From the monthly archives: September, 2016

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Do you have your relationship with God separated from your relationship with money?

The Bible makes it clear that as believers in Jesus Christ we have a personal relationship with God.  He is our Master. We are His servants.  The Bible also makes it clear that we must protect against having the wrong relationship with money.  In fact, the Scripture clearly warns us not to love money. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”  The problem with loving money is two fold:  First that makes money your Master instead of God. Matthew 6:24 says: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Second, money does not love you back. So to have a right relationship with God we must see Him as our rightful and only true Master.  Submit to Him as His servant and then use money as a ...

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Why do families experience more problems during economic downturns?

The truth is… they don’t. They simply suffer more symptoms. With rare exception, the problems they experience began years earlier, perhaps even in childhood. Many of the symptoms we see today such as business failures, bankruptcies, divorce, multi-job families, etc. stem from ignoring God’s Word. Parents who fail to instill basic values in their children, or model a life of mishandling money, actually teach false attitudes about money. For example: Borrowing Psalm 37: 21 says: “The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives.” We are to repay what is owed. Children should be taught to save for needs, not borrow to get them. Trusting God to provide without borrowing is a gift to model to the young. Saving Proverbs 21:20 states: “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.” Children must be taught that it is biblically and financially wise to save for future needs rather t ...

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I have a great stewardship story for you

I recently read a heartwarming story of a group of ladies who collect garbage bags, doggie bags or extra lunch bags. They repurpose them by weaving them into mats for homeless people to sleep on. And they've already sent a bunch down to families in Louisiana who lost their homes in recent flooding. They call themselves the Bag Ladies. Patty Arnold says they met as a group for the first time in January 2015 at Second Baptist Church in Union City, Tennessee. Since then, she says the group has doubled in size. "It's wonderful that it's growing…. that others want to help all these people," says Arnold. Arnold says the mats aren't that hard to make; they just take a lot of time. She says they cut the bags into strips, tie the strips together, roll them into a ball and crochet the plastic like it's yarn. Arnold says it takes 600 to 700 plastic bags to make one 3 foot by 6 foot mat. So far this year, the Bag Ladies have made 88 mats, which means they've recycled ...

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I have a great stewardship story for you

I recently read a heartwarming story of a group of ladies who collect garbage bags, doggie bags or extra lunch bags. They repurpose them by weaving them into mats for homeless people to sleep on. And they've already sent a bunch down to families in Louisiana who lost their homes in recent flooding. They call themselves the Bag Ladies. Patty Arnold says they met as a group for the first time in January 2015 at Second Baptist Church in Union City, Tennessee. Since then, she says the group has doubled in size. "It's wonderful that it's growing…. that others want to help all these people," says Arnold. Arnold says the mats aren't that hard to make; they just take a lot of time. She says they cut the bags into strips, tie the strips together, roll them into a ball and crochet the plastic like it's yarn. Arnold says it takes 600 to 700 plastic bags to make one 3 foot by 6 foot mat. So far this year, the Bag Ladies have made 88 mats, which means they've recycled ...

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Let’s talk about your net worth as you approach retirement

About 86% of Americans have a positive net worth. The US Census Bureau reports that the average American under age 35 is worth about $6,500 including their home equity. This grows to $85,000 for those between age 45-54 and peaks at about $195,000 for those aged 65-69. But here is a very important point. From age 70 on, the average net worth begins to decrease.  If you exclude home equity from the net worth calculation, then the median net worth drops significantly across all age groups. For example, the median net worth for a person age 70 to 74 years drops to only $31,823 when home equity isn't included. This means the Average American is not prepared for retirement at age 70.  Generally, the rule of thumb is that retirees should plan on tapping retirement saving to the tune of 4% annually. However, following that advice means that if you're retiring with a $100,000 retirement nest egg, you'll only be able to wisely take out $4,000 per year. If you combine that income with Social Sec ...

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Are you growing in generosity?

The average American gives $150/month to charitable causes. That equates to 3% of their take home pay.  If the Christians earning this same total income were to actually tithe, giving would increase to $575/month.  When it comes to giving a number of verses are very motivating for me: One is Proverbs 3:9.  In the New Living Translation it says, “Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.”Another is 2 Corinthians 9:6: “Consider this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” Imagine that you are tending to a garden. The Lord should be given the first and best of our crop to show our gratitude; for apart from Him, nothing can grow. Everything we have, He has provided. It is His proper right to be first and to be honored. Also, this garden is provision for my needs as well so I must sow generously if I expect to reap generously. That means I take good care of the garden s ...

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Ever heard of a family bank?

My friend, David McAlvany, writes in his new book, The Intentional Legacy,  “The secret to preserving family wealth over the generations is the soft structure. Well planned and executed soft structures are systems designed to build family identity and loyalty, while blessing heirs, including those yet to be born.”  David points out that the concept of a family bank is one outgrowth of these soft structures. Bill and Will Bonner, authors of a book on the topic of family wealth, Family Fortunes: How to Build Family Wealth and Hold onto it for 100 years, believe that a family bank is a great idea to assist family members with education, home purchases, business ventures, health care or assistance to their widowed and disabled. Although they are not legal entities in the same governance as a public bank, this bank should have agreed upon policies for deposits, withdrawals, loans and repayments. Barrons.com recently published an article called  “All in the Family&r ...

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When was the last time you rewarded yourself for making financial progress?

Now the Lord clearly understands we are all motivated by rewards.  In fact, the entire Christian life holds out the promise of the reward of eternal life. Further, in Matthew 6, He promises to reward us openly for praying in secret, giving in secret and fasting in secret.  So we should use our natural desire for rewards to set up a system where we establish a personal perk that is attached to a financial goal.  Let’s start with the basics.  How would it feel to have $1,000 in an Emergency Savings Account just sitting there anytime you get an unexpected bill or the water heater goes out or the car won’t start? Just a little fact: If you have $1,000 in an Emergency Savings Account, not in a retirement plan or invested in the stock market, but actual cash sitting in an account that you can get your hands on immediately as needed, you will be better off than one-half of the population. So are you ready to set a goal to get there?  Your goal needs to be specific, written down ...

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Do you think God can do anything?

If you are facing a challenging financial time right now, the best place to turn for help is to God and trust that He can do anything. Here is why.  Do you remember the problem Jacob had when he went to stay with his Uncle Laban? He had to work as an unpaid shepherd for fourteen years before he was given permission to marry Rachel. (You don’t have it as bad as your thought, do you?) To retain Jacob's services as a shepherd, Laban promised to allow Jacob to establish his own flock by taking all the spotted and speckled sheep and black lambs from Laban's flock. Laban agreed to this, but then gave his sons all the black lambs promised to Jacob. The story told in the Old Testament Book of Genesis records how Jacob became a selective breeder of sheep with a pied-colored coat. (Genesis 30: 37) “Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches.38Then he placed th ...

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Would you like to be financially free? Today, I will tell you how that is possible.

To be financially free requires two character qualities.  The first is learning to be faithful and the other is learning to be disciplined.  Luke 16:10-11 teaches us that God expects us to be faithful in small matters if we are to be trusted with bigger matters. In other words, trust or trustworthiness is the currency that God deals in.  He wants to find those whose hearts are guided by integrity, honesty and absolute dependability when it comes to doing the right thing.  And if you are not faithful in the smallest of your financial affairs, you will remain in financial bondage. The other characteristic to be financially free is to be disciplined.Just as the body requires we are disciplined in our exercise and eating to be healthy so it is with our finances. We must exercise self-control when it comes to our work habits and our spending habits.  When we combine a desire to be faithful with a disciplined approach to our finances, we have set out on the road to freedom ...

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