Financial Slavery

“…Anyone who borrows is a slave to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)

Financial Slavery

I’ve always been rather fanatical about keeping track of our family finances.  We have a detailed monthly budget that we usually stick to.  We update and balance our checkbook regularly—often each day.  We use credit cards, but always pay them off the same day as the purchase.  Yet, twice I’ve had a problem with one store credit card.  Both times I forgot to follow my “pay it off immediately” rule and, for some reason, I never received their emailed monthly statement.  Getting late notices (somehow those managed to reach me) and knowing how our credit score will be affected is driving me crazy.  This store has me at their mercy.

This reminded me of a story I read about a handyman who had been called out to a millionaire’s mansion to refinish the floors.  The rich man’s wife said, “Be especially careful with this dining room table.  It goes back to Louis XVI.  The handyman replied, “That’s nothing.  If I don’t make a payment by next Friday, my whole living room set goes back to the furniture store.”

It’s been said that the average person today drives a bank-finances car, over a bond-financed road, on gasoline they bought with a credit card, to a department store to open another charge account, so they can fill their house that’s mortgaged for thirty years to the bank, with furniture purchased on an installment plan.

People seem to be divided into three categories: the “haves”; the “have-nots”; and the “have-not-paid-for-what-they-haves.”  It’s not wrong to borrow money.  It’s just wrong to put yourself in a position where you cannot repay it.  According to Psalm 37:21, “The wicked borrow and do not repay.” And for New Englanders (and everyone else), that would be “wicked” bad.

 

Use it or lose it!

Good Fruit

 

My nephew owns an apple orchard.  He manages several more.  He also has blueberries and hopes to have peaches and plums.  He’s in the finishing up stage of this year’s crop.  There are certain qualities that make a good apple or any other fruit.  When he grows his fruit, he wants to sell it, so people can eat them.  The fruit isn’t just for show.

Suppose you were to stop at a roadside produce market with your heart set on buying fresh vegetables.  You see homegrown tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and several varieties of peppers.  Just as you start to select your items, the farmer who owns the stand says, “Sorry, this produce isn’t for sale.  I just like to grow it and enjoy looking at it until it rots.  Then I throw it away.”

You probably have never run into that situation (at least I hope not!) and never will, because farmers and customers know that produce is for consuming.  Sure, it’s beautiful to look at, but the purpose is to bring nutrition and health to people.

Our lives are a lot like those vegetables.  There are certain qualities that each of should have love, joy peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self-control.  Just like fruit and vegetables, these are not for show.  They are for sharing with others.  Otherwise, they are like fruit that was left to rot or not even grown to begin with.  So, shine yourself up, and give those fruits to others.  They will feed and nourish them and give you the chance to continue to grow and provide more fruit.

22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified. (Galatians 5:22-24)

Just do it!

 

Just do it!

Have you heard the one about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody?

It seems there was a rather important job that needed doing and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

You’ve probably heard this story before.  And, like me, you’ve probably been a part of a similar story as at least one of the characters.  But, the way many of our lives are heading, don’t be like any of these.  Our cities and towns, our nation, the world–are headed in dangerous directions.  Somebody needs to begin to do something.  Anybody can do it.   Everybody knows it needs doing, but nobody seems to be doing anything about it.  Be the one who does it—whatever it is.  It would be  a good start.

When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks.  Just do it – quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes. helps you out (Matthew 6:3-4)

Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t do it are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. (James 1:23-24)

 

So you think you’ve got troubles?

Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. (Isaiah 41:10)

Trouble? Really?

My wife just returned from the hospital to recover from a partial nephrectomy, where they removed part of her kidney to get rid of a cancerous tumor.  She had never stayed at a hospital for any health issue before.  So, after all these years, this initial admission was quite scary.  The fear of what the surgery might find, the actual pain of the surgery itself, her frightening experience with a bad reaction to her meds—were all new experiences to her.

Finally, after 5 days, she was discharged and headed for home-sweet-home.  Except she now discovered what 6-8 weeks of recovery meant.  The limitations included no serious bending or twisting, no lifting anything over 5 pounds and taking a lot of pain meds.  She hates swallowing pills.  It makes her feel like throwing up.  To avoid the nausea, she needs to have food in her stomach.  But it’s hard to put food in her stomach because it makes her feel like throwing up.  Kind of a catch-22.  None of which helps in alleviating her pain.  But she’s always been a tough person and she’ll get past all this—probably much quicker than the projected 6-8 weeks.  Certainly, much quicker than I probably would.

It made me think of the Apostle Paul.  Think of the trials he faced.  First, he was dumped of his donkey and was blind for 3 days.  He was put in prison a number of times,  he was whipped more times than he could remember, he faced death over and over, he received 39 lashes from the Jewish religious leaders 5 times (40 lashes were considered a death sentence), he was beaten with rods 3 times, he was stoned once, he was shipwrecked 3 times, he spent a day and a night in the sea, was in continual danger from rivers, robbers, from his own countrymen and everyone else, he was often weary, in pain, and without sleep. Yet somehow, he managed to write nearly half of the New Testament (13 out of 27), start at least 14 churches and then revisit many of them as they grew.

And sometimes I think I’ve got troubles?  Really?

 

Leave no one left out or left behind

                   (I Thessalonians 5:11)

One of my pet peeves while I was teaching, coaching and leading a youth group was the impatience some kids had with the other members of the groups who weren’t quite as talented, as athletic or as quick to learn something.  It made those kids feel like they had nothing of real value to offer others.

An unknown poet once wrote,

            One song can spark a moment;

One flower can wake a dream

            One tree can start a forest;

One bird can herald spring.

            One smile begins a friendship;

One handclasp lifts a soul.

            One star can guide a ship at sea;

                        One word can frame the goal.

            One vote can change a nation;

                        One sunbeam lights a room.

            One candle wipes out darkness;

                        One laugh can conquer gloom.

            One step can start a journey;

                        One word can start a prayer.

            One hope can raise our spirits;

                        One touch can show you care.

            One voice can speak with wisdom;

                        One heart can know what’s true.

            One life can make a difference;

                        You see…it’s true.

The question we should ask ourselves is, which one are you?

Just do it…Now!

This is my new favorite T-shirt.   Unfortunately, the saying applies to many of us in many areas of our lives.  I know that it definitely applies to me.

I’m going to go on that diet…later.    I’m going to start saving for retirement…later.    I’m going to paint that pool fence…later.     I’m going to work to develop those creative areas of my life…later.     I’m going to work to get rid of those nagging habits…later.   I’m finally going to get my act together…later.

Notice the repetitive “I’m going to.”  It occurred to me that, while the T-shirt is humorous, it also made me aware of how self-absorbed I can be.  While it’s good to get things done and improve our own lives, it’s even better to get things done to improve the lives of others.

As time goes on, people are going to be self-absorbed… (ouch!) self-promoting…dog-eat-dog…the kind…who smooth talk…and take advantage.  By the way, this is almost a direct quote from the Bible (II Timothy 3:1-6) Not the “ouch” part—that part was me.

If you think I’m wrong, try sliding into a parking space another motorist wants. Or watch shoppers in a checkout line elbowing one another to save thirty seconds.  And how about your seat in church; you know, the one you’ve been warming for thirty years?

When I think about what I should be doing, I look back to the Bible where Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Be humble and consider others more important than yourselves.  Care about them as much as you care about yourselves.”  Jesus said, “Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.” (Matthew 7:12)

And do it now!

Heart and Soul

Coach Timing

Whatever turns up, grab it and do it…heartily (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more laid back and more of a behind the scenes kind of guy.  When I was younger, teaching and coaching, I was just the opposite.  I was excited about what I did and passed that enthusiasm on to my students.  Maybe they didn’t all jump on the bandwagon, but those that did became quite successful at what they did.

Recently, circumstances have placed me in a position where I have been required to make numerous phone calls (which I dislike), chair a 10-person committee (so much for acting behind the scenes) and speak several different times (progress reports to the church body, remembrances at a memorial funeral).  Plus all the prepping that each of these activities required.  And all this in the span of a few overlapping weeks.  Definitely out of my comfort zone!  But, I did each thing to the best of my ability, and now feel that I am a better person for it.

Solomon writes, “Seize life!…Each Day is God’s gift…Whatever turns up, grab it and do it…heartily!  This is your last and only chance at it.”  Professor Howard Hendricks wrote, “Recently I lost one of my best friends, a woman eighty-six years young.  She was the most exciting lay-teacher I’ve ever been exposed to.  The last time I saw her on planet earth was at one of those ‘Christian parties’ where everyone sits on eggshells and tries to look pious.  In she walked, looked at me and said, ‘Well Hendricks, I haven’t seen you for a long time.  Tell me, what are the five best books you’ve read in the last year?’ (That’ll change the group dynamic in  a hurry.)  Her philosophy was, ‘Let’s not bore each other…let’s get into a discussion.  And if we can’t find anything to discuss, then let’s get into an argument.’  She was 83-years-old on her last trip to the Holy Land.  She went with a group of NFL football players.  And one of my most vivid memories is seeing her out in front yelling back to them, ‘Come on, men, let’s get with it!’  Recently she died I her sleep at her daughter’s house.  Her daughter told me that just before she died, she’d written her goals for the next ten years.”

So whether you are nine, nineteen or ninety, whatever turns up, grab it and do it…heartily.  In other words–put your heart and soul into it.

Courtesy of The Word for You Today.