Prayer Works

I have many stories about answered prayer but this one sticks with me for obvious reasons:

My son was in high school. He was a good student, a reasonably good soccer player and was generally easy going. I was becoming concerned, though. His salvation was not in hand. It was looking like we were at a cross road. Join the world or live for Christ. I had prayed for years on a daily basis that he would choose God but I knew that I could not press. Like me at his age it would be on his own terms. There was one day that changed my way of praying.

On this day I was hungry, tired and busy when my son made me exceedingly angry. It was over something I had talked to him repeatedly. Not only that but I had a laundry list of ways he had offended me over previous weeks. When I got to him I was seeing red and ready to explode. I knew my state and tried to calm but it was impossible for me at that moment. Something stopped me in my tracks. It was literally the words in my head … “STOP! Walk away.” Stopping in my driveway the words resounded in my head, “Keep walking.” As calm began to seep back into my body the real reason I was upset was being revealed. I was concerned for his salvation. My reaction was … “I can fix this”. God’s reaction was … “No! I got this. You will do nothing but pray and back off.” It was clear to me that my son was in good hands. The way I prayed for my son changed that day as well as the way I viewed him and my roll from then on.

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

The next day I apologized to my entire family for my poor behavior and was resolved to do things differently. The way I prayed went from pleading for my son’s repentance to thankful for his salvation. Gratitude and tears of joy flowed freely at the knowledge of his soon to be transformation. I knew that my son was quite safe in God’s great and powerful arms. A feeling of peace and joy began to wash over me about him. No longer was I crushed by any minor infraction he made. What I did not know is besides my wife and I there was a group of my son’s friends that were praying for him as well.

I wept the day my son was baptized. Still get tears when I view the picture of him at the beach. Even as I write this, I want to give him a big hug. He is now a youth minister. I am so thankful that God has both my children in hand and they pursue their Daddy in a way that makes their dad proud. They confirm for me that prayer works.

I would love to hear your stories of prayer answered. Please share as it is a powerful testimony to God at work in peoples lives.

Prepare for the Future

This is number 6 in a series I call Financial Freedom. The last post was entitled “You Need a Vacation”.

My wife and I started late preparing for retirement. When we were young it was not an imperative and we lived paycheck to paycheck. Our parents never really instilled the necessity of getting ready for retirement. They did not really prepare themselves for their eventual loss of income. In fact, JP Morgan calculates that 74% of Americans are not saving properly for the future. As I realized their inevitable position it made me think about our own lack of preparation. 2 Corinthians 12:14 “…Children should not save up for their parents but parents for their children.” I did not want to be a burden on my children and as always God provides ways to do so. Proverbs 6:6-8 “Go to the ant, o sluggard, observe their ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gather her provision in the harvest.” Was an ant being wiser than me? I was being called by God to make a change.

The best way to do this is invest in a 401K and never touch it. In our first few years of marriage we did have a 401K. It accumulated $1500. We closed it out and took the cash for other things. It seemed like a small amount and we really needed the money. I now think differently. Proverbs 27:23 “Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds.” We do not have flocks and herds today. We have money. Different times and ways of exchange but the concept holds true. I needed to be aware of what I had and the future. What preparation was I making? Really none! I knew something was wrong until the title of an articles caught my eye …”How to Become a Millionaire”. Who doesn’t want to be a millionaire? The article was about something called compound interest. The concept astounded me. Leave it to God to come up with answers to hard questions. Here is how it works.

Let’s say I was 25 when I cashed in that $1500 but this time I decided to leave it in a 401K. If I left it alone and never touched it along with a conservative rate of 8% return then that would grow into over $80000 by the time I was 75. Pretty cool! I did no work and gained $78500. Now let’s say I was really wise, like the ants, and put in an extra $30 a week. Cost of a cup of coffee every day? At the age of 75 that looks like 1.1 million. Wait what!? Yes, that’s right. An investment of almost $80K over 50 years will make you a millionaire in retirement. Not only that but most companies have a matching program and investing more will inflate that number.. Praise God that He has come up with ways to do the thing He calls you to do. BTW … Had I started saving with my first job at the age of 15, over the course of 60 years that is 2.5 million. Can anyone afford not to invest in their future?

1. Prayerfully decide how much you will set aside for your future. Figure out how much you will need to retire. Seek advice from a professional if necessary.

2. Ask God to give you the resources necessary to prepare for the future.

3. Thank God for the abundance He has provided so that you can prepare for tomorrow.

I wish I had started saving at 15. We started saving later in life. The good news is that it is not too late to start. For us we still had some time but needed to be more aggressive than if we had started earlier. We started by contributing the minimum amount matched by our work. We then increased this amount as promotions and raises allowed until we reached our goal. Right now we are on track. We have been fortunate. God has been very good to us. We did have to make some sacrifices at first. Lesser vacations and fewer dinners out. A warning though. Matthew 6:24 “… You cannot serve both God and money.” The goal is not to accumulate wealth. The goal is to make preparations for your elderly years. It’s our responsibility and our calling.

My prayer for you and me is that we trust God’s word, do as He commands, make a plan then faithfully act on our preparations for the future.

Fabricating Fruit

A number of years ago I was going through a rough spell. It was not a good place for me. Sick, tired and miserable. I couldn’t seem to pull myself together. I had noticed Galatians 5:22-23 “the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”. It dawned on me that I was not experiencing these things in my life so I attempted to fabricate them. On my own I tried to have joy and peace every day. It was an exercise in futility! I couldn’t seem to understand why. Apostle Paul was thrown into jail, yet he continued to exhibit fruit and I was not experiencing anything close to that type of oppressive environment. How can somebody be a Christian and not be fruitful? For awhile this question perplexed me.

Something clicked during a church service, though. Matthew 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.” There was something I needed to change to achieve fruit. An underlying sinful nature, some deeply ingrained in my character, were getting in my way. A sacrifice needed to be made to experience the things God promised. Now the wheel was rolling. Sure I was in a place that I did not want to be but there was no reason for my situation to be unfruitful. I began to pray and ask forgiveness. 2 Corinthians 4:17 “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” God is abundantly able to use that bad place I was in to use me in ways I could not imagine. Then the flood gates opened. It revealed sinful natures that I would never had realized. There was a trust issue and preconceptions on the way things should look plus the underlying lie that God might have abandoned me. Not only did I identify my own weak nature but an inability to apply truth when I was being lied to constantly. The Holy Spirit started working. God began to use me in situations I would not have thought possible. Yes, I was experiencing fruit again. Thank God!

Now I use the fruits of the spirit as a barometer. If I am not experiencing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, I immediately start asking questions. Why? What am I doing wrong? What do I need to change? Confess. When the Holy Spirit works the sinful nature out of me I no longer need to fabricate fruit. Fruit shows up on it’s own. All Christians can be in this place. It is God’s promise.

You Need a Vacation

Yellowstone National Park

This is number 5 in a 10 part series I call Financial Freedom. The previous was entitled Give Joyfully.

That’s right! I just told you to take a vacation! How does that play into finances? Let me explain. For many people this is a no brainer. For others like me vacations are stressful. So much goes into a vacation like money, time, preparation, travel while trying to cram as much possible into a very stress filled week. In my brain this adds up to … Don’t do it! I will literally feel guilty through the whole experience. My wife on the other hand must have it. It is an imperative for her. It must be something new and exciting or it literally does not count. We are almost 2 ends of the spectrum.

There was one year we were faced with job loss. We were confident at the inevitability so we made sensible preparations including no vacation that year. This would be a sticking point between us for years. Thank God the layoffs passed us with no incident. This trial did make me better understand the implications of not vacationing and feelings of guilt about it. I had to think about it like this … God even takes vacations. Genesis 2:2-3 “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” and Jesus took time to rest in Mark 6:31 “And He said to them, Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” Jesus commanded the apostles to take a break. There are even statistics to prove the health benefits. A story done by CNN cited that men who did not take vacations were 30% more likely to have a heart attack and women 50%. Plus we perform better at work when allowed time to stop thinking about it. Psalm 128:2 “You shall eat of the fruit of your hands, You will be happy and it will be well with you.” Taking vacations allows us to set aside and appreciate the benefits of the abundance God has provided. By following God’s command to take time off we are investing in our spiritual, mental and physical future.

Now the catch. You knew there must be one. The Apostle Paul set up churches on his vacations and Jesus had the most important teaching moments during his time with the apostles. Christians are always on mission Psalm 96:3 “Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.” and 1 Peter 2:12 “Keep your behavior excellent among the gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” We are representatives of Christ wherever we go. Act appropriately! Vacations are not a free pass to forget who you are. People see and know that you are a Christian.

The other catch. Yes, there are two. Romans 13:8 “Owe nothing to anyone …” You do not need to go into debt over a vacation. It does not have to be a trip to an exotic destination. Visit a relative, go camping or a stay at the beach. Everyone loves something different so be imaginative and don’t break the budget. The amount you spend is not as important as the getting away.

1. If vacations are causing you a sinful attitude then pray right now for forgiveness. Ask for God’s help in resolving these issues.

2. Prayerfully consider what type of vacations will allow you to reset your brain then figure out what you can afford while adjusting your vacation plan accordingly.

3. Be thankful for God’s provision in allowing you to follow His command and take a vacation.

Now my family takes guilt free vacations that are always within our means. My wife and I agree to go different places every year. Some more exotic than others but always something new. What I have realized is that vacations not only get me to think differently, it has improved our marriage. We now fondly remember the camping trip we slept in a puddle while it poured outside and everyone was drenched. Knowing that vacations are a requirement allows me to enjoy them with less stress and guilt. There is much less pressure to cram in as much as possible. They are indeed a time of bonding even in those times things did not go as planned. Those turn out to be the best times in many cases. Prayers now kick off every trip. This makes God top of mind at every getaway. So go ahead, you now have permission to blow off some steam and take a vacation.

My prayer for you is that you would be able to reboot and find rest in ways that allow you to bring God with you on vacation.

Names Can Break Bones Too

When I was 9 years old my father left for the first time. His alcohol abuse was ruining our family. It wounded me in a way that would stick for a long time. This isn’t an unusual situation. It happens all the time, right? The problem was what happened next. The next day I wanted to escape. I left for school early and sat at the entrance. A friend walked up and asked what was wrong. I shared. His next comment stuck like glue … “I know someone else this happened to and they are messed up. Statistics show that you will probably turn out just like your father.” In itself that might not change somebodies course in life but it was reinforced. Over the next few years I was bombarded by comments like, “You look like your father.” and “You do that just like your father.” Pair that with daily bullying in school and you add comments like”dumb, fat, stupid, unliked, unathletic, jerk, nerd, gay, homo and small.” Heap on poor treatment from teachers who new my father along with family members and friends who did not portray the best example. Nobody really knew how much I was hurting. It wasn’t really on any individual but the bottom line it caused me to consider myself worthless. How is it that I turned out? I have an answer for this.

Proverbes 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. ” The power of death! Literally, words could do more than break bones, they could kill! I was alive but I was living proof that words could cut deep. However, there is a message of hope too. Life! I needed to be free of those terrible lies which had been repeated to me. It started with a promise. Proverbs 16:7 “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” I just needed to be more like Jesus and not let what other people thought to guide my way of thinking. Psalm 118:8 “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” I was giving those lies too much weight when I should be looking to God’s affirmation. I did realize that I needed to forgive those who wronged me. Mathew 6:14 “For if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

There was another very important part of my healing process. I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that my biological father did not love me enough to give up drinking until I realized that my heavenly Father loved me enough to sacrifice His son. Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Once I began to understand this one thing it opened the doors to the rest. I needed this truth to stand on to make the hurt melt away and free myself from the lies that were ingrained into character. I realized that I also needed forgiveness from God and others I had treated wrongly because of this hurt I carried. The suffering I had endured had carried over into my relationships. Not only that but I started noticing something. Hurt people hurt people. People who treated me poorly were likely hurting themselves. It allowed me a sympathy for them.

1. If you have been hurt by words then pray right now for God to heal those wounds.

2. Pray for help in forgiving those who have wronged you.

3. Pray that God would forgive you for empowering others words over His own.

More than 40 years later I can still sometimes feel that hurt. What I can claim now is victory in Jesus. Matthew 5:11,12 “Blessed are those who people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great…” Today I am more resilient than ever when it comes to name calling. Now I understand better that I am blessed because of people who called me names. I am in fact much more likely to speak positively and want to help those I see hurting. After all isn’t that what Jesus would have done? I can’t help but think what if. What if my very young friend showed mercy and offered encouragement instead of comdemnation. What if a teacher said you can instead of you can’t. What if people just kept quiet instead of using hurtful words? I will choose to rise above what people say and look to my Father for his approval.

My prayer for you is that you will trust in God for your sustenance instead of the words of man.

Give Joyfully

This is number 4 of a 10 part series I call Financial Freedom. The previous part is called Misers Never Prosper.

For years I had a bad attitude toward homeless and pretty much anyone who was down on their luck. I just assumed they deserved their situation. In my opinion most homeless chose their situation and only a very small percentage were experiencing things out of their control. It actually angered me to give away my hard earned cash. Handing money over to homeless was perpetuating the problem. My mind was changed after seeing some bothering statistics.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness approximately 500,000 people are homeless every night. Even more concerning is that around 180,000 of those were in a family unit. Yes … families … that means dads, moms and kids! This did not sit well with me. Did families with kids want to be homeless? Then I noticed a verse. Proverbs 28:27 “He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.” My attitude was not only flawed but I was suffering for it. In fact, Jesus calls us specifically to do it. Luke 14:13-14 “When you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Not only would I be cursed if I did not give, I would be blessed if I did. Personally, I like the blessed part better.

This did not need to be complicated or put me out a great deal. A simple meal for a sick friend or serving food in a homeless shelter. I just wanted to change my way of thinking and give somewhere. I know I can’t solve the worlds problems but I can make somones world a little better. Starting small and see what happens. I would encourage everyone to do the same.

  1. Pray that God would reveal to you where you should give plus forgiveness for any wrong attitudes you may have displayed. Write down a few ways you could give to the hungry, afflicted and poor.
  2. Choose one or two of these. Make a plan to get these things accomplished and prayerfully request that the Holy Spirit move in these activities.
  3. Give thanks for the abundance God has provided you that it would overflow into those in need.

This is a process for me. Nobody ever helped me when I was in need! (Not true by the way.) I got myself out of any bad situation I was in! (Also not true. 1 Corinthians 10:13 ” No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”) I do not need anyone to help me (Ugh! Galatians 6:2 ” Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”) Lots of “I” in those statements. There is an attitude problem here. Self-centeredness. It made me prayerfully move my focus from in to out. Giving to random strangers is still not my thing. I need to know a little about a situation first, although I try to keep myself prepared to give if the spirit calls. I do however, appreciate my wife and son who joyfully help stranger. It’s a cool thing! God moves me now to give in other ways. It is a joy to provide meals to families at thanksgiving and Christmas. Offering help to people who have had major life changes like illness brings me a satisfaction I cannot explain. Christmas presents for kids who would otherwise have nothing literally warms my insides. There are so many ways to help and my response is very different now. It feels great! Why does giving feel so good? God promised He would bless those who give!

My prayer for you is that you would follow God’s leading and joyfully give to those who have need.

Judging a Book by it’s Cover

In my younger years I managed a video game store. It’s a job I really enjoyed. It was a slow evening before the Christmas crush kicked in. I had noticed a large family passing by the front of the store. They were dressed in shabby, well worn, clothing. They were all skinny and acted as if they were poor country folk. My immediate reaction was that they probably had little more than the minimum to live on. The smaller children were tugging at their parents arms to try and goad them into our brightly lit store. The parents were obviously of a negative disposition. I mentally agreed with the parents stance as they could obviously not afford the products I sold. They walked away until a little later the entire group walked in. I happily greeted them and engaged the mother in conversation while the children and father looked over the games. Come to find out they lived hours away and were on their yearly trip to the mall as there were no options where they were from. I secretly pitied the family as I answered the myriad of questions the very polite children hurled at me. After a short stay they left with disappointed looks on the children’s faces. Later the father came back, picked out a small armload of items then came to the counter. My brain was wondering what sacrifice was being made to buy something so frivolous. Would they eat this week? I tallied the amount and the dad did not even blink as he pulled out a wad of cash from his pocket. There was more money rolled up in his hand than I made in months! I truly hope he did not notice the stunned look on my face. He paid and left with what I assume were Christmas presents. I had judged that book by it’s cover.

I realized that I had a problem. I do this constantly. Making calls about people with too little information based on dress, color of skin, nationality, political preference and even facial expression. This is bad! John 7:24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” It affects my interactions with people and I was realizing that some of my attitudes in this respect were deep routed. Don’t we all do this on some level? The Association of Psychological Science says that we can make judgements on a person after seeing them for only 50 milliseconds. The Apostle Paul understood the problems with this reliance on our own judgement. In Galatians 2 he chastises Peter for separating himself from gentiles because they were not Jews. His judgement of the gentile lifestyle caused a division which dragged others into this negative behavior. Paul attempted to impress upon them that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Shouldn’t we follow the example of Jesus? He engaged all types … men, women, children, unclean, thieves, beggers, blind and tax collectors to name a few. He wasn’t judging at all, just showing his love for them wherever they were in their life. It is nearly impossible for me not to size people up but a verse I like to remember is Matthew 7:5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” It reminds me that I am a sinner and need Jesus just like the people I make judgements about. Maybe even more than them if I would be honest with myself.

  1. Think about people or situations you may be judging right now. Make a list if it helps you to visualize.
  2. Ask forgiveness for this sinful nature.
  3. Pray that God would help you change your judgemental thoughts.

That was almost 30 years ago. Admittedly this is still work in progress for me. A constant battle to keep from thinking worst case scenario with almost no information to go on. I had always feared that I would pass this onto my children. Praise God as a couple years ago I witnessed my son be approached by a homeless woman. She appeared legit at first glance but my reaction was of a negative nature. My brain wondered what her issue was. Perhaps lazy, mentally ill or hooked on drugs was my immediate evaluation. I watched as he calmly and lovingly engaged the woman in conversation. She shared a little about her situation. Meanwhile, I am antsy to get to our destination. He wrapped things up by reaching into his wallet and emptying it of his last twenty dollars. My son lovingly engaged this stranger and showed her compassion. John 13:34,35 “…love one another, as I have loved you … by this all men will know that you are my disciples …” My reaction made it impossible for God to use me in this manner. How many other opportunities had I missed due to my split second judgement. It brings tears to my eyes to this day thinking about the awesome testimony my son was making by loving like Jesus. Praise God he did not inherit his father’s judgemental way. My son was a better man than me and making his father and his Father very proud.

My prayer for you is that you would allow God to work out your judgmental attitudes so that you would be able to engage people more lovingly like Jesus.

Misers Never Prosper

This is part 3 of 10 in a series I call Financial Freedom. The previous was called Save for a Rainy Day:

I’m a saver. What that means to those who may not understand is that any time I spend money on anything frivolous I feel guilty. It could be something as inexpensive as a pack of gum. A totally unnecessary expense in my mind that carries a small amount of burden with it’s purchase. I am not exactly sure why I get this feeling but I will say it may be a product of my youth.

My grandparents grew up in a different time. When they were young, times were difficult. They learned to use everything they had. Nothing was thrown away because there was always a use for it. When my grandfather died, I had the job of helping get my grandmother organized. What I found astounded me. I wouldn’t exactly call them hoarders but they did save things that may one day have a use. There were 3 freezers full of leftovers, a closet full of empty plastic containers for more leftovers and another closet full of shoes along with a shed full of cardboard. All useful things. Their house was tidy and clean but full of things they would never be able to use. I don’t hold any ill for them as I understand that they were a product of a different time. Indeed, we could all learn from there frugal habits but there needs to be boundaries on what is practical.

There are much more extreme examples. An 18th century man named Daniel Dancer is known for his miserly ways. His saving went to the extreme. He would not bathe or wash his clothes with soap because he did not want to spend the money. Dancer barred his front door and exited an upper level window so no thief could steal his things. Only taking one meal a day he died a lonely life. In fact, Dancer refused medical attention in the end even though money was hidden throughout his house. Consider these verses Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal: for where your treasure is, there our heart will be also.” and Matthew 6:33-34 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Do not worry about tomorrow: for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Was fear creating an unhealthy attitude toward saving in preparation for what could happen? We know that saving is good but at what point are we not trusting God for tomorrow? Consider this … Jesus himself used resources in ways that seemed frivolous. Familiarize yourself with the story of Mary anointing Jesus in John 12. Mary anointed Jesus feet with very expensive perfume which could have been sold for a great deal of money. When she was chastised by Judas, Jesus proved her act justified. Now there are many things that could be learned from this passage but what I would submit is not everything need be used for the poor or in seemingly righteous means. There is benefit in sometimes spending some on ourselves. Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 ” Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God had given him; for this is his reward. Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.”

My interpretation of this is to spend some of your hard earned money on yourself. This is God’s gift to you! Working hard with no reward is draining. Forbes magazine suggests that those who spend money on experiences are happier than others. It does not need to be a lot, complicated, righteous or hinge on anyone elses expectation. It just needs to be meaningful to you. It could be movie tickets, dinner out, a pair of shoes or an origami class. You decide but it must bring you personal satisfaction and cannot break the bank. It will be different for everyone based on budget, time, ability and personality.

  1. Ask God to reveal in you any misplaced attitudes you have toward money and the things it buys. Put fear of the future at the top of that list. God has the future taken care of.
  2. List areas that may be hold outs for a sinful nature. These may include overspending, hoarding or miserly ways. Ask forgiveness for these impediments to your relationship with God.
  3. Consider ways you can spend a little on yourself. Make a list and prayerfully consider which ones are doable within your budget. Enjoy!

Here is an experience I had a number of years ago. It was a big leap for me at the time but it was a hobby that brought me joy. I wanted to save $500 to build a climate controlled room in my garage to hold reptiles. I know this sounds odd to most but it was a frivolous expense at the time. I saved a little out of my personal allowance for months. It took about 1 year but was very satisfying and it paid dividends in some unexpected ways.

I had no skills to do the job so I enlisted the help of my stepfather. Quite the handy guy! In a couple days we built a small space in my garage. I learned how to build walls, run electric and hang drywall. However, the best part was spending quality time with my stepfather. I had never had a male figure willing to help with no strings attached. My faith was being restored by a simple act of kindness. I will admit that was unexpected. The finished product was super useful. I later turned the space into a small animal breeding business and when we sold that house it was one of the selling points that the buyers desired. But the most beneficial outcome in my wife’s eyes was that the animals she feared would never need to be viewed by her again. I witnessed so much in this frivolous act … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control. God is able to produce fruit in ways we could not imagine if we faithfully seek Him.

My prayer for you is that God would reveal unhealthy extremes in saving and help you identify positive ways to spend money on yourself.

My Body is a Temple?

I was in my late twenties and I was not well. My immune system was shot. I was on antibiotics more than I was not. Not only was I sleeping 12 to 14 hours a day but was suffering from frequent migraines. I could not seem to stick to any workout. There was no energy to do much of anything but the bare minimum. I was depressed and failing. It took a serious conversation with my wife to realize that something was not right. What do I always fo when I am in trouble? pray! James 5:13 “Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray…”

The next day I made an appointment with my doctor. She agreed that I should not be experiencing these health problems at such a young age so we began running tests. Over the next weeks I had been poked and prodded in a variety of uncomfortable ways. One doctor decided that I could have a brain tumor and should see a neurologist. Of course the neurologist was backlogged with patients and so for weeks I agonized over the possibilities. The day came for my exam. Thankfully, not the normal poking and prodding but he did do some of his own strange tests. After wading through my records from other doctors offices he concluded … The foods I was eating were making me sick. No tumor! This neurologist figured out what others, including myself, never considered! He changed my diet radically. Within a few days I was feeling better. Within a week I was exercising again. Within 2 months I had lost 45 pounds! It made me wonder how this could happen and did the Bible have anything to say about it.

In this case I cannot really blame anyone but myself. My parents tried valiantly to get me to eat things that were good for me. In fact, I learned to like vegetables quite a bit. What I did was what many young adults do when they get on their own. Overindulge! Proverbs 23:2 “Put a knife to your throat if you are a man of great appetite.” Pretty serious statement but I have to admit my overindulging was killing me. I had convinced myself that I could eat whatever I desired as long as I had something healthy along with it plus didn’t smoke, do drugs or drink heavily. How dumb was I?! I could eat 4 big macs, large fry and a soda and be proud that I had eaten fruits and vegetables earlier that day. I now realized I needed forgiveness for something. Gluttony!

1 Corinthians 6:19 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” I considered how people ought to treat a temple of God. Respect it. Clean it up. Air it out. Keep it pristine. This seemed complicated but I vowed that I would do better and learn how to care for this temple God gave me. I think everyone should do likewise.

  1. If you have not been keeping the temple pristine then begin by asking God for forgiveness and request His intervention to do just that. If you think you do it well then congratulations as according to the Mayo Clinic only about 13% do this well.
  2. Make a plan to do better. It will be different for everyone. No fad diets! If your plan is overly aggressive then you are likely to fail. It must be a change in lifestyle.
  3. Share what you are doing. Maybe even get input from a doctor or nutritionist. Your best bet is to get someone to take the journey with you.

This is what I discovered. I have reaped the benefits for sure. Playing soccer with my kids is a memory I will carry with me forever. It would have been impossible in the old beat up temple. I hope to do this with my grandkids one day. People around me noticed the difference. Isn’t that positive testimony in itself? I never stop learning how to take care of myself and it changes as my life changes. The trick is to adapt to whatever place in life you are. There is a great deal of information available to help you and the Bible is one of the best places to start. If you don’t believe me then read Daniel. Daniel learned how to thrive in a toxic environment just by making some faithful decisions. I also consider Deuteronomy 11:13 “…love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul.” I want to reflect this verse in my life. Was I really doing this to the best of my ability when my body was falling apart because of my poor choices? Taking care of the temple is a testament to what God can do. It will overflow into the people around you.

My prayer is that you will faithfully take care of the temple God has provided you and that others would benefit from your good choices.