What Happens To The Money I Give?

 

A tithe plate with money in it. Black and white.

Several months ago a major story concerning a well-know non-profit organization serving wounded vets dominated the news. Claims were made alleging that donations were used for high salaries and expensive parties rather than for helping the wounded.

 

We’ve had MoneyWise callers express disappointment that their church leaders are not transparent with how the finances are handled. From a biblical point of view, it is imperative for all churches and ministries to be transparent with how donated money is used.

 

A example is the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:19-22, “. . . he [a trusted brother] was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself . . . We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man. In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous.”

 

People in Paul’s day were wondering how donations were being used, and guess what? That hasn’t changed!

 

Paul wanted to avoid criticism and questions about how this gift was used. He wanted to handle it in such a transparent way that it would please the Lord and also those who had given. That is why no one person handled the money; other trusted people administered the gift.

 

Churches and ministries should make their budgets, tax returns and audits (if they conduct one) available to their members and donors. When people realize finances are handled with integrity, they are encouraged and often become even more generous.

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WHAT THE “BREXIT” VOTE MEANS TO US?

 

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Markets surprised by British voters’ stunning vote to exit the European Union and British Prime Minister David Cameron’s sudden announcement that he would step down sent global markets plunging with the British Pound at a 31-year low. The Brexit vote shocked investors who were counting on early polls that supported remaining in the EU.

As I’ve read the experts conflicting forecasts of the potential impact, I keep returning to several Biblical truths that should be the foundation of our thinking in any global crisis.

God is in control. “EVERYTHING in the heavens and earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of EVERYTHING” (1 Chronicles 29:11). The markets may have been surprised by the vote, but the Lord knew exactly what would happen because He ultimately orchestrated it.

 

Compared to God nations are powerless. Isaiah 40:15-16 tells us how God views even major nations. “The nations are like a drop in a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales . . . all the nations are as NOTHING before the Lord, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.”

Let that sink in for a minute. When the Lord evaluates the world’s most powerful nations, He compares them to a drop from a bucket or speck of dust. Acts 17:26 makes it clear who is in complete control of countries. It says, “The Lord . . . . scattered the nations across the face of the earth. He decided beforehand which should RISE and FALL and WHEN. He determined their boundaries.”

 

Investments are uncertain. In 1 Timothy 6:17, these words are written, “Instruct those who are rich in this present age not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the UNCERTAINTY of riches, but only on God.”

 

During any financial crisis, it is a reminder that we should be faithful stewards of whatever the Lord entrusts to us, by being generous, consistently saving and getting out of debt.

 

Warmly in Christ,

 

Howard

 

 

 

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Prayers Going Up This Father’s Day

 

I’ve happily celebrated Father Day as a son, dad and grandpa, but this year is different. It is very different.  I live in Orlando, and our community recently has experienced three separate incidents of extraordinarily tragic deaths.

 

Twenty-two years old singer and vibrant follower of Jesus, Christina Grimmie, was shot while signing autographs after a concert. Her father later said, “We know she is with her Lord who she loved so much, but I have a hole in my heart for my daughter.”

 

The next day, a terrorist mercilessly took the lives of 50 people in a nightclub, the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history and the nation’s worst terror attack since the twin towers in 9/11.  A couple of days later, a two year-old was drowned by an alligator at Disney World as the father jumped in the lake to save his son.

 

Father’s Day for many of us in Orlando is different. As fathers’ mourn the loss of their children, there is a greater sense among us all though life is unpredictable; it is very precious. Our life is especially precious to our heavenly Father. In Psalm 139:13-18, David wrote:

 

“For you (Lord) created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . . Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious are your thoughts concerning me, God! How vast is the sum of them? Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.”

 

Let’s pray for the fathers who suffered these tragic losses of their children. And fathers, enjoy the special day with your family!

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3 Reasons You Should Buy Rather Than Lease Your Next Car

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I’m often asked on the Compass MoneyWise call-in radio program, should I lease a car instead of buying, because it seems like it’s the cheapest way to go.

 

My answer is always the same: Don’t even think about it! But a lot more people these days are doing more than just thinking about it.

 

The car pricing website www.edmunds.com reports that according to their surveys 27% of all cars in our country are now leased instead of purchased. And Millennials (ages 18-34) lease more than any other age category suggesting that unlike older adults they would rather sacrifice long-term financial benefits of owning an auto to get into a bigger or more luxurious vehicle.

 

Here are the 3 reasons I like to call it care fleecing instead of car leasing!

 

1st, in addition to the monthly lease payment, you’re wacked by mileage fees if you travel over a certain amount of miles. And most people who lease a car do. Guess what? The mileage fees are steep—normally about 12 cents a mile.

2nd, when you turn the leased car back in, if there are any bumps, bruises or scratches, you pay to repair them – big time!

3rd, when you turn the car back in, unlike buying a car, you have NOTHING to show for it.

 

Your best decision is to buy a car and pay if off. Then, continue making the car payments…….but to yourself. That way when you’re ready for a newer car, the trade-in plus the cash you saved should allow you to buy the car for cash and never use car debt again!

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5 Ways To Rescue Millennials From Drowning In Student Loans

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It’s stunning! According to a survey, millennial-aged college graduates are spending a whopping 18 percent of their salary on student loan payments and 60 percent of them expect to be making payments on their student loans into their 40s.

 

But it get’s worse! The survey also found that average student debt for millennials is more than $41,000, and a third reported being clueless as to their loans’ interest rate. Sadly, many millennials aren’t willing to adjust their lifestyle to pay if off more quickly. For example, less than half were willing to cut what they spend on eating out and entertainment.

 

The last big discovery of the survey: one-third of the grads said they would have skipped college altogether had they known how expensive it would be in the end.

 

Here are five ways to rescue millennials from drowning in student loans

 

  1. Start preparing early! Urge your high school age kids to take duel credit classes that will count as college credit. Dan and Cheri Schilling’s 17 year old son will graduate from high school having earned 90 college credit hours. When he enrolls in college he’ll have completed the first three years of college FREE!
  2. Another option is to enroll in a local community college the first two years to complete your general classes or to work full-time and take online college classes which are typically much less expensive.
  3. Secure as many grants and scholarships as possible by investing the time to research every possible opportunity.
  4. Encourage your children to work full-time during the summers, and part-time at college after their first semester. Apply what is earned toward college costs.
  5. Parents, start saving early to assist your kids, but don’t cosign for your children’s student loans or take out any loans yourselves.
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How Do You Respond?

 

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I just heard a fabulous message by Pastor David Uth that rang so true.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 says, “And the Lord’s bond-servant [those who know Jesus Christ as savior] must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition; if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive to him to do his will.”

We live in an era where so much biblical truth in our nation is being undermined by massive changes in the culture. Often Christians have responded in a shrill, confrontational way; after all, we are on the side of truth and righteousness.

But is this the way we are to respond? Examine 2 Timothy 2:24-26 again. We are to be ‘kind to all . . . patient when wrong, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition.” We are to correct those who oppose the trust, but with kindness and gentleness that they ultimately may come to know Jesus. People may disagree with our living based on the truth of God’s word, but if we are kind, gentle and loving in how we relate to them, they may be open to the truth about Christ.

As Stephen, the first martyr, was being stoned to death, “he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord do not hold this sin against them!’” And who was there looking on . . . the man who would become the Apostle Paul and the author of the book of 2 Timothy. Stephen was kind and gentle to his opposition, and this profoundly impacted some who participated in murdering him.

Let’s seek to care for people who oppose us and maybe, by God’s grace, some may come to know Christ and be given the gift of eternal life.

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Biblical Perspective On Paying Your Taxes

 

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What is the biblical perspective on paying taxes? That is the same question that was asked of Jesus. “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?. . . [Jesus] said to them, ‘Show Me a[Roman coin]. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?’ And they said, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Then give to Caesar the things that are to Caesars’” (Luke 20:22-25). This is an example of the contrast between the practices of our society and the teaching of Scripture. Avoid paying taxes at any cost, people rationalize; after all, the government squanders much of what it collects.

I am not condoning the waste found in government. In fact, I believe a citizen should make an effort to influence government to be more efficient. But the Bible tells us of an additional responsibility: to pay your taxes! “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God . . . because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due”(Romans 13:1, 6-7). It is permissible to reduce your taxes by using legal tax deductions, but we should be careful not to make unwise decisions simply to avoid paying taxes.

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