Category Archives: Money

Gone In 30 Seconds

Over the weekend, I saw an interview with a former coal miner who survived the monster tornadoes that raged throughout the south last week.

He shared that everything he had worked 50 years to accumulate was “gone in 30 seconds.”

30 seconds…and everything he owned was obliterated.

There was a time when hearing something like that would have sent a cold shiver of fear up my spine, but not so much anymore.

Over the past several months, I have gone from clutching my possessions and happily adding more… to holding them with an open hand…perfectly willing to let them go.

Clearly, that didn’t happen overnight.

Shortly after my husband’s job was cut, everywhere I turned, I heard the parable of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-26). This mystified me, because Jesus often speaks to me in themes. So, I know I needed to pay attention,  but for the life of me, I couldn’t imagine why in the world He continued to highlight that particular portion of Scripture.

First of all, I certainly wasn’t rich. And I would have no trouble selling everything I owned and following Jesus if that is what He asked me to do.

Or would I?

Through a long process, Jesus opened my eyes to that fact that I was just like the rich young ruler in that I loved my possessions.

I wasn’t even fully aware of the fact that I had the “Jesus AND….” syndrome.

As long as I had Jesus AND my stuff, I was happy.

I had a consumer mindset. God had blessed us financially as Doug’s salary continued to increase. So, our lifestyle matched our salary. When we heard of a need that someone had, we did all we could to meet it…but  in all honesty, our primary concern was our comfort. If we wanted something, we bought it. Our houses  got bigger with each consecutive move and we continued to buy whatever we wanted.

Until the fat weekly paychecks stopped and the economy tanked.

Sometimes God will do whatever it takes to get our attention.

Two months later, a dear family friend died and I flew to Pennsylvania to attend her funeral. While I was there, I went to church with my mom. That morning, a missionary  from Cambodia was speaking. He related the harrowing truth that several Vietnamese girls in that country are sold into the sex trade by their desperate families for $300. They then led a horrific life and were often dead of disease or suicide by the age of 25.

In response to this great evil, his organization started a school in that area for all children. Time has proven that when these girls are educated and taught a trade, their families no longer need to sell them in order to survive. The vicious cycle is stopped.

However, this work is almost entirely dependent on the giving of others.

With tears forming in his eyes, the missionary asked, “People of God, what are you doing with the resources He has given you? Do you spend it all on yourself…or do you give to a world that is in desperate need?”

I was rooted to my chair and my heart began to pound. I knew without a doubt that God was speaking to me. The light was beginning to go on.

On the plane ride home, I began to read Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan and by the time I finished that book, the light bulb had turned into a spotlight that God used to shine directly into my heart.

Truly, for the first time, I realized that none of what I had was mine. 

It’s ALL His! All of it! (Ps. 24:1)

I am an owner of nothing.

I am simply a steward.

When I stand before Jesus at the end of my life, what will I have to show for how I handled the money that had been entrusted to me…a bunch of stuff that I left behind…or eternal souls that were helped through what I gave them?

It was as if a veil had been lifted and my eyes were opened to a world in desperate need. I discovered Compassion International and we began to sponsor a child. I read David Platt’s book, Radical which completely turned my world view upside down. I was filled with a strong desire to give all I could.

It was so ironic that I came to that realization when I hardly had anything to give; when I did have money to give, I spent most of it on myself.

Still, Jesus taught me that it is not the amount I have  that matters…it is the desire and condition of my heart.

I looked around at all the stuff that I just had to have in my previous life…and it didn’t mean anything to me anymore. So, I began to give it away…a process I am still continuing to this day. Those things no longer have any hold on me

My eyes had fully been opened to my true treasures: a God who loves me and my precious family.

I need so much less than I thought I did.

There is so much freedom in that!

My heart is no longer wrapped up in the stuff of this world.

My heart is consumed with Jesus…who fills and overflows every empty place.

I desire to be His hands and feet in my corner of the world…giving as He directs me to give  with HIS resources. My first thought is no longer, “What can I buy?” but “What can I give?”

So, if all my stuff was gone in 30 seconds, I would ultimately be okay…because my focus is much more on the eternal than the temporal.

And the joy is immense.

There is nothing better than giving up everything and stepping into a passionate love relationship with God, the God of the universe who made galaxies, leaves, laughter, and me and you.”–Francis Chan



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Money = Security?

That money talks

I’ll not deny.

I heard it once:

It said, “Goodbye.”

–Richard Armour


Riches can disappear as though they had the wings of a bird. –Proverbs 23:5

It’s true that money can be gone in an instant. (Think Enron  Bernie Madoff, the current economic downturn, stock market crashes, etc.).

I had no idea how attached to money I was until my husband’s job was cut. It quickly became clear that when push came to shove, my security really was in the size of our bank account.

As the season of unemployment dragged on and the bank account grew smaller, my fear and anxiety increased.

This was a test of my faith.

It’s easy to say that you trust God when all is well and the money is flowing.

But what happens when it stops?

As our friend Bill so wisely told us, “Your job is not your provision. Your God is your Provision.”

We now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that that is true.

My God promises to meet ALL of my needs. He owns it all and is perfectly capable of providing for me. In fact, one of His Names is “God Will Provide.” (Genesis 22: 13-14). Nothing is impossible with Him.

He has provided for us in so many miraculous and wondrous ways…ways that we could never have imagined…and always just at the right time. I am in awe of how creative He is!

I am also in awe of how faithful He is. He means what He says in His Word. All of His promises are true and He will always prove trustworthy.

Here are some of those promises:

…God Himself has said, “I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake you, nor let you down nor relax My hold on you! Assuredly not! “–Hebrews 13:5

Your Father knows exactly what you need before you ask Him. –Matthew 6:8

…Those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing. –Psalm 34:10

…my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:19

I have lived those words; I know that I know that I know that they are true. They are not just pretty words or wishful thinking…they are full of life and power and truth.

Even as I am writing this, these words are scrolling across the screen of  a national news channel: “Stocks slammed as inflation spikes and Japan nuke fears grow…double dose of bad economic news causes quaking stocks.”

Just another reminder that our financial bottom line can change at any time.

No amount of money can prevent earthquakes and tsunamis.

No amount of money can prevent a cancer diagnosis.

Money cannot prevent a car accident.

Money cannot provide a happy marriage or good kids.

Money is a very shaky foundation on which to build your life.

So what’s the bottom line?

Having money is NOT a bad thing.

However, the security we seek to find in our finances is only a poor substitute for the unshakable confidence that is available to us  in God’s unchanging nature and lavish provision.

Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. –I Chronicles 29:12

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Money = Satisfaction?

This morning I happened to catch a few minutes of a talk show.

One of the guests was a successful  movie director. His movies have made billions and soon his lifestyle reflected his increased wealth. He had “made it” according to the world’s standards.

On the day he finally moved into his magnificent Beverly Hills mansion, a funny thing happened. The movers left and he found himself alone in his massive foyer.

Instead of feeling fulfilled and at peace, he felt empty.

He had always thought that if he obtained success in his field that he would be “there”…that he would have finally arrived in that magical place where all was well. However, he soon realized that there is no “there.”

Following this epiphany, he experienced a health crisis and he asked himself, “If this is my last chapter what do I want to say before I go?”

He began to simplify his life. He sold his mansion and moved to a  smaller home . He began to give to those in need and came to this realization: “As I emptied myself, I found myself more full.”

I have no idea what this man’s spiritual beliefs are,  but what he said is very biblical. (Acts 20:35).

Money does not have the power to satisfy a soul.

Case in point: in recent years, we have witnessed celebrity after celebrity meet untimely deaths due to drug overdoses.

Currently, the country is witnessing the tragic and sad meltdown of the highest paid actor on television.

The wealthiest man the world has ever known said the following:

* “He who loves money shall never have enough. The foolishness of thinking that wealth brings happiness! The more you have, the more you spend, right up to the limits of your income, so what is the advantage of wealth–except perhaps to watch it as it runs through your fingers!…The rich…worry and suffer insomnia.”

* “I said to myself,’Come now, be merry; enjoy yourself to the full!’…Anything I wanted, I took and did not restrain myself from any joy…but as I looked at everything I had tried, it was all so useless, a chasing of the wind.”

This man’s name was King Solomon and those quotes can be found in the book of Ecclesiastes.

As the above verses indicated, he indulged in every single thing money could buy…and much like that director found only deep and raw emptiness.

So, what did he ultimately conclude?

Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey His commands, for this is the entire duty of man.” –Ecclesiastes 12:13. (note: the word fear in this verse means: “reverence, to stand in awe, honor, respect.”).

It all comes back to our Creator.

We were created by Him and for Him. Nothing on this earth…including money…can ever fully satisfy us. We will always want more. That is human nature.  But the only thing we can crave more of and not have it ultimately destroy us is Christ: “Our God is an inexhaustible reservoir of infinitely satisfying spiritual delights. God will never lack for what will fascinate and intrigue and  enthrall you. You will never devote yourself to understanding God and one day say, ‘Well, that’s all there is.’  No. There’s always more! “–Sam Storms, Pleasures Evermore

When you  belong to Christ, you have everything. You possess all you will ever need because He is the Source of all things. He alone is your inexhaustible supply! (see I Chronicles 29:11 and Philippians 4:19).

That knowledge leaves you free to hold loosely to your wealth…to give freely and that your wealth does not have an unhealthy hold on you. I have firsthand knowledge of this and will continue the story in the next post.

“Money never made any man happy yet; nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.”–Benjamin Franklin

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