In December I came across an offer to get the new book Your New Money Mindset: Create a Healthy Relationship with Money for $5. Since I am a lover of books, and that was a significant discount, I ordered it. Co-authored by Brad Hewitt and James Moline and published by Tyndale House, I read it the last week of January and it offers a lot of good thoughts.

An added bonus of the book is a free New Money Mindset Assessment you can take to enhance your reading. Below are some pithy quotations for your consideration. If these samples whet your appetite I think you would enjoy and benefit from the book.

Consumerism is our desire to acquire more for ourselves when we already have enough” (p. 12).

“When it comes to dealing with money, we believe that a completely carefree or reckless attitude is unwise. Kept in proper perspective, a desire for financial security can be healthy and normal” (p. 58).

“Young kids live in the present, and being there for them is crucial if we are to develop meaningful attachments with them” (p. 68).

“We live in a culture that exaggerates our need for security and safety” (p. 71).

“. . . some put away every last penny until their frugality sucks the joy from their life” (p. 75).

“The God of the Bible meets the needs of his beloved people, although not always on our time schedule” (p. 85).

“There are limits to how much the Internet can connect us with others, but a sense of community is surely one of its draws” (p. 114).

“. . . the church may be a divine institution, but it is also a human one . . .” (p. 117).

“When we act with generosity, our world expands; when we succumb to stinginess, our lives shrivel” (p. 125).

“In particular we have observed two things that get people in over their heads: square footage and number of wheels” (p. 139).

“Housing and transportation costs are the expenditures that put virtually everyone who struggles with money into the danger zone” (p. 140).

“Materialism and consumerism endanger us because they promise pleasure to the eye but can never satisfy the heart” (p. 149).

“When we let a longing for success drive our lives, we lose sight of the abundant life Jesus offers and become engrossed in the never-attainable images of perfection” (p. 180).

“Spending disposable income on experiences leads to increased happiness, while spending it on stuff does not” (p. 185).

“Living your calling means finding and following God’s unique purposes for you” (p. 194).

In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus “is just saying that in the midst of our sensible planning, we don’t have to become slaves to anxiety. We don’t have to run because we are worried” (p. 226).

Even if you do not get the book, I hope these quotes give you some things to think about in your life and your relationship with money.

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This past Sunday the preacher at the church Jan and I visited talked about “True Love.” Noting the upcoming holiday, in his introduction to the sermon he reflected on a wedding he presided over many, many years ago on a Valentine’s Day. He couldn’t remember the names of the couple, but he said he wondered how they were doing in carrying out the commitments they made to one another that day.

The preacher and most of those in attendance at this small non-instrumental Church of Christ were elderly making Jan and I feel younger than we are. Everything about the church and service was old school, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. The preacher spoke to the couples present who had been married for many years emphasizing the challenges we had all faced and overcome in our life together.

For the most part I was affirmed and encouraged by what this non-contemporary preacher said. But one passing reference in one part of his sermon got my attention. He read Paul’s description of love from I Corinthians 14:4-7:  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. The reminder that “love is not easily angered” (“not irritable” in the NLT) was like a punch in the stomach or a slap in the face. Too often I am easily irritated or angered. As a matter of fact, while we were walking the dogs Saturday night, I got irritated not once–but twice with Jan. I was convicted.

Jan and I went to lunch on Valentine’s Day. And as I expected, she gave me a card. I thought about getting her a card but decided not to; I wanted to do something better. I didn’t need to remind her about Saturday night, but I did let her know I was convicted by the sermon on Sunday. And I told her for Valentine’s Day I was committing to trying a lot harder to show her my love by not being so easily irritated.

If you’re married may I ask how you are doing in carrying out the commitments you made on your wedding day? And in the afterglow of Valentine’s Day, which of the qualities of true love in I Corinthians 13 do you most need to work on?

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At the age of 61, and two years before I stepped down from the church I served as pastor for 30 years, I began reading about retirement and aging. In the last five years I have read numerous books and articles about these subjects. In this post I want to recommend in some ways the best book I have read so far. I am recommending it to those who are retired and aging, those who hope to retire in the future, and those who know and love relatives and friends who are retired and aging. The title of the book is The Back Nine: Life Beyond Retirement by Doug Manning.

Readers do not have to understand the golf metaphor in the title The Back Nine to appreciate the book’s content; it’s about Life Beyond Retirement and much more. While Christians are not to worry about tomorrow (see Matthew 6:25-34) or boast about it (James 4:13-16), that does not mean we should not look ahead. Manning has much to offer to those giving consideration to the challenges and opportunities that retirement and aging bring.

There is a lot I like in this book, not the least of which is its brevity.  It is divided into three sections comprised of 14 short chapters, and is only 100 pages. It is by far the shortest book I have read on the subject. It is also personal, practical, and real. Manning knows what he is talking about as he writes with the voice of experience. In his eighties, he is semi-retired, a widower, color blind, and almost blind as well. He asks that readers pardon his personal illustrations, but he adds “I have no other way of explaining what I mean” (p. 20). Later in the book he tells us “my opinion is just one man’s opinion and should be looked at as just that” (p. 55).

Manning doesn’t write in theory, but about reality. And that reality got this 65 year old reader’s attention. For example, in the introduction he acknowledges “My greatest dread is not death, it is living too long and living beyond my ability to not be a burden” (p. 13). Some of what he relates sounds pessimistic and almost depressing. He defines aging as “the slow process of losing people, things, health, significance, purpose, position and most of all what we hold dear in life” and acknowledges that  “those losses hurt” (p. 17).

One of the most practical suggestions Manning offers deals with avoiding war between “aging parents” and “caring children.” In chapter two, he challenges parents to “change the relationship long before the care giving is needed” (p.24). And while it is not easy or quickly done, he thinks “the most important thing we can do . . . is build an adult to-adult relationship with our kids” (p. 24). I think it is unrealistic to think a parent can ever stop being one, but I certainly agree with the need for a changed relationship as children become adults.

Other chapters include practical and real discussions about legal issues, relocation, death of a spouse, living alone, and funerals.

The final two chapters in Section III continue the practical discussion, but also are positive and encouraging. Chapter 13 cautions “It is very easy for us to grow more and more self-absorbed as we age” (p. 87) and challenges us to live in the now by listening to others. In chapter 14, Manning calls us in our final years to rid ourselves of our anger and grudges, limit our limitations, embrace technology, cultivate gratitude, and to keep growing and loving.

Taking about gratitude, Manning tells about a friend who was diagnosed with an untreatable form of cancer. He went to visit him “to give comfort and perhaps some perspective or some answers to his questions.” When Manning arrived, his friend told him, “I have been so blessed in my life, if God heard me complain He would throw up” (p. 95). Manning notes, “I am convinced that gratitude is the thing that ties a knot we can cling to when we reach the end of our ropes” (p. 96).

I’ll be 66 next month and am resolved to continue growing and loving, as well as cultivating and expressing gratitude. How about you?

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The Back Nine: Life Beyond Retirement is available at or

(If you are interested, here are links to my two previous posts about this topic: and

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If something is repeated multiple times in a short space, I think we can assume it is important to the one who is saying or writing it. It may turn out that it is not important to us, but that doesn’t mean it is not important to the writer or speaker. When I teach college classes I let the students know what I think is important (and will be on the test) by saying certain things over and over again.

For no particular reason, I recently sat down and read through the three chapters of the Apostle Paul’s letter to Titus. Their relationship was like a father and son and Paul was writing to encourage and instruct Titus in his ministry and teaching. As I read what Paul wrote, I noted for the first time in my reading of the letter that he told Titus to teach the same thing five times in 21 verses. Being astute as I am, I concluded it must be important.

Here are the references:

In Titus 1:8, concerning qualifications for elders: they must be self-controlled.

In Titus 2:2, he should teach older men: they are to be self-controlled.

In Titus 2:5, he should teach older women: they are to be self-controlled.

In Titus 2:6, he should encourage young men: to be self-controlled.

In Titus 2:12, the grace of God teaches all of us: to live self-controlled.

Would you agree that in Paul’s mind teaching, challenging, encouraging, and expecting Christians to be self-controlled is important? In Galatians 5:23 Paul lists self-control as part of the fruit of the Spirit in a believer’s life. The Greek words translated self-control are different in Galatians and Titus, but the meaning is basically the same.

What is self-control or what does it mean to be self-controlled? I think we all have a sense of what it means to have and express this quality. Both patience and gentleness are certainly related to it. Alternative translations of the Titus references include live wisely, be sensible, and be sober-minded. I don’t think it means we cannot be intense or passionate; it relates to how we handle, express, and live out our intensity and passion.

I’m willing to admit (would confess be a better word?) that at the age of 65, after being a Christian so long, and after all the years I’ve had the privilege of being a pastor, self-control is a quality I need to give attention. And in giving it some thought, I’m most convicted about my eating habits and my short fuse or easily being irritated.

To be self-controlled is important. The lack of self-control can be ugly, dangerous, and destructive in so many ways. Having self-control, however, is healthy, helpful, and attractive. Going back to Galatians 5:22 and 23 and the fruit of the Spirit, let me suggest that we ask the Holy Spirit to help us and that we cooperate with Him to cultivate this important quality. What do you think?

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