Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Basics For Personal Finance

Whenever I counsel people on getting their personal finances under control I always start with the basics.  No matter how much money they make or how much debt they have I start with just a few things.

The first is gathering some vital statistics involving their current situation.

  • How much money do you make currently?
  • How much are your monthly expenses?
  • How much debt do you have?
  • Why now?
The first three points are very basic and common sense driven.  The last point however is the most important and the one that I spend the most time on in our first meeting with someone new.  Getting your finances under control is not about your current situation.  It is about why you want to get out of debt.  This "why" could range from you woke up and realized you weren't living the life you wanted, to your family is wanting to go on a big vacation and your current situation does not afford you the ability to do that.

For me and my family it was the revelation that we were not stewarding over the money that God had blessed us with.  The "why" for me was the desire to glorify God by the way I used His money.  This was a strong "why" for my wife and I, and is the one that carried us through to paying off $50,000 in debt in less than two years.  Without the strong "why" it wouldn't have mattered what tools, information, or education we had.  Through that time we thought back to our "why" which was to glorify God and lean on Him for the strength to do so.

When accomplishing any goal, no matter how big or small your "why" has to be bigger than the goal you are trying to accomplish.  If it is not, you probably don't have a great chance of accomplishing it which is why it is important for me to understand with clients what that "why" is.  Throughout the counseling process we might go back to someone's "why" several times to help them to accomplish their goals.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Solomon Continues To Counsel His Son

Proverbs 2:1-6 My son, if you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment; lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; and discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. http://goo.gl/MjUWQ

God has given us the ability to process wisdom with the brains He gave us but as this passage points out we have to search and thirst for His wisdom to find it. As with anything in life gaining wisdom is not easy otherwise everyone would have it. We must continually seek out what God is teaching in His Word in order for us to be wise. We must be diligent in our study which means that there must be consistent effort daily to get in the Word and study God. If we are not consistent in our study, the ways of the world will corrupt what we think wisdom is and we will eventually put the foolishness of the world above what God tells us. I see the foolishness of the world even in the churches today. People have stopped reading Gods Word and what God says about wisdom, and instead have listened to false teachers. That is not an excuse to abandon the church body but it means that we should be discerning for what a shepherd is preaching. But, we can't discern what is truth and what is not if we are not reading our Bibles.

Proverbs talks a lot about the foolish, and the consequences of those who no longer seek out God's wisdom. The biblical term fool means to not know God and it was a very serious thing to call someone a fool in Solomon's day. Today fool is a much less offensive term but to me it still has the same connotation as it did during Solomon's time.

As a husband, and father, who loves God and His Word, I am called to shepherd over my family in many ways and teaching them about God is my number one priority. If I am not teaching them about God they have a greater chance of turning away from God's wisdom and turning to the foolishness of the world which means they will become or stay fools.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

God's Wisdom Shouts To Us Through The Noise

Proverbs 1:20-21 Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings

God has always spoke to us through His word. In fact He is screaming everyday at us through the wonders that he has blessed us with. The mountains, trees, oceans, the sun, moon and stars all come from God's witnessing to us that he is mighty and that we should listen to His Word. Unfortunately, like Proverbs 1:20 states, the streets are noisy and in that noise we have decided to tune out God and tune into what the world says is wise. We listen to people that tickle our ears with what our sinful flesh wants to hear, which Proverbs tells us is noise. The noise has become so loud that people look at those same mountains, moon, and sun and think that it was all by accident and that God does not even exist. People are so starved to be led by something that they let the noise (TV, Newspapers, Teachers/Liars, Radio) become their gods. Instead of reading God's Word daily we look forward to the next Dancing With The Stars episode.

When something is noisy we have two options. We can either shut out the noise by turning it down some, or we can get closer to who is trying to communicate with us. In the case of the world we can't turn off all of the noise but we can definitely turn it down. We can get closer to God who is screaming at us by getting in His Word every day which will make the noise of the world less and God will be louder in our lives. As God becomes louder in your life you will turn the noise of the world off, and see that worldly wisdom is just Noise as Proverbs has laid out.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Quit!

I quit, being unintentional with loving God my wife and children, being phony to others around me, compartmentalizing my life, not planning my life, getting out of bed with a bad attitude, feeling like a victim, holding grudges or being angry at those who have wronged me, feeding myself with negative influences, Direct TV, gossip, putting others down, thinking I am owed something, following the herd, not being honest, being lazy, over thinking everything, not being a person of action, being afraid of man, the morning paper, saying please at the end instead of the beginning, the way I use to live my life.

What are you going to quit today?