money game isn't the true issue. The player doesn't understand how the game is played! They need to become a student of the game.

Become A Student Of The Game

If you don't want to struggle your whole life with money problems, then you need to get in there and figure out the money game. You need to get counsel from people who get it. You need to attend seminars of wealthy people who teach it well.

You should read books on how to make it, manage it, and spend it. Some books I highly recommend are:
There are some great blogs on personal finances that I recommend reading. The following is a short list of blogs I follow on a regular basis:
If you want to become good at anything, then you have to study and learn that subject. In today's avalanche of information, there's really no excuse for any of us to be ignorant regarding sound, financial wisdom. Read these books, follow these blogs, and I guarantee that in a matter of a few months you will be further head than your next door neighbor or your broke golfing buddy. Knowledge truly is power.

Now, Play The Game!

Having a bunch of head knowledge is great, but just having the knowledge is not going to win the money game. You have to pull the trigger. You must take action.

So, what I recommend is to take the money game one step at a time, one day at a time. Sometimes, we can increase our head knowledge to the point where we are so overly enthusiastic that we have so many great ideas or plans, but we end up paralyzed by too many ideas.

We need to slow down, make a prioritized list of the top 3-5 steps we can currently take to get our financial life in order. So, if my finances were in a complete mess and I was just starting from the very beginning, my top 5 steps in my first financial plan might look like this:
  1. Determine the basic, important numbers. What is my income? What is my current outgo (budget/cashflow)? Does my outgo exceed my income, and by how much?
  2. Create a reasonable cashflow plan. If my outgo is the primary issue, what can I do, at least temporarily, to reign in my expenses? Are there expenses/bills that I can eliminate without creating too much pain in my life?
  3. Focus on the income. Wealthy people focus on bringing home the bacon. How can you temporarily as well as long-term bring home more income? 
  4. Set-up a baby emergency fund of at least $1,000. This is straight out of the FPU plan. Emergency savings help keep you out of long-term debt.
  5. Work your debt snowball. List all personal debts (except 1st mortgages) from smallest to largest and attack that debt with a vengeance. Pay it off as quickly as possible.
Focus on just accomplishing a few, smaller set of financial goals as fast as possible. Once you finish that set of goals, then create a new short list and attack that new list. Don't get to overly involved with a complicated, long-term financial plan. You don't want to overwhelm yourself, because then you will fail.

Educate the player, and then get out there and play the money game with excellence!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Live A Life Both God And You Can Be Proud Of

Photo by madpoet_one
The Prophet Isaiah Had A Vision

In the Old Testament, in Isaiah 6:1-4, we see that the prophet Isaiah had a unique vision of God Almighty:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another: 
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts;
His glory fills the whole earth. 
The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.
After Isaiah had this unique and awesome vision of God, look at what his response was to that vision in the following verses (Isaiah 6:5-8):
Then I said: 
Woe is me for I am ruined
because I am a man of unclean lips
and live among a people of unclean lips,
and because my eyes have seen the King,
the Lord of Hosts. 
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said: 
Now that this has touched your lips,
your wickedness is removed
and your sin is atoned for. 
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: 
Who should I send?
Who will go for Us? 
I said: 
Here I am. Send me.
After Isaiah had the vision of who God is (a powerful, extremely holy God), he saw how unholy and unworthy he was. After the Lord forgave his sin and cleansed him, Isaiah was then prepared to serve Him.

The Way You View God Determines The Way You Live

I recently heard this statement from a Bible Study teacher who was teaching on Isaiah Chapter 6,

"The way you view God determines the way you live."

Let that statement sink in and marinate in your brain for a minute.

If you're really serious about living a life both God and you can be proud of, then you must have a proper view of God. Your next question may be:

"Well, Larry, how do I actually view God in the proper way?"

Excellent question!

The only way to have a proper view of God is to spend time with Him. Gone are the days of Isaiah-like visions from Heaven. Today, God has given us His Word and His Holy Spirit dwelling inside each believer to speak to us.

We spend time with Him through reading His Word and praying. We need to be intentional about it, too. We need to set aside some time each day in order to grow in our relationship with Him.

It's really no more complicated than that.

How Are You Living?

So, how are you doing in living out the Christian life? Do you have a proper, holy, respectful view of a holy, awesome, all powerful God?

Has this proper view of God caused a change in your lifestyle? Are you broken about your sin? Have you sought His cleansing that can only come from faith in Jesus Christ?

The only way we can live out a life that is pleasing to God is to have a proper view of Him. Once we have this appropriate view of God, then we are moved to repent, to be cleansed, and to do what He calls us to do; to go where He wants us to go.

Get in the Word. Get on your knees in prayer. Get a proper view of God.

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