I've always had a strange relationship with money. While money issues are usually serious and not at all comical, I found some humorous advice that landed in my inbox. It came anonymously as New Year's investment advice.
"If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in Delta Airlines one year ago, you would have $49 today. If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in AIG one year ago, you would have $33 today. If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in Lehman Brothers one year ago, you would have $0 today. But, if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drank all the beer, then turned in the aluminum cans for the recycling refund, you would have received $214.
"Based on the above, the best current investment plan is to drink heavily and recycle. It is called the 401-Keg. And as a bonus, a recent study found that the average American walks about 900 miles a year. Another study found that on average Americans drink 22 gallons of alcohol a year. That means that the average American gets about 41 miles to the gallon! Makes you proud to be an American."
Now you know that this advice is mostly nonsense. I am not advocating drinking. But it makes a valid point: some investments don't pay off.
The need for money is a reality in life. But I have never made life decisions based on money. I make career decisions based on doing the will of God. Of course, my own family needs money, just like everybody else's, even though some people think that pastors, being servants of God, somehow live above the cold cruel facts of finances. In fact, the slogan of old church boards used to be, "If God'll keep him humble, we'll keep him poor." And they usually succeeded. I'm glad those old attitudes are defunct.
Thank God, my dear wife has a remarkable talent with money. She can manage it, save it, squeeze value out of it, and make things work that seems to me like she's walking on water. In money matters, she is a realist, not religious, and that is good.
Jesus told more parables about money than any other topic. Paul wrote three times as much about money as he did love. Money is a big subject in the Bible. The truth is that if we will honor God with our first-fruits then blessings will rest on our home.
My favorite book on money is "Rich Dad, Poor Dad." If you haven't read it, do so today! It will teach you how to move from working for your money, to making your money work for you, so you can move from income wealth to asset wealth. When our lawmakers talk about taxing us, they are usually just taxing income. Folks with assets are often left alone to grow richer or find clever, legal ways to dodge the bullet or defer the taxes.
Money madness can be avoided if we use sanctified common sense. That means work diligently, get out of debt, stick to a budget, avoid credit cards, drive a used car, plan to own your own home, save up for a rainy day, and work like the Lord is watching to see if you deserve promotion, because he is!
As far as liberal giving, I once heard the Laord say to me, "Misery to the miser and surplus to the sower." Become a giver. Give to your future by saving for retirement; give to your success by continuous learning; give to your family by making time for family and vacations; and give to the poor by charity.
If you are a Christian, give to extend the gospel's reach by supporting effective workers. As for me, I believe 2013 is going to be A Year of Miracles in many realms, including financial areas.
Ron Wood is pastor of Trinity Assembly of God. Visit the church website online at www.trinitymeridian.com. Healing Ministry Class (everyone welcome) meets Wednesday at 11a.m.