Money

Ordering Finances Wisely, Part 4: Good Debt, Bad Debt

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Some Christians are completely opposed to borrowing.1 Verses such as Romans 13:8, “Owe no one anything except to love one another” and Proverbs 22:7, “the borrower is servant to the lender” are used to support this position.

My own view is that borrowing is permitted in the Scriptures, since the Scriptures provide regulations with regard to lending (cf. Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:35–37; Deut. 15:7–9; Neh. 5:7; Ps. 15:5; 37:21, 26; Ezek. 22:12; Matt. 5:42, “from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away”; Luke 6:34). The broader context of Romans 13 speaks of paying “all their due” (Romans 13:7), so the teaching of Scripture is that one should honor debt agreements and pay on time.

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Ordering Finances Wisely, Part 3: Know Your FICO Score

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In a Twilight Zone kind of moment, imagine an all-night grocery store. Few are there: a stocker, a maintenance worker, and a check out cashier. Three shoppers arrive at approximately the same time. Sleepily they shop for the few essential items on their list. Coincidentally, and unbeknownst to each other, they manage to add the same six items—down to the very brand and packaging—to their shopping carts: milk, cereal, hamburger, two loaves of bread, and pancake mix. They move to the checkout.

The cashier is amazed by the oddness of the event: three shoppers, three carts, six items in each cart. And each cart has the very same identical items. He rings up shopper 1 then shopper 2, and then shopper 3:

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The Stewardship of Final Affairs, Part 2

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The Advanced Directive

The Advance directive or health care directive is a document that allows you to document your wishes concerning medical treatments at the end of life.1 Because every one of us will die, this document is important. If you think not consider this:

  • The Terri Schiavo case2 and the debate about her wishes. Her husband said one thing and her parents disputed it. Her own wishes were never documented. Another such case was Karen Ann Quinlan.3
  • In my own family a relative had a health care directive of sorts—it was from his church but he had never had it notarized and filed. When he was stricken there was a mild dispute among his offspring about whether his ventilator should be removed. The doctors themselves would not agree to remove it because his wishes were not officially documented. He lingered longer than was probably necessary.
  • One might think, “that won’t happen to me!” In my own case I broke my neck in a serious accident when I was only 38. I was semi-conscious for a period of time. Decisions about my care had to be made.
  • My own mother wisely had a health care directive. She specified that she did not want any extraordinary means to extend her life. It was clearly documented and so there was absolutely no debate. My siblings and I knew mom’s wishes. This past March she was given approximately a week to live. She told my sister, “I’m going to heaven!” And she died the next day.
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The Stewardship of Final Affairs, Part 1

The Christian is called to a life of stewardship. All of one’s life, all of one’s talents, all of one’s time and all of one’s material things come from and belong to God. It is both prudent and biblical to plan for one’s future.

As one who has received difficult medical news—“I’m sorry to say this, but you have cancer”—I identify with Hezekiah:

In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.’” Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. (2 Kings 20:1-3)

“Set your house in order”: Final affair planning is just this—setting one’s house in order!

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Ordering Finances Wisely, Part 2: A Credit Check Shows How Creditors View You

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Few will go through life never needing or using credit. Christians use credit to finance education, acquire a vehicle or provide a mortgage for a new home. We are also every day credit users when we swipe the credit card for a minor or major purchase.

It wasn’t too many years ago that my wife and I would purchase traveler’s checks for a vacation trip. My wife would have the traveler’s checks in her purse; I would have the receipt for the traveler’s checks in my wallet. We would take several hundred dollars out of the bank and divide that between husband and wife.

Anymore, we use a surprisingly little amount of cash a year—perhaps as little as $80 per month. Everything else goes on a credit card.

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Ordering Finances Wisely, Part 1: Fraud & Identity Theft

“It’s really amazing that in the age of unbelief, as a smart man called it, there isn’t even more fraud. After all, with no God, there’s no one to ever call you to account, and no accounting at all if you can get away with it.” (Ben Stein1)

Luke 16:11, “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?”

John 10:10, “The thief…come[s] to steal.”

The objective of this article series is to inform and motivate the Christian to better organize his finances. Because we live in a fallen world and among sinners, and because the Christian is to be a steward of all that the Lord has entrusted to him, we must be wise against the evil intentions of men. In former days, that threat might have been the wayside robber or the con man, but today the threats are more complex. This article addresses two of those threats: credit fraud and identity theft.

Credit fraud

Several years ago I took my brother out to a casual restaurant near my home in Plymouth, MN. We had leisurely meal and lingered to enjoy each other’s company. I volunteered to pick up the tab and provided the waitress my Chase credit card. Shortly she returned it, I added a tip and signed the check and we left.

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