By Ahmad Davis
Special to Inside The Pew

Everyone’s journey to true personal financial freedom is different, but the path is similar. My journey started in 2000 when I was homeless and going through a divorce.

I learned some simple systems for taking control over my finances that have helped me to stop being overwhelmed, pay off debt, strengthen my marriage, and coach a multitude of professionals, couples, and businesses.

Step 1: Learn from the right sources

My oldest daughter is a stereotypical teenager in some respects. She loves to listen to music, her fashion sense is affected by the fads of the day, and she sometimes believes in the wisdom of her peers over the wisdom of us older people. So I decided to take a different approach when challenging some of that wisdom, I would ask for proof. This proof would be need to be in writing from another reliable source, and sometimes more proof is needed. I found that her friends were usually exaggerating about their knowledge or were just plain wrong.

Personal finance is much the same. There are a lot of “experts” giving different opinions about the same information.

Step 2: Do they work from a proven system?
Proven systems can typically be easily explained and have a step by step process involved. If your source can not walk you through the process from A to Z, walk away. This person or business either is not performing these steps in their own lives, have not walked other people through the system successfully, and/or have not taken the time to structure the information so that is easy to understand and simple to implement.

Key Point: Some systems are proven by personal example, some are proven by success of others, but all can be taught in a step by step format.

Step 3: Can you find it in Scripture?
If you look, the Scripture will give you guidance on what to do and what not to do with every part of personal finance from debt, saving, budgeting, investing, making money with a business, etc. One of my favorite Scriptures on this is Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything,but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

When you are receiving financial advice, simply walk them through this process and you will quickly weed out advice that is not in your long term best interest.

Ahmad Davis is a Coach with Victory By Design, a firm based in Beaumont, Texas, serving clients locally, nationally and internationally. Ahmad provides solutions for individuals, couples, and businesses who are overwhelmed and stressed financially. Ahmad’s typical clients’ are pastors, single parents, lawyers, couples, doctors, business executives, newlyweds, business owners, and others who want a simple solution with remarkable measurable results. For more information, visit http://www.thebiblicalblueprint.com. To get your questions answered on the Inside The Pew Forum, email Ahmad at coach@thebiblicalblueprint.com.

By Phyllis Jenkins
Special To Inside The Pew

As we move forward into 2013, there are some habits that need to be unloaded and left behind. One of those habits is procrastination. It’s a word that we don’t like to bePhyllis Jenkins reminded of, but we secretly hang on to it. Many of us believe we know the meaning of procrastination, but I heard a definition that will forever be engraved in my mind. Bishop Rosie O’Neal shared that God gave her the following definition of the word procrastination. She said, “It’s the behavioral by-product of a lack of understanding about the delay of an opportunity which is grace. It is the arrogant assumption that God owes you another chance to do tomorrow what He gave you a chance to do today.

WOW!

You might want to read that definition again-slowly and apply it accordingly. Make the proclamation that you will press forward into your purpose and calling without delay in 2013. Philippians 3:14 said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Prayer:

Dear Father in Heaven,

Thank you for another opportunity to be obedient to your calling and purpose for my life. Please forgive me of ‘all’ the things I left undone because of procrastination. As I move forward into 2013, I will not delay another opportunity of grace given by You. I will no longer minimize my purpose by putting it on hold. Thank You for Your Love, Grace & Mercy.

 

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen.

Over-comer, Believer, Dreamer, and Encourager are just a few words that describe Phyllis Jenkins. She is the founder and president of the Powerful Journey Organization, where she empowers women to live a balanced life by helping them: Find their Passion- Focus on What Matters Most and Flourish in their Calling. Phyllis is also the publisher of the Powerful Journey, an online magazine. She inspires, equips and enlightens audiences of all ages through her practical and powerful presentations. With her captivating energy, she offers strategies which will fuel your Journey with Purpose, Preparation and Perseverance. She is a featured author in the Allen Public Library 2009 and 2010 ‘Write-On’ Literary books. Her first children’s book (co-authored by her 6-year-old grandson), “Rudy’s Unforgettable Flight” is available in bookstores. Contact her at phyllis@phyllisjenkins.com.

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

The concern of HIV/AIDS around the world takes a front seat Dec. 1 for World AIDS Day. In the 20-plus years since the first commemoration, South Africa had made strides to help its men, women, and children. While there is work that still needs to be done, deaths from HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa have declined. In 2011, 1.2 million South Africans died from the disease, down 32 percent from 2010, according to the UNAIDS report. In addition, the reports explain 5.6 million people in South Africa are living with HIV/AIDS.

A social conscience from people within and outside of South Africa is needed to help South Africans through this catastrophe. Shirley Tucker, author of the award-winning novel “Diamonds in the Dust,” uses her storytelling ability and faith in God to present a story of perseverance, hope, amid the storm. The South African author tells the story of Ida Morgan, a woman who experience the unthinkable when her husband is murdered. Ida’s road to healing and wholeness is paved by “diamonds in the dust.” Ida begins to question God and wonder how He could allow the wicked to gain a victory. In the end, Ida sees it is not God’s way of punishing people, it is His way of placing Ida in a role to help defenseless people in society, including children who are afflicted with AIDS.

As a backdrop to the powerful novel is the realism Tucker uses to tell “Diamonds in the Dust.” The novel is the winner of the 2011 inaugural Athanatos Christian Ministries Christian Novel Contest and it is worthy of the award. The author allows the reader to see what life is like in South Africa, such as Ida coming in contact with AIDS sufferers, orphans, and homeless people in her country. Ironically, Tucker and her husband, Mark, are founders of Phakamani Foundation to distribute micro-loans to enterprising, but poor, women in South Africa.

Top reviews for the novel include Kirkus, where a reviewer concludes Tucker’s “Diamonds in the Dust” beholds “an addictive storyline that pulls at the reader’s social conscience and sense of justice, delivered in an honest, humane manner.” Furthermore, the Dove Foundation awarded Tucker’s “must read” novel the highest ranking a piece can receive, five Doves.

On this World AIDS Day 2012 (and everyday), it is important for those who confess His to listen to God’s divine call and help those in society who cannot help themselves. As it is said in Psalm 34:22, “The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him” (NIV). Just as Ida found, forsaking our comforts and doing what is best in the name of God benefits everyone.

 

By Bill Ellis
Special to ASSIST News Service

SCOTT DEPOT, WV (ANS) — The pastor’s study is the one place in every city, county, state and nation that should be saturated with prayer – humble, believing and active prayer. That is the control center of the entire operation.

I have had the privilege of being in the pastor’s study in hundreds of churches, some among the world’s largest churches and the most prominent preachers. The pastor of the largest church east of the Mississippi River had for his working study a four-room house across the driveway from his residence. Those large rooms were filled with books. Dr. R. G. Lee had an inner study, no windows, where he did his most concentrated work on preaching.

In the large Bellevue Baptist Church, in Memphis, Tenn., where he pastored for 32 years, he had a beautiful and well-appointed office. When I was in it with him one day, he told me that particular office was used for interviews, counseling and meetings for church business. His office for study, writing and sermon preparation was located beside his residence on Peach Street.

It is sometimes hard to get much serious research and study done in terms of sermon preparation in a church office with constant interruptions. I am always hesitant to go to a pastor’s study – and only if I think I can be helpful with such a visit. Pastors who are serious about their assignments, have no time for idle chatting with parishioners who have little to do.

As a pastor, I had a beautiful office at the church and fortunately had another inner office, but my main office for study, writing and sermonic preparation was in the basement of the parsonage for 25 years.

Two wonderful parishioners, Elgin and Dorothy Hawthorne, whose son, Dennis, is a successful pastor in Springfield, Ill., and their younger son, Elgin, a church organist of excellence, presented me with a cherished bronze and wood plaque, which had a story engraved on it titled, “Pastor’s Study.” For years, it has been in my office. Here’s its message,

“The pastor’s study is the symbol of the calling of the Christian minister to be the shepherd of a flock of God. His sermons are prepared to feed the congregation on God’s Holy Word.

“Here the work of the church is planned so that the congregation may grow and bear fruit in fellowship, teaching, and witnessing. Here you will always find a friend and counselor in time of need. He will not be surprised at your sins, nor will he judge you in them, but he always invites you to share with him, the wisdom and love of God, the knowledge of forgiveness of sin, and the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“You are always welcome.”

The pastor’s door is never closed to those who need the counseling, encouragement and prayers of their pastor. It is not, however, normally a place for idle chitchat. It is a place where you will find a loving heart and understanding listener.

Speaking of Christ’s gifts to the church, “He gave some to be . . . and some pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). Timothy, a young preacher is informed, “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ . . .” (I Timothy 4:6).

I do not know of any calling or profession that demands more of a man or woman than the one to be a pastor. October is “Pastors Appreciation Month.” Do all you can to assist your pastor with the work of ministry.

Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 2,000 newspaper and magazine columns, articles and contributions to books. He is also a widely known motivational speaker and pulpit guest who utilizes enjoyment of life and just plain fun and laughter while speaking to high school, university and professional sports teams as well as to business and professional groups of all kinds. His keen understanding of human problems makes him a favorite speaker for youth, parent, and senior adult meetings. He is accompanied by Kitty, his wife, favorite singer, editor and publisher.

 

By Jane Reed
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Inside The Pew or Pew Talk radio staff.

While attending church this past Sunday the Pastor mentioned something that has been on my mind this week.  He mentioned the “happy factory” that is built inside all of us.  It is a factory that is built by Christ.  This factory runs full steam, even in times of struggle. This got me thinking of the struggles I have faced over the past twelve years.  I have struggled with abuse, divorce due to the abuse, moving away from family and friends and starting over and the residual effects that came from the abuse.  My daughters suffered greatly and as any mom would, I suffered with them.   I then struggled with rejection by one of the beautiful children we were so blessed to have been able to adopt and the psychiatric issues he brought along for the ride.  In the middle of that entire struggle, I was faced with medical issues and learning how to adjust into the new marriage God had given me.  Struggle has been my “middle name” so to speak for a very long time.  In the midst of it all, I was still happy.  Why?  Because my happy factory was still running!

I didn’t base my happiness on the circumstances of my life.  My happiness was not based on a husband, children or a job. My happiness was base on my savior, Jesus Christ.  When happiness is based on the one who never fails, happiness is always within us.  Happiness based on earthly things and people will eventually let us down and cause the happiness inside us to shut down.  Imagine where I would be right now if my happiness has been based on my children, my husband or my circumstances!  Which brings me to the thought I have been having for the past few days: how do we keep that happy factory running, even in dire circumstance?  I believe there are three ways to keep happy and fulfilled even when life is letting us down: pray, believe and receive.

  1. Pray.  Praying is our direct link to God.  Because Jesus died on the cross, we now have an open line of communication to our Heavenly Father.  Prayer is the “electric line” of our happy factory.  When we pray we open up the line for currents of “electricity” to flow.  Pray over everything.  Never cease. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)  Keep those lines open.  God hears you and He will respond.
  2. Believe.  When we pray we have to believe that God is listening.  We have to believe that He hears our cries and is standing with us in our struggles. We have to believe that Jesus died for us. This is different than just saying we believe, the belief has to be there! This belief is what gives us peace. (Romans 5:1, 2)  This is the “electricity” that flows and keeps our happy factory lit up with God’s light!
  3. Receive. Everyone knows how electricity works.  Currents run from point “a” to point “b”, but what if point “b” is capped off? The electricity stops in its tracks.  We have to be willing to receive God’s word, receive God’s answers and be patient when the electric current is slower than we think it should be!  God’s timing is perfect (Hebrews 4: 16). No matter the struggle, His timing is essential to the outcome.

Struggles are part of our lives here on earth.  We cannot avoid them.  We cannot run from them.  At some point, and in most cases, many points in our lives, we will struggle. Our peace in those struggles comes from knowing Christ and letting Him keep our “happy factory” running. Notice I say “let Him” keep it running?  We can cap off our point “b” and find ourselves in a very dark place.  It is essential that we keep our lines open and our factory running!

I pray that whatever circumstance you are struggling with right now will not stop you from finding the joy that can only be found in Jesus Christ. I pray that your happiness is based solely on the One who never lets you down.  I pray that your “happy factory” shines God’s light even in your darkest hours!  Keep your lines open, believe in His word and receive His peace!

Jane Reed is the founder of Blessed Life Ministries (blessedlifeministries.com ) and the Editor-in-Chief of Blessed Life Magazine. Jane founded Blessed Life Ministries for the purpose of spreading the word of God so that others can feel the beauty and blessing of God in their lives. It is her prayer that this ministry will touch each person whom it comes in contact with, allowing God’s word to penetrate their souls, bringing them to a closer walk with Christ.