opulence, philanthropy, and giving

Image from Forbes.com

In the photo above you have a gathering of $126 billion dollars. It is probably the single richest gather in modern history. These men and women have given money and time to make the world a better place. These peoples lives are marked by giving rather than receiving.

It is indeed honorable what these billionaires have done with their pocket books. You truly see what one values by the way they spend their money and time. These billionaires have set a high standard for those of us who have less to consider.

As I pursued Forbes 400 Summit articles a few questions teetered in mind: Is he who give the most always the most honored? What about the little old lady who lives below the poverty line that gives kisses and cookies to cheer children? Is giving money the most helpful solution to the worlds issues? What does money buy? What is the definition of “better” in making the world a better place?

When I consider the most opulent Giver of all time, he was not rich with monetary wealth, he did not own a large corporate empire, he was not well liked even by religious persons. Rather, he lived a frugal life, the son of two teenage parents. His hands were calloused from carpentry. He did draw crowds and heal many sick. He did make outrageous claims, like, being God and the universe was his inheritance. He was considered a criminal and blasphemer. Ultimately he sacrificed his life, ending it in public humiliation, giving it up for the sake of the name and glory of His Father’s.

His name: Jesus. Without his divinely foreordained gift to humanity, no one in the world would have enough brains, bucks or brawn to conger up a better solution to the problems created by sin. His gift of forgiveness and reconciliation is free for all who believe. It won’t cost you 99% of your accumulated wealth, but it might just cost you to die to yourself.

I am not sure I’d ever see Jesus picture or name mentioned in Forbes, but I will surely hear and see Him worshiped throughout eternity.

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thumb licks [8.16.11]

Can We Be Good without God?

Yes, of course.  But can you explain what morality is and where it comes from without God? That’s the key problem for an atheist worldview.  Craig Hazen explains in this Biola Magazine article.  Here’s the conclusion…

How the Gospel Makes Us Generous and Content with Our Money

I’m afraid the framing of this discussion leads us to ask the wrong questions. Like the junior high boy who wonders how “far is too far” with his girlfriend, we are quickly caught up in questions about how rich is too rich, how poor is too poor, and the like. Where is the line?

Letter to an Incomplete, Insecure Teenager

Four years ago a teenager church wrote pastor Piper for advice about life in general, and identity in particular. Here is what he wrote, with a big dose of autobiography for illustration…

Marriage: The Happy, Holy, Beautiful Mess

Ever hear the old adage: “Marriage isn’t primarily intended for your happiness, but for your holiness?” Well, it’s true and it’s a glorious thing.The growing in holiness part doesn’t always seem blissful. But it means that God isn’t finished with you yet, either. The purpose and hope in marriage isn’t defined by you or your spouse, but by God.

Paul’s Downward Trajectory

Paul refers to himself numerous times as worth “imitating” when it comes to spiritual growth and maturity (1 Cor. 4:16, 11:1; Phil. 3:17, 4:19; 1 Thess. 1:6; and 2 Thess. 3:7, 9). What do we see when we look to Paul as an example? He makes three significant statements about himself throughout his years in ministry that are helpful insights into his view of spiritual growth.

Spiritual Depression [D. Martyn Lloyd Jones]

in marriage, money matters

Yesterday, I found $20,000.00 in Costa Rica Colones [about $40 in US cash] in my pocket. I laughed out loud. Not only is it useless in the US, but I could have used it 4 months ago while Sarah and I were on our honeymoon. You see, when Sarah and I were leaving Costa Rica we were unaware that they had a departure tax. We spent most of our spending cash before getting to the airport so that we would not have to exchange it back to US dollars. The tax was about $40 US dollars. After looking through our bags for about an hour we found $34 and still needed more. The ATM’s would not take our cards and the departure flight was getting close to leaving. We praise the Lord for providing a stranger who gave us $6 to get the tax cleared. We were in such a pickle that Sarah was about to sell off her iPod for extra cash!

The truth is, money related issues in marriage can draw a husband and wife closer together. Can you be serious, money brings about intimacy in marriage?  Yes. Stats say that money issues are one of the leading causes of divorce.  I believe financial tension in relationships can be improved if they follow through with a few communicative principles:

Pray for wisdom. Not many couples invite God into their financial lives.  God wants to be involved with the money in marriage.  Marriage is always a joint relationship between husband, wife, and God. Pray that God to guide you in how he wants the funds earned, used, and distributed. Release control of your money and give God control (James1:5).

Be Partners. Marriage is is no longer two “me’s” but not a “we.” (Genesis 2:24) In the one-ship of marriage couples lose their individual identity. This includes finances both what comes in and goes out of the home. From now on we are in this financial situation together and we have an equal responsibility and an equal opportunity.

Set clear goals. Not clear as mud, but crystal clear. Setting goals is not just about finances, but it is about all things in life. It is having a plan for life. In other words, it is having a vision for the future. Where do you want to be?  What do you want to be doing? Goal setting is where a husband and wife look at each other and say, “Where do we want to be in 5 years? In 10 years? In 15 years?”  Finances fit into this plan (Proverbs 15:22).

Unity. One flesh equals one bank account. It doesn’t matter who earns it. Some couples think that the one who earns the money spends the money or dictates how it ought to be spent, rather respect your unique contributions to the home.  As the husband I bring in the majority of the paycheck, but my wife, she runs the home. What’s mine is hers and what is hers is mine (1 Corinthians 7:4). We do have separate savings accounts, which we use to purchase gifts for each other on occasions. Give up the insignificant things of life so that you can gain the greater reward of a unified marriage (Philippians 2:4).

Divide and Conquer. Money management takes time, energy, knowledge, and wisdom.  One of the common complaints about the money in marriage is the burden of so many responsibilities and commitments. Couples are forced to decide who will take care of the different tasks related to personal finances. Some things that might work are making a listtogether of all the jobs related to personal finances [i.e. balancing the check book, paying bills, retirement options, investment, etc.] and choose together the jobs you would enjoy doing, then get to work.

Set a budget and stick to it. A budget represents the small goals you meet along the way to achieving your ultimate goals. Once the budget is set it is important that you track your progress.  The best way is to meet together regularly [once a month or every 3 months] to communicate how it is working. Either spouse can call or schedule a family pow-wow. Our goal is on a Monday once a month to sit for a few minutes to walk through our budget plan. The meeting shouldn’t take any more than 15–20 min per week.

Give to God first. The budget must start with what you will give to God and His work. We will give a predetermined percentage of our income to our local church and others in need (Proverbs 16:3). He provides all that we have and need, therefore, we must give back as an expression of our devotion and thanks to Him. Just like my story earlier, God provided for our needs in Costa Rica. It was only a few bucks. Now I have a reminder of His provisions through some colones. I know just who to give these too!!