Tag Archives: finances

What’s in Your Wallet??

A wise man once prayed something like: “God – please provide enough for my family and me so that I’m not tempted to steal, and not so much that I forget what it’s like to be in need.” I like the prayer because it shuns gluttony but seeks ‘daily bread.’ It begs remembrance of the poor and hungry so that the one praying will then feed, house, and clothe the less fortunate, just as Jesus commanded.

The Son of God summarized the Old Covenant laws and prophecies with two statements from the ancient Jewish Torah: treat God appropriately and people charitably (Matthew 22:35-40). Do you know that we’ll be judged at the end of this age on whether we obeyed those commandments (Matthew 25:31-46)?

We often see two extremes when it comes to our treasures: those who give generously for their fellow humans and those who love wealth. In the first group, we find Jesus and other servants who have given their lives for people they often don’t know. They may have also given generously to help feed, clothe, or house others. These people reflect the face of our God who created the spirit within us; their focus isn’t on self and material things.

What about the other group? There, you’ll find people who horde resources despite the suffering around them. They love money and stuff and entertainment, and that’s their focus. Perhaps they’ll give a few dollars here and there for charity but then spend thousands on a new shiny bobble or the latest electronic thing. These people reflect not the face of our creator but passion and self-serving nature.

If we want to look more like the first group, we need to be content with what we have, avoiding the love of money, which is the “root of all sorts of evil” (1Timothy 6:6-11; Hebrews 13:5). If possible, stay out of debt to avoid becoming a slave (Proverbs 22:7) and don’t store up treasures on earth. Be charitable. In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus also reminds us that “where our treasure is, there our heart will also be.” Where’s your heart? What’s in your wallet? Is it money earmarked to help the hungry or less fortunate? Or would we discover bountiful plastic or lots of cash destined for food, drink, entertainment, and the latest shiny thing?

What about next week? Let’s explore some of the challenges of our ‘get saved quick’ Protestant Christian culture in Cheap Grace.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Soul Food, Anyone?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!” resonates with those of us who understand the value of caring for what we value from home and car maintenance to finances. Care of the ‘soul’ should get no less attention and upkeep; spiritual formation points us in the right direction and can help us remain healthy in body, soul, and mind.

Because I understand the soul represents what the spirit doesn’t (e.g. body, mind, intent, etc.,) spiritual formation (soul-care) makes perfect sense to me as the ounce of prevention needed to be faithful, obedient, and healthy. The lack of attention to relative formation elements introduces the risk of stress, anxiety, poor physical and mental/emotional health, and limited or non-existent faith – all of which can become roadblocks to spiritual effectiveness!

Here are a few standard disciplines related to spiritual formation and the reduction of the risks I just mentioned:

  • Bible Study & Prayer. The Bible makes clear that our faith (belief/confidence) is formed largely through exposure to the Scriptures (e.g. Romans 10:17; 2Timothy 3:16-17). The learning provides boundaries and guidance, builds our ability to follow, and reduces the chances of deception (cf. Colossians 2:7-8). Most Christians (more than 98%, statistically) don’t read the Bible regularly. And, although prayer is our communication with God through the Spirit, we don’t do that regularly or effectively either. Setting aside at least one period each day (ideally at the same time) for prayer and Bible study will allow us to ‘renew our minds’, avoid deceptions (g., equip to train others, and petition or thank our God.
  • Physical Exercise. Physical exercise reduces stress and illness. And, the better we feel, the more efficient we’ll likely be in our walk as Jesus’ followers. A regiment of at least 30 minutes or so several times a week in some cardio and physical exercise would be an excellent start.
  • Mental Exercise. The brain needs stimulus too. Engaging in educational pursuits, intelligent conversations or debates, reading, etc. will help keep you mentally healthy and productive in your work, play, and witness.
  • Financial Stewardship. Financial problems provide much stress and distraction from important and healthy pursuits. Stress over financial trouble strains relationships and physical health alike. God calls us to be good financial stewards as shown by the Bible throughout the Old and New Testaments (e.g. Psalms 37:21; Proverbs 22:7 & 26; Matthew 25:27; Luke 20:20-25; Romans 13:8). Following biblical advice will aid greatly in keeping us healthy and financially stable.
  • Relationship Maintenance. Finally, we’re social creatures and must maintain our relationships to reduce stress and loneliness. Relationships are also critical to our ability to evangelize and disciple others. Therefore, we should make time to maintain our connections to family and friends.

In conclusion, my challenge to all followers of our Christ is that we continually engage in spiritual formation – ‘soul care’ – to ensure we’re active participants in our covenant with God.

Blessings,

rb

What’s in Your Wallet?

A wise man once prayed something like: “God – please provide enough for my family and me so that I’m not tempted to steal, and not so much that I’m tempted to forget what it’s like to be in need.”

Our spirit was created by God for fellowship with Him and for good works (Ephesians 2:10). One day, we’ll be judged on how well we used that spirit to guide our flesh toward doing good deeds for the “Father of Spirits” and our spiritual brothers and sisters.

Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments with two statements: treat our God appropriately and our fellow man charitably (Matthew 22:35-40). We get to choose how we’ll use our resources (e.g. time and money) to please God and satisfy His desires. But, that freedom comes at a cost: give now to live later, or live it up now and suffer later.

We find two extremes in benevolence: those who give generously for their fellow human and those who love wealth. In the former group, we find the likes of Jesus and other servants who have given their lives for people they often don’t know. You’ll also find people who give generously to help feed, clothe, or house others. These people reflect the face of our God who created the spirit within us; they’re focus isn’t on self and material things.

What about the latter group? There, you’ll find people who horde resources despite the suffering around them. They love money and stuff and that’s where their focus is. Perhaps they’ll give a dollar to charity and spend a thousand on a new shiny bobble or the latest electronic thing. These people reflect not the face of our creator but the passion and self-serving nature of flesh and emotion.

If we want to look more like the former than the latter we need to be content with what we have. We also need to avoid the love of money, which is the “root of all sorts of evil” according to the Apostle Paul (1Timothy 6:6-11 and Hebrews 13:5). It also helps if we stay out of debt to avoid becoming a slave (Proverbs 22:7) and not store up treasures for ourselves on earth, but be benevolent (Matthew 6:19-21). In this passage, Jesus also reminds us that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

What’s in my wallet? There, you’ll find a balance of things – some for me, some for others. I give to the hungry and helpless on a regular basis. Much of my resources go to children, rescue, and ministry. But, I don’t neglect my family. We’re comfortable and satisfied.

So . . . where’s your heart? What’s in your wallet? Money earmarked to help the needy? Or would we discover bountiful plastic or lots of cash destined for food, drink, and the latest shiny thing?