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Posts Tagged ‘Dad’s advice’

Prosperity in Adversity

August 14th, 2015

“The Lord made all that Joseph did to prosper in his hand.” Genesis 39:3 NKJV.

Adversity around you will not prevent God’s blessings upon you.

My thoughts and comments today are about “prosperity in adversity.”

It never seems a person has enough money, so it is important that you learn some basic things about handling the money you have. God’s principles remain true and effective whether you have little or much. My Dad taught me to, “always live within your means and always save something for later.”That is a Biblical principle of stewardship. That isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it is always the best thing to do. See Proverbs 21:20 NIV.

Gayle and I have done that for all of our married life, when we made less and when we made more. We have chosen to live without credit card debt and been very careful about long-term debt. Before our marriage, my Dad recommended allocating a fixed percentage of income for housing expenses as a helpful guideline to keep expenses in proportion to income, not allowing expenses to grow without proportional income.

It’s simple really. The world’s economy cannot provide you with Kingdom prosperity. God’s blessings provide prosperity. Joseph found himself in adverse circumstances – sold as a slave, indentured as a servant, and in a foreign land. “His master saw that the Lord was with Joseph and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him.” Genesis 39:1-6 NKJV. Joseph prospered in extreme adversity. Adversity around you will not prevent God’s blessings upon you. God intends the same for you. “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2 NASB.

Governments assume that giving taxpayers’ money to large banking corporations and requiring them to lend money to assure sufficient funds circulating in the economy can solve the problem. Actually, that fuels the source of the problem. The common wisdom – ill formed and wrongly believed – is that if everybody will spend more, we can borrow and buy our way out of the predicament. That is a false cure, temporary and shortsighted. The wheels of commerce are greased by the principle of leverage through a cycle of borrowing and growing debt. Debt is addictive and destructive. It doesn’t work for a nation, nor for your household.

Our country is in economic distress through mounting debt, which merely reflects a financial mess many of us have made for ourselves. Readily available credit does not make it wise. Availability is not the same as affordability. Families have chosen a lifestyle of debt in a culture that encourages and enables your doing so. When tempted to spend beyond your means, consider the financial, marital, and eventual emotional cost.

God will not bless your mess. Begin putting God first. Malachi 3:8-12 NLT. Everything you have belongs to God; you and I are stewards. Use wisely what God provides, always thankful for His blessings. “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” Psalm 128:1-2 NIV.

Today, I pray that you earn diligently, save regularly, spend wisely, and give generously.

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A Practical Ethic

February 7th, 2015

“Nor will I offer . . to the Lord that which costs me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24 NKJV.

Taking spiritual life seriously will cost a personal price gladly paid.

My thoughts and comments today are about “a practical ethic.”  EDL pix ETHICS

I remember my Dad saying to me, “Allen, anything that costs you nothing is usually worth the price you paid for it.” From him, I learned to appreciate the worth of Godly counsel and the cost and value of achievement. My life is better and my spiritual life clearer because of his practical wisdom. If I were to summarize my Dad’s personal ethic, it would be his conviction and example that: “Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and anything worth having is worth whatever effort or sacrifice it cost to acquire.”

The prophet Isaiah pleaded with a generation who turned from spiritual allegiance to godless idolatry. Isaiah reasoned, “Who would form a god or mold an image that profits him nothing?” Isaiah 40:10. How foolish. As I read Isaiah’s words, I recalled my father’s warning, “Anything that costs you nothing is usually worth the price you paid for it.” As an example, Isaiah wrote of a man who with purpose and costly expenditure of time and effort cut down a tree, used some of the wood to build a fire to warm himself and to cook a meal to feed and satisfy himself, and only then after his desires were served and needs met, “with the residue thereof, he makes a god . . and worships it.” Isaiah 44:14-17.

Yet, in one way or another, has not every one of us done something similarly? Any god who is merely an afterthought is impotent to save. God isn’t properly valued when you prioritize your affections, interests, time, and resources before giving what’s left to God and others. What remains when your wants are satisfied, your needs are met, your bills are paid, and your future seems secure? Whatever is then given to God and others is unworthy.

How must God view such lack of reverence and recognition? Maybe the only thing worse than offering your scraps to the true God is to take those scraps and create a false god to worship. I don’t think that I have ever done the latter, but I fear that there were occasions and situations when I may have done the former – offering my residue without apology or embarrassment.

When King David desired to acknowledge the Lord’s great grace and mercy, he chose a threshing floor where he would offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord. Read 2 Samuel 24:18-26. When the land owner recognized the King and heard his desire, he generously offered the land without price, and even the oxen for sacrifice. David got it right. “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that which costs me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24.

Taking the spiritual life of yourself and others seriously will cost a personal price gladly paid. Let me be practical. What does it mean to “give God what costs you nothing?” When you devote hours to your own pursuits, but leave only brief moments for Him; or when you spend freely for your pleasure, but offer God a mere gratuity; or when you make time for your pleasure and recreation, but allow no provision for your soul – you are taking the residue of your life and creating a false god to worship and serve. Jesus was clear, “[God] will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Matthew 6:33 NLT. Now that is a practical ethic.

Today, my prayer for you is that you put God first in everything, every day, in every way.

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Prudence

September 24th, 2014

“A prudent man gives thought to his steps.” Proverbs 14:15 NIV.

Never make a permanent decision about a temporary circumstance.

My thoughts and comments today are about “prudence.”

A satisfying life is about making good decisions, giving careful, deliberate thought to your next step before taking it. “The wise in heart will be called prudent.” Proverbs 16:21. The prophet Hosea added, “Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know [these things]. For the ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them.” Hosea 14:9.

Life flourishes through prudence, a word seldom heard and a lifestyle rarely practiced. Its origin is Latin and relates to our English word, “provident – to look and plan ahead.” Some years ago, IBM chose a single word to describe their company’s creed, “Think!” Apparently from some regretted past experiences, someone else observed, “Act in haste; repent at leisure.” Obviously this advice urges that you examine every choice, weighing both risk and reward. Before ever hearing those witticisms, my grandmother taught me about prudence with these words, “Look before you leap.” My Dad’s advice was even more succinct, “Allen, use your head.” That’s good, practical wisdom capsulized. Life lived in a hurry is not always as wise as it could or should be. I have found the following,  practical thoughts to be prudent.

Never make a permanent decision about a temporary circumstance. Circumstances change; your decisions might endure. “A prudent man gives thought to his steps.” Proverbs 14:15 NIV. The necessity of the moment, or the insistence of your emotions, or the pressure of a situation will coerce you to make choices imprudently. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NIV. When making significant decisions, don’t look around; look ahead. The foolish live in the moment; the wise consider their future.

Consider creative alternatives. There is always a creative option. “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways.” Proverbs 14:8 NIV. There is always another way to do what’s important, and there is enough time to consider what is best. Usually in the pressure and hurry to make a decision, you may choose the thing most obvious while failing to consider other, better options. Slow the process; pray about your decision; think Biblically; ask for Godly wisdom. Be assured, “The steps of the Godly are directed of the Lord, and He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23 NLT.

Don’t guess; be knowledgeable. “The prudent are crowned with knowledge . . The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge; the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Proverbs 14:18/18:15. Don’t assume you know everything. Gather the facts; welcome others’ counsel; reflect on past experiences.

Don’t let your expectations exceed your resources. Be realistic now, while you look and plan for a better future. Among much my Dad taught me, I have been most benefited by his principles of financial stewardship. If you don’t have what you need now, then wait and work until you have it. Everything cannot be the way you wish it were, nor happen as quickly as you would prefer. Be patient; allow God time and opportunity to provide what you lack. See Philippians 4:19.

Today, my prayer for you is that you live prudently and choose wisely.

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A Debt To Be Paid

June 17th, 2014
“Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt you owe each other.” Romans 13:8 MSG.

Financial debt is not advisable; relational debt is not avoidable.

My thoughts and comments today are about “a debt to be paid.”

In today’s culture, debt has become a way of life. Debt results from your buying things you don’t need, with money you don’t have, to impress people who don’t care. You are repeatedly told that the world’s economy depends upon it, all to persuade you of the impossibility of living without debt. But you can, and you should. The world’s economy relies upon an increasing rate of consumption. To business, you are a consumer; the more you consume, the happier “they “ are, whoever that is.

The evil genius of credit cards has made resistance nearly impossible. Marketing persuades you to believe you always need more, and better, and newer, and bigger, therefore more expensive. Actually, your needs are not more; your wants are. In today’s culture, debt has become a way of life. Increasing consumption supplies neither security nor satisfaction; it provides only a growing balance of personal indebtedness. Debt is never satisfying. Debt breeds more debt.

I grew up in a modest, but comfortable home. We never had too much, but we never seemed to have too little. I was taught that all you have and what you earn comes from God through His blessing on your honest labor. James 1:17-18 NLT. Therefore, the first portion is given back to God as a tithe, in recognition of His benevolence and obedience for His continued blessing. Malachi 3:8-12 NKJV. After that, everything you have is a matter of stewardship, not ownership. 1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV.

From my Dad’s advice, I learned that if I never spend all that I earn, I would always have a little extra when needed. That became a rule of stewardship and personal economy that I still follow today. Most importantly, that Godly advice works. Life is simpler; worries are less; financial freedom is greater. And in that restraint, you learn some practical measure of when enough is enough.

Financial debt is not advisable. Relational debt is not avoidable. “Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt you owe each other.” Romans 13:8 MSG. This verse has always seemed an unusual pairing to me – financial debt and a loving lifestyle. I believe they are mutually exclusive. You are told to avoid debt; you are taught to fulfill love. Here’s how they both relate and differ. Both are obligations to which you bind yourself by free choice.

Financial debt is about satisfying you and your wants. Relational debt is about serving others and their needs. The greater your financial debts, the more preoccupied you become with yourself and the less thought and means you have left for others. Financial debt concerns you with paying your bills, satisfying your wants, and absorbing your extra. Relational debt redirects you toward giving instead of getting, meeting others’ needs before your wants, and returning the good you have received.

Just as debt engenders more debt, love will engender more love. God’s Word is always the best counsel, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8 NAS. God’s way is always the best way. You have a debt to be paid.

Today, my prayer for you is to understand that debt will cause you to sacrifice the ultimate for the immediate.

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Options and Expectations

May 12th, 2014

“Much more is required from the person to whom much more is given.” Luke 12:48 TEV.

Discipleship is the process of relinquishing more and more options.

My thoughts and comments today are about “options and expectations.”

I don’t really like that word, “required.” I would much prefer God used the word, “optional.” But He doesn’t. There is really not much about life that is optional. You will discover that things that require little and are left to your option do not promise much if any reward. Here is a principle of life: assuming an increased level of responsibility is the only path to truly growing. That’s true in matters spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

That means accepting less as being optional for you and embracing more than is expected of you, even when wanting to do otherwise. Discipleship is the continuing process of relinquishing more and more options. To some, Jesus said, “Follow Me.” To others, Jesus said, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23-24 NIV. You must learn to joyfully take responsibility for your decisions, mistakes, well being, success, and happiness, not from any insistence of independence but as just doing what is expected – simply being responsible.

The Bible speaks of many things that are required in your Christian faith, not optional. Faith in Jesus is non-negotiable, required not optional. See Hebrews 11:6 NLT. Responsible stewardship is required, not optional. Paul wrote, “It is required that those who have been given a trust prove faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV.

“And much more is required from the person to whom much more is given!” Luke 12:48 TEV. Jesus said that when accepting all that has been generously given to you by God and man, “much more will be required.” The more you are given, the more that is required of you, and that only increases as you grow and progress. That seems only fair. Refuse what’s required and you do not continue to experience generosity in the same measure. There is a proportion to daily life that should not be avoided.

Let’s be practical about this: doing what’s required means giving up your right to make excuses, or exempting yourself from your fair share, or expecting of others more than you require of yourself . When I was preparing for a life in ministry, my Dad taught me this practical wisdom and necessity for effective leadership: “Never expect someone to do what you are not willing to do, nor expect them to give what you are not willing to give, nor expect others to go where you have not first gone.”

My prayer for you today is that you will fulfill realistic expectations, and so much more than expected.

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