Thursday, November 21, 2013

Children's Children- "True financial planning begins with eternity and works backwards."

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
    who walks in his ways!
 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
    you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.
 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
    around your table.
 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
    who fears the Lord.
 The Lord bless you from Zion!
    May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
    all the days of your life!
 May you see your children's children!
    Peace be upon Israel!

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.

I've been thinking quite a bit about leaving a legacy these days. Maybe it's the amount of time I spend thinking about financial intelligence, maybe it's the coldness of winter or maybe it's that the grand-babies will be here for Christmas and I think about what kind of country we are going to leave for them.

Regardless of the reason it's stuck in my brain, there is a call for us to leave earth a better place than when we got here. We can talk GMO's, Obamacare, central banks and the stratospheric topics but I believe on a more granular level there are things that don't seem so far from reach that we can do as we pass the baton to the next generation, but it takes purposeful thought and planning on our parts.

It's not all about money and living and leaving life is more than a monetary issue but the unfortunate part about life today is that we need money to live. There aren't many who are living on 1000 acres, that have a alternative energy source and are truly off the grid enough to go without having some sort of monetary transaction on an on-going basis; it's just where we live and it doesn't seem to be changing direction anytime soon. Plain and simple- we need money.

But again, it's not all about money and how would it be if money was something low on our list of things we had to think about? How would it be if your organization needed to raise $1m to purchase something and your family could plunk down half or all of that because you believed enough in the endeavor to be that benevolent? That could change things around the board room table or the kitchen table.

Imagine what it must feel like to think and give on those kinds of levels without having to wonder if you were going to make it next year. Imagine if that was you right now; maybe it is and if so, good for you. Seriously.

But for most people they are not living in that kind of world they are living in the world that saw 6 million people in the US fall into poverty since 2004. That's not the kind of legacy we want to be leaving.

So what kind of legacy to we want to hand down to future generations? If it's not all about the money but they will need money to live and give where's the balance?

My dad never really had lots money and I have never had what would be considered lots of money either, though neither of has been without basic necessities. Growing up there were lots of chores to do, we worked in the berry fields and the picked green beans, we canned lots of things each year to stretch the dollars, though we didn't know that then, and just generally lived on a lower budget than some other folks. 

One of the things I learned from my dad without him ever "teaching" me was generosity. We didn't have a lot but everything we had was open to those who had need. I remember us bringing grocery bags full of produce that we grew in our garden to church to share with others and how excited dad was at Christmas to give some very special thing that cost way more than was necessary but was what one of the kids wanted; like the year I got a new 10 speed.

What are your children's children going to learn from you and what are you going to leave for them to deal with? Are they going to be dealing with the weight of a mess or the weight of having big shoes to fill? Are they going to be dealing with trying to survive financially or figuring out the best ways to increase the inheritance you have left for them to manage.

Just the other day I had someone say, "I don't want to leave my kids a bunch of money because I want them to know how to work". Are you kidding me? I wanted to slap this person-but I didn't. I've had enough money to know that it's still work to be a good fiduciary. Just because someone has way more money than they can spend in a lifetime does NOT mean that they automatically don't know how to work, in fact they probably understand hard work more than someone who doesn't have any money.

Our job is to set up the next generation for success as much and in every way possible. Whether that's in teaching them to be good stewards of the money, earning lots of money, being generous, making as many disciples as God allows, building schools and churches that are full of God-worshippers or showing them that leaders serve and sacrifice, in all those things and more we are to leave them something to build on and with.

I leave you with this quote:

"True financial planning begins with eternity and works backwards." 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Here and Now

Doing things that make little difference is unfulfilling. 

How can we bring value to the lives of the greatest amount of people on this planet while we have breath? 

I've had so many blessings already in life and what I'd like to do is share what I've learned with others so they can experience the same joys. Making a product that adds some benefit to other's lives is fine but I'm looking for more than that. More than something that is a benefit today but will grow dim tomorrow.

What if?
What if we could do something for others that would truly change their world from today forward? What if after meeting with us others walked away changed forever. What if that change was so significant that they had to share it with others who were also changed. 

Helen Keller said, “Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another's pain, life is not in vain.” 

There is so much pain in the world, so much suppressed anger and fear. There are also those who, in oblivion, walk through life thinking that everything is going to come out fine even if there is no preparation for what is to come; both in this life and the life to come. 

We don't know what tomorrow will hold, for us personally or for the planet. We are to prepare as best we are able, to not live in fear of what may or may not come and to go about our business as if every success we have depends on us while praying that God would bless all we are doing. There's no room for pride in this life because it's all a gift and we are just the receivers. 


Some get great wealth and little happiness. Some get the opposite. Some of the most joyful people I have met were lepers in Ethiopia living and gathering food in the city dump. Who is most blessed? The one who has great wealth and no joy or the one who has joy in all circumstances? Wouldn't it be awesome to have both, not either or?

Jesus came that we might have life and to have it in abundance. It's interesting in that passage, John 10, that He dumps that right in the middle of many "I lay down my life" statements. Do you suppose He's trying to say that bringing abundant life requires laying down our own? 

Those who hoard wealth miss so much blessing in their own lives. Hoarders actually mess up the economy. As strange as that sounds, those who keep for themselves stop the economic flow. Being generous actually helps the economy and it certainly help the giver, as it is more of a blessing to give than to receive.  

Helen Keller also said, “If the blind put their hands in God's, they find their way more surely than those who see but have not faith or purpose. ” We are not necessarily to have faith in people because people are going to let us down. We are to have faith in God that even when others do let us down that He will make it right and take our labors and give them purpose. 

The Toll Collector
What kind of purpose can the toll collector have? Really, think about this one. The person who sits in a little box and collects change. But when you pass by the one who gets their purpose in that spot you understand exactly what I mean. Are we that person or are we the kind that is lost in thought, lost in bills, lost in our own relationship issues and misses the 1000's of opportunities that pass by our booth each day?

“I wonder what becomes of lost opportunities? Perhaps our guardian angel gathers them up as we drop them, and will give them back to us in the beautiful sometime when we have grown wiser, and learned how to use them rightly.” Helen Keller again. We can only hope that we get a second chance at some of these.

We are told to number our days as that brings wisdom. So thinking about the future is good for our souls but not to the point that it make us pessimistic or fatalistic. We have much to look forward to even in the midst of the craziest storm clouds on the horizon- and there are some serious clouds brewing for us these days. "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope.” Yup, HK.

How could she be so prolific in optimistic quotes? She had joy inside of her circumstances rather than desiring to be beyond them. 

God gives us each a torch to carry through life. I'd like mine to be bright enough to shed light into a few generations. What's your purpose and are you making the most of it today? What if we CAN change the world and we miss out because we are too busy? How can combining our purposes increase our world changing opportunities?

Are you ready to change the world? We got start somewhere/sometime. It might as well be here and now. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Privileged Position

King for a Day 

If you think about what landed the king to the position and what kept them there for any length of time then being a king had to be somewhat scary.

There were kings who inherited their kingship and those who took it by force. Some gained it because someone in their family passed away and some lit there because a relative was killed. Some went to the neighboring kingdom and took the position from the previous monarch. 

For those arriving on the throne via the violence method it had to be scary putting your head on the pillow each night. Who could you trust? What was going to happen in your world today that would end the trust that you once had?

Royalty and Responsibility

This says nothing of the responsibility that came with the position. Let's say you landed on the throne by the most honest and upright method- now what? All these people are looking to you to provide for their needs. All these people are complaining about paying you to build an army to protect them all the while you are trying to balance what to pay the soldiers who are leaving their families to protect the freedoms that the others enjoy at home each night while the soldiers are off fighting. 

There had to be some amazing things that came along with the territory but being the king was probably not all it was cracked up to be. And once you were the king how did you get out of that role? Someone came along and took it from you. It could have been by the sword thrust into your own body or into all those around you leaving you no option but to submit yourself and all your subjects to the next ruler. Could there have been anything more humiliating than this?

To Provide and Protect

Think about this, I actually do all the time. You are in a position of leadership and all your people are looking for you to protect and provide for them and now you are unable to do that. You were, at one time, at the top of your game and all of a sudden the game has changed and you're no longer at the top but rather at the bottom. The problem is, the people are still looking to you for guidance, direction and leadership and you might wonder what kind of leader you are yourself. 

They say you never stop being a parent and this analogy may have been true for the kings as well. Once a king, always a king; until death do you part. 

As I think about kings in Biblical times rising and falling, sinning and confessing, falling down and getting back up, I am struck with the notion that being a dad, boss, leader or king comes with almost all the same weight. Your people are looking for you to lead even if you feel very unqualified and inadequate. 

Royal Requirements

The thing that woke me up in the middle of the night to write this is the following; we all have cycles and we often have no idea where those are going to lead us and our people. Our people are looking to us even when we have no idea what to do ourselves and so when that time comes what does God expect from us?

I think it's in this passage from Micah 6 

“With what shall I come before the Lord,
    and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

It seems that at the end of it all God knows exactly how much we don't know or can't carry and so He dialed it down to this- Be Just. Be Kind. Be Humble. That seems too simple but maybe that's His point. 

Whether you're the king or a servant the time may come when you are saying in your heart or even with your mouth, "God, what do you want from me?" and the answer may be as simple as this; "but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Insurmountable Obstacles in Our Path to a Joy-filled Life?

Friend, have you been feeling the weight of God's hand on your life? Does it seem there is no end to the pressure He is inflicting, the pain you're enduring or the burden you are carrying? Have you been crying "uncle" and yet it still comes? You are not alone and in fact you are in great company.

Many of our heroes have been under this kind of trial at some point in their life; Job, David and Calvin to name just a few.

After months of painful, bodily suffering the last words of John Calvin were, "Lord, You grind me to powder, but it suffices me because it is Your hand."
After learning of the loss of all he held dear, Job's response was, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
David said, "I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!" Psalm 39:9.

Realizing that it was 
God's chastening hand on him, David didn't complain. There was not a silent sullenness, or brooding, but a quiet acceptance without protest.

AW Pink said, "When we are in our right minds, we shall have nothing to object against God's dealings with us, or dispute with them. God is sovereign in the acts of His providence--and therefore an important branch of our obedience unto Him lies in suffering His will, as well as in doing His will. That obedience is evidenced by refusing to repine against Him by the utterance of any impatient words."

Wow, those are hard words. Words that cut deep. The pain of our trial is real; sometimes more real than we could ever have imagined we'd go through. It does also seem that God likes to pile it on, that it's not just one thing but that they come in droves and sometimes we are not able to get the first wreck cleared from the freeway fast enough and all of a sudden 20 more cars come crashing into the first wreckage. 

What do we do when this happens? What is the proper response? Or maybe a better question is "what is the proposer perspective in these situations?"

Pink goes on to say, "Shall vile dust and ashes censure the providential dealings of the Most High God, or impugn His goodness? Let all God's treatment of us be both wondrous and righteous
 in our eyes." That's a different perspective.

We often see these trials and hardships as "bad" things in our lives and yet if we will finally realize that all the things that God gives are blessings, perfectly planned and administered to His children at just the right time and in just the right dosage, we will have grown to a point where these things truly are "light and momentary afflictions" rather than insurmountable obstacles in our path to a joy filled life.

"If our hope is in God for a happiness in the eternal world--then we can well afford to reconcile ourselves to all the dispensations of Divine providence concerning this world." Matthew Henry

Again, once we will realize that all our afflictions are appointed by our loving heavenly Father all of our complaining should stop. It's not by chance that the cars are piling up on the freeway but rather perfectly sent to His children at the exact right time for our good and His glory. 

Someone who really understood trials and difficulty said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”  Helen Keller

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it!" Hebrews 12:10-11

Our tendency is that we are often focused on the present time rather than the future harvest and so we complain about, and run from, the plowing and sowing in our lives and the harvest  of righteousness and peace never comes.

May we have joy in ALL circumstances, whether the highest high or the lowest low. May we be able to say with Habakuk,

"Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer's;
    he makes me tread on my high places."