I’m so happy to introduce this week’s guest blogger: endearingly referred to as “my better whole” and “my Cuban” he’s also @cubanpastor on Twitter & Instagram he’s got the most Latin name though he hardly speaks the language, ladies and gents, give it up for RAUL ENRIQUE PALACIOS II. Whhhhhoooooooohooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!! And I am so pumped to say that he is speaking on the thing we all need help with, that he’s always been good at: FINANCES! Without further ado…
What can we learn from the ant? Take a look at Proverbs 6:6-8. I see a few things that can help us on our financial journey. First, work hard! Ants don’t need anyone to tell them to get started. They just work. Also, they don’t gobble up everything they gather, they save for the future. Practically speaking I have found the single most important thing you can do in your financial life is to live below your means. A formula I have always maintained is the 10-10-80 rule. Bring at least 10% to my church (It’s all God’s anyway, right). Save at least 10% (just like the ant). And finally, have a ball with rest! If we follow this principal I can assure you that you will reduce the financial stress in your life. So let’s be as smart as the ant & prepare for the plans God has for us.
The whole “Wondherful” concept was inspired from my fav passage of scripture: Psalm 139. Today, I thought we’d look at why! Let me give you a little cross-section of it: You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old. Isn’t that wonderful?? When I have been at my lowest this passage that has lifted me higher. That’s it! It’s all I need to know! God planned our potential before we had our first accomplishment. God scheduled our days before we started planning them on smartphones. When you wish you weren’t born, when you wonder why you are here, when you don’t want to keep going…Know this: God didn’t have to create you He WANTED to. He envisioned you. He used His imagination to create every aspect of your inward and outward life. He wants you here. You are God’s sculpture, you are his image, and you should be esteemed by the notion that you are his masterpiece. And his dream come true. Don’t let people make insecure what God has secured. And don’t let people reduce to insignificant what God has declared wonderful!
Though the sky is filled with stars, there are still dark spaces in between. Though a bedroom has a light on, there is still darkness under the bed. Though the sun shines bright, one side of Earth remains dark. Light—we look for it, but we cannot always have it. No matter how many “stars” we gather to shine onto our lives, there are still dark spaces between them: our past, thoughts nobody sees, words not everyone hears, actions when no one is looking. These spaces of darkness are inevitable yet inexcusable. What do we do? We need a source of light that is more powerful, illuminating and endless than we could ever be. We need God. With Him, the bible tells us, “…God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” (I John 1:5) If you have God in your life, though it sometimes feels dark, God is still your light. When He moved in, He brought light that never flickers and nobody or anything can snuff it out. Friends, don’t be discouraged by your darkness, be encouraged by His light. I hope this encourages someone today.
When God said a joyful heart is good medicine, he wasn’t kidding. The medical world has proven that laughter releases endorphins, (God’s NATURAL painkillers) which are 50 to 100x more powerful than morphine! God has given us a prescription, all we have to do is fill it. In Psalm 16:9, David wrote about his fullness of joy, so much so, that praises were spilling out of his mouth. That is a joy based on God in your heart, not good things in your life. I’ve often said, “Glimpse at circumstance; gaze your God.” Dr Viktor Frankl was imprisoned by the Nazis because he was a Jew. His wife, his children and his parents were all killed. The Gestapo made him strip. He stood there totally naked. As they cut away his wedding band, Viktor said to himself, ”You can take away my wife, my children, you can strip me of my clothes and my freedom, but there is one thing no person can ever take away from me–and that is my freedom to chose how I will react to what happens to me!” Even under the most hellish of circumstancse, joy in the Lord can transform tragedy into triumph. David inspired me to understand there’s only ONE who can grant me joy by his mere presence, and that is God. God stands in the gap of your trial and your need to be sustained and God’s gap is made of JOY his presence brings. The most joyful people are the ones who may be living in hell on Earth, but because God is in their lives, His joy fills their heart & overflows out of it. Joy is a great gift God has given us. It gets us thru bad times, it’s fun to experience in good times, and it causes the world to look curiously upon us and wonder what they might be missing.
Family is a strange animal. As you know, human’s FIRST murder occurred WITHIN a family! Hello! Family, ya love ‘em, ya hate ‘em: spouses love each other–but then they divorce. Siblings protect each other–but then they rival each other. In-laws pay for the wedding—but then they wanna control your life. Kids wanna be securely cradled–then they grow up and try to run away. In family, there is this horizontal devotion that needs to be there. But there’s a vertical devotion that needs to come first. In Acts 2, we learn about all the people involved in God’s first “church,” and God was at the center of their lives–not each other. Our individual, primary devotion to God is what keeps us together on Earth. Family means a lot to us, but they should not be worshiped by us. Anything that comes before our relationship with God is an idol! Here’s the deal…family comes and goes. But God does not. Family is made up of humans who are imperfect and die. God is perfect and eternal. We need to be devoted to our families but it should start and end with a devotion to God. I hope this encourages someone today.
When you study the bible, you learn Jesus did not lead by his emotions. And if it helps, think of it this way: how different would things have been had he? Emotions are good. God created us with them. But they should never steer the direction–we, our families, our companies or our ministries–go in. Having bipolarity since I was a kid, I have often been emotionally-overcharged & emotionally-inconsistent. And boy, could I have made some really stupid decisions during those episodes! I have learned that emotions are a good response but a terrible decision-maker. So what to do? Entrust your emotions to God. We don’t need to add one more thing to our lives by trying to control all the emotions that are flowing through us. So round up all your emotions and lift them up to God. And get back to breathing, being still and letting Him (not your emotions) guide your life.
Every once in awhile I like to segue to my side-hobby of trendspotting. I actually enjoy reading about new &/or upcoming products, testing ’em out & sharing them with you guys. Right now, these are 5 products I am really digging. I am also including a link to where they can be purchased. 3 out of the 5 of them are non-gender specific. So Happy Shopping! 🙂
1) Estee Lauder Double Wear Maximum Cover Camouflage Makeup for Face and Body– Oh my gosh, if this stuff doesn’t cover up anything and everything, I don’t know what does. I use this every time I am on the platform under those heavy lights in front of those cameras that show everything. But nobody knows I have a huge, honkin zit cause this stuff camouflages it away. YAY!
2) Sugar Free Coffee Mate Creamer – I am about as consistent with my daily coffee concoction as a meterologist is with the weather. That being said, right now (for now) I am loving this in my coffee. I used to get the fat-free, but after researching, I was remiss to think that was the healthier option. Actually, cream sans-sugar is. Wah-lah!
3) Aveeno Skin Relief 24-hour Moisturizing Lotion – Whoa, this stuff is the BOMB! Both, my Cuban and I use this. We keep it atop our bathroom counter and use it for everything. It’s like the “Windex” of skin products–you can use it for anything and it’ll repair it. Chapped lips, dry skin, wrinkle-prevention, sunburn, skin-rash, razor burn…you name it!
4) Cover Girl Outlast Lip Stain – I’ve never been much of a red-lipstick girl, but this is HOT! I LOVE the way this red stain looks when applied…very natural. AND it lasts and lasts. If you are a lipstick-diva, this is a must-get!
5) Dial for Men Hair + Body Wash – Guys are guys—they are quite cavemanly in their grooming (unless they are a bonafide metrosexual). So I love this because it allows my guys to knock out hair & body in ONE product. And the scent is awesome! It ends up filling the boys’ bathroom with a great masculine-clean scent. Love this stuff!
In Ephesians 6, the writer gives us a powerful HOW-TO for fighting against the evil that exists in this world. I love how the writer metaphorically uses the things we wear to the weapons we need. (You can check out the original text, HERE). But if we put a lil chic-spin on it, maybe it’d go a lil something like this…
Ladies, Be Ready! Let the TRUTH be like Spanx around your waist. Let God’s JUSTICE protect you like a perfectly tailored Burberry raincoat. Your desire to tell the good news about PEACE should be like a pair of Jimmy Choo’s on your feet. Let your FAITH be like a timeless handbag and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Let God’s saving POWER be like a fedora, and for a nail file use God’s MESSAGE that comes from the Spirit…And never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people!
Over the last two years, I have watched one person have the ability and the power to take away everything from someone dear to me. His marriage, his home, his money, his job, even quality time with his child. It is a current day Job story. And it is heartbreaking. Today I am writing to the ones who have lost everything, like me one time…and like my loved one now. People can take it all, can’t they? They can take away the physical, the relational, the financial, even the emotional (like your confidence), but there is one thing NOBODY can touch. Nobody can take this away. Nobody can stomp it out of you. Nobody can take it to a judge and have it revoked. It is yours…forever, always, absolutely. And that is your soul. Your soul is your own. Your soul is rightfully God’s house and what God lives IN, NOBODY TAKES OUT. I know what it is like to have it all taken away except for my God in my soul. When that happened back in 1999, I learned THAT was all I needed. Because here we are, 13 years later, and God (in my soul) has brought me back & I’m still standing. As long as you have a soul and Jesus is in it, you CAN have it all taken away yet you still HAVE all you need. You can do this. I know it!