How An iPad Changed My Perspective On Heavenly Treasures

iPad 1 photoMy Pride And Joy

In August 2009, I made a significant financial purchase.

I bought my very first iPad, a first generation Apple iPad. The cost was around $500.

For several months, I worked hard and saved any extra money I could. I even did some additional side work in order to save up enough money to buy this amazing new technology that Apple produced.

For at least a year or two, this iPad 1 was my pride and joy. I took it with me everywhere. I used it for everything.

Then, of course, Apple had the audacity to build newer and better iPads (what seemed to be every 6 months), making my glorious iPad 1 practically obsolete. Now five years later in 2014, you can go online to websites such as Craigslist and buy this same iPad for around $100-150. This tablet computer has depreciated greatly in value over time.

Ultimately, though, the materials used in this iPad will end up in a landfill or be recycled into another product.

Jesus And Our Treasures

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talked about our treasures and their value in this life and the next.

He said in Matthew 6:19-21,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

Jesus gives us three key thoughts in these verses.

First, earth is a bad location to store our treasures. They will decay over time, plus there is the potential for theft.

Second, heaven is a better place to store our treasures. They will never decay here, or ever be stolen.

Third, our hearts follow our treasures. When we are consumed about our earthly treasure, our hearts are concerned with a temporal earth. God wants us to store up treasure in heaven so that our heart is focused on heaven. If we are believers, this is our ultimate destination, our eternal home.

So, Where’s Your Treasure?

Isn’t it ironic that we as believers in Christ often devote so much time, attention and money into the things that rust and perish? But, we ignore those things that truly last forever.

May I ask you this question, where is your treasure? Are you perhaps more concerned financially in earthly things such as cars, iPads, computers, phones or houses? These items lose their monetary value over time and will eventually be destroyed.

Or, are you investing in eternity? A great way to invest in eternity is by giving back to the Lord what He has entrusted to us through the weekly offerings of your local church.

The old saying goes that we can’t take it with us, but we can send it on ahead.

See my Giving Talk Video below where I addressed this same issue:






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How To Craft A Christian Personal Financial Theology

Photo by UnlockingTheBible

Photo by UnlockingTheBible

Let’s Review

In my last post Do You Have A Philosophy Or A Theology When It Comes To Personal Finances?, we explored four separate money beliefs that I believe many Christians operate their financial lives through one of these four belief systems:

  • Money Belief #1: Money is worldly and a necessary evil to survive. Let’s not discuss it.
  • Money Belief #2: Money is a taboo topic for the church world, but I recognize that money is addressed in Scripture.
  • Money Belief #3: I know what God’s Word says about money. I like my money system better. Now, leave me alone!
  • Money Belief #4: I recognize that I am God’s financial manager. I will follow His instructions.

Unfortunately, I believe many of us as Christians have never connected the dots between the whole money issue being addressed throughout the pages of Scripture and our role as money managers for God. The universal church has done a poor job of teaching and preaching what God has taught us about money through His Word.

In my last post, we also looked at the definitions of “Philosopy” and “Theology.” In simple terms, a philosophy is a life theory invented by man. Man’s theories are flawed and imperfect. A theology is a system of belief based on Scripture. If we believe that God’s Word is holy and without error, then a theological system of belief is flawless and perfect.

I believe Christians today are operating under financial beliefs invented by man, not a system of belief founded upon the Word of God.

Crafting A Christian Personal Finance Theology

Now is a great time for Christians to return to God’s ways about money. We live in a world that is severely confused on how to handle money at any level whether it’s personal finances, business finances, or government finances. This is why we’re living through such difficult financial times in recent years.

So, as Christians, how do we put together a belief system that is completely based on God’s Word? How do we craft a truly Christian personal finance theology?

Here are my thoughts on how to develop a Biblical theology of money:

  1. Be a regular reader of God’s Word. Shocking, I know. That’s rocket science right there! Seriously though, if you want to know what God has to say about money, you need to be reading through your Bible consistently. Don’t just camp out on a single book of the Bible. Don’t just read the New Testament or only the Old Testament. God’s financial belief system is sprinkled throughout the entire Biblical narrative. You can’t just read the book of Proverbs and nail down your theology of money, although that’s a great place to start.
  2. Attend a Crown Financial Bible Study and Financial Peace University. When people ask me the difference between these two small group studies, this is my response: Crown Financial is more of a true Bible study that is heavy on Scripture and truth. Financial Peace University is a practical, step-by-step financial plan based upon Biblical principles. I have done both, and I highly recommend both for a solid foundation in developing a theology of money.
  3. Google it! Again, I’m sure this is all rocket science that never even occurred to you. Type in the search bar “Bible verses about money” and you will receive 3,350,000 results! I’m looking at the search list, and I’m seeing some great pages to open up and explore.
  4. Read blogs that address personal finances from a Biblical perspective. There are many great Christian personal finance blogs out there, today. Here’s a list of the ones I’m most familiar with:
  5. Be sure to focus on these main areas in developing a Biblical theology: giving, tithing, saving, spending, debt, investing, business, contentment, planning, and stewardship. Check out this great article that addresses these issues and more: 250 Bible Verses about Money.

Questions: Have you ever gone through the process of developing a solid, Biblical theology on money? What other steps have you taken in developing your theology on personal finances?






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The Great Financial Debate: Quality vs Frugality

Photo by pjinomaha

Photo by pjinomaha

A Simple Coffee Maker Reminds Me Of The Debate

Over the holidays, I received a Keurig coffee maker for a Christmas present. I’ve secretly wanted one of these bad boys for quite a while, but I also didn’t want to spend $150 to be able to brew just one cup of coffee at a time, either.

Within a few short days of using my new coffee maker, I started thinking “where have you been all my life?” This machine brews an amazing cup of coffee! For 20+ years, I’ve made the traditional 10-12 cup pot in a drip coffee maker. I just never realized how bitter and nasty this coffee is when compared to a freshly brewed cup from a Keurig.

For those of you who are serious coffee drinkers and have done all the different types of coffee makers, then you are very much aware that the daily cost of using a Keurig is possibly twice as expensive as a traditional drip coffee maker. You can make them a bit less expensive by using the refillable plastic mesh K-cups. This is what I’ve done with great results.

As I’ve enjoyed my new coffee maker the last several weeks, I have been reminded of the continual financial debate of quality versus frugality.

Is Frugality Always The Best Option, Really?

There are so many Christian financial, frugality-mindset, well-meaning blogs out there. They teach you how to re-use plastic sandwich baggies, how to recycle old clothes, and how to clip coupons. That’s fine. I understand this line of thinking. I believe there is a place for frugality. We should live with an attitude of contentment and thanksgiving. We shouldn’t be wasteful with what God has blessed us. I’d like to think I live frugally in most areas of my life.

Here, though, is the overarching question to the entire debate: “Is being super frugal in every area of your life always the best way to go?”

For me, the simple answer is “No.” There are some instances where we probably should abandon the frugality bandwagon and step over into a quality mindset.

Several years ago, I had the same epiphany moment with Mac versus PC. Yes, the Mac is more expensive on the front end. But on the back-end, several years after purchasing my MacBook, iMac, and iPad, these computers are still running almost as well as the day I purchased them. I don’t need to constantly update virus protection software. I don’t struggle with my operating system slowing down. I no longer have computer crashes. I’ve experienced the quality but expensive better overall experience over the cheaper PC products. I’m not going back, either. Yes, I drank the Kool-Aid. Thank you, Steve Jobs.

On other items less important to me, I’m the dollar store guy. Take, for instance, clothes hangers. I have no problem picking up a ten-pack of cheap, plastic clothes hangers for a buck. No biggie for me. Here’s an instance where I will embrace frugality. Other people who are clothes hounds might scoff at dollar store, plastic clothes hangers. Because they have embraced a quality clothes mindset, they may value a better quality hanger to hang their higher quality clothing.

The Answer Isn’t Always Simple

The answer to this financial debate isn’t always as simple as you might think. It really boils down to our values and interests. If you’re a coffee fanatic, then you’re willinging to pay more for your cup of java. If you do a lot of work via technology, then you will value a higher quality, higher cost product. If you need to dress for success in your career, then you need to buy higher quality clothing.

And this is really okay, assuming we are still living out wise, Biblical financial principles. If you’re going into debt to drink high-quality coffee, to buy an new iMac each year, or to purchase expensive clothing, then we have a much bigger problem to deal with.

I typically take a quality assessment on purchases to see if it’s really worth spending the money on what I need or want. If the higher-end, quality product is worth it long-term, then I’ll save my money and pay cash for the better product.

Questions: How about you? Are you locked into the frugality mindset? Are you willing to pay a higher price on a better quality product? What’s your approach to the great debate of quality vs frugality?

3 Powerful Outcomes To Being Thankful, Even In Difficult Circumstances

Photo by Timothy Valentine

Photo by Timothy Valentine

Tragedy Led To The First Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States was birthed out of tragic circumstances.

After a brutal winter in 1620-1621, half of the Mayflower Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony died. But, with the help of a few English-speaking native Americans, Governor William Bradford and the surviving colonists were successful in establishing a colony and raising their first crop of corn. As a result, Governor Bradford organized the very first “Thanksgiving” feast, a festival that lasted three days! They gave thanks to God for helping them survive a very difficult first year in the New World.

As Christians, an attitude of thanksgiving should be a spiritual outcome of making it through difficult circumstances. Unfortunately though, I fear many times we get angry and bitter with God for His allowing us to go through the difficult circumstances in the first place.

Here are some outcomes of a thankful attitude, no matter the circumstances.

3 Powerful Outcomes To Being Thankful

1. An attitude of gratitude allows us to be content with what we have in this moment in time.

“Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

God’s will for you is to be thankful in all things. It doesn’t matter whether you’re having a great day, week, or even year. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you have everything that you could ever want or need. Acknowledge that He is in charge, that He has a plan for your life, and that you need to be thankful, no matter the circumstances. Focus on what God has given you, not on what you don’t have in your life in this moment in time. If you’re still above ground and sucking wind, then you have at least one thing to praise God for – life!

2. An attitude of gratitude keeps us humble and dependent on God.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

“Pride slays thanksgiving, but a humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow. A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.” – Henry Ward Beecher

God desires your complete devotion and dependence on Him. This is the core essence of a growing relationship with the Lord. This is why He possibly allows difficult circumstances to enter our lives – to keep us humbly dependent on Him. A true attitude of thanksgiving is a natural result of being in total surrender to Him and His will.

3. An attitude of gratitude compels us to share with others.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (Romans 12:12-13)

“If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.” – W. Clement Stone

Thankful people share. They share their lives, their abilities, and their finances. They give to others because they want to, not necessarily because they have to. This is all a natural outgrowth of a truly thankful heart.

Questions: Do you have an attitude of thanksgiving, no matter the circumstances in your life? Do you find yourself displaying these three outcomes of contentment, humility, and sharing? If not, why not?

Get Out There And Find Yourself Some Wise, Rich Friends

Photo by MCFlainez

Photo by MCFlainez

Huh?

You’re joking, right Larry? The title on this post seems a little over the top.

Yes, I meant the title to be a bit of shocker, but I’m really only half-joking around about it. Check out the following quote:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

While there have been no scientific studies done to substantiate this quote (to my knowledge), I don’t think there can be much dispute on the influence of others on our life. We become like the people with whom we hang out and do life with.

If we spend a lot of time with rebellious, worldly, marginal “Christians” (I’m using this label, loosely), then there’s a good chance we’re going to end up worldly and rebellious.

If we hang out with people who are challenged with a poor work ethic and a poverty mindset, then we’re probably going to adopt that same attitude with our work and finances.

If we spend time with selfish, me-centered people, then there’s a great possibility we’re going to become toxic people and self-centered in our personalities.

But …

If we hang out with people who have a deep walk with the Lord and are engaged in a passionate pursuit of the Kingdom of God, then there’s a great possibility that we will become mature in our own walk with the Lord.

If we spend time with hard workers, abundance thinkers, and people who are rocking their career niche, then we’re probably going to start growing in our own area of expertise.

If we spend time with people who live debt free lives with attitudes of contentment and generosity, then there’s a great chance we’re going to pursue this type of financial mindset and lifestyle as well.

What Scripture Tells Us About Friendship

God’s Word is clear that the people we hang around with do have an influence on our lives, for good and for bad. Check out these verses from Scripture about the importance of our personal relationships:

  • Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Proverbs 13:20).
  • Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare (Proverbs 22:24-25).
  • Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
  • Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety (Proverbs 11:14).
  • Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future (Proverbs 19:20).
  • Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).

Our Friends Will Make Us Or Break Us

The people we hang around with will truly make us or break us. Our friends have the power, the ability to build us up or to tear us down. They can encourage us or discourage us to make great life choices or bad ones. They can give us wise, Biblical advice on how to manage God’s money, or they can advise us to live wealthy lifestyles with no consideration for God’s Kingdom work.

Does this mean we dump all of our current friends in favor of “better” friends?

Maybe. Maybe not.

I would simply do a friend audit. If you have a group of friends that impact you negatively, then yeah, it’s time to drop them in favor of more positive influences in your life. On the other hand, if your friends have perhaps a mostly neutral influence in your life, then you can hold on to them. Over time, though, seek out Godly, positive, wise, hard-working friends who can help you move up to that next level in your life.

Questions: Have you done a friend audit, lately? If you did one, what kind of grades would your current group of friends receive? Passing, failing, or excellent? Is it time for you to get out there and find some more positive, influential friends?

When My Heart Is Right, My Money Gets Right

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Do Versus Believe

I think many people believe that if they DO right things with money that their money will be right. If they and their spouse can get on the same page with their money, then they will enjoy peace in this area of money. If they can have a working family budget, then they will gain a sense of control with their money. If they can just get out of debt and stay out of debt, they will enjoy financial freedom. If they can get their retirement fully funded, then they will have financial security in the future.

While all of these concrete actions with money are certainly helpful, what people (especially Christians) BELIEVE about money will impact them in an even greater way, long-term.

Here are three areas where Christians struggle to get their heart right regarding money.

3 Areas Of Financial Belief For The Christian

First Area: Ownership. Psalm 24:1-2 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.”

Scripture is crystal clear that God owns everything.

But, Christians struggle with this ownership issue. The world’s money system tells us that we are in charge of our stuff. It’s really easy to forget that God has called us to be managers of what He has given us and not the owners.

When we fully understand that God is the owner of ALL things and we are simply the managers of what He has given us to manage, then we start making different, better decisions with HIS money. We don’t have such a tight-fisted stranglehold on money because we comprehend that it’s not our money to begin with. We can live our lives with open, generous hands when it comes to His money. We start making decisions based on what we believe God wants to do with His money through us as His servants.

Second Area: Contentment. Philippians 4:12-13 says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

The world’s money system tells us that we should be unhappy and dissatisfied with what we currently have. We need to go out and buy us some newer and better stuff. We will be helping the national economy if we go out and spend more. It’s a win-win situation all around.

What is contentment, exactly? Contentment is simply being satisfied in our current state. It doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t have goals or ambitions. But, what it does mean is that we can relax and be satisfied with what God has given to us today in regard to our finances. As a Christian, our ultimate source of satisfaction should be in Christ, not in our stuff.

Third Area: Purpose. Matthew 6:31-33 says, “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.”

The world’s money system tells us that we need to chase after our basic needs with our money before anything else – stuff to eat and stuff to wear.

God flips this philosophy around and tells us that as His children, He will meet our needs in abundance. We don’t need to be concerned with the basic necessities of this life. He will take care of us. God wants our primary concern to be expanding His Kingdom with His financial resources above all else.

Questions: Many people believe that if they DO right things with money that their money will be right. And, while this is certainly helpful, what they BELIEVE about money will impact them in an even greater way. What do you believe about money in these three areas of ownership, contentment, and purpose? Do your actions with money line up with your beliefs?