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5 Stars Out Of 5
December 6, 2012
There are very few financial books that are so valuable, one wants to buy extra copies to give away. This is one of those books. Randy does a fantastic job describing the purpose of money, our duties, and the importance of realizing it all belongs to God.
There are 22 chapters, divided into six sections. The sections are:
1. Money and Possessions: Bible 101
2. Perspectives that Impede Money Management
3. Our Stewardship in Eternity's Light
4. Giving and Sharing God's Money and Possessions
5. Wisely Handling God's Money and Possessions
6. Passing the Baton of Wise Stewardship
I will share a few quotes from the book:
p. 50 - "If what you treasure most is deposited in the bank and the bank fails, your heart will fail with it."
p. 52 - "Materialism obscures many of life's greatest blessings. Ironically, those blessings are often far more appreciated by the poor, whose lives are less cluttered and distracted by material wealth."
Managing God's Money: A Biblical Guide has detailed explanations, wise and convicting advice, and will help teach and train the reader how to be successful with their finances. I would consider this a sort of encyclopedia of financial training. It should be in every Christian home and given to every newly married couple. If mistakes have been made, this book will educate us to turn it all around and start handling money God's way. This is when the true blessings will come.
*Disclosure - I received this book for review purposes.*
So, I have to admit...it took me a while to read this book.
No, it's not a long book compared to many I have read. Nor is the writing style at all difficult to follow. As a matter of fact, it is very well written, down-to-earth, and practical.
Yep, quite possibly so. And, I realized that since money (or lack of) is a major struggle I live with on a daily basis, maybe subconsciously I didn't want to be instructed on what I really need to be doing with the money I (don't) have. Nor did I want to be reminded of what I wish I could be doing with the money I (don't) have.
You see, my heart is one of giving. Yes, I can be just as selfish as the next person---no doubt. But, part of the reason I am in the debt that I am in is that in my early income-gaining years I loved to buy nice gifts for everyone I loved throughout the year as well as at that big gift-giving time of year---Christmas. True, though, purchasing gifts is not the only way I went overboard with unwise money decisions. Regardless of past choices, however, I still have a responsibility today to allot our household income wisely---in paying off debt, paying costs of daily living, and in giving.
Yes, I said it---GIVING!
How can I possibly reason that it is wise to give away any money when we have so much debt and daily living costs to pay and pay back?!
In this book Managing God's Money, Randy Alcorn does a brilliant job of explaining why and even to some degree how. He teaches, encourages, and even challenges existing excuses and thoughts I had prior to reading this.
I was consistently convicted throughout reading this book that I cannot wait until we get past this financial struggle period of life to start giving back to God and trusting Him to continue to provide as He always remarkably has. I cannot wait to bless others in the ways God has chosen to use others to bless me.
I either do it now, or possibly never.
After all, we are not promised that we will have tomorrow to make things right and walk in faith and obedience. And besides, it really is amazing to sit back and watch God prove Himself time and time again. He did say in His word that this is the one area He invites us to test Him. (Malachi 3:10)
Will you test Him today? Have faith that He will provide for you as you obediently and faithfully trust Him. He will prove Himself to you as He has to me.
In the meantime, maybe you need that little nudge (or forceful push) that I needed and received from this book. If any of this strikes a chord with you, I recommend you get a copy of Managing God's Money and see what He wants to reveal to you through it.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.
Managing God's Money deals with the whole spectrum of Christian stewardship, and addresses issues like insurance and inheritance, gambling, saving, investing, giving and debt. And, in true Alcorn style, the theme of stewardship is woven throughout the book.
What I Liked About Managing God's Money
1. This book makes sure the proper foundation is laid for good financial planning. That foundation, of course, is our understanding that nothing we have is ours. Our money is really God's money. As such, we need to understand how we should handle what the Master has entrusted to his stewards. This book helps you get that mindset firmly rooted in Scripture.
2. Alcorn offers some very challenging words throughout the book on fighting against our culture of materialism. He cleverly calls materialism the disease of "affluenza".
3. I particularly liked the back of the book, which provided some common sense answers to questions about debt, retirement funds, investing, and leaving an inheritance. I thought his words on giving money now compared to leaving it to good causes when we die provided a good challenge and great clarity.
4. There's been a response recently to materialism within some Christian circles that has to do with creating a simple lifestyle. Randy provides a great distinction between a simple lifestyle and a strategic one:
Simple living may be self-centered. Strategic living is Kindgom-centered.
If I'm devoted to "simple living," I may reject a computer because it's modern and nonessential. But if I live a strategic lifestyle, the computer may serve as a tool for Kingdom purposes.
How You Can Benefit from Managing God's Money
This book will help you establish a good foundation for financial planning. What it won't do is provide a practical, step-by-step guide on the "How To's".
What the book will do is challenge your paradigm, challenge your heart motives, and offer a clear description of what the Bible has to say about the way we handle our money - as stewards.
You will particularly find Section V helpful, which deals with questions on debt, savings, retirement accounts, gambling, investing, and leaving an inheritance.
You will also enjoy the practical examples of how to teach your children about money in Section VI.
To begin, I love how Randy Alcorn outlines the book in the "Contents" section. I almost felt like I was cheating when I went back to look at the "Content" page to review the book. I wish more authors would outline their books in this fashion. By reading Alcorn's "Content" section you will understand not only what each chapter is about, but how he will argue his points and the progression of his arguments throughout each chapter. One may think that they do not need to read the book because of how thorough this section is, but then he/she would miss out on some wonderful aspects found within these chapters. The book is probably the most expanded treatise that I have read on the issue of finances. Alcorn's book has more meat to it than the general Dave Ramsey financial books out there. Although Alcorn's work is more theological in natural, it is still extremely practical. Alcorn has several great one-liners throughout the book (e.g. you will never see a U-Haul behind a hearse). There were a few things that I either disagreed with or wished that Alcorn would have elaborated on. First, I do not think that having a credit card is the same thing as one being in debt. Exodus 22:24-5 says,"If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people, you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him." This command/concept is found over 22 times throughout the Old Testament. Psalm 15 says, "1Who shall dwell on your(C) holy hill? 2He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;3who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend;4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved." Proverbs 28:8 says, "He who increases his wealth by interest and overcharge amasses it for someone else who will bestow it on the poor." Deuteronomy 15:1-11 calls for the cancellation of all debts at the end of every seventh year. This passage also warns against refusing to lend to anyone in need whenever this time is near. If you refuse to loan to anyone in need, you will be "guilty of sin" (Deuteronomy 24: 19-21). All these passages point to the fact that owing money and the lending of money is not sin. In order to not charge interest on money lent, it by implication requires money to be lent. A credit card that is maintained responsibly would be the equivalent of a short term loan. So, I disagree with Alcorn that the use of a credit card or taking out a loan should be considered debt. As long as one is "responsible" with their loans and managing their finances I do not see scripture condemning receiving a loan or borrowing money. Second, I wish Alcorn would have explained whether there was a distinction between tithing and grace giving. Are New Testament believers still under the obligation to tithe? The reason I bring this up is because nowhere in the entire New Testament do we see a command to tithe. In 2 Cor 8 where Paul is explaining the gracious sacrificial giving of a church, a tithe is never mentioned. Paul says that pastors are worthy of a double portion, but this is far different from tithe. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, "7Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." In the New Testament there is a concept that we give out of the grace which we have received from God. Believers give as a reflection or first fruit of the Spirit's work within their lives. Christians now live in the Spirit, rather than by the law (Romans 6:14,7;6, and Gal 5:18). This does not decrease the amount that we should give to the church, but it may actually increase it (e.g. Mark 12:41-44 & 2 Cor 8). Third, I think Alcorn by making a one to one comparison between Israelites and their tithe and modern Christians and there tithe does not do a good job of bridging the gap between the two worlds. Israelites did not have to pay house payments, car payments, or insurance. The Israelites then would have then given their tithe after their expenses, but before their food. I will give credit to Alcorn in that he brings up the issue of whether we should tithe pre-tax or post-tax, but he poorly dismisses the argument altogether. Alcorn's solution to this discussion is that we should tithe based upon how we would like to be blessed. Well, both positions "could" be equally faithful and receive equal blessing, so I do not think one would guarantee a greater blessing. So, is the blessing based upon quantitatively how much you tithe? Although he critiques prosperity gospel in the chapter before, there seems to be hints of it in this concept. The book is very thorough, but not exhaustive look at finances according to scripture. I think the book is worth buying for your congregants just to get the concept of living with the kingdom in hindsight with your finances. I think there needs to be more done to help congregants see that throwing a check into an offering plate is not enough. Congregants need to see that we should be using our finances to further the kingdom of Christ and that begins with gracious loving those who may be in need sitting in the pew next to you. Christians need to take up the Radical challenge and devote a small percentage even if it is 5$ a month to edify the saints within their congregation. The issue is not quantitatively how much you tithe. The issue at hand is, are you looking through the eyes of Christ when you first get your paycheck in hand? Alcorn words this concept this way, "Every purchase should be examined in light of its alternative uses or ministry potential." Alcorn in section five tries to make a distinction between gambling and investing. Alcorn quotes Proverbs 13:4 as a reason why one should not gamble. This verse critiques lazy people who want much and not necessarily those who gamble as a hobby or periodically for fun. A man can work hard and be extremely educated in the things which he gambles on (e.g. sports, cards, and ect.). There is such thing as intelligent gambling and it has the same, if not less risks than some investments with equal or greater return. There are many people who follow college football. There are those who know their team's offense/ defense strengths/weaknesses. If Tennessee is playing UT Martin and the odds seem in my favor, because I have knowledge of both teams history, stats, strengths/weakness, ect, how would betting in Tennessee be any different of an investment than investing money in a stock market that is often unstable? One is considered an investment and the other is classified as gambling. Both businesses that we place our money into involve risks and both result in profit. A person can be a hard worker and enjoy gambling in moderation and for fun. I bring this up only to demonstrate that all gambling is not bad in moderation and to demonstrate that his proof text does not condemn gambling. Another thing that Alcorn steers his readers away from is partnerships (in regards to investments) with companies that do wrong. Alcorn brings up the fact that we obviously would not invest in playboy magazine, but would we in Telescan a company that retrieves data for websites that Playboy uses? I do not know anything about Telescan, but one question that I have and that I think demonstrates the problems with following Alcorn's illustration here is: where do we stop with associations in regards to partnerships? Can I buy diamonds seeing that there is a possibility that they may be blood diamonds? Can I buy anything from China since there may have been a child involved in the creation of this product? How far back should we have to go before we can be safe in "partnering" or investing in a company? It would be nearly impossible to invest in "any" company because somewhere down the line there may be someone associated with something that is wrong. Another point that I disagree with Alcorn on is when he argues that you should not leave your children a large inheritance, because of the dangers that accompany it. Alcorn argues that leaving your children a large sum of money ensures that they will not be hard workers or responsible with their finances. Alcorn does not directly word it that way, but that is the principle one takes away from that chapter. I think one would be hard pressed to argue this concept from scripture. If a parent has raised their child to be responsible with their finances and they have displayed that they can handle money responsibly, then I would not have a problem with leaving them a large inheritance. If your child will use the inheritance to further the kingdom of Christ and has demonstrated this throughout his life with his own finances far be it to keep that away from your children. Although I have quite a few critiques of the book, I would still recommend the book as a starter on the conversation of what does scripture teach us about our finances. I would also recommend the book for its many practical examples.
This is another very good book from Randy. He doesn't shy away from tough subjects but does it in a beautifully biblical way. All questions i could think of are covered and well answeared in this book. Very recommendable.