What does the bible say about money?

Just What Does the Bible Say About Money?

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People have differing opinions about what the Bible says about money. Some say it says money is evil and others claim it says God wants His followers to be wealthy. Neither is quite true. Often, people have these opinions based in misquoted or misinterpreted verses. This results in people thinking of the Bible and money being like oil and water and do not mix.

The Bible has a lot to say about money, both good and bad. In 1 Timothy 6:10, it says “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many griefs.” This verse is often misquoted to say that money is the root of all evil. But in reading the verse, it is clear that it is not the money that is evil but the love of it that is.

This is not to say that the Bible says people should not be wealthy. Far from it. There is no problem with having a lot of money as long as that does not become the focus of a person’s life or how he measures his worth. One verse that explains a good attitude toward money is Luke 14:12-14, which says “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Another verse says that a man who only wants to gain more wealth and keep it to himself will lose his wealth while a man who shares what he has with those in need will be richly rewarded.

The first five books of the Bible, which is called the Torah in Judaism, called for the minting of a special coin to be used for paying the Temple taxes. The coin is called the “widow’s mite” and had low enough value that even the poorest people would have little difficulty getting it for the Temple tax. Everyone paid Temple taxes and paid the same amount regardless of wealth or lack of wealth. The reason for this was so the poor were not humiliated because they could not pay and the rich could not boast about paying more than someone else.

The Torah also said money was to be used to pay restitution when someone wronged another person. Money was also given as guilt offerings in the Temple. Money was clearly not considered something to avoid having. How it is used is what made the difference. Attitude about money is what makes it evil or a blessing. The Bible and money are not at odds. Money is a tool that can be used for good or evil and it is up to the one who has it to determine which it is.

The Essentials of Silver Investing Under New Fed Leadership

investing in silverThe following post is by David Parker from www.easy-forex.com.

Silver investing is a great way of entering the commodities markets as it allows traders to diversify their investment portfolio with a safe haven asset. It also has the added attraction as it goes through periods of volatility giving great trading opportunities. With the change of chair of the US Fed we could see some interesting trading for silver.

Since the beginning of the latest global financial crisis in 2008, the number of investors who went in search for alternative investments grew dramatically. The downhill slide of several stock indices and shares, together with ever present volatility in the financial markets, pushed many traders to consider investing in safe haven assets. Even though silver is viewed by some as ‘gold’s poor cousin’, it remains as one of the most traded precious metals. Like its cousin, it is used as safe haven investment by traders who want to diversify their portfolios and add some relative stability. Demand for silver is relatively constant as it is a component used in manufacturing, jewellery, photography, and even medicine because of its conductivity and strength.

Even though it is produced in most countries, more than half of silver’s global production comes from the East (China and Australia) and Latin America (Mexico, Peru, and Chile). Silver is a commodity used for both industrial and investment purposes but in recent years most of its demand comes from the industrial sector. According to The Silver Institute, as of 2010 the industrial demand of silver has been more than 50% of its production and hence its price is mostly driven from there. It is estimated that this percentage is likely to increase in the future as technological advancements may find more uses for silver in electronics, cars, and the solar power industry.

Entering the silver market can be achieved by two main methods – either though physical purchase of silver or by investing in exchange-traded products. The purchase of physical silver is always more fulfilling because it puts the actual metal in the investor’s hands but it comes with a variety of costs from storing and insuring it, and even costs when selling it. Probably the most common method of silver investment is through Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), where traders get all the benefits from investing in silver without having to store it, however ETFs have more price volatility. A trader wishing to stay away from both high price volatility and physical silver ownership may look to invest in silver mutual funds. These portfolios may be combinations of different silver mining stocks and physical silver ownership which diversifies the risk. The downside with these funds is higher trading costs and the investor should have some knowledge of the stock market.

The sharp rise of silver prices during the first eight years of the 21st century was mainly due to the vast demand from emerging markets such as China and India. However, the last few years’ recovery of the European and U.S. markets, together with the slowing down of China’s growth, pushed silver prices very low. The ongoing speculation for the U.S. economy outlook and the future moves by the Fed as regards to the slowing down of its asset purchasing program are expected to be the main driving factors for the price of silver. The imminent appointment of Janet Yellen as Fed Chairman might be the beginning of a different approach to the U.S. economy’s Quantitative Easing (QE) program, and any holding back from further easing of the QE program may lift silver prices upwards.

As with any investment, traders should commit to researching for insights about silver before investing any capital. Silver was regarded as a symbol of wealth and prosperity but now new technologies require increasing quantities of the precious metal for the production of many products. Investors can enter the silver market in many ways and should always keep in mind that it’s going to be an exciting ride.

What Forex Strategy Should You Opt For?

forex tradingWhen it comes to investing in the Forex market, it makes sense to develop a strategy and rules. Investing within guidelines and parameters can not only help you to feel more confident about your analysis, it can make it easier to determine what went right and what went wrong. Carrying out a scatter gun approach to Forex trading means you will be reliant on luck to make money, which is no way to approach the Forex market.

There are two main types of strategies for the foreign exchange market, which are:

Technical Analysis

Fundamental Analysis

Learn the trading basics! It is commonly found that technical analysis is more commonly carried out by the marketers that are classed as being small to medium sized Forex investors. A good level of technical analysis will take on board the actual factors that have impacted on the market as opposed to the factors have the potential to impact on the market. This means that there is a number of market sources which can be utilized in the analysis and there are plenty of facts and figures that can be examined. It also removes any emotional element like hope, fear or possible expectations in the market which can also have an impact on the overall trends.

Technical analysis usually leads traders to have the opinion that the price is a reflection of all the movements occurring in the market. A technical analysis trader will focus on a number of factors which have been deemed to be of significance. It also bases itself on the fact that the same outcome will lead to the same results, which brings in the predictable nature of the market.

Fundamental analysis takes a different approach

Fundamental analysis is quite different though and this is where a wider range of influences are considered on the behavior of a nation’s currency. This means that traders will look at the political stature of a country, the economic outlook and the overall financial situation to make an opinion on the likely  behavior of the currency.

This is a more in-depth level of analysis because the factors that impact on the economic and social landscape of a country are many and varied. For instance, both of these elements can be impacted upon by unemployment levels, interest rates, the amount of imports and exports, inflation, relationships with other nations, tax decisions and so much more. It is also a fact that many of these influences are inter-related which means that a change in one can lead to an impact on another.

While fundamental analysis is a lot more in-depth and requires a greater level of study, it can provide a more proactive analysis of how a country’s currency will behave. The technical analysis is more of a reactive nature and then looking for outcomes and patterns repeating themselves.

Having a strategy is important when Forex market and it is important to choose a strategy that you feel more comfortable with. It may be that you are more comfortable with technical or fundamental strategies so it is worthwhile trying out both forms of analysis. However, if you are doing this, it can be of benefit to carry out a paper strategy or trade with as small an amount of money as possible. When you are honing your skills, there is no need to place a lot of money at stake.

photo by images of money

First Steps in January to Sorting Out Your Debt

JanuaryJanuary is often a depressing month for many of us. We are still in the depths of winter, Christmas and Hogmanay have both been and gone and worst of all, we are left with the expectation of a series of hefty bills at the end of the month. From high energy bills to the credit cards you used to fund those special Christmas presents, it’s easy to be daunted by it all. The key is not to let it get to you, and to follow our tips on how sort out your finances in January!

1) Firstly, sit down at the start of the month and try to find out how much your bills are going to be. For your energy bills, try looking online- most suppliers have a system that allows you to check how much you owe. Even make a note of your meter reading and compare it to the value on your last bill, so you can estimate how much it will cost you come the end of January. This will help with the next stages. You should also look up extraneous bills, such as credit card bills, etc.

2) Next, have a look at how much money you are going to have coming in this month, from benefits, income support or your wages. This will make up your income.

3) Then, make a list of all the essentials you need to cover for living expenses in January (this is where looking up your bills comes in handy). Bear in mind that you should only include your essential bills such as energy and mortgage etc. Try to account for as much as you can though and also be sure to think long and hard about whether what you’re spending your money on is an â˜essential’ or a luxury. This will make up your expenditure.

4) Once you have both of the above, then you can sit down and compare your income to your expenditure.

5) Whatever you have left over is what we call disposable income. This is where you can see how much money you have to service any credit card bills or loans etc. that you’ve taken out. You should be able to estimate how much your minimum repayment bill will be by comparing the balance of your card/ new purchases with your terms and conditions.

If your disposable income doesn’t cover the cost of paying towards your various credit cards/ loans then you know that have to do something about it. You can sometimes speak to your lender and ask about extending your loan period or maybe having a payment break, but often this is difficult to get. If you are in serious trouble then you need to seek some expert advice. Your Debt Expert offer free and impartial debt advice on a range of topics. So if you follow our guide, and still find yourself panicking, try out the debt calculator from Yourdebtexpert or give us call and we’ll help you sort out your finances.

For more Debt news and advice follow Peter Dean on Twitter – @your_debtexpert

photo by aunto

Ultimate Credit Sesame Review

credit sesameMost financial blogs have already written reviews regarding the Credit Sesame site and its exciting offers. However, for those of you who are still unaware as to what this is and what it can do for you, here is a brief article that summarizes its key points.

First thing, to keep you interest, you must know this: there is most definitely a way for you to benefit from Credit Sesame. How this could happen is by increasing your scores.

Your credit score is a numerical symbol that ranges from 300 to 850, that represents your financial history. The higher your credit score, the better your record is. Typically, these scores are resulted from a process of systems that evaluate the risk of allowing you a loan. These systems include FICO and a number of others, FICO leading the charts.

When you apply for a loan for whatever reason, the summary of all of your financial statements and transactions can be judged by your financial score. An example is if you have a credit score of 600, then you are qualified to apply for a mortgage. Most lenders and banks also make use of the recorded credit score to thoroughly evaluate those who would be able to bring in higher percentages of revenue.

The way to keep your credit score up to par or possibly even impressive is to pay your bills in a timely manner and not allow yourself to be chin-deep in debt. All of these transactions are documented and recorded immediately to make sure that your credit score changes accordingly.

This is what Credit Sesame is willing to help you with, to better your credit score and rejuvenate your account should it need anything akin to that.

Credit Sesame welcomes you to apply. All you have to do is register. You will need to provide somewhat sensitive information such as your Social Security Number and your current address, but rest assured that all of this information will be kept under wraps. With that done, you will have your own account and will be ready to evaluate your financial history for the betterment of your credit score.

The reason why Credit Sesame exists in the first place is for the sole purpose of showing consumers how they look like to lender and banks alike. They have to understand what makes them a commodity and a risk. This is why evaluation of former details regarding you, as the consumer’s, financial transactions and current capabilities is a must. This is where the advice that Credit Sesame can apply. This is where all of the end results will spawn from.

credit sesame

The reason for real time balance not being displayed is because what is being displayed on Credit Sesame will be what is read by the lender so the actual balance will bear no real weight in the case. Having this balance presented to you from the perspective of the lender will also back up the reasons as to why your credit score is the way that it is. It will show you, as the consumer and user, where and what you have to do to improve on this aspect if you have to.

The offers and advice that Credit Sesame divulges is only applicable to those who have financial instability. Having a financing balance that is scraping with the ground can be a tough one, and that is why Credit Sesame suggests certain things for you to go by in case this is something that you would like to heed. This is also so that you can see the picture from a clearer perspective, and fine yourself in a rightful place if you are looking to be a home owner in the near future. Speaking of home ownerships, if this is something that you are deeply considering then you should check out Credit Sesame’s purchase goal. This is the new evaluator that has been created to suggest options for your potential mortgage through means that are fit for your financial preferences as of the moment.

Now, the site for Credit Sesame does not crumple itself with a load of smoke and mirrors so the interface is pretty simple and easy to understand. You will be getting the hang of everything in no time. Even with its modern and clean interface, that is actually just the tip of the iceberg. As simple as everything may seem, Credit Sesame is a site that contains a whole lot of tools that can assist you further. This is a site that is designed to help you understand how you, as the client, would look in the eyes of a bank or a lender. This is to aid in your comprehension regarding your credit score as well, and what you must and can do to put yourself right back on top. Credit score can fluctuate for a number of reasons regarding financial transactions, so it is best to make sure that for whatever you lose, you are knowledgeable on how to get everything back. Credit Sesame has many advices and tips for you on how to do that, too. Not only will it provide your with free credit scores, but ultimately it will show you how to save more money overtime and improve your financial balance.

Credit Sesame will provide you with a frame by frame of your current financial situation, no fuss, no muss, just unbiased, straight to the point information about where you are now and what you have to do. This is done by collecting all that there is know about your debts, your current loans, mortgage, if you have one, and so on and so forth. What Credit Sesame believes is that the more aware you are about what is happening to yourself and your money, the better you will be at evaluating what your next step will be in the future.

Credit Sesame is a free service that will allow you a quick rundown of your monthly credit score. Keep this tool in mind when you find that you are in need of a pick me up, or have to get your financial balances and statements in check.

credit sesame

Never Forget: We Will Take Nothing Out of the World

take nothingAs Christians in the personal finance world, we walk a fine line. We need to advocate for personal financial responsibility, for being productive, for being good stewards of our money and for providing reasonably for contingencies for ourselves and our families. That effort has long armsâ”it extends to income, debt, investing, retirement planning and a host of other money related activities.

Against that backdrop we also have consider another reality that our faith teaches us: we will not be here forever. That has broad implications for our finances.

We’re not building empires here

In 1 Timothy 6:7-10, the Apostle Paul tells us:

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.ââ”1 Timothy 6:7-10 (NIV)

While it’s clear that we need to provide financially for ourselves and our families, we must always guard against taking those activities too far. If we pursue that goal too zealously we risk deserting our faithâ”of gaining the whole world yet losing our souls (Matthew 16:26).

We’re not building empires here on earth, not financial or any other way. All the great empires of history have collapsedâ”the Egyptians, Babylonians, Romans and every other since. Our own little empires❠will go the same way, no matter how well we plan them or how much we fund them. And nothing that we do can possibly insulate us from all forms of misfortune.

Take care of your finances, but understand that it has limits and keep a sense of proportion as you do.

Building walls around your stuff

Life in the 21st Century seems like the quest for stuff. We save for it, borrow for it and when we have it we revel in it, care for it, insure it and protect it. For that last part, we have fences and home security systems. We cherish our stuff as if it defines us.

The world does this, and we follow suit. But what does the world think when it sees us doing the same? Should we be handling it in a different way, and maybe trying to make a different statement? Should Christians have a different attitude toward stuff at all?

A house full of stuff will have no value in eternity.

Money and possession are only tools

Money and possessions can be great blessings. They can free us to concentrate on Kingdom work, on spreading the Gospel more fearlessly, and on helping those around us who are in need. Money and possessions therefore, are not evil in themselves.

More than anything though, it’s our own attitudes toward money and possessions that are most significant. Do we see them merely as tools that God has blessed us with, or do we put them up on an altar and worship them? If we allow them to define us in any way, or feel that we can’t part with them, then worship is exactly what we’re doing.

People are more important

Money can be a blessing, but only if we use it to bless others. We can and should enjoy some of our money, but at the same time we need to consider that the world is filled with struggling people. We need to be doing something for them where ever we can. No, we can’t fix all the problems of the world, but we can help a few people along the path of life.

Money is one way we can do that. And just like tithing, one of the spiritual sacrifices we make by helping others with money is that we’re letting go of moneyâ”our money. It’s not that we don’t value money or that it isn’t important to us, but rather that there are other things we consider to be more important.

And faith is more important still

We won’t take money and possessions out of the world with us, but there is one thing that we will take with us, and that’s our faith. If we think it’s important to guard our money, it’s infinitely more important that we guard and grow our faith.

Money can serve us during the course of our lives, but it’s purpose will stop at the grave. Faith will serve us for eternity. We should never let it take a backseat to our finances.

Our eternal salvation is not determined by a stellar credit rating, a fat retirement plan, a paid off home, or by the biggest collection of possessions we can afford. It will come only from our faith in Jesus Christ.

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.ââ”John 14:6

All the money in the world can’t buy that for us, but it could do a great job of getting in the way.

photo by nzgabriel

When Leasing a Car Makes Sense for Young Families

leasing a carYoung people starting out have a lot of expenses associated with starting a family. They not only have the expenses related to purchasing a home, they also need to purchase food and clothing for their children as well as pay their school tuition. One way to reduce the amount of money spent on necessary items every month is to lease a car rather than purchase it. There are many advantages to leasing which can benefit a young family.

The first advantage is the reduced amount required for the monthly payment. Rather than having to pay several hundred dollars each month, a lease payment can be half the amount of a standard auto loan payment.   With car leasing going in the family friendly direction, more and more benefits are being offered to entice young families.

In addition to having a lower monthly payment, people who lease vehicles do not have to pay a large amount of taxes on the car they choose to lease. In contrast, purchased vehicles require the taxes on the full amount of the purchase price be paid at the time of the sale. A lease is also set up as a different contract agreement than a financial loan. Most people who choose to purchase a car take out loans in order to pay for the vehicle they choose, The payment period for these loans is stretched out over a long period of time, which can tie up necessary funds a young family might need for other situations.

One of the better benefits to leasing a vehicle is the maintenance and warranty coverage provided on the car. No wonder top business fleet management companies are headed in the leasing direction!   When purchasing a vehicle, the owner is responsible for all of the fees associated with maintaining the car unless they are still under warranty. Leased vehicles have warranties which cover the maintenance for as long as the person continues to lease the car. This also saves families money over the cost of having repair work done to their vehicle.

Another beneficial advantage is the ability to bring the car back to the dealer to terminate the lease or make an exchange. Many people who lease vehicles find it an easy and economical way to trade up to newer models. Many dealerships also offer customers the option of buying their leased car when the lease expires. This also saves money over having to come up with the cash amount for making a purchase right away. By deferring the purchase for a year, families have time to build up their savings so they can afford to get the car of their choice.

photo by brettlevin

5 Things the Bible Says About Materialism in Ecclesiastes

materialism and the bibleOne of the hardest things for Christians to deal with, especially those living in Western countries like the United States, is materialism.

We are constantly bombarded with messages, often subliminal, in the form of signs, commercials, advertisements, magazines, online columns, and overall culture that our self-worth is determined by the possessions we own, whether it be in the form of wealth, property, houses, cars, educational pedigree, or career.

The Prosperity Gospel, which preaches heretical teachings about God’s purpose for our life, only makes this more difficult for Christians to wade through. Often, since this false gospel placates to our natural imperfections and selfishness as humans, it is easy to become consumed with surrounding one’s self with whatever possession they crave or seek most.

Fortunately, the Bible provides us with plenty of warnings on materialism written by men who either saw how rampant it was in their society or those who engaged in it themselves and lived to rue it.

One of the most vivid, descriptive, and compelling accounts is found in Ecclesiastes.

Written by King Solomon, the wisest man ever to live save for Jesus Christ, the book is a reflection on the life he had lived, particularly the latter part, where he fell away from God and succumbed to major sins – including materialism. 1 and 2 Chronicles, as well as 1 Kings, recounts how Solomon turned away from God. Ecclesiastes is essentially not only an elongated apology on Solomon’s behalf, but it is written as a warning to all others on the consequences of poor choices.

Materialism is one of the major topics he discusses in the book.

There are five critical things he said about it that Christians today would be wise to note, as well as some fictional and real life examples.

1. It is idolatry

Ecclesiastes 3:14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

Materialism puts something other than God as an idol to be worshiped. Materialists make sacrifices to their idol in terms of time, money, energy, passion, hope, and even love. But even if they happen to achieve what they seek, God will still prevent them from enjoying it. If the purpose of seeking something is based on one’s worship of it, there is no point in it.

As I wrote in a previous column about the story of the rich young man and Jesus, the moral of the story wasn’t that the man was sinful because he was rich, but because he loved money more than Jesus. He was not willing to give up his wealth in order to follow Jesus. It was more important to him than than God.

2. It is all-consuming

Ecclesiastes 4:8: There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. For whom am I toiling,❠he asked, and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?❠This too is meaningless┠a miserable business!

A person who obsesses about owning possessions – whether it is obtaining a Ph.D. or a purchasing a new Corvette – will become so consumed with pursuing it that they will neglect more important matters in life. They will put it ahead of their relationships with their family, friends, and spouses. Or, it can even be possessing many relationships or friends; this too will rob someone of their relationship with God.

Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ classic story “A Christmas Carol” is one of the finest literary examples of such a man. Enough though he is rich and successful, he is a lonely, greedy, cankerous old man. After spending his entire life pursuing money, he finally realizes he has in consequence shunned his nephew, his only living relative, a girl whom he fell in love with but left him when his love for money replace it, and a family of his own, like his underpaid clerk, Bob Cratchit. When shown what the future may bring, he watches as his possessions are sold following his death, proceeded by a funereal that attracts few.

3. It is counter-productive

Ecclesiastes 4:4: And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

The whole point of materialism is that one can find contentment and happiness by owning something. But the problem with this belief is it is a lie. Materialism subliminally teaches it is necessary to own what other people own by promoting jealousy and envy; if your neighbor owns a yacht or a cabin, then it inspires you to seek one out due to envy. This produces a “keeping up with the Jones‘” mentality whereby a person becomes entrapped in a situation where they must buy things, not because they personally enjoy them, but in order to maintain the same level of appearance as their neighbor. But it does not ever create a lasting happiness.

Just as the Lernaean Hydra in Greek mythology would grow two heads for every one lost, as soon as one possession desired is obtained, a person immediately loses interest in it and desires something else’s their neighbor owns.

The whole point of materialism is supposed to bring happiness by possessing, but in the end it only causer deeper and greater unhappiness because it produces only temporary bouts of superficial elation, much like a sugar or caffeine high. There’s always a crash.

4. It is unsatisfying

Ecclesiastes 5:10: Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.

When asked how much money is enough, Andrew Carnegie was said to have replied, “Just a little bit more.”
This may have been said in jest, however, because Carnegie also said that a man that dies rich “thus dies disgraced.” In other words, he criticized the accumulation of money for the mere sake of wealth.

People often wonder why wealthy individuals, whatever their background may be, so often resort to breaking the law in order to obtain even more money and or possessions than what they already have. The answer is that it isn’t enough, because if money is the specific craving a person has who subscribes to materialism, it is a life purpose, not an objective. There is never an exact amount of money that will satisfy. As Carnegie said, a person will always need “just a little bit more.”

Yet, as I have written before in previous columns, having wealth or being rich is not a sin; putting it above God, however, is.

5. It is ultimately futile

Ecclesiastes 5:15 Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands.

In the end, everyone is going to die. When they do, all the money, possessions, education and whatever else they have accumulated will be left here on earth, regardless of where they ultimately go. The Rembrandt painting will stay on the wall. So will the collection of rare coins or the library of first editions.

But, most importantly, none of these will be there for entirety. Everything material will be destroyed.

A person is born with nothing and when they die they take none of it with them. For someone who lives in an area that suffers from natural disasters, war, famine, or instability, this is easy to understand. For Christians who live in places where such situations are rare, it is easy to forget that nothing will go with them when they die. It will stay behind. Or, it could be taken away in an instant. What this means is that a person’s worth is not defined by what they own but by God. And the only wealth that will go with you when you die will be the acts of righteousness credited to you.

So the next time we feel pressured to buy or accumulate something in order to feel either a sense of belonging or self-worth, we need to remember men like John the Baptist. He had no home. He wore clothes of camel’s hair and a leather belt. He ate locust and honey for sustenance. He didn’t have two coins to rub together. He had no livestock, property, or position. He died while suffering in a prison.

Solomon, on the other hand, had riches beyond measure, hundreds of wives, and a lavish palace, yet in the end it was meaningless to him.

Additionally, while Solomon was the wisest man on earth, Jesus said no man born of woman was greater than John.

photo by Axiom 23

Everything That YOU Need to Know About the #1 Credit Card for Business!

guest credit cardLet’s face it; personal credit cards and business credit cards are not built the same. People with business credit cards expect more benefits for to enjoy. This is because such benefits help to outweigh the extraneous costs of running a smaller business in today’s world. Hands down, the American Express Starwood preferred guest business card is probably the best deal that a business owner is going to find as far as credit cards go. This is especially true for those business owners that enjoy traveling.

Outrageous Benefits

When Starwood brags about elite benefits, they mean ELITE benefits. We’re talking rewards such as flying business owners out to the US open, all expenses paid.

Many credit card companies have caps on what they are willing to offer a business owner, and American Express is clearly not such a company! On these travel prizes that they give away to card holders, they typically also enter their card holders into special contests as they travel.

This means that the business owner has a chance of winning money while they are on vacation. It is these elite type of benefits that make all other business credit cards pale in comparison to the Starwood card.

Epic Travel Rewards

Generous travel awards are also given with these cards. Travel is the essential key to running any type of business. Face it, the world is shrinking and becoming more of a global economy than ever before because of the technological advances in travel and communications that have taken place over the past half a century.

Going global is now just as realistic of an option for mom and pop vendors as it is to giant, nationwide corporate chains! To go global one must travel at the expense of his business however. Traveling points on the company credit card sure do ease the costs typically associated with traveling. Why is traveling so important? Because this is how one makes the type of connections that are necessary for one to take his business global! It sounds simple, but it a little bit of traveling really does make all the difference in the world.

Double the Perks Baby!

There is also a personal version of the Starwood card for business owners. Why is this so important to mention? Because American Express is offering double the perks for people that sign up for both of them. That is double the Starpoints, double the travel opportunities. Not taking advantage of a deal like this is just plain silly when doing business in today’s global economy. This is true despite the size of ones business!

American Express makes it easy to sign up for both cards from their website. After all is said and done, you’ll be enjoying those double perks in no time. Another important thing to mention is that American Express and their affiliates are always doing point giveaways. Keep in mind that 50,000 star points is a value over $1,200! Starpoints add up very quickly because of this.

Free Nights in Luxury Resorts

Did we mention that free flight miles are not the only thing that Starpoints are good for? You can get free nights in luxury hotels as well! Hey, why you’re traveling to build those business connections, it never hurts to have a place to stay does it?

Reliable Lines of Credit

Starpoints are not the only reason to go with this card however. Keep in mind that for many years now, smaller business owners have been trusting the American Express brand when it comes to taking out lines of credit to help their businesses. This is one card provider that has been helping businesses to grow for many decades now. They simply would not be around offering Starpoints today if they were no good at lending.

It’s simple logic, the firm that has been around such a long time has been around such a long time because they are very good at what it is that they do! American Express is good at providing credit cards, and this statement is true whether you are looking things from the perspective of a business owner or a personal card carrier.

What are you Waiting for?

If you are a business owner then what are you waiting for? You need to sign up for both Starwood cards so that you can begin the process of growing your business today! With the help of American Express and Starwood on your side, you just might grow into a multinational!

 

Giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s is a Christian Duty

give to caesarMany verses in the Bible are misquoted, misinterpreted, or taken out of context or their contextual meaning. Some of the worse violations in this regard involve Jesus’ statements concerning money and finances.

Among the most misquoted is “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.”

The quote is taken from a story that occurs in several Gospels, including Mark, specifically 12:13-18, as well as Luke. For clarity’s sake I will use Mark’s version to provide a quick summary.

In the story, Pharisees and Herodians are sent to speak to Jesus. The Pharisees were a traditional, conservative sect within Judaism at the time, and the Herodians most likely some sort of a political entity friendly to the family of Herod Antipater, who was tetrarch of Galilee at the time.

First, they flatter Jesus by calling him a man of integrity and pretending to be authentic and ingenuous about their concern for the law and following God. They then ask him whether they should pay taxes to Caesar or not.

Jesus immediately accuses them of hypocrisy and demands to see a denarius, which was a Roman coin. After they produce one, Jesus asks them whose inscription is on it. When they reply it is Caesar, Jesus answers, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.”

Mark writes “they were amazed at his answer.” In Luke’s Gospel, the men were “astonished by his answer, (and) they became silent.”

A ‘GOTCHA’ QUESTION

It is important to contextualize the situation.

At the time of this story, Jesus had entered Jerusalem for the Passover on a donkey during the triumphant entry, which is now called Palm Sunday. The large welcoming he receives made his enemies jealous, as well as concerned he would attempt to rebel against the Roman government and bring disaster down on them.

To get rid of him, the religious and political enemies of Jesus attempt to trap him in his own words – similar to a modern day political “gotcha!” question.

One important observation to make is the intent of the men who ask the question.

Luke’s account (20:20-26) describes them as spies who hope to catch Jesus in something he said to hand him over to the government.

Thus, the question they asked him was strictly to trap him in a no-win situation.

Had Jesus answered they were not required to pay taxes to Caesar, it would have qualified as preaching rebellion against the Roman government and would have been appropriate grounds to have him arrested by the authorities. In fact, during Jesus’ eventual trial, many of the Jewish chief priests would later falsely claim to Pontius Pilate Jesus had preached this.

On the other hand, had Jesus replied they should pay taxes to Caesar, the spies would have then used his answer to stir up a mob and have him stoned or killed. Roman rule over Palestine was extremely unpopular among many Jews during the time, which is why the region suffered from so many insurrections, rebellions and revolts. Many Jews believed it was wrong to pay taxes to a pagan government and despised many of their own people for working as tax collectors, like St. Matthew, who was a tax collector before Jesus called him. Some Jews also did not consider the Romans their legitimate rulers; thus, for Jesus to say they should pay taxes would, in their mind, giving the Roman rule legitimacy and indirectly condemning Jewish nationalism.

Also, Passover was one of the most important of Jewish religious holidays, which meant the people would already be in a highly religious and patriotic mood, making it easy to manipulate them.

QUESTION ACT OF REVENGE

Additionally, if one reads the previous section before this incident, one will discover the spies were using the exact same trick question Jesus had used against them.

In both Mark and Luke’s gospels, the chief priests and elders of the law challenge Jesus’s authority to teach and preach from the Torah, since he was not a trained rabbi, and demand to know where his authority comes from. Jesus replies he would answer the question if they first answer his: Where had John the Baptist’s authority come from, men or God?

Discussing it amongst themselves, they realize they can’t answer it either way; if they say John’s authority came from God, why hadn’t they accepted his teachings of repentance? If they say his authority came from men, i.e. he made it all up, they fear being stoned by the people, who firmly believed John had been a prophet.

Thus, they aren’t able to give an answer because they lack of the courage to stand by their convictions, a fault they know very well Jesus did not suffer from himself.

So the question of paying taxes to Caesar is an attempt at revenge for humiliating them, knowing he has the bravery to say what he believes regardless of how unpopular it is.

Jesus response showcases both his brilliant wit and his divine knowledge.

In Luke’s Gospel, he immediately confronts them for their deceit, calling them hypocrites, and asks them why they intend to trap him.

Right away, he using showing them he knows their hearts and hasn’t been fooled for an instant. He also points out their hypocrisy because he knows if they were asked the same question, they wouldn’t answer it. This puts them on the defensive.

It is also significant to note whom the spies were; one group, the Pharisees, were generally opposed to the Roman government and disliked paying taxes; the other group, the Herodians, supported or at the very least were open to the Romans and most likely supported the taxation. So no matter what answer he gave, he was guaranteed to offend one of the groups.

After having chastised them, Jesus then asks them to show him a denarius. When they do, he inquires whose face is on it. When they reply it is Caesar’s, Jesus answers their question: Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.

OMITTING THE SECOND PART OF THE ANSWER

Most people only know the first part of this quote; and even those who know the other half don’t understand what Jesus meant by it.

As I see it, the point Jesus was making is that a denarius bears the image of Caesar. Therefore, if Caesar issues a tax, it should be paid.

In other words, his answer is yes, the Jews should pay taxes to Caesar if required to.

But the other half of the answer is the most insightful. He says to them “Give to God what is God’s.”

When he says this, he is referring to mankind, which bears the image and likeness of God. Therefore, men should give what God demands of them as well. And God made it clear in the Old Testament they were to love him with all their heart, soul, and strength.

This is what makes Jesus’ answer so profound. In addition to saying the Jews should submit to the Roman government, Jesus is telling them that they should be as equally concerned, if not more concerned, about submitting to what God asks of them.

He is essentially putting God’s commandments above Caesar’s decrees and laws while simultaneously telling people to obey Caesar. He is effectively disarming any qualms the Herodians may have about his answer, while making it impossible for the Pharisees to accuse him of putting obedience to Rome above obedience to God. Additionally, he is chastising them for their obsession with money rather than spirituality.

The phrase “Render unto Caesar’s that which is Caesar’s” is often used in a very pro-statism and totalitarian manner. When used, it generally means whatever the government wants of its citizens it owns or is entitled to.

Those who use only the first part of the phrase miss the entire point Jesus made; our focus should not be so much on money and the government as it is on God. This was a direct attack on the Sadducees, Herodians and other chief priests who placed their allegiance to Rome – the government – above God. It was the chief priest who would later say at Jesus’ trial “We have no king but Caesar.”

The underlying message, however, is that Christians should “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” as long as it does not belong to God, and it would be foolish to think there is anything we could “render unto God” which is Caesar’s, i.e the government, because everything is created by God.

For Christians today, this means while we should be concerned about matters such as taxes and money, we shouldn’t become so obsessed with money and taxes to the point where we forget our obedience to God.

photo by tonynetone