Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Spirituality

Now I don’t intend to get religious here but I would like to get spiritual with today’s post. I’ve come to know God and grow in our relationship together as an adult. As a child and teenager I was spoon fed what to believe, why to believe and was told what was in the bible. In college I drifted away from my superficial relationship with God in the name of finding the truth out for myself.

As an adult this led me from being agnostic to a hybrid of Zen-Buddhism and Christianity called Christian-Zen to the Christian that writes to you today, who knows a lot more of his bible and what God actually says about life – including money and marriage. The real turning point began when I started Dave Ramsey’s baby steps. I engrossed myself and sprinted towards his practical and tangible approach on everything about personal finance as if I had seen a glorious oasis in the middle of the Sahara. The fact that Ramsey includes scripture as the basis for his teachings, at the beginning was merely a bullet point to me.

The formula above reads Focused Intensity over Time multiplied by God equals Momentum. I first came across this formula in Dave’s book, “Entreleadership,” and as I walked the baby steps, this perceived theorem eventually became law in my life. The process of opening my heart and soul to an entity greater than myself didn’t happen with a single transformational event. There wasn’t the feeling of a chorus of angels singing or the dazzling spectacle of having the spirit run through me. Instead, much like wealth building, it is something that occurred slowly and over time through intentional baby steps. The glorious thing is that most of these baby steps were made with and without my intention.

Some of the baby stepped revelations I’ve made along the way:

Proverbs 21:20: In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.
Translation: Smart people save, stupid people borrow against their home

Proverbs 22: 6 – 7: Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.
Translation: Our children should learn from our example to prioritize saving and live on less than you make

Proverbs 17:18: It’s poor judgment to guarantee another person’s debt
Translation: You are also stupid if you co-sign a loan for someone **in the immortal words of Dave Ramsey, “Don’t get mad at me, God said it”**

Luke 14:28: Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. He will first sit down and estimate the cost to see whether he has enough money to finish it, won’t he?
Translation: Plan ahead

Ecclesiastes 11:2: Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land
Translation: Keep your investments diverse and never put all of your eggs in one basket, no matter how great that single mutual fund is

Proverbs 13:11: Wealth from get rich quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time
Translation: Make the tortoise your mascot

After having followed Ramsey for years, I finally turned to my bible to see that God talks about money throughout the entire book. He doesn’t sweep it under the rug like our parents did; it’s out in the open and He’s not afraid to lovingly tell us when we’re being stupid.

But there’s also scripture that’s been misused by Socialists who call themselves Christians which I will address as a grand finale:

Matthew 6:24: No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Matthew 19:24: Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
Matthew 19:21: Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.

Truth: Money is a tool that should be used to build, grow, deepen and strengthen your relationship with God or (for those of you who do not believe in God) be part of the foundational work in being a good and decent human being. My Spidey-sense tingles with this one: With great power comes great responsibility. Money is not like greed, envy, jealousy or any of the other “deadly sins.” Money allows you to make good or bad decisions, inherently in itself money is not evil, the love of money is.

It’s so much more direly important to have a loving soul and a giving spirit as you build and create wealth. Whether you are a saint or a jerk, no amount of money, little or huge, is going to change your heart. Jesus is absolutely right when he said that it is incredibly hard and difficult for a rich man to find treasure in heaven. Money can afford you physical protection like security systems, a 25 acre compound, a moat and all of the bells and whistles that places like The Hamptons can offer. But money can never buy you financial peace, security in your heart nor fulfillment in your life. Only a strong and deep relationship with your loved ones, working in your strengths and for me a developing relationship with God has given me real security in life.

Jesus didn’t ask that guy to live a life of poverty, struggle and strife that comes with making one unbiblical decision with money after another. Jesus looked into that man’s heart and knew that he trusted wealth and possessions to bring him security and not God. Jesus just called him out, knowing he held onto this world in detriment to his spiritual life. Whether you sell everything and give it all away or write a monthly tithe check, ALL of your income and wealth, every last penny of it, belongs to God.

So in being an asset manager for God, I have to ask myself: Am I purchasing things and supporting companies that further peace on Earth? Do I live beyond or below my means? Am I giving, saving and spending in ways that bring joy to my life? These are just a few of the questions that can lead you as well to financial peace. 

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