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, 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.

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