How to Be Rich

People don’t like talking about being rich, even if they are.

Money magazine did a survey about how people defined being “rich”:

— and nobody thought he fit it. For each and every person, “rich” was roughly double the amount possessed by the person defining it. In other words, when they interviewed people who earned $30,000 a year, that group defined “rich” as someone who earns $60,000. When they interviewed people who earned $50,000 a year, the magic number was $100,000.

There’s a pastor in the States that talks about the subject really, really well. His name is Andy Stanley and I’m a big fan of his. He did a preaching series, and then wrote a book. If you like sermons you can listen to them here: 2011 2012 2013 2014

I think it’s indicative of how much help we need on the subject, that he has preached this series for four years running… 

If you like reading books, it’s a short and fun read: Amazon Canada Link. Amazon America Link. 

I read it on Kindle on my way back from Tanzania, where I had just spent a week on a safari, driving past little African children… who lived in mud-brick huts. It was exactly what I needed to read. I knew that as a Christian I was not called to just spend on myself, but while I had some vague notions to give to church and to charity it nevertheless felt like managing my finances in light of the very great and urgent need of others was overwhelming and my view on money was a totally insufficient.

So I highly recommend this book if you, too, care to beef up your understanding on just what it means to be good at being rich.

money does two things to people: It makes us arrogant, and over time it becomes our primary source of hope, leaving us with the impression that we are self-sufficient.


Human nature tells us that our identities are defined by our possessions. That started in high school, didn’t it? Early on we learned that we are the sum of what we own.


Proverbs 18:11 describes the migration of hope this way: “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.”


when things are going well financially — and we’re experiencing a long string of situations in which we’ve needed something and all we had to do was reach for our wallets — our hope will tend to migrate.


the writer of that proverb said the rich “imagine” a wall too high to scale. The wall exists only in their imaginations. In reality, there’s no amount of money that can protect us from everything.


If we allow our hope to migrate toward riches, we’ll start to hoard.


What do you do in order to put your hope in God? What are the steps? Look at what Paul says next: Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Timothy 6:18) There you go. A step-by-step plan for keeping your hope from migrating.

On Giving, by C. S. Lewis

“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”

― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

The Rich and Misery

Sharing an article relevant to my (and possibly your) interests.

National Post article: Explaining the Rich Man’s Misery

 
“ …  the rich can relieve their misery by donating their money in ways that provide a sense of fulfillment.”

Or as the Bible tells it:

Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it.

Christine’s translation: You probably HAVE more than you NEED. You’re probably living with things that you could do without. PARE THINGS DOWN. Sell stuff on Kijij. AND INSTEAD OF POCKETING THE CASH, just give it away. Just give it. Away. [Because God loves the poor and you’re a Christian]. And don’t expect anything in return from those you give it to. You’re not giving it away for the thanks you’ll get. You’re not giving it away for the good feelings. You’re giving it away because HEAVEN is not some sort of next-world thing that happens after you’re dead – Heaven touches the here and now and you need it because “it” (heaven) is Christ himself, it is the Kingdom of God and YOU, Christian, belong there. In Christ.

Gideon & having too much

Gideon was was a leader. He had resources. An army of 32,000. God wanted to deliver the Israelites from their enemy but wanted to help them realize it was God who gave them victory, not their own physical prowess or sheer numbers. God said to Gideon: “You have too many men for me to deliver …” (Judges 7:2) God reduced them to just 300 men.

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They boasted in their hard heads, stubbornness, and abs.

Is God saying to you… You have too much of X for me to deliver? What do you boast in? It could be the number in your bank account, but maybe it’s your frugality, or your wardrobe or your house. All good things – but not the most important things – that may be getting in the way of following Christ. Chances are that what you secretly revel in, the thing you’re the most proud of, where you spend the most money, is the thing that God could use for some sweet victory you could never imagine. Practically speaking, Gideon’s military victory could not have been won with sheer numbers. The strategy (God’s idea, which left Gideon quite unsettled so God gave him a sign (v.9)), required just 300 men surrounding the encampment of the enemy and surprising them at a night (go read the story). The element of surprise could not have been accomplished with 30k troops. Confusion which caused the Midianites destruction did not spread into the Israelite troops because there was space between the men – which wouldn’t have happened if there had been 30k of them. But even with the 300 left, it was God who gave them the victory. 

 When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. – Judges 7:22

What is your 300...the amount you think is too little to do any good, or maybe even a small but strategic resource… that you could use for God? And if you’re rich…with 30,000 troops that you’re proud of and that you trust for victory… how is God asking you take a portion of it (1%? 10%) and do something extraordinary with? ** God didn’t kill Israel’s troops, he just sent them back because there were too many. Sometimes we have too much and it feels too big for us to do anything with. We’d rather do nothing than risk trying. Start today with a small risk, a small clump of cash or investment in something that accomplishes God’s purposes. Let us pray:

God, You have given us much. You are generous and you have made us stewards of what little or much we have. Please give us wisdom because you have promised to give us wisdom if we ask, and show us the way we can accomplish your purposes. Help us to be the servant who does’t bury their worth but invests in things eternal. Give us signs, like you gave Gideon, or give us faith to trust in you, but please help us to do much with what we have for your glory and for the fame of your name. Amen.

A smudge

Yesterday during staff meeting we studied Mark 14:66-72.  Peter is hanging around at night in the courtyard of the high priest, who is inside unfair-trialing Jesus, and while Jesus has been arrested under the cover of darkness, betrayed, abandoned by all his friends (his closest disciples have all run), and his prosecutors want to convict him of anything that will get him the death penalty, Peter is warming himself by the fire outside. A servant girl stares at him (it says) and for whatever reason, recognizes him. She accuses him of being one of them. A stranger points out he’s a Galilean, so he’s gotta know that other back-woods Nazarene inside… why else would he be here?

Some commentaries point out that they likely knew he was a Galilean from his accent. His very denials … maybe he used a euphemism only country-folk do “I have no idea what y’all’r talking about” … are what gave him away as belonging to “the Jesus crowd.”

As I walked back to work today after eating a small, late breakfast of chocolate croissant and coffee at a local french bakery, I passed a woman putting up a sign for her little jewelry store. I had noticed it a few times before. It’s quaint, just off Yonge Street, and has some beautiful stuff. I love all things artsy and beautiful and asked her if her store was open yet. She let me in, ten minutes early, turned on the lights and was very sweet and thoughtful. She was the artist of the rings.

I’ve been looking at rings lately to commemorate my five-year wedding anniversary. I got the idea from my grandmother, who had a ring for her thirtieth wedding anniversary made with the three diamonds on her engagement ring (they were all very small little round diamonds), plus 27 more. Grandpa was a romantic.

The rings in the shop were exquisite. The small diamonds she used were especially sparkly, and the designs were modern yet feminine and organic… one of the rings I tried on even fit perfectly. I was quite taken with it, and could imagine wearing it proudly.

R137(14KY) with diamonds

This picture doesn’t do it justice…

I left the store feeling somewhat confident that perhaps a custom ring would be more affordable than the eternity band (diamonds aaaaaalll around) I had tried on. I left her with my information to contact me with a quote for a  ring that was simpler (read: less diamonds). 

As I got outside I remembered I had ashes on my forehead.

Did she realize they were ashes? The store had great lighting on the jewelry, but maybe she didn’t notice my forehead. Did I ever take off my toque? Did my toque cover it? I wasn’t wearing make-up (I rarely do), did she just think I have REALLY uneven skintone?

My ashes gave me away. 

I was acting like I was a normal, everyday rich Torontonian. I carried myself as though I had oodles of money in the bank and was willing to spend it on myself. 

But then I have a symbol on my forehead… that tells a different story.

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My denial … of being part of “the Jesus crowd” that is supposed to live differently … hasn’t yet caused me to break down and weep, like Peter did, when he realized he had denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed twice. 

But I hold this beautiful, sparkly, status symbol in my mind and think… how do I want to be known? For loving others, or loving myself? 

UGH BUT IT’S SO PRETTY.

Thus, Lent. The time for penitence. Because I am a magpie, a raccoon, and am tempted to selfishness by sparkly things…

Overthinking

I find that I bristle at the suggestion of “overthinking”. Is it not the brain’s design to think? But I was accused of overthinking by a person I trust and who I’ve had a long relationship with – my counsellor.

Don't Overthink It

Jack Donaghy – not my counsellor, but I love him all the same.

While I wasn’t talking with her about money at the time, I recognize a parallel in my finances. I tend to let endless possibilities (a.k.a. overthinking) limit me. Not just limit, I let it stop me.

Instead of looking at what I can do, something manageable and simple…

I expound upon it. I think it has to be bigger, more significant, routine, consistent, the new normal… I have to plan to replicate it and multiply it.

I look back and see my history of not doing it and I look forward and think of how I’ll have to make it up and I become overwhelmed by failure and fear of failure and fear of success…

Andy Stanley has a line he uses with regards to leadership, but it works in a lot of areas of life – do for one what you wish you could do for all. In other words, don’t let he fact that you can’t do something for everyone, stop you from doing something some one.

Baby steps.

Or

Take it one step at a time.

Try. Do the thing. One thing. Once. And don’t overthink it.

I’m going to give some money away this week. $35. I’ve pulled that number out of thin air. And I’m praying God will show me where to send it.

The End. [thinking, you’re done here]

I’m an adult

Expectations are the worst.

The four-year-old I used to nanny for didn’t think I was an adult. I could tell her I was over 18, I was married, and could drive, but for her there were only two categories: child and parent. Since I didn’t have kids myself, I was in the child category.

This four-year-old may have expected me to have kids at 27. When I was four, I probably expected the same. I’d like to think I’m a bit more informed now, but I still have expectations that are sometimes unrealistic. For example, I should be able to do X, and if I can’t, well then, somethings wrong with me.

I struggle with creating healthy habits, like taking multivitamins (or at least the recommended calcium supplements and vitamin D, here’s what Health Canada has to say about that). I always felt kind of guilty because I’d forget to take them and begrudging do what I was supposed to do, but I’ve learned that sometimes to succeed we need to be patient with ourselves, and give ourselves some self-compassion and grace.

Enter: Life Brand Gummy multivitamins.

There was not a better picture to represent this post than this. You're welcome.

There was not a better picture to represent this post than this. You’re welcome.

 

I have not found a more motivating way of taking vitamins, and as long as it helps me take them, which helps me stay healthy, it’s worth the cost. It’s like toothpaste – don’t skimp – your teeth are worth it.

Wisdom

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. – James 1:5

Do you lack wisdom? Pray.

This post has no other purpose than to remind you to pray. Ask God to help you spend your money wisely. Afterwards, know that he has heard, and that he is with you always, even when you’re shopping, and his Spirit is known as Helper. You’re not alone in this.

Brunch

My husband and I got married in the spring (April, to be sort of exact). We were looking at ways to keep costs down on our wedding reception, and one of the things that made a big difference was getting married earlier in the day and having a lunch instead of a dinner for our guests.

When guests arrived, they got a little “welcome drink” that was a double-shot glass of apple cider and a cinnamon donut hole on top, and then for  hors d’oeurves they passed around little banana pancakes with chocolate sauce, and little french toasts with syrup. Or so I heard. We were out doing our photos with the wedding party at the time, but the food got rave reviews.

Pic of Cora's crepe

I found this picture on the internet. Thank you, photogenic stranger, for this pefect image of a Cora’s crepe.

Today is Valentine’s Day, and instead of going out for dinner (not to save money, but to save some of the stress of going out on a Friday night/Valentine’s Day which would ensure lots of crowds), we went out for brunch and had Cora’s. It’s a Canadian breakfast and lunch eatery that serves loads of fruit on their crepes and I got a crepe with Nutella.

It’s been a very special day so far, and just goes to show sometimes it’s thinking outside the box and a bit of chocolate-for-breakfast that can make a huge difference.

Monthly Budget – Quarterly Budget

(is all toilet paper "bulk"? or is there bulk bulk toilet paper? how many rolls can you get at a time at Costco?)

(is all toilet paper “bulk”? or is there bulk bulk toilet paper? how many rolls can you get at a time at Costco?)

Tip:

If you have expenses on your budget that for months go un-used, like toiletries, or transportation (I buy $150 worth of bus tokens at a time…) create a second, quarterly budget. Then, when you do buy toilet paper, or clothes for a new season, you can have a three-month budget that it goes under.

  • Monthly expenses on your monthly budget, like rent.
  • Smaller, more random expenses on your quarterly budget.

Thanks for the tip, Matt Brownell. From ‘ere.