Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm feeling like Santa!

I'm feeling like giving something away. It is the season for that, you know? So, first three people to respond to this blog and leave a comment will get a copy of this book for free!

So you want to own the home you love, make memories on wonderful vacations with family or friends, finance college educations, and help others too?

You can—starting here and now.

With lively humor, proven know-how, and practical principles for financial health, Living Rich for Less helps you stretch your dollars to realize the lifestyle of your dreams. Ellie Kay’s entertaining and enlightening examples show you simple steps to save, spend, and give smart, and her three main principles are undergirded by dozens of effective rules and hundreds of Cha-Ching Factor™ tips that keep or put money in your pocket.

Ellie knows what it’s like to be financially-strapped or struggling, wanting to be the Joneses but feeling as poor in spirit as in pocketbook. She went, within two and a half years, from being a new wife and mom with $40,000 in consumer debt and seven children (and college educations) to support, to being completely debt-free and within fifteen years able to pay cash for eleven different cars, give away three of those cars, buy two five-bedroom houses (moving from one to the other) and nicely furnish each, take wonderful vacations, dress her family in fine fashion; and support more than thirty non-profit organizations in more than a dozen different countries, giving away more than $100,000.

Isn’t that the kind of transformation to a rich life that you want?

Living Rich for Less helps anyone get there in our taxed-out, maxed-out times. Because financial security doesn’t mean just genuine prosperity, but being able to live luxuriously, give generously, and care for yourself as well as the others around you.
Don't forget to leave a comment for a free book. I'll be off next week celebrating Christmas with family.
Hope you all have a great Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fav Christmas Album

What is your favorite Christmas album(s)? I grew up listening to the Oak Ridge Boys Christmas tape (that’s right, a heavy plastic cassette tape). Dad always cranked it up on the way to grandmas. That was a classic album our whole family loved! All us kids, for the most part all grown up now, still like listening to it.

Another favorite Christmas album of mine is the Squirrel Nut Zippers Christmas album (called Christmas Caravan). If you haven’t ever heard of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, you are missing out on one of the most creative bands around. Their style? 1930’s style swing and jazz, I call it hot jazz. Their Christmas album became an instant classic the moment I laid ears on it. I still have some convincing to do with my wife on how great this one is, she’s stuck on the name being too weird, but I think she secretly likes it.

So, besides listening to a band that makes people scrunch up their face and say, “Squirrel Nut what?!?”, I’ve been chewing my way through Scot McKnight’s book on the mother of Jesus; The Real Mary. So far it has been a great book! Fairly short and an easy read too. It does a good job of revealing that Mary was a real person, like us, who struggled a bit (understatement) with her Son’s identity and mission. We are doing a special study on Mary in our Sunday School class the week before Christmas and this book has been an excellent preparation guide and provided plenty of fodder to keep the fire of my curiosity burning.

So, to close with my opening, what is your favorite Christmas album?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Advent of my life

Well, four and a half years of youth ministry is behind me now. Youth ministry was an incredible learning experience for me and I’ll miss it and the wonderful people I built relationships with. However, like Christians looking forward to what’s to come during this Advent season, I’m looking forward to what’s to come as I transition into the direction I believe God has been nudging me. I have officially transitioned into a new area of ministry at my church, discipleship and sr. adult ministries. It probably sounds funny to some of my youth pastor friends that I’m moving from one end of the age spectrum to the other (I jokingly tell people I have a fountain of youth group now!), but it’s exactly what I have been wanting to do for a little while now.

One of the things I’ve begun to do in discipleship ministries is teaching on conversational prayer. This isn’t something new in that this concept of praying was developed fifty years ago by a woman named Rosalind Rinker, but it is new in that I’ve never heard of it or practiced it until I read her book this past summer. Her book, Prayer: Conversing with God, is an excellent guidebook if you want to pursue conversational prayer. It was even named by Christianity Today as the #1 book that has shaped evangelicals. She bases conversational prayer on Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:20, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.”

Here is a summary of the three stories that led to Rosalind’s discovery of conversational prayer.

Story #1 – 15 years old and has a choice to go to a party or a cottage prayer meeting on a cold snowy night. Chooses the latter and is amazed by everyone praying. She feels she should pray out loud during prayer meeting but is scared to death to do it. She finally does it and feels Jesus’ presence in a special way. This teaches her that when you pray out loud with a group you can feel God’s presence in a special way. She understands Matt 18:20 better now.

Story #2 – Now not afraid to pray in public. Goes to a prayer meeting in China and realizes everyone is making little speeches to God, feels like she has to start her prayers in a special way, use lofty language, to top the person that just prayed. She talks about how easy it was for her to get distracted while someone else was praying. She gets a desire to pray in way that is different and more inclusive.

Story #3 – She is praying with a close friend and realizes while her friend is praying that her prayer has already been answered (praying for peace between a lady and her sister-in-law). So, she interrupts her friend’s prayer and says, “We thank you God for already answering that prayer. This lady has already forgiven her sister-in-law”. They both stop after this and a moment of revelation comes. What if they prayed one or two sentences and then stopped to let the other person add something to the prayer? What if they went back and forth for several minutes talking/praying over the same person and/or situation?

All of this leads her to discover conversational prayer. In a nutshell, here are the basics:

The basics to conversational prayer

1. Bring up one person and/or situation at a time.

2. Each person prays two or three sentences only about the particular person and/or situation. Everybody in the group will go back and forth praying only 2-3 sentences.

3. Only move on to next person and/or situation when you feel at rest, or peace, about the person and/or situation. It helps if you have person in the group act as the leader and when there is several seconds of silence the leader thanks God for hearing their prayers and closes in a final word of prayer. When the leader finishes, another individual in the group brings up another person and/or situation to pray for.

It really was a neat thing to be a part of a group that prayed conversationally. You are all involved and in-tune with one another and God’s Spirit. When you finish praying you feel as if you have really prayed thoroughly for the person. It’s an awesome experience! I think this would work for any age group and is also a great teacher of how to pray. If someone struggles praying aloud or in front of people (which most people do), this helps them overcome that fear and learn to pray. It’s easier to say 2-3 sentences of prayer than to pray for 3-5 minutes. I encourage you to buy the book and practice it!

You will be rewarded.