Christmastime is coming. Yes, it’s November already. As of this writing, Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away. Many of us, of course, are very excited about this. Certain members of my household will be lobbying for me to put on Christmas music prior to Thanksgiving (they’ve been wearing me down for years on this one). Others of us are worried about the financial implications of the holiday season, among other things.
A budget is an itemized summary of likely income and expenses for a given period (I recommend keeping a monthly budget that covers a calendar year). Simply put, it’s a spending plan. It helps you determine whether you can grab that bite to eat after work or should head home for a bowl of soup. It is typically created using a spreadsheet (I like Excel), and it provides a concrete, organized, and easily understood breakdown of how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out. But more than that, it’s an invaluable tool to help you and your family prioritize your spending and manage your money.
I love being the pastor of a multi-ethnic church. Whether it’s sampling pupusas at a potluck breakfast or enjoying the variations of expressiveness during Sunday morning worship, I really appreciate being part of a diverse community of people trying to follow Jesus together. In fact, I think the Scripture is clear that our diversity is literally a little taste of heaven.
Lament is appropriate. But afterwards, we tend to ask questions—hard questions. What’s the answer? What’s the solution? We know violence isn’t the answer. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Politics don’t seem to be much more than a limited part of the solution. If there was an easy political solution, wouldn’t it already have been implemented? No, we need something different. Something more. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but there are two things I feel strongly about.
When the game was over, I breathed a sigh of relief that my team had won, but as I was reflecting on how close my team came to losing, I thought about how sometimes in life, one decision (like one pitch) can make a big difference. Will I say yes or no to that temptation? When I fall down, will I quit or get back up? Will I forgive or hold a grudge? Will I pray or go it alone?
Do you ever struggle with authenticity? I find that to be authentic, I need to experience grace. In other words, if I reveal my true self to you, but feel judged and condemned, then it is unlikely I will let my guard down again anytime soon. If, however, we are “real” with one another and still accept each other, then authenticity can increase.