Book Reviews From 2018

Saturday In The Proverbs—Knowing True & False Riches (Proverbs 22)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…riches… (Proverbs 22:1, 4, 16).

There are earthly riches and there are heavenly riches. There are temporary gains and there is eternal wealth. This Proverb helps direct us to true riches that last forever. 

Good character and a good reputation are better than money (v. 1)

God alone decides what is truly valuable (v. 2)

Prudence helps you avoid bankruptcy (v. 3)

Humbly fearing God is the path to eternal wealth (v. 4)

A perverse pursuit of wealth is a hard and painful path (v. 5)

Better godly children than gobs of money (vv. 6, 15)

Debt enslaves (v. 7)

Cutting corners to make a buck will come back to bite you (v. 8)

Generosity leads to more blessings (v. 9)

Don’t pay attention to those who scoff at God’s ways (vv. 10, 24, 25)

A grace-filled, pure lifestyle will get you noticed and rewarded (v. 11)

God rewards those who do things His way (vv. 12, 17-21)

A good work ethic brings rewards (vv. 13, 29)

Immoral pursuits end in a deep pit (v. 14)

Don’t treat people differently because of their ‘net worth’ (vv. 16, 22, 23; see also James 2:2-4)

Be careful to whom you make financial  commitments (vv. 26, 27)

Don’t encroach on others’ space (v. 28) 

10 Quotes From “Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice”

I loved the financial insights that John Thornton presented in Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice. The advice is “terrible” in that it flies in the face of conventional financial wisdom and puts it in the proper biblical light. Check out my full review of this book by clicking here.

“As God waits patiently to receive our all, wonder, and appreciation for all He is and does, an idol steps in to accept our applause. Like an insidious illusionist, the idol misdirects our attention to itself. … What does an idol do? Nothing. That’s all an idol can do. Nothing. Nothing but steal God’s glory.”

“Jesus is not trying to impoverish us when He tells us to store up treasures in heaven.”

“Here is where some people mistakenly make it about the money. They wrongly conclude that rich people can’t make it to heaven, but poor people can. This is a grave error. In truth, no one can enter the kingdom of heaven, rich or poor, without God.”

“If we are seeking heaven because our life here is so good that we don’t want it to end, or simply because we don’t want to go to hell, we’ve missed the point. We’ve made the same mistake this young man made [Mark 10]. So doing what Jesus always did, He redirected the young man to the right thing. The greatest good. He redirected the young man to God. Jesus clarifies that no one is good but God Himself. … What makes eternal life good isn’t the length. It’s the company. God Himself is what is good about heaven [John 17:3].”

“Regardless of how much of a blessing of wealth has the potential to be, it becomes a curse for us when it separates us from the love of God.”

“Don’t wrongfully conclude that rich people can’t make it, but poor people can. Or that poor people are godly, but rich people are not. If we do this, we miss the point entirely. We think that Jesus is just calling out rich people. We think He is talking about people’s financial position, when He’s really talking about our heart condition. … At the end of the day, answer to the question ‘Does Jesus want you rich or poor?’ is obvious. The answer is yes! Jesus wants you. And the answer is all about God’s goodness, not ours.”

“The number one theme related to wealth in the Bible is that it is a blessing from God.” 

“Whenever we conclude that the plans we have for our lives are better than the plans God has for us, or that the gifts we have for ourselves are better than His gifts, the false master Money steps up. Money promises to put us in charge. With it, we can smooth the way or save the day. Don’t worry. Be happy. But God has a better plan for our lives. We were made to live for so much more. And He is more. God wants us to understand and know Him, His ‘kindness, justice and righteousness,’ for in these He delights (Jeremiah 9:24). God’s plan is to complete us.”

“Wealth becomes a curse for us when we choose it over God.” 

“In a society where we have taken independence, individual freedom, and self-love to cult status, submission is taboo. We want to be our own master. Money offers us what we want, so we love it or fear it, trading in the true God for a false one. But Jesus shows us we have it all wrong. He shows us that submission to His Father is the only way to be truly free. Free to live life to the full. The only way to live a life that matters is to find our sole purpose in Him.”

Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice (book review)

When a trained and certified financial advisor says you’re making a mistake with your finances, you will probably listen to him. But what if the one giving the terrible financial advice is Jesus? John Norton (a CPA with a Ph.D. in accounting) looks at the financial advice of Jesus in a whole new light in his book Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice.

I’ll be honest with you: this book is not at all what I expected. When I hear someone say that Jesus gave “bad financial advice,” I just assume it’s a tongue-in-cheek lead in to a discussion on tithing or giving to missions. But as the subtitle of the book hints, John Norton flips the table on every financial concept that you’ve ever heard taught by the world’s financial experts.

Many people wrongly think that Jesus was anti-wealth, and that to be a truly “sold-out” follower of Jesus, Christians have to give up all semblance of nice things. But that’s not what Jesus taught or lived! Neither did Jesus say that Christians are to pursue wealth on earth. Does that sound like confusing double-talk? Far from it! It’s the truth that John unpacks in this very readable book. John tells us right up front, “I relied on just one rule while writing this book: ‘If my theology disagrees with God, one of us is wrong, and it’s not Him.’”

If you’ve ever struggled with how a Christian is supposed to handle the wealth and possessions of this world, this book will come as a welcome insight into what Jesus really wants for His children: freedom to glorify God!

“Like Jesus’ early followers, we are at a crossroads. He flips the tables on everything we thought we knew about peace, prosperity, and the pursuit of happiness. Jesus’ teachings about money and wealth hit us where we live, shake us free from a life that leads to death, and leave us immeasurably more blessed than we ever imagined. All with the single-minded purpose of bringing glory to His Father.” (John Thornton)

I believe you will be as pleasantly surprised at this book as I was.

I am a Moody Publishers book reviewer.

Money And The Church

Unfortunately, far too many financial scandals have tainted the church, and therefore any pastor who mentions tithes or offerings or missions support is usually viewed skeptically.

So sad! Especially because it should NEVER be this way!

The Apostle Paul gives an excellent teaching on financial gifts for church ministry in 2 Corinthians 8-9. I love this example he gives about the Christians in the impoverished area of Macedonia —

Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. (2 Corinthians 8:3)

Severe trial … extreme poverty rich generosity…. Want to see this in a modern-day setting? Check out this video:

Wow!! If the homeless can give like that, why can’t we?

Here are some principles Paul lists about giving:

  • Give because God compels you, not because a man compels you (2 Corinthians 8:3, 4)
  • Give yourself to God before you give your income (8:5)
  • Give excellently (8:7)
  • Give sincerely (8:8)
  • Give like Jesus gave (8:9)
  • Give what you say you’re going to give, and do it quickly (8:10-15)
  • Give where there is proper accountability and proven credibility (8:16-24)
  • Give generously (9:1-6)
  • Give cheerfully (9:7)
  • Give where God is glorified (9:8-15)

Giving according to these principles removes the taint of anything shady, and puts the focus on God.

What is your take on money in the church?

The Treasure Principle (book review)

One of the knocks I often hear about the church is that we talk too much about money. I don’t feel that’s an accurate assessment, especially considering that Jesus talked about money and possessions more than He did about Heaven and Hell. In The Treasure Principle: Unlocking The Secret Of Joyful Giving, Randy Alcorn shares the keys that Jesus taught about this important topic.

In just the first few pages, Randy sets the stage for this book by stating:

Why did Jesus put such an emphasis on money and possessions? Because there’s a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money. We may try to divorce our faith and our finances, but God sees them as inseparable.

The Treasure Principle mixes biblical instruction on handling our money, Randy’s insights into those scriptures, as well as Randy’s own personal experiences with finances. These are all used to support six treasure principle keys.

One of my favorite parts of the book comes at the very end. Randy shares “31 Radical, Liberating Questions To Ask God About Your Giving.” This is where the rubber meets the road (or the principles meet the pocketbook!). This is setup for you to read one question daily for a month, to really allow God to speak to you through His Word and through this book about your financial perspectives and practices. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I’m looking forward to continuing my month-long journey through these radical questions.

I am a Multnomah book reviewer.

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