Numbers: I should care, but I don't

 

Thinking About Math

When I was a child, I really struggled in the area of math. My strong subjects were English, art, and history. The teachers called me “creative.” Anything analytical or related to mathematics or science was out. Needless to say, my grades reflected it.

The problem was that I allowed myself to assume this false identity through adulthood. I say false identity because I believe that we can chose to be good at things, if we want to be. While the execution of the act may be more difficult for us because it does not necessarily come naturally, we can chose. An area that I have found this to be true in is regarding numbers. While numbers don’t necessarily come naturally to me, I have made a choice to face them and do what I need to do in my life so that I can interact with them.

We are constantly faced with questions regarding measurements, quick addition and multiplication, and many mathematical decisions that need to be made in regards to our finances. If I chose to continue to be afraid of numbers, allowing my identity to be rooted in the fact that I was “bad with numbers,” how can I function as an adult in the area of finances?

While math may not be the natural calling for all of us, it is essential to realize that we are all called to be wise stewards of the resources that God has given us and that is going to require some math on our part. We have to make a choice to ditch old identities that may be holding us back and embrace with faith that God can equip us to do anything we put our mind to in Him. Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule, but I strongly believe that all of us are called to be wise in this area.

So, if you’re like me and you may have struggled with math growing up, don’t allow that to define you in your adulthood. It simply takes discipline and practice. You don’t have to fall in love with numbers…but take responsibility over the ones that you will be accountable for.

 

Faith Can Defy Logic

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As adults we have accumulated knowledge. Therefore, most of our   decisions are based on this knowledge.

This knowledge can also be labeled as logic. While God created logic, there are aspects of logic that defy our faith.

There is something inside of us that resists logic’s ability to make us question. We take a step of faith only to be met with what we may label as “defeat.”

We say to ourselves, “I believed, it didn’t work and I was wrong, therefore my ability to have faith is wrong.”

Yet faith and logic don’t necessarily co-exist.

There are elements of our faith that grow and mature in the hidden ways of God, even when we don’t logically see the outcome we expect.

Therefore, here is the commission. Continue to have faith, no matter how many times the answer to your faith doesn’t line up with what you logically expected.

Remember, God is working all things together for good when we seek His face and love Him.

Our love for God will enable us to continue in our faith – keep believing!

Question:

What have you given up on? Is it possible that God is working this situation together for good, yet the answer exists outside of your expected logical, outcome?

Less About Me, More About Him

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 “I still myself in your presence, I let out a sigh of relief and welcome you into my heart.

My knees fall to the ground and my face looks upon your throne.

My voice cries out – Holy, Holy, Holy – King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Worthy is the Lamb.

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

Jesus, thank you for today – Father God, please use me today as a vessel to bring glory and honor to you.

I know that by your empowering grace that you can use me to advance your Kingdom no matter where I am.

I ask for your favor and blessing today, that I might be able to lead my day in a way that’s pleasing to you.”

 

Interesting.

As the Holy Spirit led me to inscribe a prayer this morning in my journal, I was lead to reference the Lord’s prayer as a template. I noticed that as I did this, my prayer became less about me, and more about bringing the Father glory.

What a humbling experience.

My prayer takes a path at the end that I did not expect, one that is not the norm for me. Typically I write to the Lord empowering prayers, authoritative prayers regarding my life or the lives of others the Sprit leads me to pray for.

Afterward, I dust off my hands and feel pleased in my “accomplishment.”

Today wasn’t about getting anything off my chest, today was about coming to the Lord’s feet – in awe and ready to serve.

After having this experience, my heart questions…ponders…no…is encouraged.

Perhaps I see why Jesus lead us to pray in this way. Perhaps He leads us to pray this way so that the focus is less on ourselves and more about His will for our lives? What a greater honor, than to bring the Creator of the Universe glory each day! It’s not that I don’t think we desire to do this, but perhaps we neglect this valuable "prayer template" given by Jesus to get us there?

Try It!

Get out a piece of paper or your journal. Open up your Bible to Matthew 6:9-13. Utilize the Lord’s Prayer as a “template” and write your own version that follows along with it.

 

Identity

Just the other day I was talking with a girlfriend about how easy it is to get our identity wrapped up in our stuff. The object of our discussion was our homes. While neither of us desire to fill our homes with “stuff,” we still were talking about how having a comfortable home that we’re proud of is important to us. The one word she used that really struck my spirit as we were talking was “identity.”

I was sharing with her how Stephen and I had sold practically everything in our home last year because we were sure that we would be moving over seas the following year. I told her about how this experience made me realize that it can be quite easy to fill our homes with “stuff” that will either be sold in an estate sale some day or end up in a trash heap. That all this money and time we invest in this stuff is for what? While I did gain this amazing perspective, her use of the word “identity” got me thinking. Maybe I don’t have this all figured out yet? Is my identity still wrapped up in my home and the car I drive? Yes.

Dang It! Here I thought I had learned the lesson, check it off and move onto the next.

This then lead us to the discussion of having nice things. That all good things come from God. I felt our discussion pointing to the message that God has been speaking to my heart along – “It’s not what you have that is the issue, it’s your heart.” Amongst our discussion I found some cobwebs that needed a sweeping…

So, my desire is to press into this word IDENTITY. Thank you to my friend and the Holy Sprit for challenging my heart in this area. While I may not desire to stuff my home with meaningless objects like I may have in the past, how can I move past finding my sole identity in my home?

Question To Ponder:

What is your identity wrapped up in that you feel the Holy Spirit is directing you to release so that you might be able to press into God's identity for you?

Sobering

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Much to our dismay, we do live in a world that throws darts at us on a continual basis. Those darts may come from the enemy or they may come from our own brothers and sisters…regardless, the sobering reality is that we live in a fallen world.

Over the course of the last several weeks, I have been feeling the weight of packing up everything I have ever known or owned - to sell. The experience is beyond humbling. The sense of “nakedness” that I have felt this past week in doing this reminds me of my solitude in this world without God.

Even though we pack our lives full of things…the reality is that those things that we pack our lives with don’t change the fact that we are on this earth for mission. That the world is “mean” and it really does not care if you are “having a bad day.”

See, I think these things defined me more than I realized…even though they were not designer or brand new, they still gave me a false sense of security. Security in knowing what “home” was. What I feel like I am getting to this week is the heart of Jesus. He had no “home” and he was very alone in this world. Yet regardless of all of this, he still executed the will of his father.

The enemy is on a mission to “knock us off our game.” He knows we have a purpose and if we fulfill it, many lives will be changed, therefore, he is doing all he can to knock us off the track. Regardless of the stress that this is in inflicting in my life…I have to remember that I have God – the creator of the universe. 

Sometimes we forget this.

We forget this because we are so distracted with all the “stuff” around us that we don’t realize that the stuff around us is providing no security at all. 

In my “nakedness” this week, I realize that with or without my stuff, God is still in my life and is still orchestrating each step in his will…what is there in this world that I need beyond this?

Sobering.

Share your stewardship story with us! You can email us a video of it at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , just send us the You Tube link! We will then share it with the rest of the world! Let’s join in this movement together…a movement towards the heart of Jesus.

 

Let Go and Let God

CharlieBarf right? Well, as a follower of Christ, this phrase was barf to me for a looonnnggg time. Being the control freak that I am, this phrase bugged me and still does to an extent. While I don’t think that we should ever rely on this phrase as a crutch in life, I do believe that it does have a strong meaning for my fellow control freaks out there.

I have been through a tremendous season of having the perfect plan and that perfect plan falling flat on its face, over and over across the past 2 years. There have been many instances when I wanted to flat out quit, but I haven’t yet. I continue to push forward in what I feel like God is calling me to do and while that has been and continues to be very challenging, I know in my gut that I am doing what I have been called to do. With all of this said, I am learning that sometimes I need to, “let go and let God,” this was proven clear to me through a little kitty named Charlie.

Charlie is a little black with brown tinted cat, he is probably less than a year old and has beautiful greenish, bluish eyes. His meow is sweet and low and his demeanor is cuddly and loving. Charlie is the name that I gave to this little guy that ended up on my porch one day, we have a lot of cats in the neighborhood, but there was something about Charlie that was different. He sat at our sliding glass door peering into our dining room as if he had arrived and we had been waiting for him. When greeted, he happily meowed with joy. He was different. I was worried for Charlie when I first met him because I had never seen him in our neighborhood before, is he a stray? Does he belong to anyone? I thought he must just be wandering the neighborhood, but wanted to test his appetite to see if he might be a stray. He did not attack the food, instead he took every moment with me that he could soaking up the pets coming his way, circling me excitedly.

My initial encounter with Charlie was brief as Stephen and I were off to New York City the next day for a 2 day trip. I figured when we would be back that Charlie would have moved on, well he didn’t. I again spent time feeding him, giving him water, worrying about him and even crying for him. See, I wanted to ignore the little fella, seeing animals outside like this, is so hard for me. I rescue stray dogs all the time and so, it seemed that Charlie did not have a home. We could not take him in because we already have three cats of our own and I don’t know if Charlie has any sicknesses. So…we had to leave Charlie outside. I still felt the Lord tugging on my heart to continue to give Charlie food, water and pets and that I did and continue to do.

During the course of this week or so, I have called several no kill animal shelters, got him checked for a microchip, asked friends if they knew of a home for him, ect, but my spirit never quite felt settled about doing any of this. So, the other morning I cried out to God, “WHY?!?!” I felt the Lord say to me, “Let him be.” What? Let him be?! Are you kidding me Lord, here is an innocent kitty outside with scary predators, cars, ect. – Let him be?! Yes…that is what I heard, that is what I continue to hear and that is truly what my spirit felt from the beginning. So…for the last day…I have let it be, anytime I get anxious about Charlie I pray a prayer for him, and that we find him a nice home, somehow, if he does not have one. I continue to feed him in the morning and at night and give him pets and trust that the Lord will bless and keep him better than I ever could, after all I am dealing with the Master of the Universe who created Charlie to begin with. So…I am practicing.

How funny that the Lord would take something so close to my heart like a little animal to teach me this lesson…I am still struggling to hold onto the control in this situation, but I am really trying to let go. I have watched Charlie bopping around on our deck all morning and continue to pray for him. This has been hard, but I trust that the Lord is going to help me grow tremendously in my faith through this little angel, Charlie.

So, in life, sometimes you do need to let go and let God. Thank you to Charlie for the excellent instruction!

What Goes Around, Comes Around

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I was running with a friend this morning and we were talking about the perplexities of receiving. She was sharing a story with me about a co-worker: a patron in front of him at the gas station purchased his drink for him, without him knowing it until he got to the counter to pay for his drink. He then turned around and purchased the drink for the person behind him.

I wrote an article a while back about the Christmas Card Phenomenon - same concept. You send out your Christmas cards for the year. You get a few cards from people that you didn’t sent cards to, so if you have extra, you in turn send them a Christmas card back.

There is something broken within our spirit when it comes to receiving things, we either don’t like it or it makes us feel uncomfortable. I would differ to the latter.

But why does it make us feel uncomfortable? Why can’t we accept the money that a friend wants to give us because they want to help us? Why can’t we let a family member buy our lunch because they want to?

I love it when I meet people with “functioning receivers,” those who know how to receive and do it well. I also love those who at first don’t want to receive but then do. This is a beautiful depiction of what God is trying to do in all of our lives.

"Come near to God and he will come near to you…” James 4:8, NIV

It is the natural order of things as God has designed it…draw near to things and they will naturally draw to you.

There are so many generous people in the world who are continually seeding into the lives of others…they need to also learn to receive. I believe we have been designed to receive this blessing, after all, we have been designed to receive the Father.

So…next time someone wants to do something nice for you, don’t let pride, fear, arrogance or anything else stand in your way. Accept with a grateful heart and open mind.

 

Failure

4-2014 343Failure is the probability of most circumstances…perhaps that is why the “success rate” in soo many things is soo low. This week I feel like a bit of a “failure” on the cash challenge, I just found about 6 receipts hidden in a stack of my latest receipts from my business trip that I failed to account for when I did our budget last week. Dang it. That is the worst feeling.

Being someone who is prone to perfectionism, these moments have the opportunity to either destroy me or rough me up, I will only let this rough me up, but not for too long.

The reason why I won’t let it destroy me is because I am on a journey to uncover the true meaning of Biblical Financial Stewardship for church leaders. I recently dove into a book written by R. Scott Rodin and Gary G. Hoag called, “The Sower.” Ultimately, the way we handle our finances is a heart condition, nothing else. I believe scripturally that if I handle my money with the right heart, it is not the intention of God to beat me up for lacking perfection this week. This concept is further exemplified by the words of R. Scott Rodin:

                “…God is primarily concerned with who we are rather than what we do” (8).

Relief, thank you R. Scott for that word! What a blessing it is to know this…while this does not gives us the excuse to go crazy, it certainly gives us grace and I need it!

So, this week, I did not fail, I won…because I continue to pursue the heart of Christ and am working to be more like him.

Be empowered in Him this week!

Get your copy of "The Sower" here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0979990793

Risk Is Good - For Everyone

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This morning it was pouring rain here in Colorado and it has been now for over 2 days, refreshing after all of the hot weather we’ve been having.  I decided that I wanted to get my run in the morning, so I decided to brave the storm.  The creek next to the trail was raging with water and I felt like I was the only soul standing out in this rain storm for several square miles.  I was encouraged as I started to run and I saw this man out on the trail in front of me, braving the pelting rain from the gusting winds.  With each step I realized that despite my rain jacket and other precautions, the likelihood of me finishing this run soaked, was 100%.  As I made my way towards the other runner on the trail, I could not help but chuckle to myself and question my sanity…it was crazy, pouring rain and wind – I had a brief moment when I thought to myself that going back to my dry car was the best option and that I would get out later in the day when the rain stopped.   I wrestled with the thought for a few minutes, but pressed forward into the storm.  I had a flashback to Stephen and I’s conversation just moments before as he questioned my reasoning and cautioned against hypothermia jokingly… 

Read more: Risk Is Good - For Everyone

Receive It!

MP900422261To receive is not to take away from someone else.  Receiving is accepting a gift that has been extended to you.  It seems that a majority of us have trouble in receiving something from someone because we feel like we are taking something from them.  Why do we keep letting our pride, fear or shame get in the way of a gift that someone wants to bestow upon us?  Do you ever feel guilty when you get a gift from someone and you feel like they spent too much money on you?  Argg, I hate that feeling.  Why is it that we experience that emotion? 

Read more: Receive It!

Are You Born To Spend?

Are you born to spend?

Check out this report sponsored by Chase, click on the cover below:

Source: Chase - https://www.chase.com/online/chase_blueprint/document/JPMC_Chase_BornToSpend_FINAL.pdf

5 Reasons You're Earning More Money and You're Still Miserable

5 Reason's You're Earning More Money and You're Still Miserable
By Mandi Woodruff - Business Insider, Friday July 26, 2013

Getty Images/Thinkstock

Whether you're a millionaire or a middle-class father of two, we all make the same mistakes when it comes to money – we think the more we earn, the happier we'll be.

If you really want to buy yourself a more fulfilling life, it's not how much money you earn that matters, but figuring out the right way to spend it.

That's the idea explored in a fascinating new book, "Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending," written by a pair of renown behavioral scientists, Dr. Elizabeth Dunn and Dr. Michael Norton. 

"When it comes to increasing the amount of money they have, most people recognize that relying on their own intuition is insufficient, spawning an entire industry of financial advisors," they write. "But when it comes to spending that money, people are often content to rely on their hunches about what will make them happy."

That all ends with this book. We've combed through and highlighted five ways to change the way you think about money that will make you happier in the long-run.

Read more: 5 Reasons You're Earning More Money and You're Still Miserable

I spend money too!

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Wow! I laughed out loud when I read this ecard. I remember this feeling haunting me ALL THE TIME in the past, and it still occasionally does! I want all of you to know that I STRUGGLE too! I am not perfect and I don’t have it all figured out. I sometimes skip tracking a week. I sometimes spend out of my budget. I buy impulsively at the grocery store when I am hungry. I understand. Just the other day, I crossed a boundary and bought something I shouldn’t have. Tried to bring it back due to the GUILT. Could not return it because it was a “sale” item. None of us are immune to this power struggle within ourselves, but we certainly can better manage it so that we’re not feeling GUILTY all the time. Nothing feels good on your arm, feet or body if you didn’t have the cash to buy it. Your home does not feel as cozy when the TV you just bought was an impulsive purchase at Costco because it was a “good deal.” Why does it not feel good? Because you feel OUT OF CONTROL. We all feel better when have have a sense of equilibrium about us, but we chose to walk around seasick. Remember, that when you start this journey, you will NEVER get it 100% right and if you do, you are imbalanced in that state too. You can do this…

If I can do it, you can too!
Cheers!

No More Excuses…

Anything worth having in life we have to FIGHT for and want

BADLY enough that we don’t GIVE UP when it gets hard…

Check out this video on our Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/MAPFinancialSolutions