Financial Wellness

Substantial Healing: Physical and Financial!

Reading time: two minutes. I like the concept of substantial healing.  We've been talking about the walk of faith, this side of heaven where things will never be perfect, but any part of our lives can be touched by the healing power of the love of Christ and significantly improved. You get a double topic this week as I wrap up so we can start a new series for Lent.  In our programs I've clustered Physical and Financial Wellness together with Vocational because the first two serve the latter.  It's hard to throw myself fully into my various callings in life, especially my calling into Christian ministry, if financial problems are a constant source of anxiety and distraction or if my body will not physically permit me to get up and go serve. No matter where you are physically or financially, there's help.  Read More

New Generosity: Financial Butterflies!

Reading time: two minutes. Our "new beginnings series" around the Wellness Wheel wraps up this week.  Christ makes all things new, and wellness is the healing touch of his grace penetrating and transforming each aspect of our lives.  What's broken by sin, Jesus restores by grace.  Everything is broken, but thanks be to God, the grace of Christ reaches far and deep. January is a great time to consider our generosity as a witness to the Lord's goodness to us.  For all he's done, we can only respond with gratitude.  Gratitude is expressed in many ways, not the least of which is our generosity toward others.  Here are a couple thoughts on a tiny step forward in thankfulness as we invite the grace of Jesus to transform our financial wellbeing.  Read More

Financial Health in a Post-Church Era!

Reading time: two minutes. There's a growing financial trend among American clergy that is only going to escalate in the days ahead: bi-vocational ministry.  Most of us know someone who has a supplemental income so that they can stay in ministry.  It's becoming more common, and is the fastest growing trend in seminary education.  I speak to pastors all across the country who tell me they know that they will someday need to find outside employment. And I expect that many more will be taken unawares by the financial reality as more and more of our churches explore this option with their pastors. Grace Place Wellness will soon partner with Rural and Small Town Ministry host a wellness retreat for Bi-Vo pastors and spouses (both rural and urban), but there's more we can all do.  Today I'll suggest four ways we can all offer encouragement and support to bi-vocational pastors.  Read More

Financial Vitality for the Long Haul!

Reading time: two minutes. Church work couples need to have a conversation about church work salaries as early in their marriage as possible; hopefully right around the same time as the conversation that begins, "Will you marry me?" Nobody gets rich in this business.  Lutheran educators will almost always earn significantly less than their public school peers.  Small town and rural pastors face many financial challenges and few pastors anywhere will be paid in measure with their education and effort, their long hours and sacrifice. In order to stay in ministry for the long haul, it's important for couples to come to grips with this early on and not let these financial realities define them.  Here's what I mean.  Read More

A Summer Financial Refresher!

Reading time: two minutes. Maybe you had a first career as a Certified Public Accountant.  If so, see you next week! If you're like most of us, (especially if you're like me) your summer refresher is to set an appointment with a financial advisor and have a thorough review of your financial plans. The first time I knew I was an idiot (mathematically and financially) was when the math prof at Concordia Portland (who had my high school senior little brother in his college Calculus III class) asked me if I was going to ask Alan help me get through Introduction to Algebra after I flunked the mid-term.  Naturally, I refused. It gets worse.  Read More

Financial JOY in the OT!

Reading time: two minutes. We watched the movie "Ghost" a while back.  Nice movie.  Lousy theology. But I love the scene where Whoopi Goldberg's character, Oda Mae Brown, gives the embezzled check for $4 million to the Sisters of Charity raising funds for the homeless.  With a big, fake grin and teeth gritted tighter than a vise, she offers the check, but can't let go!  Watching the nun and the reluctant donor wrestle over the check for a few brief seconds was hilarious! Psalm 51, where David repents of his sins of adultery and murder, ends in a very interesting fashion that I had not noticed before.  The bottom line of repentance and grace?  For David, it was the offering basket! Read More

Humility and Financial Wellness!

Reading time: two minutes. Jesus "did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage" (Philippians 2:6, NIV).  In his commentary on Hebrews 4 from CPH, John Kleinig says, "He goes so low so that he can raise them so high." One part of our Lord's humiliation that leads to our exaltation is his willingness to live a life of humble poverty, never grasping or claiming any financial wealth as his own.  He had the clothes on his back, the sandals on his feet, and not much else.  He claimed no home address, no bank account, no storage unit for the overflow of stuff. As we remember our Lord's passion in Lent, it's an ideal time to consider our own attachment to the material things of this earth, and how humility teaches us to cling to them lightly.   Read More

The Incarnation: A Financial Wellbeing Difference Maker!

Reading time: two minutes. Born at Christmas, made manifest at Jordan's waters, the life of Jesus shows us what God is like, but also, in many ways, what it means to be human.  Many of the things Jesus did, only He could ever do.  I don't think everything Jesus said or did is an example for us. But His Incarnation into this flesh and blood life does show us an ideal picture of what it means to live as a child of the heavenly Father.  And I do think there is a financial component to that example.   Read More

"You Might Be in Trouble If..." Financial Edition!

Reading time: two minutes. The warning signs that you might be in financial trouble are pretty obvious, but as we wrap up this series on "You Might Be in Trouble If..." I'll mention three that plagued me for a long time. You might be in financial trouble if worries about your financial condition interrupt your thoughts during the course of your regular, everyday activities.  You also might be in financial trouble if you find yourself making an unusual number of mistakes with your finances, such as overdrafts or getting caught in a bind by not preparing for regular expenses. And you might be in trouble if you look down the road and realize you have not yet established a long-range financial plan. Fortunately, the solution for all three is the same. Read More

Financial Wellbeing for Churches in One Word: Share!

Reading time: two minutes. We've been looking at one key word from Ephesians 4 each week as we reflect on the Wellness Wheel.  Today it's verse 28: "He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need." Mom gets it.  One of the first lessons she taught us was to share.  It's the way of God.  It's the nature of the kingdom that all who have received would share. It's the way the creation works, and when we're at our best, sharing is what we do just because it comes so naturally and so joyfully. Look around you!  God's world is a sharing place! Read More

Spilling All Over the Place Is Good!

Reading time: two minutes. Today is the last of the "water analogies" around the Lutheran Wellness Wheel.  Today: Financial. Thirty-five years ago when we were raising babies, I thought the "sippy seal" was about the greatest invention ever.  Our kids used the Tupperware cup with a snap on lid and a little spout that when it tipped over only dumped out a little bit of juice.  I was a bit overwhelmed by the new version our grandkids use that let's drips out about like Fort Knox leaks gold!  Great design!  Advancements in sippy seal technology! It makes me wonder a bit what God had in mind when He designed us to leak like the crankcase of my old 1966 Ford Falcon.  Really? Read More

Best Advice from You! Financial Wellbeing

Reading time: two minutes. I'm always pleasantly surprised when our retreat evaluations indicate that for many couples, the financial workshop offered by our friend Eustolio Gomez from Concordia Plan Services was the most significant part of the retreat! I'm not surprised that Eustolio does such a good job, I'm just glad to hear that the message of financial wellness is addressed in a way that it helps professional church work families who are experiencing stress and anxiety in their financial lives. As I listen to table conversations where couples offer counsel to one another, I often hear that couples had their breakthrough in financial health when they finally said to each other, "Let's get some advice."  Maybe that's a good place to wrap up my thoughts on the best advice I've heard from you through the years. Read More