“A” Is For ATTITUDE

money“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” -William James

 

Let’s talk finances. Now, don’t click on another page. Just take three deep breaths and a couple minutes and read through this post.

 

The average person doesn’t really believe he has a problem when it comes to finances. He really doesn’t. As long as he’s making monthly payments on time, as long as he has some mad money he can play with each week, as long as he can continue to feed and satisfy those occasional indulgences from time to time, he erroneously believes things are just fine. Unfortunately he’s like the alcoholic, the drug addict, the gambler, or the person addicted to pornography who says, “I don’t have a problem.” But the truth is, the average American has a major problem when it comes to money, Christians included. They are horribly in debt, miserable managers of their money; and gullible beyond belief when it comes to buying things on credit.

 

Can I share a simple principle with you? If you’re paying interest on anything, regardless of the great interest rate you may have gotten or the low monthly payment; if you are paying interest on anything, are you ready for this? YOU ARE LOSING MONEY.

 

In fact, when you see the word “interest,” if you visualize two words in huge, gigantic letters as if they were written in the sky; “SOMEBODY ELSE,” that will help you better comprehend the principle. Why? Because that’s exactly what happens every time you’re paying interest. SOMEBODY ELSE is getting rich off YOUR money. Yet so many people say, “Well, you know, we got a great interest rate.” Or, “Luckily I got the same low monthly payment on this car that I had on my last one.”

 

Christian financial expert, the late Larry Burkett, said, “Christians are now paying nearly 10% of our income every year in interest alone. And yet we give only 2% back to God.”  So here’s the picture. The average Christian in America is miserably over his head in debt and walking in rebellion towards God. We definitely have a problem. But watch out if anyone attempts to discuss it. Why? Because we’re very touchy when it comes to our stuff. When it comes to my money and my finances, that’s a private matter and it’s none of your business. Isn’t that pretty much the way you feel?

 

So if someone suggests we have a problem with our finances, we immediately get defensive and go into money 3denial because none of us wants to admit we have a problem.

 

Does anyone remember Harry Truman? Not the President. The man who lived on the side of Mount St. Helens in Washington? I’ll never forget the guy; He had 23 cats. (Does that help?) Well, back in 1980 he was on Mount St. Helens. TV reporters were interviewing him while the mountain was shaking behind him. Harry’s sitting there with his 23 cats and seismologists were saying, “This mountain’s gonna blow; ” Volcanic experts were saying, “This mountain’s gonna blow.” Harry Truman said, “I don’t believe a single one of your ,experts. I’ve lived here all my life. I know this old mountain better than anybody else. I’m not going anywhere. “ And they’d banter back and forth.

I remember his sister on national television (you may remember watching). She pleaded with her brother, “Please, get off this mountain. It’s gonna blow;” “No, it’s not,” Harry insisted. “I’ve lived here all my life. I don’t have a problem.”

 

On May 18th, 1980, at 8:31 a.m., the mountain blew. It blew with a force 500 times greater than the power of the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. Twenty-five hundred feet blew off the top of the mountain. It blackened the sky from Seattle to New York and as far south as Oklahoma. No one has ever seen a trace of Harry or his 23 cats since.

 

Now I’m praying that you are not a Harry Truman. I’m going to assume you want God’s wisdom, God’s guidance, and God’s provision in your life. I’m going to assume you want to be financially healthy and to be free from the albatross of financial burdens, bills, and bondage.

 

lt’s possible for anyone of us. In fact, regardless of how much debt you have today, I agree with Larry Burkett, who says in seven years anybody can be out of debt. Anybody; That includes you.

money 6

 

All of us can be out of debt and financially healthy, or well on our way to it, if we really want to be. But we have to want to. But if we don’t begin with step number one, nothing else we talk about will help. We need to begin withOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD MONEY.

For more on the subject of changing our attitude click on this link:

 http://relaxedchurch.sermon.tv/pa/9792495

(adapted from “The ABC’s of Financial Freedom” by Barry Cameron)

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debtFour “Shocking” Statistics About Debt in America

  1. 1.     The average household debt in the US is now 136% of the household income.  That means, whatever the average person makes, they owe that much plus 36% of what they make in a year. Insane! That is incredibly sloppy and dangerous money management! The only institution that does that and gets away with it is the U.S. Government!

 

  1. 2.     When it comes to credit cards and those carrying a balance, the average credit card debt is $14,517.00. That is a whole lot of shoes and belts and “cheap” jewelry and “necessities” and online purchases and $4 caffeine drinks. That’s a lot of debt!

 

  1. 3.     The average 21-year old owes $12,000. That’s also insane! But in only seven short years from the age of 21 to 28, they owe $78,000 by the time they’re 28. No wonder marriages struggle, and no wonder there’s so much tension; we live in a world where people are strapped.

 

  1. 4.     And this could be the scariest of all: The average number of U.S. households living paycheck-to-paycheck is 55% and some studies say as high as 61%. That means that if over half of you,  lost your job or didn’t get paid you couldn’t pay the house payment, the rent payment, or the car payment. You are in big, big trouble and over 50% of the people in our country are living that way today. Let me say it again, no wonder there’s so much tension.

What is normal in our culture when it comes to finances? Normal is debt, normal is car payments, credit card payments, student loan payments, house payments. Normal is fighting about money. Normal is divorcing over money. Normal is laying awake at night worrying about money. That’s why I believe with all of my heart if you’re a follower of Jesus we are not called to be normal, we are called to be different; we are not like this world. You don’t have to settle for normal. When people who are living this way give you advice they say “Well, you’re always going to have a car payment!” If you believe that, you always will, but there is a better way and it is God’s way, following His principles. To hear the first step of the better way I would invite you to click on this link and listen.  http://relaxedchurch.sermon.net/da/1199944377/play

The Cursed and Blessed Business

If you find yourself today getting a little nervous with the content of this blog, there just might be a clear reason. Let me explain it this way. Let’s say your appendix is rupturing and you go to the doctor, and the doctor pokes you in the leg it’s not going to hurt.  Right?  If the doctor pokes you in the lower right side of your abdominal area what are you going to do?  You are going to scream bloody murder, because he’s poking you on the unhealthy spot.  If you find that you are a little bit sensitive about this topic, perhaps God is going to do a little healing on a spot that is, at this moment, a little bit unhealthy. 

Let’s start with this scripture from Leviticus 27:30, “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.”

Who does the tithe belong to?  It belongs to God.  It doesn’t belong to us; it belongs to God.  What is a tithe?  It comes from the Hebrew word ma’aser.  Literally, this word means a tenth.  One tenth, scripture says, of everything that God trusts us with, it belongs to Him.  It is holy to the Lord.  It is His.  In fact, if we got really, really technical, we could say that a tithe isn’t really even giving.  It is simply returning to God.  

Now, how do American Christians do with this principle?  Here’s a couple of stats for you.  The average Christian does not give 10%, but the average Christian gives about 2% of their income to the work of God.  How many?  What percentage do tithe? Fewer than 3% of those who call themselves followers of Christ honor and obey God with the tithe. 

What we have here is a critical heart issue that, in many ways, is the key to all of our finances working properly, and that is honoring God with His principles of giving the tithe, returning the tithe, and even beyond that.  Let’s talk about two different kinds of businesses. 

The first would be what we will call the cursed business.   Malachi 3:8-9 says this.  God asks the question, “Will a man rob God?  Yet you rob me.  How in the world do we rob You, you ask, and God responds, ‘You rob me in tithes and offerings.’” Now, what does He say you are under? “You are under a curse — the whole nation of you — because you are robbing me.” Now, why are you under a curse?  Because you are robbing Me.  How do we rob God?  By not returning the tithes and giving offerings. 

The Hebrew word for rob is the word qaba. Very literally, this word means to defraud.  It means to rob.  It means to spoil.  It means to embezzle.  Here is a sobering way to think about it. If I don’t tithe, I am embezzling from God.  I am stealing from the Owner of the Universe, and I am making a tragically dangerous trade-off. 

Let me tell you about a bad trade, very, very bad trade.  I read this week about a guy who had a 1957 Chevy. My family, that I grew up in, owned two of them. One was actually in 1957 and the other in the mid 60’s. This guy, that I am talking about, own his about 15-20 years ago or so ago. It was about the time they came out with this new car back then called the Pinto.  You see where this is going, and he traded a 1957 Chevy for a Pinto!  Bad!   Bad trade. 

To withhold what belongs to God is a very, very bad trade.  We are trading the blessings that God wants to pour out in our lives for a measly ten percent.  Now, let me just say that I have talked to many people who are like, “Oh, my gosh, I don’t know what to do.  I am trying so hard financially.  It seems like I will take a couple of steps forward, and then bam.  It is like three or four steps back.  No matter how hard I try and work at this, I just can’t get ahead, and I am just hurting, and I am worried about finances, and there is just never, ever enough, and there is just always more month left than money.  What do I do?”  Could it be, could it be, that perhaps the business of personal finances is cursed in that we are not honoring God at level one, returning the tithe to Him? 

Hagaii 1:6, maybe you feel like this. The Bible says, “You’ve planted much, but you’ve harvested little. You eat but you never have enough. You drink, but you never have your fill.  You put on clothes, but you are not warm.  You earn wages, only to put them in a purse.”  Can you relate to this? It just seems to go away?  The cursed business. 

The second kind that we are going to talk about is the blessed business, and this is where it gets fun.  Malachi 3:11-12, for those who tithe, God says, “I will prevent the pest from devouring your crops, says the Lord Almighty.  Then all nations will call you blessed.”  All nations will say you are blessed of God. 

There was this little bitty small town that was driven by the grain industry.  Almost everybody was in the grain business, and there was this little small town church that was struggling financially, always had.  And the church asked one guy, the guy that owned the big grain silo, who was known as a man of integrity, “Would you manage the church finances?”  And the guy said, “I will on one condition.”  “What’s the condition?”  He said, “For the very next year, you don’t ask me any questions.  You don’t look at the books.  You let me manage them the way I want to, and at the end of the year, I promise you, we will be ahead of the game.”  And they, because they trusted him, said, “Sure.  Go ahead.”  One year later, the church was out of debt.  The church had had the best year of ministry ever.  All the people in the town were saying they were so blessed.  Their grain business did awesome, and they said, “How did you pull this off?”  He said, “It is very simple.  When all of you brought your stuff down to my silo, I just took ten percent of what was yours, and I gave it to God for you.  I just helped our whole church tithe.  Look at the results,” he said.  “First of all, not only did you not miss it ever, but most of you were very, very blessed.  Our church is out of debt, and look at the ministry that we have been able to accomplish.”  The blessed business. 

Here’s a thought that I hope that you don’t miss. This is the thing that most people don’t understand.  It’s the spiritual side of it.  Ninety percent with God’s blessings is far more than one hundred percent without His blessings.  This is the part that humanly doesn’t make sense.  This is the spiritual factor of God, that ninety percent with the blessings of God is far more than doing what you can do with one hundred percent of it. 

So what is your preference, the cursed business or the blessed business?

The real reason for disintegrating families

While jogging one morning I overheard a conversation, or I should say, disagreement between a mother and daughter in the driveway of their home.

The teenage daughter was getting into her car parked in the driveway, apparently leaving for school. Mom was standing at the garage door saying something to her daughter. I was not able to catch what mom was saying but I did get the daughter’s response, loud and clear. “Mom, shut up!”

Why it is that there is so much disrespect for parents and authority in our kids today. Could it be parents who are too busy to give careful attention to their kid’s development and are pretty much willing to settle for anything? Could it be kids reflecting what they see modeled in their parents? Could it be the product of too much TV and video games?

I don’t know. But I do know what I observe. Just this morning I observed that same mother dropping her son off at the child care provider down the street from her house so that she could get to her security job, I’m serious, she was wearing a security uniform, and drive off in her new GMC Acadia Denali with a price tag in the $40,000 range. I was reminded again what I believe to be the primary reason for two income families and the disintegration of the family unit. Here’s how it usually plays out.

The first phase is your yearnings start to exceed your earnings.  You start to see things you want and you can’t afford them and you say, “I’m going to go out and get those things anyhow.”

Then immediately comes the second phase.  You get over extended financially.  You have more than you can pay for.  Which immediately results in the third phase.

You have to constantly hustle.  You have to get extra jobs – both husbands and wife are working.  You have to work at night.  You have to constantly hustle to make ends meet.

Then because of that the fourth phase.  Your home life starts to deteriorate because you’re tired.  Everybody’s exhausted.  Everybody’s irritable.

It leads to an epidemic of absentee parents.  A lot of it is because of this very syndrome.  Our kids don’t need more things.  They don’t need new vehicles. They need their parents. More than anything else they need our attention.  But we are so busy making a living we don’t have time to make a life.  We don’t have time to give them our attention.  We are so busy paying for our lifestyle that we don’t have time to pay enough attention to our kids. We want to.  We know it’s the right thing to do but we feel trapped by this syndrome.  We feel like there’s no way out.

The truth is you made the decisions that got you into this and you can make the decisions that will get you out.  Yes, it’s going to be painful.  But it’s not going to be painful like you never have the time to love your kids.  It’s certainly not as painful as I’m not living the life I know God wants me to live.

And we keep doing this because we rationalize.  We have this phrase we say to ourselves, “It’s only temporary.”  We’ll do it just for six more months.  We’ll do it for another year.”  You’re kidding yourself.  A temporary situation has become an habitual lifestyle

The Bible says in Hebrews 13:5 “Be content with what you have.”  That means enjoy what you already have instead of always wanting more.

For the sake of restoring health, happiness and a hopeful future to your family, “Be content with what you have.”  The last thing you want to do is look back with regret.

 

financial help is on the way

 You are invited and encouraged to take the upcoming Financial Peace University Class, if at all possible. This is going to be a tremendous class that will help all of us get the best and most use out of the financial resources that God has blessed us with. People who have taken the class rave about it. Some of them take it over and over again because it is so helpful. We already have two signed up for our class who are coming for a refresher. Even older teens should consider the class. It will be such wise counsel on how to use their money. This class will positively affect them for the rest of their lives.

And you can’t beat the price. The full price is right at $100.00 but for everyone who takes and completes the class, the church will cover half the cost. In fact, if money is an obstacle to you taking it in any way, let me know and I will make sure your registration is covered in full.

A half dozen of our families have already registered. Several other families have mentioned their intent to take the class. I would like to invite, encourage and even twist your arm into joining them. Have I twisted enough?

The class starts on February 17 and runs for 13 weeks. It will be some of the best 13 sessions you have ever experienced. You can register on line at this web address, www.daveramsey.com/fpu/ . Do not order materials online. We will have them at the first session and they will be less expensive there. In fact, you can attend the first session free and if you decide not to take the class you will be obligated for nothing.