4 Things Mom Taught Me About Financial Health

Yesterday I was preparing my 2 younger kids for school and they asked if they could buy lunch.  I had 4 singles in my wallet so I said, “sure, why not”  Lunch is $2.50, so I figured I could scrounge up some change from somewhere not knowing where that extra dollar was coming from.  20 seconds later, I picked up some clothes off the bathroom floor that should have been in a laundry basket somewhere and what do you know, I heard the clanging of four quarters falling out of jeans from the pile of clothes.  Exactly what I needed.  Sure this wasn’t a life defining moment, but I immediately got a subtle reminder that God has all my financial stuff covered.

Are you holding on to your money, or is it holding on to you? 

Financial LD

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”   1 Timothy 6:9

Ok, let’s all get over the fact that finances are a sensitive subject.  Most of us want to be RICH.  Many of us are already!  But the bible says it’s harder to follow Jesus when you’re rich.  We are sick people. I have money, you have money, if you have access to this article you will have SOME money.  But it’s not how much you have but what you do with what you have.  So how should we handle money?  Here are the four things my mom taught me about financial health.  She’s not perfect, I’m not either, but here is what I learned.

Four Things Mom Taught Me About Financial Health –

#1 Work – with ALL your strength –  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23)  Your job is from GOD and He owns Everything!  We didn’t grow up with much, but there was one thing mom taught us, How – To – Work.  It wasn’t like we grew up in a child labor camp but we did our own laundry, dishes, cleared our own plates, and learned the simple art of work.  We pulled our own weight around the house.  Heck there were even times when we did have jobs as teenagers and we contributed to the family finances.  And by the way, mom didn’t pay us to do chores, she empowered us to think of how we were contributing to the family.  The bible says if you don’t work, well then you don’t eat.  No job should be below you, if you choose to mooch off the government, family, friends or others instead of work, well, that’s not biblical.  If you want to be financially sound then learn how to WORK.  But remember your work does not define your worth. 

#2 Give – up your control – (10%)  “Bring the whole tithe…Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing.”  Every Sunday was an opportunity to thank God for the week’s provisions.  I remember times at church watching my mom write a check for $30.  YES THAT WAS A FULL 10% TITHE FOR US AT TIMES.  One thing my mom always did was tithe, and through it all we NEVER went hungry.  All us 4 boys now have cultivated giving hearts.  It’s not just about the 10%, but tithe is training wheels to your giving.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to be financially healthy and not give.  It just doesn’t add up.  ALWAYS GIVE First not off what is leftover.

#3 Save – for the future – (10%)  “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but the fool devours all he has.” (Proverbs 21:20)  Most of us are terrible at saving.  We save virtually nothing and spend everything we get AND then some.  The average house has $8K in credit card debt, not good.  The reason why is most of us want more.  I didn’t say hoard, but saveSAVE SOMETHING.

#4 Live – with no regrets – (80%)  “Put your hope in God who richly provides everything for our enjoyment”  (1 Timothy 6:17)  Did you catch that last part?  ENJOYMENT, not stress, worry, despair, all consuming planning, stock market investment obsession, but JOY.  There is NO JOY IN DEBT!  If you have debt you have a new mission in life, eliminate all of it as fast as you can.  STEP #1 is to CUT the CREDIT CARDS UP!  You cannot give, save, and live a financially healthy life in debt.  Next week I will be writing a post solely dedicated to this one topic.  Eat, drink, live, be content.

Looking for some financial wisdom?  Go pick up a pile of laundry, God has you covered.

Which one of these is hardest for you?  comment below and let’s start the conversation!



Join us at 217church for our new series Live Differently…

May 4 – Financial Health

May 11- Family Health

May 18 – Physical Health

Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Grace Rogers School in East Windsor, NJ at 10:15.  Our new East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information.  Celebrate mother’s day with us Sunday May 11.




Keeping Your Priorities IN ORDER

I was so pumped last Sunday when 295 people stepped up and said, “I want to own the vision of 217church!”  WOW!  This was a HUGE PRIORITY statement!   In addition to that, 17 people said its time to be baptized.  Owning the vision of a church means getting your priorities in order and surrendering your life FULLY to the Gospel of Jesus.  Does anybody else feel the tug of war?  The one between family and work?  The church and home?  The kids and marriage?  HOW do I prioritize?  Try this quote on: “When it comes down to it, the single most important activity in your whole day may be prioritization.”  This one has saved my bacon countless times with the wife and the boss (Jesus, He is the boss).  Without prioritization you lose focus and end up somewhere you never intended, often times in a knock down drag out with the boss or worse the spouse or kids.  I have compiled a short, simple prioritization process below that has helped me sift through the tug of war. I hope something here helps you.

2-21-14 priorities

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”  Proverbs 21:5

4 Steps to Living Your PRIORITIES

#1 Know what is important to you – This is about values.  Does the Gospel of Jesus own your schedule?  Your relationship with Jesus, the church and those who don’t follow Jesus yet?  Are you going to sacrifice irreplaceable time with loved ones for a newer car, a vacation home, a bigger house?  If you are single, dating, or planning to be married, you better be talking about this with your future spouse.  Please do this, or your marriage will suffer.

#2 Have a tool that works for you – (i.e. calendar, tasks etc.) This is about choices.  Are you willing to be disciplined?  I have coached & discipled many men who don’t and won’t schedule their life.  They end up losing their jobs, losing focus, and sacrificing their marriages and children.  Inevitably, this is the road to disaster. Here is a saying for you… “be sure your schedule will find you out.”

#3 Use the tool like a bad smoking addiction – This is about repetition. Prioritization is a daily, weekly, continual activity. Especially if you are just starting out, you will have to build disciplines into your life. You need to schedule time to schedule yourself.

#4 Over communicate with everyone – This is about consideration.  Who needs to know what you are doing?  You probably need to tell someone.  Are you willing to let your spouse trump your calendar?  With your family it is NOT better to ask forgiveness rather than permission. IT IS FOOLISH.  If I can give my boss 24 hour notice to missing a meeting it helps build credibility.  I am also finding it helps if my wife uses the same or similar tool as I do.

When all is said and done, You can always get another job, but you were created to have one spouse.  Let’s get our PRIORITIES in order!

So what are the NON-Negotiable activities in your week and WHEN will you do them?  Please comment below…



Josh is the lead pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ planted in 2010.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Grace Rogers School in East Windsor, NJ at 10:15.  Our new East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information.

I wanted to QUIT today

There I said it, I am normal.  If you are anything like me, the feeling comes and goes periodically.  It was around mile 4 of my 10 mile run and my body just didn’t feel right.  Every step was a struggle, a labor, and my legs felt so heavy.  I was out of breath and began to ask myself, “do I really need to do this run today?” I wasn’t even half way done and my body was telling me, QUIT, GIVE UP, STOP!  I just wanted to be done with this work out.  EVERYONE has wanted to QUIT something at one time or another, and it was time to see how serious I was about training for this marathon.

Wanting to quit is normal and even healthy.

Have you wanted to quit lately?  Maybe you have wanted to quit your job, your marriage, your workout plan, your day, your week.  Wanting to quit can actually be a sign of great self-awareness and can be a powerful revelation of deep purpose and progress in your life.  It may get tougher before it gets easier, but know that perseverance is where the power is…

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”            James 1:12

How To Cope With Wanting to QUIT

1. Remember The Vision –  When I want to quit I visualize myself crossing the finish line.  I cannot tell you how many times in ministry, exercise, marriage, parenting or other big project, I have used this tactic.  The finish line is a POWERFUL motivator in my life.  It lets me know that pain is temporary, but pride is forever.  I am talking about good pride, not self-indulgent arrogant pride.  The self-satisfaction in knowing that I crossed the finish line and I did the best I could on that day propels me forward.

If you don’t have a vision, you better get one. How?

  • Evaluate – This is where you compare where you are to where you want to be.  You can’t get to where you want to go until you are honest where you are.  I read scripture to understand what God wants from me.
  • Motivate – What will propel you forward?  For me there is always scripture behind everything I do.  A HUGE motivator in my own life is 1 Timothy 4:12, “but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”  I make OTHERS a key part of my motivation.
  • Activate – You must be clear about the major action steps you need to accomplish in order to reach the vision.  A good vision should be action oriented.  By the way, if you can get there on your own, you may have what you think is a good vision, but it probably is not a GOD-VISION.

2. Retreat from Everything – When I want to quit, I get away and reevaluate.  Let’s be honest, you need a break and probably more than you know.  Many of us run a breakneck speeds and wear out ourselves and all the people around us.  It becomes even worse when we have unrealistic expectations of the people around us.  I DEMAND that my staff takes all their vacation time during the year.  If they don’t, they don’t get to wear it as a badge of honor and hard work.  I see it as a sign of life mismanagement and immaturity.  If you feel like quitting, you better take a break in a hurry.  How do you take a meaningful break?  

  • Disconnect from the technology – Laptops and phones are perhaps the biggest evil in our world.  you can now take your work home with you.  Somehow, we thought that was a good idea.  being ALWAYS ON leads to being overwhlemed.
  • Decompress emotionally –  Exercise, take a walk, watch a TV show, put your feet in the sand, do a service project but  don’t be s person who thinks you can run and run and run and never stop.  You are foolish.  The first thing that Adam in the bible experienced was God taking what is called a “Sabbath.”  Learn to sabbath well!
  • Deal with unresolved issues – What is the elephant in your life that you don’t want to deal with?  Maybe you need to see a counselor?  If you are one of those “guys” who is self-reliant and prideful, maybe it is time to man up and talk to someone about your issue.  Put it off and the price to pay goes up and you will eventually pay it.

3. Refrain From The Guilt – When I want to quit, I remember Jesus Gives 2nd Chances – and third and fourth and fifth.  We tend to beat ourselves up at the first hint of failure, which tends to come from our family of origin.  Most of us who deal with major guilt issues never had a father who believed in us, much less encouraged us to go forward.  When we give in and QUIT, we give away the victory. God is not into beating you up over guilt, he is into building you up through grace

4. Rely on Your Friends – When I want to quit, I think of my friends, those who have my back.  The power of others is the untapped secret of success in your life.  If you continue to try and accomplish things on your own, you will only go so far. If you will submit yourself to a team of people who encourage you and hold you accountable, you will be unstoppable!  God gives us each other for a purpose, and you can’t do it alone!  Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

After mile seven it got even harder, but my perspective had changed.  I knew there were only a few minutes left of the run.  The last two miles I was able to run faster than I have all season in training.  I completed the workout and was exhausted, but knew I was preparing for something with much more meaning, RACE DAY.

God is preparing you and testing you now for a future with more purpose and meaning than you can possibly imagine.

God NEVER gives up on us. Don’t quit!



Back To Work

It’s Back to Work!  The parties are over, the break is done, and for most of us today signals going back to work and school. After much needed time with family, friends and some people we wish we could have avoided, the new year demands productivity.  I wanted to drop you a few ideas about WORK in the new year.  We spend so much time in our week working and thinking about work, why not make the most of it?

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

I remember my first day of official work.  I was so excited and motivated to make money.  C’mon, we all know why you applied for your first job, but since then my motivations have changed.

Why Work?

1. Bring Honor To God – Remember you don’t just work for your boss, but you are representing Jesus to all of your co-workers as well.  Maybe you have seen the bumper sticker, “My boss is a Jewish carpenter.”  Okay, it’s a bit cheesy, but if you work to please Him, I can almost guarantee honor, character, and reputation will advance you.

2. Bring The Gospel to The Workplace – It cracks me up when I hear of workplaces banning talk about “religious topics”.  As if we shut off our character and life purpose while we work.  What boss wouldn’t want employees to follow at least the 2nd of two commandments Jesus told us to live out?  “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) Or how about other commandments, “do no covet, do not steal, do not bear false witness.”  (Exodus 20)  Sounds to me like the best place to work, ever.

3. Bring A Listening Ear – How do we bring the Gospel to the workplace?  Talk less, listen more.  It all starts with caring about the people you work with, and then when the time is right, the opportunity will come to listen, serve and even pray with the people at your work.

Remember, above all else, you are there to bring glory to God.  Work hard, make him look good, make her succeed, and in the end, you will have done your job.

Work hard!


Why Signage Matters

After 650 miles of driving, with my family of 5 in the mini-van, we were about to ascend a hill on I-80 East in Pennsylvania.  There it was towering above the tree line. It stood alone in the sky as a symbol of restaurant supremacy.  The sign actually looked suspended from heaven. A haven for weary travelers waiting to grease their arteries with “potatoes” and suck down endless amounts of HFCS…AKA Sugar.  You guessed it, the Golden Arches. A well placed sign stops people in their tracks!

Why was the SIGN so powerful?

#1 Uniqueness – It stood out – it was perfectly placed, don’t place your sign among the clutter of others, find a spot and own it.  The genius is they made their recognizable symbol unique by placing it strategically.

#2 Placement – It was the only sign “in the sky” – It was obvious someone figured out how tall those trees would grow and built that sign with maximum visibility and powerful effect.  View your sign from EVERY angle you can, walk through, drive by, fly by, view the sign and make sure you get it right!

#3 Brand – It was just a symbol – It wasn’t full of all their daily specials.  They were just trying to communicate “we’re here, c’mon in!”

#4 Readability – After becoming a “yard sign” junkie, I have seen hundreds upon hundreds of the worst yard signs ever.  Traveling at 40 miles an hour, you expect me to read your 12 font lettering on your yard sign?  Communicate MORE with LESS words.  The placement must match the purpose of the sign.

#5 Visibility – Built on a platform that had to extend at least 125 feet in the sky…enough said.  Do whatever you have to making certain your sign WILL be seen.

Now, think about your organization…I happen to pastor a mobile church.  Having a mobile church presents all kinds of challenges when it comes to communication. Where should people park? Where do I take my kids? Which theater do I go to?  Is this the right part of the building?

We set up close to 50 signs EVERY week.  On the street approaching the theater, driving up, coming in, everywhere.  Every sign matters, is placed meticulously and has designated font size and coloring to communicate the intended result!   But please don’t forget… Your PEOPLE are your best signs.  glossy print may wow someone, but a high quality experience will keep people coming back.  Almost every week we get feedback stating how easy it was to find our meeting rooms, BUT…The people made the experience.  The signs serve the people and the vision:  “The church for people who aren’t here yet”

Take some time and ensure your signs maximize the leverage above.

Leadership 101 #3 Focus

Principle #3  You Must Lead from the Vision

Here are two mistakes we commonly make regarding this principle:  First, we mistake motion for progress.  The reason we do this is to make ourselves feel good.  We are incredibly insecure and selfish so we pull the, “it wasn’t God’s will” card.  What if it was God’s will and you just did the wrong things?  Just because you are busy it doesn’t mean you are doing the right things.  Once I am clear about the vision, it must define my behavior.  If it doesn’t, then we don’t believe in the vision.  Belief = Behavior.  Everyone is busy doing something but the real question is, are we making progress?

Next mistake: We just want people to like us. This is where leaders fail often.  One complaining, disgruntled, manipulative person can get us off focus and it is all our fault.  We don’t want to disappoint them and we want them to like us.  Leadership is not about people liking me, it is about me working alongside them towards a common vision bigger than any one person.  Every time I have caved to someone’s special interest, I compromise the mission and my own character and integrity.

Think this is extreme?  Consider Judas.  Don’t betray the vision! Matthew 26:46-48

Whatever you are leading, know what you are about and live it.

Leadership 101 #2 Responsibility

Principle #2 Leaders Take Responsibility

What are some things I am responsible for?  Myself, My family, church leaders. If you put a leader in place then you take responsibility for everything that person does:  The good, the bad, the stupid things they say, the brilliant idea, everything.  If you are the leader, then everything that happens in the organization sooner or later comes back to you.  This is why it is so important to hire people slowly, and remove people quickly.  This is why a culture of taking responsibility is so critical.  You have to train leaders to do the same thing.  Blaming someone for something that happened under your watch makes you look rather ridiculous and creates a toxic culture.  Everyone starts to look over their shoulder and trust will elude the team.

Everything comes back to me.  Either I hired the wrong person, didn’t coach and help them enough, or gave them too much responsibility too soon.  When a character issue arises, it is always up to the leader to help the person deal with it in an effective way.

So you want to be a leader?  Take responsibility.

Leadership 101 #1 Humility

Over the last few days I have been pondering what I am looking for in leaders.  In essence, this made me do a heart check of what I am as a leader.  So over the next 10 days I will share 10 principles that I am learning.

Principle #1 Leaders must lead from a place of humility –

I am tired of people who have all the answers.  Vision is highly overrated.  What blesses a ministry, a work place, a home, is humility and integrity.  I’ll gladly take a person who is humble and who has integrity over big vision any day.  Show me unconditional loyalty with no entitlement and I will naturally want to walk alongside you.  A lot of people have vision based on ego.  This is corrupt and evil.  If we depend on Jesus we get his vision and develop our trust in him.  This has to be done with humility.  Before I release and call someone a leader, I want to see if they can serve someone else’s vision.  I must follow, then maybe I can lead.

Do you get hung up on this just as much as I do?

Day 21: The Little Things

Title: The Little Things

Scripture Read: Proverbs 21

Key Verse:  “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart.” Proverbs 21:2


It is clear, bribes, unlawful business practices and dishonesty are not to be tolerated for those who follow Christ and his teachings.  It doesn’t matter what the size of the bribe, how ‘much’ you cheat on your taxes or if you just ripped someone off a little bit.  Justification in our own mind of our practices leads to judgment, guilt and pain. God sees the motivation and intentions behind our practices.  Most of us aren’t going to run multi-million dollar schemes or steal large amounts of money from people.  I don’t personally know anybody that robs banks for a living.  Most of us aren’t going to cheat a lot on our taxes or do anything that will overtly draw attention to us.  But let’s not fool ourselves, the little things matter just as much as the big things.  Appearing to have integrity and not having it is worse than not having it.  Deception is evil, period. Lukewarm living creates a disgusting reality for us.  When we live lukewarm He describes us as being spewed out of his mouth. (Rev 3:16)  You are either hot or cold, on fire or frozen.  Telling ourselves everything is ‘okay’ won’t change this reality.  Be something, make a choice and get off the fence.  It’s about the little things.


This is an easy one to fake.  We can fool people hands down, but we cannot fool God.  When I preach, teach, lead God weighs my motives.  He knows why I say what I say and why I do what I do.  But the dilemma is, I have blind spots.  The only way my motives stay pure is through spending time with Jesus gaining insight to His heart.  I need His heart for the world.  I can’t obtain his heart for the world through any other experience then by being with him.  Anyone can read about Him, but being with Him takes effort and intentionality.  Reading about my wife doesn’t create intimacy, but being with her does.

I recently spent time with our church plant leadership team.  I said these words, “If we don’t spend time with Jesus, how will our people be able to trust us, they shouldn’t.”  Everything depends on our intimacy with the Jesus.  If I am going to have integrity in the little things, in all of my dealings with people, in all my moments when I am alone and no one is looking, the first step in honesty before God.  He knows my heart anyway, why would I try to hide from God.  Yes, I think Adam tried that once, hiding from God, didn’t work for him.  (Gen 3:8)


Lord, show me any ways that I am violating my integrity.  Help me to never take advantage of my position and think I am more deserving than someone else.  Help me to be HONEST before you, always seeking your approval and not the approval of man.

Burning Questions:

Do you justify your behaviors at work that are un-ethical?  Have you had to convince yourself your practices are ethical? Do you take advantage of your position to give yourself benefits in your work no one else gets?  Are you able to be honest before God?  (Okay, I better stop, I could write 100 questions for this one)

Day #6: Heavy Lifting

Today I would like to thank 217church Development Pastor, Eris Pappas for his contribution to the 31 Days of Wisdom.

Title: Heavy Lifting

Scripture Read: Proverbs 6

Key Verse: Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!  Proverbs 6:6


The scripture in this chapter is particularly clear and specific.  We learn here there are areas of our lives that we need to be attentive to.  His desire is that we lack no understanding in how we should live.  The word teaches us to run like a deer from a hunter away from promises we cant keep and debts we can’t pay.  Pay what you owe and make right all promises.  Make this a number one priority.  We are taught to learn from the ant and work, work hard in the summer so that there may be food in our table when winter comes about.  God teaches us here to guard what we think and say.  We can ruin our life by the wrong words we say.  Seven things God hates, pay attention to them.  What God hates can’t be in his presence.  Think of Satan.  The scripture also revisits the wicked way of an adulterer.  Why does God offer wisdom and teaching in these regards? He knows we are not wise unless we learn wisdom.  God knows this relevant teaching will help us live and live well.  As a loving father he is protecting us from foolishness.


God in his all wisdom draws my attention to the ants.  He finds ants wise.  The God of the universe finds an insignificant insect wise.  He is asking us to see the ants as teachers for our lives.  So here is the lesson.  I should work, work without being told to do so. Work that I get paid for.  If I am physically able to attain a job I should work.   This goes for us as Christ followers.  Get out of the bed, off the couch. Stop hanging out and partying at the expense of others. Stop sleeping in and loosing sense of time, letting days go by without living them. Would you like to be dirt-poor?  Do you want poverty to be your permanent house guest?  Do you want to live off of pity of others?  Do you want to grow old unable to take care of your self and not know where your next meal comes from?  If not, work and work hard.  Save the fruit of your labor and plan for your future. One day I will be a father, mother, grandfather, grandmother and all these seasons of life need to be planed for.  I will live my life like the ant, honestly tirelessly working to be a blessing and not a burden to others. God will call us wise if we do what ants do! Wise people work!


Dear Father, thank you for speaking clearly.  Thank you for ants and the lesson they teach me.  I ask that I will see the fruit of your instructions as I follow them.  Help me see how to better prepare for the future.  Please bless me with work so that I can have my daily bread.  Thank you for your provision.

The Burning Questions:

Do you desire sleep more than work?  Do you find your self saying “I have not found what I want to do yet and don’t have a job? Are you living off of your parents, your spouse, the government?  What do you think about verse 6,  “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise?”