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Archive for the ‘money’ Category

There was an article on the Internet yesterday that described the financial struggles that many Baby Boomer retirees are encountering now because of past misplaced priorities.

It is an article that confirms the housing strategy that Lori and I want to have in place whenever our retirement day comes.

As I recall, retired couples who have no mortgage on their homes are 80 percent less likely to encounter economic crisis than are couples making mortgage or rent payments.

Wow.

So how does this relate to Baby Boomers? The article focused on the millions of middle-aged couples who bought larger houses based on their working income rather than on their projected retirement income.

That’s not so bad if the mortgage were retired before the couple retired.

But in all too many cases today, work retirement comes before mortgage retirement.

And that causes big problems for many.

Lori and I know that we cannot allow ourselves to get in such a situation.

That’s why, even though we don’t own our dwelling now, wherever we live in retirement will be paid off, one way or the other.

There are enough challenges with retirement finances without having to worry about losing the house to foreclosure.

So what does this topic have to do with faith?

King Solomon offers advice in Proverbs 24:27 that points us toward making provision for income needs before focusing on having the house we want.

“Do your planning and prepare your fields
before building your house.” (Proverbs 24:27)

Making a plan for retirement housing long before it’s needed is a good idea.

Implementing that plan to earn and save before buying the retirement house is a good idea.

If you already own the house within which you hope to retire, please start planning how to have it paid off before your last day at the job.

Be part of the 80 percent who have less stress about their finances.

That way, you’ll be more likely to think about how you can work to save souls rather than working to save your house.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Many of you are relieved today because you made the deadline for filing your tax return.

It’s an annual ordeal that nobody would classify as “fun” yet we accept that it is part of living in a governed nation.

Many people portray themselves as wealthy but their tax return proves otherwise.

The reverse is true, of course, with many portraying themselves as poor yet their tax return proves otherwise.

We can lie to other people about our financial status, but it’s hard to get away with lying to the Internal Revenue Service.

Oh, some people will do so for a time, but almost always they are eventually caught and it ends up costing them more than if they had just paid the taxes expected of them.

We humans are something else when it comes to money and its influence upon our behavior.

We’ve all heard the stories about the spinster librarians or reclusive old couples whose wills surprisingly leave millions of dollars to favorite causes…. or sometimes to their pets.

The consistent theme in such stories is that relatives and friends were shocked at the amount of money the misers had accumulated.

Obviously, these folk didn’t believe in conspicuous consumption.

It’s more common, I suppose, that prideful people will live and spend to impress others, even if it means living on the edge — or past the edge – of financial insolvency.

Blow money at nightclubs, drive a newer car, enjoy snazzy wardrobe additions on a frequent basis, own the latest tech gadgets, take enviable vacations, enhance the physique with plastic surgery — all paid for on credit.

So what if the payments made don’t keep up with the ballooning principal? There’s fun now and peer esteem now and isn’t that what matters?

We all know that hoarding money and leaving it to a cat is foolish.

And we all know that blowing money and leaving behind a legacy of debt is foolish.

This isn’t a modern phenomenon, by any means.

Check out Solomon’s words in Proverbs 13:7.

“Some who are poor pretend to be rich; others who are rich pretend to be poor.”

As you consider the roster of your friends and acquaintences, you’ll likely find some who fit into either of the above categories.

Such masks are never good. God certainly sees right through them.

Let’s reject the temptation to “pretend.”

Let’s remember that being rich — in God’s eyes — is having enough to give some away to others who really are poor.

For it’s the person who doesn’t feel like giving any money away who really is “poor” — no matter how much money he or she has in the bank.

You see, no matter how much money we have in the bank, we can be rich when we give money to others because we’re confident that God will provide for us.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s a verse Dave Ramsey would love.

Dave, of course, is the well-known promoter of faith-based frugal living that resists debt and restricts splurging.

His books and videos have been read and seen by millions.

Some of you are better off now financially because you’ve applied the Bible-based principles he’s shared.

Here’s the verse from today’s One-Year Bible that speaks to godly thinking.

Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” Proverbs 24:27

The principle is quite simple, actually. Focus on developing your long-term income source — your career — before you focus on having a nicer place to live.

In a practical sense, this was essential in Bible days. It wouldn’t do any good to have a nice house while at the same time have nothing to eat while living in it.

It was much better to clear and plant and harvest in the fields while living in a tent or in a shack. Bodies don’t need “cushy” but they do NEED food.

As incomes grew in size and reliability, then the budget for housing could grow.

That’s why for generations, American adults would be content to have a small, starter home in a so-so neighborhood for the first few years of their marriages while their careers were established and incomes gradually began to grow.

It wasn’t uncommon for couples to have been married 10 years before buying a “nice” home.

This pattern has become rare as younger couples wanted the “nice” house right away, a house they really couldn’t afford because they had not become established a solid, reliably long-term income source.

Millions of foreclosure lawsuits testify to the truth of this observation.

There are a myriad of other applications to the verse above, but I want to wrap this Morning Devotion up by encouraging you to review your priority list in life.

Are there any “want to have” items that are listed ahead of “must have” items?

Ask God to show you and then ask God to strengthen you to make the changes that will put things in the proper priority.

Instead of spending $1,200 on a large-screen, LED TV, why not spend they money on a couple of career-development courses at the community college?

Instead of spending $1,032 on a week-long hunting trip with the guys, why not spend the money on taking your kids or grandkids on a series of day trips to national parks and museums?

You get the point.

Here’s an even more important application of the verse as it relates to ministry. Focus on impacting the community with the Gospel before any focus is made on having a cushy church building. I’ll just leave that one with you to soak.

We’ve all got priority adjustments to make so let’s all get at it.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s good when your relationship with God is all that you need in order to be happy.

The world says you need cool things and more of them than does your neighbor or sibling or co-worker.

The world also says you need to have total control of your calendar and total freedom to choose whatever junk food makes your taste buds feel good.

Oh yeah, and the world also tells you that you don’t need any organized religion to have peace with your inner being.

Just live to please yourself and remember that pleasing others is a strategy for gaining their compliance so that you might more successfully reach your goals.

I’m glad that I generally don’t trust worldly strategies for being happy.

I’m content to drive an old car and wear clothes that haven’t seen a display rack in years.

I’m totally fine with the idea that my newest pair of shoes is three years old.

I’m also quite satisfied to own a “dumb” cellphone that doesn’t use the web and play music and just works like a standard cellphone.

And I find more satisfaction in paying off a debt than I do buying on credit something I’ve really wanted.

Why am I trying to be like this more often?

Part of the reason is found in Psalm 73:25-26.

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.”

It is the trust demonstrated by this passage that sustained Jesus through the worst of what He faced on earth.

This same trust sustained the apostles during their persecution and martyrdom.

And so it was for millions of Christian martyrs who have sacrificed their flesh rather than their faith.

The implications of this verse are huge for your life and mine.

When peer pressure is intense and you’re being pushed to walk away from obedience to biblical values, do you declare that God is the strength of your heart and your portion forever?

When a spouse is hassling you about your desire for more church involvement and providing the 10 percent tithe to support church and missions work, do you declare that God is the strength of your heart and your portion forever and that giving to God ALWAYS has eternal and earthly benefits?

When expensive problems occur in your practical life, do you forgo earthly wants without complaining so that you can pay your bills and continue giving to God as He seeks?

If Psalm 73:25-26 guide your life, you will.

The Kingdom will grow stronger. Your life will grow stronger.

And Satan will grow more frustrated.

That’s a good thing.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It wasn’t until yesterday morning that I realized just how ignorant I am about America’s lust for gambling.

I knew, of course, that millions of people would bet on the Super Bowl. I’ve never done such a thing, but at least I recognize the competitive allure of trying to win something by chance rather than by hard work.

Some of you perhaps have bet on the game in the past. I’ll leave it to the Lord to speak to your heart on that one. I’m certain, though, that any winnings that came your way were not the result of God’s favor but instead were ungodly incentives to prompt further gambling.

What blew me away yesterday was the news that America’s lust for gambling is so rampant that thousands of people gambled on whether Christina Aguilera’s singing of the national anthem would be under 1 minute 54 seconds or over that amount of time.

I’m not making this up.

By now, you’ve probably heard that she messed up the words of the song, not just in turning one-syllable words into entire, warbled paragraphs, but also with leaving out part of the song.

Here’s an excerpt from a news article about the song and the betting associated with it:

“Some bettors thought that they should immediately get their money back because the prop bet relies on the singer to actually sing the right words. Others had a problem with the timing. The over/under bet settling at 1 minute and 54 seconds from time Aguilera opened her mouth to the time she finish. Bodog’s official time was 1:53:7, meaning that those who took the under won. But bettors on Twitter were telling me that Bookmaker.com was paying out for the over.

“Sportsbook.com spokesman Mike Pierce told CNBC early Monday that it had timed out Aguilera’s anthem at both 1:53 and 1:54 and was going to make a determination sometime on Monday.

“It’s unclear what the discrepancy seems to be, but it might be the fact that Aguilera added the word “oh” after she sang the word “Brave.”

To me, this is an unbelievable waste of time and money by thousands on something so insignificant in the big picture of life.

And we wonder why our economy is in such a mess.

When I read this article and when I thought of people I know who see gambling almost as gardening, my heart was pained.

I’m am prayiing that God open my eyes to ways that I can more effectively teach against gambling. I’m not as sharp in this respect as I need to be in order to provide the shepherding influence needed by the people in my circle of influence.

I hope that I will be within the near future. For people keep throwing money away in all sorts of ways, particularly with the lottery.

Please, my friend, don’t gamble.

Do the sure things.

Tithe as God commands.

Pay your monthly bills.

Pay off debts with money that you are tempted to gamble away.

Save.

Give to those in need, not to those in greed.

These things are sure to please the Father.

As always, I love you
Martin

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The Great Recession that has financially hammered so many millions of Americans has provided a compelling reminder of the need for a Plan B mindset.

In fact, countless people have already burned through Plans B, C, D and working on Plan E just now.

It’s been SO difficult for so many.

A silver lining to this enduring season of dark clouds is that the financial management DNA of countless people has been altered.

The percentage of people adding to their credit card debt is plummeting.

The number of people taking out mortgages to buy houses is dropping.

The number of people actually putting money into savings accounts is increasing.

And the percentage of people paying for purchases with cash or with debit cards is at record levels.

Why the changes? These people want to exit from their status as slaves to debt and are working toward that end.

Wisdom says it is better to be prepared in advance for when tough financial times come along.

Many of you were and are making it through this Great Recession without filing bankruptcy. It hasn’t been easy, of course, as many spending patterns have been changed or simply scrapped.

But you’ve paid your bills and hopefully you’ve trusted the Lord with your tithe offerings.

If you haven’t, you’ll need to do the math and to play catch-up in order to show God that you’re more loyal to Him than to the thing or trip that you’ve put off purchasing until you had more money.

Why this topic today? I read this morning in Genesis 41 about God’s inspiration to Joseph regarding the seven years of abundance in Egypt that preceded the seven years of famine.

Because of Joseph’s wisdom regarding putting a 20 percent portion into savings during the good times, millions of people were able to survive during seven years of famine.

No, it wasn’t easy, this time that was SO much more difficult than our Great Recession.

But the people made it through to the other side of the famine.

There are so many stories in the Bible that can help us to make practical decisions that can greatly improve our lives.

This is one of those stories.

As you are able and disciplined, increase the amount of money you save monthly. You might not reach 20 percent of your gross income as did Pharoah’s kingdom during Joseph’s supervision, but any increase will be an improvement.

The more you save, the less likely you’ll be a slave.

I’m working — and cutting — toward this end. And I’m striving to remember my tithe check when I head out the door each Sunday morning.

I pray that you will, too.

As always, I love you
Martin

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