Your Money or God’s Money?

By | books, read together | No Comments


Earlier this month I threw out a challenge to my readers to join me in reading the book, “Managing God’s Money” by Randy Alcorn.

[And by the way, if you email me your one page summary of how it effected you to anbaconreadtogether@gmail.com and comment below, I am giving away one of my pallet clocks to a random participant! Contest ends tomorrow, March 31, so hurry.]

I knew I needed to read this book, but I didn’t realize how badly I needed this book. It caused me to realize that my heart has become off when it comes to money.

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“The Bible emphatically demonstrates that how we view our
money and possessions is of utmost importance.
What we do with them will influence eternity.”

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I have always known that God was in charge of money and that He in charge of giving me money. I was raised in a home that taught that you should tithe regularly and Brooke and I both do that so I figured we were already in decent shape.

When we were first married in 2006, we had nearly three-year journey and paid off more than 45,000 in debt. Thankfully by God’s grace we were able to do that. Yay God and yay us, right? Well not exactly. Because where did we go from there?

There was a deep dark little thought that I have always kept since we got out of debt that we did the work and that it was our money once God gave it to us. I knew in my head that God was in charge of providing me with money, but in my heart, I started to develop the hidden attitude that it was “our money”. We earned it. It was ours.

But the truth is, it is not my money. It is God’s money. All of it. No matter how it comes to me, it is God’s.

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“One day we will stand before God and give an account of
how we have managed what belongs to him.”


“When we see money as a toy to play with instead of a
tool to impact eternity, our vision becomes shortsighted and unfocused.”

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I hadn’t realized that I hadn’t taken this truth literally in my life. I know God is Lord over my life, but He is Lord over my money too? This book forced me to deal with this and admit that I have not been living this truth out.

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“If Christ is not Lord over our money and possessions, he is not our Lord.”

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I realized that it is time for me to recalibrate my attitude. I am the steward of His money. I am the steward if His things, His people, His children and even His time (yikes).

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“God is the owner of all things, and we are simply his stewards.”

“A steward’s primary goal is to be “found faithful” by his master.”

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As a man with a family, it is really difficult to face the pressures of “providing for my family” financially. I don’t think I realized how much stress and pressure I had been putting on myself to make sure that we have enough money coming in the door and being put into savings as well. Truth: I have not been trusting God with this aspect of my life at all. I have started “playing God” in my life, acting as if it is all up to me rather than “serving God” with my life.

But God is in control. And if I truly trust him, then I will do what he says with money and not worry about it or attempt to hoard it.

Another thing I discovered in myself is the attitude that I can take care of myself. I was saying things in my head like: “If I make this much or get this much in savings then we will be good.” I was becoming more proud and more stressed all at the same time.

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“Yes, your wisdom has made you very rich, and your
riches have made you very proud” (Ezekiel 28:4-5).”

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It is so easy to become proud and think that everything is good when you have a lot. It’s one thing to say: “I trust God,” and have everything working out for you, but it’s another thing to actually trust God through unknown situations or tough times. But the reality is that none of us can hang on to what we have. It will all go away.

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“—fires consume, floods inundate, governments seize, enemies attack,
investments tank. No earthly treasure is safe.”

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I need to stop worrying about money. I need to work hard, but leave it to God to provide. I need to recognize that none of this money we have is ours. It is God’s. How are we using it to build God’s kingdom rather than ours? I also need to trust that God will provide and stop thinking that more money or material things or forms of entertainment will satisfy me. What a trap and a lie that is!

Here are some more questions that came out of reading this book:

Do I trust in myself or God?
Am I here to build a kingdom for myself or to help build God’s kingdom?
Do I give money away willingly to help kingdom building?
How much is enough?
Am I materialistic?
Have I sought materialistic things to satisfy me?
Do I think about eternity and God’s kingdom as my home, or am I so consumed with the world around me now that I miss it?

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“God entrusts me with his money not to build my kingdom
on Earth but to build his Kingdom in Heaven.”


“Sacrificial giving makes no human sense. But we
are to think like Christ, not the world.”

“We have one brief opportunity—a lifetime on Earth—
to use our resources to make a difference.”

“John Wesley said, ‘I judge all things only by the
price they shall gain in eternity.’”

“Missionary C. T. Studd said, ‘Only one life, ’twill soon be past;
only what’s done for Christ will last.’”

“When God is happy with our management of his money,
we will be happy.”

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So how about you? How do you view money? Is it yours or is it God’s?

If you believe it is God’s then I guarantee you that it will radically impact how you are living.

 

*all quotes in italics from the book, Managing God’s Money by Randy Alcorn

 

Book Read & Giveaway – ‘Managing God’s Money’

By | books, read together | No Comments

managing-gods-money-a-biblical-guideI recently saw this idea from Lecrae on having people read a book and share their thoughts with him.  What a great idea!

I want to see if there is any interest out there with joining in with me on what I am currently reading and see if we can create some discussion together.  And as an incentive to join in, you can be entered to win one of my pallet clocks that I make and sell over at Field Treasure Designs.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about money and wanting to view it God’s way.  I have always been very challenged and encouraged by Randy Alcorn’s books. I own his bigger book on the subject “Money, Possessions and Eternity” but I decided to start with his smaller companion book, “Managing God’s Money: A Biblical Guide”.  I also thought it might be a bit easier for anyone else to read and digest with me.  It is not that long of a read at all.

The book is not expensive either.  It is $4.61 to read on your kindle here. The hardcopy isn’t too much more.

 

Processed with VSCOcamTo enter to win one of my 14″x14″ pallet clocks, you have to do the following:

1) Read the book by March 31. Duh.
2) Comment on any of my blog posts relating to this book this month with one lesson you learned to spur on discussion with others.
3) Write a one page summary and email it to anbaconreadtogether@gmail.com. Don’t copy or cheat.  I’ll know if you did, you stinker.

 

I will draw a winner on April 1.

Looking forward to reading this with you and talking about it!

 

Almost Game Time. Still Debating the Super Bowl & Sex Trafficking?

By | life | 2 Comments

triplex text footballIt is almost game time and I imagine that many are still truly debating the issue of sex trafficking and the super bowl. Especially with all the extreme statements and posts on both sides of the issue.  Please take the time to read and gain understanding.

Since the #DWTBMovement began a few days ago, we have seen a firestorm of controversy on both sides as well as had many challenge those of us who have posted about it directly saying that the Super Bowl increase in sex trafficking is a myth.

There are many organizations, politicians, media outlet and blogs saying that the Super Bowl brings with it a huge increase of sex trafficking.  Many of these seem to have grown into extreme statements that have been blown out of proportion.  I do agree with that.  For example, the quote about 10,000 victims were trafficked to Miami for the super bowl event seems to be emotionally charged without significant back up.  (But what if that were true?)

On the other side of the issue, those that say that an increase in sex trafficking at the Super Bowl is only a myth have done the EXACT same thing just in the opposite way.  They have polarized the argument.  The amount of posts, reports and articles swinging to one side or the other in an extreme way is truly alarming.

What are you to think about all of this?  Well the issue runs way deeper.  You first need to realize that an hour spent searching the internet on this topic will not get you educated enough to truly understand this issue.  That is why the #DWTBMovement is saying get peoples attention and GO get involved.   Here are a couple of points to hopefully help you.

1) Sex trafficking is really hard to stop from a law enforcement perspective. And it is even harder to track so to base an extreme statement of no increase around the Super Bowl on police reports is a bit shaky.  Read what the FBI says and you will see how complicated it is.  They said in 2011 that the victims are in the millions.  “Not only is human sex trafficking slavery but it is big business. It is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world.”  Read their full report here.

2) The articles that have flared up stating the other extreme (the Super Bowl Sex trafficking increase is a myth) have interesting details you need to consider.  Here are the few that I have seen:

“Super Bowl Sex Trafficking and Other Myths,” by Joe Carter | The Gospel Coalition.  Read it here.

  • This was probably the strongest argument that I had received by so many.  This is probably due to the fact that the GC group blog is very credible and filled with God fearing and Bible believing people.  The problem I have with Carter’s post is his title.  He basically tells all the readers that it is a myth and they can go on their way.  He comments below in the comment section that he would have chosen a different title had he known this would have been the big deal that it was.  He also cites police arrest reports as his bases for saying that the increase around the Super Bowl is a myth.  Yet, he then writes at the end of his post a quote from spokeswoman from an organization that “No one knows with certainty the exact number of children exploited through sex trafficking in the United States or during events like the Super Bowl…”  Why would you go to the other extreme and polarize the argument?  That didn’t help.  He essentially did exactly what he originally set out to debunk.  He said, “That’s why I think exaggeration of the issue leads to trivialization.”  I agree.  And calling something a “myth” could be quite the exaggeration.

“The Super Bowl Trafficking Myth” by Salon Media Group.  Read it here.
“The Mythical Invaders of Super Bowl Hookers” by Reason.com.  Read it here.
“The Super Bowl of (later changed to ‘and’) Sex Trafficking” by NYTimes.  Read it here.

  • Most all of these articles start off with extreme statements moving the reader to draw extreme conclusions without even reading the details.  Also, most of them talk about the report that was produced by the Global Alliance Against Traffic In Women (GAATW) in 2011 essentially refuting all claims to major sports events increasing in sex trafficking.  The report is extensive.  Read it here.
  • My problem with the GAATW report is two fold.  1)  Why the other extreme?  Why do they seem to push over and over again that there is no increase in Sex Trafficking at all of these events?  That is a bit strange.  2)  Read about who they are.  They are an ‘alliance’.  They say about themselves that the GAATW “collects and disseminates information, and advocates on behalf of the Alliance at regional and international levels.”  I couldn’t find anything about having people actually on the ground.

 

On the other hand, there are arguments on the extreme side and the moderate side for an increase in sex trafficking at the Super Bowl.  There is no need to post links to those because you have probably already heard them.

Here are a few things to consider for why the Super Bowl has an increase in Sex Trafficking in its host city and why this has sparked such an outrage.

1)  A city cannot even host the Super Bowl unless it has 30,000 hotel rooms.  NFL Commissioner, Goodell says this here.

2)  Every major city WANTS to host the Super Bowl.  New Orleans claimed it netted them 480 million.  Do you think major cities who stand to have the Big Game back to their city in the future really want their city looking bad by reporting statistics of crime around it?  If New orleans stands to have the game back and make another 480 million, my guess is that they are not going to be quick to publish crime stats around the event.  Just something to consider. New Orleans report here.

3) Supply and Demand.  Are people really so adamant that there is no increase of sex trafficking that they won’t even look at supply and demand?  Do we not think there will be more jobs, food, hotel rooms, and beer to provide for the influx of population?  The demand for paid sex is growing and why will no one moderately admit that the supply will not follow the crowd to a large event.  That is ignorance of basic principles of economics.  You are really going to stand up and say that when a city gains 480 million dollars in net revenue streams during 10 days that there is an increase in sales for every commodity except paid sex?  That is something I would like to challenge.

4) Most articles that have been published taking the stand against sex trafficking increasing at the Super Bowl are from people who seem to be sitting in offices.  I don’t know that for sure, but what I do know is that I have had genuine conversations with people I trust who have actually worked in the field of anti trafficking at the Super Bowl.  Here is my recent conversation with a friend for you to read.

My Friend: “It was definitely more of an issue when it was in New Orleans!! You can tell that by the amount of arrests made during that time related to trafficking and prostitution. Also there were so many teams of law enforcement and nonprofits that came in to combat it. I was able to work with the FBI some and see the intense work they were putting in. Plus I saw it first hand in the amount of extra people in the clubs that I minister to on a regular basis and the extra work I did to stop it downtown during that time.” She references “arrests related to”. You see most arrests related to trafficking don’t go on record as trafficking. It could be a number of different issues there. 

Me: “And just to make sure I understand. You are saying that the Super Bowl in New Orleans brought a rise in trafficking according to your experience? So many are claiming it’s not true but I want to hear it from you, someone who was there and ministers there on the ground.”

My Friend: “Yes that is exactly what I am saying. It is always happening here, but the Super Bowl made it so much worse. Feel free to share my experience with people as you talk to them about this!”

Me: “Do you have a list of examples you could shoot me if you have a few minutes?”

My Friend: “Population rises in the city and so does trafficking. Regularly a strip club might have 30-40 dancers on a weekend night. During the Super Bowl, their were at least 90 dancers a night. I saw 13 year old girls dressed provocatively walking around with older men. Normally this would not be as common but law enforcement had so much going on that trafficking was more out in the open. Instructions for how to “get a girl” were posted on random doors throughout the city that would be obvious during any normal time in the city. Backpage.com, where many girls advertise and are bought and sold, escalated with more girls during the Super Bowl. Although law enforcement increased, most were told not to do anything about trafficking bc they needed to leave that to the FBI and the law enforcement that were trained to deal with it. Around 85 people were arrested for trafficking in New Orleans or surrounding areas like Baton Rouge around the Super Bowl last year. That only includes specific trafficking charges.” (The reason she said that only includes specific trafficking charges is because so many of them are dismissed or moved in to different charges which makes using them as a statistic shaky ground.)

This friend of mine is a real person who was really on the ground.  She is not in an office somewhere quoting statistics from quick internet searches or arbitrary police reports to engage in arguments or to earn more attention, likes, views or money.

Lastly, here is one actual report of a mother who traveled from Florida to sell her daughter as a sex slave because of the Super Bowl.  Again, an issue of supply and Demand.  Read it here.

 

Ultimately, keep in mind that a lot of people stand to gain and lose with this topic.  Cities don’t want to lose a Super Bowl hosting event.  The Super Bowl doesn’t want to lose being the greatest show on earth.  People want to argue and be right.  Many people also want an easy answer and want to move on with their lives.  People also want to latch on to this hot topic because money stands to be made with views, likes, shares etc.  Why do you think so many have jumped into the fray with extreme tittles?  That is what frustrated me about the GC’s article by Joe Carter.  Did you notice the “donate” button at the top of the site?  I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, just keep that in mind!

The #DWTBMovement is not about making you feel guilty or about making money!  It is not about spreading sensationalism around something that is merely a myth.  It is a practical way to GET YOUR ATTENTION about sex trafficking and to let you know that it DOES increase at major sporting events.  But they key is awareness and then action.  Go learn more.  Let your heart be moved.  The issue will not be fully solved by not watching the game, nor have we ever claimed that.  But getting your attention and spreading the word begins to help.  That’s why it’s called a movement, not a solution.

Don’t just read an article or two and move on with your life.  Stop and think.  Stop and learn.

Thanks so much for getting this far in my post if you did.  That tells me that you want to know more.

5 Reasons You Won’t Join the #DWTBMovement

By | life | No Comments

graphic11

1) You are skeptical.  Any “movement” brings with it a measure of skepticism.  You don’t quite know if this is fake or sincere.  You live in a day and age where everything is not what it seems.  Products are advertised as being made one way but in reality they are made in a different way. We are constantly deceived by the media, by blogs, by tweets and posts of exaggerations or flat out lies which has bred a generation of skeptics.  You just don’t know if this is the “real deal”.  I don’t blame you.  I think the same thing about things like this.  This could be a ploy to get a lot of attention and get someone’s brand out there to be bigger and to sell you something and make a ton of money.  

My Answer:  This movement is an idea that God put in my heart literally last week after a few years of personally dealing with this issue, researching it and being trained in it.  I don’t think I’m cool.  Quite the opposite.  I have felt pretty uncool for the last week or so.  There is no money being made here. In fact, there has been quite a bit of money spent here.  Including time.  I assure you – there are no hidden fees.  We might try to raise money in the future, but if we do, you will know.  This is literally me and a couple good friends trying to be faithful with what God put on our hearts to tell the world.  Sex trafficking is real. And there is more demand during large entertainment events (it’s simple economics of supply and demand) and challenging you to not watch the biggest entertainment event in the country is a call to raise awareness.  Plain and simple.  

 

2) You don’t know what to think.  The argument is polarizing.  You were probably all on board with the #DWTBMovement and all the things you were reading about how the Super Bowl is a huge sex trafficking event and then, ‘gasp’, the Gospel Coalition produced a “fact checker” article by Joe Carter about how the Super Bowl’s increase of sex trafficking is a myth.  Oh no!  This conservative, God fearing, Biblical based online resource just said it really doesn’t happen that much at the Super Bowl.  What is one to believe?  Essentially, he took a few (what he stated as) “facts” and brought tension back to the argument. And you keep asking the million dollar question:  “So does the super bowl have more sex trafficking than normal or does it not?!”  That is what you all want to know.

Feel free to read Carter’s article here.  Just make sure you read the comments.  The link I provided is the page with the comments.  There is more to this than being dismissed as a “myth”.  And again, Carter acknowledges he was way too extreme on his title, which has left a lot of people “off the hook” and not needing to worry about this topic because someone from the TGC said it was only a myth.  I think he knows that was not the best move.  But to his credit, he also didn’t know his post was going to be such a firestorm.  I commend him for not deleting his post and rolling with it.  It is never easy to be under such intense scrutiny.

My Answer:  Ironically enough, Carter starts his article by referencing Exodus 23:1 saying that scripture forbids spreading a false report.  Yet he is essentially saying that it is a myth that the Super Bowl has an increase in sex trafficking.  That is pretty bold. (He also acknowledges this himself and that he should have had a better blog title in a comment way down in the comment section.)  In his post, he states that Phoenix, Tampa Bay and Miami Police reported no unusual numbers of prostitute arrests during the past Super Bowls in those areas.  Well there are two things at play here for those statements:  1. Do you think cities want to divulge what is really happening in their cities when it comes to crime?  Especially when the biggest sporting event is taking place there?  2. Everyone wants to look at the single statistic of ‘prostitutes arrested’ for figuring out how much trafficking is happening in a local area.

The problem here is that you have the wrong idea in you head. You have a movie style picture in your head of a woman scantily dressed walking the streets looking for paying customers.  Sex trafficking can take that form, however, there is a whole different side of this.  Advertisements on websites such as craigslist and other networks allow for “girls” or “boys” to be advertised.  The meetings are set up.  And they are in private locations. They are in buildings.  They are in hotels.  This is an extremely difficult crime for law enforcement to detect and stop.  How can they possibly know when a young girl is being sold for sex in a hotel room?

If you think that trafficking does not go up in numbers around the Super Bowl, then you are ignoring basic economics of supply and demand.  But wherever you land on that issue, be careful when reading both sides of the argument on how much sex trafficking happens at the Super Bowl. Focus on the real issue. The real issue is that sex trafficking is happening all over in our society!  The Super Bowl is the mecca of all american entertainment events.  And kids are being used as commodities for sex as entertainment in our culture.  Literally.  That is what you need to know.  How can not watching it to spread awareness be a bad thing here?

 

3) You are scared.   You might be scared of what others think – friend, family and strangers.  If you are a Christian, you might also be scared about the perception of the non-christian culture. You might not be able to share Jesus with them if you offend them.  Lastly, you might be scared of being a hypocrite.  You were already planning on watching the game and if you join the movement now you are two faced, etc.    

My Answer:  I understand.  The potential perception of others is scary. I know from experience, especially during this awareness movement. First, there is only one opinion that matters.  It is God’s.  Not mine.  Not your friend’s. Not your family’s.  Remember that.

Second, its seems that the Christian culture in America is told over and over how relevant we should be to the secular culture.  You probably don’t want to make waves with them over the Super Bowl.  Don’t forget that Jesus himself turned the tables in the temple courts when those there had turned it into a “den of thieves”.  Jesus did not remain “un partial” so everyone felt good.   I am not saying you need to be mean, just don’t be paralyzed from sharing a conviction with someone.  Making someone upset because of your belief does not mean you did a poor job of “sharing the Gospel”.  If you remember, many people were very angry with Jesus.  They actually called him the Devil.  Many people will be angry with you in your life over lots of stuff.  Does that automatically mean you were wrong?

Last, if you were already planning to watch the game.  No problem!  Maybe you might change your mind.  Maybe you won’t.  Spreading the word about this movement and still watching the game doesn’t necessarily make you a hypocrite. By the way, if you are waiting to do anything until you are no longer a “hypocrite”, you might not do much.  We are all hypocrites to some degree.  We are being transformed into the image of Jesus over time – it’s called sanctification.

 

4) You are indecisive.  It’s a tough call.  You have read articles and opinions, but you aren’t really there.  You don’t really know.  You haven’t seen the issue of sex trafficking first hand.  You can’t make a decision so you put it off.

My Answer:  Well that is what this whole movement is all about!  We are trying to help you remove ignorance from your life in this area.  Look up an organization on our website.  Find a friend who is actually involved with this stuff.  Google organizations in your area.  Read the book, Renting Lacy (bet you won’t).  Move yourself to a place of making a decision about this.  Once you know, you cannot be ignorant.  You are now responsible.  And this is an issue you should not stay on the fence with.

 

5) You are indifferent. This is the worst of them all.  You could care less.  “It isn’t affecting me”, you think.

My Answer:  If this is the stance you take, this is tragic. I certainly hope this is not the case.  But only God can convince you at this point.  I truly fear for your soul if you are not moved to sadness and anger over the issue of sex trafficking.

 

Take a look. It might change your life.   dontwatchthebowl.com

You Won’t Read this Book

By | books | No Comments

renting-lacy-smith

I was given this book by a friend a year ago when I started to get more involved in learning about the reality of sex trafficking.  I read it in an afternoon in a state of complete disgust.  It is a terribly shocking reality of what is happening to children in our country.  The demand for paid illicit sex with enslaved victims is growing at an alarming rate.  And the supply is growing to meet this demand.  Runaway children are enticed almost within a day of hitting the streets.  Kids in the foster system are being taken.  Normal young adults are being manipulated and then trapped.

This book will OPEN your eyes to this reality and stir your heart.  It will scare you to death.

And that is why you won’t read it.

It is easy to think about great men with a sense of romanticism. Abraham Lincoln.  Martin Luther King.  William Wilberforce.  But these men did their part to help end slavery!  They gave up being worried about peoples thoughts or opinions.  They did not turn away to their own isolation and comforts while ignoring reality.  They spoke out for those who could not speak for themselves.

Maybe you will read this book. Maybe you will let it change your life.  And it will help you understand why I started the dontwatchthebowl.com movement.

It can be downloaded immediately if you have a kindle device or the free kindle reading app on any of your devices.

Buy Renting Lacy here.