Within our Means, or Beyond our Means?

By Jim Ramsey

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According to financial guru Dave Ramsey (who, for sure, claims no kinship to me) I am the “nerd” of our family! I don’t know how successful I am at the ongoing process of budgeting, but I sure do spend a goodly amount of time crunching (or crushing!) numbers. Honestly, Linda and I have always operated on a “zero budget,” because through the years many times there seems to be “too much month at the end of the money.” We have made an effort to be good stewards of the manifold blessings God has given us-not just finances, but family, time, talents, and opportunities as well. I’m sure we have not been without error in our efforts, but we sure have been blessed by trying to keep things in perspective.

In a financial sense, living within our means is an absolute necessity if we are to effectively manage and enjoy the material things God sends our way. However, I believe that in a spiritual sense, God wants us to live beyond our means. When Jesus said “without me, ye can do nothing” He knocked all the props of self righteous effort out from under us, and of course, we find, by experience the truth of His statement. On the other hand, with Him there is no limit to what we can do, or should I say, no limit to what He can do in and through us! In Christ we have been blessed with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places, and this being true, we should live beyond our means, claiming all He has already given to us!

 We are rich in Jesus, and we need to appropriate, to set aside for our practical use, what already belongs to us as His children! We need what we already possess to be worked out in our character as a means of bringing glory to our Heavenly Father. Think about it! We have a blessed POSITION – We are His “born ones.” We have blessed POSSESSIONS- eternal life, redemption, inheritance, etc., and we have blessed PRIVILEGES- prayer, fellowship, service, and giving.

Many times we settle for so much less than what God intends for us because we live within our means as His child. What only He can do in us, and for us, and through us is what is realized when we live beyond our means.


By Jim Ramsey

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I recently was sent the following funny, entitled “AGING: ONE PLUS ONE”

“Three elderly men went to the doctor for a memory test. The doctor asked the first, “What is one plus one?”

“Two hundred seventy-four” he answered.

He asked the same question of the second man- “What is one plus one?” “Tuesday,” he said.

The third man was asked as well, “What is one plus one?” “Two” said the third man.

“That’s great!” said the doctor. “How did you get that?”

“Simple,” said the third man. “I subtracted 274 from Tuesday!”

Funny, but I have certainly learned that the process of aging carries with it the hard reality that things just don’t work like they did in my younger years! It’s certainly difficult to be a spectator instead of a participant in so many activities that were once fairly easy to do somewhat well! (I recently was reminded of that at snow camp this year when I paid $40 to fall 40 times!)

Failing memory is many times an issue for the young (admit it!) as well as the “old.” I’m sure that you, like me, have endured the frustration of misplacing something or of being unable to remember someone’s name or an important date, or of forgetting an appointment, etc. It seems that sometimes the information I need just escapes me – It’s there somewhere, but I just can’t find it!

Too often in my spiritual life failing memory plagues me as well. How easy it is for me to forget the many wonderful things God has done in my life, to take for granted all the precious people He has used to help me along the way, and to be unmindful of all the grace and provision He has made for me to bring me to this place on my timeline.

Moses warned the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:9) “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.” MY eyes have been privileged to see God do some great things, and I am asking Him daily to help me keep them in my heart and mind that I might praise Him for what only He can do, and that I might be sure that my children and grandchildren recognize His greatness as well.

Rethink the Bucket List

By Jim Ramsey

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The title for this blog article is borrowed from the Wall Street Journal (Monday, March 21, 2016 issue) It zeroes in on retirees, and has some very insightful points that merit serious consideration, even by those of the younger generation in planning for their future.

This article, written by Dr. Marc E. Agronin, a geriatric psychiatrist and author of “How We Age: A Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Growing Old,” states that the “bucket list “ has become the “ultimate celebration of aging” to many seniors today. This “bucket list,” according to Dr. Agronin, is not necessarily a bad thing, but in dealing with many retirees who suffer from isolation and depression, he states emphatically from his experiences that this list needs to be refocused if it is not to become a selfish addiction. The truth is this: retirees now have longer life spans, and generally more cash, accompanied by more freedom from day-to-day obligations. Many times, due to great distances from family members, they set their sights on thrills and experiences as a highway to happiness, a “bucket list” that never seems to be “enough.” Consequently they keep piling on activities to keep the thrills coming, a process which further alienates them from real life back home.

Dr. Agronin states a “…deep psychological truth: You don’t need to make yourself happy in old age. We get happier naturally as we grow older.” An improperly focused bucket list may be a list of wrong choices: choices to focus on doing rather than on being. This article makes a valid point: We should evaluate planned activities on our bucket lists by using these criteria:

  1. What is the purpose of the activity? Is it to have fun, spend time with partner, see new places?
  2. What long lasting impact will it have on others? (Family? Friends?)
  3. Would this activity mean more long term if I included family in it?
  4. Would the time invested in it be better spent on “local turf” making and cultivating relationships?

The author of the Wall Street Journal article is writing from a secular viewpoint, but I’m sure you, as I did upon first reading, can see the spiritual life-application to what he says! Here’s the real truth! — We were created for others, and the greatest happiness and fulfillment comes from a “bucket list” that is rich with investment of time, energy, and emotion that will extend beyond our “retirement years.” God help us to stay on track!

No Trials, No Triumphs

By Jim Ramsey

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My elliptical exercise machine, which I try to use 30 minutes each morning, has certainly been beneficial to me in my efforts to take care of my health since my quintuple bypass surgery (almost ten years ago). This equipment has some built-in programs for different purposes, all contributing to overall fitness, and its programs have a wide range of difficulty based on time and resistance level. We’re all familiar with the phrase “no pain, no gain,” and my daily routine certainly reminds me of it!

Time and resistance are also beneficial to our spiritual lives. When I reflect upon the “tools” God has used in my life I realize that resistance has aided in my spiritual growth, my stamina, my faith, more than anything else that has come my way. You may have heard this saying: A faith that can’t be tested is a faith that can’t be trusted.” The path of least resistance is not the path that leads to triumph in life. Lord, when trials (resistance) come into our lives (time), please help us to see them as tools in Your hand to strengthen us and make us more useful for Your glory!

Got all your FACTS straight?

By Jim Ramsey

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What an honor and privilege it is to be a child of God, and to enjoy all the undeserved blessings attached to my position in Christ!  My position is secure in Him, but sometimes my condition as His child is not what it should be due to the infirmities of this old nature that has certainly not been eradicated.   Thank God for the resource of prayer that allows me, if I choose, to be in constant contact with the only One Who can make me what I ought to be for His glory.  

He Can Do It!

By Jim Ramsey


It’s hard to believe that three weeks of 2016 are already spent at the time I write this article! Time really does “fly when you’re having fun,” and I thoroughly enjoy the life He has given me. I love new beginnings, but I also love the experience at my “mature age” of reflecting upon so many wonderful things that God has done, both for me personally, as well as for those He has brought across my path in life. There certainly have been no “accidents” in life thus far, and there will be no “accidents” in the road ahead – my God IS, He KNOWS, He CARES, He CAN, and, best of all, He WILL!  The exciting thing is that I have no doubt that He has some even greater things for me as I travel the road of this new year. My confidence rests in His Word, which tells me that He “…is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think..” I believe that! How about YOU?

The BIG Question!

By Jim Ramsey

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The Apostle James in his epistle asks the question, “For what is your life?” (James 4:14) to provoke our thinking about priorities and the brevity of the time we have to “make our mark” in the world. Mankind has always been curious about 3 things: (1.) Where did I come from? (2.) Why am I here? (3.) Where am I going? As Christians, we know the answers to these “BIG 3” questions!


  • Our life is about God! In Christ our life is now centered in Him and His purpose for us, a purpose that will finally be completed in the “day of Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)


  • Our life is for God! We no longer live for ourselves but for others, and with the objective of glorifying – giving credence and weight- to the Person Who has made us who we are in His family.


  • Our life is because of God! Where would we be had God not “invaded” our lives and brought us to our senses in the matter of the real meaning of life and of an eternity that awaits! What a joy to remind ourselves that we are saved by grace, and that we have life because of what God accomplished on the cross for us.


The BIG question for us about the “BIG 3” questions is: Does my Christian life clearly reflect the One Who is my real reason for living?

The Christian’s Unfair Advantage in Trials

By Jim Ramsey


It is hard to see our brothers and sisters in Christ go through times of suffering, loss, and hardship. Our consolation in Christ is that even though trials are a part of life, a part that is unavoidable for all of us, God has given us an advantage in such times! Scripture is clear that I will face trials–that it takes courage to face my problems, to strive for holiness, and to live for God in an increasingly non-Christian culture. So, what IS the “unfair advantage” I have over the non-Christian in facing trials?

Gifts Grandparents Can Give

By Jim Ramsey

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How did it happen so fast? It seems like yesterday our three daughters were still at home and our lives were caught up in the daily project of seeking to steer them in the right direction in life. We now have twelve grandchildren and despite the normal challenges that come with the territory, we love being grandparents. What a privilege and what a responsibility as well! They have been entrusted to us and, as grandparents, we can help them by giving them the following gifts:

Believe it! There IS a Fountain of Youth! Part 2

by Jim Ramsey


For thousands of years tales of a spring that supposedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters have been recounted across the world. The legend became particularly prominent in the 16th century when it became attached to the Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon, the first governor of Puerto Rico, who supposedly was searching for it when he traveled to what is now Florida in 1513.