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Weekly Bible Verse – Church on Sunday and Cheating on Monday

April 27, 2010 · Filed Under Weekly Bible Verse · 2 Comments 

Listen to this, you who rob the poor and trample down the needy!  You can’t wait for the Sabbath day to be over and the religious festivals to end so you can get back to cheating the helpless.  You measure out grain with dishonest measures and cheat the buyer with dishonest scales. And you mix the grain you sell with chaff swept from the floor.  Then you enslave poor people for one piece of silver or a pair of sandals. Now the Lord has sworn this oath by his own name, the Pride of Israel: “I will never forget the wicked things you have done!”  Amos 8:4-7 (NLT)

Wow, this is a pretty harsh word from God today (Amos is not exactly the cheeriest book in the Bible) – He will never forget the “wicked things” being done.  Of course, it is quite obvious that this is not the proper way to act – robbing the poor, trampling down the needy, cheating the buyer, enslaving the poor – yeah, not a great way to get on God’s good side.

What really struck me about this passage, however, is what is found in the beginning of verse 5.  The people couldn’t wait for the Sabbath to end or the religious festivals to conclude so they could get back to lying, cheating, and stealing.  That means that they were observing the Sabbath and the religious festivals!  They cared so little about their fellow man, yet they observed God’s commandments regarding the Sabbath and the festivals.  Certainly God saw right through this charade to their true character and, as it says, He would “never forget” their wickedness.

I think this is a cautionary tale relevant for our lives today as well.  This is yet another example from the Bible where the desire for monetary gain leads to sin.  Does that desire for money drive us to do things we know we should not?  Are we compartmentalizing our lives to such an extent that we could be guilty of attending church on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening but spending the remainder of the week cheating those around us for financial gain?  If so, God is not impressed by our feeble attempts to placate him by doing the whole church thing.  Remember, God doesn’t want us to “do church” He wants to us to “be the church.”  God’s church is not a building – it’s His people.

God bless and have a great week being the church…

Guest Post: How Declaring Bankruptcy Affects Your Life Insurance Rate

April 21, 2010 · Filed Under Insurance · 4 Comments 
Today’s guest post was provided by Denise Mancini of Accuquote. Check out for free life insurance quotes from top-rated companies.

For some people, debt is a part of life, but when debts careen beyond control to a point where you can no longer repay, filing for personal bankruptcy is a way out. However, before you file for bankruptcy, there are important repercussions you should consider, especially facts related to your life insurance premiums.

Bankruptcy and life insurance
If you own an existing life insurance policy, it is usually left untouched by the bankruptcy court, to protect the interests of your beneficiaries. If you own a permanent life insurance, you will be allowed to retain a portion of the cash value that has accumulated on it. How much you are allowed to retain depends on where you live, because the rules are different from State to State. If you have taken out a life insurance policy on someone else like your spouse or your kids, you will have to surrender the same to the court.

Bankruptcy will affect your life insurance rate.

Most people file for bankruptcy because it wipes the slate clean and helps them to start over. It is common knowledge that a bad credit score will adversely affect life insurance premium rates. However, will bankruptcy improve the situation? Let’s explore the repercussions of bankruptcy on life insurance premium rates.

If you are already in deep debt, it makes sense to file for bankruptcy. Buying life insurance with a bad credit score is not a good idea because of the exorbitant premiums you will be charged, which in turn will worsen your financial situation. For someone in this situation, it makes sense to first file for bankruptcy, and then wait a while before applying for a life insurance.

It definitely won’t be easy then too, because life insurance companies see your bankruptcy as a lack of restraint, and being careless with your finances. They therefore have reservations about your ability to pay premiums. It usually takes about 7 to 10 years until your credit report will stop reflecting your bankruptcy.

Buying a life insurance policy after bankruptcy

Since life insurance is a purchase that can never be put off, waiting out for a decade until your credit report stops reflecting your bankruptcy is definitely not advisable. The better option is to buy a 10-year term life insurance policy. You will be paying higher premiums and it may turn out to be quite a struggle, but it is better than putting your family’s welfare at risk. The first few years on a policy are the most expensive for a life insurance company, and their high up-front costs make them very cautious when approving policies. As someone with a bad credit history, you will be considered a risky customer.

The good news is that there are term life insurance companies out there, who will look favorably on your case if they know that your bankruptcy has been completely discharged. The key is to find such companies. Luckily, with the advent of a host of online life insurance quote providers, it is not difficult to identify such companies. All you need to do is, fill up their online form as accurately as possible. Don’t forget to click ‘Yes’ when you are asked if you have filed for bankruptcy in the last 5 years. Based on the information you submit, you will be given quotes from companies that look most favorably on your bankruptcy and on other information you have submitted. These quotes are unbiased, genuine and correct because they are chosen from among hundreds of policies and reflect information in real-time.

Bankruptcy can be a very difficult experience, and you may be tempted to wait a while before getting your life insurance. However, you will risk putting your family going through dire financial hardships. Once your bankruptcy is taken off your credit report, you can request the life insurance company to review your policy, so that you can qualify for lower premiums.

Monthly Net Worth Update – April 2010

April 16, 2010 · Filed Under Net Worth · 1 Comment 
Cash + Money by Terence Chang

For the second month in a row, our net worth experienced a surprising bump.

Our assets increased almost 2%

Just like last month, our assets actually increased (Woohoo!).  Also just like last month, that increase was driven exclusively by the stock market.  It was a steady month as all of our accounts increased in the mid-single digit range.  As expected, however, our cash accounts dropped another 4%.  As I mentioned recently, my wife is not going to be going back to work.  Our reduced salary coupled with some temporary increased expenditures for the birth of our daughter has caused our cash accounts to drop almost 12% since the beginning of the year.  It would have been worse this month if I had not received my tax refunds and a small yearly bonus from work.  We have reduced some of our expenses, savings, and investing to get our budget more balanced so hopefully this downward trend will level off very soon.

Our liabilities decreased 0.12%

Our mortgage dropped the standard 0.12% again this month. We are no longer in a position to consider accelerating payments on our mortgage, however.  Our mortgage payment now makes up the largest of our regular monthly expenses by far.  We have decided to see how our new budget works for the next three months.  At that point in time, we will evaluate whether we need to make some drastic changes regarding our house payment (like trying to sell the house and buy a less expensive one).

Our net worth increased more than 4%!

Even with the very small decrease in mortgage principal and large drop in cash, we still ended up with a net worth increase of more than 4% this month!  In fact, our net worth is currently the highest it has ever been.  As I mentioned last month, I am trying to not worry about the financial upheaval we’re experiencing and simply focus on God and rely on Him to meet our needs.  I must admit, however, that I am getting caught up in the daily checking account balance.  I’m still very much a work in progress.

Weekly Bible Verse – Unlocking God’s Blessing

April 13, 2010 · Filed Under Weekly Bible Verse · 1 Comment 

You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the LORD Almighty, while you are all busy building your own fine houses.  Haggai 1:9 (NLT)

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be blessed financially more than you?  Certainly there are myriad possible reasons for this (including maybe you are just greedy and your dearth of blessing is just in your imagination to maybe you are just greedy and God knows you would not be able to properly handle large finances).  Seriously, there are a bunch of different possibilities – too many to list in this post. This verse from Haggai, however, might explain one reason for a lack of financial blessing.

Personally, I see the theme of priorities running throughout the Bible.  As far as priority number one in our lives, that should belong to God!  We see here in this verse from Haggai that the people had gotten their priorities all out of whack.  They had been spending time and money building their “paneled houses” while the Lord’s house remained in ruins.  As we can see, God did not take kindly to that flipping of priorities and eventually diminished their harvests and blessings in order to get their attention.

Reflect on your own life and your priorities therein.  Are you mixing up your list of priorities?  Are you devoting too much of your time to pursuing your own selfish desires rather than pursuing God?  Are you giving of your firstfruits to God’s kingdom or what little is left at the end of the month?  If you don’t feel like you are experiencing God’s “abundant life,” maybe it is because those priorities are not lined up with God’s – just something to ponder.

God bless and have a great week…

Our Attempt to Excel at Giving

April 9, 2010 · Filed Under Giving · 3 Comments 

I have been giving a lot of thought to our giving lately.  Maybe I have been motivated by my WBV post from last week on giving more than one is able, or maybe I was inspired by reading Randy Alcorn’s The Treasure Principle, mostly, though, I think I was spurred on by my wife.  Whatever the reason, now seems like a great time to try to increase our percentage of giving.

Big changes

Allow me to explain…my wife gave birth to our fourth child two months ago.  Since then I’ve mentioned in multiple posts that she was going to be off work for a few months.  Now, she was only working two days a week but she is an Endocrinologist in private practice so that still represents a significant amount of money that she contributes to the household income.  We recently decided, however, that she is not going back to work next month.  For the first time, she is going to be a full-time stay at home mom (or as I like to refer to her: a trophy wife).

Of course this means significant changes around the BFN household.  Since this is a PF blog, let’s get to the financial stuff – it means a 36% decrease in gross income for our family. While our income is not quite cut in half, I think you would agree that such a sizable decrease will require some adjustment.

When we first started discussing how our budget would change, I mentioned that we would now contribute less to our church and missions and other charitable organizations.  Our percentage of giving is 12% this year so naturally we would reduce overall giving to be 12% of my salary instead of 12% of both of our salaries.  Well, she did not want to reduce the amount we give to missionaries because they personally rely on that money.  Ok, that’s valid.  “The only way we can drop our giving down to 12% then is to cut the amount we give to our local church significantly,” I told her.  Well, she didn’t want to do that either.

Our math or God’s math?

“Why don’t we just keep giving what we’ve been giving?” she asked me.  “Because we can’t,” I replied, “the numbers don’t add up.  We just can’t do that.”  Of course, I’m sure you all know what she was going to say next, “Doesn’t the Bible tell us that God will meet our needs?”  “Yes, but this is crazy.  I mean, that’s a lot of money each month!”

I went away from the meeting without giving much thought to her proposal.  I even altered our automatic donations to match up with the new numbers.  Now I had always thought it would be awesome to give a much larger percentage of our income than 10% but that would be when I was making my millions and had more opportunity to give.  Then I started thinking and praying and going to Iron Sharpen Iron events, and reading The Treasure Principle.  My initial reaction when I seriously started considering keeping our giving at the same level was fright.  How in the world could we give that much money without going way over budget each month?  I mean, we hadn’t even balanced the budget in the first place since the transition and now we’d be hiking it up hundreds more each month.

Why not?

And then I started thinking things like, “Why don’t we try this?  Why don’t we try giving more than our budget says we should?” And then I got excited (really, I did).  What would God do with that?  Would he provide opportunities for us to earn more money to keep up our giving?  Would He enable us to reduce our expenses?

So last week, I changed the automatic contributions back to what they were when my wife was still working.  The current plan jumps our giving from 12% of gross main career (“real job”) income to about 18%. I’ve always given 20% of my side-work income (this blog provides a bit but the majority of that income is generated through website design, development, and maintenance) though that income has so far not amounted to more than a couple thousand dollars a year.  Now, I don’t want to overstate this; it’s not like this will cause us to not be able to put food on the table.  Neither will we be challenging Bill Gates in how much money we’re giving away (not yet, at least).

Now what?

I have no idea what God is going to do with us through this.  I do know that he promises to meet our needs, so I’m counting on our needs continuing to be met.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19 (NASB)

Ok, I admit I’m still scared by the idea, but not nearly as much as I was a few weeks ago.  Frankly, I consider verses such as the verse from Ephesians below and I am excited to see how He will accomplish meeting our needs.  I’m curious to see what else comes out of this as well…hopefully something awesome through which we can give glory to God!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

Only time will tell how this actually works out for us.  As of now, the budget does not balance. We’ve taken out some of the fat and reduced some savings, but the biggest area of spending now is our housing costs.  We’ve decided to continue with this plan for three months and then re-evaluate our situation.  If we’re still not making the budget work, we will have to consider more significant changes to the budget at that point – mostly focused on our housing.

Frankly, I’d love for you to join us in attempting this.  Even so, I’m inviting you to keep up with how we’re doing.  I’ll give periodic updates and I’m hoping that through this effort some others will be inspired to rely on God and attempt something similar.

You can’t outgive God

As I prepared my review of The Treasure Principle yesterday, I re-read with great interest a statement from Alcorn that I put into the review: “The more you give, the more comes back to you, because God is the greatest giver in the universe, and he won’t let you outgive Him, Go ahead and try.  See what happens.”  We’re going to go ahead and try…we’ll see what happens.

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