Master Your Money by Ron Blue Book Review

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Do you feel like your money is in charge of you, instead of you being in charge of your money? Do you ever wish that you knew how you could master your money?

Entrepreneur and accountant Ron Blue has a few ideas in his new book Master Your Money. This is a re-vamped version of a previous edition published in the late 80s. This time, he’s made some updates, adding personal reflections to the end of each chapter. He’s also added a special writing partner, his son Michael Blue, to add commentary at the end of each chapter.

Master Your Money offers a decidedly¬† Christian perspective with a heavy emphasis on the spiritual aspect of money management. Probably the biggest takeaway from this book is the idea of stewardship: that God “owns it all” and that people don’t truly own their money or possessions, but are simply caretakers of the things they have. The second takeaway is the huge emphasis placed on giving. Blue talks about giving and goes beyond emphasizing tithing as important, but states that is is the first purpose money should be used for in a budget¬† (even before taxes, and states that tithing should be done from gross instead of net income). He discusses estate planning for charity and making faith pledges beyond what you think you can give (to help your city, the world, orphans, the poor).

There are some changes that could have been made to this book to make it stronger. There are two big issues that people in this country are suffering from financially that aren’t addressed at all in this book, which could have been updated: student loan debt and health care costs. Blue talks about types of debt, but leaves student loan debt completely out of the picture, which is concerning given that student loan debt cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy. This is a critical issue given that so many students have defaulted on their student loans and are overextended. Another issue that needs further addressing is rising health care costs. The sample budget given for health care costs seems low given that families are experiencing increased costs in the areas of premiums, drug costs, etc. This is not a political issue but a financial one, and to not address it doesn’t give an accurate picture of what everyday families are up against in their personal finances.

Another strange part about this book is in the sample budget, there’s a line item for “margin” – a 2 percent category for a family to help them increase their cash flow. Yet, there is no line item on the sample budget for saving money for the future. When savings is not automated or made intentional in some way, it doesn’t happen. I don’t know if this “margin” category is the author’s way of saying “savings”, but it seems odd that a financial expert wouldn’t urge people to be intentional about creating an emergency fund of some kind, when so many people probably do not have one. Furthermore, I’m not sure why the author wouldn’t encourage people to save more than two percent of their budget when he is urging them to give 10 percent to others. The Biblical mandate is to provide for your own household or you are worse than an unbeliever… how can a wise person prepare for the hard times that will inevitably come in the future without making plans?

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of Master Your Money from the publisher, Moody Publishers, in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

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Exploring Christian Theology by Holsteen & Svigel- Book Review

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Have you ever taken the time to stop and consider why you believe what you believe? If you’re a Christian, it’s crucially important to think about your belief system and how it’s different from others. What do you believe about life and death, what are your opinions about an afterlife, and do you believe that a human being has a soul?

Nathan Holsteen and Michael Svigel have teamed up to create a second volume of Exploring Christian Theology. This volume focuses on Creation, Fall, and Salvation. It covers some basics that most members of Christian churches would agree on, such as how fundamental Creation is, and how humanity stands in relationship to sin. But this book poses some thought provoking-questions that can divide believers. For example: how, and when, is a soul created? Are people able to do good, or is this impossible due to their sinful nature? Is a person’s salvation secure, and if so, by how much?

I enjoyed this book very much and recommend it to Christians of all denominations. Holsteen and Svigel have created a thought-provoking book that will challenge Christians to examine their faith and think through important issues.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

If God is Good Faith and Suffering in the Midst of Evil

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If there is a God, why is there so much suffering in the world?

Wouldn’t a good, supreme being do something about the evil and pain in the world?

This question, or variations of it, is one of the oldest that humans have struggled with. It’s a tall order for anyone to sufficiently answer. However, Christian author Randy Alcorn has taken on the challenge in what is a lengthy, yet meaningful, contribution to apologetics in his new book If God is Good Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil.

In what is about 500 pages, Alcorn makes his case. His theology includes ideas on how a loving God can exist and not stop heinous crimes. Alcorn also theorizes why God doesn’t stop diseases, disabilities, car accidents, and other tragedies from inflicting pain on humanity.

I read Christian books often but I have never been so thoroughly challenged by a book since I was a college student. The material is dense and I did not understand – or agree with – all that Alcorn was saying. But, he frequently cites Scripture to back up his ideas and there were a few times that I had to check his claims against the Bible to see if he was correct. I was shocked to learn in a few instances that Alcorn was correct, and I learned some things about the Bible that I had never heard before.

If God is Good will not give an easy, comforting answer for suffering, nor will it calm the objections of atheists. However, for Christians seeking a thought-provoking book to shape their theology on suffering and evil, it is a well-structured, Scripturally sound reference book.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of If God is Good from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Life with a capital L by Matt Heard

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What makes the difference between a life with significance, and a life that is mundane? Is there a connection between the Bible and the problems that face humanity? What does it mean to live life to the fullest?

Matt Heard addresses these questions using thought and feeling in Life With a Capital L. It’s an overview of life where he addresses freedom, the heart, beauty, worship, time, and brokenness. There’s a lot of wisdom packed into these pages, so much so that I was surprised when he referenced himself as “middle-aged”, as I was expecting someone much older having accumulated these life lessons. Heard has taken stories from his journey and assembled them into Life With a Capital L, creating a life manual to provide notes for things you can watch out for, or things that you already know but can be glad to have someone else acknowledge.

On a scale of five stars, I rank this book four out of five, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a thought-provoking, stimulating book.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

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The Trail: A Tale about Discovering God’s Will by Ed Underwood Book Review

https://i2.wp.com/files.tyndale.com/thpdata/images--covers/500%20h/978-1-4143-9112-0.jpgHow can I find God’s will?

Whether it’s determining how to know God’s guidance in who to marry, where to live, what career to pursue, or any other number of choices, God’s will is a confusing topic. To provide answers, Ed Underwood has created The Trail: A Tale About Discovering God’s Will. Instead of creating a list of “how-to’s” for explaining what God’s will is or is not, Underwood uses the fictional (but realistic) story of a married couple, Matt and Brenda, who are struggling with the decision of whether or not Matt (the husband) should take a job offer that would mean moving their family to another state. Matt and Brenda’s decision will be significantly influenced by their guidance from Sam, an older man who serves as their spiritual mentor and guide as they take an outdoor adventure to reflect, be taught, and make this important decision.

As Sam instructs them on what he believes God’s will is, the personalities of Matt, Sam and Brenda are revealed. The saying “It’s not about the destination, but the journey” accurately describes The Trail. The main conflict that Matt and Brenda face – how to find God’s will – takes a backseat at times. Underwood has surprises in store which is what made this book interesting. The disappointing part, however, was that after I finished reading this book, I didn’t feel I had a better grasp on the idea of what God’s will is or how to find it.

FTC Disclosure: I have received a complimentary copy of this book from. Tyndale House Publishers. The opinions contained in this review are my own.