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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

The beginning of a New Year is a great opportunity to seize the reigns of your family’s finances and develop a vision for your financial future.

King Solomon writes in Proverbs, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18) This quote is exceedingly true regarding our finances.  Without a vision for managing our money, we quickly find ourselves out of control and overwhelmed by debt.

Financial peace in your home can be found through setting goals, establishing a plan, and following through.

SETTING GOALS

What do you want to do with your money this year?  Do you want to be less in debt at the end of 2012 than you are now?  Would you like to be able to take a stress-free trip with your family this summer?  Would you like to begin tithing to your church?

Each year, between Christmas and the New Year, I pull out a piece of paper and begin to dream about how I will manage our money in the New Year.  I start with how much I want to give (15%), and then I look at how much I would like to save (10%).  I also consider the various ways I want to save (IRA, cash, car fund, vacation fund, emergency fund, and other investments).  After I have considered my giving and saving goals, I begin to look at the other areas of my finances.  I consider my current bills and then set goals for managing my car and home loans.

My first financial questions always deal with what I want to accomplish.

ESTABLISHING A PLAN

How are you going to achieve your financial goals this year?

Goals are useless if they do not lead us to action, and the action of financial goals is called a budget.  Through a budget, I consider the resources available to me (my paycheck) in light of the needs around me (my expenses).

I begin my plan by listing the essentials, the things I will not compromise in my finances.  I will not compromise my tithe.  I will not compromise feeding my family and providing a home for them.  From the essentials, I begin to prioritize my way through my other expenses, needs, and desires.  I ask myself questions such as: How much do we need for groceries each month?  What should be our limit on eating out?  What is the average of my electric, gas, and phone bill each month?  What are the areas where I can decrease my spending this year?

FOLLOWING THROUGH

How do I stick with the plan this year?

Even the best plan is of no value if I do not follow through with it.  Two essential keys to accomplishing your plan are training and motivation.

We must all aspire to be life-long learners, and we must recognize there is more we can learn about managing our finances.  There are countless tips, tricks, and methods that have helped families maintain their monthly budget.  If you are going to accomplish more with your finances this year than you did last year, you may need to learn more about managing money than you knew last year.

We must also work to maintain our motivation.  Months of financial discipline can be undone by one season of unwise decision making.  Husbands and wives must be working together toward common financial goals, and they must also help one another stay on track.  Motivation is also encouraged through friendships.  Sharing your financial plans with trusted friends and inviting them to pray with you and check up on your progress is a tremendous tool for sticking with a financial plan.

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What do you remember about Christmas?  No doubt, there are certain gifts or events that stick out as highlights, but the ingrained memories are found in the rhythms Christmas brings to our homes.

In our fast-paced, ever changing, highly disposable culture, we are finding fewer opportunities to establish family traditions.  Christmas, however, stands as an anchor, rich in heritage and overflowing with possibilities for every home to establish their unique pattern of memories.

Christmas traditions allow us to maintain a proper perspective on the meaning of this precious season, even in the madness of our holiday shopping and schedules.  Christmas traditions allow us to slow down and take a reflective pause, before we clutter our floors with ripped-up wrapping paper and empty boxes.  Christmas traditions allow you to give your children more than a gift each year, but a memory–a memory they, in turn, can pass on to their children.  Christmas traditions give your home a heritage.

It will be up to your family to determine which traditions you establish in your home, but I recommend you not neglect two basic essentials.  I encourage you to ensure that your Christmas traditions are designed to honor the gifts that are given at Christmas time.  First, honor the gift of Jesus every Christmas morning.  Before a single present is unwrapped, allow time for the Bible to be opened.  Read and remember the nativity story each Christmas morning.  Second, honor the gifts given to one another every Christmas.  Encourage your children to slow down, only allow one gift at a time to be opened, make sure appreciation is expressed to the giver of each gift, and do not allow anyone’s generosity to be lost in the mountains of wrapping paper accumulating in your living room.

The Christmas traditions of the von Atzigen house include:

  • We always wake up in our own home on Christmas morning.  We will travel all throughout the holidays, but Christmas morning is uninterrupted and undistracted.  It is our family moment.
  • Not a creature stirs before 7:00 a.m.  This builds anticipation and allows mom and dad to recover from their late night of “some assembly required.”  Too many Christmas mornings get lost in early unwrappings and the ensuing crabby sleepiness.  And the thundering of the herd as they break into our room at 7:00 has become a beautiful Christmas morning sound, as well!
  • The Christmas story comes before the gifts.  We circle up as a family to read the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20).  We follow the Christmas story by receiving Communion together.  We use a slice of bread and sparkling apple cider for our Christmas Communion elements, and we always drink from the finest stemware we have in the house.  We follow Communion with a chocolate mint as we remember Psalm 34:8 and “taste and see that the Lord is good!”
  • Finally, we make our way to the stockings and the gifts.  Mommy directs traffic as gifts are opened.  We make certain the giver of each gift is recognized and gifts are opened one at a time, as we pause with each present to celebrate the groovy things each person has received.

There are many more traditions you can establish, many more ways of making Christmas morning a worshipful experience.  I pray that your home will find a way to give more than great gifts this year — but, to establish great memories for a lifetime.

What about your family?  I would love to hear some of the special traditions you have established in your home to make the most of the beauty of Christmas.

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In the 25th chapter of the book of Matthew, Jesus tells an intriguing story.  He introduces us to two servants who are each given a certain amount of talents by their master.  They each invest the money wisely and double what was given to them.

There is also a third servant in the story, a man who received one talent.  This man took his talent and buried it in the ground.  Listen to the words of the third servant:

“I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground.”

Those are painful words.  Those are convicting words.

As a servant of Jesus, I pray those words will not be my declaration before my Lord.  As a pastor, it is my sincere prayer those words will not be your declaration before our Lord.

My friends, God has made a deposit into your life, a good deposit.  And He is looking for a return on His investment.  He has a right to expect you to bear good fruit.

Have the circumstances of your life caused you to bury the talent Jesus has given you?  “I was afraid…I was too busy…I was hurt…I was offended…I was (insert excuse hear)…and went out and hid my talent in the ground.”

Don’t you think it’s time to break out your shovel, dig up those talents, and invest them in the Kingdom of God?

 

 

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A recap of the stages of marriage from last night’s Sweetheart Banquet.  It is important to know where you are at, but, more importantly, to know how to move forward.

The Honeymoon Stage:

  • A sweet time of enjoying being together
  • Easy to focus on what is good about the other person
  • Endorphins are released in the brain during this stage that create a feeling of being “high on love;” these endorphins last around 3 years from the onset of a new relationship
  • Very important to be honest during this stage and establish good communication skills

The “What Was I Thinking?” Stage:

  • Reality and disillusionment set in as we realize our spouse is not the perfect specimen we had convinced ourselves they were in the honeymoon stage
  • Other person’s negative habits and behavior patterns become uncomfortably clear
  • Very important to learn about problem solving, conflict management, and better communication during this stage

The Challenge Stage:

  • Life crises factor into this stage, causing the relationship to have to grow in order to accommodate hardships
  • One temptation during this stage is for one or both of the spouses to reflect back on past relationships with other people (often ones that remained shallow and untested), creating unrest and sometimes unfaithfulness
  • Very important to focus on improving the relationship and keeping open communication during this stage, as well as focusing on the good points of the relationship

The Crossroads Stage:

  • This stage comes at a point in the spouses’ lives where they are each asking themselves, “What do I do at this stage of my life?” and the answer to that question must involve the family unit as a whole
  • A big temptation during this stage is to try to force the other person to be different, instead of working to change your self
  • Very important to stay emotionally engaged with your spouse during this stage and to resist withdrawing

The Rebirth Stage:

  • The art of compromise has been learned by this stage, making conflicts last for short amounts of time and without intense emotional backlash
  • People who reach this stage are willing to give each other the benefit of the doubt
  • Couples learn to re-appreciate and re-love each other at this stage, making time together sweet

Marriage Links

 

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Yep!  It really is “National Marriage Week!”  Bet you didn’t even know that one existed!  But, the week of February 7-14 is set aside in our nation to invest in the fundamental building block of healthy families—good marriages.

Although there’s plenty of research that shows marriage does indeed help people become healthy, wealthy, and wise (see http://www.nationalmarriageweekusa.org/Marriage-Provides-Better-Health.htm for the statistics), by far the best case to be made for marriage is that it was God’s idea.  His ideas are quite unlike mine.  While I might have a good idea every so often (my wife says usually 1 out of 3), ALL of His ideas are good.  Every single one.  He never misses.  And if marriage was dreamed up in the heart of God, you can rest assured that it not only CAN work, but can work BEAUTIFULLY.

This week, I encourage you to check out the following resources to invest in your own marriage.  If you’re not married yourself, then pray for the marriages of the people in your life and consider sharing the info with them.  We need healthy marriages in our church family and in our city.  Let’s do what it takes to see them built!

Marriage Links

Podcast

“What Snuck In Through the Garden Door,” Pastor Eric’s message from February 2nd, will be available online soon!

On the Radar

Emmanuel Fellowship is now in TWO SERVICES. Our Sunday morning worship times are 9:00 and 11:00.  A pre-school nursery only is available during the 9:00 service, and full children’s ministry is offered in the 11:00 service.

Night of Worship – After being postponed last week due to weather, we’re starting Family Foundations month off with a bang this Wednesday, February 9th, with an object lesson, fun activities, and of course, food!  Parents, make sure you’re ready to party with your kids this week and come join us.

Sermon Series – Each Sunday, during the month of February, we will be looking at different aspects of healthy Family Foundations.  From marriage to parenting to grandparenting, there’s something for everyone.

Valentine’s Couple Dessert – We’re going to have an evening to remember at the church this Sunday, February 13th, at 7 pm.  Join us as we learn how to “Keep the Sweet in Sweethearts.”  Tickets are $5 per couple and are on sale now in the church foyer!  Childcare will be provided.

Youth Led Service – Our youth are going to get in on the action by blessing us with leading every aspect of our Sunday morning services on Sunday, February 20th.  You won’t want to miss this special time.

Kingdom Principles for Raising Children Seminar – All parents are invited to attend our parenting seminar, Sunday, February 27 at 6 pm and Monday, February 28 at 7 pm. Session 1 will cover how to discipline effectively and speak your child’s love language.  Session 2 will cover how to impart Godly principles into your child’s life.

Family Connection

Check out these resources to connect with our ministry to children and youth.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Blessed Be The Name” by Matt Redmand
  2. “Mighty to Save” by Chris Tomlin and Matt Redmand
  3. “Fire Fall Down” by Hillsong

(This song is our theme song for the month as we pray for God to come and fix the broken places in our families.  Take a listen to it.)

Sunday Preview

Join us next Sunday as we continue our Family Foundations Series!

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Here is love, vast as the ocean
Lovingkindness as the flood
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom
Shed for us His precious blood
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days

These beautiful words were penned over a hundred years ago during the amazing Welsh revival that saw over a hundred thousand people give their hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ in one year’s time.  What a tremendous move of God that must have been in a nation as small as Wales!  In fact, it would be hard to believe, except that Scripture gives account of 3,000 people coming to belief in Jesus Christ during the world’s first “outdoor evangelistic meeting” led by none other than the Apostle Peter.  It is always God’s fervent desire for spiritual blinders to fall away and for the lost to find a home in Him.

On the mount of crucifixion
Fountains opened deep and wide
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast a gracious tide
Grace and love, like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love

I encourage you to take a listen to this beautiful hymn.  As you do, present the names of those in your life that need to know this amazing truth—the floodgates of God’s mercy are flowing just for them.

You can read the story of the Welsh revival HERE

Podcast

Did you miss yesterday’s message?  Do you need to hear it one more time?  You can find Pastor Mindy’s message, “God’s Covenant Love for Families” on the church web site.  Click the sermon title to listen.

Links

If Pastor Mindy’s message made you want to position your family to cooperate with what God is doing in you, you may want to get a hold of the book Relentless Generational Blessings, by Arthur Burk.

As promised in yesterday’s message, here are a few ideas for you husbands (and maybe a few wives!) who need some help knowing what to get your spouse for Valentine’s Day!

  • The old stand-by (Flowers)
  • Try buying a marriage resource like a book or video and promising to go through it with your honey.  You can find some great ones at Focus on the Family by clicking HERE
  • Consider purchasing a photo session with a great photographer for some updated couple shots.  Then, pay to have her hair and nails done before the session.  She may need a new outfit, too!
  • Fill up a notebook COMPLETELY with all the reasons you love her!
  • If none of these sound good, and you decide to strike out on your own—just make sure you follow the romantic gift rule—don’t give her anything that has a plug!

On the Radar

“Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” class coming to EFC Sunday, Feb. 21 and Sunday, Feb. 28, at 6 pm both evenings.  Make sure all the married couples you care about know they are invited!

Revelation Bible study this Tuesday from 12:00 – 1:00 pm in my office.  Everyone is welcome to join in, just bring your Bible and a lunch box.  Keep up with the progress at The Watchman’s Gaze.

Lifegroups continue this Wednesday, along with our mid-week age-based ministries.  For more info, log on to the Emmanuel Fellowship Church website.

Our Nursery is taking applications for a consistent Sunday morning Nursery Worker.  If you or anyone you know are interested in filling this position, please contact the church office at 325-236-9200.

Family Connection

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring you children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “We Cry Out” Jesus Culture version
  2. “Your Love Is Everything” Jesus Culture version
  3. “Your Favorite One” by Misty Edwards
  4. “Here Is Love” Brian Johnson version

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, February 14, 2010, we will continue our sermon series “Here is Love,” by taking a close look at the marriage relationship.

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spaghetti

Discipleship never tasted so good!

The kitchen table has always been a place of joy for my family.

Sitting together around the table, we seize the opportunity to discuss our day.  We solve problems together and role play solutions to the great dilemmas of life, such as what do you do when a boy in class keeps calling you an old lady.  (Our solution was to acknowledge him by name and ask how he was doing today — we figured he just needed a little attention.)

No other venue offers such an excellent opportunity to learn how to make a bid for a conversation, how to hold everyone’s attention when telling a story, or the ever important how to control the volume level of an excited dialogue.

Life happens at the kitchen table.  Valuable lessons are learned somewhere between the passing of the peas, sharing the last cookie, and not forgetting to clear your place.

Of all the benefits of the kitchen table, I believe its greatest potential is the opportunity it affords for spiritual discipleship.  We discuss the practical application of our faith at the kitchen table.

As far back as I can remember, we have played versions of Bible Trivia while eating dinner together, continually inviting our children to know and understand the Word of God.  Recently we stumbled upon a simple, yet amazingly powerful version of Bible Trivia that has upped the level of discipleship at the von Atzigen table.

“Where in the Bible does it talk about…?”  This is the simple question that is asked, and then my jaw drops as we go around the table and I listen to my children recite Old Testament Bible stories and relay the teachings of Jesus or the letters of Paul.

This simple question allows them to analyze what they have learned in their years of Vacation Bible Schools and Kids’ Church and then apply those lessons to the question at hand.

Right now our questions are simple.  “Where in the Bible does it talk about swords, scrolls, water, or honey?” have been some of the questions we have tackled.

But, a day will come when the question applies to a more serious topic.

  • Where in the Bible does it talk about broken hearts?
  • Where in the Bible does it talk about forgiveness?
  • Where in the Bible does it talk about God’s healing?
  • Where in the Bible does it talk about wasting your gifts?
  • Where in the Bible does it talk about what you are going through today?

If they can answer the question with lambs, princesses, and crowns today, then maybe they can answer the question of life tomorrow.

The book of Deuteronomy gives us some practical instructions for discipling our children.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates… (Deuteronomy 11:18-20 NIV)

And at the kitchen table, talk about them at the kitchen table!

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