Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Word of Faith Leaders in Trouble?

Anyone who watches any news is sure to know that several prominent Word of Faith leaders are being investigated by the Senate for excessive spending and other "crimes that will make the politician doing the investigation look really good for exposing."

I would note that I grew as a Christian in the Word of Faith movement and I still find many of the core principles to be completely consistent with the Bible (contrary to the claims of many Christian leaders). That said, I had a growing discomfort with the ostentatiousness exhibited by many in the movement that became even more pronounced with the Money Cometh message's growth in the late 1990s.

A big problem for me personally was that money wasn't coming, or at least it wasn't staying. It flowed out about as fast as it came in, and it was coming in at a good pace during those years! The main reason for this was that I didn't tightly control my spending and focus intently on getting out of debt. Instead I focused on living high on the hog and enjoying life, a key tenet the movement pushed during those years. Of course, getting and staying out of debt was always a core principle, but it was drowned out by the idea of really enjoying life.

I am firmly convinced that the generosity of my wife and I is what kept us from serious bad times during those years, but I lament how much better I could have done if I had instead focused intently on debt reduction and elimination.

As I noted in a previous post, I am once again seeking to focus on that goal, but I face the common trouble most in my generation hit: consumption! It is a lot harder to change habits than many think.

Getting back to the current scandal, I would note that this has been going on for many years, why is anyone surprised? While I have serious issues with the flagrant waste of the things given to these ministers, I see completely political motives in pursuing them now. If Congress would start really investigating its own waste and foolishness I might take their self-righteousness a lot more seriously.

I am reminded though that judgment begins at the house of God. I expect this is only the beginning of some cleaning. Unfortunately, it will likely also serve as ammunition for those who claim you cannot trust what God has written, including those within the church who are the most loudly proclaiming false prophets in this context. These people fail to take God's promises of provision and blessing above that seriously. Instead they claim that we can never know what God is going to do.

If God hadn't written it, they might be right, but they ignore countless confirmation of the blessing nature of God. I plan on writing more on this in the future, so I will leave this argument incomplete now.

I do wonder if I am one of the few people who believe as I do though. I a firmly convinced it is God's will for people to prosper and I believe it is sin for so many Christians today to not do so. Most of this failure to prosper is more due to slavery to debt than the will of God that many claim. People do struggle, but how many of those are spending hours in front of the television instead of improving themselves? How many are working 6 days as noted in Genesis? (The sixth day could be spend building a business idea improving themselves for a promotion, etc.)

More to come on this....


Getting Into Debt?

Earlier this summer I decided to do some work on the house that really needed to be done, but which caused me to (temporarily) increase my debt load.

We had done several things a summer ago, including resurfacing our pool. This left the concrete around the pool in a very poor state. We made it through last winter (a mild one here), though I was concerned about water getting into the open cracks between the nice "new" pool and the concrete this winter. So I found someone who could do the whole job for a very good price. The problem was I figured we should also replace our driveway which was starting to get some serious and large cracks, to the point I was concerned about a tire getting caught on one of the cracks. I also figured I should raise the "patio" floor a few inches to keep water out (which would flood part of it when a heavy rain came). We were already pouring concrete anyway, right?

Well, a $7K project went to about $17K, though we now have pretty good drainage and a lot of good concrete now. The driveway also has room for my daughter's car as well. Now I just have to work to pay all this off.

We did decide to close in the patio as well. The added square footage should increase the value of our home beyond the price of that area, though it may also increase my taxes in the long run. :(

While we may do some smaller things, including inside and outside painting, our major renovation push is over.

The partial moral to this story is that a deal on a fixer upper house may not be such a deal if you are not good fixing things up yourself. While I believe we got our house below market value, we have easily put much more than the difference into it since then. Looking at historical price guesses (such as at indicates it was worth much less than we thought when we bought it. Either way, we have not gained much value in the time we have lived here.

While my last post was about my newly found desire to get out of debt, I really need to stir up that desire again. It is very easy to lose the focus and fall back into old, bad habits.

The good news is that my wife and I like the house, so we plan on staying a while and enjoying all these renovations. :)


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Why You Should Give Your Life Away

I have been reading a lot about personal finance recently, as I have finally gotten serious about getting out of debt.

A recent post on The Simple Dollar leads to a good discussion of if someone is really "good" if they only think about themselves. I see a common claim, in many areas of life, that you can be a "good person" even if you don't do X, Y or Z. While that may be true, I think a lot of it is based on our skewed value of what "good" is. Saying someone who never gives anything outside of themselves is "good" seems a bit in error to me. Of course you can do good things and be pleasant to be around, but are you really doing anything to justify your taking up space on this planet.

I suppose I could go with the libertarian argument that you are enabling others to work for your consumption, but life should be about more than just taking care of yourself. Since I reject the evolutionary philosophy, I also reject the idea that just caring for yourself is a valid approach to life. (This would be the so-called selfish gene.)

It also is an issue of what is really good. That is something I may post about later.


Keeping Up to Date is Hard to Do....

So much for my committment to write regularly, at least so far. I haven't given up, but I figure I may as well write about why keeping a blog going is much more of a challenge than it seems at first.

The main problem is that you have to write something. That means you have to consciously break your routine and post something. While this may become simpler once this is a true part of my routine, I am finding it harder to fit in one more thing than I thought I would.

You also need to cover some useful topic. That is also a challenge. I am full of ideas, but figuring out which ones to discuss here is another challenge. Though that is not completely accurate. I can do stream-of-consciousness writing at almost any point if I have overcome the first hurdle of making the time for it as noted above. The problem here is that such writing is not always that worthwhile to read. In fact, I don't know how this will come across since I am creating it on the fly.

Though I think I will reach my goal of blogging better if I just start writing. The way you master something is to start doing it. The refinement can come later. Whether anyone reads this or not is another story, but that is not my concern now. :)


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Time to Start This Up Again

I have let this blog lapse. Life has a way of being more important than my own ramblings. :)

A big question is if life is really busier today. We certainly do not have to scramble most of our waking hours for food anymore. Most of us are even beyond needing to work the Biblically proscribed "6 days." Most of us have more time than we really realize - we just waste a lot of it. I am bad at this at times. Over the holiday I found myself playing rather pointless games of Age of Kings (AOE2). I managed to fritter a way a good portion of my holiday beating up on the computer.

While many people play for a challenge, I just play to beat up on the computer for a while. This seems fun enough to me, and I still like that the best of all the "Age" games. (I own AOE3 and my son got the expansion for Christmas, but I haven't tried it yet.)

It makes me wonder how many others are like me? The magazines and websites are full of people who want to play the ultimate challenge, but how many are like me and just want to relax for a bit and beat up the computer.

Another one of my top games is Settlers IV, though it does not have an "easy" mode or any really good cheats. Playing through a game of it can eat up the good part of a day or two, as I end up botching it and keep restarting (along the way or at the beginning) until I figure the correct strategy. I always tend to build too many things and end up slowing myself down while they are completed.

I do wish the bugs in this game could be fixed. While it isn't perfect, it remains a fun game and is a good diversion from the normal conquer the world games.

Enough comments on this for now. :)