In the SALT Financial cycle of earning honestly, giving generously, spending wisely, and investing carefully, the area of spending is where many people struggle. My wife and I recently had a date night where we watched the movie “Confessions of a Shopaholic”. (I could talk about how thinking of others in a marriage produces enhanced relationships. That’s certainly what I was doing by watching this “girly romance flick” but I’m writing about finances.) Anyway, this movie pointed out how rampant foolish spending is today. It even romanticized being in excessive credit card debt. Anyone who has been in excessive debt will tell you there is nothing romantic about it! It in fact leads to slavery.
“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower [becomes] the lenders slave.” Prov.22:7 (NASB)
Foolish spending starts easy but it gets real hard over time. Wise spending, on the other hand, starts hard but it gets easier and ends in freedom. As you think about and plan your spending (that’s called a budget), consider the following bible admonitions:
- Take care of necessities. (1Tim.5:8)
- Spend less than you earn. (Prov. 21:20)
- Pay your taxes. (Rom.13:7)
- Practice prompt payments. (Prov.3:28)
- Get out of Debt. (Rom. 13:8)
After giving to the Lord, getting out of debt is the best investment you can make.
Being in ministry, I often hear people asking what God’s will is for their lives.
In I Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul writes this:
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
God’s will is that we rejoice, pray, and give thanks in every circumstance we find ourselves. As we are obedient to do this, He will reveal more of His will for our lives and lead us step by step in the plan He has for us.
Rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks is a good place to start the journey. Obedience to His will as He reveals it will keep us on the path. (See John 14:21)
In today’s society it seems there are a vast number of grandparents who are raising their children’s children. This seems to be the case due to the high rate of divorce which can lead to being a single parent who works outside the home and needs help with the children. There are also those parents who have created a situation where their children are removed from an unsafe environment and the grandparents are asked to take over the parent’s responsibility of raising them.
One of the greatest gifts a grandparent can give is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. Most children do not like change and when they are being cared for by someone other than their parents, a feeling of security is of the utmost importance. That security takes place when knowing they are special and feeling loved.
See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children…
I John 3:1 (NLT)
Our view of God can sometimes hinder the ways we show love and acceptance. Here are a couple of questions to personally consider when struggling with showing unconditional love and acceptance
(This comes from the SALT Parental book – Lesson 2).
1. Do you believe God accepts you?
2. Is it difficult for you to believe God loves you?
3. Do you view God as an effective, permissive, neglectful or controlling Father?
The way you view your earthly father has a definite impact on the way you view your Heavenly Father which in turn affected the way you parented your children. As God gives you wisdom and insight about your relationship with Him, receive His love and acceptance. You have the opportunity of a lifetime to lavish God’s love to your grandchildren by showing His great love and acceptance and bringing security to their situation.
Begin this process when raising your grandchildren by recognizing God accepts them and thank Him for them. Affirm them by displaying affection as you speak kind words to them, hug and hold them, and spend time listening to them. This will have a lasting affect on how they view God and those in authority.
A new survey by Pew and Time reveals that young people express a “deep ambivalence” about marriage across the board, and are increasingly wary of getting hitched. Thirty-nine percent of the 2,691 people surveyed think marriage is becoming obsolete.
Today 2.8 million American couples are living together outside of marriage.
When no relationship with God is evident then there is no authority. Everyone becomes his/her own authority. What does God say?
It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality – the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to stand up for your rights. Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out.
1 Corinthians 7:2-4 (MSG)
That says it all. It’s about giving not getting. Sexual activity is a wonderful privilege reserved for those committed to each other in marriage.
The Bible says that, “Perfect love casts out fear.” If we love God and let His love fill us we can make the commitment of marriage. He can give us the love we need for our spouse. Otherwise we are left to our selfish fearful selves. God’s ways are always best and right! Marriage is not obsolete but obedience to God is becoming obsolete.
I have a mug with my favorite flowers (sunflowers) on it. They’re my favorite, not just because of their bright beauty, but because of a special quality they have. Sunflowers keep their faces always to the sun, turning to follow its path throughout the day.
As I start my day with my morning cup of coffee, I see the sunflowers and am reminded to keep my face turned to the Son throughout my day, looking for what He wants to show me and listening for what He wants to say to me.
In his classic book, The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence puts it this way.
We need to be considerate of God in everything we do and say… Hold your attention on God alone by exercising your will to remain in His presence.
That’s not easy with all the distractions the world, the flesh, and the enemy throw at us, but it’s something we can practice. When I realize I’ve looked away from the Lord, I refocus on Him and thank Him that His eyes are always on me. They’re always on you, too.
Pop psychology spends a great amount of time telling us that we need to know ourselves and until we can find out who we were we can not be very much help to others. So people have been looking for themselves for years! Even people in the Body of Christ have bought into this mindset. The result is: not much gets done!
The Bible has much to say about Who You Are! We need to eliminate the lies that have crept into our minds. Things like I’m not good enough, I’m too old, I’m too young, I’m not educated enough, I’ll never amount to anything, I think you get the message. The sad truth is these lies are told to us by our families and often people we look up to!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book The Cost of Discipleship, says:
Among Christians the whole range of human relationships is embraced by Christ and the Church.
And then he goes on to explain that everything we are, our essence is found in Christ.
The second book in the series called S.A.L.T. and the second lesson deals with uncovering and dealing with this very important issue.
Let me give you a number of things that are true about you “In Christ”. (This comes from the, The Treasury, a feature of the VCLi Partner Member Community at www.vcli.org/members).
In Christ I am a child of God – born of God (John 1: 12-13).
In Christ I am God’s workmanship created for good works (Ephesians 2:10).
In Christ I am being saved by His life (Romans 5:10).
In Christ I am a member of God’s household (Ephesians 2:19).
In Christ I am free from condemnation (Romans 8:1).
In Christ I am a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20).
In Christ I am an heir of God, joint heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).
In Christ I am holy and blameless and beyond reproach (Colossians 1:22).
In Christ I am a saint (Romans 8:27).
In Christ I am complete [perfect] (Colossians 2:10).
In Christ I am accepted (Romans 15:7).
In Christ I am alive and forgiven of all my transgressions (Colossians 2:13).
In Christ I am a possessor of the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
In Christ I am a member of a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).
In Christ I am a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17).
In Christ I am a partaker of God’s divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).
In Christ I am the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
In Christ I am given eternal life today (1 John 5:11-13).
In Christ I am blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:13).
In Christ I am released of my sins (Revelations 1:5).
In Christ I am adopted as God’s child (Ephesians 1:5).
What we need to do with these truths is to learn them and live them. No one can defeat you when you know the truth about your life “In Christ”.
Satan is still using the same methods to deceive you as he used with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He tries to convince you that you need something outside of a personal love relationship with your Creator to identify you and give you purpose and value.
Satan tells you your identity comes from what you do, what you have, how you look, and in what other people think about you. When you are successful in these areas, you are a valuable person. But when you are unsuccessful you are worthless.
When you agree with this lie from Satan your purpose and meaning in life will be to become valuable by being successful in all these areas. You will spend your life trying to do things well, have nice possessions, look good, and please others.
Here are some examples of what a person might think, feel, or do if he/she is looking for identity outside of relationship with God.
Which of the following have you seen in your life?
1. I’m not really good at anything. If I were ___________________ (smarter, more artistic, athletic, outgoing, etc.) people would like me more and I would feel better about myself.
2. I really messed up that ___________________ (relationship, marriage, job, project, assignment, conversation, New Year’s resolution, etc). I must be a failure; I wonder what other people are thinking.
3. I’m never going to ___________________ (look good, loose weight, get the job, be successful, be the best, be good at that, etc.), so I might as well not even try.
4. If only I could get that ___________________ (girlfriend, boyfriend, promotion, job, career, house, new wardrobe, etc.), then I would be happy.
5. I spend large amounts of time thinking about _________________ (how to fix it, how to do better, how I messed up, how to make it work, what I should have done differently, what he/she/they must be thinking, etc).
6. I think I’ve done well for myself. I got the ___________________ (family, house, job, girlfriend, boyfriend, car, etc.) I wanted.
7. I’m embarrassed by the actions of my ___________________ (spouse, sibling, parent, child, or friend).
8. I work really hard at ___________________ (school, job, marriage, relationship, parenting, etc.) because I’m afraid of messing up or I’m afraid of loosing what I already have.
9. It feels good to be needed. My ___________________ (spouse, children, boss, church, teammates, etc.) would be lost without me.
10. I feel overlooked or undervalued. I wish someone would recognize the good I’m doing.
11. I want to be a better Christian. I need to spend more time ___________________ (reading my Bible, praying, witnessing, serving others, etc).
12. If only I could do something important like ___________________ (care for orphans, write a song, start a successful business, raise good kids, etc.) then I would feel better about myself.
When you believe your identity can be found outside of your relationship with God you will try to find fulfillment and satisfaction in the things the world has to offer. This will lead to wrong thinking, wrong choices, and negative emotions. You may experience disappointment, fear, worry, exhaustion, and depression.
What negative results have you seen in your life as a result of finding fulfillment outside of your relationship with God?
The SALT Financial area series teaches that after earning money honestly, God’s next priority is for us to give it generously. This fact is the antithesis of the world’s way of financial stewardship. When we are struggling to get by, giving is usually the last thing on our mind.
I often hear people say “I give God His ten percent (tithe), the rest is mine”. They don’t realize that it all belongs to him.
“The silver is mine and the gold is mine” Haggai 2:8 (NLT).
The purpose of giving financially is simply to acknowledge that fact. God doesn’t need money. He wants our heart and giving will usually indicate were our heart is.
Giving gives God honor (Ps.96:8), helps the needy (Prov.22:9), spreads the gospel (Phil.1:5), and produces an increase (Luke 6:38) so that God’s financial cycle is perpetuated.
God gives and does so generously.
“God so loved the world that He gave ” (John 3:16).
We should emulate that example and prove God to be true.
Grandparents are a significant role model to their grandchildren. You show them what really matters in life. Reading, writing and arithmetic were the three essentials in the classroom when I was growing up. Reading books was a very important thing I was taught to do as a child and yet it wasn’t something I enjoyed doing. I want to help my grandchildren love books and enjoy reading, especially today in the world of technology.
I intentionally have spent time sharing with them some of my favorite stories that challenge, encourage and speak God’s truths. Here is one of my favorite short stories about how words can affect what we truly believe about ourselves.
The Eyes of Love
A grandmother and a little girl whose face was sprinkled with bright red freckles spent the day at the zoo. The children were waiting in line to get their cheeks painted by a local artist who was decorating them with tiger paws. A boy standing in the line shouted, ‘You’ve got so many freckles, there’s no place to paint!’
Embarrassed, the little girl dropped her head. Her grandmother knelt down next to her. ‘I love your freckles,’ she said. ‘Not me!’ The girl replied. ‘Well, when I was a little girl I always wanted freckles,’ she said as she traced her finger across her granddaughter’s cheek. ‘Freckles are beautiful!’ The little girl looked up and said, ‘Really?’ ‘Of course,’ said the grandmother. ‘Why, just name me one thing that’s prettier than freckles?’
The little girl peered into her grandmother’s smiling face, ‘Wrinkles,’ she answered softly.
Other noteworthy books that top my list as reading material for young children is a series by Max Lucado called You Are Special. This series shows the heart of God to a child in very unique ways. I want to encourage all parents and grandparents to have this series on your bookshelf for children to read from generation to generation. Stories about God and how much he loves us will never grow old!
Yesterday I bought new running shoes. I’m planning to run a half- marathon in December and a full marathon in February. Today my right foot hurts. Why? I think God is reminding me not to feel proud because I can run a bit.
God gets our attention by temporal means.
Check out these verses from Isaiah,
The people of Moab will pray in anguish to their idols, but it will do them no good. (Isaiah 16:12)
The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence. ( Isaiah 19:1)
Even God’s people had idols. He says to those in Damascus:
In that day man will look to his Maker. He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands. For you have forgotten the God of your salvation. (Isaiah 17:7-10)
What are the idols in your life that God is seeking to destroy? What has caused you to drift away from the God of your salvation?
Has He gotten your attention:
Physically? Could your idol be appearance?
Financially? Could your idol be money?
Relationally? Could your idol be a person?
Be aware of temporal issues that God may allow to get your attention to bring you back to Him.