3 Ways to Avoid Fighting about Money

All about the benjaminsWhat’s the number-one thing couples fight about? Money. In fact, a recent study found that couples who fight about money once a week are 30% more likely to get divorced. So if you’re having nightly battles with your spouse over the grocery bill, or you’re nervous your fiancé spends too much money dining out, it’s time to address these concerns before they get worse—because they will.

Here are three ways you can avoid fighting with your spouse about money:

1. Don’t blame the other person

More than anything else, my parents (before getting divorced) fought about money. But it was never a “you spent too much on this” or “I wish I made more money” battle; instead, every fight grew out of a general sense of despair and stress that stemmed from not knowing how to pay the rent or buy the kids new soccer cleats. When one of them came home to another bill in the mail, and then realized their daughter forgot to empty the dishwasher, they lashed out. Not because there weren’t any clean forks, but because they were so stressed about that bill. This has to stop—it hurts your children and your spouse.

If you’re worried about money, stop blaming the people around you. Fix it. If you can feel your blood start to boil, stop and take a moment to consider why you’re really angry. Take a deep breath and pray for patience and peace (2 Timothy 2:23–26). Above all else, if you’re stressed about money, take comfort in your spouse. They’re your best friend, so confide in them. And for goodness’ sake, ask for a hug (it sounds simple, but I swear it works).

2. Be honest about your spending

This doesn’t just mean you admit to your husband that your new purse cost more than the phone bill—it means you’re honest with yourself. I get that you think you deserve a mini vacation with your income-tax return, and I totally understand that since you did a good job at work that you deserve a new TV—and feeling this way is totally natural, but it’s not smart (Proverbs 21:20). If you have an “I work hard, so I deserve material goods” attitude, you need to admit it to yourself and your spouse so you can fix it (Deuteronomy 8:17–18). Likewise, if you’re hardly putting any money in savings because you’re spending extra money on grande mochas, you need to admit to yourself and your spouse that you’re a bad saver. After all, “The first step is admitting you have a problem . . .” Before you can fix your finances, you need to be honest about what you’re doing wrong.

3. Figure out your financial roles and responsibilities

Is your husband a better saver than you? Is your wife better at planning and budgeting? Whatever your skill set, use it to your advantage. Then, figure out a budget that you’re both contributing to. That doesn’t mean you need to battle over who’s the bread winner—it means if your wife stays home with the kids, she finds ways to cut expenses, like affordable meals and thrift-store baby clothes. If the wife gets a bonus from work, the husband encourages her to put it in savings. Support each other and map out a budget that helps you cut frivolous spending and save for the future.

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To learn more about establishing a healthy relationship and healthy finances, I highly suggest these helpful resources by bestselling authors H. Norman Wright and Stormie Omartian:

 

Sources:

  • The New York Times, “Money Fights Predict Divorce Rates,” December 7, 2009
  • American Institute of CPAs “AICPA Survey: Finances Causing Rifts for American Couples,” May 4, 2012

 

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Does Anyone Fit In at Church? What We Might Be Doing Wrong.

Keith Robinson

Today’s guest post is by Keith Robinson, first-time author of You Found Me: God’s Relentless Pursuit to Find You. By the time Robinson was 17, his record included a DUI, possession of narcotics, and intent to sell drugs. After a life-changing visit with a stranger, Robinson went from an at-risk youth to someone consumed by spreading the good news that rescued him from a life of sin. Robinson is a charismatic speaker, founder and president of Emerge, Inc., and the lead pastor at Bethel Church in Evansville, Indiana.

Growing up, I didn’t belong to a church. I can honestly say I never really saw myself ever belonging in any “church.” From my experience, church was boring and a waste of a Sunday morning. Most of my friends in high school were forced to go with their parents and I found the whole routine to be superficial at best.

All of that changed for me when I was 17. I was invited to attend a church by a woman who’d visited my house to pray for me while I was on house arrest. When you’ve been on house arrest for several weeks, even going to church sounds fun. It’s also not that hard to get permission from your probation officer to leave your house and attend a church service.

God took that opportunity to reveal himself to me that day. He found me. He’d been looking for me for some time apparently. In fact, he was relentless in his pursuit of me. I was just too busy running. From that day forward, I learned to experience the power of God in the context of community. Today, I couldn’t imagine not belonging to a local church.

The shocking truth about “church”

Because there are so many confusing ideas in our generation about what “church” is, I believe we should reclaim the meaning and purpose of the “Church” (capital “C”).

One of the most shocking things I learned early on was discovering that the Church was not a building. You may think of the “Church” in that way, but steeples, crosses, pews, and parking lots full of cars with little fish on the back are not the real essence of the “Church.” I also thought most, if not all, churchgoing people were hypocrites. Admittedly, many are, but I determined years ago to not let the hypocrisy of some ruin the beauty of the God who found me.

The apostle Paul used the Greek word ekklesia for the word “church,” which means “called-out assembly” because of the word kaleo (to call) with the prefix ek (out). In those early days, Christians would meet often, eating together, praying together, and talking about how to live according to God’s pattern and plan. That small group grew one by one until eventually they had such a tremendous influence in their culture that the changes they envisioned became a reality in the world around them. Church was truly transformative!

Sadly, many students and young adults have a difficult time making connections in today’s churches. “Church” in America, it seems, has become a lot about “don’t do this,” “make sure you say that,” or “be sure to wear this.” Church was never meant to be based on where we’re from, what we do or say, or how we’re dressed. Belonging in the “Church” is based on what Christ has already done for us and who he’s created us to be.

Why community matters

When I started going to church, I certainly didn’t look the part. My very appearance said outcast. But my church said welcome. I had a much easier time believing in myself when surrounded by people who kept telling me how important I was to God, and to them.

Over a decade ago, I joined this network of “called-out ones.” In a world full of put-downs and stereotypes, I have chosen to believe that God desires to bring every person into a healthy expression of community: the “Church.”  Everywhere I go now, I’m compelled to perpetuate this message. The Church of Jesus is the agent of hope in our world because it’s a tangible expression of his heart.

The need for belonging is a universal one. Sadly, we often search for belonging in the arms of those who will never fill that void. Our endless pursuit of acceptance by others often leaves us feeling even lonelier.  God wants to fill that longing for belonging. He finds us, often when we least expect it. Then he does something even more extraordinary and scandalous. He calls us family! He doesn’t rescue us and simply abandon us. Instead, he calls us sons and daughters! Soon we discover that here, we belong among his people.

The longing of your heart to belong somewhere can be filled the moment you join the chorus of the “called out ones.”  Let us help you find your song again!

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However lost you may feel, know that God is pursuing you. Discover Robinson’s powerful story from tragedy to redemption, and learn how to let yourself be found: get You Found Me: God’s Relentless Pursuit to Find You for just $8.44!

 

This blog post’s content was adapted from You Found Me: God’s Relentless Pursuit to Find You with permission by Regal Books (Gospel Light).

 

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Why Dads Matter: 3 Books Every Dad Should Have

Success

Growing up, I was blessed to have an earthly dad who modeled my heavenly father’s love for me. He supported me in everything I did—even when the choices I made weren’t the same as the choices he wanted me to make (like deciding to do wrestling in high school, even though he’d invested years of his life and hundreds of dollars into making his son a basketball player).

But more than just supporting and loving me, my dad was a model of the man I hoped I would become. After serving as a worship leader and for a year as a missionary in refugee camps in Indonesia, my dad became a dedicated sound technician at our church. He’s been with the same church for over 40 years, remaining committed to his spiritual family through shifts in leadership, direction, and the volume of the worship (he now keeps a cup full of earplugs for the elderly).

The role model a Christian kid needed

I’d like to think that without my dad’s incredible model of service to God and the people around him, Jesus still would have called me into youth ministry—but I never would have been prepared for the level of devotion it takes to lead a team of youth leaders and live out a relational ministry to the adolescents in my community.

Without his model of financial responsibility, I would still be drowning in the debt of my student loans like many of my peers. My dad modeled financial responsibility with careful budgeting, intelligent saving, and a passionate work ethic. As a high-school teacher, he has never been wealthy, but as a father, he has always been rich in love and wisdom, and the way he spends the time and money he has reflects that. Even as an adult, I still turn to his knowledge and experience when making tough financial choices.

Today, less and less kids have a father they can look up to. And it’s a self-perpetuating cycle. According to James Merritt, 43% of American kids live in a home without their biological father. Statistically, kids who grow up in homes without their father are three times as likely to drop out of school, more likely to run away from home, at greater risk to harm themselves emotionally and physically, and more likely to get divorced if they get married.

The gritty reality of fatherlessness is a powerful call to fathers everywhere. Kids need the best from us, or it will be that much harder for them to offer their own kids their best in the future. The choices you make today as a father can affect your family—positively or negatively—for generations to come.

Here are three incredible resources for dads:

1. Success over Stress: 12 Ways to Take Back Your Life by H. Norman Wright

One of the greatest enemies of a good dad is stress. It can take any number of forms and can seep into all areas of your life—emotionally, physically, and spiritually. In Success over Stress, H. Norman Wright unmasks the many faces of stress and provides fathers with the tools to both combat it and choose to live a life defined by success, not stress.

2. What God Wants Every Dad to Know by James Merritt

James Merritt dives into the broken world of the fatherless, emerging with an empowering call to every father. After examining the weight of fatherhood, and the importance of being a good dad, Merritt lightens the load with keys to being a spiritually and financially disciplined father.

3. Quiet Times for Every Parent by H. Norman Wright

As a family therapist, H. Norman Wright knows the strength it takes to be a well-rounded parent. In Quiet Times for Every Parent, he provides hundreds of prayers to encourage, inspire, and challenge parents as they learn to be more resourceful.

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Today Only: Get 70% Off the True Prosperity Bundle!

Money Won't Make You Rich

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3 Ways to Overcome Financial Temptation

Sex and Money

I’ve been an off-and-on shopaholic over the years, so resisting a tempting purchase often feels like a feat in itself. A big sale at my favorite store? I’d better stock up on anything my size. Coworkers visiting the tasty food truck for lunch? That packed lunch can wait until tomorrow. Picking up a new hobby? Obviously, I need the best supplies and equipment available. And don’t get me started on reward programs—“Just spend 25 more dollars” . . . so I can cash in on a $10 prize? Can’t miss that opportunity!

A couple months ago, I reviewed last year’s expenditures and realized how much money I could have saved had I redirected some of my financial savviness (when I do shop, it normally is a big sale) and developed some discipline in what I buy. These three tips have been crucial in improving my spending and saving habits:

1. Predetermine how each paycheck is allotted

Before each payday, write out where the money will go. Fixed expenses come first, savings second, then consider upcoming expenses for which you need to start saving. For example, a friend is coming to visit me soon, so knowing that I’ll be spending more money than usual on gas and restaurants, I started setting aside a small amount of each paycheck the past two months. The same idea works for things like haircuts, birthday and wedding presents, and plane tickets for the holidays. It’s much easier on your budget to save small amounts over time than be hit with a big expense at once.

Plus, this step has helped me realize how often I spend money at the spur of the moment—it already seems strange (and a wave of irresponsibility hits me) if I make an unforeseen purchase.

2. Use cash to do in-person purchases

Take out cash with each paycheck to pay for anything that doesn’t require a credit card. Groceries, movie tickets, eating out, miscellaneous household items—all should be paid in cash. And when it’s gone, it’s gone. This step gives you freedom in what you choose to do for fun with your money, but also forces you to be disciplined and prioritize what you value most in your purchases. It’s much more difficult to spend $20 cash than charge $20 on a credit card.

3. Open a goal savings account

No matter what stage of life you’re in, there’s always something “big” to plan for: tuition, a car, a home, retirement—it can quickly become overwhelming! That’s why having a goal savings account is key in making those expenses not quite as daunting. Keeping your savings separate from your regular checking account is a simple way to start growing funds for large purchases since the temptation to use the money for other items is removed. Plus, it’s rewarding to see how quickly your fund can grow when it’s left untouched!

The world throws a lot of temptations at Christians—whether they’re financial temptations or something else, the common thread is desiring excess. Financial success, sex, leisure—they can all be good things when following God’s commands, but can spiral out of control when pursued with the wrong intentions. Learn more about overcoming temptations with these helpful books:

 

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Vyrso_Money_BLOG_HEADER-1

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7 Money Rules for Life: How to Take Control of Your Financial Future by Mary Hunt

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40 Days to the Cross: Celebrating Lent with the Great Church Thinkers

40 Days to the Cross

Today’s guest post is by Jessi Strong, coeditor of the new book 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers, which for a limited time, you can get for 25% off! Strong is also the senior writer for Bible Study Magazine, and has also developed content for the Faithlife Study Bible and Lexham Bible Dictionary.

I grew up in a large, loving, nondenominational church that didn’t  celebrate Lent or the liturgical calendar. I knew that Lent involved giving up something: my family’s cranky next-door neighbor became even crankier those weeks before Easter when his wife enforced his cigarette fast. But it wasn’t until I started attending chapel my freshman year at an Evangelical Free university that I experienced congregational readings, Advent Sundays, and Lent. My parents’ generation considered these traditions “tired,” but they breathed new life into my understanding of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

While we’re called to meditate on Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, the 40 days of Lent prompt us to a season of confession, repentance, and renewal. This 40-day period echoes the 40 days Jesus spent fasting and praying in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry. It allows us to focus our attention on Christ and his suffering, and prepares us for the celebration of his resurrection—the very center of our faith.

Many nontraditional churches now adapt Lent traditions for their own congregations. Mine does a 40-day group fast, asking church members to sign up to fast for a single day over the period of Lent. Some go on social-media fasts in an effort to break away from the distractions of modern technology. Others restrict their diet in some way. The idea isn’t that God will be pleased with our fasting, but that we’ll recognize that our lives are full—so full that we may not notice the void that only Christ can fill.

Reflections from great thinkers

Lent is a season of confession, repentance, and renewal. For me, an important part of Lent is reading through one of the Gospels—reflecting on Jesus’ journey toward the cross, his revelations of divinity, and my need for a savior. In 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers we’ve paired readings from the Gospel of Mark with reflections from some of the most important thinkers in church history. During the 40 days of Lent, you’ll reflect on Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection with confessions from the Psalms, readings from the Gospel of Mark, and reflections from great thinkers. Response questions will help you focus your devotional time. We hope this book helps guide your study as you reflect on Christ’s work during the season of Lent.

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Preaching like Tozer: 3 Ways He Broke the Mold

My Daily Devotions

Today’s guest post is by Dr. James L. Snyder, author and curator of My Daily Pursuit—a new collection of previously unpublished Tozer content that offers inspirational devotions for every day. Dr. Snyder is an award-winning author who has written or edited 27 books and whose work has appeared in more than 80 periodicals. Dr. Snyder’s first book about the life of Tozer won the 1992 Reader’s Choice Award by Christianity Today. Get My Daily Pursuit: Devotions for Every Day on Vyrso for just $10.19!

Whenever someone asked my uncle what pie he liked best, he always responded with whatever pie he was eating at the time. I feel the same about Tozer’s work. When anybody asks me which Tozer book I like best, I always respond with the one I’m  working on at the time. Unlike works by any other writer I know, there’s something about a Tozer sermon or book that speaks straight to the heart.

People who know A. W. Tozer know him as a conference speaker, writer, and editor. At his heart, however, he was a true pastor. His best preaching was in his church, either Chicago or Toronto, and he truly had a pastor’s heart.

Here are three aspects of Tozer’s preaching that made him one of the greats:

1. He thought through everything

Even as a young man, Tozer was well read. Although he never finished high school, let alone college, he was well acquainted with theological books. It would be safe to say that he far exceeded the number of books the average college and seminary graduate ever read.

His boys, who were going to college at the time, always tried to spring a new book on their father. Some new book or author that he was not acquainted with, but they never were able to do it; he seemed to know every writer and every book that had any kind of significance.

Not only was Dr. Tozer well read, he also  thoroughly considered what he was going to say or write about. He was never superficial in his preaching or writing, making him completely unique from his contemporaries. He bypassed the passing trends and fancies touted in Christian circles of his day and focused on the everlasting truth that never changes from one generation to the next.

As you listen to him preach or read some of his essays, you come away with the idea that he was very concentrated in his thinking. He  thought through what he wanted to say to the point of absolute truth. He did not just spout off to spout off; he was a thinker who poured through doctrine and theology.

2. He always put Christ first

He often said that if you read the Bible, but haven’t truly encountered Jesus Christ, you haven’t  really read the Bible. I think the same is true for Tozer’s preaching and writing. If you listen to him or read from his books and you don’t really encounter Christ, you’re  not really reading or listening. The whole focus of his preaching and writing was Christ.

His preaching was not technical in any sense of the word. He wanted to convey not mere information, but the presence of God. Before he would step on to the pulpit, he would pray this prayer: “O God, when I preach, make Thyself so present that the people will know You are present.” Only those attending his services would understand how God marvelously answered that prayer.

You couldn’t  help but feel the presence of God as Dr. Tozer  preached. One listener said, “Tozer out-Davided David.” It was his way of saying that there was an anointing on Dr. Tozer’s preaching that hungry souls could feel.

3. He was passionate

Some people might think that Dr. Tozer was a traditionalist, but he vehemently denied that. A traditionalist, according to him, was somebody who did something because they did it before—they had no thoughts or appreciation of what they were doing, they just went  through the motions. Tozer was anything but that.

Tozer always had something good to say to the heart hungry for God. Those looking for something to puff themselves up with never found anything in Dr. Tozer’s ministry. His preaching went to the heart of the person who was “panting after God.”

Everybody knows that preaching is quite different from writing. My challenge in this Tozer collection was to bridge the gap between his preaching and his writing. This is not always easy to do, so I set myself up on a special discipline to be true to Tozer’s voice.

Every day I would listen to an audio sermon of Dr. Tozer, then read a chapter from one of his books, the three primary ones being: The Pursuit of God, The Divine Conquest, and The Knowledge of the Holy. This really helped me wrap my head around the voice of Tozer.

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Draw closer to the Holy Spirit as you’re guided by one of the twentieth century’s most prolific and inspiring theologians: get A. W. Tozer’s devotional, My Daily Pursuit: Devotions for Every Day, on Vyrso!

 

 

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Get 11 Josh McDowell Books under $1 Each

Empowered

Author and apologist Josh McDowell is a trailblazer for truth and relationships. He has five decades of ministry fastened tightly under his belt, yet he’s still engaging people of every culture and demographic. McDowell is passionate about sharing the essentials of the Christian faith—in fact, since the beginning of his ministry, he’s reached over 25,000,000 people and authored or coauthored 140 books, selling 40 million copies. For a limited time, get huge savings on 11 of McDowell’s Unshakeable Truth titles.

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An Intimate Look at the Life of A. W. Tozer: Passionate Worship

My Daily Devotions

Today’s guest post is by Dr. James L. Snyder, author and curator of My Daily Pursuit—a new collection of previously unpublished A. W. Tozer content that offers inspirational devotions for every day. Dr. Snyder is an award-winning author who has written or edited 27 books, and whose work has appeared in more than 80 periodicals. Dr. Snyder’s first book about the life of Tozer won the 1992 Reader’s Choice Award by Christianity Today. Get My Daily Pursuit: Devotions for Every Day for just $10.19!

A. W. Tozer’s number-one passion was God. It was never a matter of convenience with him, but a disciplined life of joyful sacrifice. He would rather spend time alone with God than anyone else. Of course many, including his friends, misunderstood this.

Tozer’s time alone with God was not merely intellectual or some religious exercise to finish so he could move on with his day—it was a personal encounter with God in adoration and worship. Often he would lie prostrate on the floor in silent worship giving God the opportunity to speak. And he was never disappointed.

His daily worship was not routine. In fact, it was anything but routine. He regarded worship as an eagerly anticipated encounter with God. God never disappointed him on this level. His was a daily pursuit that yielded much fruit throughout his life.

 A love of the mystics

Tozer’s main desire was to know God as fully as God desired him. The more he knew God, the more he wanted to know God. It was the passion of his life right up until his death in 1963.

Tozer’s passion for God was fueled by the books he read. He was a voracious reader and included a wide variety of subjects in his reading. In his younger days, he read much on psychology. As he grew older and his hunger for God increased, the books that drew him were the classical devotional writers, referred to as mystics. Tozer was reading these mystics and their works before the average evangelical Christian ever heard the term.

He often said, “These people know God and I want to know what they know about God.” He took off in his pursuit of God with these mentors by his side. He did not agree with everything they wrote—in fact, he never agreed with everything anybody said or wrote. Instead, his focus was on an authentic knowledge of and experience with God. These mystics seemed to understand that aspect of Christianity and helped Tozer come to grips with it in his own life.

Most of the mystics he was drawn to avoided the technical aspects of religion and majored on the essential or the inner aspects of the Christian life. Tozer appreciated that. They were more interested in knowing God personally and not just knowing about God.

Heavily sprinkled throughout his preaching and writing were these mystic friends. One of his favorite mystic writers was Lady Julian, who he often referred to as his girlfriend. He said, “I do not think I can get into trouble calling her my girlfriend since she has been dead for over 500 years.” He loved her spirit and her interpretation of life in God. Her book The Revelations of Divine Love was regularly quoted throughout his ministry.

Rejoicing in the hymns

Another one of Tozer’s passions in his worship was hymns. His hymnbook was second only to his Bible. Once in a sermon, he commented, “If you would spend a year reading the hymns of Wesley, Watts, and Newton, you would learn more theology than if you would spend three years in seminary.” Those men set Bible doctrine and theology to music the church has been singing for hundreds of years.

It would be difficult to find any sermon of Tozer’s where he did not quote from some hymn. He seemed to have these hymns on the tip of his tongue. He quoted them in such a way that you knew he loved them. It was not just poetry to him—it was the music of worship and adoration. I think it’s  safe to say Tozer received his theological training from his Dutch Reformed hymnal that was always by his side.

According to Tozer’s thinking, hymnology represented the true essence of theology. With him, theology began and ended with God. It is putting the infinite attributes of God in the heart of the believer where they belong. Theology that does not inspire worship was not biblical theology in his mind. For the technical theologian, Tozer had little patience and less to say. It was the heart aflame for God that Tozer was interested in.

Make worship a daily pursuit

In putting together My Daily Pursuit, I wanted to combine all these elements in tribute to Tozer and his passion for worship. The style I strove for was conversational Tozer—just as though Tozer was sitting across the table drinking coffee and sharing his heart. These are not excerpts from his published works. Rather, these are pieces collected from his audio sermons. I wanted the feel in reading this devotional to be a personal, intimate chat with Tozer.

Each devotional starts with Scripture. It’s  important, from Tozer’s point of view, that the Bible be preeminent in all we do. We are not to begin with the Bible and then push it aside and go on with our day. Everything starts with the Bible and everything ends with a prayer unto the God who inspired the Bible.

My Daily Pursuit will introduce people to Dr. Tozer. More than that, it will introduce people to a passion of worship that they’ve probably never experienced before. These devotionals are not to be read through quickly, but rather to be meditated on and prayed through to allow the Holy Spirit to really minister to the heart.

I trust this book will lead many sincere Christians into the very heart of God.

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Discover the power of daily worship and the authenticity of Tozer’s words: get My Daily Pursuit: Devotions for Every Day on Vyrso.

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