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.”

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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.





When Your Spouse Says “NO!”

17 09 2018

I had researched it thoroughly.  I did my homework.  We acquired the financing.  We prayed together about it.  It all checked out except for one minor detail…she said, “No.” SHE, my wife, was saying no to some vacant ground WE were interested in purchasing. Ok, so it’s a no, but why? Why after this being the third property we researched and visited was it yet another no?

That conversation went something like this.

Are you just trying to frustrate me with your ongoing no’s?

“No.”

You do realize I’ve done my homework and research and this will work don’t you?

“Yes.”

Then what’s the deal?

“It doesn’t feel right.”

Doesn’t “feel right?” Are you kidding me?

“No, it’s just not the one.”

But, based on what facts or information or insight?

“Oh, nothing like that; I just know.”

 

My amazing wife, like a lot of women, reminds me of my computer screen. The information is there, but it never reveals the path of how it gets there. To me, this was not a “feeling” decision; no emotion was necessary.  But that wasn’t true for her. So many of her responses are about how she feels about the matter.

Further, I know my wife hears God and that is certainly not to be disregarded.

Truthfully, today, I have come to trust that feeling, that intuitive quality. I look forward to her way of processing because God gave her to me and I need what she has to offer to the decision. It doesn’t always make sense, but then it doesn’t always need to. A greater need is for the two of us to be in agreement, to hear God together and to move forward in unity about a purchase or any decision for that matter.

It eventually worked out, but the weird thing was she finally said yes to something that I thought impossible. Regardless, we were in agreement and in the end, (while I am not confessing any greater knowledge here) she was right.  Did I just write that?





We’re Always in Agreement; We Do What She Says

13 08 2018

At first I was a bit taken aback by the expression that was just spoken half jokingly. It went like this, “We’re always in agreement; we do what she says.” Do you find yourself all too often acquiescing to your spouse’s desires in order to head off an argument?  Should you be doing that?

 

Perhaps there’s a deeper issue.  It might be fear.  Or, it could be the more hidden root of mistrust.  Being fearful of push back, being wrong or feeling shamed is not a good sign in a marriage relationship.  Also, where there is fear present in a relationship, there is a lack of love and where there is mistrust, there is a root of unresolved past issues with hurts attached.

 

This leadership couple honestly confessed and was willing to talk about past issues with disagreement. They were willing to disagree. But what I think they were really saying was sometimes it’s more biblical to overlook an offense or a difference of opinion.  Proverbs 19:11 states, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

 

If we’re avoiding communication thinking that it will lead to a heated disagreement, then we’re not doing the two of us any good.  You have to be committed to work through the differences.  After all, it is those differences that in the end will create a better decision. Truthfully, both of you with your collective opinion, input and insight are necessary for healthy communication and dealing with conflict.  By the way, it’s not wrong to have conflict; it’s wrong to not resolve the conflict.

 

It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.  Proverbs 20:3





Why Not Have an Extramarital Affair?

25 06 2018

Why don’t you have an extramarital affair?  Seriously, be honest with yourself and answer the question. What did you come up with?  If I could guarantee you will never be found out, you’ll never get caught, would your answer change?

 

This question came to my mind recently while having to deal with a life situation, the result of an affair.  I’ve written about emotional affairs and other areas of marriage failure, but have never been this straight forward with the question.  Seriously, admit it, most TV programs and most movies display for us in real life fashion multiple characters having multiple affairs. We read about it continually.  We even experience pastors failing in this area.  It’s everywhere around us, desensitizing us little by little.  We’ve come to expect it, maybe accept it as the norm. Methodically, the flesh can become weaker and weaker, while the spirit is screaming to our heart.

 

So, what are your answers?  I love my wife too much?  I just couldn’t do that to my husband who has been faithful?  Or, my children would be decimated?  All true, but not strong enough.  Everyday those challenges are brushed aside, caution thrown to the wind and, uncharacteristically, a man or a woman falls, succumbing to the temptation. The lust of the eyes and the flesh are simply too strong. (I John 2:16)

 

What is the answer, Steve?  Here’s one that I have come up with for myself: I love God and I want Him to know how much I love Him.  What does that mean?  Just this – Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments.”  (John 14:15)  In verse 23 He went on to say, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.”

 

Do we love Him enough to obey Him?

 

God’s word: Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage.  God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.  Hebrews 13:4

“Grow old along with me.  The best is yet to be.  The last of life for which the first was made.” ~ Robert Browning





Married Sex: An Observation (For Singles Too)

18 06 2018

I have a theory and I believe the testimony of hundreds of married couples backs up this theory. The theory is the more sex you have outside of marriage, the less sex you have within marriage.

 

My wife and I have the privilege to speak with many couples each year and we have never heard one of them remark anything remotely close to this statement, “We’re so happy that we engaged in premarital sex.”  As well, we’ve never heard, “Premarital sex helped us prepare for marital sex.”  What we have heard is that sex before marriage actually stole intimacy from their marriage.  Sex was no longer special, awaited and neither did it gather the excitement anticipated.

 

Premarital sex is titillating, full of emotion and coated in brain chemicals that run amuck.  It’s also full of the fear of being caught, and overcome by having, no, taking what does not belong to you.  Once married, that anticipation diminishes to the point in which some couples are not engaging in sexual intimacy on their wedding night.  Even further, we often hear the expression that sexual intimacy is rarely occurring now that they are married.  Imagine, this divine gift given to us by God, now stolen from us because of lust-filled desires.

 

Now, hearing from those singles who have waited, saved themselves for the one they will spend the rest of their lives with…never have we heard one single word or expression of regret, bemoaning the fact that they were inexperienced.  To discover this world with one another was a huge part of the gift itself.  Encountering one another sexually, within godly boundaries, literally helps to carry intimacy throughout the marriage, all the while maintaining their vows spoken before God.

 

Anytime we violate God’s principles, we also violate human value, respect and honor.  Sex outside of marriage is a sin against our body (I Corinthians 6:18) and a violation against our future marriage.  Because marriage is sacred, as is the act of marriage, we break covenant with God through immorality (I Corinthians 6:9). We disrupt His desire and design for our future.  When we worship the created more than the Creator, we have convinced ourselves that our will and our desires, not God’s, are best for us.

 

Have you succumbed to sex outside of marriage?  You can be forgiven of your sin and be renewed in your commitment to purity before God. He longs to give to you a fresh start, but you must be serious about that commitment.  His Spirit dwells within the Christian to not sin because, “…you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.”  (I Corinthians 6:19 & 20)





I Never Loved Her

21 05 2018

“The truth is, I never loved her.”  Unfortunately, I’ve heard these words more than once.  Since I probably never have been totally honest in my response, I’ll be honest with you.

 

These words are spoken to be an attack on a spouse.  Author Gary Thomas writes, “If he hasn’t loved his wife, it is not his wife’s fault, but his.” This person is saying that they thought so low of themselves they couldn’t possibly love this woman in the way she deserved.  They are saying that their narcissistic heart closed somewhere along the pathway of marriage and they were willing to no longer follow the vows spoken when saying, “I do.”  This person has fully entered into a selfish ambition of earthly wisdom that says; if you’re not happy, go for what makes you happy and get rid of what doesn’t.

 

Jesus said to love your enemies. So many struggle to love their spouse in the way of self-sacrifice by doing, “…nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”  (Philippians 2: 3)

 

We make a personal choice with whom we marry – no one forces us.  Do you want to stay in love? Then love your spouse with all your heart.  Do you want to be happy?  Then work toward making your spouse happy.  Ask God to show you all of your personal selfish desires so that you can continue your love commitment through every stage of your marriage.








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