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Update from Howard

Hey Friends!

Here’s what happening:

Radio: Interviewed Wes Perry on the MoneyWise call in program. Wes is the mayor of Midland, Texas, and an Oil and Gas expert. Wanted our listeners to be able to ask him questions about why gasoline was so high at the pump these days. Loved his answer to the question: “Will oil cost $50 a barrel or $150 a barrel?” His answer, “Yes!” The price of oil is unpredictable and volatile.

FPU: Finished co-leading Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) 13 week DVD series with a class of 22 young couples at our church. It is really well done, and Dave is an amazingly gifted communicator. I”m convinced that people and churches would benefit most by taking FPU and the Compass Navigating Your Finances God’s Way small group study. The strength of FPU is the practical and the strength of Navigating is the biblical financial emphasis. Both are needed.

Prayer request: Please pray for Compass’ president, Dave Rae, who will be traveling and speaking often in India and Asia. Pray for his safety and health and for the Lord to allow this to be an incredibly fruitful time for him with our outstanding leadership in this part of the world.

Think about it and grow: I read Proverbs 119:58 this morning, and it really convicted me. It says, “I have sought your [the Lord’s] face with all my heart, be gracious to me according to your promises.” I am by nature an “A” personality—a busy, activist type person. Too often I jump in to pray and read my Bible and do my work without being quiet and seeking the face of Christ with all my heart. Let’s be quiet and get to know Jesus better.

Love in Christ,
Howard

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Starting from Scratch

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” -Isaiah 43:19

A couple of years ago Danielle and I lost one of our most precious family members- our dog Homer. He was the kind of dog that was just about perfect. He lived to please us. He would rejoice with us when we were happy and pout with us when we were sad. He never left the yard, would never jump on the couch and followed us around everywhere. When we had to put him down because of cancer it was one of the saddest days of our lives. The only way we knew how to ease the pain was to get another dog. And that’s when Barnabas came into our lives.

We were hoping Barnabas would be the next Homer- help heal our pain and be an encouragement (hence the name Barnabas- “son of encouragement”). Well, apparently Barnabas didn’t get the memo because he was a rascal! He ran around like a wild man, never listened to us and acted like we were put on this planet to serve him. The first couple of months were pretty trying to say the least. But as days and weeks continued we began to see a different side of Barnabas. We noticed how playful and goofy he was, how he would sit in your lap and fall asleep in a matter of minutes (all 70 pounds of him), and how he became more and more obedient.

Barnabas asleep on the couch

Our expectations were that Barnabas would be the next Homer, but that was unrealistic. He could never live up to that. We slowly realized he wasn’t the next Homer, but the first Barnabas- and with him we had to start from scratch.

This is very similar to how I have felt during the “start up” year in serving the Lord through Compass. There have been times where my expectations have been over the top, but also times where I have seen God working in ways that I would have never expected- clearing the wilderness and providing rivers in the desert. I have come to the realization that over the past year God has not needed me to help start the ministry of Compass. He has used this last year to help me see how much I need to trust and rely on Him. In some ways I am just like Barnabas- learning and striving to be more and more obedient so I can seek the approval of my master. And just like Barnabas, I am still a pup (although I am 259 years old in dog years) with a lot more to learn. I look forward to this next year of serving the Lord through Compass, to the “new things” and seeing all that “springs forth”!

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Everlasting vs. Temporary

Much of the Western world seems to be euphoric because of the recent death of Osama Bin Ladin. There is a felling that peace may be closer. That terrorism & rebellion is closer to being crushed!

This whole situation reminded me of another man who was killed centuries ago to ‘prevent a rebellion’. Yet this man rose from the dead on the 3rd day to bring salvation and peace to the world. His name is Jesus!

My prayer for you and me is that these current events, which may bring temporary salvation & peace would remind us of Jesus who has brought lasting, eternal salvation & peace for those who trust in Him.

I trust that you will live secure today because of your relationship with Jesus!

Dave

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Update from Howard

Dear Friends,

More radio recording in the closet: Well, it’s official, I am now recording my part of the Compass radio programs, MoneyWise and Hey Howard from our closet at home . . . and it’s working well. Our radio engineer, Rich Roszel, is an engineering genius and the ISDN line and amplifier mixer (doesn’t it sound as if I know what I’m talking about?) are functioning very well. It’s so convenient and certainly cuts down on the cost of gas for travel J

Trip to Georgia: Bev and I drove to Atlanta to attend a conference and then spent a day with my 94 year old mom. Mom is an amazing person who continues to teach me much. As she says so often, “Growing older is not for sissies!” Since we have become grandparents, Bev doesn’t like to travel on Mondays . . . or Tuesdays . . . or Wednesday . . . well, you get the picture. Granddaughter Taliyah has proven to be a bigger magnet than either of us thought possible.

Materials: I am focused on completing the Money and Marriage God’s Way and the Navigating CDs and DVDs that accompany these small group studies and would appreciate your prayers that these would be done with excellence.

Meditate on this and grow: Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” So, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the brevity of life and it’s uncertainty. In fact, I can remember exactly where I was when I learned by dad, the best man in my wedding, John Kennedy and Robert Fraley along with Payne Stewart all unexpectedly died. Life is short and it is uncertain. Let’s recommit ourselves to make it count for Christ.

Warmly in Christ,
Howard

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Life Abundantly

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10

Sometimes it is hard for me to wrap my arms around the fact that God’s desire for me is to experience life to the fullest- regardless of my life situation. God’s desire for me to have life abundantly isn’t based on whether I have had a good or bad day, whether the economy is flourishing or declining, whether I perform well or not. It is not relative to the changes in the stock market, the amount of money I do or don’t make, or whether or not I have a job. God’s desire for us to experience life abundantly transcends all these scenarios.

I don’t always experience life to the fullest and often get distracted by the things of the world- I am a work in progress. But when I do experience this abundant life that God’s word talks about it is usually in the context of the following:

  • Using the gifts God has given me to serve others; this could be talents, time or treasure- it is one of the greatest joys I experience.
  • Being surrounded by a community of people who love Jesus. People who are real, transparent, challenging and vulnerable and those who allow me to be the same.
  • Being immersed in God’s word and prayer. Nothing else allows me to experience the Lord in such an intimate way.

I am grateful that whatever circumstance I may be in, both good and bad, the Lord is always offering me something better- life abundantly! I would encourage you to prayerfully examine how this looks in your life and walk with the Lord.

Wrapped in His grace, Kyle

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Shame Closet

My shame closet – No More!

Last night I didn’t sleep well. I never do after I have run 3 or more miles. The arthritis in my toes flares up & causes shooting pain in both my feet. My usual remedy is Acetaminophen, but last night it didn’t work. God wanted my attention! I have often said that I am trying to grow more like Jesus and during last nights wrestling with God, He showed me why this is so difficult!

You see I have a habit of re-living some of my past shortcomings – read sins. I have been known to share these publicly with friends to demonstrate my connection with people of the world. There is, most often, an underlying pride issue going on at this time. Most of these shortcomings revolve around my hockey exploits and the fights I’ve never lost!

God reminded me last night that He comes against the proud! – 1 Peter5:5

He has made it known that I am to take off the old man, like I take off a coat, and never desire to put it on again – Ephesians 4:22-24. Yet I keep going to my ‘shame closet’, finding that old coat and pride fully putting it on!

Last night’s wrestling was painful and frightening! No more ‘shame closet’. No more old coats!

As Jesus lives through me there is no reason to live that way! If I will boast I will boast in Him! – 2 Corinthians 10:17

Prayerfully,
Dave

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Lessons from Hezekiah

Today I was reading in my One Year Bible the life story of Hezekiah king of Judah – 2 Kings 17-20. I enjoy reading about leaders, especially from the Bible. I look for leadership insights that I can utilize in my daily leadership. Today was no exception; there were a number of nuggets!

  • Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord! He removed all idol worship from Judah. A direction that greatly pleased God and one that no other leaders before him including Solomon had done!
  • He prayed regularly about the matters of his daily work and leadership.
  • He trusted in the LORD and there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.

These I found to be admirable leadership qualities but as I read I found situations which made me wonder. Yes, Hezekiah relied on the LORD, but not always. His pride got hold of him on at least 2 occasions and instead of praying for clarity or direction he acted from his own experiences and these ‘pride fests’ caused major destruction within this nation. He prayed, but not always before acting, and this lack of prayer caused Judah to come under siege from Assyria and eventually lead to an invasion from Babylon. When confronted on these issues by Isaiah the prophet, he didn’t repent or seek forgiveness. This may have caused God to delay the pending judgment on his nation and preserve the life of the next generation.

My takeaways today: 1) Get in the habit of crying out to God on all occasions for his guidance and direction. 2) Put my life experiences in the right light and seek God’s will not mine. 3) Seek forgiveness and repent when convicted especially in matters that affect the next generation.

God Bless,
Dave

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Howard’s Update

Dear Friends,

Compass materials: I’m eager to receive the Money and Marriage God’s Way small group study materials. Have been working on these materials about a year and can’t wait to receive them from the printer this week. It’s a six week study. Bev and I led two pilot groups of young married couples and were sooooo encouraged by how the Lord used the study to transform and strengthen their marriages. The biggest surprise–even after 40 years of marriage to Bev, writing this study helped me to become a much better husband!!

Radio recording in the closet: Our radio engineer, Rich Roszel, visited our home to set up my radio studio—in our closet. I’m married to an amazing woman who would allow me to invade her closet! The closet is often the quietest room in the house because it is an interior room with no exposure to an outside wall. So, I’ll be recording from the closet starting Tuesday. The biggest challenge will be when we are babysitting our 2 year old granddaughter, Taliyah. She’s very verbal and more than a little loud. On second thought, it might be wiser to set up the studio outside where the only noise we have to deal with are autos, planes and lawnmowers…lol.

Testing the Webinar training: Maverick Martin, the Compass Executive Director from Wisconsin and our IT guru, is going to be testing our training of small group facilitators online using a Webinar. In the old days we did the trainings live and in person over 6 hours and the cost was $88. Now, we’ve streamlined the training to 1½ hours and will conduct it online every couple of weeks . . . and it’s free! Very grateful to Maverick (what a great name) for all his work on this project.

Meditate on this and grow: When you are in the midst of a financial challenge or any crisis, it is super important to meditate on the promises found in the Bible—especially those that help us focus on the Lord. Hebrews 13:5-6 has been especially meaningful to me: “He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?’”

Warmly in Christ,
Howard

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Watches and Warnings

One of the not-so-good things about living in this part of the south is the crazy weather…especially in the Spring. Several times this past month we have had tornado “warnings.” These are not to be confused with tornado “watches.” It’s taken me quite a few years to be able to keep from confusing the two, and it is important that you don’t. A warning means conditions are right for a tornado and a watch means there is one sighted in your area. If you were ever going to grab Toto and head for the storm cellar…now is that time. Except…in my area most homes don’t even have basements, let alone storm cellars. So, we head for the crawl space (where crawly things live) or we head for the only room without any external walls. Uh, that would be….the bathroom. If anything really bad were to ever happen, I know I’d be with Jesus in heaven. But at the same time, finding my body sprawled next to the toilet face down just isn’t the way I’d like to be found.

Like tornadoes, our financial condition also has warning signs. A warning might be bouncing checks on a regular basis and having to pay the overdraft fees that come with it. Another sign is regular heated discussions with your spouse over money and having to borrow money from relatives. A watch, meaning disaster may be imminent…is using credit cards to pay off other credit cards, having your car repossessed or having to turn up the volume on American Idol to drown out the sound of bill collectors calling.

Don’t ignore these signs in the same way people in my neck of the woods don’t ignore the weather siren! The same God who controls the weather also gave us all sorts of financial principles to live by. Such as:

  • Never co-sign for another’s loan
  • A wise man counts the cost before building a tower
  • Steady plodding brings prosperity
  • No one can serve two masters…you cannot serve both God and money
  • Instruct those in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of earthly riches.

And these are just a few. All Christians will face some storms in this life. Some of these are due to no fault of our own, such as illness or loss of a job. But many financial problems come about because we don’t plan, we don’t make wise choices, we aren’t content with what we have, or we just don’t know what God says about money.

The Bible doesn’t address every practical issue in life but in the case of money…God’s Word is replete with wisdom that will help you live a life of financial freedom and not financial bondage. We hear stories about this all the time on our radio program MoneyWise, and it really does make our day!

So keep your eyes and ears open for financial warning signs and….those pesky flying monkeys.

God Bless,
Steve

**Correction – A watch is when conditions are present to cause and event (hailstorm, tornado, flood, etc.). A warning is when the event is happening (it’s hailing, tornado is sighted and doing it’s business, the river is spilling over the banks)

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Many Differences, One Purpose

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

-Romans 8:28

A few months ago, Howard and I had an opportunity to meet with Dave Ramsey and his team in Nashville. Dave and Howard have had a mutual respect and admiration for each other for many years. I was just thrilled for the chance to meet Dave and his staff. Being in the financial ministry world I have heard the great stories and ways that God was using Dave and his team in people’s lives.

Howard, Dave and Kyle in Dave’s Recording Studio in Nashville

The morning started out with Howard giving a devotional to Dave’s entire staff (about 300 people). We then had the opportunity to take a tour of their offices and meet many of the staff folks that the Lord had been (and has been) using to serve people and churches across the country. As we spent more time with the leadership team it became apparent to me that there were many differences between our ministries – different strategies, culture, staffing, materials etc. But what was incredibly clear was the love that Dave and his staff had for the Lord and the calling that the Lord had put on their hearts. The more I listened to Dave and his staff the more excited I became about the differences between Compass and Dave Ramsey.

Differences are often looked at as challenges and obstacles to overcome but I don’t think that is what God was revealing to us. I believe God was (and is) using people who love Him and their differences (even in the context of similar callings) to further fulfill His purposes. This became pretty clear not only to Howard and I, but to Dave and his team as well.

I have a sense that over the next several months and years the Lord will be connecting ministries with similar passions and callings to further fulfill His purposes rather than competing. Many like-minded organizations that we have been relationally connected to aren’t asking the question “if we were to work together” but rather “how we can work together”. I believe this type of attitude will allow ministries to focus more on their specific calling while utilizing the calling and gifts of other ministries as well.

We don’t totally know what all this will look like yet, but we are looking forward to God guiding and leading this movement. It will be exciting to see God use people who love Him, people who are called to his purpose and a multitude of differences to transform people’s lives throughout the world!

God Bless- Kyle