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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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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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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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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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A derivative calling

“I the Lord have called you in righteousness.”  Isaiah 42:6

We live in a world where there is economic crisis partly because so much money is flowing around the world chasing speculative transactions that are not linked to payment for goods and services. A recent estimate claims that only 3% of the international money transfers each day are in payment for goods and services. The rest of the transactions are often connected to derivatives of something that may have a real value. (Derivatives are financial contracts, or financial instruments, whose values are derived from the value of something else (known as the underlying).)

There is no question that Jesus has a specific calling. Part of it was unique. He did some things that you and I cannot replicate: he was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, made a substantial sacrifice by giving his life, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven. These no one else can touch or come close to. But what about the rest of his...

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Fast company

Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” Leviticus 19:2

God did an amazing job in completely changing the mindset of a whole nation. Here were people who had lived immersed in another culture. The Egyptian boys had the cool haircuts, they drove the fast chariots and had a nice tan. The Egyptian girls were allowed to have tattoos and body piercing. So how do you take a whole nation—men, women and children—and cause them to have different minds and different hearts from the culture they have lived in for 400 years? I believe there were some keys:

    • Persecution: I doubt that they would have been ready to leave Egypt had they not had a really rough time.

    • Leadership: they needed someone to say, “God has said…”

    • Miracles: the probability of the Israelites believing God without an awesome demonstration of His power was low.

    • An impossible dream: the dream of the Promised Land was huge....
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Sleeping with our eyes open

We used to have early morning meetings which were the normal mix of coffee and conversation. When we got down to business, however, I would look across at one of the men and sometimes his eyes were open, but he was gone… fast asleep. “The lights were on,” as the saying goes, “but no one was home.” That was a little freaky because he was both present and potentially absent at every meeting. According to WebMD, “You might be surprised to hear that some people sleep with their eyes open. And it's more common that you'd expect. About 20% of people do it, including babies. Doctors call this condition "nocturnal lagophthalmos."” Keith Green called it “asleep in the light.” 

The world is sleeping in the dark

That the church just can't fight

'Cause it's asleep in the light

I was reminded of this when I read a poignant account towards the end of Jesus’ life on earth. Some key things happened in quick succession, and you can...

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As good as dead

and he as good as dead  Hebrews 11:12

We know God specializes in taking things that are totally impossible from a human perspective and turning them into something totally miraculous. We just don’t like to be the ones in totally impossible situations. A good percentage of our prayers, whether for finances, for health, for favor, or for grace, are prayed so that we can get out of an impossible situation. 

The fact is, unless we regularly get into totally impossible situations where we are in trouble, unless God shows up with a miracle, we may not be living a life of faith. Not all situations of faith come about in the same way:

  • Category A: “Help, God!” – these are unplanned, unpredictable I-need-a-miracle situations where life happens and we find ourselves beyond our capacities or resources. Our car gets rear-ended, and we need grace; our child gets ill unexpectedly, and we need a healing, a criticism comes out of left field, or the bottom falls out...
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Approaching life like Jesus

I know that power has gone out from me. 

“Don’t bother the teacher any more.”
“They laughed at him… but he took her by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!’”

A funny thing happened on the way to Jairus’ house. Jesus is on a mission to heal a sick twelve year old, the only daughter of an important person. Dad is distraught, Jesus is responding to the 911 call. If you were Jesus, you might be thinking, “I can handle this… stay focused.” But then there is the jostle of the crowd, and all of a sudden Jesus feels power go out of him. He knows that interruptions can be divine interjections, so he pauses to address the situation… during which time the patient dies. The young girl, that is.

Three things emerge from this passage. First, Jesus was feeling differently. His team was feeling the pressing, moving throng, crowding and almost crushing Jesus. He was feeling the touch of faith and the transfer of...

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Who is your rewarder?

He is the rewarder Hebrews 11:6

This week as I went for a walk this phrase came to mind and I meditated on it. We live too much of life thinking that someone other than God is our rewarder. A coach, a child, a peer group, a fund manager, a landlord, a teacher, a boss, or a company. Who is your rewarder? Who dangles the carrots that drive your donkey forward? You may be an independent sort that says, “I make my own goals; no one tells me what to do.” Good—but when you do what you do, whose eye is upon you? Is it the approving eye of man, or the singular eye of your true Rewarder?

Imagine a week in your life lived fully cognisant of the truth that God is the only rewarder that matters. No stuffing in of meetings that don’t matter, except that Thus-and-so will be there. No time spent on activities that posture but do not produce. No browsing through magazines or websites or TV channels to gain a temporary reward.

In some ways God rewards everyone. We will all be...

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