Thursday

Are You Frugal or Miserly?

A woman limits her family to 2-minute showers and one light bulb. Another issues daily toilet paper rations and reuses dental floss.

The economic depression of 2009 forced many individuals to step back and take a long hard look at their finances. Unemployment, lower wages, and a higher cost of living prompted many to seek new (or old) ways to stretch their dollars. Coupons, thrift and consignment stores, and Craig’s List became trendy and socially acceptable. TLC even jumped on the bandwagon by producing TV shows such as Extreme Couponing and Hoarders to highlight some of the worse examples of thrifty and/or compulsive living.

As Christians, we’re called to be good stewards of the resources God gives us, but how do we know whether we’re frugal or miserly? 

Here are several questions to ask ourselves: 

1. What are our motives? 

If it’s to stick to a reasonable budget, live within my means, or save in order to get out of debt or make a major purchase without using credit, we’re probably okay. If it’s to hoard money for the sake of storing up riches, we may have a problem. Jesus cautioned the rich man who hoarded wealth

2. Do my money-saving actions devalue people and relationships? 

 If I embarrass my family by my over-the-top penny-pinching ways, fail to meet their basic needs, or abuse store employees in pursuit of a bargain, I have crossed the line.

3. Are my practices legal? 

Using coupons in a way that disregards their terms, taking from a restaurant anything beyond what I would normally use with my meal, and illegally downloading movies or music are a few practices spotlighted in a Growing Money articled called “Money Saving Strategies that Are Actually Illegal.” Even saving money for a “good cause,” doesn’t justify breaking the law.

4. Am I trusting money for security? 

While we’re called to financial responsibility and instructed to prepare for the future, it’s easy to trust in our savings or our thriftiness instead of God. When we base our security on the amount of money in the bank instead of God’s ability to provide for us, we’ve exalted money to a position of idolatry. This is sin.

5. Am I giving money away or keeping it all for myself?

I know one woman who places her coupon savings in a jar every week and donates the money to a crisis pregnancy center. Another practices thrifty living so she can support a child through Compassion International. A third makes her coffee at home instead of stopping at Starbucks so she can give regularly to missionary friends in Spain and Mexico. One of the best ways to ensure our financial priorities are in order is to include generous and substantial giving in our monthly budgets.

As a believer, I’ve found that even good things like financial stewardship and fiscal responsibility can become unbalanced. The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to recognize money’s true purpose—to meet our needs and the needs of others and support God’s kingdom work. Pope Francis commented on society’s relationship with money by saying, “Money has to serve, not to rule!”  I couldn’t agree more.

Jesus cut to the heart of the matter in the account of the greedy rich man in Luke 12.

And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. (v. 29-31)

So we must ask ourselves, are we frugal, or are we miserly? If we examine our lives and ask God to reveal our hearts, I think we’ll have our answer.

What about you? How have you balanced frugality and generosity? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below and bless us all.

And if you’d like to peruse websites that embrace biblical frugality, here are a few of my favorites:

Mary Hunt’s Everyday Cheapskate  

Jenny Martin’s Southern Savers 

Jonni McCoy’s Miserly Moms
 



Do you live within driving distance of Brookville, PA? Then please join us for "Getting Connected," a weekend women's conference sponsored by Good Shepherd UM Parish at Brookville Evangelical United Methodist Church on October 24-25.

I'll be sharing three practical sessions for 21st century women: Overloaded--How to Conquer the Chaos that Overwhelms Us, Sleep Is a Waste of Time (NOT), and Are You A Worry Wart or a Warrior Woman?

The cost is nominal, only $25 for Friday evening and Saturday sessions, snacks, and lunch. For more information or to register, contact Kathy Shaffer, flokat1990@gmail.com.  

I'd love to see you there!

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Tuesday

photo credit
The Philistines. 

I often think of them as big, dumb oafs. Goliath is probably the most well-known of this Cromagnum race. I picture him as a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Hulk with a little Andrae the Giant thrown in for good measure. 

The sixth chapter of 1 Samuel tells us about them. The Philistines and the Israelites were at war. God wasn’t about to bless the Israelites in battle while they were dead-set (pun intended) on handling the war in their own strength. When things got dicey and it looked like they might lose, the wicked sons of Eli the priest pulled out their lucky rabbit’s foot—the ark of God—and carried it into battle. The Philistines defeated the Israelites and captured the revered Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of Israel’s might and power. 

This is when the story really gets interesting. In every city where the ark was housed, plagues broke out. Thousands died from painful tumors, and cities were overrun with rats (probably carrying the Bubonic plague.) 

And while the Philistines were known more for their brawn than their brains, it didn’t take them long to connect the dots. “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is harsh toward us and Dagon our god” (1 Sam 5:7). Even their wise men agreed—the ark had to go. To continue to deny that the true God, the God of Israel, was behind these events was simply foolish. “Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He did mighty things among them, did they not let the people go . . . ?” (1 Sam. 6:6). 

Unfortunately, even though the light bulb turned on for the Philistines, they didn’t apply their understanding to their personal lives. Although they acknowledged that the God of Israel had done mighty things among them, they didn’t take the next logical step and place their faith in Him for their salvation. 

In contrast, citizens of another pagan city, Jericho, also had the opportunity to hear of and see the God of Israel at work. Listen to the testimony of Rahab, one of the city’s less-than-upstanding citizens, “I know that the Lord has given you the land. . . For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt. . . and as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted.” 

Unlike the Philistines, however, Rahab didn’t just acknowledge that God was mighty, powerful, and able to do miracles, she went a step further. She applied the truth about God to her own life: “. . . For the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” 

She heard and saw what God could do, and she acknowledged him as her Savior. She moved from head knowledge to heart knowledge, from intellectual assent to wholehearted acceptance.

And then, as is always the case with a true faith experience, she staked her life on the truth she had accepted. She tied the scarlet cord the spies gave her to her window, turned her back on her pagan lifestyle, and waited with her family in faith and trust for God’s deliverance. 

Today, which type of hearer are you? 

Are you a Philistine—one who has heard about God and acknowledged his work in the world, but has never wholeheartedly committed your life to him? Or are you a Rahab—one who has seen what God has done in the world, repented of your sins, and placed your faith and trust in him for your salvation? 

The Philistines were eventually annihilated as a race. In contrast, one of the descendants of Rahab became the Messiah, the Savior of the world. 

Saving faith always demonstrates itself by action. What would your actions demonstrate about the state of your faith? Don’t be a Philistine – one who watches God work from a distance but never knows him personally. Be a Rahab—one who experiences how God wants to use us, change us, and give us life and purpose. 

 If you liked this post, you might also enjoy "Have You Put Your Hand on the Goat?"







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Monday

You're Invited! Launch Team Members Needed

Dear Friends, 

I originally began this post Dear Faithful Blog Readers, but then I deleted those words and inserted Dear Friends, because that’s what you are. Like my in-person friends, you and I have shared joy and sorrow, spiritual highs and spiritual lows, victories and failures. 

Many of you have been with me from the beginning—when Hungry for God was called Be Not Weary, when the font was small, and the pictures blurry. The name changed, but the mission remains the same—to provide 5-minute devotions for busy women as we walk the faith walk together. Many of you comment, email, and allow me to pray for you. We’ve become more than faces on a screen; we’ve become family.

This is why I want to issue a personal invitation to be part of something really special. 

In the first week of November, my devotional book Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time will be released. 

HFG/SFT is a 31-Day collection of devotions with a twist—each devotion begins with a question I call Facetime. Facetime are questions busy women would like to ask God face to face. Some are serious, like God, this problem is so big. Does it do any good to pray? Others are lighthearted, like God, I’m having a bad hair day. What can I do to feel better about myself? Each question is followed by an answer straight from Scripture couched in a modern-day parable that’s easy for today’s women to relate to. 

The book is small—just the right size to tuck into a diaper bag, purse, book bag, or briefcase and pull out when we find a few minutes for quiet reflection. It will also be formatted for e Readers, phones, tablets, and iPads. 

I believe my book will help busy women connect with God in the craziness of life. Like a spiritual power bar, each devotion is packed with nutrition to help women get through the day. 

I’d like to invite you, my special reader friends, to be part of my launch team. As I assemble my team, I need people who believe in the value of HFG devotions and are willing to share information about the book to their friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances, and church members. 

If you’d like to be a part of my launch team, please email me at LoriAHatcher@gmail.com. Put the words LAUNCH TEAM in the subject line, include your name and where you live, and I’ll send you all the details. 

To say thank you, every member of my launch team will receive a pre-release copy of my book and be entered into a drawing to win a FREE Kindle Fire. 


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The Two Richest Men on the Planet

After a four-year hiatus, Bill Gates is back on top as the richest man on the planet. 

His net worth rose $9 billion in the last year, causing him to reclaim the number one spot. Gates has sat comfortably in the top spot for 15 of the last 20 years, but was bumped by Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu. A record net worth of $13 billion is required to make the top ten Forbes list, writes Luisa Kroll in her article, “Inside the 2014 Forbes Billionaires List: Facts and Figures.”

 Money. We all wish we had a little more. 

If we did, we wonder, would we be happier? More fulfilled? Would it solve all our problems and secure our futures? 

In my quest to read through the Bible in a year, I read about the richest man in the world. Even richer, by 900 B.C. standards, than Donald Trump or Carlos Helu. He pondered some of the same questions I’ve asked here. Because he was also the wisest man in the world, he came up with some excellent answers. 

Here are eight facts Solomon discovered about wealth, extracted from Ecclesiastes 4 and 5: 

1. Increased wealth will not satisfy our souls and often makes our lives harder. 
“Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind” (4:6). 

2. Man’s desire for wealth can never be satisfied. 
“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (v. 10). 

3. When we work hard, we sleep well. 
“The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much,” (v. 12). 

4. The challenges of wealth often interfere with a person’s sleep. 
 “. . . the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep” (v. 12). 

5. When we hoard our wealth, it harms us. 
“I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner,” (v. 13). 

6. We can’t take our riches with us when we die. 
“Naked a man comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand” (v. 15). 

7. God wants us to enjoy the fruit of our labor. 
“. . . it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun” (v. 18). 

8. Contentment with what we have is more satisfying than yearning for what we wish we had. 
“. . . when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work-- this is a gift of God” (v. 19). 

So what do you think? Does wealth have the power to satisfy us or is it just a tool God uses to accomplish his purposes in the world? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below to join the conversation. 




Do you live within driving distance of Brookville, PA? Then please join us for "Getting Connected," a weekend women's conference sponsored by Good Shepherd UM Parish at Brookville Evangelical United Methodist Church on October 24-25.

I'll be sharing three practical sessions for 21st century women: Overloaded--How to Conquer the Chaos that Overwhelms Us, Sleep Is a Waste of Time (NOT), and Are You A Worry Wart or a Warrior Woman?

The cost is nominal, only $25 for Friday evening and Saturday sessions, snacks, and lunch. For more information or to register, contact Kathy Shaffer, flokat1990@gmail.com.  

I'd love to see you there!

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? I'll send you twice-weekly 5-minute devotions to help nourish your soul. Because women need to connect with God in the craziness of life.

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Thursday

Unhealthy Meditation

I first heard about meditation in the 1970’s. I’m a child of the 70’s. A bell-bottomed, tie-dyed, peace symbol-wearing child of the 70’s. 

And though I was way too young in those days to do anything but wear the clothing and watch from a distance, I distinctly remember an afro-adorned peace lover announcing, “Meditation is the way, man.” He then demonstrated how to do it—sit on the floor with your legs crossed, arms bent at the elbows with palms pointing up and eyes closed. Then you chant: “Ummmmmmmmm. Ummmmmmmm.”

Several weeks ago I shared two blog posts about Christian meditation. You can read Part I, Why You Need to Marinate and Meditate, HERE. Or Part II, Why You Need to Marinate and Meditate, HERE. I talked about what meditation is, what it is not, and how meditating on Scripture can positively affect and enhance your life.

Today, however, in my quest to read through the Bible in a year, I came across another verse on meditation we needed to consider. And another fact:

We meditate all the time, whether we know it or not.

To meditate means to engage in thought or contemplation. In my previous post, I gave the somewhat icky example of a cow chewing its cud as a mental picture of the practice of meditation. When we meditate, we mentally return to something over and over again. Meditation, by nature, is repetitive.

My quiet time reading reminded me that I often practice the wrong kind of meditation. Instead of focusing on what I know to be true—that God loves me, promises to care for me, has a good plan for my life, watches over my children, provides for my needs, and on and on and on, I meditate on things that are uncertain in my life. I turn them over and over in my mind.

Are the kids safe? Are they attending church? Will my husband lose his job? Will terrorists attack our country? Will my friend be all right? And on, and on, and on.


Psalm 104:33 reminded me that it matters to God what I meditate on.

“I will sing praise to my God while I have my being, May my meditation be sweet to Him.”

When I sing praises and rehearse in my heart and mind how good God is and how many good things he’s done for me, my meditation is a sweet sound in his ears. When I meditate on fearful and uncertain things, it is not.

Psalm 19:14 reinforces this.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

The Bible is full of examples of how we should “put off” sin and “put on” righteousness. This spiritual wardrobe change applies to meditation, too.

To meditate in a way that is sweet to the Lord’s ear and pleasing to his heart, we must think thoughts and speak words of praise to him and about him.

This is the exact opposite of the never-ending chorus of me, me, me, mine, mine, mine. Meditation that glorifies God sounds more like You, You, You, Yours, Yours, Yours.

You are beautiful beyond description. 

You are holy, and righteous, and true. 

You are long suffering, slow to anger, and abounding in love. 

You are the lover of my soul. 

Today, will you join me in meditating on how amazingly awesome God is instead of how terribly troublesome our trials are? If we do, our meditation will be sweet to God’s ears and healing to our hearts. 




Do you live within driving distance of Brookville, PA? Then please join us for "Getting Connected," a weekend women's conference sponsored by Good Shepherd UM Parish at Brookville Evangelical United Methodist Church on October 24-25.

I'll be sharing three practical sessions for 21st century women: Overloaded--How to Conquer the Chaos that Overwhelms Us, Sleep Is a Waste of Time (NOT), and Are You A Worry Wart or a Warrior Woman?

The cost is nominal, only $25 for Friday evening and Saturday sessions, snacks, and lunch. For more information or to register, contact Kathy Shaffer, flokat1990@gmail.com.  

I'd love to see you there!

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe? I'll send you twice-weekly 5-minute devotions to help nourish your soul. Because women need to connect with God in the craziness of life.

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Hungry for God is on Facebook! Will you take a moment and LIKE my page? CLICK HERE to help HFG share 5-minute devotions.