Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Apr 1 - Song of Solomon 2:3,6

my lover is like the

finest apple tree in the orchard …

His left hand is under my head,

and his right hand embraces me.

Song of Solomon 2:3,6



I saw a study once. Someone, somewhere discovered that couples who kiss goodbye, tend to have happier, longer-lasting, and more fulfilling marriages.


That’s it.


Just kiss!


That was interesting, but the real shocker of the study, as Paul Bosch reported years ago in The American Organist, was that it didn’t even matter if the husband or wife “meant it” when they kissed. “Just a perfunctory peck on the cheek seemed to be enough — enough to make a difference in the quality of the relationship!”


Physical Touch is definitely a Love Language. (And would it surprise you that touch is generally more important to men?!)


Physical Touch includes holding hands and hugs. It includes pecking your husband’s cheek as he heads off to work and rubbing your wife’s feet, tired from a long day in heels. Physical Touch includes back rubs. It’s also a playful slap on her behind.


There’s Physical Touch when we sit side-by-side on the couch.


There’s Physical Touch when two tired bodies simply cuddle up in bed at night.


And then there’s sex!


Sex is two bodies … just the way God made them … doing precisely what God ordained for a husband and wife to do. And we call it “love” – “love-making”!


Indeed, we owe this gift of intimacy to our spouse. Really. It’s Biblical!


As the Apostles were teaching the first Christians to be faithful and loving to God, they also taught husbands and wives to be faithful and loving to one another, saying, “The husband should not deprive his wife of sexual intimacy, which is her right as a married woman, nor should the wife deprive her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:3). 


Nowadays, our culture focuses so much on sexual touch, that I’m going to close with a simpler reminder. Hug. Hold hands. Rub her feet. Cuddle up a night. Kiss hello and goodbye. And mean it!


Question: see below


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who hugs, holds hands,

rubs feet, and cuddles up at night



Dating and Engaged: How are you balancing the Biblical call to chastity with the natural desire for physical touch?

Newlywed and Married: How important is physical touch to you and in your marriage?

Not Married: The Apostle Paul powerfully trumpets the honor and value of the single estate. But how are you managing your normal human desires for contact and relationship?


Monday, March 30, 2015

Mar 31 - 1 Peter 4:10

As each has received a gift,

use it to serve one another,

as good stewards of

God's varied grace

1 Peter 4:10



Last night, I was vacuuming. It's my Tuesday night job. Before the Bible Study comes over, I vacuum, change the kitty litter, and wheel the trash down to the road.


But yesterday as I was vacuuming, Mary Louise came in with her hands black. I didn't know it, but she'd gone outside to split one last log for one last fire on one last wintery evening of the season.


"I'll trade you,” she said, out of breath and shivering. “I'll do the vacuuming, if you'll split this impossible log."


Acts of Service. We each do our part.


Marriage isn’t 50-50, as some people think. It’s 100-100. And whenever I’ve looked for fairness – in terms of jobs, responsibilities, service, and load – I’m needy, whiny, picky, self-righteous, and frustrated.


There’s a much better model for marriage than that. And indeed, my father taught it to me.


When I was a teen, my mother started the Hospice in our hometown of Wilmington, NC. It was a big ministry with a small budget, and my father became her chief volunteer. (Acts of Service.) He’d drive with her. Set up her office. Work on fundraisers. Go to meetings. He understood that whatever was needed blessed our whole family.


He even built a large shed in our backyard. Why? To house old, donated hospital beds.


Many nights around the dinner table, he’d say, “We’re going to deliver a hospital bed tonight.”


I’d whine and complain. “But I had plans!” My plans usually consisted of playing basketball and watching TV. He’d shrug his shoulders, which meant two things. “1) This is what families do, and … 2) There’s no argument. You’re going.”


I saw delivering hospital beds as a duty. Thus, my attitude was bad.


My dad saw it as an Act of Service. It’s his Love Language. His attitude is “can do.” He is a “good steward[ ] of God’s varied grace”!


Sometimes, we’d deliver one of these massive, cumbersome beds one evening, and then pick it up the next. (The death had occurred that quick.) And my dad’s service blessed my mom, our community, and especially a broken family in the midst of crisis.


My dad’s service also blessed our own little family. When I finally escaped my teenage sullenness and selfishness, I began to understand and appreciate my father’s heart and compassion. It’s become his greatest legacy to me. Now, I’m a doer. I’m a servant. It’s not my natural character. It’s a reflection of my father. Indeed, Acts of Service is now my primary Love Language.


Question: Do you see service as a duty … or a joy? And as a result, what’s your attitude when tasks arise? What do you need to do to sew a spirit of service more deeply into your life?


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who remembers

a moment of need

in my own family’s life,

dad volunteered to help,

but I didn’t want to burden him

with my problems,

until my mom said,

“Ed, you know nothing makes

your father happier than

helping other people.”

A guy who want to be that guy!





Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mar 30 - Song of Solomon 4:7

You are absolutely beautiful, my darling,

with no imperfection in you.

Song of Solomon 4:7



"He wrote the most beautiful letters. Stacks and stacks of them." A recent widow was describing her courtship. She was also describing her marriage.


Physical distance kept separating this woman and her beloved. While they were teenage sweethearts, his family moved to another state. While this put great physical distance between them, his letters sustained to the relationship. In marriage, it was 20 years of deployments in the Navy that created the physical distance. But again his letter sustained – and uplifted – the relationship.


A love letter is a written Word of Affirmation. Like all Words of Affirmation, it is one heart speaking affection and appreciation into the other person's life.


Most of our words in marriage though are not written. They are spoken. Usually hundreds a day. Some are sweet. Some are tinged with frustration. Most are just functional; we’re simply communicating information.


And yet occasionally – and hopefully not too rarely -- Words of Affirmation break though. We say, "I love you." "You look good in that dress." "I'm proud to call myself your wife." "Thank you for doing the dishes."


Look at these words. Most are quick phrases, just five or six words. They don't really cost us much. But they have a beautiful power! The more we say them, the more they stitch two hearts together.


Why? Because Words of Affirmation celebrate the best in the other person.


Criticism, on the other hand, harps on the worst.


Now, let’s be honest, we both have strengths and weaknesses. We have traits that need celebrating and character flaws that others must bear with. That’s part of being human. But when we focus on affirmation, the speaker keeps reminding himself of what is best in his beloved.


And through repetition, that changes his reality!


But it’s bigger than that. When our beloved keeps hearing wonderful words, they begin to live up to the wonderful ideal that they’re hearing. And that changes their reality too.


Result: Two realities uplifted! And one marriage inspired!


Yes, the more we speak affirmation, the more we create a beautiful reality within ourselves, within our beloved, within our marriage, within our relationship. Therefore, both husband and wife ought to be speaking and receiving these messages … frequently! Both husband and wife ought to be continually creating a glorious reality with their Words of Affirmation.


Question: Are you better at speaking affirmation or criticism? Are you better at looking for the best or the worst? What do you need to do to change your vocabulary… and your marriage?!


In Christ's Love,

a guy with a beautiful wife

(see what I did there?!)


And that's been my joyful

reality for twenty-eight years!


How can we pray for you ... and Easter Prayer Vigil

From 8pm Friday to 8am Sunday

Spirit of Joy is praying.

Come anytime.

(Though if you want, you can call the church to sign up.)


Most come to pray for one-half-hour

and stay longer because it’s so powerful

to pray for your brothers and sisters!


So let us know how to pray for you!!!

Email me back and we’ll pray.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mar 28-29 - Song of Solomon 1:15

Ah, you are beautiful,

my love;

ah, you are beautiful;

your eyes are doves.

Song of Solomon 1:15



Date night.


One of the "good old days" for Mary Louise and I was back when the kids were little. With older kids, you say, "Turn out the lights when you go to bed." But when kids are little, you get to tuck them in early, and husband and wife actually get to have a few minutes to themselves!


Thursday night was our inexpensive “date night.” We had a favorite television show. And we would sit on the floor and snuggle close together, while munching on cheese and crackers (or maybe fondue if we were adventurous).


We looked forward to Thursdays all week!


Quality Time is an important Love Language.


Sometimes it is time for just the two of you to be together. One-on-one. Side-by-side.


Sometimes it is very intentional – talking deeply and looking into one another's eyes. (That’s what Solomon, the old romantic, was doing in our verse for today. He was entranced by his beloved’s eyes that danced like doves.)


Sometimes Quality Time is just making an effort to be in the same room together while each of you are working crazily on your own necessary projects. Togetherness – even in the midst of the stress.


Often, Quality Time means turning off phone and focusing on the other person. Often it means not interrupting when the other person is trying to express a thought or feeling. With quality time, it is always caring more about this moment with this person then all of the other busyness and distractions of life.


Often the focus of Love Language discussions is asking, “What is your primary Love Language?” And that’s important because your primary language does indeed motivate and explained you profoundly. Nevertheless, what I am going to focus on in these days is trying to incorporate a little more – or much more -- of all of these blessings into all of marriage.


And guess what … Your beloved deserves some undivided attention! What can you do to make that happen today?


Question: What does quality time look like for you? What does quality time look like for your beloved? What do you need to do to enrich your relationship with this gift?


In Christ's Love,

a guy who is suddenly

hungry for fondue for two


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mar 27 - Matthew 2:11

opening their treasure chests,

they offered him gifts of

gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2:11



I have a friend who loves -- loves, loves, loves -- gifts. 


It is the biggest part of any holiday. She practically quivers with excitement when a gift is passed in her direction. She literally oohs and aahs over every detail. It's a joy to give her a gift. Her excitement is her gift back to the giver. 


Gift-giving is her Love Language. 


When her birthday nears, her husband has one job for that entire birthday month: He must listen for clues so he can pick out the perfect gift!


They're fun to watch! Gifts are her Love Language ... and he finds joy in showing his bride love. 


Gifts, however, are not the primary Love Language in my house. Indeed, most holidays Mary Louise and I make a pact to not buy each other gifts. 


"How unromantic!" you may say. And it is ... if your Love Language involves spontaneity and gifts. 


But Mary Louise and I have a different definition of romantic. We find the long-term goals to be the most satisfying. So we carefully prioritize our long-term needs. We carefully script each month’s generosity – to church and missions and sponsor children overseas. Then we work together daily through careful budgeting. (Careful prioritization may not be romantic in the spontaneous sense, but we find it wonderfully romantic in terms of results!)


Now, I'm not saying that my gift-giving friends don't have a long-term strategy. They are very forward-thinking! They budget very well. It's just with two salaries, they budget a few more gifts and surprises than we do. 


But that's choices. 


That's priorities. 


And that's understanding our love languages. In our family, we like gifts … but we love results.


How about you?!


Question: What is the role of gift-giving in making you feel loved? What's the role of gifts for your beloved? And whether this is your beloved's primary Love Language or not, how can you get better at spontaneity, romance, and gift-giving? 


In Christ's Love,

a practical romantic


Mar 26 - Matthew 7:12

In everything do to others as

you would have them do to you;

for this is the law and the prophets.

Matthew 7:12



The 5 Love Languages. That’s the title of Gary Chapman’s classic book on marriage and relationships.


Chapman has astutely observed that each person tends to “give love” in one of five primary ways. Similarly, each person, according to Chapman, tends to respond to one of five “love languages.”


The five Love Languages are …


·         Gifts

·         Quality Time

·         Words of Affirmation

·         Acts of Service

·         Physical Touch


With two stories, let me explain the value of understanding the Love Languages.


My primary Love Language is Acts of Service. Mary Louise’s is Quality Time. I sometimes call it “Face Time.” Seeing my eyes and knowing I’m listening spells love to her. To me, love is shown by doing nice things for others and having them do helpful things for me.


But here was the problem …


As with most problems, problems occur whenever there is stress. When Mary Louise is stressed, she wants “Face Time” … and tends to give “Face Time.” When I am stressed, I give and appreciate Acts of Service.


Wait read that again. Do you see what’s happening? When Mary Louise is hurting and needs to know she’s loved (read “needs Face Time”), I tend to walk away to go do something nice. Which isn’t perceived as nice at all! She needs to share her feelings, and I’m in the other room doing the dishes. (I’m saying, “I love you,” in the least helpful way possible.)


But that cuts both ways! When I’m stressed (read “frustrated$%#@!”), I need time to cool off! So, to say she loves me, Mary Louise employs her Love Language – “Face Time.” Just when I need space, she’s in my face. Lovingly, of course! (But I don’t perceive it as loving at all.)


It took us about ten years to learn the secret of Love Languages (before we ever knew there was such a thing).


When Mary Louise is hurting, it’s best for me to sit with my wife, close my mouth, and simply listen. She doesn’t want me to solve her problems with ideas and suggestions, she just wants me to sit there.


Conversely, when I’m stressed, Mary Louise has learned to go away and bake cookies. (Gotta love those chocolatey, chewy acts of service!)


That’s my first story about Love Languages. Here’s the second. It’s a confession. I’ve only, actually skimmed Chapman’s book! Therefore, what I present is my surface interpretation of Chapman’s depth. (So, if what I’m hinting at opens a door of understanding in your relationship, this week is really an invitation to read more of Chapman himself!)


Nevertheless, here’s what I want to leave you with today … Jesus’ Golden Rule was revolutionary. In a world of self-centered selfishness, Jesus admonished us to “do to others as you would have them do to you.”


The Love Languages invite you to take a next step: Do to others (not as you would like done to you, but …) as they would have done to them. Or more simply, Love them like they’d like.


Question: As we begin to focus on Love Languages over these next few days, how do you think you like to be loved? How do you think your beloved likes to be loved? And are you committed to the Golden Rule – to learning to love your beloved in a way that makes sense to them?


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who loves cookies

… and gives time


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mar 25 - Malachi 3:10b

see if I will not open the

windows of heaven for you

and pour down for you

an overflowing blessing

Malachi 3:10b


Do you want to see the windows of heaven opened?! Do you want overflowing blessings poured down upon your life and marriage?


Absolutely! Well, let me tell you about how my wife and I discovered a fountain of blessings in our lives. Indeed, let me tell you another story about money and priorities ...

After I took my turn caring for our eldest son (yesterday’s story), it was Mary Louise's turn to stay home ... which this veterinarian joyfully discovered to be her true calling.

I, in turn, went back to work. (And it was, indeed, my turn to work. It was my turn to let her enjoy her calling.)


Except there was a problem.

My calling was no longer in graphic arts. I was being called to ordained ministry.


And here was a problem ... going to seminary meant that instead of getting paid to go to work, I would now be paying for tuition, books, room, and board for almost four of us. (Our number two, Jay, was on the way.)

"If that's the call," Mary Louise said, "then we have to obey. That's the faithful thing my bride said.

But what I want to talk about is the absurd thing she said next!

As I was quitting my paying job and writing my first tuition check, Mary Louise said, "If we are going to commit our lives to serving God, then we need to do it with everything we have."

"What do you mean?" I said.


"Following God means we must also follow our Lord's call to tithe."


"Are you insane!" I said.

Tithing, of course, is the Biblical principal of giving back 10% -- right off the top. And suddenly my mouth hung open. I sputtered,  "But I just quit my paying job, and now I'm paying for the privilege of serving God. What are we going to live on? Mary Louise, we have zero money!"


"Well then," smiled my faithful bride, "this is the perfect time to start! After all, ten percent of zero is still zero!"


The final book of the Old Testament is Malachi. This prophet was, indeed, God's final word for 500 years as Israel now had to wait in silent patience for the promised Messiah (Jesus). As they were waiting then, the Lord left people like you and me with these words ...

Bring the full tithe

into the storehouse,

so that there may be

food in my house,

and thus put me to the test,

says the Lord of hosts;

see if I will not open

the windows of heaven for you

and pour down for you

an overflowing blessing.

How God provided financially for us in seminary was miraculous. Mary Louise worked a few hours on weekends, but mostly it was just checks for $100 to $2000 that seemed to show up at just the right time. It was, of course, the faithfulness and generosity of others.


But it was more than that: We were faithful, and God opened a huge window.

Now, this first time our faithfulness resulted in an overwhelming financial blessing. I can assure you, though, that after a quarter century of tithing now, the blessings we've received haven't always been financial. We still struggle with our budget month-to-month like most of you. (Meaning, don't think that by tithing, we can manipulate God into providing this or that. No!)

What we have received through a pattern of generous giving is a confident trust. And this is way better than money. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, we have confidence that God is really real. He shows up! He provides. Not always in the ways or times that we expect, but in ways that have profoundly blessed our lives.

Every month, it's an obedient step. Every month, our giving builds our dependence on God and our trust in God. Every month, tithing forces us to define our priorities. And every month for 25 years, our faith has grown.

Everything financial that I earn, buy, or spend will eventually pass away, but 25 years of growing faith is the one thing that will last for eternity!

Question: If you don't tithe, why not? Is it because of … other priorities? Fear? Because you haven't caught the vision for it yet? Because of stubbornness? Lack of trust? Explain.

In Christ's Love,

a guy who won the lottery

when he married a woman

who says absurd things

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mar 24 - Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God

and his righteousness, and

all these things will be added to you

Matthew 6:33


Speaking of money -- our theme for these last few days -- let me tell you a story.


It’s about the time in my life when Mary Louise and I were the richest. (Richest ... if you were measuring wealth in terms of "discretionary income.")


We'd recently been married. We both had good jobs. It was the only time in our 28 years of marriage that we were both working full time. 


Every Friday night, we'd tap the bank machine for a hundred dollars and say, "What do you want to do?" It was usually dinner and a movie. Afterwards, we'd wander the mall, picking out things for our new house. 


On Saturday, we'd say again, "What do you want to do?" And we'd tap the bank machine again for another hundred dollars for usually another dinner and a little more shopping. 


Soon Mary Louise was pregnant. We started furnishing the nursery and picking out child care. 


Life was good. 


Until a little uneasiness started gnawing at me. 


One Sunday morning -- on the way to church -- I said, "Can we stop at this park and talk instead?" As we sat on a picnic bench, I said, "I don't like the idea of putting our baby in child care."


Millions of people choose to put their kids in child care. Millions more have to. We always assumed we would. Mary Louise had set up her whole life for this powerful, professional time. She was a veterinarian, completing her residency and already teaching at a university. Like millions of Americans, we'd set up our whole lives for work-plus-family. And suddenly, I was throwing a monkey wrench into the whole works. 


Mary Louise broke down crying. 


And not in a bad way. "Me too," she said. 


But then she said something that stopped us in our tracks: "How?"


We'd set up our whole lives based on two incomes. We had a house. We had bills. "How?"


After a lot of soul searching, we figured out a plan. We had six months to pull it off -- four months of pregnancy, plus two months of maternity leave. The plan was this: Save every penny. It involved no eating out. No movies. No malls. A lesser cable package. And no more candy bars whenever I stopped at the gas station. 


In six months, we saved $10,000!


Let me put that another way: Before then, we wasted $10,000 every six months. 


We weren't happier before. In fact, now we were much happier ... and much more purposeful. At first, I stayed home while Mary Louise finished her residency. In a few years, she stayed home while I went to seminary. (She was much better at it. Kids topped pets as her calling.)


Financially, we've been poorer than we might have been for 26 years. And yet ... In every other way, we've been a million times richer!


And the question is, "Why?"


It's because we were following God's calling for us


And suddenly everything -- including our spending -- was based on our true priorities. (And suddenly we had a extra $10,000 that we otherwise would have blown.)


Now … your calling is different. It’s not supposed to look like mine. It will be absolutely unique to you (and you two)! And you'll be rich when -- and only when -- you're living according to your true callings and priorities. Because … "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."


Question: Don't adopt my priorities. Don't feel guilty if you can't (or don’t want to) do it the way me ... or your mom ... or your neighbor do it. Your calling is unique to you (and you two). So listen for God. What is his calling in your life? And how must you shape your spending to fit those true priorities? 


In Christ's Love,

a guy who accidentally

listened and heard

God's plan for a rich life


Note: If you're newlyweds, these are supposed to be lean years! Many of you are just out of college. Many of you are still paying off loans and just getting started. Chances are that you'll have fun no matter how much you're spending! So take advantage of that! Rather than trapping yourselves into too many bills and too much debt, spend less and save more now, so that every option is open to you when you discover your true calling. 


And if you ever get discouraged, ask an old gray couple what their first years were like. Enjoy their stories of life on a shoestring. And if you’re willing, learn also from their struggles of learning how to live side-by-side.)



Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mar 23 - Proverbs 13:11

he who gathers money

little by little makes it grow

Proverbs 13:11


There is no specific command in scripture to save money. 

But ... there is a consistent drumbeat calling us to be wise. And saving money is one of the wisest things we can ever do

For one, saving holds our covetousness and impulsivity in check. To say "yes" to savings, we have to say "no" to covetousness and greed. Saving encourages us to conquer the insecurities that keep us accumulating. 

And most of all, in this vein, saving forces us to prioritize between "wants" and "needs."

There's a second wise purpose to saving ... freedom! 

Yesterday we talked about how borrowing robs us of future freedom and financial flexibility. Saving does just the opposite. It opens doors. It provides for contingencies. It ensures a free future.

But it starts with discipline. 

The wise thing to do is to always save 10%. Right off the top. Put it away. Religiously!


No! Wise. 

Too many people in our country today are one paycheck away from disaster. What if the transmission blows? If you don't fix it, you can't get to work. If you do fix it, which other $2000 in bills don't you pay? The rent? The light bill? Child care?

Too many people keep getting stuck between a rock and a hard place. 

As a pastor, I was just in a hospital room yesterday. A child had surgery. If dad doesn't go to work, how does he pay the rent? But how does a good dad leave his wife and baby?! (This is a good, responsible family, just starting out. But so far we're just talking rent. What about the suddenly mounting medical bills?)


Do you see why we need to save? In fact, money managers suggest that we should have at least six months income saved for emergencies. Why? Because challenge is a part of life in this broken world. There's job losses and health crises. Are you prepared?

It obviously takes a while to build up six months of savings. But as today's verse says, "he who gathers money little by little makes it grow."

Question: Do you want to be enslaved by circumstances and debt? Or is it time to commit to an active savings plan?

In Christ's Love,

a guy who doesn't like rocks

(or hard places)





Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mar 21-22 - Psalm 37:21

The wicked borrows

but does not pay back,

but the righteous

is generous and gives

Psalm 37:21



A day or two ago, we called debt “legalized slavery.”


Financially, do you know the only thing worse? It’s not paying it back. You still owe the debt -- which means you’re still a slave -- but now you’re compromising your integrity too. You’re cheating the person who was generous to you.


That’s why in God’s plan for financial health, repaying debt should be our second highest priority (after “repaying” our debt to God himself by giving generously back to the one who creates and sustains us).


Yes, repaying is more important than spending.


I know, I know, you could probably come up  with scenarios in which there’s a famine and your children are literally starving and you’re definitely going to buy food for your baby before you repay a loanshark. Me too. But if you’re wealthy enough to read this on a computer, you’re one of the richer people in history ... even if you “feel” poor. And under normal circumstances -- i.e. no World War or desperate famine -- then repaying is a higher priority than spending.


Yes, there are crises that throw our normal spending plan into chaos. But that’s why we abide by God’s spending plan the other 98% of the time. If we’re wise -- week-after-week, month-after-month, year-after-year -- then crises rarely spell desperation. We’re ready. We’re prepared.


So, with all that said, repaying is generally more important than anything except giving to God.


·         Repaying -- even if it’s step-by-step -- releases us from the shackles of slavery and debt.


·         Repaying keeps in check the disease of rampant materialism. For if we seek our solace in things, we’re not entrusting our care to God. (Indeed, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” -- Matthew 6:33.)


·         Repaying also helps us maintain our integrity. When we refuse to repay, we are basicallytthieves ... even if our lender was first thieving from us with the outrageous and deceptive lending practices that they had. (Being naive and gullible is not an excuse to steal back.)


·         Furthermore, prioritizing repayment also keeps us away from additional debt (and additional slavery). For example, you should never put more on a charge card, until the previous month(s) were completely paid off.


Yes, repaying is more important financially than anything but our tithes and offerings. And that’s the consistent witness of scripture ...


·         Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you. (Proverbs 3:28)

·         It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. (Ecclesiastes 5:5)

·         If a man ... swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. (Numbers 30:2)

·         You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. (Leviticus 19:11)

·         Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:7-8)


Question: How do you need to restructure your budget, to make repaying more important than continued spending and increasing debt?


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who doesn’t

have to repay much

because he won’t ever

borrow much


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mar 20 - Romans 13:8a

Owe no one anything,

except to love one another

Romans 13:8a



There is a new and profound form of slavery in America. 


Are you a victim? Are you enslaved?


I’ll bet you are. As it says in Proverbs 22:7, “the borrower is slave to the lender.”


It is on the altar of immediate gratification that millions of Americans daily sacrifice future freedom and financial flexibility. We do it with borrowing and credit. Perhaps we can justify a mortgage as an investment. But car payments and credit card debt are chains and bondage. 


You know what they say about casinos, don’t you? The house always wins. 


Well, just as casinos stack the odds in their favor, so do banks and lenders ... and especially credit card companies. It’s a business. They’re in it to make money. And they’re very good at it. They’ve got clever gimmicks. “Zero down.” “Only $200 a month.” “Low introductory rates.” Easy credit is promoted as a service.


Lenders prey on pride, vanity, and mostly naïveté. And in the end, they create willing slaves of the materialistic, the impulsive, the unwise, and the desperate. 


Biblically, debt is not necessarily a sin. But it is constantly painted as unwise. And covetousness is part of the poisonous root that consistently trips us and causes us to fall into the pit of debt. 


For young married couples, many of us unconsciously expect to compete with our parent’s abundance immediately. We think that this is what adulthood and marriage is supposed to look like. And we forget that most of our parents struggled to make ends meet when they first began (and we forget that these early days of tiny apartments and Raman noodle suppers were some of the best days of their lives.)


Consciously or unconsciously, how many of the following motives drive you? We’re hooked by advertising. We’re tied to trends. We want to be entertained. We’re technologically addicted (an expensive habit). We compete with friends. We want comfort. We expect convenience. We want our parent’s standard of living at the start of our journey? (After all, that’s what we’re used to.)


Well ... guess what? All of those things cost money. Therefore, you must to decide whether you will exchange future freedom and financial flexibility for immediate gratification. Debt may be legal, but it’s still slavery. As it says in scripture, “Owe no one anything, except to love one another.”


Question: see below


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who’s allergic to chains


Question: How do you manage money?


·         A cash system is the best. Why? Because when you’re out, you’re out. You consider every purchase and your wallet literally tells you when you’re out.


·         A debit card is dangerous because it’s way too convenient! It’s too easy to just swipe a card and keep overspending our budget categories. Swiping is mindless and seems painless. And yes, a zero balance may eventually enforce an end to our spending, but until then, impulse buys are too easy.


·         And that’s why a credit card is infinitely more dangerous: Nothing says stop! We’re encouraged to keep spending and spending. But it’s nonsensical. We’re paying 5-20% more on every purchase. And the interest -- and the burden -- compounds monthly. We may have fun going down, but make no mistake, we’re falling into a painful hole. We’re enslaving our future.


·         By the way, car loans -- a common source of debt -- are financial suicide. Two-hundred-a-month sounds doable. You figure that that’s only about $2,500 per year. But after five years you’ve paid $12,500 (much of which is interest) on a $25,000 car that’s now worth only $7,500. That means, if you keep the car, you still owe them $12,500-$15,000 (depending on your interest rate. “Don’t worry,” says the car salesman, “We’ll help you out. We’ll give you another loan.” Monthly payments that you’re basically accustomed to sound much better than facing the debt. So now for the privilege of paying two-hundred-(plus)-a-month for ten total years, you now end up with another $7,500 used-vehicle, and you still owe the dealership about $30,000. (Remember: The house always wins. Which means the borrower always loses.)


·         FINALLY: If debt is unwise, unbiblical, and enslaving, are you willing to pledge to avoid debt (especially credit card debt and automotive debt too) and start living within your means. Why or why not?