Does The Bible Really Contain A Secret Money Code?

Photo by Susan Kambalu

Photo by Susan Kambalu

Sean Hyman And The Biblical Money Code

His advertisements are everywhere!

Over the last few months, it seems like anytime I have my local talk radio station on, Fox News, or simply browsing the web, I keep running into advertisements for Sean Hyman’s Biblical Money Code.

A few weeks ago, I was curious enough to just go ahead and purchase the lowest subscription possible to check out what all the hype is on this Biblical Money Code book is all about.

Buying The Biblical Money Code book is really more of an opportunity for you to end up on an email subscription to the Ultimate Wealth Report plus NewsMax.com. Of course, this is the new normal in today’s digital marketing age, so now I am blessed with at least two to three extra emails cluttering up my inbox each day!

But, you do also receive several ebooks and other pieces of financial information for your purchase. It’s not a complete “bait and switch.”

Who Is Sean Hyman?

Sean Hyman is a former pastor who has allegedly moved from making $15,000 a year to now giving away up to $50,000 a year. He didn’t make this kind of money in church work, however! Here’s a portion of Sean’s bio regarding his financial work:

Sean Hyman has become a trusted correspondent on CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg due to his extensive background in the financial markets, having spent more than 20 years in the investing trenches. Over that time, he’s been a stockbroker at Charles Schwab, a trading course instructor for foreign exchange market maker Forex Capital Markets (FXCM), a financial writer for numerous outlets, and a key speaker at conferences both nationally and internationally. Over the course of his career Hyman has also held five financial licenses …

… Sean Hyman became the editor of the Ultimate Wealth Report newsletter because he loves teaching and helping others to have a better life than what they’d had before. His goal with the Ultimate Wealth Report is “to shepherd readers in the right direction so their wealth doesn’t get eaten away by inflation, but rather benefits from the rise of inflation.”

A Fast Overview Of The Six Keys

The primary ebook focused on the Biblical Money Code that you receive as part of your subscription is called The Six Keys To Financial Success. Like many ebooks you receive online, it’s a brief 47 pages and a quick read.

In the ebook’s introduction, Sean makes the case that in order for God to bless us financially, we need to follow all the financial wisdom in Scripture. In order to unlock the full potential of the Biblical Money Code in our lives, we must be fully obedient to all God’s wisdom, not just part. That won’t work.

Sean states that most people only follow some or part of the Biblical financial wisdom found in Scripture. Perhaps, they may tithe on a regular basis, but the rest of their financial life is a complete mess. Or, maybe they live a debt free lifestyle, but don’t tithe.

Sean drives home the point that a believer living in full obedience to each financial principle unlocks the full and complete blessing of God in the area of personal finances.

Here are the six Biblical financial principles that Sean focuses on:

  • Principle #1: Pray for God’s Favor and Blessing In Your Work.
  • Principle #2: Tithes and Offerings: 10% Plus Some, Not Just 10%.
  • Principle #3: Save Money and Reduce Your Debts
  • Principle #4: Invest for Your Future
  • Principle #5: Philanthropy
  • Principle #6: Being the Lender and Not the Borrower

My Take On The The Six Keys To Financial Success

I am of the personal opinion based on my own research PLUS personal experience that there is a “Biblical Money Code.” Is it some kind of big secret or something? No, of course not. But, the Bible does give us A LOT of common sense wisdom when it comes to handling money.

I do believe that God blesses complete obedience to His Word and His will. I also believe in the power of the Law of the Harvest. When you do the right things in the right order and in the right way, you will reap a bountiful harvest.

This is so very true in this area of personal finances. If you follow Biblical financial wisdom in every area (giving, saving, spending, debt, and investing), then God will bless you. You will reap what you have sown.

BUT, I would be hard pressed to say that this will happen every time for every person in every situation, though.

God is God, and He does not always conform to the box that we place Him in. He may allow negative financial circumstances into our lives, even if we may be following this “Biblical Money Code.”

Why would God allow this to happen, though, if we’re playing by these Biblical money rules?

It’s always difficult to pinpoint a definitive answer. We may never know this side of heaven. Perhaps God is teaching us an important spiritual lesson. Maybe He wants us to learn to rely on Him, rather than money. Or, maybe, He wants us to learn a lesson in controlling our emotions and growing in the virtue of patience.

I believe the key is remaining open to growth in your life when your expectations aren’t met, even when you are doing all the right things. But, don’t give up, though. Keep on doing all the right things in spite of the circumstances. There will be a tremendous payoff, eventually. Remain obedient, teachable, and press through to the end!

Questions: Do you believe in a Biblical Money Code? Why or why not? Have you experienced the Law of the Harvest in your personal finances from following these principles?






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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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4 Ways To Reignite Your Passion Not Only For Your Spouse But For God As Well

Photo by danielmoyle

Photo by danielmoyle

Are You In The Doghouse?

Valentine’s Day and dog houses. For guys, they kind of go together.

This is the day when men are practically required to step up to the plate and hit a home run on this special day of love, or we end up in the dog house, right? Maybe some of you men reading this post right now were in the doghouse over the weekend.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to be extremely purposeful for this Valentine’s Day. I placed the order for the roses in advance. I made the dinner reservations ahead of time. I discussed childcare options with my wife. I wanted my wife to see that I took this day of love seriously. I wanted to demonstrate thoughtfulness and care. I wanted there to be no doubt that I love her.

So, since we just passed the Valentine’s Day holiday last week, I thought I’d share five thoughts I had over the weekend about marriage relationships and the lessons we can learn to apply to not only our earthly relationships, but also lessons that we can apply to our relationship with God.

4 Ways To Reignite Your Passion

1. Show up more. When I was dating my wife, we both had demanding responsibilities and schedules (and still do!). Because we loved and cared for each other, we were always planning our next opportunity to get together for dinner, a movie, or other event. We wanted to hang out. We wanted to spend time together. But, then you get married, life happens, and if you aren’t careful, you end up spending less time with each other. You must be purposeful in spending time alone on a very regular basis to renew and strengthen your relationship.

The same is true with our relationship with God. When we first accept Christ as Savior, we’re hungry to spend quiet time with Him. We can’t wait to be in church for every opportunity to gather with God’s people. But then, as we grow older in our faith, we find excuses to stay away from both our quiet time and from church. We’re just not in God’s presence as often, and the sad thing is that we don’t even really seem to care. We take God for granted. You must be purposeful and resolute in your relationship with God. If you have a challenging schedule, then you need to get God back on your schedule. As the saying goes, on paper, on purpose. Plan your day so that you give yourself enough time in the morning for some quiet time with the Father. Make church a priority. Don’t let other people, circumstances, sports, or other earthly pursuits dictate whether you will be in church each Sunday.

2. Talk more. A natural outgrowth of spending more time together with your spouse should be communication. When you started dating, you guys probably talked all the time. Over time, though, maybe you ran out of stuff to talk about. Sometimes, the conversation flows naturally. At other times, you may need to work at it, but keep on talking no matter what. Treat your spouse as your best friend and share not only your daily activities, but also your hopes, your fears, your very life with them.

God wants to converse with us. He speaks to us through His written Word. We speak to Him through the vehicle of prayer. We must set aside time in our busy day to read God’s Word and pray. My own personal recommendation would be to do it early in the morning before your day gets cluttered and your mind gets scattered. Again, we must make our conversation with God purposeful, otherwise our busy lives will quickly crowd Him out.

3. Give more. I believe the secret to a successful marriage is sacrificial, unselfish giving. When we purposefully plan and give our spouses the very best of our time, energy, and resources, then we end up appreciating each other more. Sacrifice would seem to be a dirty word in this culture. Everybody wants what they want, when they want it, and don’t even bother asking me to give any more than I’m already giving you. I believe this act of giving, though, is the key to success in any relationship. Give, and then be willing to give some more.

God wants us to give back to Him. He wants the “firstfruits” of our life: the very best of our time, talents, and money. But, what do we usually offer back to Him? I bet most of the it’s probably our leftovers. We “tip” Him financially by throwing a few bucks in the offering plate. We make it to church every other week. We don’t read our Bible or pray consistently. We don’t use our God-given talents to further the Kingdom of God, but we waste them on earthly pursuits. How do you think that makes God feel? Are we truly demonstrating that we love God with everything we have? I seriously doubt it.

4. Submit more. Submission is another one of those bad words were supposed to ignore in our modern culture. An attitude of submission, though, is critical for success in any relationship. When I speak of submission, I’m not talking about becoming a doormat and allowing yourself to be abused. Submission is simply recognizing the needs of the other person and putting their needs and desires above your own. A woman’s primary need is love and affection. A man’s primary need is respect. The Bible says in Ephesians 5:21-25, “ … submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.” I’m not sure why we have made this issue so complicated in our (supposedly) Christian marriages.

In our relationship with Almighty God, He wants our complete submission. He wants us to be completely surrendered to Him and His desires. Once we have entered into a relationship with Christ, we should be completely submitted to Him. Our lives are no longer about living a selfish, self-absorbed lifestyle. Our lives should be about accomplishing His mission through us – advancing the Kingdom of God.

Questions: How’s your passion for your spouse? Are you showing up, talking, giving, and submitting? And how about your relationship with God? Are you really demonstrating a passionate love for Him as well? Do you think He will say to you one day “Well done, thou good and faithful servant?”






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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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Do You Have A Philosophy Or A Theology When It Comes To Personal Finances?

Photo by Loan Leaders of America Inc.

Photo by Loan Leaders of America Inc.

Money Beliefs

I’ve been involved in studying and teaching the ways of personal finances now for 10 years. It’s been an interesting journey that has impacted my life in many ways; mostly good, some bad.

As I have been on this decade-long journey, it has been thought-provoking to discuss with people their own personal finance beliefs.

We all have a unique set of beliefs or philosophy about money that we arrive at in our adult lives from a variety of sources. The majority of our beliefs we tend to pick-up from our parents (we either embrace their beliefs, or go completely in the opposite direction). Other beliefs, we pick-up from friends and others closest to us. Finally, we pick-up various money beliefs from the society we live in – TV commercials, internet media, so-called financial experts, and so on.

The world’s financial philosophy says one thing. God’s financial theology usually says the exact opposite.

Here’s the weird thing, though. Those of us who name the name of Christ as our Lord and Savior tend to adopt the financial beliefs of our parents, friends, and society over what God’s Word tells us about money. Over the last decade of observing a lot of various money beliefs, I have concluded the following list of four money beliefs often held by Christians:

  • Money Belief #1: Money is worldly and a necessary evil to survive. Let’s not discuss it. Some Christians have a (false) belief that money is a carnal, worldly system that is completely separate from their faith journey. They’ve never been taught or never made the connection that God’s Word has a lot to say about money and possessions. These people may even have the belief that money is sinful and should not be part of our spiritual conversations.
  • Money Belief #2: Money is a taboo topic for the church world. Some Christians believe money is a taboo subject that should never be discussed in church, even though they do recognize that money is addressed in Scripture. I’ve had people tell me directly to my face that we need to stop discussing money in our church because it will run people off to other churches. These same people would probably be more in favor of and less embarrassed by having a sermon series on a Biblical theology of sex than a Biblical theology of money (Personal note: I find this completely bizarre, yet fascinating about our societal beliefs!).
  • Money Belief #3: I know what God’s Word says about money. I like my money system better. Now, leave me alone! Some Christians have a good head knowledge that the Bible does have a lot to say about finances. They have chosen to bury their heads in the sand on God’s money system in favor of the world’s money system. Their actions seem to say, “God, I think the world’s money system is a lot more sophisticated than Yours. Sorry, but I’m going to go along with the world’s system, because it’s better.”
  • Money Belief #4: I recognize that I am God’s financial manager. I will follow His instructions. In this final financial belief, Christians recognize that everything comes from the hand of God, and we are simply called to be good managers of everything that He has entrusted to us. This not only includes our finances, but also our time, talents, resources, and even our physical bodies. Everything we have, everything we are belongs to Him.

Defining The Terminology

So, let’s take a moment and define the terms that we’re talking about in this post.

Philosophy: a set of ideas about how to do something or how to live.

Theology: the study of religious faith, practice, and experience.

Let’s put this in even simpler 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, than a theological system of belief is flawless and perfect.

So What? Who Cares?

The big deal here for the Christian, at least in my mind, is the “why.” Why are Christians so willing to adopt a financial belief system that is flawed and imperfect when God has the very best financial plan laid out in His Word?

When we embrace His financial teachings, we avoid debt, we save money, we provide for the needs of our family, and we invest in the Kingdom of God through generous giving.

This financial lifestyle is in stark contrast to the world’s financial system.

In my next post, we’ll take a closer look at actually crafting a Christian personal finance theology based upon God’s Word.

Questions: What financial belief system are you currently operating under? An imperfect theory taught by the world, or a perfect belief system written down in God’s Word?

7 Components For A Solid Financial Foundation

Photo by jonathanpercy

Photo by jonathanpercy

Big Buildings Require Massive Foundations

One World Trade Center, the primary building that is replacing the twin towers that were destroyed in the attacks on 9/11, has been under construction since 2004. The architectural planning started well before that.

This new 104-story super-tall skyscraper is now the tallest building in the United States and Western Hemisphere as well as the fourth-tallest skyscraper in the world by pinnacle height. Its spire reaches a symbolic height of 1,776 feet as tribute to the year of the United States Declaration of Independence. This is one massive skyscraper.

Get this, though. The foundation for this huge building took several years to complete.

The foundation for One World Trade Center is some 70 feet below street level and required dynamite blasting down into solid bedrock.

The symbolic cornerstone of One World Trade Center was laid down in a ceremony on July 4, 2004, but further construction of the tower was stalled until 2006. Then, on November 18, 2006, 400 cubic yards of concrete were poured onto the foundation of the One World Trade Center, carried by as many as 40 trucks. The first steel beam was welded on to the building’s base on December 19, 2006.

On January 9, 2007, a second set of beams was welded to the top of the first set. Later in that year, the construction company completed a row of steel columns at the perimeter of the construction site. Two tower crane bases were erected, and by the end of 2007, the tower’s footings and foundations were nearly complete [Source: Wikipedia].

Before the beautiful steel and glass structure could rise high in the New York City skyline, a solid foundation for this large of building had to be created to support it. It took a lot of time, energy, resources, and money to build it. This was a carefully executed piece of the building plan. In no way did it happen on accident.

The foundation is the most critical component for building anything of importance, including a financial plan for your family. Get this part right, and a magnificent financial legacy can be created to give financial life to your family for generations into the future.

7 Components For A Solid Financial Foundation

  1. Commit to a plan that you will build something amazing! When the City and State of New York, the developer, and the architect decided to build a new skyscraper, they just didn’t start digging a hole in the ground, lay some concrete and steel beams, and put a building up. No, they spent years creating various architectural designs, drawings, and models. They created the plan, first, before anything else took place. Then, they committed the time, energy, and resources necessary to execute an amazing plan. The same is true for a financial plan. You and your family need to spend time and energy creating a vision of what you ultimately desire before anything else takes place.
  2. Resolve that you will do rich people stuff. Assuming you desire to create an awesome financial legacy that will last several years into the future, then you need to plan the way wealthy people do. You need to do rich people stuff. Rich people make several wise financial decisions. They have cash reserves on hand for emergencies. They avoid debt. They do monthly budget planning. They ask questions like “how much?” not “how much per month?” and so on.
  3. Put your estate planning in place. None of us know when we will pass away, and it would be foolish to set this piece of planning off to the side until we have the rest of our financial plan is in place. This layer of the foundation is critical and needs to be one of the first parts completed. For the sake of your family, please, please, please, don’t delay doing this part. Hire an attorney and get a state specific will completed, signed, and notarized as soon as possible.
  4. Give strategically. Giving is a part of any healthy financial plan. As a Christian, I believe that God should automatically receive my first 10% that goes to my local church. After you have laid a solid foundation for your financial plan, then you and your family can discuss giving beyond the tithe and where that additional giving should go.
  5. Build up an emergency cash reserve. An emergency fund of 3-6 months of expense cash is your “insurance policy” of sorts that will help you through life’s financial up and downs, such as illness, accidents, unanticipated large repairs, and job layoffs.
  6. Pay off your debt ASAP. The majority of wealthy people do not do debt, especially revolving lines of credit. Commit to getting out of debt as soon as possible in order to give your family an amazing financial legacy.
  7. Invest in your retirement savings. The sooner you can begin investing in your 401(k) and Roth IRA’s, the longer these accounts will have to grow through the magic of compound interest. Get moving!

Questions: How’s you financial foundation? Are you being strategic in laying a great one? Have you even given it that much thought? Is your current foundation strong enough to create and support an amazing financial structure in the near future?

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?

You Might Be Out Of Debt If …

Photo by StockMonkeys.com

Photo by StockMonkeys.com

I recently put this list together for a financial article for a church publication. In a Jeff Foxworthy, “You might be a redneck if ..” style, this list reflects ten results of actually getting out of debt and staying out of debt.

Enjoy!

You Might Be Out Of Debt If …

10. You no longer have too much month left at the end of your money.
9. The IRS stopped making house calls at your home.
8. You no longer receive threatening, obnoxious calls from debt collectors or attorneys.
7. You no longer get horrible headaches or ulcers due to financial stress.
6. Your car drives better now than it ever has before.
5. You have money in the bank, and it can stay in the bank.
4. You can fully fund your retirement accounts.
3. You can help pay for part of your children’s college expenses instead of them racking up major student loans.
2. You actually enjoy hanging out with your spouse and working on the family budget, together.
1. You have a greater ability to give even more to God’s Kingdom work.

Question: What have you discovered to be the greatest benefit to being debt free?

3 Ways We Leave A Legacy, So Make It A Great One!

Photo from City of Boston Archives

Photo from City of Boston Archives

Legacy Building

What do all second term U.S. Presidents and failed, former Presidents have in common? They are all on a quest to build a unique legacy for which they will be remembered in the history books after they have passed away.

The reason I know this? At the time of this writing, we still have alive with us the longest surviving/retired former President and perhaps greatest example of legacy rebuilding: Jimmy Carter. Since leaving office in January 1981, Mr. Carter has been working extremely hard on rebuilding a failed Presidential, personal legacy. He has been busy doing amazing charity work with Habitat For Humanity. He also founded The Carter Center whose mission is “guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering; it seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.”

But, who can blame former President Carter for working so hard on building a better personal legacy post 1981? President Carter has been branded as one of the worst presidents, especially in recent history. Here’s how Wikipedia records his presidential legacy:

The Independent writes, “Carter is widely considered a better man than he was a president.” While he began his term with a 66 percent approval rating, his had dropped to 34 percent approval by the time he left office, with 55 percent disapproving …

… His administration suffered from his inexperience in politics. Carter paid too much attention to detail. He frequently backed down from confrontation and was quick to retreat when attacked by political rivals. He appeared to be indecisive and ineffective, and did not define his priorities clearly. He seemed to be distrustful and uninterested in working with other groups, or even with Congress when controlled by his own party, which he denounced for being controlled by special interest groups. Though he made efforts to address many of these issues in 1978, the approval he won from his reforms did not last long.

In the 1980 campaign, Ronald Reagan projected an easy self-confidence, in contrast to Carter’s serious and introspective temperament. Carter’s personal attention to detail, his pessimistic attitude, his seeming indecisiveness and weakness with people were accentuated in contrast to Reagan’s charismatic charm and delegation of tasks to subordinates. Reagan used the economic problems, Iran hostage crisis, and lack of Washington cooperation to portray Carter as a weak and ineffectual leader. Carter was the first elected president since Hoover in 1932 to lose a reelection bid.

Ouch! When Wikipedia writers write that about your Presidency, you would be busy rebuilding your legacy, too!

Good And Bad, We’re All Leaving A Legacy

Will President Carter really be able to ditch the legacy of his failed presidency? Unfortunately for him, no, he won’t. But, we will all be able to look back and see that he has done some amazing work after leaving office. He didn’t just roll over, give up, and go on vacation for the last 32+ years. He wanted to make a difference after leaving office, and he certainly has accomplished his mission.

All of us are leaving a legacy each day. Some days, I’m sure our legacy looks amazing. On other days, probably not so much. But, we all have a daily opportunity to leave a legacy to those around us through what we say, through what we do, and through what we give.

3 Ways To Leave An Amazing Legacy, Today

We leave a legacy by what we:

  1. SAY. Our words have an impact on those around us. Proverbs 15:1-2, 4 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” We have to be so careful with the words that come out of our mouths! Just remember that people will remember those words and attitudes behind your words. Maintain a positive, loving attitude with the words you choose! Also, related to this area, we live in an amazing time in history where we can leave our very own personal words to succeeding generations through written digital documents, as well as audio and video recordings. I don’t know about you, but I know little to nothing about my grandfathers and great-grandparents. I think it would be a really amazing to hear their voices and see them on a video recording. I would love it if they had compiled some Jones history in their personal journals. In today’s digital world, you have an amazing opportunity to leave a part of yourself to the next generation!
  2. DO. Our actions really do speak louder than our words. 1 John 3:17-18 tells us, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” It’s easy to tell people that we love them and that we’re praying for them. It’s hard, though, to take the time out of our busy schedules and help others. When we do, though, this is what people ultimately remember about us. Be proactive and take time today by loving others through your actions.
  3. GIVE. We will be remembered for what we gave while here on this earth: our time, our talents, and our treasure. Proverbs 13:22 states, “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.” If we claim to be a follower of Christ, then our lives should look like His. Our Lord was the ultimate giver; He gave His very life for us! Give of your time and energy to your spouse, kids, and friends. They will definitely recall the time you spent with them after you have gone on to be with the Lord. Give financially to your church and those in need. Also, be proactive in setting up your estate planning to give financially to both your earthly and spiritual families when you pass from this life to the next.

Questions: So, how’s your legacy building going? Like former President Jimmy Carter, have you been diligent in creating a better legacy?

The best legacy building happens proactively, on purpose. Don’t forget to both say AND do, today! Write stuff down regarding your family history. Compile all your writing journals, audio and video recordings and keep them in a secure location. Keep your legacy legal documents up to date. Leave an amazing legacy of love to those you leave behind.

5 Foundational Beliefs A Christian Should Grasp In A Biblical View Of Money

Biblical StewardshipChristianity, The Church, Stewardship, And Money

In the last 30-40 years, I believe the American church has done a poor job of laying a strong foundation for Biblical stewardship. There are a number of reasons for this, but this is not within the scope of this particular blog post.

Fortunately in recent years, other ministries and programs such as Crown and Dave Ramsey have come alongside the church to assist pastors and lay leaders in laying a strong Biblical foundation regarding money and stewardship.

When it comes to Christian finances, I believe there are several key, foundational principles that every Christian should know and understand.

The following list contains my top five foundational stewardship beliefs.

5 Key Stewardship Principles From God’s Word

  1. God owns everything. Psalm 24:1 states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” This is the foundational belief upon which the whole concept of Christian stewardship (or management) rests. We either completely believe that God owns everything in the universe (including all of the stuff in our current possession) or we don’t believe this truth. Plus, how we live our lives and manage these possessions demonstrates if we really believe in God’s ownership or not.
  2. Christians are managers (stewards) of ALL of God’s stuff. 1 Corinthians 4:2 tells us “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” After we come to grips with the first belief, then this second belief should be a natural outflow of the first. If God truly owns it all, then the stuff I currently possess was given to me by God Almighty to manage for Him. As a result, I am compelled to do an excellent, faithful job so that He receives an incredible return on investment!
  3. Kingdom living should be our priority. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Once we understand that God owns it all and we are simply managers of His stuff, then our only concern should be expanding His Kingdom on earth while we are here. Our budgets, expenses, purchases, and investments should all be filtered through a Kingdom mindset. The question that should be continuously on our mind: “Does this use of money truly build up God’s Kingdom and make an impact for eternity?”
  4. Debt is unwise. Proverbs 22:7 reads, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” Although the Bible never states that debt is a sin, it does make the claim that it is unwise and dangerous. If you are a Christian who thinks debt is just a normal, everyday reality in today’s economic climate, then can you truly say with 100% authority that having debt honors God and His Kingdom? I would argue that it doesn’t. I believe that our personal businesses, families, and churches should all strive to be debt free as soon as possible in order for our focus to truly be on God’s Kingdom work.
  5. Our giving should be percentage based. Check out Hebrews 7:2a, and 7:4-9 “and Abraham gave him (Melchizedek) a tenth of everything … Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham … ” The tithe (10%) is a great starting point for people to learn and grow in their generosity journey. I understand that a lot of Christians are not in agreement with this statement. But, if you take a comprehensive view of Scripture, including Old Testament (pre-Law and Mosaic Law) and New Testament (as stated in this NT passage from Hebrews), almost every mention of money and giving had a percentage attached to it. Why? Common sense would tell us that we don’t all make the same amount of income. Also, monetary types and values vary widely throughout human history. Percentage-based giving makes more sense according to the concept of “to whom much has been given, much more will be required” (Luke 12:48b).

Questions: If you are a Christian, how do you handle your money and possessions? Do you hold to the Biblical truths in these five principles above, or do you struggle with a carnal, worldly view of your finances? Do you think this list of five principles is comprehensive enough, or would you add or subtract anything from this list?