★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Compromise (Part 5) ★

Our Temptation Series continues today with us unpacking how to avoid the Consequences of Compromise.  If you have missed the previous posts we first introduced the series using Abraham’s Nephew “Lot” as a case study (click here).  We then studied about alcohol and drugs (click here), pornography and promiscuity (click here), adultery (click here), and most recently gluttony (click here).

Last Sunday the pastor at my church said that Satan wants us to bail out or compromise which got me thinking about this Thought for the Day because you can see this happening constantly in our cultureToday we will delve into the pitfall of compromise.  If you have been following our blog, you know that this is a topic that we have explored quite a bit in the past; and that is because if this area is out of line, then every other part of your life will be affected.  If we say we are a Christian then we must be very careful not to allow things “to slip” in this department.  Now I am not living in a fantasy-land, I would love to say that all temptations goes away once you accept Christ as your savior but that would be denying what 1 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV) warns.

“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”

Temptation is real and will never go away while we are on this side of heaven. And compromise is a slow fade…What we say, the jokes we laugh at, how act should align with the faith we profess.  I truly feel that how we handle ourselves should be the same regardless of who we are with.  What do you think about that?  Is that possible?  I can honestly say that I try to be the same person whether it is with my daughters, my wife, a co-worker, my pastor or a stranger.  Something that I have always tried to keep in mind is what I once heard motivational speaker, author and former pastor John Maxwell say:

“I am always one step away from stupid.”

What a humble statement and great wisdom too!  No matter how far along you are in your journey, you are always one bad decision away from blowing it!  In an instant we could ruin our legacy and reputation that we have built over a lifetime of good choices.  Peer pressure from friends, or demands from employers/clients, or one’s own ambition to climb the corporate ladder can exert a huge gravitational pull towards compromising our moral or ethical beliefs.  That is why we must heed the warning of 1 Corinthians and be mindful not to give into the enticements that satan dangles in front of us, whether it be cheating on an exam or our spouse, turning a blind eye to corruption or willingly partaking in it.  This may be cliché but you will never regret doing the right thing and not going along with what people are doing.  2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NLT) instructs…

“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers.  How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness?  How can light live with darkness?  What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil?  How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?  And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols?  For we are the temple of the living God.  As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.  Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.  Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.  And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.””

When we allow ourselves to be influenced by how we will be perceived or to make choices that we know are not God honoring, we open ourselves to some devastating consequences.

Today’s case study fell victim to the trap of yielding to the court of public opinion.  Saul was the first king of the Israelites and was anointed by the prophet Samuel to lead.  On the outside, he appeared to be quite “kingly,” but on the inside he desired only to garner the people’s approval and would do anything for that affirmation.  For those not familiar with King Saul here’s the cliff notes version about this man.

We are first introduced to the man in 1 Samuel 9:1-2:

“There was a wealthy, influential man named Kish from the tribe of Benjamin.  He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, of the tribe of Benjamin.  His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.”

So Saul came from a wealthy family and looked the part as well.  In verse 17, he received a great endorsement from the prophet Samuel…

“When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said, ‘That’s the man I told you about!  He will rule my people.’”

So he came from the right family, he looked the part and had the right supports.  Saul had everyone hoodwinked including the prophet of God.  It’s interesting though, when it came time to appoint Saul as King of Israel, he was nowhere to be found.  1 Samuel 10:21b-24 says:

“And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them.  But when they looked for him, he had disappeared!  So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?”

And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.”  So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else.

Then Samuel said to all the people, “This is the man the Lord has chosen as your king. No one in all Israel is like him!”

And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

“Long live the king!?”  The people cheered to receive a king that was “hiding among the baggage” at the time of appointment!  From the onset, Saul proved he did not have what it takes; you can read all about his reign in 1 Samuel 11-13.  As war continued with the Philistines, and hopelessness was spreading amongst the ranks, Saul’s true colors came out as he waited for Samuel.  1 Samuel 13:8-14 (NLT) recalls:

“Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come.  Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away.  So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!”  And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.

Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived.  Saul went out to meet and welcome him, but Samuel said, “What is this you have done?”

Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle.  So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’  So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”

“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you.  Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart.  The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

As a result of not trusting in God and his desire to keep his men in line, Saul violated God’s command that only his prophet could present the offering so he lost the kingdom as a result of giving into compromise!  The same can happen to us in our jobs, our marriages or our friendships if we too follow in the way of Saul.  I got this fortune cookie once that I thought was priceless…

“Do not mistake temptation for opportunity.”

We need to practice discernment and realize that it is our choice as to what we give into.  Now I don’t subscribe to fortune cookie wisdom, so let’s see what the Bible says…

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13

Satan doesn’t make us do anything; we make the decision whether or not to compromise.  This is something that I am hoping has come through loud and clear that yielding to temptation is on us but if we trust God He will help us through it!  Living a life of truth is everything!  In the post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★, we discussed all about the attacks of satan, spiritual warfare and the importance of putting on the Armor of God.  In Ephesians 6:14 (NLT) it says:

“Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.”

The Belt of Truth is intended to hold everything together.  The Apostle Paul gave this advice because without living a life of integrity everything will fall apart.  Proverbs 21:21 (ESV) has this promise for everyone who will choose a different path:

“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.”

But will we choose to pursue the tough road, the road to righteousness?  Or will go the much simpler, more traveled road of compromise?  I will close this with this thought from Jimmy Evans:

“There’s a difference between committing a sin and practicing a sin.”  

We all make mistakes; the key is what you do once you have made it.  Will you continue in that compromise or sin, or will you come clean with God and set things straight.  The starting point goes back to trusting God.  We need to daily renew our mind and our relationship with our heavenly Father in order to serve God in our school, friendships, vocations and our families!  That is why this site is called “Daily Dependence,” because we all need to keep Christ at the center of our lives!  What will you choose to do?

 

If you’re interested in digging deeper, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Got Values? ★

★ Thought for the Day – How Important is Integrity? ★

★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course…Part 2 ★

★ Thought for the Day – Talent vs. Integrity ★  

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★ Thought for the Day – Leaving It All On The Field ★

We just wrapped up a series on 3 pursuits of God that will change your life…Through PrayerReading the Bible…and Living a Life of Worship.  I thought it only fitting to build upon that foundation and talk about being a person who can have the maximum impact for the Kingdom of God!  In his book “Becoming a Person of Influence,” John Maxwell gave this practical advice, which also serves as the perfect introduction for this post….he said:

“Not everyone you influence will think the same way you do.  You have to help them not only believe that they can succeed, but also show them that you want them to succeed.  How do you do that?

Expect it: People can sense your underlying attitude no matter what you say or do.  If you have an expectation for your people to be successful, they will know it.

Verbalize itPeople need to hear you tell themthat you believe in them and want them to succeed.  Become a positive prophet of their success.

Reinforce it: You can never do too much when it comes to believing in people.

Once people recognize and understand that you genuinely want to see them succeed and are committed to helping them, they will begin to believe they can accomplish what you give them to do.”

Now this was written from a business world perspective but I think that we can easily see how the same advice could be applied to helping us make an impact on those around us.  You may ask why is it important th101 - Daily Dependence - Proverbs 27-17 - Iron Sharpens Ironat we leverage our influence for the kingdom of God?  The answer can found in Proverbs 27:17 (ESV)…

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

Whether male or female, God will use you to help others grow in their walk with Him.  After all we all need encouragement, whether we are willing to admit it or not, everyone needs a mentor…People who are living their life for God and pursuing Him in the areas that we just concluded in our Back to the Basics series.  And just like John Maxwell said…

“Not everyone you influence will think the same way you do.  You have to help them not only believe that they can succeed, but also show them that you want them to succeed.

This101 - Daily Dependence - Romans 15-13 is the whole reason why “I Do What I Do!”  My hope and prayer is that in some way I can have some positive influence and to help you succeed in your walk in God.  Here is a great verse to motivate you…

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

The key though is to trust in God…boy that sure is hard sometimes when you are in the middle of a storm!  But look at the rewards if we do…”joy and peace and hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!”  That is some good stuff!  My brother in-law posted this the other day which I loved…

“Faith…Is see101 - Daily Dependence - Faithing LIGHT with your HEART…When all your EYES see is DARKNESS.”  Unknown 

I believe it was Vince Lombardi who made this famous statement to “leave it all on the field.”  The idea that when the game is over, there should be nothing left…All our strength and energy should be completely depleted.  Well just like in football, I believe that God is asking each one of us to do the same.  The goal of our life, each and every day should be completed absolutely spent…physically, emotionally and spiritually for the enlargement of God’s Kingdom!  “Leave it all on the field” so that you will never think back to a day and say “I wish I would have told them this,” or “if only I had done _____ (fill in the blank)…to encourage them, then it might have been different.  John Greenleaf Whittier once said:

“For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been.’”

I think that the apostle Paul was the truest example of “leaving it all on the field.”  In 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 (ESV) we get a little insight into what Pail went through to expand the kingdom of God.

“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.  Three times I was beaten with rods.  Once I was stoned.  Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.  And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”

Impressive list huh?  I think if any one of us experienced even one of these persecutions it would probably crush us, but I think verse 28 is the most intriguing part. Look at it again…

“And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”

Apart from the other things, Paul finishes with this unbelievable statement that he feels a “daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”  Talk about living a life of sacrifice!  In wrapping up his list, I find it remarkable that his anxiety for all the churches is what he would finish on. You would think the 39 lashes or being beaten with rods or the stoning would be the closing statement but it’s not…it’s all about reaching the lost!!  Talk about leaving it all on the field!!!  Paul authored most of the New Testament and had a huge influence in the early church.  He was also a mentor to many.  One such person was Timothy who he referred to as “my child in the faith” (see 1 Timothy 1:2) and “my beloved child” (see 2 Timothy 1:2).  In 2 Timothy 4:6-8, Paul wrote to Timothy a final word of encouragement…

“As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God.  The time of my death is near.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.  And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.”  

101 - Daily Dependence - 2 Timothy 4

Let this be your rallying cry to give everything you have!  The choice is yours, what will you do?  I pray you will choose to leave it all out on the field for the Lord!

 

If you would like to read more on perseverance check out these 2 posts:

★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming ★

★ Thought for the Day – The Storms of Life ★

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Living A Lasting Legacy ★

90 - Daily Dependence - Star Wars The Force AwakensThree weeks ago, as part of the “25 Days of Thankfulness” series I shared about my experience seeing Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens in the ★ Day 18 – Reason for the Season – Jesus Is _____ ★ post. and promised no spoilers at that time.  Well…The Force Awakens’s current box office totals worldwide have reached $1.73 billion (at the time of this post,) placing it third on the all-time list so I feel like it is safe to share a major SPOILER, especially since #HanSoloDies was a trending topic the weekend the Hollywood blockbuster opened up.  Yes it’s true, a major anchor to the Star Wars Universe has been killed off in one of the worst ways imaginable…by his own son,  Patricide is not a new phenomenon by any stretch, throughout history and in the Bible records of this heinous act, but I think there is a powerful lesson played out from Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and it’s sequel that is now breaking box office history.

90 - Daily Dependence - Star Wars - Generational Curse

In the climax of the 1983 trilogy film (Return of the Jedi,) Luke Skywalker helps his father take off his mask so that he can look on his son with his own eyes.  In a beautiful moment of redemption, Anakin Skywalker ceases to be the Evil Darth Vader and finds peace in the sacrificial act of saving Luke from being killed by the Emperor.  Fast forward 32 years…The Force Awakens shows a powerful scene of Kylo Ren speaking to the charred remains of Darth Vaders infamous mask while donning one of his own.  Unlike his Uncle Luke, there is not a battle raging within pulling him to the Dark Side, but rather to the Light Side.  In the moment that Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo), kills his father Han Solo, the last emotional tie is severed ushering him to fully join the Dark Side.  To me this was great depiction of the warning between God and Moses when the second set of the Ten Commandments was completed.  Exodus 34:6-7 (ESV) records,

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Luke may have escaped of his father’s iniquity or sin but the generational curse continued to his grandson Kylo Ren who embraced the Dark Side and followed in his grandfather’s footsteps.

Last year we kicked off the year with this ★ Thought for the Day – Unstoppable Determination for God’s Holiness ★, which was all about stripping away the unnecessary junk in our lives and pursuing God in every area including reading His Word, the Bible.  This year, God has been speaking this into my Spirit about “living out a lasting  legacy.”  I read this a long time ago and it has always remained with me…

“You didn’t bring anything into this world and you won’t bring anything out.  What will you leave?”

Legacy is not a new concept to me…it has always been part of my DNA markup, but this year I felt the nudge from the Holy Spirit to devote myself even more to it.  If you have been following this blog, you may recall that 2 part series that we posted called ★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course ★ about learning from King Solomon’s failure to overcome temptations and 90 - Daily Dependence - 2015 Washed Away★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course…Part 2 ★ about handling money God’s way.  If you are starting this year out like most people, making resolutions, whether it is going back to the gym to lose weight or committing to living on a budget, both these “Thoughts” can be an encouragement to motivate you to that end.  Today’s “Thought for the Day” however is going in a different direction.  I want to delve into the opposite of generational curses…to focus on how we can have a positive impact on others…If you will indulge me for one more Star Wars parallel…how to avoid Kylo Ren’s downward spiral to the Dark Site and embrace the Light Side as Luke Skywalker did.

As a husband and father of two daughters, I can tell you that “providing” for my family is a top priority in my life.  We have been blessed that my wife has been able to be a stay-at-home mom, (…which I might add is a much tougher job then mine…) but that obviously has resulted in sacrifices that we have made being a single income family.  There is also another force that comes against us, (Star Wars pun intended,) which is the continual comparison or pressure to “Keep up with the Joneses.”  I would be lying if I said that it did not bite us every now and then.  The spirit of “Mammon” or devotion to wealth building pervades our culture and no matter how content we are with what God has provided it does not make us immune to the effect the Spirit of Mammon can have on us all.  People spend so much time working hard to climb the corporate ladder, to live in the right neighborhood, to drive a nice car, to be a success…but should that be our focus?  Robert Morris spoke about this in the sermon called “Breaking the Spirit of Mammon“…

“Jesus said, ‘You can’t serve God and mammon!’  What is mammon?  It’s the prideful, arrogant spirit that rests on money that hasn’t been submitted to God; but money that is submitted to and serves God is blessed by God!”

If you want to delve deeper into how to handle your finances God’s way, check out the posts we have group together called “Building Your Money Muscle.”

Regardless of your age or gender, we all have the same amount of time in a day to set our priorities and decide how it will be spent…Will it be spent on self-centered activities whether it be on social media, gaming or working 60-70 hours a week to get that promotion…OR will it be spent on things that really matter?  The people in our life should be or focus.  I read this quote the other morning and thought it was not only great insight on what legacy is but also a great visual!

"Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.  A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you."   Shannon L. Alder 
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.  A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”   Shannon L. Alder 

Having proper time management is key!  It reminds of this great 1998 country song from Billy Ray Cyrus called “Busy Man,” which had this powerful hook in the song…

“Have you ever seen a headstone with these words
If only I had spent more time at work”

This is something that I wrestle with all the time!  Balancing the demands of work and making sure that my family does not pay the price.  I shared this quote in the ★ Thought for the Day – What Does Your Schedule Look? ★ from Bill Hybels that really brings it home for me…

“My schedule is far less about what I need to get done and more about what I want to become.” 

I could not agree with that more!  We all have to decide for ourselves, what will our schedule look like, because in the end what you choose to allow to dominate your schedule will affect everything and everyone in your life whether you are teenager, married or an empty nester.  The time you take, your example and character can forever change a life and your family’s legacy forever!

“Your legacy is the influence you leave behind.  Will you be missed?  Don’t waste your life, invest it!”  Jack Graham

That is so powerful…“Your legacy is the influence you leave behind.”  I also love what Andy Stanley had to say on the subject…

“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.” 

My constant prayer is to be an Ephesians 5:25 husband, a Deuteronomy 11:18-19 father and a Colossians 3:12 servant to all!  I want to love my wife better…love my children better…and love others better.  Until I am on the other side of heaven there will never be a point that I am not working on becoming a better man.  I fully believe what Mark Batterson said in his Draw the Circle devotional…

“The greatest legacy a person can leave is a complete surrender of their life to the lordship of Jesus Christ. If we don’t hold out on God, God won’t hold out on us. Take God at His promises as expressed by the psalmist: “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” [Psalm 84:11]  And these good things will pass from generation to generation and become great things.”

As we kick off this new year, just 13 days in, I want to encourage you to put God first and foremost!  Then your family next and after that all the people in your life…friends, co-workers, acquaintances…”Be present” and involved in their lives and I promise you will leave the lasting legacy that really matters!  No this is not “popular,” or “normal” in our culture or in the workplace, but press on nonetheless and you will never be disappointed!  Psalms 39:4-7 (NLT) has some great insight of setting the right priorities!!

“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is.  You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.  My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.  We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.  We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.  And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?  My only hope is in you.”

My hope and prayer is that I am making the most out of my “brief time on earth,” that I will make an impact on the future generation, not just for my children but my children’s children!  I want to be a “real man” in God’s eyes rather than the world’s eyes!  I will close with this thought from John Maxwell…

“We can choose today what we want people to say about us tomorrow at our funeral…If you want to really visualize your legacy tomorrow, value it today…Do the things today that you want them to say about you tomorrow because today determines that. What’s wonderful about your legacy is that… You can start working on it this very moment.”

What Will Your Legacy Be?  What has God been speaking into your spirit?

Here is my prayer for you…

“[I] pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:9b-10 (ESV)

 

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★ Thought for the Day – A Season for Everything ★

89 - Daily Dependence - Ecclesiastes 3 - 1-8 - A Time For EverythingEcclesiastes 3:1-8 (NKJV) says,

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace.

In Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible he had this commentary on verse 1…

“In His wisdom and sovereignty, God sets an appropriate time for everything.  At the right time, Christ was born (Galatians 4:4); at the right time, He lifts us up (1 Peter 5:6).  Don’t run ahead of God’s timing!  His blessings are always worth the wait.” 

We just concluded a 25 day consecutive series of post looking into the “Reason for the Season” and why we should be thankful at Christmastime.  If you missed it, you can catch up by ★ Clicking Here ★.  We spent that time delving into the significance of that Season and why it was so important for Jesus to come.  On Day 01 we started off with this quote from John Maxwell,

“Reflection turns experience into insight.” 

Today, as 2015 draws to an end, let’s not get ahead of God’s timing…Before we enter into a new year with fresh opportunities and a clean slate, I thought it appropriate to take moment in this season before January 1, to share with you what I have reflected upon that God spoke to me in the season of “Advent.”  My prayer is that like me, you would gain a new insight!  This will also be an opportunity for those that missed the series to get a sampling of what we posted about through the series.  Below are hyperlinks to each day’s post and one aspect that God really spoke to me about…

★ Day 01 – Reason for the Season – Why Do We Celebrate? ★

“Christmas is about Jesus being conceived in YOU!  It’s about Jesus growing in you and you delivering Jesus to the world around you.”  Robert Morris Senior Pastor at Gateway Church

★ Day 02 – Reason for the Season – Why I Say Merry Christmas ★

“First, meditate on the fact that we need a Savior.  Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight.  It will not have its intended effect until we feel desperately the need for a Savior.”  John Piper

★ Day 03 – Reason for the Season – Let Hope Arise ★

“In Scripture, however, hope is void of uncertainty.  In fact, certainty is at its core, because it rests in the stability of God, His character and His will, which are unwavering.  Biblical hope, then, can be defined as, “the confident expectation and desire for something good in the future…Hope is essential to our faith.”  121 Advent Bible Plan

★ Day 04 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Consumerism ★

“Celebrate Christmas with a spirit of adoration and joy.  Celebrate by stringing up twinkling lights on your front door.  Celebrate by humming the tunes of Nat King Cole and “Silent Night.”  Celebrate by giving to those in need.”  My Daughter, age 14

★ Day 05 – Reason for the Season – Faith Like Mary ★

“For the word of God will never fail.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant.  May everything you have said about me come true.”  And then the angel left her.  Luke 1:37-38

★ Day 06 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Should Change Us ★

Regardless of whether we are just starting out in life or reaching the end, their example shows that you are never too young or too old to experience God’s promises!”  My wife’s insight

★ Day 07 – Reason for the Season – Unwavering Acceptance ★

“Integrity is when your behavior matches your beliefs … when what you SAY and what you DO aren’t separate … it’s an INTEGRATED lifestyle.  Integrity will bring you peace.  Trust, Respect, Honor and Influence will happen for you if you walk with integrity.”  David Smith, Elder at Gateway Church

★ Day 08 – Reason for the Season – Christmas or X-Mas? – Part 2 ★

“He [Jesus] must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” of John 3:30 (NLT) 

★ Day 09 – Reason for the Season – Who Do You Belong To? ★

The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”  C.S. Lewis

★ Day 10 – Reason for the Season – What is the Spirit of Christmas? ★

“The beauty of the hope ushered in through Christ and made alive in us through His Spirit, is that it gives us the ability to have abiding hope, that transcends earthly circumstances and uncertainty.”  121 Advent Bible Plan

★ Day 11 – Reason for the Season – Following Jesus Will Cost You ★

“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.”  Matthew 5:44-45 (NASB)

★ Day 12 – Reason for the Season – Oh Holy Night ★

“God rules all things—even motel capacities—for the sake of his children.  The Calvary road begins with a “No Vacancy” sign in Bethlehem and ends with the spitting and scoffing of the cross in Jerusalem.”

“Yes, God could have seen to it that Jesus have a room at his birth.  But that would have been a detour off the Calvary road.”  John Piper

★ Day 13 – Reason for the Season – The Nativity Revealed ★

“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”  2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT)

★ Day 14 – Reason for the Season – Joy to the World ★

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”  Kay Warren

★ Day 15 – Reason for the Season – A Shepherd’s View of Christmas ★

“The people that men consider to be NOBODIES, God considered them to be SOMEBODIES.”  Kevin Brennan

★ Day 16 – Reason for the Season – Gifts from the Heart ★

“The true secret of life is to give rather than receive, and no greater gift has been given to us than God   giving His only Son, Jesus, to make a way for us, to bring us hope and salvation.”   Chris Tomlin

★ Day 17 – Reason for the Season – Consumed with Busyness ★

“Want to Keep Christ in Christmas?

Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”  Steve Maraboli

★ Day 18 – Reason for the Season – Jesus Is _____ ★

“Without Jesus, Christianity is just another religion among many. After all, He is the very essence of God who came not only to take away the sins of the world, but to reveal the Father to us in the flesh.”  Tony Evans

★ Day 19 – Reason for the Season – Everlasting Gratitude ★

“The greatest source of happiness is the ability to be grateful at all times.”  Zig Ziglar

★ Day 20 – Reason for the Season – The Father’s Love ★

“Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties.”  C.S. Lewis

★ Day 21 – Reason for the Season – Neighborly Competition ★

“I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  John 8:12b (NKJV)

★ Day 22 – Reason for the Season – Part of the Stable Few? ★

“Worship will get you through the toughest times in your life, because it shifts your focus from the problem to the problem solver.”  Unknown

★ Day 23 – Reason for the Season – Can Christians Condone Claus? ★

“Santa Claus may be fun at Christmas, but he pales in comparison to the One who reigns forevermore. Jesus can give you what you really need.”  Max Lucado

★ Day 24 – Reason for the Season – Best Christmas Gift Ever! ★

“Status was never important to Jesus but selflessness was…Christ surrendered everything He loved in order that He might serve those He loved.”

“What did Christmas mean to Christ?  It meant giving up heaven, giving up the beauty of His home and selflessly coming to Earth.”  David Jeremiah

★ Day 25 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Isn’t the Destination ★

“Christmas doesn’t end December 25th…Its beautiful reality really should linger a little longer.”  Lysa TerKeurst


Let start off the New Year by closing out 2015 with a new insight!

 

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★ Day 17 – Reason for the Season – Consumed with Busyness ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1

17 - Daily Dependence - Dilbert - Christmas PartyI love this comic for two reasons…One because I have worked for companies that scheduled the “Holiday Party” in January to save some money…(kind of defeats the purpose)…and the other because it opens today’s “Reason for the Season” with reminding us of the “stuff” that has to be done.  In yesterdays ★ Day 16 – Reason for the Season – Gifts from the Heart ★ we explored how to break the spirit of greed and materialism and adopt a new mindset focused on Jesus and others.  To close out that “Reason for the Season,” and transition for today’s, here is a powerful insight from David Jeremiah,
17 - Daily Dependence - Consumed with BusynessI pray as the Advent Season has been a time for reflection and renewal in how you view the 25 days leading up to Christmas.  I know that today’s title has probably tipped my hand in where this is going, but before that, let’s talk about all the great things about this time of year.  Prior to going artificial, finding a Christmas tree and the decorating process has always been a sweet time of connection with our family as we reminisced over the various ornaments from different years and seeing old photographs in some of them.  Back when we lived in the northeast, I loved going ice-skating at Rockefeller Center, though if you 17 - Daily Dependence - Flipsidewere on the ice at the same time, you would need to keep a wide berth from me as I am an unstable skater!  Christmas Caroling, great food, and of course presents come to my mind as well!  There is a magical feeling of good will and compassion for one another…It’s the most wonderful time of year!  But as my uncle once told me, “there is a flip side to everything.” Amidst all the merrymaking…comes the crowded malls, endless list of presents to purchase, lights to be strung up on the house, Christmas cards to address and get out in time, and of course the resulting credit card bills after Christmas.  There is even a Christmas Carol Parody by Bob Rivers about the flip side of Christmas called the “12 Pains of Christmas.”  Growing up it was one of my favorites.  It’s easy to lose yourself in all the chaos of the things that have to get done.

My wife sent this comic to me and it just cracked me up!

17 - Daily Dependence - Countdown to Star WarsEven if you are not a fan of the most epic, awesome and mind-blowing space odyssey ever conceived and executed on the silver screen, you are well away of the much-anticipated Star
Wars Episode VII, The Force Awakens that released last night!  A good friend of mine has been sending me countdowns17 - Star Wars Countdown to when we are hitting the theaters with the kids to see it!  As you can imagine, this has had my attention but the only think that can rival Disney’s endless marketing, is the incessant barrage from retailers trying to create a panic…”Time is running out”…”Act now before it’s too late”…”Only 7 days left until Christmas”…and so on.

So how has your Christmas season been going?  Have you been feeling pressured as the “To-Do” lists grow, and your schedules is jam-packed?  It’s no surprise that people get stressed out with so much to accomplish.  When you stop and think about it though, everything we consume ourselves with, is intended to make the most of this special time but it can end up leaving us drained and stressed to the hilt resulting in the opposite desired outcome.  Whether it be because of procrastination or truly too much to accomplish, I believe a lot of the craze is a result of not building in enough margin in our life…enough time to shop, enough time to drive from point A to point B, enough down time, and ultimately enough sleep…We are consumed with busyness and if we are not careful, the hustle and bustle, will cause to miss the “Reason for the Season”…the remembrance of the birth of Jesus…and ultimately steal our joy away from this wonderful time of year! But there is hope; if we could get our priorities straight we can have peace even with the lists.  17 - Daily Dependence - Billy Graham - Make Room for JesusI read this article from Billy Graham, “Make room for Jesus as you observe Christmas,” and this point really got to me about how are priorities…

“must bring great sadness to God to see the way we’ve treated His Son – not just at Christmas, but every day of the year.  The problem isn’t just that we’ve become preoccupied with material things…Nor is it only because Christ today is banned from our public celebrations of Christmas…The real problem is within our souls…Tragically, we still have no room for Jesus in our lives.”

If the whirlwind of “things to do” that I have been talking about describes how you typically experience this season, I want to encourage you to not let this year go by the same way. You can have peace…Day 8 of the of 121 Advent Bible Plan gives us some motivation too…

“When we live in peace, God is glorified because He is the God of peace. We reflect Him through peace, but we also receive lives of good, of flourishing. This is why peace matters!”

Christmas can be a great opportunity to reflect on what God has done for you, and all the blessings in your life…which I hope the past 17 days have helped you along the path.  Henri Nouwen Defined Christmas this way,

“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 saying yes Jesus and following His example.  He was the ultimate example for TRUE HUMILITY.  During this time I like to take stock in how I am measuring up, to become more humble and less self-absorbed.  I would like to say I am further along but I have blown it many times.  I love this definition from John Maxwell on what Humility

“Humility is a true recognition of our strengths and our weaknesses and then a willingness to be secure enough to admit our weaknesses and allow other people to come alongside of us.  Because a humble person is one, who seeks other people’s advice, their help, asks questions and understands as my friend John Wooden one time said, ‘It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.’”

Humility is about recognizing our own short comings and allow yourself to be molded by others.  It is also about being that for someone else, and not miss an opportunity to make an impact those around you because you are consumed with getting stuff done.  So with humble mindset, here is a fresh way to look at the “To-Do” List…Let’s push aside all the distractions and this year let’s commit to:17 - Daily Dependence - Christmas List

  1. Be Present
    – Let’s put down the iPad or smartphone and really engage with those in front of us.
  2. Wrap Someone in a Hug
    – Let’s look for an opportunity to show the love of Christ to someone in need.
  3. Send Peace
    – It used to be a letter, but you can always send a text, Facebook message or email to someone you haven’t talked with in a while to let them know you care.
  4. Donate Food
    – Find a food pantry to serve at or help to feed those less fortunate.  There is a great opportunity on tomorrow in Dallas if you are free…click here for more information.
  5. Make Love (…keep it G-Rated)
    The Bible says in John 3:16 (NIV)…

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

17 - Daily Dependence - Doing for OthersBe the hands and feet of God where you live, work and play.  I will take a moment to share something very special that my 12-year old daughter made this for me last weekend for breakfast that made my day!  I share this to inspire you to find some way big or small to bring some love into the people’s lives around you!

  1. Be the Light
    There is such negativity in the world…a pervasive atmosphere of hopelessness, pessimism, skepticism, abounds and I believe that is a result of a lack of people who genuinely care for anyone other than themselves.  Martin Luther King, Jr. said,

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 

Be the light that drives out the darkness!  In Matthew 5:14, 16 (NKJV), Jesus said, 17 - Matthew 5-14_16 - Let Your Light ShineHow different would this world be if this list was the kind of busyness we were consumed with??  How different would we be if we did approach it that way?  And the great thing is, you can start today and if you continue, there is a bonus for you…You will feel less stressed and depressed.  Mark Twain gives us some great advice…

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer everybody else up.”  

I saw this happen in my life just two weeks ago when my oldest daughter had a piano recital at a local Assisted Living Facility.  I love to watch her play piano but if I am being honest with you, the timing was terrible.  It was at 2 pm on a Saturday and my “to do list” for that day was packed…But as I watched the residents slowly enter the lobby with canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, I felt God move in my heart and gently show me how much I had to be grateful for.  It also reminded me of my mother who since having a stroke now lives in a similar facility.  As the recital went on and I surveyed the room of over 30 residents in attendance, it was incredible the joy these“young Mozarts” brought to the residents who probably don’t have many visitors.  17 - Daily Dependence - Playing Piano for People in an Assited LivingThis woman in particular got my attention because she put her hand out after each performance to “high five” the child to encourage them that they did great!  You can see the beaming look in her face, she was being the light.  As I soaked in that moment, my “to do list” that was so important just an hour earlier was now gone from my mind and I felt so strongly…This is what Christmas is all about!  Being the light to those around me is all that matters!  17 - Daily Dependence - Paint brush Gift from the ResidentsWhen the recital concluded, the children were blessed with this special Paint Brush Gift that the Residents made for them to say thank you!

You may have noticed that this post came a day late and I do apologize for that!  I too was consumed with busyness but for a wonderful reason…Tonight we are doing a presentation for my in-law’s 50th Wedding Anniversary and I was in charge of the PowerPoint that took longer than expected…Hahahah!  Though we missed a day, we will still post 25 Days of Thankfulness, we just run through December 26.  I will close with this question, how do keep Christmas in your heart and not be consumed with busyness?   Steve Maraboli will help us with that answer…

17 - Daily Dependnece - Steve Maraboli - Keep Christ in Christmas“Want to Keep Christ in Christmas?

Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

Here is a link to a very cool modern interpretation of the historical events surrounding Jesus’ birth and how it might have been had a social network existed at that time.

A Social Network Christmas

I leave you with this blessing from Philippians 1:2 (ESV)

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 18 – Reason for the Season – Jesus Is _____ ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

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★ Day 02 – Reason for the Season – Why I Say Merry Christmas ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1

This comic really captures the atmosphere in America.

02 - Daily Dependence - Comic - CreationWise - Why I Say Merry Christmas - Offended by ChristmasEveryone is so concerned about offending people that they have no problem trampling on the rights of those who want to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  It used to be that regardless of whether you believed in Jesus or not, the Christmas season was a time that everyone could come together and celebrate a time of peace and good will to all.  As I think about the upcoming Christmas season of decorating, shopping and everything else that come along with it, I would like to take a moment today and think about “The TRUE Reason for the Season” which is so beautifully conveyed in John 3:16-17 (NLT)…

“For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.”

“God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son”stop…You can read that and pass right over the significance of these two words, “He gave.”  When it says that He gave it means that He willingly sacrificed His beloved Son up to die in the most heinous way so that “everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life!”  Jesus was born of a virgin woman over 2,000 years ago to make a way for you and I to be saved.  He was sent “into the world not to judge the world,” as some many believe, “but to save the world through Him.”  Now that is something to celebrate!  John Piper made this powerful point in his “Good News of Great Joy | Daily Readings for Advent Devotional,” about the first thing we need to do as we enter the Advent Season,02 - Daily Dependence - John Piper - Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight

“First, meditate on the fact that we need a Savior.  Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight.  It will not have its intended effect until we feel desperately the need for a Savior.”

Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight.”  Wow that is powerful!  I never thought of Christmas in that way before that it that serves to illustrate that we are lost without Jesus and deserve to be condemned because of our Sin.  But John 3:16-17 is the path to acquittal where all formal charges can be dropped!  But we need to make that choice!  People are offended by Christmas because it puts a spotlight on the fact that they have no relationship with Jesus.  1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV) says,

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

That was the case for me for sure!  It was not until I was 24 years old that I realized how lost I was and in need of a savior.  Though I had plenty of information about who Jesus was and the events of Christmas and Easter (when Jesus was raised from the dead after being crucified on the cross 3 days earlier,) there was no transformation in my heart.  I did not understand the significance of Jesus and how His birth over 2,000 years ago would change the course of human history and mine as well!!  Ultimately The Cross of Jesus and Christmas is and will remain folly to those perishing until we understand our need for a savior!  And until then this comic will continue to be the reality…

It really is astounding how Jesus has been “X-ed” out of Christmas in the largest Christian Nation.  I love what comedian Michael Jr. said about this,

“Some people are offended by the phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ So I just say ‘Merry Jesus Birthday.’”

“Merry Jesus Birthday” sure has a catchy tone!  Hahaha!  I say Merry Christmas because it is a miraculous time and one worthy of recognition, it is NOT intended to offend or make others feel bad but to celebrate the coming of Jesus.  Christmas is a time of miracles, a time to remember Jesus’ birth and a time for renewal in our hearts.  As we discussed in the last post, ★ Day 01 – Reason for the Season – Why Do We Celebrate? ★, the start of the Christmas story is in Luke 1:5-25 (NLT) that recalls the first miracle of the Christmas Season as the Angel Gabriel announced that Zechariah and Elizabeth would conceive a son even though they were well along in years and that he would “prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.” (Verse 17)  Zechariah’s son who would be named John the Baptist, was the forerunner to Jesus, the Messiah to be His herald and do just what the Advent Season that we celebrate each year is intended!  Unfortunately though Zachariah did not believe, verse 18 says,

“Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this?  I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

Circumstances clouded his vision and understanding of the miracle-working God that he was serving in the Temple that very day!  So Zachariah’s unbelief, resulted in Gabriel responding in verse 20,

But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

But my favorite part of the story is that even though Zechariah had a moment of doubt, he did indeed believe as verses 23-24 proves,

“When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home.  Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months.”

Like Zachariah, you may have doubts, but I promise you if you open your heart to the truth pf John 3:16-17, you too can be thankful as I am to say Merry Christmas.  I read this quote somewhere that said,

“The most important part about Christmas is the first six letters.”

So I will close this Thought for the Day by saying…          

As an additional supplement to today’s “Reason for the Season”…I highly recommend you listen to “The Twelve Voices of Christmas” audio dramatization from Back to the Bible of “Gabriel – The Voice of Disclosure.”  This dramatization is designed to help the listener experience the story of Christ’s coming in a fresh way from the Gabriel’s perspective.

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 03 – Reason for the Season – Let Hope Arise ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

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★ Day 01 – Reason for the Season – Why Do We Celebrate? ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1John Maxwell once said,

“Reflection turns experience into insight.” 

This simple statement really motivated me to look at the Christmas Story with a new set of eyes and to earnestly seek to explore the “Reasons for Season,” and why I should be thankful.  The muse for this 25 Day Devotional was born from a conversation with y wife as I told her that I want this Christmas to be different from any other.  In her typical motivational nature, she challenged me to write a series of reasons what I am thankful during the Advent Season.  In our last post ★ Thought for the Day – Begging God For_____? ★, we discussed the importance for being thankful and introduced the series that we will be doing for the next 25 Days where we reflect and turn that experience into insight!  Each day we will post daily Reasons for Thankfulness for this Advent Season.  Psalm 136:1, 26 instructs us…

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good.  His love endures forever.  Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.” 

A thankful heart will change the bleakest of situations because when shift our focus from the circumstance to the Creator, anything is possible!  We just need to be patient and wait on the Lord which is what the Season of Advent is all about!  For those who may not be familiar with the term of “Advent,” Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines it as:

noun Ad·vent \ˈad-ˌvent

:  the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas and observed by some Christians as a season of prayer and fasting

01 - Daily Dependence - Advent WreathAdvent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.  Traditionally this has been observed with an Advent Wreath with (5) candles that represents Hope, Joy, Peace, Love and Jesus which would be lit each Sunday.  Interestingly, my church just started a series based on Advent this past Sunday so it is awesome to see how God is spreading His message through different outlets!  Growing up my family celebrated with an Advent Calendar which had small numbered flaps, with a picture and scripture verse 01 - Daily Dependnece - Advent Calendarthat taught a part of the Christmas story for the 25 days leading up to Christmas.  My brother and sister and I always fought to open the last day which had a double flap revealing the baby Jesus, a childhood memory I cherish to this day.  My Aunt has continued the tradition this year by getting my daughters a subscription to an online Advent Calendar which we will be starting today!

Much the same, each day we will look at the Christmas story to better understand the “Reason for the Season” in order to cultivate a true sense of Thankfulness for God sending His Son to be born in a manger.  Psalm 100 – A Psalm of Thanksgiving says,

“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!  Worship the Lord with gladness.  Come before him, singing with joy.  Acknowledge that the Lord is God!  He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.”

01 - Daily Dependence - Jesus the Reason for the SeasonThere are a lot of action Words – shout, worship and come singing with joy!  My prayer for you, and for me is that the next 25 days will not be a blur filled with “stuff” to check off the obligatory list, but that we would find a new sense of connection to Jesus!  Because to state the obvious,

Jesus the Reason for the Season! 

Come expectant for God to do something in you each day.  Someone who was expectant was the prophet Micah who foretold where Jesus the Messiah would be born over 700 years prior to His birth.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”  Micah 5:2 (NIV1984)

To help along with that, I started reading the YouVersion Bible Reading plan called 121 Advent’ (Click here to view).  I highly recommend you do the same.  In today’s devotional content they gave this great description:

The word “advent” is rooted in a Latin word simply meaning, “coming”.  Advent is a season of expectant waiting and preparation for the coming of Christ.  This side of the life, death and resurrection of Christ, we are able to celebrate this season of advent in two distinct ways.  We look back and identify with those that awaited and longed for the arrival of the Messiah foretold to them.  We do this from a perspective infused with knowing that God, in His faithfulness, provided that Messiah in Jesus, just as the Scriptures prophesied.  We also look ahead, in expectation and longing for the second coming of Christ.  Advent is not a biblical mandate, but a tradition implored among the Christian tradition to set our minds and hearts on the coming of Christ.”

For those who maybe have never read the Christmas Story in totality, here are the major stories:

Or if you want to read it completely through – Luke 1:5-56, Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:57 – 2:40, and Matthew 2:1-23.  Robert Morris has this great thought for you to reflect upon on why to celebrate this season…

“Christmas is about Jesus being conceived in YOU!  It’s about Jesus growing in you and you delivering Jesus to the world around you.” 
“Christmas is about Jesus being conceived in YOU!  It’s about Jesus growing in you and you delivering Jesus to the world around you.”

I am thankful that I have a Savior to celebrate and earnestly desire to grow more and more like Jesus!  So as we enter the Season of “Advent,” let’s spend the next 25 days really focused on setting our minds on Christ and reflecting on all the “Reasons for the Season” to cultivate a thankful heart!


If you would like to see the next installment of our 25 Days of Thankfulness series go here…★ Day 02 – Reason for the Season – Why I Say Merry Christmas ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

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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 – Stay the Course…Part 2 ★

In part 1 called ★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course ★ we discussed the importance of maintaining our integrity and persevering in our walk with God regardless of the physical temptations that we face daily. Today we are goign to delve into what it means to Stay the Course with our Finances.  If you look at the top of the webpage there is link called $ Building Your Money Muscle $ which is all about handling our finances God’s way.

79 - Daily Dependence - Building Your Money Muscle

This is a passion of mine that has been fueled by two sources: Robert Morris, senior pastor of Gateway Church and from Dave Ramsey and his Financial Peace University (FPU) Class. Between them I have grown in leaps and bounds in my understanding of what the bible has to say about money, possessions and the hold it can have on our hearts.  Robert Morris wrote an incredible book called “The Blessed Life” which really opened my eyes to a whole new viewpoint on finances!  It is a really easy read (and for me that is saying a lot…) that unlocked the secrets of living a blessed life both financially and spiritually.  Dave Ramsey’s FPU class is a practical, step-by-step class which teaches you and your family how to get out of debt, stay out of debt, and build wealth in a God honoring way.  This class revolutionized our lives and we still apply what we learned 7 years later!  If you are interested in taking the class, click the FPU Class Finder to locate one near you.

Okay, enough background on me, onto our Thought for the Day…In Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT) Jesus started off His teaching about Money and Possessions with this polarizing statement:

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 

Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

“Store your treasure in heaven!”  This is a critical point to catch because if your singular focus is on gaining and maintaining wealth instead of what God is interested then your heart will always be divided.

I love what Robert Morris said in “The Blessed Life” book:

“When you get to heaven, will you look back on this earth and regret how much treasure you laid up here instead of sending it on ahead to heaven?” 

79 - Daily Dependence - Matthew 6-24Jesus continued in Matthew 6:24 that…

“No one can serve two masters.  Either you will hate one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.”

Handling your finances God’s way is more about getting your priorities straight then being able to balance a checkbook.  It is deciding in your heart that “no matter what God, I will serve you first and foremost!”

So how do we get to that place?  We need to go to the instruction manual…The Bible…and reading about what God’s Word has to say.  It is also about making changes in how you spend your money and not continuing to make poor financial decisions.  We need to learn from the past and make new choices that will benefit the future.  Dave Ramsey once said:

“My goal is for you to learn from my past stupidity not your future stupidity!”

79 - Daily Dependence - Dave Ramsey - Let My Hindsight Be Your ForesightOr another way of saying it is to…let my hindsight be your foresight.  Learn from others, whether from a mentor or pastor, a class like FPU or family and/or friends who have a biblical worldview on handling their finances.  Let other’s hindsight on their mistakes lead/guide you in a new direction, one which looks UP rather than INWARD.  Rick Warren made this great parallel:

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

How much do you trust God to provide for your needs?  Now notice I did not say “wants,” I said “needs.”  That is a hard one for sure, one which I have to keep reminding myself on.  The Bible is full of truths about God’s faithfulness in this area…see Malachi 3:10-12 for just instance.  I could go on for hours on how I have seen this play out in my life!  Times when I tried to do it on my own strength and failed miserably…But then when I stopped, prayed and depended on Him, how God then opened the doors to opportunity and freedom!

The key is to stay the course.  “Stay the course” is a phrase used in the context of a war or battle meaning to pursue a goal regardless of any obstacles or criticism.  You may remember it used by Presidents George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan.  Don’t let the enemy or anyone knock you off this path to handling you finances God’s way.  The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 16:9 that he was going to stay in Ephesus to do God’s will “because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”  Opposition will always come when we try to do the Lord’s work or to do things that honors God because it eliminates the enemy’s hold on you.  But I encourage you to press on through and stay the course because if you trust in God, He is faithful to work in and through whatever situation your poor decisions/choices have led you into!  But with that said you will need to make sacrifices.  One of the fundamental quotes from Dave Ramsey is:

“Winning at money is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge.  Most of us know what to do, but we just don’t do it.”  
“Winning at money is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge.  Most of us know what to do, but we just don’t do it.”

This is not rocket science, which is good because I’m not that smart.  It is simply saying no to the “wants,” and start going in a new direction…A direction with a new heart and new way of thinking.  There are so many promises from God that He will take care of our needs.  But we have to do our part as well.  It really boils down to behavior modification and not giving up!  I love this quote from Thomas Edison, he said:

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” 

Could you imagine what the world would be like if Thomas Edison gave up!  Be strong and persevere.  The journey to getting out of debt and attaining Financial Peace will have setbacks and difficulties but I promise with God on your side and with a resolute “will” that you are not going to give up, you will reach the prize that we all want…true Financial Peace with God’s blessings!

On “A Minute with Maxwell,” the Word that John Maxwell spoke about was “Will.”  He said that:

“Will comes out of a passionate desire to accomplish something.  We often hear the expression ‘where there is a will there is a way’…that’s true.   Basically the WILL makes the WAY.”

Get that in your spirit, “The WILL makes the WAY.”  That could not be any more evident than in the life of Jim Ryun who ran the mile in 3:51.1 (that’s minutes not hours!)  Now that is an indomitable spirit, Jim Ryun once said:

“Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going.” 

So are you going to form new habits and change your legacy and family tree, or are you going to keep running your finances into the red?  I will close this from Zig Ziglar.

"People often say that motivation doesn't last.  Neither does bathing, that's why we do it daily." 
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last.  Neither does bathing, that’s why we do it daily.”

Everyday you need to immerse yourself in God’s Word to get a fresh outlook on life, a clean slate and renewed mind for your walk with Him and the direction for your finances!

★★★ Stay the Course! ★★★ 

If you would like to delve into more, you can check out a previous post called ★ Thought for the Day – Keeping Up With The Joneses? ★

 

 

 

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★ 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 – What’s Your Bottom Line? ★

48 - Daily Dependence - Dilbert - LeadershipI love this Dilbert comic on Leadership because it so poignantly portrays how good intentions tend to slip between the cracks as busyness increases.  Working in a corporate environment myself, I have found this to be true of myself more times then I would like to admit, and have also had it happen to me from time to time.  It is the desire of any person to have strong leadership and to genuinely feel like their manager or boss cares about their well being.  Too often, if we are not careful, the bottom line can crush the very people who are the company’s greatest asset!  William Arthur Ward stated it perfectly when he said:

"Wise are those who learn that the bottom line doesn't always have to be their top priority."
“Wise are those who learn that the bottom line doesn’t always have to be their top priority.”

All of us have to decide what will be most important in our lives.  Whatever you value, will have the highest priority in your company, organization and personal life.  Here is a great illustration of the difference between being a “boss” and being a “leader!”

48 - Daily Dependence - Leader vs BossWe have all had a boss like this, that believes “cracking the whip” on the “subordinates” is the only way to accomplish the goal.  But a true leader gets in front, and helps “shoulder the load” with the rest of the team!  If the latter could be the rule, instead of the exception, employees would stop feeling like they are in bondage, and instead feel valued, empowered and ready to work their heart out…Which ultimately will increase the bottom line!

So the question is, how does a company achieve success which keeps everyone employed, while also bringing fulfillment and satisfaction to those who are performing the work?  John Maxwell has what I think is probably the best way to develop the people who you lead called the “The 101 Principle”…

The 101 Principle – Finding the 1 percent you can affirm, and give 100 percent of your attention. Leadership rule #1 is this: Affirmation comes before confrontation. Good leaders look for the good in people and affirm it. Only then do they address the problems. (From the “John Maxwell Leadership Bible”)

So the question is…when power comes your way, what approach will we take?  Will you be a “boss,” and drive those under you to perform or will you be a “leader,” treating people with respect and making them feel as part of a team?  Ultimately, you will either devalue or add valueThat’s the bottom line!  

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★ Thought for the Day – Mastering Fear ★

Many times I have been wracked with fear.  Afraid to say the wrong thing.  Afraid to fail.  Afraid to move.  Do you know what is the most common statement in all the Bible that we are told?  “Do not be afraid!”  In fact here’s a “coincidental” fun fact…

I say “coincidental” but with God nothing is by accident.  He knew that we would need reminding because we all wrestle with insecurities and uncertainties…many people end up making decisions that are a direct result of their fear but making decisions based on fear can have disastrous results…

On a “A Minute With Maxwell,” John Maxwell made this profound statement concerning fear…

“The problem with fear, is it causes us to be inactive, it causes us not to go forward…I do have fears in my life, but I also have belief and faith.  And I have found that if I nurture my faith and belief and make it a more positive emotion than the negative emotion of fear that the positive emotion will help me to take action.”  (You can watch the rest here…http://johnmaxwellteam.com/fear)

Believe in yourself and nurture it…Don’t let fear paralyze you from making that decision whether it is a new career opportunity, a cross county move or the new business decision.  Remember not taking action is still a decision, it is deciding to allow fear to win.

"Courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it."  Mark Twain
“Courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it.”  Mark Twain

Easier said then done right?  Do you ever have trouble trusting God in difficult times?  Stupid question…who hasn’t experience worry, anxiety, and fear at one time or another.  It is natural, but all though the Bible we are told “Do not be afraid.”  In fact it is written 365 times, one for each day of the year.  I was reading Exodus about the escape of the Israelites from Egypt, and the subsequent chase by Pharaoh and his massive army; and though I have not been faced by certain extinction, there had been many times that fear has gripped me.

Exodus 14:10-14 (NLT) says,

As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord, and they said to Moses,

“Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness?  Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt?  What have you done to us?  Why did you make us leave Egypt?  Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt?  We said, ‘Leave us alone!  Let us be slaves to the Egyptians.  It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”

But Moses told the people,


“Don’t be afraid.  Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today.  The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.  The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Here is a great parallel verse from Psalm 46:10 (NLT),

“Be still, and know that I am God!  I will be honored by every nation.  I will be honored throughout the world.”

Matthew 11:28 (NLT) gives us this additional comfort for times of trouble,

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Just like the Israelites, we need to remember to JUST stay calm and trust God.  If we do, then we will no longer be a slave to fear but rather Fear’s Master!!

43 - Daily Dependence - Just Keep Calm and Trust God

If you would like to read more on the subject, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Who’s Chasing You? ★ 

★ Thought for the Day – Burnt Out? ★ 

32 - Daily Dependence - Burn outIf you have spent any amount of time on earth, at some point or another you have felt burnt out, whether it be excessive school work, managing the kids’ schedules, or a huge project deadline at work.  Burnout is not just physical exhaustion, as some may think it to be, it can also cause emotional and spiritual fatigue as well.  In a Psychology Today article, Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter stated that,

“Burnout is defined as a state of chronic stress and frustration that leads to:

  • Physical and emotional exhaustion;
  • Feelings of cynicism and detachment; and
  • A sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.”

In another article, I read that a new cause of employee burnout is always “Being On”.  Social media, smart phones and access to work emails pressures people to be “on,” even after hours.  Burnout is a serious issue, one which many people ignore, but to the detriment of themselves, and everyone around them.  Someone once said that,

“Burn out is what happens to you when lose your purpose.”  

I think that is such a great observation.  The times in my life when I have felt burnt out, I was at my lowest point, finding myself going through the motions, aimlessly adrift with no purpose and no hope.  John Maxwell put it this way,

32 - Daily Dependence - John Maxwell - Burn Out
“When I lose my purpose, I lose my passion. When I lose my way, I lose my will. Nobody helps anybody, when they can’t help themselves because they are burnt out.”

Burn out can have serious consequences on every aspect of our lives including our will to help others.  It can affect out family lives and our health.  If your answer to the question is “yes,” that you are burnt out, then I encourage you to take a break from the hectic schedule, and pressures of life and get some much needed R&R.  The time you take to just “stop and take a breath” well pay dividends!

Here is a final word from Steven Furtick from his incredible sermon series called “Moodswingers.”

“Burnout is when the demand placed on you is greater than the resource available to you.  Could it be that if God’s presence is inside you that you have unlimited resource.  But just when your lights go out, you no longer can access what’s available to you?”  

Watch the rest of the sermon recap below.

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Carpe Diem ★

The world lost the comedic genius of Robin Williams on August 11, 2014.  Besides inducing laughter and smiles to people around the world, he was an incredible dramatic actor who brought characters like Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams (Patch Adams)
29 - Daily Dependence - Patch Adams
Sean Maguire (Good Will Hunting)
29 - Daily Dependence - Good Will Hunting
and my personal favorite John Keating (Dead Poets Society) to life.
29 - Daily Dependence - Dead Poets Society
As I think about the joy that Robin Williams brought to his audiences, I am saddened to the core that he could not find enough for himself to prevent the depression from consuming him.  Life is fragile and at times like this it is natural to reflect upon our own mortality and take inventory.  Too often we take for granted that we have all the time in the world to tell people how we feel about them or to reconcile with a friend or family member that we are estranged from.  It is critical for us to realize that life is brief… James 4:14 (NASB) gives this somber reminder…

“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

That may be the case, but rather than despair, I think this should trigger us to make some changes….and to live life with purpose.  In the 1989 classic, Dead Poets Society, Robin William’s portrayal of Professor John Keating, inspired me to be more than I was, and to live life to the fullest!  In one of the most iconic scenes, Robin Williams gives this life lesson…

"Carpe diem.  Seize the day, boys.  Make your lives extraordinary." John Keating, Dead Poets Society.
“Carpe diem.  Seize the day, boys.  Make your lives extraordinary.” John Keating, Dead Poets Society.

Make your life extraordinary!  Our lives may be a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow, but we can leave an impact that lasts for generations to come.  It is time to stop wasting time…seize the day and make an impact!  I endeavor to that with my wife and children, as well as friends and pretty much anyone I come into contact with.  I am far from hitting the mark but I am always striving to do better.  As the new school year approaches, I have been encouraging my daughters to look for that person who is being left out or just doesn’t fit in, and be a friend to them.  The late great motivational speaker Zig Ziglar made this profound statement…

“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.”
“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.”

And that is so true!  People who know me today would probably be surprised to hear this, but I was that kid that was in need of kindness and a friend.  Living an extraordinary life is not about acquiring power or about monetary wealth or living in an extravagant house or driving a luxury car, but by making a difference in the lives of the people in your sphere of influence.  John Maxwell has one of the best definitions of success which is my mantra and what I would call living an extraordinary life…

“Success means having those closest to me love and respect me the most.”

If you asked those closest to you, what would they say?  I love how Anna Quindlen put it…

"When in doubt, choose the kids.  There will be plenty of time later to choose the work."  
“When in doubt, choose the kids.  There will be plenty of time later to choose the work.”

This Thought for the Day is all about making an impact on the people who are around you.  Take the time to spend with your children, (and your spouse) instead of working late, you will never regret that!  The very last command that Jesus made to the disciples in Matthew 28:19 was about making an impact, He said:

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” 

Life is fragile.  Life is brief.  Make an impact!  Seize the Day! 

So what does that mean for you?  What habits or routines do you need to break?  Do you need to start leaving work on time so that you are there for the people in your lives that need you to be around more?  What opportunity or decision are you hesitating on to make that could make an impact?  The choice is yours…


For those unfamiliar with the Dead Poets Society, check out this inspiring scene…Carpe Diem!

 

 


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★ Thought of the Day – What are You the Architect of? ★ 

I once read this definition of Architecture:

“By the simplest definition, architecture is the design of buildings, executed by architects.  However, it is more.  It is the expression of thought in building.  It is not simply construction, the piling of stones or the spanning of spaces with steel girders.  It is the intelligent creation of forms and spaces that in themselves express an idea.” 

As an Architect by vocation, this quote beautifully captures what an architect is.  Ultimately though, before any piling of stones or spanning of girders, a tremendous amount of decisions and problem solving must occur.  In both architecture and in life, I believe to be successful, these skills are paramount.

And that leads us to, what are you the Architect of?  Life is a series of decisions that we have to make, so….what choices are you making in your career and in your personal life?

On A Minute with Maxwell,  the Word was “Choices.”  John Maxwell quoted one of my favorite John Wooden quotes….

“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.”
“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.”

“In the end, the choice you make makes you.”  I love that so much!  That goes far deeper than just what career direction to go in or where you spend your 40+ hours a week….it really speaks of the level of integrity that you will walk out in your everyday life.  And it puts the responsibility right where it belongs…on me.  And on you.  What choices are you making today that down the road you will be thankful for?  Are there choices you are making that will become regrets, or areas that you are compromising in?  I think that for many people this quote is unfortunately all to true…

 

“I’m the Architect of my own disaster.”

I would like to flip it around and look at it this way…that “I’m the Architect of my own success”….Each one of us has the power to choose a life marked by integrity and honesty, but of course just like in Architecture, you have to be intelligent in what decisions you make.  Nothing changes if nothing changes.  I will close with final quote…

“The choices we make, almost always determine the level of success we have.”  John Maxwell
 
 

★ Thought for the Day – Procrastination is the Thief of Time ★

"Procrastination is the thief of time."
“Procrastination is the thief of time.”

Edward Young penned these words in the 1600’s and it is so true!  I cannot imagine how much time I have wasted doing the things that were inconsequential, while putting off what had to be done…whether it be a term paper, waking up on time for class, (or now for work), or getting the project deadline completed.  I am the chief offender when it comes to procrastinating.

On “A Minute with Maxwell,” the Word of the Day was  “PROCRASTINATION,”  I could not wait to hear what John Maxwell had to say on the topic.  Do you know it took me 2 days to watch it??  Seriously, I put off watching a 60 second message on Procrastination!  I jest about this, but he made a great point, one which I want to be true of my life!  John Maxwell said:


“What I learned about Procrastination is very simple, it never works, and that there is never a convenient moment…People that are highly successful have disciplined themselves and they have conquered the habit of procrastination and they know the power of initiating. Do it now! Let that be your mantra!”

 

12 - Daily Dependence - John Maxwell - Procrastination
“What I learned about Procrastination is very simple, it never works, and that there is never a convenient moment…People that are highly successful have disciplined themselves and they have conquered the habit of procrastination and they know the power of initiating.  Do it now!  Let that be your mantra!”

This “Thought of the Day” is really for me…highly successful people do not procrastinate!  What will you do different today?

★ Thought for the Day – Are You Qualified? ★

I can’t tell you how many times that I have felt so inadequate, unqualified and unable to do what I do.  Whether be in my family life as a husband and father or in business or in ministry, doubts and insecurities are always screaming in my mind that I am over my head.  I once heard John Maxwell speak at a Men’s conference and he said something that blew me away…he said that

“I am always one step away from stupid.”

That is a humbling statement, and great wisdom, that no matter how far along in your journey, you are always one bad decision away from blowing it!  We need to daily renew our mind and renew our relationship with our heavenly Father in order to serve God in our vocation, our families and our ministry assignments!  I know myself, I am not worthy to be used by God, but only through His mercy and grace that am I able to do anything.  I love how Jon Acuff put it…

“Next time you feel unqualified to be used by God remember this, He tends to recruit from the pit, not the pedestal.”

Another way to say it is that…

“God doesn’t call the QUALIFIED,
He qualifies the CALLED!”  Unknown

10 - Daily Dependence - Qualify the Called
If you want the answer to whether or not you’re qualified, I will tell you with absolute certainty, you’re not (…and I’m not either!)  That is why we need a daily dependence on God.  Don’t worry about being qualified, all you need is a heart to serve others and a willingness to step out in faith…and God will qualify you!
 

★ Thought for the Day – Talent vs. Integrity ★

If you were asked…What is more important to have, talent or integrity, what would you answer?  Depending on the audience you were in front of at the moment, perhaps the answer would be different.  By the world’s standards, the resounding response would be “TALENT” unequivocally.  There is clear belief that to make it in this world, Talent is preeminent, and your “Integrity” needs to be laid aside.  Mark Batterson said it perfectly,

"Our culture celebrates TALENT more than INTEGRITY.  We've got it backwards."  
“Our culture celebrates TALENT more than INTEGRITY.  We’ve got it backwards.”

You don’t have to look too hard to see this played out…from America’s Got Talent, to American Idol, to the adulation that professional athletes and celebrities receive, Talent is everything, and integrity or character…well…that takes a backseat.  The John Maxwell Company posted a blog called, “Why Talent Won’t Cut It,” and they made this astute observation that “Character Protects Your Talent”: :

“Figure skater Tonya Harding, golfer John Daly, sprinter Marion Jones, and cyclist Lance Armstrong…each of these athletes had dazzling ability, but lacked the character to sustain it.  Overcome by jealousy, Harding hired a hitman to attack her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, thereby sacrificing her shot at Olympic stardom.  Daly won the PGA Championship as a rookie, and the British Open a few years later, but his off-course drinking problems kept him from winning as much as his talent merited.  Both Jones and Armstrong gave in to the temptation to supplement their natural talents with performance enhancing drugs.  While the decision brought them victories in the short-run, each eventually got caught and suffered a fall from grace.”

Integrity is the glue that unites talent with success.  Without it, eventually all the talent in the world will not stop the house of cards from collapsing!  Integrity…It matters!