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Weekly Bible Verse – Generosity will Bring Blessing

August 11, 2010 · Filed Under Weekly Bible Verse · 6 Comments 

If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.  Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.  Deuteronomy 15:7,8,10 (NIV)

If you’re reading this, then you’re most likely someone who cares at least a little bit about receiving God’s blessing (and maybe you care a whole lot).  This week’s verse is therefore of interest to you.  In the last sentence we see that God will bless you in “all your work and in everything you put your hand to.”  To be blessed in everything you do is a pretty sweet blessing (I want some of that!).

Of course, the next question is, “How do I go about receiving this awesome blessing from God?”  The first sentences tell us that we should freely lend a less fortunate person whatever he needs and should not be miserly toward him.  That is how you receive this blessing from God.  That seems counterintuitive, wouldn’t you agree?  It is basically teaching that you have to give away to get more.  That certainly flies in the face of the worldly wisdom of our society.

You’ve probably heard a Christian pastor or teacher or blogger at some point say that it is critically important for you to give to God as part of your financial plan.  In fact, you’ve probably heard that it should be the first thing you do with your money each month (I’ve said both of those things on this site).  Even if you are having trouble making everything else fit into your budget, skipping this crucial piece of your plan will have deleterious effects on your finances.  Again, that’s another counterintuitive teaching, isn’t it?

I think this week’s verse explains why that lesson actually makes sense (ok, still not from a worldly perspective, but I only really care about the Godly perspective anyway).  We just learned that if we give generously and without a grudging heart that God will bless everything that we do!  Now I’m not suggesting that we give money and God is forced to make us rich – I don’t think that is the message of this verse at all.  Remember the “generous” and “without a grudging heart” thing?  I’m convinced that giving money solely for the purpose of getting more back from God does not meet those criteria.

What I am saying is that we can give our gifts to God’s kingdom and be generous to those in need knowing that God will return that to us in the form of blessing.  Whether that’s a financial blessing or a family blessing or some other kind (or all of the above), I can’t say with certainty.  But I do believe that God tends to give more resources to those who have proven that they will direct a good portion of those resources back to God’s kingdom and to bless those in need.  So that’s something for you to think about this week.

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.

Weekly Bible Verse – 2010 New Year’s Edition

January 6, 2010 · Filed Under Weekly Bible Verse · 2 Comments 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10 (NASB)

To kick off the new year, I chose another verse that is not really directly related to your finances.  It is however, related to your life, and I might argue that is even more important than your personal finances.  This also ties in closely with one of my new year’s resolutions, so please humor me.  Before last year, I had not done new year’s resolutions in many years (I can’t actually remember how long it’s been).  I did do one last year and I’m actually doing two this year.  And here they are…

  1. Discover what it means to live the abundant life that Jesus spoke of living through the power of the Holy Spirit – I had a realization lately that not many of us are doing this whole Christianity thing correctly.  I know that many people view Christians as weak people who just can’t handle life so they rely on this religion stuff as a crutch.  And I’m sure that you’ve experienced some people who might give off this vibe.  But I do not believe that is how the Christian life is supposed to be lived.  As in this verse, Jesus came to give us to give us a life that we can live “abundantly!”  God is omnipotent and we are imbued with the Holy Spirit so shouldn’t we be living lives of power and abundance?  I know some people who live like that and I want to live like that from now on.  Thus my first resolution is to gear my Bible study towards investigating this topic in the Bible and discovering what this really means and how I can take part in it!
  2. Continue to become a more generous person – This was my resolution last year and I’m repeating this year.  I think I’ve made some strides in becoming a bit more generous over the past year.  I feel like I am thinking more about how I can be generous to those around me, but I am nowhere near as naturally generous and some people I know (like my wife, for instance).    Therefore I will continue developing this part of my disposition and strive to make it one of my personal characteristics.

Did you create any new year’s resolutions?  Like I said, I haven’t gotten into this thing for years and years.  I guess I just didn’t think the standard resolutions (stuff like getting out of debt, losing weight, etc) were really worthy of taking the time to do (or maybe I just realized that it wouldn’t stick anyway so why bother!).  I do feel that my two resolutions for 2010 are worth expending time on (not that getting out of debt or losing weight are bad ideas – in fact, I’d like to lose a little weight and get rid of my mortgage too!).

God bless and have a great 2010…

Weekly Bible Verse – The Paradox of Generosity

May 11, 2009 · Filed Under Weekly Bible Verse · 1 Comment 

One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.  Proverbs 11:24-25 (NIV)

Ahhh, yes, this is exactly what I’ve been trying to work on lately – being generous.  Besides the help that generosity provides for others and the good is does for you (like getting your focus off of yourself, reminding you how fortunate you are compared to others, etc), this verse teaches that giving can actually cause your wealth to increase.  Now that’s a "Win-Win" if I’ve ever heard of one!

Is this verse from the Bible to be taken literally?  Of course, I don’t know the definitive answer, but I interpret it as such.  Have you ever heard the term "blessed to be a blessing?" I know I’ve heard that bandied about, but I do believe that if you are faithful to pass along to others some of what you’ve received from God, God knows that He can use as a conduit to bless those around you.  In turn, God can give you more so you will bless more people around you.  In contrast, if you just hoard everything you get, what’s the point of blessing you further?  Obviously this is a very simplistic view of this (for instance, I don’t think that being generous simply because you are greedy and want to force God to give you more money will work!), but I like to keep things simple as much as I can!

God bless and have a great week…

My 40 Day Journey to Generosity is Complete…but are we there yet?

May 7, 2009 · Filed Under Giving · Comment 

If you remember, I actually made a New Year’s Resolution this year .  The main focus of the resolution was to internalize the quality of being more generous as a person.  Ever since my wife and I got married, we have given a set percentage of our income to our local church, various missionaries, and other ministries.  But even with doing that, I am not a naturally generous person.  I find myself having to remind myself that it is a good thing to be generous with my time and money.  So, now I am on a quest to try to smooth off my rough edges in this area.

A few weeks ago I wrote about my first tangible effort to start smoothing….a 40 day devotional I was going to try .   I signed up and I started receiving the emails and now I have already completed the entire 40 days of learning.  S0, it is time to debrief the program and my experience.

GiveWithJoy.org’s 40 Day e-devotional focused on generosity

So it turned out that this program was basically a review of finances from a Biblical perspective.  Well, it wasn’t just about finances.  To give you a flavor for the myriad topics touched upon, here are some examples:

  • God is the owner of everything
  • Don’t trust in your riches, trust in God
  • Don’t live for this life, but for your heavenly home
  • Beware of greed, hoarding, or selfishness in your life
  • God blesses you financially so that you can be a blessing to others
  • God will reward you for your faithful generosity and diligent labors
  • Realize that God can use anyone and any resources to provide for His work
  • When you help the poor and needy, don’t do it for public recognition

Obviously, these are but a few of the topics covered (there are 40 days after all)

There was a lot of good stuff in there

I’m not sure which I found most useful each day – the numerous verses related to the topic of the day or the inspiring stories from people who saw awesome things happen in their lives as a result of adopting God’s view on generosity and giving.  The site also included a daily cartoon…but frankly I didn’t think those were all that funny most of the time!

For me personally, however, it was a little off the mark from what I was expecting.  This devotional was geared more towards generosity in relation to giving to your church and other ministries.  I was hoping it would be more focused on increasing my interpersonal generosity (is that a phrase?).

That being said, it was still very useful and I enjoyed reading through it.  Now, some of it was review after reading Your Money Counts but there were many new verses that were great ones to read and reflect upon.  And the daily anecdotes were quite inspiring as well to see how God works in people’s lives when they trust Him fully.

If you are looking to investigate how God views money and giving and trusting Him and numerous other topics, then I would recommend that you sign up at GiveWithJoy.org .  You’ll get an email each morning for the next 40 days that links to a page on the website.  I’m sure that you will learn quite a bit from the Bible and hopefully you will be inspired to get serious about your giving and your generosity in general.

To answer the question posed in the title – I’m definitely not finished with this journey yet.  As I mentioned, this didn’t really scratch my personal generosity itch.  I am better off for doing the 40 days of study, but me as a naturally generous person: that is still a work in progress unfortunately (I’ll keep trying, I promise!)

Photo Credits: lepiaf.geo

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