Hope for your financial life and beyond

Attachment: The Giving Killer

Hidden Nuggets Series #4  – ”You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices…” – Exodus 22:29

1993 JeterMy baseball cards are pretty special to me. My first ones were collected in the early 1980s as rewards after our Little League games. Our coach would give us each a dollar to use at the concession stand when we won. I always purchased a small Barq’s cream soda and two packs of baseball cards. The trip home from the ball field was spent shuffling through the cards to locate my favorite Cincinnati Reds players, all the while chomping on the stale gum from the card packs.

That began a favorite hobby of mine that has continued off and on to this day as I’ve amassed around 12,000 cards. If you came to my house though, you would never know it because for the last 10 years 98% of them have been boxed away in the basement, tucked neatly into baseball card pages and three-ring binders. The other 2% are in the fire safe box, also basically locked away from view.

Every so often, I think about selling the cards, thus ridding myself of the torture of always moving the boxes when they are in the way. Something holds me back though.

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Would it Make You Sad to Give Away Your Possessions?

BMW

It’s a tough question to answer, isn’t it? My mind immediately goes to the question “How much stuff am I being asked to give away?” I could easily part with many things in my house and not feel any pain.

But what if I was being asked to give away the entire house? Or my cars? Or sell all my investments and give the proceeds away? Oy, that’s enough…I’m starting to get woozy.

I can think of only one instance where this might occur…

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Ways We Lie About Money

Have you ever told a little white lie about money? What might a “money-lie” look like? Here are some examples I could think of:

*Exaggerating your net worth or monthly income on a blog post.

Woman Quiet

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

*Saying you got a better deal on an item than you really did.

*Telling someone who asked for money that you didn’t have any with you to give (ashamed to say I’m guilty here).

*Pretending you gave more to a cause than you actually did.

*Hiding or covering up your spending habits. (Guilty here as well and as you can read about here).

*Failing to report income earned in cash on your tax forms.

Why are we so apt to distort the truth? I think the core of the issue revolves around three main principles:

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“Give It Away Now” – Saving to Give

Chili PeppersI’ve been on a series of articles lately about the reasons we need to focus on saving money. I’ve dealt with everything from saving for emergencies, to saving for purchases, to saving for the children’s college and our own personal retirement.

I’m concluding this series today by proposing something that may seem radical. When I tell you this final reason why I believe we should save money, it’s going to seem contradictory and you may think I’m crazy. But I think the continual practice of this does more to enhance our lives than all the millions of dollars we could possibly accumulate.

To quote Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, we need to save money so that we can “Give it away now.”

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Giving: Like Never Before

Give to charity - FDP CreditHave you ever taken a moment to evaluate and reflect on how you organize your monthly budget? What line items find their way to the top of the column? Mortgage…food…car loan…clothing…pet food…Netflix subscription? What tends to get left over and pushed to the bottom?

I believe our budgets give us an indication of what we value most in life. We put the have-to-happen items at the top and the things-you-could-do-without-if-you-had-to items at the bottom. Makes sense. I mean, after all, we have to prioritize.

Everyone’s priorities are different and there is nothing wrong with that because our individual situations are unique. However, there is one priority we could probably give more attention to, and in 2013, I want to make it a goal. I want to give like never before.

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How to Get the Most Out of Christmas

I know stores already have decorations on display, but for me, Saturday, December 1st will officially begin the start of the 2012 Christmas season. In the next 25 days, we will attempt to cram more into each 24-hour day than is usually desirable. For me, the annual cramming revolves around two specific lists – my December “To Do List” and my December “Present Wish List.”

The “To Do List” for December is very important for me because as a teacher I receive a two-week vacation as school is out of session for Christmas break. (Not really a vacation because I take care of our four kids.) This gives me a greatly needed window of time to catch up on tasks at home. “Yes dear, I am putting that storm door up soon.”

The “Present Wish List” is all about what I would like to receive on Christmas day during our annual gift exchange.

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Forget Me Not

“For the needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.” – Psalm 9:18

It has been a horrific week in the northeast. In case you missed it, Hurricane Sandy ripped through New Jersey and New York, devastating the region. Many lives have not returned to normal as they are still lacking some basic necessities of life like food and shelter. Other lives will never return to normal as they have lost loved ones to this epic storm.

With power still not restored in some places and gas in short supply, the coming days will still present a high degree of challenge for those who are assisting in the relief efforts. But this week might prove to be even tougher for the affected residents of the east coast for an entirely different set of reasons.

America is moving on to a different news cycle.

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A Giving Spirit Is the Path to Friendship

I love the book of Proverbs. One reason is because Solomon filled it with so many one-liners. (I read a post once on Jon Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like blog how he describes Proverbs as the original Twitter. That’s pretty cool.) Most of the one-liners are fairly easy to digest and interpret…pretty straightforward. But once in a while, you are not exactly sure what he is trying to say. Or maybe he is trying to say multiple things in one tweet. I think that may have been the case in Proverbs 19:6 when he says,

“Many entreat the favor of the nobility, and every man is a friend to one who gives gifts.”

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Living Life With An Open Hand (Part II): How to Properly Control Money

In the post Giving to the Needy, we saw how God wants us to relate to those who may be less fortunate. We saw from Deuteronomy 15:7-10 that God commands we give to them. Our hearts should be sensitive to their need and we should give freely, generously and cheerfully.

The main point of these verses is that in our relationship with the poor we should not forget to give to them. But I can’t help but feel there is something deeper here that speaks to an internal attitude that has the potential to cripple our ability to truly prosper and be blessed. It’s found in the phrase “open your hand.”

I have a little exercise for you.

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Living Life With an Open Hand (Part I): Giving to the Needy

We live in a socioeconomic divided world. There are the “haves”, the “have-nots” and the “have-in-betweens.” Your status, in regards to wealth, can determine how much influence you have, how much access you have to important people, and how many things you can buy for yourself. It is a measure of your success, power and importance. You are somebody if you have money, and you are nobody if you have none. At least that is how most of the world sees it.

So we have this financial asset disparity present in our world, yet we all, rich and poor alike, have to share the same space. We only have one earth. With that being the case, unless NASA (or Sir Richard Branson) decides to start a colony on the moon where only the rich will be able to afford the space ride, we are stuck with one another. That means we will have to figure out how to coexist peaceably, figure out how to treat one another, and figure out what our responsibilities are to those who have more or less than we do. And we already have seen how hard relationships can be. 

The Bible’s Take on Giving to the Needy

The Bible weighs in often on how the rich should treat the poor. Perhaps no verse better sums it up than Deuteronomy 15:7-10 which reads:

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God’s Provision (Part II): Our Attitude Plays a Role

We saw in part one how God provided for Elijah during a terrible drought in Israel. I Kings 17:6 tells us that ravens brought him bread and meat each day and he drank water from the brook.  Everything was going fine for him, that is until the brook dried up because of the drought. “What now God?” Elijah is surely thinking. “How will I survive without water?”

God wasn’t through showing his miraculous powers to Elijah. No more water…no problem for God. He next instructs Elijah to go to the city Zarephath. When Elijah arrives at the city gate, he meets a woman gathering sticks. This is their interaction in verses 10-13:

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