Tag Archives: God

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.

Tiny House Option- Part One: The Problem With The American Mindset

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One day recently I had the TV on as background noise while I got things done around the house and online. A certain real estate show featured a couple who were considering moving due to different issues with their #house. One of the issues was cramped space. Of course the space around us is an important consideration in a home. A kitchen in which you can manuver around each other easily is preferrable to a one-person-only space wherein if the oven is open there’s a danger of both parties getting burned. Issues like the commute to work, distance from schools, Church, friends and family are very important factors when considering a home purchase or selling one’s home in order to move to another house.

As I continued listening to the program I heard a phrase that bothered me. The husband of the couple stated that their bedroom was small by “today’s standard”. Immediately I thought, “Man I was with ya’ until that phrase”.

Here’s the Problem:
Buying a new home should not be influenced by “today’s standards”. That phrase tells me the house hunter is concerned with how his place will compare to his friends, family and neighbors. Exodus 20:17 warns us not to want what our neighbors have. In other words our desire should not be fueled by seeing something our neighbor owns. It should be fuled by a desire to have what God wants to provide then use #His generous gifts to His glory. When we compare what we have to what others are blessed with we essentially tell God two things…

•”What You’ve given me isn’t enough. I want what You gave them”.
•”I know what you’ve given me is part of your plan, but it’s obviously a flawed plan”.

Could you imagine flying into God’s throne room and making those statements directly to Him? Of course not! That would be rude and disrespectful. Yet, when it comes to money and material posessions we think to ourselves that God is supposed update our blessings according to the human standard of the day. Thankfully, that’s not how God operates. God is more concerned with supplying our needs than granting our petty materialistic desires.

When we hold onto the desire to have the shiny toys, big house, fancy cars and coolest electronics we do two things:

First we deprive ourselves of the ability to experience the joy of having less. Most Americans are convinced they “could never live in a Tiny House”. The idea of less space means having less stuff and God forbid they sell the PS4 and the Xbox1. Surely they can’t be expected to survive with only five pair of shoes instead of the twenty five they currently enjoy.

(Don’t get me started on the fact that they haven’t worn eighty percent of those shoes in over three years.)

Sadly we, the human race, have allowed money and stuff to be the source of our joy and happiness in our lives. We feel that if we have to down size we are somehow downgrading or moving backward financially. That mentality is so very off-base.

The second thing we do by holding onto the materialistic mentality is set ourselves up for unnecessary spending. We are daily witness to the fact that those in big houses feel the need to fill those houses with stuff like cars, paintings, clothes, game consoles and games, pool tables, big TVs, an upgraded kitchen, designer furniture, etc. Filling the space is just the beginning of the dominoe effect. Next is being sure all the stuff is maintained, that is followed by upgrading when a newer model is introduced. It’s not hard to see why even those earning tremendous salaries can still end up living paycheck-to-paycheck.

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The Tiny House phenomenon sweeping America has captured my attention partly because it helps us escape the materialistic mentality and therefore helps reduce spending and increase savings.

There are folks in this world with no clothes, food or house. If they had the opportunity to walk into my house right now they’d feel like they had entered a palace.
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A kitchen with a working stove, and fridge, next to a living room where most of us enjoy cable television would be unheard of to many poverty stricken families across the globe. Lying on my memory foam bed would be more than a dream come true. Air conditioning? That’s far beyond their most ambitious dreams! Who am I to tell God that what He’s allowed in my life isn’t enough? If anything we should be saying, “It’s too much for me to keep all to myself. Who can I bless?”

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So when you’re listening to your waterproof shower radio, using your scented body wash and drying off with a freshly washed, 100% cotton towel, you may want to ask yourself: What if I chose the Tiny House Option and lived with less so someone else could have more?

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

Correct, It’s Not Your Money

YOUR bank account, MY investments, OUR money; humans are wired to use these posessive words, it’s how God made us and how human language is constructed. However, it sometimes ca

uses us to have a scewed perspective of reality. These things we….possess…..in this world are really not ours. They are infact, on loan, to us. 

I remember watching an episode of The Cosby Show several years ago. Vanessa, one of the older Huxtable daughters, had bragged to her friends saying her family was rich. In a conversation with her parents she explained that an original painting hanging on the wall of the Huxtable house had led her friends and her to this conclusion. Heathcliff Huxtable then explained that Vanessa, infact, was not rich.

His explaination went something like this: “Your mother and I have money. Your mother and I work hard to pay the bills. Your mother and I are rich. You, have nothing!”

This is the perspective each Christian should have in all things. Your children, cars, money, talents and even your physical body IS NOT YOURS. 

Matthew 5:5 is one of my favorite verses. Many have rightly quoted it to show why humility is a desired, Christ-like attribute. Personaly, I like it for a different reason. It states, “God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the earth”. The word I’ll concentrate on here is inherit. Ever noticed that you can only inherit something from the OWNER? Only the one who truly owns something can give it away to someone else. The first part of the verse points us to the true owner of everything, the One who will allow this inheritance-God!

With this type of perspective I strongly believe we could face both adversity and blessings in a more mature and productive manner. Consider Job. He lost land, cattle, children and houses. He was told by his wife to “..curse God and die”, yet his perspective helped him face a desperate situation in the most Godly manner possible. In Job 1:21 this man of God replied, “…The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord”.

WOW! That’s Godly perspective at its finest in my opinion.

What we see here is a man who can face such a loss because he realizes one fact: I cannot lose that which I realize was never mine to begin with.

May we all grow into such a perspective as good ‘ol Job!!