Category Archives: Grace and Sufficiency

A Lot Can Happen in Thirty-Eight Days: A Lack of Priorities Can Be Costly

A LOT has happenned over the last few months. I won’t go into the details right now, they’ll unravell in the blog posts to come. One thing I can say is I’ve regained perspective and focus. As much as I hate to say it, I had lost focus and God saw fit to slap me around in order to show me my own foolishness. (OUCH!)

Ya know that “wake up call” moment when everything important to you starts slipping away and you hit your knees asking Him to please, please, please step in and allow you to keep that which is most precious? Yeah, I had that moment- for 38 days in a row. It was brutal, agonizing, painful and an emotional rollercoaster. But, it did cause me to run to Christ’s feet, reprioritize, rethink and come to certain realizations about myself. One question God kept asking me is, “Would you be this distraught if I were to threaten to leave you?” At this question I replied with the intelligent response of, “Aaaaahhhh…..well…..”

Needless to say I had to evaluate exactly where I was placing God in my list of priorities. You’d think this would be an automatic response for someone in the ministry, right? Shouldn’t a long-time Christian have this down to automatic pilot? Yes…..and no. See, I think I was relying on automatic pilot a bit too much. I made a conscious effort to please and love my wife. (I’m now divorced….more on that later) I text my son daily saying how much I loved him. Throughout my day I’d text or email folks asking how they were and if they needed prayer for anything in particular.

You may be asking, what’s wrong with that Taz? Nothing at all, except that I wasn’t speaking to #God as often as to these fellow-humans. My significant other, my son and other sinners got more of my time and attention than my Creator!

(Just thinking about that reality makes me hang my head in shame and annoyance)

Did I really mess up that badly? Did I really put my wife before my Savior? SHAMEFUL!

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of spending more and more time with Christ has been a goal of mine for quite some time. I always wanted to think of my entire day as a long conversation with God, interrupted by daily chores and interaction with others- I just wasn’t getting it done! So, God grabbed my by the ear, pulled me into a confined space, sat me down and had a good Almighty-to-sinner conversation. He didn’t pull any punches nor did He sugar coat anything. He ripped open this wretched heart, magnified my evils and brought me to tears. I trembled, shook, felt regret and remorse, apologized and begged forgiveness. I dove into The Word, read three Christian book, including “The Purpose-Driven Life” and “The Story” and got closer to Christ.

I felt “washed”, as if I had a #spiritual shower with extra highly-concentrated cleanser added.

Aaaaaahhhh, that felt good!

So, what does this have to do with #financial world?

Good question, the answer is simple: Do not put anything, including your financial goals, before your relationship to God, period!

Infact your financial goals, outlook, attitude, etc. should be a RESULT of that first-place relationship. Your devotion to Him should result in seeking His direction in finances. Following Him should result in seeing His financial goals for your life and His goals becoming your goals. You line up with #Him, not the other way around.

Need proof that this concept is a reality? Well let’s look at ancient Israel. Many times they have served as our Biblical examples of what happens when we follow God and also the tragic consequences of straying from His path. Joshua chapter 7 is where we find the account of Achan who disobeyed God by keeping precious plunder from a recent victory.

Pause for one second. Achan may have had really good reasons for keeping the treasure. Maybe he would have sold half and donated the profit to a local charity. Or maybe he planned to buy materials to help mend his neighbor’s tents. What about feeding the hungry? He could have had a grand feast planned form them, right? While all those intentions are not evil in and of themselves, the fact that he violated the Creator’s command is still sin!

The punishment for Achan’s sin is found in verses 22-24. He and his family, yes his family, were all stoned to death and their bodies burned. Seems a bit harsh? Not really. Remember sin is a violation of the most pure, perfect, Holy and magnificent being in the entire universe-God. The more we respect a person or that person’s position the more severe the punishment for an offense to that person. Assaulting your neighbor on the street is one thing, assaulting the President of The United States, i’m sure you’ll agree is something different all together.

We cannot allow our financial goals to be placed ahead of a close relationship with Christ. We must “keep the main thing, the main thing”.

A few of you may be tempted to make use of the old saying, “Experience is the best teacher”. While this is a true statement, most people are unaware of the rest of it. “….and it’s a fool who learns by his own”.

Don’t be a fool. Learn from the mistakes of others. Learn from those who have already- foolishly- tested the waters. Stay on the path that God has laid out for you, keep Him first, love Him more than precious stones, metal and American green. I speak from experience when I tell you that if He is not first in your life it could cost you A LOT.

I lost A LOT in just 38 days.

Grace And The Rough Draft

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On January 30th, 2014 I received a very unexpected email from Grace Centered Magazine. With a wrinkled forehead I opened the letter and read very exciting news. They were willing to accept me as a contributing writer on their site. I did my happy dance, thanked God over and over and over, smiled, grinned and posted the good news on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Then, still grinning from ear to ear, I thanked God some more!

While the laid-back, celebratory side of me threw a one-man party the practical side of me reared its annoying head saying, “Hey you, with the cheesy smile, I don’t remember sending that email. In fact I don’t remember ever polishing it to a professional level, worthy of presentation at all!”

(man that guy’s a kill joy)

I ended the celebration and investigated my email Draft folder. It wasn’t there. I went to my Sent folder, found it and discovered my “Mr. Practical” side was right. (he gloated, of course) See, I had not finished dotting my i’s and crossing my Ts. Most of the information required by the GCM staff was in the email but I had intended to include my bio, a few photos and another blog as an example of my writing style. But, apparently God had other plans because I accidentally sent the email without realizing it.

This got me thinking:

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The staff at GCM saw a good fit despite my opinion that the email was not worthy of presentation. In my mind it wasn’t good enough, it was flawed, lacking and needed improvement. Isn’t that what we tell The Father? “Well God, I’m not good enough to go to Church. Let me fix a few things about myself then I’ll come serve you. I’m definitely not good enough to greet people at the Church doors. Sing in the chior? Me? I don’t have a pretty voice like that girl does, no way!”

Have you ever noticed how flawed and unworthy of presentation the heroes of the Bible were?

In Judges 14:1-3 we see Samson was a womanizing brute (I’ll confess, that gives me hope).

Paul was on a mission to kill all Christians as seen in Acts 9:2. This former torturer wrote in 2 Corinthians 12 concerning a weakness he asked God to take away from him but verse nine tells us Christ’s reply: Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Paul expressed his understanding by saying, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me”.

Moses murdered an Egyptian,(Exodus 12:12) Nathanael was a bit racist (John 1:46) and Peter was quick to get rowdy with a sword (John 18:10) The harlot Rahab, rescued from Jericho, is recorded in Matthew 1:1-16 in Jesus’ genealogy. By no means were these Biblical figures polished, perfect, clean-cut or “worthy of presentation” to a Holy, perfect God. But, in His infinite wisdom, He used them anyway. Wow!!

We’re all rough drafts. We have weaknesses, flaws, lusts and skeletons in our closet. We want to do good but fail just as Paul spoke of in Romans 7:15-20. Our good intentions pave the road of failure we so often walk. We contradict our own belief system, stab each other in the back and throw temper tantrums in our supposedly adult years. But, just as God used an adulterous, murderer like king David, He can use you and I. All we have to do is make ourselves available. Come to Him with an honest, open heart. Show Him your flaws and shortcomings and let Him smooth the rough patches. He is more than willing and able to use you just as you are.

Financial matters are no different. We’ll make mistakes, we’ll fail and we may not bring home what we think is enough money. But what we consider “enough” to be used by God, may be more than enough in His eyes. God does not depend on our limited, flawed perspective. His decisions concerning our financial futures are not limited to what we consider possible, reasonable or logical. Thankfully He works outside that….WAY OUTSIDE THAT!

So go ahead, hit the Send button!

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Head on over to Grace Centered Magazine and enjoy their many great articles: http://www.gracecentered.com