Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Enough Bible Study

Maybe we should cut back a little on the Bible Studies in the local church.

It isn’t that there is anything wrong with Bible Studies. On the contrary, they are great in getting to know about God. They are great in obtaining knowledge about scripture and the nature of God….also helpful in honing your “theology”. What I’m suggesting is however is that many have already enough “head knowledge”, they need to go out and do it.

In the book of James it says that “Faith without works, is dead”. What is also true is that many of us that are very comfortable sitting around doing a Bible Study are really bad at doing ministry. That’s unfortunate because the need to be more Christ-like is great and typically just next door or round the corner.

Just think of it as a movement from one thing, which is good (i.e. Bible Study) to another thing that is better. How about these other movements in the church today?

  • From missions to missional
  • From inward to outward
  • From protection to provision
  • From structure to simplicity
  • From fasting to feeding
  • From decisions to disciples
  • From entertaining to equipping

Bet you can thing of even more movements that are necessary.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stuggling with Debt

As Christians, it would be assumed that we would have a different view on money than the rest of the world. While the Bible tells us to store up our treasure in heaven, not on the earth, the rest of the world equates wealth and economic affluence with success. That is why so many of our neighbors are struggling in debt because they have been trying to live above their standard of living.

While we can assume we have a different view on money, in actuality, most of the Christians I know have fallen into the same world view as everyone else. Our desire and aspiration for our expensive homes and cars, our proclivity for getting into debt and the overall pursuit of worldly goods is actually no different “in the church” than outside. Maybe 30-40 years ago, our homes, incomes and expectations were modest. However today, most of our married families are “two-income” families which is thought necessary to maintain an acceptable standard of living.

The stark reality is it doesn’t matter what we think. The Psalms proclaim, "But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish" (Psalm 49:12). No matter how much anyone succeeds or fails in this struggle for wealth, all that we accumulate will surely perish with us. Extra money cannot add anything to one’s life except to be a test and a temptation.

The Bible does warn that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. It also says, “Some people, in their eagerness to get rich, have wandered away from the faith and caused themselves a lot of pain.” (1 Timothy 6:10). It is truly sad to think that because of the love of money (which perishes), people actually wander too far away from God.

However, the reverse is equally true. When getting rich and buying things are not the object of a person’s interest and devotion, the person is free to become whom God wants him or her to become. Finally, Hebrews 13:5 says, " Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have”, and “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim 6:6).

I can live with that!

Monday, March 23, 2009

A new DEY

Are you ready for a new DEY?

DEY is an acronym for the recently proposed world reserve currency that primarily includes the Dollar, Euro and Yen (DEY). China has been the most recent proponent of the idea but both present US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, who said that the US is "open" to the idea and previous Fed Chairman, Paul Volker have said that a global economy needs a global currency.

If your gut reaction is that this is not good for the US, your gut is right. Since abandoning the gold standard in 1971, the US dollar became the "reserve currency" of the world and as a result, the huge US trade and budget deficits that would normally be highly inflationary are absorbed globally by the purchase of US dollar denominated equity and debt securities. However, with a new "DEY", the US would not be able to adjust its domestic monetary policy (i.e. pump a trillion dollars into the economy) to remedy a specific economic situation or promote a specific social or political agenda.

It's not coincidence that talk about a new monetary standard to replace the dollar is in the news. In 1971, President Nixon and his economic advisers, trying to pay for the deficit spending of President Johnson (and Kennedy's) expansion into Vietnam, bumbled and stumbled and ended up devaluing the dollar. This took the US off the Gold Standard for international currency which had been the agreement among nations since the early 19th century and confirmed by the Bretton Woods Accord of 1944. Now in 2009, the economic bumbling of Washington is causing great concerns internationally as the US is moving intentionally towards devaluing the dollar and actually encouraging the resulting high inflation to reduce the $11 trillion debt . It's only natural that those holding dollars as a reserve currency will want to look for an alternative.

While many may fear the political and social agenda of the present administration and congress, the economic repercussions of having to balance both sides of the economic ledger would create even greater economic, social and political upheaval in the United States.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Financial Help

Looking for some financial help? Already put together a budget but still having problems staying on-track? Here are a couple of things that you may consider:

1) Eliminate chunks of spending- i.e. cut out something that many already do without (restaurant lunches, stopping at Starbucks in the morning, etc).

2) Don’t add anything not in the budget to the budget. Freeze your spending at the present level and wait for family income to increase or debt repayment to be accomplished before adding to the expense side of the ledger.

3) Convert to using cash for spending. Use cash instead of credit cards and debit cards (yes, debit cards too!). Cash is much easier to manage and budget, it’s accepted nearly everywhere, there are no fees associated with its use and psychologically you’ll want to spend less. It hurts much more when you have to lay your dollar bills down on the table and studies have shown you spend less.

4) Share! - Be creative with the ways and opportunities for family members to share rides, meals. Re-instituting a “family meal” reduces fast-food expenditures and brings the family together. Having single siblings and children back in the same home can work and save housing costs.

5) Plan/Review – Your financial situation is never static but constantly changing. Review your budget often to make corrections and stay on course. There are likely occasional opportunities to celebrate as well as make firm resolutions to get out of debt and to create margin in your financial life. You may want to spend at least 15-30 minutes every week to review where you on on your budget.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name

Source: Merriam-Webster dictionary

Word: Socialsm (so·cial·ism)
Pronunciation: \ˈsō-shə-ˌli-zəm\
Function: noun Date: 1837

Definition 1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

Definition 2 a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property, Definition 2 b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

Definition 3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

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