Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Great Advice

I listen to the Dave Ramsey Radio Program. One show recently, someone called in with a situation and Dave stepped up and gave them free counseling and other stuff. He then started getting tons of emails and phone calls from listeners wanting to help this person out.

What he said next was very sobering. Basically, he said it was great that he was getting all these calls and emails to help out. But, he said he was very sure that there are hurting people in our back yards, in our community that need help too. Why wait until you hear a need on the radio from someone 100 or 3,000 miles away? He suggested all these people calling and emailing to call their Pastor and see if there are any needs in the community.

Great Advice. Does it take a story to encourage us to give? Do we have to wait for the opportunity to come to us? Why can't we go out and SEEK the opportunity?

Happy Thanksgiving!! Now, "GO" give thanks! Go GIVE!!

Avoid Holiday Blues & Holiday Debt

Personal finances can cause alot of stress in marriage. Most studies show that 'money problems' are the #1 cause of divorce in North America. The holidays expose many families to further risk of money problems. We feel pressured to give gifts. But, what if our own personal finances need more attention?

1 Timothy 5:8 - But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

This Chapter in 1 Timothy is dealing with widows, but I believe its safe to carry this to our personal finances as good suggestion from God. Not necessarily a "rule", but a better way to do things in order to have the abundant life Jesus talks about. If you are serious about changing your financial situation forever, maybe this Holiday season is the time to make the first step by taking care of your own household first?

Are you willing to avoid going deeper into debt and avoid putting more fianancial stress on your family? Why not tone down Christmas this year? Of course, this is only a good plan if you use the money not spent on Christmas to create and excecute a solid plan to get out of debt.

Last Christmas we were in the middle of getting out of debt and we made the very difficult decision to tone it down that year. You know what? We didn't get any complaints. Everybody was cool with it. We didn't have to spend money we didn't have and everybody understood. In the past, we were paying on credit card debt in November for Christmas gifts we bought 11 or 12 months prior.

Try to have a long term perspective about it. If you can take control of your finances by toning down Christmas THIS YEAR, then create and excecute a plan to get out of debt, you could be in a position to give NEXT YEAR, only without all the stress and worry attached.

Merry (Debt Free) Christmas!!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Love of The Father

It's been over 2 months that we've had Jada and she has been such a blessing on many, many levels. I'm 34 years old and only a little over 2 months of being a father and I have been blessed with realizing another level of God's Love.

Matthew 7:9-11 - "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

This is one that hit me the other day. I love Jada. It's amazing how she has been grafted into our family and has become part of me and Brandi. I look at her and I'm excited about her future. I know she is incomplete right now, but I love her the way she is. Then, I realized this is how God sees me. Then I thought how much more God loves me. I only loved Jada when we made plans to adopt. God loved me since eternal past!

I know how much I will do for Jada. Now, I now know how much more God has done, is doing and will do for me. Now that I'm a father in love with my family, I have a greater appreciation for the unconcievable love The Father has for His family. When Jada messes up, because she's 15 months old, I get aggrevated, impatient, but I still love her. Cause I know she's learning. She'll get better. Aggrevation and impatience turns to a giggle. I'm glad I understand better how God looks down on me when I miss the mark and giggles cause He still loves me, He knows I'm learning and He wants me to do better. He wants me to learn. He knows what's best for me.

The bonus with the whole situation is that I have another level of love for Brandi. I see her enjoying Jada, loving Jada and caring for Jada and I love her for that. I love seeing her be the mother God intended her to be. She really is more beautiful nowadays.

I love that we are struggling with adjusting to Jada and we are working through it together. I love how we get frustrated and work through it and see the other side of the struggle, knowing that all these struggles are strengthening our faith in God and our faith in each other. I love that as we struggle, mess up and are learning, that God is giggling. He wants us to do better, He wants us to learn. He knows what's best for us.

We're Blessed

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Are We Spiritual?

Galatians 6:1 - Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

When we see another fall, do we use our warped sense of spirituality to judge and condemn? If we do, I guess we're not as "spiritual" as we thought we were, are we?

How do we want to be treated when we miss the mark? Do we want to be reminded of our failings over and over? Is that "Good News" to hear?

When we miss the mark, we have a choice, to believe the lie that we've committed the unpardonable sin or experience an even DEEPER level of God's grace. So, what path will we help our brother or sister go down?

What's the best thing to do "spiritually"?

The Comfort of God's Word

In light of what Brand and I have been through over the past several years and continue to go through, it's always good to hear an encouraging word. Through the story of someone on a message board I visit, I was encouraged by the same scripture that encouraged this person. Hope you enjoy, hope you're encouraged:

1 Peter 1:6-9
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sowing & Reaping

1 Corinthians 7:28b - But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

There it is, in the Word of God. Marriage brings many troubles. Ain't that something? So, we can all stop pretending our marriages are just fine and we walk with our spouses and our Savior in joyful bliss each and every day. We can stop being afraid to share our struggles with each other or even... (GULP!) ... SEEK HELP! Troubles have come, troubles are here, troubles are a comin'. There's no reason to be blind sided or surprised by the fact that a man and a woman joined in holy matrimony don't always act as holy as the matrimony. What now?

Galatians 6:7 - Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

We reap what we sow and (as Brother Wayne explains in his "Life For Marriage" class) the fruit is ALWAYS consistent with the seed. Especially in the middle of marriage troubles. I have learned the painful lesson that this is true whether I'm on the GIVING end or the RECEIVING end of my marriage troubles. It's all about how I act and how I react, because that's all I can control. That's alot of I's, isn't it? That's usually the source of the problem, because to be Christlike in a marriage, it's the I that must die to be in OBEDIENCE to God. (Another Brother Wayne analogy)


1 Corinthians 15:36 - How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.

Understand it or not, like it or not, that's how it works. When I'm wrong, I have to die to whatever my selfish want was that started the trouble. When I'm on the receiving end of selfishness, I STILL have to die, because that's when we try to convince ourselves it's OK to sow bad seeds in RESPONSE to being offended or sinned against. But, even then, we must die. We must sow righteousness, not seek retrobution.

Hosea 10:12 - Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.

It's not even HOW we react to marriage troubles, it's HOW MUCH! Most of the time when I'm on the receiving end, I show mercy and grace for just a little while (1 times 1, instead of 7 times 70 times) and when the troubles continue, then I start sowing bad seed in response.

2 Corinthians 9:6 - Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

So, we're not just called to die a little, we're called to die alot. Jesus had to die so that we might live. In our marriage, we have to die so the marriage might live, whether it's our fault or not.

If there are lingering troubles in our marriages and from our perspective, they aren't "our fault", what are we sowing into those troubles? How are we sowing? How much are we sowing? These are the only things that we can control.