Independence Day 2016

Freedom-Not-Free--independence-day-825621_960_720pixabayFreedom isn’t free.  It’s a phrase we often hear, so much that it’s become cliche.  But it’s true.

President Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

In the United States, we are blessed to live in a place and at a time where we are free to worship God, and to tell others about Jesus.  Many, many places in the world do not have that same freedom.

But as important as that political and social freedom is, it pales in comparison to the freedom we have that was secured to us by Jesus.

Because of Jesus, we are able to receive forgiveness from God.  This is true, unending freedom.  Forgiveness now and forever.

Freedom to follow Jesus, live like Jesus (as best as we can, anyway), and ultimately spend eternity with Jesus once we experience our Earthly death.

That is true freedom!

January 15 – Scripture of the Day

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Remember the saying, “save for a rainy day?”   Well in today’s scripture, we would more accurately say “save for a drought.”

The scripture for today is Genesis 41:34-36 which says: 34 Then Pharaoh should appoint supervisors over the land and let them collect one-fifth of all the crops during the seven good years. 35 Have them gather all the food produced in the good years that are just ahead and bring it to Pharaoh’s storehouses. Store it away, and guard it so there will be food in the cities. 36 That way there will be enough to eat when the seven years of famine come to the land of Egypt. Otherwise this famine will destroy the land.

After being sold into slavery and ending up in Egypt, Joseph found favor with Pharaoh and was not only released from prison, but made governor over the whole of Egypt.

God had told Joseph that there was going to be 7 years of bountiful crops, followed by 7 years of horrible drought. Knowing this, Joseph put a plan into place to save some of the harvest from each of the 7 good years, so there would be food to sustain the people during the 7 year drought.

Saving for a rainy day.

This is wise advice. We all know that unexpected things happen in life; accidents, costly repairs or otherwise.

If we are wise, we will have “saved for a rainy day” and have money put aside to pay for these times.

But astonishingly, even though we all realize these things happen, very few Americans have enough savings to cover these common incidents.

In fact, According to CNN, 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, meaning they have little or no savings to fall back on in case of an emergency, such as a job loss.

That’s a recipe for disaster.

Financial expert Dave Ramsey recommends an emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses, just for such emergencies.

That’s wise advice…that we also see in scripture.

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Today’s reading: Genesis 40:1-23; 35:28-29; 41:1-57
Tomorrow’s reading: Genesis 42:1-45:15

Co-Sign A Loan? Uh, No!

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Why do bank’s or other lenders want co-signers?

Because they’re pretty sure they’ll need one!

Banks and other lenders are in the business of making money.  If they lose out too often, the go out of business.  So, when they are concerned about someone who wants a loan for a car or just about anything else, they’ll ask for a co-signer.

What they’re saying is they EXPECT it’s pretty likely the person taking the loan WON’T PAY IT BACK!

And when that happens, the co-signer is on the hook.  It protects the bank; not the person borrowing!

Did you know the Bible actually says it’s STUPID to co-sign or guarantee someone else’s loan?

It does!

Don’t co-sign a loan for anyone, for anything.  It’s “stupid,” “poor judgement” and “poor sense.”

Don’t believe the Bible says that?  Take a look.

For more really, really good advice on staying out of debt, building wealth and being generous, take a look at Dave Ramsey’s website.  It’s got tons of good information.

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Scripture link:  Proverbs 17:18 (Yea, it’s in the Bible!)
Photo credit:  Pixabay.com

Let’s Pimp Out our Teen and Pre-Teen Daughters

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Yesterday was one of those days I about lost my mind. I seriously do not understand what is wrong with our culture and society.

I did something yesterday I don’t often do; I went to do a little bit of shopping. You know, pre-Christmas sales, etc.

And what I saw flabbergasted me.

A section…….. an entire section………. of lingerie.

FOR TEENS. And PRE-TEENS.

I’ve got to hand it to the marketers and advertisers: even the name is well conceived (no pun intended). Flirtitude.

Look at some of this stuff in the photos below. Sexy, seductive, alluring….you choose the words. Bras, panties, THONGS.

FOR TEENS and PRE-TEENS. Did I mention that part?

flirtitude

The Biblical concept of modesty is often associated with how people (mostly women) dress, and sex, and how those two things are related.  But Biblical modesty is actually about all matters of our behavior: our dress, our language, how we treat one another, our money and so forth.

In a really good article about this topic, Rachel Held Evans wrote, “Ours is indeed a culture that tends to assign value to a woman based on her sex appeal rather than her character, and that’s something we must work to change.” And she’s 100% right.

Now, even if you don’t buy into the Biblical concept of modesty; even if you aren’t a Christian; even if you don’t believe in God at all, we should all recognize the impact this has.

It’s about SEX.  And LUST.

Because when just about any male looks at the photo in the advertisement, or the bras, or the thongs, the response is as quick as it is predictable: SEX.

It encourages men to look at women, and in this case, young GIRLS, as SEX OBJECTS.

Not to value them.

Not to truly love them.

But to conquer them. To attain them, briefly, for a single, selfish purpose.

And if that isn’t bad enough, what do these messages say to our daughters?

  • Your worth is defined by SEX.
  • Your purpose is primarily SEX.
  • You should dress in ways that promotes thoughts of SEX.
  • You should act in ways that promote thoughts of SEX.
  • You are first and foremost about SEX.

I seriously do not understand parents…. FATHERS…. who buy these articles of “clothing” for their daughters. Who allow their daughters to wear such things?

What is the matter with you? Seriously, what is the matter with you?

Because if these are the things you’re are buying for your daughter, or allowing, encouraging or helping them wear, than I can really only come to one conclusion: You are — either consciously, or with your head buried in the sand — pimping out your TEEN or PRE-TEEN.

Is that the value we put on our girls?

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Scripture link:  1 Peter 5:5
Photo credit: Pixabay.com and NOTaTypicalPastor.com

 

Busy is the New “Fine”

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For as long as I can remember, when someone used to ask how you were doing, the default answer was “fine.”  It didn’t matter if you were actually fine or not, that was the response.

Now, I recognize that the interaction of “How are you?” followed by “Fine” was really more of a generic greeting.  It was’t ever really even a shallow discussion about how one was actually doing.

Nonetheless, today the most common response to “How are you?” seems to be “Busy.”

I’m busy.

I think there are a multitude of reasons as to why this is the case, but one of them is that we feel important if we appear to be “busy” to others.  If we’re busy, we must be in demand doing important things.  We must be important to be busy.

Well, if you as me that’s a bunch of malarky.  BUt there’s likely some truth in there.

Another possible explanation is that we are, in fact, actually overly busy.  And I’m concerned that is too often the case.

I saw recently some data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  It showed that for the “average” adult with children, we spend nearly 9 hours a day working and less than 8 hours a day sleeping.

After taking care of other responsibilities, like caring for children and the household among others, there is relatively little time left to rest and relax.

Gee, I wonder why we feel worn down and overwhelmed?

We need rest.  We need time to unwind.  We need time to “defrag.”  We need time to sit quietly and think.  We need time to simply recharge.

That’s why we should stop glorifying busy; because it’s not glorious at all.  It’s tiring and stupid.

We’ll all be better for it.

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Scripture link:  Mark 6:31
Bureau of Labor Statistics Information 
Photo credit:  Pixabay.com

Stop Buying Crap You Don’t Need

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Today, Black Friday, is the largest shopping day of the year.  In some ways, its become a bigger “holiday” than Thanksgiving.

People go out insanely early, some even camping out in line for hours, to get shopping bargains.  Stores and malls are crowded.  It’s crazy.

I’ve never been a big Black Friday shopper.  In fact, quite the opposite is how happening.

Exactly a year ago a significant change began taking place in my life.  On vacation in Florida, I began reading about simplicity and minimalism.  I read just about everything I could find, and discovered something my soul had long been searching for, I just didn’t recognize it.

LESS IS MORE.

I have found that all the stuff I had was weighing me down; it was a hinderance; it was visually distracting; and most of the crap I had I didn’t even need or use.

So, over the last year I have simplified, minimized and significantly reduced the number of “things,” the “stuff” I have.

I’ve not just decluttered, but de-owned.

And I’m far better for it.

If you stop and actually LOOK at everything you own, you’ll be shocked.  I was.  It’s staggering the amount of stuff we have.  And most of it you don’t need and don’t use.

I have found much joy and freedom in reducing the amount of stuff I have.  I think you would too.

So, below are some links to the most useful reading I found on simplicity and minimalism.  Take a look, you might be surprised at what you find.

Scripture link: Ecclesiastes 5:10 (Amazing, huh?  Yea, its in the Bible!)
Photo credit:  Pixabay.com

Buy More Stuff?

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That season is upon us.  Yup, THAT season.  And I’m not talking about the Christmas season where Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus.

I’m talking about the Black Friday season.  The go-to-the-mall-and-buy-more-tons-of-crap-we-don’t-need-season.

We live in a culture where we are CONSTANTLY bombarded with advertisements, all meant to convince us to by more stuff.  And it works.  ALL.  THE.  TIME.

And buried in those really clever and often entertaining ads, is the message that if we just buy this particular product, life will be better.  We’ll be happy.

Problem is, it’s been going on our entire lives, and we’re no more happy than we were before we bought most of the crap we already have.

If we are dependent on stuff to make us happy we will continue to be caught in a viscous, never-ending cycle of buying the newest, latest-and-greatest, whatever it is.

It doesn’t work.  It just doesn’t work.

And deep down, when we really think about it, when we critically analyze it, we know its true.

All we have to do is look in our closets, our attics, our basements, our drawers, and our storage units.  There’s all that STUFF and we’re still not happy.

Heck, I bet you even forgot about much of the stuff you already have!

Truth is, stuff can’t ever make us happy.  Because if it did, we’d already be happier than we can imagine.

So if more stuff can’t make us happy, what can?

 

Scripture link:  Ecclesiastes 5:10 (Amazing, huh?  Yea, its in the Bible!)
Photo credit:  Pixabay.com

 

 

Shut Up

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SHUT.   UP.           Yes, you.          STOP TALKING.

I know, I know.   That seems like an odd thing for a pastor to say.

Well, I’m not a typical pastor.

And honestly, an opening line and title screaming SHUT UP is mostly designed to get your attention. It’s marketing, for lack of a better word.

And now you’re reading this, so it seems it worked.

Although you might think I was screaming SHUT UP to you, I might as well be talking to myself.   Because I have, upon occasion, been not unfairly accused of enjoying the sounds of my own voice.

Despite occasionally having diarrhea of the mouth, there is a wonderful quote I have always liked that is often attributed to President Abraham Lincoln, though I couldn’t find a clear and credible source verifying he said such a thing.

I paraphrase it this way: “Better to shut up and have everyone assume you are a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

As funny as I think that is, I also think there is a wonderfully wise message contained therein.   And that is very simply, we often do better by listening than by talking.

We can show people we care by simply listening to them.

We don’t have to have something witty to say in return; we don’t have to be able to solve whatever problem we are hearing about.

Just listen.

Take a few minutes and listen.

You’ll be amazed at not only what you learn, but how you can better connect with people.

Scripture link:  Proverbs 17:28  (Amazing, huh?  Yea, it’s in the bible.)
Photo Credit:  Pixabay.com