Category Archives: Family Stuff

Congratulations to My Daughter

Tonight, I will watch my oldest daughter and second child cross the stage to receive her High School diploma.  She is the apple of her daddy’s eye — probably more like me than either she or I would care to admit.  She’s a reader, thinker, brooder.  She can laugh uproariously one moment and be in a dark corner of contemplation the next.  She’s beautiful and generally seems oblivious to it.  She’s conservative — not prone to spending money, wearing expensive “big name” clothes or demanding what is impractical or frivolous.  She sees things that others miss –whether it’s through the eye of her beloved camera or as she considers God.  She’s my baby and I’m so very proud of her.

I love you, Megs!

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Busy Week-end and Info

Several have asked when and where I am preaching this Sunday and there was a schedule change this week.  I’m preaching the 8:30 service at our Dade Campus and the 11:30 service at our Broward Campus.  We had three wonderful Good Friday services at all three campuses of New Testament Baptist Church.  We have a total of thirteen services scheduled for this Three-Day Easter Week-end.  Come join us!

We’ve got a busy week-end planned visiting some family and friends in Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties in addition to the Easter schedule.

If you want to keep up with me and enjoy the occasional 160 character rant via Twitter, you can link with me @DanBurrell.  If you aren’t on Twitter yet, go to www.twitter.com.

He is Risen!

A few odds-n-ends…

I haven’t been able to blog for the last couple of weeks and wanted to check in and let you know that I’m alive and well and to offer some pathetic explanations or two.

This is a beautiful time in South Florida and before all the heat and humidity bears down on us in the next couple of months, I’ve been trying to do some “family things”.  When I p1060126.JPGmade a decision, just under two years ago, to change some things about how I approached ministry, one of the things I determined was that I would spend more time with my children.  In the end, people that demand you sacrifice your children and family time for the ministry won’t be there for you when you need them, so it’s important to keep your priorities in order.

So…we’ve been to the beach, we go to breakfast, I take my kids on “dates”, we visit Florida sites on day trips, Julie and the girls enjoy “girl days” and the boys and I enjoy hanging out as well, we go to fairs, we hold alligators and you know….at the end of the day, I still have plenty of time for ministry, extra work and even watching “24″ on Monday nights.

p1060088.JPGSo….if you notice a little bit of a break in the blog from time to time, just assume I’m spending some time with one of the kids and that we’re walking along a gorgeous Florida beach, or buzzing across the everglades in a airboat or sitting in our backyard with a fishing pole in our hands and watching the parrots fight at our bird feeders.  I’ll be back at the blog soon…just maybe not that day.

For excuse #2, I had a nasty virus or something hit my harddrive and it had to be reformatted, so I lost all my passwords, etc… and it took me a little while to get everything re-book-marked and reconnected.

But all-in-all, life is good and God is gracious.  My fairly new Sunday School class is booming and we’re hitting new record attendances about ever 3-4 weeks.  They are a super group and we have great discussions.  Right now we are studying the Seven Churches of Revelations and you’d be amazed at how our class discussions go all over the place as we look at these churches.

We’re going to take a week and enjoy North Carolina during Spring Break at our lake house in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  We look forward to seeing some friends and I have a little business to conclude in that neck of the woods.  I’m hoping that the dogwoods will be blooming while we are there.

I’m teaching seven courses for Liberty University’s online program right now and loving every minute of it though it means an extra 3-4 hours of work every night when I get home.  I meet some really wonderful students from all over the world through this venue and I often learn as much as they do.

We’re winding up our school year in ministry and as a family.  Megan is graduating in nine weeks and I’m looking forward to being a chaperone on her Senior Trip in a couple of months.  Nathan is getting his certification from Microsoft in a series of classes over the next few months which means he’s having to cut down on his basketball time significantly.  Josh and Katie will be thrilled for summer break to arrive and have been working really hard in school this year.

My “boss” and pastor, Dr. Dino Pedrone, very graciously allows me to preach quite frequently and I appreciate the opportunity to “scratch that itch” from time to time and occasionally filling the pulpit here and speaking in other places for conferences and special events is a helpful “outlet” for me.

I’m hearing from some of you asking about my annual “March Madness Bracket Challenge”.  I’m not going to use the ESPN hosting site this year, but am doing one on my Facebook page instead.  So if you aren’t on Facebook, get with it and get on.  If you are and haven’t received an invite.  Hit my page and join or send me a message and I’ll send you the link.  I’m giving out a copy of “Disciplines of a Godly Man” to the winner this year.

I’m behind by about 200 emails as of today, so I hope this post will let those who think I’ve dropped off the map know that we’re doing well, keeping busy and enjoying life.

I’ve got several things to blog about in the coming days, so keep checking in.  I’ve noted with gratitude that even when I take a break, several thousand of you “check in” each week to see what’s going on.  So, keep doing that and I’ll rattle your thinking from time to time with whatever is on my mind.

More soon…

Surviving an Economic Meltdown – Part 1

Everywhere I go, folks are talking about the global economic crisis that engulfs the planet.  I’m asked virtually every day where I think this is headed, what I’m doing in the midst of it, etc…  I’m certainly no expert on finances and while I’ve experienced some personal fallout due to the current economy and have to make some adjustments in our current lifestyle and future plans, I’m not nearly as bad off as many are who were less prepared or are having to deal with poor financial choices that are no coming home to roost.

What follows is just some “home-spun” thoughts on what I think folks should be doing during a time such as this.  Quite frankly, I think that most of this should be done whether it is the best of times or the worst of times.  Biblical principles of stewardship are always in play and as with every other aspect of my life, a Biblical worldview impacts the counsel I give to folks on financial matters.  For me personally, the extent to which I am personally struggling financially is directly related to the extent I have willfully chosen to ignorethose Biblical principles.  Simply put — Scripture always works and that’s the best place to look for guidance in any crisis.

So here’s “Part 1″ of my counsel on surviving an economic meltdown…

1. Tithe — Always.

I know, I know….people are going to hit me on their thoughts that tithing is an Old Testament practice, etc., etc….  I think I can make a pretty sound case that not only is tithing Biblical in these days, but giving even more than the tithe is the way it should be under grace, but that’s not what I’ll try to do today.

Bottom line is this…if you have enough financial discipline to tithe, you’ll live better on the remaining 90%.  Tithing forces you to set Biblical priorities (just how important IS it to have cable TV, but not give to the Lord’s work).  Tithing forces us to be thoughtful (which is why the tithe check is the first thing that comes from my income — including taxes.)  Tithing acknowledges our dependence on God and requires that we live by faith (there’s no faith or gain in tithing when we have more than enough…it’s when it hurts that God shows Himself able and we trust in Him.)  I’ve never, not one time, in 26+ years of ministry, ever had someone come to me for financial counsel who was in trouble financially because they tithed.  For those who say they can’t afford to give to the Lord’s work and in doing so help others who need help, I say that you can’t afford NOT to tithe.

2. Live below your means.  

You have two ways to get to this point.  Spend less or make more.  It’s very simple.  Too many of us use credit cards, second mortgages and delayed payments to give us permission for buying things that should wait until we have the money for them.  As a result, we may extra in interest, buy things we really didn’t need and develop a pattern of materialism that is neither healthy or Biblical.  If you are routinely carrying a balance on your credit card, spending more than you can take in in a month, are paying your bills late, the time is NOW to cut back on your expenses or find a way to increase your income.  Doing nothing is not an option unless you want a disaster.

3. There is no shame in seconds.

Buying a new house will always cost more than a pre-owned house (you have to put up window treatments, landscape more, add things that are missing, etc…).  A new car loses 10-15 percent of its value as soon as you drive it off the lot.  The best-seller you buy at the Barnes and Nobles store for full-price can be purchased off EBay for as little as a buck and it will take you about 3 extra days to take possession of it.  Consignment shops are filled with decent clothes — some nicer than you might be able to afford if you bought them new.  Garage sales, Craig’s List and Ebay are filled with items from people who are moving, estate sales and people who are down-sizing and you can save LOADS by buying second hand.

4. Practice a Financial Fast

Go six months without buying any new clothes and insist on wearing only what you have.  You won’t die, I promise.   Only shop once a week.  Everytime you go to the store, you are likely to impulse buy stuff you really don’t need.  Decide to drive your car one extra year than you had planned on driving it.  Don’t go out to eat even one time for an entire month.  Pack your lunch, clean out your pantry, be creative — but no eating out.  Don’t spend money on movies and ball games for 3 months — play table games, go to free community activities, watch old movies on TV, read a book, invite friends over.  Not only will you save money during the “fast”, but you’ll find that you’ll be “leaner” and more disciplined about spending in the future.  A family of 4 will routinely spend 40-60 bucks at a movie.  Do that only once a month for a year and you are looking at $500 or more.

5.  Shop with a list.

Strategically plan how you will spend your money when you must go shopping.  Put a rule in place….if it’s not on the list, I will wait for at least one week until I do my shopping again.  This will help develop a personal discipline and strategy for spending and planning and buying that will serve you well in the long-term.  Keep a shopping list on your fridge to assist you all week long, but then stick to it once you head to the store.

I’m out of time for now….but I will continue this list later on this week.  Until then…feel free to add your own ideas in the comment section!

House Rental in Lake Lure, NC

burrells-peaceful-cove-01.jpgSeveral years ago, I received a modest inheritance after the death of my grandfather which made it possible for us to get a family retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in the community of Lake Lure.  This is very much an “old Carolina” community that is charming, small-town, simple and drop-dead gorgeous.  Located next to the stunning Lake Lure, Chimney Rock Park and, near the Biltmore estates, near Asheville and Hendersonville and loads of other great things to see and do, it is in a fantastic setting for resting, relaxing and exploring.

burrells-peaceful-cove-02.jpgOur house is not a “rustic cabin” but a lovely 3 bedroom home fully-equipped with nice furnishings, satellite TV, things for the family to do, nice master suite with a king-sized bed and jacuzzi garden tub and more.  It is perched above beautiful Mirror Lake and is five minutes from Lake Lure, all the resort amenities, two breath-taking golf courses, 3 pools (one indoor), mini golf, a marina, white-water rafting, horse-back riding and more.  Go in the fall and pick apples, hike the Appalachian Trail, visit the site of the place where “Last of the Mohicans” was filmed and more.  Winter offers quiet, year-round golf, a full-spa and even better mountain views.

burrells-peaceful-cove-03.jpgWe used to use this as a regular family retreat location when we lived in Charlotte, but obviously, it’s a bit longer drive now that we are in Miami.  We have placed this house on a nightly and weekly rental plan through Wyndham Resorts.  You can get booking information HERE. (Click on Vacation Rentals and then Click on View our Vacation Home Rentals and then click on “more information” for Burrell’s Paradise Cove).  If you are in full-time vocational ministry as a pastor or missionary, email me at dan@danburrell.com and I can get you a special rate.  It’s a great place to go for a private retreat if you are a pastor and I used it to do long-term planning, studying and writing on a regular basis.

burrells-peaceful-cove-04.jpgIt is less than an hour from the Biltmore Estates, two hours from Charlotte, less than two hours from Greenville and Spartanburg, SC, less than an hour from Hendersonville and about two hours from Pigeon Forge, TN and Dollywood.  Fantastic day trips are in every direction.  It will sleep 7 comfortably and you can use blow-up mattresses (as we have done) and fit even more in comfortably.  Two full baths, a wonderful kitchen and a 2,000 square foot unfinished basement with scooters and ping-pong or a finished loft with TV/Video and fooseball will give you a place to send the kids on rainy days.The house is fully-burrells-peaceful-cove-16.jpgequipped, linen and towel service is provided, a maid cleans after you leave.

So if you are heading to Western North Carolina in 2009, consider this house as an option for your family! Write me if you have any questions.

Merry Christmas 2008 from the Burrells

burrell-family.jpgWe gave up on sending Christmas cards a few years ago and have since resorted to using this blog to update friends and family on the goings and comings of the Burrell gang on an annual basis.  If 2007 was a year of change for us, then 2008 was even more so.  Last year we were Carolinians and this year, we are once again Floridians back in South Florida — even further south than we used to be.

After a lot of prayer and thought, Dan accepted a position serving with Dino Pedrone and the ministries of New Testament Baptist Church in Miami.  He is the Executive Pastor of the three church locations (Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Opalocka) and the Vice President of Dade Christian Schools (Dade Christian, The Master’s Academy and His House Academy).  In addition, he is in charge of establishing a South Florida campus for Davis College which recently installed Dr. Pedrone as President.  Dan started full time on July 1st.

cuba2008-005.jpgThanks to the housing collapse in South Florida, we were able to buy a beautiful house in Pembroke Pines which had previously been owned by latina Christian Contemporary singer, Julissa Arce.  Miraculously, we were able to sell our house on the week we moved from Charlotte and just before the housing market went south there.

the-whole-crew.jpgJune was marked with our first ever cruise as we joined all of Dan’s family for a 5-day cruise through the Caribbean.  We had an absolute blast and are looking forward to our next one.  It’s great to have a family with whom you enjoy spending time and we all made some great memories as we celebrated cousin James’ graduation from high school.

Following the cruise, we rushed back to Charlotte, got everything packed up and headed south.  It was a busy month of unpacking and learning our way around.  Pembroke Pines is a lovely community and we are located halfway between the two primary campuses of the ministry where we serve.  We live on a small lake, have over a dozen green parrots who like to hang out in our trees, are located across the street from our community pool and playground and are within minutes of all kinds of shopping and restaurants.

p1030272.JPGNathan took a break from his studies at Liberty University to get acclimated to South Florida with the family.  He is working in the IT department at the church and school, plays in a praise band and with the church band, works in the youth department and plays a lot of basketball in his spare time.  Next month, he is planning to get his Microsoft Certification before finishing up his college program.

dsc09781.jpgMegan is a senior at Dade Christian High.  She misses her northern friends, but still enjoys her writing and music.  She also has developed quite a skill in photography and has a fairly extensive portfolio she has built.  She is undecided about her plans for the fall and may take a “gap year” to do an internship or some volunteer work before heading back to school.  She is active in the youth group at the Broward campus of our church and helps with the praise team there.

dsc09574.JPGKatie turned twelve this year and attends The Master’s Academy in Ft. Lauderdale.  She has made some

very sweet friends in school and loves going to school every day.  She is our resident Wii expert and can pretty much beat the rest of the family in many of the games.  She loves listening to her music and cooking and is our “domestic goddess” in training.

dsc08718.JPGJosh turned eleven this year and is in 6th grade at The Master’s Academy.  He and dad have a standing weekly breakfast appointment every Saturday and they have very deep conversations about all kinds of topics.  He is still interested in all things military and the History Channel and Discovery Channel are two of his primary resources in learning about his favorite topics.

Julie has been very busy getting everyone settled into their new surroundings and routines.  She is helping Dan with his new Sunday School class and enjoyed a visit in October from some of the ladies in her former Bible study in North Carolina.  She took some of the kids to the lake house for a few weeks this summer and got it ready to put on the nightly rental market.

Dan took two trips to Cuba this year and is very active in the ministry there that has exploded since he first started visiting that nation six years ago.  He has made many very dear friends there and enjoys partnering with them in the work that the Lord has established there.  As the Executive Pastor, he over sees over 350 employees and a budget of over $17 million.  He was appointed to the board of directors for Davis College this year and still serves on the board of Boston Baptist College.  He gave the commencement for BBC at historic Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston.  He serves as an adjunct for BBC each January and also teaches numerous courses for Liberty University.  He also delivered the keynote address for the FACCS Convention in Orlando this fall.

The entire family is looking forward to a few days at the house in Lake Lure over the holidays after a Florida Christmas.  We appreciate the many friends who have kept touch with us during this time of transition in our lives.  We don’t always understand or even anticipate the seasons of change that the Lord orders for our paths, but we trust in His sovereign design and rest in the security that only He can provide.

dsc04856.JPGOur prayer for you this year is that 2009 will find you closer to the Lord than ever before.  We’d love to hear from you — our regular email addresses haven’t changed — Dan’s is WPBDoc@aol.com and Julie’s is RPBJulie@aol.com.

As always, we are Expecting His Best….

Dan, Julie, Nathan, Megan, Katie and Josh

Amendment 2 Battle for Traditional Marriage in Florida

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In the State of Florida, proponents of Gay Marriage are viciously distorting a constitutional amendment which would add the historic state-held position on marriage to the Florida constitution.  All across the country, renegade activist judges are turning over the will of the people forcing them to recognize gay partnerships by classifying them as “marriages” with all the legal, social, cultural and practical benefits and privileges pertaining.

Passage of this bill would simply codify as part of constitution the historical and legal status of traditional marriage between one man and one woman in this state.  It would not impact social security, the ability to visit friends or partners in the hospital, change insurance status or any of the other ridiculous allegations that gay rights extremists are using to elicit sympathy.  It is important to note that while a majority of Floridians support traditional marriage, Florida law requires a super-majority of 60% vote for the passage of a constitutional amendment.  This is a difficult threshold in a state as diverse as ours.  Please copy and paste and email or simply send the link to this blog entry to all of your Florida friends asking them to vote: YES on Amendment 2.

Dan


Below are some facts to consider about Amendment 2:

Amendment 2 does one thing and one thing alone.

It defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, but it does not prohibit the government or private companies from extending benefits to whoever they wish. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that Amendment 2 concerns the “single subject” of marriage and simply takes the existing state marriage law and places it into the constitution having similar effect. Most amendments do something new. Amendment 2 does nothing new but simply protects something longstanding, something precious, and something beautiful.

Amendment 2 allows the people of Florida and not activist judges to decide how marriage is defined.

In Massachusetts and now in California, activist judges have re-written marriage laws and ignored the will of the people by legalizing same sex marriages. There is a national movement to do this all over the country which is why 27 states have passed state constitutional amendment to protect marriage. In the next six months, four of the seven members of the Florida Supreme Court will be replaced by Governor Charlie Crist completely changing the make up of the Florida high Court. What happened in California could easily happen here in Florida over the next year. Amendment 2 protects the definition of marriage from activist judges.

Amendment 2 will not take away any existing rights or benefits from anyone.

Amendment 2 does not take away any rights or benefits from Florida’s domestic partnerships or any other shared living arrangement. Homosexuals already have full contract rights under Florida law and access to estate planning tools just as every other citizen. Amendment 2 does not affect these existing rights.

Amendment 2 protects our children.

Amendment 2 protects our children from being taught in public schools that same-sex marriage is the same as natural marriage. If same sex marriage is legalized in Florida, public schools will be forced to teach your children and grandchildren that homosexual marriages are equal to marriages between a man and a woman. Since homosexual marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, public school teachers are now being forced to teach this very thing. NPR Interview, Massachusetts Schools Weigh Gay Topics, September 13, 2004.

Amendment 2 gives children the best chance for both a mom and a dad.

While we will always have death, divorce and other circumstances that may prevent the ideal, the best arrangement for children is to have both a married mother and a father. Single parents do the best job they can but a vast body of social science research clearly tells us that children are always happier, healthier and better adjusted when raised by a married mother and father.

Whose Job Is It to Talk to Your Kids about Sex?

sex-ed-300×219.jpgJohn McCain’s campaign is exploiting a bill that was supported by Barak Obama that contained a comprehensive sex education mandate that began with some sort of strategy for children as young as five years of age.  We all see this for what it is… yet another opportunity to blow one facet of a situation out of proportion so that they use if for political gain.  Blah, blah, blah…..that’s the name of the game until the election is over.

However, this particular issue DOES raise an important question.  Exactly whose job IS IT to talk to your children about sex?

Several years ago, a national survey was released that found that most parents wanted their kids to learn more than just the “birds and the bees” basics of sex education.  An astounding 80% of those parents surveyed said sexual oritnation, abortion and how to use condoms should be taught.  Nearly that many said such controversial issues should be presented in a “balanced” way that presents different view of society.  (That’s “code” for tolerant and non-judgemental.)

Of course, the real story may well have been the biased way in which the survey was taken.  The survey consisted of fifteen hundred students and parents, plus one thousand sex education teachers and three hundred principals.  (Remember that old saying about “liars figure and figures lie”?  Well some time researchers manipulate the results by determine who gets to swim in their pool at question time.)  It is safe to assume that all of the parents, students, sex education teachers and principals were taken from the public school system.  Having over one-third of the respondents be sex edcuation would obviously skew the findings.  So much for “sound research.”  Of course, that mattered to liberal educators and others who were quick to use this pathetically unsound piece of empirical evidence to promote their argument that kids need more instruction in not just the mechanics and biology of sex, but techniques, values and alternatives.

The students made the claim that 90% of them learned about AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases in sex education classes rather than at home.  But the fundamental question that needs to be asked is being missed.  Whose job is it to teach our children about sex.

As one parent, let me state it clearly and succinctly — MINE.

It is amazing to me that parents sit idly by while the coorupt government school system, which is filled to the brim with liberal sociologists, educational relativists, moral ignorance and which, by statute, is completely void of Christian values, takes over this crucial component of a child’s development and education.

parenting.jpgWhy?  Often because we’re just too uncomfortable talking about sex to have a few frank discussion with our kids as they mature?  If that is the case, then we are in worse shape than we can imagine as a country.  No wonder, liberal politicians and educators have rushed in to fill the void left by timid parents.

Parents should be indignant, if not outraged, at the thought that their children are being taught “more than the birds and the bees” in typical public school classrooms.  In some instances, students are being taught how to properly use condoms utilizing pieces of fruit or anatomically-correct props.  Any more and more school districts, children as young as kindergartners are being taught the basics of human reproduction — not simply, “good touch/bad touch”.  In many districts, children are being subjected to “instruction” (or indoctrination) on every imaginable form of sexual union — normal and deviant — in a way that is considered “non-judgemental”.  Homosexuality is just an alternative lifestyle.  Adultery becomes a consequence of evolution and survival of the fittest.  Premarital sex?  Why, that isn’t even an issue….it’s assumed that “when the right time for you comes”, you’ll just hop right in bed.  Just make sure you have “protection”.

So what’s a Christian parent to do?

Well, first of all, we have a responsibility to iknow what our children are being taught.  Don’t be intimidated by elitist educators who think they know better than you do what you children need.  (I have three degrees in education and I’m well equipped to warn you of the we-know-better-than-parents mentality that permeates the public education system.)  If that means making an apointment with your child’s teacher or the administrator of the school and asking to review the material dealing with human sexuality, then do it!  If you see that it is inconsistent with your values, too graphic, or premature, then request to have your child exempted from the class.  (Once you see the material, it is highly likely that oyu are going to need to consider this option and yes, you are within your rights to keep your child from that class.  Don’t be weak and don’t be intimidated.  Remember, they are YOUR kids, not the government’s.)

But finally, we must do OUR jobs as parents.  We must take the time to have frank conversations about sexuality with our kids.  Yep, it will be awkward and uncomfortable.  No parent enjoys talking to their kids about sex any more than the kids enjoys having their parent talking to them about it.  Everyone simply needs to get over it.

The world is constantly bombarding them with unbiblical messages about sexuality and we must make a counter offensive.  That includes turning off the TV, being very aware of where your child is on the internet, being careful about their companions, screening their music and simply being an aware and connected parent.  Above all, don’t turn over the privilege and responsibility of training your children in this important area to those whose values or agenda run contrary to that of Biblical worldview.

Living Below One’s Means

piggy.jpgWe are in the middle of a month-long emphasis on Biblical stewardship and finances at New Testament Baptist Church in Miami, where I serve as the Executive Pastor.  Some people hate stewardship month — but I don’t.  It doesn’t bother me one whit to talk about money, teach about money, learn about money or listen to someone preach about money.  I’ve heard all the old jokes and criticisms about addressing financial issues in a church, but if it wasn’t so important to God, then maybe He wouldn’t have shared so much about it in the Bible.  It’s JUST money, people.  It doesn’t even belong to us.  You aren’t taking it with you!  It’s just a tool.  Get over it!

Recently, I’ve been looking at my own personal financial goals to make sure that I am adequately planning for the future.  My family is at, what is probably, the appex of financial needs in the timeline of our family.  All four kids are still living at home.  One is in college and another joins him next year.  We do not own our house — the bank does.  We have four drivers in the family.  One of my kids is in braces and two more will soon join her.  You know — it’s just life….and life take money.  God has always been very generous to me as I’ve ministered for Him.   I sometimes feel a little guilty with the blessings we’ve received over the years and the level of comfort we enjoy compared to many others in the ministry.  Having received a family inheritance in my early thirties, being able to spin my public-speaking and writing into a channel for an extra income flow, having the privilege of serving as an adjunct professor and other similar blessings from the Lord has made all the difference in the world for our particular situation.

But as I look at my current financial condition and the chllanges that will stress my personal finances in the future, I”m extremely thankful for a principle that was taught to me by my grandfather and parents.  It was the principle of “living below your means.”

As a pastor, I’ve often been called upon to offer counsel to families who are in tremendous crises personally, spiritual and financially because they have been guilty of living above their means.  Much of the time it was due to silly spending, chasing foolish dreams or wanting too much too soon.  All of the time, it was directly related with a budget that encouraged them to live at or above their income level.  As a result, they rarely had a “buffer” for emergencies — something my mother refers to as her “rainy day fund” and more often, there was a gradual descent into a quagmire of personal and consumer debt that eventually overwhelmed them.

Why is it that so many of us try to live life at the margins?  We overextend our time, our money and our commitments.  We try to have it all and in the process we enjoy very little of what we have.  In our wild-eyed pursuit of trinkets and toys, we leave ourselves no space for pleasure, emergency or error.

Living below your means provides incredible freedom.  The concepts is that you don’t spend everything you have.  My grandfather taught me to take 10% of everything I earn and put it away before I ever can get my hands on it.  So I have always had a payroll deduction system that does just that.  I always have, and I have, a next egg for emergencies and, hopefully, my eventual retirement without having to be a burden on others.  My parents always taught me to give at least the first 10% of my income to the Lord’s work.  Over the years, that 10% has at times risen to as much as 20% and is rarely just 10%.  I’ve enjoyed supporting my local church, helping missionaries, taking part in projects and building campaigns and helping the hurting as I’ve applied this principle.

Living below my means has never really forced me to sacrifice, even when we had an extremely limited income with very high expenses. At times, it meant we sat on used furniture, lived in a smaller house and didn’t eat out very often.  But debt didn’t enslave us and we were just as happy as if we’d been sitting on Ethan Allen chairs in a 20-room house dining on chateau briand and caviar every night….maybe happier.

Scripture tells us that a foolish man does not consider th e cost of his house before he builds it.  We would all be wise to consider the principle of living below one’s means in order to learn from the discipline, to be free from materialism and debt and to prepare fo the future benefits of Biblical stewardship.

I hope that someday in the future, we will be in a position to give even more of our resources to the Lord’s work.  Of course, I want to leave something for my children when my wife and I head for heaven, but I also want to continue making an investment in what I spent my early life doing even when I’m in heaven.  Living below my means is essential to having the freedom to give today and the hope of taking advantage of the opportunities tomorrow.

For a great little read on this and other financial principles, read Randy Alcorn’s, “The Treasure Principle” which you can find HERE.

My Relative Speaks at the RNC

I was moved to hear Cindy McCain share her testimony of adoption during her speach at the Republican National Convention last night.  She told the story of two Pakistani girls that she had brought home — Nikki and Bridget.  Cindy and John McCain adopted Bridget and raised her.  Wes Gullette and his wife adopted Nikki who suffered from severe malnutrition.  Wes was asked to share the story of their daughter’s adoption at the RNC.

Wes’s great aunt was my Great Grandmother — Lola Walker Amick Brewer Weldon.  Grandma Weldon died in 1995 at the age of 98..  The story of these adoptions is a moving tribute and I thought some of you might want to see it.

You can see the story by clicking HERE.