How to Handle Credit Cards

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Do you have credit card debt? Is it a lot? Perhaps, unmanageable? This is a very easy trap that many fall into, that I have fallen into more than twice. And, I am a Financial Consultant who knows better. I did not take my own advice. Thankfully, I learned how to properly use credit cards, and you can too.

How to properly use credit cards?

How? Don’t! That is, do not use credit cards unless you absolutely must or it is for business, or you can and will pay them off each month!

Now, if you must… and if you can have some discipline?

If you need to, such as business expenses or keep track of spending, this is a very simple concept and will alleviate most of your money struggles and even marriage arguments.

Credit cards are a tool when you are in a great need. It is always best to play them off each month.

What credit cards are not, is being your money! They are not your income or your entitlement. They are not what you need or what you deserve. They do not make your life easier, because they will make it more complicated and convoluted. When we get this, we will be on the right track of money management.

How to manage credit cards?

  • First of all, avoid the late payment trap.
  • Second, avoid the minimum payment trap.
  • Third, control your spending.

If you do not, the balance will spiral out of control with 19.8% as an average rate with a range of 16.97% to over 36%! Then there are the fees… So, if you can pay them off each month or have a plan to pay them off, then you will save considerably on interest, and will be able to build your savings and eliminate your debt.

Keep track of your spending, pay your credit cards on time and if you can’t pay it off, pay the max you can. Discipline yourself with a plan to set a reasonable limit on your spending. You can do that by just keeping track of what and how much you spend. Look it over at the end of the month. Or look carefully at your credit card statement. Then cut out the cancer of unreasonable spending.

What NOT to use credit cards for:

Small Treats…

Big Treats…

Cash Advances…

Mortgage Payments…

Pay other Bills…

Medical Bills…

Tuition…

Taxes…

Automobiles… Yes, people actually do this, unless you pay it off at the end of the month, you will be paying for that car over and over. So, a $30,000 car will cost you over $100,000 or more. Ouch!

Managing a credit card is all about telling your money what to do; not allowing your desires to ‘defund’ you.

If you can’t manage a credit card, do not have one. Stick to a debit card and have a good budget to guide you. That is what I do personally and what I recommend as a Financial Advisor to my clients.

 

How can I help build your family, or business have a successful financial future?

Dr. Richard Krejcir is licensed and experienced Financial Consultant with over thirty years of experience. He has worked for major banks, insurance companies, nonprofits, and families too. He is also an author, financial blogger and holds a doctorate in Stewardship.

 

Are You a Cheerful Giver?

Cheerful Giver

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

The current attitude that is hitting the pew is the idea that since God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7) then you only need to tithe whatever amount you can “cheerfully” part with, whether it be two percent, five percent, ten percent, or none. Is this true and is this biblical?

Some people interpret these thoughts and behaviors to mean if they don’t resent the amount they are tithing, and as long as they can feel happy, content, and generous about whatever amount they tithe, then, they can say they are “cheerful” givers. I do not believe that is what God intended at all. Look at the text in context. Since all that we have comes from Him, we should be cheerful and grateful that He allows us to keep the gross majority of what we are given.  We should focus on being cheerful for what He has done for us! So many countries, governments, and agencies require a lot more from us than God does. The fact that He allows us to enjoy such a large part of His blessing should be a great source of happiness to everyone. Yet, so many begrudge Him even the little they are willing to return.

This concept of giving out of our conveniences is directly in opposition to what Scripture says (although nicely convenient!).

Our giving “cheerfully” is the response of our gratitude for what He did for us, not a convenience to our wallets! We may not be mandated to give an exact amount or percentage, since we are under grace and not the law as the Puritans argued, but they gave way more than a mere ten percent! So, look at this verse in its context (2 Cor. 9:6-15), especially verse six, and you will see that this popular thinking is wrong!

This passage is an illustration of farming (Job. 4:8; Prov. 11:18; 22:8; Hos. 8:7; 10:12). Thus, when you give, your gift will be used as a seed that grows into a crop. The more you give, the more bounty there will be in the Kingdom. Both the seed of the gift and the maturity of the person who gives will grow. This is what Paul calls sufficiency, which means to be content in all circumstances. The opposite would be to be self-sufficient, and the book of Jeremiah tells us how much God hates that!

Thus, we need to strive to see the beauty of giving and be cheerfully motivated. And, by the way, this passage has nothing to do with tithing; it was about giving to the poor!

 

How do we Increase Giving in the Church?

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Mark 12:41-44; Acts 2:44-45; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 9:7

Simply put, from over twenty years of research and practice in this subject and a Ph.D., in it, it all comes down to two words, maturity and gratitude. The ones who give are going in their faith. Growing mature in the precepts of God’s Word and the practice of a real living faith. The ones who do not are not. The precursor of this and comes from this is a realization of the magnitude of how much we have been forgiven by our Lord, so we feel indebted, and thankful. Mature and thankful Christians, as in real followers of Christ, will realize they are stewards of God’s resources and will give back. While, immature believers, those who want to have only their needs met and their ears tickled, will be selfish and thus stingy.

Thus, the role the church leadership needs to go back to the basic call of our Lord, make disciples, feed the flock!

Once we form a more mature faith, and develop a strong sense of gratitude for the grace flowing in us, what should we do about our stewardship? How can we best respond with the goods given to our care? How much do we keep for ourselves, how much do we give away; how much is for us to play with, and how much goes to the work of the church? There are no concrete answers here; it is a call and a response of our heart and faith. We are given the general parameters from Scripture; it is up to us to figure out how to apply them. And it is the job of the pastor to preach the Word, set the example and allow the Holy Spirit to convict. Yet, this is hard for most, even me, and the source for most debates are nothing new. This subject is now, and has been very controversial. It has been a bitter debate since the formation of the early church, perhaps because most people like to do things their own way and do not like the real true Truth of the Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Thus, relinquishing control, especially with their pocketbook is muted from the desires of the flesh. So, we can see all kinds of crazy teachings from every conceivable perspective. But what we need to do is see what God’s Word says, pray, and go from there.

God is not glorified when we keep for ourselves and refuse to give back.

Especially when, what we are called to be using His resources to model and promote the Word of Christ and the service of those around us and the world. Too many Christians have bought into the consumer-driven culture and the megalomaniac and prideful pastors who lead so many astray. Such atrocious rebels of God call and Word, seemed to be blessed. But in fact, their reward is worldly and not eternal. And the ‘blesser’ is not the God of the Bible. And the sums of money they received was supposed to go to outreach and missions, doing as Christ called in the Gospels, helping the poor, not helping the rich. Thus, the spire away from maturity continues to fall. The Christian community has become greedy for selfish reasons and too selfish to give. While insisting that only their needs be met, unconcerned with what are the real need for the community and the call we all have. Then the local church with good pastors suffers from this, as their people tend to sit back and do little and give little.

To turn this around will take revival, that begins with real prayer and the teaching of the Word and the silencing of the nonsense that is out there in the pulpit and the weak Christian’s heart.

To begin, the church leadership starts with a recommitment to the faith. To surrender to Christ’s Lordship and publicly repent. Now they have maturity and gratitude. Then, form the vision and follow through to know our Lord and teach His precepts wholeheartedly, Who is Christ and what He has done. And also have seminars on family budgeting and money management. So, the people have the maturity and gratitude and are in the know. Then, teach and model the joy of giving and what stewardship is about. Then, model it regularly by all the church leaders and have testimonies about giving sacrificially and transformed lives. Then, teach how to give. Then, after the previous steps are made, ask people to give, who are now growing in the faith. Now you have a church where there is ample giving and one that is willing and able to roll on its call.

 

The Perception of Stewardship PI

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In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35

Read Psalm 24:1; Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 9:7; James 1:17; 1 Pet. 1:3-5: From God’s perspective, what are the standards for stewardship are we are to have?

First off, 1 Peter tells us that we are chosen by God and by God alone! The Holy Spirit sets us apart. We are able to hear and receive His Words of grace and life. And of this, we should know; yet, we need to be reminded of what we have and who we are in Christ. If not, we will soon forget and replace His guidance either with our frailty or with the ways of the world. 

As we know, stewardship and tithing are hot subjects today and Christians seem to love to debate them. Unfortunately, most seem to have a skewed idea of what these subjects entail, and only impart their ‘assumptions,’ and ‘desires,’ not the facts from God’s Word. I just read through some Christian blogs and Facebook posts about this topic, and what amazed me was how people were arguing back and forth out of total ignorance, from both sides. Some people, saying they were pastors, were getting Greek words totally wrong and passages out of their context. People claiming to be mature Christians were using inappropriate language and tone, putting the other person down and even verbally attacking those who did not share their skewed opinion. Neither group was willing to dig into the text of the Bible to see what it really says; they just wanted to spout off with their preconceived ideas.

As a former academic debater and postgraduate student, I know that it is essential to form an argument on facts and logic, and not emotionalism and presumptions. With Scripture, this is fundamental and essential! Nevertheless, these message boards were all filled with assumptions and emotions, no real facts, no word studies, no thought-through doctrinal arguments. It was just, “what I believe” or “what my church does.”  Oh, how sad this is! The Bible was being used just like a buffet, to pick and choose what would fit their experiences and mindsets, ignoring the rest, and unconcerned to what God’s Word really said in its simple, clear, and concise form. The Bible means what it says and says what it means. The key is context–not reading into it what is not there, or taking out what is there.

One clear theme emerged from these message board “discussions.” People did not want to take responsibility for what God’s Word said, or what stewardship really means in applying it to their wallets.

Know this, emotions and personal Will, will block reason and Scripture. Instead of carefully crafted arguments, people misused the Word to force their views so they did not have to give to the church. I was dumbfounded, and thought these must be high school or young college students who never read a Bible, but some of them said they were pastors! I do not know if that is true, due to the immaturity of their language and arguments, but it would seem that the checking of facts and conviction of the truth were definitely absent.

The mature Christian may realize his or her responsibility in stewardship and then struggle in prayer and with family about what to give. And do it chearfully!

He/she will seek God’s Word for how he/she can serve Him and the church. A mature Christian should never rationalize that it is good not to follow his/her call, use his/her gifts, refrain from sharing his/her faith, or not to give. As persons saved by grace, we should be overwhelmed with gratitude for what Christ has done for us so we naturally desire to serve Him with all of our heart and means. Yes, you are not forced to do anything, because as His elect, you are saved by your faith alone in what Christ has done alone—period! But, as James tells us, what good is it? What good would you be (James 1:22-25; 2:14-19)?

Our real and true treasures are imperishable (1 Pet. 1:3-5)! Make a list of them, and put them in a place that you can see daily to encourage yourself. (Keep in mind that true treasures are not material in nature, so look to relationships and character)

 

©  2017, R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/

The Temple Tax

Matthew 17 4-27

“After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?” “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” Matthew 17:24-27

 Why did Jesus pay the tax? How does this character apply today?

Pay the Temple tax was the yearly assessment that each Jewish male was obligated to pay (Ex. 30:11-16). This money was used to support the Temple and/or the local synagogue, and in Jesus’s time was not for other government use. (There were other taxes for that!) The tax was a half of a shekel in the OT, and two drachmas (Luke 15:8; Acts 19:19), which amounted to two days of a typical wage.  In Jesus’ day, since they were occupied by Rome, the Jews were not obligated to pay; therefore, only the devoted and those striving to please the religious leaders did so. After the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the Romans kept collecting this tax to pay the pagan temples by using force, further humiliating the Jews.

“Does your teacher?” The people who asked if Jesus paid the tax were trying to entrap Him by asking about His opinion on its value, or seeing if He paid it to His home synagogue (Matt. 21:12-14; 23:38-24:15; Luke 8:3). Jesus paid the tax, both to exercise His servant attitude and to avoid causing more trouble than He had to.

“What do you think?” Jesus quickly responds to Peter before the matter of taxes is even brought up!  Many OT prophets gave the answers before the question (1 Sam. 9:20; 1 Kings 14:6; 2 Kings 5:26; 6:32). Jesus’ argument is that the royal family does not tax itself; rather, strangers who are not royalty are the ones who are taxed. Jesus is the ultimate Royalty. This is God’s house and Jesus is God; therefore, He would not need to pay the tax. This was a logical argument and a cultural custom not to tax those who are exempt. The priests and attendants were exempt from the Temple tax by this argument (Mishnah: Shegalim 1:3-4).

Jesus shows His servant heart and that He is the hope for Israel. He did not need to pay, yet He did. His miracle was using a fisherman to retrieve a random fish that happened to have a coin in its mouth. There were many “fish stories” in Jesus’ time of fishermen, who had God’s approval, finding jewels in fish. Imagine Peter’s surprise when it happened to him!  “Piece of money” stater, refers to four drachmas or 4 denarii, enough for Jesus and Peter.

For us today? Christians should always focus on His Truth and not our rights.

Jesus proved that He was above and exempt from such a tax, but paid it anyway. He was exempt because He was God, and He was also exempt because He was a rabbi living by charity. He overrides His exemptions to prove His solidarity as a Jew, as a representative of humanity, as a servant, and as our Redeemer. As with people today, the early Christians and many disgruntled Jews did not want to pay the tax, and they lived in a foreign hostel occupied country; Jesus shows that how we feel is irrelevant.  It is how we are to be that matters.

The question that this passage asks in the form of the example of our Lord is, “Do you use people, or do you serve them?” Remember, Jesus was God, who came to this earth to serve!

Consider this, our relationship with Christ is our ultimate freedom; our home is to come, so while we sojourn in this world, we should conform to its policies as long as they do not contradict God’s policies (Acts 16:3; 21:26; Rom. 14: 13-21)

 What can you do to prevent robbing yourself of the opportunities God gives you?