Prosperity – Provident Planning http://www.providentplan.com Personal Finance for Life in the Kingdom Mon, 24 Apr 2017 02:39:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.10 Getting Help with Grocery Bills http://www.providentplan.com/4667/getting-help-with-grocery-bills/ Mon, 23 Mar 2015 21:21:37 +0000 http://www.providentplan.com/?p=4667 Unemployed or underemployed, you may find yourself as one of the 49 million Americans that face hunger. In a country of such excess, it is shocking that 1 in 6 Americans has to go hungry. Luckily there are numerous programs and organizations available to help try and combat hunger. Online resource like Low Income Financial Help provide great detail on the different assistance programs available to low income families. Below they have provided tips and guidance on where to get help with food.

Food Banks

Finding a food bank in your area can be a boon if you are struggling. This simple site will help you find the bank closest to your location. These food banks are all part of The Feeding America nationwide network of local banks and pantries with meal programs that serve the community. Special food programs for children and seniors are also available as well as mobile distribution spots, meal programs and other services for those impacted by disaster.

Public Assistance Programs

Government nutrition assistance programs are available to help you find healthy and nutritious food for you and your family. There is plenty to go over to find the right program for you, but you should be able to get assistance under one of the following programs.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program or CSFP assists low-income new mothers, those that are pregnant and breastfeeding, those up to one year into postpartum, infants, and children up to their sixth birthday. The elderly of 60 or older may qualify also based on income.

SFSP, or the Summer Food Assistance Program is designed to help school-aged children deal with hunger when school is not in session. As you are likely aware, during the school year, children are fed daily which can be a huge relief on struggling families. The summer months can cause issues, and SFSP is there to provide two meals and snacks to children in need. Find more information and see if you qualify here.

SNAP or Food Stamps is likely the most well-known of the different food programs available. With 1 in 7 Americans participating in the program, you may be surprised that you qualify. Simply apply online and get more information about the program through the USDA.gov site.

Additional Programs for Children

There are a few programs for children specifically that should help when you are faced with difficulties in keeping your young ones fed.

The National School Lunch Program offers federally assisted meal programs to public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. The goal is to provide a nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunch to children each school day. To apply, simply visit this site and ensure that you meet the income eligibility guild lines. If you do, apply and you will be enrolled.

Check with your local care centers to see if your State offers any particular programs that are run at the State level as this is becoming more common.

There are plenty of ways to get food to your family if you know where to look. They may require a little paperwork and legwork on your end, but after all is said and done, a well fed family is a happy family.

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Seven Deadly Sins and how they lead to Financial Disaster http://www.providentplan.com/3838/seven-deadly-sins-and-how-they-lead-to-financial-disaster/ http://www.providentplan.com/3838/seven-deadly-sins-and-how-they-lead-to-financial-disaster/#comments Mon, 30 Apr 2012 10:00:19 +0000 http://www.providentplan.com/?p=3838 Christianity, by tradition, has long affirmed the recognition of seven deadly sins. For those unfamiliar with them or the Christian tradition, they (as listed on wikipedia) are wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. These seven deadly sins are considered unhealthy vices. Christian history has used these speculate what a healthy lifestyle would look like. Basically, take all of these things – make sure you don’t do any of them – and you are set.

While it may not be this simple, it is essentially the point. The truth is though, that the seven deadly sins is often ignored or forgotten. Despite learning about them from the financially successful Hollywood film ‘Seven’ by Andrew Walker, starring both Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, I would wager a bet that most people in my generation have not learned of the seven deadly sins. In fact, even as a Seminary student (who also grew up in a Christian family), I had to look up the seven. I new a few of them from memory, but there is no way I could name them all.

As a result of which, I thought it would be interesting to use the seven deadly sins as a structure for a financial article. What might these teach us about smart financial management and how might our lives be different if we did or did not follow them.

1. Wrath: Wrath  is often used in the Christian tradition to refer to God’s anger. This the essence of what this deadly sin refers to. Falling victim to excessive amounts of anger can do terrible things for one’s financial state. Making decisions based on anger can lead one to ignore all signs of wisdom or advice. It is always important to try and reflect on your financial state with a sound mind.

2. Greed: Greed is the strong desire for wealth, money, goods, etc beyond a healthy limit. If you are interested in reading more about greed, be sure to check out my article What is Greed? Greed can also cause all sorts of unbalance with your finances. It can cause you to be disconnected from your family or gamble away your money. It’s always important to balance your desire for more wealth with things that truly matter.

3. Sloth: Other than the movie film’s character Sid the sloth from Ice Age, the word sloth is not often used in popular conversations. This may make it hard to understand, but refers (in this case) to apathy. Apathy or sloth can cause a huge financial disaster. Not caring about monitoring your finances or even budgeting can lead to financial ruin. Before you know it, you can overspend and find yourself wondering how you are going to pay off debt. Financial management is an on-going activity that requires action and attention.

4. Pride: I am sure everyone has felt proud of an accomplishment. There are certain degrees of pride that are healthy – such as celebrating an achievement. However, there are also forms of pride that take control of your life. Before you know it, you can feel unstoppable and take risks that are unnecessary and unprecedented. It’s always important to critically question your actions when managing your finances. Can I afford to take this risk? Would I lose to much? Is my reasoning for doing so justified? These are all important questions to ask.

5. Lust: Lust, the cheap version of love, is often understood as some sort of sexual fantasy. While it doesn’t have to be limited to this definition, even this understanding helps us understand something about finances. Ignoring lust teaches us to place value on something long-term – something more than just an momentary feeling of satisfaction. The inherent message of resisting temptation and holding on to previous commitments also parallels advice given for retirement – that is, buy and hold. Thinking long-term for financial investments is a great strategy.

6. Envy: When was the last time you were envious of your neighbors new car or nicer house? Is is this effort to keep up with the Joneses that puts a lot of American families in consumer debt. Envy, or wanting to have what other people have, can lead to unnecessary spending. Take extra care not to place value in possessions – for you will never be satisfied and always wanting more.

7. Gluttony: Gluttony or the over-indulgence is a theme that I think Americans know all too well. Traditionally, Americans are known for their big houses, big cars, and many possessions. It’s unfortunate but true to a certain degree. I know that I personally have realized how much stuff I can accumulate over time. It is a struggle at times not to satisfy that urge to buy more or even eat more, but it is a healthy practice to avoid doing so. This reminds you that giving should be an important aspect of your life as well as keeps you from completely buying into the consumerism myth that possessions will make you happy.

I didn’t realize it when I started writing this post, but it’s remarkable how well the old, Christian traditions still speak to the experience of contemporary American culture. Managing your finances is never black and white, but full of shades of gray. It means weighing options and deciding which is the best one. Hopefully these deadly sins will give you an idea of what not to do.

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What Is God’s Provident Plan for a Christian’s Personal Finances? http://www.providentplan.com/275/what-is-gods-provident-plan-for-a-christians-personal-finances/ http://www.providentplan.com/275/what-is-gods-provident-plan-for-a-christians-personal-finances/#comments Wed, 18 Jan 2012 11:00:04 +0000 http://www.providentplan.com/?p=275 On the About page, I state that Provident Planning is dedicated to exploring God’s Provident Plan for the personal finances of Christians. But what does that mean? What is God’s Provident Plan? It’s God’s clear Biblical message that through contentment in Christ, diligent work, and good stewardship Christians can prosper so we can give generously in the name of Christ. By following the Provident Plan, Christians can glorify God through their finances.

This message is what I discovered as I have studied personal finance in the Bible. As a Christian and someone who studied financial planning in college, I wanted to know how I could give sound, Biblical advice, but I found so many conflicting opinions that I felt I should find out for myself. After searching for all the Bible verses I could find about personal finance, I began to see God’s wonderful plan for a Christian’s personal finances.

It’s not a plan focused on making Christians rich, or how we can retire early, or the things we can do to make us feel good about ourselves or our money. No – just like every other part of God’s plans for Christians it brings glory to His name and strengthens the witness of Christ in the world. If all Christians followed God’s Provident Plan for their finances, we would radically change the Church and the world. And while it involves how we handle our money – it’s all dependent and focused on the transformation that occurs when we fully give ourselves to Christ and realize the power of His death, resurrection, and the life we have in Him. Let’s take a closer look at each part of God’s Provident Plan.

Contentment in Christ

Once we have decided to follow Jesus, He becomes everything to us. We are in a continual struggle against Satan to keep other things (especially money) from taking the place of Christ. When we find contentment in Christ and Christ alone, the importance of money in our lives diminishes and pales to the value we place on Jesus. We learn the secret to being happy in all situations – whether we’re full or starving, rich or poor, employed or jobless, single or married – nothing in this life matters at all when compared to the glorious gift of Jesus and the fact that no one and no circumstance can take that away from us. We see everything in light of eternity, and we find that nothing on earth is of more value than our faith in Christ. We come to fully believe and trust that God cares for us and will provide everything we need.

Once we have this habit of always finding our contentment in Christ, the Spirit will teach us to place much less importance on material things. We will no longer be focused solely on our own needs and wants – an early retirement, a bigger house, a nicer car, and so on. Instead, we’ll be consumed with a desire to focus on the needs of others – to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and show God’s love to the world through our faith and our deeds. We’ll spend less and less on ourselves as we give more and more to others.

You can read more about contentment in the Bible here or by downloading a free copy of Contentment Is Wealth.

Diligent Work

Where contentment helps us to spend less on ourselves, understanding God’s call to work diligently helps us earn more money. As the gap between our spending and our income grows, we are left with more to manage wisely, prosper, and then give generously to the needs of others. The attitude and spirit we have as we approach our work can also glorify and honor God’s name. His witness can be seen in how we deal with people in our businesses and our motivation in our work.

You can read more about hard work in the Bible here.

Good Stewardship

While the Bible says little about financial planning as we know it today, God has shown us the value of using wisdom and prudence in managing our affairs. There are verses that speak to planning ahead, saving, avoiding debt, and other practical matters we will encounter in our personal finances. By wisely managing the blessings God provides (that gap between our income and our spending), we can be good stewards and have even more to give in His name.

Prosperity

As we follow God’s teaching on contentment, diligent work, and good stewardship, He will bless and prosper us. When we think about prosperity our focus needs to be on having God’s view of prosperity and its purpose. Prosperity can come in many other ways than just material blessings, and God wants us to use our prosperity to honor Him – not just make ourselves more comfortable. When God prospers us, it’s so we can further glorify Him as we give more and more to those in need.

Giving

Giving is the purpose of God’s Provident Plan. All other aspects of His Provident Plan are a means to this end. Through our contentment in Christ, we spend less so we have more to give. Our hard work provides more income so we will have more to give. Through good stewardship we avoid wasting what God has given us so we will have more to give. Our prosperity comes from God not so we can make ourselves richer but so we can give even more. God’s Provident Plan is completely focused on others – on how we can glorify God by laying down our lives and our wants for the needs of others. We live simply so others can simply live.

At the same time, we’ll realize that God’s Provident Plan gives much to us as well. Peace beyond understanding, joy beyond description, and happiness beyond compare are all ours as we trust ourselves to God’s care. When we first begin following God’s Provident Plan, we hardly realize the potential benefits it will have for our own lives because we were still mired in the views of the world. But as we follow Jesus and see that He is trustworthy and faithful, we become aware of the indestructible treasures in heaven that He has taught us to accumulate.

When we fully grasp God’s Provident Plan, we’ll see that giving in the New Covenant has nothing to do with tithing or percentages. It’s not about requirements, rules, obligations, or blessings or curses. Our giving is to be completely motivated by love – joyous and cheerful as we realize that our sacrifice is not loss but gain in Christ. We give freely, generously, and sacrificially not out of compulsion but out of our joy and contentment in Christ. Such giving is a sign of our total commitment to Christ and His teaching, and it’s a very powerful witness to the world.

Following God’s Provident Plan

Following God’s Provident Plan for our personal finances has huge implications for our lives. It goes against every motive the world gives us for why we should manage our finances well. Instead of focusing on what’s in it for us, we look at what’s in it for God and others. But we know that the rewards God has for us far outweigh the deceitful and false promises of worldly riches. If you feel God calling you to follow His Provident Plan for your finances, please browse around the website and sign up for free updates through email or your favorite feed reader!

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Are You a Trader? http://www.providentplan.com/3351/are-you-a-trader/ http://www.providentplan.com/3351/are-you-a-trader/#comments Mon, 18 Jul 2011 10:00:23 +0000 http://www.providentplan.com/?p=3351        I’m not talking about stocks or bonds. Are you willing to trade in the pursuit of the “American Dream” and instead pursue God’s Kingdom and His Ways? Check out this video:

       So, are you a trader? Let me know in the comments below!

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The Root of Riches: Interview with Chuck Bentley, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries http://www.providentplan.com/3294/the-root-of-riches-interview-with-chuck-bentley-ceo-of-crown-financial-ministries/ http://www.providentplan.com/3294/the-root-of-riches-interview-with-chuck-bentley-ceo-of-crown-financial-ministries/#comments Mon, 04 Jul 2011 10:00:05 +0000 http://www.providentplan.com/?p=3294        On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chuck Bentley, the CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, about his upcoming book The Root of Riches: What If Everything You Think about Money Is Wrong?. The book will be released in the next week or so, but if you’d like to get a 20% discount you can go to http://www.crown.org/rootofriches and sign up to pre-order the book and get a free sample chapter.

       I had the chance to read the book before the interview and I highly recommend it to all of you. Chuck does a good job of getting to the heart of our issues with money by highlighting how being rooted in Christ is the only way to receive true riches. The interview below will give you a good overview of the central ideas in the book and help you determine if it’s something you’d want to read.

       I’ve included the audio here which you can listen to on the website or download for later. I’ve also transcribed the interview for those of you who prefer to read. I’d be interested in your feedback on how well you liked this because it’s the first time I’ve tried doing an interview/podcast. (I was quite pleased with how my intro and outro music turned out!) Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments at the bottom of the page, and if you have any questions I’ll do my best to answer them.

Download audio file (Root-of-Riches-Interview-with-Chuck-Bentley.mp3)
Download the audio by right-clicking here and choosing “Save as…”.
Credits: intro and outro music for the audio is from “Bucolique Utopique” by David on Jamendo

Note: I was not paid anything to post this interview. I only agreed to it after reading the book because I believed Chuck’s message in The Root of Riches is excellent and needs to become more prominent in Christian personal finance.

[0:00] Introduction

[Intro Music]

Paul: Hi, everyone! This is Paul Williams from Provident Planning. Today, I’m interviewing Chuck Bentley, the CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, about his upcoming book The Root of Riches: What If Everything You Think about Money Is Wrong?, which will be released on July 11th or at least in early July. Thanks for joining me today, Chuck. It’s great to be talking with you!

Chuck: Well, it’s an honor to be with you, Paul, and thank you for your interest in The Root of Riches and for the opportunity to speak to your audience today.

[0:43] Purpose of the Book

Paul: Well, thank you. Let’s get right to the interview. Here’s my first question for you. What prompted you to write The Root of Riches? What did you see missing in the Christian finance literature that you felt this book could fill?

Chuck: Well, thank you for asking that because I think it’s very important to distinguish this work from other works in the marketplace. I find that most books written about finance, even in Christian finance, deal primarily with the how to’s, the practical application, the principles, and behavioral changes. What I thought was missing was a comprehensive overview of what the Bible says about money and finances from the standpoint of getting rich. It seems to be sort of the silent target for many people.

       And one of the areas of frustration for me was I bought into the world’s definition of getting rich. And what the study of Scripture changed in my life was not so much going from financial failure or hardship to financial success but it changed my heart. And I wanted to write about that transformation and to give a more comprehensive look at what the Bible really does say about getting rich.

Paul: Well, I would definitely agree with you. I think, like the book’s title The Root of Riches, getting to the root of our beliefs about money and how that affects our whole life – not just those financial principles that we apply, but just how we think about money and how we view it and our relationship to it – is really important especially when it comes to getting God’s view and following Christ.

Chuck: Yes, absolutely, Paul.

Paul: And I really appreciated that perspective in your book.

[2:33] Non-Negotiable No. 1

Paul: Alright, in The Root of Riches, you cover three non-negotiables that form the broad structure of the book. And I’d like to give the listeners an overview of what they can expect from the book by reviewing each of these non-negotiables. So Non-Negotiable No. 1 is “I accept that both the cause and the solution to my money problems lie within my own heart.” Tell us more about this non-negotiable. What do you mean by it? What does it encompass? Why is it important?

Chuck: Paul, I realized that the preponderance of the teaching in the Scripture about money deals with our heart. The word “love” is associated with verse after verse after verse when it comes to money. And it seems to me that we typically leave those out, we skip over them, we avoid them.

       And I’ll give you an example. Probably the most famous verse is 1 Timothy 6:10. And I talk about it a lot because that’s the verse that the Lord used to really take me back to review the meaning of it because I had assumed I understood it. I had known it for years and years and years, and I sort of skipped over it because it became too familiar.

       But it says that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”. And I went back and looked at the verse and took a hard look at it, and the word that I had skipped was the word “root”. Why did Paul describe this problem as a root problem? And I began to study the characteristics of roots and just realized that primarily they’re pervasive, they give structure to the tree because that’s the foundation of the tree, and they’re also responsible for the fruit of that tree.

       And as I got into it I realized that if our roots are flawed, which they are when we’re born into this world, then we love the wrong things. And when our roots are transformed we love the right things. And I wanted to point out that when we love the correct things then we become rich on God’s terms. So the insight, the big ah-ha for me, was that getting rich according to God’s definition was not about owning things but it was about loving the right things.

       Solomon said it this way “whoever loves money never has enough money, whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their wealth”. He identified this connection of our heart to our very practical circumstances. I found it amazing that we tend to skip over that. It says directly your financial problems are related to what you love.

       So if we will admit that, if we will say, “I’m struggling with a financial issue because of something that’s in my heart.” Then if my heart is changed then the solutions can also flow out of my heart. And that’s a non-negotiable truth in my opinion because if we don’t start there then we just get into the old patterns of just trying to change behavior and not deal with the real root.

Paul: Right, so when you say that this non-negotiable is stated “I accept that both the cause and the solution to my money problems lie within my own heart.” the cause is loving those wrong things and the solution is that transformation to have the heart of Christ and begin loving the right things.

Chuck: The Bible says that in the end times there will be terrible days, the people will be lovers of self, lovers of pleasure, and lovers of money. Paul identified (that’s 2 Timothy 3) the problem with our roots is that we’re in love with ourself, and pleasures, and money. They’re all interlinked.

       And when our heart is changed where we love God with all of our heart and soul and we love people and we love giving and we’re cheerful and excited about giving and serving others, then we experience the liberty that leads us to the correct beliefs and behaviors about money.

       And back to the first question, Paul, the reason I wrote this is because I didn’t see it emphasized in most teaching. The transformation of the heart is such a deep issue and a mysterious issue that I see why it’s easy to skip over it. But the Lord didn’t skip over it! And the reason I wanted to start there is to try to emphasize don’t move past the issue of your heart.

       The Lord weighs the motive of the heart. I think we can have good financial behaviors and still miss the true riches that the Lord promised. Jeremiah 17 talks about those who trust in themselves are blind to prosperity. And it’s because their hearts have not been changed to what true prosperity really means. So that’s the reason that’s the starting point, Paul.

Paul: So we can clarify. When you say the solution to the money problems you don’t mean that once we get our heart transformed we’re suddenly going to be rich and we’re not going to have to worry about our bills any more, right?

Chuck: Well, I think there’s a…no, I’m not…[laughter]…I’m agreeing with you, Paul. I don’t think that they magically go away. But I am attacking this premise that money solves financial problems. That’s the assumption that most people have and it’s where we get off base. If money solved financial problems, then the wealthy wouldn’t have any problems. Right?

Paul: Right.

Chuck: But I love what a friend told me years ago that God gives every one of us a problem that money can’t solve. And that’s because He wants us to recognize that we need Him more than we need money. And that’s a heart issue. That gets to the real issue of where you place your confidence, where your security, where your significance comes from. How do we define success? Those are issues in the heart. And when we get that straight then we’re ready to go to the next step and start to see our financial problems solved once our hearts have been changed.

Paul: Right. That’s what I like about this non-negotiable. It’s coming to that realization that the solution to your money problems isn’t necessarily money but getting to that point that Christ becomes everything to you. So even if you still have money problems after you get this right view of money and start loving the right things, they’re not going to seem like as big of a problem because you’re keeping your eternal riches in mind. You’re looking at the treasure in heaven that you have stored up. And suddenly, as Paul puts it, the afflictions that we’re experiencing now can’t even compare to our future glory. {Romans 8:18} So that’s what I like about it.

Chuck: Well, Paul, let’s flip it over and look at the other side of the coin. Suppose you’re the rich young ruler. You probably have a pretty good financial situation. I believe he was probably debt free, lived on a budget or at least had plenty of money to cover his needs, maybe had a good savings plan, a good diversified investment portfolio, and a long term plan and strategy to do whatever it was he felt led to do.

       But he had a heart problem. And his heart problem was he was struggling to let go of all of those things to follow Christ and to make Christ preeminent in his life. And the Lord knew that and challenged him on that issue of the heart. And if you apply this to the person like that you see why I say it’s a non-negotiable.

       When I was in China recently, I wasn’t talking to a population of people with debt problems because they haven’t really learned to acquire debt in their culture and they have an average personal savings rate of around 50%. So what would I take to them from the Scripture if it were simply to change their financial behaviors? What they were looking for was what does the Bible say about their attitudes, their beliefs, their affections when it comes to money and possessions. And that’s why I think it’s so important, as you agreed, that we cannot skip over this step.

Paul: Right.

[11:16] Non-Negotiable No. 2

Paul: Alright, let’s go on to Non-Negotiable No. 2 which is “I must align my beliefs with God’s Word to produce behaviors that will make me truly rich.” Tell us more about that.

Chuck: Here’s where I started to get into the real meat of the matter. As you said, after my heart has changed how do I actually start to see financial problems solved as a result of that. The Bible makes it clear that we’re to experience a transformation of our heart, a transfer of our affections to loving the wrong things to loving the right things, and then having our mind renewed that we’re changed not by our learned behaviors but we’re changed by our faith. We’re changed by what we believe.

       Colossians says we can be taken captive by hollow, deceptive philosophies that depend on the tradition of man. And what I see is many people are captive to their philosophies of this world. They’ve been taken hostage by their wrong beliefs. So if you align your belief system with God’s Word, then your behaviors change as a natural outflow to produce the good fruit that the Lord expects of us.

       If you simply tell a person, “Go behave like a good Christian. Go behave like a good Christian should with your money. Go start giving. Go start doing all of the financial practices that will improve your finances.” I think some of that works. I think you can teach behavioralism. But until you get to the belief system it’s not going to be transformative. It’s not going to be consistent with what God expects of us.

       You know we must align our beliefs with God’s Word – not the wisdom of the world. And I found in my own testimony that I share in the book that I was really aligned with what the world’s philosophy said. I knew the Scripture but I never aligned what I believed about money with the Scripture. It was a foreign concept to me. And that was getting down to the root of the issue. Do I believe God’s Word and am I willing to forgo what the world has taught me and to believe what God said?

       I’ll give you a great example of that. My behavior did not change when it came to the area of giving until my beliefs changed. And once I began to believe that what the Lord said was true – that it is more blessed to give than to receive – I actually became a cheerful giver once I believed that. I could not become a cheerful giver until I really believed that was true. I may have changed my behaviors but it wouldn’t have brought joy to my life until my beliefs were changed and aligned with God’s Word.

Paul: Right. Yeah, I’ve talked several times on my blog about that. When I discuss giving, I tend to focus more on what I call New Covenant giving. Which is, like you said, cheerful, generous, and a joyful kind of giving and often sacrificial. But that – you can’t really teach that. You can’t give somebody a standard and say, “Give this much and you’ll be meeting your obligation.” That kind of giving (New Covenant giving) requires that we have God’s love living in us.

       And then once that’s true, once that’s happening – like you said, that’s aligning your beliefs with God’s Word – then the behaviors of generous giving are going to naturally flow out of that. It’ll become a part of your life because that’s the way you think all the time. You don’t have to push yourself to do it. It’s just a natural part of your character at that point because you’re gaining the character of Christ.

Chuck: You know, you’re so right, Paul. We are controlled by our belief system. If that weren’t true, then we couldn’t be taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophies of this world. But what we believe controls us. If I believe I should put gasoline in my car to make it operate, I’ll do that. If someone told me, “Hey, you can fill it up with water and it’ll work just as well for a lot less.” and I believe that, I would act upon it. Now in that case it would have been a lie that I believed and I would be suffering the consequences of it.

       But what the Lord wants us to do is to act out of faith. And that faith comes from when we really believe Him. And that verse about that it’s better to give than to receive is so foreign to us. It was foreign to me. I wrestled with that one. I thought, “Is that true? Is that real?” You know the Lord is saying it’s better for you if you’re a giver instead of an acquirer or accumulator. And, Paul, I just didn’t really believe that.

       And that’s why it was non-negotiable in the journey that I experienced that I came to say, “Unless I really believe it, then my behaviors will never be consistent with what God expects.” I may be operating with religious piety, but inside I’m still eaten up with greed which needed to be dealt with.

Paul: Yeah, exactly. And I think that this is probably, of the three non-negotiables, the most challenging because it can take so long to get to the point where we can see where our beliefs are not lining up with God’s Word. Our hearts are so deceptive that we just assume that what we would naturally believe is true. And I think it’s very hard to start challenging that and even to be open – have our eyes open – to where we need to challenge ourselves on that.

       And I think that’s where prayer and studying God’s Word and just having that passion for pursuing God’s ways – His Kingdom and His righteousness first – is the only way that you’re going to open your eyes to have that revelation of God saying, “Look, Paul, or look, Chuck, here is an area where you still need to be transformed. You still have a belief that is from the world and not from God.”

Chuck: You know, Paul, the way you expressed that is the way a wise man learns. I know that you’re much younger than I am and you’ve exhibited that same kind of wisdom where you, through study and prayer, come to learn where you are not aligned with God’s Word. I was not that wise. I learned the way of the fool, which was through pain. I did it my way only to discover I was wrong.

       And that’s where the subtitle came from that I woke up one day in a new world and said, “Everything I believe about money is upside down. I am absolutely conformed to the image of the world while professing faith in Christ but I really don’t believe the Bible.” And everything I believed was wrong because (A) I didn’t know the Word and (B) I wasn’t willing to apply the Word to my life.

Paul: Right. I want to be respectful of your time. We have five minutes left so I’ll move on to the next one.

[19:05] Non-Negotiable No. 3

Paul: Non-Negotiable No. 3 is “I must act upon and apply spiritual truth in order to receive true riches.” Explain that one to us in more detail.

Chuck: Well, John 13:17 says, “Now that you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” And the Scripture is a book of faith. We experience the blessings of God when we act upon them. It’s a sequence where our hearts are transformed, our affections are transferred to loving the right things, our mind is renewed so that we know the truth.

       And then the third step is to put it into action – to step out by faith and say, “Lord, I not only believe it I’m willing to do it. If you say it’s better to give than to receive, I will become a giver. Because You’re a giver, I’ll be a giver as well and I will begin to do that. Because You say it’s wise for me to save, I will save. Because You say that it is wise to avoid debt and to get out of debt, I will do that because I want to be obedient to You out of my love for You and I will act upon it.”

       And when that happens it’s amazing how quickly everything in your life changes. Because I went from being completely opposite of what God wanted for my life to falling in love with the Lord, immersing myself in the Scripture, committing myself to put it into action and to live it out – not just to be a hearer of the Word but a doer – and everything in my life was transformed. Everything, including my finances. But the finances – that was not the original goal – the financial transformation.

       And that’s where I’m trying to shift our emphasis. The overarching idea is to shift our emphasis from looking at the Bible as a self-help book to get my finances in order to a book that is much more comprehensive to get my entire life ordered around God’s purposes. And if we can do that and our riches are determined by God’s Word and not by man’s philosophy, then I say we will become eternally rich, we’ll experience freedom from the financial pain we’re in now, and we will have this confidence that no matter what happens on Earth that we will have treasures in Heaven. So to me it’s the ultimate win-win-win if we will put these things into practice.

Paul: Right. And you give some great stories in this section of the book. You talk about Oswald Chambers, and William Borden, and Samuel – you’ll have to pronounce his last name for me I don’t know that I would…

Chuck: It’s pronounced Zwemer (zwhim-er, like swimmer but with a ‘z’). A very difficult name…

Paul: Yeah, so those are examples of men who really took God’s Word to heart and followed it at great cost to themselves. Just really good examples of what it means to apply that spiritual truth and receive true riches.

Chuck: Well, they inspired me and I do hope that they inspire readers, Paul. Thank you for referencing that. I have certain heroes in my life that I’ve never met, and I wanted to honor them and let people know those examples that have inspired me to radically conform my life to God’s Word versus the world. And I believe those are examples I want to be more like.

Paul: And just so readers know – er, listeners know – that this book isn’t all philosophical, there is a chapter in this section that goes over the practices of what you call the He Tree. We haven’t talked about the He Tree and the Me Tree much, but that’s a big theme in the book. But this is the financial practices of those that have been transformed and are applying those spiritual truths.

Chuck: Thank you for mentioning that because I do believe it’s a very important section where I give some practical tips and insights of how to apply the truth in this book in a way that will make a difference in your finances. I’ve had the opportunity to teach this a few times in different settings around the world, and I gave sort of a condensed version of what I think will make the most difference in people’s lives if they will actually apply those things.

Paul: Yeah, it is very condensed but I think – like we’ve been talking about the whole time – if you get that transformation in place, you’ll naturally start to follow those behaviors that come from the truth in Scripture.

[23:50] Main Lesson of the Book

Paul: Alright, Chuck – last question. I know I’m pushing the time here but this will be a quick one. What is the one lesson you hope readers take from The Root of Riches? What is it that you most want them to remember after finishing this book?

Chuck: That riches are determined by what we love not by what we own. If the readers will take that to heart and recognize that God’s Word shouts that from beginning to end, then I think that they will be blessed by that discovery. And if they will put that truth into action into their life, they will experience God’s riches beyond measure. I do hope and pray that’s what happens, Paul.

Paul: Alright, I like that. Riches are determined by what we love not by what we own. Right?

Chuck: Absolutely.

Paul: OK.

[24:39] Conclusion

Paul: Well, thank you, Chuck, for taking the time to talk with me today. And thank you all for listening. If you’d like to learn more about Chuck’s new book, The Root of Riches, you can find more at crown.org. The book will be released in early July, but you can sign up now to pre-order a copy and save 20%. Thanks again, Chuck, and have a great day!

Chuck: Well, Paul, thank you for what you’re doing at Provident Planning and for your interest in this book. I pray God’s blessings on you and your work.

Paul: Thank you.

[Outro Music]

[25:20] End

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What Is Greed? What Does It Mean to Be Greedy? http://www.providentplan.com/2844/what-is-greed-what-does-it-mean-to-be-greedy/ http://www.providentplan.com/2844/what-is-greed-what-does-it-mean-to-be-greedy/#comments Fri, 19 Nov 2010 11:00:16 +0000 http://www.providentplan.com/?p=2844 Greed Contained - If only it were that easy!       I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a Christian’s proper relationship to material wealth – especially in terms of what’s appropriate for us to desire and what’s not. The difficulty comes in trying to draw lines. When do our desires become excessive? How do we know when we’re pursuing the things of this world above the kingdom of God? Where does ambition stop and greed begin?

       Greed – that’s what I want to talk about today. But not so much talk about as discuss with you. What I want to know is how you define greed. What is greed? How do you know when you’re being greedy? How can Christians protect themselves from becoming greedy?

       Let’s look at a few definitions of greed, and then I’ll show you why I think it’s such an important concept to understand. The Bible says quite a bit about those who are greedy, and it’s not good…

Definitions of Greed

       Dictionary.com states that greed is “excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions”. In other words, greed is when you’d extort, rip off, and even steal to get more money. Obviously, that would violate Scripture and Jesus’ command to love our neighbors.

       On the other hand, WordNet, a project at Princeton University, defines greed as an “excessive desire to acquire or possess more (especially more material wealth) than one needs or deserves”. That’s a much more difficult definition to wrestle with, isn’t it? Where do we set our level of “need” or of what we “deserve”? And when does a desire to acquire more than that level become “excessive”?

       I’ve talked before about needs versus wants. We act like many things are needs when they’re actually just wants. Our needs are very few: food and water, clothing, and shelter and warmth depending on your local climate. In the strictest sense, that’s all we truly need.

       And within each of those categories there’s a level beyond which the need becomes a want. We only need food that’s edible and enough to keep us going. We only need clean water. We only need enough shelter and warmth to protect us from the elements and provide a place to rest. And even that one is debatable to some extent.

       I don’t say these things to make myself or you feel greedy if we want anything beyond the most basic of necessities. I say it to point out how difficult it is to get a grasp on what greed really means. Most Americans would not think me greedy if I wanted a modest 1,000 square foot home. But even the smallest of homes in the U.S. are luxurious by most world standards simply because they don’t have a dirt floor!

       In the same way, it’s easy for me to look at Dave Ramsey’s new house and say “That’s too much!”, but I’m sure my friends in Haiti would consider me quite wealthy to be able to rent the small house I’m in now. I think they’d say the same of Dave Ramsey, but it does cause me to step back and examine myself a bit more closely.

       What do you think? Is greed more of the stop-at-nothing-to-get-more definition, or is it closer to the “excessive”-desire-for-more-than-you-need definition? Let me know what you think in the comments at the bottom of the page, but let’s take a look at greed in the Bible.

Greed in the Bible

       Checking the dictionary is all fine and well, but I think it’s more helpful to see what the Bible says about greed if we’re trying to look at this from a Christian perspective. Most of what I read online tends to point at the Christian definition of greed as the stop-at-nothing-to-get-more style. I certainly think that’s included, but I wonder if we’re not held to that higher standard.

       So I’ve found several verses that discuss greed. Coveting is another way the Bible talks about greed, so I’ve included verses that use either word or concept (like “love of money”). Let’s look at them and see if we can draw a conclusion about the Bible’s definition of greed. I’ll list the verses below and include any additional verses needed to get the context. All verses are from the World English Bible (WEB) version, but if you click the link on the reference you can get just about any version you want.

       You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

Exodus 20:17

       Neither shall you covet your neighbor’s wife; neither shall you desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

Deuteronomy 5:21

       You shall burn the engraved images of their gods with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourself, lest you be snared in it; for it is an abomination to Yahweh your God.

Deuteronomy 7:25

       20 Achan answered Joshua, and said, “I have truly sinned against Yahweh, the God of Israel, and this is what I have done. 21 When I saw among the spoil a beautiful Babylonian robe, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, then I coveted them and took them. Behold, they are hidden in the ground in the middle of my tent, with the silver under it.”

Joshua 7:20-21

       2 In arrogance, the wicked hunt down the weak. They are caught in the schemes that they devise. 3 For the wicked boasts of his heart’s cravings. He blesses the greedy, and condemns Yahweh.

Psalm 10:2-3

       17 For in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird: 18 but these lay wait for their own blood. They lurk secretly for their own lives. 19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain. It takes away the life of its owners.

Proverbs 1:17-19

       He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes will live.

Proverbs 15:27

       There are those who covet greedily all day long; but the righteous give and don’t withhold.

Proverbs 21:26

       One who is greedy stirs up strife; but one who trusts in Yahweh will prosper.

Proverbs 28:25

       Yes, the dogs are greedy, they can never have enough; and these are shepherds who can’t understand: they have all turned to their own way, each one to his gain, from every quarter.

Isaiah 56:11

       But your eyes and your heart are not but for your covetousness, and for shedding innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it.

Jeremiah 22:17

       In you have they taken bribes to shed blood; you have taken interest and increase, and you have greedily gained of your neighbors by oppression, and have forgotten me, says the Lord Yahweh.

Ezekiel 22:12

       They covet fields, and seize them; and houses, and take them away: and they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.

Micah 2:2

       21 For from within, out of the hearts of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, sexual sins, murders, thefts, 22 covetings, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness.

Mark 7:21-22

       He said to them, “Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses.”

Luke 12:15

       33 I coveted no one’s silver, or gold, or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands served my necessities, and those who were with me.

Acts 20:33-34

       For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not give false testimony,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other commandments there are, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Romans 13:9

       9 I wrote to you in my letter to have no company with sexual sinners; 10 yet not at all meaning with the sexual sinners of this world, or with the covetous and extortioners, or with idolaters; for then you would have to leave the world. 11 But as it is, I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who is called a brother who is a sexual sinner, or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. Don’t even eat with such a person.

1 Corinthians 5:9-11

       17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts; 19 who having become callous gave themselves up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Ephesians 4:17-19

       3 But sexual immorality, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be mentioned among you, as becomes saints; 4 nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not appropriate; but rather giving of thanks. 5 Know this for sure, that no sexually immoral person, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.

Ephesians 5:3-5

       1 If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; 6 for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience.

Colossians 3:1-6

       3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine, and doesn’t consent to sound words, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, 4 he is conceited, knowing nothing, but obsessed with arguments, disputes, and word battles, from which come envy, strife, insulting, evil suspicions, 5 constant friction of people of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. Withdraw yourself from such. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we certainly can’t carry anything out. 8 But having food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 But those who are determined to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful lusts, such as drown men in ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

1 Timothy 6:3-10

       For the overseer must be blameless, as God’s steward; not self-pleasing, not easily angered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for dishonest gain;

Titus 1:7

       Be free from the love of money, content with such things as you have, for he has said, “I will in no way leave you, neither will I in any way forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5

       1 Where do wars and fightings among you come from? Don’t they come from your pleasures that war in your members? 2 You lust, and don’t have. You kill, covet, and can’t obtain. You fight and make war. You don’t have, because you don’t ask. 3 You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures.

James 4:1-3

       In covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words: whose sentence now from of old doesn’t linger, and their destruction will not slumber.

2 Peter 2:3

       There’s no doubt that the majority of those verses cover the stop-at-nothing-to-get-more definition of greed. But several of the verses point toward greed as the “excessive”-desire-for-more-than-you-need idea. In particular, Proverbs 21:26, Luke 12:15, and 1 Timothy 6:3-10 all seem to describe greed as being selfish, not being content, and desiring things for the sake of having more (often, more than your neighbor). That certainly fits in with the broader definition – greed as excessively desiring more than you need.

       Personally, I think the Gospel of Jesus Christ eliminates any semblance of greed as an option for Christians. If we’re to be focused on loving others and helping the poor, how can we spend our time daydreaming about bigger houses, nicer cars, more exotic vacations, and lazy retirements? That certainly wouldn’t fit the instructions of Colossians 3:1-6.

Your Thoughts

       But I want to know what you think. What is greed? What does it mean to be greedy? Is greed limited to the stop-at-nothing-to-get-more definition? Or is it more broad as in the “excessive”-desire-for-more-than-you-need definition? And in that same line of thought, when does a desire for more than you need become excessive and when does it remain acceptable? (That’s a question worthy of it’s own post!)

       Let me know what you think in the comments below, and we’ll work through this issue together.

(photo credit: See-ming Lee)

This post was included in the Carnival of Personal Finance.

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You Are More Than Your Net Worth http://www.providentplan.com/2399/you-are-more-than-your-net-worth/ Tue, 03 Aug 2010 10:00:27 +0000 http://www.providentplan.com/?p=2399        Yesterday I posted an article about how to create a balance sheet. Part of that process includes calculating your net worth. After I wrote it, I realized I should talk about net worth from a Christian perspective. After all, the tag line for this site is “Personal Finance from a Christian Perspective”. There’s nothing particularly Christian about that article. It’s helpful for Christians and non-Christians alike to review their balance sheet and net worth. But as Christians, we must be especially careful to realize that we are more than our net worth.

       There is danger in obsessing over your net worth – in defining your success based on a number. It is wise for you to prudently manage your finances, and tracking your net worth is part of that process. But you must always be aware that your value comes not from what you own but from who you are in Christ. It is in being a child of God that Christians find their true worth.

       Our net worth is infinitely positive. Christ has canceled the debt of our sin and we will inherit immeasurable heavenly riches. What you own or owe here and now does not matter in eternity.

       This warning goes both ways. Those who are rich must grasp this concept just as much as those who are poor – even more so. It is easy for the wealthy to trust in their riches and forsake God. Their prosperity may even tempt them to think of themselves more highly than the poor. Both outcomes are sin in God’s eyes, and the rich must be careful to avoid both. The rich should not glory in their high estate, and the poor should not be shamed in their low estate.

       The Bible actually has much to say about this topic. I’ve chosen a few verses to help you see why it’s important for us to understand our true net worth. Consider what God’s Word says:

       The rich and the poor have this in common: Yahweh is the maker of them all.

Proverbs 22:2 (WEB)

       17 …and lest you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth.” 18 But you shall remember Yahweh your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth; that he may establish his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as at this day.

Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (WEB)

       Riches don’t profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

Proverbs 11:4 (WEB)

       For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits his own self?

Luke 9:25 (WEB)

       10 He who loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase: this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, those who eat them are increased; and what advantage is there to its owner, except to feast on them with his eyes?

Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 (WEB)

       Focusing too much on your net worth can cause you to glory in your riches or to feel shame in your poverty. We must remember that the Lord is pleased with neither. What does please the Lord? Those who glory in their knowledge and understanding of Him and who boast about His loving kindness, justice, and righteousness.

       23 Thus says Yahweh, Don’t let the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, don’t let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 but let him who glories glory in this, that he has understanding, and knows me, that I am Yahweh who exercises loving kindness, justice, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, says Yahweh.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (WEB)

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Conformed or Transformed? http://www.providentplan.com/2139/conformed-or-transformed/ http://www.providentplan.com/2139/conformed-or-transformed/#comments Tue, 15 Jun 2010 10:00:12 +0000 http://www.providentplan.com/?p=2139        If someone were to look at your bank or credit card statement, would they see a Christian? Are the choices you make still following the pattern of the world? Or have you been transformed by the renewing of your mind and presented your body (and your money) as a sacrifice to God?

       1 Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:1-2 (WEB)

       These verses encourage us to live changed lives in light of God’s overflowing mercy toward us. I would not begin to imply that it relates specifically to finances. However, the choices you make with the money God has given you can clearly reflect where your heart is focused. When you make your money decisions are you thinking in terms of God’s will, or are you continuing in the patterns of the world?

       This doesn’t mean that you are perfectly holy and good if your account statements show that you give all your money away (or even live on very little and give the rest away). Outward appearances are not necessarily an indication of the heart. Jesus spent most of His time teaching this exact idea. If you do not have God’s love and your actions are not motivated by that same love, then your pious actions will help you in no way.

       The challenge I want to present to you (and myself) is simply this: In your earning, spending, and managing money, how are you presenting yourself as a sacrifice to God and seeking His will? In other words, are your money decisions in alignment with God’s principles and values?

       It’s very easy to live just as the rest of the world does. In many ways, Christians are indistinguishable from non-Christians. But we are called to live differently. This doesn’t necessarily mean rejecting everything the world does, but it will often look that way. Rather, we must give everything over to God (as a response to the gift of salvation) and seek His will.

       A transformed life may not look very different from the world. Much personal finance advice is good regardless of your faith (though the motivations may be quite different). On the other hand, it may be the exact opposite of the world’s ways. Giving is one example. It simply doesn’t make sense if you look only at the numbers.

       How your life will look is not the point. A transformed life could look different from one Christian to another (though there will be some similarities). The point is whether or not you are seeking that transformed life, seeking God’s will, and striving to persevere until the end. A life of following Jesus is not marked by the absence of sin. It is marked by striving against sin, by denying your own will, by giving up those things that keep you from God, and by taking up your cross each day. If you’re willing to do that (you’ve counted the cost), then God will transform your mind and your life as you grow in the likeness of Christ.

       So take time (at least each month, if not more frequently) to ask yourself this question as you review your finances: Am I following Jesus, or am I following the world?

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Preaching Christ Crucified http://www.providentplan.com/1939/preaching-christ-crucified/ http://www.providentplan.com/1939/preaching-christ-crucified/#comments Tue, 11 May 2010 10:00:32 +0000 http://www.providentplan.com/?p=1939        I want to apologize.

       I want to apologize for anything I have taught that did not point to Christ crucified.

       If I have written about giving without emphasizing that giving does not make you righteous, I have missed the point. If I have ever implied that your generosity will please God, I have been wrong. If I have suggested that you can find contentment through your own power, I was in error.

       All too often in “Christian” personal finance (and Christianity in general), we fail to emphasize the fact that Christ accomplished all on the Cross. We can put heavy burdens on readers and listeners because we may teach that your choices and your determination will glorify God.

       There is a choice you must make. But that choice is not to change your heart of greed to a heart of generosity, your heart of laziness to a heart of diligence, or your heart of covetousness to a heart of contentment.

       The only choice you must make is to accept the forgiveness, grace, and mercy that Christ offers us through His death on the Cross for our sins. Until you accept that Gift, nothing will make you right before God – in your finances or any other area of your life.

       Tithing will not make you holy. Generous, sacrificial giving will not make you righteous. Contentment will not bring you salvation. Diligence cannot save your soul. Only Christ can.

       The evidence of a Christ-filled life is not in your choosing to be generous. Generosity flows out of your choosing to follow Christ. Contentment does not come by your choosing to live simply and reject consumerism. Contentment comes from your choosing to focus solely on Christ and the rich Gift He gives.

       If I ever teach that you will glorify God through your finances by doing certain things, living a certain way, or giving a certain amount, I am wrong. You will glorify God through your finances as Christ lives in you and pours out His love through your life. Contentment, diligence, stewardship, and generosity will result as you look to Jesus’ example and follow Him – not as you make specific choices and fulfill certain objectives.

       Do not be misled by what I am saying. Faith without works is certainly dead. How can our response to Jesus be anything other than contentment, diligence, stewardship, and generosity? But neither are we saved by our works. And it is not our power that produces these good things within us. It is Jesus who saves us and the power of God’s Spirit that produces whatever good we see in our lives. This does not relieve us from responsibility for our actions. We are called to seek holy lives in light of our new life in Christ. If we are not following and obeying Jesus, how can we call ourselves His disciples?

       I ask you to keep me honest to this truth. If you see me teach anything other than Christ crucified, call me out on it! If I teach that you will please God by doing specific things, remind me that God is pleased when we listen to His Son and follow Him. Yes, this requires action on our part. But it is action that flows out of faith (faith that works) – not action that precedes faith or salvation. Show me my error and refute it. Do not allow me to continue in a lie or lead others in it either. I pray that we may all remember how powerless and fallen we are and that we will learn to rely only on the salvation Jesus gives and the example He taught and lived.

       22 For Jews ask for signs, Greeks seek after wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1 Corinthians 1:22-25 (WEB)

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What Makes Christian Personal Finance Different? http://www.providentplan.com/1374/what-makes-christian-personal-finance-different/ http://www.providentplan.com/1374/what-makes-christian-personal-finance-different/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2010 11:00:58 +0000 http://www.providentplan.com/?p=1374        If you spend much time reading personal finance advice for Christians (either on Provident Planning or somewhere else), you’ll probably start to realize that it’s not all that different from other personal finance advice. Most of the good advice for Christians applies equally to non-Christians as well. Stick to a budget, spend less than you earn, avoid excessive debt, keep an emergency fund, minimize your taxes, don’t buy insurance you don’t need, save for the future – none of those things are particularly Christian in nature.

       There may be some points in which Christian personal finance and secular personal finance will differ, but, generally speaking, good personal finance advice is the same regardless of your religion. The difference – and this is a major difference – is in the ultimate purpose, the final goal, of following that good advice.

       As far as the world is concerned, it makes sense to make smart personal finance decisions because that’s what is best for you. Good money management will help you meet your goals, maximize your wealth, and get the most out of the money you’ve earned. And according to the world, that’s what you should do with your money. Use it for the things you want. Use it to meet your goals and fulfill your dreams.

       But for Christians, making smart decisions in our finances is not important just so we can maximize our wealth and meet all our desires. Our purpose is not to find fulfillment in this world and the things it offers. Our purpose is to honor and glorify God – to serve Him with our entire being in everything we do. Our goal is to do His will. And part of God’s will for us is to share His love by caring for those in need through generous giving. We don’t try to maximize our wealth for our own use. We try to maximize our wealth for God’s use.

       I want you to remember this as you read the articles I write. Many times there won’t be a Bible verse in a post. Personal finance in the Bible is more about the principles that should govern our decisions – not specific applications (like how to get out of debt). But it’s very important that we remember the purpose of seeking and following good financial advice.

       When I talk about spending less, it’s so we’ll have more to give. When I talk about earning more money, it’s so we’ll have more to give. When I talk about making smart financial choices, it’s so we’ll have more to give. It all comes back to giving – giving motivated by love that flows out of our response to God’s Gift to us.

       Yes, making good financial decisions will have benefits for you personally. But our focus as Christians is on the benefits those decisions will have for the Kingdom. In our efforts to follow good financial advice, let’s keep our eyes focused on Christ and our minds focused on how we can serve Him fully.

       The advice we follow may not be all that different from non-Christians. But the motivation, goals, and results should be very, very different. And that difference will serve as a witness for the power of God’s love working in our lives.

       What do you think makes Christian personal finance different? Let me know in the comments!

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