It was kind of a surreal experience.... We had just arrived at our mission in Quito and here I was less than 48 hours later standing at the graveside of a man I didn't know and hadn't even met.
I watched as the gravedigger dug the grave by hand. He would occasionally stop and put his chin on top of the shovel and seem interested in what was going on as he rested. There was hardly anybody there. Just the man's wife, a couple of other people, the pastor, myself and the Ecuadorian gravedigger. Being one of the few English speaking churches in town, the widow called the pastor with whom I served on staff and asked that he do the funeral. I was there as support.
The story of this man's life ended sadly. He was a very successful American businessman who had visited Ecuador frequently and ended up buying some lucrative property in Quito so that he could retire. He had quite a nest egg. His goal in life was to retire with his wife at this property in Quito and live a life of ease and luxury.
What was interesting was that this man and his wife arrived in Quito about the same time my wife and I had arrived. We may have even been on the same airplane. What he hadn't considered, as he grew older, was that his health wasn't as good as it had been in the past. Quito has an elevation of over 9,000 feet (btw - Denver has an elevation of just over 5,000 feet) above sea level. People who visit Quito often come down with Soroche (altitude sickness). The symptoms are very similar to carbon monoxide poisoning. The stress of the Soroche that he was experiencing taxed his body and his heart stopped working.
So, here we have a man who saved his whole life, gathered quite a bit of money and bought some nice property in Quito so that he could retire, and within 48 hours of achieving his goal, he died. From what his wife described, it also appeared that he died without knowing Jesus as his Savior.
Jesus talked about this. He said, "Now what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul?"
Jesus, who taught a parable about a man who amassed fortune and trusted in himself, said, "You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?"
Having a goal is not bad in and of itself. However, if your goal excludes God and is just to please yourself, know that you may never reach it. If you do, it won't last forever.
Then there is reward or payment.
Yet, if you have a goal and it includes God and pleasing Him, you WILL reach it.
"Don't store up treasure on earth..."
Make heaven your goal.
BE A MAN
When we claim our own poverty and connect our poverty with the poverty of our brothers and sisters, we become the Church of the poor, which is the Church of Jesus. Solidarity is essential for the Church of the poor . Both pain and joy must be shared. As one body we will experience deeply one another's agonies as well as one another's ecstasies. As Paul says: "If one part is hurt, all the parts share its pain. And if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy" (1 Corinthians 12:26).
Often we might prefer not to be part of the body because it makes us feel the pain of others so intensely. Every time we love others deeply we feel their pain deeply. However, joy is hidden in the pain. When we share the pain we also will share the joy.
This post was written by Henri Nouwen: http://www.henrinouwen.orgBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Like every human organization the Church is constantly in danger of corruption. As soon as power and wealth come to the Church, manipulation, exploitation, misuse of influence, and outright corruption are not far away.
How do we prevent corruption in the Church? The answer is clear: by focusing on the poor. The poor make the Church faithful to its vocation. When the Church is no longer a church for the poor, it loses its spiritual identity. It gets caught up in disagreements, jealousy, power games, and pettiness. Paul says, "God has composed the body so that greater dignity is given to the parts which were without it, and so that there may not be disagreements inside the body but each part may be equally concerned for all the others" (1 Corinthians 12:24-25). This is the true vision. The poor are given to the Church so that the Church as the body of Christ can be and remain a place of mutual concern, love, and peace.
This post was written by Henri Nouwen: http://www.henrinouwen.org
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
One of the most common misconceptions in marriages today is that fighting is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. But is it? Is a healthy marriage really one completely absent of conflict?
As a psychologist (Les) and a marriage and family therapist (Leslie), married since 1984, we don't claim to have a perfect relationship. We fight—just like every other couple on the planet. But we've learned a secret: There's a difference between a bad fight and a good fight.
And when a couple learns to fight a good fight, the conflict actually brings them closer.
All couples generally fight over the same five things: money, sex, work, parenting and housework. Most argue about these five issues over and over again because these are all stressors that speak to our sense of love and fairness.
But you can learn to fight about them in a healthy way. Here are some tools to help you cool down "The Big Five."
MoneyAllow us to say it straight: Money fights between couples are rarely about money. So if you want to minimize a currency conflict, trace it back to the fear that’s fueling it.
Instead of fighting over the amount of money that was spent on who-knows-what, shift the focus toward what really matters: (1) your fear of not having influence in important issues impacting your life, (2) your fear of not having security in your future, (3) your fear of having no respect shown for your values, or (4) your fear of not realizing your dreams.
SexTo keep sexual grievances down and the marital bedsprings bouncing, we recommend focusing on solving “coordination failure.” It’s a common problem in marriages. The number-one reason people report not having sex in their marriage is “Too tired,” followed closely by “Not in the mood.” Most of the time, that’s code, knowingly or not, for having mismatched sex drives.
So start talking about it. As we write this, we can almost feel you cringing. For most couples, talking about sex is about as comfortable as sleeping in a car. Yet it’s a conversation that’s critically important to aligning your libidos and minimizing your conflicts. When the time is right, when both of you are relaxed and not distracted, ask each other to explain when you feel most eager to head to bed. Your answers may surprise you.
We’ve got two words for you: date night. We know. You’ve heard this a thousand times: do a weekly date night or your marriage will suffer. Sounds more like a threat than friendly advice, doesn’t it? But it’s a surefire way to keep career conflict to a minimum.
In spite of this frequent advice, the message doesn’t seem to be getting through. Here’s how often married people, aged 25 to 50 with two or more children, have a date night:
Yikes! We can do better than that, and there’s good reason to do it. The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia recently released a report titled “The Date Night Opportunity.” This study found that husbands and wives who set aside a deliberate time to connect and have fun at least once a week were approximately three and a half times more likely to report being “very happy” in their marriages.
- Once a week: 4 percent
- Once a month: 21 percent
- Once every two to three months: 21 percent
- Once every four to six months: 18 percent
- Once every seven months or less often: 36 percent
ChildrenThe solution for nearly any parenting conflict is found in getting on the same page and presenting a unified front. Otherwise, your kids play you against each other and add fuel to the parenting fire. Conflict decreases as teamwork increases. It may not be easy to agree with your spouse on the rules and standards you are willing to enforce with your kids. That’s why the first order of business is to iron out differences behind closed doors.
Don’t try to solve your parenting squabbles in the moment—while the kids enjoy the show. The time for presenting your ideas and negotiating trade-offs is when the two of you are alone. Once you reach agreement, stick together. When parents present a united front, there’s no room for recriminating I-told-you-so’s.
ChoresLet’s face it—most housework fights come about because one spouse is keeping score. That’s a bad idea. The scales of marriage are always in flux, and you’re only setting yourselves up for turmoil if you’ve installed a figurative scoreboard in your relationship. Using the division of labor approach does away with all that.
Trina, for example, is better and faster than Dan at both doing the dishes and tidying up around the house. In fact, she does it in half the time it takes him. Given this fact, does it make sense for Dan to do either of these tasks? Not really. What does make sense is for Dan to refresh the water bowl for their pet and prepare their child’s room for bedtime. He’s also quicker at organizing and tracking their finances. He does it in half the time it would take Trina. He’s also pretty good at ironing his own shirts.
You get the idea. It’s simple. Quit trying to divide the household chores down the middle. Marriage is lived best when you’re not trying to balance the scales.
Conflict is a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be a bad one. When you are your spouse hit up against it next—and you will—go ahead and fight it out, but fight it with the goal to grow closer, to understand him or her better and to love each other well even in the midst of disagreement.This post was written by Drs Les & Leslie Parrot. For the original post with comments, go to: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/5-biggest-areas-conflict-couplesFor their newest book which entails these concepts, go to THE GOOD FIGHT: HOW CONFLICT CAN BRING YOU CLOSER
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
It is strangely ironic that the freedoms and affluence we enjoy in our society are the very things that stand to ruin our children if not addressed early and effectively.
The consumer-credit industry is doing all it can to get your kids to fall for the buy-now, pay-later lifestyle. If you do nothing to intervene, statistics indicate that your child is headed for a life that will be severely impacted not by credit—credit is not the problem here—but by the debt it can create.
When the following three characteristics occur at the same time in the heart and mind of a child, they create a kind of “perfect storm” that has all the likelihood of creating a disastrous situation:
For our debt-proofing purposes, “entitlement” is that demanding attitude that says, “I deserve it now even if I haven’t earned it or cannot pay for it.” Some call it the gimmes, others the I-wants. No matter what you call it, this attitude is running rampant, and not only among kids. Entitlement affects kids and adults alike.
- attitudes of entitlement
- financial ignorance
- glamour of easy spending
Entitlement is subtle. It creeps into our lives when we compare our lifestyles and possessions to those of the people we respect and want to be like. It shows up in new parents who throw all caution to the wind when it comes to nursery furnishings and “mandatory” equipment. It shows up in two-income families who, because they work so hard, feel they deserve to have nice things. It shows up in adults who feel compelled to conform to society’s relentless ratcheting up of standards.
Entitlement is the standard message of marketing and advertising. Look carefully at everything that shows up in your mailbox this week. The message to keep up is relentless. The push for conformity creates attitudes of dissatisfaction and entitlement.
At every turn it seems something or someone is fanning the flames of entitlement in our lives—and our children’s lives too.
Attitudes of entitlement, both yours and your children’s, are an enemy that, if not dealt with, will surely sabotage your efforts to develop financial confidence in your kids.
A frugal lifestyle, where you live below your means, is the best environment in which to raise kids. When children observe their parents consuming carefully, making wise spending decisions, choosing not to buy the biggest and the best, and not living on credit, they begin to assimilate those values.
By telling your children, “We don’t choose to spend our money on that,” you send a positive message that you have money but make intelligent choices about how to spend it.
Clearly, attitudes of entitlement are a serious problem. But they are not terminal. Diligent parents who are willing to be consistent examples and limit setters will find success in tearing down attitudes that have the potential to do great harm.
Excerpted from Raising Financially Confident Kids by Mary Hunt (Revell, 2012).
To go to this post on Mary Hunt's site, click here.
BE A MAN.
My wife and I have been on a spiritual journey within the last few months. It has involved an amount of faith and expectancy that we did not know we were capable of displaying. This journey has been one pertaining to our finances.
If you know me well, you know that I love to talk about finances and how the real blessing comes from putting our full trust in God. For the most part, I feel like we were able to do this pretty well, but like any other ordinary hypocrite, it seems that God did not have full control of our bank account…he only had the authority to periodically audit when necessary. As a result of this, we have been struggling to get by, but failing to see that minor changes needed to be made. They were not big changes, but ones that have kept us falling short on a regular basis.
A few months ago, my wife and I set out on a journey to learn more about finances and to start the process of being better managers of God’s money. Since then, He has been prompting us to make hard decisions that would have not otherwise been the first choice on our list. We stopped putting our hope in credit cards, and started believing that God’s ideas were better than ours.
At first, God’s suggestions came as a small whisper (stop eating out as often, be more disciplined, you don’t need it just because you can afford it, etc), but I realized, the more I followed God’s whisper…the louder it became and the more I began to think like Him.
As we followed basic principles, prayed over our budget, developed discipline, and made a strategy for our life, my wife and I began to see overwhelming blessings in this realm. The bills began to be paid on time, anonymous checks showed up, unexpected refunds appeared, and we began to experience a peace that we have never encountered. I really feel as if God had been waiting until we learned how to manage His resources before major blessings would occur. I don’t care how good the theology is on that last statement…for me it has proven to be correct.
Well, my wife and I are still in the same income bracket…but what I have found is this… I would rather live in poverty with Christ than to be a millionaire without Him.
Somewhere wrapped in God’s small whisper…abundance is waiting to surprise you.
Respond to it.
This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post, go to: http://other-words.net/2013/03/26/responding-to-whisper/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Most of us have spent a lot of money and a lot of effort on things that do not satisfy. When our efforts do not result in serenity, we become more and more confused and more and more frantic. Into the middle of this chaos and desperation comes an invitation. God invites us to receive 'food' which is designed to delight our souls.
God's invitation is to people who are thirsty or hungry. It is to people who are working hard but finding little satisfaction. The invitation extends to those who have no money or assets of any kind. God is not sparing or stingy. God is an extravagant giver of good things. God wants us to delight in the richest of fare.
The nourishment at God's feast does more than please our taste-buds. This meal is more than mere esthetic pleasure. The nourishment from God's table feeds our souls with delight. It is nourishment that sinks down to the deepest places of our being. God seeds delight in the foundations of our soul. And from these seeds come serenity, peace and the courage to continue.
God, I'm thirsty.
I have spent my money and energy
on things that have not satisfied.
God, my soul is hungry.
I need food for my soul.
Help me to come to you, Lord.
You know my hesitation.
You know how suspicious I am
of such an extravagant invitation.
Help me to come as an eager child
to receive good things from you.
Feed my soul, Lord,
until it is full of delight.
Copyright Dale and Juanita RyanNational Association for Christian Recovery
I’m pro-marriage. I always have been, always will be and I’ll make no apologies for it. As a matter of fact, most of you should be apologizing to me. Yeah, I said it. Whether you're one with a successful marriage who's remained silent on its myriad virtues, or merely a single, lonely critic... America, you've got some 'splaining to do.
Sadly, marriage has become a punchline in today’s society. From referring to the wife as “the old ball and chain” to nearly every poorly written sitcom that we watch, the message we’re sending to today’s generation is clear… Marriage = no fun.
Men on TV constantly joke about how wives are incredibly expensive, demanding and overall vacuums of all things fun. By that same token, the women complain about their fat, lazy, insensitive husbands as they swoon over their trimmed, manicured and chest-waxed Hollywood counterparts.
Ever see a commercial with a wife and husband shopping together? Yeah, we always play the idiot.
I know plenty of people my age that will never get married because they genuinely believe the false cultural meme that marriage has sadly become. There’s only one problem. It’s completely untrue.
Even more of a problem, those who know it to be untrue often do nothing to correct the lie.
As someone who comes from a family of lifers (along with my wife), I just want to say, flat out…
… Marriage is a really good deal.
Let’s assume for a second that you don’t think of humans as inherently spiritual beings. So let’s remove the fact that married people claim to be happier, more fulfilled, complete and purposeful. Some of you are even thinking,
“Love? Who needs love!”
Okay. Here are a few purely statistical reasons as to why marriage (when done correctly) is conducive to an undeniably better life. Hold onto your butts.
1. You’ll be richer – Yes. Not only do married couples make more, save more, have a higher net worth and qualify for more benefits/financial incentives than lonely, single folk… but your kids will be richer too. Which brings me to my next point
2. Would somebody please think of the children!! – The single biggest indicator of child poverty is whether both original parents are still together. Not only that, but children in married households get better grades, are less disruptive in class and less likely to develop behavioral disorders than children from non-married households. So be married long and prosper. Your kids will too.
3. You’ll have more sex… A LOT MORE SEX – Okay so you may not want kids. You may despise them. I get it. Sticky hands. Let’s say you’re just another selfish, narcissistic bachelor (or bachelorette) who quite frankly, isn’t deserving of the unconditional love you may oh-so-luckily find. You just want the sex. Statistically, not only do married people have more sex, they have better, more satisfying sex. If the two of you should hold off on sex until marriage, those statistics become even more promising. Here’s a perfect example of where Hollywood gets it wrong. In the real world, while Alfie fruitlessly toiled away at picking up harlots from the bar, suffering a mean case of whiskey-wiener, Mr. Cleaver was getting busy on the regular. Them’s the real breaks.
4. You won’t be such a pathetic sloth – Married people are more productive. Married men in particular, have higher employment rates, work longer hours and receive better wages. It’s time to stop wading through puddles of your own filth as you reach for the hotpockets and have a dame whip you into shape. You’re welcome.
5. Don’t die sick, miserable and alone. This would seem to be self-explanatory. Sadly, it’s not. Young people think that being young and single is the “fun and free” time of your life, while marriage is something that can wait for the days when you’re ready to grow fat, boring and settle down. Married people not only live longer lives, they live healthier lives. There are too many factors at play here to even list. From married people statistically maintaining healthier weights, being more active and having lower mortality rates, to married women incurring less severe illnesses, enjoying better cancer survival rates and of course… lower rates of domestic abuse (as opposed to those merely cohabitating). Yes ladies, it’s true, living with an uncommitted, self-absorbed jackass can be hazardous to your health.
All of this to basically say that people need to start being more honest and vocal about the virtues of marriage. Americans need to stop feeding and buying into the lie that we’ve all been fed. Whether you’re young old, male, female, marriage (when done correctly) will make your life, and this country better off. The facts are undeniable. If the facts aren’t enough, maybe this’ll help…
Picture coming home every night to your best friend, your greatest fan, and your number one supporter. She (or he) makes each good day better, and each bad day good again. Every day, you get to live what is essentially a 24/7 sleepover party with the greatest friend you’ve ever had.
… Now add sex and sandwiches.
Get married, like, now.
This post was written by Steve Crowder. For the original post, go to: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/26/man-top-5-reasons-to-grow-up-and-get-married/
BE A MAN.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have noted the pastor who wrote "I give God 10% Why do you get 18%?" on her receipt. She had taken a large group of people to the restaurant and didn't know about the 18% surcharge for large groups. Hence, she was surprised to see that on her bill. The picture (left) went viral and people all over the internet have posted opinions about the incident. A couple of facts should be noted: 1) The pastor did pay the entire bill, and 2) she apologized for her behavior. She regretted doing so, saying "it was a lapse of judgement" on her part. I have seen people respond to this and say that it was rude behavior, that she is hypocritical, that she believes she is entitled because she is a pastor, etc. I have also seen people state that the friend of the server shouldn't have posted it on the internet, the poster should not have gotten fired, the pastor should pay the server's salary until she get another serving job, etc.This viral receipt has caused quite a storm in the public arena, EVERYBODY seems to have an opinion...I think that there is a larger issue here: The misunderstanding of what a tithe is.When my children were younger, my aunt attempted to teach my son about tithing. What she didn't know was that we had already taught him this concept. She laid out 10 dimes and started to tell him that God only wanted one dime the rest were his to keep. My son, who has always been money savvy, said, "God wants all of it! I give Him one to show Him that I love Him." I was beaming. I thought, "yeah, way to go son!!" My Aunt said that he was correct and that he must have already known about tithing. We had an experience earlier in the week where I taught him the concept. I had given him a small bag of french fries. I asked him to let me have one. He said, "No! These are mine!!" I reminded him that I paid for the fries. I was the one who gave them to him. If I hadn't given them to him, he would have nothing. By all rights, those fries belonged to me because I gave them to him to enjoy. Later in the meal, we talked about how I got that money. "God gave me a job so that I would have money to spend on you so you could get fries. So everything I have belongs to God. He can have whatever He wants because He supplied me with everything. Without God, I would have nothing." He was just a young boy, I didn't want to wear him out. So the next day we picked the conversation back up. "Some people believe that you keep most for yourself and just give God a little bit. In our family, we believe that everything belongs to God. I give Him money at church to help pay for His building and other things." He wanted to know what the "other things" were. I told him about electricity, water, the pastor's expenses... at that pointed he interrupted me, "Does that pay for the pastor's daughter to have things?" I said, "yes." He said, "well, if it pays for her, I don't want to give any!" He was joking.... We had reached the end of our conversation about money and God's generosity. I had worn him out. Nevertheless, he caught on to the concept that I was trying to teach him... Just ask my Aunt.How do you view money? Is it yours? Is it God's?BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
1. Play a sport.
It will teach you how to win honorably, lose gracefully, respect authority, work with others, manage your time and stay out of trouble. And maybe even throw or catch. You will also learn personal discipline. 2. You will set the tone for the sexual relationship,
so don't take something away from her that you can't give back. 3. Use careful aim when you pee.
Somebody's got to clean that up, you know. Maybe you should clean it up... 4. Save money
when you're young because you're going to need it someday. 5. In your house
there is a dishwasher, oven, washing machine, iron, vacuum, mop and broom. Now please go use them. 6. Pray
and be a spiritual leader. 7. Don't ever be a bully
and don't ever start a fight, but if some idiot clocks you, please defend yourself. 8. Your knowledge and education
is something that nobody can take away from you.9. Treat women kindly.
Forever is a long time to live alone and it's even longer to live with somebody who hates your guts. 10. Take pride
in your appearance. 11. Be strong
and tender at the same time. 12. A woman can do everything that you can do.
This includes her having a successful career and you changing diapers at 3:00 A.M. Mutual respect is the key to a good relationship. 13. "Yes ma'am" and "yes sir"
still go a long way. 14. The reason that they're called "private parts"
is because they're "private". Please do not scratch them in public. No one wants to see your underwear. 15. Peer pressure is a scary thing
. Be a good leader and others will follow. 16. Bringing her flowers
for no reason is always a good idea. 17. It is better to be kind
than to be right. 18. A sense of humor
goes a long way in the healing process. 19. Please choose your spouse wisely.
She will be the gatekeeper for your parents spending time with their grandchildren. 20. Remember to call your parents
because they might be missing you.
This post is adapted from a post from the Facebook group Parenthood 101 BE HOLY.BE A MAN.