Don’t Just Cry About It; Do Something!

2 12 2018

There it was, 15 feet up, stuck on a tree limb.  My grandson’s favorite stuffed animal hanging and lodged by a single leg now out of his hands and his control.  In his five-year-old mind it seemed permanent, so he cried and cried.  He imagined it gone from his life forever and thus the emotion.  We held him to console him and then said, “There’s no need to cry. Let’s work on a solution to the problem.”  When asking him what we could do about the problem he shrugged his shoulders and whimpered, “I don’t know.”  We asked him if crying could be part of the solution and he managed to shake his head no.

 

He just couldn’t seem to muster up any viable solution so Mimi (grandma) abruptly retrieved a long-handled broom and asked him if this could help.  He looked at the broom and then the stuffed animal in the tree and said, “Maybe.”  Having no other ideas coming from our grandson, grandma began to whack the tree in order to loosen the lodged friend.  He found the exercise funny and began to laugh as the stuffed toy now hung by one arm. Eventually “Nigel” fell to the ground and was quickly grabbed by his owner.

 

I just know we’ll have something “stuck up in a tree” today and it will take a solution. Or, we could just cry about it.  Why is it that we tend to have an emotional response first? Our initial response is truly up to us, be it tears, anger or silence, but in the end, like my grandson, we’ll need a solution.

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Eight Huge Benefits of Becoming Debt Free

26 11 2018

My wife and I have been practicing debt-free living for years now.*  I say practicing because it takes discipline to reach and discipline to maintain.  So here are eight encouragements or benefits that we have discovered when it comes to debt-free living.

1. Freedom: My wife and I feel so free – free to give, free to purchase and free to save for the future.  We have more money to do these things rather than being enslaved to and feeling the pressure of our debt.

2. Ownership: Owning your car or your house is an amazing feeling that continues the feeling of freedom.  You will have less stress in your life.  Who doesn’t desire less stress?

3. Agreement: You will have and discover a greater sense of agreement in your marriage and your family.  If you’ve agreed to become debt free and you reach that goal, what else can you agree about and reach?

4. Children: Your children will see you more often. You will not feel required to sign up for all the overtime you possibly can.  And besides, you’ll be an amazing financial example to your kids, your family, your friends and your neighbors.  If you can do it, you’ll be helping them to believe they can too.

5. Opportunity: Becoming debt free automatically provides better opportunities to give more money away, to help someone in need.  Rather than feeling that feeling of tightness, you will be looking for and watching for investment opportunity to increase your finances and have the cash to do so.

6. Security: You will be and feel far more secure. Debt increases the feelings of insecurity and rightly so.  You may be one last paycheck from disaster with an ongoing debt load.  While being debt free there is far less fear of financial disaster and crisis.

7. Servant: The Scriptures tell us that the borrower is a servant to the lender. Whose servant are you?  To be debt free is to not be encumbered by enslavement to another. You are literally no longer enslaved to your job or the next unexpected car repair or house repair bill.

8. Savings: You will grow a savings account and an emergency fund faster.  Your retirement savings fund will grow faster.  Your college fund for your children can grow faster.  Every savings fund can realize increase when you are no longer borrowing and having to pay back another co-owner with interest.

And if all that’s not enough to convince you, how about this?  You will have less arguments over money in your life.  If married, you and your spouse will enjoy less financial disagreement and more financial agreement.  You’ll have more resources for eating out along with short and long-term vacations or mission trips. Living debt free loosens what has been wound tight for so long.  Purpose in your heart today and begin taking steps to become debt free.  You’ll never regret it.

*A point of clarity concerning living debt-free is investment for growth. Some consider investments that grow in value, like real estate, to not be debt.  I would consider it debt with the opportunity for growth/gain in value or perhaps “good debt.”





Celebrating a Week of Thanksgiving

19 11 2018

This is the week that America sets aside as a time of giving thanks.  Why is that?  Two past presidents of the United States made very specific declarations.

The National Thanksgiving Proclamation was the first formal proclamation of Thanksgiving in the United States. President George Washington declared Thursday, November 26, 1789 as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.

And then President Lincoln proclaimed in 1863 during the American Civil War, a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.

What a wonderful heritage we enjoy from these important proclamations of honoring our Creator through a spirit of thanksgiving.

However much earlier, Paul the Apostle wrote in I Thessalonians we are to…”give thanks in all circumstances.”  He knew that giving thanks was a form of joyfulness.  That giving thanks actually lifts our spirits and that giving thanks connects us to God.  He knew that a spirit of thankfulness is healthy for our minds, our physical health and our emotional health.  I believe he also knew that thankfulness and gratitude help us in our relationship with God and others.  How so?

Someone once said when we lose our thankfulness toward God, we begin to focus on what we feel God has not done and ultimately miss what He is doing.  Could that also be true of our earthly relationships? When we stop being thankful for those around us, we could begin to focus on how they have disappointed us or how they frustrate us. 

A spirit of thankfulness is contagious.  What are you thankful for today and how can each of us maintain a spirit of giving thanks in all things as a lifestyle?  Let me begin with saying I am thankful for those of you who take the time to read my blog!





Creating a Marriage Story

5 11 2018

What is your marriage story? How did you meet and how did you know when you fell in love?  What were the things that brought you together?  As you identify your marriage story and what brought you together, you can also identify the things that will keep you together.

 

You can start by asking just what were the qualities that attracted us to one another?  What made our courtship worth pursuing?  What differences did we encounter in that early season of our relationship and how did we deal with them in order to continue building our marriage story?

 

These questions and more can help you to create your marriage story.  Someday when your children ask you how you met or why mommy married daddy, you’ll be able to share your story with them.  They’ll love hearing their parents’ personal marriage story and it will provide a wonderful aspect of security to them

 

Further, consider this assignment: both husband and wife take the time to write out a list of the ten best traits that we each admired about one another when we said, “I do.” Many years ago Mary and I did this and then placed that piece of paper in our wallets.  On different occasions we have pulled out that list of ten reasons to remind ourselves of our call together and the reasons we fell in love in the first place.





The Devastation of Abuse and Teaching Your Children Responsibility

22 10 2018

I would be devastated, overwhelmed and heart-broken if my daughter suffered any kind of abuse from anyone in any fashion.  I would give my life to make sure that did not happen. Further, I would be equally broken and horrified if one of my sons was falsely accused of abusing another. Having raised my children with very clear values and boundaries, I would believe them if they told me abuse occurred or did not occur.

Whether there is alleged abuse or alleged accusation, I appreciate that these kinds of things, brought out and into the light, bring awareness to very destructive behaviors.

We are told that one in four girls endure or suffer from some form of abuse or molestation, which is simply horrific.  But it is also true that one in five boys suffer the same.  Having been a social worker and marriage and family counselor for many years, I witnessed way too much devastation in lives of youth and of adults in both females and males.

I heard stories from young women who had been molested in their family barns, a place that should have been safe for them and I heard similar stories from young men.  One young man told me that his female high school English teacher while on school premises repeatedly forced him to engage in sexual intercourse.  His pain over this was evident years later.

We are responsible to teach our children truth and how destructive sex can be outside God’s boundary of marriage.  My wife and I shared I Timothy 5:1 and 2 with our children, “Treat younger men as brothers…and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”  Your children’s school teachers, politicians, Hollywood or any news media will not be teaching these verses; it is your/our job to establish these boundaries and life-giving values.

Today we hand our children a smart phone to stay in touch with us. At the same time, we must realize these hand-held devices are a computer and they accesses pornography which teaches just the opposite of the values we are attempting to instill.  Are you aware that Hollywood produces around 600 to 700 films per year while the pornography industry produces 13,000 films per year? Children are accessing some of the worst, most horrific sexual smut available for free on their phones each and every day.

In these times we are hard pressed to find any moral guidance coming from Washington DC, even as governmental leaders call for morality.  And Hollywood continually puts out sexually provocative films and then expects morality among its ranks.  You cannot have it both ways…sorry.

So let’s take responsibility for our own lives and the lives of our family.  We need to have a zero tolerance of pornography and sexually explicit movies and television.

No matter the ill in our society, God’s word has already spoken on the subject and given us the most safe, most protective and life-giving answers. It is that same book that mentions not lying, not stealing, not committing adultery, not coveting and not murdering.  This is not a call to fight or resist our government, our schools or even Hollywood, but it is a call to remember who our enemy actually is.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  (Ephesians 6: 12)

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.(I Corinthians 10: 2)





Never Say Never To God

15 10 2018

Don and Samantha were new acquaintances.  My wife and I were reaching out and getting to know them a bit better when Samantha blurted out her list.  “We will NEVER get married; we will NEVER have children and we will certainly NEVER become Christians, not in this lifetime!” Don agreed.

 

I think God loves those kinds of “never” challenges.  I happen to believe He responds with one big, “Really?”

 

No longer remembering the time frame, I now look back with amazement.  Both Don and Samantha bowed their knees to Jesus.  Following that step they felt God’s conviction to marry; to make it “…official before God. ” Then, even with a vasectomy on Don’s part, two beautiful children followed, a boy and a girl.

 

What big, huge, NEVER problem can you lay out before God today?  He just might take you up on it.





Have You Been Noticed Lately?

8 10 2018

My grandson often asks me, “Papaw, did you see me _________?” You can fill in the blank with almost anything he does or desires to be noticed doing.  It can be really small, but he still wants to be observed.  He longs for that voice of approval and praise.  It’s a child thing, right?

 

Actually it’s a people thing.  Do you desire your spouse to notice you?  How about your boss?  Do you like it when your teacher notices your extra effort or when your neighbor compliments you on your landscaping?

 

Here is the troubling thing in longing to be noticed.  If it’s simply all about me, then I can’t be noticed enough. If being noticed connects to my personal need for security or affirmation, I can’t get enough attention.  In my desire to build some level of esteem, my need becomes insatiable.  My being noticed tank will never be full.

 

But, did you know that God notices you?  Why wouldn’t He, He created you.  He longed for your time to be born.  He has always had a plan and a desire for your life.  He has never given up on you and He is continually watching you, noticing you and delighting in you.  All other approval can become lost and we can become deeply discouraged in our self-effort to be noticed, but He waits to show you His love and His approval.

 

No spouse, no child and no parent can satisfy your longing to be noticed. However, God knew you before you were found in your mother’s womb.  He has always taken notice of you.  (Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 1:4)








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