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Short Term Lifestyle

This is the B-I-G bucket! Your financial destiny is, in large part, determined by the daily spending decisions that you will make regarding your lifestyle. Decisions about everything from the mortgage you have to the groceries you buy to the clothes that you wear will fall in this bucket. If you practice wise habits in your lifestyle spending decisions, you will experience more control of your finances and more peace of mind about your financial future. I love this bucket because it is where God really teaches me about the state of my heart, His provision for me, and my need for daily dependence upon Him. Welcome to real life…welcome to the lifestyle bucket!

Is there a right financial lifestyle for a Christian?

Characteristics of a Godly lifestyle:

  • Do I provide for my family? I Tim 5:8 “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.” (NIV)

  • Do I enjoy what I have without wishing for more? I Tim 6:17 “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” (NIV)

  • Am I content? Phil 4:11-13 “Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and of going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (NIV)

A biblical case can be made for Christians living in poverty or in luxury.

How do I live in light of economic uncertainty?

We can be certain that there will always be economic uncertainty.

Four principles:

  • Spend less than you earn. (Live within your income.)

  • Avoid the use of debt. (Do not live so that you obligate your future.)

  • Build liquidity or flexibility by having reserves set aside.

  • Set long - term goals. (Know where you are headed and what your priorities are.)

These principles will work no matter what your income level, where you live, what your circumstances are, or what your stage of life is.

Financially, what is the best car for me to drive?

Mathematically, the cheapest car that you can drive is the one that you presently own. Over time, the cost to drive a car typically goes down. Maintenance costs might increase, but insurance costs decrease, and depreciation decreases.

Three principles:

  • Save for your car purchases.

  • Always pay cash for your car.

  • Drive your car as long as possible.

Should I buy or lease my new car?
  • It always makes more sense to buy a new car than it does to lease one.

  • When I buy a new car, I have the cost of borrowing, depreciation, and maintenance. When I lease a car, I have all of these costs, plus the lender adds on their profit margin.

  • Paying cash for a new car always makes more sense than borrowing money to buy one.

Are special, low interest rate loans for a car a good idea?
  • Lenders know that most people do not pay off these low interest rate loans in the time frame of the offer. They will then convert the loan to a higher rate loan.

  • Paying cash for a new car is always best. If you do this you will make a better decision than if you take the lender’s gimmick of a low interest rate.

  • If you have the cash to pay for a new car, and you get an offer for low or no interest, it is okay to take the offer. Make sure you put the money you have saved for your car in an interest bearing account, and when the time frame for the special offer is over, pay off the loan.

How big of a house is it right for me to buy?
  • One of the biggest budget mistakes people make is buying a house that is too big or too grand.

  • When you buy a house, you buy a lifestyle. You may buy a house that requires you to send your children to private school, or that has higher taxes or utilities, or one that makes you feel like you need to keep up with the neighbors.

  • The best way for you to decide what you can pay for a house is to determine a total lifestyle budget, and then allocate what you can afford in terms of a mortgage within that budget.

  • Remember that a house is place to live; it is not an investment. An investment is something that you sell when it goes up in value. A house is a place to raise your family, to generate a lifestyle, and to do things that are non-financial.

How much of my budget should I allocate to my home?
  • Financing institutions would say that no more than 25 to 30% of your spendable income should be allocated to your mortgage payment.

  • I would recommend that you try to keep your mortgage payment around 20% of your spendable income, so that when you add taxes, insurance, and utilities your total comes to around 25 to 30%.

What are the most important factors to consider when taking out a mortgage?

See the following sites for good mortgage calculators:
mortgage-calc.com

bankrate.com
mortgageloan.com

The best kind of mortgage is the one with the shortest term, the lowest interest rate, and one with a fixed payment.

  • It is always better to live with certainty when it comes to a mortgage payment.

  • Avoid an interest only mortgage, because you are not building equity in your home.

  • Avoid an adjustable rate mortgage unless you plan to pay it off within the first adjustment period.

Should I always treat my children equally in regard to finances?
  • When it comes to wealth transfer and estate planning, you have to look at each of your children individually and assess them.

  • If you love your children equally, you will treat them uniquely. They have different needs, different personalities, and different circumstances. If you simply treat them equally financially, you are saying to them that they are not unique – dishonoring who they are.

  • Treat each of your children according to their individual circumstances. Some examples of different circumstances are a handicapped child or grandchild, or a child who is a single parent.

  • Communicate with your children. Make your decisions about wealth transfer and estate planning, and then be open with your children.

What is the best school option for a Christian: public, private, or home school?
  • This is not a financial question; rather, it is a priority question with financial implications.

  • Each child is different and has different needs. The decision about where to send a child to school is
    individual for each family, and for each child in the family. Be sensitive to your child’s short-term needs, and the long-term consequences will tend to work themselves out.

  • If you choose private school, you may have to give something up, such as a newer car, a vacation, or eating out. But this is a priority decision you and your family have to make for each of your children.

How do I deal financially with “boomerang” children?

When your adult children come back home to live, there are four questions to ask yourself:

  • Why are they back home?

  • How long will they live with me?

  • Am I enabling them to be less productive?

  • What are the rules or expectations while they are in my home?

To enable your adult child to live with you simply because it is cheaper for them is not necessarily in their best interest. Set proper expectations on the part of your child, and decide how they will help with the living expenses of your household.

How do we best teach our children about money?

Make it personal and practical at their level.

As an example: Give your children or grandchildren money to give away that will be their Christmas gift to you. Tell them to give the money away to someone in need, and then write a letter to you about where they gave the money away. This letter is their Christmas gift to you. This will focus their attention on someone who is in need. They look at how can I give instead of what am I going to get.

How should we help our grandchildren financially?
  • Never get between parents and their children. Make sure that whatever your do for your grandchildren fits in the context of what their parents want.

  • Think about the consequences of your gift. Gifts can be very productive. God is a gracious God, and when you give a gift it is a reflection of what God does for us.

  • Use your gifts to reflect:

    • God’s grace

    • Your love for your grandchildren

    • Their responsibility as children

  • Make sure you communicate with your children to see if your gift fits in with their plans and goals for their children.

How much financial help should we give our adult children?

Eight principles:

  1. Don’t use your wealth to manipulate their behavior. Help them if you want to, but with no strings attached. Let them make their own decisions.

  2. Don’t commit your children to your lifestyle. They need to live within their means.

  3. Allow for self-reliance. Do not destroy their need to provide for their own family.

  4. Don’t interfere in a husband – wife relationship.

  5. Don’t come between parents and their children. If you are going to help your grandchildren, make sure their parents understand and agree with what you are going to do.

  6. Don’t get in God’s way. You might be able to bail your child out of a difficult financial situation, but that situation might be what God is using to do a work in their life.

  7. Don’t be manipulated by your children’s expectations. God gave you your financial resources, and you are responsible for them.

  8. Don’t forget it is your stewardship responsibility. You are accountable to God for how you use your resources.

Should I help my adult children purchase a home?
  • Do not commit your children to a home that will determine their lifestyle or vocational choice. You might be getting in God’s way.

  • Teach your children and help them realize that they need to save for a down payment for a home that they can afford.

  • Don’t get caught up your short-term desire to help your child, and forget what the long-term consequences could be to that child if you do help them purchase a home.

  • I have a suggestion for you if you want to help your child with the cost of their home: Let your child save the down payment and purchase a home that they can afford. Then, you can give them money periodically for prepayment of their mortgage. In doing it this way, you will not change their lifestyle.

My daughter has recently been divorced. How do I know how much to help her financially?
  • Being a single mom is one of the hardest jobs that there is. Many times, the single mother has to do the job alone: physically, financially, and emotionally.

  • You will need to determine how much help your daughter needs, and for how long she needs the help, and then decide how much help you can give to her. Financial help is only one part of helping your daughter.

  • You never stop being a parent, even when your children are grown. The needs of your adult children can be bigger than the needs of teenage or even younger children. There are issues of death, divorce, job loss, illness, and other things for which they may need your help. As the parent, you can help because you have more life experience, and many times you also have more resources.

  • An issue you should determine is at what point have you stopped helping and started enabling? Try to have clear, open communication between the husband and wife, and then between the parents and the adult child. Realize that it is great for you to help your daughter, but at some point you will need to release her back to self-sufficiency.

Who is supposed to pay for the wedding?
  • There is no right or wrong answer to this question. The key to wedding decisions is planning and communication.

  • Whose wedding is it? Is it for the parents’ benefit or the benefit of the couple getting married?

  • We decided when our daughters were still in high school how much we would spend on their wedding. We told them what this amount was, and let them know that if they spent more, they would fund it, and if they spent less, they could keep the extra.

  • Try not to have a “coping gap” with your children. A coping gap is when there is a difference between expectations and reality. If you set proper expectations, then there will not be a coping gap or the resulting disappointment from them.

  • All parties involved with the wedding need to decide what they are willing and able to spend on the wedding, and communicate that amount clearly with everyone else involved.

If we have children or grandchildren with special needs, how should we help out?

There are many types of special needs. Some examples would be:

  • Physical handicap

  • Mental handicap

  • Job loss

  • Divorce

  • If you love your children equally, you should treat them uniquely.

  • If you are able to help one of your children who is in need, you should do so. This does not mean you have to do the same for all of your children.

  • If you can provide help for a need, if God has given you the resources, you should consider it a privilege to be able to help your family.

Election of 2008

In the long-term, it does make a difference who wins the presidential election, because the candidates have differing economic and tax policies, and these things will affect our personal finances.

In the short-term, however, it does not matter who is elected. We are in a difficult economic time, and the economy is going to take some time to get out of the crisis, probably regardless of what short-term policies are put into place.

There are three important things we can and should do regarding the upcoming election:

  1. Vote your conscience and your values.

  2. Realize that your personal economy will always be subject to God’s principles of money management – no matter who is elected.

  3. Look to the Bible for examples of people who served under ungodly kings and were blessed by God because they followed Him. A few examples of this are Joseph, Nehemiah, and Esther.

Regardless of the president, God has placed you wherever you are right now “for such a time as this.” Look for His guidance every day.

Philippians 4:4-7
”Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus.” (NKJV)

National Day of Prayer Task Force prayer guide.

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Planning for Christmas

Christmas is a good time to rethink priorities.

My best advice is that your credit card bills should never surprise you in January. You set yourself up for poor stewardship and a debt situation when you cannot pay off your Christmas credit card bills in full when they come in January.

What you spend on Christmas gifts is a personal matter. The important thing is not WHAT you spend, but sticking to your budget. What you spend on Christmas is not a reflection on who you are.

Here are a few tips for Christmas spending:

  1. Have a budget that works for your family.

  2. Plan to pay off your credit cards in full after Christmas. One way to plan is to enter each charge in your checkbook register, so that you do not forget what you spent.

  3. Remember that the greatest gift at Christmas is God’s gift of His Son. Be grateful for that tremendous gift as you plan your budget.

James 1:17
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (NIV)

Crown Financial Ministries, “Christmas”

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Encouraging Generosity in Children

My wife and I have a suggestion for teaching generosity to your grandchildren. We do this with our own grandchildren each year at Christmas.

  • We give a set amount of money to each child about a month before Christmas.

  • They are each allowed to give this money away to someone or something that they perceive has a need.

  • We then ask them to write down for us what they did with the money, and what that meant to them.

We have been amazed at how many different opportunities God has provided for each grandchild to see a need, and to help meet that need. Making the decision themselves gives them a sense of ownership in giving. And, as an additional benefit, watching them gives Judy and I a great sense of joy as they develop a spirit of giving.

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.” (NIV)

Acts 20:35
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” (NIV)

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Creative Christmas Gifts

We had a tradition as our five children were growing up. I gave each of my children a list of things we could do together, such as going on a business trip with me, going shopping, shooting free throws, or playing golf. Each list was customized for the children, to meet their special interests. But the underlying point was to be able to spend time with each child individually.

Many of you may have limited resources, but even if you do not, your children will treasure the gift of your time. Time and money are both scarce resources, but you can almost always reprioritize your time to have a little bit more to spend with your children. Memories you share will mean a lot to them now and in the future, and your time will have a great impact on their lives.

Psalms 33:15
“He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.” (NKJV)

Crown Financial Ministries, “Extraordinary Gifts for Christmas”

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Tips for Goal Setting

Goal setting is very important because:

  1. People who set goals usually accomplish far more than people who do not.

  2. Goals provide direction and motivation.

  3. When you accomplish a goal, you have a sense of reward.

The process of setting goals is more important than the goals themselves, because goals are going to change. Circumstances change, and when they do, your goals will change. If you know how to set goals, then when things change, you know how to adapt your goals to meet that change.

There are four guidelines that I follow as I set goals:

  1. Pray about what your goals should be.

  2. Spend time in Scripture, seeking God’s will.

  3. Sit down with your spouse and come to an agreement about what your goals are.

  4. Quantify the goals that you believe God would have you set. Make them measurable, so that you know when you have achieved them.

Philippians 3:12 – 14
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

A Blueprint for Life, “Anyone Can Balance on Their Head”

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Scriptures of Encouragement

Our media drives us to fear. Fear and faith cannot co-exist, because “perfect love drives out fear.” (I John 4:18) However, the emotion of fear is very real. I go to Scripture when I become fearful. Here are some of my favorites:

Psalm 73:23-28:
In fearful times, Christians can be a tremendous witness to people who are consumed by fear.“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” (NIV)

II Corinthians 4:16-18:
Focus on what is unseen, because what is seen is not permanent. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV)

Hebrews 13:5-6:
God is always with His children. “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (NIV)

Revelation 3:20:
Jesus wants to have fellowship with you. When you are fellowshipping with Jesus, it is difficult to be fearful. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (NIV)

Ephesians 3:20:
God is able to do far beyond anything we can imagine. This is an awesome promise.“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” (NIV) Fear is a legitimate emotion, but you can combat fear by going back to the Bible.

2 Timothy 1:7
“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind.”  (NKJV)

Micca Monda Campbell, “No Need to Fear”

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When to Refinance?

There are two main questions to ask yourself when you consider refinancing your home.

  1. Can you lower your interest rate by at least 2%?

  2. Are you going to stay in your house for at least 5 more years?

If you can answer yes to both of these questions, you will want to consider refinancing your home.

When you decide to refinance, shop around. Not all lenders are equal, nor will they treat you equally. Ask them about closing costs and prepayment penalties.

James 4:14
“You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (NKJV)

Crown Financial Ministries, “After the First Mortgage”

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Finding Basic, Good Financial Advice

The best way to find a counterfeit is to hold it up to the real thing. Hold up any advice that you get against God’s Word as a test. If the advice is not consistent with the Bible, then it is not good advice.

There is no easy way out of financial trouble. You need to follow Scriptural principles. I believe there are four steps to getting out of financial trouble:

  1. Set up a budget. Reduce your expenses as much as you are able.

  2. Pay off short-term debt with the cash you free up when you make your budget.

  3. Save money for an emergency fund - for the unexpected things that happen in everyone’s life.

  4. Set long-term goals. Prioritize your goals so that you can organize your finances according to a plan.

Luke 16:11
“So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (NIV)

Crown Financial Ministries, “Long-Range Investing Goals”

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Dangers of American Debt Habit.
  • I believe that the economy is resetting itself. Whenever there is a violation of a Biblical principle, there will be a resetting, before conditions eventually come back to the norm.

  • As Americans, we may have come to expect a way of life that we do not necessarily have a right to, because we have borrowed to get there.

  • Do not try to borrow your way to contentment or to prosperity.

  • The only thing you can do, personally, is take a look at how you are spending your money, and do not try to borrow your way out of your problems.

Hebrews 13:5
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (NIV)

Crosswalk, “Contentment”

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Eight Things Not to Skimp on in Tough Economic Times

Eight things not to skimp on in tough economic times:

  1. Giving. This practices acknowledges God’s provision for you.

  2. Mortgage payments and property taxes

  3. Utilities

  4. Car maintenance. If you take care of your car, it will last longer.

  5. Health insurance. You really need to have health insurance.

  6. Fun times with your spouse and children. You do not have to spend money to have fun with your family.

  7. Patience and long-term vision. Things change, and what really matters is your eternal destiny.

  8. Bible reading and prayer. Time with God is a place where you want to invest a lot of time. I think it is impossible to read your Bible and experience fear. As you develop the right perspective, you will develop faith, and faith will lead to contentment.

Ephesians 3:20 – 21
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (NASB)

Philip Yancy at Christianity Today, “A Surefire Investment: How to Pray in the Midst of Financial

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A Definition of Retirement
  • The American dream is to retire. To most, “retirement” means stopping their work life.

  • I believe that the Bible does not give any examples of people who stopped working.

  • You may become financially independent. At that point, you are free for another form of ministry. Think of changing careers at the end of your life as “rehirement.”

  • Jesus said that He had finished the work God had for Him to do, but He said this at the end of His life. I believe that I am not finished with my God-given work until I go home to be with the Lord.

Ephesians 2:10
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (NKJV)

John Ensor at Desiring God, “Kissing Retirement Goodbye”

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Facilitating Husband/Wife Budget Communication

God created men and women to be different from one another. Anyone who is married knows that to be the case. Because we are different, I believe that many married people have communication issues about their money and their budget. Thinking differently from your spouse is not bad or wrong, but for the sake of unity in marriage, try to work with your spouse instead of against them.

  • Because of how men tend to think, a lot of them consider their budget to be a fluid thing. We manipulate the numbers as time goes on and circumstances change.

  • Women, on the other hand, may like to have their husband write down the budget and not change the numbers without notice. Your wife will probably feel better about your budget if you stick with your original numbers. If the numbers need to change, talk about it first, before you change your spreadsheet.

Remember that unity and good communication are the goals. Be sensitive to one another, and be willing to see things from another’s point of view.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (NKJV)

Gary Chapman at Christianity Today, “Balancing Your Money Mindset”

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“How much is enough?”

A very good thing that a married couple can do together, relative to their finances, is to make decisions early in your married life about what kind of lifestyle you intend to have. Then, when you are tempted to change your lifestyle, possibly because your income has gone up, you will already have the guidelines in place.

You must keep in mind that there is no lifestyle that will make you feel:

  1. Content

  2. Successful

  3. Secure

Most of the time, when someone asks the question, “How much is enough?”, what they are looking for is contentment, not a lifestyle.

So, set the guidelines early, and you will be ahead of most people.

I Timothy 6:6 – 8
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” (NKJV)

Steve Scalici at Crosswalk, “Jesus Words on Wealth Trump The Apprentice” Mentality

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Communicating to Children About the College Fund

With college investing, a good principle to follow is that the earlier you start, the better off you will be when the time to pay for college arrives. However, if you have not started early, which a lot of people have not or could not do, you do have alternatives.

  1. You could borrow the money

  2. Your child could apply for scholarships

One thing I would encourage parents to do, though, regardless of how old your children are, is to communicate to them that a college education is not a right, it is a privilege.

Having been in the business world for over 40 years, I have come to understand that where a person goes to college is only really important for their first job. After your first job, things like work ethic, how you performed at your last job, and creativity matter a whole lot more than where you got your degree.

If you want to and can afford to send your child to an exclusive private college, there is nothing wrong with that. But you do not need to feel guilty if you cannot afford to pay for an expensive college education for every child. Just be sure to communicate well with your children, so that you both have the same expectations about how college will be funded.

Psalm 37:25
“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” (NIV)

Crown Financial Ministries, “Scholarships and Grants”

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Private vs. Public vs. Home School
  • The first thing you need to remember as you make the schooling decision is that each of your children is different, so you need to think of them uniquely. Each child will have different needs and will respond to a school differently. Because of their God given uniqueness, you will have to make the schooling decision individually for each of your children.

  • The second thing to remember in making the schooling decision is that money spent on education will always cost you something in the short term. If you decide to pay for a private education, you may have to give up a vacation, a new car, or something else your family thinks that they need. Ask yourself if you are willing to spend this money for what you perceive to be a future benefit for this particular child.

  • The schooling decision is not really a financial decision. It is a spiritual decision, and a values decision, that has financial implications. I would encourage you to sit down with your spouse and prayerfully consider what you think is best for each of your children. Where to send your children to school is a big decision, and so don’t make the decision lightly.

Psalm 32:8
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”  (NIV)

Kathryn Vercillo, “Homeschool vs. Public School vs. Private School”

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Is now a good time to buy a house, given the change in the economy (2009)?

In short, yes, this is probably a good time to buy a house – but this does not necessarily mean that you should buy a house.

This is a great time (mid 2009) to buy if you can answer these two questions satisfactorily:

  1. Are you in a good financial position to be able to afford a new house?

  2. Will it put a strain on your finances if you buy a house?

If you have to sell first before you buy, think about this decision. This is a good time to buy, buy not a great time to sell. So keep that in mind as you try to sell your old house. You will probably have to sell it for less than you could have two years ago. So when you look at the new houses that you might want to buy, remember that you may get less for your old house, and do not overspend because you forgot to take this into account.

Proverbs 24:3-4 (NKJV)
“Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established. By knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”

Matthew 7:24 (NIV)
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

Psalm 61:4 (NIV)
“I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.”

Steve Diggs at Crosswalk, “Why Home Ownership May be Unwise”

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Most Important Things to Teach Children About Money

I believe that there are two things that are very important to teach your children about money:

  1. God owns it all. God is the source of all money and everything else that you have. We have the responsibility and the privilege to manage His money.

  2. There is a limited supply of money. We used the envelope system to teach our children this principle. When the envelope was empty, they could not spend any more. Find some way to teach your children that you can spend money any way you want to, but you can only spend it once.

1 Chronicles 29:11 (NIV)
“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; You are exalted as head over all.”

James 1:5-6 (NASB)
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”

Crown Financial Ministries, “Children and Finances”

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The Envelope System

The envelope system is a tool to teach budgeting to your children.

  • Here is how it works:

  • Decide what categories you will have. We used clothes, gifts, spending, saving, and tithe as our main categories.

  • Decide an annual amount for each category.

  • Divide each annual amount by twelve.
    Each month put the 1/12 amount in each envelope.

There are a few additional notes about this system that I would like to add:

  • To come up with the tithe and saving amount, we added together all of the other envelope amounts, and took 10% of that amount for the tithe, and another 10% for saving.

  • You can have as many envelopes, or categories, as you want. Each child is unique, and you may have different envelopes for different children.

  • I would recommend having your child tithe first, then put money in some sort of savings account, and then take what is left over and put it into envelopes. This method will help teach your children Biblical priorities of money management.

  • Explain to your children that when the money in each envelope is gone, there is no more money left for that month.

Ecclesiastes 7:11-12 (NKJV)
“Wisdom is good with an inheritance, and profitable to those who see the sun. For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, but the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.” 

Proverbs 22:6 (NASB)
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Phil Downer at Crosswalk, “Money – Teach Your Children Lifelong Lessons”

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Allowance for Chores or Grades
  • We had a philosophy that we did not have allowances for our children. An allowance gives your child a set amount of money and lets them spend it any way they want.

  • We wanted to teach our children how to budget by giving them constraints on how they could spend the money we gave them.

  • We also did not believe in paying our children for good grades. We thought that grades were that child’s responsibility, and they got to have the opportunities or suffer the consequences for their own grades.

  • Finally, we did not pay our children for doing certain chores around the house, such as making their bed or doing the dishes. Chores were jobs that the children had to do because they were a part of our family, and as a part of the family, everyone had a job to do.

  • By not paying for grades or chores, we hoped to teach our children personal responsibility and motivation for the sake of the task, not for the sake of money.

Proverbs 22:6 (NASB)
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

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Encouraging Generosity at Home

The Bible encourages and challenges us to be generous people.

As parents, we are always on the lookout for teaching times with children. A good teaching time is at family meals. Sit with your children, listen to them, talk to them, and model the behavior that you desire for them to develop.

Here are a few suggestions for how to teach your children to be generous:

  1. If you support any missionaries or ministries, pray for them together as a family.

  2. Include your children in your end of the year giving. Let your children see what the requests are that come in, and let them have input into what you give.

  3. Model generosity to your children. Let your children see you tithing at church and being generous to others.

I believe that there is no greater gift you can give your children than to teach them to have a generous spirit.

Isaiah 32:8 (NLT)
“But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.”

John 4:10 (MSG)
“Jesus answered, "If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water."

2 Corinthians 8:2 (NLT)
“They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.”

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Preparing Children for College.
  • When children leave for college, they will be confronted with financial decisions in a much bigger way than they ever have before. They will have debt made available to them in the form of credit card applications, and they will have greater peer pressure.

  • I believe that you begin preparing your children for college when they are about eight years old by giving them responsibility with some amount of money.

  • When your child gets to high school, I think it is a good idea to give them a credit card and teach them how to use it. Remember, though, if you give your child a credit that you teach them that they can use it for convenience only, and they must pay it off every month.

  • Another way to teach your child financial responsibility is by having conversations with them about how they will handle their finances. Have many of these conversations as your child grows up, so that your advice is part of their thinking process.

  • When our children turned eighteen, we had a formal conversation with each one of them where we “cut the apron strings.” We told our children that they were on their own from then on to make their own financial decisions. My wife and I let them know that we would always be there for them, but they were old enough to make their own decisions, and we trusted them to do that wisely.

Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)
“So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don't become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

2 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT)
“Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.”

Tanya Ruiz at Crosswalk, “Tips on College Success (For Parents)”

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Saving vs. Hoarding in Children
  • The difference between saving and hoarding is:

    • You save toward a particular goal.

    • You hoard when you believe that you need more and more and more, because having money is where your security lies.

  • Saving for an emergency is not hoarding, it is preplanning, unless you put your security in that emergency fund.

  • The way we taught our children the difference between saving and hoarding was through the envelope system. Our children had a savings envelope. We taught them that it is okay to dig into their savings envelope for something that was special to them, such as a bicycle, a tennis racket, or even a piece of clothing.

  • What Judy and I wanted to teach our children was that you save for a purpose and you hoard for security.

“We are not cisterns made for hoarding, we are channels made for sharing.” - Billy Graham

“Charity gives itself rich; covetousness hoards itself poor” – German Proverb

I Timothy 6:6-10 (ESV)
“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

Howard Dayton at Crosswalk, “Saving or Hoarding?”

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Cars for Young Drivers.

There are two important components of deciding what kind of car your new driver should have.

  1. Predetermine what your parameters will be before your child turns 16.

  2. Communicate clearly with your child what they can expect from you relative to a car.

  • Transportation is critical and time consuming for most families with children at home, so for your 16 year old to have a car to drive can be a big help to the main driver in the family. We bought our oldest child a used car at age 16, but it was clear to her that it was our car for our convenience.

  • It can be difficult when your children’s friends are getting a nice new car, but if you have communicated what they can expect ahead of time, your choice for them will be easier for to accept.

  • One option you have is to tell your child that you will in some way match whatever they save towards a car when they turn 16. A matching plan can be very motivational to some children, and many children will take better care of a car that they have worked to help pay for with their own money.
    Finally, avoid the pitfall of trying to keep up with peers and friends.

Luke 6:40 (NIV)
“ A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

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Goal Setting with Kids
  • When you are teaching your children anything, remember, “more is caught than taught.” If you set an example for your children, more than likely, they will follow your example. So, let your children see you setting goals, and talk about what you are doing, what you will do to reach your goal, and tell them when you meet your goal.

  • My wife and I did something fun with our children to teach them to set goals. Once a year, on that child’s birthday, we took them out for dinner and asked them what they wanted to do in the next year. Some of the areas that we asked them about were grades, friends, activities, and purchases. Each child had their own notebook, and we wrote down what they wanted to do in the next year. Then, on that child’s next birthday, we would go back to the notebook and see what they had accomplished.

  • Remember, though, that if you do not set goals for yourself, you probably cannot expect your children to learn to set goals.

Proverbs 16:1-3 (NASB)
“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives. Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

Proverbs 25:28 (NASB)
“Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.”

Daniel B. Wallace at Bible.org, “Should a Christian Set Goals?”

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Leaving Money to Irresponsible Children

If you love your children equally, you will treat them uniquely.

3 questions:

  1. If I leave money to a certain child, what is the worst thing that could happen?

  2. How serious is the worst thing that could happen?

  3. How likely is the worst thing that could happen to occur?

If you have an irresponsible child, the difficult decision is whether or not to leave God’s resources to that child. Your thinking will change when you begin to think of your money as God’s money. Then, the issue of estate planning becomes a stewardship issue.

There are a couple of different things you can do if you have an irresponsible child:

  1. Do not leave any money to that child. This is a very significant decision, and I do not usually recommend that you do this.

  2. Set up a trust managed by someone else. This can be a sibling or someone outside the family.

  3. Pray for supernatural wisdom. God will speak to your heart if you let Him.

Luke 16:11-12 (NIV)
“So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”

Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Focus on the Family, “The Legacy You Want to Give”

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Advice for Parenting Adult Children

The task of parenting, especially parenting adult children, is one that most people are not prepared for. I have two pieces of advice:

  1. Pray for each member of your family on a regular, ongoing basis. There is nothing better that you can do for your children than to intercede for them.

  2. Never give unasked for advice. Parents are tempted to give advice, since they have the wisdom that comes from experience, but this can be very harmful to your relationship with your adult child.

Colossians 3:21 (ESV)
“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”

Patrick Morley, “How to Parent Adult Children”

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How do I set a budget or spending plan?

To control spending with budget, begin by calling it a spending plan, not a budget. A plan is a road map that sets guidelines, not a law that is strict.

There are three important principles to remember as you develop your plan:

  1. Time: It may take as long as two years to get a good spending plan.

    1. Start with keeping track of where you are spending your money.

    2. When you know where your money is being spent, decide how you can control your expenses.

  2. Flexibility: This plan is not the law. It will change over time because of changing circumstances.

  3. Unity: Work with your spouse, so that you both have ownership of the spending plan.

Proverbs 16:9 (NASB)
“The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

Christian PF describes how to create your budget, including a link to ten budgeting worksheets.

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Faith and Finances: He is God and I am Not
  • The way you live your life is rooted in who you believe God to be.

  • If He is good and sovereign, and you truly believe that, you will build your life around reflecting His glory.

1 Chronicles 29:12 (NKJV)
“Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.”

James MacDonald of Walk in the Word discusses that "God is Good Even When Life is Bad."

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Faith and Finances: Walking with God, Part 1

How do you practice the presence of God?

  • Rejoice always

  • Pray without ceasing

  • In all things give thanks

These are all choices that you can make, continually, to practice the presence of God. In this way, you can begin to sense God’s presence in your life in your daily walk.

Romans 12:2 (NASB)
 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Sarah Beldo of Guideposts shares a study showing that gratitude leads to generosity.

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Faith and Finances: Walking with God, Part 2

Romans 12:2 (NIV)
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Crown Financial Ministries has an article about impulsive and compulsive spending.

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What is Stewardship?
  • The word stewardship means “management.” A steward is a trustee or a manager.

  • Stewardship is about life management – not just money management.

  • Think about stewardship holistically. God has given you specific gifts to use for His honor and His glory.

I Peter 4:10 (NIV)
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.”

Bob Lotich at ChristianPF asks the question “Stewardship – What is it Really?”

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Stewardship: God Owns it All
  • Biblical stewardship begins with the belief that God owns it all.

  • Practice holding everything with an open hand. This way, God can put in or take out anything He wants at any time.

  • If you really believe that God owns it all, you can have true freedom, because there is no more fear of loss.

Psalm 50:10 (NASB)
“For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.”

Chuck Bentley writes at Crosswalk.com about trusting God when things are tough financially.

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Growth Through Stewardship
  • The reality of earthly life is that you are continually in a growth process.

  • Put your life experiences into the context of your spiritual growth. You are being prepared for something bigger in eternity.

  • Do not lose heart in the process, because you will be in a growth process the entire time you are on earth. Remember that you learn from your mistakes.

I Timothy 4:7-8 (NASB)
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

Ray Stedman writes about the apostle Paul’s stewardship of his accomplishments.

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Stewarding Various Amounts
  • You do not become a steward, you are a steward, regardless of how much or how little you have.

  • If you are faithful with a few things, God will entrust you with more things. The things with which you have been entrusted include money, but they also include time, relationships, job, family, etc.

  • The amount is not important. Remember you are a steward.

Luke 16:10 (NASB)
"He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”

Ray Watson of The Secret Place writes that most Christians do not receive five talents. If the “one talent Christians” do not do their part, the work of the Kingdom will not get done.

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Stewardship and Faith
  • You are not a steward simply by holding something. You are a steward as you use or manage things. Faith requires action.

  • You will see the demonstration of God’s faithfulness as you look back, not as you look forward. God is and always will be faithful, but you will see this faithfulness as you need it, and as time unfolds.

  • The only way you are a steward is when you are managing and implementing decisions. Then you will see God work and be faithful to His promises.

James 2:17 (NIV)
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Wes Bridel at Kingdom Calling talks about ownership vs. stewardship.

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Stewardship: Money is a Tool

How you use money is one aspect of stewardship.

Money can be used as a tool in three ways:

  1. Money can be exchanged for something of value, such as food, shelter, or building memories with your family.

  2. Money can be used to chisel you into the image of God.

  3. Money can be a tool that God uses to get your attention.

I Timothy 6:6-10 (NASB)
“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

View a story from the writings of the late Bill Bright about God's financial provision for businessman Art DeMoss in an economic downturn."

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Stewardship: Money as a Test
  • God uses money to test your heart. Where your treasure is, that is where your heart will be.

  • The more you have, the more difficult it becomes to trust God. You tend to lean on your possessions and put your trust in things, rather than in God.

  • The key to the money test is to trust God for what you have received and for what you will receive.

Proverbs 30:8b-9 (NIV)
“Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much, and disown you, and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”

Rick Warren discusses “Money and the Spiritual Life.”

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Stewardship: Money as a Testimony
  • Stewardship is total life management…management of everything, not just of money.

  • You are called to represent Jesus, and to reveal Him to the world.

  • Your life, and the stewardship of your life, is a testimony to the world. As Christians, you are called to be salt and light to the world.

Philippians 2:15 (NASB)
“So that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.”

Pat Robertson writes about what the Bible has to say about money.

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The New Year: Forgetting What Lies Behind

Many people live as victims of their past.
The past is over. What is really important is where you will go next, in your future.
Give up what is in your past, and press on towards the goal of your calling in Christ Jesus.

II Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Philippians 3:12 (NASB)
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.”

Reverend Harvey G. Throop writes about the importance of forgetting what lies behind.

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Short Term Lifestyle

This is the B-I-G bucket! Your financial destiny is, in large part, determined by the daily spending decisions that you will make regarding your lifestyle. Decisions about everything from the mortgage you have to the groceries you buy to the clothes that you wear will fall in this bucket. If you practice wise habits in your lifestyle spending decisions, you will experience more control of your finances and more peace of mind about your financial future. I love this bucket because it is where God really teaches me about the state of my heart, His provision for me, and my need for daily dependence upon Him. Welcome to real life…welcome to the lifestyle bucket!

 

Half Price Living has various entries about living frugally.

BetterBudgeting.com shares tips for living more frugally.

Miserly Moms gives simple (sometimes silly) tips on saving money.

Debt Free Christian shares a simple explanation of how to budget for a family with small children.

E Christian Finance discusses how to be more united with finances in your marriage.

BeingFrugal.net has many good general budgeting articles.

Short Term Lifestyle

This is the B-I-G bucket! Your financial destiny is, in large part, determined by the daily spending decisions that you will make regarding your lifestyle. Decisions about everything from the mortgage you have to the groceries you buy to the clothes that you wear will fall in this bucket. If you practice wise habits in your lifestyle spending decisions, you will experience more control of your finances and more peace of mind about your financial future. I love this bucket because it is where God really teaches me about the state of my heart, His provision for me, and my need for daily dependence upon Him. Welcome to real life…welcome to the lifestyle bucket!

Deuteronomy 30:8-10
And you shall again obey the Lord, and observe all His commandments, which I command you today. Then the Lord your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the Lord will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; if you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. (NASB)

II Chronicles 31:20-21
And thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah; and he did what was good, right, and true before the Lord his God. And every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered. (NASB)

Psalm 49:7-9
No man can by any means redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him – for the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever – that he should live on eternally; that he should not undergo decay. (NASB)

Psalm 127:2
It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. (NASB)

Proverbs 21:20

In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has. (NIV)

Proverbs 22:4

The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life. (NASB)

Matthew 6:19-24

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (NASB)

Matthew 6:25-27
“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span?” (NASB)

Matthew 19:21-26
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And when the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” And looking upon them Jesus said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (NASB)

Matthew 23:12
“And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (NASB)

Mark 4:18-19
“And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, and the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in an choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (NASB)

Mark 8:36
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (NASB)

Luke 12:16-21
And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a certain rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (NASB)

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” (NASB)

I Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. (NASB)

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (NASB)

James 5:1-6
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries, which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! Behold the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabbath. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you. (NASB)

   


 

 
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