Don’t Let Your Money Get You

Right on the Money

Do you ever look at your life and finances and think, “I’ve got it”? In this message, Watermark elder Mickey Friedrich shares about three warnings from Scripture for when we have self-dependence in our stewardship and why we must shift to a dependence on the Lord.

Mickey FriedrichMay 14, 2023

In This Series (3)
4 Questions About Generosity
Kyle ThompsonMay 21, 2023
Don’t Let Your Money Get You
Mickey FriedrichMay 14, 2023
5 Things People Get Wrong About Money
John CoxMay 7, 2023

Do you trust the Lord with your finances? God has a long track record of trustworthiness. Here are three warnings we must understand so your money doesn’t “get” you.

  • Warning 1: “The Trap” We get trapped when we confuse our wants with our needs. (Proverbs 22:7; Galatians 5:1; Psalm 37:21; Proverbs 14:12)
    • Everyone experiences the trap of thinking money is the solution to our problems.
    • Debt is not forbidden in Scripture, but it is never encouraged.
    • When you feel trapped by debt and finances, share with community and receive biblical counsel, don’t trust in your ability alone, and find biblical ministries and resources such as Moneywise.
  • Warning 2: “The Trade” We sacrifice horizontal relationships for the sake of money.
    • Financial goals are not bad, but they aren’t wise when they lead us away from loving God and loving others. (1 John 2:15-17)
    • When faced with financial goals and choices, remember life is not about possessions, and we are not guaranteed the future (James 4:13-15).
  • Warning 3: “The Time Out” We put off our vertical relationship with our God for the sake of money.
    • Do you give yourself credit for what you have based on your pace, work ethic, degrees, etc.?
    • We must abide with Jesus, so we do not experience the natural consequences that find us when we press pause on our time in the Word. (John 15:5) Not abiding gives the devil a foothold in our lives and finances. (1 Peter 5:8)

Discussion and Application

  • What traps have you fallen prey to regarding debt and financial priorities?
  • What relationships have struggled due to your financial goals?
  • What area do you believe God is calling you to serve in that your finances are potentially hindering?
  • Are you approaching or currently in the “time out” stage with Jesus? What steps can you take this week to prioritize time with the Lord and seek His will?
  • Additional Scripture: Matthew 6:25-33
  • Additional Resources: Moneywise

Good morning, Watermark. How are you this morning? It's a pleasure to be with you this morning. My name is Mickey Friedrich. I have the opportunity to serve you as one of our elders here, and it's such a joy to be together this morning. I'd like to introduce you to my family, if we haven't met yet. We'll show a picture. This is my beautiful wife Jessica. We've been married 17 years. Then our four awesome kids from 6 to 18. They are Goldie, Knox, Bey, and Mela. We have a lot of fun together.

I would like to say… Jessica was here in the first service, so I was able to say it to her then. Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers who have chosen to spend part of your Mother's Day worshipping with us. It's such an honor to get to worship with you. I would also like to say "Thank you" to all of the mothers who are spending part of your day serving here at the church, watching kids, working in the Welcome Center, or the different areas, allowing all of us to get to worship together today. Thank you.

Changing gears… Does anybody else have "red flag" phrases? By that I mean one of those phrases where when somebody says it, you know something bad is probably about to happen. One of those for me is the phrase, "Nah, I've got it." It's funny. It shows up in our family, especially with our 6-year-old. Unfortunately, I've said that phrase too many times in my past.

I grew up in western Oklahoma. I grew up farming and ranching. When I was a sophomore in high school, one of the main things I wanted to do was to rodeo. A lot of my friends were riding bulls. The problem was my mom had some wisdom. She said, "Hey, Mickey, I know you have academic goals, and you have athletic goals. I just don't think that would be the best decision for you, because one injury could really impact those goals you have."

But what do you think I said? On the inside I said, "Nah, I've got it." So, some friends and I would sneak out, sneak away, and we'd go to rodeos. One night, we snuck away and went to this small-town rodeo and entered what is called the wild mare race. I'm sure everybody here knows what a wild mare race is, but for those who don't know, I'll explain it.

It's something they do in some rodeos where they let four horses go at the same time. There are three or four teams of people, three people on each team, and the goal is to put a saddle on this wild horse, buckle the saddle, and be the first team to ride the horse around the arena. The first team that does that wins a couple hundred dollars. We really wanted to win a couple hundred dollars, so that's what we were going to try to do.

There are three positions in a wild mare race. The first one is the person who gets to ride the horse. I didn't have a saddle at this time, so my friend who did have a saddle got to be the one to ride the horse. Another position is the horse comes out with a lead rope, and somebody holds the horse while they put the saddle on.

Well, that ended up being my position, because the third position is… This is a wild horse that doesn't want a saddle on. The third position is the guy who jumps up on the horse's head and bites the horse's ear, and I didn't want to do that. It doesn't hurt the horse. It just has him stand still a little bit for a second. So, this is a wild mare race.

We entered into it. It's raining. They let the horses out. Everything is going great. I'm holding the horse back. They're getting the saddle on. Then, all of a sudden, our horse rears up and runs right over the top of me. The next thing I remember, I'm sitting up in the mud trying to figure out where I'm at. My friends are chasing this horse around the arena, and I have a smashing headache. Somehow I got stomped or kicked in the head, and of course, I got a concussion. But I couldn't tell my mom because I wasn't supposed to be there.

The next day, I was so out of sorts my friends made me go tell my mom. So, instead of winning the couple hundred dollars, I won a concussion. My mom won the opportunity to spend a couple hundred dollars at the hospital the next week getting me an MRI, making sure everything was in the right spot. Then here's the zinger. This was right before football season.

The doctors at the hospital were also doctors for the team. They knew I'd gotten a concussion, so they made me wear this bubble on my helmet all year long. This was back in the mid-90s, so for some reason, this is what they did. It was like an inch-thick squishy thing they would Velcro on your helmet. So, I got to play my entire sophomore year as the bobblehead football player. It was awesome.

That's what happens. We end up saying things like, "Nah, I've got it." We think we know where we want to go, but where we end up ends up being somewhere entirely different than where we planned on going. That's why we need this series. We're in the middle of a series called Right on the Money. Today is week two of that series, and today's topic is how not to let our money get us.

The truth is my mom wouldn't let me go to rodeos to be in them, and I knew she loved me, but I thought I knew what I really needed. We can do the same thing with God. We know he loves us, but sometimes it feels like he's just keeping us away from those things that'll really bring us life. So, as we think about God… It just starts with the question, first off…Can we really trust God? Let's look at his track record for just a second.

First, he created us. He gave us life. Secondly, when he created us, he gave our ancestor Adam the earth as a birthday present. He's that good. He said, "Here's the earth. Be fruitful and multiply. Steward this for me." That's awesome. Then a couple millennia later, God sent his Son Jesus in the form of a man to live a perfect life, to show us what it looks like to truly love God and love others. He also sent Jesus to teach us what life is really about, and it's recorded in Scripture.

Then Jesus died on the cross for us to take our sins on him so we can live forever with Jesus, and then God raised him from the dead. Right now, Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. God tells us in his Word Jesus is coming back. He's going to call all of his people to himself, and then he's going to make the earth all new. We get to live with Jesus forever in the new heavens and the new earth, but there will be no pain, no sin, no sorrow, only Jesus and the peace, the joy, and the freedom that come from life with Jesus forever.

So, now let's go back to our question. Do you think we can trust that God? I think we can. So, why is it so hard? Well, let's jump in, because that's what we're going to talk about today. Today we're going to start in Matthew 6:24. Feel free to turn there. You can look at it on the screen. We're going to go to a lot of other places, but we're going to end up back in Matthew 6, so it's not a bad place to open your Bibles to.

This is Jesus teaching the Sermon on the Mount. This is Jesus sharing with us some of the most important things he had to say during his time on earth. This is what we read in verse 24: "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." This isn't a difficult verse to understand. I don't need to go to the Greek to help us understand what Jesus is actually trying to say here. No, it's pretty clear.

The first phrase is pretty clear. We can't serve two masters. He talks about what will happen if we try to. I mean, literally, it's like trying to go in two directions at the same time. We just can't do it. If we try to serve one god, there are going to be things they ask us to, call us to, that we're drawn to, and it's naturally going to be in opposition to another god. Then Jesus wraps up by saying, "You cannot serve both God and money."

Do we believe this? Yes. It's God's Word. Do we live it out? Well, it's complicated. God knew how easy it was going to be for us to love things over him, so that's why he taught about it all throughout his Word. Today, we're going to cover three warnings we get from Scripture about how we can keep God and money both in their rightful place. The three warnings we're going to walk through this morning are the trap, the trade, and the time-out.

  1. The trap. This is simply the trap of the deceitfulness of debt. We all know what a trap is. This is a trap. This is a varmint trap. This is a trap made to catch small animals, but animals don't wake up in the morning, stretch, and think, "What do I want to do today? I want to go get caught in a trap." A trap that looks like a trap isn't a very good trap.

So, when we're talking about the trap of debt… Oftentimes, a good trap is a trap you don't see. A good trap is a trap we are naturally drawn into. That's why we put things in traps. This one has cheese there. The cheese looks a little different for us, as human beings, but we're lured into a trap. Then, finally, a good trap is a trap that, once you get in it, it's hard to get out of. That's the whole purpose of a trap.

Debt can be a trap for us, of course. How does that happen, though? Well, it happens because life happens. Here's how it happens. We enter into adulthood, and we get a job, because we have to have money to live on. Then maybe we move to a big city, like Dallas. It has a lot of jobs, but it's also really expensive. Then we want to have fun with our friends. We want to do different things to enjoy life, and then maybe we get married.

Here are the other things that happen along the way. We have to get around, so we need to buy a car. We don't have enough money to pay for the whole thing, so we take out a loan, and it's okay because we have a job, and our salary covers what we have to pay for the monthly payment for the car. So we get that loan. Then we move on. A little bit farther down the road, we start thinking about buying a house.

We think, "That's actually a pretty good decision, because real estate is great to own. It's a great thing to invest in. Right? I hear that all the time. The property tax is tax deductible. I might as well get a bigger house with a bigger loan, because, hey, the interest on my loan is tax deductible, so I'm winning all the way around. As a matter of fact, I might be able to borrow against that house if I get tight in the future and need more money. So I think I'm really making a good decision by getting a home mortgage."

Then we start living in that house, and we think, "Man, I want to have people from the neighborhood over because, of course, I want to share the gospel with all of them. I want to be able to have Community Group come and hang out at my house, but if I'm going to have them over, I really need to remodel this kitchen, because this kitchen just isn't good enough yet." So we start to update our house. Then, if we're going to do the kitchen, we might as well do the entryway.

Well, that's our home, but we also need to travel. I mean, we have to live this life. We only get one. So, we're going to go on some trips with our friends. There are a lot of fun places to go and exciting opportunities to do. I mean, just look at what we see from all of our other friends on Instagram. There are a lot of fun things to do.

If we have kids, of course we want our kids to have that childhood we never had, to go to places we never got to go. Believe it or not… My name is Mickey. I never got to go to Disneyland until I was an adult. I want to save my kids from that deprived childhood I had. So, we go on vacations. None of that is bad…the remodels, the vacations. What is bad is if we're having to take out debt to do all of those different things.

We're living the life, we're having the experiences, but before we know it, we end up in the trap of debt. We're in this trap, chasing what we think we wanted, and then we can't get out. You see, what happens is we start to confuse our wants with our needs. I do want to be clear. Scripture never prohibits debt. It never says, "If you take out debt, you're a sinner." But it never recommends debt. Most of the time when Scripture mentions debt it comes with a warning.

Here are two Scriptures where debt is mentioned. One is Proverbs 22:7. "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender." Just like an animal doesn't wake up in the morning and say, "I want to end up in this trap at the end of the day," none of us wake up and say, "Man, I hope by the end of today I can be slave to another lender. I really want somebody else telling me what to do." None of us do that, but that's what happens.

Psalm 37:21 says, "The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives…" God's Word is clear. We have to be careful about debt. What happens… We live this progression. Our debt is fueled by our standard of living, what standard of living we expect, that we allow to creep in, or the decisions we make.

What happens once we get the debt, which is tied to our standard of living, is it starts to dictate our decisions…where we can live, where we want to live, the jobs we take. "Hey, we have to take that job that requires a whole lot more from us because we have bills to pay. We have places to go." It starts to dictate how many hours we have to work at our jobs to pay those bills. Then, before we know it, God has taken second place to money directing the path of our life. That's how it subtly happens. That's how it subtly happened to me.

What about when God calls when we're in that place? We're loaded down with debt. We're in the cage, and then God creates this burning desire in our heart. He creates an opportunity for us to go use our skills, maybe how God has prepared us to go teach children in an impoverished school district. Most of the jobs that are life on life don't pay the most. We say, "God, you've wired me that way. You've given me the passion to do it, but I'm in a cage."

We're looking at that faithful life out there and wondering, "How did we get in here?" It can feel like there is no way out. I will say at the outset there is always a way out. It may not be easy. We're here as a church, as your family, to walk with you through that, but there's always a way out. What happens is our decisions keep us from the financial freedom God has planned for us.

By "financial freedom," I don't mean the freedom to retire tomorrow and go hop on a boat and float around the Caribbean. I'm talking about the freedom from finances forcing us into decisions. I'm talking about the freedom to be able to follow God wherever he would call us, to be his woman, to be his man in every room we're in, in every decision that is in front of us, the freedom from debt calling the shots of our lives.

We all know these things. You knew about the dangers of debt before you walked in here. We crave financial freedom. Of course we do. We all want God directing our lives. So, how does debt trap us? Apart from the practical steps I just walked through, how does that happen? Well, it's because, at some point in time, maybe at many points in time along the way, we hear God's counsel, we read it in Scripture, we hear it from other believers, but we say, "Nah, I've got this."

I've lived out Proverbs 14:12 so many different ways in my life. I've lived it out in the area of my finances. Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." That's the truth. If we walk apart from God's counsel and how he would lead us, our natural way, the way of our flesh, will end in death. Our problem isn't debt. It's not even our standard of living. It is our pride. It's our pride that leads us places God wouldn't take us.

So, are you in the trap? Are you in the trap of debt just a little bit or are you in the trap of debt a lot bit? Wherever you're at this morning, that's fine. It's where you're at. We're not here to heap on shame or guilt, and there's always a way out of the trap. The first thing I'd tell you is you are not alone. It's why we live in community here. You have others to encourage you, to help you, to give you wisdom, to share God's counsel with you. You are not alone.

Secondly, don't trust your ability to get yourself out of the trap. There is a phrase that's often said in recovery groups that says, "It's your best thinking that got you into the trap, so don't expect your best thinking to be what gets you out of the trap." And it's true. That's convicting to me so many times in my life.

The third is we have a ministry here called Moneywise that meets on Thursdays (it's going to start on June 1 for five Thursdays in a row) where you can meet with experienced men and women to walk through your financial situation and also talk about what God's Word has to say about finances in many more detailed ways. Please come. Put that on your calendar. We do have childcare. You just have to sign up for it. It's 6:30 to 8:30 on Thursdays, starting in a few weeks. So, that's the first warning: the trap of debt.

  1. The trade. The trade is where we put off horizontal relationships for the sake of money. Here's what this looks like. It looks like saying, "Hey, I'm going to give myself to my job for the next decade or two, and then, whenever I've reached these mythical goals (maybe real goals), then my family and I can live the life we've always wanted. We can get that house. We can drive that car. We can go on those vacations."

Whenever we make the trade, we're willing to accept a job that otherwise we might not have taken, a job that requires a number of hours that we might not faithfully commit, a job that requires more travel than is healthy, a job that requires our brain around the clock when we want to be spending time with our family, with our friends, and serving God.

This person I'm talking about who makes the trade… I mean, they love Jesus. They really do. They come to church. They go to Community Group. The challenge is they have financial goals that may be really big. They're living for this vision of the future when they get there. Now, goals aren't bad. There's no problem with getting to a certain place in life if God has led you there. The problem is when we make goals to get there outside of God's plan.

Maybe that's not God's plan for us. Maybe that's not God's best for us. And why would we not want what God's best is for us? It's because of the temptations, the things we want to run after. So, we're willing to make the trade. Why is the trade so bad? I know many of us in here have made that trade or are tempted to make the trade. Well, first, Scripture tells us life is not about possessions. First John 2:15-17:

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."

I know it can be tough whenever we read through long Scriptures in church. I know whenever I'm sitting where you are, I have a hard time concentrating when we read multiple verses together. I would just encourage you to open it up, to really think about it, and write these Scriptures down, because I can tell you, these Scriptures are the sermon. I could read these Scriptures I'm walking through and then just sit down. You don't need to know anything else. These Scriptures are golden, and they are the counsel from God that we're seeking to pattern our lives around.

A few of these are long, but it's worth it. Here's a second one. We learn that life is not all about possessions, but then we say, "Hey, that's great, but I've got to take care of my family. I have kids who need to eat. I have bills to pay. What about that? I have to work two jobs. I have to work crazy hours." Well, Jesus in Matthew 6:25, and then picking it up in verse 31… Right after the main verse we read, he speaks to that.

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

It just comes down to whether we believe that. Your heavenly Father knows you need all of these things, and he will lead us as we pursue faithfulness and fruitfulness together. I also know there are many tough situations here. I don't know what they all are, and it doesn't matter because I don't have the answers, but those situations are real.

Here's the thing: God has the answers. He does. Ask him. He knows. He's waiting for you to invite him in. He knows, and he cares. Psalm 37:25 says, "I was young and now I'm old, but I have never seen the righteous go hungry." That's the truth here. We've always said (and we continue to do our best to live it out) there will never be a member of Watermark who will go without food, clothing, or shelter. We see it happen all the time.

It starts in the Community Groups that come around and are the provision for families, for individuals who are having very tough times. If the Community Groups can't meet their needs, then the church steps in. It's beautiful. We do it every week. God takes care of his own. The trade is so bad because Scripture tells us life is not about possessions. Secondly, the trade is so bad because it assumes we have decades ahead of us. James 4:13-15 says:

"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.'"

I mean, who are we to plan to sacrifice a decade or two? Planning is great, but it has to be done in dependence on God and according to his will. Thirdly, the years we're considering trading are precious years. If we're single, just think about what God can do if we are fully devoted to loving him and loving others. If that is our priority, God will take care of us financially. That might involve nice things. It might involve big-time jobs, but that's not the focus.

There is a wise man in our body… I was part of a group earlier this week, and he shared this with a group of young people who are facing a lot of decisions like this. (I still consider myself a young person.) He said, "Hey, whenever I'm in situations, I always ask myself the question, 'Why am I here?'" It's not "Why am I here on earth?" but it's "Why am I in this meeting? Why am I in this relationship having coffee with this person? Why am I going on this road trip with my child? Why am I here?"

It's not just practically; it's spiritually. "God, why do you have me here? What do you intend for me to do, say, or listen to in this interaction? How can I best love you, God, and love others in this interaction?" See, that's our main purpose. We should seek how each moment fits into our bigger purpose. Trading these years is dangerous because they're precious years, especially if you have young kids.

So, do this thought exercise with me. Say we do spend the next decade or two, the next 20 years, working really hard. We're unbelievably successful. We make all the money we ever dreamed of. We were largely absent while our kids were younger. Sometimes that happens, right? We have to be committed to something. If we're going to do big things, it requires sacrifice. We weren't there as much as we wanted to be, and then our kids are older. They leave the house.

Once we've made it, once we have time to sit on the beach or do whatever it is we would dream of, how much money would we pay…? How much of that fortune would we give up to be able to come back and relive one day that we missed out on in our child's life? I'm talking about when they start walking. I'm talking about when they go to kindergarten for the first time, when they're in elementary school, and you just might be their hero. You're just at the office.

How much would we pay to get to go back and restore those broken relationships that were broken because we were absent? Maybe we were physically present, but we were emotionally absent. Maybe it cost us our marriage. So, we hit our goals, but we're all alone. See, that's the thing. We can pursue our goals. We can hit our goals, but if we do it in the wrong way, it can end up costing us the very people we claim we had those goals for in the first place. That's the reality.

We have a saying around here, and it says, "Hey, we get to make our decisions, but we don't get to choose the consequences." The consequences often most deeply affect those who we love the most. That's why the trade can be so dangerous. The trade often starts with small decisions, and it's fueled by many decisions. They're decisions where we say that same phrase: "Nah, I've got this." We think we're the exception. We think we can handle it. We can work all of those extra hours. We can do everything on our own and avoid the consequences.

We get to make our decisions; we just don't get to choose the consequences. Let me be clear. Working hard is okay. It honors God. We are to work hard. We just can't make those decisions in isolation. As was said earlier, we're given God's Spirit, we're given God's Word, and we have God's people, and that's how we pursue faithfulness together, not in isolation, not in our pride, not running after the shiny things we think we need. So, the second warning is the trade, putting off horizontal relationships for the sake of money.

  1. The time-out. We put off our vertical relationship for the sake of money. The truth is we can take a time-out for a lot of reasons, not just money. We can take a time-out in many seasons of life. We can do it when we're young, in high school. We can do it when we're more advanced in years, in our retirement years. We can do it in our 30s and 40s. Here's what the time-out looks like. This one is really personal to me, because about 10 or 12 years ago, this was the reality of my life. Here's what it looked like for me.

I worked for a public company. I'm an engineer in oil and gas. That was a very exciting time just over a decade ago in oil and gas. Everything was up and to the right. I was getting to work on a lot of cool projects. They were asking a lot of me, so I was working, typically, from 5:30 in the morning until 5:30 at night, really full days. I was having to travel a lot to West Texas where we were drilling wells all the time, but it was good stuff. I was managing people. We had great projects. I was making good money.

The challenge was even when I was at home I was having to work, and even when I was at home and not working my mind was on work…the meetings I had to have tomorrow, the meetings today that didn't go that well. Then this is what happened. I thought, "Man! I really need another degree in order to get where I want to go at work." So I started a master's in engineering program. I mean, it's great. It's flexible. I could fit it into my schedule whenever I wanted to.

The problem was I was burning the candle at both ends. I have a high capacity in some stuff like that. I can work hard. I can fit it in. I can get up early. I can stay up late. The problem is that really efficient, effective schedule left very little time for Jesus. Here's what my relationship with Jesus looked like. My commute was about 20 minutes. My rationale was, "Well, I can spend that time with Jesus every morning, 20 minutes of uninterrupted time, and then I can live my day."

So, I would use one of those apps and play some Scripture, and then I would pray. I mean, those were real prayers, heartfelt prayers, but what would happen was my mind would drift to the meetings I had that day. I would already start thinking about work. Of course I… "All right, Lord. I'm worrying about it. I need to pray about it." So I'd start praying about it, and then I'd just start worrying about it again.

Then before I knew it, I was at work, and then I'd just go through my day right through the schedule. I'd get home exhausted. I was not living out the fruit of the Spirit at home, that's for sure. Then I'd go to bed, and most often, I don't know if I thought about God or Jesus that much until my commute the next morning, and then I would do that little dance and show up at work. Months happened, and then years happened. That's what I'm calling the time-out.

I paused my abiding in Christ. As we heard earlier, John 15:5 says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." Jesus says, "Apart from me you can do nothing." But I started to believe it was what I was doing, what I brought to the table, that was really getting me where I wanted to go. I thought it was my work, my pace, my education, and my savvy that was going to get my family and me where I wanted to take us.

The problem is it left no time for study, for prayer, for meditation on God's Word, for really spending time with God's people. As a result, I missed out on a long season of abiding with Christ. I said that phrase. I said, "God, I know I see warnings and cautions. I hear the stories of men and women leading at Watermark, saying, 'Don't make the trade. Don't take that time-out. You'll end up with scars on you and your family.'" And I would say, "That's interesting, but nah, I've got it."

I ended up with scars. I ended up with the scar of anxiety. During this period, I would be in front of an executive at our company, and I would just start sweating, full body sweat. It didn't matter if I was wearing a suit and tie or shorts and a tee shirt. It didn't matter where we were at…at the golf course or in the boardroom. I would just start sweating.

Do you know why that is? It was because I was living for the approval of man. The fear of man was my de facto god, all for the purpose of trying to make money, trying to be successful, trying to do things that maybe God hadn't asked me to do, or maybe he asked me to do them but not in that way. I was trying to write the story. And we end up with those scars.

I mean, we're always nervous before presentations and when we meet people, but I don't remember that paralyzing anxiety in my life until the season of the time-out. There are residual effects from those scars today. Before I have a meeting, I still feel that anxiety rising up. I have to pray. I have to breathe. Those scars don't always necessarily go away.

Another scar I have from that time is insomnia. Before the season of the time-out, my wife would say, "Hey, you go to sleep before the lights go out." I think that was true. Once I went and took this time-out…"Nah, God, I've got this…" The "getting this" had my brain going all night long, very often, so I would have nights where I wouldn't sleep at all.

I would lie there in bed. The sun would come up. I'd get up, shower, and go to work. For those of you who have had insomnia, there is a grip with it, and it's tied to that anxiety that won't let go. By the grace of God, he has largely freed me from the insomnia. I can still struggle with it a little bit now and then. But, man, those scars… When they take hold, it changes everything.

I do want to be clear. I was talking through this message with my wife Jessica last night, and she said, "Hey, Mickey, I think it might be important for you to mention…" Those scars aren't punishment from God for not spending time with him. Those are consequences from the decisions I made. God is a loving God, and he's ready to rescue us, to save us out of those situations.

By the grace of God, he preserved me, but that doesn't justify those lost months, those lost years of abiding with him. What ends up happening… It's like an alcoholic. They say whenever an alcoholic becomes an alcoholic, say, at the age of 16, and they continue drinking until the age of 30, their emotional maturity is still going to be about like a 16-year-old. The same thing happens to us spiritually.

Whenever we take a spiritual time-out, and we don't abide with Christ and grow in intimacy with him daily, the same thing happens to our spiritual lives. If we take the time-out after being a believer for a couple of years, and then it stretches into a decade or two, our spiritual maturity is still going to look like a believer who has only trusted Jesus for a couple of years. We make our decisions, but we don't get to choose the consequences.

These warnings are straight from Scripture. Scripture is the message. Ignoring these warnings is reckless. It's reckless for our relationship with Jesus, the precious opportunity we have daily to deepen in intimacy with Jesus. I'm not talking about checking the box. I'm not talking about doing what we're supposed to. I'm talking about the gift each day of deepening in intimacy with Jesus.

We also miss out on the opportunity to deepen in relationship with our friends, with our spouse, with our kids. One of the most reckless things about the time-out is the opportunity it provides for Satan to come into our lives and wreak havoc. John Elmore, a couple of weeks ago, when we were finishing up 1 Peter, read this verse in 1 Peter 5:8: "Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

What does a predator look for? A predator looks for somebody who is weak and separated from the herd, and that describes us during the time-out to a T. We are separated from Jesus, so we're certainly not abiding with the body of Christ, and we're weak. Those are consequences we do not want in our lives…the sin, the immorality.

What happens is this season can turn into the status quo, and that's a nightmare that none of us want to find ourselves in. So, if you're in the trap of debt, if money has become your god, if you're in a season of time-out with Jesus, or if you feel yourself slipping into one, you're not alone, but the first step is up to you.

The first step is to repent. That word simply means to turn around and go the other direction. We repent when we come to Jesus, when we confess our sins and acknowledge him as our Lord and Savior. If you don't know him today, that is your next step. If you want to learn more, please come down front afterward. We would love to share more about Jesus with you.

But even after we become believers, we never stop repenting, because we live in this flesh. We are still driven by our desires. Until Jesus comes back and creates that new heaven and new earth I was talking about earlier, we have to continue repenting. That, if you're in these places, is your next step. Jesus tells us we cannot serve both God and money.

So, what's our problem? It's not money. It's not our standard of living. It's not even debt. Our problem is pride. The solution is surrender. The solution is to surrender right now. The solution is to surrender daily. The solution is to surrender hourly. Then, as we do that, as we pray, as we read God's Word, as we surround ourselves with other believers, a shift happens.

We shift from saying to God, "Nah, I've got that" to "Yes, you've got this. We know you have this, God." Our trust is in him. It's not in ourselves. May that be our vision for our finances today. That's just Matthew 6. God knows where you're at, the burdens you have, and he will take care of us.

Lord, I thank you for the truth of your Word, just how you're real with us. You tell us the truth, and then you lead us back to you like the Prodigal Child, because you know we're going to mess it up, Lord, and you know the pain and the scars our sin is going to bring into our lives and the lives of those around us, but you don't leave us there.

I thank you for how good you are, for how you continue to recalibrate our hearts toward things that matter and toward the depths of your love. Help us to experience that love more deeply today, and help us to continue to hear how your Spirit is leading us. Help us to be faithful and just follow you, our God and Savior, amen.