Monthly Archives: December 2013

Zero Christmas Presents Next Year

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I’m guessing the title of this blog got your attention. How many of you can imagine a #Christmas without exchanging gifts? Does the idea bother you? Yes? Then you’re meant to read on.

Sadly, every year many people see the Christmas holiday approaching and their shoulders tighten. They remember last year’s task of figuring out what to buy everyone, long check out lines, the nervousness of hoping they chose the right gift, and so on and so on. Even before the biggest holiday of the year is actually here they’re already weighed down by unnecessary stress.
It’s really a shame.

I’ve heard on the news many times, “….burgular has stolen Christmas from another family”.

Stolen Christmas?

As a Christian, I have a problem with that phrase. Christmas is not something that can be stolen. It’s the celebration of Christ’s birth. Can you take that from anyone? Of course not. That’s the problem with the zombie-like, “must buy presents” mentality. We’re slaves to materialism!

How about we take the words of Christ to heart? Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need”.

Two things are important here.

First, seek His Kingdom above all else. We need to ask ourselves, “Am I focused on His Kingdom above all else or are presents, people, candy canes, celebrations and lights in the first-place position in my heart?”

Be honest!

Second, notice the verse ends with “…and he will give you everything you need”. Christ didn’t say He’d supply a PS4, a new sports car or a Hawaiian vacation as a result of our dedication to seeking His Kingdom. God is telling us here that our needs are a higher priority to Him than our wants. Obviously, we should mirror His perspective- God first, needs second and then wants….maybe.

Picture a world where this was reality. Instead of long lines at retail stores we’d see those lines at the soup kitchens, waiting to help the needy. People would camp out in front of their Church waiting for Christmas service, not in front of Macey’s eager to get their hands on the latest name-brand purses. Families would not continue sinking deeper into credit card debt. They’d pay cash to buy a homeless family an entire wardrobe instead.

Man, I’d love to see this kind of economic prosperity in our country. Wouldn’t you?

I would love to see a world where Christmas isn’t a source of stress but tranquility, unselfish acts, and the celebration of Christ’s birth.

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The decision to go without buying presents at Christmas can affect your bottom line grately. Think of what you spent this Christmas season on gadgets, gifts, toys, clothes, wrapping paper, ribbons, fuel, time, etc. Now add that number your current bank account balance. Wouldn’t you rather that total be in your account right now in case something major rears its ugly head? Or you could put it towards paying off a credit card, paying on a loan or paying extra on the monthly rent at you apartment. That would be a Frugal Lifestyle decision that helps reduce stress and would eventually lead to financial Freedom.

A No-Presents Christmas also sets an example to the following generation. They’d understnad that God being born as a human baby is the resaon for Christmas. They’d learn to focus on the Ultimate Gift they’ve already been given, not the material gifts they’re expecting.

A no-presents Christmas is also a great way to weed out those “what did you bring me?” people. You know, the ones that are only interested in what they can squeeze out of you? We all have them in our lives. But, telling everyone that there will be zero Christmas presents next year will also expose the cream of the crop. Those who actually care about you will say things like, “Spending time with you is present enough”. Those are the ones you hang onto!

As 2013 comes to a close let’s start imagining a stress free, laid-back, relaxing, Christ-centered Christmas for 2014. After all, we’re celebrating HIS biryhday, right?

Prayerfully consider a “no-presents Christmas”.

#Batman’s True “Superpower”

Batman’s True SuperpowerThe Bat

To say I am a big #Batman fan would be an understatement. I love the flawed, dark character partly because I can relate to him. He’s by no means perfect and I love that. He wrestles with inner conflict, flirts @ the borders of what’s considered legal and he’s wanted by the law enforcement agencies he saves on a regular basis. Batman is called into action when the Justice League (Superfriends for those who can remember) is in a bind. He’s known for doing what other superheroes cannot.

I remember an episode where Superman, Wonderwoman, Flash, Green Lantern and the Martian were taking turns interrogating a criminal. They tried for hours on end to get vital information from him and got nowhere. Batman arrived, spoke to the criminal for a few seconds and walked up to Superman with the needed information. Flash asked Superman, “How’d he do that?” Superman replied, “You don’t wanna know”.

Yeah, I love the Batman.

It’s easy to think of all this character’s toys, his money, mansion and his fancy vehicles as his greatest attributes. However, you’d be wrong. Batman, aka The Dark Knight, has another name unknown to most- World’s Greatest Detective.

True Batman fans will remember a conversation our hero had with Commissioner Gordon on the roof of the police department. In this conversation Gordon gave Batman a riddle from a villain called The Riddler. Gordon thought out loud as he tried to figure it out, Batman walked calmly to the edge of the roof and prepared to disappear over the edge, having figured the answer in just a few seconds. Gordon asked, “Wait, you already know what it means?” Batman replied, “Yes, don’t you?” then vanished in true Batman style.Off the Edge

The intelligence of this cartoon character is one that is often overlooked in movies and Saturday morning episodes. But, we Christians would do well to keep it in mind. Think about it. Have you ever watched an episode where Batman fought the bad guys without first doing research on the criminals themselves, their tactics, weapons, known affiliations, etc? He’s often seen in front of his huge Batcave computer, typing in information or looking through his microscope at some chemical compound or another.

Once the research is done he is then ready to face the bad guys- equipped with toys, vehicles, gadgets and the intelligence necessary to use his tools in the right way. If Batman didn’t posses this tremendous intellect he would be completely ineffective in crime-fighting.

The discipline of seeking knowledge and wisdom before facing a problem is very Biblical advice. While I’m sure Batman isn’t a follower of Christ, he does help remind us of the importance of doing our research before diving into a problem, business venture or solving our financial woes.

Batcomputer

 We should seek God’s Wisdom before tackling any problem, includeing money problems. The Bible is filled with examples of financial mistakes by God’s people along with the consequences of those mistakes. We need to learn from them.

Remember the story of Solomon? In 1King 3:5 God came to him saying, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”

Wwwwoooooowww! Can you imagine what you’d ask for?

(Honestly a Riddler green, 2014 Chevy Camero just flashed through my head.)

However…Solomon replied in verse nine, “Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

#Solomon recognized two things of massive importance; his own ignorance and God’s infinite #wisdom.

This should serve as an example to us. Are we humble enough to admit we need His guidance or are we so arrogant that we tell Him, “It’s OK, I got this”?

 Judging from the sense of urgency on the faces of #Black Friday shoppers last month, I’d say most of us fit in the arrogant category. But, let’s get back to Solomon.

Verse eleven tells us, “So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have!”

I could not imagine being Solomon at that moment, being granted such Wisdom-directly from God-that it would be unmatched by anyone in human history from that point on!!

The great thing is we can do the same thing! Yeah, you heard me, we can go to God and ask Him for the wisdom to tackle enemies such as greed, materialism, idolatry and worldly ambition.

Proverbs 24:13-14

My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste. In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future, and your hopes will not be cut short.

It doesn’t get any plainer than that. God tells us, in no uncertain terms, that wisdom yields a bright future. That’s more than enough reason to seek wisdom, in my opinion. 

So what are your financial hurdles? What’s holding you back from the financial freedom you dream about? How can you be a better steward of your God-given assets?

To find the answer to these questions, and others, we need to be Biblical Detectives. Seek God’s Financial Wisdom. Ask Him what your goals should be and which path to take towards achieving those goals.

One last thought from Proverbs 4:5&6

Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them. Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you.

Sounds like good advice; besides, it worked for both Solomon and Batman.

What’s Your “#Business Calling”?

I was browsing a Google+ community called “Christians in Business” earlier today. I came across a new post where one member, Carey Green, ask a question directly to another member. Here is Carey’s question and the resulting open, honest reply.

 Q: What’s the mission the LORD has given you as it pertains to business?

 A: I love the question and it’s one that, as Christians in Business, we should all be asking ourselves.  First, all of us have the same mission. We should all be spending as much time spreading God’s word and encouraging others, as we spend promoting our profiles and our businesses.

Am I doing this in my own life?  The honest answer is, No.”  Like many Christians In Business, I am a good person, I don’t steal or commit crimes and I genuinely want everyone to be successful.  Where I struggle is how to use my business and my talents to increase God’s Kingdom.  It is something that I pray about often. I sometimes ask myself, “Is my life, being led by God, or by my own ego?”  I do know that I want to help other Christians in Business to succeed.  My guess is that God also wants more from me.  I am praying and hoping that 2014 will bring more opportunities for me to open the eyes of others who need it. I greatly appreciate being asked this question today… thank you Carey Green 

 Wow! There’s today’s heaping dose of brutal honesty.

 Both the question and its answer are important, especially in today’s world. Christian business owners have a responsibility to spread the Word, period. Too often we consider our business to be separate from the Great Commission, it’s not. Here’s why I say this without apology.

 First, the Great Commission itself says so in Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Did you notice there’s no clause allowing business owners to opt out? We’ve been given a command, not an option, by the Creator wrapped in human flesh- MAKE DISCIPLES, period.

Having a business doesn’t allow you to pass on this command. In fact your business should be seen as a tool for spreading His Word, not a hindrance to doing so.

Think about this: Do you think God would put you in business if that business prevents you from spreading His Word?

How can you spread the Word while going about the busy day of a business owner? Here’s an easy suggestion- play Christian music in your place of business. Your customers will notice, and may ask questions. When they ask you have the opportunity to answer, share your testimony or share something amazing God’s done in your life.

(insert referee with both hands raised straight up here)

Some may threaten to “do business elsewhere if you keep playing that Jesus music”. Of course this is a legitimate concern for any Christian business owner. However, we are supposed to be trusting in Him, not our potential customers and the dollars they bring with them. A creative way to handle this threat is to reply with something like, “Tell ya what. My Jesus music isn’t going to stop, but, I’ll give you 5% off any time you choose to do business with me. And you can feel free to question me about my faith any time you want. Deal?”

If they accept, you will have accomplished two things. First, you’ve kept a customer which is good for business. Second, and more important, you’ve left the door open for discussions about your relationship with Christ. Hello!! What could be better?!

I’m not saying the only mission of business owners is to tell the message of Christ. We all need to make money, pay bills and take care of our families. These are also Christian responsibilities. But, we stray when we fail to remain focused on His mission for us and, instead, think of our own selfish, money-motivated, status-motivated vision.

In the honest answer to the original question, our business owner admitted he struggles with “how to use my business and my talents to increase God’s Kingdom”. What really strikes me as important is that he also said, “It is something I pray about often”.

 

(may we all develope the same habit)

James 5:16

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

1 Thessalonians 5:17- Never stop praying.

These are two of my favorite verses. They remind me that as a Godly business owner my prayers are powerful and will cause Godly, positive things to happen.

Q: Confused about how to use your business?

A: You, business owner, need go remain focused on your relationship with Christ. This will result in a righteous life which yields prayers that cause powerful things to happen in your life and through your business. 

If I were to answer Carey’s question, I’d have to say that my Business Calling is to:

1. Help God’s People Use God’s Money at God’s Direction

&

2. Help business owners Grow and Protect their businesses.

While…

3. Spreading the Word of God.

Many thanks to Carey Green for posting this question. Feel free to check out his podcasts at http://www.podcastfasttrack.com