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CONFRONT YOUR SELFISH ATTITUDE

The causes of selfishness are endless; however, they do not justify your being the central focus of your life.

How to Handle Overwhelm

Jesus himself declared that he was “overwhelmed” in the Garden of Gethsemane

Celebrating Our 40th Wedding Anniversary in the Holy Land

A long-term, happy marriage is a union of two people who have made a commitment to march to the drumbeat of God’s
Word and to make it and Him their top priority.

The One-Minute Money Mentor for Women: 21 Strategies for Financial Empowerment

EXAMINING YOUR BELIEFS ABOUT MONEY—PART 2

Let’s continue the focus from Part 1, “EXAMINING YOUR BELIEFS ABOUT MONEY.”  We must courageously “peel the onion” and understand how our core beliefs define our financial behavior.  Consider these two beliefs that can hinder your ability to create abundance.

Negative Belief #4: “If I become wealthy, people will hound me for money.”

I hear the fear of saying no in this mindset.  Listen up!  God is not calling us to meet every need that presents itself. When individuals ask for money, I recommend that you simply get their story—directly or indirectly. Find out if your assistance will help or hurt them in the long run.

I’ve been guilty of enabling and thwarting the spiritual growth of people by not allowing them to reap the consequences of their irresponsible decisions. God may lead you to decline a request because He has a better plan for that person.

Replacement Belief: I always find great pleasure in helping those in need, and I will also exercise the courage to say no when it is the wise and appropriate response.

Negative Belief #5: “Wealthy people are not happy.”

Have you ever noticed that wealthy people usually have the same types of issues as regular people—interpersonal conflicts, physical ailments, deaths and tragedies, and emotional fears? Because rich people’s wealth gives them a higher public profile, we often attribute their woes to their money. It’s not the money; it’s called life. Don’t allow the erroneous assumption that wealthy people are not happy to serve as an excuse not to maximize your financial potential.

Replacement Belief: As a person with abundance, I will be as happy as I choose to be. The ball is in my court to stay connected to rewarding relationships and activities and to use my resources for good.

Bottom line? If you are a principled person before you come into abundance, you can resolve by the grace of God to maintain your standards.

God does not want the abundance he gives us to be a burden, but rather a blessing. The only way to achieve this is to embrace God’s will and His way of directing how you manage the resources He entrusts to us.

Money Mentor book cover

EXAMINING YOUR BELIEFS ABOUT MONEY — PART 1

Have you examined your belief system lately? When it comes to finances, our beliefs determine how much money we will earn, spend, save, and share. That’s why it’s critical that we examine our core beliefs to see which ones work against us and which empower us—but most important, which ones align with the Scriptures and which do not.

Let’s look at some common negative beliefs people hold in the area of finances.

Negative Belief 1: “Wealthy people are materialistic and ungodly.”

Not all of them! God’s reason for granting wealth is revealed in Deuteronomy 8:18: “You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant” (NKJV, emphasis added). God’s reason for giving wealth: to establish His will on earth.

Replacement Belief: My wealth will enable me to do more and give more to improve the quality of other people’s lives.

Negative Belief #2: “If I have abundance, my family and friends might envy me.”

How people respond to your abundance will largely be determined by how you handle it. If you brag about it, flaunt it, or demonstrate a superior attitude, they will surely be turned off. By the way, why are you anticipating being envied? Could it be that you are projecting your fear onto others because that’s how you would respond to a friend’s wealth? (Ouch!)

Replacement Belief: God will enable me to handle abundance in a way that inspires others to embrace me and to follow my example.

Negative Belief #3: “I’m afraid money will change who I am.”

Greed, dishonesty, pride, and other financial vices don’t appear out of thin air. God hates pride, and we need to learn to quickly identify and reject it, because it is one of the fastest routes to destruction.

Replacement Belief: The grace of God empowers me to consistently exercise godly behavior as I manage the resources He entrusts to me.

By identifying limiting core beliefs and replacing them with empowering, God-centered beliefs, we will become more willing to explore unchartered territories and experience a new level of  God’s blessings for our finances.

sign that reads, you are here

Acknowledge Your Reality

YOU ARE HERE! The familiar sign at the entrance of malls and other large public venues is a stark reminder, a life lesson, a reality check like none other—especially when applied to your finances. You must first determine where you stand before you can move forward with a plan to achieve your financial goals.   Determining where you are is a lot more productive than putting your head in the sand about that growing stack of bills, your looming retirement, or other major event requiring financial resources.  Granted, it can be scary and depressing to come face-to-face with overwhelming financial obligations and the glaring lack of income to meet them but ignoring them will only make matters worse.

Meet Sherry. She had been a pampered princess most of her married life—until her husband contracted a terminal illness and passed away. He had tried to give her a heads-up on the various financial issues she and their two minor children would face, but she had refused to engage in any conversations about his imminent death. When the fateful day came, she was devastated by the loss of her loving companion and loyal security blanket. She had little insight into the cost of running their household and the business he owned. Further, she had convinced herself that since she was a creative person, she did not have a “head for figures.” She spent several months in denial—depressed, dodging creditors, and refusing to open the unending stack of bills that arrived daily. Finally, she called her friend Joan over to help her find her way out of the mire. Joan led her through the preparation of a “You are here” exercise that all women would be wise to prepare or review on a regular basis. You see, it was during the process of organizing Sherry’s bills to see where she stood that she and her friend Joan discovered a huge royalty check (in the stack of unopened mail) from a recording company for whom Sherry had written a hit song several years earlier. The amount was enough to make a significant impact on her outstanding bills.

Do you need to acknowledge your reality, to determine where you stand? The task is simple but can be time-consuming.  You must prepare two basic statements. The first one is the Balance Sheet. It is a snapshot of what you own (assets) and what you owe (liabilities) at a specific point in time—right now, today. Just list and total the estimated value of your assets (cash, jewelry, house, car, cash value of whole life insurance policy, etc.). Next, list and total all your outstanding debts (credit cards, car note, mortgage, etc.).  That’s it; no fancy computer program or app; plain paper will be just fine, thank you! Now, the difference between your Assets and Liabilities is called Net Worth. If you have more Liabilities than Assets, you have Negative Net Worth. Don’t let this affect your self-worth. You are going to prepare a plan to get you to positive and excess financial worth.

Now that you know where you stand, it’s time to get a handle on what you earn or receive and where it goes. It’s time to prepare a Statement of Cash Receipts and Disbursements. Unlike the Balance Sheet, which is a snapshot of where you stand at a certain point in time, this statement will disclose how much you receive and spend over a certain period of time. Usually, the period is for a month for cash planning purposes.  Preparing this statement is not complicated, but can be time-consuming to determine.  You will simply list all sources of monthly income and expenditures. Are you falling short of cash?

Take your “reality” statements to God and ask Him to show you how to create more income (create a side business),  curtail unnecessary expenditures (e.g., take your lunch four days a week), and save all excess funds. It takes knowledge, discipline, and an unwavering commitment to walk in financial peace.  Believe that you will get there by God’s help and the support of those who are already walking in financial freedom. You can do this!

5 Resolutions to Make & Keep Before Year-End

I love new beginnings, so I habitually make New Year’s resolutions. Each January for the past 40 years, I’ve been vowing to “get in top physical condition”. You could say that I’ve made some progress, losing over 200-pounds—technically, if you consider that I’ve lost the same 10 pounds about twenty times. But I’ve decided to take a slightly different approach as the next year looms. You see, I think it’s more important to finish strong than to beat yourself up for abdicating your “start”. So, I’m asking you to join me in these Year-End resolutions.

Spiritually: Decide that the Word of God will be your “lamp” that will direct every aspect of your life. Lock in on a Scripture that promises peace of mind. Personalize it into a declaration. Write it down for quick reference or memorize it. Each time you feel stressed or anxious, make it your “go-to” option during the rest of the year. Example: “Father, I thank you for keeping me in perfect peace because my mind is fixed on you.”

Physically: Commit to going to bed in time to get seven or eight hours of sleep; the earlier the better since certain metabolic and “cell renewal” processes take place at specific times of the night.

Relationally: Reach out and make peace with an estranged family member or friend via a phone call, card, text, or whatever you feel they will respond to. “Hey, I’ve been thinking about you. I miss you and hope that we can connect. Let’s talk at your earliest convenience.”

Emotionally: Let go of envy and unforgiveness.

Financially: Resolve to finish the year in the black; don’t go in the red on holiday spending.

Hey, we can do this… we have a powerful HELPER!

Going in the RED on BLACK Friday Can Make You BLUE!

I used to be a sucker for any huge “On Sale!” sign. Since I’m “Mrs. Frugality”, I love deals and discounts; taking advantage of them makes me feel smart and empowered. Unfortunately, saving money requires spending money. And, sometimes the quest to save money can blind us to the fact that getting a deal may not be the smartest financial priority in light of our current financial situation. So, before you camp out with your credit card and your sharp elbows, ask yourself the following questions:

• How much can I afford to spend? “Afford” means that you can pay cash or pay for the amount in full when your credit card billing arrives.

• Do I need–and plan to use–the purchase for a better quality of life or am I buying to impress others? I’ll never forget that 6 a.m. adventure over a decade ago to the St. John warehouse in Orange County, Calif in the pouring rain where I gleefully secured a $700 pair of St. John classic sling-back pumps for only $120. Although they remain stylish to this day, I’ve only worn them once—but I’m still bragging about the “deal”.

• Have I researched prices (including online options) and know what a deal looks like, or am I being lured by the “sales hype”?

• Am I emotionally ready to handle the crowd and all that comes with getting a Black Friday deal? You need to be rested, patient, and full of God’s spirit to have a rewarding experience.

I’m not suggesting that you abandon this holiday frenzy, but please consider that going into the RED on BLACK Friday can result in your being BLUE for the next 12 months!

Anxieties, Fears, and Phobias

Not all fears are created equally. Rather, they come in various degrees of intensity: Let me explain the differences. Anxiety is the dread of a potential danger or loss in the future (e.g., possible terrorist attack); fear is the emotional response to a real or perceived present danger or threat (e.g., being followed); and a phobia is a fear gone wild. It is an irrational dread (e.g., fear of elevators) that seeks to avoid repeating a negative experience.

I’ve modeled the pattern. I saw my fear of earthquakes progress from anxiety about the predicted “big one,” to extreme fear during a significant temblor, to quake-phobia in which I kept an overnight bag packed by the door. Further, until recently, I flatly refused to visit San Francisco under any circumstance due to its devastating quakes. It’s no wonder that Paul admonished, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). He knew that if we didn’t nip anxiety in the bud, it would progress in its intensity and get a stronghold on our lives.

Whether an anxiety, fear, or phobia, Scripture declares that fear is not from God. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). As a woman of faith, I believe this and I passionately teach it. I also know that “believing is behaving.” Therefore, in the final analysis, our behavior is the decisive test of what we really believe. When we succumb to the “spirit of fear,” it is because we have embraced an erroneous belief about God and His ability or willingness to deliver us from the fear-triggering situation, person, or thing.

I have concluded that I will probably always have to battle one fear or another; however, I have resolved that I will not allow any of them to hinder my progress or derail my destiny. It was Mark Twain who remarked, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.”

SCARED OF DYING?

Every member of the human race will eventually have a date with death. It is inevitable and its timing uncertain; consequently, almost everyone has some modicum of anxiety about it.

My father passed away in July 2009 of congestive heart failure. I spent the final month of his life with him in a small, hot Texas town. Although he’d achieved only an eighth-grade education, he was a successful entrepreneur. Many of the locals held him in high esteem as he cruised the pot-holed streets in his exotic cars. He was very active in his church and enjoyed his status as the top donor. What I found most interesting during the entire ordeal of his impending death was the nature of his final requests:

  • “I’d like to hear my sister Althea’s voice. Do you think you can arrange that?” She lived on the East Coast and they rarely spoke. There was no rift in the relationship; just never enough time to connect.
  • “Tell my sons to come and see about me. I can’t take care of myself.” All six lived in California and were already en route. He was never the type to express any kind of vulnerability or to do “mushy stuff” like send a birthday card or say, “I love you.” I marveled at the power of death to humble the proudest of souls.

I knew that my father was afraid to die, even though he had heard many sermons on death during almost a lifetime in church. Indeed, he had a reason to be afraid, for there was unfinished business between him and a couple of his fellow church leaders. He had flatly refused to forgive them for an offense that had hurt him deeply and had cost him a cherished fifty-year friendship. Of course, he was not without fault in the matter. We’d had many discussions about the situation during the past year. I was more concerned about his unforgiveness than his death because I knew it was hindering his fellowship with God. Jesus was emphatic about the impact of unforgiveness: “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15).

I finally took matters into my own hands and called his offenders. They expressed a willingness to forgive and finally made the necessary phone calls to reconcile with him. I rejoiced. I also led my father in a prayer of repentance for all his sins. I know that he is now resting in peace.