Aren’t Stocks a Risky Investment?
Life has risks. We weigh comparative risks constantly. Do I have enough gas to skip this crowded station and make it to the next one? Can I make it through the intersection before the light turns red? Is it safe to cross the road? Do I dare drive in Tampa during rush hour? Similarly, investing […]
Consistency in Saving is the Key
Experience says that saving money is hard. There are so many good things to spend money on. The call of modern marketing is stronger than the sirens’ calls that lured Odysseus’ ship onto the rocks, and the cost of living keeps increasing. But it is that last comment about the cost of living that makes […]
The Prison Called Greed
The American gospel has some problems. The gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t have any problems, but the American translation and application of that gospel certainly does. Here is how the American gospel is written and spoken by a few prominent popular preachers: “Come to Jesus and all your problems, including your financial problems, will disappear. […]
Defining and Redefining Success in the New Millennium
I love the sense of humor of some people, including the anonymous author who wrote the following about success: There are just two rules for success: 1) Never tell all you know. 2) Sarcasm aside, success can be defined many ways. The definition you chose is dependent upon your identity and your values. Success for […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #18
Lessons learned from the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector Luke 18 does not appear to be a sequential report of events but instead reads more like a collection of teachings by Jesus. One of those teachings in Luke 18 is this Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. It is a […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #17
Lessons learned from the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant The parable of the unforgiving servant is another parable that is direct and easy to understand. It does not take a lot of explanation to grasp the point Jesus is making, especially in the context of His conversation with Peter. I can imagine Peter thinking he […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #16
Lessons learned from the Life of Jesus – The Encounter with the Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s Well This is one of my favorite stories from the life of Jesus because of the verbal sparring that went back and forth between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. As a retired trial lawyer, I appreciate a strategic approach […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #15
Lessons learned from the Parable of the Good Samaritan The parable of the good Samaritan is one of the most often told, preached, and loved parables. It is a parable that has some difficulties of application in our “modern” world because so many people have a fear of communicable diseases, some of the predatory people […]
Money Can’t Solve Most Money Problems
Surveys have established that at incomes below $50,000, most people consider “enough” income to be about $5,000 more than whatever they are making. Once income get close to $100,000 income per year, the income most people need to have “enough” income rises to $10,000 more than they are earning. “Enough” is a moving target. It […]
Winning The Financial Game
As always, how you define “winning” will determine not only how you can win the game of dealing with money and finances in our world, but even whether it is possible for you to win that game. If your definition of winning is to become unspeakably wealthy, while it may be possible, it is highly […]
Traps That Lead to Debt
I remember when I was a freshman in college, I applied for a credit card. I was shocked when I was turned down. I vowed then that I would never use that particular card, a vow I have stuck with for 50 years to date. Instead, I should have written a thank you note to […]
Checking on Your Financial Freedom
Your financial goal should never be either financial security or financial independence. Instead, your goal should be financial freedom! Before we go further, let’s see why I write that since so much of the world sets financial security financial or independence as its goal. Financial Security Simply put, short of becoming a billionaire, hoarding your […]
Start Smart Investing – How to Get Into the Market
The stock market is hard to figure out. The best advice I have ever heard is “buy low and sell high.” The lack of practical and useful details in the saying makes it hard to apply. My actual personal experience has all too often been closer to “Buy high and sell low.” If you put […]
The Death Grip of Stuff
We are going to start with a few definitions. According to Dictionary.com, materialism can be defined two ways: 1. preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values. 2. the philosophical theory that regards matter and its motions as constituting the universe, […]
How You Can Help!
Fund 1:27 The Idlewild Foundation has committed to helping in the ministry area of foster care. We have established Fund 1:27 to allow you to join us in this service to children who are at risk. Fund 1:27 is based scripturally on: James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is […]
Do It The Easy Way and Pay!
There is no doubt that credit cards are convenient. As we move toward a cashless society where cards or chips or phones are used to conduct business, it is getting increasingly hard to limit credit card use. Just try making telephone or online purchase without some type of credit card. A ConsumerCredit.com study shows that […]
How to Ruin Your Retirement Plans
A Retirement Guide for Millennials and More It’s crazy to start thinking about retirement in your twenties and thirties, isn’t it? Actually, it’s crazy not to start thinking and planning for retirement then! Yes, the world will be very different in thirty or forty years. Forget the world; American society will be very different in […]
The New Normal
What Can We Learn from This? One year ago, if someone had asked me, “Would you like to see your world, including your church world and church life, completely disrupted so that you would have to search, hope and pray for a ‘new normal’ to life?” I would have laughed at that question. The answer […]
How to Lose It All
How can a wealthy person become poor, a rich person go broke, or someone who is well-off become a beggar? Rarely are questions like that so easily answered with not one but two words; greed and debt. Those two can bring a world of hurt to a once bold and confident financial plan. Greed and […]
The Will of the Lord
One of my favorite memory verses is Micah 6:8: Micah 6:8 8 He has shown you, O man, what is good. and what does the Lord require of you To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. That verse says so much about the heart of God that it is virtually bottomless in […]
Why College Students Should Prioritize Scholarships Over Other Financial Aid
As the 2018-2019 school year comes to a close, many high school seniors are looking ahead to their college years. For most students and parents, this means spending some serious time figuring out how to pay college tuition costs. A College Board survey found that the average tuition costs have tripled at both public and […]
How My Husband’s Layoff Changed the Way We Spend Money
A layoff taught this family some valuable money lessons. What started out to be a normal Friday for my husband and me turned out to be a day that would impact the rest of our lives. I will never forget it: My husband left for work in the morning, and I was at home doing […]
A Jump Start for Your Savings
Help! My finances are broken down and I can’t get going! What can I possibly do? Getting out of a mess is, in some ways, no different when the mess is financial than when it is personal. The first step is almost always start now! You have to start with a full understanding of where […]
So, You Want to Know How to Get Rich …
It is okay to want to be rich. It is not automatically sinful to have that goal, at least not as long as your heart is right and your reasons are good. In Luke 12 Jesus told the parable of the rich fool. The rich man wasn’t a fool because he was rich, he was […]
Avoid Student Loan Debt
The Idlewild Foundation wants grandparents, parents and students to be aware of our scholarship program. There are scholarships available for Idlewild members who are: 1. Active at Idlewild and in ministries of the church, 2. Have a financial need; and 3. Attend a qualified school. These scholarships are for undergraduate college education as well as […]
What About Prudent Retirement Planning?
The questions are simple. Shouldn’t we trust in the Lord far more than in Social Security and our IRA or 401(k)? Aren’t we showing a lack of trust in God by saving instead of giving it all to those in need? If we are to save, then how much is enough? The questions are simple, […]
What About All My Hard Work? – Isn’t This Stuff Mine?
The simple and direct answer is, “No!” God has made it clear as can be, it is all His, not yours. Psalm 24 Of David. A psalm. 1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; 2 for he founded it on the seas Most articles […]
What About Giving and Tithing While Paying Down Debt?
There is tithing and then there is giving above the tithe, isn’t there? Well, it isn’t quite that easy. Let’s break giving down to help answer this question. There are many who skip the tithing part of this issue because no matter how you define tithing, they don’t and won’t tithe. Tithing is done by […]
What About Getting Out of Debt?
That is the easiest question for the day. Yes, get out of debt quickly and forever! The simple truth lies in one word – freedom. Satan’s lie that all that stuff you spend on is satisfying is a lie that conceals one word – bondage. It does not get any plainer than Solomon’s wisdom in […]
What About Credit Cards?
There is a remarkable difference between two people when you speak to one who is burdened by debt and one who is debt-free. I have had many conversations on both sides of that equation and my experience says the difference is enormous. The obvious conclusion to me is that the cost of debt goes far, […]
What About The Problem Of Debt?
Newton discovered the laws of thermodynamics, the first of which is that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. While life depends on thermodynamics, life isn’t quite as scientific in its ability to be measured and regulated. Regardless, there is a truth that in life, there is always a reaction to something […]
What About Work? – The Start of a Theology of Work
Work is a four-letter word! Many years ago people worked to live and vacationed to rest and so they could work better. Not now! Now we work so we can vacation better. What if that worldview of work is wrong? Well, it is wrong, as wrong as the view of many Christians that they are […]
What About Debt?
Writing about and discussing debt are always challenges because there is such a wide range of interpretations in the meaning of the words involved and in the causes of debt. To have a level playing field for communication let’s first review a few terms to start with a level playing field; wants, needs, bondage and […]
The Gospel of Grace and Your Heart
I recently read a book by Ron Blue (Never Enough?). In the very first chapter he referred to a conversation he had with a pastor from Kenya. He asked the pastor to identify what he thought the greatest hindrance was to the gospel in Kenya and he answered, “materialism.”
What Can I Do?
During the Coronavirus pandemic, that is a question I have heard from a number of people. “I am only one person, what can I do?” But you aren’t just one person, you are one of many asking the same question. There is strength in numbers – a lot of strength! Here are a few ideas […]
It All Belongs to God
It is often said that we are just stewards, not owners, of what we have. Is that really true? If it is true, what does that mean for me? I had heard that I am only a steward and not an owner many times but I had never checked it out or thought about the […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #10
Lessons learned from the Parable of the Shrewd Manager/Steward The world is full of smart crooks. I have often wondered why people able to come up with incredibly clever ways to steal money from other people didn’t just use their cleverness to make a good legal living. Take, for example, a man I filed a […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #13
Lessons learned from the Parable of the Lost Coin Have you ever lost something really valuable? I don’t mean your car keys; everyone does that. Most people at one time or another have lost something valuable, really valuable. I mean something like a valuable ring or on a more common and lower level, a cell […]
Are You a Financial Pharisee?
Today’s New Testament Christians believe that Pharisees were anything but good. That was certainly true about some, but then that is also true about some professing Christians. We all fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23, but our hope and goal is for us to be more Christ-like than Pharisaical in our lives […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #12
Lessons learned from the Parable of the Leaven Not that many people make their own bread now, and this parable almost reads more like a cooking lesson than a spiritual lesson. Making bread isn’t that hard, at least so the online recipes say. For example: Recipe for bread Start with: 3/4 cup warm bottled (not […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #11
Lessons learned from the Parable of the Rich Man and the Beggar Lazarus I have often said that out of context, the Bible can be misused, and verses can be abused, to make God’s Word say almost anything anyone might want. Out of context, I can say that some people I know have voluntarily had […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #9
Lessons learned from the Parable of the Rich Fool I have heard a variety of preachers incorrectly say that the word “retire” is not in the Bible. It is. In Numbers 8:25, God directs the Levites to retire at age 50. That passage, however, has no application to those of us not serving as Jewish […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #7
Lessons learned from the Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl The shortest parables in the Bible are back to back and they are in many ways the most challenging ones of all. These two parables are joined by the word, “again,” so they are best read and interpreted together. Matthew 13:44-46 44 “The […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #8
Lessons learned from the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard This is one of my favorite parables for a number of reasons. As a trial attorney, most of my practice for the last 25 years was in employment law. It was always a challenging area, one I often referred to as “weird law” because […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #6
Lessons learned from the Parable of the Friend at Night My wife taught kindergarten for over 30 years. The last 9 of those years she was blessed to teach in a private Christian school. It was a dramatic culture shift from the public school system in Florida. In the public school system, Jesus was not […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #5
Lessons learned from the Parable of the Sower The parable of the sower, perhaps better referred to as the parable of the four soils, is so rich that doubtless it was told multiple times by Jesus to different audiences during His three-year ministry. We are going to focus on Luke 8:1-15 but you can find […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #4
Lessons learned from the Parable of the Talents The parable of the talents, also referred to by other names including the parable of the bags of gold, is a commonly taught and preached parable. Unlike some of the parables, the message in this story is clear and not subject to a lot of debate. The […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #14
Lessons learned from the Parable of the Tares There is a basic truth about church – a basic truth that applies to just about every aspect of relationship and social life; even though people who are very different are in the same organization or church, their reason for being there may be entirely different. The […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #3
Lessons learned from the Life of Jesus – Caesar’s Coin There is an old, old cartoon character that this Bible story always brings back to my mind; he is the ultimate villain and his name is Snidely Whiplash. His classic line as he failed – and failed – and failed to defeat his arch-enemy, Dudley […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #2
Lessons learned from the Parable of the Widow’s Mite I love context and I have found that without context, much of the Bible can be misunderstood – and even abused. The Parable of the Widow’s Mite is a parable that requires context to fully understand it and not misapply it. Unfortunately, the traditional point for […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #1, Part 3
Lessons learned from the life of Jesus – Jesus Clears the Temple In the previous two months we have been looking at a few problems being faced by the church today from the perspective of Jesus clearing the temple – see Cleaning Up the Business of the Church #1, Part 1 and Cleaning Up the Business of […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #1, Part 2
Lessons learned from the life of Jesus – Jesus Clears the Temple Last month we started a new series that will address some of the issues facing the modern church today – with Biblical solutions. In that article we looked at the first lesson, Truth is still truth even when people don’t know it, a […]
Cleaning up the Business of the Church #1, Part 1
Lessons learned from the life of Jesus – Jesus Clears the Temple This is the first in a series of articles on financial and other issues facing the American church in this no longer very new millennium. These articles represent the personal thoughts and reflections of the author and are not necessarily a statement of The […]
Stop Tithing and Become Generous
I love people who shape an argument so they can “win” rather than honestly ask the right questions and risk getting an unwelcome answer. During my legal career we referred to that as raising the straw man argument. The technique was simple. Misdirect the opponent from the real issue and instead address a slightly different […]
Believe It or Not, Lower Costs for 2023 Are Possible
Between inflation and increasing expectations, it is getting increasingly expensive to live. 2022 has brought a huge shock to many with inflation and gas prices. It’s hard to make ends meet when you can’t even find the ends! However, I often hear people comment that they can’t do any better, can’t live on less, and […]
Are You Visibly Committed to God?
“I dare you!” Those are challenging words coming from almost anyone. Now imagine those words came from God Himself. Really! Would God do that? Would God dare anyone to do something? He did! The book of Malachi is a series of questions and challenges by God directed at His people. One of those questions and […]
Money and Your Heart
The pull of the wallet or pocketbook (or the credit or debit card, PayPal or other payment tool) is great. The power of money is – or should be – frightening to any observer. In fact, fright, or fear, is a good point to start almost any article or conversation about money. In 1 Timothy […]
Why Should I Give?
I teach on stewardship and generosity at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, and I ask one question in my initial stewardship lesson that always raises eyebrows and catches people’s attention, “Why give to the church?” I can also see that it makes some people uncomfortable. It isn’t a question that most expect since our […]
The Purpose of Wealth
Most people live in one of two realms of reality when they think of money, (1) they either work and get what they want or can afford, or, (2) they expect someone else to provide what they want, either through government aid or by taking from others. There is a third realm, one made clear […]
What About Giving and Generosity?
Looking at the words giving and generosity closely might yield some surprising results. Many times the two words have almost interchangeable applications. But there are a few hidden differences between true generosity and just giving. You can actually give, give often, and give a lot and still not be generous. You can also give little […]
The Problem With Worrying About Money
“Don’t worry. Be happy! That is easier said than done by far, especially looking at our economy. 2018 was not a kind year for those watching the U.S. economy and the stock market. In 2019, 2020 and even 2021 the market has been down due to the pandemic but then came roaring back, and was […]
The Stewardship of Time, Part 2
In the last article, The Stewardship of Time, Part 1, we started looking at the stewardship of perhaps the most precious resource God has given us, our time. We saw that our time is limited and uncertain, looking at Ecclesiastes 3:11 and Psalm 39:4-5 among other verses, and we started looking for ways to get […]
The Stewardship of Time, Part 1
There is a resource you have that is far more precious than your money. It is a resource that is universally nondiscriminatory and fairly distributed. Everyone has the same amount every day. Everyone’s supply is renewed every single day he or she is alive. It can be spent or wasted but can never be saved […]
Are You Really Content? Really?
Any discussion of a word as deep and complex as “content” requires the foundation of a solid definition. Content means: “Satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.” Dictionary.com Any discussion of the word content leads to the word “contentment,” defined as “the state of being contented; satisfaction; ease of […]
Doing a budget is not fun. There is nothing pleasurable about going back through old financial records looking for charges, checks, payments and deposits so that the budget can reflect reality and be meaningful. But there are multiple benefits to doing a budget. In my case, I immediately spotted an odd feature of my monthly […]
Dumping Your Mortgage Debt
Getting out of debt is an honorable goal. The easy part is setting the goal, the hard part is figuring out how to get to that goal. It’s those in-between steps that are so tough. How can you do that in the shortest time possible? Here are a few ideas that may help shorten the […]
How to Give Wisely in 2023
The tax law enacted as a 2017 Christmas present to Americans by the administration and Congress, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, has had an impact on the structure and amount of charitable donations. That impact lingers on and is being discovered by more people even as they prepare their taxes for 2023. […]
Called to Work- Part 2
Last quarter we started outlining what is now commonly called a theology of work, about the fact that you are called to work. We looked at common mistake that cause many to have a negative image of work – after all, it is called work and not fun. Then we took a look at some […]
The Disaster of Debt – Stop Making Financial Excuses
One of the most common problems with digging out from under debt is procrastination. There are a number of ways we try to mentally justify our procrastination, no matter how wrong they are. They include: My Debt Is Too Big To Manage, So Why Try? One basic rule for life is that when you find […]
Called to Work – Part 1
We look at things in an odd way. Many years ago, shortly after I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I struggled with the idea of leaving my profession, going to seminary, and becoming a Pastor. At the time, circumstances prevented that and I stayed working in the secular world. Instead I served […]
Save More – 10% Isn’t Enough
That is an outrageous title! Save more than 10% of your income? Most Americans don’t save at all, much less save 10% or save more than that. Why would anyone say save more than 10%? That’s a fair question. The Bible, math and the realities of life answer that question and all agree. The Bible […]
Debt Consolidation? Maybe and Maybe Not
It is amazing! The advertisements come through like a gift from somewhere. It sounds too good to be true. And that may be the problem, it may not work and it may not be true, or at least not entirely true. I am writing about debt consolidation, a debt release “product” that is highly touted […]
What is Biblical Stewardship?
We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill Many Christians limit their concept of stewardship to hearing sermons on tithing and calls for church building programs. That barely scratches the surface of God’s clearly expressed concept of stewardship for us. Biblical stewardship is so […]
Tax-Wise Charitable Giving
Giving to Charity Has Great Benefits Giving to your church is a call from God. There are many scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments that give us God’s direction to generously support His church. But the need for giving and for generosity goes much deeper. The call of God is also for believers […]
Getting Out of Debt
One critically important part of a close walk with God is giving back to Him. It is a command and a calling to give to God who has given so much for us. John 3:16. But it is hard to give when the past due notices arrive and the phone rings with the friendly call […]
What Is Legacy Giving?
I once received a legacy gift. Actually, I have received more than one, but one in particular stands out in my mind. I had been out of school about two years. My wife and I wanted to buy a home, but we did not have enough saved to even come close to being able to […]
Americans in Debt
Americans are drowning in debt! And here in the Sunshine State, Floridians have gone down as fast if not faster than most. The recession starting in 2008 drove Americans and Floridians farther in debt than ever before and the result was a flood of bankruptcies and foreclosures that ruined lives, destroyed a housing boom and […]
It’s Time to Start Saving
We live in the land of opportunity! Many come to this country thinking it is not only possible but likely that they can find financial security and perhaps even wealth in this land of opportunity. But every opportunity also has its risks and current events demonstrate that remarkably well. In the 1960s people saved more […]
Ideas for Living Better Through Stewardship
The Idlewild Foundation is committed to the Biblical concept of financial stewardship. Stewardship is about much more than just giving, it is all about living better. The wise handling of your money is an essential aspect of reducing stress in your life, having a solid financial plan, and securing your financial future. When your eyes […]
Are Your Kids Involved in Your Giving?
Charles was a successful business owner. Out of the blue, he received an offer from someone who wanted to buy it for $25 million–three times what it was worth a year earlier. “This is it, the time is right,” he announced to his wife Margaret. “We’re going to sell the company.” Charles and Margaret talked […]
Social Security Can’t Do it All – A Primer
Social Security was created in 1935, signed into existence by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the heart of the Great Depression. The first taxing of earnings took place in 1937, with a maximum of $3,000 in earnings taxed at 2% (compared to a maximum of $127,200 at 12.4% in 2017 for a self-employed individual, plus […]
Essential Documents – End of Life Checklist
Why does documentation matter? Two Different Stories for Ken and Noreen Ken has been married for 22 years to Joanne. He has been the head of the household, the worker outside the home and the father to 3 children, Mary who is 19 and in college, Jimmy who is 15 and Ellen who is 11. […]
7 Steps for Financial Progress
Start saving $1 a week — and keep adding more money each week Start on January 1 and put it in an envelope (and do not remove it). Gain a little traction by adding another dollar to the envelope “bank” each week. In early February, you’re saving $5 that week. By the last week of […]
Creating a Legacy of Generosity
How to instill the values of giving in your children – create a family legacy of giving As a parent, one of our most important jobs is to instill Biblical values in our children. One of the most important values we share as Christians is the scriptural principle of giving our time, talents, and treasure. However, […]
Foundations of Retirement Planning
Nearly two out of every three working Americans expect to delay their retirement. Many have no choice. The most commonly stated reason is insufficient savings. When and how can you start preparing for retirement and for the rest of your life? The answer to that question is easy. Yesterday, if possible.
How Can I Afford a Nursing Home?
People always assume that Medicare will pay for the nursing home. But Medicare only pays for a limited time after hospitalization and does not pay for long-term nursing home stays. Medicare was not designed to pay for what is more commonly referred to as long-term care. Despite that discouraging truth, you do have options. 1. Sell […]
Retirement Friendly Legal Planning
No thirty or forty year old looks forward to aging or to the thought of being in either assisted living or a nursing home, or to the problems, aches and pains that come with growing older. However, you should do some early legal planning and goal-setting to avoid being broke and living off minimal government […]
What Legacy Will You Give?
One of the great blessings of my life was when I received an inheritance from a great uncle that happened to be the amount of the down payment my wife and I needed to buy our home, the one we now have lived in and loved for almost forty years. However, receiving an inheritance at […]
Save, Don’t Store
One in ten Americans rent a storage unit. One estimate from the industry says that Americans spend about $32 billion a year on storage units. That may make sense for some as they are temporarily storing family treasures during or after a move. But many are throwing their hard-earned money into storing what should be […]
Tests of Godly Stewardship
To understand the breadth and scope of true Godly stewardship, here are three questions every Christian should form an answer to between himself or herself and God: Who really owns what I have? How much is enough for my needs? Have I prepared for what will happen when I go home to be with the […]
Planning Your Future Financial And …
Ask almost anyone what their financial goals are and you will get a short list of responses which will virtually always include making enough money to retire early – and securely. Believe it or not, that is possible, although it will take effort, planning and sacrifice. And that is a very reasonable and desirable financial […]
Your Financial Future By The Decade
Your future actually just started. Are you on board? Even if the answer is “yes,” there could be a problem. If you don’t know where you need to go or where you should aim, how can you possibly know what you need to do to get there? It makes some sense to give yourself some […]