Category Archives: Finances

3 Sacred texts: Your Bible, your calendar, and your checkbook

checkbook-calendar“Show me your calendar and your checkbook and I will predict your future levels of success.” Those were the opening words of a pastors’ conference, spoken by a gentlemen who was responsible for the oversight of thousands of ministers worldwide.

After the Bible, he said, the most sacred documents in a person’s life are his or her calendar and checkbook.

Do you agree with that thought? Do you agree that today’s investment of time and resource will determine the trajectory of your future?

  • World-class grandparents become so by scheduling time to connect with their grandchildren.
  • Phenomenal spouses spend the time and money to romance their sweetheart.
  • True women and men of God invest in the practices that bring them regularly into contact with the presence of God.
  • Masterful lives do not happen by accident; they are the result of intentional planning and investment in the right areas.

Are we living that way? If the conference speaker perused our calendars and checkbooks would he predict futures of impact and significance, or mediocrity and triviality?

As the spring season approaches, let’s apply our spring-cleaning tendencies to our calendars and checkbooks. What should be written into those texts that isn’t? What is written there that shouldn’t be?

Let’s do the necessary cleansing and purging so that we can live the vita sine paenitentia (the life without regret).

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You and your insecurities

elvisIf you’re like me, and most adults I know, your insecurities have evolved with you over the years.

When I was a child, I was insecure about being too skinny. My parents and siblings traumatized me by calling me “Hallelujah Bare Bones” after a character in a book (sorry, family, for publicly calling you out on that one :)).

When I was an adolescent, I became insecure about being too introverted. And as a young adult, my insecurities shifted to my ever-vanishing head of hair.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on my given mood, as a fully grown man today, no one ever calls me “Hallelujah Bare Bones,” I don’t mind being an introvert, and I no longer have hair to worry about. My insecurities have all gone away.

Except for that other list of fears and worries that keeps popping up.

As a child, I never worried about money or our global economy. I didn’t know the difference between a “bull” or a “bear” market, and I wasn’t overly afraid of international dictators and their loathing for America. I didn’t feel anxiety about raising children in an unstable world, and I never really imagined that pain, loss, heartache, and grief might be central themes in the story of my life.

I didn’t know how mean or shaky the world could be.

Fortunately, I learned something in my sheltered, idyllic childhood that has sustained me as an adult. I learned it from Elvis Presley.

On one of his religious CDs (actually, I think it was an 8-track tape), Elvis Presley sang these words: “I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future…”

Isn’t that a beautiful thought? And it’s true. The consistent and pervasive message of the Bible is that God can sustain your life no matter what comes your way. Indeed, Jeremiah 29:11 quotes God as saying, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”

This Easter season, let’s lean more closely into the only one who is truly and forever unshakable.

How to smile at an uncertain economic future

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

Has the “Great Recession” taken a toll on you?

Even if you still have your job, and your family hasn’t personally been hurt by our shaky economy, you’ve probably been affected by the financial woes of our time. The endless stream of discouraging news can extract an emotional toll from us, and leave us with a haunting fear about the future.

That fear is the opposite of how God wants us to live.

In Proverbs 31 (where the Proverbs writer describes the ultimate chick) God shows us how He wants us to face the future. In the NIV translation verse 25 reads this way, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” The NASB translation adds a little twist when it says that she “smiles at the future.”

How can we smile at our future and laugh at the days to come, when the world around us is no laughing matter?

First, we must return to an unshakable belief that God is faithful, that He has written our names in the palm of His hand, and that He governs in the affairs of men.

Second, we must do our best to honor the Bible’s instructions about financial management: giving, saving, living within our means, performing our work with excellence, doing our best to provide for our loved ones, and investing based on the wisdom that’s currently available to us.

Once we’ve begun practicing these things there is nothing more to do but pray, trust, and smile as we fall in to God’s “everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27).