Saturday, October 23, 2010

Guide For Switching To Linux At Your Church

My earlier post on how we migrated to using Linux raised some questions. Some wondered why other churches, schools and Christian ministries did not do this (though there are many that have). Others wondered how they could do it themselves.

If I were to visit another church, Christian school, mission field, or other ministry for the purpose of upgrading their technology and moving to open source software, here is a basic outline of what I would do. Hopefully, you can use this as a guideline for doing this in your own organization.

Assess what you already have

Many times, people do not necessarily need to upgrade to the latest and greatest hardware. Especially in places where money is tight, reusing hardware you already have can be a great savings. A 10-year old computer running a modern operating system is possible and easy with Linux.

Along with that, I would need to know what infrastructure is there. Is there already a network in place? Are the buildings already wired? What servers, if any, are there? What is the current backup strategy? What type of printers are you working with?

Are there any proprietary programs that your ministry depends on? If so, some thought is going to have to go into how to export and import that data into another program. In some cases, there just isn’t an open-source alternative. In an instance like that there are options such as dual-booting, virtual machines, WINE or keeping a computer as-is solely for those programs.

What are your goals?

Technology is a tool. I can use a really expensive sledgehammer to put a nail in the wall so that I can hang a picture, but because it is expensive doesn’t make it the right tool for the job. You may not need the latest and greatest computer out there for what you plan to do. But, you need to know what it is that you plan to do.

Do you really need to be playing those graphic-intensive 3D games on your computer at church? Will you be recording services to digital audio? Will you do any video editing at all? Will you be using a projector? How many computers do you want and where do you want to put them? You need to have an idea what you want to do with the computers in your ministry not only now but 5-10 years from now. Have a vision, or you will be disappointed.

3. Explore your options

One wonderful thing about Free and Open Source Software is that there are numerous options. This can be a two-edged sword, though! What works for others may or may not work for you. Ask questions and do research.

One thing that is consistently at the top of my list is the support and the community that surrounds the project. A good community is good assurance for the integrity and lifespan of any program. Linux itself would not have survived if it weren’t for the incredible community that has grown since its humble beginnings in 1991.

Speaking of support, if you haven’t already done so, it may be a good idea to enlist help from others who have done this before. As helpful as people are on the internet, or even a phone call, nothing beats having someone there in person to help when you are having trouble.

4. Setup a schedule

Once you have some goals in place and have settled on what your needs are, you need to schedule a time to put your plan in action. Will it be a gradual roll-out or will it be done all at once? Do you have a plan for backing up files and importing them to the new systems? I would make sure that it was done a time that would be the least disruptive. Communicate with those whom the migration affects. Don’t delete the pastor’s sermon notes just before he goes to print them!

5. Do it!

At this point the only thing left is to execute the plan that was developed. Download the distribution of your choice (I use Ubuntu, but there are many, many others that may fit your needs better), burn the CD, stick it in your computer, boot it up and follow the prompts. You may get stuck at some point in the process, – don’t be afraid of asking for help.

These are some rough guidelines for switching to Linux and open-source software in a ministry, or really, any other setting. I would like to flesh this out into a nice flowchart or more detailed checklist at some point in the future. What did I miss? What other areas would you focus in on? If you have suggestions or even helpful criticisms, let me know in the comments.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Resetting Your Expectations

You have certain expectations in your daily life. Expectations of yourself, your children, your family members, your friends, and your former spouse. Until you stop and think about it, you may not realize just how high your standards are for yourself and for those around you. To move forward into the future, you need to learn to reset your expectations.

Consider how much you are asking of yourself and how much you can actually handle. Also, do you expect more from others than is realistic under the circumstances of your divorce? If you find yourself getting upset because someone does not live up to a certain expectation of yours, then maybe it's time to back off and reset that expectation.

Dr. Jim A. Talley says, "You expected somebody to do something. That person didn't do it, and you get mad. What makes you even madder is that person doesn't seem to give a rip that he or she didn't do it. Now you're really hurt, and you begin to boil on the inside. You shift at that point to real bitterness. You have to go back and reset your expectations to what you can control and deal with. You can't force other people into your expectations."

Reset your standards to a place where you can function, and examine your motivation for having that expectation in the first place.

"People may think they are doing what is right, but the LORD examines the heart" (Proverbs 21:2 NLT).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How We Implemented Linux in Our Ministry

Like many other people, our church and, more importantly, our Christian school, ran the Windows operating system on all computers. We have about 15 computers in classrooms in addition to our computer lab of 25 computers. They were not the greatest computers to begin with – Pentium 3, 8GB HDD, 64-128 Mb of RAM – but that soon changed. We were given a large donation of 65 Dell Optiplex GX260s one year ago. Still not up to today’s standards, but a huge improvement over what we had and adequate for our current needs.

The problem

We had a problem, however, in our licensing. A number of years ago we purchased a 100-volume license for Windows 2000. This would still be good for our new(er) machines, but Windows 2000 is terribly outdated and unsupported. It then became a matter of stewardship. Should we outlay a large sum of money for XP which would soon be replaced by Windows 7? Sure, the hardware cannot handle 7, but it would eventually be replaced and the cycle would start again. We are a small ministry, not a large corporation that can afford to keep up with the costs and offer our students a quality education at the same time.

Compiz running on Ubuntu Linux

One of our computers running Ubuntu showing a 3d desktop cube

Our solution

There had to be a responsible alternative. And there was. The answer was found in the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Now, there are many variations (distributions) of Linux, but I have been using Ubuntu since 2006 on my personal computers.

So what is Ubuntu and why was it the solution to our problem? To quote from their website, “Ubuntu is an operating system built by a worldwide team of expert developers. It contains all the applications you need: a web browser, office suite, media apps, instant messaging and much more. Ubuntu is an open-source alternative to Windows and Office.”

Ubuntu resolved our situation in the following ways:


This is the most obvious benefit – Ubuntu is free. It does not cost anything but the time to download it, burn it to a CD and install it. The installation is straightforward and simple. It took my about 20 minutes to completely format and install for one machine. I could then clone that machine and copy it to others – or since CDs are so cheap, I was able to burn and install multiple copies at once.

This is a large part of where stewardship came in. With the large cost of licensing no longer an issue, we are now able to save that money and begin investing in good hardware. We are now at a place where we can move forward instead of trying to keep our heads above water.


We now have the ability to use our machines in whatever way is most beneficial. When I want to install a new program I type in a simple command – aptitude install name of program and it is done. The best thing about the freedom with the software is that I am not limited by licenses in the ability to do good to my neighbor.

We can also run many Windows programs directly on these computers through an application layer called WINE. We do this for our Rosetta Stone Online Language Learning program that our students use for foreign language. We run the Windows version of Firefox so that the microphone is recognized and supported. We could run MS Office 2003 which we have licenses for, but there is no need to do that since Ubuntu comes with, a compatible office suite.


Linux is inherently a very secure operating system, but the open-source model on which it, and other software is built, keeps it secure. Anyone can look into the source, find a bug and fix it. With software under a constant peer-review, errors and bugs are constantly being fixed and new features implemented. Although stable, none of it ever becomes stable. As a system administrator, I love the feeling that I am working with data and systems that are rock-solid. By the way, we don’t run anti-virus software on these computers because Linux is currently (virtually) impervious to viruses.

Ease of use

Wait, isn’t Linux that for super-geeks? In fact, in many ways Linux is extremely easy to use. When students arrived on the first day of school, they were excited that the old CRT monitors were replaced with new 15″ LCD monitors. They intuitively found where applications were (especially the games) and were able to get right to work. In fact, our only problems this year have been hardware-related issues.


Students just can’t seem to get away with much when I can constantly monitor their desktops with iTalc, fix problems with ssh, and check logs easily. I don’t play “Big Brother” with them, but they understand that we are trying to keep them accountable and helps foster an atmosphere of responsibility.


I was very comfortable using Linux on the desktop, but I had many questions when implementing Linux in our lab. My questions were posted at and quickly answered. The people were very friendly and helpful. There was even one gentleman who realized I was close in proximity and called me on the phone to walk me through some things. He offered to come over, but I had my problem solved by then. The Linux support was so good, they even helped me with problems on the Windows machines we had left! We haven’t yet had need of paid-for support, but I know it is always there as an option.

Linux is not for every person or ministry, but I encourage you to consider it. At the very least, consider implementing open-source solutions in your ministry. For most proprietary, paid-for applications there are free open-source alternatives – no matter what operating system you use. For us, the benefits were obvious: we have future-proofed our computer lab by not being locked into a vicious licensing cycle, we can use the money we saved on software and concentrate on upgrading our hardware, and we now teach our students concepts about technology instead of particular applications so that they can benefit no matter what college or career they enter after graduation.

Has Linux or other open-source software been beneficial for you or your ministry?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Not Sure About Church?

Many people look everywhere else for help before they go to the church, or they just don't give the church a chance. Perhaps you have had a bad experience there. Do not give up. The church is not a building or a social gathering. The church is a group of people whose lives have been changed because of Jesus. They are not perfect people, but their love and commitment to Jesus is the reason they gather together. There is room for you there. Find a church where the people love Jesus, and they will love you too.

"I'm not a big joiner of any group," says Joanne. "I like to do things by myself. I'm a very stubborn person. But the warmth that I felt from being back in church and learning to develop a more active relationship with my God was a special thing in that time of my life."

God promises in the Bible that He will supply all your needs. These needs include physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Give God a chance to use the people in His church to help you.

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Church Can Help You

The church, as God intended, provides supportive hands, wise minds, and loving hearts to help those who are hurting and in need. The driving force and the solid foundation of the church is Jesus Christ, who loves you dearly and without conditions. Even if some people in your church have pulled away from you, help is still available there.

"When you are going through a divorce, you feel like you are wearing the scarlet letter," says Warren Kniskern, "and everyone is shying away from you. To some extent that's true, but the worst thing to do is to withdraw from the people of God.

"This is a time more than any other time that you need to be with the people of God and receive their encouragement. Keep your focus on Christ instead of on your problems, or else you're going to sink just as surely as Peter sank when he walked on the water to Jesus."

In the Bible, Peter was on a boat one stormy night, and he looked up and saw Jesus walking on the raging sea. Jesus asked Peter to come to Him. At first Peter jumped up with joyful assurance and started across the water to Jesus. Then he became afraid, focusing on his inadequacies instead of on Christ's sufficiency.

"When he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'

"Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. 'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?' And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down" (Matthew 14:30-32).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Live Victoriously

"I know that without the love of my heavenly Father, I would have been a statistic last year," shares Harriet, "but my Father loves me, and He's reaffirmed it in a thousand ways. So much so that today—a year after I found out that my perfect, wonderful, adoring husband was having an affair—I know that I'm going to live. I'm not just going to get by, but I'm going to live victoriously."

"At this point, I can look back at my experiences and truly understand in my heart that I am a stronger person now, and I am somebody who is worth knowing and worth being with regardless of whether my husband threw aside our love and marriage so carelessly. Every day the Holy Spirit reaffirms in me that I am somebody special, and it has nothing to do with whether or not I have a spouse because I'm God's child."

You, too, can live victoriously through Christ no matter what circumstances occur in your life. An abundant life in Christ is a life with deep roots and a strong foundation. The winds of life may blow strong and the waters may rise, but you can stand firm. Our prayer is that you will walk empowered by God's strength and confident of His love every day.

"ARISE! Shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!" (Isaiah 60:1 AMP).

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Walk Forward with Confidence

"I know that regardless of what this world has to throw at me, I'm going to be okay," says Harriet, "because I have the mighty fortress of God around me. There is still a lot of rebuilding to do in my personal life. Nothing is ever the same when you go through separation and divorce; it's like you have to rewrite the script of your life over again.

"I'll be forty this month, which is kind of daunting, but you know what? I know that forty is going to be great because God tells me that I have value. I know fifty is going to be great, and so is sixty. However many years the Lord allows me to have on this earth are going to be good because He's the driving force in my life now; He is the one at the center of my life now. He's the one I worship, not my spouse. And I know there are limitless possibilities for me."

Walk forward with confidence in God. He will direct your paths if you ask Him and surrender yourself to Him. He has promised in His Word that He is working all things together for the ultimate good of those who love and believe in Him.

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Spiritual Mentors

If you have not already done so, finding a spiritual mentor will be a tremendous help and support as you move forward in your daily walk and spiritual growth. Your spiritual mentor should be a person who is a mature Christian, one who knows and studies the Bible, and one who understands the power of prayer. This person should care for you and desire that you grow in the Lord.

The best way to find a spiritual mentor is to pray that God will bring the two of you together and to actively seek out someone in your church. Then, make a plan with that person to meet together or have regular phone chats. Plan to pray together, ask questions, and discuss biblical truths that apply to the difficulties you are facing each day. This person should be one who encourages you to study your Bible, meditate on God's Word, and live it daily!

The Bible contains many, many examples of Christians helping one another to grow in the understanding and application of faith and the Scriptures. Aquila and Priscilla were faithful followers of Christ, who were mentored by the apostle Paul. Later, Aquila and Priscilla had the opportunity to mentor a highly educated man named Apollos. A good spiritual mentor is one who is strong in areas that you are not.

"When Priscilla and Aquila heard him [Apollos], they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately" (Acts 18:24-26).

Dear Lord, lead me to a person who can help me grow in my relationship with You and who will teach me how to live a life rooted in You. Amen.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Steps to Christ

If you would like to invite Christ into your life, here are a few simple steps to follow.

1. Confess your sin. The Bible says that everyone sins. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

2. Ask for forgiveness from God.

3. Move away from your sins (repent). "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord" (Acts 3:19).

4. Ask Jesus Christ to save you from the effect of your sin.

5. Give Jesus control of your life (as your Lord). "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).

By taking these steps, you are inviting Christ into your life as Savior and Lord. Savior means you acknowledge that He died in your place to pay the price for your sins. Lord means that you give control of your life to Him. Maybe you would like to invite Christ into your life right now. It can be done with a simple prayer.

Dear God, I've done things that are wrong. I've sinned. Please forgive me for my sin and help me to move away from it. I now ask Jesus to come into my life as my Savior, to save me from my sin and to be my Lord. I give You control of my life. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for giving Jesus to me. In His name I pray, Amen.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fix Your Eyes on Jesus

The only stable thing in life is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The Bible says this can never be taken away from you. "For He Himself has said, 'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you'" (Hebrews 13:5 NASB).

Bonnie Keen says, "There were many years when I thought God had turned His back on me. I would read in Luke: 'God is not slow to answer the cries of His people,' and I'd think, Yes He is. He's very slow. He's taking forever. I'm drowning over here. I began to realize that I needed to know Christ more intimately. So I began to study the life of Jesus like I never had before.

"I believe Jesus is the heart of God. He came into this world and found the most messed up, wretched, broken down people He could find to be with. God's never been afraid of the dirt and the mess people get into. God is saying to you, 'I created you. I know where you've been, and I know where you can go with Me.'"

Keep your eyes on Jesus, He is answering your prayers, and He's also urging you to draw closer to Him so that you can experience even greater answers than you could imagine.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).

Monday, September 6, 2010

Learn to Surrender to God's Will

God can use your experience to teach you how to forgive others. Remember, God does not cause bad experiences to happen to people, but He can use those experiences to result in good.

It is only through the power of God that you will be able to forgive other people when they have hurt you and wronged you.

"I'm finding more and more that I really do want to forgive these two people who have been responsible for almost destroying me," says Harriet. "If that doesn't tell you the power of our Lord, then I'm not sure what will."

James says, "There are two things you can do: You can either glorify God or you can glorify yourself. When I decided that I wanted to glorify God, that was when I finally said, 'God, I give up. I quit. I throw up the white flag and I surrender.' And I heard a voice say, 'It's about time because I have been waiting for you to do that for thirty-three years.'"

God wants you to surrender to Him because it is when you completely surrender your life, your agenda, and your definition of right and wrong, better and best, that you will be free. Surrender brings freedom; it brings power, and it ensures victory!

"And the presence of the Lord was with them with power, so that a great number [learned] to believe . . . and turned and surrendered themselves to Him" (Acts 11:21 AMP).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Money Principles Talked About In The Bible

The following guest post was written by Mark who regularly writes for

The world would be a much better place if everyone applied biblical principles to their everyday lives. The Bible teaches foundational principles that help develop holistic individuals. You can improve your spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional life by living by the Bible’s time tested truths. Did you know that the Bible also has great advice that you can apply to your money matters? There are over 800 scriptures that address the topic of money (here are 250 of them). From getting out of debt to saving money, the Bible has a solution for getting your financial house in order.

Lets’ take a look at a few principles talked about in the Bible that can help you improve your financial life.

1. Sowing and Reaping

Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Sowing and reaping is a biblical principle that was established back during Old Testamentary times. It’s an agricultural fact. If you plant and cultivate a seed then you will reap a harvest from it. Whatever you sow, you will reap. This principle applies to thoughts, actions, attitudes, and habits. If you sow kindness and goodness then you shall reap likewise. So, how can you apply this to your financial life? Plant seeds for your financial future. Aim to be a liberal giver and tither. Sow seeds of generosity. Donate to causes that help others and you will reap in ways that you never thought possible.

2. Being a Good Steward

Matthew 25:21 “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

The Bible discusses that you shall give an account over everything that God has placed under your charge. Are you make effective use of all of the talents that God has given to you? Are you a good financial steward? You should be a wise steward over all of your financial matters. Save for the future and maximize the income that God has provided you with. Do not frivolously just throw money away on entertainment and unneeded luxuries. If you are a good steward over whatever God has given you, then you are proving that you can be trusted with additional resources.

3. Living Debt Free

Deuteronomy 15:1 “At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release.”

Debt is an albatross around the neck of many individuals. This may be the reason that Christ specifically taught that you show owe no man anything. The Bible gives the principles to living a debt free life. If you live a life unconcerned with the materialistic cares of this world, then you will not go leveraging yourself up just to fit in with society. For those that did get into debt, their debt was forgiven every 7 years. Every 50 years property would revert back to its rightful owner. Today, companies seek legal judgments to keep people enslaved in debt forever. Wouldn’t this be a good teaching to apply in our society at a time when so many people are losing their homes to foreclosure and buried under a mountain of debt?

4. Saving For The Future

Proverbs 6:6-8 “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.”

Solomon’s proverb advises the wise to save their provisions. You need to store up and save money so that you can survive when the lean times come. In the Old Testament, Joseph gathered up all of the grains in Egypt so that he and his house could survive the famine. His foresight allowed the entire land of Egypt to survive and flourish after the famine was over. Emergency savings accounts and retirement accounts are great vehicles to help you survive times when the lean times come.

Remember that money is a tool to be used to help improve the lives of others. It is not something to hoard for yourself o that only you alone will benefit from it. As you prosper in every area of life, you should give back to ensure that others can share in the blessings that God has given to you.

What other financial principles in the Bible can you think of?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Five-Point Prayer of Forgiving

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

Harold Graham suggests that you ask the Holy Spirit to help you make a list of everyone you need to forgive; then list each person's offenses. Remember that some of these names will be from past situations not related to the breakup. This exercise will help make the forgiveness process complete.

Rev. Graham describes a five-point prayer of forgiving. Follow these steps for each name and offense on your list:

1. Confess the real problem, which is unforgiveness.
Confess to God that you've been holding hatred, grudges, resentment, and disgust and that you've been holding that person in the bondage of unforgiveness. Then apologize to God for it.

2. Thank God that He forgives you.

3. Open yourself to the cleansing that comes from God.
If you follow the first two steps, He will cleanse you of all unrighteousness. See 1 John 1:9 above.

4. Declare forgiveness for each offense listed.

5. Transfer ownership to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Give your burdens to God: Lord, these sins are too heavy for me to bear. I give them to You as Your property. Please nail them to Your cross so that I can't take them back anymore. Then give the Lord ownership of the person who hurt you: Lord, I invite You to lay Your hands on that person, convicting of sin and unrighteousness so that at an appropriate time, he or she will ask Jesus for forgiveness and salvation.

"Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles or is overthrown" (Proverbs 24:17 AMP).

Lord Jesus, guide me through this prayer of forgiveness and transform my life in Your name! Amen.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Have You Really Forgiven?

You might be wondering how you will know if you have truly forgiven.

"Real forgiveness always brings peace. If you're remembering something and you have no peace, then it hasn't been forgiven," says Harold Graham.

Test yourself in this. Bring to mind something that your former spouse has said or done that used to cause you great anger or resentment. Do the old feelings rush in or do you feel peace as you place this memory in the Lord's hands? If you were to meet your former spouse today, what would be going on inside of you?

Harold Graham offers another good suggestion to help you know if you have forgiven:

"You will know you have truly forgiven someone when you're finally free of the baggage that comes along with it. How many times do you say you've forgiven and have the old feelings rise up on the inside of you? To have no improvement of life, no improvement of your Christianity, no improvement of your health, and no improvement in how you feel would be good indications that forgiveness hasn't happened. The reverse would also be true. If your health improves, if your ability to relate to people improves, if your spiritual walk deepens, if your ministry suddenly becomes effective, if your worship suddenly becomes real, that would be a good indication that forgiveness has truly happened."

God's peace and healing are supernatural. They are deeper than anything a human could produce through hard work or will power. God's way brings you blessed freedom and a release of your burdens.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Forgiveness Is Willingness to Move in the Opposite Spirit

Forgiveness is a willingness to move in the opposite spirit. It's easy to be nice to people who are nice to you, but how do you react to people who are mean and hurtful to you? Dr. Dennis Rainey says, "The way to become willing [to forgive] is to trade the insult-for-insult relationship for a blessing-for-insult relationship."*

Doug Easterday says, "If someone is being unkind, what is the opposite? Be kind to them. If someone is berating you and being negative and demeaning, what's the opposite? Being encouraging, building him or her up and loving him or her. I believe that as you walk in the opposite spirit, you can expect God to work on your behalf."

God responds the same to all people. Jesus said the Father "causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45). His actions are based on who He is, not on how people treat Him or respond to Him. We are called to follow His example. In the Bible, Jesus offers a foundational new view for everyone who believes in Him and chooses to live for Him.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. . . . If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? . . . And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? . . . Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:43-44, 46-48).

Holy Spirit, I can only do this through Your strength and enabling. I want to walk in the light of Your perfection. Amen.

* Staying Close: Stopping the Natural Drift Toward Isolation in Marriage by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. (Thomas Nelson, 1989), p. 262.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Building a Strong Financial Foundation

This article was written by J. Delancy. Delancy graduated from Barry University in Florida in 1990. Since then he has worked as a teacher and welder. Presently he is a full-time speech writer. This is his first online article. He can be contacted at

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” – Matthew 7:24-25

The health of the body and spirit all begin with strong foundations. The foundation of physical health is proper diet and exercise. The foundation of spiritual health is the love of God. Examples of both abound in The Bible, but just as we are called upon to make the right choices that will assure us of a good spiritual future we must also be responsible for
making choices that assure our financial future.

I believe that there are several basic principles of a strong financial foundation, they are easily understood but not often applied. The Principles are:

  1. Be industrious
  2. Spend less than you earn
  3. Save and invest
  4. Increase your ability to earn

While researching, I wondered who was the best model of financial independence and how would they build a firm financial foundation. I asked myself which person in The Bible; best espoused financial freedom and showed how to apply basic principles to cope with economic challenges. The Bible provided many choices and most of them were
males but to illustrate the point I chose “The Virtuous Woman” of Proverbs 31. Why?

  1. Industry
    “Get Up and Go, Hustle,Moxey”, whatever you wish to call it she demonstrates that she has it. Verse 13 states, “She selects wooland flax and works with eager hands”. Verse 24 goes on to say, “She makes linen garments and sells them and supplies the merchants with sashes”. As we all know thinking up new ways to spend money is easy, but thinking up new ways to earn money is not.
  2. Save and Invest
    Verse 16, “She goes to a field and buys.” Real estate should be a part of your investment portfolio, but when, where and why to buy requires lots of thought. From making garments (Verse 24) to buying property is a bold step forward. Notice however that she does not entrust the responsibility of inspecting the property to anyone else. She goes herself.
  3. Increase your ability to earn
    Verse 16 continues by saying, “With her earnings she plants a vineyard” As the vines begin to bear fruit, her investment of time and energy will be rewarded.
  4. Spending less than you earn
    While nothing in this passage speaks directly to controlling expenditure, ask yourselves, would it be possible for her to do all that she had done if she did not save her money and control her expenses?

In the last ten years we have seen the best and the worst in the field of finance. We have heard theories, explanations and excuses as to why we are where we are, but the path to personal financial independence is as old as the book of Proverbs.

This recession has brought hardship to many but it has also been a lesson in why we should stick with simple timeless financial strategies and build strong financial foundations.

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing. It is important to know the difference so that when you do forgive your former spouse, you do not automatically expect to be reconciled in some way.

Doug Easterday says, "Forgiveness is getting your heart right with God. Reconciliation is getting your heart right with people."

"Forgiveness is letting go of the burden," says Harold Graham, "and reconciliation is renewing or redefining a relationship."

The Bible says that you should live in peace with other people and that you should make every effort to do so. Living peaceably with others starts with forgiveness—holding no grudges, anger, or bitterness against that person. Yes, reconciliation is ideal, but not always possible. People can get hurt by rushing to reconcile after forgiveness has taken place. Sometimes living in peace means leaving the other person alone for a while and not aggravating the situation.

If your former spouse is NOT showing genuine remorse, says Doug Schmidt, acknowledging wrong behavior, showing a willingness to bear the burden of the damage, and doing everything humanly possible to correct the behavior, then yes, you are still required to forgive. But the next step would be to back off and protect yourself from further damaging behaviors. Do not equate forgiveness with reconciliation.

"Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification" (Romans 14:19).

"Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?" (Amos 3:3).

Monday, July 26, 2010

Forgiveness Is Always Undeserved

If your former spouse or someone else has hurt you deeply, you might be entertaining thoughts of how that person will realize his or her wrongs and come apologize and try to make things right. You may feel that the other person needs to do this before you will forgive.

Forgiveness, though, means you do not hold the other person accountable to you to make things right. In forgiveness, you give the person to God and let God be the one he or she answers to.

Howard says, "I felt that in order to be able to forgive her, she needed to repent first. I wanted her to grovel. I wanted her to say, 'I did you wrong. This was a terrible thing I did to you.'"

Howard continues, "On the cross when God said, 'Forgive them for they know not what they do,' He was offering forgiveness and no one was repenting. No one was sorry. They were wagging their heads, crying out with slurs. In the midst of it He was able to forgive, even when no one around Him was repenting. It was an amazing thing. I have to be able to do that, and if someone wants to take my forgiveness, it's up to that person."

When Jesus was on the cross, he forgave all the horrid things people were saying and doing to Him. He continued to forgive them even when their spiteful words and actions didn't stop.

"When they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him. . . . Then Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do'" (Luke 23:33-34).

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What If the Other Person Doesn't Respond?

Sometimes people mistakenly think that forgiveness must be a reciprocal action, that you cannot be fully free unless the other person will accept the forgiveness offered. Even if the other person does not respond to you the way you had hoped, you still become free when you forgive.

"If you've been obedient to God's Word and have forgiven the other person and he or she fails to forgive you, the other person has the problem and has to deal with God. You're free," says Dr. Robert Abarno.

"There is a point where your involvement in the process stops," says Doug Schmidt. "After you have offered forgiveness and the opportunity for repentance, you are released from that that burden. You don't have to keep offering forgiveness, especially if it keeps getting rejected or mocked. There's a point where you say, I've done all that I can legitimately do and now I'm released from my obligation."

God honors those who have a sincere heart and who want to forgive and be forgiven. Do not let yourself be discouraged if the other person will have nothing to do with it. Continue to pray for that person, but move on in freedom.

"Brothers, listen! In this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is freed from all guilt and declared right with God" (Acts 13:38-39 NLT).

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Taking Responsibility for Your Actions and Attitudes

Forgiveness is when you refuse to let the other person's actions and attitudes dictate your actions and attitudes.

Selma shares, "It finally hit me that when I had been saying, 'I forgive him for what he did to me,' I was not really forgiving him. Inside, I was thinking, Yes, I assume some responsibility for all of this, but I wouldn't have done it if he hadn't done whatever he did to me first. Regardless of what he did to me, the way I responded to him was totally my responsibility, not his."

When you say you accept some of the responsibility for things that have happened, are you sure your actions and attitude are reflecting your words? Forgiveness and taking responsibility involve more than saying the right words. They are both actions. Think about what actions you can take that will show you have forgiven the other person and that will show you are taking responsibility for yourself.

"Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud. . . . Do not repay anyone evil for evil. . . . If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. . . . 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:16-18, 20-21).

Friday, July 23, 2010

An End to Technology?

by Daryl McMullen

I got to thinking about technology this morning and came up with the following observations:

  • Technology is only considered "advanced" by human standards. We come up with new things and we think that we're so intelligent. When in fact, God is the Creator of the universe and doesn't need a smart phone to stay connected.
  • Technology is NOT a bad thing. Some may say because of my first point, there is no need to advance technology. But I suggest technology is from God. When you break it down, God created us, and we're attempting to create things. In essence, God gave us the ability to create advances in technology - suggesting He knew all along we'd wind up where we are. It's up to us whether we use the things we create for good or evil.
  • Someday I'll be out of a job. Think about it like this: When we arrive in Heaven, all of our technological advancements will remain on Earth. God doesn't need our technology and we won't either.
  • God has His own "technology." We don't begin to understand what is possible with God. For all we know our bodies will be capable of flight, we'll be able to communicate via thought transfer in the collective conscious or maybe we'll be able to transport ourselves to a place by simply picturing that place in our mind. Whatever the case - we're in for a real eye opener when we leave this Earth.

Is Forgiveness a One-time Event?

"Forgiveness is a process," says Danny. "You can say to someone, 'I forgive you,' and it's just talk. It's not something you feel like doing. It's something you decide to do in order to let it go. No one really wants to forgive when they're hurting so badly. That feels so alien. Who wants to forgive someone who's hurt you so badly? But when you do forgive, you see that God will not only work in your life, but in the other person's."

Forgiveness is a process, not a one-time occurrence. Jesus said to forgive a person who has wronged you seventy-seven times. He was basically saying to stop counting. Each time unforgiveness comes up in your heart, you need to choose once more to forgive.

"It's a daily thing, going before God and saying, 'Okay, Lord, I forgave yesterday. Now I need You to help me do it again today," says Laura Petherbridge.

The act of forgiving will be something you will need to choose, apply, and practice. You can make forgiveness a lifelong habit by training your mind to reject those thoughts that would cause you to harbor unforgiveness, resentment, or blame.

"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times'" (Matthew 18:21-22).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What If You Don't Obey God?

You may be thinking, What if I choose not to forgive?

"If you don't forgive," says Doug Easterday, "what you're saying by the inference of your actions is what that person did to you is more important to you than going on with God. There isn't anything that someone could do to you that would be more important than going on with your personal relationship with Jesus Christ."

If you don't forgive, you create a barrier between God and you. Holding unforgiveness in your heart is a sin. Dr. Myles Munroe says, "If you don't forgive, you cannot even pray. So if you are divorced and you still harbor bitterness in your heart toward that person who was in your relationship previously, then you have literally cut off your relationship with God. You have hindered your prayer life, and there is therefore no way you can actually ask God to heal that person or change that person because He can't even get through to you. Forgiveness is the key to getting on your way to healing because God can only heal you if He can reach you, and He can only get to you if you have forgiven the person who hurt you."

You are blocking yourself from the power of answered prayer when you choose not to forgive.

"If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened" (Psalm 66:18).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Forgiveness Is Obeying God

In the Bible, God commands everyone to forgive. Harriet chose to be obedient to God, and she discovered that God miraculously transforms the lives of those who choose to obey.

"The first time I said, 'Lord, I really want You to help me forgive,' what I was saying wasn't registering in my heart. The only reason I did it was because I knew it was something that God wanted me to do.

"Well, our Lord is in the business of miracles, and He is in the business of changing hearts. While I can't say that I've completely let go of the anger, the hatred, the resentment, and the bitterness, with each new day my Father is helping me to get rid of those things in my life. You know what else? I'm finding more and more that when I'm saying, 'Lord, please help me to forgive my husband and his mistress,' I'm not just giving lip service. I'm finding that He who creates changes in people's hearts is hard at work creating a change in my heart.

"A year ago I would have gleefully hired a hitman to take both of them out of the picture. No more. I just want Jesus to find them because I know that the path they're on is one they will never return from. I know the only hope in this world for all of us is through the love of Jesus Christ."

Choose to forgive in obedience to God.

"When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins" (Mark 11:25).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Forgiveness Is a Decision You Make

Forgiveness is a decision only you can make.

"Forgiveness is a decision you make," says Doug Easterday. "I can't do it for you. Even the person who offended you can't. God can't do it for you. You're the only one in the history of the world who can make this choice. Therefore, you have something to say about your own destiny if you choose to forgive."

James shares, "I didn't want to stand in God's way anymore. I wanted to do everything I possibly could to heal and not prolong the healing."

"Forgiveness," says Harold Graham, "is literally a decision that you make, and any decision must be followed by an action or it's the same net effect of not making the decision at all."

Writing in a journal can help you in the process of forgiveness. Make a list of whom you need to forgive. Write down what that person did to hurt you and what you wish had happened instead. You might want to write a letter to your former spouse, not to mail, but to use as an exercise of release that leads toward forgiveness. Tell your spouse in the letter how much you were hurt, all the agony, rage, and despair, and then tell your spouse how you are trying to learn to forgive. Tell your spouse how you have learned forgiveness is a choice and how forgiveness can only be accomplished through Christ. Write that you have chosen to forgive him or her and that you are moving on in your life.

"The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him" (Daniel 9:9).

Monday, July 19, 2010

Is There Such a Thing as Good Debt?

by Jason Price

How much debt do you have?

Well, I’ve accumulated quite a bit of debt over the last 10 years. I suppose I’ve been a bit careless and now I’m starting to fill the pressure from it. I mean, I can’t make my monthly payments anymore. But…some of my debt is good, right?

It’s not all bad because I’m driving a car, I have a house to live in and I’ve got a great college education. It’s just these darn credit cards some recent emergencies and, uh, a little over spending that has pushed me over the edge.

I see.
Well, as you can see it’s pretty easy to rationalize having debt and one of the ways to do this is by trying to focus on positive reasons for having debt.

How Do You Define Debt?

First, what do you believe is the definition of debt? Basically, debt is defined as when you owe something to another. Interestingly, the Urban Dictionary defines debt as when you’re so bored with life that you just spend money to make your life seem more exciting. Ha ha.

Most people get a car or house loan because they wouldn’t otherwise be able to purchase them. Student loans are the same. Maybe you bought an education using a loan because you didn’t have enough cash to pay for your tuition, books, board, etc.

The Bible provides sound principles in describing debt and its impacts. I’ll note that nowhere does the Bible state debt is a sin, but it does give us a pretty good indication of debt and why we should avoid it.

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7
You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 1 Corinthians 7:23

So, when we owe something to someone we’re really in servitude or slavery to that person. Our options are limited because we owe money we can’t use for another purpose if called to do so as Christians.

An Example of Bad Debt

I think most people would agree credit card debt is bad debt. Now, I’m not talking about a few charges on the card you pay off each month. I’m talking about debt. You have to roll the balance over from month to month because you can’t pay it off!

In other words, you’re presuming upon the future using high interest loans making it difficult to pay back and control. Just making the minimum payment alone will result in paying well over what you originally purchased in the long-term. Yes, there is no question; you should avoid credit card debt which is a great example of the slavery mentioned in scripture.

Good Debt?

But, back to our original question . . . Is there such a thing as good debt? In other words is that thing worth going into debt for if it truly brings you increased value in your life? You’ve heard the arguments for considering a house, car and school loan debts as acceptable forms of debt because they provide something of need or important value in return.

Houses provide shelter and most notably they are typically seen as investments and provide tax savings. Many homes appreciate in value growing your money for the future. As a homeowner you can save on taxes.

Cars provide transportation. While they depreciate in value, a car fulfills an important need for transportation. There are certain tax deductions now depending on the type of car you purchase and the car’s environmental friendliness.

Finally, student loans provide you an education. It’s common for parents and students to sign up for a loan for school because what happens if you don’t go to school? Your chances of working in a profession with a good salary and benefits are diminished considerably. Here we are in the interview – What’s your degree in? Uh, I didn’t get one. Oh, well, this job requires a college education! Actually, it probably wouldn’t get to the professional interview stage without the degree – although there are some exceptions.

What’s the bottom line?

I can’t agree any type of consumer debt is good debt. I’m not saying I wouldn’t tell someone not to go to school because they have to get a student loan, but I certainly wouldn’t say that’s a good situation to be in. I wouldn’t tell someone not to buy an affordable house to avoid debt, but I can’t say having a mortgage payment hanging over your head for 30 or even 15 years is a good thing. And I wouldn’t tell someone not to get a small $5000 car loan to provide necessary transportation for their family, but I couldn’t say owing the bank $5000 is a good thing.

Homes, cars, and school loans shouldn’t be used as excuses to go into debt. The more important question is what do people have to do to avoid such debts?

These three areas are such common forms of debt they’ve become the norm of our American society. Credit cards are frowned upon, but it’s okay to have house, car and school debt? Fundamentally, these things are debt. You own something to another and it boils down to getting something today you can’t afford using someone else’s money.

My belief is our society has to make a major shift to get the personal debt situation under control. Every child has a choice at some point in their life to work, save and plan for their future. Part of their plan has to include saving for such future needs.

Forgiveness Is a Choice

"It's not a matter of how you feel," says Harold Graham. "It's not even a matter of how you think. It's a matter of your will. Your will is the part of you that makes your decisions. Either you will or you won't, or you do or you don't. It is that cut and dried. The difficulty is once you make that decision, your emotions will kick in and say, 'Time out, I really don't want to do this.'"
If you can let go and forgive, you will experience great freedom.

Nell Ann says, "He didn't deserve forgiveness. He didn't ask for it, and he didn't want it. I thought, Why should I forgive him? Finally I realized it was not for him. It was for me."
Cindy shares what she learned about forgiveness: "Forgiveness is the hardest thing in the world. I felt like my heart and gut had been ripped out and thrown against the wall and left for dead. When I met with the pastor, I said, 'I can't forgive him. This is too hard for me.' He said 'Let's look at it like a business deal. Let's say your husband owes you ten thousand dollars. Let's say he can never pay you back this ten thousand dollars. Forgive the debt. Just forgive the debt and move on. It doesn't mean you have to go back and do business with him.'"

Choose to forgive the debt. Your former spouse cannot repay you for all the hurt and pain. Forgive the debt and accept the freedom that comes with forgiveness.

"But with [God] there is forgiveness" (Psalm 130:4).

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Forgiveness Is Not Relieving the Other Person of Responsibility

Forgiving someone does not mean you are letting that person off the hook. The wrongs that have been done to you and to your children need to be righted, but it is not your responsibility to bring that about. God is a just and righteous judge. He is the only one who can judge and condemn a person for an unrepentant heart. This is not your job and should not be your job.

Doug Easterday explains what your responsibility is in forgiveness: "Forgiveness is getting your heart right with God. The people who have wronged you are still responsible before God for what they've done. You're not alleviating them of their responsibility. You're simply transferring it to God where it actually belongs. If you require them to answer to you, you have just the same amount of problems they do."

Harold Graham shares how his pastor once explained forgiveness: "When you forgive, it seems like you're taking that person off the hook. But what you're really doing is taking him or her off your hook and allowing God to put that person on His hook. As long as you have that person on your hook, you block God from that person and you also block God from you."

Your job is to be right with God, and not seek vengeance or retribution, or hold on to blame. You must let go of that person's wrongdoing so you can be right with the Lord.

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven" (Luke 6:37).

What If You Do Not Forgive?

If you do not forgive, you may get in the way of the work God is trying to do in the other person's life.

"Early in my divorce process," says Laura Petherbridge, "I was thinking of people I know who have gone through divorce and years later are still very bitter. I prayed, 'God, I don't want to end up a bitter woman, but I don't know how to let it go because the hurt is so deep. Please show me how to resolve this resentment.'

"I learned to pray for the 'other woman,' which probably seems like an impossible thing. It was not by my own strength. Something deep within me knew my own healing would come. I asked God to help me to see her as He views her. I began to see her as a lost person who believed that taking another woman's husband would make her feel better about herself. She was no longer my enemy, but instead an empty woman without God in her life. The bitterness began to melt away."

When you forgive, you allow God to work in the other person's life. Choosing to walk in obedience has a net positive effect on you and on people around you. Keep persevering in prayer for those who have hurt you. As Paul says in Philippians, "Keep pressing on."

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

Friday, July 16, 2010

Forgiveness Does Not Mean Trust

Forgiveness does not mean you have to trust the other person again. Forgiveness and trust are different entities, and neither one is dependent on the other.

"Trust is giving a person the benefit of the doubt that he or she is not going to behave a certain way in the future," says Harold Graham. "Whereas, forgiveness is simply setting down the load, never to pick it up again. Two totally different things."

Sue says, "One simple but great revelation to me was the fact that learning to forgive did not mean I had to trust again. It seemed like such a basic concept, but there was so much anger that I was not able to see that until I heard other people share it. Once I started praying and meditating on that fact, it had a big part in my healing."

Trust is something that needs to be earned, especially if the other person has broken your trust at some point. Learning to trust another person again can take a long time, and sometimes you will never trust that person because he or she may continue to betray your trust. God, on the other hand, can always be trusted. He will not betray you or let you down, and He can teach you to forgive.

"Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you" (Psalm 9:10).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Forgiveness Is Not Justifying the Other Person's Actions

You do not need to justify your former spouse's behavior in order to forgive. Some people mistakenly think forgiveness only occurs when you finally understand or can rationalize why the other person did a certain thing or acted a certain way.

Forgiveness is acknowledging that what the other person did was not right and giving it up to God.

Harriet shares, "Oh, how I hated my former husband when I found out he was the one who made the decision to have the affair. It's only now, months later, that I realize I had to feel the anger and hate I felt because I had to acknowledge it was in my life.

"It's through the ministering of the Holy Spirit within me saying, 'Harriet, these things are here; let's look at them together and then let's give them up to the heavenly Father' that there is power. As I give Him the things that are standing in the way of me living victoriously, I can look at new life.

"The love of my Savior and His daily walk with me has brought me where I am now. And I can say, 'Praise God. You are so good because You have let me be my own person. You've let me walk through this valley, holding me tightly.' Each day I'm stronger and more confident. For the first time in my life there is real joy in my heart. Joy that's from within."

"Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall" (Psalm 55:22).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Forgiveness Is Not Pretending You Weren't Hurt

Laura Petherbridge says, "Forgiveness is such a complex issue during divorce because it appears as though you're letting the other person get away with the offense. If you forgive, it feels as though you are saying, 'My wound isn't real. This stab to my heart and the pain of rejection isn't significant.'"

Your wounds are real, and they are important to God. He never wants to see you hurt. You do not need to make excuses for your feelings or pretend to other people that you were not hurt that badly. This behavior does not solve anything. Be honest. You were hurt, and it's lousy. But physical and emotional wounds should not keep you from forgiveness.

"How do you forgive when you've been hurt so badly?" says Jan Northington. "Forgiveness comes in knowing the facts and being willing to let them go. Forgiveness is the only thing that allows you the kind of peace that will turn your mind from injustices in your life toward God."

When you forgive your former spouse, it does not release your former spouse from being responsible for his or her actions. It does release you from orbiting around those hurtful events.

"But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How And When To Start Saving For Retirement

... adapted from

There are many financial gurus who tell you to start saving for retirement NOW! No matter what, you should begin right away! This can be unwise advice for many people, as some are not financially stable in the present time in order to adequately contribute to a retirement fund and might forego necessities for the sake of the future.

Instead, there is a financial template that we should follow to ensure success. The basics are as follows:

Meet all short-term financial needs.
For example: paying for food, lights, shelter, and reasonable clothing.

Meet all medium-term financial goals.
For example: paying of debt, building your emergency fund, beginning to regularly save for retirement, kid’s college educations, etc.

Meet all long-term financial wants.
For example: building wealth to live the way you desire, where you want, doing those things that give you fulfillment.

Any plan built around this template has a great head start. Of course, you want to make sure you start saving for retirement as early as possible, but you don’t want to get ahead of yourself.

Once you have met all your more immediate financial obligations, it’s time to get that retirement account rolling!

How To Begin Your Retirement Savings
One of the most important points about retirement investing is to not invest until you UNDERSTAND what you are investing into. Make sure you fully comprehend the ins and outs of your portfolio. To begin, you’ll need an advisor that has a heart for teaching and training. Don’t hire someone who simply wants to sell you on the latest and greatest. Find someone who will take the time to teach you how to invest wisely.

The End Result
If you start your retirement planning when it is most opportune for you, and you contribute the recommended amount, you will be wealthy in the end. Remember not to get too far ahead of yourself. Take it slow and learn before you jump into an investment. I’m confident that if you follow these principles, you’ll have enough money to last you throughout your latter years.

Retirement is within reach.
By asking yourself the difficult questions about where you want to be in life, you can effectively mold your future. What do you want to do in the future? How do you want to live?

Forgiveness Is Not a Feeling

Many people have a wrong definition of forgiveness. One wrong idea is that you cannot forgive someone until you "feel" like forgiving him or her. Forgiveness is not a feeling.

Certainly Jesus did not "feel" like forgiving when He was on the cross. Nevertheless He said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).

Doug Easterday says, "If you are waiting for a feeling in order to forgive, you'll have a long wait—forever. You will not feel like forgiving. Your feelings can be your enemy."

Forgiveness is a choice you make. It needs to be separated from your feelings. To truly choose to forgive someone, you will need God's help.

Laura Petherbridge says, "Pray these words: 'Lord, make me willing to move toward forgiveness. I'm not willing yet. But if You'll teach me how, I'm going to trust You and believe You can.' If you reach out to God with sincerity and seek Scriptures that teach about forgiveness, it moves you closer toward a willing heart. Review Christ's sacrificial cost to obtain forgiveness for you, and within a short time you will see forgiveness through His eyes."

Only God can change your heart and enable you to come to the point of forgiveness. You do not need to try and change the feelings you have toward the other person when you forgive, but be willing to let God transform your heart as time goes by.

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:12-13).

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Danger of Not Forgiving

"Bitterness is a poison that can destroy you, and it never destroys the person it's aimed at. A way to get through bitterness is to forgive," says Christine.

Dr. Les Carter says, "I recall one woman who came to me ten years after her divorce. She was talking about her son's marriage and her daughter's graduation. Her ex was going to be at both. She had never resolved the fact that he had rejected her. She kept going over in her mind, 'How could he have done this to me? Can't he see that he just ripped apart a family?' Her children would say, 'Mom, we know the facts. We know he did it. We can't go back and rewrite history.' She would always come back with those infamous words, 'Yes, but . . .'

"That is a woman who is so stuck in the past that it's as though she is willing to hold on to that divorce, to hold on to that anger, as being the defining element in her personality."

If you do not forgive the person who has hurt you, you are making it impossible to receive God's forgiveness for yourself. You do not want to cut yourself off from God's forgiveness. You need that forgiveness for your own freedom and healing and to release God's power in your life.

"In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part" (Matthew 6:14-15 Msg)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Consequences of Unforgiveness

There are some serious consequences if you choose not to forgive, and these consequences will significantly affect your future. Harold Graham says when you do not forgive, you become an "angry, cynical, always-assuming-the-worst type of person." He says, "Unless you make that decision to forgive, all that emotional turmoil is going to make you a very unpleasant, lonely person for the rest of your life."

Dr. Myles Munroe talks about how unforgiveness eats away at a person's life. He says, "Unforgiveness destroys your life. You become crippled. You become bitter. You become strapped by hatred and anger. You develop ulcers, and you develop growths and cysts and high blood pressure. All of these things are products of unforgiveness. That's why a lot of people who are still bitter because of broken relationships end up getting sick physically. They have mental problems. They develop an emotional instability. Unforgiveness is a culprit that brings death."

Yes, but forgiveness brings freedom and life. The first thing you need to do, before you take any action or make any kind of plan, is to make the decision to forgive.

"For You, O Lord, are good, and ready to forgive [our trespasses, sending them away, letting them go completely and forever]; and You are abundant in mercy and loving-kindness to all those who call upon You" (Psalm 86:5 AMP, brackets included in original).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Conclusion in God's Hands

You must trust in the mercy and justice of God. If you leave a matter in His hands, you can trust Him to do what is right.

God really does give you important answers, but often not the answers you were expecting. If you trust in Him, He will give you the answers you need.

"I have to trust in Him because I don't understand why things have happened, but I know that He holds the future," says Heidi, whose husband was killed.

God gives you answers and the greatest answer He ever gave is in His Son Jesus. It is when you have Jesus in your life that you are best equipped to find answers and to find the healing that you need.

"I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me" (Psalm 120:1).

Lord, I will continually call on You, and I will trust You to answer my cries. Amen.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Importance of Forgiveness

"Forgiveness is never easy. Your emotions will never ever, ever, ever want to forgive," says Harold Graham.

Easy? No. Necessary for your healing? Absolutely.

Muriel shares, "The key for me in getting on with my life was to be forgiven by God, to forgive myself, and to forgive my ex for his part in the breakup of the marriage."

Our model of forgiveness is God. Sometimes we forget just how much He has forgiven us. We often don't realize how sinful we are compared to a holy, perfect, and righteous God. Isaiah 64:6 says that all our righteous deeds, the things we pat ourselves on the back for, are "like filthy rags." Imagine what our bad behavior looks like! Yet God still forgives us.

Kay Arthur says, "How can I, who have been forgiven for what I have done against a holy and perfect and righteous God, how can I, who have been forgiven so very, very much, refuse to forgive another when I've received forgiveness from God?"

It is difficult to comprehend how much God has forgiven us for. Spend time in prayer today quietly reflecting on God and on what He has done for you.

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:14-15)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Choosing Forgiveness

If you choose not to forgive your former spouse, what are you going to do with the resentment you carry and the grievances you have? What are your plans for them?

Harold Graham says, "You take these grievances and hug them to yourself as if they are your most prized possessions, when really they are the very thing that's taking the life out of you, taking your health, taking your fellowship with God, taking your ability to minister, and taking your ability to love."

Forgiveness is hard. Impossible, you may say. Over the next several days you will learn how to forgive and why it is important. You will learn about the release and the freedom that comes with forgiveness.

Laura Petherbridge says, "Many of us feel that we don't have the ability to forgive, and I would say that's absolutely true. If you're looking within yourself to be able to come up with a way to forgive, you're not going to get far. Within your own strength you do not have the ability to truly forgive. I know of only one way to obtain the capability to forgive someone who has inflicted a wound as severe as divorce. That is to humbly bow before Jesus Christ and say, 'I don't know how to do this. I need You to teach me and to show me what true forgiveness looks like. I am willing to learn.'"

Approach God with honesty about your feelings and a willingness to grow.

"If you forgive someone's sins, they're gone for good. If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?" (John 20:23 Msg).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Software that I didn’t pay for...

by John Saddington

I remember in High School I had tens of thousands of dollars of software that I didn’t pay for. It was sort of a game to me. “Cracking” the apps and software and video games and using them free of charge.


Then, I was born again. Fun-time had to stop.

But when I went to college I was shocked at how many of my fellow Christ followers were still pirating hardcore.

Huh. I know this happens a lot in the corporate setting and I bet it happens just as much in the Church sphere too.

Sad story.

It's Not Too Late

You may be at a point where you have been or are now sexually active. We want to encourage you that it is not too late. You can restore your purity and, in the process, grow closer to God.

"God is the author of purity," says Elsa Kok. "He can create purity where there is none. So if I come to God and say, 'Never again will I go into the arms of a man unless I am married,' I am confident I am pure—even if I don't have a history of purity. And should I marry, I'm going to marry with a clean conscience and a clean body. God does restore purity. It is never, ever too late.

"The value of waiting in purity is tremendous. I had a friend who got remarried after fifteen years. She had also been sexually active when she was younger. She made a decision for purity and remained pure for the marriage. She said, 'Oh Elsa, it was so worth the wait.'"

If you are a believer in Christ, then you live by a different set of rules—God's rules, which are governed by grace.

"Offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace" (Romans 6:13-14).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Stay Connected to Jesus

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

If a branch is not connected to the tree, it has no life source. It has no roots. It can't be productive. Your biblical responsibility is to remain connected to the vine. By remaining connected to Jesus, God will give you the power and strength to be able to accomplish more than you could imagine.

Dick Purnell says, "You need a power outside of yourself that is beyond the human realm. When the Lord Jesus Christ said, 'I am the vine, and you are the branches' it means that there is a division of function. He is the vine—He brings the power, the joy, the stability, and the peace of mind. The branch simply connects to the vine. As long as the branch is connected to the vine, it is drawing a whole new power, a whole new joy, a whole new peace of mind from the vine.

If you aren't connected with Jesus as the spiritual vine in your life, we encourage you to surrender your current life to Him and let Him be your source of new life. Inviting Jesus into your life is the most important thing you can do as you heal from your divorce.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener" (John 15:1).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Dangers of Pornography

Laura Petherbridge says, "Pornography can appear to be a good alternative to having a sexual relationship with a person, but it does the opposite. It totally distorts what the human sexual relationship should be. It destroys the need for human connection, the God-given intimacy between a husband and a wife.

"God gave us sex as a wonderful thing in a marriage. When we twist that into something that is self-serving and self-focused and definitely not God-focused, it strips away all of the beauty and the romance.

"In the future when you remarry, your mind will have been twisted into thinking that sex is something totally opposite to what God created it to be. When you use pornography in place of a relationship, you are setting yourself up for failure in marriage. You're destroying the future marriage. Pornography sets a standard that no human being can ever live up to, and this destroys the marriage. It is much more treacherous than most people think."

Jesus explains in Matthew 5 that thinking about sex outside of marriage is just as wrong as doing it. This is a radical idea for many people who think that as long as they are not actually having sex, they have done nothing wrong.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-28).

Sunday, July 4, 2010

"Flee Sexual Immorality"

Rose Sweet says, "If the pressure keeps coming and coming and you're getting weaker and weaker—quit standing in front of the bakery window. Remove yourself. It's as simple as that.

"You sit and struggle, asking, 'What should I do? I'm trying to enforce these boundaries.' Get up and walk away. Get out of the car. Go home. Don't go out with that person anymore. If all your friends are pressuring you, get new friends. Now, of course, this involves severing relationships. But move on and let God replace what you let go of."

Many people fall into a sexual relationship because they are "people pleasers." They don't want to cause tension or stir up a conflict in a relationship by constantly being the one who says, "No." As a result, they do something they seriously regret, harming everyone involved. Sticking to your boundaries and upholding your beliefs may cause others to look down on you, to say hurtful words, or to try to make you feel guilty or wrong. You need to get to a place inside yourself where this is okay.

"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Establish Boundaries

"It is important that you establish guidelines right up front," says Sabrina Black. "You do not want to compromise your beliefs. You need to let the person you are dating know that sex is not an option for you. Sex is reserved for marriage, and until you are married, there will be no sex, and there will be no foreplay that leads to sex. There will be no fondling; there will be no touching. You can't afford to allow yourself to go too far."

Bonnie Keen says, "When I went out with my (now) husband on our first date, he was a gentleman. I said to him, 'I want you to know that I'm not going to sleep with you—I don't know what you're thinking, but I'm not sleeping with anyone until I'm married again.' He honored every physical boundary every step of the way because he wanted to honor God, and I am so grateful. It made me love him even more. You have to set your own boundaries, and you have to be with somebody who will help you keep them."

You may think that it would be impossible to find a person who is this honorable. Perhaps past experiences have caused you to become somewhat biased about the opposite sex. Godly, upright people do exist, and you can be one of them!

"Just because something is technically legal doesn't mean that it's spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I'd be a slave to my whims" (1 Corinthians 6:12 Msg).

Friday, July 2, 2010

Have a Plan

Staying sexually pure takes work, but the end results are worth it. If you've made a decision to abstain from sex outside of marriage, your first action should be to establish a plan to resist sexual temptation. This plan can include (1) keeping yourself away from sexually charged situations, (2) finding other outlets for your energy, (3) establishing boundaries for your relationships, and (4) strengthening yourself spiritually through prayer and Bible study.

Sabrina Black says, "You need to learn how to pray yourself through sexual stimulus and realize that when you are feeling sexually aroused, you may need physical activity. What are some things you can do to keep yourself moving or to distract yourself from thinking about the sexual stimulus too much?

"Be careful about the types of movies and TV programs you watch and the books you read. Those things can stimulate you, and you don't want to create any type of arousal. Pray, read the Word, trust God to keep you, and make wise choices instead."

Even if you have tried to have a plan and failed at it, do not lose heart. Today is a new day. Believe that you can resist any temptation through Christ and act on that belief.

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hurts Your Relationship with God

Having sex outside of marriage hurts your relationship with God. Since God is the source of life, peace, hope, comfort, security, and power—cutting yourself off from God will bring serious consequences.

Dick Purnell says, "The big downer when you get involved in sexual immorality is the loss of intimacy with God. When you are not connected to the vine of Jesus Christ, the eventuality is you're going to dry out and shrivel up the second you open the door to all the other fleshly desires that are in your soul—the carousing, the violence, the anger, the frustration. All this will start flooding your life, and you'll feel powerless with the onslaught."

If you feel that you've moved far away from God, it's never too late to turn back to Him. He will welcome you into His arms in a heartbeat. He wants the best for you.

"God wants you to live a pure life. Keep yourself from sexual promiscuity. Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God. . . . God hasn't invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life but into something holy and beautiful—as beautiful on the inside as the outside. If you disregard this advice, you're not offending your neighbors; you're rejecting God, who is making you a gift of his Holy Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, 7-8 Msg).

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Clouds Your Judgment

"If you don't have sex when you're dating, you will know that person cares about you for who you are and not for what you can give him or her," says Elsa Kok. "It purifies the relationship and takes it to 'Does this person love my character? Does he or she love what's in my heart? What my hopes and dreams are?'

"That totally gets sidelined if you start sleeping together because then you're just consumed in that, and you don't deal with issues as well. A struggle may come up, but then you kiss passionately, and the next thing you know, you're sleeping together and the struggle is set to the side. You don't know if the person's going to stay through conflict once you get married because you're not addressing the conflict when you're dating. It clouds everything to sleep together."

Rob Eagar says, "Touching someone sexually makes your heart desire to bond with that person. What happens is your emotions and feelings get cranked up to such an intense level that you tend to overlook more important aspects of the relationship, such as character, spiritual depth, or maturity. Once you get involved sexually, it can cloud your thinking and you look at the relationship too much from an emotional standpoint rather than a factual standpoint concerning a person's integrity and commitment to loving you."

"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak" (Mark 14:38).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Possibility of Pregnancy

When you have sex outside of marriage, the possibility that a child will be conceived is always a factor, even when birth control is used. That's a profound and long-lasting consequence.

"What happens if you get pregnant with this person you're dating?" asks Laura Petherbridge. "You're grieving the death of your marriage and now you're pregnant with someone else's child. Could it get more complicated than that?"

With all the consequences of sex outside of marriage, people still struggle with it and still do it. This temptation is difficult to resist for so many reasons. God is not asking you to try your hardest to resist the temptation. He is asking you to come to Him. He wants you to sit at His feet and learn from Him. He will show you how to tap into His mighty power, which will enable you to be victorious over your struggles.

"Our only power and success come from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5 NLT).

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Health Risk

Having sex outside of marriage is health risk. Sexually transmitted diseases, even deadly ones, are prevalent in today's culture. STDs can cause sores, rashes, infertility, cancer, liver failure, neurological problems, and death. According to the American Social Health Association, "The estimated total number of people living in the US with an incurable STD is over 65 million. Every year, there are approximately 15 million new cases of STDs, a few of which are curable. . . . At least one in four Americans will contract an STD at some point in their lives."

Just because a person seems clean, nice, and respectable, does not mean that person does not have a sexually transmitted disease. If that person admits he or she had an STD at one point but it is gone now, this may or may not be true. STDs can lie dormant for years. Also, symptoms of many of these diseases may not be obvious.

Laura Petherbridge says, "When you sleep with someone, you are sleeping with every person that person has slept with. That's not a very pretty picture. It takes away all the romance and all the fun. You're putting yourself in danger physically."

May this verse be a prayer for you: "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hurts People Around You

If you have children or nieces and nephews, know they are watching you and learning from you. Even young adults in your neighborhood and church are looking to you as a role model, whether you want them to or not!

Kay Arthur shares, "I went from one man to another. I wasn't considering my future or the future of my two little boys who were watching me. I didn't know the impact of what would happen one day when my oldest boy came down the stairs and saw me making love to a man. Now, God forgave me, but there were wounds for that little boy, and there were consequences of that sin that carried on."

Teri shares, "When my heart was broken because of divorce, I had sex outside of marriage, and I lost the respect of my children. When your boy looks at you and says, 'Mama, I have lost all respect for you,' that hurts."

The act of sex is not confined to you and another person. It can affect everyone who knows and loves you. Choose to abstain not only for yourself, but for the sake of others.

"If I've let myself be seduced by a woman and conspired to go to bed with her, . . . I'd deserve the worst punishment you could hand out. Adultery is a fire that burns the house down; I wouldn't expect anything I count dear to survive it" (Job 31:9, 11-12 Msg).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Diminishes Power and Pleasure of Sex

Rob Eagar says, "The more you get involved in sex outside of marriage, the more the power of sex is going to diminish because you're not truly experiencing sex in the way it was designed by God. Premarital sex becomes a superficial act that objectifies another person for your selfish pleasure, and you can't have intimacy with an object. That's why sex outside of marriage will eventually become a boring, hollow experience."

This happens because you are trying to fill the emptiness in your life with something other than God. If you don't truly open yourself to God's love, then you won't be able to fill the holes. God can fulfill you, but you must let Him fill you His way, not your way. Surrender yourself fully to Him, and stop any patterns of sexual activity that you've gotten yourself into. He can help you with that as well.

"With the Lord's authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their closed minds are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They don't care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed" (Ephesians 4:17-19 NLT).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Erodes Ability to Trust

"I believe that trust is the crown jewel of a relationship," says Dick Purnell, "and when that's violated, it is very difficult to ever get it back. One of the most important consequences of sex outside of marriage is mistrust. You never know if you can trust the other person; you don't even know if you can trust yourself."

Having sex outside of marriage not only erodes your ability to trust now, but it also affects the trust relationship in a remarriage. Dick Purnell says, "When you get married, the consequence goes right into your marriage because you've lacked self-control. How can you trust the other person to have been pure for you when you weren't pure for him or her?"

By God's grace, you can change your ways and you can rebuild your capacity for trust and become pure again through Him.

"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good" (Titus 2:11-14).