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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.

YOUR PLAN vs GOD’S PLAN…

I used to go into a serious tailspin when my plans didn’t work out or got thwarted for whatever reason.  But experience is a good teacher– and the Holy Spirit gives wisdom through God’s word when we embrace it. That’s why the following passages are vital to my emotional well-being and joy quotient.

  • Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
    “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Often times,  God is the only one who is clear on the plan and this is where we must learn to stop living in the “sense realm” and decide to stop second-guessing Him.  Surrendering is the wisest choice here.
  • Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)
    Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Hey friend, I encourage you to get these two passages cemented in your heart so that you can stop stressing out or getting depressed when your plans go awry. Rather, rejoice because GOD HAS A “GOOD” PLAN LINED UP! So try making this your prayer declaration:

LORD, I THANK YOU FOR YOUR PLAN THAT IS PREVAILING IN MY LIFE. HELP ME TO SEE IT, ACCEPT IT, AND WALK IN IT WITH JOY.

STOP ENVYING NOW!

Envy is rooted in discontentment—with your situation. Unlike jealousy which says, “I’m afraid you are going to displace me, to take what I have”, envy says, “I want what you have, and because I don’t have it, I feel ill-will towards you!” Ever noticed that you don’t envy folks for things that you are blessed with or succeeding at? Think about it. Do you envy people who are fit, educated, happily married, talented,  or anointed?  Well, there is no need to do that!  Here’s the deal. Some things you can achieve (degrees, homeownership, fitness (ouch! that’s mine)) if you are willing to pay the price.  Other things are determined by God’s Sovereign plan for your life. I  meditate on Psalm 139:16 (NLT) a lot: “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

With this truth as a foundation, looks like it’s time to get busy doing our part and RESTING on God’s promises.

NOW, be honest! WHOM DO YOU ENVY AND WHY?  Ok, I’ll go first: Sometimes I feel envy towards women who make fitness one of their top priorities. Even though I SAY it is one of mine, I tend to focus more on career/ministry goals. I’ve even felt vindicated and smug when thinness appears to be the most significant thing that person has achieved… (Wow, that was hard to admit to the WORLD!).

Your turn… I dare you to fess up!

By the way, I talk about these things in my book, 30 Days To a Stronger, More Confident You. Available at ConfrontingIssues.com.

The Complaining Tongue

30 Days To Taming Your Tongue_Cover_updated2018The five daughters of Zelophehad had a problem.   Their father had died in the wilderness before the Israelites came into the Promised Land.  Zelophehad did not have any sons to inherit his portion of the land and the law did not provide for women to receive the son’s portion instead.  Consequently, his daughters not having a father, brother, husband, son or any other man in their immediate family were left out completely. Rather than complaining to others, they called a “congressional hearing” (Numbers 27) and presented their petition for an inheritance to Moses and the leaders. When Moses took their case to God, He agreed with the women and granted their request. Now, what do you think the outcome would have been had they simply whined to anyone in the multitude who would listen rather than bringing it those in authority? I doubt that they would have gotten an inheritance.  Further, women might still be precluded from owning real estate!

A legitimate complaint can only be resolved if you direct it to the one who can change your situation. Only a few people who are dissatisfied, annoyed or upset by an experience actually take steps to officially complain about it.  They prefer to waste time soliciting others to commiserate with them.  What an exercise in futility! Not only could their input to the right person improve things for them but for others as well.  For example, on several occasions, I find myself in a store where the line is growing longer by the minute. Rather than joining the other customers who are whining about the situation, I seek out (sometimes yell for) the store manager and ask him to open another register. Most of the time this works.

The psalmist in Psalms 142:1-2 (NAS) chose not to bore, frustrate, or waste the time of others with his complaints. “I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD; I make supplication with my voice to the LORD. I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him.”  He chose to complain only to the one who could bring change.  Notwithstanding, even God tires of constant complaints.

Someone once said, “To swear is wicked because it is taking God’s name in vain. To murmur is likewise wicked for it takes God’s promises in vain.” During your 30-day “tongue fast”, become aware of how often you complain about non-essential matters such as a rainy day, traffic jams, boring television programs, lazy co-workers, and the like.

Since complaining is contagious, this is a hard mouth malady to cure. In the past, I have found myself joining in with complaining wives just to have something in common with them even though my husband was not guilty of the things about which they complained.  I knew that I risked envy and alienation if I confessed to what a wonderful, supportive man that he is. Sometimes I would try to search for something to whine about and would come up with something as shallow as the fact that he eats several times a day–providing a constant temptation for me the eternal dieter.  The man maintains his proper weight and makes his own food most of the time!  What is there to complain about except that I resent his metabolism?

If you are a complainer, you must start to resist the constant “ain’t it awful” party. Trust me, others will be glad that you did and will stop dreading conversations with you.  This is not to say that you shouldn’t seek an occasional sympathetic ear or wise counsel from a valued source.  However, if you are going to ignore their advice and continue to rehearse the problem each time that you converse, beware.  Thy listener shall soon become weary of thee!  When you feel a complaint coming on, replace it with a statement of gratitude or a declaration of a Scripture that you have personalized.

Here is my favorite affirmation for keeping complaining at bay:

“Because God works all things together for my good, according to His purpose for my life, I will not complain.”

EXCERPTED FROM:  30 Days to Taming Your Tongue (Harvest House Publishers); over one million sold.

Remembering My Dad Today for His Legacy of Astute Financial Management…

He was not a touchy-feely kinda guy; you might even say he was emotionally unavailable. Never an “I love you.” Why, I don’t remember ever getting a birthday or other kind of card from him. But, he was my dad. I do remember that he was a great provider—never had bill collectors coming to our door, utilities being turned off, or being deprived of any of the NECESSITIES of life. Plus, he and my mom took us to church–a lot!

He was my dad—and I honored him as such all the days of his 79-year life. When I became an adult, I never failed to send him a gift for Fathers’ Day, Christmas, or his birthday. It just felt like the right thing to do.

When I was in college, he sent me $10 a month for all four years that I worked to get my BBA in Accounting. I learned to budget that money; I made it last for 30 days—spending only $1 for Sunday dinner (the dorm closed at noon on Sundays and if you chose to go to church, you missed the last meal of the day). I would buy two pieces of Church’s Chicken for 59-cents and a 35-cent pea salad at the cafeteria where my church-going buddies and I hung out after Sunday service. I used the rest of my allowance for toiletries. Today, I still budget my money closely—despite the fact that I’m no longer a 75-cents/hour domestic maid but a $250-$300/hour financial professional, global speaker, and bestselling author who has sold over 2 million books! Yup! I’m bragging on the faithfulness of God—my HEAVENLY FATHER—who has always been available to meet my spiritual, emotional, financial, physical, and relational needs.

I give my dad credit for teaching me—by example–how to keep my yearnings in alignment with my earnings, to invest in God’s house and His work, and to practice integrity in dealing with creditors and other financial matters. Rest in peace, Dad. You know that if you were alive, you would have gotten that Fathers Day check from me as you did each year.

To my social media tribe, I say, honor your dad today—even if you don’t think he is worthy. If you haven’t checked in with him today just to say “God bless you”, there is still time. Do it in obedience to your Heavenly Father’s command to “honor your parents” (Ephesians 6:1). He knew who needed to be your father in order for you to be the person you are today… a resourceful survivor; not a spoiled brat who can’t handle adversity. So, just do it!

Happy Father’s Day!

A Prayer for Our Nation

IN-GOD-WE-TRUST money imageLord, our nation is in crisis, yet you have shown us a way out.  You said that if your people who are called by your name will humble themselves and pray, seek your face, and turn from their wicked ways, then you will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14). I pray now, Father, that you will raise up an army of faithful prayer warriors who will stand in the gap for this nation so that you will not allow us to be destroyed by our enemies, natural disasters, or other perils ( Ezekiel 22:30-31).

Your word declares that blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord (Psalms 33:12).  Let us as a nation crown you King and Lord over our lives. Turn our hearts to you.  Forgive us for passing laws that violate your word and for embracing other sins as the norm.

Deliver us from the spirit of anxiety that plagues the people of this country. Your word says that righteousness and peace have kissed each other (Psalms 85:10); help us to comprehend the connection between being in right standing with you and being at peace.  Send a spiritual revival now, Father.

Bring salvation to our governmental leaders and let them seek your wisdom in every situation, for your eyes are over the righteous, and your ears are open unto their prayers (1 Peter 3:12).  In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Excerpted from EMERGENCY PRAYERS by Deborah Smith Pegues, Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

The Hasty Tongue

HASTY-SPEECH imageDo you sometimes offend others because you do not engage your brain before shifting your tongue into drive? Have you ever made a commitment to God or man without giving it much consideration and later reneged on it? The communication of the hasty tongue is done too quickly to be thoughtful or wise.

Offending In Haste

No matter how holy we are, we will eventually offend somebody because of hasty speech.  “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2 KJV).  Since we can never be totally aware of all of the sensitivities of others, we must depend upon the Holy Spirit to direct our speech in a way that does not tap into their pain, distress, or other negative experiences. I have seen people innocently offend others in an attempt to interject humor into a situation. We must realize that everyone has a different sensitivity level depending on their experiences.   I try to practice not being so easily offended and often give others the benefit of the doubt when they make a hasty remark that I might otherwise find offensive.

Responding In Haste

The Bible cautions, “He who answers before listening —that is his folly and his shame” (Proverbs 18:13 NIV). I once had an employee who always responded to my inquiries so hastily that he did not take time to understand what I was really asking.   His fear of failure and his need to establish his worth were so great, that he felt compelled to answer quickly to prove that he was adequate. Thus, his answer was usually irrelevant to the question. How frustrating! His actions caused me to view him the very way that he was trying so hard to avoid.

Committing in Haste

God does not want us to be flaky. He expects us to keep our promises. In Ecclesiastes 5:1-7, Solomon warns us against making a hasty, ill-considered vow to the Lord. “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God…” (Ecclesiastes 5:2 NKJV).  He goes on to explain that we should not try to wiggle out of our commitment by saying that it was a mistake.

Jephthah learned a lesson on the folly of a hasty vow the hard way—through experience (Judges 11:30-40).  When he led the Israelites to war against the Ammonites, he vowed that if God gave him the victory, he would sacrifice to the Lord the first thing that came out of his house upon his return. Little did he know that it would be his only daughter. Scripture is not clear as to whether he sacrificed her on an altar of fire (contrary to God’s laws) or whether she was doomed to be a virgin the rest of her life.  However he fulfilled his vow, his daughter was negatively impacted because of his hasty commitment.

Seeing that I was plagued by the malady of hasty speech, one of my mentors admonished me, “Stop, think and pray before you speak.”  James, the Lord’s brother, said it best. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak…” (James 1:19 KJV).  Have you ever wondered why God gave us two ears and one mouth? Perhaps we are to spend twice as much time listening than talking. A good pause would serve us well in the long run. Time and words are two things that once gone can never be recovered.  We must take time to weigh our words before we release them.

 

Too Busy To Pray?

Prayer is the oxygen of our spirit; our survival depends upon it. We must always pray and not give up (Luke 18:1). In order to be equipped for an enemy attack, we must do as the psalmist declared, “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice” (Psalms 55:17 KJV). If you have found yourself becoming too busy to pray, try this prayer:

Lord, I’m ready to conquer my prayerlessness. I want my time with you to be my top priority—not just in word but in deed. There are activities that I have put before you and in so doing, decided that they are more important. I know that I’m responsible for every activity that I have put on my too-busy schedule.

I am not allowing you the time to develop in me the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-   23)

I know that apart from you I can do nothing (John 15:5).  Trying to run my life in my own strength is more than I can bear.  I want to commit now to a regular prayer time with you, for prayer is as important to my spirit as oxygen is to my body.   Father, help me to start with just _______ (be specific)  minutes each morning of waiting quietly before you—absorbing your love, your wisdom and your enabling power for the day.

Teach me to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) by being conscious of your presence throughout the day. Thank you in advance for a dynamic prayer life that will bring glory to you. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.