Hope for your financial life and beyond

A Time For Choosing Freedom

Eerily, this man’s words, penned in 1964, are coming true on many levels:

American flag“Every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement…[and] policies of accommodation…”

“If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand, the ultimatum…and what then?”

“…And someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally and economically…”

 But there is hope found through courage and sacrifice:

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I’m Losing Sleep Tonight For a Worthy Cause But Never Will Over Money

Tonight I’m going to do something I haven’t done in a long time – losing sleep by voluntarily pulling an all-nighter. The last two legit occurrences happened over 20 years ago in college while I was studying for finals. Then all it took was the fear of failing, a couple sleeves of Pringles and a two-liter of Mountain Dew to pull me through the wee morning hours.

losing sleepNow, at 42, I’m not sure all the Jolt Cola in the world will do the trick. The old body ain’t what it used to be. But I’m gonna give it the old college try.

Why would I put myself through this? Well, it’s for a worthy cause.

It’s a lock-in…at our church…for the youth group.

Some of you are wincing (or laughing) right about now knowing what I’m about to go through.

They need events like these every once in awhile though with crazy, sometimes chaotic fun. It will be memorable, which is what you want out of your teen years.

As the youth leader, I don’t mind losing sleep for this cause or any other worthy cause for that matter. But what I’m really thankful for that I’ll never lose sleep over money related problems. Because…

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A Soldier’s Pledge – If This Doesn’t Inspire You, Nothing Will

“America is depressing…mixed up…adrift…an afterthought.”

Have you sensed these themes rippling through our cultural narrative in the past few years?

A lack of pride in who we are seems to have blossomed. There is little passion for greatness. Few believe America’s best days lie ahead.

Everyday the news points out our flaws…can’t get our economy right…can’t get our race issues right…can’t get our foreign relations right…can’t even get our rights right.

Everything rises and falls with leadership – including America. So perhaps our malaise can be contributed to the uninspiring and ineffectual leadership we see in our government…in our communities…in our churches…in our homes.

We don’t have to settle for this though. We can choose a different path. We don’t have to feel blasé about America.

How do I know this?

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The One Winning Formula For the Poor (Proverbs 28:11)

Hidden Nuggets Series #88 – “The rich man is wise in his own eyes, but the poor who has understanding searches him out.” – Proverbs 28:11

The winning formula to have success with money involves two things: altering our knowledge and altering our behavior. Of those two, behavior is by far the most important factor in the winning formula. We can have all the knowledge in the world but unless we put it into practice we’ll never win.

winning formulaRich people have figured this out. Their behavior is commensurate with the fact they have money. Somewhere along the way they realized (gained knowledge) what they should and should not do (behavior). They’ve done something (actually a lot of right somethings) to get to where they are.

According to the Bible the rich are “wise in their own eyes.” They understand what they’ve done and know the right path to take. They have chosen to avoid or pursue behaviors that might damage or propel their future respectively.

They don’t need any more advice.

They’ve figured it out.

The poor on the other hand haven’t and could sure use some.

And as we see in the second part of Proverbs 28:11, they would be wise to seek advice from the rich.

Seeking Out the Rich Is a Winning Formula

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Why You Should Never Discount Success When Others Praise You

Have you ever received praise from someone because of a great personal success and then downplayed why that success came? In other words, do you discount or make excuses for personal achievements when people applaud you? I find myself continually tempted to do this even though I know it’s damaging.

woman receiving an award Last month I had my most successful day and month ever on this blog…more page views and revenue than I realistically thought possible considering what I’m doing. When my wife complimented me on a job well done I assumed my best Floyd Mayweather stance and went into defensive mode.

“Well, if it hadn’t been for this and this and this then…”

“It really wasn’t anything I did, it was because…”

“It was just one month…I don’t think it will carry over.”

I sucked her praise right out of the air.

I didn’t accept it.

I didn’t acknowledge it.

Instead I downplayed it and swatted away her alley-oop praise pass.

Why Do We Act This Way?

You’d think we would relish the chance to be recognized for worthy achievements. I love awards and a pat on the back as much as the next guy. But why do we become a downer in the moments immediately after receiving praise for a success?

Perhaps it’s because…

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How I Got Financially Real in 5 Minutes

(A special “Thank You” to Shannon at The Heavy Purse for organizing this blog carnival for Financial Literacy Awareness Month. Check out her post and see how other personal finance bloggers got financially real.)

Financially Real

Up until seven years ago I lived with the delusion that I had no money problems. Everything seemed fine to me. We were paying bills on time, building our credit score and saving/investing money along the way.

What more do you need than that, right?

The truth however didn’t match reality. I was an over-spender…a chronic over-spender. Every month we were spending more than we made. (Well, it probably wasn’t every month but it sure seemed that way.)

Like so many others who live on credit and spend, spend, spend, I was content to keep walking that path. That was until I had an encounter I’ll never forget.

The five-minute encounter changed my life.

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It’s Hard to Love the Unlovable (Luke 6:35)

Hidden Nuggets Series #75 – “But love your enemies, do good, and lend hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great…” – Luke 6:35

love the unlovableI can easily love my wife.

My kids…no problem

Those who treat me well…check.

Showing affection towards and giving to them is not difficult. I would sacrifice much if any of these were in need, without hoping for or expecting anything in return.

I expect those in Jesus’ day felt much the same way. So it must have shocked their system when Jesus explained they were to love their enemies. Can’t you imagine the expressions? Love the unlovable?

It doesn’t take much imagination because the statement makes me squeamish some 2,000 years after he said it. When I consider the ramifications of how I’m to love the unlovable – in other words those who hate me…or persecute me…or take advantage of me…or show little respect for me – well, I’m left feeling unable to answer the calling.

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The Ultimate Risk in Wasting a Play

Everyone knew Marshawn would get the football. He’d just run four yards on the previous play to push his team to the one-yard line. With less than a minute to go and the Super Bowl on the line the monster running back would surely bring a championship to his team with one more beastly plunge.

super bowl interceptionExcept his coach called for a pass play on 2nd down.

What?

The resulting interception thrown by Russell Wilson caused the dozens at my Super Bowl party to jump off the couch, screaming in disbelief (or triumph depending on their rooting interest).

After the game the Seattle coach was faced with questions from the media about the play call. To his credit he took full responsibility for the misfortune that befell his team. But his logic for making the call was curious to say the least.

In essence he said they didn’t have the right personnel on the field to match up with New England’s defense. So he chose to give away (#waste) that 2nd down play with a passing call and then get set up to call better plays on 3rd and potentially 4th down.

Give away a play…with the championship on the line.

Unthinkable.

The Risk in Giving Away Plays

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This Is What Makes Dumping Girlfriends and Credit Cards Hard

Do you remember your first love? I don’t mean that boy or girl you kissed in kindergarten. I mean that first true love…the person with whom you were destined to spend the rest of your life.

breaking up with credit cardsI do and when I was with her she seemed perfect in every way. A match made in heaven.

However, it didn’t last. We broke up after a few years, the reasons for which won’t be mentioned here.

But then we got back together a few months later and it was just like old times. It was like we hadn’t missed a beat. And this time things would be different. We were committed to make our relationship last.

Except it didn’t. Again we split after less than a year.

But…

…you know what’s coming next.

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Launching This Year May Lead to Your Greatest Catch

Hidden Nuggets Series #72 – “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” – Luke 5:4

fisherman casting a netThe shallow, clear blue waters of the Caribbean are so inviting. In them you can wade a great distance from shore and never feel uncomfortable. Every step is sure because you are only in up to your knees and all obstacles can be avoided because you can clearly see the ocean floor.

Were you to wade out into deep waters however, the feeling of security would clearly change.

Deep waters are scary.

They are expansive and wide.

There are unseen objects in the deep.

There is little light to manage the obstacles.

Yet there can be great reward in launching into something big…something challenging…something overwhelming…something fraught with uncertainty.

Simon Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples learned this on one occasion. After a night of fishing without catching a thing, Jesus asked him to launch his boat one more time and let down his net. After some mild complaining, Peter reluctantly obeyed.

The Result of Peter’s Launch

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If You Have Never Read the Christmas Story…

My friend Shannon from The Heavy Purse has talked recently about the importance of traditions at Christmas. Like her I’ve seen how traditions help bind families together. They create strong emotional connections. They build lasting memories that are always looked back upon with fondness (or maybe not if you hated your family’s traditions…here’s to hoping that’s not the case).

away in a mangerOne tradition we started when our kids were old enough was to read the Christmas story from the Bible on Christmas Eve. After that we get a jump on unwrapping presents by opening the kids’ stockings. In recent years as the kids have become older, we’ve also added the viewing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve.

Even though we won’t be buying our kids presents this year, we will continue the reading and the movie watching. For us it’s a reminder of what the season means and how much we have for which to be grateful.

Perhaps you’ve never read the Bible story from Luke 2 about the birth of Jesus. It’s not what you might expect, considering Jesus was heralded in the Hebrew literature as the King of the Jews. He came into the world in the humblest of circumstances, surrounded by only his parents, some barnyard animals and a few unimportant shepherds.

Yet this simple story details the beginnings of a life that would change the world. I share it now with the hope that it might lead you to consider what Jesus could mean for you.

Merry Christmas!

The Biblical Christmas Story From Luke 2

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