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What is your baggage around the idea of money? What money-related behaviors would you like to change in your life?

Perhaps you grew up in a family where the budget was tight and there was little extra money and so you developed a picture around money that had a big “SCARCITY” sign attached to it.

Perhaps you were part of a relationship where frivolous use of money (sometimes also coupled with extraordinary debt) made you nervous about money.

Maybe you’re at a point in your life where you are wondering if you will ever get beyond living paycheck to paycheck.

I want to let you in on a secret: It’s not simply how much money we make (or have), but our baggage around what money is and how we behave with the money that flows through our life that matter. 

Personal finance has been a growing interest of mine for some time now. My thoughts have been shaped by Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, Joe Dominguez’s and Vicki Robin’s Your Money or Your Life, Andy Stanley’s Fields of Gold and How to Be Rich: It’s Not What You Have. It’s What You Do With What You Have. Most recently, I have been captivated by Francis Chan’s sermon in this collection: The True Value of Money (Faith Builders Book 3).

One of my favorite quotes from Dave Ramsey is that succeeding with money is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. In my own financial journey, I have found both aspects to be important, but behavior trumps knowledge every time. This week I invite you to consider both.

Take the questions below, write them on a notecard, and discuss them with those closest to you:

1. What things did I grow up learning about money that I no longer believe to be true?

2. What behaviors surrounding money would I most like to change in the next six months?

15 ideas in 15 minutes

How many incomes do you have?

Most of us would answer quickly, “Duh. One. And it’s not enough.”

What would it be like to add another income stream? Or two? Or fifteen?

Last week I was listening to Ramit Sethi’s webinar on generating side income (of I Will Teach You to Be Rich fame) and he said something that I’m still thinking about.

Instead of thinking in terms of one side project and income stream, what about fifteen of them?

Now developing fifteen additional income streams is going to take some time, but coming up with fifteen ideas, fifteen things you know how to do, can take as little as fifteen minutes.

Here’s an exercise for you:

  1. Grab a yellow pad.
  2. List fifteen things you can do or would like to try (no editing).
  3. Dream about the multiple income stream possibilities of these ideas.
  4. Grin from ear to ear.

Fifteen ideas in fifteen minutes… that’s it for today.

Books, T-Shirts and God’s Grace

If you’re like me, you pick up a book or a t-shirt or something that you spent “good money” on and you think, “I really should donate this, but…”

What is your “but…”? My “but” usually is…

“But I paid good money for this.”

This is often combined with… “And I feel stupid getting rid of something I just bought two minutes / days / weeks / months ago.”

My internal dialog goes something like this:

You work hard for your money.

And you spent your hard-earned money on this thing (for me it’s often books and shirts).

And now you want to get rid of it?

What a waste!

Are you regularly this careless this money or this stupid with your purchases?

What does it say about you if you donate something you bought less than a month ago?

What is wrong with you?

(Again, most of this is all in my head. I usually repeat this dialog a few times.)

My faith calls me to look at things a little differently…

To accept that I will continue to make silly, stupid and sometimes sinful decisions, but that Jesus stands ready to forgive me, raise me up and reform me into one of his faithful disciples.

To acknowledge and confess my waste of the resources entrusted to me and my pollution of the world around me… and to groan in prayer for my redemption and the redemption of the whole world.

To put a holy pause between my future paychecks and my future purchases, perhaps punctuated with prayer (and alliteration).

So… next time you’re going through mountains of clothes, books you have no intention of reading, or whatever those things are for you…

May you know the forgiveness that is yours in Jesus.

May you be honest about your shortcomings and sins.

And may you make a holy pause between your paychecks and purchases, punctuated with prayer. 


Everyone Else’s Expectations Part 2: Email and the Yellow Pad

Confession: My email inbox often becomes my working “to do” list. And it kills me every time.

Setting aside for a minute how important email actually is and how frequently we should check it or respond to it, I am interested in how we interact with it.

I developed a practice a few months ago that has really helped this happen a lot less frequently.

Yellow Pad

1. I take out a yellow pad of paper and write down all the things I already know I need to do for the day or week.

2. I pick the top three or five and order them by priority. (This often involves doing the most difficult thing first, but then it’s done.) Then I work the list.

3. I check email around 11 am and 4 pm, responding to messages (if I can do so quickly) or adding the task to my list.

4. Here’s the crazy part and the secret sauce: I often lose or throw out my list. (I’m a minimalist.) Long-term projects will linger in my mind. Things that are important to others will usually prompt another email or phone call (because it’s on their list). Most of it will simply be forgotten or not get done, which in most cases means it wasn’t that important to begin with.

Some More Thoughts:

1. I found that even when I had an elaborate system for keeping track of long-term “to do” items, I would still ignore items.

2. My yellow pad list is my important list; my email inbox is my urgent list (that is, everyone else’s “urgent”).

3. I do send outgoing email at times other than 11 am and 4 pm, especially if it’s an item on my yellow pad list.

4. I try to keep one little notebook (5″ x 8″) for writing everything in. (Except the yellow pad list.)

What are your practices for separating “your important” from “everyone else’s urgent”? 

90 minutes

If you spend the first 90 minutes of the day doing what you love, the rest is details.

Preach Better Fail Often 2.0


The second round of my Preach Better, Fail Often workshop is returning to Northwest Ohio.

If you’re like me, you hunger to preach better. You’re your own worst critic when it comes to your sermons. And yet you also believe in the power of preaching, that it can convict and change hearts, minds and lives. You long to preach sermons that communicate God’s transforming love for us in Jesus with power and conviction.

You might also struggle with comments from your hearers: a desire that your sermons be more “applicable” and “practical” and “connect with their everyday lives.” And yet you don’t want to sell out and become just another motivational speaker dressed up as a pastor. You get their hunger for engagement, but don’t want to serve them exactly what they are asking for.

You may have heard simplistic advice like, “Just preach the Gospel” or “Don’t tell people what they should do,” but were never given a framework for preaching that takes you step-by-step through a structure that connects God’s word with our everyday lives. I will teach you to do that in a one day workshop.

Taking a course in communications at a local university can cost several thousand dollars. Online workshops on improving your communication skills often run $1,000. For just $197 I’m offering a day-long workshop on preaching that will change the way you deliver your sermons and how your hearers receive them.

I’d love for you to join us for Preach Better Fail Often on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at Zoar Lutheran Church in Perrysburg, Ohio. The details are below.  I hope to see you there. And I hope your preaching is transformed.

What will the day-long workshop be like?
Lots of teaching segments (about 45 minutes each), with plenty of time for questions and interaction.

Why offer this?
Because I’ve learned a few things in my own preaching journey that I want to share to help you improve your preaching. And because, now more than ever: preaching matters.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015
9:00 am – 4:30 pm

Zoar Lutheran Church
314 E. Indiana Ave., Perrysburg, Ohio  43551 (Toledo area)

Can I get a preview?
Of course. Here are the main workshop titles:
1. Deconstructing the sermon: What are we doing when we preach?
2. One thing: Focus and preaching
3. Structure: The outline secret that has changed everything for me
4. The tomb is empty: The urgency of preaching
5. Bonus content: Things you haven’t thought much about (Plus whatever comes up.)

What’s the cost?
$197 per person

Register here:

What about lunch?
We will have lunch brought in. Please bring $10 cash the day of the workshop. Make sure you have a high-protein breakfast before you arrive.

Is there an attendance limit?
Yes. Because of the nature of the workshop, we will be limiting it to 12 participants.

Will I get a glossy workbook with lots of QR codes?
Probably not.
But you might get a minimalist comb-bound old-school workbook assembled the evening before at FedEx Office.

Will childcare be provided?
I wish we could… but unfortunately we can’t.

Will you tell jokes?
Possibly. We may even write some Jimmy Fallon-style thank you notes.

Will there be a t-shirt?
You’ll have to register to find out.

Matt has done your homework, read every preaching book there is, boiled it down to the barest of crib notes, and then packed it full of practical knowledge and good old-fashioned gospel that every preacher needs. The long and the short of it is, you need to hear what he has to say.       -Pastor Adrianne Meier, blogging at The Gracious Present

I found Preach Better Fail Often one of the best workshops I’ve been to on preaching as a pastor. The small group format provided great conversation with colleagues about preaching and Matt’s insights are some I’ve returned to over and over this year. Get to this workshop!        -Pastor Mike Weaver, founder of The Group Mind and author of the series Better Preaching Through Improvisation

Through the “Preach Better, Fail Often” workshop, Pastor Matt Musteric challenges us to rethink the purpose of our weekly preaching. His vulnerability, candor, and wit bring a real joy to the course. If you are interested in exploring a new way to communicate the timeless and precious Gospel of Jesus Christ, this workshop is for you.         -Pastor Daniel Beaudoin


Everyone Else’s Expectations

Confession: I live a lot of my life trying to meet the expectations of others.

Many people are heading back to school this time of year. I remember it as a time of hopeful expectations and also daunting expectations.

But here’s the thing: Often when it comes to expectations, it’s actually about me trying to meet what I think are the expectations of others.

It’s an endless, insane game. Have you ever played? 1. Guess at the expectations of someone else. 2. Try to meet it. 3. Fall short. 4. Kick yourself. 5. Rinse. Repeat.

How about putting away that game board and making another one?

Let’s all do the amazing and creative work that God has called us to.

And all those “expectations”? I don’t know. What would Mary Poppins do?

From a Place of Rest

Are you living and serving from a place of reaction or a place of rest?

Sarah Mackenzie has written about this topic on her blog and in an ebook: Teaching from Rest.

What I love about her work is that it begins with God’s grace and God’s provision.

It’s what’s at stake in the Sabbath commandment: when we rest, we show our trust in God.

C.S. Lewis puts it this way: “He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.”

Blessings on your week. God is enough.

Your Ideal Week

What gets on the calendar, more often than not, gets done.

What does your ideal week look like?

Michael Hyatt argues that we should at least have an ideal week in mind. (I also like his idea of themes and focal points for each day.)

For a long time I avoided planning an ideal week because an ideal week never happens. I now realize it was mostly an excuse.

The point of designing an ideal week is so that you have something to shoot for–and so your email inbox or the next “urgent crisis” does not run the show. 

Think of your life like a beautiful screenplay for a movie. On the one hand, we know that some of the best parts of movies were never written in the original script. On the other hand, few movies even get to production and distribution without a full script.

Ad lib. Be spontaneous. Carpe diem. But write the script. 


What are you settling for?

Henry Cloud has reminded me that we often put up with a lot of pain in the present (in relationships, in work, in life in general), “hoping” things will get better. Then we are surprised that months and years later we get more of the same.

He suggests this trick: Project what this relationship, situation, etc. will look like six months, one year, five years in the future, given a natural trajectory. Picture it. Feel it.

Then move on it. Make the necessary changes.

After all, before there were settlers, somebody had to move.

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