Hope for your financial life and beyond

How to Eat, Drink and Be Merry the Right Way (Luke 12:13-21)

Hidden Nuggets Series #98 – “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink and be merry.” – Luke 12:19

eat drink and be merry“Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” is a popular refrain you may have felt or expressed at some point in your life. If you are like me maybe you said it as a joke when you were downing a pint of ice cream swirled with chocolate sauce. As some in recent years have expressed, “You only live once, right?”

Truth is there is great seriousness in the statement and the consequences of adopting this attitude are serious.

There are two basic elements to the “eat, drink and be merry” philosophy towards life:

1) we are all going to die, sooner rather than later and…

2) since #1 is true, then we should live for the moment, enjoying whatever pleasures we can.

But the issue goes even deeper than those two concepts. When we opt for the eat, drink and be merry philosophy we are choosing laziness, neglect of our responsibilities and a forfeiture of the future. We are resting on what we have accomplished and counting on that to sustain us indefinitely.

You may not know the phrase has its origins in the Bible, taken from a story Jesus told of a rich fool.

The Parable of the Rich Fool

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What Happens When You Seek First the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33)

Hidden Nuggets Series #97 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33

When your eyes crack open in the morning what is it you seek? What is the first thing on your mind?

seek first the kingdom of GodIf you are like me it’s probably the last thing you thought about the night before. Sleep never seems to wash away what we are passionate about. It’s always there the next day, front and center in our mind.

However, the answer to the question will reveal your priorities.

So many things vie for priority #1 in our lives that sometimes it’s a struggle to keep them in perspective. What seems important one day fades into the rearview mirror the next. New challenges, opportunities and attractions replace the old, and so on and on goes the cycle.

In the Bible, Jesus addressed our focus on priorities one day in a discussion about worry. Evidently some around him were fretting over what they might eat and drink and over what clothes they might wear. Not fretting like how you or I might have trouble deciding between steak and chicken for dinner or what to wear on any given Sunday to church. Theirs was a literal concern over not having any food or clothing as basic necessities of life, a dire circumstance to be in for sure.

As only Jesus could, he brought clarity to what they should seek first each day. As we’ll see the benefits received from putting his suggestion priority #1 actually spoke to their most pressing daily needs.

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With God All Things Are Possible – Even Saving Rich People

Hidden Nuggets Series #96 – “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

On one occasion in the Bible a rich young ruler approached Jesus with a very serious question. The man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. After a brief back and forth exchange Jesus had this final answer for him:

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)

with god all things are possibleIt’s easy to misinterpret what Jesus was saying to the young man. He was not saying that owning possessions in and of itself is bad. Nor was he saying that a person can buy their way into heaven.

He also wasn’t saying that we all have to give up our wealth to enter heaven. And he certainly was not saying that God favors the poor over the rich. God looks upon all people with equal value regardless of their financial status.

Jesus knew something about this particular man though…something that was keeping him from inheriting eternal life. The man’s reaction to Jesus’ final instruction reveals exactly what it was.

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Why I’ll Cherish Every Moment of the Next Four Years

It’s a Milestone Monday of sorts at our household. Today at 7:45 I’ll be dropping off our four kids for their first day of school. That may seem ordinary but it’s not the start of just another school year for us. This year is a bit more special.

hourglassOur oldest daughter Kelly is entering high school.

14 years down.

4 more to go.

Four more years until…

…she likely moves out for the first time.

…she doesn’t regularly join us at the dinner table.

…she isn’t in our home church each and every Sunday.

…she really learns what it’s like to depend on herself.

…we face the college tuition bill (oops, sorry…that’s a tangent of thought for another day).

I used to not care about this stuff. When she was two, high school and college seemed so distant. I’d find myself in circles of older parents who would say, “Cherish these moments because it will fly by so quickly.” I’d politely nod at their exhortation and think, “Sure, sure…I won’t miss anything.”

Now I wonder where all the time has gone. Why did it happen so fast? How can it be 14 years since my first child was born?

Ironically, now I’m the older parent sharing the value of cherishing time with those just getting started on the journey.

Everything Has Its Time

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The Future Is Where Your Present Goes to Die

Hidden Nuggets Series #95 – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

I’m not 100% sure about the future.

the futureI don’t know for certainty what it holds, where I’ll be five years from now or what I’ll be doing.

At times in my life it’s been unnerving not knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week or next year. It’s easy to get wrapped up in and obsessed about it to the point where it hinders us from achieving anything in the present. In that way the future becomes where the present goes to die.

Don’t misunderstand. I’ve got plans. I’ve got ideas. I’ve even got dreams.

But they are MY plans born out of my best guesses as to where I see life taking me. There is no assurance they will unfold based on the expectations I currently maintain. The pathways of life can turn on a dime as I’m learning more and more the older I get.

I wish I could write a post for you entitled “5 Easy Ways to Figure Out Your Future” and be done with it. It’s really not that simple. But what I can share with you is the hope I have that my future is already taken care of. It’s in the hands of the One who does know.

“For I Know…”

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An Apprentice Going For It With Courage

Hidden Nuggets Series #94 – “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.” – Joshua 1:6

As Joshua stood on the doorsteps of Canaan he must have felt a tremendous sense of dread looking into the land. His mentor Moses had died and now he had been given the responsibility of escorting a nation into its new home. Millions of people were counting on him as their next leader.

be strong and courageousThere was no more standing in Moses’ shadow.

No more following orders.

No more on the job training.

Joshua, you are now the man.

I doubt you or could really appreciate what Joshua was going through. He’s following an iconic leader, a man – no check that – a prophet for which the Bible says none had arisen like him – a person whom the Lord had known face to face (Deut. 34:10).

Moses’ leadership abilities were superb…his strength in adversity unique…his humility, patience and perseverance unmatched.

To follow that must have been intimidating. Even though he’d been tutored as Moses’ right hand man, Joshua must have felt like the coach who is instilled as the new leader after the iconic master who has been at a program for decades steps down. Surely Joshua thought he’d fail because he couldn’t live up to the standards of his predecessor or the expectations of the masses.

How could he move forward with such a great task?

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Buying the Blessings of God (Acts 8:19)

Hidden Nuggets Series #93 – “…he offered them money saying, ‘Give me this power also…'” (Acts 8:19)

Throw a few greenbacks in the offering plate and be showered with the blessings of God.

buying the blessings of GodIf only it were that easy. Think giving to churches or charities would go up if this were the case?

Unfortunately many believe it. There are churches out there preaching that the more money you give to God the more He will bless you. Misinterpretation of verses like Luke 6:38 (“Give and it shall be given to you…”) lend credence to the notion God’s favor can be bought for the right price.

It’s nothing new. This idea has been around for centuries. In fact, Peter – one of Jesus’ disciples – dealt with it in the early days of the church.

Trying to Buy the Blessings of God

Old habits are hard to break. Even when we’ve committed to turning over a new leaf the baggage still lingers. We often carry it forward for a while until we are weaned from its grip.

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When Giving Money Is the Wrong Gift (Acts 3:6)

Hidden Nuggets Series #92 – “Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” – Acts 3:6

Can all problems be fixed by giving money to someone? Silly question…of course they can’t. Money doesn’t solve every problem. In fact, it doesn’t solve many problems.

There is nothing wrong with giving money to people when they need help. However, what if that’s not what they need most? What if their issue is deeper than the surface problems money can solve? Would we be doing a good service by only meeting their superficial need? I think not.

The funny (interesting) thing is sometimes people don’t even know what their real need is. They think it might be “X” when it’s really “Y”. Case in point this man, who one day had a run in with Jesus’ disciples Peter and John in the temple.

Giving Money or Miracle?

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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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If You Give Like This God Will Be Laughing

Hidden Nuggets Series #91 – “So let each of you give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” – II Corinthians 9:7

For some it’s the most boring part of the Sunday morning worship service. We think the preaching is OK and the music is fine. We even tolerate the meet and greet. But this 2-3 minute event many would just assume skip like the commercials on a DVR.

god loves a cheerful giverWhat am I referring to?

The moment when we give money to the church, otherwise known as the offering.

There are varying reactions to the offering, depending on your background. When I was growing up it was like halftime. Our Sunday morning equation followed this pattern: music – announcements – offering – more serious music – message – benediction (i.e. endless stanzas of “Just As I Am”).

So for me it was a break in the service. I’d spend the three minutes whispering to my friends, going to the bathroom or checking out the cute girl in pew three. Anything but giving.

As the teen years passed into early adulthood, some maturity began to take hold. I realized the value in these moments that take place during the service and did my best to honor them. But at times I’d still get mixed up in the wrong feelings and motivations about giving, feelings that I know are common with believers.

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