21 Ways to Achieve Wealth and Success

Hey gang!  One of the key ingredients for success is forming the right success habits.  In fact, ever since Maxwell Maltz shared his observations in his bestseller PsychoCybernetics on how he saw his patients adjust to a change in an average of 21 days, the top success speakers and coaches have locked onto a 21-day paradigm for personal transformation.

Why are habits so powerful?  Because we are operating on autopilot for most of our actions, most of the day.  We brush our teeth a certain way, and put on our pants a certain way.  We say grace before meals as a habit, read daily from a good book as a habit, or watch television and veg out as a habit.  Many habits are so automatic we aren’t even conscious we are doing them.   In fact, sometimes we are on such autopilot in the morning that we might find ourselves in our car halfway to work before we realize it!  If we can train ourselves to do the right thing automatically we tilt the scales of success in our favor.  If we don’t, human nature tends to do the easiest, most pleasurable thing… and those habits tend to lead toward ruin.  As Samuel Johnson said, “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”  

Here is a great article on forming the habits to success from Entrepreneur magazine.   I challenge you to ask yourself, “Which of these am I doing, and doing every day?”  The answer will likely astound you!

God Bless, Tim Marks

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21 Ways to Achieve Wealth and Success

by Meiko Patton

In his book, Rich Habits — The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, Tom Corley outlines several habits that distinguish the wealthy from the nonwealthy.

It got me to think, How many people operate on autopilot and don’t stop to monitor their everyday patterns? Below I’ve summarized 19 of his habits for success (nine culled from his book and the next 10 from his recent article in Success) plus two of my own. If you’re not actively engaged in these 21 things, you are, in effect, leaving money on the table.

  1. Setting good daily habits.

Good habits are the foundation of wealth building. The difference between successful and unsuccessful people lies in their daily habits. Simply put, successful people have many good habits and few bad ones. If you understand that your bad habits may be preventing you from becoming wealthy, that realization will be the first step in your improving your circumstances.

In his book, Corley invites you to take out a sheet of paper and list your bad habits in one column and then invert each one to place under a new column for good habits. It should look like this:

Bad Habit/Good Habit

I watch too much TV.             I limit myself to one hour of TV per day.

I don’t remember names.     I write down names and remember them.

Then for 30 days, follow the guidance of your new good habits list. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish.

  1. Regularly creating goals.

Successful people are goal driven. They create goals all the time. They plan their day the night before with to-do lists.

People who are headed for success think for the long term. They have daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. But what’s a goal without a plan to reach them? So not only do successful people have goals, they also come up with ways to achieve them and hold themselves accountable.

  1. Engaging in self-improvement daily.

Successful people are always looking for ways to improve themselves. They read every day and are students of their profession. They don’t spend their time on activities that don’t bring them closer to their goals.

I recently attended an event hosted by author Brendon Burchard, who said he consistently blocks out time to create. Successful people like Burchard know that time is too valuable a commodity to waste. They spend their time on the things that will move the needle for them in their business: Being committed to self-improvement means you engage in activities every day that will stretch you.

Seek ways to expand your knowledge. This won’t always be easy, but people grow from things that pose a challenge. Once your knowledge grows, opportunities appear.

  1. Regularly taking care of personal health.

Each and every day successful people make an effort to eat right and exercise. Eating right is of utmost importance. Exercising daily can become a regular habit, just like taking a bath. People who exercise routinely have more energy to get things done. How are you doing in this area?

  1. Often making time for relationship building.

People who are successful are other-people focused. They take time out of their day to strengthen the bonds of friendship and form long-lasting relationships with others. Networking is something they do all the time. They reach out to their contacts and look for ways to help them with no expectation of in return.

The most beautiful sound on Earth, I once heard someone say, is your name. So make it a goal to learn the names of every contact you meet. Aren’t you impressed when someone remembers your name? I know I am. So stand out as different and start remembering names.

  1. Doing things in moderation.

You live in a balanced way if you do activities in moderation. This means having a balanced approach to work, eating, exercise, consuming alcohol, watching television, surfing the Internet and so forth. As a result, people will enjoy your company. If people like being around you, then you will be more apt to collaborate or find the new business partner that you need to take your business to the next level.

  1. Getting things done.

Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today: Accomplish things. All people have fears, but successful people push past them. They don’t procrastinate. They get the important things done, no matter the cost.

In Rich Habits, Corley explains that when the thought of putting off something enters the mind, immediately shed notion by saying, “Do it now.” He says repeat these words 100 times if necessary. Just don’t stop till the task is done.

  1. Keeping a positive outlook.

Consider the most successful person you know. Is that person positive or negative? Most likely this individual is positive, enthusiastic, energetic and happy. This person chooses to see the good in others and in himself or herself. To this person, problems are just opportunities waiting to be uncovered.

Every day people are bombarded by news of bad deeds and doings. Successful people minimize their exposure to this type of thing and instead opt to fill their minds with positive ideas from books and magazines.

  1. Regularly saving money. 

According to Corley, successful individuals put away about 10 percent to 20 percent of their gross earnings in a savings, investment or retirement plan. Not everyone can afford to do so, but what percent are you putting away?

  1. Rejecting self-limiting thoughts. 

Successful people command their thoughts and emotions. As soon as bad thoughts intrude, they cast out anything that challenges their ability to succeed at the task at hand. They do not dwell on negative notions. Their self-talk is positive and not overly critical. They replace bad thoughts with good ones.

Because successful people engage in self-improvement daily and are constantly involved in positive things, they don’t allow themselves time to indulge in negative emotions.

  1. Living within means.

Wealthy people avoid overspending. Among many of those struggling financially, some are living above their means. They spend more than they earn, live from paycheck to paycheck and are drowning in credit-card debt. If this is you, resolve today to turn things around for you and your family.

  1. Reading daily. 

Many successful people read 30 minutes or more every day. Reading can increase your knowledge and know-how. When you read, often  you are seeking to improve yourself. This automatically sets you apart from your counterparts. You will stand out from the competition.

  1. Limiting TV watching. 

Did you know that many successful  people limit the amount their TV time to one hour or less a day? How much time do you lose in front of the television that you could be spending doing something more productive?

  1. Doing more than what’s required.

Successful people regularly go above and beyond the call of duty at work. Even if something is not in their job description, they will volunteer to do it. Wealthy people make themselves invaluable. As an entrepreneur, you may not have a boss. But in what ways do you go above and beyond for your clients? How do you wow them?

  1. Talking less and listening more. 

When you listen, you learn. And as the adage goes, that’s why people have two ears and one mouth. When you take the time to really pay attention to what another person is saying, it can truly help not only you but your bottom line as well. When you listen, you are in a better position to help others.

  1. Not giving up.

Don’t give up when the going gets tough. Successful people hang in there. They pivot. They try something new. They persist. They may have to change their direction, but they keep moving forward.

  1. Spending time with like-minded ones. 

There’s a saying that goes, “Show me who your friends are and I’ll show you who you are.” I believe that. People are only as successful as those they choose to surround themselves with. Good associations can help you more quickly achieve your goals.

  1. Finding a mentor.

Many people who have had a mentor have attributed their success to that person. Mentors can help you achieve your goals faster and keep you accountable. They can share valuable experience that can cut your learning time in half.

  1. Knowing your why.

When you know why you’re doing something, you will get what you want quicker than if you don’t. Having a purpose is essential to being successful in business and in life. Why do you want to be successful? Why do you really want to be wealthy?

  1. Not giving fear the upper hand. 

Everyone has fears. Successful people don’t allow their fears to limit or define them. Fear inevitably keeps you in the same position and stunts your growth. Recognize your fears and seek ways to overcome them. Interview someone you admire and ask that person how he or she overcame a fear or pick up an autobiography and take notes.

  1. Upgrading skills. 

If you want to get ahead, there’s only one way to do it: Become better at something than you are today. What’s the one thing you can focus on for the next 30 days that will catapult you to rock-star status in your industry? Focus your attention on that. I heard John Lee Dumas fromEntrepreneur on Fire define “FOCUS” like this: Follow one course until success. Will you?

 

 

Why Christians Shouldn’t Accept Millions of Years

Hey gang!  I love science, and I love the Bible.  Fortunately, they actually go together and support each other, despite what some people may think.

Please read the following excellent article from AnswersInGenesis.org and ask yourself, “Is this important?” The answer is absolutely “YES!” (I wouldn’t post anything on my blog unless I thought it was important, :) )

Remember as you read, that a sound scientific position should be empirical, repeatable and provable.  Anything less is merely theory, and might be a particularly dangerous theory.

God Bless, Tim Marks

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Why Christians Shouldn’t Believe Millions of Years

by Dr. Terry Mortensen

 

There is an intensifying controversy in the church all over the world regarding the age of the earth. For the first 18 centuries of church history, the almost universal belief of Christians was that God created the world in six literal days roughly 4,000 years before Christ and destroyed the world with a global Flood at the time of Noah.

 

But about 200 years ago some scientists developed new theories of earth history, which proposed that the earth and universe are millions of years old. Over the past 200 years Christian leaders have made various attempts to fit the millions of years into the Bible. These include the day-age view, gap theory, local flood view, framework hypothesis, theistic evolution, and progressive creation.

A growing number of Christians (now called young-earth creationists), including many scientists, hold to the traditional view, believing it to be the only view that is truly faithful to Scripture and that fits the scientific evidence far better than the reigning old-earth evolutionary theory.

Many Christians say that the age of the earth is an unimportant and divisive side issue that hinders the proclamation of the gospel. But is that really the case? Answers in Genesis and many other creationist organizations think not.

In this chapter, I want to introduce you to some of the reasons we think that Christians cannot accept the millions of years without doing great damage to the church and her witness in the world. Other chapters in this book will go into much more detail on these issues.

  1. The Bible clearly teaches that God created in six literal, 24-hour days a few thousand years ago.The Hebrew word for day in Genesis 1 is yom. In the vast majority of its uses in the Old Testament it means a literal day; and where it doesn’t, the context makes this clear.
  1. The context of Genesis 1 clearly shows that the days of creation were literal days.First,yom is defined the first time it is used in the Bible (Genesis 1:4–5) in its two literal senses: the light portion of the light/dark cycle and the whole light/dark cycle. Second, yom is used with “evening” and “morning.” Everywhere these two words are used in the Old Testament, either together or separately and with or without yom in the context, they always mean a literal evening or morning of a literal day. Third, yom is modified with a number: one day, second day, third day, etc., which everywhere else in the Old Testament indicates literal days. Fourth, yom is defined literally in Genesis 1:14 in relation to the heavenly bodies.
  2. The genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 make it clear that the creation days happened only about 6,000 years ago.It is transparent from the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 (which give very detailed chronological information, unlike the clearly abbreviated genealogy in Matthew 1 and other chronological information in the Bible that the Creation Week took place only about 6,000 years ago.
  1. Exodus 20:9–11blocks all attempts to fit millions of years into Genesis 1. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:9-11).

This passage gives the reason for God’s command to Israel to work six days and then take a sabbath rest. Yom is used in both parts of the commandment. If God meant that the Jews were to work six days because He created over six long periods of time, He could have said that using one of three indefinite Hebrew time words. He chose the only word that means a literal day, and the Jews understood it literally (until the idea of millions of years developed in the early nineteenth century). For this reason, the day-age view or framework hypothesis must be rejected. The gap theory or any other attempt to put millions of years before the six days are also false because God says that in six days He made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. So He made everything in those six literal days and nothing before the first day.

  1. Noah’s Flood washes away millions of years.The evidence in Genesis 6–9 for a global catastrophic flood is overwhelming. For example, the Flood was intended to destroy not only all sinful people but also all land animals and birds and the surface of the earth, which only a global flood could accomplish. The Ark’s purpose was to save two of every kind of land animal and bird (and seven of some) to repopulate the earth after the Flood. The Ark was totally unnecessary if the Flood was only local. People, animals, and birds could have migrated out of the flood zone before it occurred, or the zone could have been populated from creatures outside the area after the Flood. The catastrophic nature of the Flood is seen in the nonstop rain for at least 40 days, which would have produced massive erosion, mud slides, hurricanes, etc. The Hebrew words translated “the fountains of the great deep burst open” (Genesis 7:11) clearly point to tectonic rupturing of the earth’s surface in many places for 150 days, resulting in volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Noah’s Flood would produce exactly the kind of complex geological record we see worldwide today: thousands of feet of sediments clearly deposited by water and later hardened into rock and containing billions of fossils. If the year-long Flood is responsible for most of the rock layers and fossils, then those rocks and fossils cannot represent the history of the earth over millions of years, as evolutionists claim.
  1. Jesus was a young-earth creationist.Jesus consistently treated the miracle accounts of the Old Testament as straightforward, truthful, historical accounts (e.g., creation of Adam, Noah and the Flood, Lot and his wife in Sodom, Moses and the manna, and Jonah in the fish). He continually affirmed the authority of Scripture over men’s ideas and traditions (Matthew 15:1–9). In Mark 10:6 we have the clearest (but not the only) statement showing that Jesus was a young-earth creationist. He teaches that Adam and Eve were made at the “beginningof creation,” not billions of years after the beginning, as would be the case if the universe were really billions of years old. So, if Jesus was a young-earth creationist, then how can His faithful followers have any other view?
  1. Belief in millions of years undermines the Bible’s teaching on death and on the character of God.Genesis 1 says six times that God called the creation “good,” and when He finished creation on Day 6, He called everything “very good.” Man and animals and birds were originally vegetarian ( 1:29–30, plants are not “living creatures,” as people and animals are, according to Scripture). But Adam and Eve sinned, resulting in the judgment of God on the whole creation. Instantly Adam and Eve died spiritually, and after God’s curse they began to die physically. The serpent and Eve were changed physically and the ground itself was cursed (Genesis 3:14–19). The whole creation now groans in bondage to corruption, waiting for the final redemption of Christians (Romans 8:19–25) when we will see the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21Colossians 1:20) to a state similar to the pre-Fall world, when there will be no more carnivorous behavior (Isaiah11:6–9) and no disease, suffering, or death (Revelation 21:3–5) because there will be no more Curse (Revelation 22:3). To accept millions of years of animal death before the creation and Fall of man contradicts and destroys the Bible’s teaching on death and the full redemptive work of Christ. It also makes God into a bumbling, cruel creator who uses (or can’t prevent) disease, natural disasters, and extinctions to mar His creative work, without any moral cause, but still calls it all “very good.”
  1. The idea of millions of years did not come from the scientific facts.This idea of long ages was developed by deistic and atheistic geologists in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These men used antibiblical philosophical and religious assumptions to interpret the geological observations in a way that plainly contradicted the biblical account of creation, the Flood, and the age of the earth. Most church leaders and scholars quickly compromised using the gap theory, day-age view, local flood view, etc. to try to fit “deep time” into the Bible. But they did not understand the geological arguments, and they did not defend their views by careful Bible study. The “deep time” idea flows out of naturalistic assumptions, not scientific observations.
  1. Radiometric dating methods do not prove millions of years.Radiometric dating was not developed until the early twentieth century, by which time virtually the whole world had already accepted the millions of years. For many years creation scientists have cited numerous examples in the published scientific literature of these dating methods clearly giving erroneous dates (e.g., a date of millions of years for lava flows that occurred in the past few hundred years or even decades). In recent years creationists in the RATE project have done experimental, theoretical, and field research to uncover more such evidence (e.g., diamonds and coal, which the evolutionists say are millions of years old, were dated by carbon-14 to be only thousands of years old) and to show that decay rates were orders of magnitude faster in the past, which shrinks the millions of years to thousands of years, confirming the Bible.1

 

 

Conclusion

WHAT IS AT STAKE HERE IS THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE, THE CHARACTER OF GOD, THE DOCTRINE OF DEATH, AND THE VERY FOUNDATION OF THE GOSPEL.

These are just some of the reasons why we believe that the Bible is giving us the true history of the world. God’s Word must be the final authority on all matters about which it speaks—not just the moral and spiritual matters, but also its teachings that bear on historyarchaeology, and science.

What is at stake here is the authority of Scripture, the character of God, the doctrine of death, and the very foundation of the gospel. If the early chapters of Genesis are not true literal history, then faith in the rest of the Bible is undermined, including its teaching about salvation and morality. I urge you to carefully read the other chapters in this book. The health of the church, the effectiveness of her mission to a lost world, and the glory of God are at stake.

 

Robert Kiyosaki Interview 2015

Hey Gang! Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Cashflow Quadrant, is a brilliant business man and financial author. Although I certainly do not agree with Kiyosaki
on everything, (particularly religion and accumulating debt,) he does however have a good handle on the state of American finances.

A key principle we teach at LIFE Leadership through the Financial Fitness Program and Orrin Woodward‘s incredible new book, Financial Matrix, is “get out of debt, and stay out of debt.” Watch this great interview with Robert Kiyosaki.

God Bless, Tim Marks

REPOST: THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST AND THE PAGAN ORIGINS OF EASTER EGGS

One of the things that I really enjoy about being involved with the great people in the LIFE Leadership business is that we ask questions; we challenge each other, and we seek to find the truth.  A few years ago, I was at Orrin Woodward’s house celebrating the Easter holiday as we usually do, (as our families get together on Easter), and Orrin and I got to talking about how many people think Easter is about the Easter bunny and chocolate eggs.  While we knew that was wrong, we didn’t know the origins of the Easter egg or the Easter bunny.  We started doing a little research and below, you will see an article that explains that the origins of the eggs are from Pagan holiday practices.

I recently returned home from a tour in my bus for a week, doing some meetings and seeing some family.  From time to time we would end up in a store somewhere and I would drop by the card aisle where they sell Hallmark cards, etc.  It’s always amazing to me right now how many of the cards are about the Easter bunny, talking about having a happy Easter, but not mentioning God or the resurrection of Jesus.  Some of the labels of the card sections actually say, “Religious: Easter”.  I shake my head at that, because… what else is there other that Religious: Easter?!?  Easter is about the resurrection of the risen Christ!  It’s about He who came to save the sinners of the world.  Many churchgoers only step foot inside a church twice a year: Christmas, and Easter.

Let me say this plainly: Easter is NOT about the Easter bunny or Easter eggs.  It is about the risen savior, Christ.

I would encourage you to read the following passage from the ESV Bible, John, chapter 20.

God Bless, Tim Marks

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The Resurrection

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’1 head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic,2 “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, z‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,3 Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

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Enjoy the following article on the Pagan history behind the origin of Easter eggs and the Easter bunny, and God bless you and your loved ones on this Easter weekend.

Tim

 

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Easter : History and Traditions


Goddess Ostara
History of Easter Eggs

History of the Easter Bunny
Goddess Ishtar and the First Resurrection


Easter History : Christian and Pagan Traditions Interwoven

The history of Easter reveals rich associations between the Christian faith and the seemingly unrelated practices of the early pagan religions. Easter history and traditions that we practice today evolved from pagan symbols, from the ancient goddess Ishtar to Easter eggs and the Easter bunny.

Easter, perhaps the most important of the Christian holidays, celebrates the Christ’s resurrection from the dead following his death on Good Friday. . . a rebirth that is commemorated around the vernal equinox, historically a time of pagan celebration that coincides with the arrival of spring and symbolizes the arrival of light and the awakening of life around us.


 

Ostara, Goddess of Spring and the Dawn (Oestre / Eastre)

Easter is named for a Saxon goddess who was known by the names of Oestre or Eastre, and in Germany by the name of Ostara. She is a goddess of the dawn and the spring, and her name derives from words for dawn, the shining light arising from the east. Our words for the “female hormone” estrogen derives from her name.

Ostara was, of course, a fertility goddess. Bringing in the end of winter, with the days brighter and growing longer after the vernal equinox, Ostara had a passion for new life. Her presence was felt in the flowering of plants and the birth of babies, both animal and human. The rabbit (well known for its propensity for rapid reproduction) was her sacred animal.

Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny both featured in the spring festivals of Ostara, which were initially held during the feasts of the goddess Ishtar | Inanna. Eggs are an obvious symbol of fertility, and the newborn chicks an adorable representation of new growth. Brightly colored eggs, chicks, and bunnies were all used at festival time to express appreciation for Ostara’s gift of abundance.


 

History of Easter Eggs and Easter Candy

The history of Easter Eggs as a symbol of new life should come as no surprise. The notion that the Earth itself was hatched from an egg was once widespread and appears in creation stories ranging from Asian to Ireland.

Eggs, in ancient times in Northern Europe, were a potent symbol of fertility and often used in rituals to guarantee a woman’s ability to bear children. To this day rural “grannywomen” (lay midwives/healers in the Appalachian mountains) still use eggs to predict, with uncanny accuracy, the sex of an unborn child by watching the rotation of an egg as it is suspended by a string over the abdomen of a pregnant woman.

Dyed eggs are given as gifts in many cultures. Decorated eggs bring with them a wish for the prosperity of the abundance during the coming year.

Folklore suggests that Easter egg hunts arose in Europe during “the Burning Times”, when the rise of Christianity led to the shunning (and persecution) of the followers of the “Old Religion”. Instead of giving the eggs as gifts the adults made a game of hiding them, gathering the children together and encouraging them to find the eggs.

Some believe that the authorities seeking to find the “heathens” would follow or bribe the children to reveal where they found the eggs so that the property owner could be brought to justice.

Green Eggs . . . and Ham???

The meat that is traditionally associated with Easter is ham. Though some might argue that ham is served at Easter since it is a “Christian” meat, (prohibited for others by the religious laws of Judaism and Islam) the origin probably lies in the early practices of the pagans of Northern Europe.

Having slaughtered and preserved the meat of their agricultural animals during the Blood Moon celebrations the previous autumn so they would have food throughout the winter months, they would celebrate the occasion by using up the last of the remaining cured meats.

In anticipation that the arrival of spring with its emerging plants and wildlife would provide them with fresh food in abundance, it was customary for many pagans to begin fasting at the time of the vernal equinox, clearing the “poisons” (and excess weight) produced by the heavier winter meals that had been stored in their bodies over the winter. Some have suggested that the purpose of this fasting may have been to create a sought-after state of “altered consciousness” in time for the spring festivals. One cannot but wonder if this practice of fasting might have been a forerunner of “giving up” foods during the Lenten season.

Chocolate Easter bunnies and eggs, marshmallow chicks in pastel colors, and candy of all sorts, most of which are given out as personalized gifts during Easter . . . these have pagan origins as well! To understand their association with religion we need to examine the meaning of food as a symbol.

The ancient belief that, by eating something we take on its characteristics formed the basis for the earliest “blessings” before meals (a way to honor the life that had been sacrificed so that we as humans could enjoy life) and, presumably, for the more recent Christian sacrament of communion as well.

Shaping candy Easter eggs and bunnies to celebrate the spring festival was, simply put, a way to celebrate the symbols of the goddess and the season, while laying claim to their strengths (vitality, growth, and fertility) for ourselves.


 

The Goddess Ostara and the Easter Bunny

Feeling guilty about arriving late one spring, the Goddess Ostara saved the life of a poor bird whose wings had been frozen by the snow. She made him her pet or, as some versions have it, her lover. Filled with compassion for him since he could no longer fly (in some versions, it was because she wished to amuse a group of young children), Ostara turned him into a snow hare and gave him the gift of being able to run with incredible speed so he could protect himself from hunters.

In remembrance of his earlier form as a bird, she also gave him the ability to lay eggs (in all the colors of the rainbow, no less), but only on one day out of each year.

Eventually the hare managed to anger the goddess Ostara, and she cast him into the skies where he would remain as the constellation Lepus (The Hare) forever positioned under the feet of the constellation Orion (the Hunter). He was allowed to return to earth once each year, but only to give away his eggs to the children attending the Ostara festivals that were held each spring. The tradition of theEaster Bunny had begun.

The Hare was sacred in many ancient traditions and was associated with the moon goddesses and the various deities of the hunt. In ancient times eating the Hare was prohibited except at Beltane (Celts) and the festival of Ostara (Anglo-Saxons), when a ritual hare-hunt would take place.

In many cultures rabbits, like eggs, were considered to be potent remedies for fertility problems. The ancient philosopher-physician Pliny the Elder prescribed rabbit meat as a cure for female sterility, and in some cultures the genitals of a hare were carried to avert barrenness.

Medieval Christians considered the hare to bring bad fortune, saying witches changed into rabbits in order to suck the cows dry. It was claimed that a witch could only be killed by a silver crucifix or a bullet when she appeared as a hare.

Given their “mad” leaping and boxing displays during mating season as well as their ability to produce up to 42 offspring each spring, it is understandable that they came to represent lust, sexuality, and excess in general. Medieval Christians considered the hare to be an evil omen, believing that witches changed into rabbits in order to suck the cows dry. It was claimed that a witch could only be killed by a silver crucifix or a bullet when she appeared as a hare.

In later Christian tradition the white Hare, when depicted at the Virgin Mary’s feet, represents triumph over lust or the flesh. The rabbit’s vigilance and speed came to represent the need to flee from sin and temptation and a reminder of the swift passage of life.

And, finally, there is a sweet Christian legend about a young rabbit who, for three days, waited anxiously for his friend, Jesus, to return to the Garden of Gethsemane, not knowing what had become of him. Early on Easter morning, Jesus returned to His favorite garden and was welcomed the little rabbit. That evening when the disciples came into the garden to pray, still unaware of the resurrection, they found a clump of beautiful larkspurs, each blossom bearing the image of a rabbit in its center as a remembrance of the little creature’s hope and faith.


 Ishtar, Goddess of Love, and the First Resurrection (also known as Inanna)

Ishtar, goddess of romance, procreation, and war in ancient Babylon, was also worshipped as the Sumerian goddess Inanna. One of the great goddesses, or “mother goddesses”, the stories of her descent to the Underworld and the resurrection that follows are contained in the oldest writings that have ever been discovered. . . the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish and the story of Gilgamesh. Scholars believed that they were based on the oral mythology of the region and were recorded about 2,100 B.C.E.

The most famous of the myths of Ishtar tell of her descent into the realm of the dead to rescue her young lover, Tammuz, a Vegetation god forced to live half the year in the Underworld. Ishtar approached the gates of the Underworld, which was ruled by her twin sister Eresh-kigel, the goddess of death and infertility. She was refused admission.

Similar to the Greek myths of Demeter and Persephone that came later, during Ishtar’s absence the earth grew barren since all acts of procreation ceased while she was away. Ishtar screamed and ranted that she would break down the gates and release all of the dead to overwhelm the world and compete with the living for the remaining food unless she was allowed to enter and plead her case with her twin.

Needless to say, she won admission. But the guard, following standard protocol, refused to let her pass through the first gate unless she removed her crown. At the next gate, she had to remove her earrings, then her necklace at the next, removing her garments and proud finery until she stood humbled and naked after passing through the seventh (and last) gate.

In one version, she was held captive and died but was brought back to life when her servant sprinkled her with the “water of life”. In the more widely known version of the myth, Ishtar’s request was granted and she regained all of her attire and possessions as she slowly re-emerged through the gates of darkness.

Upon her return, Tammuz and the earth returned to life. Annual celebrations of this “Day of Joy”, were held each year around the time of the vernal equinox. These celebrations became the forerunners of the Ostara festivals that welcomed Oestre and the arrival of spring.

A section on the Goddess Inanna (the Sumerian version of the Goddess Ishtar), her myths and symbols, is included with the myths of the goddesses at this website.


Easter eggs, the Easter Bunny, the dawn that arrives with resurrection of life, and the celebration of spring all serve to remind us of the cycle of rebirth and the need for renewal in our lives. In the history of Easter, Christian and pagan traditions are gracefully interwoven

 

Come join us at Fun in the Sun!

It’s been such a blessing to be able to travel around the world literally with the LIFE Leadership founders Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward. I literally cannot count how many places we have been throughout the world together.  These men and their wives are like family to Amy and I, and we look forward to you qualifying for our 2015 Fun in the Sun event at the Casa Marina in Key West, Florida, and other trips that LIFE Leadership offers.

Here’s a quick video of myself, Chris, Orrin and other leaders in a boat in the Sir Francis Drake straits.  Come join us at Fun in the Sun!

God bless, Tim Marks

Pastoral Priorities

Here is a great article my pastor wrote on priorities.  Enjoy!

God Bless, Tim Marks

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Pastoral Priorities

Tom Ascol

One of the greatest challenges I face in my life as a pastor is maintaining a proper balance in my priorities. Every pastor has several roles which he must fulfill in order to remain faithful to his calling. He must be a student of God’s Word. He must be a man of prayer. He must give leadership to the church. He must work hard to preach and teach the Word so that the people under his care are continually being formed by it into the image of Christ. He must do the work of an evangelist and he must give himself to personal work with individual members. All of this and more goes with the territory of serving Christ as an undershepherd of souls.

But every pastor is more than a pastor. He is first and foremost a disciple. Typically he also is a husband. And he will most likely be a father. In addition to this he may take on other ministry-related duties. How are all of these important roles to be fulfilled without sacrificing the best on the altar of the good? It is a daunting challenge under the very best of circumstances.

A question which I often ask people I counsel is this: “What, in order of priority, has God called you to be?” It is a clarifying question because it forces an evaluation of life on the basis of what is most important. From time-to-time I put that question to myself and find that it helps me fight the battle for balance in my life.

A Christian

What has God called me to be? First, He calls me to be a sincere, devoted follower of Jesus Christ. This is so basic that it is easy to take for granted and to forget about it. One great danger of the ministry is professionalism. A pastor can become very adept at doing his job. Like any other vocation, certain skills can be developed and polished in the gospel ministry. A pastor can become so proficient in his public ministry that others will regard him as very successful.

But where “professionalism” as a mentality takes over a pastor’s outlook, his heart will inevitably begin to be neglected. And the heart is the primary tool of every pastor. If you are not loving God with all of your heart because you have neglected the basic responsibilities of discipleship, it does not matter how professionally “successful” you become. In reality, it is a sham.

Spurgeon tells of a pastor who “preached so well and lived so badly, that when he was in the pulpit everybody said that he ought never to come out again, and when he was out of it they all declared he never ought to enter it again.”[1] Such compartmentalization of life may be acceptable in other professions but it is hardly agreeable with vital Christianity and much less with faithful pastoral ministry.

Many good men have been tripped up at this basic level. So guard your heart. Go to God’s Word first and foremost as a believer. A pastor needs the very same things which he tells others that they need. He should follow the wisdom of Robert Murray M’Cheyne who noted, “It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.”[2]

Paul told the Ephesian elders to “take heed to yourselves.” When he repeats the admonition to Timothy he adds that doing this is an essential ingredient to “saving both himself and his hearers (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 4:16). Pastors must make it a matter of disciplined priority to read, meditate on and memorize Scripture. They must also pray for the work of the Spirit in their own lives. Anything less is spiritual malpractice.

A Husband

After being a Christian, God has called me to be is a husband. Like many pastors, I am blessed with a faithful, godly wife. Donna and I take our covenant vows very seriously, which means that I am to have and to hold her above all others. Next to Jesus Christ, she is my top priority.

It is an awesome responsibility to be a husband. Jesus Christ in his relationship to the church is to be our model. Being the head of a household is a great challenge. A godly wife both needs and desires godly leadership from her husband. The call to be a godly husband includes providing such leadership. Christ calls a man to fight against the opposite and equally deadly errors of self-protecting passivity and self-serving authoritarianism in the way that he relates to his wife.

The pastor’s wife may have the most difficult role in the whole church. She sees all of her husband’s blemishes and shortcomings and yet must receive instruction in God’s Word from him week by week. She lives in a fishbowl. Unrealistic expectations from the congregation can often add great stress to her life. Thoughtless comments, which may or may not be designed to hurt, can wound her deeply. If, in addition to these and other pressures, she feels that her own husband is neglecting her, the pressure can become too great to bear. As a husband, it is my responsibility and privilege to reassure my wife that she is more important to me that any other human relationship or responsibility which I have. I am called to nurture and cherish her, to help her fulfill her own calling as a woman of God.

Donna needs to know that she is more important to me than my ministry as a pastor. When this message is clearly and regularly communicated then those inevitable seasons of unusually high demands from the church are more easily weathered.

A Father

The third thing which God has made me is a father. Donna and I have six children, so I get a lot of practice at fatherhood. If pastors’ wives have been singled out for special concern, pastors’ kids have become proverbially notorious. Too often they are sacrificed for “the sake of the ministry.” I remember sitting in my study as a young pastor listening to a retired pastor whose successful ministry was widely acclaimed. He spoke of many of the wonderful things he had experienced in the churches he had served. Then he added, “But I paid a high price for my success. My children did not get what they should have from their father and today have turned away from the Lord and the church.”

As he wept I pondered. At that time my only child was barely a toddler. The draw of never-ending needs and opportunities to minister was tempting me to neglect my family for the sake of “my ministry.” But, God reminded me that, in terms of priority, He calls me to be a father before He calls me to be a pastor. My children need to know that, next to their mother, they are the most important people in my life. My congregation also needs to know this.

A pastor can easily though unintentionally neglect his children out of a misguided notion that he must always be available to minister to other people. Under the best of circumstances there will be some disruptions in a pastor’s home life. He is on call 24 hours a day. If a death or tragic accident involving one of the members occurs just before a pastor heads out the door to take his son fishing, his plans must necessarily change. Such demands are to be expected.

Because of this two temptations face every pastor who is a father. The first is to simply expect his child to understand his change of plans the same way that he does. A pastor knows that it is sometimes necessary to interrupt plans in order to minister the gospel of God’s grace to hurting people. But, depending on his age, all his son knows is that he did not get to go fishing because somebody else needed and received his dad’s time and attention. When these occasions arise, a father needs to talk to his son, sympathize with him and seek to make it up to him in a reasonable and intentional way.

The other temptation is to become so overwhelmed with guilt because he had to change his plans that the pastor allows his child to manipulate him into actions or decisions which he would not otherwise intentionally pursue. Parenting by guilt has become all-too-common in our culture, and pastors are unfortunately not immune to it. Pastors should intentionally carve out time in their schedules for their children and then guard it scrupulously. When plans affecting our children have to be changed because of ministry emergencies, we must be diligent in making it up to them.

A Pastor

The fourth thing which God has made me is a pastor. This is my vocational calling. This is what occupies the bulk of my time. I am constantly amazed that God has given me the privilege to serve Him in this way. It is the highest vocational calling in the world. My responsibilities as a pastor take precedence over any recreational activities or avocations. All that is involved in shepherding the flock of God, which the Bible spells out in a fairly comprehensive way, comprises my duty. In this, my most important tasks are to labor faithfully in the ministry of the Word and in prayer. Again, these must not be carried out simply on a “professional” level. Rather, they must be taken up in the midst of my own pursuit of holiness.

There is an inevitable loneliness that goes with being a pastor. Much of the work which must be done can only be done when a man is alone with His God. Without this intimate time with God, time spent with people will not be of much value. There are a thousand “aids” available to pastors today to enable them to mskirt the hard work of study and prayer. “Powerful” sermons and “guaranteed” programs are regularly marketed to pastors with shameless bravado. A man with a little ingenuity, less integrity and ample finances can keep himself well-supplied with a constant stream of such resources. But he denies his calling by living off of the work of others rather than doing the work of the ministry himself.

A Helper

Beyond these four callings in my life, I also am involved in helping with other worthwhile endeavors. My work with Founders Ministries (editing the Founders Journal, publishing, etc.) and my involvement in my local pastors’ conference and association are all important. But in terms of priorities all of these rank below the four things which I have mentioned above. By keeping this in mind I can save myself much heartache and confusion.

Maintaining Balance

How do these priorities work? Well, those who know me best can easily testify that I do not always practice what I have written here. Though my desire and intention is never to deviate, I have repeatedly had to make mid-course corrections through the years. But that is the value of having clearly defined priorities. They provide a reliable map to make such adjustments.

Each priority builds on the ones that precede it. I want to be faithful in my work with Founders Ministries. But I cannot be–no matter how much good might be accomplished through my efforts–if I do that work at the expense of my pastoral responsibilities to Grace Baptist Church. Furthermore, I can be a faithful pastor without being involved in other ministries. But I cannot be a faithful pastor if I neglect the higher priorities of my wife and/or children. In fact, according to 1 Timothy 3:4-5, I am disqualified if such neglect characterizes my life. Nor can I be a faithful father if I fail my wife. On the contrary, one of the best things I can do for my children is to love their mother very well. And I cannot be a faithful husband if I neglect my relationship with Christ.

All of the priorities in my life can function with appropriate importance as long as I keep them in their proper place. But when a lower priority leaps above a higher, then I am setting myself up for a fall. It is spiritually disastrous to put my wife above my Lord, or my children above my wife, or my pastoral ministries above any of those three. It is no slight to the church that I serve that their place in my priorities comes after my devotion to Christ and family. On the contrary, the church gets more of what they need from me when I minister out of a conscious commitment to these priorities.

By remembering the priorities of these callings in my life, I am better able to establish and maintain balance in my obligations. Perhaps the most useful discipline to facilitate this balance is learning to say no. Spurgeon said that for a minister, learning to say no is of far greater value than learning Latin! He was right. No matter how much a pastor tries to do there will always be more to be done. Some good things which scream out for his attention should be left undone so that he can do what is better and best. When he has to make those hard choices, he should do so on the basis of the priority of his callings. Then he can take heart in knowing that he has acted in faith based on the claims which God has made on his life.


Notes:

1 Lectures to My Students, reprint edition (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954), 17.

2 Andrew Bonar, Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray McCheyne, reprint edition, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978), 258.

 

LIFE Leadership Generates Millions For Q. C. Tourism

Gang, one more example of how LIFE Leadership is making an impact!

God Bless, Tim Marks

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Self-help convention helps Q.C. tourism generate millions

POSTED 3:17 PM, FEBRUARY 20, 2015, BY JOHN DAVID, UPDATED AT 04:15PM, FEBRUARY 20, 2015

A self-help convention is helping to generate a $4.5 million economic impact for the Quad Cities economy this weekend.

Some 8,500 participants with Life Leadership are selling out hotels and booking up restaurants.

As hundreds of folks stream into the Waterfront Convention Center on Friday, it demonstrates the success and popularity of the group.

The faith-based Michigan enterprise started just four years ago.

It now has more than 400,000 members.

Participants pay a membership fee to sell the motivational materials.

“It’s the message that we have information that can help people live the lives they always wanted to live,” said CEO Chris Brady.

Speakers are showing how they improve families with its research.

Subjects of DVD’s, CD’s and other sources deal with topics like faith, families and fitness.

This weekend session will focus on financial leadership.

“It helps them build a great defense, and get out of debt,” Brady continued.  “It helps them build a great offense, and make other streams of income.”

Life Leadership picked the Quad Cities for its safety and convenience.

After nearly a year of planning, the three-day session is underway.  The winter conference is proving to be a big boost to local tourism.

“It’s evolved into something huge,” said Joan Kranovich, Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau.  “Even our hotels were a little bit skeptical at first when they started calling and renting the whole hotel instead of 20 rooms at a time.”

With messages filled with values and principles, it’s also good for local businesses.

“We have information that helps people solve the problems that conflict them in their everyday life,” Brady concluded.

Events continue at the iWireless Center through Sunday.

 

 

 

Paul Harvey’s 1965 Speech

Paul Harvey delivered this speech three years before I was born. Considering how things have turned out, you would think he had a crystal ball.  I don’t know specifically who put this video together.   I don’t agree with all the imagery in the video, as we actually don’t know what the devil looks like etc.  However, what Paul Harvey says is chilling and every single thing is coming true or has come to pass in some way.  People often ask me “why do you still do what you do if it works so well?”  My answer is in the video that follows.  We have a greater cause at stake than merely taking care of ourselves; there is a world in need of leadership, and I believe LIFE Leadership is uniquely positioned to help people find truth.

God Bless, Tim Marks

PRWeb.com Announces Orrin Woodward Makes Inc. Magazine Top 100 Speakers List!

Gang, here is the PRWeb.com press release regarding Orrin Woodward making the Inc. Magazine 100 Great Leadership Speakers List.  Fired up!

God Bless, Tim Marks

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Speaker, Author, and Entrepreneur Orrin Woodward Makes ‘Inc.’ Magazine’s 100 Great Leadership Speakers List

‘New York Times’ Bestselling Author and Chairman of the Board of LIFE Leadership Orrin Woodward was recently recognized by ‘Inc.’ magazine for his exceptional ability as a leadership speaker and trainer.

Cary, NC (PRWEB) February 05, 2015

‘New York Times’ Bestselling Author and Chairman of the Board of LIFE Leadership Orrin Woodward was recently named on ‘Inc.’ magazine’s list of “100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference.”

Jeff Haden, the contributing writer for the ‘Inc.’ magazine piece, set out to come up with a list of excellent business and leadership speakers because, as someone who does a number of speaking events every year, he is often asked to make recommendations. But he didn’t feel he had seen enough speakers to sufficiently handle the task himself. So in order to provide a comprehensive list of outstanding business speakers (and thinkers), he turned to keynote speaker, bestselling author, and entrepreneur Kevin Kruse, who has seen tons of speakers at his own events as well as numerous others, to compile a list of his favorite leadership speakers and trainers. For those looking for the best leadership speakers for an event, Haden recommends checking out the people, such as Orrin Woodward, on Kruse’s list. And for those considering going to a certain event, he recommends dropping everything to attend if one of these people is on the program.

Woodward is a recognized leader in team leadership, success coaching, and executive management training. Formerly an engineer, who still holds four US patents, he has cofounded two multimillion-dollar companies as well as a nonprofit organization, All Grace Outreach. He has sold over a million copies of his books and has been attracting large crowds for his speaking events for years, regularly speaking at conventions that his own companies have hosted as well as various other business, leadership, and network marketing events across the globe, such as the Mastermind Event.

Woodward says he had to work to overcome his fears and limiting beliefs to get where he is as a speaker today. In fact, experiences with public speaking in high school and college left him feeling like a failure. But he knew that his dream of running a leadership company and his limiting beliefs about speaking could not coexist. So he spent years developing his speaking ability and vowed never to give a speech again but, rather, to learn his subject so well that he could simply “speak extemporaneously for hours at a time.” He says, “To this day, I don’t give speeches; I merely share what is in my heart with others.”

The full list of recommended business and leadership speakers is available at inc.com.

About Orrin Woodward:
Orrin Woodward is a ‘New York Times’ bestselling author with over a million books sold. Some of his most popular works include ‘Launching a Leadership Revolution’ (coauthored with Chris Brady), ‘LeaderShift’ (coauthored with Oliver DeMille), ‘The Leadership Train,’ ‘And Justice for All,’ and ‘RESOLVED’ (which was named as an All-Time Top 100 Leadership Book). Woodward is a cofounder and Chairman of the Board of LIFE Leadership and Obstaclés Press as well as a cofounder and President of the philanthropic foundation All Grace Outreach. He was listed as #20 on ‘Inc.’ magazine’s Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts list. His blog (orrinwoodwardblog.com) has been selected as one of HR’s Top 100 Blogs for Management and Leadership and as a Universities Online Top 100 Leadership Blog. Woodward is also the recipient of a National Technical Benchmarking Award and holds four US patents.

Understanding the Fish Symbol IXOYE

What a blessed life we live.

This is a video of our tour guide when my family and I were on a three week long cruise in the Mediterranean.  We had just finished spending a couple hours in the city of Ephesus seen all of the sites where the apostle Paul and others had walked.
Our tour guide Emery, who is now my buddy, can be seen explaining the fish symbol that is on the back of so many peoples cars and they don’t really even understand what it is. He tells us that Christians were trying to protect their identity so they would not be persecuted and when they would meet each other in town one would make a sweeping arc motion in the sand with their foot and the other would make a sweeping arc motion with their foot in the sand the opposite direction to make the fish symbol letting each other know it safe to talk.

Let’s pray that in the United States we don’t get back to where we have to sweep our foot in the sand to identify ourselves as Christians.  One of the reasons I love LIFE Leadership is we lead people to the truth and we stand for those who do.

Enjoy the video!

God Bless, Tim Marks

Warren Buffet’s Smart Money Tips for 2015

Hey gang!  Hot off the heels from Orrin Woodwards blog on escaping the Financial Matrix, here’s another great article from Inc. Magazine on common-sense strategies to get out of debt from one of the world’s top investors, Warren Buffet.  Luckily, LIFE Leadership has the answer for people with our Financial Fitness Pack!

Here is the blog post below in it’s entirety.

God Bless, Tim Marks

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The Smartest Money Tips for 2015 From Warren Buffett and Other Experts
Reduce debt, set financial goals, but be sure to invest in yourself.
By Minda Zetlin

Want more wealth in 2015? Most of us do, but we’re not sure how to get there. To help us figure it out, the finance site GOBankingRates compiled one piece of advice from 11 top financial wizards for the coming year, and invited readers to vote for the best. If there’s a consensus among the experts, it seems to be this: Invest in yourself and your own smarts; be conservative everywhere else.

That makes a lot of sense. This is the age of the entrepreneur, but with continuing economic uncertainty this isn’t really the time to splurge. You can see the full list of expert tips (and vote for your own favorite) here. Meantime, here’s a look at the high-profile experts’ advice:

Keep it simple.

The best places to invest are in the things you know best, according to legendary investor Warren Buffett. “If you don’t invest in things you know, you’re just gambling,” he told CNBC. It’s one reason he’s never invested in the tech sector, for example.

In his 2014 shareholders letter, he explained more fully: “You don’t need to be an expert in order to achieve satisfactory investment returns. But if you aren’t, you must recognize your limitations and follow a course certain to work reasonably well. Keep things simple and don’t swing for the fences.”

And don’t be misled by lofty promises, he added. “When promised quick profits, respond with a quick ‘no.'”

Get back to basics.

Many people want to improve their financial outlook but aren’t sure how to go about it, according to Jeanette Pavini, two-time Emmy-winning consumer reporter. Many of her viewers write and tell her that they’re overwhelmed by the numerous options and resources out there. “They feel as if they are never going to dig out of the hole, so they become discouraged and simply give up.”

Don’t let this happen to you. Improving your finances isn’t rocket science, Pavini says. It begins with understanding exactly where your money is going, writing it down, keeping track, and looking for opportunities to cut costs. “Learn what areas in your budget you actually have control over,” she says. “Have a plan and keep it simple.” And don’t be fooled into thinking only major changes make a difference, she adds. “No savings is too small. They all add up.”

Make a plan.

 

“If you’re going to win with money, you have to be intentional,” says Rachel Cruze, co-author with her father, Dave Ramsey, of Smart Money Smart Kids. That means having a budget so you can stay out of debt (or pay off existing debt), as well as an idea of how your money will work for you.

Get a buddy.

Like a weight-loss or exercise regimen, you’ll likely do better at managing money if you have an accountability partner to support you and keep you honest. That advice comes from Tiffany Aliche, “The Budgetnista,” and author of The One Week Budget. “Money management is a team sport,” she says.

Get out of debt.

That one-sentence tip is author Ramsey’s best tip for 2015–and for every year, he says. Though this can be tough advice for someone starting a company to follow, it’s wise to keep your debt as low as you can without crippling your business. And keep your personal debt nonexistent if possible.

Pay off those credit cards.

You don’t need a financial expert to tell you that carrying credit card debt over time is never a great idea, especially if it’s personal debt as opposed to debt from your business. But if you’ve been carrying balances for a while, making them go away should be high on your list of resolutions for the coming year–and the sooner the better.

That’s because the Federal Reserve has signaled its intention to raise the prime lending rate this year, and credit card interest rates will rise at the same time, according to author and TV host Suze Orman. Although eliminating credit card debt should always be a primary financial objective, she warns, “now it is urgent, as anyone with credit card debt in 2015 is likely to see their borrowing costs go up.”

Put money in a Roth IRA.

Your smartest strategy is to save for the future by putting as much money as you can into an IRA, according CNBC’s Sharon Epperson. “One of the best things you can do in 2015 to set yourself up for financial success in the future is to be strategic with your savings,” she advises. “Save as much as you can in a Roth IRA.”

Most employees can contribute to a traditional IRA, and if you’re self-employed, you also have a SEP IRA as an option. Those can be very tempting because the contributions you make are tax-deductible when you make them. On the other hand, you will pay taxes on that money when you withdraw it from the IRA. With a Roth, the contributions you make are not tax deductible–but when you withdraw that money it will be tax free. You’ll be glad you chose a Roth if your business takes off and you find yourself with more income (and thus a higher tax bracket) in your 60s than you had in your younger years.

Set specific goals.

You’ll have a harder time meeting your financial objectives if you don’t know exactly what they are. So spend some time determining your goals, such as having money set aside for emergencies, putting your kids through college, or having enough saved to retire at 65, advises Kiplinger contributing editor Cameron Huddleston. “Your needs will take precedence over your wants, with short-term needs being the top priority,” she notes. “Then you can set goals to meet those needs–and fulfill your wants.”

Most Americans fail to set specific financial goals, she adds. They might have a vague notion of what they want. “But they haven’t set actual goals and figured out the steps needed to achieve them.”

Give yourself a raise.

If you’re like many people, the first step toward financial health is increasing your income. So do what you need to make that happen, advises Emma Johnson, who writes the Wealthy Single Mommy blog.

“This might mean mustering up the nerve to ask your boss for a pay increase, starting a side business, or increasing your billing if you already have your own company,” she says. Once you’ve increased your income, make sure you’re saving at least 5 percent of it, she adds.

Invest in your own development.

“Make 2015 the year that you choose to invest in your personal self-development and hop out of your comfort zone,” says personal finance author and TV personality Farnoosh Torabi. “Learn something new, travel, take risks, and practice your negotiating skills.”

Investing in your own development is a solid idea at a time when the income gap between those with education and marketable skills and those without is growing greater. “Rather than react to the changing times, plant some seeds now so that you can be proactive and stay in control of your career and remain competitive,” she says.

Don’t act like a victim.

After years of economic upheaval, uncertainty over the recovery, confusion about Obamacare, and growing inequality, many Americans have started feeling like victims of the economy rather than participants in it. It’s time for that attitude to stop, according to Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad. “A shift in mindset (from ‘victim’ to ‘champ’) and a decision to put your talents, your intelligence, and your strengths to work will set you up to take control of your life and your financial future,” he says.

“Make 2015 the year you champion your life and take control,” he adds. “Can’t find a job? Challenge yourself to create one for yourself. Want to start generating passive income and building assets? Do it! Find a mentor. Start a blog or podcast. Write an e-book. License your killer salsa recipe.”

Our financial futures are up to us, he adds. “Will you keep letting yourself fall victim to life’s curve balls? Or will you hit it out of the park by putting the power of financial education behind every swing you take?”

 

LIFE Leadership now in U.S. Virgin Islands!

Gang, this is exciting news.  As of January 1st, 2015, LIFE Leadership is now open for business in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The U.S. Virgin Islands are a U.S. territory, so operations will be conducted just as in a state of the United States, using all the same standard enrollment documents and forms, including the Policies and Procedures and U.S. Compensation Plan.  Fired Up!  On our way to a million!

God Bless, Tim Marks

USVIBlast

Leadership thoughts and perspective