Have you ever run out of money before? There is literally nothing more embarrassing or frustrating than that situation alone. There is a secret that could give you the security to know that you will not ever run out of money again. You want to know what it is?
Cash Rules Everything Around Me…or does it? I’m not going to jump into the song by Wu-Tang here, but I did use that as an idea way way back when to produce a sermon series based on the same title. We weren’t capturing audio or video back then so those archives are up in smoke. I will say, though, that we had an idea during that series where I challenged people to tithe faithfully for 40 days and after that 40 days if they were unsatisfied with the way God blessed them during that season, that we, the church, would give them a refund. Surprisingly, not a single person asked for their money back!
I don’t think money rules everything, but it does play a part in literally everything we do and because of that, we need to have a good angle on how to treat it and be cautious of the ways it could treat us.
Reading through the book of Ecclesiastes right now for my current sermon series and I see a great many ways where Solomon, the self-proclaimed wisest man ever, and sequentially the wealthiest man ever, treated money. I see areas where he seemed to almost regret, albeit without saying it, some of the choices he made when it came to wisdom and money.
So my quest for this week is to decipher what we can learn about money. I’ll give you a bit of a behind-the-scenes look into my life for a minute so I can establish some credibility. First, I am not a professional financier. I don’t have an MBA. I’m not in banking. So please know that what I’ve learned and some of what I’ll disclose was learned through trial and error and through the wisdom of others. In other words, take it with a grain of salt rather than a statement of fact.
Here’s what I can offer: Down to earth perspectives on budgeting, spending, teaching your kids about, investing (stocks and otherwise), debt reduction, etc. It’ll be fun!
Personally, I am really intrigued by this kind of stuff. Always have been. I like reading about it, researching and attempting things that will help move our family forward.
Back in 2016, I established a 10-year goal for our family when it came to money, and I put in place some things about what and how to teach our kids about money.
My goal was simple, but still very large – total debt freedom by 2025 during which time, we would take a good vacation every year and still save between 3K and 10K.
Now, I’ve amended some things since then and am currently pursuing a different line of investing, but the end goal remains the same- debt freedom by 2025.
As we start this week, let me ask you this question:
What’s your long-term goal (5-10yrs)?
Reality is that if you have no target, you will never hit anything. We make a great many mistakes in life not because we don’t know but because we don’t have a specific target in mind. So let’s begin with some intentionality- come up with a target you’d like to hit and let’s begin moving the needle on getting that finished. What goal would you be willing to share here?
What a picture that is. This is Grayson the day before the launch of Grand Point Church Shippensburg. We had gathered together a few of our team to pray over the space and what God had intended. We sat, kneeled on the floor in a circle with Pastor Lawrence leading us and here’s Grayson in this position of humility and petition. It was incredibly humbling to watch Grayson put himself in this position and something he could have only learned from watching someone else.
In this humble moment, while my mind was torn between the pending opening day, my heart also took steps toward being a father and my most important role of leading my kids to Jesus.
When kids are young like Grayson is, spiritual development moments seem sporadic at best. So when they come they deserve to be celebrated with exuberance. I’ll be honest, I haven’t been the best leader when it comes to developing these moments. I’ve always struggled with what Spiritual development looks like from a father to his kids. This shows me it’s connecting somewhere.
Years ago, on my first day of my master’s degree, I really heard the Lord impressing on my the responsibility of leading my kids in the presence of Jesus rather than just in his proximity. It’s a travesty to find that while they knew of him, they never actually knew him personally. What kind of pastor would I be if that were the case!?
This shows me one thing very profound, my kids are watching and they want to learn. I’ve got to take these opportunities while they may be found and create them with intentionality rather than hope they get it. It’s my job to command them and to direct them in the way of the Savior.
Help me out here, what do you do to intentionally lead your kids to Jesus on a personal level?
There is no substitute for faith being built into life. I’m not sure faith is something you just “have”. I think it’s something you learn. Hebrews 11:1- “Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.”
Faith is built through experience.
As I look at my life I have come to realize that my faith has been built forged through the experiences that I allowed. But even larger than that, my faith was built through the experiences that my parents allowed me to be involved in or lead our family in.
Think about the largeness of that statement…the decisions you make as a parent are either leading your children to or away from greater faith in the Lord.
This is why it’s so incredibly important that faith be built into our children’s lives when they are young. It’s so much easier to accept the largeness of life when everything in life is large. When they are so innocent to realize that everything is bigger than their ability. That also speaks to the faith they build from you just being their parents. You are demonstrating faith to your children by being faithful to the commitments and promises you are leading through in their lives.
Could it be the reason they are struggling being faithful as a teen is because they didn’t watch you be faithful as a toddler?
Please don’t hear me coming down on you, I struggle with this as much as anyone else and the most important thing I have realized is the best time to start teaching anything is today, so make it a determination to be intentional about teaching faith…today.
Faith is fleshed out in so many ways. Namely and most importantly faith in Jesus for salvation.
After faith in salvation, they are learning sustaining faith; the faith that helps through our lives. Sometimes this is even more specific than faith in salvation. For some reason it’s takes more faith to live than it does to trust God for eternal life. I want my kids to learn that we can trust God with every part of our lives including our eternal life and they need to see that fleshed out.
Recently while I was away at a cabin for a few days, I spent a lot of time praying.
I’ve always loved these periodic times away that my wife makes me do yearly. I love that she values me that much. It’s such a refreshing time that usually fuels me for months to come.
During this time away, God really spoke to me about my fathering. I believe that fathering (or parenting for that matter) is something to be faced with a lot of intentionality. It’s not something that we can be super passive about but needs to be something that is really guarded with specificity.
God took me to this particular verse that I’ve read a thousand times before, but this time gave a sense of parenting that I felt I really needed. Proverbs 1:8 NIV, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mothers teaching.”
The very nature of this one verse tells me loads about what I should be doing as a parent. 1) my kids are looking at me for instruction. 2) They are looking at momma too. 3) They are looking at the way I back up momma. 4) I’m either teaching my kids out of wise words or foolish ones.
Before I left my time at the cabin I made a few enormous realizations.
I realized that my time a lot at the cabin is now finished. The next time I go to this cabin a few of my boys (or kids) need to make that journey with me. I need to teach them how to wrestle with the word of God and make it come alive in their hearts and lives.
They need to experience life in the woods and the thrill of being alone in a forest.
I also realized all of my kids needs some very intentional leading in their lives so I put a list together of things I feel I need to strive to teach my kids over the coming years. We’ll explore those over the coming days.
There must be a place where things disappear. Some third dimension or other world where there must be a mound of socks the size of the Rocky Mountains. Maybe a slightly smaller mountain of pillowcases, I can never find the pillowcases that match after we’ve washed all 7 sets of sheets in our house for us and all our kids.
John 15:2, Jesus declares, He cuts away every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit.
That verse has always been a bit peculiar to me. What could that possibly mean, that God removes every branch that does produce fruit!? To me that doesn’t sound like the loving, caring, compassionate God I’ve been lead to believe that He is.
If you’re just joining me in this quest through John 15, you’ve missed a few things and you should check out the other posts I’ve already written on this text. You can find them here, here, and here. There’s just so much contained in this passage of Scripture that Jesus unleashes on his few, during these last hours of his life on earth.
In preparation for preaching this message, I did some research on the original wording that Jesus used and what I found was simply astounding. What he said wasn’t to “cut off” at all. The word he said was the Greek word “airo”, which means, to raise from the ground, or to raise upwards, elevate, to lift up.
He was clearing identifying that this caring Gardner is walking through the vineyard looking for these branches that have somehow fallen off their trellis. A vine can’t grow anything when it’s on the ground. It’s going to be trampled. Animals are going to get to it and destroy it.
It hasn’t become worthless that it needs to be “cut off” and thrown away, no it just needs to be repositioned so it can produce fruit!
This realization was shocking to me! The problem is not the branch, the problem is the trellis! It didn’t hold up. You, being the branch, are at the full mercy of this gracious Gardner to ensure you are in a proper position of bearing fruit!
When you get a moment, read through this passage again, see for yourself the care of this Father! It’s simply amazing how gracious and patient he is with us, the branches.
I want to point something else out to you that seems to be confusing. The only thing Jesus tells people to do in that passage is to be a branch. I know there’s a lot of descriptive wording about bearing fruit and all that goodness, but the only responsibility we have is to be a branch. The fruit-bearing is up to the Gardner. Rest in that reality.
David wrote in Psalm 1:1-3. David declares right there a profound and freeing truth that we all should strive to understand. It’s the fact that we bear fruit in season. Let me tell you, my friend, seasons change and that means there will be times in your life that you don’t bear any fruit.
Maybe you’re going through one of those seasons right now and with everything you’ve got, you’re wondering how you get back to that fruit-bearing season. Just remember whose job it is to produce the fruit.
You just be a branch.
Be a really good branch.
One that stays strong, and connected to the Vine.
There you are, becoming a wicked awesome branch and before long, you’ll bear fruit again.
I’ve been cut many times in my life. Mostly when I was a kid and just being stupid learning that knives cut and some knives cut fast.
Some are so sharp that you can’t even feel the cut until after it’s done. It just slices so easily and quickly and then you’re left only to be bleeding all over the place wondering how on earth you got cut. It’s a little terrifying.
I believe that the words NOT written in the bible may be as important as those contained in the Bible.
John 15 has always been a super profound bible text to me. It seems to really draw and center right at the heart of Jesus himself and his heart and passion for his closest friends.
This being just days, maybe even hours before his death, and knowing that, he takes this super intense opportunity to pinpoint his passion for the church, both present and future, about some things they may not understand for years to come.