Joey Sparks
3Mar/130

The 5 Money Personalities (by Scott & Bethany Palmer)

Every person has strong emotions and specific visions about how he/she should use money. So when two people get married, the oft-differing perspectives can create all sorts of difficulties. If left to the changing winds of emotions and assumptions, money tension can effectively end marriages, or at least render them unfulfilling.

Kinda like Dave Ramsey meets the Five Love Languages

Kinda like Dave Ramsey meets the Five Love Languages

Scott and Bethany Palmer are not trained marriage counselors, but they are financial counselors who've seen their fair share of marriages devastating by money difficulties. In The 5 Money Personalities: Speaking the Same Money and Love Language, they walk through their self-identified 5 "Money Personalities" for the purpose of addressing the potential for conflict in marriage over money. They especially emphasize ways to make differing personalities work together. The second-half of the book deals largely with the emotional foundations of financial conflict in marriage. They address the role of financial infidelity and take an honest look at why it hurts so much. They close the book with practical strategies for maintaining healthy communication in marriage when it comes to money, including how to "fight fair."

I can't say that I enjoyed reading the book. But the majority of the reasons why I didn't are largely "external" and related to how the book was organized and approached. The content of the book is especially helpful, however. I highlighted over 30 quotes in my Kindle for future reference. It's clear they know what they are talking about. I just think they could have had some better advice or editing when it comes to laying it out clearly in the book.

I was especially intrigued by the notion that criticism about our money personalities is extremely painful because we feel as though our perspectives about money are noble, right, and in the best interest of our marriage.

There are a lot of helpful and eye-opening aspects to the material here. Though it's ideally written toward all married couples, I would only really recommend it to couples with particularly strained relationships. It would also be helpful for those who counsel couples with financial difficulties or those with specific financial interests.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

9Jul/120

Lifestyles of the Rich & the Lowly (James 1:9-11)

Notobasis syriaca - Syrian Thistle - Barkan (Flickr CC - by nc sa)

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. (James 1:9-11)

In addition to writing his book full of imperative statements, James also relies heavily upon contrasting elements. In 1:9-11, he contrasts the "lowly" against the "rich." He challenges them with action in the present, but does so by previewing the future.

We must take note that James' emphasis is not upon their bank accounts; it's upon their attitudes. The lowly (humble, 4:1-10) brother acknowledges the utmost importance of God in all that he does. He will be exalted in the life to come. The rich are not necessarily all who are financially blessed, but those whose pride and boasting are founded upon their possessions--and the status in life they provide (cf, 5:1-6).

When Jesus came to earth, he turned it upside down--especially for the Jews. He didn't come with the purpose of doing away with rich and poor designations while on earth. He came to show that man will not be judged by their political, socio-economic, or even religious status. He will judge all men by their hearts (Matt. 5:8).

To illustrate this reversal of standing, James turns to nature in a way where first century Palestinians could not misunderstand him. He compares those who are rich to the grass and flowers of the land. Though beautiful, they don't last forever. Though beautiful, they don't withstand the elements of heat. Likewise, he says, the rich man will perish "in the midst of his pursuits."

These few verses are not James' final word on proper attitudes, partiality, riches, and the brevity of life. He further develops those themes throughout his letter. But we cannot gloss over these specific instructions. Humble and lowly Christians should take courage from their relationship with the Creator of the universe; Christians who choose to build their lives on possessions should repent. Soon, there will be a day when those possessions are nothing but dust.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matt. 7:24-27)

1Jul/092

Tough Times, Tough Questions (1-Who’s to Blame?)

We are currently living in difficult financial times (not that you need me to tell you, or anything). When we experience a difficult situation of any kind (more than just financial), we have an opportunity to learn valuable lessons. Among them, we should learn how to improve the situation. There are several questions we need to ask--and answer--along the way in order to get to that intended destination.
lighted-sign-question-mark

I'm not an economist. I'm not a politician. And I'm not a politician who thinks he's an economist. The purpose of this post--and the ones that follow--is not to be political, dogmatic, or controversial. During difficult times, it's a temptation to let emotion override reason; our goal, however, is to exercise reason by asking and answering pointed questions concerning our current economic climate.

We could spend a long time figuring out exactly what policies and factors led to our current recession. We know a lot of people made some stupid choices. But we also want to know who messed up, right? The government blames businesses. Businesses blame the government. New government blames the old government. The unemployed blame the employed. The employed blame the unemployed. We're quick to blame someone--anyone--just not ourselves.

Most Americans have taken full advantage of a credit-based economy over the past several years and decades. That means we as consumers have spent more than we have earned. Banks have loaned more than they could afford to people they shouldn't have loaned to. Americans have tallied up debt on credit cards, car financing, mortgages, department store cards, home equity lines of credit, payday loans, and any other possible way to get something they simply can't afford with cash. Eventually, the sources of the given credit come calling for their money--especially when their lender comes after them. Though a portion of the downturn is cyclical, we are largely victims of our own dependency on credit and debt. In order to move forward, it's important that we recognize our role in getting ourselves into financial trouble.

We as Christians shouldn't be surprised by the answer to "Who's to blame?" Accepting personal responsibility is at the very heart of becoming a Christian. We submit to God because we realize our sinful shortcomings. We regularly admit to and repent of sin that creeps into our lives. Just as we recognize our spiritual shortcomings, we must have the courage to admit that our poor financial choices contributed to our nation's economic recession. Only by admitting fault can we accept the personal responsibility to improve the situation.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." James 1:2-3