Thursday, December 3, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
According to Business News, American consumers spent an estimated $41 billion on Black Friday in 2008. The average consumer spent $372.57 on retail purchases, a 7.2 percent increase from the year before. What does this piece of information tell us regarding our spending on Black Friday? Simply this: American consumers are becoming more confident shoppers on this day than any other shopping day during the Christmas season, if recent spending trends hold up. And given this confidence, it should be noted that there are dangers associated with spending on mega-retail days such as this. Here are a few, simple spending guidelines that I believe we would be wise to follow:
1) Know before you go.
- Even though Black Friday is considered the day of great deals, it is still necessary to understand the dangers of shopping aimlessly. The aimless shopper is much more vulnerable to the random purchase. These purchases tend to be less expensive per item, yet they end up costing more due to volume. There is not a more deceptive way to spend monies than to aimlessly purchase on Black Friday. The aimless shopper looks at their receipt after the shopping day is over and wonders how in the world they spent so much on all of those unplanned purchases.
- Black Friday presents a lot of "bargain" prices. And when shoppers see bargains, they are less likely to think through the implications of "bargain-based" buying. Bargain-based buying is the buying based on the "deal" and not the need/plan. The dangerous excuse for bargain-based buying is that if you change your mind or if it doesn't really fit, you can take the item back for an exchange/refund. Sometimes this type of buying is actually used as an excuse for shoppers to have a Black Friday carryover shopping day. But returning the bargains for exchange/refund can be costly. The gas to get there. The food court or the restaurant. The additional unintended purchases. The prices go up after Black Friday; therefore, many times the bargain-based purchase loses spending power when refunded. It is better (and typically less expensive) to buy what you intend to keep.
- The danger of not knowing what you intend to buy before you shop is compulsive spending. The retailers are at the consumer's mercy, but they don't want us to know that. From displays to retail shopping music, all is set up to provide a relaxed shopping experience. Avoid the tendencies to wonder away from the game plan. Make a list and stick to it. Some say it isn't as fun. I beg to differ. It is much more fun to stick to items planned for, shop for the best prices on those items, and make it home with some semblance of a budget intact than to carelessly/needlessly spend the Christmas Holiday in financial hardship.
I believe that these tips are helpful for any shopping day; however, extra caution must be used on the day that every consumer seems to be a little bit more willing to open up their pocket books--a 7.2 percent more. Be wise. Have fun. Be careful. God bless.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Are you satisfied with your life today, Christian? Or, has your love for God died alongside the ever weakening remembrance of just how sinful we once were--imprisoned in darkness? If so, maybe we just need a good reminder of the love of God. Maybe we need to remember the condition which imprisoned us with no intention of letting go. Maybe we need to remember the glorious escape that has been provided for us by the love of God expressed in Jesus Christ. A loving Father. An obedient Son. A needy sinner. A prison break. With each hand that was nailed down to the cross, a greater amount of bricks and bars were thrown to the ground by Divine love. With each thorn that pierced His brow, another shackle fell to the ground. And as Jesus breathed His last breath, the work was finished. The means of escape was available. The love of God was demonstrated to the sinful, selfish world.
God loves you. May you never forget that. We need Him just as much today as we did the day He set us free. May we never forget that.
Remember the Glorious Escape and the love of God that set us free!
Friday, May 29, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
I can recall singing the song in children's Church when I was young:
I may never
march in the Infantry,
ride in the Calvary,
shoot the Artillery.
I may never fly ore' the enemy,
but I'm in the Lord's army!
As we go through the years, the Christian life can seem, at times, more like survival instead of victorious living, can't it? The longer we live, the more hardships we face--and the results can be quite detrimental if we forget what we are. We are soldiers. Paul David Tripp acknowledges, "Scripture presents spiritual warfare not as the violent, bizarre end of the Christian life, but as what the Christian life is!" The Christian life isn't supposed to be easy. Through trials and perseverance, we prove ourselves to be good soldiers of Christ Jesus our Lord. Our general. Our commander. Our king.
A soldier is trained to do two main things. The first is to keep orders. The soldier must listen to the commands. Equipped with the Word of God (the sword of the Spirit) we battle through the mire of temptation and darkness while keeping our orders. Scripture contains the marching orders and is our greatest weapon.
A willing heart. A willing body. A willing mind. Determination. Fortitude. This is the mark of a good solider.
The second is to carry out the mission--even in the face of resistance. Jesus taught His first fighters that, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) The same is true for His soldiers today. We will have troubles. We will face hostile spiritual battles. We do have an enemy that desires to see our mission fail. There is a dark resistance. But, we can take heart. We can take heart because we know that our Lord has already won the victory. We are not fighting a loosing battle! Though he may be determined, Satan will soon know his end.
Today, no matter where you are on the battlefield of life, take heart. The statistics show us that America is now a post-Christian nation with the things of God slowly degenerating like a slow spreading Alzheimer's disease. But, though the church slumber, and though the darkness grin with evil intent, there will always stand a remnant of redeemed who are willing to fight as good soldiers and the Gospel of Christ Jesus will always prevail.
Jesus has conquered the enemy. There is nothing that this world can present that the redeemed in Christ cannot triumphantly, ultimately overcome through His power working within us.
We are in the Lord's eternally victorious army.
So, be encouraged. Continue marching forward as a good soldier in Christ Jesus!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
It seems a bit awkward when you read it for the first time. In fact, Job 31:1 seems to be completely out of place. In the middle of turmoil, suffering, and personal loss, Job includes this important, yet seemingly out-of-place statement. The first time I read this verse I remember thinking, "Where in the world did that come from?" A covenant with my eyes? Look lustfully at a girl?
Monday, March 9, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:9a)
Today, and for the first time, I am embarking on a journey outside of the continental United States. My lovely bride and I are celebrating our 5th anniversary (although it was technically Sept. 27th) by taking a trip to the Bahamas. Currently, I am sitting in the Ft. Lauderdale, FL airport waiting to board our flight to Nassau. Moments ago, we walked off of the plane and into a crowded airport that was noticeably different from the previous gates we had just recently left in Atlanta, GA. If this difference could be summed up in word one, it would have to be "diversity." Cultural. Socioeconomic. Racial. I find myself studying each passer-by with intrigue. Where is this man from? What is his story? From Jamaican to Caucasian. From Spanish to Indian. Everywhere in between can be found here. And in an instant, my south-Alabama, bible-belt culture seems distant. It seems confined to the airport I left just a few hours ago.
Due to time restraints (and limited internet connectivity), I need to be brief and to the point today (did someone just shout Amen?). Oftentimes, we tend to develop a self-defined, personally confined understanding of the Kingdom of God. Too often, we cannot even see beyond our own church walls and into the surrounding communities outside of our own. Yet, God sees all of us--the whole world. The Kingdom of God extends to all peoples. To all nations. To all tribes. To all peoples and languages. God's redeeming purpose for humanity is not confined to our particular cultural context. Plainly put, I have brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world. It is a wonderful, powerful truth. God's love and salvation extend to the WORLD!
If we are to understand the Great Commission as Jesus commanded, we must be able to see beyond our limited context. Our compassion must reach beyond the stagnant grounds we trod in our every day lives.
Sometimes, I guess it helps to have a few minutes of quiet observation in a Ft. Lauderdale airport. Perspective is often a powerful thing.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
We know that you and you alone are sovereign; that you rule over all, and that you alone are able to keep and defend us. We know that our times are in your hands, and that "the king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord" [Proverbs 21:1]. Our confidence is in you and in you alone. We come before you as a people who acknowledge our constant need for your provision, wisdom, and protection.
Father, we pray today for Barack Obama as he takes office as President of the United States. We pray that you will show the glory of your name in our times and in these days, confounding the wisdom of the wise, thwarting the plans of the arrogant, and vindicating those who do justice and practice righteousness.
Father, we pray with thanksgiving for the gift of government and the grace of civic order. Thank you for giving us rulers and for knowing our need for laws and ordered life together. Thank you for this nation and the blessings we know as its citizens. Thank you for freedoms unprecedented in human history. We understand that these freedoms come with unprecedented opportunities.
Lord, we pray with thanksgiving for the joy and celebration reflected on millions of faces who never expected to look to the President of the United States and see a person who looks like themselves.
Father, protect this president, we pray. We pray that you will surround this president and his family, along with all our leaders, with your protection and sustenance. May he be protected from evil acts and evil intentions, and may his family be protected from all evil and harm.
We pray that the Obama family will be drawn together as they move into the White House, and that they will know great joy in their family life. We are thankful for the example Barack and Michelle Obama have set as parents. Father, protect those precious girls in every way -- including the protection of their hearts as they see their father often criticized and as he is away from them on business of state. May their years in the White House bring them all even closer together.
Father, we pray for the safety and security of this nation, even as our new president settles into his role as Commander in Chief. We know that you and you alone can be our defense. We do not place our trust in horses or chariots, and we pray that you will give this president wisdom as he fulfills this vital responsibility.
Father, grant him wisdom in every dimension of his vast responsibility. Grant him wisdom to deal with a global financial crisis and with the swirling complex of vexing problems and challenges at home and abroad. May he inspire this nation to a higher vision for our common life together, to a higher standard of justice, righteousness, unity, and the tasks of citizenship.
Father, we pray that you will change this president's heart and mind on issues of urgent concern. We are so thankful for his gifts and talents, for his intellect and power of influence.
Father, may this new president see that human dignity is undermined when human embryos are destroyed in the name of medical progress, and may he see marriage as an institution that is vital to the very survival of civilization. May he protect all that is right and good. Father, change his heart where it must be changed, and give him resolve where his heart is right before you.
Father, when we face hard days ahead -- when we find ourselves required by conscience to oppose this president within the bounds of our roles as citizens -- may we be granted your guidance to do so with a proper spirit, with a proper demeanor, and with persuasive arguments. May we learn anew how to confront without demonizing, and to oppose without abandoning hope.
Father, we are aware that our future is in your hands, and we are fully aware that you and you alone will judge the nations. Much responsibility is now invested in President Barack Obama, and much will be required. May we, as Christian citizens, also fulfill what you would require of us. Even as we pray for you to protect this president and change his heart, we also pray that your church will be protected and that you will conform our hearts to your perfect will.
Father, we pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, the ever-reigning once and future King, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He and he alone can save, and his kingdom is forever. Above all, may your great name be praised. Amen.