“A” Is For ATTITUDE

money“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” -William James

 

Let’s talk finances. Now, don’t click on another page. Just take three deep breaths and a couple minutes and read through this post.

 

The average person doesn’t really believe he has a problem when it comes to finances. He really doesn’t. As long as he’s making monthly payments on time, as long as he has some mad money he can play with each week, as long as he can continue to feed and satisfy those occasional indulgences from time to time, he erroneously believes things are just fine. Unfortunately he’s like the alcoholic, the drug addict, the gambler, or the person addicted to pornography who says, “I don’t have a problem.” But the truth is, the average American has a major problem when it comes to money, Christians included. They are horribly in debt, miserable managers of their money; and gullible beyond belief when it comes to buying things on credit.

 

Can I share a simple principle with you? If you’re paying interest on anything, regardless of the great interest rate you may have gotten or the low monthly payment; if you are paying interest on anything, are you ready for this? YOU ARE LOSING MONEY.

 

In fact, when you see the word “interest,” if you visualize two words in huge, gigantic letters as if they were written in the sky; “SOMEBODY ELSE,” that will help you better comprehend the principle. Why? Because that’s exactly what happens every time you’re paying interest. SOMEBODY ELSE is getting rich off YOUR money. Yet so many people say, “Well, you know, we got a great interest rate.” Or, “Luckily I got the same low monthly payment on this car that I had on my last one.”

 

Christian financial expert, the late Larry Burkett, said, “Christians are now paying nearly 10% of our income every year in interest alone. And yet we give only 2% back to God.”  So here’s the picture. The average Christian in America is miserably over his head in debt and walking in rebellion towards God. We definitely have a problem. But watch out if anyone attempts to discuss it. Why? Because we’re very touchy when it comes to our stuff. When it comes to my money and my finances, that’s a private matter and it’s none of your business. Isn’t that pretty much the way you feel?

 

So if someone suggests we have a problem with our finances, we immediately get defensive and go into money 3denial because none of us wants to admit we have a problem.

 

Does anyone remember Harry Truman? Not the President. The man who lived on the side of Mount St. Helens in Washington? I’ll never forget the guy; He had 23 cats. (Does that help?) Well, back in 1980 he was on Mount St. Helens. TV reporters were interviewing him while the mountain was shaking behind him. Harry’s sitting there with his 23 cats and seismologists were saying, “This mountain’s gonna blow; ” Volcanic experts were saying, “This mountain’s gonna blow.” Harry Truman said, “I don’t believe a single one of your ,experts. I’ve lived here all my life. I know this old mountain better than anybody else. I’m not going anywhere. “ And they’d banter back and forth.

I remember his sister on national television (you may remember watching). She pleaded with her brother, “Please, get off this mountain. It’s gonna blow;” “No, it’s not,” Harry insisted. “I’ve lived here all my life. I don’t have a problem.”

 

On May 18th, 1980, at 8:31 a.m., the mountain blew. It blew with a force 500 times greater than the power of the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. Twenty-five hundred feet blew off the top of the mountain. It blackened the sky from Seattle to New York and as far south as Oklahoma. No one has ever seen a trace of Harry or his 23 cats since.

 

Now I’m praying that you are not a Harry Truman. I’m going to assume you want God’s wisdom, God’s guidance, and God’s provision in your life. I’m going to assume you want to be financially healthy and to be free from the albatross of financial burdens, bills, and bondage.

 

lt’s possible for anyone of us. In fact, regardless of how much debt you have today, I agree with Larry Burkett, who says in seven years anybody can be out of debt. Anybody; That includes you.

money 6

 

All of us can be out of debt and financially healthy, or well on our way to it, if we really want to be. But we have to want to. But if we don’t begin with step number one, nothing else we talk about will help. We need to begin withOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD MONEY.

For more on the subject of changing our attitude click on this link:

 http://relaxedchurch.sermon.tv/pa/9792495

(adapted from “The ABC’s of Financial Freedom” by Barry Cameron)

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The real reason for disintegrating families

While jogging one morning I overheard a conversation, or I should say, disagreement between a mother and daughter in the driveway of their home.

The teenage daughter was getting into her car parked in the driveway, apparently leaving for school. Mom was standing at the garage door saying something to her daughter. I was not able to catch what mom was saying but I did get the daughter’s response, loud and clear. “Mom, shut up!”

Why it is that there is so much disrespect for parents and authority in our kids today. Could it be parents who are too busy to give careful attention to their kid’s development and are pretty much willing to settle for anything? Could it be kids reflecting what they see modeled in their parents? Could it be the product of too much TV and video games?

I don’t know. But I do know what I observe. Just this morning I observed that same mother dropping her son off at the child care provider down the street from her house so that she could get to her security job, I’m serious, she was wearing a security uniform, and drive off in her new GMC Acadia Denali with a price tag in the $40,000 range. I was reminded again what I believe to be the primary reason for two income families and the disintegration of the family unit. Here’s how it usually plays out.

The first phase is your yearnings start to exceed your earnings.  You start to see things you want and you can’t afford them and you say, “I’m going to go out and get those things anyhow.”

Then immediately comes the second phase.  You get over extended financially.  You have more than you can pay for.  Which immediately results in the third phase.

You have to constantly hustle.  You have to get extra jobs – both husbands and wife are working.  You have to work at night.  You have to constantly hustle to make ends meet.

Then because of that the fourth phase.  Your home life starts to deteriorate because you’re tired.  Everybody’s exhausted.  Everybody’s irritable.

It leads to an epidemic of absentee parents.  A lot of it is because of this very syndrome.  Our kids don’t need more things.  They don’t need new vehicles. They need their parents. More than anything else they need our attention.  But we are so busy making a living we don’t have time to make a life.  We don’t have time to give them our attention.  We are so busy paying for our lifestyle that we don’t have time to pay enough attention to our kids. We want to.  We know it’s the right thing to do but we feel trapped by this syndrome.  We feel like there’s no way out.

The truth is you made the decisions that got you into this and you can make the decisions that will get you out.  Yes, it’s going to be painful.  But it’s not going to be painful like you never have the time to love your kids.  It’s certainly not as painful as I’m not living the life I know God wants me to live.

And we keep doing this because we rationalize.  We have this phrase we say to ourselves, “It’s only temporary.”  We’ll do it just for six more months.  We’ll do it for another year.”  You’re kidding yourself.  A temporary situation has become an habitual lifestyle

The Bible says in Hebrews 13:5 “Be content with what you have.”  That means enjoy what you already have instead of always wanting more.

For the sake of restoring health, happiness and a hopeful future to your family, “Be content with what you have.”  The last thing you want to do is look back with regret.

 

No longer necessary to envy the rich

I just read this highly unusual report that surveyed 450,000 people from the last couple years about their level of happiness in life. It appeared in the Sept. 6 early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Here’s the bottom line of the report. The happiest people in America are those who have a family income of $75,000. It seems that, according to the research, happiness increases as income increases up to $75,000 but after that there is a leveling off on the happiness scale. Beyond $75,000 you might have the ability to buy more stuff and do more things but they don’t necessarily bring a higher level of happiness. So I guess I can stop envying the rich for all the money and things they have, because I have one thing they don’t have, happiness.

I think there is a better answer to all this money and happiness talk. It comes from God and not a study or academic journal. And since He is the Creator of life I guess he should know best about what brings happiness to life. This is what he says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Tim 6:6-10

In my first church, several years ago, I met my first example of this teaching gone south. The city was Norfolk. The person was Denny. He was married to Sandy. They were a great couple. Denny was a huge guy. I don’t know if I ever knew someone as massive as he was, at least not at that point in my life. He had graduated a couple years earlier from the University of South Dakota where he had enjoyed a heroic football career. He was on top of the world and determined he was going to get a huge chunk of the world’s wealth.

Denny was driven to earn more and achieve the level of affluence that “successful” people reach. He worked long hours, hardly ever took time off and drove himself to succeed. I think he may have achieved at least some of his goal, but in the wake of it all he left a broken marriage, destroyed relationships and “many griefs.”

Don’t make the same mistake. Here’s a better course.

1. Learn to be content with what you have. Until you do, you’re not ready to handle more.
2. Realize everything you have is not yours. It belongs to God and you are not going to take it with you. There are no U-Hauls following funeral processions.
3. Be satisfied with your needs being met instead of being driven by your greeds. Greed will destroy you. It IS a green eyed monster.
4. Love God and people rather than money. It will take you much farther in life and in death.
5. Protect your faith. It is far more precious than any fortune you might accumulate.

So relax. If you are anywhere close to the $75,000 family income level, it doesn’t get any better than where you are right now. Or, better yet, whatever your income level, you have the ability to enjoy your greatest happiness. You are the captain of your ship.