★ Thought for the Day – How Many Licks to Forgiveness ★

106 - Daily Dependence - Candy SocksMonday was the first day of school for my daughters – My eldest is now a sophomore in High School and my baby is in her last year of middle school.  It is hard to believe how fast time has gone by!  It seems like just yesterday my wife and I were bringing them home from the hospital.  First day of school is always tough…Well that afternoon my mother-in-law gave them this little gift of vintage candy themed socks.  This pair was especially interesting to me…

106 - Daily Dependence - Mr. Owl Socks

Do you remember Mr. Owl?  I may be dating myself but I grew up with this question:

“How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?”

It seemed like this commercial stayed on the air forever.

I discovered that it is actually the longest running commercial in American television history.  It first appeared in 1970 and depicted a boy on a quest to find the answer to that famous question.  Believing that Mr. Owl was the smartest of all, he handed over his Tootsie Pop expecting to get the definitive answer on how many licks it takes to get to the center; but instead the temptation was too great and after just three licks Mr. Owl bites to get to that gooey goodness.  I thought this quote was the perfect way to open this “Thought for the Day.”

106 - Daily Dependence - Forgiveness Is Not A Tootsie Pop
“Forgiveness is not a Tootsie Pop so stop counting.”

This reminds me of a conversation that is recorded between Jesus and His disciple Peter in Matthew 18:21-22:

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked,  

‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?’  

 Jesus answered,

 ‘I tell you not seven times but seventy times seven.’”

Jesus’s response was probably not what Peter was expecting…”seventy times seven” is a whole lot of forgiving!  But that was not what He really meant; Jesus’ point really was signaling that there should be no limit to how many times we offer our forgiveness.  And just like it’s hard to keep track of the number of licks, it would be very difficult for us to keep up with that many offenses against us.  Instead of tallying each offense, we must follow what Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV) says,

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in  Christ God forgave you.”

I would like to unpack these truths of “What Forgiveness Is and Is Not…”

But first, I would like to share something that God showed me the other morning in my quiet time about his character.  Genesis Chapter 3 records the fall of man, when the Serpent (AKA Satan) deceived the Woman to eat the forbidden fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,” and how she then gave it to her husband Adam who ate it too.  A familiar tale that has been captured in numerous artistic depictions and shared during Sunday Schools everywhere as a cautionary tale of not allowing the enemy to twist God’s Words which will lead to sinning.  In Genesis 3:13-20 God rendered the consequences to Adam and Eve’s rebellion, (because there are always consequences to sin – See Galatians 6:7).  He first cursed the Serpent, then the Woman and finally Adam.  But what amazed me this week was what the next verse says…

“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”  Genesis 3:21 (ESV)

Now I can’t tell you how many times I have read this story and flew right past this verse but tell me something, have you ever been betrayed and instantly responded by taking care of their needs?  But that is exactly what God did, which leads us into our first reality…

I read this quote from Ken Sande that I thought was great!

“Overlook an Offense—Many disputes are so insignificant that they should be resolved by quietly overlooking an offense.  Overlooking an offense is a form of forgiveness, and involves a deliberate decision not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness or anger.”  From “The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict,”

And Proverbs 19:11 (NIV1984) says:

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense”

If you wait until you “feel like” forgiving, then it will probably never happen.  In His historic Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us a new model for living in Matthew 5:44-45 (NASB)…

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

The sun rising on both the evil and the good, and God sends His rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  That is an important truth to put on the sticky side of your brain.  And we need to be ready to not only forgive but to love and pray for those who hurt us.  No doubt this is a hard command to swallow, which segways us to point #2…

Essential?  Does that seem extreme?  Not so much when you look at what Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT):

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Forgive or else you will not be forgiven.  Pretty cut and dry…It does not get any simpler than that.  2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) gives this promise:

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,  I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

Truth # 3…

Forgiving someone is not intended about allow yourself to be a doormat to be walked all over but rather it is intended to set you free from bitterness. Unforgiveness can birth bitterness but we don’t have to swallow it.  Robert Morris had this to say about

“We’re all going to taste bitterness in our life, but you have the choice whether you’re going to drink it.”

See Hebrews 12:14-15 also.  All of us will experience pain in this life, and if we don’t master bitterness, depression can result.  I once heard this great quote that

“Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

And even though I know this is true, I fall victim to this over and over.  Growing up, the way I handled being hurt by people was to completely write them off.  If you betrayed me, you were dead to me.  Holding a grudge was my modus operandi and I am sad to say that I did not just drink bitterness but gulped it in huge amounts.  Since 1998 when I gave my heart to Jesus, He has been redeeming my broken and unforgiving heart.  I have experience Truth #4 is in my life…

Many people believe just the opposite.  They think that forgiveness is for those who inflict pain but it really is for the one who has been crushed.  Max Lucado said it best when he penned these poignant words!

“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!”
“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!”

 What an image and truth!  When we refuse to forgive, we are effectively slamming the cell door shut, and locking ourselves in a prison of our own making.  Jesus again said in Luke 6:35-36 (ESV):106 - Daily Dependence - Luke 6-36

“But love your enemies, and do good, andlend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

“Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” which leads us into our fifth and final truth…  

Dictionary.com has this definition of Act: “a deed; performance,” whereas an Attitude is a…

“manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind.”

Forgiveness is not “a one and done.”  It is a continual, purposeful mindset that is a choice which is essential and a gift for the offended.  I love what Martin Luther King Jr. said that makes this point perfectly!

Jesus modeled this in his final moments as recorded in Luke 23:34  (ESV),

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments.”

After being disrespected, spat upon, slapped, beaten, flogged and nailed to a Roman Cross, Jesus looks up to heaven to intercede on our behalf!  What an attitude of forgiveness!  William Blake said:106 - Daily Dependence - The Glory of Christianity is to Conquer By Forgiveness (3)

“The Glory of Christianity is to Conquer By Forgiveness,”

So the question is will you “Conquer By Forgiveness”…will you forgive others as God has forgiven and loved you?  Think about it, Adam rebelled against God, sin entered the world and we were separated from Him forever.  To resolve this, God sent His Son Jesus as the payment for my sin so that all we need to do is accept the sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sin that came into the world.  Romans 5:18-19 (NLT) says,

“Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.  Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners.  But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.”

One man ushered sin into the world but what is more important is that one man, Jesus Christ has destroyed the power of sin over our lives if we make the right choice.  One of my favorite quotes from John Wooden is:

“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do.  So keep in the mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.”

Remember, forgiveness is not a Tootsie Pop.  Don’t even try to count the number of times you have forgiven someone.  In God’s reality, there is no number of licks you will take that you will ever be justified to stop forgiving.  So now the choice is yours.  What will you do with this information?  You know what God would do, He will always forgive a repent person.  And in return, He expects us to show others the same mercy you have received.  Will you do the same?  Because in the end, the choice you make, makes you!

If you are interested to read more about Forgiveness, check out this two part series of posts called:

★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness ★

★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness In Action ★

 

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★ Thought for the Day – What is the X-Factor of Leadership? ★

80 - Daily Dependence - What is the X-Factor of LeadershipNo…this post will not be tying in the television music competition franchise created by Simon Cowell…the only parallel will be the name.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines X-Factor as…

“A person that has a strong but unpredictable influence.”

Deep down I believe that every single person wants to have an influence on others, to leave a mark of this world, to be remembered…but the question is, how will that be achieved?  The inspiration for this Thought for the Day came from this quote my brother-in law posted on Facebook from renowned management thinker Jim Collins who said,

“Th80 - Daily Dependence - Jim Collins - X-Factor of Leadershipe X-Factor of great leadership is not personality, it’s humility.”  Jim Collins, “Great by Choice”

In looking at the factors of a company’s success, Collins said when humility is combined with ambition, it can be channeled into a cause that is bigger and more important than the individual.  It is interesting that an expert in analyzing businesses attributes humility as one of the keys to a company’s success.  A trait that is not so common these days, as so many leaders focus more on the bottom line than truly leading.  (You can read more about this in a previous post called ★ Thought for the Day – What’s Your Bottom Line? ★).  Another way to say it, is Servant Leadership.  Robert K. Greenleaf first coined the phrase Servant Leadership in his 1970 essay called “The Servant as Leader,” in which he said:

The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.  Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.  That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions.”

What a juxtaposition…one approach is that a natural feeling to serve results in the desire to lead…versus, one that is motivated by power or wealth using leadership as a means to an end.  For me the choice is clear…As you might expect, I endeavor to be a servant leader whether it be with the project team at work or with my wife and kids.  I want to pose this for you to ponder as you continue to read…What would businesses, and more importantly this world look like if people who are in leadership were there as a result of a heart for service?  I must admit to you though, it was not always that way for me.  I am naturally a very driven individual, but prior to meeting my wife, all my aspirations for the future were centered on attaining success, wealth and recognition for anything I did.  Increasing “my” bottom line was the motivator in my life.

As a product of divorce, from the age of 5, I witnessed my mom struggle and persevere in raising 3 children on her own in a time when the “D-Word” was like wearing a “scarlet letter“…which only added to the heavy load she was already carrying.  Subconsciously I resolved that I needed to work hard in life, but unfortunately my “driven-ness” resulted in a selfishness and egocentric focus that made me the “center of the universe.”  My teenage years and early twenties were characterized with drugs and alcohol, living life far from God and doing whatever felt good and benefited me.  But in 1996, I met someone who truly had the “X-Factor,” and who has been the single most influential person in my life!!  Bold statement for sure but absolutely true!  She taught me so much about life by the way she lived her’s…and as I got to know her more and more, I realized that the road I was on was leading to destruction, not success.  If you knew me at that time, looking in from the outside, you would have seen someone who was outgoing, successful in school with a promising future…but in reality that was a faux facade, much like the old western movie sets.  I was quite adept at hiding my addictions, and my quest for being the best at everything was eating me up on the inside.  Through my wife’s influence and example of a life rooted in humility, rather than self, I made the single most important decision to accept Jesus as my Savior, which in turn lead me away away from destructive habits and redirected my life to one of service to others.  My wife and best friend led me to understand the significance of Jesus, and with her love and support, she has completely changed the trajectory of where my life would have ended up, which is also now being passed on to our two daughters who have their mother’s heart to serve others.

So what is the X-Factor of Leadership?  It is first and foremost living a life of humility and service to others!  This is something I have seen my wife do day in, day out, for the past 16 years with our family, friends and people she meets along the way.  But she is incapable of doing any of this without Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s power working in her life.  Jesus was the ultimate model of humility when he walked this earth.  Every springtime we remember on “Good Friday” what He did for us by dying on the cross. Then 3 days later, we celebrate Easter when God raised Jesus from the dead…But I know for me, I rarely give much thought to the night before Jesus was crucified when He and the disciples celebrated one last Passover meal together, referred oftentimes as “The Last Super.”  That night, Jesus gave us 80 - Daily Dependence - Foot Washinga powerful demonstration and example to follow what servant leadership is all about when He washed His 12 disciples’ dusty feet.  John 13:1-17 (ESV) recounts the entire event, but I want to pick up right after he finished at John 13:12,

“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you?'”

Okay stop.  I think too often we quickly move onto verse 13 without thinking about His question.  If I were one of the disciples, I think I would be confused by the question.  Imagine this scene, these 12 men have followed Jesus for 3 years, watching the power of God manifested in Him as He healed the sick and disabled80 - Daily Dependence - Foot Washing - Sandals, raised the dead to life and performed numerous other miracles.  Now their leader/teacher takes on the role of a slave/servant and one by one, foot by foot, humbles himself to clean the day’s grime from their sandal-wearing feet.   We don’t have a record of any responses probably because of bewilderment from the question so we will move on just as Jesus continued in verses 13-16 with the answer…

“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

So the Leader humbled himself to give the greatest example I could think of for servant leadership, so that in return, the disciples would go out and do the same.  It is a call to action for all of us today!  Jesus said in Mark 10:43-45 (NASB)

“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

So as you approach your leadership role tomorrow, whether that be in the office, school or in your home, lead like Jesus!  Take on the mantle of servant as a representative of Jesus!

Colossians‬ ‭3‬:‭17 and 23 gives further insight in developing our leadership style!

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”   

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”  

How much different would we be if we wore this name badge?  What if as we started each day, we endeavored to approach people with the heart Jesus, working for Him and looking for ways to serve others?  I bet, no…I KNOW incredible things would happen!  I will close with this final thought from John Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Qualities of a Leader”…

“Servant leadership is never motivated by manipulation or self-promotion.  In the end, the extent of your influence depends on the depth of your concern for others.  That’s why it is so important for leaders to be willing to serve.”  

So you want to influence others, you want to have the “X-Factor” of leadership?  Remember this…”In the end, the extent of your influence depends on the depth of your concern for others.”

If you would like to see the continuation of the this post go to here:

★ Thought for the Day – But God… ★

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★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – “Bonus” ★

73 - Daily Dependence - Marriage & Money - Part 4

We hope you have enjoyed our first ever “trilogy of posts” as we delved into Marriage & Money and how they go hand in hand.  As a quick recap:

So what’s next?  How do we elevate our marriages to reach unity and oneness in our finances? Through…

73 - Daily Dependence - Prayer Word Worship Banner

Prayer

  • Prayer really works.  Someone once said, “Prayer should be our first response rather than our last resort.” 

Word

  • Get into the Word of God; find out what the bible says about marriage and money.  Don’t just stop at this class, dig in for yourself and continue to learn.

Worship

  • Get into the Word of God; find out what the bible says about marriage and money.  Don’t just stop at reading these posts, dig in for yourself and continue to learn.

The first step is always the hardest but Proverbs 16:3 gives us the direction,

73 - Daily Dependence - Prayer Word Worship

So if you want unity in your marriage and in your finances you need to get into the Presence of the Lord through these three areas.

Here is some Practical Application, common sense but good reminders….

 1.  Teamwork = Unity in Marriage. You are a team so you need to act like one!

  • Ephesians 4:2 (NIV1984) says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
  • James E. Hunton once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

 2.  Forgive One Another – No one is perfect and you are bound to make mistakes.

  • Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV1984) warns us that, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.”
  • And follows up in verse 32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV1984)

 3.  Think Before you Speak

  • Proverbs 16:24 (NLT) instructs us that, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”
  • And Proverbs 16:24 (NKJV) says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

 4.  Work on Budget Together = Unity in Finances will result

  • Proverbs 21:5 (NLT) says, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” 
  • The Living Bible translates Proverbs 21:5 a little simpler, “Steady plodding brings prosperity.” 
  • If you have a plan, a budget and you work that plan consistently, God promises that you will be prospered.

5.  Learn, Learn, Learn

  • The late great motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar said that we need to “Commit to being a lifetime learner.”       
  • You can’t just read one book or attend one class; you need to continually learn in order to be successful in Marriage and Money.  I love what Dave Ramsey said about winning in your finances,
  • “Winning at money is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge.”  Dave Ramsey, Total Money Makeover

I will close with my favorite quote from John Wooden:

_72 - Daily Dependence - John Wooden - Choices

 So now the choice is yours.  What will you do with this information?

  • Will you chose to trust God and put him in control of your life?
  • Will you chose to change your behavior in how you relate to your spouse and your finances?
  • Will you chose to start tithing?
  • Or will you chose to do nothing at all?

“In the end, the choice you make makes you.”  If you will commit to follow God’s principle’s for our Marriages and Finances than we will have unity in both.  Remember “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”

Keep an eye out, we will be starting a new segment called “Back to the Basics,” where we will be tapping into the fundamentals of Christianity, and getting back to the roots of our faith.  While you wait, you can read our very first blog post which is a great preamble to this segment, called ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ that really captures what Daily Dependence are all about!!

★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 3 ★

72 - Daily Dependence - Marriage & Money - Part 3

★★★ Attention single people!! ★★★

I know that the title of this is “Marriage & Money,” but whether you have never married, you’re divorced or widowed, every financial principle that we will outline in this post is directly applicable to you!
Please don’t skip what God would speak into your life through this.

Our trilogy of “Marriage & Money” posts comes to an end with the final installment that we will hopefully understand how to have unity in our Finances by looking into People’s View of Money vs. God’s View of Money.  It is also our 100th post as well!!

72 - Daily Dependence - 100th post

As a quick recap:

  • In Part 1, we discussed how not having a plan for how the family finances are going to be handled can cause problems in our marriage if not dealt with quickly.  We also reviewed God’s Plan for Marriage and how Satan attacks marriages.  If you missed it, just click here…★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 1 ★ to get caught up.
  • In Part 2, we discussed the Differences between Men and Women and how Satan exploits those dissimilarities to heap on the stress to cause a wedge in our relationship.  Most importantly, we unpacked how it is paramount to have God as the center of our marriage if we ever want to have unity.  If you missed it, just click here…★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 2 ★ to get caught up.

Now that we have talked about God’s plan for marriage and the enemy’s attacks, we are going switch gears and talk about People’s View of Money vs. God’s View of Money and how this plays into our marriages.  When you and your spouse tied the knot and married each other you became “One Flesh” right?  Well your finances should be unified as well and when they are not all kinds of strife and enmity results.  Financial expert Dave Ramsey said,

  • “In order to have a financially successful marriage, the money has to be ‘ours’…not ‘mine’ and ‘yours’.” 

We have focused a lot of time on marriage but that was to set the foundation for the financial side of things, because every thing that we talked about marriage also applies to money.  Remember they go hand in hand.  We are going to look at People’s view of money and Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount which outlines God’s view of Money.    For simplicity’s sake I will refer to it as “Man’s View of Money,” but obviously that goes for the women as well.

There are more than 2,350 verses in the Bible instructing us on how to handle money and possessions that God has placed in our care.  I have always found it ironic that on back of our money it says “IN GOD WE TRUST”.  That seems to be such a strange statement to be placed on our currency, especially in today’s culture of instant gratification and entitlement.  It seems that “IN DEBT WE TRUST” would be closer to the mark.  Earl Wilson said,

72 - Daily Dependence - Earl Wilson - In Love With DebtThat is a bold statement, but the simple fact is that we love our credit cards.  We are willing to go into tons of debt so that we can live in the best neighborhoods, we will work ourselves to the bone to drive nice cars and to have all kinds of nice things which ultimately leads to money problems if we are not careful.  Now let me be clear, there is nothing wrong having a nice house or cars or having lots of stuff, the key is acquiring these things by handling it God’s way and not trusting in debt.  Jesus taught that in Matthew 6:19 (NASB),

  • “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” 

Storing up stuff here on Earth is going in the wrong direction.  Christian financial expert Larry Burkett said

  • “How we handle money is simply an outside indicator of our internal spiritual condition.” 

1.  The first view we are going to look at is Debt and Contentment:

72 - Daily Dependence - Debt & Contentment

The amazing thing is that as we are buying all the stuff on credit we never realize that we are willingly entering into bondage to the credit card company or the car finance department or the mortgage company.  I am no different from anyone else.  I grew up poor in a single parent home and once I got married I determined that I was never going to “do without.”  I am the natural spender in the marriage whereas, my wife grew up in a family that saved money so when we got married it was a challenge to say the least for her because she approached our finances as the “saver.”  Ultimately you need to have a little of both because spending everything you have is not good but neither is saving everything you make, you need to have a little fun, just have to find the right balance.  The key is to be a wise consumer and not try to keep up with the “Joneses.”  The question I have for you is…Are you content with what God is doing in your life?  I Timothy 6:6 (NKJV) says, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.”  See that was my problem, I was not content with waiting to have what I wanted and as a result I brought a lot of pressure into our marriage.  In his book, the ABC’s of Financial Freedom, Barry Cameron said two incredible things in regards to debt,

72 - Daily Dependence - Barry Cameron - DebtHave you ever thought about what you could do for the kingdom of God if you were not buried under credit card debt or car payments or a mortgage that you really cannot afford?  You know when I read that quote about the devil and debt; I could not help but draw the parallel to Proverbs 22:7 about being the lender’s slave which is exactly what Satan wants.  Too often we cannot say no to what marketers are selling, think about it, part of any effective advertising campaign is to make potential customers discontented with their existing product.  These feelings that accompany discontentment are enough to make people buy things they don’t need or can’t afford.  And sometimes it doesn’t even need to be a big screen TV or expensive purse it could just be eating out too much.  I love what Dave Ramsey says about debt,

  • “Debt is not the problem, but a symptom.  Debt is a symptom of overspending and undersaving.”

Debt is just a symptom of a bigger problem that we cannot say no to stuff and Proverbs 17:18 (MSG) puts a fine point on it,

  • “It’s stupid to try to get something for nothing, or run up huge bills you can never pay.” 

So how do we erase debt?  You have to choose to say no to what you want and focus on what you need.  You need to learn contentment.  Howard Dayton, from Crown Financial Ministries said:

  • “If you cannot be content with what you have, you will never be content with what you want.” 

How many times have we seen this play out with celebrities who are on top of the world and are still not happy?  The Apostle Paul knew about contentment and trusting in God’s Provisions.  When he was in prison he wrote in Philippians 4:13 and 19 (NASB) about God’s Provisions,

  • “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” 
  • “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” 

If you look closely verse 19 says “all your needs” will be supplied.  Discontentment ignores the provisions of our needs and focuses on what we do not have and conversely on what we want.  We need to get to a place where our circumstances do not dictate whether we have joy or peace.

2.  The second view we will look at is a hot button issue and that is Tithing.

72 - Daily Dependence - TithingWhen you look at all of these comments under “Man’s View,” I have thought at one time or another.  Growing up and into adulthood, I have seen a lot of hypocrisy in the church on how they handled the money and how they would badger the congregants to give more and more.  These experiences happened in different denominations so I know that it is not based on church affiliation but on the human heart.  The simple fact is that Man will always let you down but the key is not lumping God in the same category as a church or pastor that misrepresented Him by their actions.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:20 (NASB),

  • “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;”

God does not need our money but He wants our hearts to be focused on the Kingdom of Heaven, not on stuff here on earth.  He knew that we would have an issue in this area which is why God made the requirement in the first place so that MONEY would not have a hold on OUR HEARTS.  The tithe or 10% of our income is actually the minimum required by God.  It’s comical to think that we own any of our income when you shine the light of Psalm 24:1 (NIV1984) on the issue,

  • “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” 

Rather than gripping about “loosing” 10% we should be happy that we get to keep 90%!  Malachi 3:10-12 (NIV1984) says it all,

  • “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty.  “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.” 

I love this verse because it is the only place in the Bible that God challenges us to “Test” Him.  And if we pass the test he promises to throw open the floodgates of heaven (or other translations say the “windows of heaven”) and bless us so much that we will not have room enough to store it.  Now that is what I want.  He also promises to prevent pests or the enemy from devouring what we have and that is not just finances and possessions but our marriage, our children and our health.  So you see we really can’t afford not to give our tithe to the Lord.  Proverbs 3:9–10 (NIV1984) instructs us to,

  • “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” 

One thing that I have noticed is that if I do not make my tithes and offerings a priority there will always be something else that will eat up the money.  When it says “First Fruits” here it means above all things, first and foremost, Honor the Lord with your wealth which He has provided for you.  Pastor Robert Morris said perfectly:

  • “It doesn’t take faith to pay all your bills and THEN give to God. Put the kingdom of God FIRST … and see what happens to your provision!” 

If you do that the blessings will overflow!!  If you are not already tithing, I urge you to start and I promise you will never regret giving the Lord.  In Luke 6:38 (NIV1984), Jesus said,

  • “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 

Your level of giving will be measured against you on what you receive.  My absolute favorite question is…”Is the tithe based on the gross or the net”?  I have asked this question myself and the best answer I have ever heard was, “What do you want to be blessed on??”  You see it is all about the motive and the heart of the giver and how much you trust God.  Rick Warren said,

  • “God’s BLESSING on you is always in proportion to your DEPENDENCE on Him.  Great anointing is the fruit of great trusting.” 

2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV1984) says,

  • “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 

If you heart is not in the right place, you will not please God with you giving, you can read about Cain’s unacceptable offering in Genesis chapter 4.  We don’t have time to go through the story but the very first murder resulted over tithing when Cain killed his brother Abel because God found his offering acceptable and not Cain’s.  God knew what hold money and possessions would have on our hearts and that is why so much teaching in the Bible deals with this.

3.  Stewardship is the next view we will look at. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:

  • the office, duties, and obligations of a steward – I always love how they define a word with the same word, I thought that was not allowed. A Steward (is defined as a fiscal agent or manager). 
  • the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.

So when we talk about Biblical Stewardship, we are talking about management of money and resources for God.  This however is not the conventional wisdom of this age.  So let’s take a look at the different views that exist…

72 - Daily Dependence - Stewardship

We need to understand that it is not our money.  God is the owner and we are His managers entrusted with His affairs and His possessions.  So if Jesus spoke so much on the topic, don’t you think it may be important for us to understand what we are expected to do as managers of the resources God allows to come into our hands?  I love how Robert Morris makes the point,

  • “Many believers aren’t aware of this, but EVERY time you get paid, you are facing a test.”

The test is, whether we can be trusted to be a good manager.  Luke 16:10-11 (NIV1984) says,

  • “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”

So then how do we handle money as faithful managers?  I will give you a hint, it is the B-word of finances….You guess it the “Dreaded Budget”.  Yes we have finally gotten to the point of the class that you have all been dying to get to.  The budget is the absolute key to winning at money.  John Maxwell said,

  • “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”  

Dave Ramsey suggests using a “Zero-Based Budget.”

  • The “Zero-Based Budget” approach which is where the Total Expenses = Total Income. Every dollar is spent on paper before it is actually spent.  If done this way, when you work through every category on your budget sheet you should end up with a zero (no extra money left over or extra money spent). 

It always amazed us when the checking account was empty and we had no idea where the money went.  Though we did not spend large sums of money on expenses items, we were $20 and $50 ourselves to death.  One of my favorite quotes from Albert Einstein is:

  • “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Trying to manage your finances without a budget, without a plan is the very definition of insanity because you will never know where the money went and in most cases you will end up with “more month” then there is money to go around and I don’t need to tell you what a breeding ground for conflict that causes.  The budget is paramount to reduce strife in your marriage and help control you to control your spending.  In his “Financial Peace University” class, Dave Ramsey said…

  • When you agree on your spending…
    • you are agreeing on your value system,
    • you are agreeing on your goals,
    • you are agreeing on your dreams,
    • you are even agreeing on your fears
    • the ‘Budget’ takes all the knots out of your marriage
    • and you will get oneness in your marriage and unity.”

And that is the whole point, right?  For is to have unity in both our marriage and finances!

4.  The number four view is Idolatry and Greed.

72 - Daily Dependence - Idolatry & Greed

Money and possessions cannot make you happy or fill the void, it cannot buy happiness.  Jesus furthers the point in Matthew 6:24 (NASB) when He said,

  • “No one can serve two masters; (the Message translates this as ‘two gods,’) for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and wealth.” 

Money can become an Idol and if we are not careful, it can replace God.  And no discussion on greed can be complete without us mentioning one of the most famous scriptures from 1 Timothy 6:10 (NLT),

  • “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” 

This is one of the most famous and most misquoted verses.  Many people say “money is the root of all kinds of evil” but if you look carefully it says “for the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”  And that love of money can cause us to wander from the faith and cause many problems in our marriage and finances.  It is all about the heart and until you have that right, you will continually spin your wheels and never please God.

5.  Worry is number five.72 - Daily Dependence - Worry

In this day and age with unemployment rates at all time highs, there may be some reading this post that have lost their jobs due to no fault of their own so I want to be careful in how I pose this section contrasting Man’s view with God’s view.  But what Jesus is saying here is that we need to put out trust in Him and not be troubled but the nightly news headlines because He is in control.  We need to rely on God and God alone.  Take a look at this cartoon;

72 - Daily Dependence - The Bible is the Manual To Live ByI love the punch line from the man’s wife,

“Why don’t you stop wondering what is wrong with the world and just read the manual”.

The bible is the one and only manual that will point our lives in the right direction.  As we place our concerns in God’s capable hands, we find a quietness that only He can provide.  God gives peace to those who are quiet before Him as Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) reminds us

  • “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

And Philippians 4:6 (NASB) says we are to,

  • “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” 

Boy that is a hard one for me sometimes but the longer I walk with God the more I realize when I just put in his hands (and leave it there), He will take care of my every need.  I am not the provider for my family, God is the provider.

6.  The final view we will look at tonight is Legacy.72 - Daily Dependence - Legacy

According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the National Debt has continued to increase an average of $2.34 billion per day since September 30, 2012.  As of 3-15-2015, the national debt is $1 8 , 1 6 0 , 6 6 6 , 5 5 2 , 0 3 1 . 6 8 !  That is staggering to think of all that we are passing onto future generations!!  I saw this comic, and though it is funny, it is also quite sobering!

72 - Daily Dependence - Mountain of Debt ComicBut Jesus made God’s view clear in Matthew 6:33 (NASB) which says,

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” 

God should be ahead of everything else, if we do, everything else will be added to us.  It should be a great concern of ours about the debt just continuing to grow with no thought of the future.

1 Timothy 5:8 (NASB) says,

  • “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

If you are not thinking about the legacy you leave, you are considered to have “denied the faith” and are “worse than an unbeliever!”  To add to that thought, Proverbs 13:22 (NIV1984) says,

  • “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.

How much would people change their spending habits if they thought about providing for their “children’s children”….if they thought generational?  One of Dave Ramsey’s most famous quotes is,

72 - Daily Dependence - Dave Ramsey - Live Like No One Else

How we live now will greatly affect how we will live in the future.  So what’s next?  Well just like in any trilogy of books or movies, there is always “BONUS” material so click here for some Practical Application!!

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★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 2 ★

71 - Daily Dependence - Marriage & Money - Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at how people get married with no understanding of how the family finances are going to be handled and how that can cause problems in the marriage if not dealt with quickly.  We also reviewed God’s Plan for Marriage and how Satan has been attacking marriages and that the importance of marriage has been sharply declined over the past 50 years.  If you missed it just click here…★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 1 ★ to catch up.

Part 2 of our trilogy of posts will delve into how to have unity in our Marriage by discussing the Differences between Men and Women and how our enemy, Satan exploits those dissimilarities.  Tony Evans made this point…

71 - Daily Dependence - Tony Evans - Satan Wants The Family

Satan hates God and he hates us and thus comes at marriages with great ferocity that is why it is so important for us as Husband and Wife to be aware of the battle we are in and to try to understand who the person is that we have become one flesh with.  Jesus said in Mark 3:24-25 (NASB):

71 - Daily Dependence - Mark 3-24-25 - House DividedAnd Amos 3:3 (NKJV) says:

“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”

Amen?  Do you see that as being true?

Without agreement, it is impossible to move forward.  Men and Woman are different and with those differences can conflicts can arise.

Someone once said that:

  • “‎90% of the friction of daily life is caused by the wrong tone of voice.”  Unknown.

Instead of battling our spouse, we should see Marriage for what it is, a gift from God and a special covenant with each other.  If we could all grasp that simple concept to approach our mate with love and respect, then perhaps “‎90% of the friction could be eliminated.”  Colossians 3:18-19 (MSG) says


“Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master
[other translations say “the Lord”]. 

Husbands, go all out in love for your wives.  Don’t take advantage of them.”                                                                                      

Now you may have noticed that the verse in the image of Colossians 3:18-19 is reversed, but that is intentional to get the men seeing their role first because this verse has been taken advantage of by men who use it as a tactic to control their wife.  I love how the Message translation says before the word “submit” to “support” your husband.  God knew that Men needed help and He blessed us with the perfect companion.  In Genesis 2:18 (NKJV) God said “I will make him a helper comparable to him.”  Submission does not mean less than, our wives are comparable or equal to us.  God set the man as the head of the household but he knew that the man was going to need help, for all aspects of our lives including the finances.  We need to work as a team loving and respecting one another.

In Ephesians 5:24-25 (NIV1984) the Apostle Paul says it a little differently comparing our actions to that of Christ,

  • “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” 

The Greek translation for Love here is agape, which is a spiritual love, not sexual.  It is by definition a selfless and unconditional love that is not based on what the other person does for me but instead it is about sacrificing yourself for your spouse, just like Christ did.  When we submit and love each other as the Apostle Paul instructs, we are being sanctified and made ready to be the bride of Christ.  This of course is not what the enemy of our soul wants at all so he twists and distorts God’s Word to see submission as negative.  The reason for this is clear in James 4:7 (NIV1984),

  • “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

There is power when we submit to each other and especially to God.  Submitting or humbling ourselves eliminates the sin of pride, if we don’t then Satan wins and we lose, just like in the Garden.  Husbands we need to love our wives as we love ourselves just as Christ loved the church, which he laid down His life for.  And wives part of the submission is respecting and supporting your husband.  You know the old cliché that “it takes two to fight?”  Well it’s true.  The key is getting to the root problem of why we fight and try to understand the other spouse’s point of view.  In 2010, Author of the best-selling book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”, John Gray released a follow-up book called: Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice: Hormonal Balance – the Key to Life, Love & Energy.  In the book he discusses that,

  • “The Difference between the sexes and how they relate to one another is biochemically based and can be found in our hormones.”

71 - Daily Dependence - John Gray - Difference in Sexes Found In Hormones

Gray talks about the unique ways that each gender deals with stress and how the stress hormones harm our health and complicate our ability to relate to one another.  What I found most interesting about the book was how polar opposite Men and Women really are.  The Hormones of Fire and Ice or Men and Women are Testosterone and Oxytocin. In the book, he explains when a man springs into action and solves a problem, he releases Testosterone to deal with stress and as he acts he feels competent and powerful but then soon after has to rest to rebuild his Testosterone levels.  A woman on the other hand needs to share herself 71 - Daily Dependence - John Gray - Hormones of Fire and Icein nurturing situations to release Oxytocin but then afterwards she needs to receive nurturing and understanding herself to rebuild her hormone levels.  The wisdom to understand here is that relaxing on the couch is crucial for a man because he is rebuilding a vital hormone to deal with stress.  Conversely getting nurturing support reduces the stress for a woman so Men, she needs to share her feelings and we need to be available because this is vital for her to be able to deal with stress.    That is where the analogy comes from that Men are on Ice because they need to shut down and go into their “cave” while Women are on Fire needing to communicate and receive love and support; to deprive either person of this only builds stress in them and ultimately in our relationship.

So why am I mentioning all this? Because the same hormones that help to alleviate stress are also the same hormones that connect us romantically.

These two critical hormones not only help us individually but also relationally.  Gray also cites in the book findings from the Researchers at the prestigious Schupps Clinic in San Diego, who concluded that:

  • Heart Disease is most often triggered by unresolved emotional issues like financial stress, Divorce, loneliness or an inability to effectively communicate with a child or Spouse.”

3 out of the 5 items cited in this finding are exactly what we are talking about.  When I read this statistic it was a huge red flag that “unresolved emotional issues” can cause Heart Disease.  We need to recognize the stressors and help not only ourselves but our spouses to deal with the stress.  The symbolism of “Men are from Mars” and “Women are from Venus”, two entirely different planets is great to make the distinctions between the sexes but God made us just the way we are and if we want unity in our marriages then we need to accept one another just how He made us.  Psalm 139:14 says:

Men and Women are different and that is a good thing, the question remains though “How do you achieve unity in your marriage?”  Well the answer may seem obvious but HE is often not engaged when problems arise, the answer is….”God!”

This is the key to everything in life.  It starts as individuals, (hopefully when we are young) and then continues into our marriages as adults.  Having God at the center of our hearts and our marriages will not only help us relate to one another but also in our finances.  Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NLT) says,

“A triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”  I did a little research on this and found that people have incorporated this scripture into their wedding ceremony by braiding three colored cords, Gold for God, Purple for the Groom and White for the Bride.  What a beautiful way to publically declare that God will be interwoven in your marriage.  With God is at the center of our marriages, Satan does not have a chance to break us up because when a Husband and Wife are bound together in Christ, they are stronger than as individuals themselves.  By keeping God at the center, His love will continue to bind the two of you together as one throughout your marriage and you will truly be “One Flesh” not knowing where you and end and where the other begins!

If you would like to read the next post that wraps up the “Marriage & Money” Trilogy, click here.  We delve into People’s View of Money vs. God’s View of Money to understand how to have unity in our Finances.

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★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 1 ★

70 - Daily Dependence - Marriage & Money - Part 1

When you made the decision to marry your spouse, what were your expectations about how the family finances were going to be handled?  Did you even have any?  Marriage and money go hand in hand.  When there is unity in handling money God’s way, it helps lead to unity in your marriage as well.  Whether you are a newlywed or married for 50 years, it is critical to learn what the Bible says about handling money God’s way and the importance of this in our marriages.

I am a firm believer that “the burnt hand teaches best.” Experience, especially the mistakes are the best teachers and my wife and I certainly have experienced our fair share in our relationship.  So over the next 3 posts we will delve into “Marriage & Money” and how the two relate to one another in our relationships.  My purpose is to share what God has placed on my heart and use bits and pieces of what we have learned to help you to avoid making the same mistakes in your Marriage and Finances.

What were your expectations about how the finances would be handled in your home??

  • Were you determined to be the one in control?
  • Or did you just bury your head in the sand?
  • Or did you even have any?

People’s views of money vary considerably from those who are “Spenders” to those who are “Savers”.  When you factor that in, along with all the differences between men and women, a mathematical explosion of possibilities for conflicts can result without even realizing it.  Most people have an idealized view of marriage which starts early on in childhood that has been so ingrained into our subconscious.  70 - Daily Dependence - DisneyThe picture has been painted in our minds of the woman as a princess and that one day her knight in shining armor will come.  Through the years Disney has contributed many different movie installments with this one central theme that ultimately ends with the tag line “and they lived happily ever after….”  When you think of the constant bombardment of unrealistic fantasies, it is no wonder that the wedding day is the quintessential moment that every little girl dreams of.  Months and months are spent planning a wedding, working on the invitations, searching for the dress, the rings, the music, the flowers, and working on all the intricate details.  But what is usually left out of the equation is what happens when the Honeymoon’s over (literally).  When you think about this, it is absolutely insane, planning for months for one day but giving little thought for the future.  Now I must confess, when we got married we were no different.  The simple truth is that when a man and woman decide to “tie the knot” they typically never talk about how the finances will be handled and when that happens it will not take long for money fights and arguments to begin.

  • In a radio interview, Crown Financial Ministries CEO, Chuck Bentley stated that: “40% of people are living beyond their means.”
  • “The wall street Journal reported that “70% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, one step away from bankruptcy!” and
  • According to a Markmen & Stanley Study, “The #1 cause of divorce in America is financial disagreements”

So the question is, if…

  • 4 out of 10 people are living beyond their means and
  • 7 out of 10 Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and the
  • #1 cause of divorce is financial disagreements or money fights…

How do we get to a place of unity in both our marriage and our finances?  Many people do not realize that Marriage and Money go hand in hand.  When you have unity together in how you handle your finances, you will have unity in your marriage.

Over these posts, we will be covering these 5 areas in regards to Marriage & Money:

  • God’s plan for Marriage
  • The differences between Men and Women
  • God’s plan for our Finances
  • The differences in people’s views of money
  • How the enemy uses all these differences to attack marriages

Now it will not necessary be in this order as I will not be so linear but we will weave and blend together these 5 major points.

God’s Plan for Marriage

So without further ado, let’s start from the beginning, in the first book of the bible, in Genesis chapter 2, after the Heavens and the Earth, and everything else was made, God formed Man out of dirt from the ground.  He planted a garden in Eden and placed the Man to work the ground and keep it in order.  But God saw the man and He said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him,” (Genesis 2:18) and so God created the Woman to share life with the Man.  Verse 24 says:

  • “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”  Genesis 2:24 (NIV1984)   

THAT IS IT…that was God’s plan for Marriage.  For the Man and Woman to live in paradise united together who would have fellowship with Him.  What a simple and wonderful plan but the very next chapter of Genesis recounts how that perfect plan was ruined when the Serpent (AKA Satan) deceived the Woman to eat the forbidden fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”.  God had told Adam not to eat of the fruit or else he would die, so the serpent spoke to the Woman instead since she had not been created at that time.  In chapter 3, verse 6 it says:

70 - Daily Dependence - Genesis 3-6

I remember so clearly when I was at a bible study and heard a teaching on this verse and those underlined words just popped off the page…”Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her.”  I always thought that she was alone and that explained how it happened but the whole time that Satan and the Woman were having this discussion, Adam, “The Man” was standing right there and did nothing to protect his wife or stop what he knew was wrong and to make it worse he ate the fruit too!  And here is the key, don’t miss this, if we don’t work as a team, in unity we will fail in our marriages and our financesThough the timing in Genesis is unclear, the original plan for Marriage was created in Chapter 2 and destroyed by Chapter 3 as the Man and Woman fell into sin of Pride from the Serpent’s deception.  We need to understand that Satan is working in the background creating problems in our marriage, problems in our finances, and problems in our life.  Ephesians 6:12 (NIV1984) says,

  • “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  

We will delve into this throughout these series of posts but I do want to say one thing before we go any further, that the enemy of our soul is not behind every problem, there are many times that we create our own trouble by not trusting God and not following His principles.  Or not loving and respecting our spouse as we ought to or by making foolish financial decisions because of “wants” instead of be wise in making purchases of “needs” only.  Someone once said “God promised to meet our needs, not our greeds.”

But Ephesians is clear, there is a battle raging on that we need to be aware of.  Though it is not confirmed, Julius Caesar is credited with the concept of “Divide & Conquer” which is one of the greatest strategies in battle.  And that is exactly what Satan does as he attacks us in our marriages and finances by deceiving one of the spouses to doubt, to fear, to be distracted or to focus on the wrong things.  We are at war and if you do not know that then take a look at what it says just 9 verses later in Genesis, as God reprimanded the serpent, He cursed the serpent and said because you have done this,

70 - Daily Dependence - Genesis 3 - 14-15

Enmity is also translated as hostility but I love how The Message translation states it:

  • “I’m declaring war between you and the Woman”  Genesis 3:15 (MSG)

There it is, proof that we are in a battle against a real enemy, not a cartoon character with horns and a pitchfork.  Satan has many descriptions and names in the bible, he is called:

70 - Daily Dependence - The Names of Satan

Enough said??  Just like this list, Satan’s reign will come to an end.  Now I am spending extra time here, not to create fear but to underscore the importance of not idly going through life oblivious to Satan and his schemes.  The reality is that as a believer in Jesus, we already have the victory through Jesus’ death and resurrection, as it says in 1 John 4:4 (NASB):

  • “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He [Jesus] who is in you than he [Satan] who is in the world.”

I love how Pastor Jack Graham once said it, that “Satan is a defeated foe.” 

That is of course, when you have Jesus in you, you have the power to overcome the enemy.  There is power and victory through Jesus.  We can overcome the enemy’s attacks by calling on Jesus’ name not only for our marriages but finances too!   Jesus has a list of his own which is called The “I Am’s” of Christ:

Now I much prefer to mediate on this list for sure as there is power and victory through Jesus.

In the book of Matthew it recounts the story when some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?”  And Jesus quoted Genesis 2:24 in chapter 19 verse 5 and then continues the thought in Verse 6 of Matthew:

  • “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.” Matthew 19:6 (NASB)

I love how Jesus answers their question so clearly and succinctly.  He has a great way of flipping things.  If a husband and wife are no longer two but one flesh then the answer is clear.  God’s intention for marriage was to be shared between one man and one woman forever…what God has joined together let no man separate.  But as we have been discussing, the enemy has other plans to strain and tear apart the unity of marriage.  Malachi 2:16 (MSG) says,

  • “I hate divorce,” says the God of Israel…”I hate the violent dismembering of the ‘one flesh’ of marriage.  So watch yourselves.  Don’t let your guard down.  Don’t cheat.” 

This verse is such a powerful statement from God which many people have misunderstood because they read that God hates divorce and make the jump that God hates them because of the divorce but that is a LIE OF THE ENEMY.  Look at it again, God said “I hate divorce,” NOT the “DIVORCEE.”  Divorce is real; many of you reading this post may have experienced one in your life whether it was your parents or yourself.  I know firsthand what that “dismembering” felt like, having experienced this at the age of 5 when my parents divorced.  That description is right on, it was a violent dismembering of the ‘one flesh’.  I have always related my parents divorce like a chess match where I was a pawn pinned between the King and Queen who were battling one another, using me to hurt the other.  Now I don’t mention this to condemn anyone but to show what God intended for marriage and what He thinks of Divorce.

In November of 2010, Time Magazine published a startling issue, entitled “Who Needs Marriage”.  Within the pages, findings from the nationwide survey of 2,691 Americans by the Pew Research Center were presented.  The survey was conducted with TIME magazine, and an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau data.  They dug into the question…“Is Marriage Obsolete?”  70 - Daily Dependence - Time Magazine - Who Needs MarriageOver the past 50 years there has been a sharp decline in marriage and a rise of new family forms of people never getting married (but still having children) and people getting divorced or separated.  In 1960, 72% of American adults were married.  By 2008, that share had fallen to an all-time low of 52%.  The Pew Research survey found that nearly 4 in 10 Americans think marriage is becoming obsolete.  It is sad to think that this survey is now 5 years old, so I can only imagine where that number is now.  It is clear that the value of marriage has been greatly diminished and who do you think is behind that movement?  Satan of course!!

In 2009, Chuck Colson, Robert George, and Timothy George, with input from over 100 Christian leaders, authored the Manhattan Declaration stating a commitment to the principles of Human life, marriage, and religious freedom.  Here is an excerpt:

“Marriage is the original and most important institution for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all.”  That is a powerful statement and I think we can all agree that the second part has plagued our world that ““Where marriage erodes, social pathologies rise,” (or deviation giving rise to social ills.)  

Part 2 of the “Marriage & Money” trilogy will delve into the Differences between Men and Women and what is the answer to bring unity in our Marriage.  Click here…★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 2 ★ to read the next installment.

 

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★ Re|Engage – Humility ★

ReEngage - Lesson 04

“Humility is such an elusive virtue.
Once you think you have it, you don’t,
or you wouldn’t think you did.”
Max Lucado 

Go back and re-read that quote slower…(really…re-read it and think about what it says.)  If you think you are humble, then you really are not!  The main idea of Lesson 4 was:

“Follow the example of Christ until you love yourself less than you love your spouse.  You cannot be a godly spouse if you are focusing on yourself.”

That seems to be obvious but how many couples do you know that are focused only on themselves and thus troubles follow.  So many people have an issue practicing humbleness.  But I love what C.S. Lewis said,

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

Humility is not allowing yourself to be a doormat but it is placing the needs of others above your own.  How different would this world be if spouses did this?  Instead pride gets in the way.  James 4:6 (NLT) says,

“And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,
‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”

This is repeated over and over throughout scripture (1 Peter 5:5, Proverbs 3:34, Proverbs 29:23 to name a few.)  Ron Deal made this interesting parallel…

“God opposed the proud and so do spouses.” 

Good point huh?  It doesn’t a rocket scientist to realize that!  Here is the antidote though from Philippians 2:3-4:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

The book of Proverbs is a great book to read for wisdom, instruction and direction for life.  One of the most famous verses on Pride is from Proverbs 16:18 (ESV) which instructs that

“Pride goes before destruction and a haughty [arrogantly superior and disdainful] spirit before a fall.”

Here is the verse in visual form:Marty Collier made reference to this by making this great point:

“Pride leads to sin and sin equals death.  Notice that “I” is at the center of pride and sin.” 

You see, when you are focused on “I” and not “WE,” that is the root of all of our marital problems.  This fourth lesson made this statement:

“Humility could be defined as having an accurate understanding of who you are, which leads to treating others as more important than yourself.”

I love this quote…

ReEngage - Lesson 04 - Humility is Shy
“Humility is so shy.  If you begin talking about it, it leaves.”  Timothy Keller

As we just celebrated Christmas, and are about to enter into a new year, it’s appropriate to acknowledge the greatest example of humility…Jesus Christ who was the epitome of humbleness as He selflessly layed down His crown and become a man to die for our sins.  The book made this observation:

“Jesus’ life was the ultimate expression of humility and serves as our example. While everyone around him was striving to be great Jesus told his followers that the way to greatness was through humble service.”

Easier said than done!

“Humility is risky. There are times when your humble service will go unnoticed, will be unappreciated or will be used for someone else’s gain. Jesus is not asking us to do anything He Himself did not go through and experience.”

Great point, as we look to act in humility in our marriage it is important to realize that

“Humility doesn’t take something from you; it does something for you.”

And I love this at the end, what will result if you do…

“Embracing humility is one of the quickest ways to change your marriage.”

So let’s make this New Year’s Resolution that as we enter into 2015, we will follow the example of Christ and treat our spouses with Humility!

If you would like to read the next installment to the re|engage class, click here…★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness ★

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

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★ Thought for the Day – Christmas or X-Mas? ★ 

63 - Daily Dependence - Chirstmas or X-MasLast night we were watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, which today is still my favorite cartoon to watch!  It is amazing to me that back in 1965, when this first aired, how much materialism that Charlie Brown saw amongst everyone during the Christmas season.  It was so pervasive that if you remember, even the Christmas trees he picked out did not meet the standard.  What is shocking to me, 49 years later, the same spirit of consumerism prevails.  I wonder though, what the cartoon would be like if it was re-done today??

My favorite part has always been Linus’ citation of what the real meaning of Christmas is.

So we know where Linus stands…what do you think Christmas is all about?  I am sure by the title of this Thought for the Day, you probably have an inkling to what direction this will be going in, but I pray that though you may know what the answer is, that the Holy Spirit will make the truth penetrate your heart…And that this Christmas season will be more meaningful than it ever has been in the past.

Hypothetically speaking…if an alien just landed on Earth and saw the yuletide craziness in Wal-Mart, or constant the barrage of an advertising through TV, emails and old fashion mailings, what do you think they would believe that Christmas is all about?  I think definitely about shopping, a fat man in a red suit, and about putting trees in your house and decorating them.

It is not too hard to get lost in the “stuff that needs to get done,” and fulfilling “wish lists,” but if we are not careful, we can easily get one-off track.  Christmas should not be about getting stuff.  There needs to be an intensive effort on our part to combat against the “get me this bug,” and try to reverse the impact of the heavy marketing that is confusing the meaning of Christmas.  Don’t get me wrong, I want my children to enjoy all the fun things of the season, but at the same time I don’t want the true meaning of Christmas to be lost on my daughters.  Take a look at this cartoon, I think it makes Charlie Brown’s point well!  63 - Daily Dependence - Tree Comic

“I hate to ask you nice folks to move, but the inn’s marketing department figures that it will only be a matter of time before this tree gets better recognition than your son”

So how about it?  What do you think, is it Christmas or X-mas?  Does it matter?  Do you see a difference between the two?  For many years I didn’t.  In fact I still have storage totes with “X-mas” written on them.  Have you ever wondered where X-mas came from?  I mean how did that evolve to be an abbreviation for Christmas?63 - Daily Dependence - Evolution of X-mas

Well the word “Christmas means the “Mass of Christ.”  It was later shortened to “Christ-Mass.” Then further shortened during the 1500’s in Europe to “X-mas” which is derived from the Greek alphabet, in which X is the first letter of Christ’s name: “Xristos,” therefore “X-Mass”.  That is how X-mas is a derivative for Christmas.  But in today’s culture and how the term is used, I believe there is a big difference between the two words.  X-mas is no longer a short version of Christmas but a replacement.  You don’t have to look far, to see how modern-day consumerism and marketers have completely “X”-ed Christ out of Christmas.

Christmas is now a franchise, a holiday that is marketed in a million different ways, none of which have to do with Jesus.  Just take notice of all the printed advertising and commercials that are on TV this time of year.  There is very little mention of Jesus if any.  We have removed the part of the holiday that is the true “reason for the season”.  And all that we are left with is whatever products store owner’s can convince us that we need to have.

Christmas is not about getting stuff but about Jesus.  It is the Birthday of Jesus, the day that God was manifested into flesh and blood.  It is about a King.  Not a King that rode into battle to conquer his enemies but a King who laid down His crown, humbling Himself to become a man. 63 - Daily Dependence - King Size BedIn doing so, He surrendered His majesty and position and sacrificed Himself for us.  So the answer to the question “what is Christmas all about”, well it is about SACRIFICE and HUMILITY!  You don’t really consider that when you think about Christmas, but when you look at what had to happen in order for Jesus to open the gates of heaven for us, it is crystal clear that the baby in the manger was born to be the sacrificial lamb to die as the payment for our sins once and for all.  W.J. Cameron once said that,

“There has been only one Christmas – the rest are anniversaries.”

I love that!   Jesus became human and then gave up His life for us so that we could gain eternal life.  He had to lose His life so we could keep ours!  Through His Sacrifice, out past, present and future sins are forgiven!  And we are Redeemed!  Redemption, what an awesome word.  It is defined as

“The act of delivering from sin or saving from evil” or “Purchasing back something previously sold.”

We have been delivered through His death on the cross.  The greatest gift will not be delivered by the man in the red suit, the best gift is Jesus!  Jesus63 - Daily Dependence - The Real Gift paid the ransom, paid the price for our sins to save us from the evil one so that the lost could be found, the sick…healed, the broken…repaired and the captives set free.  Because Jesus came into the enemy’s territory (by coming to Earth), we are redeemed and reconnected to our Father in Heaven.  We are the children of God as it says in Galatians 4:6-7:

“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.    

Christmas is about the sacrifice of Jesus and the redemption that resulted from His selfless act.  And through it all we have become heirs to the riches of heaven.

You know, there is nothing wrong with all the holiday preparations, but we need to keep in focus what we are celebrating on December 25!  Our Biblical or Christian Worldview needs a little fine-tuning.  Like everyone else, I have a long list of things-to-do associated with the Yuletide season, from decorating to getting a Christmas tree to shopping for gifts.  There are many things to plan for and to pull you in different directions and to distract you…BUT I love how Henri Nouwen defined Christmas…he said that

“Songs, good feelings, beautiful liturgies, nice presents, big dinners, and sweet words do not make Christmas.  Christmas is saying yes to something beyond all emotions and feelings.  Christmas is saying yes to a hope based on God’s initiative, which has nothing to do with what I think or feel.  Christmas is believing that the salvation of the world is God’s work and not mine.” 

Christmas is my favorite holiday.  Not only for the significance of Jesus’ birth but also for the other stuff as well.  I love all the holiday preparations and the warm fuzzy feeling you get during this time of year.  But as we just read, Christmas is much more than that.  We need to check ourselves and where our biblical worldview is, not only in regards to this one day but also for the other 364 days a year.  So the proper biblical worldview of Christmas is all about Sacrifice and Humility!  Philippians 2:5-7 says that:

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” 

Christmas is a time to remember the birth of Jesus and the coming of God’s salvation for His people.  Jesus was born and walked on this Earth to show us the way to heaven through His example.

“He became what we are that He might make us what He is.”  Saint Athanasius

 Verse 8 of chapter 2 of Philippians finishes this though with:

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”

So I want to challenge you to really understand the Reason for the Season, and not allow consumerism to “X” Christ out of Christmas.  Follow Jesus’ example, and be a servant to your “fellow man.”  Look for ways to impact the people around you…family members, co-workers, friends or even strangers.  Serve food to the homeless or buy a present for a child who will have nothing under the tree this year or be a shoulder to cry on for a depressed friend.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

Don’t let season passed by without letting it penetrate your heart!  Be Jesus for the people who are around you.  Be the miracle in their life.

63 - Daily Dependence - Merry Christmas

★ Re|Engage – Grace ★

ReEngage - Lesson 03The next two chapters focused on this Principle:  EMBRACE HUMILTY.

Lesson 3 was on Grace…The main idea was:

You are in need of God’s grace.

Ephesians 2:4-5 (ESV)

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved”  

The definition of Grace as it pertains in Christian belief is:

 “The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.” 

47 - Daily Dependence - Grace is the BridgeEphesians 2:8-9 (NLT)

“God saved you by His grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” 

The lesson made this powerful parallel between this verse and how our interactions with our spouse should be.

“Just as your relationship with God is grounded in grace, so must your relationship with your spouse be grounded in grace.  It’s the foundational pillar to any healthy relationship.”

Have you ever thought about extending grace to your spouse as being critical to a healthy marriage?  It spouses could grasp this concept the “self-help” industry would plummet!

“The bottom line is that we are not good enough and neither is our spouse…That’s why grace is essential to your relationship.”

What my wife and I really love about this class is how practical the counsel is and it’s application.  I love this on What grace in action looks like in action in marriage:

  • Grace does not focus on the faults of your spouse.
  • Grace is choosing to believe the best about their words and actions.
  • Grace is not shocked or angry when your spouse’s actions are not perfect.
  • Grace is not bringing up the ways your spouse has disappointed or hurt you in the past.
  • Grace responds kindly to a harsh word or a cold shoulder.
  • Grace causes you to be an advocate for your spouse rather than build a case against them.
  • Grace is loving your spouse, not because of their actions, but in spite of their actions.

And here is the flip side of What Grace is Not?

“But extending grace doesn’t mean that you grant your spouse permission to continue to hurt you.  And it doesn’t mean that the feelings of pain they have caused you are now invalid.  However, to re-engage with your spouse, you must follow Christ’s example as an initiator.  He initiates again and again because His love for you is perfect, and His love for you perseveres – even when you’re most unlovable.”

A friend of mine told me this and I will close with this…

“God is not looking for a perfect Christian but a persistent one.”  Gene Winterhalter

None of us are perfect but God desires us to chase after Him and be persistent in extending grace to the one that He blessed us with.

 

If you would like to read the next installment to the re|engage class, click here…★ Re|Engage – Humility ★

If you want to read previous re|engage lessons click here…

https://dailydependence.wordpress.com/category/reengage-class/?order=asc

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