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)

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!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Handling Your Finances Like A Wise Christian

Photo by skambalu
Financial Wisdom Warning

Many people want to put their personal financial life in a box and separate that out from their spiritual life. From the way my Bible reads, I don't believe God thinks that way, though. Our personal finances are intertwined into our spiritual life. The primary reason for this: our finances are owned by Almighty God. They're not our finances to begin with.

Spread throughout God's Word are "nuggets" of financial wisdom. It's been estimated that there are at least 800+ independent Bible passages directly related to handling God's money, God's way.

Take Proverbs 6:1-5 as an example:
My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor,
Have given a pledge for a stranger,
If you have been snared with the words of your mouth,
Have been caught with the words of your mouth,
Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself;
Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor,
Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.
Give no sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids;
Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter’s hand
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler
Here, we have a strong wisdom warning to avoid debt and other financial entanglements. The wording of this passage makes it very clear that indebtedness to others is a very unwise position to be in. Biblical, Godly wisdom says to get out of debt as quickly as possible!

Photo by chris.murphy
The Gazelle Analogy

The writer of Proverbs uses the analogy of getting out of debt to a gazelle escaping from a hunter. If you've ever watched any of the National Geographic nature shows, you've probably seen the beautiful gazelle being hunted down by the lightening fast cheetah. In order to escape from its hunter, the gazelle needs to move super fast in a zig-zag fashion. Hopefully, through a lot of hard work and "strategery," the gazelle can get away.

In the same way, those of us who are in debt would be wise to follow the example of the gazelle. If we want to escape, then we're going to have to "bust it." We're going to need to move strategically and as fast as possible to escape the crushing hardship that debt can be in our lives.

Debt Free Tools

There are many great tools to help you in a debt-free journey. There is certainly no shame in seeking out help from the various programs available as well as people resources. You can look into the following:
How Are You Handling Your Finances?

So, how are you handling your finances? Are you using the wisdom of Proverbs? Are you "busting it" with gazelle intensity to get out of debt as quickly as possible?

If you aren't, what changes do you need to make in your personal finances? Who do you need to go see for some help? What program(s) do you need to look into to learn how to get a handle on your finances as quickly as possible?

Our current economy is not getting better. Now is the time to get going. Don't delay!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How To Take Action Even When You Don't Feel Like It

Photo by emrank
A Recent Funk

A few weeks ago, I got into a funk. I'm not sure exactly why. I just did. I could feel that funk in everything I was doing, in my writing, in my quiet time, in my work, and in my home. It descended on me out of nowhere and lasted for about a week.

When you get into that kind of state, it's really difficult to take action in many parts of your life. Sure, you can get by. You can go through the motions at home and at work. You can "fake it 'till you make it," but it's not all that satisfying. You don't necessarily feel like you're at the top of your game and functioning at a high level.

And, this doesn't just happen to individual people, either. I've witnessed "the funk" occurring in churches, businesses, and other organizations. How does an individual or even an organization break out of these kind of cycles?

The Vision Is The Thing

In my situation, I found that in order to break out of my own funk, I had to purposely return to the vision for my life. If I wanted to take action, I had to reassess my vision.

I had to revisit who I wanted to be as a person. I had to remember what I wanted to accomplish in this life. I had to re-visualize how I wanted my life to look if I was "in the zone" and "firing on all cylinders!"

Once I recaptured the vision of how I wanted my life to look, feel, and become, then the funk slowly faded away. It was replaced with a desire to take action. The vision for my life pulled me into the future. It caused me to get excited about life, once again.

In order to keep my vision before me each day and do a little "preventive maintenance," I actually did a cool little seven minute inspirational vision recording in Garageband. I now listen to the vision of my life each time I workout. It helps me remember the vision for my life each and every day.

Churches, businesses, and other organizations would do well to follow this same advice. Leadership needs to constantly be monitoring the climate of their groups. If the climate is stagnant and stationary, then it's time to visit the vision of that group. If the vision of the organization is compelling and repeated enough, then it will propel everyone forward. Action will take place. Momentum will be re-established.

Is Your Vision Compelling?

How about you? Are you currently in a funk? Are you having a difficult time taking action and moving forward as a result?

Do you have a vision for your life? If not, why not? If you do, are you re-visiting that vision on regular intervals to keep you motivated and excited about your life?

How do you personally take action, even when you don't feel like it?

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Secret To Living A Generous Life

Photo by Joshua Tintner
Lots Of People Want To Give

I really believe that most people want to be givers, at least in an ideal world. They want to be regular tithers at their church. They want to give to special missions offerings. They would like to be able to give to help the poor and needy on a consistent basis. They want to live a life of generosity.

But, they don't. Why is that? Why do people say they would like to be givers, and don't follow through? Honestly, there could be a number of different reasons. These people have financial problems and can't figure out a way to be able to give. There isn't agreement in their marriages on an amount to give. They don't think they have room in their budget to give the way they should or could, so they end up not giving anything.

The Secret To Giving

The ability to give is actually not a huge secret. You just need to put a little thought, planning, and action into the process.

The Desire to give is a great starting point. Without sufficient desire, giving will never take place at all. Allow the desire to give grow in your heart in mind. Meditate on giving. Pray to the Lord about your desire to give.

You must Plan and Prepare to give. Desiring to give is great, but the desire itself is not going to move you forward one bit. You need to sit down and create a plan. You need to determine the frequency of your giving. Once a month, bi-weekly, or every week? Will you use the ACH system to have your account automatically deducted a specific amount by your church or specific charity? Will you give online, mail in a check, or put a check or cash in a giving envelope? You also need to develop some type of plan in your budget to give. You need to put your giving at the top of the priority list, otherwise it's never going to happen. So put a giving number in the budget, even if it's a smaller number than you want. You need to start somewhere.

Execute the Plan. Here's where the "rubber meets the road." You must put your giving plan into action. It's time for giving theory to be over and done. Now you need to go online and set-up your reoccurring payment. Or, you need to write a check, put it in an envelope, and drop it into the offering plate. Whatever plan you and your spouse have developed, you must pull the trigger on your plan.

Have You Pulled The Trigger On Giving?

How about you? Would you like to be able to give, but haven't been able to execute your giving? What do you need to do to get beyond the initial desire and "theory" phase in order to actually plan out and execute your giving?

Let me encourage you today to simply take baby steps in your giving. Worry about what level your giving should be at a later time. Pick a number and then give that number. Take action. Don't wait any longer. If you keep waiting, it's never going to happen.

Do you have a giving story you would like to share?

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