From the monthly archives: March, 2016

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I believe in tithing. Don’t go away, you should too.

Chuck Bentley on 3/31/16 A number of places in the Old and New Testaments make reference to giving a tenth of our income to advance the work of God. It is hard to get real numbers of how many people actually give 10% or more of their gross annual income to the church but best estimates place this in the 8 -12% range of those attending church.  In other words, only a small percentage of Christians actually tithe.  Now, I don’t believe we should make a law out of tithing, only a standard.  I fall into the camp of Randy Alcorn who believes tithing is the training wheels of learning to be a generous giver. You start out with 10% and increase it from there. A tithe should be our minimum starting point.  But, “God loves a cheerful giver”, you say in reply!  Amen! I agree. And I think we should cheerfully tithe.  I am not going to let you off so easy on this one because it can change your life. Where ever you are right now, make a plan to begin to tithe 10% of ...

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I have four principles to follow if you have to borrow money.

Chuck Bentley on 3/30/16 Borrowing is not prohibited scripturally, but neither is it encouraged. It is always presented as a negative with many warnings about its danger and misuse. Here are fundamental Biblical principles related to borrowing. Avoid Borrowing Unless Absolutely Necessary:  Borrowing should not be a way of life but the exception. Only if there is no other way to make provision for your need, should you borrow money. It is best to pay cash for all consumer purchases, cars and routine expenses and to even pay for your home with cash if possible.  Luke 12:57-59 says: “As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.  I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” Avoid signing surety as a loan:  Surety is making yourself personally liable for a debt if there i ...

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Today, I have a simple debt reduction tip for you.

Chuck Bentley on 3/29/16 Save all of your change to apply towards debt reduction.  Each day that I come home, I have a small tray where I empty my pockets of the various things that have collected there throughout the day. That usually means I have a few coins in my pocket that will go from that tray to a shoebox where they collect for a full year. At the end of the year, I will roll the coins and take them to the bank to exchange for cash.  This year, I had $278 in coins saved. That’s an average of about $.75 per day that I saved in coins.  Now, if I put that in the bank and earn zero percent interest, it is not going to have an impact immediately. However, if I pay down high interest debt with it, suddenly it makes a big impact. By using that money to pay down your balance on a credit card or store account or even your mortgage, you are taking years off the amount of time you will be in debt. Do this small thing every year and it will develop into an easy habit to help you reduc ...

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Has money become a god in your life?

Chuck Bentley on 3/28/16 Most people will immediately say no in response to my question. But not so quick. In Luke 16 and Matthew 6 Jesus refers to mammon when he says you cannot serve it and God.  This is an Aramaic word that usually means “money” and can also mean “wealth”. According to Jacques Ellul, the famed French philosopher,  “here Jesus personifies money and considers it a sort of god. He does not get this idea from culture.”  In other words, neither the Jews or Gentiles nor pagans in the area knew of any such god by this name. Jesus did not choose a pagan god to make the contrast between the true God and a false god.  He chose mammon.  “What Jesus is revealing here is that money is a power. It is something that ‘acts by itself, is capable of moving other things, is autonomous (or claims to be), is a law unto itself, and presents itself as an active agent’. But second, ‘money has a spiritual meaning and dire ...

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The value of an apology is priceless.

Just recently I counseled a couple regarding their troubled marriage. After 14 years, they were on the verge of a divorce. They owned a large and thriving business and had worked together to build it into a financially successful enterprise. But little by little, each had offended the other, communication was non-existent and Satan had built an invisible wall between them. After listening to all their shared hurts as each pointed out the other’s fault, I asked a simple question. “When was the last time one of you apologized to the other?”  There was dead silence. Finally, the wife spoke up in almost a whisper. “Never”.  We never apologize over anything.”   I had identified the root issue so I pressed in. One of you is going to have to be the first to apologize. I explained the wonderful perspective of Nicky Gumbel, founder of the Alpha Course. He says, “The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. And the first to ...

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Neither a borrower nor a lender be….

Is that from the Bible or maybe somewhere else? I once had a person ask me why God said we should not borrow or lend money by quoting this famous line from - Shakespeare!  The famed playwright wrote these words in his work The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Hamlet is Shakespeare's longest play, and is among the most powerful and influential tragedies in English literature.  Here are the famous lines so many recall: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be, For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. This above all: to thine own self be true,” First, these memorable lines are obviously not scripture.   The Bible does not prohibit borrowing and certainly not lending.  In fact, the Bible warns against the dangers of borrowing but leaves the door wide open for lending and gives specific instruction that Jews were not to charge interest on loans to other Jews. Second, the Bible never tells us to be true to ourselves. While we ...

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Have you followed Apple’s battle with the federal government over access to information stored on your smartphone?

Did you know your phone has more information about you than you possibly can imagine?   According to a recent article in Bloomberg Business, “It knows where you’ve been and who you were with, the birthday gift you bought your mother and who you plan to vote for. It knows if you’re using one of the applications for couples trying to conceive. From pre-installed apps that count your steps to saved passwords for banking accounts and social media, smartphones have evolved from devices that make calls into digital repositories for the most intimate details of life.” According to Mr. Yoran, and executive of Koolspan, Inc., a communications security company, "You can extract enough information on a typical person’s phone that you can construct a virtual clone of that individual. They are the windows not just into our personal lives but they are equally the windows into our professional lives." And, as the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s battle with Apple Inc. shows, ...

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Have you taught your teenagers how to buy a car?

Our 18-year-old son is about to become the third teenager in our home that we have helped purchase his first car.  I thought it might be of help to you to explain how we go about this process in our home. First, we establish a budget of how much he can afford. The deal is he has to have 50% of the money to pay for the car in cash and be able to pay for all the other expenses associated with owning the car. Because he has been working and saving for so long, he is prepared to be able to afford a quality, older model used car.  He will pay for his half and then for tax, registration fees, maintenance, insurance and gas.  Before he picks a car, he has to learn to do his research. He has to study the history and prices of the cars he likes on websites like Edmonds.com, CarFax.com and Kelly Blue Book.  The goal is to be very knowledgeable of what he is buying and the value of the car. Next, he has to find the car at the right price he wants by keeping up with listings on-line, checking local ...

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Can you get a College Degree Debt Free?

Friday's Handwriting on the Wall posts will feature Chuck's new ChristianPost.com column, Ask Chuck. Chuck will be answering questions about what the the Bible has to say about money. Please share on #financialfridays and submit your own questions here. @AskCrown Originally posted at Christian Post March 18, 2016. To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.   Dear Chuck, My younger sister is in a mess with her student loans.  I am trying to help her figure it out. Does Crown have any materials, resources, third party consultants, or any ideas that you can recommend? A Worried Brother   Dear Worried Brother,   You’re right to be worried. Student debt is a growing crisis in America. In fact, I believe that overpriced educations that don’t result in jobs are a new bubble ready to burst. Today, 7 in ...

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I have an important story of the financial headlines for you today.

Who would have ever thought that a constitutional battle is brewing in Europe over the right to spend cash?  But it is happening and will likely come to the USA as well. Pay close attention. In an article from News-Republic.com, “Harald Mahrer, Austria's economy minister, is pushing back against EU plans to restrict the use of cash. According to Bloomberg, he told Austrian public radio station Oe1:  ‘We don't want someone to be able to track digitally what we buy, eat and drink, what books we read and what movies we watch… We will fight everywhere against rules.’ Earlier this week, the German finance ministry announced plans to restrict cash payments of more than €5,000 ($5,600). Unsurprisingly, in a country where only 18% of payments are made with cards,Germans weren't too pleased with the proposal, describing cash payments as ‘a freedom that has to be defended.’ At the same time, other EU ministers are growing concerned with the use ...

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