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God Centered Finances – Ebook

Since experiencing a rock bottom turn to Jesus moment financially, I have sought to better understand what the Bible teaches about money.  I learned the Bible doesn’t address just giving – it also teaches saving and spending wisely.  When I found my family struggling to strike a proper balance between giving, saving, and spending it became apparent to me that the only way to truly get it right is to keep God at the center of every financial decision.  That is the basis for my first ebook:

God Centered Finances: A Balanced Perspective for Biblical Giving, Saving, and Spending.

God Centered Finances

I hope you’ll download a copy, and I hope it encourages your heart and mind to living the blessed life God has for you.

By the way – the Amazon Kindle App is available on all devices and computers for downloading this book.

Recent Reading

Here are some links to some great stuff I’ve read over the past couple of weeks.

  • It Only Grows In Secret
  • – silence about temptation gives sin a place to grow into fruition.

  • Together
  • – creating the bond of friendship, mutual understanding, and warm affection.

  • Covenant or Contract
  • – four ways you could be pushing your marriage towards contract instead of covenant.

  • Why Sarah Went On A 365 Day Spending Fast
  • – this should challenge and inspire everyone’s perspective on spending behavior.

  • Seven Ways To Destroy Your Marriage
  • – don’t fall in to any of these traps.

    Weekend Reading – Marriage and Money Issues

    Here’s some weekend reading to check out.

    Bad Economy? A good time for a steamy affair.  – It is really sad and disgusting the disregard our society has for faithfulness and marriage.

     Is Money Pulling Your Marriage Apart? – “A couple with $10,000 in debt and no savings is twice as likely to divorce as a couple with no debt and $10,000 in savings.”   I believe the statistic but can’t validate it first hand.  However, I can validate the fact that stress is a lot different with savings and no debt.

     10 Most Divorced States (slideshow) – Finances is cited as one of the biggest reasons for divorce in most of the states.  Some states making it too easy to get divorced is also noted.  Interestingly enough couples getting married too young is also noted as a predictor of marriage failure.  I’m proud to see South Carolina is not on the list but is mentioned as a state that makes it difficult for couples to divorce without taking a lot of time to reconsider.

    How To Be A Better Parent In 4 Seconds – More important than money, this one is about one way to be a better parent.  Just read it.  Jon Acuff is one of my favorite bloggers because he is very witty while adding helpful insight.

    Latest Reading – I Was Broke Now I’m Not

    Just read Joe Sangl’s book. I have a note from Joe in my copy along with his autograph, so that makes it valuable – but I’m not selling it. It’s priceless to me because of the information in it.

    I’ve heard Joe teach pretty much everything he has written in the book either in his FLE or in one on one counseling with him. But it was reinvigorating to read it all in the book and make notes of some things I need to re-focus on regarding our finances. In the year and a half that we’ve been following Joe’s methods we have made huge progress toward improving our finances. It is very exciting.

    In case you haven’t read Joe’s book – I HIGHLY recommend it. It is the most simple material to read AND apply that I have ever come across (it took me about 3 hours to read it and I stopped to jot some personal notes in several places). I also highly recommend scheduling one on one counseling with Joe so he can share his insight in to your finances. He is not bossy or judgemental (in fact he’s the exact opposite) but he is inspiring and challenging in sharing his experience and knowledge and using it to offer suggestions that will help your unique situation.

    Now that I’m going on and on about it I’ll go so far as to say that if you haven’t read Joe’s book you are really missing out. And if you think you don’t need to read Joe’s book you are a freakin idiot. There is something for everybody to learn in Joe’s book. I don’t care if you’re wiping with $100 bills – there is still something for you to learn from Joe’s book (like you might get some better ideas of something good you could be doing with your money besides wiping with it).

    Shawna and I just love Joe and Jenn – both as friends and as financial mentors. I can’t say much else about it. 

    Recent Reading

    Some recent learnings from reading Michael Masterson on a daily basis:

    What you want in your career is the confidence that follows accomplishment, not the pride that precedes a fall.

    No matter how good you are at what you do, there’s someone out there who can teach you something.

    Human beings are designed to get better through practice.

    Nothing in nature stays the same. If you are not getting better, you are surely getting worse.

    Humility is a strength you should cultivate.

    Confidence will come to you when you deserve it.

    Avoid boastfulness and pride, because they will slow you down.

    Book – the dip

    Here’s a quickie. Tony Morgan is one of our amazing leaders at NewSpring. Occasionally he does brief book reviews of stuff he reads. I love when he does this because I like to read a lot of the same type material he does but a lot of the info overlaps, so when he bullet points a list of new learnings I basically get Cliffs notes (only it’s Tony’s notes) of the book and don’t have to read the whole thing unless I really really want to. Anyway, he recently finished a book called the dip and here are the Tony’s notes.

    Feeling Ashamed

    In Friday’s post I mentioned how men looking at porn are Feeling Ashamed. There is so much going on in our minds. I’m not a professional by any means (professionals are probably too liberal on this subject anyway) but I think I can describe a small bit of what is going on.

    Feeling ashamed is a combination of conviction and man-struggle. I made that word up so I guess I should explain. I’ll just say it is against our manly nature to look at porn so I’ll call it man-struggle. It isn’t natural for a man to look at porn. It is natural for a man to conquer or win (read Wild at Heart). In terms of sexual nature that means men naturally want to win a woman’s heart which will naturally lead to that sexual fulfillment we naturally desire (I’m using the word natural a lot).

    Those porn women don’t have to be won for men to get sexual fulfillment, so it goes against our nature of wanting a heart to win. Everyone easily recognizes mans nature that sex is important, but we often think emotions aren’t. The truth is sex is important but not without intimate emotions. So getting a chemical high through our eyes or getting a release by masturbating is not completely fulfilling. It isn’t God’s plan so it doesn’t work. We need intimacy or there is still a void.

    The fact of the matter is most of the women in the porn industry have history of abuse or neglect or other issues that factor in to their choice to be involved in porn. Don’t feel sorry for them. A lot of them hate men and do porn just because it makes them feel like they’re defeating men – which they are if we’re pathetic and weak and give in. Some men might try to justify looking at porn and make it ok because it is our “nature”, but it isn’t and they know it. I know – I’ve been down that road – trying to justify it so it doesn’t feel bad. Doesn’t work. It still feels wrong. It ain’t natural to look at porn and spank ugly (my new word for masturbate). What is natural is sexual intimacy (keyword suggesting monogamy in the context of marriage). Ain’t nothing like the real thing baby.

    When men look at porn they’re taking the easy way out – like getting an easy piece so to speak. It’s lazy fulfillment because we don’t have to work for it. Should just go ahead and pay for a hooker. But no real man would be proud of that or fulfilled by it either. We can look at porn in secret and get that false fulfillment, so that’s what we do and just live with the shame.

    If this is striking a nerve with anyone I want you to know you can talk to me. I’ve had some awkward conversations with some close friends and family about porn and mens weaknesses and man-struggles. It’s worth getting through the awkwardness every time. Don’t be ashamed to admit it and talk about it. You’ll feel better getting over that hurdle and starting your battle against sexual impurity.

    Eyes and Heart Adultery

    Before I go on with more posts on porn let me talk about why men look at porn and women typically don’t (although some do). Women typically think men are disgusting because of what I’m about to tell you, or they don’t understand that Christian and non-Christian men all struggle with this same thing.

    I think the reason women don’t understand what the big deal is about how they dress is because they are wired differently and can’t relate to what is really going on when a man is “noticing” them or giving them that attention they want. Women like the attention but when they learn what men are getting out of it they’re usually less than thrilled – unless they have poor intentions of their own. These are my opinions… I’ll say this ladies – He ain’t admiring you for your charming personality. I’ll talk about that in a later post for the women.

    Men are biologically designed to be sexually stimulated and gratified through sight – through their eyes. That means there is a chemical reaction in the brain when they are visually stimulated with sexual images or thoughts. Men are so driven by their desire for sexual fulfillment that they look at anything moving just to see if it might be something they like to see.

    The problem is then they stare and either consciously or subconsciously they are stimulated sexually in their brain and there is a chemical reaction. It is the SAME chemical reaction that takes place when they are REALLY HAVING SEX. So female nudity on any level (even scantily dressed women) makes a man’s chemicals get all crazy like he’s really having sex. Most men go ahead and masturbate to get the full effect. Yeah – I just said masturbate on my blog again.

    The chemical reaction is what causes men to be so tempted to look at porn or to stare at the short skirt walking by. What men should do is “bounce” their eyes – look away. Don’t stare. Out of sight out of mind is true in this case. Bounce your eyes and you might be able to keep lustful thoughts (conscious or subconscious) out of your mind. It’s best to not ever see anything in the first place but it is almost impossible to watch TV without seeing something you don’t need to. Not to mention anywhere you go there is likely to be at least one woman dressed too provocative. Men – bounce the eyes.

    It can be very difficult to resist the temptation to look and lust, but you’ve gotta do it men. Jesus says in Matthew 5:28 “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Thus the title of this post – Eyes and Heart Adultery. All it takes is a short glance for your subconscious to generate sexual gratification from what you see with your eyes.

    Read Every Man’s Battle. It talks about all the reasons we want to give in. We’re weak, we’re mad, we’re not being fulfilled by our wives…there are lots of excuses. Every Man’s Battle talks you through them. It’s a must read for all men cause you either are struggling or you know someone who is and you can help them. By the way – don’t fool yourself by justifying what you look at and/or telling yourself that you don’t have a problem or that it’s ok sometimes etc etc etc. Quit making excuses and address the problem – your eyes.

    I’m liking this porn talk – it’s making me even stronger and more passionate about my own victory – it’s been over 2 years since I confessed and gave up porn. Thanks for the comments from yesterday. I appreciate the supportive words and hope that anything I write on here will encourage people to address the porn issue head on.

    My History With Porn

    Before I get started I just want to mention that I’ve been organizing my thoughts for a while on how I want to discuss this subject. I’ve been praying for courage to share my story. Yesterday at NewSpring I was reaffirmed by Clayton King’s message (if anything ever happened to Perry I would love to see Clayton lead NewSpring). The message was on Tolerance vs. Truth. I was reaffirmed that what I’m about to do on this blog is very difficult for me but is tough love for some who might read it. It is time for me to be bold and truthful on the subject of porn.

    My story, as I see fit to share it, is going to mess everyone up. I’m calling it My Porn History for a reason. If you only read G-rated material you should probably change the channel. There’s no profanity, but I put in to words what a lot of people are already thinking or wondering or just need to know.

    I think I was about four or five years old the first time I remember seeing something inappropriate (porn). My sister and I were flipping satellite channels on TV (back when a satellite meant you had a NASA dish in your yard) before our parents came home from church – dad was the pastor, a typical one that is last to leave. We stopped on a channel that had a couple making out in the back seat of a car and it showed her shirt coming off. I saw boobs for the first time. I remember it vaguely like it was yesterday. Images are burned on our brains forever you know.

    How does that make you feel dads? Think your boy isn’t noticing stuff?? My boy is four now and TV has gone way downhill in 25 years since I was four. I have to watch out for the Victoria‘s Secret commercial while my son is around so I can change the channel – it’s unbelievable. We can be play fighting or whatever – not even watching TV – and a commercial like that will come on and he will stop in his tracks and be glued to the TV. By the time I look up to notice what he’s looking at there is already a half naked woman in a suggestive pose. So I scurry for the remote to change the channel. What sucks is it’s too late because that image is burned on his brain forever.

    Moving on… I hear parents joke about how kids “play doctor” or “show me yours and I’ll show you mine” kinda crap. I did all that too and looking back I don’t think it was funny – at all. Nobody believes that little boys do get erections – they’re little, but they’re erect. I remember nap time in kindergarten was play time for me and a little girl who had a much older sister (don’t ask me what the teacher was doing or why she didn’t stops us because I have no idea). Let’s just say the older sister had more experience than she needed (or it was an abuse situation) and the little sister had seen it. Not good – messed me up. I couldn’t understand why she wanted to kiss me there. Thank goodness she didn’t really know what she had seen her older sister doing.

    Told you this is not G-rated, almost x-rated more like it. Is my story messing you up yet?

    How about this – I was 12 the first time I saw hardcore porn. It was at a friends house. His mom was a hard working single mother and obviously didn’t know the influences her son was under much less the influence he was having on me. I couldn’t believe what I saw – it seemed so wrong.
    I’m just thankful that kid accepted Christ at my church when we were teenagers and is one of my best friends to this day. Dad’s you think your son is too young to be affected by what he sees? I was 4 when exposed then 12 when violated – by porn.

    It didn’t get any better – I was 13 the first time I had real sex. Clearly it wasn’t her first time (again – probably abused or neglected by her father). I was such a vicitm – yeah right. Just curious and naive because I had seen porn, my body was changing, and my parents probably thought I was innocent. I hadn’t done anything before – well at least not since nap time in kindergarten. I was still young and hadn’t experienced many sensations yet. I had no clue what I was doing, but I did have a condom – they’re easy to get. Anyway, It felt like I was about to pee in my pants – only I wasn’t in my pants – and it wasn’t pee. (ok I could have left that sick part out of it but it clearly illustrates that as a 13 yr old I obviously wasn’t ready for sex.) It happened so fast I couldn’t believe what all the sex-hype was about. I didn’t have sex again for about another year and a half, but something kept drawing me to the porn – a chemical reaction in my brain I guess. More on the chemical reaction in the next post.

    All through my teen years I looked at porn, masturbated, and had sex with multiple girls. My dad knew it and I don’t think he knew how to deal with me about it. For a long time I wondered if he struggled with porn too or if he might have had similar experiences with girls when he was growing up. From an early age a lot of things felt wrong but my dad never really addressed any of it.

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to sound like I’m blaming my dad or the girlfriends or anybody else – like those kids we see on TV blaming their teachers for having sex with them. Those punks aren’t stupid. They know right from wrong. I knew too, but I didn’t know how or really why I should resist wrong and do right in that area of my life. Most men don’t. That’s why I believe books like Every Man’s Battle and Every Young Man’s Battle are so important.

    Even after marriage I continued with porn and masturbation. How’s that for transparency? Guilt overwhelmed me over time (God used Perry’s transparency and convicting words of truth to help me man up) and I confessed to my wife and best friend, begging them to forgive me for my failure. I was so relieved to get that secret sin out of my life but my wife was crushed. A long and painful healing and accountability process followed that I’m sure I will talk more about in future posts. Two books were a huge part of that process – Every Man’s Battle and Every Heart Restored .

    This is my story. Be it better or worse than others’ stories I don’t know. I love hearing pastors or anyone speak out on this subject openly and unafraid but I’ve yet to hear any of them tell their story this detailed. I hope the graphic details of my story strike a broader audience of women, parents, and porn viewers, because this isn’t an issue for only struggling men to be worried about. I definitely feel I’m qualified to write on this subject and however harsh my words sound please know that I’m writing from a broken but forgiven, loving, and passionate perspective. Please stop looking at porn.

    Children and Love Languages

    I’ve finished reading The Five Love Languages for the second time and this is my last post about it except for some personal stories I might tell later on that might reference the 5LL principles.

    Gary Chapman has written more books on the subject that I will probably read at some point, but he at least devotes one chapter of the feature 5LL book to children. This is important to me because my children are getting old enough now that we can start trying to identify what their primary love languages are.

    When children are little you don’t know what their primary love language is so you just pour all five on them, but with a little observation of their behavior we can begin to identify their primary love language rather early. Little things they do can clue you in to what their primary love language is.

    Devin and Skyler are starting to show signs of what theirs are – at least what they are for now. Devin could care less if I hug and kiss him but he seems excited when I spend some time play-fighting or throwing a ball or just letting him ride in “the silver car” (he thinks our silver car is so cool – well it IS cooler than our minivan). I think his primary love language is quality time. Skyler seems to really want hugs and kisses from daddy, which just melts me, but I think she also really likes quality time. She wants me to be Prince Derek (Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princeses) and she is Geneveve (or however you spell it). It might take me a little while longer to pick out her primary love language.

    It is very important to learn how to communicate love to your children in a language they understand. Experts believe that as children grow older they will seek love in inappropriate places if their emotional love tank is empty. In fact they believe that almost all sexual misconduct in adolescents is because they have empty love tanks.

    In case you didn’t catch it the first time – It is very important to learn how to communicate love to your children in a langauge THEY UNDERSTAND. I’m praying now (while my kids are young) that I will learn to communicate love to my children in a way that fills THEIR emotional love tank. We can be the most loving parents in the world with sincere intentions (most parents are loving and sincere) but if we speak the WRONG love language we fail to make our children feel loved.

    Words of Affirmation – When our kids are young we do this very well, “you’re so pretty” (even if they’re ugly they’re pretty to us), “you can do it” as they learn to walk, etc. etc… What happens though is as they get older our words turn to condemnation for failures rather than commending successes. This haunts us into adulthood and many adults have self-esteem issues because of this love language being violated when they were young. (This is a tough one for me with my own children. I have to be careful. My dad was pretty hard on me and sometimes I feel like I’m being even harder on my own kids. My parents didn’t have this book when I was little, so my dad didn’t know. Gary Chapman waited til I was 14 yrs old to write this book, and that’s about when my dad stopped reading and started slaving in the insurance business…anyway…my warped self is another story).

    Quality Time – giving a child undivided attention. Get down on the child’s level and do kid stuff. As they get older and develop new interests you have to change to what their interests are. I was so excited when we signed Devin up for soccer this past fall. Well it turns out Devin either doesn’t like soccer or isn’t ready for it. As much as this pains me because I love soccer, I am going to have to go with the flow of whatever he is in to (which is him beating me up like a superhero on a bad guy most of the time). If quality time is a primary love language of your child you need to fill that need because if you don’t as they get older it will be too late. You’ll realize that it’s important one day only to find out they don’t want your time anymore – they’ve gone and filled that need with their peers (which will be other teens who probably don’t feel loved by their parents either – and what do they do together – inappropriate stuff).

    Receiving Gifts – This one is spoken excessively a lot of the time – especially by grandparents or parents who happen to have money to blow. It’s easy for adults to think that giving toys and other gifts speaks love to their children or grandchildren, but it might not. Younger children will play with the box as much as the toy. But even older children will show you if a gift is important to them by how quickly they put the gift aside, or by how well they take care of it rather than abuse it. My kids are either too young to understand appreciating gifts or it is definitely not high on their love list because they abuse or lose everything I would expect them to cherish. My kids enjoy a trip to the only a dollar store to pick out five things each more than some of the really nice toys they’ve been given. That’s a good reminder that it’s the thought that counts to someone who’s primary love language is gifts. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, you can even make the gift. To someone who truly receives gifts as love they will be thrilled that you thought enough of them to give them anything special.

    Acts of Service – We have to do this one as parents because when our kids are small they would die if we didn’t feed, bathe, dress, etc.. Most kids take stuff for granted even when they get older and the acts of service change to taxi and homework etc. But if your child is always expressing appreciation for these ordinary things that is a clue that acts of service is emotionally important to them. I took for granted when my dad fixed my bike then later my car, and my mom did everything for me. But now I appreciate acts of service more because it’s important to Shawna…

    Physical Touch – This is important for all small children, but the hugging and kissing of a teenager will differ from that of an infant. A teenager might not want you loving on them in front of their peers but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important to them. If physical touch is a primary love language a teenager might do silly stuff like grab your arms or push you. I wasn’t like that with my mom. People used to comment about how I would put my arm around my mom or hug her when ever or where ever. They might have been making fun of me but I didn’t care cause. I took it as a compliment that I loved my mom so much…

    This stuff is important – ok. Observe how your children show love. Listen to what they request of you and what they express the most appreciation for. These things give you clues about what their primary love language is. Remember that every child is different, so don’t make the common mistake of assuming the needs of one child are the same as the other. It’s worth working on this stuff so our kids can have full emotional love tanks and so they will be less likely to have issues when they get older. Well, maybe not MAJOR issues. We all have issues of some sort anyway – it’s inevitable.