Yesterday, a women, who had lost her job a few days ago, called Family Life Resources, Inc. as if we were a life preserver that could save her from the credit sharks that would soon be circling at her door. What I could offer her were suggestions (for free) and a prayer (also free). The suggestions were nice but the prayer was the answer. When our conversation was over, instead of sadness and fear in her voice, I could hear hope.
Yesterday, at the post office, a young man asked me for change because his grandmother's car had run out of gas and...hadn't I heard this story before? I had no change and I had no heart for listening to his story. So, I shook my head no with an "I'm sorry" smile and he moved on. Moments later, I heard him ask another customer, telling them about his grandmother. I heard him give the guy some change and I heard the exchange of "Merry Christmas." Later, in my guilt and remorse, I prayed for the guy. I wish I had been braver (and more caring) and prayed for him at the post office. That was what he needed the most. Even though I had no change, I may have helped effect a change with a simple prayer.
Yesterday, my brother lost his mother. Unlike at the post office, I am quick to pray. Having lost my mother (we are half-siblings) I know the pain he is suffering. And, like most of his friends and family, I offered up my prayers of condolences. Although it can seem like a cruel joke to have your mother pass at Christmas, I pray that he would be able to eventually celebrate his mother's life every Christmas. That he would remember the best way to honor her in death is to be the man she taught him to be in life. What a joyous gift that is to her. But, the ease to pray here does not remove my duty to prayer elsewhere. I know I could easily find others suffering in the same way if I were to take a moment to listen to their stories and hear their need for prayer as well.
Yesterday, I ran away from home and went to Starbucks. Curtis, my brother, was getting on my nerves. You see, he is developmentally disabled and I am his caretaker. Regardless of this title, he is my brother and his disability is no excuse for bothering me, so say I! But I realize I need to remember to pray at these times too. Not necessarily for some healing miracle but instead prayers of thankfulness for his health, for his laughter and yes, even his teasing. I am fortunate that he is not a lot of trouble and that I have more freedom than many caretakers who daily struggle with the care for their disabled child or sibling with problems far worse than mine or Curtis'. I don't always remember to pray for them either. The other day I met a young man with his mother at the Kmart checkout. He was developmentally disabled and his mother was probably in her 60's. They are what make me realize how hard it can be (or may be). He chatted with me and the mother stood in line. But I also know the "corner of the eye look." She was making sure he was not being too bothersome and that he was behaving appropriately. I have that look. What if I had prayed for her? Or acknowledged our kindred-ness? Would the tiredness I saw on her have lifted a little? And what about the mother whose son killed her and 26 other people? What if someone had prayed for her instead of just talked about her and her odd son? Pointing fingers do nothing...praying hands do a lot!
Today is Christmas. Today I am reminded that we are all offered another chance. Most of us only remember to pray when we are at our tables and take a moment to remember to be thankful. These safe little moments are nice but they are a far cry from what I think God would have us to do. Yesterday, I lost inconvenient and uncomfortable moments to pray for the convenient and comfortable parts of my life. I wish I would have prayed with the guy in the post office and the lady at Kmart. We live in a world where it is so easy to shake our fists at God and ask why children die or why a mother dies too young. We are upset and unhappy in an unjust world. We seem to forget that one day, a Savior was sent to bring justice and peace and goodness into the world. We seem to forget that He gave us the power to bring goodness and joy to those around us by simply praying with them and for them. When we do, we see miracles happen. We see sadness turned to hope. We see misery turned to gratefulness. We see a future and a hope. We see lives changed.
Today, if you would, pray as you have opportunity.
His Mercy Is Everlasting!
Do you know what the meaning for mercy is? I didn't either so I looked it up. Mercy is defined as compassion, pity, clemency, forgiveness, kindness, sympathy, understanding, leniency, benevolence.
Wow! Meditiating on these words I think of Psalms 100:5 - For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting to all and His tender mercies are over all His works.
I like this verse, especially the part that states "the Lord is good to all." If He is your "Lord" then you can receive all the wonderful things He has provided for you through the redemptive work of Jesus' death, buriel and resurrection!
At this time of Thanksgiving, let's give Him EXTRA thanks when we gather together with our families and friends to share the great foods, fellowships, games and special movies. We are truly blessed in this country.
So in this time of Thanksgiving, don't forget the mercy. Don't forget the mercy He has shown you. Don't forget to show that mercy to others. Let His compassion, forgiveness and kindness overwhelm you and pour out onto others.
Remember "To be THANKFUL can be as simple as seeing the daily blessings in your life and helping others!" Rick Dillman, Founder of Family Life Resources, Inc. He also adds, "When you see a need, fill the need and be blessed!"
Yes, I think that about says it all! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!
ARE YOU FINANCIALLY PREPARED FOR THE HOLIDAYS?
It really should not be a surprise (because it happens every year) but, the various seasons of celebration are beginning again. They can be a lot of fun but, financial peace may be hard to find if we are not prepared for the expenses.
THE PLANNING AND ORGANIZING
Did you experience fireworks on July 4th? Not the rockets red glare kind but financial red glare. My AC Tech did. He said his son managed to (unexpectedly) spend $200 on fireworks! Wow! In everything we do, we always have to remember to plan (and keep an eye on what our kids spend). Our modern world tells us to go for it but our finances demand from us another way. It doesn't make us freaks, geeks or extreme couponers to begin thinking about what we are going to spend and how we are going to save. It makes us wise!
LET'S CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING...
Back to School - Not officially a holiday in its truest sense (but you will spend money) is the Sales Tax Holiday. This year, Florida will offer theirs on the weekend of August 3rd - 5th. Go to the website and check out it. You can begin preparing for your childs clothing and school supply needs and determine where you can save.
Halloween - Why wait until the last minute? If you are one to celebrate this festivity, whether it is Trick or Treating or Harvest Fests, at some point in September you will want to start collecting coupons, candy and costume prices. Some of the deals are only deals because you are buying in the last minute (unless you PLAN it that way). Ease it into your budget and include a weekly candy purchase into your budget. As a couponer, I know some kind of candy is on sale all of the time. Honestly, you will be much happier not racing around trying to find the cheapest prices, unless you enjoy this Halloween trick. Otherwise, take the gruesomeness out of the event and stock up on the treats BEFORE the 31st arrives.
Thanksgiving - The best of the food holidays has begun! We don't think about saving because it's eating, it's groceries. But we overspend. Take time to consider the many deals and specials offered around this time. COUPON! It is a great time to stock up on baking supplies, spices, condiments, etc. If your family already has specific plans and traditions, it will be that much easier to begin preparing now based on past years. If you are a "wing it" kind of family, don't do that with the budget. Decide the favorite dishes you will serve, whose house (or houses) you will visit, will you participate in Black Friday? Having a plan in place will make you and your budget much more thankful on that wonderful day.
Christmas - Only FIVE months to go. Yes, I said it. Now, close your mouth and let's think this through. As much as we may all love to give and recieve, your bank account may not hold the same uh...values. So instead of letting this holiday get the best of you, make some decisions now. How much can you realistically spend for the holiday? Who is on your priority gifts list? What about decorations, food, candy, travel? There is much to think about and you don't want to do it all on Christmas Eve day. If you haven't started now, GET STARTED! The truth is, you are going to spend (or try to spend) the money. It is not too late to start your own "Christmas Club" or savings account. Any money to go towards the presents, the Secret Santa parties, the food, the cards, the plays will help you to focus on what you can truly spend. So, as the song goes, make a list and check it twice. Check for prices, look on line for lower prices (I personally LOVE Amazon), start stocking up on gift cards. Let your imagination run wild on ways to save. The point is to START saving. Then you can enjoy the real meaning of Christmas.
THE OTHER EVENTS
There are other events that happen throughout the year - Labor Day, New Year's parties, Superbowl parties, birthdays, bridal showers, weddings, new babies, summer vacation...the list can go on depending on your family traditions and lifestyle. However, it is up to you to get the planning in place. Use cash envelopes, a savings club, or a shoe box. The idea is to not let your lack of planning spoil the fun. Go to our website and review our Spending Plan/Budget Workshop. Then, get organized, get planning and get ready to enjoy "the holidays" all year!
Part one and two of this series centered around your finances. Now we will discuss putting your faith in motion.
Living by faith is a lifestyle. Just as you have a financial lifestyle, you also have a faith lifestyle. You get to choose the difference between a want and a need in both areas. The financial area is easy; what does it take to keep you alive is a need. But the same thing is true for your faith. What does it take to keep your faith alive? Without faith, we become responsible for keeping the earth spinning . With faith, we have a better understanding of our role and realize how much God is in control.
God has a plan for your financial and spiritual lives. Money is a necessary commodity to have in order to survive in today’s culture. For many it is also the single largest stumbling block that keeps us from having a close relationship with God. Deuteronomy 8:3 states: He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
If you had all the money in the world and did not have to work, what would you do with your time? Would you watch TV, travel, read books or build God’s kingdom. What are five goals that you want to accomplish before you die? What skills do you have that others have told you repeatedly that you possess? What are the passions of your heart?
Combining your money and faith is exactly what God wants you to do. He gave you work to earn an income to both support your family and support God’s kingdom. GOD owns it all but allows you to decide where to put it. Less then 25% of the people are giving 95% of the money with 50% to 60% not giving at all. And, it does not make any difference if we are talking money or time. The figures are the same.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
For a copy of our book: Money and Faith in Motion by American Center for Credit Education please complete the information form found on the side bar. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates.
Welcome to CARMEN'S CORNER on the FLR Blog. This is our way of giving you a break, at least for a moment, to meditate on the word of God. So, sit back, read and be refreshed!
ANSWERING YOUR CALL
Everything God calls us to do is impossible to men. Once you realize this, it will take the pressure off you and put it on God. Whatever God calls you to do, He will do it through you. It is His ability in you. Spend time in prayer, put His word into action and you will find out what He would have you do. Let's look at some examples.
JESUS WALKED ON WATER
One day, Jesus walked on the water to his disciples who had gone ahead on their boat (Matthew 14). Seeing the Master walking on the water, they thought they were seeing a ghost. They cried out in fear. Jesus answered, “Don’t be afraid it’s me." Bold Peter called back, “Lord, if it’s you, command me to come to you on the water.” "Come," He said.
Walking on the water is impossible and Peter had no ability to do it. Yet the power of the word of Jesus took hold of Peter and held him up. Any time you take a step of faith in any area of your life, your faith is going to be tested. We see here Peter stepped out of the boat, walked on the water, but suddenly looked around him at the wind; he was afraid and began to sink.
"Lord," he cried out, “save me!" Immediately Jesus took him by the hand and caught him. He asked him “Why did you doubt?” And you know what they did? Together they walked back to the boat.
Let’s look at the Apostle Paul when he was faced with terrible circumstances. He was imprisoned, beaten, shipwrecked and abused in almost every way imaginable for preaching the gospel. Did this stop him? No way! At the end of his ministry Paul said, "I have finished my course.”
You are probably thinking, “Yeah, those were great men called of God!" Well, if you are in Christ, you are also called of God (2 Corinthians 5:17). Don’t look at the circumstances or lack of ability, focus on Jesus and you will do greater things! Go ahead, it's your turn to answer your call.
In today’s struggling economy, the thought of putting money and faith in motion seems out of reality. For millions of people, they struggle just to put food on the table. There is not enough money to put anywhere let alone "in motion". When you tie that motion into God’s plan, you again get the attitude of ‘What money?" But in the Christian belief, we are asked to do just that even if we don’t think we have money to spare.
God doesn’t want our spare change. He wants our best; the first of our fruits. If we really want to put our money in motion then we will need the faith to part with it. 1 Timothy 6: 17-19 states that God commands us to put our hope in Him and He will provide us with all that we need. Our problem is we are not sure the definition of our need is the same as God’s definition.
One way to put our money is motion is to have a plan. Every financial plan should include a budget which is a listing of how much your lifestyle is costing you. This helps you set priorities as to what is important not only to you as individuals but also to your whole family. I may love to drive a new car every other year but my family may feel it is more important to have a yearly family vacation together. Working out the priorities together as a family takes time and prayer but, it cements the plan so everyone is working toward the same goals.
As you consider what your priorities are, what do you think God’s plan for your family might entail? This also takes time and prayer but it gives purpose to your budget for it involves more than just your family: It involves your commitment to be good stewards of what God has given to you and to share that “wealth” with others.
Proverbs 24:3 says, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established.” Putting your faith and money in motion is a journey and will not happen without some difficulty. Best intentions of serving God can be circumvented by daily life. Someone said that the word busy stands for being under Satan’s yoke. The best way to keep us from putting our money in motion for God, is for Satan to attack our personal finances. Christian financial planning is putting God in charge of your finances and following His plan. Having the faith to let go of your money will build your faith in Him.
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