Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Prayer

Do You Have a Dream(s) for 2020?

Joseph was just a teenager of 17.  He received two significant dreams that he foolishly, and in a bit of arrogance, shared with his family.  Of course, if you know the story, his brothers hated him for the content of those dreams and for expressing them.  (Genesis 37:1-11)

 

It would be another 20 or so years until those dreams became reality.  During those years he experienced some really low periods, like jail time in a king’s dungeon for a false accusation.  But Joseph held onto his dreams from God.

 

A dream is a direction that you feel led toward from your spirit, not your head.  It typically incorporates your personal bent and gifts.  When God sparks a dream in your heart, it’s difficult to let it go. I have experienced many dreams/visions fulfilled over my 65 years.  As I look back, I am in awe of what my heavenly Father has brought about.  That said, I also believe there are still many more dreams to be fulfilled. It takes a dream, a vision from the Lord to move you on.

 

It’s not that we’re discontent, for if we are, we’ll most likely remain where we’re presently at for some time. Dreams are from God about what’s next, what He’s preparing you for and that means you need to finish what you’re doing.  We need to complete it well, with integrity and no burned bridges.  There is something about completing a vision or taking it as far as God desires you to.  We must find contentment in what our Father has given our hands to do.  Godliness with contentment is great gain.  (I Timothy 6:6)

 

Author Steve Addison wrote, “Discontent without vision leads to cynicism, but a dream without action is a fantasy.”

 

God downloads a life-giving dream into your spirit, you begin to consciously see it and either meditate on what the Father is saying or begin excusing why the thought couldn’t be God and dismiss it. If we have our eyes on his present circumstances only, we’ll feel as though Joseph missed God or God missed Joseph.  Not so. Life was happening to Joseph, but all for a reason.

 

God was wasting nothing.  His plan was coming about.  In Genesis 45 we see that Joseph’s heart was broken as his brothers knelt before him and he sobbed uncontrollably. Did he miss his brothers?  Yes.  Did he miss his father?  Yes.  But perhaps that is not why he was crying.  Maybe, just maybe, he was crying because the dream he had as a child was being fulfilled, before his very own eyes.  Nothing was amiss or awry.  God did not mess up or forget one single detail. All those years of suffering now melted away with purpose and fulfillment.  All those years of not knowing about his homeland or his family while in Egypt, are now history with the exuberance of a fulfilled dream taking place before him.

 

Do you have a dream?  Is there something inside of you?  Is there something you are passionate about to pursue?  If not, ask God for a dream, a vision from Him. Give your dreams a place in your prayer life.  Write down what you hear your Father speak to you and write down the answers He reveals.  As Habakkuk 2:2 says – “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.”

 

We have a brand-new year ahead of us – 2020.  Maybe you gave up on a dream or thought it too lofty;  consider re-digging those wells.  Give thanks for the many fulfilled dreams in your life and expect, anticipate many more. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.  (Proverbs 13:12 NLT)

 

Dream on!

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Encouragement, Issues of the Day

Christmas, It’s More Than a “Holiday”

How frequently are we greeted with the words, “Happy Holiday.”  But isn’t it much more than just a holiday?

 

It’s more than a date – December 25th.

 

It’s more than an elf on a shelf.

 

It’s more than a celebratory meal.

 

It’s more than stockings hung neatly in a row.

 

It’s more than gifts and more gifts.

 

It’s more than a tree.

 

It’s more than an emotional uplift.

 

It’s more than a story.

 

It’s more than carol singing.

 

It’s more than an allegory.

 

It’s more than time off work.

 

It’s more than cookies galore.

 

It’s more than bright lights.

 

It’s more than a star.

 

It’s more than becoming uptight.

 

And, it’ so much more than Saint Nicholas.

 

It’s Christ-mas!

Have a very blessed Christmas season and may Jesus, God incarnate, be your reason to rejoice!

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Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day

It’s Christmas; Do Not Be Afraid

Are you aware that the phrase “do not be afraid” in some form appears in the Bible approximately 344 times?  In the majority of those times, it is recorded as spoken by God to the people He loves.  Surely God understands the condition of the human heart and its propensity to give in to fear.  It seems He knew that we would deal with fear throughout our lives and so He continually reassured us to not be afraid.

 

This Christmas season, I am attracted to how many times He spoke this phrase around the birth of His Son, Jesus.  To Joseph, Mary’s soon to be husband, He said to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife because what is conceived in her is from God.  To Mary, an angel spoke that she was not to be afraid, she had found favor with God and would bear a Son.  To the shepherds, God through the angels said to not be afraid, for they were bringing good news: a Savior was born for all people.

 

All the way to the last book of the Bible where God states that we were not to be afraid for He is the First and the Last.

 

Did you know that the opposite of fear is love?  Elsewhere the Scriptures reveal that perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18).  Why or how?  Because there is no fear in love.  God’s love has come to us this Christmas in the form of His Son.  Just like the message to Joseph, to Mary and to the shepherds, fear not!  God’s love for you and for me removes all fear.

 

Have a very blessed and love-filled Christmas! 

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Challenge, Children, Parents

10 Ways to Train Your Children in Finance

There is no better time than now, today, to start teaching your children about money, saving, spending, credit, debt and giving.  As we approach Christmas, a time of giving and receiving, you’ll have a perfect opportunity.

Take the financial lessons you have learned and use them as a teaching tool to those little ones in your life, either as a parent, a grandparent or a caretaker. Their future spouses, teachers and employers will love you for it. Author and financial teacher Larry Burkett once said that we are not responsible for our children’s decisions, but we are responsible for their training.

  • It all begins and hinges on helping them to understand that God owns it all. We are to be the best stewards of everything He shares with us and because God is so generous, teach generosity. There is no greater blessing than to give.
  • Teach the difference between self-discipline, delayed gratification, and immediate self-gratification.
  • Give your children regular and meaningful responsibilities – jobs without pay, e.g., picking up their toys. Do not give an unearned, free ride allowance, but rather, give your children regular jobs with generous pay, e.g., mowing the lawn or folding the laundry.
  • Teach your children to tithe from every dollar earned or given to them. It is all God’s, but discipline in regular giving grows a habit.
  • Teach your children to save a percentage of their income for the future (30-50%), all the while designating a percentage of what can be spent immediately.
  • Teach the difference between an asset and a liability – a consumable. Help them to understand the concept of investing and how that will help them beyond today into the future.
  • Develop a budget with your child as soon as they can comprehend the idea. It will serve them the remainder of their life. Start a savings account (start with a piggy bank) and when age appropriate, obtain a money market account and an ATM card. Teach them how to responsibly use and balance them.
  • Train them in the proper use of credit and how the borrower is servant to the lender. Borrowing for an asset vs. a liability.  Share with them the difference between paying interest and growing interest on their money/investment.
  • Share with your children your financial mistakes and how they can learn and benefit from them.
  • As is appropriate, walk them through all other financial concepts like loans, taxes, utilities, owning a home, maintenance, buying a car, auto repairs, insurance, etc. Take the time to teach your children what God takes the time to teach you about money and His resources. They’re never too young to learn.

And here’s a bonus for you as a parent.  Stop saying the words, “I can’t afford it.” Most times we can, we’re normally adjusting our priorities. So rather than this short answer, try explaining why making a certain purchase is not within your budget at this time.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Leadership, Women

God Designed You for More Than You Know; You Can Make a Difference

Do you know who Mary Kay Ash was?  She worked at Stanley Home Products at one time and even though she spent many years there and trained many others, she was continually overlooked for promotion.  She ended her job and wrote a book.  That book was written to help women in business.

 

Born May 12, 1918 in Texas, she began her own cosmetic business at age 45.  Her initial investment was $5,000 in 1963.  The company turned a profit the first year.  Today there are 1.6 million salespeople working for Mary Kay Inc.  The rule she ran her company by?  The Golden Rule: “Treat others as you want to be treated.”  Annual sales now exceed $2.2 billion.  Mary Kay once said, “One person can make a difference.”

 

Mary Kay believed that it was her job to make others feel important.  Her life slogan was, “God first, family second, career third.”  She knew that encouragement was crucial in relationship.

 

Who do you need to encourage today?  Send them a text of encouragement.  Tell them they are worth far more than they know.  Tell them God had a specific design in mind when He created them.  You can make a difference in the life of another today, because, “One person can make a difference.”

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Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Pornography, Women

Are You Going to the Bedroom Together? 7 Highly Effective Benefits that will Help

I do not mean for the title of this blog to be controversial or provocative, so, if you are married, do you go to bed together at the end of your day?  We are finding more and more couples who do not.  Why is this?

 

The Gottman Institute research has shown that couples tend to stop going to bed together within the first three-and-one half years into marriage and something like 75% of couples do not go to bed at the same time.

 

Many couples maintain differing schedules and are not shy about it.  Some couples are opposite when it comes to being a late-night person versus an early morning person.  Still others are working on needed household chores late into the evening and others are enjoying their down time after the kids are in bed.  Then there are those couples who have no evening ritual of communication and ending their day together spiritually.

 

I would like to propose something different: Go to bed at the same time and end your evening in one another’s arms.  Why?  Well, I tend to think there are some extraordinary benefits.  Here are seven.

 

  • You can converse even as you spend time in the bathroom or bedroom preparing for sleep.
  • You can deeply communicate about those things the children and others simply should not hear. Call it pillow talk.
  • You’ll be together, touching one another emotionally which can lead to a greater opportunity for cuddling and sexual intimacy.
  • It creates a level of connection which inspires happiness in the marriage.
  • When you go to bed together, you tend to maintain a similar schedule together.
  • If there are poor late-night choices (like pornography, internet surfing or social media) being made, going to bed together lends accountability to one another and to unplug.
  • And the very best reason to go to bed together? You can top off your day by praying and reading God’s word cooperatively as one.

 

Try it for 30 days and see if you can establish a brand-new habit that brings life and connection to your marriage.  Remove the TV from your bedroom if there is one.  Turn off devices, say “I love you” every night and practice giving thanks for what you both brought to the marriage and family that day.  You’ll never regret it!

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