Some people might associate the word meditation with yoga, mystical mind exercises, or something related. In a word, techniques that people use to attain a type of “inner peace.”
Before the word meditation, and the practice thereof, was ransacked by the culture, God had something to say about it. When the Bible speaks of meditation, as it often does, it is not the kind of meditation that seeks to disengage, silence, or empty the mind, as in Transcendental or Buddhist forms of meditation. The Scriptures teach meditation that actively engages the mind for the purpose of understanding God’s Word and putting it into practice.
Inflation, the rise in prices over time (a simplified definition), is here and it probably won't go away anytime soon. What are you doing about it, besides perhaps complaining?
Inflation doesn't impact everyone the same way. For example, if you're working from home, you're not too concerned about gas prices. If you commute a lot and/or have multiple drivers & cars in the family, it's a different story.
We are not the first generation to experience difficult, changing economic conditions, if we can even call it that! And as bad as things seem to be, they were worse.
Here's an excerpt from MarketWatch for some perspective: "People who believe gasoline prices have never been so high are suffering from what economists call “the money illusion.” Simply put, this means our brains are fooling us into thinking we’ve never had it so bad, when actually the cost of driving a mile in your gas-powered vehicle is now lower than it was for most of the past century."
Let's look at a few tried and true tips to help you stay ahead during these times and keep the big picture in mind...
1. Tackle debt
If you have no debt, move on to the next tip. If you have debt, list it out in order of least to greatest. Pay it off incrementally (you know, the whole debt snowball effect). Even if things are tighter financially, it doesn't mean you have to stop the journey to being debt-free, you can simply adjust your allocations.
WHY: When you practice living debt free even during inflation, the habit will stick and put you ahead financially, over time.
2. Look for a better job
You don't need inflation to motivate you to get a better job but it sure does add some spark. Jobs are out there but they won't just drop in your lap. You will need to go out and search. For some, that can feel like a full time job. If you need help, let me know. Note, you can still be a grateful person and content with all you have but that doesn't mean you need to settle. This requires wisdom. If your current job is just not cutting it, cut it. See what else is out there and don't be afraid to change the career landscape a bit.
WHY: It's is a candidate-driven market, at least for now. Employers know that they need to step things up if they want to attract and retain the right talent (as a tangible example, my latest job move was a 20% increase). If you haven't found a company willing to negotiate or meet your needs, keep looking.
3. Do side work or create a stream of passive income
Every bit helps. Is there something you're good at that you can get paid for? For example, several years ago I gave private violin lessons in the evenings. Now that I think about it, the cash was great for gas! Now, when it comes to passive income, there's nothing 'passive' about it, at least not initially. Is there anything you can invest some of your time and money into, now, that can potentially increase your time (availability) and money, later? For example, a small rental property or a fixer upper. If that's not doable, what about offering remote administrative assistance to corporate executives? There are many professionals out there that need help with basic clerical/organizational tasks, all of which can be done remotely. Or what about a small franchise business that doesn't require a lot of money to get started?
WHY: It's good that you have one main source of income but two or three or more are better. Your life situation will eventually change; get creative and don't put all your eggs in one basket.
4. Get rid of non-essentials (services, accounts, etc.)
You know that binging is not good for you so why hold on to the streaming accounts (Netflix, Prime Video, etc.)? Your gym membership is probably also highly underutilized. Try something new: Workout at home, do outdoor activities, etc. And that food-in-a-box delivery service. Why!? Just get the items you need from the grocery store. The list of non-essential things you can cut out from your life is vast. The key is: D-I-S-C-I-P-L-I-N-E.
WHY: It's a waste of time & money. Deep down, we all know it. Invest in things that matter in the long run and have a significant ROI.
5. Use cash
For anyone that has been using cash for a while, this is a no-brainer. But for some, the impact of using cash is yet to be discovered. Daniela and I have a simple rule: If we can't pay cash for it, we probably don't need it.
WHY: What is in your hand is easier to manage and control than what's in the cloud. Using cash is a proactive approach to money management. You're planning ahead and assigning where your money goes versus wondering where your money went.
Keep the fire burning,
To some, it seems like God is no longer a loving Father but an old grandpa who is out of tune with their daily life and out of sync with culture. He's no longer (ready for an overused and misunderstood word?)..."relevant."
Teens are looking to people like Justin Bieber and hypepriests (as GQ calls them), like Judah Smith and Chad Veach, who know how to dress like them, talk like them, dance like them, who listen to the same music as them and who know their lingo. (Because if they have a lot of followers they must be doing something right...right? Not according to Jesus.)
In other words, they don't want someone who's holy and different than them. They want someone who will always be okay with them, just as they are.
In his article on GQ, Sam Schube seems to be a bit perplexed at this whole phenomenon. He writes:
"Justin Bieber and his pastors are dressing identically. They are having a ball glorying in god. They want to be “better at 70,” which, if I’m being honest, feels like a pretty low bar to clear. (Just be better now! Or at 40!) But what they really want, it seems, is to dress like pop stars on vacation.
It is not exactly news that pastors have learned how to dress with style and panache; this has been the case since Hillsong burst onto our cultural radar. But when did it become cool for the biggest pop star in the world to dress like his pastor? Or, perhaps more to the point: when did rock-star preachers start dressing like Justin Bieber?"
You don't need leaders who can relate to you. You need leaders who walk with Christ.
They should, of course, be able to understand you and empathize with you. They should listen. They should rejoice with you, weep with you, and battle in prayer with you and for you. But, keep in mind, only Jesus REALLY understands you. Stop putting so much pressure and expectation on man and getting upset or labeling your leaders as uncaring or unable, just because they're not exactly like you or you think they don't get you.
I can relate = I've been there, I've done that. (This is impossible to expect from all your leaders. There are some things they have not experienced and can't relate to 100%)
I understand you = I'm putting myself in your situation. Here's something similar I experienced.
I'm not taking leaders off the hook. Far from it. But like we find in the example of Paul and Timothy, they (leaders, pastors, mentors, etc.) are equipped by God, through the Spirit, to train young leaders for the work of the ministry, to get them involved in the activities of the (local) church, to speak well of them to others as a means of encouragement, and to communicate their love, respect, and appreciation for them as a son/daughter, brother/sister, fellow child of God, co-laborer, and messenger of Christ.
They may not know the songs you're singing, never been to a club, never smoked anything, and are clueless to all the 'relevant' (there's that word again) issues of culture and media that you're following but the things they have are far more valuable than the things you say that they don't have - Sound doctrine. Suffering. Consistency. A good reputation among believers and non-believers. Anointing. Passion. A family who loves and respects them. Integrity. And more.
You need to get in line with the Truth they know. Truth with a capital 'J.'
You need a leader who has the stamina to show you the way you should go, according to God's Word, even if he/she can't entirely relate to you.
There's more to be said but I'll end with this: Are you meeting them half-way? You expect them to understand you but are you understanding them?
Only God through His Word can change you.
Not a church culture. Not a small group. Not a cool leader.
Look to Him, not to man.
You need leaders who are walking with Christ, not with the world. Leaders who are worthy to be followed and listened to because of their Christ-centered character & teaching, not their lingo, tight jeans or social content.
Keep the fire burning,
You know when it's time to stop praying for revival?
1) When your actions are not matching up with your words and 2) When you're relying on an event, person, group, church, world event, or anything else to put you in a certain mood so you can turn to God, pray to Him and worship Him. In other words, when you're relying on a "revival" and not God.
At this point, you're just being hypocritical or have been stirred into wishful thinking.
Addressing believers, the question then becomes: When and where does revival happen?
Anytime and anyplace.
If you turn to God in repentance, right now, you will be refreshed! The Bible says so (see the short list of Bible verses at the end of this post).
You may say, But I'm saved, I'm good with God...I don't need to repent. Ok, let's assume that's true. But do you want to get closer to God? To know Him more intimately? Do you want your life to be refreshed by the Holy Spirit in such a way that it overflows into the lives of others around you? That too can happen, right now. So...what are you waiting for?
Growing up, I can recall how waves (for lack of a better term) of fervent prayer and devotion to God would come over the youth of our church and the surrounding churches. Sometimes they were, more or less, planned and announced ahead of time (carried out in the form of prayer nights/vigils), other times, they were more spontaneous. It was wonderful to see young men and women seeking the face of God, being filled and baptized with the Holy Spirit. Some even went on to get baptized in water.
This is the promise of God for us and for future generations and we are to make the most of these opportunities. However...
You know what was not wonderful?
Seeing some of those same people go back to their old ways, shortly after.
They might have been able to pray out loud for a few nights, surrounded by friends and family but what happened when they were alone, just them and God?
Sadly, not all of them were born again and they never developed the spiritual discipline of building a personal altar on which God's fire can be experienced. I say this with a heavy heart and much responsibility. Had it not been for God's grace, none of us would even be here. I am what I am by the grace of God. To the point...
Are waves of refreshing beneficial and needed? Absolutely. But they should serve as a spark to your personal, daily altar.
In the end, everyone, individually will give an account to God (Rom.14:12). Not en masse.
We need a paradigm shift...
with Danny & Daniela Kovacs
No family is an island. Join us as we share candid discussions, Biblical advice & resources to help keep God at the center of your faith, family and career.