How Some Whole Life Insurance Policies May Be A Lot Better Than Dave Makes Them Out To Be

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Photo by Thomas Hawk

[Excerpts from this post are taken from Larry’s book, Beyond Peace In Christian Finances: Accelerating Past Average With Your Money Plan]

The Whole Life Versus Term Life Debate

In Financial Peace University, Dave makes it clear that he hates whole life insurance products. He encourages everyone to buy term life insurance and then invest the difference normally paid for a whole life policy. There are many in the personal finance world chanting the exact same mantra. I get it. I understand most of the reasoning behind the debate.

When I first heard about the whole versus term life insurance debate around 2004, I immediately bought a decent amount of term life insurance to protect my family. Then, I turned around and canceled my variable universal life (VUL) policy that I had been suckered into by a “friend” and his buddy life insurance guy a few years earlier. I was too ignorant back then and didn’t understand the various forms of life insurance. I had no clue on “good” and “bad” forms of life insurance. Fast forward a few years. I now have in place a newer, larger, quality, twenty-year term life policy. I have peace of mind knowing my wife, four daughters, and son will have the resources they need if something happens to me.

Bank On Yourself: The Infinite Banking Concept

A few years after buying this latest term policy, I ran across several books and blogs recommending a new financial product (which is really an older way of doing life insurance) called the Infinite Banking Concept (IBC). The basic idea behind IBC is the reality that most American families will finance large ticket items such as cars, college, and homes. When financing these items through conventional banking methods, borrowers are throwing away thousands of dollars in interest that they could be recapturing for their own personal benefit. When properly set up, an IBC utilizes a form of permanent, whole life insurance to create a personal “bank” of money to borrow from, that also has some tax advantages tied to it (assuming that the Federal government doesn’t mess with these policies in the future).

Let me say upfront that I currently do not have an IBC. At the time of my writing this book, I’m still in the research and investigation phase. My first impression after reading several books and web articles on IBC is that the concept and its application in this way are intriguing. The idea of building up a storehouse of wealth over several years in which the person, in theory, becomes his or her own bank seems rather ingenious to me. But, because I have heard the whole Dave Ramsey rant on whole versus term life insurance for so long, it has taken me a while to process the concept.

In the article “My History With IBC,” economist Robert P. Murphy, PhD addresses the problems that Dave brings up about whole life policies:

… Dave Ramsey is a radio talk show host who (admirably) counsels people on how to get out from their crushing debt load, through obvious but crucial things like making out a budget, communicating with one’s spouse on financial affairs, etc. Ramsey is very entertaining and I can certainly understand why his show is so popular. However, Ramsey absolutely has it out for whole life (and other types of permanent life insurance) policies, advocating instead that people “buy term and invest the difference.” For example, in a post from his website, Ramsey implies that you won’t have any cash value for the first three years of a new policy. He goes on to explicitly say that the rate of return on your money is much higher in mutual funds, that you won’t need life insurance after 20 years if you follow his plan, and that the insurance company keeps your cash values when you die, giving your beneficiary only the death benefit.

Every one of these (typical) objections is either misleading or downright false, at least when it comes to Nelson Nash’s IBC approach of using whole life policies. First, if you set up the policy properly with a “Paid Up Additions (PUA) rider,” then right off the bat, a portion of your periodic payment is buying a chunk of fully paid-up life insurance. Thus, your cash value begins rising immediately, and you can begin borrowing against your policy right away (if you need to).

As far as comparing rates of return, again the problem is that Ramsey is viewing permanent life insurance as an investment, rather than a cash flow management strategy. Yet even if we use the standard tools of financial analysis, it is a non sequitur to point out that a mutual fund is expected to have a higher 30-year (say) average annualized rate of return, compared to the internal rate of return on an insurance policy’s projected cash value growth. Such a bald statement ignores the difference in risk between the two strategies. (Whole life insurance policies have guaranteed minimum rates of return. Do equity-based mutual funds have that?) Ramsey could just as easily “prove” that nobody should ever buy a corporate bond, because stock issued from the same company will always have a higher expected return…

By making these comments, I’m not “proving” that more life insurance is always the best thing to buy, from a conventional “asset class” allocation perspective; otherwise we would have the absurd result that everybody should put every last dollar of his wealth into life insurance policies, with nobody owning stocks, bonds, real estate, or precious metals. (Obviously somebody has to own a share of corporate stock or a piece of real estate, and that ownership must be voluntary. So their prices adjust to make it attractive for someone to acquire and hold.) All I’m making is the modest point that in Ramsey’s critique of whole life and related insurance policies—when he compares them very unfavorably with “buy term and invest the difference in mutual funds”—he isn’t even attempting to set up an apples-to-apples comparison of the two strategies. He’s pulling one set of statistics—internal rates of return—out of context and trumpeting them as if they’re decisive, when the actual situation is much more nuanced.

When IBC policy holders take out a policy loan to personally finance large sums of money, they must set up terms of repayment with interest. The purpose of repayment with interest is in order for the policy to generate the benefits of the storehouse of wealth system. The good news here is that policy owners are paying themselves back with interest. They are able to bypass the greedy, overpaid executives in the large corporate banks in New York City. This is the beauty of IBC.

Potential Uses for Your Storehouse of Wealth

As I continue doing research on IBC over the last several months, I’ve been asking myself a bunch of “what if” questions such as:

  • What if I established an IBC, let that policy mature for a few years, build up a storehouse of wealth, and then put this money to work creating more streams of income that create more streams of income?
  • What if took out a policy loan for a decent amount of money, used it as a down payment for a bargain rental property, and started some new streams of income this way?
  • What if I took out a policy loan to buy an existing business that had decent cash flow to it already?
  • What if I used a policy loan to do some peer-to-peer lending?

I do see the potential to use an IBC as a personal storehouse of wealth to create even more wealth. This money could be put to work at higher interest percentage rates and create multiple streams of income. My own next step in the process is to speak directly to a trained professional in setting up an IBC policy.

IBC Core Details

Here are some of the core details of what I understand about the Infinite Banking Concept. First, the policy (or policies—multiples can be set up for family members) must be established in mutual insurance companies. Second, these policies are not the “run of the mill” whole life policies. They are a very specific, specialty product: high-premium, dividend-paying, whole life insurance policies. Third, seek out trained professionals who know the specific mutual insurance companies as well as the technicalities to set this up an IBC properly. Check out the resources at the end of this chapter to find these professionals. Fourth, it will take a few years (perhaps 3 to 5) of premium payments to establish a policy in a position to be a storehouse of wealth. There are methods to speed up the cash value of a policy to tap into these benefits earlier than this. I recommend speaking with a certified professional in IBC to uncover all the many options.

Fifth, when requesting a policy loan, it is just a matter of filling out a form to request the money—and it will be available a few days. The insurance company won’t ask a bunch of personal financial questions or check credit scores like most lending institutions. The insurance company administers and guarantees the value of the collateral. The company actually doesn’t even care if you repay the policy loan. They will simply deduct that amount from the cash value/death benefit of the policy. But, the policyholder cares if it’s repaid, because repayment with the terms chosen accelerates the growth of the policy. Sixth, an IBC policy shouldn’t be viewed an investment vehicle. It should be viewed as a cash flow management strategy with many unique benefits. Seven, creating an IBC policy (or policies) in a family is a way to move away from the corrupt, fiat money system of a central bank. It creates a personal privatized banking system. This is the key distinction and benefit of the IBC. Conventional, commercial banks create money “out of thin air” as well as create all sorts of national financial problems. A privatized banking system such as IBC is based on actual cash values created within the policy.

The information shared in this post can be found Larry’s book released in the Amazon Kindle store: Beyond Peace In Christian Finances: Accelerating Past Average With Your Money Plan.

A New Concept In Successful Living

Photo by TheTaxHaven

Photo by TheTaxHaven

A Doctor Reveals The Secret

Turn your head and cough.

Yeah, it was that magical time, once again, with my doctor. A few years ago, I had just turned 40, and I needed to go in for a physical evaluation, just to make sure everything in my body was still up to factory specs.

As he and I were sitting in the examination room going through my medical history, he told me I was a boring patient.

I was like, “Geez, thanks a lot, doc.”

Fortunately, he meant it as a compliment.

He told me that in the medical profession he loves boring patients – individuals who are proactively taking care of themselves physically and not engaging in risky behaviors.

I said, “Yup, that’s me. I’m about as vanilla as they come.”

Boring Means Successful

The more I have thought about my doctor’s statement, though, the more I have considered the importance of this as a life philosophy.

I also started thinking about successful people and their daily routines and rituals.

The successful people I know are extremely disciplined, proactive, routine-driven, and not given over to “cray cray.”

Yeah, there are a few exceptions to the rule such as successful, business people types who “party like it’s 1999” and can (sort of) keep their life stuff together, but that’s pretty rare.

The Success Habits Of The Boring

The successful boring people out there have several boring habits.

Maybe that’s a big part of why they are successful.

They wake up early. They engage in personal quiet time, prayer, or meditation. They journal. They write down and review their goals on a regular basis. They focus on two or three important tasks a day that only they can accomplish that will move their career or business forward. They work on the hardest projects, first. They fight hard against procrastination.

They delegate additional activities to others in order to stay focused on their vital few. They eat right. They exercise. They stay on top of their personal finances. They and their spouses are on the same page when it comes to business, finances, and their family. They enjoy spending time with their spouses and children.

They invest all of their time and energy into activities and processes that make a difference.

Now, how corny and square are all these activities? The majority of people on planet earth probably laugh at these type of people and call them “nerds.”

To the successful, though, these activities aren’t boring. They’re actually exciting.

So, if boring works so amazingly well, why aren’t more of us this boring?

Questions: Are you boring and successful in life? If so, what boring activities do you engage in that you would give credit for your success?

Do You Have A Messed Up Life? How To Influence People’s Lives By Sharing Yours

Photo by Alan Levine

Photo by Alan Levine

I Was One Messed Up Trumpet Player

In the late 1980s, I was an undergraduate trumpet student at a prestigious music conservatory. My trumpet teacher at this school is a well-known principal trumpet of a major symphony orchestra. He is a very natural, incredible musician. In his trumpet career, he has never really encountered any personal playing problems.

I, however, have always struggled with a couple of different playing technique-related issues. My teacher at the music conservatory had no idea how to help me. At the time, he just didn’t have enough teaching experience to help me correct my trumpet playing problems. We struggled through two semesters in my sophomore year and nothing was helping. As a matter of fact, I was actually getting worse with each passing lesson.

After two difficult years in music school, I ended up dropping out defeated and discouraged. I ended up moving back home with my parents, applied at a local university, and changed my major to electrical engineering. I was done with music, altogether.

But then, I connected with a couple of different trumpet teachers who understood my playing problems and were able to help me tremendously. Because of their own personal playing problems, they brought a wealth of experience and knowledge into my trumpet lessons. As a result, I was able to move forward and be successful in my music career. To this day, I owe them a debt of gratitude and appreciation for their help in getting me back on track as a musician. I seriously doubt I would have enjoyed the life of an electrical engineer!

The more problems you have experienced and the more mistakes you have learned from actually makes you WAY MORE qualified to help others.

Experience Is Pure Gold

Interestingly enough, those of us in our 40s who have experienced some pretty horrific failures have the tendency to think we may have disqualified ourselves from being able to help others. We have this messed up view that we have to be “perfect” in order to dispense advice to others.

Believe it or not, the opposite is true.

The lessons learned from your own personal experience make you uniquely qualified to share and help others going through similar circumstances.

Sharing Is Caring

When you care, you share.

And, if you’re over 40, then chances are you have built up a wealth of valuable knowledge and experience.

By this stage in life, you have probably had several failures and a few successes. You generally have a firmer grasp on life than those who are younger than you. For the most part, you have entered life’s “sweet spot.” You have learned from your mistakes and are typically making better choices in your mid-life journey.

There are many younger people in the generations directly behind you who could learn a lot from your experience.

Why not grab some of the younger people in your sphere of influence, especially the ones who are really struggling right now, and take them out to lunch. Listen to their stories and share yours.

Maybe, just maybe, you can help someone in a generation behind you that nobody else can reach.

Question: What life experiences do you carry around inside of you that could possibly benefit others?






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How To Enjoy Life And Make A Greater Contribution In The Lives Of Others

Photo by John Catbagan

Photo by John Catbagan

The Starfish Story

This story has been around for some time. Perhaps you’ve heard it before? In any case, I believe this story sets up this post well.

Strolling along the edge of the sea, a man catches sight of a young woman who appears to be engaged in a ritual dance. She stoops down, then straightens to her full height, casting her arm out in an arc. Drawing closer, he sees that the beach around her is littered with starfish, and she is throwing them one by one into the sea. He lightly mocks her: “There are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see, for miles up the beach. What difference can saving a few of them possibly make?” Smiling, she bends down and once more tosses a starfish out over the water, saying serenely, “It certainly makes a difference to this one.”

The Impact Of A Book

Have you ever read a book, seen a TV interview, or perhaps watched an online video that causes you to have one of those “AHA” moments? You know, when a light bulb goes off in your mind and you feel like a major shift in your thinking has taken place?

This happened for me about 7-8 months ago, when I watched a Youtube video of an orchestra conductor named Ben Zander and then read his book “The Art of Possibility.” You can read my book review on “The Art of Possibility” here.

In several chapters of his book, Ben discusses some of his challenges of being a conductor of a volunteer orchestra. As I continued to read through the book, I kept having these “Aha” moments of realization and learning.

For a large portion of his life, Ben Zander struggled with the drive to be to be successful as well as a fear of failure. He claims that this struggle caused both himself and those around him considerable suffering. The greater his success as an orchestra conductor, the worse this tension became in his life.

The tipping point for Ben came when his second wife walked away from their marriage. He began re-thinking how he was “doing life.”

He came away with the realization that he was living a life of selfishness. He was more inward focused on his own success. When being inward focused, he had more of an attitude that there was always another orchestra – aside from the one he was currently conducting – that he suspected would bring him more success, and so he was never fully present when he was on the conductor’s podium.

When he began playing the game of contribution, on the other hand, he found there was no better orchestra than the one I was conducting, no better person to be with than the one he was with; in fact, there was no “better.” In the game of contribution you wake up each day and bask in the notion that you can be a contribution to the lives of others.

A Shift Takes Place In My Thinking

This personally hit home with me about my own relationships within my family, as well as the volunteer orchestra I direct each week. I started asking myself questions about whether I was more interested in achieving success in my family or ministry, or am I truly more interested in living a life of contribution. This subtle but important shift in my mindset has (I believe) created a more enjoyable experience for those that I love and lead.

For example with the orchestra at church, in the past, I would get frustrated or upset with various problems such as excessive absenteeism for orchestra rehearsals on Wednesday nights as well as worship services on Sundays. My mindset before was too focused on having a successful orchestra and the roadblocks (in my mind) that my volunteer members were causing me to be a successful director.

Once I made this shift in my thinking, though, I started focusing on the orchestra members who decided to be present for a particular Wednesday rehearsal or Sunday worship service. I began realizing I could and should be a contribution in their lives spiritually, musically, and personally.

And you know what has happened? I’m enjoying my life and ministry a whole lot more by living a life focused on contribution rather than success versus failure. And, I hope those around me are enjoying life at a deeper level as well.

The Generous Life

Playing the game of contribution should really be of no surprise to those of us who are believers in Christ. The Bible has much to say about living a life of generosity versus selfishness.

In Proverbs 11:24-25 (MSG) we read these words:

The world of the generous gets larger and larger;
the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;
those who help others are helped.

Throw yourself into life as someone who makes a difference, accepting that you may not understand how or why. Just like our starfish story at the beginning, don’t get overwhelmed and give up because you can’t help everyone. Focus on being a contribution to the few that you can be.

Questions: Are you living a tension-filled life based on a drive for success and a fear of failure? Is your life enjoyable or full misery? Do you need to consider a shift in mindset from success versus failure over to contribution?






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4 Proven Actions To Avoid Spiritual Danger Zones In Your Life

Photo by Deanna

Photo by Deanna

Mountain Road Guardrails Save Lives

Mountain roads are the most dangerous roads.

There’s not a lot of margin when you’re driving on a mountain road. It’s either stay on the road and live, or drive off the side of the mountain and die. That’s it.

And, believe it or not, many of the mountain roads around the world have very few safety features such as guardrails to keep people from driving off the side of a mountain.

I recently read a story from November 2005, when a missionary was driving the dangerous mountain roads of Northern Bosnia–Herzegovina with a couple of pastors. The weather was terrible, but they were driving cautiously as they navigated their way to a conference. The majority of these Bosnian roads have no guardrails.

As they came around a curve, they unexpectedly hit a slick spot and started sliding toward the edge of the mountain. A river with jagged rocks was waiting for this missionary and pastors some 40-feet below.

As their car was sliding out of control, the men all cried out “Jesus!” Fortunately, this was one of a few curves on the mountain road that actually had a guardrail. The front bumper of the car hit the guardrail and pushed the car back on the road.

Once the missionary found a safe place to pull over, the all jumped out of the car to take a look. First, they were amazed that there was even a guardrail on this particular curve. Second, they were surprised that the guardrail appeared to be brand new.

The Purpose of Guardrails

Guardrails are designed to keep motor vehicles from straying into dangerous or off-limit areas, just like in the above story. They are normally found on bridges, in medians, and around curves.

Guardrails are a safety design feature that is an almost invisible part of our driving experience. We really don’t even pay attention to them until we need them.

In driving, there needs to be some margin of error. Mistakes will be made. Accidents will happen. The theory behind the guardrail is that your physical body and your vehicle will incur less damage striking the guardrail then if you were to experience whatever is on the other side of that guardrail (such as a drop off or an oncoming car).

So, yes, if you hit a guardrail, there is going to be damage, but it probably won’t be as bad as if you didn’t have that guardrail in the first place.

We Need Guardrails

We as a society need guardrails on the road. They are an important safety feature for all of us.

You and I need “guardrails” in our personal lives, too.

We’ve all had horrible, damaging experiences in our own lives or in the lives of family members. These damaging events may have included a financial bankruptcy, a moral failure, a divorce, bad business practices, or an addiction.

But, if we had included the safety feature of personal guardrails in our lives, these catastrophic events could have been prevented. Yes, some damage may have occurred, but maybe not at the level of the final, destructive outcome we experienced.

4 Actions To Protect Our Spiritual Lives

When I speak of personal guardrails, I’m speaking of taking the following actions to protect us from our own danger zones:

First, you must be honest with yourself and others regarding the areas in which you struggle and are most tempted.

Second, you need to seek out professional help, especially if you really struggle in the area of addictions, to get you back on the road to sobriety.

Third, you must put appropriate rules into place to act as your “guardrails” for your specific area of struggle. For example, if you have a spending problem that led you into bankruptcy in the past, then you must live on a budget and spend only cash; no credit cards or other debt for you. If you are a workaholic and this has damaged your relationship with your family, then you need to establish a strict schedule for work hours and family time. If you struggle with alcoholism, then you can never take even one drink ever again.

Fourth, you need to be accountable to those around you. You need to be accountable to your spouse. You need to be accountable to a trusted friend. You need to be accountable to a group of men or women. You need to check in with them on a regularly basis. Once a week is ideal. Every few weeks is okay. Being accountable to these people means they understand the areas in which you personally struggle and you are completely honest with them with how you are doing in those areas.

Questions: Do you need guardrails to protect you from specific danger zones in your life? Have you constructed these guardrails already? Have you been honest with yourself? Have you sought out professional help? Have you setup some rules? Do you have accountability partners to guide you back to where you really want to go?






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Does God Really Want Me To Live A Life Of Financial Abundance Or Not?

Photo by DavidZ

Photo by DavidZ

Answering A Young Christian’s Financial Concerns

Is it okay to be a Christian and be rich?

Great question.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from one of my blog readers. She is new to the Christian faith and wrestling with wealth and the Christian life. You see, she lacks nothing in this life. She’s uncertain about what the Biblical response should be to the financial blessing of God.

In this post, I attempt to tackle ten questions that my blog reader asks in her email.

Before I answer these questions, take a quick scan of her email:

Hi Larry,

I recently found your blog and find it very interesting. I am a “born-again” Christian (since 2012) and found that no one wants to talk about money. Consequently, I am very thankful for your blog. I have a question and I’m wondering if you already addressed this topic:

Should I feel guilty that I do not lack anything?

I consider myself to be pretty generous. I cheerfully pay my 10% to the church and contribute to many charities. On the other hand….I do not lack anything. Sometimes, I feel guilty about the comfort that my family enjoys. Simply put, how can I justify having anything above the minimum necessity of life while thousands are dying from starvation every single day? Aren’t Christians supposed to sacrifice their “comfort” for the good of others? Isn’t true that many early Christians sold everything they had to give to the poor? How much credit do you get when you give out of abundance without experiencing sacrifice?

I recently started questioning expenses such as new clothing, new furniture, going to the movies and even family vacations! If I can’t hardly justify these, never mind considering real luxury items such as spa treatments, Botox, 10 pairs of shoes and a fancy car!

Anyone else experiencing this guilt and questioning every expense? Am I worrying too much about this? Should I forget it since after all, my contribution will not put an end to starvation? Did God want us to live a life of “sacrifices”? Is it wrong to enjoy earthly pleasures while others are dying? Is it wrong to not lack anything?

Your thoughts would be appreciated,

God bless,

Blog Reader from Alberta, Canada

A Biblical Response To Wealth

Here is my response to my reader’s specific questions based upon what I believe God teaches us through His Word. I attempt to quote a key Bible passage for each question.

  1. Should I feel guilty that I do not lack anything? To be blunt – NO! If God has chosen to bless you and your family, then I say REJOICE! Approach Him daily with a an attitude of gratitude for His financial blessings. You also mentioned that you are cheerfully tithing and giving to others. Your blessing and financial generosity should result in thanksgiving, not guilt! “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:10-11).
  2. How can I justify having anything above the minimum necessity of life while thousands are dying from starvation every single day? There’s a Gospel story (The Alabaster Jar) found in Matthew 26 and Mark 14 when a woman (probably Mary Magdalene) took a very expensive perfume/ointment that cost an entire year’s wages and poured it all over Jesus. She anointed His body before He went to the cross. The disciples were mad about it, too. Their response was “why couldn’t this expensive ointment been sold and the money given to the poor?” Jesus’ response, “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.” Yes, we need to help the poor, but there will be other large financial priorities that can and will supersede poverty. We will never be able to fully eradicate it. Jesus said so, Himself. Help where you can, and then leave the rest in God’s hands.
  3. Aren’t Christians supposed to sacrifice their “comfort” for the good of others? Yes and No. It’s a slightly complicated question. God’s first priority for you after the tithe is for you to provide for your family. “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). Now, I do realize the passage is dealing with taking care of widows within your family so that they are not a burden on the church, but I still think there’s an overarching principle here. God gives us financial supply in order for us to provide for our families. But, if you and your spouse feel that you have way more than enough, then you could always make a decision to place a cap on your lifestyle and give the rest of your wealth away. There are no hard and fast rules here. You and your spouse just need to pray this one through and see what the Lord has called your family to do.
  4. Isn’t it true that many early Christians sold everything they had to give to the poor? You’re actually referring to the Book of Acts in this question (read Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-37). I believe this was an isolated incident in Scripture, completely based on the circumstances of the Early Church. The early church was being persecuted, and many of these young Christians were very poor. Apparently, they all threw their money together in a “communal pot” and took care of each other’s needs (not just poor people in general). Plus, these early believers thought Jesus was coming back sooner than later, so they didn’t really care about their wealth and what was going to happen to it. Unfortunately, some believers even stopped working and become idle in their lives as a result. In fact, the Apostle Paul had to chastise believers in Thessalonica about this very issue. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6-14. As the church grew and matured, we no longer see this communal church living structure after the Book of Acts.
  5. Anyone else experiencing this guilt and questioning every expense? Many wealthy Christians struggle with these same questions as you do. You are not alone. My encouragement to you would be to embrace the struggle. That means the Holy Spirit is at work in your life. This is a great problem to have. Pray daily regarding what the Lord would have you do with your abundance.
  6. Am I worrying too much about this? Again, it’s a slightly complex problem you are dealing with, with no clear-cut answers to all of your questions. In Luke 12:25, Jesus poses the question, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Instead of worrying about it, pray about these challenges and discuss them with your spouse. With God’s help, formulate a game plan for your abundance.
  7. Should I forget it since after all, my contribution will not put an end to starvation? I would say do what God has called you and your family to contribute, and then leave the rest in His hands. You can only do what you can do.
  8. Did God want us to live a life of “sacrifices?” At some level, I would say “yes.” If you have modified your lifestyle to the point where you are not spending money at the level you could based on your wealth, then I would submit that you are already living in a sacrificial state. “Sacrifice” has a different definition at different income levels. Your sacrifices won’t look like my sacrifices. This may be a horrible example, but let’s say you could financially afford and had a strong desire to buy a brand new 2014 Cadillac CTS with cash, but you have chosen to forego that purchase and buy a really nice, used, 2-year old 2012 Buck LaCrosse instead. And with the money you haven’t spent, you decide to give that to the poor. I believe then that you have lived out a sacrificial lifestyle.
  9. Is it wrong to enjoy earthly pleasures while others are dying? No. In 1 Timothy 6:17 we read, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” In this one verse, the Apostle Paul mentions that God does give wealth for our enjoyment. You and your spouse may just need to set the limits on that enjoyment through prayer and insight from the Holy Spirit.
  10. Is it wrong to not lack anything? No. Nowhere in Scripture do I read that it is wrong to lack anything. As a matter a fact, I read the opposite in God’s Word, at least in the sense of lacking real world, everyday needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. In Matthew 6:31-34 Jesus tells us, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Questions: So, what do you think? Am I on the right track regarding Christians and wealth? How would you answer this blog reader’s questions?






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How To Control Your Thoughts And Influence Your Outcomes

Photo by Nicola Albertini

Photo by Nicola Albertini

The Power Of Choice

“Make it a great day, or not. The choice is yours.”

This quote is on the back of an entrance sign for my daughters’ school. Every time I need to run up to school for an event, I contemplate this quote when I leave the school grounds.

This quote is a great reminder to all of us that there is tremendous power in our choices.

Before our heads hit the pillow at night, we can (and many times do) decide how the next day is going to go. We can dread it and decide that it will be a horrible day at the office. And, guess what kind of day it will be? Probably the worst day, ever, simply because we decided in advance, without even realizing it!

Or, we can take a better, more proactive approach. We can decide that tomorrow will be the best day ever, and we can’t wait to wake up in the morning and enjoy it!

Will it be a perfect day? Well, probably not perfect, but it’s going to be a better day because you made the choice in advance that it would be.

This is all rocket science, I know.

The Bible And Our Thoughts

You might be surprised that God’s Word talks about our thought life.

In Proverbs 23:7a we read, “For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he …” We become what we think about.

That’s kinda scary when you contemplate that statement for a while.

Negative thoughts breed negative results. But, on the flip side, positive thoughts breed positive results.

Now, I’m not talking some kind of New Age mumbo-jumbo in these statements. But, our thoughts will guide our overall outcomes.

God wants you to have a thought life that is positively focused on faith and trust in Him for all things. Now, this doesn’t mean that our lives will be puppy dogs and rainbows once we make this switch in our mental focus. But, it does mean that God will give us the faith and strength to handle all outcomes.

Check out these additional Bible verses on our thought life [Source: Openbible.info]. Meditate on these spiritual words of wisdom this week.

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Isaiah 26:3
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Philippians 4:6-9
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Questions: How’s your thought life? Do you focus on the positive or negative? Do you purposely “guard your mind?” Do you think your current outcomes in life are related to your thought life? How do you need to think differently, starting today?






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What Should You Do When You’re Waiting On God For Your Next Move?

Photo by mikevazzovski

Photo by mikevazzovski

In The Waiting

Waiting (definition): The action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens.

Do you enjoy staying in one spot for too long? Do you relish delaying action while you wait on someone or something to change?

Personally, I hate waiting. I’ll admit it. I’m a time nut, and waiting around for something to take place would seem to be a total waste of time, money, and energy.

So, why does it always seem like we need to wait around all the time?

We must wait until we have a clear direction to move forward in a career change. We must wait for medical treatments to work the way they’re supposed to and finally heal our body. We must wait patiently to declare freedom from debt while we keep chunking down extra money month after month on our debt load. We must wait anxiously and prayerfully as our children move through a rebellious period in their lives.

What Now? That Awkward “In-Between” Stage

So now, we’re waiting around for God’s next move for our lives. We’re in that awkward, in-between stage that no one enjoys. What now?

Well, we have at least three choices to choose from in our response to this in-between time period.

Choice one: we can get mad and frustrated with God. We can mope around and get into a “funk” because God won’t answer our prayers immediately. God’s not on our time-table, so we’re going to pack up our toys and go home, so to speak. We become disillusioned with God. We disengage from living the Christian life, at least to the extent God intended for us.

Choice two: we can get impatient with God and strike out on our own. We attempt to force a change to take place. This is usually when we make poor choices and bad stuff happens to us. We go into massive debt that will be difficult to get out of later on. We marry the wrong person. We take a job position that is a poor choice for our gifting and personality. We end up driving a relationship wedge between us and those we love.

Choice three: we can assume an attitude of patience with our Heavenly Father, recognizing that He knows all things and that He knows what is best for us as His children. We can take on the attitude that God wants to use this in-between time to shape us in to the man or woman He wants us to be.

Becoming The Person God Intends You To Be

Do you know why God hasn’t taken you from where you are currently to where you would like to be? Most likely it is due to the fact that you are not yet the person He needs you to become in order for you to be successful at the next level.

Your ultimate focus in this period of waiting should be becoming the person God intends you to be. He wants you to grow up. He wants you to become more mature in your walk with Christ. He wants you to shed sinful habits that are holding you back. He wants you to learn patience. He wants you to become “a better you” as a result of the waiting.

James 1:2-4 tells us, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

In these times of waiting on God, we are being tested. The purpose according to James is two-fold. First, the testing of our faith should produce endurance. Second, our new-found endurance should produce maturity.

During these times of waiting on God, simply allow Him to shape and mold you into the person He wants you to become.

Questions: How patient are you during these periods of waiting on God? Have you ever considered that God is wanting you to focus on becoming a more mature believer as a result of the waiting? Do you have any personal examples of God radically changing your life as a result of one or more of these times of waiting? If so, I’d love to hear your story.

Embracing Tension To Live Your Best Life

Photo by Dave77459

Photo by Dave77459

A Life Filled With Tension

You had a horrible night sleep because your baby is really colicky right now. You’re in a bad mood, and you’re about to take it out on the rest of the family, especially your spouse.

You just stepped on to the elliptical machine at the gym. You’re only a couple of minutes into your workout routine and you’re just not feeling this exercise thing, today. You’re about to step off the machine and find something easier to do or maybe even just go home.

You just picked up the kids from childcare on your way home from work. They’re being obnoxious in the back seat of your car. You’re exhausted from a long day of work. You’re on a tight family budget. You are also trying to eat healthy meals at home, but then out of the corner of your eye, you see a fast food restaurant at the next intersection.

What do all these scenarios have in common? They all contain a point of tension. A point when you need to make a decision on where you are going to allow this tension to lead you. In that very moment, you can make a good choice or a poor choice. In some points of tension, there may not even be a decision to be reached. You may just need to hold on to your tension for the time being.

Tension Resolution

I have come to the conclusion that we as human beings do not enjoy these points of tension. We will do almost anything to avoid them. And, it’s just too easy to slip into our default mode and make a poor decision as a result of the tension.

In the examples above, our default response is to be grumpy with our families and take it out on them when we haven’t had a good night’s sleep.

Our default reaction is to seek pleasure and comfort over a strenuous workout.

Our default reflex is to save time, energy, and the hassle factor for dinner by going through a fast food drive thru on our way home from work.

In the majority of situations, our default response is to take the easy way out in order to resolve our point of tension.

Living With Tension

So, what should we do with these points of tension?

First, be aware that they occur in your life multiple times during the day. Simple awareness that this is going on can help you in deciding on what to do with the tension.

Second, recognize what your default response is in any of these situations. Everyone’s default is pressing the easy button to get out of the tension as fast as possible.

Third, establish a compelling vision of your ultimate life. Compare your default reaction to these points of tension and the life you ultimately desire.

Fourth, embrace the tension. Recognize the tension for what it is. Realize that you don’t always need to seek comfort by resolving your point of tension as quickly as possible.

Fifth, make the BEST choice that lines up with your life vision. You DO have a choice in these tension-filled situations. Plan ahead what your reaction will be in order to avoid hitting your default key. Decide in advance what the best choice is for you.

Questions: So, how aware are you of these points of tension and your natural default reaction to resolving these tensions in your life? Now that you’re at least a little more aware of them, what is your plan in order to deal with them from this point forward?