Are You Teaching Your Kids About Personal Finances?


"Parents cannot abdicate the teaching of finances to the schools, because the schools aren't teaching it. It's astounding to think that you can get through elementary school, high school, and college and still not know how to balance a checkbook, or buy a home, or decide what kind of insurance you need. But, unfortunately, that's the norm."

You will find this paragraph in the introduction of the Money Matters for Teens Workbook by Larry Burkett with Todd Temple. For those of us who have children in public (and probably even private) school, this is a helpful reminder that we cannot depend on the schools to prepare our children for life. In addition to teaching practical matter of life (like finances), Christian parents have to remember that God has given us the responsibility to disciple our children (Deut 6:4-9; Eph 6:4). We cannot depend on others to fulfill this role in our children's lives (not even the church!). 

For those of us who homeschool our children, this norm only confirms our reasoning for home education. But it is probably still worth asking home educators: Are you making sure to include personal finance in your teaching plan? We are using this workbook as a part of ours. 

One more reason that teaching personal finance to our children is important: "It's sad that half of all marriages today fail and, overwhelmingly, the major factor is the mismanagement of money." 

[Photo by Olly Joy on Unsplash]

Will God Always Provide for You to Accomplish His Will?

I was hoping to take my oldest children with me on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic this summer. But three weeks ago I called the leader of the trip to tell him we could not go because we did not have the necessary funds. The kids and I were operating in faith that if God wanted us to go, he would provide. So we came to the conclusion he wasn't leading us to go.

A little over a week after I called, someone expressed interest in contributing to our trip. Then within a week and half we had received enough support for at least three of us to go! God's provision was the final confirmation we needed to help us see how he is leading us to go on this mission trip.

In the past few blog posts, we have been exploring important principles for understanding God’s will for our lives. These are separated into five foundations for discerning God’s will and four avenues for discerning God’s will. I have already mentioned the first five.

  1. We can discern God's will by surrendering our lives to him.
  2. We can discern God’s will by studying Scripture (Psalm 19:7–11; 1 Thessalonians 4:1–6; 2 Timothy 3:16–17).
  3. We can discern God’s will by seeking him in prayer (Philippians 4:6–7; Jeremiah 29:11–13; James 4:2b).
  4. We can discern God’s will by waiting for him to lead us (Psalm 25:4–5; 106:13).
  5. We can discern God’s will by listening to the testimony of the Holy Spirit.

Now, here are the first two of the four avenues for discerning God’s will.

1. We can discern God’s will by observing our personal desires, convictions, and abilities (1 Cor. 7:8–9, 36–38; Exod. 25:2; 2 Thess. 3:5; 1 Cor. 12:4–7, 11).

Although we have sinful desires that tempt us to disobey, God also gives us good desires that help direct our lives. It is not difficult to identify sinful desires (Gal. 5:19–21). Any desires that we have that are not sinful ought to be taken into consideration as we seek God’s direction. We should observe the things we feel strongly about, the strengths of our personalities, and the natural talents and spiritual gifts that God has given us. All of these have been given to us by God as a part of his design for accomplishing his mission for us. Observing how God has made us is an important part of understanding his will for our lives. Now, we should not conclude that we know God’s will just because we want to do something. These desires, convictions, and abilities must be understood in light of the other eight ways we can discern God’s will.

2. We can discern God’s will by observing God’s work in our circumstances (James 4:13–17; 1 Kings 12:15; 1 Cor. 16:8–9; 1 Pet. 3:17; 4:19).

God causes and allows particular circumstances to take place in order to direct our lives. This does not mean that everything that happens is God’s will or is caused by God. For example, God may allow, but does not cause, the enemy to set our circumstances against us in order to deter us from doing God’s will (Job 1:6–10; Eph. 6:11). And we know that temptations are not caused by God (James 1:13). This is why we can never determine God’s will by circumstances alone.

At the same time, we know that God will open and close doors as a way of leading us. We also know that God will provide everything necessary for the completion of his will. Whatever wisdom, strength, ability, or resources we need to do what God wants us to do, he will provide. God’s provisions as we obey are confirmations of his direction.

Another way we can discern God’s will through our circumstances is by observing how he has worked in our lives in the past. Sometimes these are called “spiritual markers.” Henry Blackaby and Claude King explain: “Each time I have encountered God’s call or direction for my life, I have mentally built a spiritual marker at that point. A spiritual marker identifies a time of transition, decision, or direction when I clearly know that God has guided me…When I face a decision about God’s direction…I look to see which one of the options seems to be most consistent with what God has been doing in my life.”*

This is the the fifth post in a series. The first four are:

*Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King, Experiencing God: Student Edition (Nashville: LifeWay Press, 2005), 170.


Materialism is Stupid

Temporal sacrifices will pay off in eternity and temporal indulgences will cost us in eternity. . . . Materialism is not only wrong but stupid. Conversely, trusting God, giving and caring and sharing are not only right but smart. Someday this upside-down world will be turned right side up. Nothing in all eternity will turn it back again. If we are wise, we will spend our brief lives on earth position ourselves for the turn.
— Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions, and Eternity

Workaholic for Christ

“Workaholic” is a bad word in the church. This is because we are often so consumed with our work that we neglect God and family. Work becomes god. This is no good, of course.

However, we must strive for balance (as usual). Significant parts of our culture have now replaced the god of work with the god of entertainment and leisure. I have written here about the warning from Prov 12:11: Avoid Worthless Pursuits.           

We see a very high value placed on work in the Bible. Just look at the Proverbs. Paul also consistently discussed work in his letters. In 2 Thess 3:6-15, Paul warned the believers to stay away from brothers who are idle. He then reminded them of his example:

“We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you” (2 Thess 3:7-8).

Paul sounds like a workaholic to me. But here is the important part: He was not leaving out God and ministry to people. In fact, he spoke the same way in reference to his ministry. “For three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears” (Acts 20:31). Paul was a workaholic for Christ.

Do you work hard to provide for yourself and others?
Do you work hard in serving the Lord? What is your ministry?
Do you have too much focus on entertainment and leisure?

You might be wondering: I’m already worn out! How can I do more?

Here are two ideas for later discussion:

1)    A healthy life includes rest and renewal. Are you resting? Is your non-work time renewing or depleting your energy?

2)    We do not work with our own strength for the Lord!

“For this (proclaiming Christ) I toil, struggling with ALL HIS ENERGY that he powerfully works within me” Col 1:28.

God in Your Work

Brother Lawrence on work, from Practicing the Presence of God

“We should offer our work to Him before we begin, and thank Him afterwards for the privilege of having done them for His sake.”

“Our sanctification does not depend as much on changing our activities as it does on doing them for God rather than for ourselves. The most effective way Brother Lawrence had for communicating with God was to simply do his ordinary work. He did this obediently out of pure love of God, purifying it as much as was humanly possible. He believed it was a serious mistake to think of our prayer time as being different from any other. Our actions should unite us with God when we are involved in our daily activities, just as our payer unites us with Him in our quiet time."

“He isn’t impressed so much with the dimensions of our work as with the love in which it is done.”

Thoughts on Ministry and Money

The following thoughts on ministry and money are primarily a personal conviction, upon which I am basing my own approach to ministry and financial support. I know there are many sincere believer who take other approaches. I submit these ideas for discussion, hoping to encourage reflection and biblical study on the subject.

“You received without paying; give without pay.” Matt 10:8b

A common method local churches use to support their pastors financially is through a salaried position set up through the church budget that is funded by the regular, undesignated giving of its members. I would like to suggest that such a financial set up does not best honor the biblical principles of giving and finances in the church.

The first reason is based on my understanding of what a church would look like that most honors the biblical principles of discipleship, fellowship, and leadership for the church.  As I argued in my Ph.D. dissertation, Scripture indicates that elders are a group of local believers who have already demonstrated their ministry abilities and qualifications within a local church, who are called by God, and who are appointed by the fellowship to be elders. This is in contrast to the common structure in which a single man from outside the community is hired to be the senior pastor.

In addition, a strong argument can be made for the wisdom, benefit, and ministry effectiveness of maintaining smaller, church-starting churches, as opposed to building mega-churches. Some of the reasons that smaller churches are positive include pastor/believer ratio, less need for institutionalization and buildings, conducive for intimacy and accountability, reproducibility, etc. The point for leadership is this: If a group of men were pastors of a relatively small church, sharing shepherding responsibilities, there would be little need for a full time pastor.

It is clear, however, that the local church is called to support those who are ministering the word them (1 Tim 5:17-18; Gal 6:6). I suggest, though, that it is still not best to support such elders and teachers through any type of salary budgeted from the undesignated gifts of believers. Instead, they could be supported through the designated gifts of anyone who is convinced they should support them. Here are the reasons why:

  • Elders are warned in Scripture not to shepherd God’s people for personal gain (Acts 20:33-35; 1 Tim 3:3, 8; 6:5; Titus 1:7, 11; 1 Peter 5:2).
  • Elders are not employees of the church, and the appearance of such should be avoided.
  • The gospel, truth, love, and ministry should be offered freely (Matt 10:8b).
  • The biblical pattern for supporting those in ministry seems to be that the ministry is given first and the support is offered after, based on the ministry (Matt 10:9-11; 1 Cor 9:11).
  • Money can become an obstacle for the gospel (1 Cor 9:12; 2 Cor 11:7; 1 Thess 2:9).
  • Believers who support those in ministry, as with all other giving, should do so freely, out of conviction, according to God’s leading, and in obedience to God’s Word (2 Cor 8:1-12; 9:1-7).
  • Examples of giving in the NT indicate that when believers gave corporately, they were giving to a particular need or types of needs (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 6:1; 1 Cor 16:1-4; 2 Cor 9:1, 5).


Reasons to Homestead

I received a great book for Christmas this year: Storey's Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self Reliance by John and Martha Story. As I read some of it, several ideas that have been swirling about in my mind emerged. I am coming to understand that homesteading is not easy. It is rewarding, but not easy. It takes time, energy, and money (at least at first). I am at somewhat of a crossroads in life where I can decide how much more to put into homesteading. I am beginning to think I should go ahead and put more into it. Here is a list of reasons why:

  • We can grow food that is good for us: fresh (at its height of nutrition), organic, and whole.
  • We can be producers instead of consumers. This is more than something you do; it is an attitude. God calls us to work and produce. We can see in our culture what happens to people who primarily consume and rarely produce. It allows people to see a certain standard of living as a right. Often it produces laziness, self-centeredness, and dependence on the system.
  • We can learn to build things and solve problems and learn skills for life. All of these things contribute to a broader, sharper mind and spill initiative and confidence over into other areas of life.
  • We can be more self-reliant . . . in a good way. Not independent from God or community, but from “the system.” From industrialization that focuses on mass production of unhealthy goods, from government, and from an economy highly dependent upon oil, gas, and transportation. In addition, the US economy is not stable right now. The vast amount of debt and the ridiculous solution of printing more paper money only ensure some type of economic crisis. Self-reliance may come in handy.
  • We can pass on homesteading skills to our children and grandchildren. “If I figured out the cost per jar in our pantry, that wouldn’t be impressive . . . . But none of that is important . . . to develop and pass along some country skills to children and grandchildren, makes it all worthwhile" (Storey's, xi).
  • We can integrate our children’s education into homesteading. I have already written about how important it is to allow education to take place in a real life environment as opposed to primarily a fabricated classroom/textbook type setting. All the work, problem solving, creativity, discipline, and business required for a homestead provide a wonderful learning environment.

How God Uses Resources in Our Lives

I just upload a message from Sunday, July 11 from 1 Kings. You can subscribe, download, or listen from the audio player in the right sidebar. Following the story of how God provided for Elijah, we observe several principles of how God uses resources in our lives:

1. God uses resources in our lives to provide for our needs (vv. 1-6).

2. God uses resources in our lives to direct us (vv. 7-9).

3. God uses resources in our lives to increase fellowship with others (vv. 10-16).

4. God uses resources in our lives to demonstrate his power (vv. 14-16).