Book Notes | How to be Rich

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How to be Rich: It’s not What You Have. It’s What you do With What You Have by Andy Stanley is not your average financial or giving book.

It makes the point that if you live in America, you are rich. You part of the top 4% earners on the planet. The problem is that our culture has no idea “how to be rich.” We don’t know what to do with what we have. Stanley writes to a “bunch of have’s who live like have not’s.”

The problem he says is:

Examples we read or hear don’t really prove you’re rich, they only serve to convince you that you’re not poor. My hunch is you’re a lot richer than you realize. It just doesn’t feel like it. So let me give you a few more scenarios to consider. If I told you I was offering you a job with a salary of $37,000 a year, would you feel rich? Probably not. Chances are, you wouldn’t even be interested. A salary of $37,000 would represent a pay cut for most Americans. But for 96 percent of the world’s population, $37,000 a year would be a significant increase. Maybe there was a time when that sounded like a lot of money to you. And it should. In fact, if you earn more than $37,000 a year, you are in the top 4 percent of wage earners in the world! Congratulations! You are in the 4 percent club. You are rich! Yet I’m guessing this startling realization didn’t cause you to leave the comfort of your couch to dance around the room. But you should have. On the world’s scale, you should have no problems at all, other than a handful of rich-person problems. Problems that the majority of folks on this planet would love to have. Bad cell phone coverage? That’s a rich-people problem. Can’t decide where to go on vacation? Rich-people problem. Computer crashed? Slow Internet? Car trouble? Flight delays? Amazon doesn’t have your size? All rich-people problems. Next time there’s a watering ban in your neighborhood, just remember that many people, mostly women, carry jugs on their heads for hundreds of yards just so they can have water for cooking and drinking. They can’t imagine a place where there’s so much extra water that house after house just sprays it all over the ground. Feeling guilty? I hope not. That’s not my purpose. On the contrary, I’m hoping our time together leaves you feeling grateful.

This book is a great resource for that.

Here are some things I highlighted:

  • We always had enough. But rich is about having more than enough. We had what we needed. But rich is about having more than you need. Rich is about having extra. Isn’t it?
  • Rich is the other guy. Rich is that other family. Rich isn’t just having extra. Rich is having as much extra as the person who has more extra than you do. Rich is having more than you currently have. If that’s the case, you can be rich and not know it. You can be rich and not feel it. You can be rich and not act like it. And that is a problem.
  • Most rich people aren’t all that good at being rich.
  • The richer you get, however, the more your priorities begin to separate from actual needs. When all of our basic requirements are met, our appetites for progress don’t turn off. We simply turn from the things we need to the things we want. And that’s when we enter the world of the subjective. Wants are harder to define. And easier to confuse.
  • We’re so absorbed in the effort to get rich, we no longer recognize when we are rich.
  • In our Western culture today, we observe a five-day workweek. Think about what that means. Most people have to work only five days in order to have seven days’ worth of food and shelter and clothing and health care. We take it for granted. But that’s unique to our little window in history. And it’s still not the case everywhere. What’s more, there are households of three, four, or more people that send only one person out into the workplace to earn money. And with that one person’s earnings, the entire family can amass enough money in five days to give them food and shelter for seven days. In many cultures, that’s inconceivable. Outside of work, that leaves at least fifty hours per week for nothing but leisure.
  • “Rich” is a moving target. No matter how much money we have or make, we will probably never consider ourselves rich. The biggest challenge facing rich people is that they’ve lost their ability to recognize that they’re rich.
  • People who are good at being rich are the ones who are willing to admit they are, in fact, rich. Until you relax into the reality that you are rich, you will never become intentional about getting good at it.
  • Simply possessing wealth doesn’t make you good at managing it.
  • Being good at being rich is not just a matter of deciding what to do with your money. You must also concern yourself with what your money is doing with you — or, more accurately, to you.
  • Money has an effect on its owners. And that effect, in turn, alters the way they see and handle not just money, but everything else as well. Everything. And while we’re at it — everybody.
  • The key, as the old saying goes, is to possess money without it possessing you.
  • Wealth has its own gravitational pull. It will always draw those who have it in the direction of those two things. It is in this way that wealth eventually possesses its possessors.
  • The problem with a word like generosity is that it’s as hard to define as the word rich. In fact, just as nobody thinks he’s rich, everybody thinks he’s generous.
  • When you make giving a priority, something happens inside of you. Especially when it’s financially challenging to do so.
  • Without a plan, giving is sporadic at best.

I was really challenged by this book and how I look at what I have. Good heart work for me.

To see other book notes, click here.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Dorie Clark on Why we can’t stop working.

The ROI of work is immediately apparent. You get instant feedback and, oftentimes, instant gratification in the form of raises, promotions, new contracts, or general approbation. The arc of family life is different. In the moment, it can be banal, boring, or discouraging.

Perry Noble on 7 ways to be rich.

Give it TIME…what we spent years messing up will most likely not be fixed in three days, or even three weeks!

Dave Bruskas on 4 priorities for pastors from Christmas to Easter.

Christmas, with all its ministry demands, has come and gone. You’ve had a few days off. But you are still very tired as you approach the long run to Easter. How should you prioritize your time and energy? What can you do to recover?

Will Mancini on Ministry trends of 2014 leaders can’t ignore.

Sometimes you can dismiss a trend as a fad. Like Crocs, the Harlem Shake, or flash mobs. At other times to dismiss a trend is just a mistake. As in every era, some of today’s trends will become tomorrow’s reality. Innovative leaders aren’t afraid to embrace change and to be some of the first in on the shifts they see around them. In that spirit, here are 5 trends you’ll no longer be able to dismiss in 2014.

Tony Merida on 9 benefits of expository preaching.

Expository preaching is an approach that is founded on certain theological beliefs, such as the role of the preacher according to Scripture, the nature of the Scripture, and the work of the Spirit. Therefore, many of the benefits for doing exposition are hard to measure. However, nine practical-theological benefits are worth noting.

If you miss your family, you miss everything.

7 crippling parenting behaviors that keep your kids from becoming leaders.

I was intrigued, then, to catch up with leadership expert Dr. Tim Elmore and learn more about how we as parents are failing our children today — coddling and crippling them — and keeping them from becoming leaders they are destined to be. Tim is a best-selling author of more than 25 books, including Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their FutureArtificial Maturity: Helping Kids Meet the Challenges of Becoming Authentic Adults, and theHabitudes® series. He is Founder and President of Growing Leaders, an organization dedicated to mentoring today’s young people to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Ed Stetzer on 5 ways to teach your kids to hate the ministry.

To put it bluntly, a lot of pastors’ children hate the ministry. My team interviewed 20 pastors’ kids who are adults now. They provided some insights that were both inspiring and disturbing. Children with a pastor-parent can grow to hate the ministry for many reasons, but there are five guaranteed ways you can make sure they hate being a pastor’s kid (PK).

OK Go “This too Shall Pass”
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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

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  • So glad to be back on a normal rhythm and schedule
  • The last 2 weeks of holidays, family time, not preaching has been wonderful
  • But I crave routine and schedule
  • The last 2 weeks at Revolution for our Breathing Room series have been awesome
  • I have loved the responses so far
  • I’m pumped about preaching on how to find breathing room in our finances this week
  • This has definitely been a big part of my journey of faith and trusting God
  • Bottom line: how you handle your finances tells everyone the state of your heart and faith in God
  • Everything
  • Katie and I have been talking through the next 6 months of our lives, spring is easily the busiest season I experience
  • At the end of January and beginning of February, Katie and I are doing a 2 week series on relationships at the U of A
  • Should be fun interacting with college students on how to be romantic and friendly
  • Then we’re speaking at MOPS on how to fight well with your husband
  • Super excited about that
  • Then, we’re teaching together for 7 weeks at Revolution as we do our woman series Beautiful and our man series Fight
  • The spring is going to be unlike anything we’ve ever had at Revolution
  • That’s not overselling
  • That’s the truth
  • Over the holidays, Katie and I went to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • Such a great film
  • The cinematography was incredible
  • At the end, all I could think of was how much I wanted to go to Iceland and Asia
  • Breathing room in finances right?
  • For me, I want to travel, that’s what Breathing Room would give me in the future
  • Great weekend for football this past weekend
  • Since the Steelers are out, I root for good games
  • And thankfully the Bengals got knocked out
  • I got my tattoo finished this past Friday
  • If you’re curious about it, you can see some pictures that Katie took here
  • I’ve wanted a sleeve since I was 15
  • But I’m glad I waited
  • Time to get back it

When Choosing a Spouse, the Past is the Best Predictor of the Future

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This story appeared in Henry Cloud’s book Necessary EndingsCloud told the story of a father who knew his daughter’s boyfriend was about to ask for her hand in marriage and he asked Henry Cloud how he should handle it, what he should ask the man asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Here’s the story

My friend told me that his daughter’s boyfriend had called and asked him to go to dinner, and he expected the proverbial “asking for her hand” conversation. He wanted some advice on how to handle that question, and I could understand his trepidation. Few thoughts are scarier to a father than wondering, Will this guy love her, treat her well, and take good care of her? As a father of two girls, as I look into the future, I could already feel what that must have felt like for my friend. We talked about how to handle it, and then I said, “After all of that, tell him that you would like to see his credit report and his last two years’ tax returns.” “What? You have got to be joking!” he exclaimed. “Not at all. I am dead serious,” I said. “Why? I can’t ask him how much money he makes. That’s so intrusive and the wrong message. Marriage is not about how much money he makes.” “Exactly, and money has nothing to do with my suggestion. I don’t care about the numbers at all, how much he makes. Tell him to blot them out if he wants. I only care about two things. First, the credit report will give you a peek into how he has fulfilled other promises he has made to people who have entrusted things to him. If he can’t be trusted to fulfill the promises he makes with something such as money, which is not nearly as valuable as your daughter, how are you going to trust him with real treasure? I would see a big yellow flag if he has a history of bailing out on commitments he has made to lenders or others.” While my friend was still trying to absorb the idea of asking for a credit report, I homed in on the tax return. “I don’t care what the numbers are. I just want to know if he has done them. Does he take responsibility for his life and get things like taxes done? If he hasn’t, then that is a sign of what your daughter is signing up for in the future: chaos and uncertainty that come from his character. That would be another big warning. No matter what his financial situation is, I would want to know that he obeys the law, has his affairs in order, gets his taxes done, and sends them in. “So, the message here has nothing to do with money. It has to do with looking at his past behavior in some areas that count: promises, commitments, and responsibility, and then seeing what the track record has been. That is important because the best predictor of the future is the past. What he has done in the past will be what he does in the future, unless there has been some big change. You can bet on it,” I told him.

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Tuesday Morning Book Review || Sex & Money

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Every Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Sex & Money: Pleasures that Leave You Empty and Grace that Satisfies (kindle version) by Paul David Tripp.

This is an incredibly important book. I can’t emphasize that enough.

At the beginning, Tripp gives us a picture of where he is going and why this book is needed:

Neither sex nor money can deliver the promises that we think they’re making, and each area is more dangerous than we tend to think. Both function today in the surrounding culture like spiritual solvents eating away at the very fabric of human community. Both have the perverse power to master your heart and in so doing determine the direction of your life. Both give you the buzz that you’re in control  while at the very same time becoming the master that progressively chains you to their control. Both off you an inner sense of well-being while having no capacity whatsoever to satisfy and craving more. Both hold out the possibility of finally being satisfied but instead cause you to envy whoever it is that has more and better than you do. Both sell you the lie that physical pleasure is that pathway to spiritual peace. Both are work of the Creator’s hands but tend to promise you what only the Creator can deliver. Both are beautiful in themselves but have become distorted and dangerous by means of the fall.

If you struggle with sexual sin, being open in your marriage about past hurts, have dealt with sexual abuse or addiction, you should read this book. If you struggle to see the beauty of your body or pleasure or how your sexuality can lead you to worship Jesus, you should read this book. If you struggle with money, debt, buying things you can’t afford, worrying about others approving of you because of your stuff, you should read this book.

Probably, if you are reading this review, you should read this book.

Here’s a video of Paul Tripp explaining why the book is needed:

We are all Treasure Hunters

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Jesus says in Matthew 6:19 – 33 that we are all treasure hunters. We name things as important to us, and we all live to get and experience what we have named as important. We all chase some golden dream. Our choices and actions are purposeful. There are things that we tresasure and things that we don’t. There are things that we become convinced we must have. There are treasures we have acquired and horde, and there are treasures we are yet working to get. And our lives follow the trail of choices, decisions, and actions that have been magnetized by what we hold dear. -Paul David Tripp, Sex and Money: Pleasures That Leave You Empty and Grace That Satisfies

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. David Murray on Dealing with the hate mail you get as a leader.
  2. Brad Lomenick on A challenge to young leaders.
  3. Luke Simmons on How should a ministry leader dress?
  4. Abe Meysenburg on Good news for single men.
  5. Paul Alexander on 5 reasons it might be good when someone leaves your church. This is inevitable, but it isn’t always bad when someone leaves.
  6. Jamie Munson on the 7 most important things you need to know about money.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. Dane Ortlund on 10 ways to make your preaching clearer.
  2. Getting through a preaching slump. I can relate and this is solid advice.
  3. Luke Simmons on Money is a thermometer and thermostat for your heart, faith, trust in God, and shows your spiritual maturity.
  4. Quit calling your wife hot.
  5. Brad Hambrick on When policies in a church on sexual abuse fail. This is really helpful for churches.
  6. Colin Hansen on The new purpose of marriage. This is our new culture, but one that can be redeemed by what Scripture says about marriage, sexuality and identity.
  7. Thom Rainer on Helpful hints from visiting churches. This list is pure gold for pastors.

Base Jumping off Mt. Everest

How to do a 90 Day Giving Challenge

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Twice a year at Revolution Church, we do a 90 day giving challenge. This isn’t a new idea, in fact, churches have been doing it for years. Here’s how we set it up:

If you aren’t giving back to God at Revolution Church, today is the day to take that step. For the next 90 days, give. See what God does as he expands your faith and works in your heart. Malachi 3 tells us to test God in the area of our finances. If over the next 90 days you don’t see God move in your life, expand your faith, then let us know and we’ll give back all the money that you gave. No questions asked. You should know that since our first giving challenge in 2008, we’ve never had anyone ask for it back.

As people take this step, we send them a book, a note about what is ahead and then throughout the 90 days I send them 7-8 emails with stories of God’s faithfulness, verses and other encouragement to continue in this challenge.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are going to do this at your church:

  • It needs to come from the lead pastor, someone else can’t do it. The vision starts at the top, he has to communicate it.
  • It can’t feel like an add on, it must be a specific next step from the sermon and passage.
  • This can’t be the first time you talk about generosity or giving. This must be part of your DNA, otherwise it will feel like a beg for money.
  • If you are behind budget, you must explain why this isn’t a money grab. One of the things I’ve always done is tell people, “Don’t believe me, give to another church for 90 days and see what happens, but we won’t give your money back if you do that.” Perry Noble says this principle is telling people “you want something for them not from them.”
  • Be clear about how they join the giving challenge and have your resources and emails ready to go for the following days. I send out 7-8 emails to everyone who does the giving challenge over the course of 90 days.
  • Use a story from someone who has done it before. This is always golden to have someone share how God moved in their life during the giving challenge.

If you are curious, you can hear how I laid out at recently when we were going through the book of Ecclesiastes.

Money and the Vision of a Church

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Most pastors hate to talk about money. People also don’t like to hear pastors talk about money. Yet, money is a huge issue in people’s lives. They mismanage it, get divorced because of it and it often ruins their lives.

The reality for churches and pastors is:

There is a direct correlation between giving in a church and vision.

I was talking with some pastor’s the other day and the question of how to increase giving in a church came up.

Now, if you aren’t a pastor you may think this a coarse conversation to have. Why would a pastor want giving to go up? The reason is simple:

  • Giving is a heart issue. Jesus said as much in Matthew 6:21. If giving goes down, it shows that the heart of the people in the church aren’t there, their passion and worship is somewhere else besides Jesus. 
  • It shows that they might need to hear solid, biblical teaching on the topic.
  • It shows buy-in.

It was this last reason that struck me as I thought about.

While churches can increase giving and generosity by having a giving challenge (you can listen to me here giving our last giving challenge), or teaching on giving (which many pastors need to start doing).

What many churches need do a better job at is communicating a compelling vision. When the giving at Revolution has gone down it has been during the seasons where our vision was cloudy or if felt like our vision wasn’t going anywhere.

Tell stories. Show how your church is winning. Talk about how your vision is happening. Make videos, show people it is happening.

People want to be generous, they want to be part of something that is winning, something that is going somewhere.