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Third Annual 10 Day Give Starts Friday

September 30, 2010 · Filed Under Giving · 9 Comments 

Friday is the first day of October but it is also the first day of the “10 Day Give.”  If you are not familiar with it, the 10 Day Give is a challenge conceived by Bob over at ChristianPF.com.  Its purpose is summed up succinctly as a way to “get our minds off of ourselves and start thinking about how we can help others.”

If you read the title of the post, you know that this is the third annual 10 Day Give…so if you haven’t done it before, this is the year!  And if you have participated previously, keep the momentum going!  I was a bystander the first year but did participate last year…only I didn’t do a great job of actually helping others.  I didn’t “actively participate” all 10 days so this year I’m trying to do a better job.

So, I guess I will say that this post serves as my challenge to you (and even more so to me) to participate in this year’s event.  So what does that all mean? Well, head on over to the 10 day give site to get more info and sign up but it’s pretty much what you already think it is.  For 10 days starting October 1st, try to give something to someone each day (that’s it?  yep, that’s it…pretty simple).  It could be money but it doesn’t have to be.  It could be a gift but it doesn’t have to be.  Sure, you could buy someone a coffee or lunch but you could also give someone a gift for no reason or do something for someone or spend your time with someone.  Get creative…get inspired…get motivated…and get going (No, actually, wait until Friday…just kidding).

First stop: head over to ChristianPF and find out more information about the 10 Day Give and add your name to the list of participants.

PS: Most of this post was actually written to inspire and motivate myself…but if inspires and motivates anyone else then all the better!

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…

Guest Post: 7 Reasons to Give More of Your Money To Charity

June 3, 2010 · Filed Under Giving · 6 Comments 
Today’s guest post is provided by Melissa Tamura.  Melissa Tamura writes about online degree programs for Zen College Life. She most recently edited the guide to the best online colleges.

“Charity” can be a loaded word that means something different to everyone. Charity can be pejorative, such as: “Those charity cases get money, sit on their backsides, and don’t work”. It can be a scornful word, meaning a break is being given because one is better than the other, for example: “Tom took the girl out on a charity date.”

It’s interesting how the word was first used, hundreds of years ago; “charity” meant “love”. It could almost be said that “charity” had a double meaning from the start. You give charity because you have charity. Charity, in its modern sense, means that we feel a kind of love when we give, even for those we may never meet.

People who need charity now, in large part, are people who never needed charity before. The ruined economy, predatory lenders, and the bank bailouts that helped no one except the banks have made a new class of poor in our country. Anyone who escaped relatively unscathed from the recent economic meltdown can thank their lucky stars by opening their wallets a little wider when it comes time to give to charity. Below are seven more very good reasons to give.

Tax Deductions

Lots of folks give to the charities of their choice for this reason. Others find it a nice reward for the charity they give. Whatever reason, give, keep the receipts, and claim it on next year’s taxes.

It Will Save You Money Long Term

This may sound in essence a bit cold, but here goes. Children who receive a good education, have someone who cares about them, and eat nutritious meals are more apt to finish school and stay out of trouble. Donate to boys and girls clubs, local schools, food banks and free lunch programs, or some other charity that helps out kids. You won’t have to pay in the future for new prisons, for one thing, and if spending for prisons isn’t throwing your money down a rat hole, what is?

You may need charity yourself one day.

Donate for research to learn the cure for cancer, HIV, MS, MD, diabetes; whichever charity speaks to you. Hopefully the cure will be found before you or someone you love is diagnosed with these illnesses.

Create a Lasting Legacy

Donate to building funds for hospitals, libraries, schools, your local church. Perhaps you aren’t rich enough to have a wing named after you, but your kids can tell your grandkids that you help build something important.

For Your Grandchildren

While we’re on the subject of grandkids, you do want them to experience clean water, fresh air, icebergs and wild animals, don’t you? Donate to environmental groups, wildlife groups, conservation groups; they’ll be glad you did.

Healthy for the Soul

It’s good to give, why else do we celebrate gift giving holidays? You don’t have to go around trumpeting how much money you give to a particular charity; you can celebrate that warm glow quietly and teach your kids to do the same. It’s only money, right? Put your money where your mouth is.

If not you, who will?

Sad but true. There are a significant number of folks who think being a cold hearted old skinflint is a sign of good character. Give to prove them wrong.

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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