The Rich Man’s Dilemma, Trump, Hillary, and Anyone Else’s Need

One night, not long after my wife and I decided that our financial mountain climbing needed to begin, and a pretty tight budget had ensued, I noticed a change in Karen’s demeanor. When I asked her about it, she said she just felt “blah.” Understanding that feeling more than I’d like to admit, I left her alone, but her soberness continued. She wasn’t being moody or irritable, but as a husband I could see there was something that wasn’t quite right with my wife. There was an uneasiness I couldn’t put my finger on.

I had decided to spend some time between my studies with a bit of  PS4, a habit that I’ve learned to reign in, as I know there are usually better things to do with my time. I put my controller down and asked her again what was bothering her. She then asked a very poignant question: “What if God doesn’t want us to have money?”

It’s a valid question, and one that I believe Christians should wrestle with more often than what they do. My wife was doing a bit of wrestling with this because of a few reasons.

  1. Christ wasn’t wealthy, not by any stretch of the imagination. When a scribe came to Jesus to pledge his loyalty, and to inform him he would follow Jesus anywhere, Jesus responded by stating “Foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:19-20) Jesus depended on God to provide his every need and a roof over his head was no exception. The disciples and Jesus routinely depended on the generosity of others to shelter them.
  2. In 1 Timothy 6:10, Paul wisely informs Timothy that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. Incidentally, if one would continue to read that verse they would find the love of money being the reason some have wandered away from the faith. If one needed any more proof that the love of money, or greed, caused people to do evil things, take a look at our current election season. Research the absolute gross disregard for moral living from the Republican and Democratic candidates and find that they would say or maybe even do anything for the next hundred thousand dollar “donation.”
  3. The Bible clearly draws a distinction between the Rich Man in Hell and Poor Lazarus being with Abraham after both men died. The rich man was in torment. Abraham and Lazarus were not. And in a very desperate conversation between the rich man and Abraham we find that Abraham reminds the rich man that he was given good things in life while Lazarus had not, and there was no way that the rich man would find relief. The rich man cries out in anguish, asking that Lazarus would rise from the dead and go to the rich man’s brothers and warn them of the Hell he was experiencing. The nearly damning bad news came to the rich man, “if they will not believe the Moses and the Prophets, they will not believe one who should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:19-31)

Almost makes you want to stay on the poorer side of life. I will focus on point three as it seems to be a hang up for a lot of people.

At first blush, it would seem money is something that one would want to stay as far away from as possible. To hear the repentant requests of a rich man in terror cry from Hell is not a pleasant sound, but we can imagine it, and maybe even make a collective hard swallow. Deep down, we ALL want more, and this is not the price we want to pay to get it.

Might I offer, that money is not the issue; but our problem, just as the rich man’s problem,  is the dogged pursuit of the things for this life, and the total disregard of riches for the next? There are a couple of things from Christ’s teaching of Lazarus and the rich man I’d like to point out.

  1. Lazarus was broken by the state he was in, his poverty was such that the dogs came to lick his wounds. What state would that put a man’s heart? What would it do to his mind, his soul? He longed for help, and I imagine his prayers reflected this. Money? Lazarus wanted food! He was desperate for help, and eternally, he found it. Just as he believed he would receive mercy from the rich man, he found mercy in God.
  2. Why didn’t the rich man help to feed Lazarus, to show him mercy in his time of need? Did he even think about it? Did he love his possessions too much to sacrifice them? Was he too prideful to even speak to the lowly Lazarus who begged at his gate? Regardless of the reason, he didn’t help, there was something lacking in his heart and spirit that enabled him to be generous with what he had. He was not looking for help, not in this life, or for the next.

The difference between these two men were the attitudes and motivations of their heart. One was apt to be in Paradise because he had little, he desired peace and looked upward for it, while the other, looked for nothing. He was content with the riches of this life. The rich man’s security and more than likely, pride, kept him from giving or getting help, for he had need of nothing. So Jesus says about the rich to his disciples, “For it is easier for a camel to go throughout the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

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It’s THAT difficult for a rich man to see his need….

So, does God want us to be rich in this life? I would say that if it keeps us from seeing our need for Jesus and his salvation, the answer is a resounding, NO. God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Is money inherently evil? No. A goal for this life for my wife and I is to give abundantly, to missions, to needy folks, to those with no hope, financially or otherwise. Ultimately, so others can see their need for the next life, and ask that Jesus would bless them richly with salvation and mercy.

Jesus lived a perfect life because we couldn’t, and gave his life as the perfect sacrifice for sin. He rose from the dead after three days to be victorious from death and Hell and prepares a place for those who believe he did all of this for them. Believe. It’s a need we have, and one that will only be offered in this life. Eternal life will be the riches that will never be earned through works, but given, freely, as a gift to God’s children, but only if they will believe.

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“It’s Not About How Hard You Hit, It’s About How Hard You Can Get Hit…and Keep Moving Forward!”

Since beginning to log our journey to keep ourselves accountable there have been several ups and downs emotionally, spiritually and mindfully, and it’s only been a week!

Starting good behavior does not negate the effects of bad behavior over years. My family and I are broke because we’ve been behaving how broke people behave for way to long. Spending more than we make, not sticking to a budget, spending money meant for savings or emergencies, eating out all the time and just not paying attention took us nowhere fast. Even though we are now seeing correct mindsets and practices toward financial changes, we are not seeing the immediate results that we would like. Saying you are saving $720 a year is noticeably different than having $720 in your bank account now. Duh…It takes a year!

Time isn’t the problem, time is going by whether we like it or not. Our attitude is the problem, and we know it. We’re impatient. Most of us, if we are honest, quit when we don’t see immediate results. We’ve all heard it before, we live in a microwave society; but it’s more than that isn’t it? We live in a wifi society! We live in a microprocessor society! No more dial up! I honestly believe as a youth it may have done my character good to see the little guy on AOL frozen in time for a couple of minutes as I listened to the irritating screech and whir and hum of a dial up modem trying to connect to my mom’s old phone line. Today…I would go bananas to endure that!

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We are taught in school that sums and products are immediate answers: 1 + 1 = 2, 2 x 2 = 4 and so on. I cannot remember a time however when someone taught me 1 + a month + a week + 1 = 2, or 2 + a day + effort x 2 = 4. Time was never factored into the equations we were taught in school, but there it is…time…staring us in the face. Ten years may as well be an eternity when a person thinks of the financial peace they would like to have when it ticks by mere seconds at a time. Those seconds are also the very thing that robs a person when they sit and wait because they feel powerless, or it takes to long. People are waiting for something to happen instead of making what they desire happen over time.

Inaction and time are a troublesome combination. Passivity keeps us from setting goals and pursuing them. Because no goals are set, when hard times happen, it’s easier to sit down, throw our hands up and say “I quit.” When the bill collector calls after the mind has been set to do better, it says, “sit down, take it easy, try again tomorrow.” It is the voice that whispers, “Monday is a good start day, do it then. For now, eat a taco, you deserve it.” Tomorrow and Monday will come! Is reaching the goal any closer?

Is the destination you’d like to be at nearer? No trip is taken without a person’s mind being fixed on it. When it’s written down with an expected time line it starts to become reality. How many places have we never been to, but because Maps had a documented route and how long it took to get there, we traveled with ease? How many times have we thought about going somewhere, but weren’t truly excited until we hang up the phone after making reservations? But did we sit down and wait for vacation time? No! The trip might be a month away but we automatically started preparing for the it! How? We ask questions of what we might need. We do our research to see what kind of help may be needed while we are there. We save money, we write down the activities we want to do on our trip. We don’t sit idle! When we do sit idle, we may miss opportunities to enjoy something we otherwise would not.

“What keeps me going is goals.” Said the late Mahammad Ali. Who better to understand that if a person has goals, they will strive to meet them? muhammad-ali-in-action.jpg

People who have goals will rise up in the morning to chase them, even when it doesn’t look like there’s any hope. They will run after it even when their legs hurt, when they are miles away from their destination, when they fall down, and when a mountain is in their way. They will fight for their goals even when that mountain is ready to crush them. They are unstoppable.

What Causes us to Fall

Some of us, if not most of us, are at the bottom of a mountain looking up for one reason or another. It may be because we’ve never tried to climb one because we are intimidated by the thought of trying something new. Another may be overwhelmed by how daunting the task is. Others may have tried, but realized the persistence needed is just something that they didn’t have, and gave up. Then there are those who have climbed, got too overconfident, and came crashing down.

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  Proverbs 16:18

My wife said something interesting to me when we decided to record our journey. She said there were warning signs she recognized; and she mentioned them a couple of times to me before, but I never listened. The funny thing is, I don’t remember her ever saying anything to me, which probably proves her point. There have been times in our marriage where what may have been gentle reminders from her, were mistakenly taken as harsh criticisms by me. When perceived criticism causes anger, or a blown off reaction, it’s easier to just not say anything.

Such is life with a prideful person. It’s difficult to talk to them, it’s even more difficult to reason with them when they are in the wrong. I know this because I fell into this category for many years of my life and my marriage. It helped lead us into where we are now: staring at the top of the mountain while trudging in the foothills.

Married people MUST communicate, and sometimes they must let each other know that there is a problem. If one is too prideful to admit they are not perfect or make mistakes, it will only lead to disaster of some kind. I’m glad she was patient and forgiving enough to let me hit the bottom so I would finally listen.

So what to do if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t talk to your spouse about money problems, or any other kind of problems? What do you do if you find yourself in a dilemma where your stupidity got you and your loved ones in a bad spot today? I would suggest for starters, looking up past the mountain into the sky. That is where King Jesus sits on His throne, and prayer is where humbleness begins. Prayer is like an about-face, like a prideful Prodigal Son coming to his senses and realizing there is a better life out there, but first he must change and be humble (Luke 15:17). Once that happens, the Father is there waiting with open arms. Chances are, if done with the same humble attitude, so is your spouse.

In the end, life’s not about the money, security, fancy cars, big homes and lots of travel. It’s about kneeling before Jesus, hearing Him say, “Well done, you good and faithful servant,” because He is well pleased with what you have done in this life for Him and others. Doing for Him would be giving your life over to Him and trusting what He has for you…humbly. Doing for others? Why not start with your spouse? An attitude of gratitude and not being above it all will help start getting through that foothill snow, and giving you a partner to climb the mountain with for a lifetime.

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The Foot of the Mountain

Lost. That’s how I feel when it comes to our money, and our budget, absolutely lost.

It’s different when my wife and I have just graduated from Financial Peace University, created a budget, paid our bills and put money in the bank. Life is good during a time like that. We got some extra income in because we are reaped what we sowed. Then we decided we are ready to buy a house because we had some extra cash, and it’s probably the next best thing to do. After all we don’t want to be retired and still trying to pay off our mortgage. Along with our sons who were getting old enough to be pretty independent, we just had a new baby girl, I had to put her in her carrier in my truck to move the last load from our little rented duplex to our new four bedroom home. I was all smiles.

Looking back on it now, I can see where our mistakes were. We should have stayed put. Karen just had the baby and we had forgotten how expensive it was to just do that. I should have let life reach some kind of equilibrium. I should have let the money we received grow in a bank account somewhere and used it as a down payment LATER, when we were ready. Life could have been different. The moment we signed those papers, we started rolling down hill, and we never recovered, not really. The utilities were different, the travel was different, the money was different, we never set the budget in stone again, and we spent crazy amounts of money to make an older house half way livable so we weren’t spending so much on energy bills and the kids had a warm, or cool place to sleep depending on the season.

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Now as I take a very clear look at our REAL money, not what I think is there, not what I think we spend, but what we actually do, and I see what we actually have. Now, five years later I’m staring at a budget that looks like this…
I’m pretty stressed. I’m pretty horrified.

Loki’s our dog by the way….

 

 

 

When I look at this budget and list, it’s not a huge deal, at least I don’t think it is. There’s nothing on here that is just crazy, other than phones and car insurance that I will be posting about later on. To be honest, we have been coasting so long with what we had, and it may have been just enough, that when an emergency hit (I’ve had some medical issues that needed some attention), and the car broke down in the same week, well, the avalanche stopped. There’s not really anywhere else for it to go; we are at the bottom of the mountain. Oh sure, we have a little in retirement accounts, but we know that if we go there, that’s just going to prolong our perpetual bloodletting.

We have decided enough is enough. This blog is a tool my wife and I are using to get our bank accounts back under control. It’s not about sympathy, we are suturing our wounds, and plan to make this blog our accountability check. I plan to give at least a report two or three times a week on what we are doing to crawl from a money hole back into the light. If you are family and friends, encourage us. If you are someone just like us, follow our lead, it’s time we get wise about spending and do what needs to be done to stop the madness. It’s time to start crawling back up the mountain to conquer it. We hope and pray that as we find hope, and we will, that you do too. We’re starting with a budget of $20 for savings. If the Lord’s willing, and I believe He is, it’s time to make it grow.