Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Peace Of Mind Account

When Amy (my wife) and I first started our goal to pay off our debt, and not use credit cards anymore, we were admittedly scared.  We were not scared that we could not accomplish our goal, but scared of what would happen if our family had an emergency without access to credit cards.  During this time I learned a couple of things about the unspoken strife I had been causing in my marriage and what truly an emergency is.

A lot of financial gurus have many different names for saving money for a family emergency.  Dave Ramsey calls it an emergency fund ($1,000), but from my experience it goes deeper than just providing a way to pay for life's unsuspected challenges.  I like to call our savings for financial challenges a Peace of Mind Account.

When we started to clean up our financial mess I uncovered a point of angst for Amy in our marriage.  She did not feel protected financially.  This was due to my fly by the seat of my pants attitude in dealing with financial emergencies.  My response was "don't worry about it, I've got it", or "it will work it self out".  If those responses don't evoke confidence I don't know what does.  The truth is I didn't know what I was doing.  I was winging it, and that did not help Amy feel safe or protected financially.  Putting unexpected emergencies on credit cards was even worse for her anxiety.  Using the credit cards was prolonging and compounding the money we owed and created more uneasyness.  It was not until we decided to put a $1000 away for emergencies that Amy felt safe and protected.

An emergency is unforeseen,  something you can't plan or budget for.  An emergency is something that you can't do without.  An example would be our AC going out in the middle of the summer with my kids and Amy at home (This happened a couple of times).  A car accident, or hospital stay for an emergency surgery (No car accident, but one gallbladder situation).  We had plenty of things that we debated on whether or not they were an emergency (If there was a debate it really was not an emergency).  Some of those things were clothing, big screen TV replacement (I have two sons things get broken), computer (I really tried on this one), dish washer (yes the sink can still be used to wash dishes), new tires.  I know you are thinking that new tires might be considered an emergency, but they should be in your monthly budget since you know they will wear out eventually; but that is a post for another day.

The $1000 we had set aside for emergencies got used several times and had to be replenished each time.  The funny thing is that after each emergency we would not have another one till after we had put aside another $1000.  Yes we were blessed, but I would also argue that knowing what a true emergency was helped as well.  We also made sure all extra money was put toward the fund till it was replenished, that meant no eating out or extra purchases (Oh the horror!).  With the $1000 in the bank Amy felt safe, protected, and she ultimately had more confidence in me as a husband, which ultimately gave her a peace of mind.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

To Be A Great Father You Have To Have A Heart For The Father

About a year ago I did a sermon on Ephesians 5:25-31 speaking to a group of men at our church on men loving their wives.  You can download the sermon here.

When thinking about this sermon today one thing came to my mind was that I could not be a great father without having a heart for  the Father.  In looking at Ephesians 5:25 God lays out quite clearly how I am supposed to be as a husband by using Jesus' sacrifice on the cross as my example.  Jesus gave His life for the church. He put everyone else before himself, and died for them.  As a husband I should be dying to myself for my wife in all things.  This teaches my sons that when they marry, their main purpose in the marriage is to put their own lives second to their wives.  What it teaches my daughters is that they should be seeking men that put the needs of my daughters above their own.

In both instances though I could not have taught my kids any of these things if I did not have a heart for God and His Word.  The world does not teach men to put others before themselves.  The world does not teach that men should die to self, and embrace the needs and desires of their wives.  The world does not teach to embrace God and have faith in His Word and let it guide your actions as a husband and father. The world teaches us that as fathers we deserve respect, we deserve to do as we please, we deserve that new sports car, or the ability to have time to ourselves.  The world teaches us fathers that once we bring home a check our job is done.

Jesus' death on the cross provided the salvation for me to live a life for Him.  Jesus' death on the cross taught me how to love my wife as He did the church.  Jesus' death on the cross taught me to give my children the gift of knowing what a godly husband, and father should look like.

No matter what kind of father we had growing up or have now, we can look to our Father's Word and learn from Him what true fatherhood looks like.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How Do You Know Something Is An Impulse Buy?

  1. It is broken into 3 easy payments so you only feel a 3rd as foolish for buying it.
  2. It is sold after 12am, on TV, by some B list celebrity.
  3. They are giving away free samples of it while you shop at Costco.
  4. Before and after pictures are used to sell it.
  5. It either has an "X" in the title or is named after some type of wild animal.
  6. When you get it home your spouse says "again".
  7. When you wear it people mistake you for a monk, or Jedi Knight.
  8. It helps you lose weight, tone up, grow hair, and give you a good nights rest all in 90 days or your money back.
  9. It is based loosely, inspired by, and rumored to be from a true story.
  10. You buy it on your cell phone.
  11. Its in the grocery store at the same eye level as your children.
  12. You think to yourself the next day, "why did I buy this".  But you don't take it back.
  13. It is not on the list you brought with you to go shopping.  When you go into battle you should always have a plan, and going to the mall or grocery store is a battle for your wallet.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Daddy Are You Tough?

This was the question my oldest son asked me this morning prior to going to school.  I thought about why he would ask me this, but I thought about when I was a kid and looked at my father.  I wanted my father to be stronger than I was in every way.  My response to him though centered around a couple of things.

  1. That daddy was weak and flawed because of his sin.
  2. That daddy could only be strengthened by having faith in God and the Holy Spirit.

Before God changed my heart and gave me the gift of the Holy Spirit my sin controlled my life.  I was weak in fighting sin.  I would give in to desires of lust, love of money, power, and stepping on others to get ahead.  I had no choice in the matter because I was weak.  I told my son that the world views strength in terms that are really sinful (power, money, women, success).  True strength can only be shown by God and the Holy Spirit's ability to change man's hearts.  I let my son know that only God is strong and without Him man can only show weakness in the face of sin.