February 23, 2009

The Money Diet

A Money Diet: 

In the USA billions of dollars are spent on fancy diets to help people lose weight. The South Beach Diet, The Grapefruit Diet, the Slim Fast Diet, the North Beach Diet, the Watermelon Diet, the Slim Slow Diet...etc, ad nauseum. 

I go to Ethiopia every year and it's funny how I have never heard the word "diet" once. No one is spending any money on diets and there's hardly anyone overweight. How do they do it without any of our wonder diets? 

It's simple...when you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight. God made your body really complex but also really simple - 
Excercise more +Eat less = Weigh less (Physical Health)

Now a MONEY DIET is just the same as a BODY DIET: 
To get in better financial shape you must: 
Work (make) more + Consume less = Owe less ($$ Health)

Our nation is in economic trouble for one reason: We thought we could spend more than we made. We fell in love with CREDIT and thought we could get away with it. But DEBT will be the DEATH of our economy. We indulged in DEBT like hot fudge sundaes. 

John Wesley's wisdom for financial success is as sound today as it was 300 years ago: 
"Make all you can, Save all you can, Give all you can." 

I am praying for the people of our church to: 
1. Make more...new jobs, better jobs, more hours, raises, side jobs, creative new ways to make money. 
2. Save more...spend less, lower lifestyles, cancel cable, sell their clutter, find creative low cost pleasures instead of expensive entertainment, stop buying unnecessary stuff, walk more - drive less, start piggy banks again, put money in safe cds, etc. 
3. Give more...invest in God's kingdom to release God's blessing in their finances, help the hurting because God promises to bless those who bless others. 

I have a friend who was just told by the doctor. "Go on a DIET or you are going to DIE"

The same is true for our nation's economy: "Go on a DIET or you are going to DIE!" 
Consume less, borrow less, produce more, sell more or you are going to die. 

February 16, 2009

Larry, a prophet?

Respect prophecies!

Yesterday my friend taught me something. Steve Fitch brought the word in our church and taught on a neglected passage. 1 Thessalonians 5:20 "Do not treat prophecies with contempt".

The opposite of "contempt" is "respect". So we are to respect prophecies...but what is prophecy?

It is certainly not predominately the doom and gloom of the Old Testament. The New Testament definition is revealed in 1 Corinthians 14:3 "But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort."

Plus it goes on to let us know that all new testament believers CAN prophesy. 1 Corinthians 14:31 "For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged."

So what's that mean for me? When a brother or sister in Christ have a word of blessing, or encouragement, or strengthening, or comfort...I need to respect it, really receive it, and then live by the truth of it. If their words are in line with THE WORD then they may be speaking God's word to us and to pooh-pooh that, or discount that, or despise that... is to miss out on what God has for me.

PLUS I need to GIVE prophecies - Words of encouragement, instruction, promise, strength from God's heart, in line with God's Word, to God's people to meet their need of the moment.

Prophecy in the New Testament is much more "FORTH telling" than "Fore-Telling"...speaking forth the truth of God in a particular moment, to a unique situation, to a individual person.

May we all be "prophets" to strengthen one another...especially during these tough times!

February 09, 2009

My Recession Proof Security System

I was pondering security systems...We have one at the church. It detects when doors are open or when there is motion. It something is wrong, it sounds an alarm and dials the security team who show up with guns drawn. 

The idea of our security system is that it keeps us from being vandalized or stolen from. It keeps us safe and lets life go on as usual. 

What's my security system? Someone said to me something to this effect recently, "You are in a luxury industry. People can stop giving to the church and boom there goes your paycheck."

I don't see it that way. First, church is not a luxury, it's a necessity for anyone desiring to seek God, grow in the knowledge of His word, and be part of a family that helps you through the recession. 

Second, people can stop giving but they shouldn't. God's principles always work but they are especially needed during hard times. That's when those principles work most obviously. People who want to weather the recession most effectively and be blessed in the midst of it, continue to give with great faith. 

Third, what about me? My security system is the Holy Spirit. If I will listen carefully for His voice, he will alert me to when something is wrong...to when the devil is trying to steal or destroy something good in my life. God will show up in those times of trouble and show off his power and put the enemy to flight. 

My security is not in the economy, or in the offering plate, or in my bank account. My security system is staying tuned into the promises of the Word and the voice of the Holy Spirit! 

February 08, 2009

Is there Recession on my Forehead?

Is their recession on my forehead? 

Recession is in the air. It's a fact and it's tough. I don't need mean to diminish the very real pain and hardship of it. Long Beach, my hood, is approaching 12%  unemployment. Yikes! 

But as Christ-followers we face the recession with faith and even occasional laughter! Therefore, this post. 

I am trying to determine whether there is actually recession on my forehead. Recession means moving backward...as opposed to progression which means moving forward. 

My daughter is convinced that I am living in a season of recession. She says that my hairline has moved backwards by at least an inch. I am filled with fear that she might be right. 

IF it is true, it is being driven by factors beyond my control. Although my uncle used to tell me that if I drank coffee my hair would fall out. My uncle was wrong. After 20 years of Starbucks, I should be cue ball bald. 

I am not yet ready to try desperate measures like Rogain or "No Gain" as I like to call it. Baldness cures have been around since Cleopatra used ground horse teeth and deer marrow to help out her boyfriend, Julius Caesar. And though ‘Caesar’ in Latin actually means “abundant hair” there was no amount of deer marrow or rancid hippo fat, another popular hair remedy from antiquity, that was going to prevent Emperor Caesar from becoming another victim of the baldness cure industry. 

Similarly the real recession has no quick cures, no magic bullets, no quick money solutions. We can't stop the factors that are causing the big picture problem. But we can take actions and have attitudes that will help our personal situations. Lowering consumption, increasing savings, creating new revenue streams, simplifying life, enlarging our networks, improving our skills, are all helpful but they won't completely cure economic baldness. 

The recession on my forehead won't change who I am. You can take the hair off the man but you can't take the manliness off the man....unless the man confuses his masculinity with his mane. 

A man and his mane are not the same and a man's mane is not the main matter that makes a man masculine. 

So even if there is recession on my forehead...I am going to forge ahead into all that God has for me! So should you! 

February 05, 2009

The Former Athiest Who Got His Knees Back

I sat staring for a couple of moments. He was back. After a month of absence he was back. 

He was tenderly holding his wife's hands as she held them in her lap. 

With a sincerity, faith, and love that I have rarely seen equaled, he engaged in the act and art of prayer. 

There were six of sitting in non-descript church chairs pulled into a tight little circle. It was a full hour until the service would begin. It was only  8am but there he sat...changing the world with his expressions of faith to a Father he could not see. 

The pain he was in that morning had not been able to confine him to his bed. He had bravely made his way to the passenger seat and ridden happily to the church as his sweet wife cheerfully drove. 

This brother is brilliant. A great mind that was geared for rational equations of engineering feats. This mind had denied the very existence of God for years. There was no reason for him to believe in God and his reason told him there was no God. 

But love broke through. God pursued his heart through people and circumstances and reason. Finally love busted a crack in the hardened heart and stubborn mind. 

The marriage that had been shattered to the point that peices were scattered all over the floor of their lives, was gradually reassembled into a beautiful mosaic that people now stop and admire. 

The former anti-believer now rides his bicycle around the 30 mile permeter of our city each Saturday...praying earnestly for revival. 

The knees that propel him had been broken down but now they were recovering from a reconstructive surgery assisted by prayer....Healing so they could soon return to their high act of Saturday ministry and worship. 

So I sat there staring in awe of a great man and an even greater God. His own life and acts of faith were enough to decimate any doubts I was feeling. I got on my knees and looked up.