Hope for your financial life and beyond

Learning to Love the Unlovable and Your Enemies (Luke 6:35)

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

I can easily love my wife. She is precious to me. So are my kids. They have no problem getting and receiving my love. Others who treat me well? Same thing.

love your enemies

Let’s face it, some people are simply more like us – in appearance, in personality, in cultural heritage, in matters of faith, etc. We are attracted to this familiarity and sameness. It gives us comfort and calms us, knowing there are people who we can always rely on and identify with.

When we develop a natural, positive connection with our kind of people, showing love towards them is not difficult. It’s easier to act appropriately around them and demonstrate love to them because we see the world as they do. For our people, we would sacrifice much. If they were in need, we’d come to their aid without hoping for or expecting anything in return.

After all, not only do we like them and treat them well, they like us and treat us well. How could you not love someone like this?

I expect those in Jesus’ day felt much the same way. So it must have shocked their system when Jesus told them to love your enemies” and show acts of love to those they considered unlovable. Can you imagine the expressions in the crowd when he said these words?

You mean, love those people? They are not anything like me. Love your enemies? That’s even harder than loving those who are not like me. Why would I love those who hate me?

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If You Have Never Read the Christmas Story

Many believe in the important of Christmas traditions. Christmas traditions create strong emotional connections between people or events. They build lasting memories that are remembered with fondness. One tradition we started with our kids 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, we’ve also added the viewing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Eve.

the christmas story

Even though the kids are older and one has left for college, we continue the reading and 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 Christmas story from the Bible. The passage in Luke 2 describes the circumstances around 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 in its entirety with the hope that it might lead you to consider what Jesus could mean for you.

Merry Christmas!

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A Soldier’s Pledge – on Freedom, Courage and Sacrifice

“America is depressing…mixed up…adrift…an afterthought.” Have you sensed these messages creeping into American culture and thought in the past few years? Our soldier’s pledge to keep our nation great remains strong, but a lack of pride in who we are among the general public seems to have blossomed. There exists less and less passion for greatness. And few believe America’s best days lie ahead.

a soldiers pledgeEveryday the news points out our flaws. Our economy isn’t right. We can’t resolve our racial issues. Our foreign relationships often teeter on shaky ground. American individual liberties are under assault.

Everything rises and falls with leadership – including a nation as big and powerful as America. So perhaps our attitudes can be contributed to the uninspiring and ineffectual leadership we see in our government, in our communities, in our churches and even in our homes.

For many it’s a bleak picture that seems to be spiraling out of control. But we don’t have to settle for this course. We can choose a different path. Nothing predetermines that we must feel indifferent or uninspired about America.

How do I know this?

Because of freedom. Freedom is the one constant that can again ignite our passion and love for this country.

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The Most Important Reason You Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

You’ve probably heard it said at some point, “Hey, do not worry about tomorrow. Focus on today and let the future take care of itself.” That’s not bad advice really. The older I get the more I’m realizing why.

do not worry about tomorrowWe all have things that affect our actions from day to day. Things we’ve done in the past affect us in the present. Things we are doing in the present affect us in the present. And believe it or not, things that we will do in the future affect us in the present even though they haven’t happened yet.

You may be thinking, “How could that possibly be if those events have yet to occur?” Well, it’s not the event per se that affects us. It’s how we think about those yet-to-happen events and how they lead us to worry about them.

Of those three time lines – past, present and future – I think the future one has the greatest potential to stop us in our tracks. Here’s how.

Why You Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

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12 Short Bible Verses that Pack a Powerful Message

There is no doubt about it – the Bible is a big book. Within its pages you will find over 31,000 verses that teach, guide, warn and encourage. It’s so long, many people embark on a long journey to read the Bible in a year. And while all the verses are meaningful in some regard, some of the best are the short Bible verses that drive home a powerful idea.

short bible versesThe best thing about short Bible verses is that they can easily be memorized. Psalm 119:111 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.” It wouldn’t take but a few minutes to commit that to memory.

Short Bible verses help us quickly fight off sin, encourage us in our times of need and help us minister to other people. And, because they are short, it will be easier to recall them. When the time comes, you can pull a specific verse out of your memory banks and draw strength from it as you handle the challenges of life.

There are so many short Bible verses to choose from so I’d encourage you to do your own study and seek them out. I’ll give you 12 here today to jump start the process.

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A Christmas Memory That Still Challenges Me to This Day

I really do love the Christmas season. I know it’s hectic, that travel is often a nightmare and that the weather can sometimes wreck your plans. Each of those issues may bring back a Christmas memory you’d rather not recall.

christmas memoryDespite all that, I look forward to Christmas. As long as I can remember I have. As a young child it always meant a trip to my grandparent’s house in Indiana. We’d usually stay for a week with the rest of the extended family crammed into the house. My sister and I camped out on air mattresses in my grandfather’s study.

I don’t know how my grandparents did it, especially my grandmother. Cooking for 15 plus people for the week must have been exhausting. In fact, from our sleeping position in the study, my sister and I could see the light of the kitchen click on early – VERY EARLY – each morning. She always pulled it off though with the perfect mixture of foods that we all liked.

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13 Encouraging Bible Verses for Men

Let’s face it – men need encouragement. We try to act tough like we can handle everything on our own. But if we are honest, we need to be lifted up just like anyone else. So it’s a good thing there are many encouraging Bible verses for men from which we can draw inspiration.

encouraging bible verses for menThe Bible is full of encouragement to all people. There are so many stories and verses that give us inspiration, strength and comfort in our time of need.

But are there verses that speak a little more directly to men and our issues? I think so. Men have challenges that women don’t face on the same scale or level of intensity. There is nothing wrong with that as we are all made differently. And some Bible verses may mean more to one person over another or one gender over another based on what we struggle with.

So today I’d like to highlight a few encouraging Bible verses for men that stand out to me and share a little about why they do.

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The Secret Step to Contentment (Philippians 4:11-12)

On Contentment – “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Philippians 4:11-12

practicing contentment

Once upon a time (circa mid-2002), former NBA All-Star Allen Iverson produced a legendary press conference rant about the apparent need to show up for practice. After a first round playoff loss, his coach reprimanded him for missing one practice, maybe two, maybe three…we don’t really know how many.

Iverson argued to the reporters that a discussion about practice was irrelevant compared to his performance in the actual games – in what really mattered. He concluded his practice rant by exclaiming “How can I make my teammates better by practicing?”

There were days in high school when I hated basketball practice. It wasn’t very fun when you were tired or sore. Furthermore, I definitely wondered at times if I was helping my teammates get better. Isn’t that up to them?

But I pushed through all that because I came to realize one thing about practice – it produces greatness.

We aren’t born instantaneously great. Greatness comes slowly over time, as our mind, body and soul learns and adapts to whatever we are pursuing.

In the verse above, the missionary Paul shares with us in the Bible his secret step to contentment. He learned it. This makes me think it didn’t come naturally for him, just like it doesn’t come naturally for me. In other words, he had to practice it.

Contentment Doesn’t Come Easy

For Paul, contentment had to be achieved, through daily submission and practice. His statement is even more compelling considering the up and down circumstances he faced.

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How to Push Through the Scary Questions at the Start

ID-10083769Do you want to finish what you start this year? Maybe you have made a New Year’s resolution and aren’t confident you can do it. Or maybe there are simply so many unanswered questions and doubts in front of you it’s becoming overwhelming.

Finishing is huge for our psyche. It gives us so much confidence that we think anything is possible. It releases pressure and tension when we finally reach our goal. Finishing creates momentum and catapults us forward to even greater things.

Related Content: Winning is More Valuable Than Losing

Unfortunately, we don’t start at the finish and get those great rewards. We start our journey at a more logical place – the start.

The start of anything can be a very confusing place to be. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. And the start is always full of questions like…

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This Is the First Step to a New You This Year

You don’t remember your first day on this earth. You can’t recall how fast the car drove to the hospital, the anxiety of the adults who were with you or the physical pain that one of them had to endure. But eventually there you were – a new you – brought into this world through the miracle of childbirth.

a new youThat would be the only physical birth you would ever have. Someone once asked Jesus whether or not they could enter their mother’s womb a second time and be born again. Of course, that’s silly to even think about. It’s a wonder the question was even asked. No second physical birth is possible.

However, in many other ways we can be reborn. There can be a new you.

It may not be easy to change your habits, lifestyle or beliefs. Lots of work may lie ahead. But, whatever your dream or desire, of this you can be sure – you will never make it unless you do this one thing first.

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Is Your Perspective On Life Limiting You?

Enjoy this guest post from Don who writes for Breath of Optimism, a personal development site that helps readers to be the best person they can be in this life.

How do you see things in life?  Through a glass half empty or a glass half full? If you are one that tends to see the negative side of things, I urge you to change your ways as your perspective can be limiting you in life. Maybe you aren’t where you thought you would be because of how you view things. If you could change your perspective, you could see a great change in your life.

Every Situation Has Two Sides

In life, we tend to only focus on one side of the coin, either the positive side or the negative side. For whatever reason, most of us are wired to look at the negative. As such, we go through life always focusing on the negatives, finding fault in everything.

When we view life in the negative, we have added worry, stress and unhappiness in our life. But when we view life in the positive, we have little to no worries and we live each day to its fullest.

For me, I’ve been someone that tends to look at the bright side of life. I can remember a big decision I had to make at a young age that illustrates this perfectly.

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