Tsunami Stones

March 11, 2011, started out like most other uneventful days along Japan’s northeastern shore, until a magnitude 9.0 earthquake unleashed a massive tsunami that left more than 28,000 people missing or dead.

Surprisingly, there were a handful of villages unscathed because they heeded the warnings of ancient “Tsunami Stones.” Some of the stones are almost 10 feet high and bear the carved warning, “Do not build your home below this point.” A few are more than 500 years old and hundreds were erected along the coast to warn future generations of past devastating tsunamis.

In our time, most Japanese living along the coast ignored these ancient stones left by their ancestors. Instead, they built close to the ocean choosing to trust in modern seawalls and sophisticated technology to protect them.

We are faced with an eerily similar situation in our country with our finances. Jeremiah 6:16 warns us, “This is what the Lord says, ‘Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’ But you have said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”

 God’s word—the good ancient path—discourages the use of debt. Romans 13:8 says, Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another.” And Proverbs 22:7 adds, “The borrower is slave to the lender.” Our government, many businesses and individuals consider this kind of thinking old fashion and no longer applicable in a sophisticated country that owes $18 trillion of Federal debt and has increased this debt an average of $2.31 billion a day since 2012.

But for each of us, the question we have to answer is simple. Who I am going to trust—God’s eternal word or the invention of today’s economists and politicians? I believe your financial future rests on your answer.

Warmly in Christ,

Howard Dayton

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Top 3 Ways Teens Think They’ll Become Rich

 A survey of young teenagers found that 56% of them believed that they would become rich during their lifetimes. That’s not too surprising, but this is. The top three ways teens thought they’d get rich were by becoming a professional athlete, winning the lottery, or cashing in on a large lawsuit!

Can you believe it? They didn’t even consider the possibility of becoming financially well off through hard work and wise spending. This demonstrates how important it is for us to train children how to handle money God’s way. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Well, how do we train children to wisely handle money? We need to become MVP parents. That’s an acronym. The M stands for Model. The V for Verbal communication and the P stands for Practical Opportunities.

We need to be models of how to handle money because children soak up parental attitudes toward money like a sponge soaks up water. Paul recognized the importance of modeling when he said, Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Then we must, verbally tell our children why we handle money the way we do. For instance, share with them that you are getting out of debt because Proverbs 22:7 warns us, “The borrower is slave to the lender.” And finally, we should provide kids practical opportunities to apply what they are learning.

Well, if you have children, I pray that you’ll become a MVP parent. You can’t start too soon.

The ABC’s of handling money and the Secret of Handling money God’s way are great tools for parents. They each have a workbook for the child and a practical leaders guide for the parents. You can find them here- http://bit.ly/1BKiiI3

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Bridging the Wealth Divide

Ken Battles is an extraordinary person by any measure. In Orlando, he was the last employee (out of 3,500) still working for a Fortune 500 Company that went through a series of downsizings and mergers! His latest assignment involves leading a global team responsible for an IT security service utilized by 55,000 employees of a large multi-national company.

More impressive is Ken’s love for Christ and his heart to serve. He founded Compass African-American Ministries which focuses on helping African-American churches and organizations teach God’s way of handling money, love and leadership.

Ken and I agree that the wealth divide in our country is real and exists between various segments of the population: rich and poor, male and female, and ethnic groups. The perspective on the cause, impact and solution for the wealth divide often varies because of political affiliation, race and gender.

The government, business, education and the church all should play a role in addressing the wealth divide. But the foundation for genuine change is only found in God’s word. Hundreds of members have completed the Compass small group study at Ken’s home church—Antioch MB Church. Look at the survey results of their Compass graduates:

  • 81% reduced debt
  • 69% increased savings and giving
  • 100% are making better spending decisions
  • 94% have a closer relationship with God
  • 62% are serving more in ministry

Ken says, “These results can be replicated anywhere and the wealth divide reduced because the heart change will cause:

  • Acknowledgement of God’s ownership and control
  • Spirit-led giving, spending and saving decisions
  • Understanding why we must work hard
  • Understanding why employers must treat employees fairly
  • Understanding why employees should honor their employer
  • Creation of jobs that pay a living wage
  • More concern for the poor
  • More generous giving and funding the Great Commission
  • Less hoarding of wealth

Ken Battles is uniquely qualified to use his experience and love for Christ to help the African-American church reduce the wealth divide. Contact him at ken.battles@compass1.org.

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George Washington Decisions

Who are you going to ask: George or God?

Many people only consult George before making a decision . . . George Washington that is! You know, our first president whose likeness is on every one-dollar bill. People often make their decisions solely based on financial considerations, not what the Lord is saying to them through His Spirit and His word.

Compare how these men responded to Jesus’ invitation to follow him.

  • “Jesus saw two brothers, Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him” (Matthew 4:18-20, NIV).
  • “Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting in the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow Me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him” (Matthew 9:9, NIV).
  • “Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven. Then, come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad because he had great wealth” (Matthew 19:20-21, NIV).

Peter, Andrew, and Matthew left their businesses and their only source of income to follow Jesus. On the other hand, the Rich Young Ruler was unwilling to give away everything to follow Christ. He made his decision based on what George (or rather Caesar) was telling him. He was unable to shift his trust from his stuff to the invisible living God to provide. The Bible says that he went away sad. Think about this: This young man had the opportunity to walk with the Son of God and experience a deeper joy and meaningful life than he could even imagine. But he listened to George rather than God.

We should factor finances into our decisions, but ultimately the Lord wants our relationship with him to guide our choices.

This blog is based on the teachings of Dan Schilling, the Compass North American Director.

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How long is this Bull Market going to last?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average recently hit a historic high — again! From a March 6, 2009, low of 6,624 during the Great Recession, in six years it has skyrocketed to more than 18,000. Investors are asking themselves, “How long will this Bull Market last?”

Normally, what drives the stock market higher are increasing earnings, and the Fed lowering interest rates, which makes it cheaper for companies to borrow money and make more profit.

However, this time around the stock market has been fueled by a Fed on steroids. It has dramatically reduced interest rates to almost zero. While the government has increased our Federal debt in just six years from $10.6 trillion to more than $18 trillion – that’s a 70% increase!

To help us gain perspective, it took us 205 years (74,984 days from Independence Day on July, 4, 1776 to October 22, 1981) to incur our first trillion dollars of Federal debt. We took on our last trillion dollars of debt in about 365 days.

How long is this Bull Market going to last and how is it going to end? I don’t know. But what is driving the market clearly is not sustainable.

I do know that the Lord warns us of the dangers of debt. “The borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). I can’t encourage you strongly enough to learn how to handle money God’s way. And that means to be generous, save, spend wisely and get out of debt!

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Now the real scoop of what’s happening in the Ukraine

Anatoliy and his young family live in Kiev, Ukraine. He serves as the Compass Russian and Ukrainian Director and has had a massive impact serving this part of the world. Before joining us he was an English teacher and is fluent in Ukrainian, Russian and English.

I was with Anatoliy about a month ago, and he told me, “Many serious followers of Christ in the Ukraine had been praying for a spiritual revival and an end to corruption in our country. What we didn’t realize was that it would mean an invasion and war with neighboring Russia. Yes, please pray for the safety of God’s people here, but more than that . . . pray that revival would sweep our land.”

Will you join us in praying for many to come to know Christ in Ukraine and Russia, and for our Heavenly Father to protect Anatoliy and his family? May we have the courage to pray for revival in our land no matter what the cost.

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5 Things to Remember When Buying a Used Car

Listeners to our MoneyWise radio program often ask us about the best way to buy a used car. How much should they pay? How can they be sure that it’s in good running order and won’t have any major problems?

There are 5 things to remember when making a used car purchase:

First, do your homework and decide on the make and model of cars that will meet your needs. For example, a family of six is going to need a very different vehicle than a single person.

Second, visit www.Edmunds.com to get a good idea of the sales prices of the used cars that you’re considering.

Then, Google the make and models of these cars with the word “problem”, and you’ll soon see if there are recurring problems with any of the cars.

Next, remember to check out some online reviews on the dealership from whom you are considering buying the vehicle. Small used car dealerships often get their inventory from car auctions. These vehicles may appear to be in good running condition, but may also have costly problems that you will be dealing with after purchasing the car and driving it off the lot.

Which brings me to my last point……..before you pay for a car, have a reliable mechanic check it out for problems. This is super important! That’s why we are so thankful for our auto mechanic, Slim. He’s been repairing our type of car for more than two decades and . . . Slim is really HONEST! I’d never consider buying a used car without Slim going over it carefully and giving me the thumbs up to go ahead and purchase it.

And if you don’t know an auto mechanic like Slim, ask the Lord to help you find just the right one. Then ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations until you find a mechanic that you feel is fair and credible.

Following these simple guidelines will help ensure you a positive experience when looking to purchase a used car!

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