Preparing For The Holidays

Preparing for the HolidaysDo you realize that Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away?

It seems to me that the holidays are getting here really early this year.

Of course I have already seen a couple of houses in our neighborhood with Christmas decorations, so Christmas seems to be in a hurry to get here early as well.

This is supposed to be a great time of the year but it can also be a time filled with lots of activity and stress.

With so many things to do and so many places to be, your emotions will be running high. It is at times like this where you can can easily get derailed from your financial plan.

How do we stay grounded and focused? How do we really get to enjoy the holidays without breaking our budget?

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I think the answer is in having the right attitude in our hearts.

With that in mind, let’s prepare for the holidays by focusing on these attitudes over the next few weeks: gratitude, contentment, and generosity.


Think about what and who we have in our lives. Our very next breath is not guaranteed, so every new day is an opportunity to be thankful.

Do we have health and the ability to work? Let’s be thankful. Do we have jobs? Let’s be thankful.

Do we have friends and family who love us? Let’s be thankful. Do we have a roof over our head and food to eat every day? Let’s be thankful.

If gratitude fills your heart, it will be harder for it to be filled with grumbling and bitterness.

in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I Thessalonians 5:18


This is the attitude that says “we have enough“. We are satisfied regardless of our current state of affairs.

This is a great antidote against greed and against thinking that one more present will be just what we need.

We don’t need to overdo it whether it is in celebration or in gifts. If we are honest with ourselves, we already have enough.

But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.
I Timothy 6:6-7

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When we have gratitude and contentment, we can turn our attention from ourselves and focus on others. We can always show generosity.

Now, you may not be in a position to give everyone a nice present.

However, you are always in a position to give the people in your life the gift of your presence and the gift of your service. Make that phone call. Send that Christmas card.

Spend time with that friend or family member you have not seen in a while. Volunteer at church to reach those in need during the holidays.

Generosity does not have to be limited by the balance in our bank account.

“The generous man will be prosperous, And he who waters will himself be watered.”
Proverbs 11:25

7 Reminders for the Holiday Season

Merry Christmas 2013

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It’s almost here. I can sense it can’t be stopped. I see it on streets, on retail establishments everywhere. I see it in some of my neighbors’ houses who have defied our HOA rules and couldn’t wait to turn their decorative lights on.

I see it in some of my Facebook friends proudly declaring that they will listen to the music now just because they can and because they want to do it :-).

Yes, we are not through with Thanksgiving yet and everyone seems ready to jump into the Christmas season.

In one way it’s a good thing. People are ready to celebrate and enjoy the festivities. I know it’s my favorite time of the year. I definitely love the Christmas holiday.

But I want you and me to be very careful so we can truly enjoy the season. We don’t want it to turn into a nightmare of stress and just more things.

And by the way, I am writing this post for myself as much as for anyone else. Here are my 7 Reminders for the Holiday Season:

  1. Spend time with family. They need you and you need them more than you need one more gift.
  2. Get involved. While there are needs around us every day, they seem to be magnified during the holiday season. Find a soup kitchen, a food pantry and donate some of your time. Take time to clean the closet and donate some clothes you no longer need. Bake some cookies and take them to your neighbors or coworkers.
  3. Give. Get involved with the many efforts available to help those in need during this season. Here are three of my favorite ministries:
  4. Stay on budget for Christmas. Make a list, take your time, and use cash. If you don’t have the money, don’t buy it. Don’t go deeper into debt just because it’s Christmas.
  5. Rest. Don’t let the holiday season stress you out so you need a vacation after the Christmas vacation. Take time to pause and do “nothing”. Naps are good for you!
  6. Relax. It’s ok to eat a little more on Thanksgiving. Have a Christmas cookie. Yes, it’s ok to have a Peppermint Mocha @ Starbucks. You can always get back to “normal” in January. Take time to watch a Christmas classic. Here are four of my favorite ones:
  7. Worship. Remember the reason for the season. It’s not more stuff and it’s not you or me. It’s Him. Go to church! You will be glad you did.

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:23

Question: What advice do you have for enjoying the holiday season?

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The Secret of Contentment

Heart Full of Thanksgiving

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Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”
Hebrews 13:5

Are you content? One definition of contentment is “the state of being happy and satisfied”. So do you have it? I am asking myself that very question. The Scripture verse above makes it a commandment for us.

We are now in November and this month brings a great challenge to our contentment. This is the month where in the U.S. we celebrate the great Thanksgiving Holiday.

The idea of course is to take a moment and pause to give thanks for all of God’s blessings. But, like with every holiday, the original purpose can be overshadowed if we are not careful.

We typically gather with family and have a great meal with so many great dishes. The first challenge is being able to say “I have had enough”. Since all the food is usually so good, that’s extremely hard.

However, November has also become the month where on “Black Friday” we kick-off the Christmas holiday season with a mad dash to get “great deals” on all those great gifts we want to give to our friends and family (and of course ourselves :-)).

There is always a temptation for us to want more and more things. So how do you and I resist that temptation?

The Secret

I believe the secret of contentment is a thankful heart. A heart that says: “I shall not want“. A heart that is satisfied with what we already have. When we are thankful, we can resist the urge to have more and more things.

Don’t get me wrong, having things is not bad. I want you to be wildly successful with your finances, but I don’t want any worldly possessions to become the priority for you and me.

So what are you thankful for? My list looks something like this:

  • A loving heavenly Father that knows me and provided the Way for me to know Him. He delivered me from darkness and sin. In Christ, I have joy, peace, love, and the hope of eternal glory.
  • God has blessed me with a beautiful wife who has been my best friend and greatest fan for over 10 years.
  • A family that loves me and cares for me.
  • I also have a very good job that allows me to use my skills and to take care of my family. For over 20 years, my job has given me the opportunity to interact with some great people from all over the world.
  • Finally, I am in very good health. What more could a man ask for?


The Example of Thanksgiving

I do believe you can always have a thankful heart. Let me try to show you with one of my favorite Bible stories (from 2 Kings 7).

In the days of the divided Jewish kingdom, the Northern kingdom of Israel was at war with the Arameans. The people of Israel were under siege and without access to food. They were in desperate need and ready to give in and die.

God’s prophet Elisha had promised deliverance but as usual the people did not believe God. And here is where my heroes for the story come through. There were 4 lepers that were sitting at the city gate in Jerusalem.

These men, already excluded from society because of their condition, decided to take their chances and go to the camp of the Arameans to beg for food and mercy. In their own eyes, they were already dead anyway.

When they arrived at that camp, they realized that God had indeed delivered His people again. During the night He caused the Arameans to flee, leaving all of their provisions behind.

For these four men, their first reaction was a normal one. They looked to take care of their own needs first. They took items and food for themselves and hid them. They did that a couple of times until they realized their mistake.

They realized that they needed to share the good news of deliverance and the provisions with the rest of the people. When they did, it was indeed a time of rejoicing for everyone.

The Lessons of Thanksgiving

What are the thanksgiving lessons from this story?

  • God will always come through and will provide for His people. Even when we lack the faith to believe Him. He is the Great Provider (Gen 22:14).
  • Regardless of your current situation, you can always see God’s hand in your life and be thankful. He is the Good Shepherd (Psalms 23:1).
  • Understanding that you have enough will lead you to share with others who are in need. The result of a thankful heart is a lifestyle of generosity that emulates the Great Giver (2 Corinthians 8:9).

As we go through this Thanksgiving month, we can remember to be thankful every day (I Thessalonians 5:16-18). And since we are thankful and content, we can now turn our attention to others.

Let’s think of someone who needs to share in our blessings. Someone who needs a word of encouragement, a bag of groceries, or a helpful hand to accomplish a task.

They are all around us and they all need good news. Let’s make sure you and I are involved in the process of sharing the many blessings God has given us.

Question: How content are you with what you have today?

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