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!

Also, check out these related posts:

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.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

3 Giving Solutions For The Church

Photo by Kyota
Where We Have Blown It

In my last post, 3 Areas Churches Have Messed Up In Biblical Finance Teaching, I laid out the following three areas I believe churches have blown it:
  • Pastors and teachers have been too afraid of preaching on Biblical finances.
  • Pastors and teachers have not laid out a clear theology on Biblical giving.
  • Church leaders have taken their focus off ministry.
In that post, I addressed the problem. Now, in this post, I'm going to flip the problem around and discuss three solutions for pastors and churches.

3 Long-Term Solutions For The Future
  1. Pastors: preach the Word, the entire Word! If there are anywhere between 800-2,000 direct Biblical references on financial matters, then we should be preaching these passages to our congregations, unashamedly. Don't let your congregants talk you into soft-pedaling Scripture. We need to teach the Body of Christ that God owns 100% of the money and assets He has chosen for us to manage. Our job as believers is to be excellent managers of the entire 100%, not only  just a 10% tithe. Also, be reminded that Jesus' #2 preaching topic in the Gospels was money. He preached on it a lot, because He knows that money can get a grip on our hearts and cause us to stumble.
  2. We need to clearly spell out the church's theology on giving. The entire Bible, both Old and New Testaments, would seem to support regular, percentage giving, with the "floor"of that giving starting with the tithe. We also need to teach through Scripture that while Old Testament law demanded at least 10%, New Testament grace asks for much more. Jesus' teaching always asked His disciples to go to that "next level"of faith and obedience above the Mosaic Law.
  3. The corporate church needs to get their focus off of buildings and back on to missions and ministry. Church leaders who have allowed the body to get into massive building debt should seek the forgiveness of their congregations. Building debt has allowed the church body to be hindered in doing more in the areas of missions and ministry. These same leaders should develop a strategic plan to encourage their congregation to focus on paying this debt off as quickly as possible. Perhaps, these same churches should covenant together that they will never go into debt again to build buildings? A better way would be to seek the Lord's will and financial provision rather than man's wisdom and debt instruments. Honestly, I believe building debt causes more problems and pain over the long haul. Knock it out as quickly as the church is able, and then direct all of the church's focus and energy on the real mission of the church.
Be Bold, Be Strong

It's a new day. Our financial future has completely changed. The days of "easy money" are long gone. Governments, individuals, and unfortunately even churches have foolishly dug themselves into deep financial holes that are going to take a lot of time and energy to get out.

If you're a pastor or lay leader in a church that is in severe financial pain, then let me be an encourager to you, today. God wants you to seek His face as you work through the massive challenges you have before you. Acknowledge that you as a church body have made some major mistakes. Ask for the Lord's forgiveness. Then ask Him for wisdom, guidance, and provision in order to get the Body of Christ into a healthy financial position.

Utilize the three solutions above and watch your church soar to new levels of giving.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

3 Areas Churches Have Messed Up In Biblical Finance Teaching

Photo by Michael Mistretta
The Church Has Messed Up

In my last post How To Give The Tithe In The Right Way, I answered one of my blog reader's emails regarding the giving of the tithe. She and her family had been giving their tithe spread out or diversified among a number of various para-church ministries. She was asking my opinion on giving the tithe in this manner.

In that particular post, I took a Scriptural view of both the Old and New Testament giving. We took a look at how and where both the Jews and Christians gave their tithes and offerings back to God.

In modern times, however, there has been a lot of confusion with members of the universal church as to where they should give their tithes and offerings. Para-church groups have done an excellent job of confusing believers. These organizations have successfully fundraised millions of dollars away from local churches. But, these groups have only been as successful as they have, because the church has completely dropped the ball on the teaching of proper Biblical giving in the first place.

Three Areas Where Churches Have Messed Up

If the Bible teaches us that giving should be done primarily through our local place of worship, why is there a growing trend away from giving to the local church and giving to para-church ministries? In my opinion, there are 3 primary reasons:
  1. Pastors and teachers have been too afraid of preaching on Biblical finances. Over the last 20-30 years, there has been a trend of moving away from strong teaching on Biblical finances. The subjects of money, stewardship, and giving have become taboo to preach on in the local church. Pastors have a better chance of a positive response to preaching on the topic of sex than they do money! This is so odd to me when the Bible has so much to say on the topic of financial wisdom. Christian Americans are very strange and secretive when it comes to personal finances. They don't want their pastors to meddle in an area that they have placed off limits to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. God wants all of us, including our money.
  2. Pastors and teachers have not laid out a clear theology on Biblical giving. This is certainly related to the first point. What I mean is this: we haven't clearly explained the why and where of giving. Why should we give, how much should we give, and where should we give? See my post Portrait of a Biblical Giver.
  3. Church leaders have taken their focus off ministry. With the resurgence of the mega church over the last few decades, pastors and church leaders have become more concerned about large, high tech facilities than the core mission of the church. Many people, especially younger generations, are passionately driven to give by mission and results; not buildings. The next time your local K-LOVE radio station goes through a pledge drive, listen to all the testimonials of changed lives as a result of listening to Christian radio. K-LOVE understands that asking for money to build more buildings, construct more radio towers, and hire additional staff isn't what is going to help them reach their financial needs. They have to highlight the results of these tools to accomplish their mission. A lot of churches could learn to be better "fundraisers" through listening and watching how other successful non-profit groups raise ministry funds.

In conclusion, the church as a whole has severely messed up in this area of communicating Biblical finances. We've been too fearful to preach about financial wisdom. We have not laid out a clear Biblical theology on giving. Finally, many churches have focused on giving to the tools of the church (staff and buildings) rather than the long-term goals and results of ministry (outreach and missions). We have been communicating the wrong message.

In my next post, we'll look at Three Long-Term Giving Solutions For The Church.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How To Give The Tithe In The Right Way

Photo by elycefeliz
Tithe Questions

A few days ago, one of my faithful blog readers sent me this email:
Hi Larry,

One topic that I have been very interested in lately is
[the] tithe.  Have you done any writings on where to give your tithe?  What does giving to the Lord mean? Right now I have my tithe "diversified" to several ministries. Is it okay to use tithe money to give gifts to friends in need or just for encouragement? 
This reader asks several interesting, related questions to the Biblical tithe. I have found her current method of giving of the tithe to be a growing trend among Christians, especially the younger generation.

But, what does the Bible say regarding where to give the tithe and to whom? We will investigate that question in today's post.

The Biblical Perspective On Where To Give The Tithe

While I'm a firm believer that the giving of the tithe applies to pre-law, Mosaic Law, and post-law, the majority of Biblical references on the tithe happen within Old Testament Law. So, this is where we need to start on determining a Biblical perspective on how to give the tithe back to God.

In Old Testament times, the majority of the tithe and offerings were given in the form of animals and agricultural produce. These were burned up on the altar in the form of animal and grain sacrifices. Financial contributions were also required for the upkeep and service of the dwelling of the Lord. In Exodus 30:16, we read: "Take the atonement money from the Israelites and use it for the service of the tent of meeting. It will serve as a reminder for the Israelites before the Lord to atone for your lives."

So, where did God command the Jewish people to give their tithe? Answer: at the Jewish center of worship. The tabernacle was the first location. A few hundred years later, Solomon's Temple was the second location. After the exile and diaspora took place, we see a move away from the temple as the primary place of worship. The synagogue in each community became the center of Judaism, and the people gave their tithes back to God through these local synagogues.

When we move into the Church Age in the New Testament, we see the continuation of Jewish tradition of giving to the local worship meeting location. Instead of a synagogue though, we see a shift to the newly formed church. As the good news of Jesus Christ moved from Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and to the rest of the Roman world, we see the establishment of a local church in each town. The believers gave their tithes and offerings back to God through their local churches.

We can see this demonstrated through the Apostle Paul's collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem. Believers in each local church setting were being asked to set aside funds for this special love offering for the poor:
Now about the collection for the saints: You should do the same as I instructed the Galatian churches. On the first day of the week, each of you is to set something aside and save in keeping with how he prospers, so that no collections will need to be made when I come. When I arrive, I will send with letters those you recommend to carry your gracious gift to Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-3, HCSB).
These special offerings were collected by each local church and then handed off to leaders within the Universal Church, such as the Apostle Paul. These leaders then distributed these mass offerings to the poor saints back at the church in Jerusalem. There was no special special ministry established to execute this. It was accomplished by the universal church fathers and local church leaders.

The Local Church Is The Appropriate Giving Vehicle

In this very fast overview of both Old and New Testament giving patterns, we see that giving through the local place of worship (synagogue or church) is the appropriate giving vehicle. Even with a "special offering" for poor Christians in Jerusalem  such as the one collected by Paul, we see the people of the local church body coming together to give.

While many leaders of para-churches would like to claim that you can split up your tithe and give the majority of it away to Christian organizations outside of the local church, I just don't see this reflected in Scripture. I think it's a stretch to say that any organization with the label "Christian" has the right to collect tithes or a portion of the tithe. God has established the local church as the Body of Christ. We are supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those around us. The local church needs the regular giving of the tithe of its members in order to accomplish the mission of the church.

So, in answer to my reader's questions above, here are my bullet point, final answers:
  • Giving the tithe back to the Lord should be done through His primary New Testament worship vehicle - the local church.
  • I wouldn't diversify the "tithe" among other ministries. I believe this violates Scripture. Many local churches have been damaged financially as a result.
  • Generous giving to other credible para-church ministries or specific individuals is fine above the tithe, provided you have been blessed by God with financial increase.
In my next post, I'll explain my thoughts on where I believe we as church leaders have blown it in our teaching and example on giving. To be continued.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How To Put The Length Of Our Lives And The Accumulation Of Stuff In Perspective

Photo by Kyle McCluer
Life Is Short

This week I turn 42 years old. When I entered my forties a couple of years ago, I really started contemplating life and it's briefness. All of the sudden, I felt as though the time clock of my life dramatically sped up! I guess you might call that a mid-life crisis.

When you're a teenager, in your 20s, and even in your 30s, you feel immortal, possibly invincible. You can't really clearly see the end of your life. You feel like you have plenty of time to do whatever you want.

Then, you reach that magical mid-life age of around 40 years old. You start looking around at your life, your family, your career, and your friends. You realize that you have a list of goals and dreams that have not materialized. You start to feel like you have wasted a bunch of time and money on stuff that really doesn't matter.

In Psalm 39:5-6, we read these words:
You, indeed, have made my days short in length,
 and my life span as nothing in Your sight.
 Yes, every mortal man is only a vapor. Selah. 
“Certainly, man walks about like a mere shadow. 
Indeed, they frantically rush around in vain,
 gathering possessions
 without knowing who will get them."
The Accumulation Of Stuff

We learn the accumulation of stuff at an early age. We learn to be selfish. We learn that awesome self-centered word "mine" when we're just figuring out how to talk as toddlers.

And, that attitude can continue from birth to death. As we enter adulthood, we're told if we are wise financial managers, then we should have a stock portfolio. We need to have retirement planning in place. We should be piling up a big "nest egg" for our golden years.

I'm not arguing that there isn't a lot of wisdom here in these statements. The challenge we run into, though, is that our financial pile ends up owning us. We get greedy. We become obsessed with if we will have enough money in our retirement accounts. Unfortunately, we forget about God as our ultimate provider.

Also, we can fall into the trap of possibly wasting a bunch of money on stuff that really doesn't matter this side of eternity. Sure, it would be great fun and a huge ego boost to own a huge home, a couple of sweet sports cars, a lake house, and a yacht.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with these things. I think the bigger question to consider is have we truly put our relationship with Christ above the accumulation of money and possessions? Are we in control of the blessings of God, or does our stuff control us?

Putting This All In Perspective

As believers in Jesus Christ, how do we put this all in perspective? How do we reconcile the brevity of life, the accumulation of stuff, and the financial wisdom contained in God's Word? Here are three key thoughts to consider as I bring this post to a conclusion:
  1. Recognize that your life, finances, and possessions are God's to begin with. When we can get this truth in perspective, everything else falls into place. God owns all things; He created all things. There are numerous Scripture passages to support this statement. All of us battle the grip that money and stuff can get on our heart.
  2. Have a long-term vision for your life, money, and possessions. Don't let your money and stuff happen to you. You decide how your life, money, and stuff will impact your family, your church, and even the world. 
  3. Have a legal plan for your money and stuff in place for when you pass away. This is simply the next logical step once you have a long-term vision for your money and possessions. If you've never done so, be sure to visit with an attorney to create the legal documents necessary to direct your financial assets where to go after you die.
In the verses we read earlier, the psalmist states that the human race is running around under the shadow of death, piling up wealth for someone else to spend. Our lives here on earth are so brief in light of eternity. Don't let money and stuff rule over you. Be sure to place them in their proper perspective before it's too late.

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Secret To A Healthy Financial Life

Photo by Jaysonphoto
I Got The Call

Every once and while, I get "the call" from family or friends. This call will somehow be related to giving out some piece of financial advice. Since people know that I do the stewardship/Dave Ramsey thing at my church, then they will occasionally seek me out for advice when they have a big financial decision to make.

So one evening, I got the call from a friend about the need in his family to replace a car. He gave me a financial amount he had to replace the vehicle and then asked for my advice. I told him that I had actually just gone through a similar situation myself a couple of years ago. I even had about the same financial number to work with. I explained to him the process I went through in buying my vehicle. You can read my entire story in this blog post: How I Bought My Newer Car On Craigslist In 4 Hours.

As I was speaking with my friend over the phone, I caught myself saying phrases such as,
  • "I planned ahead of time..."
  • "If you have time..." 
  • "If you can hold out a little longer and wait..."
  • "If you can come up with creative solutions while you wait around and look for a deal..."
The Secret

If there is any one big "secret" in making big financial decisions like this, then my secret advice is to have patience; don't be in a big hurry. This is true for anything in our lives, whether it be buying a car, buying a house, getting married, or changing churches. Any major decision should be proceeded with slowly and bathed in prayer.

We all end up in trouble when we're in a rush. We don't think we have time to wait, so we press the "easy button" to solve our problems. Unfortunately for all of us, pressing the easy button usually means that we end up with long-term problems, such as crushing debt.

So, for example, in the case of buying a replacement vehicle, if we get into a hurry and don't spend enough time looking around, we end up with a car loan that we can't afford long term. Or, maybe we buy too much house because we think we're getting such a great "bargain" in a down economy and then we can't even afford to furnish our new place. We've just saddled ourselves with a major liability going forward.

We've all heard the saying "patience is a virtue." In the case of major financial decisions, patience is crucial for your long term personal financial success.

Learn The Virtue of Patience

In Galatians 5:22-23, we read these words:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we should be "working out" these various fruit of the Spirit. Although I believe the original interpretation has more to deal with our relationships with people, I still think we can apply the principles of peace, patience, faith, and self-control into our financial lives. If we possess these four types of fruit, or we are at least are working on them in our lives, then we can and will make better long-term financial decisions.

How about you? Are you a patient person? And, if you're not very patient, have you struggled financially as a result? What action do you need to take today to turn this around in your life?

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Secret To Living An Excuse-Free Life

Photo by vandys
Playing Trumpet Excuse Free

Over twenty years ago, I used to play my trumpet and travel with a professional, Christian brass group called The King's Brass. The members of the group had a running joke whenever we would mess up on stage. When we had a break during our program and ended up backstage, we would look at each other and simply say: "No excuses, just results."

This was a simple reminder for those of us in the group that we could make a bunch of useless excuses as to why we messed up if we really wanted to. Our "chops" were tired. We didn't get enough sleep the last few nights. It had been a long day of driving. You name it, we could come up with a variety of excuses as to why we messed up. But, in that moment, we also knew that we had a job to do. We needed to quit making excuses for our mess ups; and then, we needed to turn things around and produce extraordinary results.

Excuses From The Prophet Jeremiah

In Jeremiah 1:4-10, we see the Lord coming to Jeremiah and announcing his destiny - "I chose you…I set you apart…I appointed you a prophet to the nations."

But what does Jeremiah do? He proceeds to make excuses. He tells God, "Oh no, Lord, God! Look, I don't know how to speak since I am only a  youth." To paraphrase Jeremiah, "I'm bad at public speaking and I'm way too young. Lord, this can't truly be Your will for my life!"

And what was God's response to Jeremiah's excuse making? In a nutshell, He told Jeremiah to stop making excuses. But why should he stop? Because God promised to take care of all of those things that Jeremiah feared. God was with Jeremiah. He would put the exact words that Jeremiah needed to speak into his mouth. Jeremiah just needed to get out of the way and allow God to do the work.

No Excuses, Just Results

If God has called you to do something, then it's time to quit making excuses. If He wants you to teach a Bible Study class in your church, then He will empower you to do that. If He wants you to be a part of the worship ministry in your church, then He will give you the time and ability to lift His name in praise on Sundays. If He wants you to be part of a missions trip to Africa, then He will provide you with the necessary resources in order to be able to accomplish that trip.

I don't know what God has called you to do that you are currently making excuses about. As Christians though, it's time for all of us to stop limiting God through excuse making. Embrace His choice and appointment for your life. No excuses, just results.

Do you like to make excuses? What are some excuses that you're currently giving God even today?

Also, check out these related posts:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How To Enjoy A Guilt Free Good Life!

Photo by jasoneppink
What Does The Bible Say?

I have awesome news for you, today. God wants you to enjoy life! Now, how cool is that? Unfortunately, though, I think many Christians have this misguided view that Christianity needs to be some super-serious, no joking around, kind of life. And, I get that. My own personality can tend to be pretty serious on a regular basis. I'm wired that way.

While there are serious aspects to the Christian life, I have doubts that the Lord has ever desired His followers to be walking around this world looking like we've been sucking on lemons all day - you know, with a sour "pucker face." If, as Christians, we're supposed to have an unspeakable joy in our lives, but don't demonstrate that, why would unbelievers even be attracted to our faith in the first place!

In Ecclesiastes 3:12-14, we read these verses on living the good life:
I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the good life. It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts. I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of Him (HCSB).
A Gift From God

In the above verses, we clearly see that enjoying the good life is a gift from God. And, because the good life is a gift from God, we should live that good life joyfully, free from any guilt! God is okay with it.

Yes, we have an awesome home waiting for us in heaven. Yes, God wants us to be pursuing His will in our lives. And, yes, God wants us to be living out holy lives before Him. But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy our time on planet Earth while we are here.

He loves you so much that He has given you this special gift. Accept His gift with thanksgiving and praise!

Take Advantage Of The Opportunities Of This Life

So, if you have the opportunity to take your family to Disney World, then take 'em to see Mickey and have a blast. Laugh, have fun, and enjoy yourself! If you have the means to be able to take your spouse on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the city of love, Paris, France, then jet over there and have the romantic time of your life!

But also, don't forget the little joys in this life that don't cost a lot of time or money. The laughter and joy of seeing your kids or grandchildren playing on the soccer field. The ability to work hard at something you love to do. The embrace of your mom and dad. Fishing on a lazy Saturday morning. Playing a musical instrument. I could list hundreds of examples of the simple things in this life that can bring a smile to your face.

In whatever you find joy in this life, embrace it. Life is a journey, so enjoy the ride!

Also, check out these related posts: