Daily Archives: April 2, 2015
The Greatest Love Story Ever ~ Could You Love No Matter What?
Hosea: The Story of the Unfailing Redemptive Love of God
If God gave you the assignment of marrying someone you knew would be unfaithful, what would you think? What would you do? This actually happened to the Old Testament prophet Hosea. Of course there’s some background we need to understand to appreciate his story, and I’m only going to give you the abbreviated version. Ready?
Way back in Genesis, we read that God chose a people, they are referred to as “the seed of Abraham,” and they are the descendants that came from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Of course you remember that Jacob’s name was changed to “Israel,” so his descendants are called “the children of Israel.” I can’t tell you why God chose to have a special relationship with this people, he never gave a reason. In fact, the Apostle Paul said that God chose this people even before they were born and totally without respect to any foreseen merit on their part (Romans 9:6-29). So, God’s choice to have a special relationship with Israel was based solely on his grace.
God chose to give Abraham’s descendants something they didn’t deserve, and could never have earned. He promised to make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars of the sky, to make them a great nation, to bless them in a unique way, to give them a land forever, to enter into a special and unique relationship with them that would endure forever, and even to bless the whole world through them. Of course this doesn’t leave the Gentiles out in the cold; we read in the gospels and the New Testament letters, especially Paul’s writings, that the salvation of the Gentiles and the very existence of the Church is part of the outworking of God’s promise to bless the whole world through Abraham’s descendants. God first shared these promises in Genesis chapters 12 to 22, and in a sense these eleven chapters are the very heart of the Bible. What comes before Genesis 12 serves as background to God’s promises, and everything what comes after Genesis 22 in some way relates to their fulfillment. In other words, the whole story of the Bible is about how God is working in the lives of his people, Israel, to bring about the fulfillment of the promises he made to Abraham and his seed. The Bible is an epic drama of how God wants to show his love for his chosen people, and he wants to do that by fulfilling the special promises he made to them; but there is a snag: the fulfillment can only happen when God’s people choose to love him in return.
One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that unregenerated sinners are never going to love God—right? So, in order for God to fulfill his promises to Israel, as a nation, somehow God is going to have to bring the nation of Israel to repentance and faith. Now I think we could agree that the salvation of an entire nation is an epic challenge. I don’t know of any nation in world history that has been a “saved nation.”
Now I need to clarify something before we move on, and I hope it’s not too confusing: The promises God made to Israel were to “a seed,” or “a people”; in other words, that “seed” extends all the way from Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob to the Jewish people of our day who have a physical connection to Abraham. However, the promises will not be fulfilled to unbelievers in that line. In fact, many of Abraham’s seed have already lived and died in unbelief. The promises will be fulfilled to a generation of Israel in the future that turns to the Lord with their whole heart. So, in order for the promises to be fulfilled, it will be necessary for Israel, as a nation, to be regenerated, because the fulfillment of the promises involves an intimate personal relationship with God. So, not surprisingly, the theme of the Bible is how God is working in the lives of his people, Israel, to bring them to faith in him, his word, and his Messiah, without which, they cannot be born again (cf. John 3:1-21).
Now concerning Hosea’s message, the events recorded in the book happened in the years just before the northern kingdom of Israel was carried off into captivity in 722 B.C. (over 2700 years ago). The story of the book is about how God, who found Israel to be stubbornly faithless and spiritually rebellious, had to allow them to experience the consequences of their waywardness. God didn’t let this to happen because he stopped loving Israel, or because he ran out of patience, he did it as part of a plan for the redemption of his people. God is very patient, and this plan is still being worked out today, and it won’t come to completion until Israel comes to faith in Christ, which the Bible says will happen in the last days, that is, the last days prior to the second coming of Christ.
Let’s begin in Hosea chapter one.
1:2When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.”
I don’t know how many of us would be thrilled to be given an assignment like this, but Hosea was commanded to marry a woman whom God told him would not be faithful. Obviously this is not a passage we should use for advice on how to find a mate. We can find that kind of advice in the book of Proverbs, as well as in the New Testament. God’s purpose for Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was to confront Israel with their sin of unfaithfulness. So, with regard to marriage, this is a special case, with a special purpose. It’s very difficult to describe how bad Israel’s spiritual condition had become by the time this book was recorded, I’ll just go through the list of things that are mentioned in the book itself, mostly from chapter four. God said there was no faithfulness, or kindness, or knowledge of him (4:1); there was swearing, deception, murder, stealing, and sexual vice (4:2); the prophets and priest were corrupt (4:4); the priests no longer taught the knowledge of God (4:6); the religious leaders had become merely opportunists, in their greed profiting from the sins of the people (4:7); there was harlotry, and drunkenness (4:11); the people had become idol worshipers (4:12), and we know from 2 Kings 17 that there were human sacrifices. Virtually every hill and shade tree in Israel had become a place for the immoral revelries involved in the worship of Baal and Ashtarte (the male and female fertility idols, cf. 4:13); and we are told that the people of Israel had sunken so low that the more shameful their deeds, the more they loved and flaunted them (4:18). They were, in effect, boastful of how “bad” they were. (Too bad there were no ox-cart bumper stickers back then that said, “Bad to the Bone,” or “No Fear (of God)”—they would have loved them!)
The early part of Hosea’s marriage is related to us in the following passage.
1:3So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 4And the LORD said to him, “Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.” 6Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. 7 “But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the LORD their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen.” 8When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. 9And the LORD said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God.”
Hosea did exactly as God commanded. He married Gomer, and in the course of time three children were born. As each of the children was born, they were given names by God, and each of their names symbolizes some aspect of Israel’s relationship with God. The first child was named, Jezreel. Jezreel was both a city and a territory located in the heart of Israel, and it was from the heartland of Jezreel that much of the wickedness associated with Israel’s history originated. We can’t be certain, but the naming of this child may have been God’s way of saying to Israel, “You know what—you’re rotten all the way to the core.”
The second child was named Lo-ruhamah. This name comes from two Hebrew words: lo in Hebrew is a negative, and means “no,” or “not,” and ruhamah means, “to have pity.” So the name “Lo-ruhamah” means, “to have no pity.” The name of this child refers to the impending judgment on the nation of Israel. It would not be long after this prophecy that Israel would be invaded by Assyria; that invasion happened in 722 B.C. The Assyrians were undoubtedly one of the cruelest people in history. In fact, you may recall that the prophet Jonah was sent to proclaim judgment upon the city of Nineveh, the ancient capital of the Assyrian Empire. The reason Jonah didn’t want to go was because the Assyrians were so violent and pitiless that Jonah actually wanted them to be destroyed; he didn’t want to see them have the opportunity to repent and be spared. When the Assyrians invaded a land, they had no mercy on the people they conquered. When they conquered a city, they were known to throw the children off the city walls, or if there were no wall, they would take them to a nearby cliff and throw them onto the rocks below. Conquered people they thought would not make good slaves, or anyone they particularly disliked, they would impale on large pikes set upright in the ground. They were experts at making their victims suffer as much, and as long, as possible. Those that survived had metal hooks driven through their jaws and were connected to chains and led away into captivity. So the name “Lo-ruhamah” is prophetic of where Israel’s decision to leave the shelter of God’s protection is about to lead them. By they way, I don’t think God caused this awful thing to happen—it was just part of the reality of walking away from God’s protective care. If God had continued to shield Israel from the consequences of their sins, they would have never understood the true nature of their choices. So, God was saying by the naming of this child, “I’m not going to shield you any longer from the consequences of the sinful choices you have made. If you’re going to worship other gods, then you’re going to have to depend on those gods to provide for you, and we’ll see if they are able to take care of you—of course they couldn’t, because these “gods” were only wood, metal, and stone. Now this might seem cruel, but it’s a dose of reality, and sometimes reality is what people need. If we were to put this into modern terms, we might imagine God saying something like this: “I’m no longer going to be an enabler for your spiritual degeneration; you’ve got to learn that there are consequences for the choices you make. Go ahead, compare the love, provision, and protection I’ve given you to what your idols can do for you.”
The third child was named Lo-ammi, meaning “not mine.” This name seems to have significance both to Hosea’s marriage and to Israel’s relationship to God. We don’t know the circumstances of how the truth about this child was discovered, but it appears that somehow Hosea came to the realization that this child was not his, and we can well imagine the personal devastation Hosea felt. Of course the prophetic symbolism is that just as Gomer had brought forth a child born of her harlotry, so Israel had brought forth its children in spiritual harlotry by going after idols. Now Lo-ammi’s name isn’t simply an acknowledgment of the fact that Israel had played the harlot, it is a declaration of disownership. Israel, having been unfaithful, is about to experience the full effect of being cut off from God.
When a person persistently sins and never has to pay a penalty, what happens? Well, often they develop a distorted view of reality. They begin to think they can sin without consequences. So even though it can be very painful, having to deal with the consequences of sin can be a positive thing if it leads to repentance.
Hosea’s story continues in chapter two…
2:5 “For their mother has played the harlot; she who conceived them has acted shamefully for she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’ 6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths. 7 She will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them; and she will seek them, but will not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now!’ 8 For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. 9 Therefore, I will take back My grain at harvest time and My new wine in its season. I will also take away My wool and My flax given to cover her nakedness. 10 and then I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one will rescue her out of My hand. 11 I will also put an end to all her gaiety, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths and all her festal assemblies. 12 I will destroy her vines and fig trees, of whichshe said, ‘These are my wages which my lovers have given me’ and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field will devour them. 13 I will punish her for the days of the Baals when she used to offer sacrifices to them and adorn herself with her earrings and jewelry, and follow her lovers, so that she forgot Me,” declares the LORD.
What comes next in this story isn’t clear and we have to read between the lines, but it seems that sometime after the birth of the third child, Hosea and Gomer’s marriage fell apart, and Gomer left. Perhaps Gomar left Hosea for the father of her last child—we don’t know. Gomer appears to have gone from one man to the next, until somewhere along the way she became the woman of a man who didn’t have the means, or the will, to support her. Some other man might have been happy to see his wayward wife fall on such hard times, but not Hosea. We learn that Hosea, in some way or another, found a way to secretly provide for Gomer’s support. So while Gomer was living in her adulterous relationship, Hosea was behind the scenes making sure she had clothes, food, and money. At some point Hosea came to the realization that providing for Gomer’s needs wasn’t going to help unless her heart changed; in fact, it would only enable her to continue her wayward lifestyle, so he made the very difficult decision to cut off her support. In time the consequences she had been protected from began to roll in. Eventually Gomer’s lover sold her into slavery, and she discovered the sad truth that so many others have discovered: that often what presents itself as an opportunity for self-fulfillment, ends in bondage and despair.
Now even though Gomer deserved what she got, this is a sad story. It’s sad for Hosea because his family was broken apart and he was robbed of the love for which he longed. It’s sad for Gomer because her sin caused her to lose her family and eventually led her to slavery. But of course the real story of this book isn’t the story of Hosea and Gomer, it’s the story of God and Israel. Hosea’s love for Gomer is only a picture of God’s love for Israel, because all the while that Israel was unfaithful to God, he was providing for them, and they took his blessings and used them for their idol worship. But it’s important for us to recognize that just as Hosea never stopped loving Gomer, no matter how low she sank, so God never stopped loving Israel, even though he had to stand by and watch them be given over to the terrible consequences of their sin.
While the Book of Hosea goes on for several more chapters, the story of Hosea and Gomer’s relationship comes to a close in chapter 3. Chapter 3, verses 1-5 says,
1 Then the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.” 2 So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley. 3 Then I said to her, “You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you.” 4 For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. 5 Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.
Gomer may have been sold into slavery, but Hosea never forgot her and never stopped loving her, and when God revealed to him that the time was right, Hosea went and redeemed Gomer out of slavery. Now you might be thinking, “Wow, what a wonderful ending for a love story,” but it’s not the end of the story, because a marriage can’t go through what Hosea and Gomer went through without a lot of wreckage and brokenness. Their relationship needed a lot of mending before they could again live together as man and wife. We notice that Gomer, though purchased, was not immediately restored to her former status as a wife, and things would remain that way until her heart changed. The same is true with God and Israel. God allowed Israel to experience the consequences of their unfaithfulness. He allowed them to experience the destruction of their nation, and captivity; and although he purchased them, they have remained in an unrestored condition for all these years. So what is God waiting for? He’s waiting for a change of heart, and it hasn’t happened yet, but it’s going to happen. Did you notice when? Verse 5 says, “in the last days.” If we look back in chapter two this is explained to us.
2:14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her. 15Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope and she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. 16 It will come about in that day,” declares the LORD, “That you will call Me Ishi and will no longer call Me Baali. 17 “For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, so that they will be mentioned by their names no more. 18 In that day I will also make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky and the creeping things of the ground and I will abolish the bow, the sword and war from the land, and will make them lie down in safety. 19 I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, 20And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD. 21 It will come about in that day that I will respond,” declares the LORD. “I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth, 22And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine and to the oil, and they will respond to Jezreel. 23 I will sow her for Myself in the land I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ and they will say, ‘You are my God!’”
At the present time Israel is without a king, without sacrifices, without a temple, without a priesthood, It has been that way for almost 2,000 years, but there’s coming a day when their hearts are going to be changed and they will seek their Messiah—Jesus Christ.
Now aside from the obviously important truth that God has a future for Israel, you may be wondering how any of this applies to us today. Did you notice the cycle that Israel went through? They belonged to God. Somewhere along the way they got their eyes onto other loves. God patiently pleaded with them, but they wouldn’t listen. Finally they reached a point where there was no alternative but to expose them to the consequences of their choices. Later, after God would redeem them out of their enslavement it would be a long process before they could be fully restored. Israel’s rejection of God was deep and persistent; and the deeper and longer the rejection, the more difficult the restoration. Did God stop loving them? No. Does he still want a relationship with them? Yes. Can they be restored? Yes—and there’s more than hope, there’s a promise that Israel will be restored, but it won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick, and it won’t be painless, but it will happen at the appointed time in the “last days.”
Is there a personal lesson here for us? Of course. Some of you reading this might have walked close to the Lord at one time, but something happened; you allowed other things to come between you and him. It seemed that you took your eyes off of him for only a moment, but that moment turned into an hour, and the hour into days, weeks, months, perhaps even years. You used to hear his voice calling you back, but now all you hear is deafening silence. You pray, but there is no answer. You confess your sins, but you feel no release from the burden, and you worry that somehow you’ve wandered so far away, or done something so terribly wrong that you can never get home again. Can I share a great truth from the story of Hosea’s life? No matter what you might have done, no matter how long it’s been since you walked with the Lord, no matter how far you may have wandered from his presence, no matter what you may have said to him in your anger, frustration, or disappointment, the truth is that God has never stopped loving you, and he will never give up on you.
Now if you happen to be one of those people I just described, I’m not going to tell you that a simple prayer, or walking down to the front of a church is going to repair your wounded spirit. We’ve seen from the example of Hosea and Gomer that sometimes deeply broken relationships take time to heal. But I want you to know that no matter how horrible your failure may seem to you, God has never stopped loving you, and he will never give up on you. Why? -Because he has always known the end from the beginning. Just like Hosea knew before he married Gomer that she would be an unfaithful wife, and just like God knew before he chose Israel that they would be an unfaithful people, so he has always known everything about you, and me; and he chose to love us in spite of what he has always known.
I know, you look into that spiritual “mirror,” and you see tangled matted hair, worn and ragged clothes, a weathered face, and dirty feet and hands. The thought of God’s presence no longer brings peace and joy, but apprehension, maybe even dread. Somehow you can’t believe God would even want to look at you, much less put his arms around you. You say, “Where do I go from here?” Well you know something, you can’t repair the damage yourself, and if you wait until you think you can, you’ll likely die a very miserable person. But here’s the message of Hosea: There is hope! God can fix your life if you will step out of the shadow, and allow him to put his arms around you, unworthy though you feel. Restoration might not happen instantly, but be assured that God has not stopped loving you; and if you have ever known him, he will never abandon you, no matter where your choices may have led you.
Perhaps you’re reading this and you’ve never known peace with God; you’ve never become one of his children. You can begin that relationship today. You say, “But I don’t think I have enough faith.” Well, there’s good news! It doesn’t take much faith, and you can receive Christ right where you are. Jesus said even a tiny bit of faith can accomplish great things, and God will even give you the faith you need (Eph. 2:8-9); so with God’s help you can do it! All you have to do is say “Yes” to Christ—“Yes, I accept what you did on the cross for me”; “Yes, I accept your offer to be my Savior and my God”; “Yes, I accept your offer of forgiveness and reconciliation” (John 1:12; Romans 10:9-10).
Remember, it’s never too late to begin, or begin again; God’s redemptive love is unfailing.
Wealth-Building Strategies That YOU Can MASTER
What do you believe your chances are of becoming a millionaire? Two surveys released in early January 2006 by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), Washington, D.C., and the Financial Planning Association® (FPA), Denver, reveal that financial planners have more faith in your ability to accumulate personal wealth than you do.
Financial planners typically think that more than four-fifths of young Americans could accumulate $250,000 in net wealth over 30 years and about half could accumulate $1 million in the same time. But only about one-quarter of consumers believe they could save even $200,000 at any point, and less than one-tenth believe they could accumulate $1 million.
Financial planners have such confidence because they know what it takes to build wealth, and it’s not necessarily investment tips from Warren Buffett, a big inheritance, or even a six-figure salary. The truth is, average Americans who accumulate wealth through work and saving have an attitude and an approach that sets them apart from those who doubt themselves. Their most successful strategies for achieving financial success often have more to do with a wealth-building mind-set and a sensible plan for spending and saving than they do with complex investment schemes or offshore tax shelters.
Here are some proven wealth-building strategies that have helped create many millionaires that any motivated individual including you can master.
1. Believe YOU Can Build WEALTH.
If you think the only way you’ll ever become wealthy is through inheritance or luck, you have company. The CFA/FPA survey of 1,000 adults revealed that more than one-fifth of Americans think winning the lottery is their best chance for accumulating wealth.
This pessimism stems largely from the belief that only those who earn huge salaries can accumulate a seven-figure net worth. That theory doesn’t hold water, according to a study conducted a few years ago by Steven Venti, economics professor at Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., and David Wise, professor of political economy at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. The team reported that income differences alone had little to do with disparities in wealth. Observing that some of the lowest-earning households in the study had managed to accumulate significant wealth, the researchers concluded that most of the disparity was a result of how much the households chose to save.
Your financial institution and financial planner has products and services that can get you on the road to riches.
Anyone doubting his or her ability to achieve financial security on an average income should consider the story of Genesio Morlacci, who clearly made saving and investing a priority. The former dry cleaning shop owner and part-time janitor amassed enough wealth to leave $2.3 million to a small Montana college in 2004.
“When my friend was doing financial planning, I saw a lot of people make a substantial improvement in their net worth over a relatively short period by paying off debt, saving and investing,” recalls Eric Tyson, a financial columnist and author of a number of books, including his latest, Mind Over Money: Your Path to Wealth and Happiness. “It’s a limiting mind-set that will keep individuals from reaching their potential for wealth.”
People who build wealth are optimistic about their ability to achieve their financial goals in spite of an average income or other apparent limits.
2. Begin Today Living The Millionaire Lifestyle.
Think you can’t afford to live like a millionaire? The reality is that you can’t afford not to live like one.
According to a number of sources, including the bestselling “Millionaire Next Door,” by Dr. Thomas J. Stanley and Dr. William D. Danko, millionaires typically bargain shop for a used car, eschew Rolex watches and other flashy consumer goods, and, generally, avoid the flashy lifestyle that many people associate with the rich. The wealthy live comfortable but not extravagant lives, believing that financial independence is more important than displaying high social status. They consistently spend less than they earn.
Real wealth gives you options–for how you work, how much time you spend with your kids, where you travel, and when you retire.
Tyson acknowledges that it can be difficult to accumulate wealth because we are a consumption-oriented society. Living modestly when everyone around you is buying the latest, most expensive toys and gadgets presents a challenge for many consumers.
Realizing that the next-door neighbor who has all the trappings of wealth might have a high income but not any real wealth can make it easier for you to avoid a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses lifestyle. As those who have achieved financial independence know, wealth is what you accumulate, not what you spend.
“In America we equate wealth with material possessions,” says Tyson. “But at the end of the day, a fleet of costly cars to drive and maintain won’t make you feel better about yourself or give you options. Real wealth gives you options–for how you work, how much time you spend with your kids, where you travel, and when you retire.”
Regardless of your current net worth, your financial picture can improve only if you spend less and save more–just like a millionaire.
3. Actively Manage Your Money.
A study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that households in which someone thought “a lot” about retirement had twice as much wealth heading into retirement as households in which there was little or no planning.
Similarly, research for “The Millionaire Next Door” revealed that more high-wealth accumulators say they spend “a lot” of time planning their financial future, and place the management of their assets before other activities. In this case, “a lot” means 8.4 hours per month, or just about two hours a week.
Income differences alone have little to do with disparities in wealth.
“You shouldn’t spend your time checking stock prices constantly. That’s just not productive,” says Tyson, who observes that the tendency to incessantly track portfolio performance is more common in our 24/7 news coverage atmosphere. Instead, he suggests spending your hours researching and learning how to invest, even if you hire a financial adviser.
“How are you going to make good choices about hiring a professional if you don’t educate yourself [about what to look for and how to judge performance]?” asks Tyson.
Investors also will need to spend some time monitoring the performance of their investments and reallocating their portfolio if necessary.
Tyson also says it’s good to try to learn to do your own taxes, even if you have a tax preparer do the work, because “it helps you learn about the system and take advantage of incentives and tax breaks.”
If you haven’t done so already, spend a few of your first money management hours calculating your net worth. Your net worth is the value of all your assets minus all your liabilities. It’s the best snapshot of your wealth-building progress. Your net worth work sheet is something you’ll update annually.
Some other basic tasks to start with include tracking expenses for one to three months, designing a spending plan (also known as a budget), and writing down your short-, medium-, and long-term financial goals.
4. Become An Investor, Not Just A Saver.
Nobody ever accumulated wealth just by saving. To build the kind of wealth that gives you independence and security, you have to be an investor. Putting your savings into things that become more valuable over time, such as securities (stocks and bonds) and real estate has, historically, been the best way to build wealth over the long run.
Your net worth is the best snapshot of your wealth-building progress.
If you equate investing with insider tips and day-trading (the hyperactive buying and selling of stocks), you might be surprised to learn that investing success is within reach of even newcomers to the market.
“Many people have the attitude that only the insiders get wealthy,” says Tyson. While he acknowledges that experience can help, Tyson explains that the people who make money in the stock market buy and hold a diversified portfolio. You can easily achieve that with a good mutual fund having minimal expenses.
An advocate of keeping it simple, Tyson cites index funds as good options for investors looking for stock market returns with lower investment expenses and risk relative to individual stocks or specialized mutual funds. Index funds are mutual funds whose investment objective is to achieve the same return as a particular market index, primarily by investing in the stocks of companies that are included in that index.
For example, says Tyson, Vanguard, a large mutual fund company, offers index funds that track the entire U.S. stock market—they hold shares of thousands of stocks—that have returned 9% to 10% a year over the long term.
Regardless of where you put your savings, your long-term investment strategy should be to achieve adequate growth so that, ultimately, you can live on the income your fortune produces and never have to dip into the principal.
That kind of financial security is totally within your grasp if you adopt the strategies of those who have achieved wealth by way of work and wise money management. By shifting your thinking and behavior to that of a wealth-builder, you’ll never again have to trust your fortune to fate. That’s a good thing because, as the research shows, most millionaires rarely, if ever, buy lottery tickets.
Wealth is what you accumulate, not what you spend.
Tools and resources
Ask the staff at your financial institution how they can help you build wealth and achieve financial security.
Calculate how much you’ll have to invest to become a millionaire with this Financial institution National Association (CUNA) calculator.
If you’re new to investing, start by understanding your risk tolerance–how willing you are to endure volatility (ups and downs) in your portfolio. One example of an online tool is the risk tolerance quiz on Kiplinger’s Web site.
Become a knowledgeable investor with the help of Vanguard’s Plain Talk® education materials and tools.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission provides investor and consumer information and links through its Financial Facts Tool Kit.
For inspiration to change your relationship with money and achieve financial independence, read “Your Money or Your Life.” For the complete nine-step program, including the opportunity to participate in online study groups, visit the Your Money or Your Life Web site.
Calculate your net worth using Home & Family Finance Resource Center’s online net worth calculator
Find out from the people at your financial institution if it offers group budgeting seminars or one-on-one budgeting help.
Creationists and evolutionists, Christians and non-Christians all have the same evidence—the same facts. Think about it: we all have the same earth, the same fossil layers, the same animals and plants, the same stars—the facts are all the same.
The difference is in the way we all interpret the facts. And why do we interpret facts differently? Because we start with different presuppositions. These are things that are assumed to be true, without being able to prove them. These then become the basis for other conclusions. All reasoning is based on presuppositions (also called axioms). This becomes especially relevant when dealing with past events.
Past and Present
We all exist in the present—and the facts all exist in the present. When one is trying to understand how the evidence came about (Where did the animals come from? How did the fossil layers form? etc.), what we are actually trying to do is to connect the past to the present.
However, if we weren’t there in the past to observe events, how can we know what happened so we can explain the present? It would be great to have a time machine so we could know for sure about past events.
Christians of course claim they do, in a sense, have a “time machine.” They have a book called the Bible that claims to be the Word of God who has always been there, and has revealed to us the major events of the past about which we need to know.
On the basis of these events (Creation, Fall, Flood, Babel, etc.), we have a set of presuppositions to build a way of thinking which enables us to interpret the evidence of the present.
Evolutionists have certain beliefs about the past/present that they presuppose, e.g. no God (or at least none who performed acts of special creation), so they build a different way of thinking to interpret the evidence of the present.
Thus, when Christians and non-Christians argue about the evidence, in reality they are arguing about their interpretations based on their presuppositions.
That’s why the argument often turns into something like:
“Can’t you see what I’m talking about?”
“No, I can’t. Don’t you see how wrong you are?”
“No, I’m not wrong. It’s obvious that I’m right.”
“No, it’s not obvious.” And so on.
These two people are arguing about the same evidence, but they are looking at the evidence through different glasses.
It’s not until these two people recognize the argument is really about the presuppositions they have to start with, that they will begin to deal with the foundational reasons for their different beliefs. A person will not interpret the evidence differently until they put on a different set of glasses—which means to change one’s presuppositions.
I’ve found that a Christian who understands these things can actually put on the evolutionist’s glasses (without accepting the presuppositions as true) and understand how they look at evidence. However, for a number of reasons, including spiritual ones, a non-Christian usually can’t put on the Christian’s glasses—unless they recognize the presuppositional nature of the battle and are thus beginning to question their own presuppositions.
It is of course sometimes possible that just by presenting “evidence,” you can convince a person that a particular scientific argument for creation makes sense “on the facts.” But usually, if that person then hears a different interpretation of the same evidence that seems better than yours, that person will swing away from your argument, thinking they have found “stronger facts.”
However, if you had helped the person to understand this issue of presuppositions, then they will be better able to recognize this for what it is—a different interpretation based on differing presuppositions—i.e. starting beliefs.
As a teacher, I found that whenever I taught the students what I thought were the “facts” for creation, then their other teacher would just reinterpret the facts. The students would then come back to me saying, “Well Maam, you need to try again.”
However, when I learned to teach my students how we interpret facts, and how interpretations are based on our presuppositions, then when the other teacher tried to reinterpret the facts, the students would challenge the teacher’s basic assumptions. Then it wasn’t the students who came back to me, but the other teacher! This teacher was upset with me because the students wouldn’t accept her interpretation of the evidence and challenged the very basis of her thinking.
What was happening was that I had learned to teach the students how to think rather than just what to think. What a difference that made to my class! I have been overjoyed to find, sometimes decades later, some of those students telling me how they became active, solid Christians as a result.
If one agrees to a discussion without using the Bible as some people insist, then they have set the terms of the debate. In essence these terms are:
“Facts” are neutral. However, there are no such things as “brute facts;” all facts are interpreted. Once the Bible is eliminated in the argument, then the Christians’ presuppositions are gone, leaving them unable to effectively give an alternate interpretation of the facts. Their opponents then have the upper hand as they still have their presuppositions—see Naturalism, Logic and Reality.
Truth can/should be determined independent of God. However, the Bible states: ““The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”” (Psalm 111:10); ““The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”” (Proverbs 1:7). ““But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
A Christian cannot divorce the spiritual nature of the battle from the battle itself. A non-Christian is not neutral. The Bible makes this very clear: ““The one who is not with Me is against Me, and the one who does not gather with Me scatters”” (Matthew 12:30); ““And this is the condemnation, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil”” (John 3:19).
Agreeing to such terms of debate also implicitly accepts their proposition that the Bible’s account of the universe’s history is irrelevant to understanding that history!
Ultimately, God’s Word Convicts
1 Peter 3:15 and other passages make it clear we are to use every argument we can to convince people of the truth, and 2 Cor. 10:4–5 says we are to refute error (like Paul did in his ministry to the Gentiles). Nonetheless, we must never forget Hebrews 4:12: ““For the word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing apart of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.””
Also, Isaiah 55:11: ““So shall My word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall certainly do what I sent it to do.””
Even though our human arguments may be powerful, ultimately it is God’s Word that convicts and opens people to the truth. In all of our arguments, we must not divorce what we are saying from the Word that convicts.
When someone tells me they want “proof” or “evidence,” not the Bible, my response is as follows:
You might not believe the Bible but I do. And I believe it gives me the right basis to understand this universe and correctly interpret the facts around me. I’m going to give you some examples of how building my thinking on the Bible explains the world and is not contradicted by science. For instance, the Bible states that God made distinct kinds of animals and plants. Let me show you what happens when I build my thinking on this presupposition. I will illustrate how processes such as natural selection, genetic drift, etc. can be explained and interpreted. You will see how the science of genetics makes sense based upon the Bible.
One can of course do this with numerous scientific examples, showing how the issue of sin and judgment, for example, is relevant to geology and fossil evidence. And how the Fall of man, with the subsequent Curse on creation, makes sense of the evidence of harmful mutations, violence, and death.
Once I’ve explained some of this in detail, I then continue:
Now let me ask you to defend your position concerning these matters. Please show me how your way of thinking, based on your beliefs, makes sense of the same evidence. And I want you to point out where my science and logic are wrong.
In arguing this way, a Christian is:
Using biblical presuppositions to build a way of thinking to interpret the evidence.
Showing that the Bible and science go hand in hand.
Challenging the presuppositions of the other person (many are unaware they have these).
Forcing the debater to logically defend his position consistent with science and his own presuppositions (many will find that they cannot do this).
Honouring the Word of God that convicts the soul.
Remember, it’s no good convincing people to believe in creation, without also leading them to believe and trust in the Creator/Redeemer, Jesus Christ. God honours those who honour His Word. We need to use God-honouring ways of reaching people with the truth of what life is all about.
Naturalism, Logic and Reality
Those arguing against creation may not even be conscious of their most basic presupposition, one which excludes God a priori, namely naturalism/materialism (everything came from matter, there is no supernatural, no prior creative intelligence). The following two real-life examples highlight some problems with that assumption:
A young man approached me at a seminar and stated, “Well, I still believe in the big bang, and that we arrived here by chance random processes. I don’t believe in God.” I answered him, “Well, then obviously your brain, and your thought processes, are also the product of randomness. So you don’t know whether it evolved the right way, or even what right would mean in that context. Young man, you don’t know if you’re making correct statements or even whether you’re asking me the right questions.”
The young man looked at me and blurted out, “What was that book you recommended?” He finally realized that his belief undercut its own foundations—such “reasoning” destroys the very basis for reason.
2. On another occasion, a man came to me after a seminar and said, “Actually, I’m an atheist. Because I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in absolutes, so I recognize that I can’t even be sure of reality.” I responded, “Then how do you know you’re really here making this statement?” “Good point,” he replied. “What point?” I asked. The man looked at me, smiled, and said, “Maybe I should go home.” I stated, “Maybe it won’t be there.” “Good point,” the man said. “What point?” I replied.
This man certainly got the message. If there is no God, ultimately, philosophically, how can one talk about reality? How can one even rationally believe that there is such a thing as truth, let alone decide what it is?
1. In fact, science could avoid becoming still-born only in a Christian framework. Even secular philosophers of science are virtually unanimous on this. It required biblical presuppositions such as a real, objective universe, created by one Divine Lawgiver, who was neither fickle nor deceptive—and who also created the mind of man in a way that was in principle capable of understanding the universe.
2. This assumption is even defended, as a “practical necessity” in discussing scientific things including origins, by some professing Christians who are evolutionists.
This assumption is even defended, as a “practical necessity” in discussing scientific things including origins, by some professing Christians who are evolutionists.
Below you will find 20 actions, apply 1 a day for 20 days until all 20 actions become a part of who you are. Today is the first day of the rest of your life, I challenge you to begin a small group of accountability to bring abundance into your life of positive results (professionally and personally) because when you make a conscious decision to write at least one “thank you” note to friends, clients and sometimes even new acquaintances every day for a year you will begin to live in gratitude naturally.
1. Rise with the sun to pray. Pray alone. Pray often. God will listen, if you only speak.
2. Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path. Ignorance, conceit, anger, jealousy and greed stem from a lost soul. Pray that they will find guidance.
3. Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others to make your path for you. It is your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.
4. Treat the guests in your home with much consideration. Serve them the best food, give them the best bed and treat them with respect and honor.
5. Do not take what is not yours whether from a person, a community, the wilderness or from a culture. It was not earned nor given. It is not yours.
6. Respect all things that are placed upon this earth – whether it be people or plant.
7. Honor other people’s thoughts, wishes and words. Never interrupt another or mock or rudely mimic them. Allow each person the right to personal expression.
8. Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative energy that you put out into the universe will multiply when it returns to you.
9. All persons make mistakes. And all mistakes can be forgiven.
10. Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit. Practice optimism.
11. Nature is not FOR us, it is a PART of us. They are part of your worldly family.
12. Children are the seeds of our future. Plant love in their hearts and water them with wisdom and life’s lessons. When they are grown, give them space to grow.
13. Avoid hurting the hearts of others. The poison of your pain will return to you.
14. Be truthful at all times. Honesty is the test of ones will within this universe.
15. Keep yourself balanced. Your Mental self, Spiritual self, Emotional self, and Physical self – all need to be strong, pure and healthy. Work out the body to strengthen the mind. Grow rich in spirit to cure emotional ails.
16. Make conscious decisions as to who you will be and how you will respond. Be responsible for your own actions.
17. Respect the privacy and personal space of others. Do not touch the personal property of others, especially sacred and religious objects. This is forbidden.
18. Be true to yourself first. You cannot nurture and help others if you cannot nurture and help yourself first.
19. Respect others religious beliefs. Do not force your belief on others.
20. Share your good fortune with others. Participate in charity.
Sounds easy enough until you start to actually do it, and then all the excuses come out. Like many things in life I am not going to say it’s going to be easy, I am saying it will be worth it, so my quick note to you is:
• Thank you for your support, guidance and most of all your friendship… it is appreciated! Thank you.
• Gratitude is the mother of all emotions, I choose to live in forgiveness and gratitude because forgiveness will set you free to live in gratitude and until you do this you will live in bondage. When you decide to live in forgiveness that is when gratitude thrives and only then will success show up beyond your expectations. Remember, forgiveness is a valuable gift that is neither easily obtained, nor easily given. Forgiveness is essential for life, forgiving others offers the gift that frees us of our past wrongs and and enables us to love with a renewed strength for the one we once felt wronged us.
I would like to take a moment to thank the United States ARMY and Ft. Sill military reservation for the honor of inviting me to facilitate soldiers with their ETS orders to transition to civilian life. It is always my honor and my pleasure to serve those who serve.
Congratulations, Today you have made the decision to hang up your uniform after years of distinguished service to our great nation. You’ve attended a few transition classes and have your interview suit and your resume ready as you make the leap into the civilian world
You feel confident, because you’ve seen your colleagues leave the uniform on Friday and come to work the following Monday in a suit and tie making twice as much salary. You fervently qualify the job boards and job fairs. Never mind that although you’ve drafted a plan of action and milestones (POA&M) for every significant evolution of your military career, some of you have invested the least amount of time and effort into your own transition POA&M
Those of us in the hiring and recruiting business know first hand that not all veterans are created equal, and, sometimes, it’s a great business decision to hire a military professional into our companies. Often, though, many don’t. Why? Because they do not view you as the right fit. A more impressive candidate captured our attention, or maybe, through no fault of your own, we found someone internally or received a referral from one of our own employees.
The irony is that many veterans and service members have the skills and experience to make the cut, or even get the second interview and blow it. As many military candidate recruiters, I too see consistent themes in why military professionals don’t get the job. Many may blame the new Transition GPS, their branch of service’s career center or even the employers themselves. Here are the top real reasons why you’ll never get hired:
1. You Can’t (or Won’t) Accept That You’re Starting Over
Let’s suppose that immediately after graduating from college or high school, I went to work for one of the well-known defense contractors. During the course of my 20+-year career at that company, I was very successful and promoted to the position of Program Manager, frequently working with the military. However, I’m now at that point in my career where there isn’t any opportunity for further advancement, or I’m simply weary of the industry.
I’m now in my late 30s or early 40s and decide it’s time to leave the company to pursue a different career. I’ve worked with the military my entire adult life, so I decide I want to join its ranks. Because of my previous experience with managing multimillion-dollar budgets and hundreds of personnel, I feel I’m the equivalent of a Commanding Officer or Senior Enlisted Leader. When I talk to a recruiter about my level of entry, what would they tell me?
The cold dose of reality is that despite all of my experience, I’d have no idea what the organizational culture is like in the military. I’d be set up for failure before I got started if someone allowed me to don the collar devices and step into a command position. On day one, something as basic as sending an email to a flag officer could spin out of control very quickly. This is because even though I may have transferable skill sets, I lack the knowledge of industry norms and protocol experience to succeed. A senior military professional transitioning into the private sector faces the same dynamic. The transition is a bit easier within the Department of Defense and Federal arenas. Remember, you’re starting anew. It’s imperative that you understand this. As a result, you should search new ways to learn the organizational structures of potential employers many months before you’ll be entering the job market.
Just as I would have been far better informed had I spoken to a military recruiter before I left my civilian job, so should you be similarly informed before entering your last year of service. Use recruiters, headhunters, employment counselors, hiring managers, etc. to gain intelligence and information so you can be pragmatic in your expectations and planning. Also, getting a mentor who has successfully navigated into the private or government sector and is also a veteran will provide invaluable insight from a perspective you’ll be able to relate to.
2. You Believe You’re Unique (Just Like Every Other Transitioning Person That Day)
Each and every day, 200 to 300 service members exit the military. This number will only increase as the nation’s wars come to an end and forces continue to draw down. In 2012, an average of 470,000 resumes were posted on Monster each week. Essentially, for every job opening in the U.S., there are roughly 187 qualified and unqualified job applicants.
This is the challenge you face in relying on job boards as your sole method of getting a job. I suggest you think of hitting the “apply” button as being similar to walking down to the local convenience store and buying a lottery ticket, then deciding to not do anything else (or continue buying lottery tickets) until they call your number. Are job boards still relevant? Yes. Just remember it’s best to post your resume to a niche job board that aligns with your background or industry and make sure your resume is targeted specifically for the jobs you apply to.
3. Your Resume Is Longer Than The Golden Gate Bridge (or Shorter Than a Recent College Graduate)
A long resume doesn’t impress many would be employers at all. Even worse, a resume that has neither definition nor clarity is guaranteed to be placed in file 13. Most will look at it for six seconds, tops.
Your resume should be a windshield document. That is, it should reflect the positions you’re going towards. (Click here to tweet this thought.) It shouldn’t be a rearview mirror that simply lists all of the duties you performed. It should contain keywords, which websites such as wordle and tagcrowd can help you identify in both job announcements and your resume because your resume will most likely be filtered by an applicant tracking software before it even gets to a human resources screening delegate. And, while I appreciate that you volunteered to clean up a highway or had some collateral duties in addition to your main assignments, I’m looking for candidates who have years of matching relevant experience, the right job titles and are in the same industry. Most importantly, I’m not looking for a “jack of all trades”; if I were, the job posting would have said so.
How do you craft a resume that’s forward-looking? Find about 15 to 20 job announcements that match up with your ideal target job title. Incorporate their language into your resume and make it contextual by inserting your metrics. Review each bullet point you’ve chosen to use by asking yourself if it demonstrates a problem you solved or action you took and the results that were accomplished. What should the actual length of your resume be? It depends on your audience. Seek out current or former employees at the companies you’ve identified in your target list and ask them what their company’s preference is.
4. You Didn’t Proofread Your Resume
I would be a billionaire if I got 10 bucks for every time I come across a candidate who’s an “experienced manger.” There isn’t any substitute for attention to detail here. Don’t trust spellcheck, and don’t rely solely on your own review. Have your resume reviewed and critiqued free of charge by as many eyes as possible. The trained professionals at your Fleet and Family Support Centers, Army ACAP, and Airman & Family Readiness Centers are the best resource to catch those mistakes before I do. After getting your resume reviewed for spelling and substance, take it to the local university’s English department and have it critiqued for proper grammar. Seem a bit excessive? Well, if I see misspellings and poor grammar on your resume, what will I expect from you if I need you to communicate with my clients?
5. You Don’t Have a LinkedIn Profile (Or, Even Worse, It’s Not Complete)
In a 2012 JobVite survey, 89% of hiring decision-makers and recruiters reported using social media sites such as LinkedIn to find their candidates. If this is the case, shouldn’t you have a profile already?
Your knowledge of managing your online presence lets me know how proficient you are in using technology to communicate. It also allows me to see your skills, even if they’re nascent. If you have an incomplete profile, it may communicate that you might also expect me to complete your work for you.
Take the time and get your LinkedIn profile set up right. There are lots of places and resources available online to get help at no cost, so there isn’t any excuse for not having one. Additionally, a complete LinkedIn profile allows you to take advantage of LinkedIn Labs’ Resume Builder to automatically generate 11 different resume styles based on your LinkedIn profile. Talk about a time saver!
6. You Think Social Media Is For Kids or Sharing War Stories
If you think social media is a huge waste of time and doesn’t offer real value, watch this video.
The reality is that two out of three job seekers will get their next job using social media. What does that mean to you? It translates to lesser-qualified people using technology to their advantage to get hired. They know how to use each of the social networking sites to the maximum extent in their transition action plans. If you think Twitter is of little use to a job seeker or professional, your competition will be happy to land the job you want because they’re using it and you aren’t.
7. You Didn’t Prepare For The Interview
During the course of your military career, you’ve conducted countless boards and interviews. It seems to make sense that you should have no problem interviewing. After all, you did pretty well in your transition class mock interviews, didn’t you?
Wrong approach. I’ve seen instances where the most junior service member outperformed a much more seasoned military leader because of one simple strategy: practice, practice, practice. Practice with someone who regularly hires or who has hired people at your level recently.
Why do you need to practice? Because you need to be able to be conversational, convey energy and yet let me know you’re aware of what my business is, who my competitors are and even who I am. Did you go to the company’s website to see if we have a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter page? Did we make the news recently? Google News is a great way to find this out.
I want you to distinguish yourself from the regular job seeker. I want to know you’re as passionate about my company and what we do as I am, not just out to get a paycheck and benefits. Make sure you have a set of questions that I haven’t heard before, and when we’re about to finish the interview, ask for the job. Don’t worry; I’m not going to be offended, because I want to see that fire in your belly. Just don’t overdo it by saying something presumptuous such as, “So… when do I start?”
8. Write a Thank You Note
(More than to Say Thank You)
Sending a thank you note is something that sets you apart from the competitors also vying for this position. And while it’s appreciated and infinitely better than sending nothing at all, don’t just send the note to say thank you; use it to tell me how much passion you have for my company and the job. Remind me of those things that excited you during our interview and, if there were any areas you looked vulnerable in, ease my concerns.
9. You Don’t Know What You Want to Do
When asked what you want to do, the worst possible answer you can give is, “I don’t know” or “anything.” You have to be able say specifically what types of positions you’re interested in and how you can add value to them (tell me what you bring to the company.) If you don’t, you’re essentially saying, “Invest lots of time and money in me, and maybe it will help me figure out if I want to do something else.” If you have no clue where to start, start by looking at colleagues with backgrounds similar to yours who have recently transitioned. Which industries are they in? What companies are they working for? Where are they living? What job titles do they have now? The LinkedIn Labs Veterans App is a great tool to help with this. Be sure to check it out. Start volunteering to gain professional experience and seek out internships long before you sign your DD214.
Employers want to feel secure in knowing that you’ll last and that they can depend on you in your new work environment. Doing an internship or volunteering will help both the employer and you determine if a position is a good fit. Additionally, due to the flood of resumes that continue to come in for each job posting, applicants who have volunteered or performed internships will stand out well ahead of the others.
Military professionals, especially senior ones, have a lot to offer our country when they hang up the uniform. The President and American companies are working hard to ensure that service members and veterans have well-paying jobs with opportunities to advance. However, no one is ever guaranteed a job, and the more senior you are, the more challenging the transition can be in terms of education, credentials, certification and relevant industry experience required. Having a powerful network is essential and can open doors for you. That said, your comrades, friends and family can generally get you to the door, remember, it remains up to you to be fully prepared when the door is opened.
Duress impacts relationships in one of two ways, it either tears people apart or strengthens their connection binding them tightly in a common objective. The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security and calm that is not easily disturbed. It is just these intense conflicts and their conflagration which are needed to produce valuable and lasting results.
Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity. Every one of us, unconsciously, works out a personal philosophy of life, by which we are guided, inspired, and corrected, as time goes on. It is this philosophy by which we measure out our days, and by which we advertise to all about us the man, or woman, that we are. . . . It takes but a brief time to scent the life philosophy of anyone. It is defined in the conversation, in the look of the eye, and in the general mien of the person. It has no hiding place. It’s like the perfume of the flower unseen, but known almost instantly. It is the possession of the successful, and the happy. And it can be greatly embellished by the absorption of ideas and experiences of the useful of this earth.
The most important human endeavor is the striving for morality in our actions. Our inner balance and even our very existence depend on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to our lives. Always question where your loyalties lay, the people you trust will expect it. Your greatest enemies will desire it and those you treasure the most will without fail abuse it. Loyalty inspires boundless hope, and while that may be there is a catch, true loyalty takes years to build and only seconds to destroy.
Genuine forgiveness heals any hurts or wrongs. It strengthens the disheartened soul that has lost its way. It refreshes and renews our hope. It is through forgiveness that we are “born again” and “become like a child.” In this way we regain the precious attitude of a willing mind that is ready to learn all over again. Know that your most precious, valued possessions and your greatest powers are invisible and intangible. No one can take them. You and you alone, can give them. By giving you will receive abundance for your giving. You will receive paychecks of the heart that money cannot replace.
~Dr. Lisa Christiansen