An Unquenchable Fountain of Ever Enlarging Opportunity

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. I watched the 40 to 50 ft. waves repeatedly crash against the rocks one after another. The ocean spray went hundreds of feet in the air after impacting the rocks. It struck me that we do not have a power problem on the earth. There is plenty of power. We have a problem with harnessing power. It is a technology problem not a lack problem. There are still plenty of untapped resources on the earth that are available for all of us to prosper.

This principle is important when discussing investing and creating wealth because if we feel like we are competing with others for a limited piece of the pie this will stifle our creativity. If we think one person’s prosperity makes other people poorer, it will limit our desire to grow, create and prosper. We should live in a world of abundance, not one of limitations. With a little bit of creativity we can find a way for some economic win/win vs. a win/lose. Jesus had an abundance mentality. He said the “fields are white unto harvest”. An abundance mentality means that rather than seeing life as a competition with only one winner, you see it as an unquenchable fountain of ever enlarging opportunity, resources and wealth.

If we have an abundance mentality, we won’t compare ourselves to others and will be genuinely happy for their success. We are not trying to “keep up with the Joneses,” we are on a mission from God to fund His Kingdom and our destiny. It is between us and Him. It has nothing to do with comparing ourselves to the “Jones”. We can learn from others but we are not in competition with them.

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Create Wealth

In previous blogs we discussed the need for us to be fully convinced that God wants us to prosper financially. If we are convinced of this, then we will have the godly desire that will drive us to change and take creative actions and not feel guilty when God prospers us.

One of the reasons people feel guilty about prospering financially is because they are told that there is a fixed amount of money in the world and the more they have the less someone else has. This is not good economics. It is not a fixed economic pie. If you have a bigger piece of the pie it does not mean someone else has a smaller piece. Or if I have a car it does not mean that someone on the other side of the world does not have a car. The truth is most nations of the world have a growing economic pie so that all can have a bigger piece. That is why Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increases every year except in times of recession.

A number of modern economic theories view man’s primary role on the earth as a consumer. A biblical worldview gives us a different picture. We were meant to be producers first and consumers second. In Genesis chapter one it states that God created us to be fruitful and productive. We should not look at consumption as our primary purpose in life. This is a secular worldview that lacks any sense of destiny…sometimes stated, “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.”

The secular person views an additional child in a family as another mouth to feed rather than another person to contribute to the production of food. This view is based on an expectation of scarcity and limitation. The same person will say there is not enough water in the world for the growing population. The truth is we do not lack for water on the earth. The oceans are full of water. The challenge is to obtain drinkable water, which drives us to discover the needed technology for water purification. The lack is not water; the lack is ideas and technology. So that additional child that is born just might be the one that discovers the water purification technology we need.

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Revisiting the Parable of the Talents

For us to prosper we have to understand that investing is a good and godly thing. A lot of Christians think that the parable of the talents is about spiritual gifts. We are confused by the term “talent” which, as it is used in Matthew 25, is actually an amount of money. Jesus was talking about faithfulness within the context of our finances. Just so their is not any confusion on this in verse 27, it states,”Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.” He is talking about investing money.

In Dr. Anderson’s book, Becoming a Millionaire God’s Way, he tells the historical economic story behind the parable of the talents. It really was about money and investing.

The details are not given in the gospels, but from history we do know some of the investment options available to them. In the early Roman Empire, the government raised money by selling contract bonds or taxation bonds. In other words, you could invest money in the government and earn dividends on your stock. This was happening before Jesus was born and continued long afterwards. The servants in the parable took money and invested it in what could be considered the world’s system. The opportunities were available to anyone with the initiative and the awareness to notice them and take advantage of them.

It helps us to see that Jesus was referencing the financial markets of the day which in principle are not that much different than the markets we have today. The stewards who was faithfully invested the money were rewarded and the one who didn’t was punished. God is OK with you making prudent investments and realizing the reward of them.

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Hot Tips for Investing…Not!

“…when the Native Americans sold Manhattan Island, New York City, to Peter Minuit of the Dutch West India Company for $24 in beads and trinkets, they did not get a bad deal. If they had invested that money at an 8% annual rate of return, that $24 would be worth $27 trillion dollars today. They could today buy Manhattan back and have plenty of money left over. The problem was not the amount of money but the lack of a plan for it.” Robert T. Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad

This might surprise you but the key element in the previous scenario is not the percentage of return on investment but the amount of time over which the investment is calculated. If you are expecting God to give you some hot, new, never-thought-of-before, high return financial investing ideas…get over it! He might give you some unique ideas eventually as you learn to apply the basic, common sense principles in this book, but for now he just wants you to start somewhere. To deaden your excitement even more let’s look at another quote about investing from Robert T. Kiyosaki:

“…many people think investing is this exciting process where there is a lot of drama. Many people think investing involves a lot of risk, luck, timing and hot tips…to me investing is a plan, often dull, boring and almost mechanical process…”

For most of us it will likely start with the difficult discipline of saving some money so we have something to invest. Not only will it be dull and boring, but it might be painful as we limit spending to set money aside for investment opportunities that come are way. The wealthy practice a principle called “delayed gratification” which I think is self explanatory.

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Let’s Get Started

You might recall that the spirit of poverty leaves you feeling like your finances are out of control. The money comes in and goes out without you having control of it. Here are some risky, beginner suggestions to help you practically take dominion over your finances. Consider these ideas and take some action as the Lord is leading you. You should be taking action on at least three of the following 15 items.

  1. Understand what the scriptural power of the tithe is and do it with faith in your heart that God will pour out overflow to you.
  2. Deposit your money into savings and “own it” for a while before moving it into checking to pay bills. Even if it is only for a few days, it will change your thinking and give you a sense of dominion. Works in Kenya with M-pesa.
  3. Take dominion over your finances and pay a bill early instead of waiting until the last possible time. You take authority and decide when to pay the money.
  4. Most poverty stricken people have filled their lives with second rate possessions. Buy something you don’t need but can afford. It should be one nice item of lasting value like a watch or picture for the wall. Get something that you can keep at a very visible, prominent place. Don’t buy the cheapest or even the best deal, but purchase something beautiful that feeds your soul. If you need to do this to break a poverty mindset, you will find it a struggle to do. Buy something you can pay for with cash.
  5. If you have never owned any stock, set aside $150 and buy a few shares of stock to own.
  6. If you have never given away one hundred dollars at one time, do it as soon as you can save it up.
  7. Subscribe to a year of the Wall Street Journal. Let your soul prosper as you read.
  8. Plant or expand some flower gardens around your house. Beauty feeds your soul.
  9. Fix something that is broken around your property. Especially something that has been broken for a long time. Repair or replace it permanently and with good quality materials.
  10. Sign up for a course at a community college or trade school. Look for something you like to do or think you would enjoy. It could be something career oriented like a marketing course or something that feeds your soul like an art course.
  11. Take half of the time you are presently spending on entertainment and use if for learning. Be specific and measureable. Read an economics book instead of watching your favorite sports team.
  12. Follow Dr. Thomas Anderson’s formula to measure if you are on track with growing your net worth for your age.
  13. Develop a ten year financial plan that makes adjustments in all four elements of net worth: income, expenditures, savings and debt.
  14. Find a quiet place and pray the prayer, “Holy Spirit, teach me to prosper”.

I recently came across an old African proverb. Here is what it said…”The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”

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Brian Goes to Wall Street

I have my own story about Wall Street as well. In my mind Wall Street was this big imposing financial mountain that was too big for anyone normal like me to climb. I have heard many times the comparison of Wall Street vs. Main Street implying that Wall Street (representing the financial world) is at odds with Main Street (the normal Mom & Pop world where most of us live). Though there is some truth to this comparison I have come to realize that most of what is listed and traded on Wall Street is owned by people who live on Main Street.

So here is my Wall Street story. This is one of those times where I felt the Lord was answering my prayer for the Holy Spirit to teach me to prosper. In order to increase my financial literacy I was in the habit of reading about Wall Street in the Wall Street Journal. I realized that I was scheduled to speak at a conference in Brooklyn, NY in the near future which is in close proximity to Wall Street in Manhattan. I started to get the nudge of the Holy Spirit that I should actually go to Wall Street. I felt I should go there…pray and listen and get a cup of coffee. After finishing the conference and getting directions I set out to visit Wall Street on my way home. What an adventure.

I made it across the Brooklyn Bridge only to become hopelessly lost in a myriad of multiple lane, one way streets and construction in Manhattan. I was finally able to make my way down to the south of Manhattan Island where Wall Street is located, but I still couldn’t find it. Believe me it was a little embarrassing to stop and ask someone for directions to Wall Street in the shadows of the financial district skyscrapers …how intimidating…I almost gave up and went home. Finally I worked my way between a couple of tall buildings and there was the sign for Wall Street. How disappointing!

I was expecting it to be one of these multiple lane streets bustling with traffic and commerce. It is not. Wall Street is two lanes wide (and one of them is for parking) and the section I first found is open only to pedestrians. You can’t even drive on it. It is basically an alley. I snaked my way around and found a way to turn on to the part of it that you can drive on. There is parking on one side and only one lane going one way. This is the same Wall Street that intimidates people around the world? It is just a narrow street.

And then there it was…a parking spot! This was a miracle in and of itself. I self- consciously pulled into the spot and left my car running in case anyone asked me to move. When you are obeying God in new ventures you look for His thumbprint there. This simply means some sign or recognition that you are on the right track. As I sat there with my car idling I saw someone walk by with a coffee cup from my favorite coffee shop. I smiled. Yes! I knew I was exactly where God wanted me to be.

I took my Bible and the pages fell open to the scriptures in Genesis that speak of Abraham being the Father of many nations…right there where he was introduced to El Shaddai…the God of more than enough. That day the wall of intimidation that surrounded Wall Street came down for me. I wrote down the things God was showing me, found the coffee shop, enjoyed a coffee and drove home. I had climbed a mountain.

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Broachers on Wall Street

I was recently stirred by reading about the history of Wall Street in the book Becoming a Millionaire God’s Way by C. Thomas Anderson. What struck me was that the original folks who started to trade on Wall Street were just normal people like you and I selling war bonds. Everyone starts somewhere. Here is a quote from the book.

Throughout history the wealthy got that way in the same manner that they do today. They invested. They watched for opportunities and took calculated risk based on their knowledge of how money works.

 In 1789, the United States government had just emerged from the Revolutionary War and was completely broke. To raise some capital, it sold eighty million dollars of government bonds. The government desperately needed money and those who were aware could invest in the government and earn substantial dividends.

 The men who sold these bonds were called broachers. The term originally referred to those who broached or tapped a keg of wine. They punched a hole in the keg so that its contents could be poured out. The government broachers were tapping the finances of people and bringing them into the government. In time the “a” was dropped and they became known as “brokers.” 

These broachers worked largely in the capital, which was New York at that time. To avoid inclement weather they often worked out of a place called the Turvine Café. This gathering was the beginning of what became known as the New York Stock Exchange. The café was located on a little four block street called Wall Street. When the Dutch first settled New York in 1644, they put brush wood around their complex to keep cattle and Indians out. The governor later built a nine foot high wall, turning the area into a fortress. The street that ran along the wall became known as Wall Street.

I mention this little bit of history because it shows that there have always been opportunities for investments and there have always been investors. There is no reason why you cannot be one. 1

I agree with Dr. Anderson…there is no reason why we cannot become financially literate, develop financial courage and start to prosper. Desire is one of God’s focusing points. He uses it to get people moving. We have read previously that God gives us the desires of our hearts. The very fact that you have an interest in this book and are reading it indicates that you desire to change and learn.

1 Dr. C. Thomas Anderson, Becoming a Millionaire God’s Way, (New York: New York, Faith Words, Hachette Book Group USA, 2006), p.

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Confronting Fear

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist bombing and destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City, many people were overcome with fear and intimidation. The magnitude of physical destruction and the sense of violation penetrated people to the core of their being. As different people responded to this tragedy differently, I heard one Christian ministry that felt led of the Lord to confront the fear that was associated with it. They scheduled a meeting on the one year anniversary, right in Manhattan, to confront any intimidation or fear people were feeling in regards to this terrorist attack. This really got my attention as the right thing to do, so my son and I traveled to New York for the one year anniversary of 9/11. It was a great night, and as you know there were no follow up attacks. It proved to be a great lesson for my son in confronting opposition and fear.

We need to face the spirit of poverty head on and confront it. If we are just brutally honest, this is how we develop a prosperous soul. It will take risk and financial courage. Remember the parable of the talents? The one steward did not understand God’s nature and so he did not take a risk with his talent. He was punished by the master for not taking a risk. For those of us who want to understand God’s nature, we are required to take risks. Without faith it is impossible to please God.

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A pastor friend of mine said the following after he was physically assaulted at a New Year’s Eve celebration, “Christianity is all theory until it is put to the test.” His ability to live out Christianity was put to a test, and he passed as he forgave the individual and moved on with life. This statement is true about our belief in biblical prosperity too. It is all theory unless it is put to the test. We started early on by looking at the blessings of Abraham. He was blessed to be a blessing. He received the blessing of God by faith. We need to do it the same way. It has often been said that faith is spelled RISK.

In the book Good to Great, author Jim Collins talks about how to confront the brutal facts without losing faith. Start with an honest approach to assess the given situation. Don’t confuse faith that you are going to prevail with the brutal facts and reality of your current situation. The reality of your present situation, perhaps as measured by net worth, gives the sound footing needed to lift yourself out of it. We must look reality in the eye and confront it.

In order to prosper financially we will have to take risk and confront fear. These next few blogs will be about how to take a realistic assessment of your finances and overcome fear to change that present reality.

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Let’s Get Brutally Honest

From history we know that when William Bradford founded the first English colony in America in Jamestown, Virginia; the first couple of years were very tough for the new colony. One reason was because they took a socialistic approach to farming and had a community garden in which all were to labor together and share the food, but as it ended up only a few demonstrated the incentive to do the work and many died in the first year. After a couple of years they decided to split up the garden into plots and give each family a plot of ground for which they were personally responsible. On this plot they would work and eat the food that was harvested from it. Guess what?…from that point on there was plenty of food in Jamestown! Individuals took personal responsibility for their own provision, it made a big difference and the settlement at Jamestown survived.

To apply this principle, shall we sit around and fantasize about how much we would like to give or shall we start to work the land for the abundance from which to give? Proverbs 28:19 states, “He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.” We can’t give what we don’t have, so let’s quit being spiritually lazy and start believing God for abundance. How can we make our soul prosperous? Unless we change some of our thoughts and actions, we will get the same financial result that we have gotten before. We can have great intentions about building a budget, calculating net worth and developing a financial plan, but if we don’t put action to it nothing will change.

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