Posts tagged ‘money’

September 12, 2012

Let’s Talk About Money

I don’t mind talking about money but I realise that others aren’t so comfortable. It is such a huge area of our lives that receives very little monitoring by others and because of that we can become unbalanced in our habits and attitude. Most people will become highly offended and irritated if you ask too many questions about what they earn and what they do with their money. Culturally it is an off-limits area yet so many people carry bad debt and they are embarrassed to admit about it – even to themselves. The opposite can be true as well – others have prospered financially in life and this can create a false sense of security. Having lots of money doesn’t mean your life is more secure than anyone else’s. You might be happier (arguably!!!) but your life might be required of you this day and no matter your bank balance you have no way of avoiding that.

Everybody has ‘time’ and most people have money – however limited. Where you put those two things as a rule is where your heart and priorities lie. Time wise – Where does the bulk of your time go after earning an income or looking after the kids? Money wise – after you’ve paid your mortgage/rent and bills where does your discretionary money go? What do you choose to do with your money? If you can answer these questions you’ll quickly discover what is important to you. When John and I were friends one of the things I disliked about him was I thought he was cheap and nasty. He would let his really thick hair grow long and out of control to save money on haircuts. Meanwhile the ‘80’s were calling – they wanted their mullet back! One day I confronted him about it. After giving him a speech citing numerous examples of his stinginess he responded with this. You’re right Catherine, I am cheap when it comes to spending money on me but when it comes to God and his people I am generous. He then proceeded to tell me what money he had given away of recent. The more he spoke the smaller I felt. I was so wrong about him. His heart was firmly in the kingdom of God and I promptly fell in love with him – generosity is so attractive!

God leads the way in generosity. He reveals His generous nature in the abundance of His creation and the length He has goes demonstrate His un-conditional, ever lasting love for us. Why is it then – given that we are made in His image that we more often demonstrate qualities of greed, self-interest and pride. We are so obsessed with ourselves to the point that we routinely overlook the needs and lives of others around us.

I have been challenged by something John said to me years ago when I asked him – How do you know if you are greedy?  He said that the only cure for greed is ‘being generous’. I have made it a personal habit to be generous with not only money – but my time and my help.  If every single person in the church cultivated an attitude of generosity in all that they had I wonder what the church of Jesus Christ would look like. Beautiful is what I think!

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxo

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September 5, 2012

Excellence

When I was growing up my family was frugal.  Mum was very good at finding value for money when we shopped.  There was no reason to ever buy the top of the line model if something cheaper did the job.  That’s how our family did things and that attitude has been instilled into me.

When it comes to the church’s money I just automatically assumed that the same applied, and even more so.  The church has a vital mission – the most vital in the world.  The church has limited resources so it must steward those resources carefully so that it can do what God is calling it to do.  What a shameful thing if the church’s money – raised on the back of generous giving by its people – is wasted by not getting value for money with it’s spending.

I think that the Anglican Church that I was a part of at that time had a fair few people who naturally thought along the same lines.

When I started studying at Hillsong Church’s bible college in 1992 that attitude ran headlong into the way that they did things.  I was stunned.  At college the word “excellence” got thrown around quite a lot.  I distinctly remember the worship leader and musician Geoff Bullock one day saying words to the effect, “if the church is going to buy a microphone stand then the church should get the best microphone stand that can be bought because we serve the best God around.”  The whole idea was that because we are the church, because we serve the one true God, we should do all our activities with excellence because that’s how God does things.  When God created things they were “very good”.  When his people do things should they not reflect the character of the God that they serve?

It is fair to say that my frugal little cage was being rattled.

That was 20 years ago now and I have had plenty of time to reflect on this approach.  I find myself still drawn to the Hillsong approach.  It is not a matter of producing multi media presentations that are every bit as good as what Hollywood is making on multi million dollar budgets.  It is a matter of not settling for something that is not as good as what it could be.  It is a matter of saying that we will do the best job that we can do, and we will trust God to provide the resources.  If he wants us to do it then he will provides the resources to do it well.

It is so much more than just an attitude that determines what microphone stand we will buy – a commitment to excellence determines how hard we do follow up when someone new attends church.  It determines how much we care about doing prayer right, about doing discipleship right, about serving with all that we have.  Excellence demands that when a program is OK, it does not stay that way, it gets better.  It goes from OK to good and then from good to brilliant.

Excellence sets the church free from the attitude of scarcity that I think that I took into church life from my own personality.  The gospel is free, but getting the gospel into the lives of people is expensive.  Yes, a church will usually be working within a budget.  But the bible says that our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  That’s not a reason to exceed the budget, that’s a reason to do what we do with excellence, knowing that his provision will raise all that is needed for next year’s budget as well.

John

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May 8, 2012

Have you bought a Super 7 lotto ticket for tonight?

I was at the East Melbourne Library once and I saw this book on roulette. I read it and John and I had a lot of fun testing out some of the systems that the book put forward. We had this big glass bowl which we filled with all the numbers and we would play with pretend money and see how we fared. We had a lot of fun doing it.

One Saturday night we decided to catch the tram down to the Casino and give it a go with ‘real money’. We took a hundred dollars and told ourselves we were prepared to lose all of it. I think in reality we weren’t prepared to lose one cent. We favoured a system where you just bet on a colour – red or black. We placed a $5 bet on red to win. A black number came up. I was gutted. I was grieved for my $5 that quickly disappeared down some rabbit hole in the table. We put another $5 on red and then red came up and we got $10. Yay! I had this really good feeling at that moment and I realised why people liked this so much. You are literally buying what I call ‘the feeling of found money’. You know that feeling when you open a handbag you haven’t used for a while and there’s $50 in the side pocket or you put a something you haven’t worn for awhile on and find some money in the pocket or better still your walking along the road and you find some money on the ground with no obvious owner in sight. That was the feeling I had when I won that money. I felt like I had won a million dollars not $5.

I remember distinctly this man coming up to the table and putting $100 on a number and then hiding behind a pole because he was too afraid to watch the outcome. He was clearly not enjoying the process anymore. I was the exact opposite, I was thoroughly enjoying the experience, I kept getting told off by the croupier for flailing my arms too close to the table and for leaning too far over. We bet Red 7 times and it came up 7 times in a row and we had won a total profit of $30 dollars. We had decided before going to the Casino that if we won $30 we would leave, but we had only been there 15-20 minutes. We had imagined this was going to be a night out. The temptation to stay was overwhelming, but we left the Casino and got back on the tram. We decided to go get a video and then we went to the supermarket and bought over $20 in lollies, chips, chocolate and ice cream. We had the best night pigging out watching a video. We didn’t loose that ‘found money’ feeling by staying at the Casino and loosing the money and to this day I look back on that day with fondness retaining ‘the feeling of found money’.

I realised a number of things about ‘gambling’ that night and in my opinion it’s got very little to do with greed. My observation and experience was that it’s all about ‘that found money feeling’.  A ‘win’ can make you feel fantastic, on top of the world, and if you don’t have another way to cultivate that feeling in your life than it can become highly addictive. And if that addiction develops the outcome can be destructive and cause a life to unravel very quickly.  It’s the theft to cover up the losses, the lies, deception and fabrications that are needed to hide the mounting debt. The worse the problems get the more drive there is to ‘pursue’ ‘that good feeling’. Guilt, despair and hopelessness join the party and push harder to get that ‘good feeling’ back but by now even a win is not enough to bring relief from that ‘terrible feeling of loss and grief’ that has grown into an insatiable monster.

Buying a lottery ticket, putting a flutter on the Melbourne Cup, raffles tickets, playing blackjack, tatts lotto tickets and the pokies are an issue of personal conscience not law for every Christian. Do you know why we never went back to the Casino again, because I liked it a bit too much and I knew I could easily buy into the ‘lie’ that the only way I could capture that good feeling was to gamble for it.  Instead I dug deeper into my relationship with God to cultivate that ‘abundant, good feeling with Him’. Unlike your odds at tatts lotto or in the Casino your odds with God are sure and true. He promises to draw near to us, if we draw near to Him. He gives ‘joy, peace, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, wisdom and more without measure’ to every person that makes themselves available to Him.

I’ve bought a ticket for  the 70 million tonight and I am going to enjoy the moment but my ‘faith and feelings’ are not in that piece of paper it’s in a God who has always invested more in me than I ever have in Him. I could never repay God for His generosity toward me, it’s just not possible. I can buy a ticket with complete freedom of conscience and enjoy the outcome no matter what the result because He is more than enough.

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