“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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The Finest Wine

king wine How can we begin to describe the distance we have traveled in the last five months as a church? It is nothing less than incredible. God has moved and blessed in amazing ways. For example, we have at the current time, gathered $74,811 toward the down payment of $100,000 for our property purchase and remodel job at our new location on Lucks Lane. We are scheduled to close on the property August 31. That leaves us three weeks to collect a little over $25,000. I want to say thanks to those who have been and continue to be so generous. At the same time I want to remind us all that we need everyone in the picture.

 

Have you heard the story, from many years ago, of a new king who was crowned in Spain? After the coronation, he decided to visit a secluded village on the outskirts of his land. When the townspeople heard that the king was coming, they were elated, so they went to work trying to make his visit an experience he would never forget. They decided that every person in the village would bring one cup of their choicest wine and put it into a big container. When the king came, he could dip his cup into the finest wine he had ever tasted because everyone was giving their best.

 

When the time came, everyone celebrated the king’s arrival. They told him what they had done with the wine, and the king was excited to taste it. But when he took a long drink, he spit it out in disgust. The king had been told that it was fine wine, but really it was barely nothing more than water. You see, the townspeople were told to bring their best, but individually they thought they could skimp out and rely on the wine of others while they secretly brought water instead. And the king was greatly displeased.

 

In order to accomplish this first challenge level, it’s going to take everyone giving their best to the King. We’re all in this together.

 

If you made a commitment to the capital campaign (down payment and 24 month phase) we are fully trusting that you willdownpayment fulfill it to the fullest. If you are new to New Venture since our capital campaign began a few months ago, or if you did not make an initial commitment as a part of our capital campaign, I would like to invite you to give a sacrificial gift between now and the end of August toward the down payment of our new church home on Lucks Lane. This is a tremendous chance for everyone to participate and bring their best whether or not you were part of the original campaign.

 

In fact, we have designated Sunday, August 18, as special offering day for the $100,000 down payment. Our prayer is that generous gifts will be given from many different people to push us over the top. If you would like to help us push to the $100,000 mark and live out of the area, gifts can be sent to New Venture Christian Church, PO Box 73311, Richmond, VA 23235.

 

Thank you so, so much for your generosity,

 

Steve 

Three quick rules for investing

investing 3Jesus told a parable Matthew 25 that beautifully illustrates the need for investing. He said that a master gave five talents to one guy and two talents to another and one to a third. And the third guy went and buried the talent and got nothing. But the guy with 5 talents, Scripture says, The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work,” and when he invested wisely, Scripture says, “he gained five more.”

He doubled his money; he invested it, he put it to work. There’s two ways to make money; you can work for money or you can have your money working and making money.

The good news is money works 365 days a year.  Money works when you sleep.

If you would like to be a great investor let me pass on to you three quick investing rules that I have followed (though not as faithfully as I should) and am reaping the benefits from. These are all, believe it or not, from the Bible. Who knew the Bible actually teaches even about investing!

1. Don’t invest in things you don’t understand. Did you hear that? Don’t invest in things you don’t understand!

Proverbs 24:3-4 “By wisdom is a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”  With wisdom and understanding and knowledge; do not invest in things that you do not understand.

Now some of you might be a first time investor. And I want to say, there are some great people that give great advice that are selling different types of investment. So, I don’t want to belittle those in that profession at all; but you need to know that there are a lot of people that are not great and not wise who are selling investments.  They’ve leased a Lexus so they could look successful. They’re selling you something that they don’t even buy themselves. And you need to be very, very careful that you get good advice.

I suggest you learn from somebody who is a great investor. Find someone who is a mentor. That’s what I’ve done. I’ve had different people through the years who mentor me; they’re not selling me, they’re just good at it and they give me advice.

Back in the early 90’s I wanted to kick up our retirement investing so I went to a friend and elder named Ken Kessler. Ken was the treasurer of PMI an international company that owned Hobart manufacturing, Kitchen Aid, Tupperware, Wilson Art and some other companies. He knew money and investing. He advised me to invest in Vanguard Mutual funds. He said they pay good returns and they are long term reliable. I am still with investing 2Vanguard.

Now, someone else at that time, who was not a wise investor could have said, “No, no, no you need to invest in stock. In fact you need to invest in Lucent. It is the hottest thing going.” Many of you might have heard of it. You may have invested in it. I knew nothing about Lucent. It was what everyone was investing in and it was skyrocketing. If I had jumped on the bandwagon with so many others and invested $1000, that very same thousand dollars would be worth about $13.00 today! Had I bought a thousand dollars’ worth of Mountain Dew and drank it all, I would have had a caffeine buzz second to none and still would be high on caffeine today! And if I had saved the cans I would actually have more money in recyclable cans than I would have had in Lucent stock if I had bought that stock that day! Do not invest in something that you don’t understand even if everyone else is doing it!

I’ve got friends who would give a testimony of why investing in something you don’t understand is very, very stupid! I could and I will in a minute. Sometimes the best investment that you make is the one that you don’t make if you don’t understand.

Second rule of investing is:  2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Grandma will teach you that and so will the Bible. Scripture says in Ecclesiastes 11:2: Give portions to seven, or yes to eight…” In other words spread it around: …for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.”

Don’t put all of your money into one thing because if that one thing falls apart and there’s disaster there then you are in a lot of trouble.

Dave Ramsey says that investing is a lot like manure, if you put it all in one place it starts to stink; but if you spread it out it makes things grow. It is better to spread it out.

When retirement comes for my wife and me, count the baskets, we have Sharon’s Social Security and mine, (for life, I think) a guaranteed for life Annuity, one in her name and one in mine, a guaranteed for life church pension fund, an IRA in my name and one in Sharon, a money market account plus savings and whatever income I will generate. Count them, ten baskets.

Don’t invest in things you don’t understand and don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Now, the third lesson I believe is probably the most important one and the one that is really a heart check that we all need to be aware of, and that is:

3. Don’t try to get rich quick.

1 Timothy 6:9 tells us about those who really want to get rich quick, People who want to get rich can fall into temptation and a trap…” Have any of you ever been trapped by an investment that you thought was a sure thing that you didn’t really understand? They’ll fall into temptation and a trap and:…into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”

Sometimes the best way to double your money is to take your money, fold it over and put it in your pocket and walk away and not try to get rich quick.

I’ll tell you from my own personal life. About 20 years ago a friend came to me and told me about this new internet security company that was starting up called Guardian. I didn’t know anything about internet security but it sounded really good and sensible. It is supposed to go Initial Public Offer in a few weeks and when it did the stocks would skyrocket and we could sell what we bought dirt cheap and make about 100 times our investment. What an opportunity. I asked him, “Are you sure?” He said, “Yes, the owner of this car dealership,” and I’m talking huge dealership, “has bought heavily into it.”

So I scrounged up $2000 and invested in this tremendous opportunity. And I waited and waited and waited for it to go public. I am still waiting.

So ladies, if you’re reading this and thinking about your husband, “I can’t believe you did something so stupid with your money! I wish you were more like Pastor Steve!”  Guess what? He’s just like Pastor Steve who did something really, really stupid with the money!

investingDon’t try to get rich quick! And here’s the deal, I want to talk especially to the men; because we tend to be sprinters, we’re conquerors, we want to win, we want to drag something home! We’re like, “No, no, no, I’m the provider! Look what I did for my family!” We want to give more to our wives; we want to give more to our kids, so we’re looking for the BBD! Don’t give me that six percent interest, I want the BBD, give me the BBD! I don’t want it slow, I want the BBD. Give me the bigger, better deal and give it to me now!

And before long, we sprint our way into greed and destruction and trouble and we would be way better off not to be sprinters as investors, but literally to be marathon investors. We just want to be consistent and we want to be faithful and we want to be consistent and we want to be faithful and we want to be consistent and we want to be faithful.

Here’s what Scripture says, Proverbs 13:11, “He who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”

Here’s a real simple formula for you: Money plus time plus consistency equals wealth.

Little by little by little; tithe, pay the expenses, pay off debt, pay off all of the debt. We’re not in bondage to money, we’re not going to be strapped; the borrower is a servant to the lender, we’re not going to be like that. Invest long term, 15% into retirement, pay a little bit here, buy some mutual funds, buy a little piece rental property; whatever it is, faithfulness, consistency; over time, over time.

Do you think if you were crazy aggressive perhaps you could save $5 a day? Now before you answer, you stop buying your caffeine drink, one a day you can do it, with God all things are possible! You can be set free and healed from buying caffeine drinks. Or you can brown bag it, you can do it. I mean, just five dollars a day.

Let me just show you how this works, a little money over time with consistency:

If you invested $5 a day at 12% interest, because we’re talking over a long period of time: At 5 years you’d have 12 grand. 10 years you have 34 grand, 20 years, almost 150 grand, 30 years, over half of a million dollars. 40 years, if you did this from the age of 25 to 65, you’d have 1.7 million. If you did this from the age of 20 to the age of 70, 50 years, 5.8 million dollars!

$5 a day!  Those of you who are young should be dancing in your pants right now because you can do it at this age! Once you get older it’s not as easy. If you start now, money plus consistency plus time, how much could you do with money like that? How much of a difference do you think you could make in people’s lives and for the Kingdom of God?

Now, I know what some of you are thinking; “I’m not going to get 12%!”

Okay, what if I am half wrong? You’re still rich! What if you only have two million or only three million? What do you think you could do with that? If you’re faithful with a little God will trust you with a lot.

(Adapted from material by Craig Groeschel)

 

 

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

Kingdom Builders—Whose?

Let’s talk about kingdom building.

Let’s begin by identifying two kingdoms. One is God’s. God’s kingdom is wherever the reign of God is. God is sovereign. He is King. He is the absolute Ruler. His kingdom is where he is invited and allowed to rule and reign supreme. That kingdom begins in the heart of individuals who surrender absolute authority to Him. It exists in lives that are sold out to His Lordship. Jesus said to someone asking about the whereabouts of the kingdom, “The kingdom of God is within you.” Matthew 17:21. From there it extends to include the church and the rule of God in the world.

The second kingdom is our own personal kingdom. It is that realm where we want to have control. It is that which people build for their own enjoyment. It is where the selfish desires of the heart are lord. It is where self, despite claims to the contrary, is the driving force. It built around pleasure, possessions, prestige, popularity, and even power.

Now, if I were to ask the average person which kingdom they would prefer to build some would say God’s Kingdom while others would be absolutely honest and say their own kingdom. I like honesty. I prefer people to call it what it is. I can respect a person who says they are selfish and don’t mind if you know. I don’t agree with them and think they are headed for disaster, but I can respect their honesty.

What concerns me more is those who believe and claim they are building God’s kingdom and are actually building their own. They are self-deceived. They are mistaken and misdirected. In reality, they are actually holding the Kingdom of God back more than building it.

How do you know when that is happening? How do you tell if a person is going down the wrong road and not aware that they are on it? Or how do you identify someone who would say they are building God’s kingdom and are actually constructing their own? Even more pressing, how do you know if you might be that person?

 I think there are at least four clear indicators of exactly whose kingdom we are building. Before I mention them I need to clarify this point. Many people have a mistaken idea of what actually it is that builds the Kingdom of God. What we would sometimes think are Kingdom builders are actually personal interests and involvements. For examples, going to church, reading your Bible, praying, putting some money in the offering and hanging around good and godly people can all be thought of as Kingdom builders (and in some cases they are)when in most respects they are self development interests and involvements.

So, here are four indicators of just whose kingdom you are most concerned about and involved in building.

  1. Passion: what are you most passionate about? What gets you excited? What causes you to lay awake at night? What inspires your creative juices? What brings you to the point of sacrifice? What moves you to get out of bed in the morning? What brings forth plans in your head and on paper? Is it your own pursuits or is it the Kingdom of God. Are you more passionate about your kingdom or Gods?
  2. Service: what are you most likely to give up your limited time for? How much time do you devote to your pursuits verses the needs of others? What do you go out of your way to do? Who are you most willing to sacrifice for? Who are you most willing to get down and dirty for?  When you get up in the morning and think of your day, what comes to mind first and most, what you want to accomplish that day or what you can do to serve others and the Kingdom? Are you more likely to serve your own needs or to serve God by serving others?
  3. Stuff: our stuff speaks volumes about whose kingdom we are really building. Look around yourself. Look at the Kingdom of God and then answer. Are you more interested in getting more stuff or seeing that the needs of the kingdom are met? When you get your pay check what is on your mind, getting something you want or providing something the Kingdom needs? Are you getting more and more stuff while the needs of the Kingdom continue to go unmet or under met? Does your stuff declare that you are more interested in building your kingdom or God’s
  4. Money: Money buys stuff, however, money is a kingdom indicator all by itself. No one said it better than Jesus when he put it on the line, “You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24) He didn’t say, you shouldn’t or you might not serve then both, he said you cannot. It is impossible. It is absolutely impossible to serve both.  And here’s the truth, it is really simple to tell whether or not you are serving God or money. It is really easy to know who has first place when it comes to your money. Are you ready? Here it is. Are you giving to the Kingdom at least a tithe of your income? “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God in first place in your life.” (Deuteronomy 14:23) All that is necessary is to look at one’s check register to know if you are building your kingdom or God’s.

I would suggest that these kingdom building factors are far more than an interesting discussion for a blog post or a magazine article. It is of eternal significance. There is only one thing that will last forever, the kingdom of God. It will never end.  The Psalmist wrote, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.”  Ps 145:13,

This world and everything in it will one day be dissolved and disappear but the Kingdom of God will live on forever and ever and ever and ever and ever. It will never end. I don’t have all the answers as to when and how that will happen but it will happen. It is going to happen whether or not I understand it. It will happen whether or not I believe.

Because of the certainty of the future I would suggest that you devote your entire life to building that which will last forever, His Kingdom and not yours. That doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy what God has blessed us with. But it does mean that our passion and service and stuff and money are invested in His Kingdom always before our own kingdom.

Time for a Kingdom check-up?

How to Save $4000 a year

No one likes to save money and stretch dollars more than I do. Different people have different ways of getting the most out of the dollars they have. There are only so many dollars so you have to make them work for you and not against you. Here are ten ways my wife and I save money and make our dollars work harder and stretch farther.

  1. I clean my own carpets and upholstery. Two weeks ago I rented a carpet cleaner with the upholstery wand and devoted about six hours to cleaning all the carpet, area rugs and upholstery in the house. Cost, less than $50. Annual savings estimate $250
  2. I do my own yard and basic car care. People ask me all the time how I get my yard to look like it does. My answer, I care for it myself. I follow the recommended schedule for care and treatments. It really doesn’t take that long. And I wash my own car (with a few exceptions) and do general care myself. And yes, I still change my own oil. Annual savings estimate $400
  3. I fix it myself. Calling a repair man or service technician is always my last resort. If there is a way to fix something that breaks or malfunctions, I will at least attempt to figure it out. Only when I have run into multiple dead ends will I give in and make the call. I can count on one hand the times that has happened over the last forty years. One of those times was last night. The tension spring on our garage door snapped yesterday. One look at it told me that I didn’t have the tools to do the job so I made the call instantly. Annual savings estimate $350
  4. I exercise regularly without a health club membership. I am in my sixties and have never felt better health wise. I jog on a regular basis as my exercise of choice. Though I need to supplement with some strength training, it keeps me healthy and feeling great. Last year I gave in and got a three month club membership for the winter but this year I bought some cold weather jogging clothes and decided to tough it out. It really hasn’t been tough to this point. Not only do I save money on club membership, I save untold amounts of money on doctor’s visits and medications. It might be in the genes, but I cannot remember the last time I went to the doctor for sickness. Annual savings estimate $500
  5. We give at least a tithe to God. Right off that sounds like a cost instead of a savings but not when you discover how God works. For example, in Mal 3:10-12 it says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty. When God is honored with faithful tithing he not only blesses in ways that money cannot buy but He preserves and protects and extends the life of what we have so that it is more productive and doesn’t break down as often. I wish I had time to share some stories but I need to get to #6. Annual savings estimate, inestimable.
  6. We research and wait on purchases. We make sure when we make a purchase we have the best possible deal out there. We refuse to allow salesman or impulse buying get their way. The bigger the purchase the longer we wait, pray and research. We never make a sizable purchase without waiting at least over night. For some reason the desire and urgency just isn’t there in the morning. Annual savings estimate $350
  7. We use credit to our advantage. We have one credit card that we use to purchase everything on, and I mean everything, if they will take credit. We pay off the total every month—EVERY MONTH. We never carry a balance. At the same time, we are getting two dividend miles for each dollar charged. So each year we are getting about two free airline tickets. And by the way, if I ever get a payment in late, like I did one month last year, when I thought I had made the online payment and for some reason it failed to go through, I called and asked for grace and they refunded the interest and late fees. All it took was an ask. Annual savings estimate $600
  8. I use Priceline and other discount sites for all they are worth. I really like to work Priceline.  I never pay asking price for a hotel or rent-a-car and usually save from 30-60%. For example, when we go to visit our kids in Cincinnati and might need to get a hotel I get the four star Hyatt Regency in downtown Cincy on the 20th floor for $50 a night. I have done that on a number of occasions. Annual saving estimate $300
  9. We take care of what we have. An article appeared on the MSN homepage last week on “9 Ways to Keep Your Car’s Value for Resale.” I can say it in one; take care of what you have. That means preventative steps as well as fixing it when it is broken rather than letting it go and lead to more and more costs due to neglect. And that’s not just the car but everything. I always keep a list of things I need to fix or take care of. It may take me awhile to get around to some of them but do eventually. Annual savings estimate $500
  10. I have saved the big one till last. I make my own coffee. That’s right, I pass right by the expensive coffee store. The only time I pull in, is when someone has given me a gift card. I love coffee. I drink way too much coffee. But I also like good coffee. And I like it when I want it. I have a Bunn coffee maker. For those who don’t know, that means the water is hot all the time and the coffee comes out as fast as you can pour the water in and close the lid. I buy good coffee at discount prices and make my own, morning, noon and night. Annual savings estimate $750.

So, if you add them all up it comes out to about an annual savings right at $4000. That’s a pretty big chunk of money. There are, however, three requirements for something like this to work in any setting, planning, ambition and discipline. If you have or can develop these three, even when you really don’t want to, it will always shake down to saving big buck.

I would love to hear of your ideas on how you save money and about how much it saves you in a year.

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?