Thursday, October 18, 2007

My Master and My Money

A great church down the road, Farmer's Branch Church of Christ, is in the middle of a capital gains project. As a part of this effort, they are sending out daily devotionals. I found today's exceptionally challenging. Enjoy!

A ministry called Christian Financial Concepts receives about 150,000 calls per month from people asking for financial advice. The profile of the average caller:

• Age 30-35
• Owes $15-$20 thousand in school loans
• Owes $17-$20 thousand in credit card debt
• Owes $20,000 on two cars
• Owes $120,000 on the average mortgage

In America today:
• 50% of marriages fail
• 60-80% of these cite financial problems as the root cause of strife
• $1.17 is spent for every $1 earned

Many are not managing their money well. Note this information on the giving patterns in our churches:
• Individuals pay 4 times as much in interest as they give the church (10.2% vs. 2.3%)
• $.80 of every dollar is given by those 55+
• 20% of members give 80% of the money contributed
• 30% give the other 20% of contributions
• 50% give nothing at all
• 1 in 5 churches borrow money to keep the doors open

Why do we consider all of these figures? There are several reasons:
• They reveal the tremendous financial burdens that many live with.
• They reveal the major problem so many face when they think of tithing and/or giving to their church.
• They reveal the few who support the work of the church enjoyed by all.
• They reveal the marital problems caused by financial problems.

Whether you fit into this pattern or not, you can profit from analyzing the situation. All of us can handle our finances more effectively and become better stewards. Perhaps a good beginning is a Bible study of one of the miracles of Jesus, The Feeding of the Five Thousand, found in Mark 6.

Admit there is a problem - Mark 6:34-37
You know the story. Great crowds were following Jesus to see and hear Him. Seeing their needs, Jesus "had compassion on them." It was dinner time and they had no food. There was a problem and the disciples recognized it.

So many today when dealing with finances stick their heads in the sand and refuse to see a problem. Note the following:

Lending institutions have a criteria to determine if one is in danger of debt destruction:
• You pay only bare minimum each month on credit and never pay more than that minimum.
• You make partial payments rather than full.
• You start falling behind on payments shortly after opening an account.
• Your account balance always seems to grow and you cannot seem to pay it off.
• You have periodic bouts of late payments.

All of this says, "I have a problem and I need to deal with it." Good money management is important because if you do not master your money, your money will master you. The result of poor management is:

• You have a burden of debt that is back breaking
• You can't get out of the maze of discouragement, disillusionment and despair.
• You have no hope for savings, retirement, education of children - the future is bleak.
• You cannot support the Lord's work as you want to and as God wants you to.

Lord, help me master my money. I want You to be the center of my life - not money, not debt. I will take positive steps now to control my debt.

For more information on Farmers Branch click here. For an archive of other devotionals from the One to Grow On Campaign, click here.

And since we are on the subject of money, I'll close with a link to one of my favorite personal finance websites, the Simple Dollar - just click here.


Deb said...

Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey.

If every Christian would listen to Dave and get out from under their mountains of debt, think of how many dollars would be available for giving above and beyond a simple tithe.


As a Christian, I want to live like no one else. If that idea is extended to our financial life, then living debt-free is a definite living like no one else idea.

In other words, if debt is normal, be weird.

Check out Dave on KLIF 570am every afternoon in Dallas or download his podcasts daily. For more DR fun, check out Those people are the best of the weird ones. :0)

Val said...

Great post, Joel. So hard to hear through all the noise, but it still needs to be said.

Beaner said...

Been there. Done that. Marriage almost over. Now we have spent the better part of 2+ years AGGRESIVELY paying down debt. It's freeing. All it takes is conviction!