Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stewardship, part 3

This is the final posting concerning stewardship for the present. There is much more that could be said about the subject, but this blog is not going to be spent in an exhaustive research into the matter, at least not now.

I want to look at the matter of debt. I know something about this, because I have both personal and business debt. All my debt is covered by real estate or other tangible goods. Most of it is business debt (which is no different than personal debt, just a lot more.) Throughout most of my adult life I have tried to either stay out of debt, or keep it very small. When my wife and I were younger and much poorer, we almost never used a credit card because we didn’t know if we would be able to pay off the balance if we did use it. And herein lies a problem that some have not learned, or have learned the hard way. Debt is not necessarily bad if backed up by assets. Credit card debt is not backed up by assets and therefore can be dangerous.

In Romans 13:8 Paul says, ‘Owe no one anything except to love one another.’ Although some strictly interpret this to mean we should have no debt, I take this to mean we should have no debt that is not backed up by tangible assets. If I buy a brand new luxury car with only one month’s payment, there is a possibility that I would be violating Paul’s injunction because when I drive that beautiful BMW off the lot, it is no longer worth $60-80,000 – and it makes me sick to think how much money I have just lost! (My Corolla works just fine and I am elated getting 38 MPG on the highway.) Now if I am buying a house and am able to put down 10%, the debt is backed up by the real estate I have just purchased. I realize that real estate has been going down recently, but in many parts of the country, we haven’t had the wild speculation that was evident in the West and in Florida. So in the second example we have a case where I technically owe the bank $150,000, but the bank actually owns the house, and as long as I make the payments, I will eventually own the house myself and if I default the bank owns a nice house worth at least the principle left on the loan. The whole time the loan was covered by the real estate. The point is as Christians we need to be very prudent with God’s money. And never should we allow ourselves to get into serious financial debt. By that I mean if there is not a reasonable assurance that the loan can be paid off in a timely fashion - don’t get into debt. Sometimes it is better to hold off purchasing something that isn’t absolutely necessary until you can pay cash. Now that is a novel idea!

I thank God for a wife who kept me out of foolish debt. Slick salesmen would lure me into wanting to make a large purchase. I would try to convince Kathy that we could make the payments. I am thankful that I lost those arguments. I am also thankful that our children never saw us foolishly spending our money. They all have shown wisdom in their own finances, and I am proud of them.

As Christians let us remember that all we have is God’s. As alluring as material creature comforts can be, let us all be wise stewards of what God has entrusted to us, whether it be money, time, or talents.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Wedding Blessing

Yesterday, August 15, was a momentous day for our family. Our daughter, Michelle was married to Aaron Steele. This was the third time my wife and I saw one of our daughters leave and cleave, with our consent. It went off without a hitch, although there were some stressful moments, such as, 'Where is the cake???!!' It finally arrived, less than an hour before the wedding began.

In the Old Testament there were times that the Patriarchs blessed their children. Perhaps it was unique for them, but I believe that it is not a bad custom, and I have revived the custom for a couple of my daughters. I would have done this for my first-born, but she got married before I instituted the marriage blessing. Actually I did it only with their consent.

Michelle Steele, as she has been known for only a day, asked me a couple months ago to bless her and Aaron at their wedding. Some of you were there and heard it. For the rest, I have included it below:

A Blessing for Aaron and Michelle:

Aaron and Michelle, on this special day, we, as parents, wish God’s blessing on your lives. We have spent years praying for you and now you stand before us ready to embark on a new chapter of your lives. We are proud of you.

Aaron, may God Almighty bless you as husband and spiritual leader of your family. May He give you spiritual discernment and wisdom. May your desire always be for your wife. May God bless you physically, mentally, emotionally, and yes, financially. As you place your trust in the Lord your God, may He bless you so that you will never want. May God give you the ability to become great both in your church and your community, and may He give you the humility to stay great. May God bless you with children that will also seek to know the God of their father. Aaron, God bless you in all you do.

Michelle, you have been a special child. God has given you a tender heart. And now may God Almighty bless you as wife and a help fit for your husband. May God also bless you physically, mentally, and emotionally. May your husband be able to safely trust in you. May God give you wisdom and strength to assist your husband all the days of your life. May God make you fruitful and bless you with sons and daughters, the Lord’s heritage. And may God bless you as you raise your children to live for Him. Michelle, God bless you in all you do.

May the Lord God bless you two, Aaron and Michelle, as you become one. May He keep you from sin. May He give you many years to love Him and each other. May this, your wedding day be a blessed day in your lives. I believe I speak for everyone here when I say, we all wish God’s richest blessings on you.

Now, go and in the name of Jesus, be a blessing to others.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Stwardship, part 2

Stewardship, part 2

Those of you who are geographically situated so that you have had to drive down I-75 from Toledo have noticed the building in Lima, OH which boldly proclaims ‘CHRIST IS THE ANSWER,’ but perhaps you don’t know the rest of the story, as the late Paul Harvey was fond of saying. Mr. Tam, who owned the business, was a Christian businessman who wasn’t satisfied with owning a business he dedicated to God, but wanted God to legally own the business. It took some doing, but his attorney finally succeeded in accomplishing the task of transferring the ownership from Mr. Tam to God.

As we discussed in the previous posting, God should be the owner of all we have. I am not suggesting that Christian business owners should emulate Mr. Tam, but in a real sense, we should reject the notion that in ourselves we have done great things. In my case, I know that the business which I run would have failed long ago if it was up to me. I am not smart enough to run it by myself. I spend time early each morning in a board meeting with the Chairman, during which time I remind Him that the company belongs to Him, I thank Him for any success, and beg that He might be pleased to continue to bless Grace Plastics. I am thankful that the business is not dependent on a shaky economy, but is wholly dependent upon the eternal and almighty God.

This is a lesson we all need to relearn time after time. I Tim. 6:17 states, ‘Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.’ You may not consider yourself to be rich, but there is a lesson nevertheless. Don’t trust in money, or your employment, but in the living God.

On our currency we have printed, ‘In God We Trust.’ On Facebook there is a poll questioning whether we should remove the motto from our currency. I personally think it is a wonderful reminder that we shouldn’t be trusting in the almighty dollar, but in almighty God. However since most Americans seem to have forgotten that, and are trusting in the dollar, maybe there is no reason to continue to have a motto which most of us totally ignore.

Although the Bible has a lot to say about money, we need to understand that striving and grasping for it will not give fulfillment, but will constantly leave a void, and the necessity to want more. When asked how much money was enough, John Rockefeller said, ‘Just a little more.’ How sad!

Well, I do have a little more to say about the subject, and so will close the subject of stewardship and money with the next posting. After that, since Michelle’s wedding is now only two weeks away, we will give some thoughts about that. Stay tuned!