Hope for your financial life and beyond

How to Easily Protect Yourself When Giving to Charities

Are you someone who loves giving to charities? My wife and I sure do. We make it a practice to give at various times during the year. But our interest really peaks during the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

There are so many charitable organizations that do great work at these times of year. It is true that people are in need year round. However, the depth and seriousness of focus seems to peak during the holidays. I think that’s because we have an innate – some would say God-given desire – to help those in need. Many of us have been blessed through the holidays and we want to pass those joys and blessings on to others.

giving to charitiesOf course giving to charities doesn’t have to be only about money. You can give of your time and talents as well. But for most, the easiest path is to donate money and let the charities put that to use the best way they know how.

But how do you know if your money will be used wisely? Perhaps the better question is how do you know if you are not getting ripped off or taken advantage of by a rogue charity or a scam artist?

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Operation Christmas Child: Changing Lives One Shoebox at a Time

I believe the Bible when it says, He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor”  (Proverbs 22:9). There are spiritual and emotional blessings that come when we give to others, especially those in challenging life situations. And this time of year I can think of nothing better to give to than Operation Christmas Child. 

operation christmas childCan you imagine living in a world with no Christmas? What does that look like?

There are no kids eager to wake you up at 7:00 a.m…no smiles when a gift is received…no feelings of being special…no thoughts that someone cares for you.

What an unattractive and dismal scenario. Sadly, millions of children all over the world experience a Christmas just like this.  Their Christmas is bitter, meaningless and without hope.

That’s where Operation Christmas Child steps in. But they are only able to do so with your help. Here is how.

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Program

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How to Develop a Purposeful Plan for Giving Away Money

If you have found your way to this article, you most likely have a charitable heart and enjoy giving away money to a church, charitable organization, favorite cause or the girl scout who shows up at your door selling cookies. But have you ever thought about how you give away money? Do you give purposefully or haphazardly as opportunities pass in front of you?

giving away moneyDeveloping a purposeful plan for giving away money might seem silly. Perhaps you want to give wherever and to whomever you like without feeling constrained by a plan. There is great freedom in that philosophy. However, as I’ve found out over the years, there are also great dangers.

Putting together a purposeful plan for giving away money is a fundamental exercise you should go through to have success with your personal finances.

We try really hard to make a monthly budget that works. We plan for how we will pay for college and support ourselves in retirement. So why would we ignore this area of our finances where a lot of money could potentially pass through our fingers over the course of a lifetime?

Why We Got Purposeful

My wife and I both enjoy giving away money to our church and other causes we believe in. However, as we became more financially healthy, we realized we had a greater responsibility to manage our giving wisely. We decided to get purposeful with our giving for several reasons:

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Buying the Blessings of God (Acts 8:19)

Hidden Nuggets Series #93 – “…he offered them money saying, ‘Give me this power also…'” (Acts 8:19)

Throw a few greenbacks in the offering plate and be showered with the blessings of God.

buying the blessings of GodIf only it were that easy. Think giving to churches or charities would go up if this were the case?

Unfortunately many believe it. There are churches out there preaching that the more money you give to God the more He will bless you. Misinterpretation of verses like Luke 6:38 (“Give and it shall be given to you…”) lend credence to the notion God’s favor can be bought for the right price.

It’s nothing new. This idea has been around for centuries. In fact, Peter – one of Jesus’ disciples – dealt with it in the early days of the church.

Trying to Buy the Blessings of God

Old habits are hard to break. Even when we’ve committed to turning over a new leaf the baggage still lingers. We often carry it forward for a while until we are weaned from its grip.

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When Giving Money Is the Wrong Gift (Acts 3:6)

Hidden Nuggets Series #92 – “Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” – Acts 3:6

Can all problems be fixed by giving money to someone? Silly question…of course they can’t. Money doesn’t solve every problem. In fact, it doesn’t solve many problems.

There is nothing wrong with giving money to people when they need help. However, what if that’s not what they need most? What if their issue is deeper than the surface problems money can solve? Would we be doing a good service by only meeting their superficial need? I think not.

The funny (interesting) thing is sometimes people don’t even know what their real need is. They think it might be “X” when it’s really “Y”. Case in point this man, who one day had a run in with Jesus’ disciples Peter and John in the temple.

Giving Money or Miracle?

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If You Give Like This God Will Be Laughing

Hidden Nuggets Series #91 – “So let each of you give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” – II Corinthians 9:7

For some it’s the most boring part of the Sunday morning worship service. We think the preaching is OK and the music is fine. We even tolerate the meet and greet. But this 2-3 minute event many would just assume skip like the commercials on a DVR.

god loves a cheerful giverWhat am I referring to?

The moment when we give money to the church, otherwise known as the offering.

There are varying reactions to the offering, depending on your background. When I was growing up it was like halftime. Our Sunday morning equation followed this pattern: music – announcements – offering – more serious music – message – benediction (i.e. endless stanzas of “Just As I Am”).

So for me it was a break in the service. I’d spend the three minutes whispering to my friends, going to the bathroom or checking out the cute girl in pew three. Anything but giving.

As the teen years passed into early adulthood, some maturity began to take hold. I realized the value in these moments that take place during the service and did my best to honor them. But at times I’d still get mixed up in the wrong feelings and motivations about giving, feelings that I know are common with believers.

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How Science Proves That Tithing Is Linked to Success and Happiness

Please welcome blogger Anum Yoon as she shares her thoughts on the personal and spiritual benefits of tithing.

Hidden Nuggets Series #86 – “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10)

tithingGiving away 10% of your income will lead to success and happiness. Sounds like the start of a scam, doesn’t it?

For centuries, Christians have committed to the counter-cultural practice of tithing (giving 10% of your money to the church, charity or missions). Although the secular world thought it crazy, Christians understood the true blessings that come from financial obedience to God.

In an unexpected turn of events, recent scientific studies have proven these blessings, showing empirically that tithing is linked to happiness and success.

Tithing Brings a Better Mood

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Give Money and It Shall Be Given Unto You? (Luke 6:38)

Hidden Nuggets Series #77 – “ Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” – Luke 6:38

give and it shall be given unto youI’ve spent a lot of time cataloging all the Bible verses about money. It’s the reason this site was born, to share what I had learned. There are literally hundreds of verses that give us positive instruction about the use and abuse of our money.

Unfortunately, there are many verses in the Bible about money that have been misinterpreted. For whatever reason they are used by individuals (or churches) to teach and promote a message the verse simply doesn’t teach. Of all these verses, there may be none more consistently abused than this statement made by Jesus in Luke 6:38. It reads:

“Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (KJV)

(A bit of housekeeping here: The word mete means “to dispense or allot; to mete something out;” other synonyms would be to allocate, assign or dish out)

So, reading this as a stand-alone verse it would appear Jesus is saying this – “Whatever you give (the implication of “give” being money) you’ll get that back and then some (implied by the terms running over). In other words, God will bless you with money when you give money to Him.

Sounds like a good deal to me! Where do I sign up?

The Proper “Give and It Shall Be Given Unto You” Interpretation

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5 Reasons to Shift Charitable Giving Away from the Holidays

When do you usually conduct your charitable giving? As we see in today’s post, one company learned the holidays might not always be the best time to give.

donate to charityMid-October was plenty early enough to put together a holiday charity drive for a local homeless shelter … right? My co-workers and I thought so. We had dozens of willing hands and a substantial amount of money collected to buy food, gifts, and personal necessities for shelter residents.

Caught Up in the Giving Season

Visions of doing good works danced in our heads. We saw ourselves buying gifts, hauling in food, and serving dinner to shelter residents. We figured that the shelter’s director would do a happy dance when we told her how we wanted to help. How often did donations of this size just drop in her lap?

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Gifts Fit For a King (Matthew 2:11)

Hidden Nuggets Series #69 – “And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:11

fit for a kingOne of the more intriguing stories that surrounds the birth of Jesus is the visit from the Magi, the wise men from the East. We don’t know exactly where they came from (many speculate ancient Persia) and we don’t know how many there were. We do know they arrived sometime after the birth of Jesus because they came to visit Mary, Joseph and the boy at a house (Matthew 2:11) not in the stable, which many traditional scenes have depicted.

As they entered the house that day, the wise men came bearing gifts…gifts fit for a king. The Bible says as they bowed before Jesus they presented their treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh. While to us the reader those gifts may seem spectacular, they were ordinary gifts often given to kings as tribute. The wise men recognized Jesus as such a king, a gesture whose meaning must have meant something special to the humble parents Mary and Joseph.

Many have speculated as to the symbolism of the three gifts: gold being a symbol of kingship; frankincense as a symbol of deity; myrrh as a symbol of death. To me, the message the wise men intended to send with these gifts misses the point. What we should draw from this is that they were giving something of value to be used for – as they saw it in their eyes – the King.

Our Gifts Fit for a King

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Finding Balance in the Holiday Gifting Madness

Are you having trouble dealing with the pressure and the obligation to buy presents during the holidays? Please welcome Jacob from Cash Cow Couple as he shares his thoughts and offers some solutions to the matter.

dog with scarf laying on a pillow,

Do you feel pressure to even give a gift to your dog this Christmas?

When I had been dating my wife just a few months, I told her that I sometimes refuse to participate in select American holidays. I expressed my opinion that people shouldn’t feel obligated to spend, buy, or gift things. Ever.

She probably thought I was a little odd at the time (it’s OK, I am), but I explained my reasoning and things worked out for us. It’s not that I refuse to participate in many holidays because we can’t afford it. Or because I think holidays are bad. Or because I don’t enjoy a good celebration with family and friends.

I hate it because much of the practice has become forced. There is a ton of great marketing and artificially-generated pressure to “buy something” or to “do something.”

The result is that many individuals regularly attend family gatherings, birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, Easter celebrations, Halloween celebrations, and a million other celebrations, and feel obligated to give gifts or spend money. That’s the wrong reason entirely.

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