Money Issues are Ultimately Heart Issues

13 01 2020

Someone once said that money issues are ultimately heart issues.  Perhaps that is most likely true as Jesus spoke it this way, “For where you treasure is there your heart will be also.”

 

Consumer debt, financial mistakes and overcharging can simply be exposing a heart that is not seeking first God’s resources, God’s answers and God’s kingdom.  It might be trusting me more than trusting Him.  The Apostle Paul shared that he knew how to live with much and he knew how to live with little.  The key was walking in contentment.

 

It is well known that Mother Teresa’s earthly possessions could be carried about in a five-gallon bucket, but at the same time she believed God for millions of dollars to run her organizations that existed all over the world.  One could easily identify her heart when it came to money.

 

I once counseled someone who was $30,000 in debt created by an addiction to internet pornography.  One could easily identify that heart as well.

 

How about you?  Where is your heart when it comes to money?  Who owns your bank accounts, your IRA’s and your home?  Making investments for a financial return vs. creating consumer debt is wise, but making eternal deposits into the lives of others is wiser still.





Do You Have a Dream(s) for 2020?

30 12 2019

Joseph was just a teenager of 17.  He received two significant dreams that he foolishly, and in a bit of arrogance, shared with his family.  Of course, if you know the story, his brothers hated him for the content of those dreams and for expressing them.  (Genesis 37:1-11)

 

It would be another 20 or so years until those dreams became reality.  During those years he experienced some really low periods, like jail time in a king’s dungeon for a false accusation.  But Joseph held onto his dreams from God.

 

A dream is a direction that you feel led toward from your spirit, not your head.  It typically incorporates your personal bent and gifts.  When God sparks a dream in your heart, it’s difficult to let it go. I have experienced many dreams/visions fulfilled over my 65 years.  As I look back, I am in awe of what my heavenly Father has brought about.  That said, I also believe there are still many more dreams to be fulfilled. It takes a dream, a vision from the Lord to move you on.

 

It’s not that we’re discontent, for if we are, we’ll most likely remain where we’re presently at for some time. Dreams are from God about what’s next, what He’s preparing you for and that means you need to finish what you’re doing.  We need to complete it well, with integrity and no burned bridges.  There is something about completing a vision or taking it as far as God desires you to.  We must find contentment in what our Father has given our hands to do.  Godliness with contentment is great gain.  (I Timothy 6:6)

 

Author Steve Addison wrote, “Discontent without vision leads to cynicism, but a dream without action is a fantasy.”

 

God downloads a life-giving dream into your spirit, you begin to consciously see it and either meditate on what the Father is saying or begin excusing why the thought couldn’t be God and dismiss it. If we have our eyes on his present circumstances only, we’ll feel as though Joseph missed God or God missed Joseph.  Not so. Life was happening to Joseph, but all for a reason.

 

God was wasting nothing.  His plan was coming about.  In Genesis 45 we see that Joseph’s heart was broken as his brothers knelt before him and he sobbed uncontrollably. Did he miss his brothers?  Yes.  Did he miss his father?  Yes.  But perhaps that is not why he was crying.  Maybe, just maybe, he was crying because the dream he had as a child was being fulfilled, before his very own eyes.  Nothing was amiss or awry.  God did not mess up or forget one single detail. All those years of suffering now melted away with purpose and fulfillment.  All those years of not knowing about his homeland or his family while in Egypt, are now history with the exuberance of a fulfilled dream taking place before him.

 

Do you have a dream?  Is there something inside of you?  Is there something you are passionate about to pursue?  If not, ask God for a dream, a vision from Him. Give your dreams a place in your prayer life.  Write down what you hear your Father speak to you and write down the answers He reveals.  As Habakkuk 2:2 says – “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.”

 

We have a brand-new year ahead of us – 2020.  Maybe you gave up on a dream or thought it too lofty;  consider re-digging those wells.  Give thanks for the many fulfilled dreams in your life and expect, anticipate many more. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.  (Proverbs 13:12 NLT)

 

Dream on!





Christmas, It’s More Than a “Holiday”

25 12 2019

How frequently are we greeted with the words, “Happy Holiday.”  But isn’t it much more than just a holiday?

 

It’s more than a date – December 25th.

 

It’s more than an elf on a shelf.

 

It’s more than a celebratory meal.

 

It’s more than stockings hung neatly in a row.

 

It’s more than gifts and more gifts.

 

It’s more than a tree.

 

It’s more than an emotional uplift.

 

It’s more than a story.

 

It’s more than carol singing.

 

It’s more than an allegory.

 

It’s more than time off work.

 

It’s more than cookies galore.

 

It’s more than bright lights.

 

It’s more than a star.

 

It’s more than becoming uptight.

 

And, it’ so much more than Saint Nicholas.

 

It’s Christ-mas!

Have a very blessed Christmas season and may Jesus, God incarnate, be your reason to rejoice!





It’s Christmas; Do Not Be Afraid

23 12 2019

Are you aware that the phrase “do not be afraid” in some form appears in the Bible approximately 344 times?  In the majority of those times, it is recorded as spoken by God to the people He loves.  Surely God understands the condition of the human heart and its propensity to give in to fear.  It seems He knew that we would deal with fear throughout our lives and so He continually reassured us to not be afraid.

 

This Christmas season, I am attracted to how many times He spoke this phrase around the birth of His Son, Jesus.  To Joseph, Mary’s soon to be husband, He said to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife because what is conceived in her is from God.  To Mary, an angel spoke that she was not to be afraid, she had found favor with God and would bear a Son.  To the shepherds, God through the angels said to not be afraid, for they were bringing good news: a Savior was born for all people.

 

All the way to the last book of the Bible where God states that we were not to be afraid for He is the First and the Last.

 

Did you know that the opposite of fear is love?  Elsewhere the Scriptures reveal that perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18).  Why or how?  Because there is no fear in love.  God’s love has come to us this Christmas in the form of His Son.  Just like the message to Joseph, to Mary and to the shepherds, fear not!  God’s love for you and for me removes all fear.

 

Have a very blessed and love-filled Christmas! 





Are You Going to the Bedroom Together? 7 Highly Effective Benefits that will Help

2 12 2019

I do not mean for the title of this blog to be controversial or provocative, so, if you are married, do you go to bed together at the end of your day?  We are finding more and more couples who do not.  Why is this?

 

The Gottman Institute research has shown that couples tend to stop going to bed together within the first three-and-one half years into marriage and something like 75% of couples do not go to bed at the same time.

 

Many couples maintain differing schedules and are not shy about it.  Some couples are opposite when it comes to being a late-night person versus an early morning person.  Still others are working on needed household chores late into the evening and others are enjoying their down time after the kids are in bed.  Then there are those couples who have no evening ritual of communication and ending their day together spiritually.

 

I would like to propose something different: Go to bed at the same time and end your evening in one another’s arms.  Why?  Well, I tend to think there are some extraordinary benefits.  Here are seven.

 

  • You can converse even as you spend time in the bathroom or bedroom preparing for sleep.
  • You can deeply communicate about those things the children and others simply should not hear. Call it pillow talk.
  • You’ll be together, touching one another emotionally which can lead to a greater opportunity for cuddling and sexual intimacy.
  • It creates a level of connection which inspires happiness in the marriage.
  • When you go to bed together, you tend to maintain a similar schedule together.
  • If there are poor late-night choices (like pornography, internet surfing or social media) being made, going to bed together lends accountability to one another and to unplug.
  • And the very best reason to go to bed together? You can top off your day by praying and reading God’s word cooperatively as one.

 

Try it for 30 days and see if you can establish a brand-new habit that brings life and connection to your marriage.  Remove the TV from your bedroom if there is one.  Turn off devices, say “I love you” every night and practice giving thanks for what you both brought to the marriage and family that day.  You’ll never regret it!





The Death of a President

21 11 2019

I was seated at my desk in our third-grade classroom when our teacher was called out of the room.  It was a pretty normal and uneventful day up to that particular time.  She returned to the classroom crying.  I never saw her cry before.  Experiencing a teacher crying was totally new for me.  The date was November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was shot and killed.  We would be dismissed from school early on that day.

 

I watched our black and white TV that evening as men in suits held onto a man who they claimed killed our president, Lee Harvey Oswald.  They were pushing him through some dimly lit halls to…well, I didn’t know where.  In horror, another man in a black suit came up beside him and fired shots from his pistol.  I watched Oswald fall into the arms of those escorting him.

 

It was all a bit much for an eight-year-old kid.  The talk for weeks in our country was the loss of our president.  I didn’t really know what it meant, but listening to the adults in my life, I knew it was unprecedented and enormous to them.  Everyone mourned and felt a bit lost, dazed really.  

 

As I look back, what sticks out in my mind now was that I never remember hearing the words Democrat or Republican.  It’s like President Kennedy was neither, just president of the United States of America.

 

Surely people voted and followed their party of choice, but there was no antagonism, no backbiting, no name calling, no sarcasm and no wishing another harm.  At least not in the part of the world I lived in.

 

Unfortunately, the world we live in today is extremely different.  Even the major news outlets are different.  They simply have totally left objectivity and what is often reported is their personal slant or belief in an unbelievably, openly biased (which party we support) way.

 

It was this very president, John F. Kennedy, who said this, “If a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.  All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days.  Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet.  But let us begin.”





A Sickness Within Marriage – Apathy

18 11 2019

Author Gary Thomas wrote in his book, Sacred Marriage, “…the opposite of biblical love isn’t hate; it’s apathy.”  Do you agree?  When a partner within marriage becomes apathetic, it can become a destroyer of the relationship.  An intimate relationship like marriage takes effort, planning, intentional closeness and investment.  In other words, there is a very clear plan of building.

 

My wife and I just finished our annual evaluation and vision weekend.  We go away for an overnight and we give God thanks for all He has done in our lives.  Then we evaluate our year.  We evaluate our family, our marriage, our sex lives, our finances, our jobs, our schedules, etc.  We simply evaluate everything we can think of to evaluate.  After this time, we turn a corner and we pray about the future, our vision for our marriage, our family, our ministries, our volunteer projects and anything else we need goals and vision for.  Lastly, we update our marriage mission statement. It is an amazing time of prayer, reflection, deep communication and stated succinctly: intentional, side-by-side effort to hear God, honor one another and build on our continued bond of oneness.

 

Mary often tells me, “I feel like we are on the same page when we leave this time to return home.”  A marriage on the same page today is an accomplishment.  It takes vulnerability, openness, humility to hear hard things about yourself and the desire to change.  Because, let’s face it, going into this time we project hearing how well we’re doing and how great our marriage is.  When we hear something challenging or confrontive and we must interpret that as a need for us (me) to change, it all starts to hit home and we can become defensive.

 

For this time, freedom is the goal.  Honesty is the goal.  Growing toward each other is the goal.  That can only happen when we as a couple pursue interdependence and forsake independence.  When we truly love each other and desire the very best for one another, we do not need to become defensive, but rather face the fact that I (we) am (are) not perfect.  This time taken away to be ruthlessly honest with each other means we are willing to face the truth about ourselves in order to become the spouses that truly reflect the image of Christ to our family.

 

Do not let apathy into your heart.  Fight it, pray against it and take steps to rid your life and marriage relationship of it.  Consider an evaluation/vision weekend before the end of the year or early in the new year.  We guarantee you will find it revitalizing, energizing and healthy, actually nourishing, to your marriage.








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