Friday, August 21, 2015

A 5 Step Equation To Grow Your Wealth


Last Sunday was my last sermon on Proverbs. I'll miss those sermons as they were always so relevant and practical. Digging up the right application was easy, it just jumped off the page at you. I'll close this sermon series by posting some thoughts from today's proverb. Chapter 21 has much to say about wealth. These are five simple truths which will enable anyone to have more tomorrow than they do today.

Wealth doesn't just happen, it is the result of planning ahead.
Winning the lottery is a poor strategy for growing wealthy. Proverbs 21:5 says, "Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity." Set income goals and work hard to achieve them. Create spending guidelines and are disciplined enough to stay within them. Today may not be easy, but tomorrow will be secure.

Shortcuts rarely get you where you want to go.

The only people who get rich from "get rich quick schemes" are the original schemers. There are no shortcuts to wealth. About those who try to take shortcuts, Proverbs 21:5 says, "everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty." Plan ahead, work hard and be patient.

Deceptive practices always come back to bite you.

It might be tempting to fudge a little or tell a "white lie" here and there in order to get ahead. Although massaging the truth might prove effective for a while, the longer one weaves a web of deceit, the worse they are when the truth comes out. Proverbs 21:6 says, "A fortune gained by deceit is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare." Honesty may set you back for a time, but in the end, it's the only way to stay ahead.

The pursuit of pleasure leads to poverty.

You've probably seen the stories of professional athletes who earn millions of dollars while they play then file for bankruptcy shortly after retirement. What happens to all that money? Proverbs 21:17 says, "He who loves pleasure will become a poor man." Self-control is the key to earning and retaining wealth. Learn to deny yourself immediate pleasure and you'll discover lasting contentment.

If you don't save for the future, you'll have nothing when you get there.

Our family socks away all our change. Every couple years, we pull out our change collection to help pay for vacation. We are always surprised at how much we have. Proverbs 21:20 says, "The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down." Establish the discipline of consistently saving as much as you can. You'll be shocked down the road at what you've "earned."

Monday, August 17, 2015

16 Principles of Effective Communication



Pause before you speak to be certain you are using the right words at the right time with the right tone.
The right words are always true.
False words may provide temporarily feel good but they have no long-term benefit.
Some words are true but are not appropriate for every situation.
The truth and power of your words can be lost if your tone isn't helpful.
Every word you speak carries incredible potential.
Your words can be weapons of mass destruction.
Your words can be tools of monumental construction.
Kind words can encourage those who are unsure of their own ability.
Attractive words can empower those who are under-performing.
Pleasant words can heal wounds from the past.
In marriage, kind and gracious words are a deposit which builds a healthy marriage.
Angry and destructive words are withdrawals which bankrupt relationships.
Your children need to know that you are their biggest cheerleader.
Corrective words can be attractive if they are the right words at the right time with the right tone.
Use your words to encourage those around you and you'll find yourself being more encouraged than anyone.

These are taken directly from Proverb 16:24. "Kind words are like honey -- sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."

Monday, August 3, 2015

3 Habits to Help You Resist Temptation


Yesterday I talked about temptation. The primary point was that Contentment is the antidote for temptation. One idea I didn't get to talk about (time constraints) was the role discipline plays in our battle against temptation.
Discipline is not just punishment for wrong-doing. Discipline is the creation of positive habits which help to form us into the person we want to be (or that God created us to be!). The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:
"discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness."
Those who follow Christ should discipline themselves for the pursuit of godliness. These habits are God-centered disciplines. They are not me-centered. Our aim should not be self-centered but God-centered and Christ-exalting. When discipline becomes a measure of "how I am doing," it is no longer a spiritual discipline. The more we focus on honoring God and becoming Christ-like, the more victory we will have over temptation.
Below are three "spiritual disciplines" I would recommend to every Christian. These not only aid you in walking the path of life, they will provide the training you need to resist temptation when the time comes.

Bible Reading/Study

If we are to "discipline [ourselves] for the purpose of godliness" we have to know the God of Godliness. The way in which we know God is by His Word. He has given us direct information about His holiness, love, wrath, grace, mercy, patience, etc. If we are to know God and what it looks like to live in obedience to Him - we must read and study the Word.
This morning I'm waiting expectantly for an email from my bank. I hope it will give me instructions to help me solve a problem I've had with the on-line portal I use. Until I receive this email, I can't take any more steps to solve the problem.
I don't have to wait for anything from God. He has spoken, and He has given me everything I need to live for Him. The message God already sent is the Bible - the full and complete Words of God to us. If we are to be disciplined for the purpose of godliness we must read and study the Word.

Prayer

This discipline blows my mind. The very God of the universe who created everything and knows our days has provided a way in which we can communicate with Him. Philippians 4:6 says:
"do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
Why does Paul start by saying "do not be anxious about anything?" If we are pouring everything out to God in prayer (and trusting Him to hear), there is no need for anxiety. The open channel to communicate our needs, desires, fears and praises to the God of the universe should calm our deepest anxieties - and God has invited, actually, commanded that we pray.

Service

The natural response to the above should be service. As believers we are a body or a family of people. We were not saved by God to live in isolation. We are meant to be in relationships with each other. In the context of these relationships, we have the opportunity to serve.
1 Peter 4:10-11 says:
"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies-in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever."
New Christian or old Christian, it doesn't matter - you have gifts to use. If your intent is to "discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness," then you must be good stewards of God's grace by using what He has given you to serve Him by serving others.
Contentment is the antidote to temptation.
Contentment is cultivated by discipline.
Commit yourself to the discipline spiritual habits which will enable your growth and empower you to resist temptation.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Gospel According to Nemo

This is really more of a "sermon appetizer" as it is likely material for an upcoming sermon (September). These thoughts came together while reading a book, so I thought I'd throw them into a slideshow which I can watch later when it's time for sermon research.

Monday, July 20, 2015

How Should Christians Respond To The New Rules About Marriage?

 I wrote this post the day the Supreme Court ruled regarding marriage. I didn't publish it until now because I didn't want to be part of the massive rush of people using the decision as click-bait. Over the coming weeks, I may post more of my thoughts on marriage, the supreme court and the Christian life in America.

You can no longer live with your head in the sand. The Supreme Court has ruled that American marriage can now mean two people of the same gender contracting with one another for life.

As Ayn Rand said, "You can ignore reality, but you cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality."

Reality is that marriage, as defined by our government, is no longer what it once was. It is broader and more inclusive than many ever thought it would be. Is this a quantum shift in the life of the church? What does it mean?

  • Will pastors be mandated to perform homosexual weddings?
  • Is the tax-exempt status long enjoyed by churches at risk?
  • Can churches be sued for denying membership or leadership positions to those in same-sex marriages?
  • Are people going to flood out of churches that are viewed as less inclusive?

My suggestion is that it doesn't matter. You should be informed and you should be aware because this is the culture in which you live. But this decision by the SCOTUS shouldn't change anything about what you do.


If you performed same-sex marriage ceremonies before, keep performing them. If you didn't, don't start.

If your membership was open to those who were in homosexual marriages, leave it open. If it wasn't , don't open it now.

If your leadership positions were filled by some with gay spouses, allow them to continue. If they weren't, don't fill them now.

I can only assume that any decision your church made regarding gay marriage was made after intense prayer, study of Scripture, and seeking the counsel of many you consider trustworthy. Whatever conclusion you reached is no less valid because of a ruling by the government, regardless of whether that ruling affirmed or contradicted your position.

One of two biblical passages is applicable to you today:

Romans 13:1-7 says:
"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."


In Acts 5:29, Peter told the rulers in Jerusalem:
“We must obey God rather than human beings!

Whether you are comfortable submitting to the government's definition of marriage or you are convicted to obey God rather than men; you should be convinced in your own mind that you are remaining faithful to God's Word. 

If your position has changed because the government says it should, you never had a biblical position.
If your position has changed because your friends say it should, you never had a biblical position. 
If your position has changed because your family says it should, you never had a biblical position. 
If your position has changed because anyone other than God says it should, you never had a biblical position.

So, now that the Supreme Court has ruled, how should the church think about and talk about gay marriage? Exactly how you thought about and talked about gay marriage before the Supreme Court ruled.


Addendum: It's possible that you haven't had these conversations or addressed this issue before. Now you must. But don't reach a conclusion because it's convenient or popular among your parishioners. Do the work, spend time in prayer and find a conviction that you can hold when standing in the presence of the Almighty God (otherwise, it's not much of a conviction is it?)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Real Question About Planned Parenthood's Disturbing Harvest

Posted this on Facebook today. I may park it here for a couple days but it might not be a permanent post. 

I'm going to wait and see how this Planned Parenthood thing plays out. It may not be as bad as it looks, or it might be worse. We'll see. 

However, the idea of it got me thinking today.  Assuming that virtually everyone is troubled by the idea of a black market for "baby parts".  I imagine even the most ardent pro-choice people are disturbed by this rumor. 

I have a serious question, though. If you are pro-choice and this bothers you, why? I won't assume to know your assumptions, but it seems to me that some rational inconsistencies exist for those who would abort a fetus but be opposed to selling it. Please help me out. 

(Of course if your discomfort with this story is based on your opposition to capitalism, no need to explain; you're being perfectly consistent)

See the disturbing video here. http://youtu.be/jjxwVuozMnU

Don't Be Stupid!

"Stupid is as stupid does."
People aren't stupid because they look stupid or sound stupid. Someone who is different or unique isn't necessarily stupid. It's impossible to know if someone is stupid without knowing how they act. Stupid people are those who do stupid things.
Perhaps it's not even appropriate to say someone is a stupid person. Maybe it's better to simply say, some people do stupid things. Even the Bible says this!
Proverbs 12:1 says, "To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction."
When was the last time someone corrected you? How did you respond? If left to ourselves, most of us would reject or avoid correction. Why do we dislike correction so much?
  • Sometimes we hate correction because we don't want anyone to say anything bad about the people we love, and most of us love ourselves more than anyone else.
  • Sometimes we hate correction because it hits too close to home. We all have dark parts of our life that we try to hide from everyone around us. When someone corrects us, we wonder if maybe they have seen our dark side and so we avoid them so they won't see more.
  • Sometimes we hate correction because we hate the person giving it. Everyone is messed up, right? So why should anyone have the right to tell me how I am messed up?
  • Sometimes we hate correction because we don't believe it. We tend to think the worst about our enemies and the best about ourselves. As a result, we have a hard time believing those who might see parts of us that need correction.
When we hate correction or avoid it, we are acting stupid.
It is stupid to hate or avoid correction
The Benefits of Correction
Correction is one of those things that doesn't feel great at the time, but is still good for you. Embracing correction is one of the first steps we can take if we want to walk the path that leads to life.
We understand the value of correction in other areas of life. Health requires correction. You go to a doctor, take medicine, work out with a trainer all to correct your body and keep yourself healthy. In sports, winning requires correction. The best coaches correct the technique of individual players and the tactics of the team. Teams and players who accept correction are winners.
Receiving correction well is the first step to improvement in all areas of life.

How to Receive Correction

Below are 7 ideas to consider the next time someone corrects you. Following this process when receiving correction can enable you to make the best of correction. Even when part or all of the correction may be wrong.
Graciously
Your response should be a gift the person is glad to receive. Regardless of a person's intentions or accuracy, if you graciously listen when they offer correction, you will set yourself up for improvement. Even if your improvement is simply learning to be more gracious.
Humbly
Recognize and confront your pride before it seizes control. When corrected, the most natural response is often to interrupt or respond in anger. Why? Because we are full of pride. When God confronted Cain about his inappropriate offering, He warned him, "if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master." Beware of your pride! It will control you and keep you from receiving helpful correction.
Peacefully
Avoid the urge to counter-attack. No matter how you feel, one-upping someone only escalates the tension.
Openly
Choose not to be defensive or make excuses. The correction you are receiving might be way off... or it might be spot on. You'll never know if you close yourself to the truth by being defensive and making excuses
Honestly
S Search for the truth. The correction you receive might be 99% wrong. There might be only a sliver of truth in it. If you want to grow, you'll dig through the junk to find the diamond!
Evenly
Accept your guilt; avoid your shame. Don't despair because someone corrected you. Find the balance. Guilt is saying, "I've done something wrong." Guilt is helpful because it reminds us of our need for God and our need for a savior. Shame is saying, "I am something wrong." This is a lie (guilt comes from the Holy Spirit; shame comes from the devil). No matter how many wrong things you have done, you are made in God's image. You have great worth as a person. You are so important that Jesus was willing to die for you to free you from your guilt!
Actively
Do something about it. Once you've received correction. Once you've considered it. Once you've found the truth. CHANGE WHAT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED!
If you're a goal setter, set a goal (list-maker. add to list)
If you're a journaler, write about it
If you're a reader, find a book that will help you
If you prefer accountability, talk to your accountability partners about it
JUST DO IT!

Seek out correction

If you really want to grow, try this. Find someone you know and trust and ask them one of the following questions:
  • "What changes could I make in my life that would make me more like Christ?"
  • "What is one thing I could do differently that would make me a better person?"