Recently, we’ve received calls on our MoneyWise radio program wanting to know about Bitcoins and asking our advice about investing in them.
Bitcoins is a payment system that was invented in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto. Essentially, it is digital currency that operated outside of governments and the traditional financial system. The US Treasury calls it a “virtual currency.”
From my point of view, it’s too risky to invest in them. And some of those connected with this payment system have been involved in questionable activities. The founder was sent to jail, and the Bitcoin Exchange is bankrupt. And if that’s not enough, the founder of the largest of the Bitcoin exchanges was arrested just recently. I don’t know the details, but it may have something to do with the $400 million in Bitcoins that are missing from the company’s accounts.
Investing in Bitcoins is still confusing to me which also violates this important investing rule of thumb: If you don’t understand a potential investment well enough to explain it simply and clearly to your spouse in a way that he or she understands it – don’t do it!
Something small businesses don’t know that could cost them a bundle next week!
Beginning October 1st, there is going to be a shift in responsibility of who is liable for fraudulent card transactions. Small businesses can be held liable for customer credit and debit card fraud if they don’t have a terminal that complies with Europay Master Card Visa (EMV) chip based standards that can read chip enabled cards.
Here’s the rational
When card fraud happens, whoever is using the “lesser” technology will be responsible for the liability. If a merchant is still using the old swipe and signature method, they’ll be liable if the customer has a chip card. On the other hand, if the retailer uses a new terminal, but the bank hasn’t issued a chip card, the bank will pay up.
Here’s the challenge
Too many small business owners are unaware of this liability shift and the October 1st EMV deadline. Others are putting off purchasing the new equipment because of the cost. It is very risky not having the chip reading terminals because it can be even more expensive getting whacked with the charge-backs from the fraudulent use of cards in your business.
Recently, we have received a surprising number of inquiries concerning the possibility of a massive financial storm striking America sometime this September or October. Several respected leaders have pointed to the confluence of Jewish High Holy Days marking the end of a significant 7-year cycle called the Shemitah along with a rare fourth blood moon.
There is no question our economy is shaky because of huge government and personal debt in America and for that matter in most countries. When you overlay the decisions our leaders are making that are contrary to the truth of God’s word, there is a legitimate concern that the Lord could discipline our country.
At the risk of being misunderstood by some, I want to share an experience that has fueled my passion for 38 years to help people learn God’s way of handling money. The year was 1977, and I was suddenly overcome by the Spirit of God and found myself prostrate on the floor, weeping. Then the Lord revealed to me that during my life time our economy would experience a very difficult time. God didn’t reveal when this will occur or what it will be like, but there’s no doubt that it will happen.
The financial crisis of 2008-2009 that engulfed the entire globe, made it clear that the economies of the world are more fragile than most people imagined. So what should you do to survive the coming economic storm? It’s wise to do what we’ve learned in Florida to prepare for hurricanes and follow these 6 steps. By the way, if it’s already difficult for you to make ends meet, simply do what you can do and trust the Lord—the only One who can protect and provide for us.
In addition to having some cash accessible outside of our bank, all we can do with our finances is to handle money God’s way.
Be generous even when facing a crisis. “Agabus (a prophet) began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world . . . and in proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea” (Acts 11:28-29).
Work to get out of debt. “The borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).
Save. “The wise man saves for the future” (Proverbs 21:20).
Diversify your investments. “Divide your portion to 7 or even 8, for you do not know what misfortune may occur upon the earth.”
FOOD and WATER Prep
If you can afford it, have extra imperishable food on hand that could feed your family and some neighbors. Store foods that you already eat and can rotate to keep fresh. Adults require about 2,000 calories a day to maintain their weight. Have extra portable water on hand and a filtering system to purify water, if needed.
Think extra toilet paper, hand sanitizer, hydrogen peroxide, garbage bags, etc.
Assuming you don’t have electricity, decide how you would generate energy to power lighting and cook food. Secure energy efficient lighting, flashlights, batteries, candles, matches and a hand crank/solar powered radio. Consider a generator, fuel, and a propane stove.
Prescriptions, Neosporin, and a good first aid kit are a good start.
Most importantly, pray and spend time in God’s word to get to know Christ better and to understand that He is our provider and protector. And if you can, prepare with some friends because we all will need encouragement and the counsel of others. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.”
I view these challenges as an amazing opportunity to influence people to consider Christ as their personal Savior. It could be the most exciting time in our lives. The Compass Ukraine Director lives in Kiev and said there was revival in Kiev when Russia invaded the eastern part of their country because God’s people prayed and served those who were unprepared.
May we prepare spiritually to meet the needs of our family and those around us.
Gifts obviously benefit the recipient. The church continues its ministry, the hungry are fed, and missionaries are sent. But from God’s point of view generosity is more important for the giver than the recipient. “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).
The Giver Will Benefits in 4 Ways-
1. An increase in intimacy
Above all else, giving draws our heart to Christ. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When you give to Christ and His work as a way of expressing your love for Him, it draws your heart closer to Him. And nothing on this planet is more important that knowing Jesus well.
2. An increase in character
Our heavenly Father wants us to conform to the image of His Son. The character of Christ is that of an unselfish giver. Unfortunately, humans are selfish by nature. One way we become conformed to Christ is by regular giving. Someone once said, “Giving is not God’s way of raising money; it is God’s way of raising people into the likeness of His Son.”
3. An increase in heaven
Matthew 6:20 reads, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.” The Lord tells us that heaven has its own “First National Bank,” where we can invest for eternity.
Paul wrote, “Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account” (Philippians 4:17). Each of us has an account in heaven that we will be able to enjoy for eternity. And although we “can’t take it with us when we die,” we can make deposits to our heavenly account before we die.
4. An increase on earth
Many people have a hard time believing that giving can result in material blessings flowing back to the giver. However, we encounter that very principle in the pages of Scripture. Consider Proverbs 11:24-25: “There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.”
One reason the Lord reveals that we can anticipate such an increase is because He wants us to recognize that He is behind it. God has chosen to be invisible, but He wants us to experience His reality.
When we give, we should do so with a sense of expectation—anticipating an increase from the Lord even though we have no idea how or when He may choose to provide it. Our experience has shown Him to be very creative! Remember, givers experience the advantages of giving only when they give cheerfully and with love—not when the motive is just to get.
The stock market opened this morning with the Dow dropping as many as 1,100 points. To put this into perspective, the Dow has never closed down more than 800 points in a day!
I briefly turned on a financial TV channel to see what the financial gurus were saying. They were obviously struggling to explain this huge loss. Unlike their usual self-assuredness, they were unable to clearly articulate why it was happening and what was going to happen.
As we’ve been sharing with our MoneyWise listeners for the past couples of years, when any market has six straight years of amazing growth in value and is at or near record highs – we need to be cautious! So, we’ve been recommending no more than 25% of an individual’s investments in the stock market. And we’ve encouraged investors to do their homework and invest in solid companies that have little or no debt and pay a dividend.
The two passages that give us the clearest guidance when it comes to investing are Proverbs 21:5, “Steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty.” In other words, be a consistent investor even if you can afford just a few dollars a month.
The other passage is Ecclesiastes 11:2, “Divide your portion to seven or even eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur upon the earth.” In other words, it’s wise to diversify and not to put all of our investment dollars into one basket.
One final thought. When we face major financial challenges that are global and beyond our control, remember what 1 Timothy 6:17 tell us: “. . . don’t fix your hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” All riches are uncertain. Stocks, real estate, bonds, and gold go up and down in value. There is only one thing on the planet that is certain and that is the Lord Himself. He told us in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”
In 1973, my business partner asked me to join him in a study of the Bible to discover what it said about money and possessions. I had never read the Bible before so this was going to be an eye-opening experience……..and it certainly was!
There were three things that really resonated with me during this year-long project.
The Bible says a ton about money! There are 2,350 verses dealing with money and possessions. In fact, 15% of everything that Jesus said had to do with it. The reason the Lord said so much about money is simple. God loves and cares for us. He knew that all of us would have financial challenges and he wanted to equip you to handle it wisely.
I thought that the only financial subject the Bible would address was generosity — the handling of 10 percent of our money. But it tells us how to earn, spend, save, give, invest, get out of debt, and teach our children. It shows us God’s way of handling 100 percent of our money. Everything we need to know about handling it is found in God’s word.
Finally, the Bible reveals God has a role in handling money, and we have a part. God’s part is that he is the owner of everything, He is the One who provides our needs, and He is in ultimate control of all events. Take a look at how 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 sums up God Part: “Everything in the heavens and earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the ruler of all mankind. Your hand controls power and might, and it is at your discretion that men are made great.” Our Part is that we’re to be faithful stewards of whatever God entrusts to us.
If you would like a Bible that has each of the 2,350 verses highlighted that deal with money and possessions, check out our Financial Stewardship Bible.
Do you know that some people never get out of car debt? And it’s one of their biggest obstacles on their journey to true financial freedom. Fortunately, there’s a way to get out of car debt for good by following these three simple steps.
Decide to keep your car at least three years longer than your car loan—and then pay off the loan.
After your last payment, keep making the same payment, but pay it to yourself. Put it into an account that you will use to buy your next car.
When you’re ready to replace your car, the cash you have saved plus your car’s trade-in value should be sufficient to buy a car without credit. It may not be a new car, but a low-mileage used car is often value anyway.
My wife, Bev, once drove the same car for 17 looooong years. She bought it second-hand and paid cash for it. This was one of the wisest financial decisions we ever made because the average monthly payment on a new car that’s financed is about $385. So, for 17 years she didn’t have a $385 auto payment which saved us $78,540! We were able to use this money to be more generous, get out of debt more quickly, and save invest more.
The news continues to be dominated by Greece’s possible bankruptcy and the question of whether it will stay in the European Union. In the midst of their struggle we’ve learned, once again, that when a country is fighting for financial survival, taxes go up, and the ability of those in retirement to make ends meet can be compromised. The Bible encourages us to save. Proverbs 21:20 says, “The wise man [and woman] saves for the future, the foolish one spends whatever he gets” (TLB).
Our country’s most popular retirement options are the 401(k), traditional IRA and Roth IRA. I recommend contributing to a 401(k) up to the amount of your employer’s match because it is free money, but not one penny more because of the five advantages of the Roth IRA.
Although contributions to a Roth are not tax deductible, it grows tax free and after age 59½, anything you take out of it is tax free. This is a huge benefit when you are in retirement!
If you are married, each year you and your spouse can both contribute $5,500 of earned income to your individual Roth’s regardless of who earned the money. The amount you can contribute annually is increased to $6,500 once you reach age 50.
If you are experiencing a financial emergency, you can take out what you’ve contributed to a Roth penalty free and income tax free.
Unlike a 401(k) or traditional IRA, when you reach age 70½ you are not subject to the taxable Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). In other words, you can choose to leave the assets in your Roth where they grow tax free.
A Roth generally has the most favorable tax treatment when you pass your estate to your heirs.
The good news is that it is easy to open a Roth IRA. Most banks and online brokers can help you.
Concern and even fear grip many hearts as ISIS murders helpless people, Greece and Venezuela teeter on the brink of economic Armageddon, and Russia and China are daring other countries to stop their aggressiveness. In times like this it is crucial to understand God’s perspective of history and His control of world events.
Isaiah 40:15-16 tells us how He views even powerful nations: “The nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales . . . all the nations are as nothing before Him [the Lord], they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.”
Acts 17:26 makes it clear who is in complete control. “The Lord . . . . scattered the nations across the face of the earth. He decided beforehand which should rise and fall and when. He determined their boundaries” (TLB).
We can experience God’s peace when we embrace a loving God who is control of every event.
It was a tragic event that is etched in our minds just as the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster or the 9-11 Twin Towers attack.
Nine African-American members of historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, were murdered by a visitor they had welcomed into their Bible study. The perpetrator was a young white supremacist who intended to divide our country and ignite a race war.
But . . . the response of the members of Emanuel and the families of the victims stunned the media and the world. In the midst of their pain and loss was the kindest and most gracious display of forgiveness possible. These parents, spouses and close friends demonstrated to the world what knowing Jesus Christ in a remarkably close way is all about.
My wife, Bev, and I were reflecting on this yesterday, and I shared with her that I was strongly sensing in my own heart a deeper love for Christ and people, a greater desire to be in God’s word and to obey it more fully — all since observing their genuine forgiveness. She had been experiencing something similar, and thought that this could be the beginning of revival in our nation.
I want to challenge you to meditate on the promises found in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Humble ourselves before the Lord and people
Pray and seek the face of God
Turn from anything in our lives that is not pleasing to Christ
Forgive those who have harmed us in any way and communicate that to them
If we do this as the people of God, He promises:
To hear our prayers
Forgive our sin
And heal our land.
The cost of revival is high. Let’s not waste the incredibly expensive down payment of the lives of nine members of Emanuel AME Church.