Monday, February 27, 2006

The Millionaire Next Door

I just re-read Thomas J. Stanley's 'The Millionaire Next Door'. This book shares with its readers the surprising habits, beliefs and attitudes of the 'millionaire' who could be living right next door to you. If you've ever wondered, why am I not rich, when (insert name) is? - this book is for you.

I re-read the book because, in the 700,201st effort to re-do my finances, I needed to be reminded of the basic tenets of saving money, the pay-off of entrepreneurship and the value in controlling your budget instead of allowing it to control you. I classify the discovered habits of the rich as 'surprising' because I found them to be just that. The book quickly puts to rest the notion of the well-to-do person as a jet-setting, richly clad, spendthrift kind of person. The 'average' millionaire profiled in this book in fact lived a very frugal lifestyle, did not generally spend a lot of money on foreign or luxury automobiles, lived in a middle-class neighborhood and lived well below his or her means. As a matter of fact, the author stated that the more luxury items a person had, the less likely he or she was to ever become millionaire.

The second read of this book proved just as eye-opening as the first for me. It put me in the mind of the fact that God has required that, as Christians, we be good stewards of the resources He has provided us with. This means your time, your talent and especially your money. Though we are advised 'Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal' (Matthew 6:19), we are also advised to make the most of our talents, as evidenced in the parable found in Matthew 25:14-30. To me this means, don't rely on money (and certainly don't love it), but use what you have wisely. Much of the Bible talks about loving and helping others, and while this of course includes acts of service, prayer and support, sometimes it also means cold, hard cash. And we can't be of much help to others if we can't help ourselves, now can we?

So, for anyone looking to improve their financial outlook and become a better steward of his or her money, I would highly recommend that you pick up this book.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

President Bush - A Good Christian?

As the death toll of U.S. soldiers in Iraq approaches 2300, I wonder about why we ever got into this war. Like most people, I initially believed it was unavoidable, inevitable and a necessity. 2286 deaths and five years later, however, I began to sense the futility of fighting a war not for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people but for oil and profits for America and its allies. There are many countries that experience internal conflicts - not many of which have experienced the level of 'assistance' and peace brokering that the United States has brought to Iraq. And it forces me to consider why this is. Are the civil wars and genocide in Africa any less important than the fates and minds of the Iraqi people? Or is it just that other countries don't have as much to offer in the way of compensation - vast amounts of potential riches and opportunities for political associates and allies to 'contract' their way to millions? Why else are we there? It certainly isn't because we're winning - because we're not. 2286 American deaths and 28501 Civilian Deaths well prove that point. And, even after the recent imposition of curfews and the restriction of vehicular movement in Baghdad, the insurgents are still managing to kill their own people and coalition forces. Is it really worth it?

Which brings me to the question - has President Bush been the 'good Christian' he professes to be by getting us involved in this war? As a Christian, I readily acknowledge our ideological and theological differences. But how can we go to war against another country in part due to our President's 'Christian' beliefs? Why hasn't President Bush given us a structured plan to pull our troops? And, finally, how can President Bush equate the tenets of the Christian faith with the death of so many of our sons and daughters? I pray for it to end.

Medea's Family Reunion....And They Lived Happily Ever After????

I recently saw Tyler Perry's movie 'Medea's Family Reunion' with a group of friends. Now, I love Tyler Perry - I love his positivity, his Christ-centeredness and his overall enthusiasm, dedication and perseverance in the entertainment business. And I appreciate the fact that he is bringing black movies to diverse audiences. Having seen two Tyler Perry movies (Medea's Family Reunion and 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman'), however, I find myself struggling with the fairy-tale like quality of his storytelling. The main character (a young woman) usually finds herself in a physically abusive relationship, with a monster-like creature devoid of any compassion or remorse. She finds her inner strength, leaves this man and goes on to live happily ever after, hopefully with a good-looking, single, 'perfect' black man (at least in the case of Diary of a Mad Black Woman). Now, I like a happy ending as much as the next girl (and it doesn't hurt that the men in Tyler Perry's movies are so fine), but I feel these story lines need a serious infusion of gray areas. His movies are clearly delineated in black and white. Here are the bad guys - as evidenced by physical abuse, manipulation and treachery - and here are the good guys - marked by characteristics such as purity of heart, total transparency and Christ-centeredness. I love you, Mr. Perry, but can we have a character that has a little more depth? One who is bad and good and everything in between? Can we have a love story that doesn't end with 'happily ever after', but 'they had a good relationship with some flaws?' Just a thought...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Christians and Depression

I recently wrote an article about Christians and depression, entitled Do Christians Get Depressed?. Besides the fact that I didn't want to be outed as a prone-to-depression Christian, I wasn't sure how this article would be received. Christians spend at least 50% of their time 'pretending' they're alright, 25% trying to get to alright, and 25% actually being alright (or maybe it's just me). Recently, I've increased my percentages to 35%, 25% and 40%, but - you get the point. We are not always the happy-go-lucky people we pretend to be. As a matter of fact, as soon as I got saved, I noticed my problems increased, instead of vice versa. What I've learned along this journey is that the problems never go away, but you get to the point where you deal with them better. All things are possible with God!!! So - how is your spiritual journey today?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Hello Everybody!!!!

Hello all you Urban Christians! This is the first post to my new blog, Urban Christianz. I already have a website, at, but I wanted to be able to interact with my readers, other Christians and anybody else out there with a valid opinion of their own. I plan to write commentary on articles I have written, talk about relationships, dating and being single and Christian growth issues. I plan on keeping it very, very real, so if you can't handle that, this blog may not be for you! So, let me know what you think, who you are and what you're about. Can't wait to hear from you!!!