Mar 28, 2013

10 Reasons To Be Thankful For Feeling Broke - Allison Vesterfelt

I bumped into this article from Allison Vesterfelt. She and her husband are planting a church in West Palm Beach. Allison is the author of a book Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life With Less Baggage. I thought she shared some wonderful reasons to be thankful for being broke. You can read more on her blog and subscribe here. 
I’ve been worrying about money a lot lately. It’s probably unwarranted, given the fact that I have all of my basic needs met, and haven’t missed a meal, well, ever — but when I look around my life I can’t help but see a few things I need, and even more things I want, and it makes me feel frustrated that I can’t afford to buy any of them.

I use the word “broke” really intentionally. We’re not poor. We’re just in one of those seasons where things seem extra tight, and we feel extra frustrated by the lack of freedom we have financially.
But the more I obsess over it, the more I realized that living with less is actually a blessing. Here’s why.

1. It grows my creativity

When resources are limited, I have to get creative. I believe this creativity is not disconnected from my artistic creativity. My husband and I have been searching old warehouses for useful materials, making a coffee table from an old elevator pulley. We’re also working on crafting a bed frame out of salvaged wood pallets, building a bookshelf, and refinishing a dresser we found at a thrift store.

Read the rest of Allison's article here.

Breaking the Formula & Breaking into Eternity

I love this song from Josh Garrels. If you haven't picked up his music you should catch his website here. His lyrics point to eternity and call us all up to that eternal perspective.

I usually sleep like a rock and am not very poetic. The other night I couldn't fall asleep and I picked up a pen. Here is what I wound up with. Most of it came from the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12.
On Wealth & God 
You can’t put out
            more than you take in.
You’ll have to save
            if you want to win.
Work every penny
            and rake more in.
Owe no man
            for that’s a sin.
Divide each portion
            into a separate bin.
“I did it myself!”
            you say with a grin.
Eat, drink and be merry
            let life begin.
An unexpected knock
            and crawling skin.
You’re called to account
            for what your life’s been.
You can’t serve both
            which did you trade in?
Was He the goal
            or a means to an end?
You lavished yourself
            but were you rich toward Him?
Has the age old trap
            done you in?
Most of it came from the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12.

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

14Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

16And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Luke 12:13-21

We spend so much time serving our money. We all know the formula: Spend less than you make > Save > Pay off debt > Invest > Diversify > Eat, drink and be merry.

None of this is necessarily bad. The books designed to fix our money problems have the right intent but I can't help but feel that we are using God as a means to get rich and to fill our barns. We need more teaching on being rich toward God. What if our children saw us, not building bigger barns, but being rich toward God as we loved others. What if we left our children an inheritance, not of wealth, but of wisdom.

The challenge:
Break the formula & do something crazy. Give sacrificially today. This doesn't mean we shouldn't be prudent or that we shouldn't take care of our family. But today, do something crazy to be rich toward God as you break out of conformity to this world and into an eternal perspective.

Feel free to share below if you'd like to mock my poetry or tell us how you were rich toward God.

Mar 21, 2013

Pizza & Eternal Perspective

Great video from Generous Giving and the founder of Domino's Pizza.
It reminded me of a quote that a friend shared with me the other day: 
“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.”

You can hear the change that occurred in Tom Monaghan’s life when his perspective shifted from temporal satisfaction to eternal impact. 
The pull of pride and the sway of self-centeredness can drag us into a lifelong slump. Can you feel the pull? It competes for our hearts and minds every day.

The challenge: (Perhaps a pizza from Domino's will help us to mentally prepare.)
Spend the rest of the day adjusting your focus away from the temporal and to the eternal. Reshape every decision, every thought and every action, not only around the day but around the impact on eternity.
Is this exercise hard or does it come naturally?
What are the obstacles in life that keep you from an eternal perspective?
On that note, I think I'll order a pizza from Domino's. I doubt the pizza had much to do with Monaghan’s shift in perspective but I wouldn’t want to mess with the formula in any way.

Mar 15, 2013

Friday Flash Mob & a Friend to Follow

A few weeks ago I was blessed to spend some time in Washington State. A group called Generous Giving invited me to come and spend some time with folks who have hosted Journey of Generosity events in the past. The room was full of folks who have taken their role as stewards seriously and spend time inviting others into that life that is truly life.

Randy Alcorn, the author of The Treasure Principle, which I have mentionedbefore, spent a bit of time teaching. It was a blessing to learn from folks that really feel called to God's commandment of stewardship.

Today I bumped into this video that Randy Alcorn posted on his blog. (If youhaven't checked his site out, you should follow along with him here.) Not really stewardship related, but what a beautiful gift that these musicians gave to this community and to the world through YouTube.

What talent could you share with the world today?

Mar 14, 2013

How to Stop Traffic with Your Giving

What a cool idea. It’s amazing how shocked the folks in this video are to receive this unexpected generosity. If I were to give it a shot, my sign would be similar to his, but I’d tweak it a bit:
I have a home
                                                and a car
and a job
Praise God
Do you need a few bucks? 
I can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone doing something quite like this. How about you?
What is the craziest generosity you have ever seen?

Have you ever given like this?

What would the next generation learn if more of us gave like this man?

Mar 13, 2013

Wednesday in the Word: Uncommon Sense

"The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord , where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” 
But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.
Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” 
“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” 
Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord.  The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 
The Lord called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” 
Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy.  So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord , for your servant is listening.’"  So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” 
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 
And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli's house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’ ”
Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord . He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord ; let him do what is good in his eyes.”
The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord . The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word."
 1 Samuel 3:1-21 NIV84
I was in Oregon the other day for a few meetings and woke up one morning with a phrase stuck in my head, “Uncommon Sense: Spirit Filled Living.”  I wrote it down and I began to get ready for the day.  I’m going through the chronological reading plan on the YouVersion Bible App, and the passage I started with was this chapter from Samuel. 
My meetings included a retreat with a group called Generous Giving.  They invited a crowd out to hear a bit from an author that writes about God & Money named Randy Alcorn.  They wrapped the meeting up with this prayer:  
Ask God to speak to your heart.
Tell Him you’ll do whatever He says. 
It made me think of the book God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew.  I read this book as a child.  You read through the pages as Brother Andrew learns to trust God, to listen and obey.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough. 
As we learn to listen to God, not just on Sunday morning, but throughout the week, we will find this uncommon sense.  Samuel listened, Brother Andrew listened, and you and I can listen to the same still small voice. 
A challenge: 
Ask God to speak to your heart.
Tell Him you’ll do whatever He says.
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