Sunday, March 27, 2011

{Book Review} Your Money God’s Way by Aime Streater

For the past 10 years I have been trying to get out of debt. Realistically, I have been seriously trying for the past four years. I am very close to reaching one specific financial goal and I think the fact that I’m so close that goal has given me a little inspiration.

Several months back I chose to review the book Your Money God’s Way by Aime Streater through BookSneeze.com, but only got through the first chapter before it was laid aside and kind of forgotten about. Recently I picked it up again in hopes that I could finish a review and get another book and I was surprised (in a good way) to find lots of things to help me reach the finish line of the specific financial goal I mentioned above.

I’m going to post this review in two sections because 1) I've finished reading half of the book and 2) since this has turned into more of a Bible study for me rather than a normal Book Review, it's going to be a little longer than unusual...


Book Description

“Amie Streater…delivers a powerful message of common sense and biblical wisdom that today’s churchgoers desperately need.” - Dave Ramsey
Readers discover the seven "counterfeit convictions" that keep them broke and encounter proven plans for getting out of debt, building wealth, and finding financial peace.
Money habits. Where do they come from? Can you pinpoint when you started shopping to feel better, why you can’t usher grown children into financial independence, or why saving for the future is a priority in theory but not in practice?
Amie Streater, associate pastor of financial stewardship for the 10,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, has been there. From her own experience, she knows what it’s like to look at an impossible pile of bills and a pile of toddlers wrestling in the next room. In Your Money God's Way, empowered by her own incredible journey to financial freedom, she leads readers to the dream of mastering their finances. She also expertly uncovers seven “counterfeit convictions” Christians believe that hinder their personal finance success.
Book Review

From the start I think the author is harsh in her analysis of what Christians should do to be good financial stewards, but I think it’s necessary. She found “that it takes more than just teaching steps to get out of debt—it takes confrontation of the wrong thinking that got them there to begin with.”

Counterfeit Convictions is first chapter and the book concludes with Conviction Clean-Up Plan. The middle chapters describe the author’s view of “seven key spiritual conditions most often cause Christians to fail in meeting personal financial goals”:

  1. The Fix-It Fantasy: Unrealistic, unbiblical beliefs about the power money has to improve our lives
  2. Saviors or Enablers?: A habit of trying be a savior by continually bailing reckless people out of their messes, and waiting our own resources in the process
  3. Self-Righteous Slackers: Polluted theology, which we use to mask laziness and justify not working or failing to work up to our full potential
  4. You Must Be Here to Help Me!: Naïveté about the intentions of others.
  5. God Is an ATM: Failure to give, or a tendency to give with the wrong intentions
  6. The Scarlette Syndrome: Denial about our current circumstances of the consequences of our actions
  7. The Cliff Jumpers: A tendency to blame God for our own impulsive behavior

Introduction

One thing that stuck out in her introduction was “Your wealth—or lack thereof—is a direct result of the decisions you have made regarding every dollar that has passed through your hands.” Uhh…she said “every dollar”!

I was encouraged by this prayer and intend to pray it often:

Daily Prayer

Dear Jesus, thank You for loving me, for staying beside me, for holding me up when I fall. Please give me an open mind and an open heart. Let me see things as You see them. Show me what’s truth. Show me where I am wrong. Open the doors You want me to walk through, and close the ones that lead to places You don’t want me to be.

Please bless my efforts to improve my finances. Multiply my resources, and bless me so I may be a blessing to others. Most important, line up my thoughts with Your thoughts. Help me forgive myself for the mistakes of my pat, and forgive others for mistakes against me, just as You forgive me for all my sins as soon as I ask. I release the mistakes of yesterday, and I receive the blessing You have for me today.

In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Chapter 1 – Counterfeit Convictions
In this chapter I was challenged to highlight the scriptures used so that they will provide a quick reference for me to do as the Berean Christians did in Acts 17:11.

The author explained counterfeit convictions as “beliefs that started out as biblical truths but that we absorb into our hearts incorrectly.”

Here’s the first one she mentions:
Counterfeit Conviction: “I can’t really afford this, but I’ll just put it on my credit card. When the bill comes, God will provide!”

Timeless truth: Proverbs 21:17 tells us, “HE who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”

A daily prayer:
Father God, I acknowledge that my current financial habits may be inconsistent with what Your Word teaches because my current financial condition does not line up with the promise of the Bible. God, open my heart and my mind to new ideas and fresh thinking. Help me to see what You want me to see, when You want me to see it. Father, bless my efforts to become financially healthy, and let my decisions bless my family and honor You.

In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Chapter 2 – The Fix-It Fantasy

While Chapter 1 set the stage for the next 7 chapters, Chapter 2 jumped right in to the main idea from this chapter to me was the power of negative words in your life, and replacing negative thinking with Scripture truths is the key to reversing the effects of those negative words.

A couple of quotes I pulled from the chapter:
·         “If you’re not grateful for what you have now, you won’t be grateful with more.” Contentment is happiness, not more stuff.
·         “See your setback as a temporary circumstance and not a permanent condition.” It’s easy to get into the “permanent condition” mindset. But by reversing your thinking, you will be more positive. To be more positive, you will need to add Scripture to your thinking.
·         “The only thing that can truly change you is the power of God.” Again, more Scripture in your life is key!

A daily prayer:
Dear God, please help me see money the way You see it. And show me that You value me right now for who I am and for who You created me to be. Give me the wisdom and the patience to multiply my resources so that I can be a blessing to others. Let me value my life in terms of the amount of love I give and receive, and not by the number of dollars I have in the bank. Show me what money can do, and just as important, what it cannot do. Help me to find peace and my safety in You, and only You.

In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Chapter 3 - Saviors or Enablers?

Counterfeit Conviction: It is my Christian duty to be at the beck and call of everyone who wants me to help them out of a jam.

Timeless Truth: You have to take care of yourself if you’re going to be in a position to help anyone else. And the world is full of people who live to take advantage of generous souls. Generosity and a desire to be helpful to others must be coupled with wisdom and discernment.

While I like to think of myself as a generous person, I know don’t have anyone in my life taking advantage of my generosity and I also don’t believe I generally give more than I can afford so this chapter was somewhat not applicable to me. However, she did raise some good points for when you are in these types of situations and there were two things that stuck out to me:

·         Establish a budget in which your tithe and your most immediate needs (food, clothing, shelter, [and] transportation) are covered first, followed by your secondary goals and obligations (retirement savings, debt elimination, mortgage payoff acceleration, [and] vacation savings). You cannot give away money that you do not have.
·         Set aside a monthly amount to use for “spontaneous” giving or helping others. If after making your budget you don’t have money left over, then you are about to get a crash course in saying no.

Chapter 4 - Self-Righteous Slackers

Counterfeit Conviction: God didn’t want me to go to work…My responsibilities will be met somehow.

Timeless Truth: Laziness does not honor God; neither is it His plan for your life. However, God always blesses hard work and dedication.

Some themes of the chapter included:
  • The author was certainly passionate about telling those she has counseled that it was a privilege for women to be stay at home moms/wives, not a right. If one chose to get in debt (i.e. for education – student loans) then one should contribute to the effort to pay those debts off.
  • Caution against get-rich-quick schemes. Proverbs 21:5
  • Encouragement to “work up to our full potential”- maybe even sacrifice a little now to ultimately get to do a job that we desire.
  • Using more than just one of our talents if God closes the door to the one we’ve always done (be the tweezers or pliers in the Swiss army knife instead of just a knife).

Pray for my work life:

Father God, I thank You for the gifts and talents with which You have blessed me. Please help me use these gifts to make a living for myself and for my family, to bless others, and to honor and glorify You. Break off any barriers in my hear that keep me from working up to my fullest potential. Give me a strong work ethic, energy for the day, patience for the tasks before me, and grace to handle my job with a smile. Bless the work of my hands, Lord, and please bless the job searches of everyone who is out of work right now.

In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Bottom line: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” Colossians 3:23

I hope to post the conclusion of this review in the next week or so.
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