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Pay Down Debt

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7

A nation, business or home built on debt is owned and controlled by outside forces. There is no freedom or liberty to be found in leveraged ownership, only obligations and payment plans. Debt is unemotional and uncaring when it decides to call your loan, or make new demands you are unable to fulfill. Debt is deceptive in its ability to draw us into its pleasures in exchange for our time, energy and focus.

Short-term borrowing is subtle, because it can easily become a shortcut that only satisfies our immediate gratifications but with long-term ramifications. I have missed God’s best because I got in a hurry, and thought I had to make things happen, so I presumed on the future. Ease of credit can lead us to grow impatient with prayer and make purchases pre-maturely. However, blessings come from waiting on God’s prayerful provision.

“LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.” Psalm 38:15

Thus, start immediately and implement a plan to pay down your debt. Begin by paying off the credit card with the smallest balance, and cease from spending with the convenience of credit’s plastic purchases. Eradicate your mortgage by the time your children start college and you will have added margin for their extra educational expenses. Delayed gratification is a discipline God blesses. Like a hiker with a light backpack, without the weight of debt you are able to freely follow the Lord’s call.

Turn to Christ instead of credit, and watch Him create opportunities you never conceived. Waiting to pay in cash is an exercise in faith, and a refraining of the flesh. A smaller home and older car, with peace and contentment, is much better than more, with regret and restless nights. Debt free living liberates your life and increases your generous giving. Therefore, pay down debt so you are free to love and serve others more effectively.

“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law” Romans 13:8, (NASB).

Where can I begin to aggressively pay down my debt and increase my giving?

Related Readings: Isaiah 30:18; 64:4; Micah 7:7; Hebrews 11:8-12

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6 Biblical Lessons on Relationships

After 35 years in ministry and 30 years of marriage to Serita Jakes, Bishop T.D. Jakes has outlined key life lessons learned from these two great institutions.

The following are 6 sample “Lessons from the Heart”  excerpted from “The T.D. Jakes Relationship Bible: Life Lessons on Relationships from the Inspired Word of God.”

1. Overcoming Our Differences in Relationships.
The art of relationships requires that a man who is very different from his woman finds common ground with her and vice versa. We are meant to balance each other by attracting people whose strengths may be our weaknesses. Together as a result of our differences and unique distinctions, we complement each other. Understanding only comes when you stand under a real desire to know, love, and comprehend the other person, embracing the uniqueness of who they are.
2. Healthy Relationships Require Emotional and Spiritual Freedom.
You often won’t know what you have, let alone need, in your life until you clear the mental and emotional room to experience the here and now. We don’t have to stay buried under the past or cycles of mistakes, even though it may seem insurmountable. You can move on with your life. You have to keep your mental and emotional house clean and in order. Praying, journaling, mediation, and exercise are common ways for you to be sure your emotional issues of the past aren’t seeping into your current relationships.
3. It Takes Courage to Really Love Someone.
Deciding to love gets harder as you get older. It’s more and more difficult to fall in love because your “faller” gets broken. We’ve all had relationships that didn’t work out for one reason or another. The loss of a relationship can be a traumatic experience and can affect us in our lives for months and sometimes for years. You need to understand what role you played in the relationship’s demise, and work to come to peace with your partner’s behavior as well as your own. No matter what has happened to you, the only hope of a healthy future relationship is to let go of the past.
4. Healthy Compromise in Relationships.
Negotiating win-win possibilities in relationships often means seeing things through the eyes of the others involved in the situation or problem. In most cases of healthy compromise, both parties feel they are “right.” Healthy compromise is the hallmark of healthy relationships. The Lord’s peace often results when each side comes close to His viewpoint, His perfect plan for both parties. We cannot remain so entrenched in our view that we cannot change or adapt, and we must know when not to compromise too far.
5. Safeguarding Your Relationships.
In order to maximize your life and relationships, you have to minimize your load. You must focus on what’s important when it comes to your relationships. Lightening your load means knowing when to release things. Most of don’t realize that the key to release ourselves is within our own hands. You can move ahead and conserve your strength for things that count, things you can change, things you can control. Have the wisdom to see the importance of giving you all to your relationships today!
6. Evaluate Who You Are.
When you see yourself as valuable enough to deserve love and attention from the other person, you form a boundary that you will not compromise. A little self-esteem goes a long way in garnering the courage to ask and answer questions that reveal who you really are and what you really want. Once you look realistically at who you really are and what you desire in a healthy relationship, you are ready to enter into the research that will lead to sound decisions.

Painting The World With Ugliness…

Have you ever asked yourself  what are you doing to make the world better, to increase even one person’s happiness, to help one homeless person?

Most of us never even think about this fact, we walk around consumed in our own thoughts and lives so much so that we never see the terrible environment all around us. We see people being killed, being bullied, being lonely all because we don’t feel it’s worth our time to lend a hand, or even to look and open our eyes to the hurt and pain all around us.

We live in a world of no sense of society, no sense of responsibility, no sense of helping each other, people commit suicide simply because they are lonely and have no one to turn to.

Instead of painting the world with ugliness each and every single second, why dont we all try. If you have the chance to change someone’s life, why dont you take it?

Why dont we start painting the world with love, hope and  a rainbow of happiness??
Post courtesy of The World We Live In

Dirty Little Secret…SHHHH!

That’s what she called him.  Her “dirty little secret”.  Here was Malynda*, an attractive, vibrant single Christian woman.  She thrived in her job as a paralegal, owned her own home, and was a leader in her church.  By all outward appearances, she had it together.  But she had a “dirty little secret”.  Actually, it was a huge secret.  Despite what she appeared to be on the outside (together, compliant…even spiritual to some), Malynda carried on a secret sexual relationship with a man to whom she was not married.  While she felt extremely guilty, ashamed, and convicted by God for her behavior, Malynda could not seem to stop.  And, despite these feelings, she also felt a hidden thrill about her secret.  She felt a distorted satisfaction at a base level–despite her faith and what she knew intellectually about the importance of obedience and submission to the will of God.

What is it about things that are secretive that seem to feed the flesh and ignite a fierce drive to get more, more, more?  That cake of which you know you should not have another piece.  That money you promised you would not spend because it was set aside to pay an outstanding debt.  That online relationship that, if exposed, would damage your reputation and entire life.  These things and others like them can be and usually are secrets, but they feel good.  Why is that?

The short and obvious answer to the aforementioned question is because we have the flesh and anything that appeals to it is attractive.  The forbidden feels good.  The forbidden that is also a secret can feel even better…almost powerful.  Yet I propose that there is something deeper than the obvious…something that is both general to all and specific to each individual.  It is the longing to be “like God“–an offering originally promised by the devil himself.  It is the desire to be in control of our world, to satisfy our every desire and longing on this side of heaven, to create (and have) our own personal Eden.  This is the thing that drives every outward move towards the “dirty little secret”.  It is sin.
Well, if it all goes back to sin, what hope is there?  If I go to a counselor to address my secret shopping addiction and they (eventually) tell me or lead me to see that I “just need to repent”, what is the point in paying them if I already knew that in the first place?  Valid questions.  The answer is both simple and complex.

The answer is Christ.  It is His death on the cross.  It is His resurrection from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is the fact that He made us alive again spiritually and gave us the power to live with unmet desires and longings on this side of heaven–regardless of the fact that it often feels like we can not.  It is that power that brings our “dirty little secrets” to light and gives us the power to overcome their relentless pull.  The real, life-giving secret is in Christ. We’ve FOUND the (real!) secret!  This is our hope.

*The name and story mentioned in this article is fictional and used solely for illustrative purposes.  Any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental.  Individuals seen in a professional counseling setting are protected by confidentiality as agreed between them and their respective counselors.

Written by Nicole Efunnuga, M.S. – Christian Therapist

Let Your Feelings Show

Dr. Robin Smith

When you are feeling sad, do you allow yourself to cry and let your loved ones know that you are upset? What about when you are scared or stressed? Dr. Robin says the idea that powerful and respected people hide their feelings of sadness, grief or embarrassment is very popular in our society. “We don’t often hear people in power talk about their vulnerabilities, their places that are rough,” she says. “[Instead], we love the feelings of strength and power, we love to feel that we are in control, we love to feel that we have the answer.”

To really be a powerful person, Dr. Robin says you must have access to all your feelings. Dr. Robin says that your feelings—both good and bad—need to be acknowledged by you and by others.

“Embrace, manage and figure out how to be fully human,” Dr. Robin says. “Take every feeling that you have and every experience—those that have left you feeling really intact and those that really threw you off your course—and use all of it to live your very best life.”

Marriage & Family

If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel1 Timothy 5:8

We live in an age of self-justification. We can excuse or explain almost any personal behavior or habit or shortcoming, making a case for our own innocence. But Paul here cuts through all our layers of self-defense and plainly states our obligation.

If you, husbands and fathers, are not carefully laboring to provide the food, shelter, and clothing that are needed by your family—to the best of your ability—then you are not a Christian, no matter how much you may protest to the contrary.

In fact, Paul says, you have denied the faith of Christ by your actions; therefore, you are worse than an unbeliever, because you are bringing reproach on the name of Christ. You cannot claim an allegiance to Christ, on the one hand, and selfishly or carelessly deny the help to your family that Christ demands of you.

These words may sound strong or harsh, but in reality they are helpful and loving. We might be tempted to deceive ourselves on this issue, if it were not so plainly worded for us. Our families might suffer because of our thoughtless neglect, except that Paul has forced us to consider them.

If you have failed in this regard, do not give up; it is never too late to repeal your denial of the faith, to throw off your unbelief, and to show your commitment to Christ by laboring for the welfare of your family.