Q: How Many “F”‘s in ‘Life’? A: 5

I’ve ordered my five fundamental F’s in my daily order that I attend to them, and noticed that it makes them alphabetical and easy to remember. Score!

Faith

The first thing I do every (weekday) morning is get into the Word. Sometimes this is not easy, especially in winter in the dark, and of course the enemy will try anything to stop you so that you find yourself tempted to just press that “snooze” button a few times. It takes just a little push to get past that, but the rewards are immense. I get up early so that I can concentrate and meditate before the children get up looking for breakfast, P E kit, lunch money. This two hour session sets me on my path for the day. I read the Word, pray, confess the Word and sip coffee watching Godly TV.

Family

After a couple of hours in the Word, I am Much more able to greet my 3 boys in a positive, encouraging, patient and loving way.  They tend to wake in a good mood and we have a happy breakfast before they all get off to school. I walk my little one to school, and I thank God  for everyday I have that I can give him a loving little kiss on the forehead before he gets to the “Mom, get off,not in front of my friends” stage. Back home I get straight onto the washing, cleaning, tidying the garden… Looking after my nest.

Finances

I check my finances daily. I went through a horrible stage of thinking I was entitled to my every whim and I paid the price in a mass of consumer debt for stuff that didn’t bring me the happiness or satisfaction the advertising man had promised! What astonishes me now is that I would make the same mistake over and over and over and still not learn my lesson. It took years to fight my way back out of the pit of debt. It is a hard slog paying off debt, but it is truly amazing what you can achieve with very little cash as you do it. I might not be completely debt free now, but my head is well above water and I have learned to handle my cash responsibly. And now if I run out of cash I just make do until I get some more!

I am fanatical about business and I truly believe that a business founded soundly on Christian biblical principles can not fail to succeed. This is because any business based on helping others to solve their problems and which is grown organically (i.e. without borrowing to finance growth), has no seeds of failure in it.

Fitness

Once the chores are done I head most days for the gym. If I get there early it is quieter, I am still fresh and awake and I make the most of it. If I have time I can also follow a workout with a relaxing hot tub session.

If I can I also work a walk into the day. This is a good time to meditate, pray and or pray in the spirit. Filling your lungs with oxygen inevitably increases the oxygen to your brain and aids clear thinking and de-stressing. This is a great time to literally walk with the Lord.

Fun

The rest of the day is filled with blogging, writing, speaking, working with others, growing things, people, organisations and businesses.

After school is break-time for me and the kids. A session in the family hot tub is a great time for family communication. Cooking the daily family meal together is another chance to bond. Plus I want to know my boys will all be equipped to feed themselves and their own families when the time comes.

The evening is wind-down time. Light reading. Godly TV. A family film….

Thank you prayers and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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Happy Father’s Day

To my Father in Heaven…

To my father on earth…

To my brother who is an amazing father…

To my little boy’s father…

To every Dad who makes time to father…

Bless you

More Jorge and Alex here

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You’ve Changed!

“You’ve changed!”  Spewed out with venom on a popular TV soap or daytime talk show.

When did changing become so despised by the world?

It’s a problem for Christians, if we allow it to be a problem. Its a popular tool of the enemy at the moment, getting your family and / or your friends to shout this in your face.  How dare we change? We aren’t people pleasers anyway are we? No its okay, we’re pleasing God.

“Thanks” I say.

Last week my son told me I’d changed over the past year. “You’re nicer now Mom” I nearly cried. Thank you Lord, its your work, not mine.

It made me take stock. Over the past year or so I’ve stopped smoking, I hardly drink any more, I shop much less and have got my finances under control. I have new patience and so now I have my temper under control. But its the peace, oh the peace of the Lord that’s the biggest change. Thank you Lord, thank you for the peace.

When you think about it, the world has an awful lot invested in us not changing. Advertisers encourage us to carry on like out of control teenagers well into our adult lives, drinking, smoking,being selfish, worrying about the latest fashions, being irresponsible with family finances. That’s madness at any stage of life but as a grown up? We set ourselves sane goals of having a nice home, a loving family and then we set about doing everything we can think of that will stop us achieving those goals. Wasting money, wasting time, putting our focus on an ex who treated us like rubbish in our teens instead of lavishing our attention on our spouse. Watching Two and Half Men on tv, then wondering why our sons have no respect for women. How things have changed since The Waltons.

We scratch our heads when our finances are a mess. We cry out “what went wrong?” when our relationships fail. Maybe we should have changed when a spouse or a child tried to talk to us about our faults. Maybe we should have changed when the boss mentioned our late starts. Maybe we should have changed when the bank sent that first letter.

I’ve changed, and I’m changing, and I’m going to keep changing too and I thank God for it!

If you’ve changed too, congratulations, good on you. Let’s pray we keep on changing too, under God’s direction.

But if someone’s trying to talk to you about change, in a positive way, maybe you should stop ask yourself whether the Lord is maybe using this person to truly help you onto a better, happier path?

You can change, Woo Hoo!

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The Mega Ministry Mega Preacher Debate

I’ve been a Christian for quite a while now and I must confess to being very confused by the mega minister issue.

What have some Christians’ got against living well in this world?

Well if there is one thing I have learned it’s to check it out with the Book.

Matthew 7 has a lot to teach us about how to regard these worldwide preachers and teachers.

Firstly:

Judge not, that ye be not judged Matthew 7:1

That’s pretty clear. So why are some Christians attacking these teachers and preachers? Why are they the focus of investigations by the media and even government?

ABC, in 2007, in a piece of seriously biased reporting called ‘Fleecing the Flock‘  went on a rampage against some mega preachers purely on the basis that they have nice homes and planes. And all the networks seem to love to attack mega preachers for having nice lives. But why on earth shouldn’t they? Their job is to go to many nations and preach the gospel and be an example to people, so that people will actually want to get saved! If Joyce Meyer preached in old rags and lived in a shack I can fairly confidently say I wouldn’t have thought she had anything much to teach me that would do me any good, and I wouldnt have been saved.

I believe the Lord values the saving of even a single soul well above the $100,000,000 or so annual turnover of Joyce Meyer’s ministry.

So, if people choose to freely support ministries, and in turn become less sinful and turn their broken lives into healed ones, surely the government should be celebrating the tax-savings they accrue in not having to support social services, health care etc. for millions of deadbeat, smoking, drinking, drug-taking tax-wasters who instead have been convicted by the Lord of their wasted lives, and transformed into model citizens?

How is freely giving a few dollars to a mega minister more concerning than giving a few dollars to a mega corporation that sells you carbonated water, colour and sugar in a tin can for a truly unholy mark-up? How is it worse than giving a major corporation hundreds of dollars for the right to use some infinitely replicable computer code called software? Or a giant corporation some dollars for some other digital code called music or game, delivered electronically? We can happily waste billions upon billions of dollars on rubbish that rots our bodies and our minds, but not financially support a gifted minister in their teaching?

That is warped.

Is it maybe because if everyone were saved, and living the good life, investors would lose a lot of money? Hmmmmmmm. Well the holy spirit has certainly done a job on my personal spending habits in the last year or so. I no longer smoke, don’t drink much, have lost my shopping habit (doh, it was just a habit!).

Back to Matthew 7 and our Lord:

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matthew 7:11

So these preachers, having learned this scripture, applied it to their lives, transformed their lives and freely share the fundamental truth with others, um, how could that be bad?

15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

 16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

 17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

 18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Matthew 15-18

So I would think that there are two ways of testing mega preachers against this scripture. What fruits do they gather for the kingdom? Well millions come to Christ through them via personal appearances and television/radio/new media, and they touch lives in the developed and underdeveloped world. And if they can do that more quickly and efficiently by private jet, if that helps them to get enough rest and spend time with their family, I am not in the least surprised the Lord would furnish them with such a tool. And if you are surprised, I would be concerned for you that you are faith deficient beloved.

What fruits do they bring in their own lives? Decent homes, cars, families. Good examples of what is possible with Christ.

And what does the bible tell us to do with regard to travelling missionaries and teachers?

For these [traveling missionaries] have gone out for the Name’s sake (for His sake) and are accepting nothing from the Gentiles (the heathen, the non-Israelites).

8So we ourselves ought to support such people [to welcome and provide for them], in order that we may be fellow workers in the Truth (the whole Gospel) and cooperate with its teachers. 3 John 1:7-8

I cannot account in any way for the outrageously hard time these people get from the media, both within and without the church, without reference to the work of the enemy: Envy.

Oh ye of little faith. What does it matter, so long as souls are saved?

Paul said:”... The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”  Philippians 1:18

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Yet ye have not, because ye ask not

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. James 4:2

Christians are often masters at quoting half scriptures. We quote the second half of this one because we want life to give us everything on a plate, for the asking. But of course we also know how boring life would be if we didn’t have to grow or learn or study or work to have things. How unfulfilling. We see worldly lottery winners who try to fill themselves up by buying things. And like all other addictions and distractions the tactic doesnt work and too often we see they end up broke and broken and empty again a few years later, selling their story to a tabloid newspaper.

So what is this verse from James telling us? Well certainly its reinforcing the basic message ‘turn away from sin’. And it is also telling us that we do not have to fight and battle our way into our provision. We ask God for provision through prayer, we go to the throne in the name of Jesus and we ask our heavenly Father to supply our needs.

I came across this verse in John 9:31 this morning:

God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will John 9:31

 

So now we see that we have to turn away from sin, that is repent, obey and ask. And have faith.

So when you have done all this, the Lord will answer your prayers and petitions. I am convinced this is the case because I’ve experienced it, praise God.

But I’ve learned one more essential little thing that may also help.

There is already much provision for you in the world that the Lord has already made and pride stops us from accessing it.

The Lord rarely acts by floating cash directly down from heaven into your open hand, nor heals via thunderbolts. Jesus didn’t chase people around to heal or prosper them! But if they asked their petition was granted. Generally speaking you need to ask in a worldly way too. Let me explain better by example. Say you are suffering in mortgage arrears and are worrying about losing your home. Are you seeing the provision the Lord has made for you? Are you asking you mortgage company for help? They may well have a plan to help you, like lower repayments for a period til you get on your feet.The Lord will direct you where to go for help if you ask Him.

Another example may be illness. I know a person who constantly suffers with aches, pains and illnesses. I ask what the doctor says and he hasn’t been. I tell him about healing services we have in my church and he won’t come. I share my testimony on healing and they write it off as coincidence. They are missing all the worldly signposts to their healing!

I read this news article on poverty this morning, and I’ll admit to shedding a tear or two over it. But what came to mind is I hope and pray these families know there is help out there for them in the Christian community. I pray they know about Freecycle for clothing and for meeting needs (more here). If ever there was is simple beautiful example of “ask and receive” its Freecycle. You simple offer good things you have to give and ask for things you need. Free. A truly blessed use of technology, all you need is not to have pride and just ask.

Get active about your receiving.

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My Cup Runneth Over

When I first became saved it was release from poverty, well my perceived poverty, and stability that I craved. I vaguely remembered, knowing virtually nada about the bible, that there was a bit about your cup running over. I set out to find it as one of my first forays into the wonderful world of the Word. And I found psalm 23.

Now many many months of fairly intense biblical study and I now believe that this psalm is even more amazing than I first thought. It has only 6 verses, so is easy to memorise, but what is astounding is that, to me, it encompasses an aide memoir to the whole message of the Bible.

Lets study it verse by verse and hopefully you’ll see what I mean:

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Whenever the enemy tries to shake my faith in my Father’s provision I shout this verse out loud at him , and I mean it. This verse clearly states that the Lord is our supply. The Lord. Not man, not nature, not technology, not government. The Lord. Until you get this deep into your psyche you will not be ready to receive the Lord’s many blessings.

2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Now that you know from verse 1 that the Lord is your supply, verse 2 adds that He is good, his will for you is good.. He will not lead you astray but will lead you straight into your provision. And lead you to the still waters. Often in the Bible water represents the Word, so He will lead you to His Word.

3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

The Lord is your supply, He leads you only to good things and He restores your soul. He restores it through grace and mercy and His grace is refreshed daily. He can restore your life, your relationships, your business, anything you thought was lost or stolen from you –  our God can and will restore if it is rightfully yours. He will help you to walk a righteous path, He does not expect you to do it from your own strength, but He is there with you. Like a shepherd He is with you looking out for you and keeping you going in the right direction by the right path.

4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

What is our role then in all of these blessings? Not to fear our circumstances, but to always be mindful that we walk with our Lord. We should not fear evil because through the cross we have authority over evil. He overcame death for us. And to obey his direction. His rod and his staff are not for punishment, but to correct us always back onto the righteous path that is already there for us. We cannot see the big picture but He can, He can light our steps, we just have to follow His guidance through direction of the Holy Spirit. We can see that these old testament verses clearly foretell of salvation through Jesus Christ.

5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

This verse tells us about the magnificent blessings of the Lord that are our birthright, even in the face of worldly persecution. We will be envied in this life for our heaven sent blessings, but our enemies will not prevail. We are anointed ones, Christians, our cups cannot contain the blessings poured for us by our heavenly Father.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

We can receive God’s mercy, through grace. He has overcome death for us and we will abide in the Kingdom forever. Everlasting joy. Astounding.

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Ye of Little Faith

God has greater blessings in store for you! He has favor in your future like you’ve never imagined. He wants to take you places that you’ve never dreamed. But in order for us to partake of all these blessings, we have to increase our capacity to receive.

Think about this: if you have a one-gallon bucket, and someone has fifty gallons to give you, the problem is not with the supply.”

I’ve pinched this thought from Joel Osteen’s Daily “Today’s Word” email which he kindly sends.

These are always worth reading, but this message today really hit home. The problem is with the receiving.  To receive we just need to believe but we find it so difficult because we have been conditioned by the world not believe in the blessings of God. We lose our blessings through lack of faith

Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Matthew 16:8

 

The enemy can only work in our thoughts to the extent that we allow.

As I am working towards a new business to commence in the autumn, doing the groundwork and the research, I am following the guidance of the Holy Spirit at each stage. I notice things are falling into place in astounding ways and yet I still get little niggles of “What if it all fails?” now and again. Now I KNOW that is the voice of the enemy being negative, I KNOW he doesn’t want me to succeed in this new venture and I KNOW that I am walking with the Lord in the work I am planning. The Lord is my business partner and that together we cannot ever fail.

The only possible way this new Godly enterprise might fail to prosper is if I lose my faith in my Partner. And so the enemy starts with those little whispers of doubt. He brings on temptation to sin, which would stand between me and my Holy Partner.

Cast those thoughts out and KNOW in your heart that your bucket is much bigger than ever, and getting bigger every day!

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The Hundredfold Return: A Testimony

Many years ago I needed to buy a house. My budget was £28,000 (yes THAT many years ago!). At the time house prices in our area were going crazy. I found a house I really liked on the market for £29,500. It was perfect. Near my office, as in close enough to walk. Good heating. Good sized rooms. Close enough to our town to walk. Near to shopping. Bus stop outside should I ever find myself carless.

I offered my £28k. No dice. I sharpened my pencil and did the sums that would absolutely stretch me to £29,000. No again BUT should I go to the full asking price I had a deal. So I did what most young adults would do in my position. Yes I phoned Mom and Dad. Yes they would lend me the £500 I was short. Yipee. I made my offer the following morning, in person. As I was leaving the agents office I noticed a man from the next office going in, said Hi.

About half past 9 my office phone rang. My colleague had offered £30k, gone over the asking price. I was beaten. I decided it wouldn’t do anyone any good to get into a bidding war so I mentally let my perfect house go.

At lunchtime my friend and I decided to take a walk to a local shop to buy a sandwich and stretch our legs. I paid for my food with a five pound  note, but the girl behind the counter gave me the change of tenner. Straight away I handed her the extra five pounds back, explaining the mistake.

“What did you do that for, they never would have known?” my friend was incredulous at my stupidity. “I’ll be repaid that £5, 100 times over” I answered cheerfully. At the time I wasn’t even a believer, but I must have heard about the 100 fold return somehow along the way. Plus, I was  raised to do the right thing whenever the opportunity arose.

We wandered back to work, within an hour the phone went, the agent again.

“Erm, this is unusual but, um… the vendors have decided to accept your offer of the asking price and turn down the higher offer.” The agent seemed bemused but continued “Apparently you were very nice when you viewed the house and spent time talking with their kids… anyway seems they just want you to have it”

My £500 problem had disappeared! Over the next year that house increased in value by £10,000, a third. A fantastic return on that £5, which was never mine anyway!

Oh the colleague? He asked me out that afternoon, he’d heard I was very nice. We got married. We had two beautiful and clever daughters.

Do the right thing every time – its so worth it!

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7 Fundamental Principles of Doing Business the Christian Way

1. Trusting

But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is todayDeuteronomy 8:18

The enemy doesn’t want you to succeed and he knows the only way he can stop you is by attacking your faith in the promises of God. It will look sometimes as though there is no way your business can survive, but there is a way. Push through. Pray. Listen to the Holy Spirit as He guides your steps. Be obedient and trust.

2. Giving

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35

The whole point of getting wealth is to give it away. It can do you no good whatsoever as wealth. It cannot buy you security. Your very house could be taken away, in theory (think Zimbabwe farm owner). Inflation could erode it. Its not coming to heaven with you. Do you really want your legacy to your children to be idle wealth or productiveness? So as it comes in give to the poor as much as you can. Yes its a publicity opportunity but that is a bonus sometimes its never why we give.

3. Stewardship

“His master replied, ‘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!’ Matthew 25:21

“Oh, but I am no one’s servant, I’m self employed” I hear you say. But you still have stewardship responsibilities. Your employees’ wages, corporation or other taxes, your have to account for every penny earned and spent and it is a solemn responsibility. Doing a few black market cash jobs may seem like its not hurting anyone but it is stealing from your fellow tax payers and your business will not thrive in this sin. Your sin allows the enemy a door into your business. Keep your business as sin free as your body, your marriage and thrive.

4. Integrity

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicityProverbs 11:3

Joyce Meyer is of course rich source of advice but one bit I’ve really latched onto is whatever the date is, read the proverb of that number. Proverbs is brilliant and clear and this verse is no different. Be guided by the Holy Spirit in every business decision. The answer to every dilemma is in the heart of the believer.

5. Use

You don’t have to be a Christian to know that sitting on stock will kill your business. As will holding onto unproductive employees. Two pieces of advice from running successful businesses I would pass onto everyone are:

a) the best time to fire someone is the very moment it first crosses your mind (subject to labour law procedures etc)

b) if its not selling or helping to sell something else get rid of it!. Clearance sales, ebay it, give it away – anything! Turn assets that aren’t earning their keep into cash and put that cash into something useful and/or saleable. If it means admitting a mistake and swallowing your pride, good! Take a big gulp, you’re growing!

Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

   26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Matthew 25:24-27

The parable of the talents was a mystery to me for years til I understood the law of use. Our Lord tells us that not using our talents is a sin.

6. Borrowing and lending

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

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wickedLuke 6.35

So the bible is pretty clear. Don’t borrow unless you want to be in bondage. Bondage is the territory of the devil. And loan, yes by all means, but view your loans as gifts.

7. Treating People Well

It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his householdMatthew 10:25

Being the head of the house is like being the head of the business. Everyone looks up to you and follows your example. Be the best. Be the best supplier, be a great customer.

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Why Do We Find It So Hard To Receive?

Instead of your shame 
   you will receive a double portion, 
and instead of disgrace 
   you will rejoice in your inheritance. 
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, 
   and everlasting joy will be yours.

 For I, the LORD, love justice; 
   I hate robbery and wrongdoing. 
In my faithfulness I will reward my people 
   and make an everlasting covenant with them. Isaiah 61:6-8

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. Mark 10:15

Our Western society has a lot to answer for! In many ways of course it is responsible for so much progress and prosperity and we would not ever want to be ungrateful for that! But somewhere along the line we started having a really hard time receiving the promises of God. We seem so wrapped up in earning that receiving seems almost indecent these days. The word “earn” is used only five times in the whole bible. “Receive” is used over and over and over.

I was brought up in a family where earning was everything. Pocket money had to be earned, privileges earned. Everything good needed to be earned. In many ways I’m glad I was raised that way – not afraid of hard work. But have we made the rod for our own backs? We grew up with hearing “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”, “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is too good to be true”, “You don’t get anything for nothing in this world”.

Then we are born again and hear the good news of salvation and all the free gifts which are ours by grace – unearned gifts from our heavenly Father and is it any wonder we have trouble just believing that we receive? Is it any wonder faith, simple faith, is so hard for us?

The flipside of course is that we begrudge anyone else receiving unless they “deserve” to. Is it any wonder that we struggle just to give freely and without judging the recipients of our gifts? What should motivate our giving? Need. Just need and a whisper in our hearts from the Holy Spirit.

We need to practice our giving and receiving with grace over and over and over until it becomes second nature. The place to start of course is with giving. But don’t let feelings of doubt, unworthiness or lack of faith stand in the way of receiving either!

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