Recession Proof

 

House and money on scalesI’m still having conversations with people regarding the recession that started in 2007 and ended in 2010 for a lot of people. There are people today, 7 years later still suffering from the “fall out” of that downturn in the market. There were some good people who lost their retirement savings or their fortune. I learned a lot during that time and I made some decisions about being in that place of fear and struggle. I started reading, researching and learning how to avoid the decisions that caused such harm to so many people. I studied the teaching of Dave Ramsey about dumping debt and how Romans 13:8 is good counsel. Check this out….

Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8 CSB)

I don’t know a lot of people who were not affected profoundly by the recession. I have seen many start to repeat some of the same behaviors that cost them severely during that time. I have also seen wisdom in others determined to not ever be that vulnerable financially again.

Paul gives Timothy some excellent instruction regarding wealth management. I’m trying to look at my money different than I ever have before. Check this out…

17 Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share, 19 storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19 CSB)

According to research done by Forbes magazine, the poor in America live better than 95 percent of the world’s population. (June 1, 2013) I believe that with our wealth, comes responsibility.  I think it’s critical to bring our money management under the authority of The Lord. Check this out…

But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:9-10 CSB)

Money is not evil. Money is a medium – it does the work of people in possession of it. I can use it to evil or I can use it to do good. I would be wise to grow in my management of money. It’s way too easy to spend and harder to earn and keep.  Becoming aware of my money management skills (or lack thereof) is critical to handling it wisely and with a godly spirit. I do enjoy having extra money. I feel blessed to have learned some valuable lessons during the recession that I plan on implementing into my life for the rest of my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Fundraising

 

In God We Trust from the dollar billThere seems to be several fundraisers going around the office every month. I recently bought a raffle ticket for a fundraiser for a local charitable group. Our church is raising funds for the City Station project. It’s not easy to raise money in our culture where the average household spends more than they earn. We seem to look for immediate fixes to long-term challenges.

2 Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 3 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.

4 Joash said to the priests, ‘Collect all the money that is brought as sacred offerings to the temple of the Lord – the money collected in the census, the money received from personal vows and the money brought voluntarily to the temple. 5 Let every priest receive the money from one of the treasurers, then use it to repair whatever damage is found in the temple.’ (2 Kings 12:2-5 NIV)

King Joash was 7 years old when he became king. He was teachable and trainable by the priest, Jehoiada. He really wanted to repair the temple that had been home to him six of his first seven years.

I remember my Mom telling me that a “penny saved is a penny earned”. I wish I had grasped this concept many years ago. Dave Ramsey came along and all of a sudden I understood the value of saving money. The Lord can be certainly honored with my money and I can be like God as a giver when I save money and manage well. This young king had big ideas and he seemed to really want to honor God.

I have been guilty of pursuing money, wealth and fame instead of pursuing God. I’ve learned some hard lessons in the pursuit of money. All the possessions I have and all the money that I’ve ever earned is temporary. When I take what I’ve been blessed with and I honor the Lord, I’m investing in eternity – a very wise investment. I think I’ll do some more fundraising to be prepared to give when the Lord says give.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Conspire

 

Conspiracy word cloudThis word implies secrecy and illegal activity and agreement between two or more people. I’m not sure that what I choose to do myself would be considered a conspiracy.

Samson had been wreaking havoc on the Philistines. He was supernaturally strong and they couldn’t stop him. When he falls in love with a Philistine woman named Delilah, they knew that had to try. Each leader offered her 13 Kilograms of silver in exchange for her delivering Samson to her. She starts right away to ask him the secret of his strength, so he tells her some tall tale about tying him up with seven fresh bowstrings. She actually tried it (with soldiers waiting secretly) and it didn’t work. She tries twice more and has two more false alarms. After pestering Samson day in and day out, he finally comes clean. Check this out…

17 So he told her everything. ‘No razor has ever been used on my head,’ he said, ‘because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.’

18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, ‘Come back once more; he has told me everything.’ So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. 19 After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.

20 Then she called, ‘Samson, the Philistines are upon you!’

He awoke from his sleep and thought, ‘I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the Lord had left him. (Judges 16:17-20 NIV)

I do believe that if Samson had been walking with the Lord, he’d had a heads up about this conspiracy. I see him living in his flesh instead of living out of a heart deeply devoted to the Lord. These people showed up with the money in hand. It’s obvious that Delilah never loved him or cared for him – it was about the money. I’m not even sure she was patriotic to the Philistine cause or country.

Conspiracies are so deceitful. I believe the Lord can expose conspiracies through the prompting of His Spirit. I believe that the Lord can open my eyes to things that I wouldn’t notice any other way. This usually money or power involved in a conspiracy. Both of these ingredients can be destructive on their own. When couched in conspiracy, they can be incredibly destructive.

I want all my cards on the table. I want to deal honestly and openly with others. I don’t want there to be even a tiny hint of conspiracy. I want to always live and work with integrity as the bedrock of each relationship that I have. What you see is what you get. I believe that living out of a heart devoted to the Lord will direct my path the way He would have me live every day.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Inheritance

 

Bag with inheritanceI thing that this word is a word that can be a synonym with gift. An inheritance is a lot like a gift but it’s given because of some prior relationship. It can be possessions that are left behind by a friend or family member. It can also be characteristic or trait given genetically by ones parents or ancestors. Inheritance is generally something, which we have very little control over. The family of a wealthy person can’t control how generous he or she is to specific individuals. The division of the inheritance is often spelled out in a last will and testament.

The Lord is giving His people an inheritance of the Promised Land. Out of 12 tribes, one will not receive the same inheritance. Check this out…

1 The Levitical priests – indeed, the whole tribe of Levi – are to have no land allotted to them or any inheritance with Israel. They shall live on the food offerings presented to the Lord, for that is their inheritance. 2 They shall have no inheritance among their fellow Israelites; the Lord is their inheritance, as he promised them.

5 for the Lord your God has chosen them and their descendants out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the Lord’s name always. (Deuteronomy 18:1-2;5 NIV)

I think it’s healthy to see the Lord as my inheritance. If I were to be the recipient of an inheritance worth millions of dollars, it will still be temporary. If the Lord is my inheritance, then my eternity is secure. It is so easy to be distracted here on earth with things that don’t last. I need to keep my attention and my gaze upon Him because He is eternal.

It’s interesting to see people’s response and reaction to money. A large inheritance seems to really change some people. I heard a great quote recently that said, “Money magnifies who we already are”. If we were a jerk without money, we will be a jerk when we get money. If we are kind, even though we’re broke, we’ll be kind even when we’re not broke.

I’m reading a series of books called “The Ultimate Gift” by Jim Stovall. The author conveys with this series of novels the value of character and an understanding of the gifts of this life. Our values really are magnified by money. I would be really wise to make the Lord my inheritance and use the resources that I have here on earth to pursuing eternal life with Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Freedom

 

House and money on scalesThe year of Jubilee in the Jewish culture was in fact a year of freedom. The people who had become poor and had to sell their “family land” were allowed to redeem it. There was indeed no exchange of property. It was much like a “land lease” today. The price of the “lease” was in direct proportion as to how long it was from the year of jubilee or how many years were left until the year of jubilee.

This is a cool concept but unfortunately we don’t practice it today. If I sell some family land – it’s gone and there is no year of jubilee. Check this out…

8 ‘“Count seven Sabbath years – seven times seven years – so that the seven Sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then sound the trumpet everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.

13 ‘“In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property.

17 Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 25:8-13, 17 NIV)

As I read this passage I was reminded of the feeling of freedom from debt. I look back over the years at some of the stupid things I’ve done with money and how it caused me great debt. It is painful to recall. I’ve had a “year of jubilee” of sorts when I declared that I don’t want to be a slave anymore to a bank to whom I own money. I don’t want to be a slave to a plastic card. I don’t want to be a slave to a friend to whom I’m borrowing money. I came into contact with Dave Ramsey a few years back and started listening to this common sense approach to handling my money. The first thing was to quit borrowing money. I had to learn to live within my means. I will even counsel a young family buying a house to make sure they are married to each other and not their house payment. We live in a culture that mostly lives outside our income instead of within our income. There is always “too much month at the end of our paycheck”.

Freedom from debt is an incredible feeling – it’s empowering and exhilarating. I want my heart to be devoted to the Lord NOT to creditors. “I want to live like no one else so that I can live and give like no one else”. (Dave Ramsey) I needed a year of jubilee in my financials as early on I borrowed and lived above my means. I’m now trying to live differently – to give differently – to save differently. It seems to me that so many people in our culture are “trying to keep up with the Jones” – people they don’t even know or like. I want to live to serve my God and my family. I don’t want to try to impress others with what I have or own. I want to work with integrity and honesty and earn money to serve the Lord and my family instead of myself. I want to live like I’m having a Year of Jubilee every year!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Inheritance

Bag with inheritanceOn one hand I think it would be so cool to inherit millions of dollars and acres and acres of land. I could have grown up never really working but I might be worthless as a person because the work and struggles develop my character and my resolve. I do know people who have inherited large sums of money and it just about destroyed them. Our culture gets very distracted by things and possessions. In fact the shiny objects all around us keep us from the Shining Light of Truth the Lord brings to the table. We serve and worship “created things” instead of the Creator of all things.

The Lord, through Ezekiel, was giving instructions to the priests after Israel had been restored. The priests had some very detailed instructions about how they were to do their ministry before The Lord. He then goes to a different level and says that the priests are not to have possessions. Check this out….

28 ‘“I am to be the only inheritance the priests have. You are to give them no possession in Israel; I will be their possession. 29 They will eat the grain offerings, the sin offerings and the guilt offerings; and everything in Israel devoted to the Lord will belong to them. 30 The best of all the first fruits and of all your special gifts will belong to the priests. You are to give them the first portion of your ground meal so that a blessing may rest on your household. (Ezekiel 44:28-30 NIV)

 

I do believe that my possessions and insatiable desire for more possessions distract me from the Lord. I need to scale back and live a simple life. I really admire people who have self-control over their wants and desires. I really want to make the Lord my most valuable possession. I want everything else I own, wear or pursue to fade into the background of my pursuit of Him. I want Him to be my inheritance. I want to live forever with Him just like He designed me to.

Pressing On!

Dwayne