Category Archives: Finances

Maybe so, Maybe not. We’ll see.

There is a Chinese Proverb that goes something like this…

A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the mares and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The villagers cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all the able-bodied boys for the army. They did not take the farmer’s son, still recovering from his injury. Friends shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!” To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”

The moral of this story, is, of course, that no event, in and of itself, can truly be judged as good or bad, lucky or unlucky, fortunate or unfortunate, but that only time will tell the whole story. Additionally, no one really lives long enough to find out the ‘whole story,’ so it could be considered a great waste of time to judge minor inconveniences as misfortunes or to invest tons of energy into things that look outstanding on the surface, but may not pay off in the end.

The wiser thing, then, is to live life in moderation, keeping as even a temperament as possible, taking all things in stride, whether they originally appear to be ‘good’ or ‘bad.’

What Are You Waiting For?

You may not even realize you are holding back. The truth is most of us are. We have justified our reasoning to wait to completely follow Jesus. Read Matthew 8:18-20 below:

The Cost of Following Jesus

Matthew  18 Now  when Jesus saw a crowd around him,  he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19  And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head .”

The sub heading for this passage confused me at first. I thought, “What cost is there to following Jesus that is represented in this passage?” MacArthur’s Notes in his study bible offer some insight:

MATTHEW— NOTE ON 8: 19 a scribe. As a scribe, this man was breaking with his fellow scribes by publicly declaring his willingness to follow Jesus. Nonetheless, Jesus evidently knew that he had not counted the cost in terms of suffering and inconvenience.

Jesus saw this scribe’s heart, and knew the scribe did not know what he would be getting himself into. The scribe, fell in love with the idea, and was not thinking of everything else that would come along with it. Like a child asking for a puppy, but not thinking of the training, walking, feeding, grooming and caring for the dog over the next 10-15 years. The child just wanted a puppy to play with. We have all jumped into something too quickly without really thinking of the consequences, both good and bad, of what is to come. Jesus heeds a warning that denying this world offers little rest, safety and comfort. The text continues as others want to follow Jesus, but have some housekeeping to attend to first:

21  Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

Again at first glance this sounds insensitive of Jesus to not allow the man to bury his father. Yet MacArthur offers an explanation for this phrase:

MATTHEW— NOTE ON 8: 20 Son of Man. See notes on Mark 2: 10 and John 1: 51 . This is the name Jesus used for himself more than any other. It is used 83 times in the Gospels, always by Jesus himself. It was a messianic title ( Dan. 7: 13– 14 ), with an obvious reference to the humanity and the humility of Christ. Yet, it also speaks of his everlasting glory, as Dan. 7: 13– 14 shows (cf. Matt. 24: 27 ; Acts 7: 56 ). MATTHEW— NOTE ON 8: 21 let me first go and bury my father. This does not mean that the man’s father was already dead. The phrase “I must bury my father” was a common figure of speech meaning, “Let me wait until I receive my inheritance.”

The man was essentially saying I will follow you once I get the money that is coming my way. From our perspective this sounds foolish, but how do we make this same statement in our daily lives?

“I’ll take up my cross when I get that promotion.” “I’ll get involved in the church when my children move out.” “I’ll join a small group when I retire and can read more.”

How are any of these thoughts different? All of these statements boil down to say, “I will submit to God when He fits into my life.” But without missing a beat, Jesus comes back with verse 22:

22  And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

Which MacArthur helps us interpret to mean:

MATTHEW— NOTE ON 8: 22 leave the dead to bury their own dead. Let the world (the spiritually dead) take care of mundane things.

All of those things Jesus calls Mundane. His direction is clear, let the spiritually dead, the ones driven by society and what this world has to offer, deal with the mundane things, the things that in the end do not matter.

All of those mundane things are excuses that we try to justify to God. I’m too busy. On the fast track. Almost retired. I’m tired. I need just a little more money. More friends. More stuff.

After these mundane things are accomplished, then, and only then will I reevaluate where I am at and let my Idol factory (Heart) make something else to strive towards other than God.

In the end our earthly bodies and sinful hearts will always find ways to focus our energy, time and money towards something other than the only thing worth pursuing. Only until we give it all…ALL to him and submit, whole heartedly to his purpose can we begin to move from the mundane (check out the definition of this word) world and into a spiritual (the antonym of mundane) world.

So pray. Repent and ask God to work in you through the Holy Spirit, to be able to walk away from this mundane world, and let the world worry about the world. What are you waiting for?

Modes of Money-Credit card

And now on to my favorite mode of money, the credit card.  In general, a credit card is a revolving line of credit that you can use to make purchases with. You are then sent a statement invoicing you for your purchases, and you are required to make a minimum payment towards your outstanding balance, but anything less than  the full balance will then be subject to the interest rate that will be added to your balance due.

Credit cards offer many benefits over most other modes of money. Mainly these benefits are rewards or incentives offered by the credit card company to entice you to use the card. If used properly, you can save hundreds, earn hundreds, and offer some protection other types of payment do not.

Advantages- There are many. Most credit cards offer reward points to be redeemed, or a sign up bonus. Credit cards are basically loaning you their money for a very short time, about a month, without spending your own. If you pay your card off in full each month, you are using their money for all of your purchases you make on the card, not using your own money(called a float), which can then sit in investments or savings longer gaining interest longer than if it were slowly taken out for each little purchase (Credit card companies call people that pay their balance off in full deadbeats, since they do not make any money off of them). Since you are using their money, if anything happens to your card, meaning it’s lost or stolen and used without your authorization, they are generally very good at not holding you accountable for those purchases.  Along those same lines, many purchases you make, especially electronics, will have a warranty on it offered by the credit card, meaning you don’t have to worry about purchasing the stores or manufactures warranty plan, it’s already a part of your card for using it. Credit cards also offer help booking travel, a concierge service, and many other perks you may not know about that are yours to use by being a cardholder. Credit cards can also help your credit score if used properly. Not many other modes of money can offer that perk. There are many more, but those are some of the high points and maybe some of the lesser known perks of having and using a credit card.

Disadvantages- If not used properly, and responsibly, a credit card can dig you into a deep hole that is hard to get out from under. Credit cards can change their terms at any time. Meaning their interest rates, the date’s payments are due and other terms that can affect you if you are tied down with the card by having a large unpaid balance. Credit cards can create a sense of inflated purchasing power, which again if not kept in check can lead to frivolous spending and a ton of money paid just for the privilege of spending their money (interest).

My recommendation- Have a credit card if you can. If you need to build your credit, start with a store card. Pay it off in full each month. Make all the purchases you want and can with it. I often pay bills with it to rack up reward points. Keep your credit card utilization to around 25%. This means only put as much on the card that will equal about 25% of the credit limit, this will help your credit score. Accept any credit line increases that are offered to you, as this will lower your utilization and not require a hard credit pull. Set up the auto payment feature on your credit card so you are protected from missing a payment. I have yet to pay a single penny in interest on our credit cards, and we just used the reward points to pay for half of our vacation. Never make a purchase on your card that you do not intend to pay off in full on your next statement. The only exception I would give this is if you have a 0% introduction rate on a card for 12 months or so. Then you can exercise e a little flexibility, but try to maintain that 25% credit utilization ratio, and have the cash on had to pay it off in full at anytime. The bottom line to remember when using a credit card is to treat it like it is your money, and only use it in line with the money that you have available in cash to spend. This way you reap all the benefits of the credit card, and none of the downside, mainly paying interest.