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Fran and Jesus on the Job – Finances

Aug 25, 2018

PROGRAM W-1742 – Part II

It’s true what Jesus told us: We cannot serve God and Money—spelled with a capital “M”—because he recognized the power of money and how easily we can be fooled into thinking that money is the answer to all our problems. Fran finds herself in this mental trap.

At work this day, the money worries are heavy on her mind and she really doesn’t want to listen to Jesus. She’s into self-pity, and sometimes it’s hard for Fran to leave her pity party behind.

As she sits at her desk worrying and feeling sorry for herself, her phone rings. “Mrs. Langley,” the voice says.

“Yes,” Fran replies.

“Mrs. Langley, I’m calling for Dr. Carrow. I was just calling about the bill for Alice’s dental work. It’s past due and we were wondering when you might be able to pay it?”

Fran is stunned as she realizes what this is—a collection call. “Uh,” she mutters, very embarrassed. “Well, I know it’s a little late, but I’ll try to pay right away. I’m sorry, it’s just that so many bills have come due this month—I’m sorry.”

“Are you saying then that you’ll get a check off to us soon? When can we expect it, Mrs. Langley?” the cold voice asks on the other end of the phone. Fran can’t believe how pushy he is.

“Uh, well,” Fran tries to think, “I’ll try to get a check off this week.”

“Then we can expect full payment this week, is that right Mrs. Langley?” he continues.

Fran is starting to get irritated. “I’ll do the best I can.”

“Well,” the voice continues, “I’m sure you realize this is already 60 days late, so we’ll expect your check in the next few days.”

“You know,” Fran replies, “you shouldn’t be calling me here at work. Don’t call me here anymore please.”

“Well, Mrs. Langley, if you pay your bills on time, we won’t have to call you again at all,” he says with emphasis.

“I don’t believe that guy,” Fran says as she slams the phone down. She has never been so humiliated in her life. The rest of the day is pretty much a wipe-out, because Fran can’t think of anything else as she gets angrier and angrier.

Several times during the day, Jesus tries to get her attention, but Fran chooses to ignore him. She knows what he’ll say: “Fran, you’re feeling sorry for yourself; Fran, you’re letting your imagination run away with you; Fran, I’ll take care of you.” She doesn’t want to hear it.

Fran stops at the station to fill her gas tank on the way home. Johnny says to her, “Mrs. Langley, do you realize your tires are real thin? Those two on the back, there’s hardly any tread left. You oughta get some new tires soon, I think.”

Fran looks at Johnny and then at the tires. How dare he suggest that she needs to buy new tires—today of all days. She’s so upset she can’t even respond to him; abruptly she pays for the gas and drives off.

As she arrives home, Drew rushes up to her. “Mom, what happened? We can’t get the Disney Channel anymore!”

“Oh, Drew, I canceled the cable service today,” Fran replies.

“You canceled cable? But why?” Drew demands to know.

“Because we can’t afford it, that’s why,” Fran replies with a raised volume in her voice.

“What do you mean we can’t afford it? We’ve always afforded it before,” Drew asks.

“Drew, we don’t have money like we did before your father died, you kids have to realize that,” Fran replies.

“Oh, we realize it all the time. That’s all you talk about,” Drew throws back at her with anger.

“Now, listen to me, son,” Fran grabs him by the shoulders, “I’m doing the best I can. I have to cut our costs—we can do without cable television, that’s all there is to it. Furthermore, we’re probably going to have to sell the house and move to a cheaper place.”

As soon as she says it, she knows she said the wrong thing.

“Move to another house? Mom, we can’t leave this house. Mom. . .” Drew looks at her with fear in his eyes, and tears start to roll down his cheeks. Fran is ashamed at how she has upset him unnecessarily. This was no way to tell him this bad news.

She releases her grip on his shoulders, takes his hand, and leads him to the sofa. “Oh, Drew, I’m sorry I yelled at you,” she says, as she takes him in her arms. He cries freely.

“Mom, I don’t want to move. This is our home. Mom, where are we going to move?” Drew’s fears and anxiety pour out.

Hugging him close, Fran says, “Drew, I don’t know where we’ll move. But without your father’s salary, we just can’t afford this house. I don’t make as much money as your Dad did, Drew. But listen, we’ll figure something out. And whatever happens, we’ll be together and Jesus will get us through.” Fran has a little difficulty getting those last words out after her behavior today. Still, she knows Jesus is close beside her and does care about her and her children.

Later in the evening she calls to apologize to her mom for her behavior on the phone earlier in the day. As always, her mom pretends nothing happened. “You know, Fran, you ought to talk with George before you do anything. He’s got good business sense, working in the bank and all. Why don’t you call him?”

“Good suggestion, Mom,” Fran replies, as they finish their conversation. She dials Uncle George’s number, and he answers in his cheerful manner. She tells him her dilemma and he suggests she come by the bank on her way home tomorrow.

“Great, I’ll see you then,” Fran says, with a feeling of relief as she hangs up. Somehow it helps just to have someone knowledgeable to talk to.

She can sense that Jesus is pleased that she called George. Finally, she acknowledges his presence and talks with him.

“Did you see what I did to poor Drew tonight? I really dumped all my frustration on that kid,” Fran confesses. “I should have talked to you first, Lord. If I had, I don’t think I would have dumped on Drew.”

Again the Lord reminds her that money has power. And it is one of the most difficult areas for Christians to learn to trust him.

“I certainly haven’t been trusting you in that area, Lord,” Fran admits. “But when I look at my bank account and I look at the bills, I just go into panic mode. And then that collection call today—that was terribly embarrassing. And tires for the car—I just don’t know how I’ll ever pull us out of this.”

Again she remembers some of the things she read in that good book on money recently: Money problems are either going to cause you to be worried and frantic or they are going to cause you to learn to trust the Lord more. It’s your choice.

Fran mulls that over in her mind. “It’s my choice, I know that. But I feel panic set in, and I just can’t avoid it,” Fran tells Jesus.

“Feelings—there I go again with feelings, Lord. I must trust you, and sometimes ignore my feelings. Feeling the panic doesn’t mean I’m not trusting you,” she tells the Lord what he has often revealed to her. “But at that point of panic, I must make a choice either to continue in panic mode or to trust you. That’s the hard part! I have to remember that if I go by my feelings, I’ll often be in trouble. In spite of the panic feelings, I will choose to trust you, Lord—even in the midst of them.”

“It brings to mind that verse I learned when I was a kid in Sunday School: ‘What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.’” Fran reaches for her Bible to locate the verse. “Here it is, Psalm 56:3-4: ‘When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid.’”

Fran meditates on those verses. “David says, ‘I will trust in you.’ Guess that’s what you mean when you say I have to make a choice, huh?”

She is learning anew a lesson she has learned before—that regardless of her feelings, if she will set her will to trust in the Lord, she’ll discover that the fears subside. Then she can think correctly, hear God’s voice, and know what to do. But when fear takes over, trust goes out the window and that’s when she finds herself doing and saying all kinds of things she wishes she hadn’t.

“Wow, that sure happened to me today,” Fran says, as she re-thinks her day. “I blew up at Mom, I gave Johnny at the service station a rude reaction, and then let poor Drew have it. I was out of control, and that was because I was controlled by fear and by my own incorrect thinking. When you let your thoughts get out of control, you can find yourself in enemy territory pretty quickly.”

Fran spends a little more time reading her Bible and talking with Jesus, and then goes to bed with a quiet spirit.

The next day, her talk with Uncle George is encouraging. He explains she could refinance her home at a lower interest rate and cut her payments significantly. He also points out that she could claim another deduction on her income tax and have an extra $40 to $50 in her paycheck instead of getting a refund check.

As Fran drives on home, she says to Jesus, “I do have some options, don’t I, Lord? Thanks for putting Uncle George in my life to help me. Now I just have to keep praying for wisdom and seeking good advice—and keep cutting back on expenses.”

Well, Fran has learned some important lessons about finances. Of course, she’ll have to learn them again, as we all do. But this is one area where God gets our attention quickly. It is so easy for us to trust in money rather than God, and we must learn and re-learn that money is not the answer to our problems.

Certainly we are required to be good stewards. Fran is learning that she must be knowledgeable and frugal; but she’s also learning that money problems have to be turned over to the Lord. Worrying doesn’t help. Getting angry doesn’t help. Self-pity doesn’t help. But Jesus can help.

I hope this story will help you learn that, too.


Fran and Jesus on the Job – Finances

Aug 18, 2018

PROGRAM W-1741 – Part I

After Fran gets the kids in bed this Tuesday evening, she says to herself, “It’s the first of the month. I’ve got to pay bills tonight.”

One of the toughest aspects of being single for Fran is the total responsibility of the finances which now rests on her shoulders. Since the death of her husband, Jim, that job has become Fran’s, and she doesn’t enjoy it at all. Of course, it’s particularly difficult because there’s hardly ever enough money to pay all the bills. She and Jim had moved into their home three years before he died, but the mortgage payment is pretty steep for Fran’s salary.

As she looks at her bank account, Fran says to herself, “Well, what bills will I pull out of the hat this month? Good grief that phone bill is ridiculous. And this dentist bill for Alice—all she had was a small cavity. You’d think from this bill she had a tooth implant! Unfortunately, my insurance doesn’t cover dental,” Fran fumes, as she continues to calculate the bottom line.

“Oh great,” she exclaims. “I’m $200 short this month. If the kids just didn’t have to eat, I guess we could get by!”

As soon as she says that, she can hear Jesus saying to her, “I’ve promised to take care of you. You will not be brought to shame, or go hungry, or miss anything you need.”

Fran had momentarily forgotten that Jesus is always there, but she finds herself a bit annoyed. “Yeah, but I still have to pay these bills!”

She tries to calm herself down a bit and think more rationally. “Well, Fran,” she talks to herself again, “take a look at your bills. Which ones can be eliminated or reduced?”

“This cable TV bill—I guess that could be eliminated. The kids enjoy the Disney Channel and the cartoons,” Fran rationalizes, “but they have a lot of good videos, and mom has bought them several Bible videos recently. It’s just easy for me to plop them down in front of the television when I’m tired or busy,” Fran candidly admits. “I’ll cancel the cable tomorrow.”

Looking through the rest of the bills, she says, “There’s really not much else here I can do away with. This VISA bill is too high; bought that new dress last month. . .but I have to have nice clothes to work in.” Fran feels defensive.

“I do need to find ways to reduce my expenses.” She feels certain that Jesus agrees with her about that.

“Well, I know I could sell the house and live somewhere cheaper, but…” That’s the one thing Fran doesn’t want to think about. She loves her home, and she’s been hanging on by her fingernails to keep it. “Every woman wants her own home, and the children are comfortable here. It’s home to them,” Fran says. “I don’t think it would be wise to change schools.”

“I think it’s time for me to seek some good counsel.” She remembers Proverbs 20:18: “Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.”

Talking to herself again, she says, “Well, I do need to wage war against these financial woes. They’re causing me a great deal of stress and it’s getting worse, not better. So, I’ll seek some counsel.”

As she finishes paying bills, the thought of selling her house begins to depress her. She feels anger starting to rise up in her just thinking about it.

“It’s just not fair,” she thinks, as tears start down her cheeks. Looking at her wedding picture on the desk beside her, she remembers life with Jim. “It’s just not fair. Why did Jim die? Why did God take him from me? It’s just not fair!”

Fran puts her head down on the desk and sobs shake her body as pain and loneliness flood her memory. Suddenly she sits up and says out loud, “Lord, it’s just not fair. I didn’t do anything to deserve this. I was doing what you wanted me to do, and so was Jim.” All the anger she feels comes pouring out.

“I understand,” she can hear that quiet voice of the Lord whispering to her.

“How could you understand? You’ve never had to raise two kids by yourself!” The words come out of her mouth before Fran can stop them.

Then she remembers how Jesus was rejected by his closest friends. Even his Father turned his back on him as he hung on the cross. “Surely, Lord, you do understand because you’ve experienced every kind of pain that I ever have, and then some.”

The room gets very quiet as Fran’s sobs subside. She thinks again of how much Jesus suffered for her, and feels very ashamed at her outbursts. “Lord, I’m so sorry. . .” she begins, but Jesus interrupts her.

She can sense him telling her that there is no need to apologize. Instinctively she reaches for her Bible and turns to the Psalm she read just a few days ago—Psalm 142—and begins reading:

I cry aloud to the Lord; . . .I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble. I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of   the living.” Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need. Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. (Psalm 142:1-2,5-7)

Fran’s spirit is at peace as she finishes the Psalm. “I guess David felt the same way I do, and he just told you how he felt, didn’t he, Lord?”

Jesus assures her that he knows there are times when she has these feelings, and since he knows what she thinks anyway, she might as well talk about it with him. Then at least she and the Lord can deal with it together.

“I know I was wrong to be angry and to feel sorry for myself. I truly am sorry,” Fran apologizes again.

She knows that she is forgiven and that Jesus will never bring it up again. He forgives and forgets, which is more than Fran can do.

Meditating on Psalm 142, Fran says, “It seems to me that David had mixed feelings. In one sentence he says, ‘It is you who know my way,’ and in the next sentence he says, ‘No one is concerned for me.’  David couldn’t understand what was happening to him, just like I can’t understand what’s happening to me.”

And the Spirit of God reminds her that just as he took care of David, he will take care of her.

“It’s interesting that David says, ‘Set me free from my prison,’ because I feel like I’m in a money prison. Because of the lack of money, I’ve got to sell my house, uproot my kids, change my life—if I just had more money all that wouldn’t be necessary.”

Again, her spirit is convicted as she remembers what she knows so well: Money is not the answer to her problems. Money is not her security blanket. “I keep thinking that money will meet my needs,” she says out loud. “That is truly placing my hope in the wrong place. Lord, I know that you have many creative ways to meet my needs, but first I have to trust you,” Fran says.

“I do trust you, Lord—you know that,” Fran says. “But how am I going to pay these bills without money?”

Recently she was reading a book on the power of money. She is reminded of what Jesus taught the disciples in his Sermon on the Mount—one cannot serve both God and Money. Money is a powerful thing—it can cause a person to be its slave. Being a good steward and spending one’s money wisely is certainly a good thing, but that person must watch that he or she doesn’t look to money as the answer for his or her needs.

As she completes paying the bills, Fran recognizes that she must take some drastic steps to bring her costs in line with her income. She decides to talk to her Mom tomorrow. That would be a good place to start.

The next day at work, she dials her Mom before getting the day started. After a little chit chat she says, “You know, Mom, I guess I’m going to have to sell the house to make ends meet.”

“Well, honey,” her Mom says, “it’s probably a wise thing for you to do. I know you hate to sell your house but, frankly, we’re not in a position to help you out a great deal, and…”

“No one was asking you to help, Mom,” Fran replies, with anger in her voice. “I was just telling you, that’s all.”

“Oh, I know, honey, but…” her Mom pauses. “Well, anyway, your father and I agree that it might be a wise move for you to find a less expensive place to live.”

This is not how Fran wanted the conversation to go, so she rather suddenly says good-bye.

As she hangs up the phone, anger and frustration start to rise. “Easy for her to say, ‘Sell your home.’  Wonder how she’d feel if she had to sell her home,” Fran mumbles out loud.

Again, she can hear the voice of Jesus saying to her, “What’s the problem, Fran?”

Funny how often Fran forgets that Jesus is always close at hand. Many times, she says and thinks things she wishes she hadn’t when she is reminded that Jesus is right there with her. This is one of those times. “Problem? Who me? No problem, Lord,” she says with a touch of sarcasm.

But again, his Spirit within her keeps nudging and convicting her. “Why did you have such a negative reaction when your mother confirmed your decision to sell your house?”

“I didn’t have a negative reaction. . .it just seems that no one really understands or cares. . .” Fran starts to complain and then decides not to say anymore.

“Is this a pity-party?”

Fran is in no mood for this conversation. Fuming, she says to herself, “I’m not going to talk to anyone else about this; no one cares anyway. I’ll figure it out myself. Mother and Dad are tired of taking care of me,” she says. “Fine, I won’t ask them for one thing more.”

Fran is letting her thoughts get way out of bounds, but she’s not quite ready to confront that problem.

It is true that financial problems spill over to all areas of our lives. Fran is saying and doing things she normally wouldn’t say or do because she’s under financial pressures.


When Life Throws a Curve Ball

May 7, 2018


I am a big baseball fan. I was raised with two brothers and a father who loved baseball, so it became our family sport, I guess. At any rate, I really love the game and it was great to be around when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016. After a one-hundred-year dry spell, it was about time!

However, I must admit that I have a hard time distinguishing one pitch from another. There are fast balls and screw balls, split-finger balls and knuckle balls, to mention just a few. But the one that seems to give the most trouble is the curve ball. It comes at you one way, then suddenly curves another way, making it very difficult to hit.

Whether or not you know anything about baseball, you know what a curve ball is in life. It’s that unexpected turn in the road that takes you where you don’t want to go. It’s that unwanted circumstance, person, or event that turns everything topsy-turvy, leaving you bewildered and discouraged.

What curve ball has life thrown at you recently? Maybe it was a financial curve ball. You were just making ends meet and paying your bills, when your car died on you. Now you’re faced with a huge unexpected expense with no way to pay it. Perhaps you had a good job with a good organization, when one day you heard those dreaded words, “We have to lay you off.” Or, maybe you just learned that the value of your home is now less than the amount you owe on it! These are all financial curve balls, for sure.

David wrote, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3) What are we to do when it feels like our financial foundations are being destroyed? Do we really believe Philippians 4:19, which says, “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”?

Money troubles test our faith more than most others, don’t they? If you’re in the midst of a financial curve ball right now, I want to encourage you to let it deepen your trust in God’s provision for you. Every day repeat this verse from Philippians 4, and declare that, by faith, you believe God will meet all your needs. Turn that curve ball into a home run!


Are You Satisfied with Your Job?

Oct 24, 2017


Surveys tell us that many people are holding onto jobs they really don’t like. I am giving you ten checkpoints to help you determine if it’s time to look for another job—or if it’s time to change your attitude about your current job.

Checkpoint #3: Do you feel healthy at work or do you regularly worry or feel sick about going in the next day?

If going to work “turns your stomach”—creating actual physical problems—then it’s pretty certain that something is wrong. Maybe it’s not the job itself which is the problem, but a particular person with whom or for whom you work. It’s helpful to separate the actual job from other things about the job that may be difficult for you. Once you’ve done that, ask yourself if you want to give up a job that suits you and where you truly enjoy the work, just because of a personality clash, heavy workload, or some other circumstance.

It could also be that you simply allow yourself to worry way too much about little things, and this is creating the health issues for you. Jesus told us not to worry because our heavenly Father is watching over us. Yet many of us carry around a load of worry all the time, as though by worrying we can solve the problem. It has never done so yet!

God may have you in your job to teach you to trust him and to let go of the little stuff—to cast all your care on him because he cares for you.

Checkpoint #4: Do you feel as though your rate of pay is fair?

Who of us would ever say we couldn’t use a little more money?! But the question is, do you feel you are being paid fairly, competitively, and according to the work you do?

You may find it difficult to be objective about this question, so a good suggestion is to do some research and find out what the rate of pay is for your type of job in your geographical area. You might find out you are doing quite well—or maybe not; but it will be best for you to have some facts and not just “feel like” you aren’t paid enough.

Money is always important to us, no doubt about that. But quite honestly, there are some jobs you wouldn’t want no matter how much money they paid. Please keep in mind that money does not solve all our problems and we should not make job decisions based solely on money.

Jesus warned us about the power of money. He said it’s possible to be a slave to money, and Paul says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Therefore, we need to tread very carefully here because we can easily be led astray by the love of money.


Pockets of Fear

Jul 11, 2017


What is your pocket of fear? One thing we know from scripture is that fear is not of God. Second Timothy 1:7 assures us that God does not give us a spirit of fear, so whatever you or I are fearful about, it’s not coming from the Lord. Rather, we have an enemy who loves to scare us to death about everything he can because, when we are fearful, we are not trusting God. Remember, we may have great faith in some areas, while still having pockets of fear where we find it difficult to trust God.

So, what is your pocket of fear? Maybe it’s the fear of money—it often is. Are you fearful of not having enough, of losing your job, of losing your house, of going bankrupt, of not being able to afford what you need or want?

Frankly, this often is a pocket of fear for me. I am responsible for this ministry and we depend on financial support from our listeners. Sometimes I find myself thinking, What if enough money doesn’t come in? How will you pay your staff? You could lose your house, all your assets, and everything you own—you could go through all that in no time flat. What in the world will you do then? That’s a pocket of fear for me.

Here’s what I’ve learned to do with this pocket of fear when it starts to possess me: I say, “Okay, imagine the worst—no money, have to shut down the ministry, no income, no house, no savings. Will God desert you then? Do you believe he can and will take care of you even if you experience total financial loss?” Then I make myself—note: this is usually an act of my will, not my emotions—I make myself claim a promise from the Bible.

Here are some good ones to use for this pocket of fear:

Matthew 6:25-26: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. . . . Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Philippians 4:19: And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

By exposing that pocket of fear to the light, bringing it out in the open, and forcing yourself to face the fear, it loses its teeth. It can’t bite you any longer because you’ve accepted that the worst may and could happen and, if it does, God’s Word is still steadfast and he will deliver you.

A good first principle in dealing with pockets of fear is to bring them out in the open and talk to God about them. Then find a verse of scripture to counteract that pocket of fear.


Are You on Solid Ground or Quicksand?

Apr 18, 2017


In considering whether you’re standing on solid ground or quicksand, remember with me the parable Jesus taught about the foolish builder who built his house on sand. “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:27).

Of course it fell with a great crash—anybody knows you can’t build a house on sand! A house has to have a firm foundation. Unfortunately, many of us try to build our lives on sand. For example, have you seen anyone trying to build on the quicksand of money? Sometimes it sure looks like money is the answer to all our problems, doesn’t it?

How many times have you tried to build your life on the quicksand of money? Money can be a problem for us whether we have lots or little. In 1 Timothy 6:9, we read this: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”

I confess to you that there are times when I think about how easy life would be if I unexpectedly inherited some large amount of money. Believe me, there’s no possibility of that happening. But we can think about all the good things we would do with a lot of money, how we could serve God better with a lot of money, and what a good steward we would be if we just had lots of money!

The truth is this: few people can be trusted with riches because money corrupts so quickly and easily. Solomon gave us this advice: “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:4-5).

Riches are quicksand. It is a big mistake to put our confidence in money. Remember, as Paul reminded us, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). James also reminds us that those who are poor in the eyes of the world are often rich in faith, and those riches are eternal.

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