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Stupid money

I lived in Silicon Valley for over 30 years and often heard the phrase “smart money” which meant funding that came from investors who added value beyond just capital. Smart money brings know-how, industry experience and networks that are often more valuable than just cash. 

Scripture alludes to “stupid money” in Psalm 40 which ends with this phrase:

“Rich people with no understanding are just like animals that die.”

Living a life without purpose is terrible; dying rich and leaving this life without having figured out the meaning of money is… well, no different than living and exiting the planet like an animal.

Stupid money has not found its purpose. Stupid money meets the needs of this life but does nothing for the rest of one’s life in eternity. Stupid money focuses on consumption, not multiplication through others.

If smart money has discovered its purpose, what are some of the broad purposes of money? The usual answers include...

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Strength to birth

They said to him, “A message from Hezekiah: ‘This is a black day, a terrible day - doomsday! Babies poised to be born, No strength to birth them.’”
2 Kings 9:3 The Message 

Many years ago, as a young leader of a local church, this Scripture challenged me. We had started many things, but what were we finishing? Initiating something is one thing; delivering it is another. Conception is fun, birthing is hard work.

As I write this I am challenged again: Much is being initiated; how much will be brought forth into the light of day? Ministering every day, in and through business, invites opposition. This is a spiritual matter. The enemy operates at the gate, at the threshold, and we need to achieve victory over him there, in prayer. Call out people to stand at the gates with you. Call forth midwives. Many have worked hard for months. Now we need the strength to deliver this baby. May Hezekiah’s message not be true of us:

“Thus says Hezekiah: 'This...

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You can't take it with you

It has been said no one has seen a hearse with a U-Haul trailer behind it. (Strangely I found many images that tell a different story.) There is even a popular song by Kristian Bush with the same sentiment.

Everybody wanna die rich

Diamonds, Champagne,

Work your way down that list.

We try, everybody tries

Tries to fit into that ditch

You can't take it with you when you go

Never seen a hearse with a trailer hitch

Never seen a hearse with a trailer hitch.

Our last two blogs have highlighted various aspects of Psalm 49 and the dangers of disconnecting wealth from eternity. The Message translation of scripture gives us a simple summary:

So don’t be impressed with those who get rich
    and pile up fame and fortune.
They can’t take it with them;
    fame and fortune all get left behind.
Just when they think they’ve arrived
    and folks praise them because they’ve made good,
They enter the family burial plot
...

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Trust and do good

Trust in the Lord and do good. Psalm 37:3

Trust and do. This is an interesting concept. Somehow we have the idea that trusting God and doing good are mutually exclusive. There is a notion held by some that inaction is more spiritual than action.  

Take a few minutes and read through Psalm 37. There are the juicy bits, of course, such as “…and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I like that. When I read the whole song, I find an almost even mix of things that tend towards rest and action. If I miss the AND, I miss the whole thing.

For example:

Active resting

Active doing

Trust 

Give generously

Commit your way

Lend freely

Delight yourself

Turn from evil

Be still

Practice justice

Do not fret

Be righteous

Hope in the Lord

Speak wisdom & justice

Be meek

Keep God’s law

Be content with little

Be blameless; don’t take matters into your own hands

Wait for the Lord

Be a...

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Death ate the rich man for breakfast

We don’t like to talk about death, but the older I get the closer I am to it. We have this illusion in the Western World that having a lot of money will somehow shield one from the tougher side of death. Psalm 49 talks about how we try to cheat death. Some name buildings after themselves, extending their legacies. Others write books, endow foundations or leave great wealth to their families. Even if you name a country after yourself, you will end up living in a tomb.

Their tombs will remain their houses forever,

    their dwellings for endless generations,

    though they had named lands after themselves.

My last blogpost cautioned us to be careful who it is that we follow: are they the self-made rich concerned about this life, or have they connected their wealth to eternity? For those who know God there is the assurance that death has been defeated through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So the apostle Paul can ask, “Where, O...

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We Know Nothing

We speak of what we know
John 3:1-21 

“We know.” Smart guy, solid religious background, years of study, stimulating intellectual environment, wrong conclusion. Nicodemus comes to Jesus and starts off by saying, “Rabbi, we know…” A few mind-blowing facts from Jesus and Nicodemus’ last recorded words in this conversation are “How can this be?” This is followed by a sound rebuttal in a real us-and-them passage, Jesus points out that He and His disciples are actually the ones in the know: “We speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.” Pretty strong words from the Lamb of God. 

How about us? Do we approach God from a “we know” perspective? We know our history, we know our doctrine, we know our Bible, we know what God said five years ago. The paradox is that we do know some things, and yet that very knowledge can leave us isolated from the...

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Pause the podcast

Wouldn't you like to make a boatload of money in just a few hours a day using only your cell phone? There are plenty of “how to be successful” podcasts, not just the Top 10, but the Top 45! Influencers and followers are nothing new.

Psalm 49:13 cautions about people who trust in themselves and their own ability to get rich: “That’s what happens to those who trust in themselves.” Prior to this the writer explains, “They trust in their wealth. They brag about how rich they are.”

The psalmist points out the blatantly obvious: we are all going to die.

10 Everyone can see that even wise people die.

    People who are foolish and who have no sense also pass away.

    All of them leave their wealth to others.

11 Their tombs will remain their houses forever.

    Their graves will be their homes for all time to come.

    Naming lands after themselves won’t help...

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But it was because the Lord loves you

The Lord set his affection on you and chose you because the Lord loved you. Deuteronomy 7:7-8

God gets bad press. The ‘liberal media’ has been around since the Garden of Eden. “Did God really say…? You know why he said that, right…he wants to dis-empower you!” As Israel came out of Egypt Moses tried to help untangle their preconceptions about God from their experience of Egyptian gods. He also tried to lay the groundwork for the fledgling nation to avoid future entrapment by other gods.

The 10 Commandments and related instructions were therefore very clear: keep God as the one and only, and don’t flirt with foreign gods. “Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them.” This is the M&M verse (if it helps you remember it better): no money, no mercy, no marriage, no mingling. Israel knew slavery—they had been at the receiving end of it for many years. Back in the tent as they thought about...

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Big ask—big reward

You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.  John 14:14

Who wins when I ask for big things? I have thought it was me, of course. Recently, however, I have been seeing a different dynamic at work when looking at three passages that follow each other in the book of John. When you see them together it will blow the punch line, but it is worth doing anyway:

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, … You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:12-14

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. John 15:7

Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. John 15:16

Three times in quick succession Jesus urges us, “Ask Big!” These are pretty astounding promises. With such a blank check in our hands, why don’t we ask for outrageous things more often? We could go into the normal list of things: we have a poverty mentality, we don’t think we are worthy, we do...

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“What are you crying for?”

 

Crying was not really smiled up when I was growing up. If your brother gave you a shove and you fell and hurt yourself, the question was “What are you crying for?” If you broke your favorite toy… “What are you crying for?” If your parents said “No” when you wanted “Yes” and you cried… “What are you crying for?” followed by the inevitable, “I’ll give you something to cry about!”

Nowadays we tell people, and not just children, “It’s okay to cry.” While there were some advantages to the get-up-and-get-over-it mindsets of our parents, there were disadvantages as well. It is appropriate to cry, sometimes, and the question is, “What are you crying for?” or, more accurately, “What are you crying over?”

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you. How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a...

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