When should my missionary get a raise?

Have you ever supported someone or some ministry for a long time at the very same amount? When I was on staff with a student ministry we had many families who locked into their $25 a month for 10 plus years. Now don’t get me wrong I appreciated their faithfulness, but someone who is that committed to our ministry has a lot of time, prayer and energy toward seeing us be successful. True partner kinda of folks. And I always wondered why they didn’t consider increasing over time. For some of them I don’t think it every crossed their mind. Now maybe I should have chatted with them about considering raising their support, but I didn’t always. What the point you ask? Continue reading “When should my missionary get a raise?”

One Million Dollars is a lot of Money to Save

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about retirement. Unfortunately, I am one of those guys who didn’t listen real well in the Investment 101 class. Come to think of it, I am not sure I got invited to the Investment 101 class. I heard about it and even got some of my friends who shared some of their notes and highlights with me. Best I can remember, the curriculum is pretty simple: invest money early in your 40 year working life and that money grows over time and will hopefully grow enough to tide you over in your 20 years of retirement.

Let’s do the math on the American Dream. Young professional settles in to a working rhythm by age 25 and works 40 years till he hopefully retires at 65. Retiree enjoys healthy golden years and hopefully gets to put in another 20 years where he/she dies peacefully at ripe old age of 85. Because it is no longer cool for said retiree to depend on children or anybody else they must have saved enough money over the 40 years to help them remain “financially independent” till they die.

That sounds awesome. All I have to do is figure out what I want to live on and then save it. Simple right? Continue reading “One Million Dollars is a lot of Money to Save”

What is Modern Day Contentment?

I have a new necessity in my routine… Shave Butter. Where have you been all my life? The makers of Shave Butter say that I have been “flying blind” all these years in my shaving. And I guess that’s true because I really can’t see my face with the old traditional foams and gels. But Shave Butter is clear and it “transforms the dread of shaving into the joy of softly wiping whiskers off your face”. Lest you think I jest, this stuff is pretty cool. But it adds yet another opportunity for me to express my discontentment. What happens when my $8 container of Shave Butter disappears? Can I ever go back to plain ole gel?

The modern world we live in is full of these kinds of things. We fill our homes, our cars and our lives with things designed to make life easier and then find ourselves cluttered with stuff. Sometimes we dream of the good old days when they didn’t have 17 choices of ketchup like we do in our super-duper markets. Continue reading “What is Modern Day Contentment?”

Managing our Emotions in Tough Financial Times

thumb903241500061559My dad calls it a flesh break.  I call it the tirades of a crazy man.  The Lord calls it sin.  I have to admit that I was a little surprised by the string of expletives coming out of my mouth.  Even though I whispered my displeasure toward the Lord, I think my heart screamed inside.  And there is no doubt that He heard me to my chagrin.  It has been a long time since I had been that upset.  Before I became a believer I had a pretty foul mouth but that was one of the things that I really hadn’t struggled with afterward.  That is till the other night when I hit the wall: the financial stress wall.  The Scripture says that anxiety in the heart of man weighs it down. Said another way anxiety in the heart of man wears him out.  Just like a marathoner hits the physical wall, a person who is dealing with ongoing financial struggles hit the emotional wall.  Growing up in a chronically poor family, I saw it first hand with my mom who must have had the patience of Job.  But, ever so often she would lose it.  Not like I did but she would have to collect herself and work through her emotions.  Managing our emotions in the face of financial adversity is a key to managing yourself.  But how do you do that? Continue reading “Managing our Emotions in Tough Financial Times”

Managing our Will in Tough Financial Times

Will Power CroppedYou wouldn’t know it by looking at me now but when I was a kid I used to be pretty fast.  I was not blazing by any stretch, but I ran a respectable quarter mile (54.5 was my best time).  The quarter mile is the race that separates the men from the boys.  One time around the track as fast as your little legs would carry you.  It tests a lot of things but especially your will power. The first part of the race is navigating the opening curve.  Your legs are fresh and your adrenaline is pumping so it’s pretty easy.  The backstretch is pretty boring and even though you are not tired there is a temptation to step off the track in the and walk straight out to the bus.  By the last curve, you are starting to feel it but there is something about being almost done and the curvature of the track that this part is kind of fun.  Then you find yourself staring down the final straightaway.  You can finally see the finish line and out of nowhere a 100 pound gorilla jumps on your back.  Your legs are burning.  Your lungs are exploding. And your mind screams at you to stop.  By this phase of the race I used to look down occasionally at my legs to make sure they were still moving.  The only thing that moves you forward is the will to finish what you started.  The key to managing the will in the quarter mile is to not look at the track, or the crowd or even your own physical capabilities but you must look at the finish line. Continue reading “Managing our Will in Tough Financial Times”

Managing our Minds in Tough Financial Times

johnny appleseedI remember when my son studied about Johnny Appleseed in his first grade history class. Some think that Johnny was a fabled character who embodies the generous spirit of America. But, he was a real person. He was an entrepreneur type who loved his apple trees and made it his mission to plant nurseries of apple trees all over his part of the country. By the time he got through there were apple orchards all over the place. Johnny was a planter. And he spent his time and effort planting seeds that would blossom into trees that would provide sustenance to millions. Our topic today is not about agriculture but is neurological in nature. The question today is what kinds of seeds are you planting in your mind? What kinds of thoughts are consuming your days? There is a battle going on for the mind and it is being lost at the seed level. We are planting the wrong kind of seeds and therefore we are growing the wrong kind of trees. Continue reading “Managing our Minds in Tough Financial Times”

Managing Yourself When There is No Money to Manage

no-money-downFinancial stress is not for the faint of heart.  Nothing in my life threatens to undo me more than money problems.  When things are going my way financially, my spirit is happy-go-lucky.  I am generous and even sometimes others-centered.  But, let the money get tight and I can get downright testy and unbelievably self-centered.  Let the money issues linger over a period of time and I am susceptible to falling to the temptation that faced Job to curse God.  Managing myself (my mind, my will and my emotions) becomes the challenge in times when there is no money to manage.  In fact, one of the blessings of my life may very well be going through trying financial times that threaten to challenge my most core relational question with God: can I trust Him.  Because it is during in these times that I get a chance to see what is really going on inside of me. Continue reading “Managing Yourself When There is No Money to Manage”