Category: Money

Coming Alive for Christmas

Every year I experience a tension in my soul during the Christmas season. Our kids are always excited to get presents, and they love the family get togethers. We’re a…

Every year I experience a tension in my soul during the Christmas season. Our kids are always excited to get presents, and they love the family get togethers. We’re a few weeks away from Christmas as I write this, and my son was telling me yesterday about how he was looking forward to eating lots of ham at our gathering. It’s wonderful to see your children happy and beaming with anticipation for the coming holiday.

But on the other hand, I always feel some frustration about how Christmas has become something very far from how it began. We take our kids to church, and we remind them that Christmas is really about celebrating the birth of Jesus. They know this, but at their age, presents win their attention.

When you read about the birth of Jesus in the Bible, the original gifts that were given were for Him, not us. I found myself wondering, “What would it look like if we tried giving gifts in a way that honored Jesus rather than ourselves?” After spending some time reflecting on this, I remembered something that Jesus said in the book of John. In the parable of the good shepherd, he said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, ESV). 

Many people think that faith is restrictive; a list of things you shouldn’t do. Actually, the opposite is true. The abundant life that Jesus talks about isn’t a description of someone who is deprived, but someone who is thriving in their soul. After this time spent in reflection, I asked myself, “Am I fully alive? Is my soul full of spiritual abundance?”  

We will continue to have a Christmas tree, and we will keep giving gifts to those close to us. This year I will also focus on having a soul that fully nourished by my faith. That would be the best gift I could bring to Jesus for his birthday. Merry Christmas everyone!

To your well-being,

Brian

Photo Credit, No Changes. 

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Fruitful Finance

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians‬…

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In our attempt to align our finances with our faith, it is helpful to have a measuring stick of sorts to know how we are doing. The fruits of the spirit outlined in Galatians are one of the best tools I’ve found to stay accountable in this area. If our soul is in the right place, and we are handling our money appropriately, we will see evidence of these attributes when we examine our finances.

One of the best outcomes we can experience from having our soul in the right place is peace. When you examine your financial world, would you say that you have a sense of peace about it? Hopefully you do, but if not, take some time to think about why that is. If we lack peace in our finances, it is often because we are missing some of the other fruits of the spirit as well. Do your finances reveal a spirit of patience, kindness, and self-control? These are the attributes that will ultimately leave you feeling peace in your financial world.

If you would like to put these fruits to work in your finances, here’s a couple ideas:

Express gratitude for what you have

Being grateful for the things we already have is a sign of a healthy soul. Many of our purchases fill a perceived need in our world, but many of us already have far more than we need. Try replacing the desire to buy with gratitude for what you have. It’s ok to spend money on yourself occasionally, but practice denying yourself some of the things you want from time to time. This is evidence of self-control.  

Express kindness to others

Much of our financial resources get directed towards our own lives. Finding ways to intentionally bless others with your money helps us live beyond ourselves. Try giving a thoughtful gift, or donating some money to a charitable cause to express kindness towards others.

To your well-being,

Brian 

Photo Credit, no changes made

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The Crazy Carpenter

Imagine that there is a Carpenter who enjoys woodworking. He has a workshop, and the workshop is filled with woodworking tools and supplies. He does good work, but has one…

Imagine that there is a Carpenter who enjoys woodworking. He has a workshop, and the workshop is filled with woodworking tools and supplies. He does good work, but has one major fault. When building furniture, he can’t stand to let his tools sit around. He feels like they need to be operating all the time. After finishing one project, he jumps right into the next one to keep his equipment busy. He works like mad until his supplies are gone, and then quickly replenishes them so his tools can keep working.  
Because of his paranoia over idle tools, the furniture is accumulating faster than he can sell it. He now has more furniture than he knows what to do with, and he begins piling furniture everywhere. Before long he is out of room at his shop, and he rents additional space to store his excessive inventory of furniture.  Even though it is clear to others this carpenter is building excessive amounts of furniture, he can’t seem to let the tools take a rest.

This story might sound absurd, but it probably hits closer to home than you might think. One of the key themes that I wrote about in The Soul Purpose of Money is that money is nothing more than a tool, and should be treated that way. Unlike our carpenter friend in the story, we should be content to let our money be idle when it isn’t needed.

Many of us live more like the crazy carpenter than we would like to admit. Often times we try to keep our money busy rather than allowing in to accumulate, or give it towards causes that benefit others. Increases in income are followed by increases in lifestyle, and the money has a new place to go. Self-storage is has become a multi-billion dollar industry because many of us own more stuff than we have room for.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to enjoy your hard earned money and spend some of it on yourself. But it’s quite common for our spending to be out of sync with the things that we truly value. In our home, we have been focused on cleaning and organizing as of late.  Through the years, we have acquired more stuff that brings no value to our lives than I’d like to admit. Getting rid of our excess stuff feels good, and it makes our home more enjoyable to live in. Now the challenge is to keep our home free of unnecessary stuff, and keep our money going towards things that align with our values instead.

If you were to spend some time reflecting on where your money goes, does it act like a tool help accomplish things that align with your values? Or are you more like the crazy carpenter, spending without purpose just to keep your money busy? Most of us are somewhere between the two ends of this spectrum, but with a little awareness of this idea, we can move towards using our money more purposefully.
  
To your well-being,

Brian

Photo credit above

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Solomon’s Wisdom and Wealth

The Bible is full of conversation about wealth, possessions, and what these things mean in terms of our faith. One of my favorites is when Solomon becomes King of Isreal…

The Bible is full of conversation about wealth, possessions, and what these things mean in terms of our faith. One of my favorites is when Solomon becomes King of Isreal in the book of 1Kings. He has a dream where the Lord asks him, “What do you want? Ask and I will give it to you!” (1Kings 3:4 NLT)

Solomon truly wanted to be of service to the nation he had been entrusted with. His response was, “Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1Kings 3:9 NLT). Can you imagine how you or I might have responded if presented with this question from God?  I’m not sure I would have been so selfless or humble in that moment.

God was pleased with Solomon’s request, and replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies-I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for-riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life!” (1Kings 3:11-13 NLT)

Yes, this was a dream, but history has documented that Solomon did end up being incredibly wise and wealthy. Solomon’s wisdom is self-evident, given the books of the Bible his wisdom is recorded in. His wealth, however, is less well known. Some estimates put Solomon’s wealth above 2 trillion dollars if measured in today’s values. Not to shabby, considering the wealthiest person alive at this time has a net worth of less that 100 billion dollars.

The point here isn’t that wealth should be our measure of greatness, rather that wealth is a byproduct of wisdom. While not all people will become wealthy, wealth is commonly an outcome of wise living. It is important to note that wealth was not Solomon’s primary objective, and it shouldn’t be ours either. Wisdom comes first, and apart from wisdom, wealth is often squandered on selfish pursuits. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon says that “Wealth is a crown for the wise; the efforts of fools yields only foolishness.” (Proberbs 14:24 NLT).  

One wise thing we can do is to reflect on how our finances have been affected by our decisions. Hindsight is 20-20, and can give us a better perspective by which to make future decisions. What lessons can you find in your past that will help you live a wise and prosperous future?

To your well-being,

Brian
Photo credit above.

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