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)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hold on to Hope!

This year is quickly drawing to a close and a new year is upon us. The year 2009 has been a difficult year for many and there doesn't seem to be a lot of hope on the horizon. People have lost their jobs. Some have lost homes to foreclosure. Retirees have seen their retirement accounts evaporate in a few short months. Families have fallen apart. Lives have been shattered.

As believers in Jesus Christ, though, we have a hope that the world does not have. Hebrews 10:23 states, Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. As Christians, we profess that we we have an awesome hope that the world doesn't have. Even though we have this hope, it's easy during difficult times to forget about that hope.

So as we enter a new year, I encourage all believers to hold on to hope. Be unswerving, unwavering, and firm in your hope. God is faithful to those who claim the name of Christ. The Lord will take care of us in our time of need.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Living with an abundance mindset

Americans are spoiled. Even the poorest among us are rich as compared to the rest of the world. We have many rights, privileges, and blessings here in the United States that the world would love to have. Many have died just trying to get here in order to participate in the opportunities that America provides.

Unfortunately, many in the U.S. (including believers) take the following 2 paths when it comes to their financial blessings:
  1. People take their material blessings for granted. They are generally content, but they don't have a clue as how to manage what they have. They think the good times are always going to be here, and they live their financial lives on the edge of disaster. They have never taken the time or energy to educate themselves on intelligent money management.
  2. People become greedy for more. Some become discontent with their current financial situation and want more and more. They hoard their money and become obsessed with making more of it. They can also waste it on a bunch of stuff they don't really need in order to impress people they don't even really like.
Is there a proper response to God's material blessings? What is the proper abundance mindset? For believers in Jesus Christ, God's Word gives us clear direction that we should:
  1. be thankful. give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
  2. be content. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have... (Hebrews 13:5a).
  3. be faithful. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2).
  4. give back. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity (2 Corinthians 8:2).
  5. share. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased (Hebrews 13:16).
  6. do good works. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).
  7. love others. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you (1 Thessalonians 3:12).
  8. be joyful. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy (Acts 14:17).
  9. save. he who gathers money little by little makes it grow (Proverbs 13:11b).
  10. gain financial wisdom. Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom? (Proverbs 17:16).
Christians, let me ask you a question. During this Christmas season and the abundance that we enjoy, do you have the proper response to the Lord's material blessing in your life?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mega Christmas Giveaway Winner| Amazon Kindle!

I am pleased to announce the winner of my Mega Christmas Giveaway:

Lynnae McCoy! (@Lynnae on Twitter)

Lynnae is a Christian Finance blogger as well. Check out her blog at Being

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway! Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 18, 2009

Living in the moment is over-rated

Yesterday afternoon, I happened to be channel surfing on the TV, and I ran across the tail end of a popular talk-show. The host made a comment that went something like ", that's living in the moment." While I'm not exactly sure of the context in which the statement was made, I would say that "living in the moment" is not always such a great thing or even the best thing.

Living in the moment can be a positive force in your life if it causes you to slow down and savor the time that you have. Time that you have with your family. Time to unwind and relax. Time to just enjoy life in general.

Too often, though, people make extremely poor choices when living in the moment. They allow a fleeting desire to capture their attention. They dwell on that desire, savoring it all in the name of "living in the moment." The desire turns into bad decision making. Money is wasted. Debt is incurred. People are scarred. Families are destroyed.

Thoughts will lead to feelings, feelings will lead to decisions, and decisions will lead to consequences. Those who would live in the moment, would do well to think outside the moment, and project the future consequences upon any decision made in the moment.

Living in the moment must be tempered by truth. God's Word must be the absolute truth in the life of a believer. Every decision made in the moment must be filtered through the Word.

...we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5b)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is having ambition good or bad?

Ambition is an interesting virtue. Depending on the object of the ambition, it can take on either a negative or positive connotation.

Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines ambition as:
  1. a: an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power b: desire to achieve a particular end
  2. the object of ambition [example: her ambition is to start her own business]
  3. a desire for activity or exertion [example: felt sick and had no ambition]
We can judge many of our leaders, both past and present, through this first definition. Has their ambition been a desire for fame and power, or rather an ambition geared toward accomplishing a greater end? The first desire is a selfish one and not one born out of righteousness. The second desire for ambition is healthy if it is rooted in accomplishing some great task.

In Romans 15:20 the Apostle Paul wrote, It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation.

Paul was an extremely ambitious Christian. After his conversion on the road to Damascus, he had extreme goals to accomplish for the cause of Christ. He took on a position of leadership within the universal Christian church, not out of selfish ambition, but for the greater good of the church. He felt uniquely called of God to take on this mantle of leadership.

As you lead others, whether it be at home, on the job, at your church, or in your own unique ministry calling, always monitor your personal ambition. Is it selfish or righteous? Has it been birthed out of sin and the flesh or out of a desire to fulfill God's will for your life?

But even if everyone's motives aren't always pure and righteous, just take the view of Paul as seen in Philippians 1:15-18, It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rich Christian Blog is now available on Kindle

I have just a quick, simple post today.

For those of you who already own the Amazon Kindle, my Blog is now available for subscription. You can simply download the regular posts to your Kindle for portable reading. Check out the Rich Christian, Poor Christian Kindle page here.

If you're interested in winning a Kindle in my Mega Christmas Giveaway, there are 11 days remaining. Click here to enter.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mega Christmas Giveaway | Amazon Kindle!

For the final 16 Days leading up to Christmas, I am running a Mega Christmas Giveaway by giving away to one blessed winner an Amazon Kindle!

Enter to win by doing these 3 steps:

1. Become an ACTIVE email subscriber to my Feedburner email list. Anytime I put a new post on the blog, you will receive a copy of the post in your inbox. Simply insert your email address in the form in the upper right hand corner of my blog page and follow the steps to become an active subscriber. This giveaway is open to both new subscribers and current active subscribers that also complete the next two steps. 

2. Tell others about the Giveaway through social networking:

Retweet the following on Twitter :

RT @RichChristian Mega Christmas Giveaway of an Amazon Kindle. Follow this link to find out how:

Note: It's very important to be sure to add the @RichChristian so I can see who is actually retweeting me!


Friend Request me on Facebook - see my profile here. THEN, send out a status update with the following script:

My newest Facebook friend is doing a Mega Christmas Giveaway of an Amazon Kindle. Follow this link to find out how:

3. And finally, send me an email at from the email account that you signed up via Feedburner. In your email, give me your Name, Twitter account name, and/or Facebook name so that I can double check that you have followed all the steps!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holy Spirit direction in your Big Idea | The Process

The process of finding out God's Big Idea for your life can be a challenge. We know in what areas we have been gifted. We know what areas interest us. We combine our passions with ministry. We sense a calling from God to head into a particular direction. We make plans and proceed down a certain path. We have now taken ownership of this direction in our life. We don't want to give up, no matter what!

Then, something stops us from producing any momentum. We get stuck. We think we made a mistake. Everything and everyone is against us making any headway. We start to second guess our decision-making process. Unfortunately, though, we have taken ownership on our plan, and we stubbornly stick with the plan until the bitter end.

I wonder if the Apostle Paul felt this way at all? In Acts 16:6-10, we see that Paul and his traveling companions had apparently made plans to enter the Roman province of Asia, but God's Word states that the Holy Spirit stopped them. Then, they tried to enter the province of Bithynia. Again, the Holy Spirit stopped them from heading in that direction.

Finally, one night, Paul has a vision of a man from the province of Macedonia, calling out to him for help. Conclusion: God was calling Paul and his companions to preach the gospel in Macedonia. They answered the call. They dropped all of their current plans and immediately headed for the province of Macedonia. They were obedient to the Holy Spirit's direction in their lives.

It's OK to make plans and goals as you attempt to accomplish what God has called you to do. Nowhere in this passage do we see Paul condemned for making plans and goals for this missionary trip. What we do see, however, is the Holy Spirit stepping in to redirect Paul's plans to accomplish His purposes in Paul's life. Paul was sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and always obedient to God's direction in his life. Paul was not stubbornly fixed on his goals or his own plans.

As you work through the process of accomplishing God's Big Idea for your life, always be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Each step is a process. Don't get married to your own plans or desires. He might have something bigger and better that He wants to accomplish through you. Be obedient to what you have discerned to be the right direction at each point in the journey.

Friday, December 4, 2009

9 Thoughts on Building a Great Reputation

Reputation = what someone is known for [Source: Wiktionary].

During the Apostle Paul's second missionary journey, he revisited the Roman colony of Lystra. While he was there, he met a young disciple named Timothy. God's Word states that all the believers spoke very well of Timothy. Timothy had an excellent reputation (Acts 16:1-3). In fact, his reputation among the believers was so excellent, that Paul determined to develop a mentoring relationship with this young man and to take Timothy with him as he continued on his journey.

I don't know about you, but my reputation is extremely important to me. When believers and unbelievers speak about me, I want them to say that I am an honest, trustworthy individual who loves God and serves Him faithfully. I have gained the trust and confidence of others because I am a man of integrity who will always do the right thing, no matter what. Am I perfect? Of course not. Do I have issues? Everybody has issues. Do I make mistakes? Plenty, but my desire is to do right and please God.

An excellent reputation can sometimes take an entire lifetime to build with those around you, but it can easily be destroyed by one major, incredibly foolish action. In the Christian world, just remember people such as Jimmy Swaggert, Jim Bakker, and Ted Haggard. They have all blown their reputations with bad choices, decisions, and actions. One night of sinful pleasure can lead to a lifetime of misery and rejection.

How Can You Build An Excellent Reputation?
  1. Be real with people.
  2. Be a person after God's own heart.
  3. Let your personal worship line up with your public, corporate worship. Christianity isn't a one day of the week experience. We have to live out our faith, daily.
  4. Pursue purity. Flee from sin. If you have specific struggles in the flesh, always consider the long-term consequences of giving in to your fleshly desires.
  5. Do what you say you're going to do. Be a person of integrity. Be honest.
  6. Engage with people. Love them for who they are, not what you can get out of them.
  7. Do excellent work. Don't be a "halfway" kind of person.
  8. Be an awesome listener.
  9. Give of yourself to others - time, talents, and money. Don't be so selfish.
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold (Proverbs 22:1, NIV).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

God's Chosen Instrument | Your Big Idea

The Apostle Paul was an apostle that was "abnormally born" (1 Corinthians 7:8-9). Until Paul's conversion, all of the apostles were selected based on one criteria: they had to have been a part of Jesus' entire three year earthly ministry (Acts 1:21-22). Apparently, though, the Lord had a different qualification. He must have seen something special about Saul (Paul). He saw a passion, a spiritual zeal for accomplishing something great for God. The Lord saw an individual with the right training, the right knowledge, a Jew, and a Roman citizen, who could carry the gospel message across the entire Roman world.

But Saul didn't understand the story of Christ. He was too immersed into the sect of the Pharisees to get it. The Lord had to make a special appearance after His ascension to get Saul's complete attention and devotion.

You remember the story: as Saul walked along the road to Damascus in order to persecute believers in that city, the Lord appeared to him in order to give him a special assignment. During his personal encounter with Christ, Saul had been blinded, and he was led into the city to await further instructions. The Lord then sent a believer named Ananias to deliver Saul's marching orders for the remainder of his life.

The Lord told Ananias that Saul was God's chosen instrument to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, government authorities, and also the people of Israel (Acts 9:15-16, NIV). Right from the start of his conversion, Saul knew exactly what God's Big Idea was for his life. Saul had direct revelation from the Lord regarding what He wanted him to accomplish during his time here on earth.

Unfortunately with the close of the New Testament canon, we no longer have direct revelation regarding His specific will for every believer. We must discern His will for our lives through the study of the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, other believers, and the talents and abilities God has equipped us with.

Discerning His will takes time. It takes time in the Word, in prayer, in meditation, and talking to older, wiser believers who can help you in your quest. Perhaps a spiritual retreat is in order for you to understand His will for your life. Sometimes, we understand His full plan for our lives. Most of the time, though, we understand His will a piece at a time. The important thing to remember as each piece is revealed to us is that we must be obedient at each step of the process.

I have 3 questions for you today:
  1. Do you know God's will for your life right now?
  2. If you are unsure, what do you need to do in order to discover it?
  3. If you do know His will, are you being obedient in the knowledge you currently have?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Everything Is A Test

I recently watched a movie called The Recruit, which contained a number of "nuggets" of life truth woven into the movie.

For a synopsis of the movie, click here.

Throughout the script, a key point that is driven into all the CIA recruits' heads as they enter training is this: everything is a test. As each recruit is placed into a unique situation, paired with a partner, or forced to make a difficult decision, they need to place everything that they are experiencing in the context of a test of their knowledge, skill, decision making abilities, and fortitude.

The same can also be said about the Christian life. Everyone and everything we encounter could be considered some type of test. Take the following scenarios as probable life tests:
  1. Job Loss. This situation could be a test of your faith on a number of levels. Perhaps the Lord is wanting to see your reliance on Him for physical provision. Maybe God has a better position or business opportunity out there waiting for you.
  2. Money Problems. The Lord is looking for excellent money managers. Everything you have is not yours, it's all His. Have you run into financial difficulties because you have been acting like it's all yours? Run your family's finances according to the principles of money management found in God's Word. Manage well what He has given to you at the moment and trust in Him to provide more for the future. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (I Corinthians 4:2).
  3. Marital Problems. Problems in your marriage test how deep your love and commitment is for your spouse. At the first sign of trouble, are you going to duck and run, blaming all of your difficulties on your spouse? Do you have the emotional and spiritual strength to take a stand and heal the marriage. Is God trying to teach you something? Is God trying to develop the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) in your life? Allow God to heal the hurt and pain in your relationship. Forgiveness is another great lesson we can all learn. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13).
  4. Divorce. Separation and divorce are huge challenges, especially if you have been the faithful spouse and your spouse has been wayward. Only you can control you and make right choices. Do all you can to heal the relationship, but if your spouse will not return, work on your relationship with the Lord. Allow Him to bring healing to your soul and be a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Don't create another dysfunctional marriage by jumping into another relationship because you're lonely and needy. Relationships don't solve problems.
  5. Difficult Children. I believe that many of us have been blessed with children to mature us, teach us more about ourselves, and pay us back for whatever problems we created for our parents (only half-joking on that one)! If you're having problems with your kids, just look in the mirror. The majority of the time, you are the problem and also the solution. Work on yourself, first. Gain control of your emotions and parenting process. Dr. Kevin Leman has a variety of books on parenting that I highly recommend.
  6. Death. The death of any loved one is the number one, stress-producing life event you will ever encounter. If your loved one has a personal relationship with Christ, you can rest in the knowledge that you will see them once again in heaven. Those of us who know the Lord will ultimately end up in a way better place than here!
Some of our life tests are going to be large ones like the list above. Most, though, are going to be those small, daily challenges that we encounter on a regular basis. Are you making right choices with the small tests in life? Better decision-making in the small tests will build our character and prepare us for the bigger events to come.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything... Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him (James 1: 2-4; 12).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Are you still thankful in 2009?

Happy Turkey Day 2009!

In a few months, when we all take a look back at the year 2009, I think many of us will be thankful it's finally over. This year has brought numerous challenges to a lot of people. Many have lost jobs this year. Many still have jobs but have taken major pay cuts. Marriages have fallen apart. Children have become rebellious and made extremely poor choices. People have lost their homes to foreclosures.

In spite of the difficult times in which we now find ourselves, here are a few reminders of things to be thankful for today, even if you don't necessarily feel very thankful this holiday season:
  1. Salvation. Those of us who claim the name of Christ can be thankful that someday there will be no more sorrow, no more pain! We can rest in the comfort that one day we will live in eternity with our Savior.
  2. Life. There's an old response that some people use to the everyday question, "how are you today?" The response comes back "every day above ground is a good day!" Even though it's a somewhat humorous statement, this is a great attitude to have each day - an attitude of gratitude!
  3. Health. If you and your family still have good health, consider yourself blessed!
  4. Marriage. If you're in a healthy, vibrant marriage, consider yourself blessed!
  5. Family. If you have happy, healthy children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, you are overflowing with blessings. If your parents and grandparents are still alive and well, God has been good to you!
  6. Church. If you have a great church family in which you are a part, you are blessed!
  7. Business. If you own a business that has weathered the economic storm, you are blessed!
  8. Job. If you still have a job in a climate of 10-18% unemployment, God has been good to you and your family!
  9. Food. If you can put food on the table and eat out occasionally, life is tasty!
  10. Vehicles. If you have a functioning car to get you to where you need to go, life is so much easier!
I could go on, but you get the point. In a difficult year, there are still many things in which we can give thanks to our Lord.

To readers of my blog, I thank God for all of you. I pray that you find these regular postings thought provoking, inspiring, and educational. I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, (Philemon 1:4, NIV).

May God bless you and yours this Thanksgiving Day.


Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (I Thessalonians 5:18, NIV).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Goal Setting | Looking Back and Moving Forward

As the holiday season rapidly approaches, now is the ideal time to review what you were able to accomplish in 2009 and what God has planned for you in your mission in 2010.

Looking Back

So, how was the past year for you? Did you go into 2009 with a list of big, hairy goals that you wanted to accomplish? Here's a list of questions to ask yourself as you review your year:
  1. Did you set clearly defined goals for the past year?
  2. How many goals did you set for yourself? Too few? Too many?
  3. Were you able to accomplish all or most of your goals in 2009? Why or why not?
  4. Were your goals too big to accomplish in one year?
  5. Were your goals based on God's Word or selfish desires?
  6. Has God revealed to you His purpose or Big Idea for your life?
  7. Were your goals based on God's Big Idea for your life?
  8. What challenges or opposition did you encounter during the year?
  9. If you could have a "do over" on this year, what would you do differently?
  10. Can you knock out a couple of the goals on your list before 2009 ends?
Moving Forward

Now that you have perspective on your past or current goals, now it's time to ask yourself some questions as you prepare your goals for next year:
  1. What goals from 2009 are still important and relevant that you should carry over into the new year?
  2. If the goals you set for this year were way too big, can you break those down into smaller goals or tasks for next year in order to gain some momentum?
  3. If you could accomplish 3-4 key goals to move you forward in God's Big Idea for your life, what would they be?
  4. Do you need to let go of someone or something in order to move ahead in 2010?
  5. Are your 2010 goals in line with God's Word and your mission/purpose statement?
  6. Are your goals focused on helping others? Do they add value to others?
If you didn't feel like you were able to make much progress this year in your goals or life mission, take heart! I believe we all go through periods of plateau, decline, then progress once again. The key is to keep asking great questions of yourself, then seek out the right answers to your questions. Keep fighting. Stay in the game. Focus on your mission. Look forward to the day when you will hear:

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness." (Matthew 25:23, NIV).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How to Win at Anything | The Simple Answer

Over the last several months, I have written a number of posts on the subject of winning. Some of these posts have been more complex than others, but today, I have some cliff notes regarding winning in the various areas of your life. Here is the really short, simple answer for winning:

ADD VALUE to every pursuit and every relationship
  1. with your business clients.
  2. in your job.
  3. in your ministry.
  4. in your marriage.
  5. with your children.
  6. in your friendships.
  7. in your professional network.
So many times, we approach our businesses, our jobs, and our relationships thinking what can I GET out of this. Can I GET more money, more knowledge, more contacts, more appreciation, more help, more love?

Instead, why not approach these pursuits and these relationships by seeking what you can ADD to them. The more we can GIVE of ourselves, the more we will receive. It's one of those strange paradoxes in life. If you want more, if you want to achieve more, you need to get out there and GIVE more.

As you add more value to organizations, business, and people, be sure to add both real value and perceived value. So, what's the difference between the two?

Real Value = actually making a difference in an organization or person.

Perceived Value = the person or organization recognizes that you are making a difference.

Adding value anonymously is a noble cause, but you will never reap the benefits of adding value. I realize that this sounds self-serving, and at some level it probably is, but if you have a desire to win and achieve great things in your life, people need to see and feel the value you are adding.

Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Luke 6:38).

In everything I [the Apostle Paul] did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: "It is more blessed to give than receive." (Acts 20:35).

In what ways can you go out today and demonstrate real and perceived value in your work and relationships? Go out and give of yourself today!

Monday, November 16, 2009

When making major financial decisions, look for the unexpected

During a time of major decision making in our personal finances, we have too often become conditioned to seek out the easiest (and usually most expensive) path to solve our need.

Here are some various decision scenarios and possible solutions:
  1. Car breakdown. The easy fix for a lot of people goes something like this: "Oh, no! My car broke down and I need a dependable vehicle to get me back and forth to work. It's an older car anyway and I deserve something new and shiny. I know brand new cars are expensive and will depreciate like a rock, but I'm in a jam here and I need something!" So people go into thousands of dollars of debt and they didn't even seek the Lord's direction! Here are some possibly better alternatives. First and foremost, PRAY! Go before the throne and ask the Lord to give you wisdom and knowledge to make the best financial decision possible. Second, think outside the box on a possible solution. Make your need known to your church through your small group or other avenues. Sometimes, just letting your network of Christian friends know your situation might lead to a great mechanic that could fix your car at a lower cost, or someone let's you borrow their car until you repair yours or you are able find a suitable, less expensive replacement.
  2. Weddings. Why so many people go into thousands of dollars in debt to get married is beyond me. With the divorce rate above 50% even in Christian circles, it seems that it would make more sense to have a very small wedding and invest a lot of money in premarital as well as marriage counseling/coaching throughout the marriage. Get ideas and referrals in your personal network.
  3. Renting vs. Owning. Dave Ramsey always cracks me up when he makes the sarcastic statement "All renters go to hell..." In the past, the conventional wisdom has been that people should get into home ownership as quickly as possible because when you rent, you are just throwing money away. While that may have been true for the last several years, the current collapse of the housing market has really made people rethink homeownership. Owning a home is a huge expense. If you're broke, you are much better off financially to rent a small cheap apartment, pile up as much cash for an emergency fund and home down payment, then go out and purchase an affordable home.
  4. Growing Family. I have seen (and have personally experienced) this scenario too many times. When a young couple gets pregnant with their first child, they believe that they need to immediately rush out and buy a bigger house and vehicle. Unless you are Jon and Kate Gosselin or the Duggar Family ,who have a small tribe for a family, you can probably get by for now until you are in a better financial situation. Just sit tight, be content for now, and research like crazy. Most people run into big financial problems when they rush into a home or automobile purchase that is way over their heads.
  5. College. I believe that more and more people are beginning to wake up to the fact that college is way too expensive. Going into thousands of dollars of debt to attend the best colleges is no guarantee that you will land your dream job. A better plan would be to get a bachelor and master's degree at a decent university, cash flowing the whole process. While getting your degrees as cheeply as possible, network with as many people as possible. Also, you should consider doing an internship in an area of career interest. The "Power of Who" is what is going to help you land you your dream job or launch your business, not a degree from an Ivy League school!
Here's the mental progression you should consider when faced with a major financial decision:
  1. Pray. So many believer's underestimate the power of prayer in their lives. God wants to provide for your needs, but we never go to the Father and ask for help! A prayer that I started praying recently comes directly from John 14:13-14, and the prayer goes something like this, "Father, in the name of Your Son Jesus, I'm asking that you would bring glory to Your name through working a mighty miracle in [insert your request]. Your Son has told His followers that He would do anything for us if we simply ask in His name, and I'm doing that right now. If what I am asking for lines up with Your perfect will and Your Word, I'm trusting that You will answer my request. In His name I pray, Amen."
  2. Keep Giving. Don't allow your financial decision to be an excuse to stop giving at least at the level of the tithe (10%). God has claimed that money as His. God is not going to bless your decision-making process if you are stealing from Him. Everything you have comes from Him, anyway! Prove to the Lord that you are a wise and shrewd manager of His resources.
  3. Look around you. Find out what inexpensive resources are readily available to you at this moment.
  4. Wait. Too many people can't wait anymore. Since we live in a "microwave" society, everybody wants what they desire right now! Be unique. Be different in your decision making process when it comes to your finances. Be a crock-pot, not a microwave. Take your time. Let the entire process "simmer" for a time while you investigate all of the possibilities. There is a much better chance that you will make a wiser decision.
  5. Talk to people. Use your unique "Who Network" to explain your situation and the decision you are facing. Other people have been where you are at right now, and they can give you advice on a possible direction to follow. One word of caution, however. Get a variety of advice from various sources and sift it all through the wisdom of God's Word.
  6. Get Creative. Think outside the box when you need to solve a financial issue. If you need a car, maybe someone in your personal network would be willing to donate a vehicle to you. If you need to get more education, maybe you could get what you really need through a mentoring/internship relationship. Time, relationships, and bartering are all great tools in your arsenal of compensation.
  7. Research all of the possibilities. The internet is an incredible tool at your immediate disposal to obtain information, advice, and special deals. Invest time and energy in searching out this valuable resource.
  8. Use the Power of Cash. Debt is dumb. Cash is a much better negotiating tool to get what you need at a lower cost.
Here are some real-life examples from the life of Jesus Christ:
  1. He used what was currently available to Him. On two separate occasions in Matthew 14 and 15, Jesus was in a situation when thousands of people needed to be fed. In both the feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand, His disciples only had just a few loaves of bread and a few fish in order to feed the multitudes. Through God's power working through Him, He was able to stretch out these limited resources in order to feed thousands of people!
  2. He saw resources that His disciples knew nothing about. In Matthew 21, Jesus was preparing for His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. As He approached the city, He knew about a colt that was tied up in a nearby village. He didn't need to go to the nearest "rent a colt" store to get what He needed. He just asked His disciples to go get it for Him and to let the owner know that the Lord needed to borrow it! In Matthew 26, we see Jesus preparing for His last supper with the disciples. Jesus knew of the perfect upper room, completely furnished, to use for this special meal. He asked His disciples to simply go to the owner and ask him to use it.
Have you ever faced a major financial decision similar to those above? Did you end up making good choices or bad choices? What was your result? I'd love to hear your story, just leave me a comment below.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No Excuses, Just Results

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who make excuses and those who get results. The excuse person will find any excuse for why a job was not done, and a results person will find any reason why it can be done. Be a creator, not a reactor. - Alan Cohen

There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstance permit. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results. - Art Turock

I'm a trumpet player, and in my high school and college years, I was privileged to travel all over the United States with a great Christian brass group called the King's Brass. After each concert, we would swap stories of how our chops gave out on a certain high note or about how our memory was faulty on a certain song. Whenever we would get into this mode, we always had a running joke or saying that we would tell one another, "no excuses, just results."

This saying was a great reminder for all of us in the ensemble that we could make every excuse as to why something did or did not happen. What truly mattered in the end, though, were the results - did we as musicians do our absolute best in order to achieve the best concert performance possible.

The same is true in our lives. We can make every excuse out there as to why we aren't successful in our job, saving more money, tithing to our church, spending more time with our families, or fulfilling God's mission for our lives. God wants to create incredible results in and through our lives. We just need to quit giving the Lord, our workplace, our families, our churches, and our friends every excuse we can think of. Sure, some of your excuses may be valid, but have you explored every option available to you in order to achieve better results?

In what areas of your life have you been making excuses? What do you need to do to move from excuses to incredible results?

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Relationship of Reading, Writing, and Idea Generation

Cutting Edge vs. Normal

The difference between cutting edge people and normal people is creativity and great ideas. They have a thirst for knowledge and information. They read from a variety of sources and genres - history, politics, philosophy, fantasy, science fiction, non-fiction, fiction, blogs, magazines, newspapers, and so on. They watch a variety of different media - online videos, different movie and TV genres (drama, sci-fi, documentaries, etc.). They attend various seminars (financial, leadership, business).

The key to idea generation is the variety of material. Oftentimes, the variety of material is what causes new creative connections to form in our minds.

OK. You have some new, creative ideas. Now what?

You've gone through the process of reading, viewing, and listening to a variety of good material. You are starting to make creative connections with various ideas from this material. You are creating your own ideas. What should you do with them?
  1. Write them down in a notebook.
  2. Once they are written down in your notebook, take the time to expand these ideas and play around with them.
  3. Start with one word. Then, think of related words, associations with that word, and new words.
  4. Get everything down on paper. Think of this as a "thought ticker." Regurgitate all of your ideas in your notebook, then come back later to organize them.
Share your ideas

Now that you have all of these great ideas down in your notebook, it's time to share them with the world by:
  1. Creating a product around the idea.
  2. Creating a business around the idea.
  3. Writing a blog around the idea.
  4. Writing a book around the idea.
  5. Networking with others around the idea. Join social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Have lunch with people interested in your idea that can push you farther and faster in its development.
What steps do you need to take to move from normal to cutting edge in the arena of ideas?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Becoming Resolute

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem (Luke 9:51, NIV).

Definition: Resolute - firm, unyielding, determined [Source: Wiktionary].

How determined, how resolute are you when it comes down to accomplishing God's mission for your life? Do you waver in your commitment, even though you know exactly what you must do in order to be faithful in your calling?

In this one simple verse, we see the strong, perfect character of our Lord. He knew that He had to travel down to Jerusalem in order to accomplish His eternal mission here on earth. He knew that He must endure painful beatings from the Jewish religious leaders and crucifixion by the Romans. He knew that He would would be all alone when His disciples abandoned Him. He knew that He would feel the painful separation from the Father when the sin of the whole world was placed on Him at the cross. When the moment came, though, Jesus never wavered. When the timing was right for Him to leave the safety of Galilee to travel to Jerusalem where His mission waited for Him, He left with incredible determination to accomplish the Father's plans for Him.

Jesus made a resolute choice to travel to a place where He knew He would need to suffer and die for you and for me. What unyielding choices do you need to make today to honor Him and His mission for you?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Dependency Class

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, NIV).

We live in a world today where increasing numbers of people don't want to work hard and make their way in the world. I'm not writing about those who have lost jobs in recent months due to our current recession, but rather those that have become codependent. They're immature. They haven't grown up. These people are physically capable of working, but they choose rather to have others take care of them, whether it be the federal government, family members, the church, or other charitable organizations. Even Christians can get into a mindset that they are owed something in life, and they will take advantage of the government, other people, resources, and organizations in order to get what they think that they deserve.

In the verses above, the Apostle Paul encourages the believers at the church in Thessalonica to work hard and not be dependent on others. The purpose behind this way of living is to earn the respect of unbelievers. Every day, unbelievers are watching all of us who claim the name of Christ. They are looking to see if we have personal integrity in our everyday lives. Work is such a large part of our life where we can model a strong work ethic to those who don't know the Lord.

As you engage in work today, let me encourage you to work hard as if you were working just for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23). Be a shining example of what a strong Christian work ethic looks like in the life of a believer. Go out and earn the respect of your unbelieving boss and coworkers. Be a living testimony of what Christ is doing in your life. Perhaps the Lord will use your hard work as an open door to share Christ with others.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Personal worship | The best sequence

Those who are rich in Christ, those who have a deep abiding relationship with Him, understand the best sequence of personal worship:

Bible study, followed by meditation, followed by prayer.

When we follow this sequence in our personal worship, we allow God to speak to us through His Word. We can than meditate on what He is trying to tell us through His Word. Finally, once we understand what the Lord is communicating to us, we feel led to talk to Him and discuss what He is trying to teach us.

Several months ago, I wrote a
blog post regarding the great stewardship mindset of George Müller. He was a man of great faith who totally depended on God through His Word and through prayer to meet the needs of the orphanages he was called to establish in England. Regarding his own sequence of personal worship, he said,

The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul in a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished.

Before this time my habit had been to give myself to prayer after having dressed in the morning. Now I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, whilst meditating, my heart might be brought into (an experiential) communion with the Lord.

The result I have found to be almost invariable this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately [Source: Light Their Fire for God by Anne and David Harper, p. 102].

What is your own sequence for personal worship? Do you agree with George Müller's own personal experience and assessment?

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Garage Sale Mentality and Spending

We all like stuff. Some of us like cars. Some of us like boats. Some of us like technology. Some of us like collectibles and trinkets.

Have you ever considered that everything you own is going to end up in a garage sale someday? That's right. Not long after you pass away, family members will be combing through all of your worldly possessions deciding what they will keep for themselves and what will go into a huge estate sale.

Pretty sobering, huh?

Personally, I hate stuff cluttering up my house, and it's a constant battle of getting rid of stuff that you don't really need, especially when you have two young children in the home. I'd rather give, save, wisely invest my money, and make only necessary purchases.

So, the next time you're buying birthday or Christmas presents for your children, ask yourself, "do my kids really need five presents each, especially when other family members will be buying them gifts as well?" Or, the next time you're out running some errands and you run across an item in the store that you absolutely "just have to get," just remember the great big garage sale that's coming after you have left this earthly life. The simple life really is a better life.

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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How Can I Become More Productive?

I'm currently in a life situation where I'm feeling somewhat productive, but I'm also feeling overwhelmed by the mundane activities of life that are draining me of energy as well as time to unwind and relax. I know that I can become more productive by making some small changes going forward.

Here's how I'm attempting to increase my productivity over time:
  1. Scheduling a regular sabbath day. I'm beginning to learn that sometimes just stopping activity for a period of time will boost your overall output. At the end of the last two weeks, I have been running on empty. I have been so exhausted that I really had no desire to do much of anything. Normally on my days off, I would schedule work at home to be accomplished, but no longer. I'm beginning to see the benefits of taking a solid 24 hour period of time to stop all work activity to give my body, mind, and spirit enough time to recover. Get it on your calendar. Stop all work activity in order to be refreshed and renewed. In the last few weeks, I have discovered that the day after taking a Sabbath day, I am way more productive in one day than if I struggled through working two days in a row.
  2. Taking advantage of vacation days. At the end of each year, do you typically have a bunch of vacation time that you have not used? Your employer has given you this vacation time as a part of your compensation package. This is considered time off for financial remuneration. This is a fringe benefit that you are given in order to renew yourself so that you can be even more productive in your work. I'm currently taking a day off here and there for the remainder of 2009 in order to get my life in balance, as well as to make time for financial health days and Sabbath days. You will never get reimbursed financially for these vacation days, so you better just go ahead and use them!
  3. Using a whiteboard. I have found that having a whiteboard at home is extremely useful in getting key tasks in front of my eyes so that I will complete what I need to accomplish.
  4. Utilizing a Powerlist. Every day at work, I use a Powerlist that helps keep me focused on my most important work priorities. If you would like a copy of my list that you can tailor for your own needs, just shoot me an email at
  5. Taking time to sharpen the saw. In Stephen Covey's groundbreaking book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he mentions that Habit 7 is "Sharpen the Saw." Taking a Sabbath day can be included in with this area, but so can reading, writing, planning, meditation, exercise, proper diet, and so on. It's difficult to be as effective as you could be if you are not taking the time to learn and grow.
  6. Lean on people that have offered to help. I have found during difficult circumstances that members of the body of Christ have come alongside me and offered me assistance as I need it. The American way is to become a "silo" and completely self-reliant. We all have challenges and need help from time to time. Allow others to help you when you are in need.
  7. Changing my mindset to "it's good enough for now." I'll admit it. I'm a perfectionist. It's easy for me to delay completing a project or take action because everything is not "perfect." Over time, I'm learning that sometimes your best in the moment will need to be good enough for today. I can make changes and corrections if needed at a later time. Get things done and move on to the next. Don't get paralyzed by perfection and inaction.
  8. Considering outsourcing. If you have the financial resources to do so, hire help. Start with something small, such as hiring someone to come in and clean your home once a month, or cutting your grass once a week. This can save you considerable time and energy, boosting your overall productivity.
What techniques have you found useful in boosting your own productivity?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Accentuate the positive | Eliminate the Negative

It's the start of another week. For some people, Mondays are the dreaded start of another workweek. For others, it's a fresh start to accomplish some worthy goals in life.

So what's the difference? Just like the song in the video clip above, some of us choose to focus on the positives of our lives and eliminate the negatives as much as possible.

So, instead of focusing on what's not right in your life right now or what you have failed to accomplish, try these steps to accentuate the positive this week:
  1. Create a list of everything that's going right in your life. Write down all of your blessings whether they be great or small.
  2. Spend time in your daily quiet time thanking God by reading your list back to Him.
  3. When someone gives you something unexpected, such as a note of encouragement, a free lunch, a gift, or money, immediately thank them in person, by phone, by email, or with a thank you note.
  4. Give away a financial gift to your church, a friend in need, or the poor. There's something about giving financially to others that makes you feel grateful for what you have.
  5. Give away yourself this week. Take someone out to lunch or dinner that needs encouragement and pay for it. Give of your time, talents, and abilities in service to your church or other charity.
What are you thankful for this week? What are the positives you can focus on today? What are the negatives you can downplay or eliminate?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Take A Financial Health Day! - Part 3

Today, I took my third financial health day in the last four weeks. Many of the actions I have taken in recent weeks were ideas that I picked up from Ramit Sethi's blog and book of the same name, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. I highly recommend this book for practical, everyday ways to save money

My focus for this day was to automate my monthly bills. In the span of 2 hours, I automated the following bills:
  1. Auto, home, and life insurance policies under the same company.
  2. Cell phone.
  3. Electric company. I wasn't able to complete this over the phone, but our local company is mailing me the auto-draft form to complete and mail back. It will take a couple of billing cycles to get this locked in automatically.
  4. Gas Company.
  5. Water Company. I mailed in the form and voided check, so this will take an additional billing cycle to take effect.
  6. Trash Pick-up.
  7. Cable/Internet.
The majority of these companies were pleasant to deal with, and I was able to accomplish the automatic monthly payment feature relatively easily. What I did find strange, though, is that each company has different procedures to get this accomplished. A couple of them were all done by phone - fast and easy! A couple of them directed me to their website to do everything online. And the final three had more dated procedures of printing out forms and mailing or scanning/emailing voided checks. With today's technology, I assumed we were past the form and voided check days, but apparently that is not the case.

The purpose behind automatic payment of these regular bills is to:
  1. set it and forget it!
  2. avoid late payments.
  3. save time paying bills.
  4. boost personal productivity.
Do you automate your finances and has this been a positive or negative experience for you?