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Weekly Bible Verse – Why is it Important to Handle our Finances Well?

June 7, 2010 · Filed Under Weekly Bible Verse · 1 Comment 

And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?  Luke 13:11 (NLT)

I spend too much time thinking about, writing about, and discussing my finances.  You might have the same problem (it’s likely since you are reading a personal finance blog at this very moment!).  My wife often correctly tells me what I should worry less about our finances and trust God more in that area of our life.  Of course, she is correct but I do think that a healthy balance is needed in this area.  In fact, I think this week’s verse underscores the need to be proactive about being a good steward and taking care of your finances.

As it states, if we are “untrustworthy” with our worldly wealth, then we will never be trusted with heavenly riches.  It is therefore not appropriate to simply put our heads in the sand, ignore our finances, spend whatever we want, and then rely on God to make it all balance out at the end of the month (Reminds me of a Tim Hawkins routine: “Father, change the molecular structure of this food, this complete trash we’re about to shove in our gullet.  Change the cheeto into a carrot stick on the way down!”).  Remember that this is Jesus talking in this verse – Jesus Himself is reminding us that we need to be active in managing our finances to prove that we are capable of being entrusted with the “true riches of heaven.”

I would simply caution you not to go overboard and get so focused on money and your finances that they replace God as most important in your life.  Yes, be a good steward and manage your money faithfully, but your main purpose in life should still be to glorify God, not to spend every waking moment reading blogs, fretting about the stock market, and clicking on tweets that contain “get-rich-quick” schemes (oooh, maybe this one is legit)!  Again, accumulating wealth on earth should not be our end goal here;  our main goal is to be faithful to God with our finances to prove we are worthy of being entrusted with the true riches.

God bless and have a great week…

Weekly Bible Verse – Acquiring Wealth and Honor

February 22, 2010 · Filed Under Weekly Bible Verse · 1 Comment 

Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honour and life.  Proverbs 22:4 (NIV)

So the latest get rich quick scheme of using Twitter to send out tweets about selling an e-book that shows other people how to get rich by sending out tweets about selling an e-book is maybe not the best way to ensure wealth? (note to self: cross that off  todo list)

In fact, according to Proverbs 22:4, you can acquire not only wealth but also honor and life by following this piece of advice (even if you can acquire some wealth by sending out those tweets, I can pretty much guarantee you that path won’t lead to honor for you!).  So how do you get acquire all this, you ask?  The answer is through “humility” and “fear of the Lord.”

Maybe that’s not the answer you were looking for?  It certainly falls about 180 degrees from the manner to achieve wealth and honor preached by our society.  No, the world tells us that we need to be hard-charging, to work longer hours than everyone else, to devote ourselves to our work above all else in life, and certainly not to ever be humble about anything!  Are you surprised that’s not the exact path laid out by the Bible?

In contrast, what the Bible is telling us is to devote ourselves to God above all else and to rely on Him to provide us a path to wealth.  Now, I’m not a Biblical scholar, but from what I can tell this isn’t a case of the word for “wealth” actually meaning something possibly more nebulous like “prosperity.”  It appears to be used in the Bible to mean actual “riches” and “wealth.”  That notwithstanding, please don’t skip over the other two words in this verse – especially the last.  I would argue that “Life” is much more valuable than money.

So, humbling yourself before God, having that healthy respect/fear for Him,  devoting yourself to His purpose, relying on Him, that brings you not only wealth and honor but also life?  Yes, please – sign me up for that!

God bless and have a great week…

Financial Peace University Lesson 1 – Super Saving

September 18, 2009 · Filed Under Financial Peace University · 1 Comment 

My wife and I attended our first Financial Peace University class Wednesday evening with a bunch of people from our church (check out the introductory post for this series) I was really excited to see the large turnout.  We listened to Dave Ramsey speak for about an hour (via DVD of course) and then had some brief discussion.  The majority of this week’s discussion was everyone introducing themselves and telling the group why they were attending the class.

I was quite happy to see that there is a great deal of diversity in the class.  The attendees range from an 18 year-old guy, to some young married couples, to some couples with young kids, to some couples with college-aged kids, to those already retired.  There was also significant diversity in the answers to why each person was attending.  Some people just wanted to do a check up on their finances, others wanted to get out of debt, some wanted to prepare for having children or sending them to college, and others wanted to get on track in preparation for retirement.  I said that I was here because learning about and discussing personal finances is one of my passions but I was most excited by the opportunity to take part in a PF class with my wife (she said she was there because I signed her up)  I’m optimistic that all this diversity will lead to some interesting and useful discussion over the course of the, um….course.

Baby Step 1 – $1000 in an emergency fund

In the DVD, Ramsey highlighted a number of topics that he will expound upon in later lessons.  For instance, he introduced his “baby steps” concept where he believes making small, focused changes will eventually lead you down the path to where you want to be.

He mainly focused on baby steps 1 and 3 this week.  Baby step 1 is to, as quickly as possible, put $1000 in an emergency fund.  If you are making less than $20,000 per year, then he suggested you change that number to $500.  He underscored that this is not an investment, rather it is insurance, so put the money in a safe,  liquid fund like a money market.  Then, DO NOT TOUCH IT.  It is there to provide peace of mind if anything unexpected happens (and he drove home the point that something unexpected WILL happen, so get ready).

When is a car crisis not just a car crisis?

I found it most interesting when he discussed what happens if you are not prepared for unexpected expenses.  For instance, say your car breaks down and you have a large repair bill.  If you are prepared, you just pay the bill without incurring debt and move on – car crisis solved.  If you are not financially prepared, however, then not only do you have a car crisis, but now you also have a financial crisis.  Imagine the stress on you if every time you have a crisis (car, health,whatever), it triggers an associated financial crisis.  Actually, since most people in the US do experience that phenomenon with each crisis, maybe we should imagine how much less stressful it would be to just take some cash out of your emergency fund and pay the bill….financial crisis averted.

Wealth building

Ramsey also gave an introduction to wealth building.  His two main points were that you must be disciplined about building wealth and you must remember that it is a marathon, not a sprint.  He also suggested that you automate your saving and investing and showed the power of compound interest with the famous example of 2 brothers investing.  One invests $2k from age 19 to 26 (a total of $16,000) and then stops.  The other doesn’t start until age 27 (I guess they’re twins) but then puts the same $2k every year until age 65 ($78,000 total).  Even though he has invested much more money, the late-starting brother still ends up with roughly $700,000 LESS (assuming 12% interest) at retirement.

My take on the first lesson

In summary, Dave is a very good speaker.  Did you ever have the experience where you’re at church for Bible study and in the next room that class is watching a DVD of Beth Moore teaching?  Sure, your class is interesting and all, but it never quite seems as fun as those women watching Beth (your main clue is the periodic uproarious laughter).  Well, Dave is very funny and, during the first lesson at least, is able to really hold your attention and make the lesson quite entertaining and enjoyable.

I’m on-board with his saving first mantra, I already have an emergency fund, and there wasn’t much time for discussion this week, so I didn’t learn anything terribly intriguing.  Still, I am very much looking forward to the next class  (though I am distressed to say that I will miss class next week.  My wife and I will listen to the CDs provided with the kit and I hope to post on the lesson and some of our personal discussion).

So, are you intrigued?  Does preparing for and avoiding stressful, debt-inducing, financial crises pique your interest?  Check back for more highlights next week or check out a class for yourself either at a local church or organization or sign up at Ramsey’s website to take an online version of the class.

Weekly Bible Verse – Do Not Put Your Hope in Wealth

May 18, 2009 · Filed Under Weekly Bible Verse · 5 Comments 

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV)

This week’s Bible verse provides two charges to the wealthy reader (and if you’re not sure if you are wealthy, check this site out) – to not be arrogant about their money and to not push God aside and rely on their wealth.  Both of these are very easy to do in our affluent societies.  But this is not actually a new problem.  We see throughout the Old Testament that when things were going really well financially, the Israelites would tend to forget that their blessings were from God.  There are also numerous occasions recorded in the New Testament where Jesus discusses the trappings of wealth (but I’ll save those for other weekly bible verses).

In our current economic climate, however, things are not going so well for everyone.  Maybe you’ve experienced or seen the truth of the statement above that wealth is "so uncertain."  Hopefully this has helped you to remember that our hope should be in God and not in our possessions and wealth.  But if you have not really been affected financially or when the economy recovers and things start going better again, continue to remember this verse and its truth – all the money in the world won’t buy you immortality, you need to rely on God for that.

Is Striving for Wealth a Valid Pursuit?

August 13, 2008 · Filed Under Finances · Comment 

A reader named Tom posted a comment recently on The Millionaire Next Door review:

One other area that bothered me a little about the book…they never addressed WHAT all those millionaire wanted to do with all that money or WHY they tried to accumulate so much wealth… Of course, you could be a millionaire to buy more stuff, but is that really what motivates us? I just wish they had asked each millionaire they interviewed one more question…WHY they wanted to be wealthy?

This raised a number of questions, such as

  • Do I think wealth is a worthwhile goal and, if so, why?
  • Is it "ok" to become wealthy?
  • What does the Bible say about attempting to build wealth?

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