Put Your Finances on Solid Ground: Opportunity 1

Living in the basement

Living in the basement is an old New England trick to allow saving until a family can afford to build more of their home.

Today we start a new series. I’ve collected more than 1,500 commands from Scripture. From these, I’ve selected 101 Opportunities to Follow God Today. Comment, tell how you follow these opportunities, enjoy! In the part of New England where I grew up, thrifty families sometimes live in little more than a hole in the ground. A family buys a piece of land, digs the basement for their home, pours the foundation and puts some kind of roof on top of the foundation wall. Then they live in the underground rooms until they can afford to construct the main house. God directly encourages this kind of thrift.

“Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” Proverbs 24:27 Continue reading

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“Get Back Up; God’s Still With You”

Church signs and license plates aren’t messages from God … or are they? This one was just right to encourage me today.

I try to avoid taking church signs as signs from God. It’s like relying on anecdotal evidence instead of research. You tend to notice whatever reinforces your existing viewpoint, so the evidence you see keeps stacking up “in your favor,” even though what’s “in your favor” isn’t the evidence itself but “the evidence you see.”

Still, I’ve been seeing a lot of church signs and license plates lately that tell me I’m on the right track, that things are going to keep getting better. Like the one I saw this morning, when I was driving friends from the airport to their son’s home about 90 miles from here:

“Get back up. God’s still with you.”

I hadn’t actually let myself collapse but the morning had managed to be a bit of a downer, even before I met their 8:31 a.m. flight.

Encouraged by a surprising invitation: A sign?

About 10 days ago, my husband and I were quite encouraged to receive an invitation to jury for a craft show. Since we began our line of handcrafted jewelry early this year and hadn’t expected to hit market until late summer, this was quite a surprise. We could tell that the show was attempting to fill open vendor spaces and knew it would be a rush to complete our exhibit in time. Still, we took it as a sign from God that we were moving in the right direction.

Last night, I got an email notifying us that we were in. We were thrilled and ready to strap in for a little more than two weeks of full-tilt preparations so our exhibit and handcrafted jewelry would be ready by the April 5 show date. Continue reading

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Bill Gates: “It makes sense to believe in God …”

Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Interviewed in the new issue of Rolling Stone, philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates acknowledges that the world is “overwhelmingly amazing and there’s no scientific explanation of how it all came about.”

“To say that it was generated by random numbers, that does seem, you know, sort of an uncharitable view. 

“I think it makes sense to believe in God, but exactly what decision in your life you make differently because of it, I don’t know.”

Gates’ wife is Catholic and has raised their three children in that church, which he also attends.

They have placed $36 billion of their personal fortune, now valued at $76 billion, in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The philanthropy targets global problems that seem likely to be resolvable with relatively small investments. An early effort was eradication of malaria by means of $10 mosquito nets. Current focuses include the elimination of polio from several countries where it is still a problem and improving food and nutrition, including agricultural production, especially in Africa.

What decisions do you make differently in life because you believe in God?

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The Excuse-Free Plan for Discovering ‘You Got Talent!’

The late Erma Bombeck aimed to use up all the talent God gave her in her lifetime.

Humorist Erma Bombeck understood that when we use the talents God gave us, we make God look good and make it possible for the people of God to work together as God intended for us to do.

For those who love “America’s Got Talent” and its many spinoffs, the word “talent” is all about performance.

We struggle emotionally along with the young people who aren’t able to achieve the stardom they seek. We are gobsmacked when frowzy middle-aged Susan Boyle dares to state her ambition to be a great singer — then backs it up with a great voice that has been hidden underneath a bushel at her neighborhood pub. But still, talent is for the stage.

The rest of us … we feel more like chopped liver. Chopped liver makes a good party pate, but it’s nothing to look at. And it’s definitely an acquired taste. Not something that cheering crowds are going to celebrate. We set ourselves on the sidelines with one of three excuses:

Excuse Number 1: “I don’t have any talents.”

As long as a person thinks “talents” are for stage or church platform performance, the odds are he will think he doesn’t have any. Continue reading

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Insomnia: When You Can’t Sleep, What Works?

Can't Sleep: God Works the Night Shift

Who doesn’t experience insomnia from time to time?

Jobs create stress. Relationships create stress. Tomorrow morning promises stress.

And as a result, tonight you and I can’t sleep.

What to Do When You Can’t Sleep?

Serta Counting Sheep

Traditional cures for insomnia start with counting sheep … counting blessings … counting backwards from a large number … Then, if you still can’t sleep, combine warm milk with a carbohydrate. That could come in the form of the sugar in hot cocoa or a graham cracker on the side of hot vanilla milk. Science says combining protein and carbohydrate can help increase insulin production that helps cure insomnia.

Grandmother’s Cures for Insomnia

All of those sound like how your grandmother might have tried to cure a bout with insomnia. My grandmother certainly had access to some patent medicines. Some were laced with alcohol and maybe even opiates. But she didn’t live at a time like ours when new pharmaceuticals to treat insomnia were constantly being created.

My grandmother penciled, in a large, quavering hand in the front of her little King James Bible, “Read Psalm 91 every nite [sic].” That psalm includes these lines:

“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust … Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness … Because thou hast made the Lord, which my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation, There shall be no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” 

She settled into bed during the last years of her life by reminding herself that God was protecting her sleep and keeping her safe. That gave her peace.

“Slow Down and Lose Ground”

More of us seem to live in the expectation that if we slow down at all, we will lose ground against anyone who is still awake. We take God’s word to the lazy person who sleeps when he or she should be at work as applying to us when we take the rest God designed us to require:

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:10-11, repeated in Proverbs 24: 33-34)

But this describes a person who takes excess rest. God designed us to require sleep — about one-third of every day for most adults. Science has identified many functions sleep accomplishes, including integrating memory, improving judgment, maintaining the immune system, regulating insulin and preventing hormonal imbalances. What does sleep accomplish in our relationship with God?

“God, You Take Over. I’m Going to Bed.”

I remember hearing, once upon a time, that one of the popes had a particular bedtime routine. He would pray, “God, I’m tired. You take care of the world now. I’m going to bed.”

That’s what we all have to say. Whatever part of the world God has given us responsibility for, we have to return it to God at bedtime, trusting that for the next seven to eight hours, God alone will care for it. God promises to give rest to any of us who bring our heavy burdens of responsibility to him:

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

That’s what I try to do when I can’t sleep. Hand it over to God.

And drink my hot milk and turn on my white noise and if I really have a hard time, cuddle up under a comforter as if I’m just taking a nap instead of struggling with insomnia.

What do you do when you can’t sleep?

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