Monday, September 29, 2008

Godly Principles for Financial Stewardship: Commitment #6

Providing an inheritance for future generations.

I am sure that you have seen the signs and bumper stickers that state “I am spending my children’s inheritance”. While that statement may be the truth of what they are indeed doing, that attitude is entirely anti-Biblical. Consider the following verse from God’s Holy Word:

A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children (Proverbs 13:22, KJV)

Now the inheritance that we should be leaving should be first and foremost a faithful legacy to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In addition, we should be working to provide a financial inheritance for future generations. In this way, we will be modeling an important trait of God’s nature of provision to those who stem from our family line. We are committed to establishing a faithful legacy that will extend for many generations into the future and a part of the legacy that we are planning to leave is a financial inheritance for our children and our children’s children. In addition, we will be leaving a charge to our progeny to continue to follow in a path of righteousness that includes planning for the future inheritance that they will be leaving for those who are yet unborn.

Final Conclusion

I believe that each of us will be well served to adopt these six commitments for godly financial stewardship just outlined from the principles of God’s Holy Word. As we all seek to honor God with our finances, may He be pleased with our efforts and may He grant us the gifts that only He can give!

Godly Principles for Financial Stewardship: Commitment #5

Living free from financial debt—unless there is a matter of life and death on the line. God’s Word has much counsel to give us on the subject of debt.

The message in Scripture is clear—namely, that debt is bondage. When we make the decision that we will be going into financial debt, we are making a decision to willingly become a servant to our lender. As Proverbs 22:7 states:

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7, KJV)

Now, if there was a medical necessity in the lives of one of those in my family that required the use of debt, I would willingly become a servant to the lender. However, apart from this extreme circumstance, our commitment is to not live with any debt whatsoever. Jill and I have been blessed to have parents that modeled well this principle as both of our sets of parents did not use any consumer debt (including credit cards and auto loans) and additionally paid off their land debts earlier than the term of their loans. However, our thinking was still clouded on this subject as our attitude was that debt was limited to not paying off credit cards each month and taking out a bank loan for anything other than a home. We viewed a mortgage as a necessity for the astute financial move of owning a home. This thinking did not come from God’s Word, but instead came from worldly wisdom. The Lord communicated to us the importance of becoming entirely free from all debt by opening our eyes to His truth that we are to have no debt outstanding except the debt of love and our mortgage certainly couldn’t be classified under a debt of love. Make a commitment today to take steps to get entirely out of debt, which will lead to greater freedom in many other areas of life. Do not despise the day of small beginnings—start small, but start somewhere!

Godly Principles for Financial Stewardship: Commitment #4

Give generously.

When we give gratefully and generously to further God’s kingdom work, we will be reinforcing our first and foundational commitment by continually having a very conscious and tangible reminder that God is the owner of all of the resources that He has given us. Our giving can be a great way to render service that is pleasing to the Lord and will help us continually fight against our human tendency to use money to satisfy our own selfish desires. In the Old Testament, God established the tithe (which literally means 10%) as a guide for how much we are to give. In the New Testament, we see that we are to go beyond the tithe and be generous and sacrificial givers. The tithe should be viewed as a floor of our giving and not as a ceiling. What a blessing we have been given to be a part of the work that God is doing through the use of our finances.

To guide our attitude on giving, we should be continually thinking on the following passage in 2 Corinthians:

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:6-7, KJV)

Godly Principles for Financial Stewardship: Commitment #3

Being content with our income.

We will do well to remember Solomon’s admonition given to us in the book of Ecclesiastes, which reads as follows:

He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver (Ecclesiastes 5:10, KJV)

Since God is the One who owns it all and He is the One that is providing us with our income, we should have an attitude of gratefulness for what He has so graciously given to us. Our hearts should be content knowing that the Lord has a plan for the future and that He is working all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. We all have three options in regard to how we live with respect to our income—we can live above our means, at our means, or below our means. Our family commitment is to live below our means and a part of that commitment includes not owning any credit cards as well using a detailed budget, which we strive to make reflective of our family priorities. We encourage you to sit down and come up with a budget based on godly principles to use in guiding your financial decisions.

Godly Principles for Financial Stewardship: Commitment #2

Serve God rather than money.

This commitment is really an outworking of the first commitment of recognizing that God owns it all. God is our great Provider and our trust for the future should rest in Him and not in our finances. Since God has provided us every good gift, we should be seeking to use the money He has given us in a manner that will serve Him and His purposes. Our focus should be on serving God and not bowing at the altar of materialism.

I praise the Lord that He taught me the importance of this principle by allowing me to LOSE money in the stock market. In the late 1990’s, there was a great deal of hype—even hysteria—on the dot com (or Internet) companies. While we did not directly get swept up into this hype, we had a significant amount of money invested in technology companies through stocks and mutual fund holdings. Our core mutual fund was one of the best performers in the year 1999 gaining more than 240% that year and the start of the year 2000 was picking up exactly where the previous year had ended. In March of 2000, our core fund was up about 700% since we purchased it and I knew that such rapid and incredible gains would not continue indefinitely, but I must admit that I was very proud of the amazing paper profits we had gained. Praise the Lord that He wanted to teach me an important principle that I should be focusing my time, affection, and attention on Him and not on the size of my market holdings. He allowed us to lose all of the profits that we had made on paper and then to lose some of the initial principal that we had invested.

It never came anywhere close to where it was at its zenith and, in fact, last year we sold the mutual fund based on it acquiring some companies that we did not want to support—at the time of the sale, we incurred a loss of some of our original principal. My heart is filled with gratitude that God taught me such an important lesson in a firm, but gentle way.

Godly Principles for Financial Stewardship: Commitment #1

Recognize that the Lord God Almighty owns EVERYTHING and we are simply His stewards.

According to Acts 17:28, it is in God alone that we live and move and have our being. God is the One who has given us our very lives and He is the One to whom we should dedicate all of our resources including our time, our talents, and our earthly treasures. Our attitude should not be that God owns 10% of our money and we own the remaining 90%. The truth of the matter is that God is the owner of it all and we should be seeking to honor Him with 100% of our finances. The recognition that God owns everything does not mean that we give all of our money away—it means that every financial decision that we make is to be scrutinized to ensure that we are making wise use of all that God provides. This commitment is absolutely foundational to how we can live a life that is devoted to the Lord God Omnipotent. As a family, we are committed to using everything that the Lord has given as an act of service and worship to Him.

Godly Principles for Financial Stewardship: Introduction

This series of posts on applying God's Word to the area of financial stewardship is taken from a testimony that David gave at our local assembly based on a request from our Pastor.

As Christians, we should be seeking to take every thought captive to the obedience of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The area of our focus for today is on finances and ensuring that we have God’s perspective on how we are to steward the money that God has provided us. I want to encourage you to look to the precious Word of God to guide your thinking into truth. What an incredible blessing we have been granted to have clear precepts, principles, and patterns by which we can order our lives to honor our Heavenly Father.

Biblical principles of managing our finances really do work! Our family can attest to this truth as we were able to reach the milestone of being entirely mortgage-free earlier this year. The foundation of managing our money well is first and foremost a commitment to living in accordance with what the Scriptures teach. Allow me to provide a framework for honoring God in this important area of finances, which I will do by communicating to you the six commitments that we have made as a family. Our hope and prayer is that by seeing the testimony of our family that you will be encouraged to ensure that you are using the financial resources that you have been entrusted in a manner that is consistent with God’s counsel.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Welcome to Our Blog!

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! We have begun this blog for the very specific purpose of honoring our Blessed Redeemer by chronicling a journey of faithfulness. This journey is one that has begun, but is far from over as we are planning and praying that God will be working in and through our family through His perfecting process of sanctification for many generations into the future. In this blog, we want to relay the specific providences of God in the lives of this family, as well as clear instruction for our progeny to follow in order that they will be able to build on the foundation that we are laying down for them. With this backdrop on the intention of this blog, we have the following introductory comments:

First, this blog is very intentionally and decidedly Christian. Currently, we are a family of five and each one of us in this family is a born-again, heaven-bound believer in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Second, this blog is intended to ensure that future generations will remember the past so that they can be encouraged by their Godly heritage through the generations.

Third, this blog will be seeking to uphold Scriptural commands, principles, and patterns by looking to apply the truths that are found in God’s Holy Word, which we hold to be sufficient for every area of life. Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone) is our heart and we are continually examining our lives to make sure that we are making decisions that are based on what God has revealed to us in His Perfect Law through both the Old and New Testaments.

Fourth, this blog will serve as a means of sharpening our thinking by ensuring that we are properly contemplating questions of life from a Biblical worldview. In no way do we see that we have arrived to our final maturity (and we know that we never will reach our ultimate destination this side of heaven). We are looking forward to wrestling with issues in a way that will help us grow in our Christian walk and conform our character to the image of Christ.

Psalm 78 summarizes well the thoughts behind the reason that we have thought it important to initiate this blog:

For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments(Psalm 78:5-7)

We welcome you as a reader to this blog and hope that you will be challenged and encouraged to be working to establish a legacy of faithfulness for the honor and glory of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!