The Bible tells us to plan for the unexpected.   The Bible admonishes us NOT to presume upon tomorrow. James speaks to the challenges of business with these words:

James 4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

Notice that James reminds us that “we do not know” what will happen tomorrow.   We need to respond to that reality in our budgeting and planning.   We need to make sure we buy a house with a payment that leaves room of margin. Room for the unexpected. We need a 6 month emergency fund in case we lose a job or face a serious medical condition.   We need to make plans with the counsel of others.   How many of us would have avoided a financial challenge if we had a friend challenge us by saying, “I don’t think you should buy such a large car or house?”    We need to seek the “Lord’s Will” on how we spend.  Ask God how much we want to give away before we build our budget.   After we decide to give away a specific percentage and save a certain percentage, Then we can see what our budget for a new purchase really allows for.

Joplin and other tornado hit cities remind us that tragedy can strike at any time. Are we prepared?  It may be flooding.  It could be tornadoes.  It might be bad luck.   Either way, prepare.  Have some extra food around the house.  Keep some money at your home in case you can’t get to an ATM.  With all the gold commercials dancing on every news show, it might be worth investing in some gold and silver as a long term investment and hedge against the Federal Reserves non stop printing press.   So here are some ideas.

Costco (and others) sell a one month supply of food for less than $100.   The piece of mind of having one month of food seems worth a one hundred dollar insurance policy.

Over the years, several friends of mine who invest in gold have recommended  They sell gold and silver bullion as well as silver and gold eagles.   They ship directly to you and have one of the smallest mark ups from the “spot” price of the day.  You can get the daily price of gold and silver there as well.

As long as our country and the world’s banks continue to use “unjust” weights to devalue our currency, smart people will at least prepare for the possibility of inflation.   The reality of surprise environmental hazards suggest that having some food, water, and money on hand might be a safe bet.

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Last week it was reports that 8 of 10 college graduates will come home to live with mom and dad.  Summer unemployment for teenagers and summer workers was up to 25%.

How do we help prepare our kids for the new reality of the work force?

1. Start Job Experience Early

My son began his first job as referee for soccer this year.  He is both increasing the practical experience on the resume, plus learning how to make money, listen to those in authority, and manage his money.   My daughter began volunteering this summer in a field she hopes to get a job in, in the next few years.  Experience is more important than ever.   Employers are not convinced of the so-called recovery.  I spoke with a small business owner last week who said, “I don’t care what they say, I don’t see a recovery out there.

This small business owner shared with me that his company has learned to work more efficiently with less overhead. They’ve coped with the new reality with less people, more efficient processes, and new strategies.  He told me that even if the recovery was real, his company wouldn’t be hiring because they found ways to work better with less.

This reality is the creative destruction that is capitalism coping with the creative destruction of market forces and government bureaucratic “helping” of the economy.  As Republicans and Democrats inflate our currency, enslave us to debt, and borrow from other nations, it’s the “regular Joe’s” who feel the pain.

This week brings more data to support my friend’s gut instinct that “all is not well” on the economic Horizon.

Job experience early is a must. Start with volunteering and fill the resume with productive work experience with your kids.

2. Teach Children How to Work Hard and Give Generously

The job market is tough. With so many resumes per job, we need our children’s work ethic and excellence to rise to the top.  The days of “do you have a college degree? Great, We’ll hire you” are a distant memory.   Companies are looking for productivity.  “How can you make this company more productive?” is the question bosses’ are asking.     Teach your children how to be productive and “speak” in the language of productivity.  Teach them how to sell their unique skills and work ethic to ensure an employer that it will improve the bottom line in the company.

Teach your kids to give generously early.  I have three jars set out for my kids.  They earn money for jobs, allowance, and chores. They put 10% in a jar of tithe. 10% in a jar for saving. And  then are allowed to spend the other 80%.   Find creative ways to teach giving to your children. Here is a clip of a technique I used.

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History records that 2000 years ago Jesus came to earth and claimed to be God, undercover. He came and dwelt among us.  He watched and examined mankind.  He was horrified to see how the love, message, and grace of God had been distorted. The religious community of his day had distorted His character, His message, and the whole way to connect with God.  So he began to go around talking to anyone who would listen about the incredible and powerful truth about God. His goal was to Uncover What Had Gone Wrong, But More Importantly to UNCOVER Who God is.

One of the fundamental problems Jesus stumbled upon -over and over- was the belief that Relating to God is Like a Paycheck.   He discovered that the Paycheck Mentality had taken over. The religious system of the day taught that if you are good enough… If you follow the rules… If you try to be a good person by doing your best and living wholesome lives, you will get a nice paycheck from God: His blessing.

His ticket to heaven was one hard day’s work away. If you don’t follow the rules and the guidelines, you end up having your pay docked. They taught that you would lose His favor and God. They taught that God would reward you with a big fat “You’re Fired” pink slip at the end of your life.

The Paycheck Mentality is alive and well today.  The problem with this belief is that it made (and makes) religious people incredibly arrogant, proud, and judgmental -thinking that they had “earned more than others.”  It made them presumptuous thinking they could “demand of God” what “they deserved.” It created a constant sense of fear in daily living, wondering if you had done enough.

If you had clocked in often enough, perhaps you could earn favor with God.    And to those who weren’t church goers,  they felt constantly shunned, fearful of God’s wrath, rejection, and being disowned.


So Jesus Uncovered A PAYCHECK Mindset that left His people both proud, distant from God, and thinking God is a boss to negotiate with.  So into this Jesus decides to tell a story. His goal was to Uncover this PAYCHECK MIndset that was going on and to Reveal a MERCY Mindset that could change their hearts.

In Order to Uncover How We Approach God, we must contrast the Paycheck Mentality from the Mercy Mentality.

I. Uncover the “Paycheck Mentality”

1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’8 “So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ 9 And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 11 And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”

So, what is  going on here?  Maybe you like me, are as upset at the landowner -as the laborers are. They worked harder, therefore, they should be paid more, right? This seems so unfair… And yet, the landowner seems justified in saying, “You agreed to a denairus, why are you complaining?”   What is Jesus trying to teach us? What is he trying to Uncover about God? There is a tension here between fairness and justice between the employer and the employee… Jesus is trying to uncover something about This Paycheck Mentality.

Jesus tells this story right after two of his disciples approach him and said, “Can we sit at your right hand and left when we all get to heaven?  After all we gave up a lot for you. They said, ““See, we have left all that we had and followed You. Therefore what shall we have? Can we have the “big seats”  it was then that Jesus launched into this story.  And in this story, he was teaching them about “HOW TO APPROACH GOD.”   Every time Jesus told them a story, someone represented God, and someone represented the wrong religious way to approach God, and someone represented the correct way to approach God. Jesus wanted to Uncover the right way to approach God

The Paycheck Mentality:  The first laborers approached God using the “paycheck mentality.”:  They said, God we will do “x” amount of work. If you pay us “y” for it.  Right. So they worked all day, thinking they had received a great deal. Their whole approach was one of works—and payment: Effort vs Reward.   But what happened?  At the end of the day, when they “got what they deserved,” they were angry. They complained against the landowner.   They said, “Why is this?”  The boss’s answer was this: When you approach God with the paycheck mentality, you will be very disappointed, both in this life and the next.  So, what do I mean when I say this? If you have lived a basically “good life” and done basically some “good things” then I promise you that you will struggle with frustration at God more than your younger brother or sister who has been more of the rebel. When bad things happen to you, you get angry at God… You say hey “We had a deal! I live a moral life… you keep bad things from happening to me. Right!?   You find yourself complaining a lot. Trying to use God as a paycheck  a dispensor to make him do what you “deserve”.  And often we take that mindset into our marriages and our families. We work hard and expect a “paycheck from our spouse… our kids.” And when they don’t give us what we deserve.. we get angry, ane end up in self-pity, etc.

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The New Math of Marriage:  1 + 1 = 1. The Bible teaches that when one man and one woman deepen their relationship -according to God’s blueprint- the result is oneness.

And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27

The Bible tells us that when God created mankind, His divine distinction is that He created MALE & FEMALE.  He made them in His image.   Now this implies that men and women reflect different aspects of His image. Genesis presents mankind at the apex of the creative process like a diamond in its setting.  And the sparkle coming from the diamond is the reflection of His image.  Man and woman are distinguished from the rest of creation in that we reflect the image of God. To say it another way: We are from TWO WORLDS, but made to reflect ONE Creator.  This ONENESS is the purpose of marriage. This Oneness is the goal of our relationship.

Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

The goal of marriage is to Pursue ONENESS. To be “joined to his wife” and to become “ONE FLESH.”   And they were both naked… which means much more than “they have no clothes…”  It meant that they were “open, uncovered, unashamed, and not hidden” from one another. They didn’t have to hide their differences, be ashamed of their uniqueness, didn’t have the frustration or feeling that the other was trying to change them causing them to hide their distinctiveness.  They were Open on Three Levels:  BODY, SOUL, and SPIRIT.  This is important, because we need to understand THE IDEAL for Oneness is God Himself…


The Bible describes God’s character as both Plural and Singular.  This is oneness. It is the unity of diversity. It is the harmony of variety. It the the unique vision the Bible tells of the god who is three in one. He is multi-faced, multi-dimensional, and yet completely together, unified, and complete. Notice the plural in Genesis 1:26.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

In fact, the first  verse of the Bible struggles with the limitation of our language and understanding to express to us what this 3 in 1, singular meets plural looks like when it says.

Genesis 1:1 In the Beginning GOD (Elohiym), which is a plural noun Created (singular).

As many of you know who took Latin, French, Spanish…  the verb and the noun need to agree in a sentence. A plural noun like “THEY” needs a plural verb like “ARE”  You would say, THEY ARE… You wouldn’t put a plural noun with a singular verb… “THEY IS”  But that is exactly what the Hebrew writers have done here.  THEY (Elohiynm) IS (Singular). The multi-dimensional God Is.  He created and fashioned intentionally and, specifically, men and women in His character. Like He is 3 in 1, they will be 3 in 1, but Act as One.

That may seem a bit heady, let me get practical for a moment. What does it mean to be made in His image?  We also are 3 in 1.   We are made in His image with 3 parts:  a spirit, a soul, and a body.

1 Thess 5:23  Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Why is this important? Well…because a husband and wife can’t get on the same page… or Move Toward Oneness…and see the unique way their two worlds unite unless they have a picture of who they are and who God is.   I want to give you the goal of oneness. Look at this photo.

If you and I are made in three parts, and our spouse is in three parts, then the ONENESS of a marriage will be created as we learn to come together in three areas:  Oneness of Body, Oneness of our Soul (friendship/companionship), and Oneness of Spirit.   All three of these aspects are critical and all three must be pursued.  One of the real practical struggles of marriage is that often we aren’t both pursuing the same Blueprint for ONENESS.   We will feel more “in love” and “at one” as we prioritize all three aspects of our marriage.    The Bible calls this Oneness or “knowing” another person at all levels.

I was sharing this principle a few years ago and a wife came up to me after the service and said, “I get what you are saying. My husband is always talking about the ‘Body’ aspect of Oneness and wanting to be intimate with me sexually.  I am always chasing the ‘soulish’ or  ‘best friend’ aspect of our closeness.”  She said, “I  told him last week, ‘Can’t we just grow older together, be good friends, and not make the whole physical  intimacy such a big deal?’ ”  I asked her, “How did he take that suggestion?”  She laughed and said, “He told me he wants MORE than a best friend…”  And what she was discovering is that she and her husband were emphasizing or de-emphaszing different aspects of their ONENESS.  She wants MORE than just body oneness: the “Soulish” Oneness of friendship.  He wants MORE “Body” oneness, but wasn’t prioritizing the soulish or spirit Oneness.

When one of you downplay just one area of this oneness, you are missing out on your hardwired blueprint. Saying, “Body Oneness is not important” is like saying 1/3 of how we were designed is not important. This will not work, and it will not “go well” with your spouse.  And vice versa, saying whether this is denying physical needs or taking the attitude that we don’t need to talk about our lives and have common interests and goals, both are equally problematic because you are saying to your spouse 1/3 of how we are designed shouldn’t be a big deal.  But ONENESS IS ABOUT connecting on ALL THREE LEVELS!   And God made us unique, because usually in marriage, one of us is emphasizing one aspect of ONENESS, and the other is emphasizing the other.  Instead of convincing the other they are wrong, we need to pursue ONENESS on all three levels saying, “We want to be LOVERS, FRIENDS, and SOUL MATES!” Embracing our unique worlds rather than trying to change them.

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