Never Enough?: 3 Keys to Financial Contentment

Never Enough?: 3 Keys to Financial Contentment

by Ron Blue, Karen Guess

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781433690716
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/01/2017
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 666,654
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

About the Author


After spending his early career on Wall Street and as an entrepreneur, Ron Blue became a Christian in his early 30s. Since 1979, he has held a God given passion to help Christians plan and manage their finances in order to be able to maximize Kingdom giving. Over time, Ron has pursued this passion in several ways. He is the founder of Ronald Blue & Co., the largest fee-only Christian financial planning firm in the country. He has authored twenty books on biblical financial stewardship, including Master Your Money, The Complete Guide to Faith Based Family Finances, and Surviving Financial Meltdown. In 2003, he helped to establish Kingdom Advisors, a ministry that trains financial advisors to integrate biblical wisdom into their client advice. In 2012, Ron partnered with Indiana Wesleyan University to establish The Ron Blue Institute for Financial Planning, dedicated to multiplying the message of biblical financial wisdom in the public and academic sectors through curriculum development and thought leadership.
 
Ron holds a BS and an MBA from Indiana University. He and his wife Judy live in Atlanta, Georgia. They have five children and thirteen grandchildren.
 
Karen Guess is an educator and writer. She graduated with a B.A. in History from Wake Forest University and spent the next twelve years teaching middle and high school in Japan, inner city Richmond, and suburban Atlanta. For the last eight years, she has worked closely with her father, Ron Blue, both editing and creating content for Kingdom Advisors and The Ron Blue Institute. This is their first book together. Karen and her husband have three children and reside in Clarkston, Georgia, a city that is home to several thousand refugees from all over the world. They are passionate about neighboring in their community and sharing its beauty with others. 

Read an Excerpt

Never Enough?

3 Keys to Financial Contentment


By Ron Blue, Karen Guess

B&H Publishing Group

Copyright © 2017 Ron Blue Library, LLC
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4336-9070-9



CHAPTER 1

A New Money Story


You have a numbers story.

Maybe it's a story of driven, hard work — years of sustained effort to intentionally shape your financial future.

Maybe your story is one of powerful generosity — love for the marginalized, marked by an open hand and a willing checkbook.

Perhaps it's a story of lifelong struggle — consistently overcoming the factors that made your financial future difficult from the day you were born.

Many people's numbers tell a story of "never enough" — anxiety over what-ifs and regret over should-haves that drive the next financial decision.

Maybe your numbers — your finances — really tell a deeper story about YOU. I believe that they do, and I want to take a journey with you to unpack both your numbers and your story. I want to show you what's possible.

It is possible to have a numbers story that speaks confidence to the world around you. Because God's Word speaks straightforward financial wisdom, you really can make decisions from a place of firm footing without holding an advanced degree in finance.

It is possible to have a numbers story that is marked by contentment. You can be satisfied — deeply so — in your current financial situation, even while boldly pursuing "next steps" for savings, debt payment, and lifestyle goals.

It is even possible to have a numbers story that is marked by good communication with your spouse and family. You can learn how to approach financial decisions from a perspective-based level, working to align your goals while standing on the common ground of shared beliefs.

I have a numbers story, too, and there was a moment in time when I woke up to the fact that all of our stories are pretty similar — whether we have a lot or a little.


Mud Huts and Money

I grew up in the Midwest. As the son of an immigrant mom and a farmer-turned-factory-worker dad, my roots are humble. My parents worked hard to ensure that our family made it into the American middle class during my growing-up years.

As a young man, I was pretty enamored with new stuff (as most young men are). My love for baseball gloves turned into a love for clothes and cars, which then morphed into a love directed at a new house and a country club membership.

From my perspective, I was a normal, red-blooded American child of the 1950s. The pursuit of stuff — materialism — was woven into my DNA. I never had quite enough to satisfy the longings of my heart.

When I became a Christian in my thirties, God led my wife and me to make some radical decisions. These decisions would impact everything from career and location to family and home. My service shifted from small business owners through my thriving CPA practice to African pastors through leadership training events in places like Kenya and South Africa.

Needless to say, meetings in Sub-Saharan Africa were a bit different than meetings in suburban Indianapolis.

On one of my visits to Kenya, Pastor Daniel invited me to his home. Pastor Daniel lived with his wife and several children in a mud hut on the edge of a village. He and I sat in his yard, near his chickens, as we talked. We discussed the specific challenges he faced as he shepherded his congregation. While we talked, I couldn't help but notice the drastic lifestyle differences between us ... but there was something that also felt so familiar. The youngest of his children was playing nearby in the dirt with a D battery, thoroughly engaged in whatever imaginative scenario the battery represented. I found myself thinking about the imagination-boosting options available to my children on a Saturday morning (cartoons, Big Wheels, a sandbox, and a swing set, to start!) compared to his daughter's "toy" battery. I was a bit chagrined.

As we chatted, I asked Pastor Daniel to share with me the biggest hindrance to the spread of the gospel in his part of the world. Without hesitation he answered, "materialism."

What!?

How?!

I had to ask.

"You see," he said, "if a man has a mud hut, he wants a stone hut. If he has a thatched roof, he wants a tin roof. If he has one room, he wants two rooms."

Apparently, and much to my surprise, materialism is a disease of the heart that affects all people — it is not simply a disease suffered only by the "haves." That day, I realized that the "haves" exist in every cultural context, no matter the relative poverty level!

My young mind was blown! From that moment on, I read Jesus' teachings about money with a new set of lenses. I realized that Jesus talked so much about money because the issues money creates are not just issues of the wealthy; they are issues of humanity. Every person struggles with issues of money — materialism, greed, envy, control, stinginess, impulsivity, fear, and comparison.

Money is a great revealer of the heart.

Money is a great revealer of the heart. I often say that if you give me your bank statement, I can pinpoint you where you struggle and where you are free. I can identify your priorities and your goals. I can see what you love by looking at your checkbook. Many times, a checkbook will even show me what you fear. This trend is unsettling, but very true.

Jesus Himself famously said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt. 6:21).


Where Is My Heart?

I once heard pastor Tim Keller give a sermon on money. He remarked that he has never had someone come to him privately to confess the sin of greed. He's had parishioners confess plenty of other sins to him, but never greed.

Why? Because, collectively, we suffer from blindness when it comes to the connection between our heart and our money. We cannot see what is so close to us and what is so engrained in us. None of us think we are greedy even though we can see this problem boldly play out in the lives of others around us.

If we are all blind to the greediness that exists, what is the solution? How do we begin to see it in order to deal with it? Or, better yet, do we truly want the true nature of our heart to be revealed to us?

God knows our weakness in the area of finances and He wants to use that area of vulnerability to display His strong power in our lives. This good news — this exchange of His power for our weakness — is the story of the gospel. The gospel story is His vision for our blindness, His redemption for our sin, His abundant life for our dead works. Jesus is always accomplishing the good news of the gospel in the life of a Christian — even when it comes to money. Especially when it comes to money. Learning His truth about money will empower you with vision and freedom and confidence in your financial decisions.

Because God knows the inevitable overlap between our hearts and our money, He filled the Scripture with perspectives and principles about money. In His Word, He gives us all that we need to walk a path of confident stewardship. He gives us His wisdom through the Holy Spirit along with reliable lenses to evaluate our financial thinking and our financial decisions.

Our relationship with money is similar to our relationships with people. Just like in key relationships, our financial life is also fertile soil for God to work. Money provides a training ground for spiritual growth that will last into eternity.


True, Timeless, Transcendent

God's Word on the topic of money is true, timeless, and transcendent.

My wife teases me that I am not happy until I can get my main points to start with the same letter when I give speeches. Her kidding is very well deserved, but I think that devices like rhyming and alliteration are powerful, so I'll share one of my favorites with you here.

God's Word on the topic of money is true, timeless, and transcendent.

First, it is true in that it works. In my career, I've worked in a variety of financial environments. I've worked on Wall Street with one of the world's largest accounting firms and in a small, private bank. I started a CPA firm that served small businesses and individuals. I have counseled thousands of Christians via a financial planning firm that I founded in 1979 and trained several thousand financial advisors who want to add biblical wisdom to their advice. And I have interacted extensively with the public via media outlets about their financial questions.

While this litany sounds a bit like Paul's résumé run-up in Philippians about his life as a Pharisee, I will tell you that, similar to Paul, I count all these things loss in view of the amazing grace of knowing Jesus. Every word that He said about money is true, and it has transformed my heart.

When I came to Christ in the early 1970s, I was mid-career. Over time, God began to weave my vocational financial skills with the knowledge of what His Word says about money. As that intersection happened, the powerful truth of Scripture about money shined brighter and brighter. With each year that has passed, the truth of biblical financial wisdom has become more and more evident to me.

In every environment, on every financial platform that I've stood, God's principles about money in Scripture are effective. They work on Wall Street and they work on Main Street. They work for the millionaire and they work at minimum wage. Any "wisdom" about money that is successful in the world is somehow derived from the wisdom of Scripture on the same topic. What God's Word says about money is true. I've built my fifty-plus-year career on it.

Additionally, it is timeless in that it remains. Scripture's teaching on money worked in the context in which it was written and works in our context today.

When King Solomon wrote things like, "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender's slave" (Prov. 22:7 nasb) or, "Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it" (Prov. 13:11 nasb), he was not thinking of the stock market or subprime mortgages or Ponzi schemes or low APRs. Those terms would have been entirely foreign to him!

Yet, in an era of online banking and a global economy, the principles about money remain. They are timeless. They will remain far past anything we can imagine in terms of economic trends or financial instruments because timelessness is the nature of biblical wisdom.

Finally, it is transcendent in that it is reliable. Biblical financial wisdom transcends changes throughout a lifetime. Judy and I began our married life living in a trailer that was so small, the opened ironing board took up the whole living space. Now, all these years later, we have lived in multiple homes and we have cleaned out multiple attics and basements. We have paid for college degrees, weddings, first cars, car wrecks, vacations, and so much more. Some days it seems like we have purchased insurance on our insurance. Our financial life is endlessly more complicated than it was when I was twenty-two. Nevertheless, the biblical financial wisdom I have learned and share in this book transcends each decision, each life stage, and the needs of each of the five children that have come and gone from our now empty nest. Biblical financial wisdom is reliable, no matter how my circumstances change. It is transcendent.


The Iceberg

I happen to think that the iceberg is one of the best representations in nature of the power of wisdom. Have you ever seen one firsthand? If so, you know that the beauty and grandeur of what rises above the surface is breathtaking. When a bit of ice breaks off and falls to the water below, the glorious fall makes you want to clap your hands and shout.

What I love most about icebergs, though, is that they hide exponential grandeur and beauty below the surface. Ninety percent of an iceberg sits beneath the surface of the water. What sits on top is, well, just the tip of the iceberg!

Similarly, the run-of-the-mill, cultural financial messages that we hear tend to be ten percent of the story or "tip of the iceberg" messages. Most television commercials advertising financial advice focus on the "tip of the iceberg" type questions: How do I retire early? How do I save for college? How do I get out of debt? How do I get a lower interest rate? How do I take advantage of this economy? And so on.

Biblical wisdom about money is more about what lies below the waterline. Until we understand a wise perspective and know certain principles about money, we will not be able to make confident decisions. We will not be able to be content because there will be so much below the surface that remains unknown and uncertain. Our number stories will remain tumultuous.

A journey beneath the waterline may be a new experience for you. Think of this book as a chance to be fitted with scuba gear to take you below the waterline and gain clarity and focus where there is confusion and fuzziness. We will certainly explore some "how" answers in the book, but I first want to help you with the "why" so that you have the power to make wise financial decisions in the midst of shifting life circumstances over time. Our "why" determines our "how." What we believe determines what we will do. If we have a settled understanding of biblical perspectives and principles about money, then our decisions about money will become more confident and will be rooted in a solid trust in the ultimate owner of our resources — God Himself. Isn't that wonderful?

Not long ago, I saw a powerful video that illustrates the power of acting out of "why" rather than "how." Christian comedian Michael Jr. did a stand-up routine in North Carolina. During a break in his routine, he interacted with the audience and discovered that there was a music teacher at the show. Michael put the teacher on the spot by challenging him to sing "Amazing Grace." The teacher responded to the challenge by singing a beautiful, level version of the first verse of the song, to the applause of the audience. Finding out that the man had a voice, the comedian went a step further and messed with this poor teacher in new ways. He told the teacher, "Now sing 'Amazing Grace' like your uncle just got out of jail." The music teacher rose to the occasion and practically blew the roof off of the venue with a chillingly powerful rendition of the song. By the end, people were standing and cheering and the comedian was virtually speechless. Once the teacher knew his "why," the song took on a life of its own, and it became a work of art rather than just a melody.

Similarly, knowing how to make a budget or pay off debt or give responsibly is important. But when your financial actions and plans and decisions are infused with a powerful, biblically based understanding of "why," your financial life can become a life of impact, hope, confidence, and contentment. Through our time together, I pray that you will experience the reality that knowing the good news of biblical financial wisdom frees you to make outstanding financial choices from a place of heart-level conviction.


Takeaway

On that long-ago day in Africa, I realized that the connection between heart and money is universal. Regardless of my income level, God wants to use money to help transform my heart.

Consider that God wants you to understand money in a whole new light, and perhaps for the first time you'll realize:

His wisdom applies to your money.

His work in your heart is tied to your financial struggles and victories.

His Word applies to every part of your life, including money.

His "why" can inform your "how," transforming your money story.

Do you agree it's time to break down the God/Money divide? Pull up a chair to the true, timeless, transcendent wisdom of Scripture and ask the Lord to open your eyes.


BRAD'S STORY

God Provides

Brad was one of my sons' best friends when they were growing up. In school, he was sandwiched in the grade right in between my two boys and they played tennis together for many years. Our family was a fixture at the tennis courts during this season of life, and Brad was often a part of the mix. One summer, he even lived with us.

In high school, Brad had his share of close calls. He flirted with the wild side, and he encountered the subsequent heavy hand of school discipline more than once. His path wasn't the "straight and narrow," but the Lord pursued him through relationships with mentors along the way. Eventually, Brad met Jesus and looked for chances to mentor and care for people the way others had mentored and cared for him.

Today, in his late thirties, Brad is a counselor, teacher, and pastor. His impact on the men and women in his care is deep. He is one of the most insightful and genuinely caring men that I know and is a role model to many young people in his circle of influence.

Brad's high school foibles didn't happen in a vacuum. When he was in middle school, his family went through a really hard season. His parents divorced, leaving his mom to care for three boys on a teacher's salary. His mom ended up working three jobs — teaching, tutoring, and delivering papers — to make ends meet. She had a rotation of waking up a different son each night to ride her paper route with her so that she could stay awake. The financial road was challenging for their family in ways most of us who knew them didn't begin to realize. It was one of those tough situations where his mom was living and working in a fairly affluent environment, but their family circumstances conspired to leave them on the verge of financial despair, without anyone understanding the reality of their day-to-day situation.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Never Enough? by Ron Blue, Karen Guess. Copyright © 2017 Ron Blue Library, LLC. Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 A New Money Story 5

Brad's Story: God Provides 16

2 Who Owns It? 19

3 Perspective Changes Everything 31

Dave's Story: A Perspective on Success, Security, and Significance 44

4 Five Wise Principles 47

5 Only One Pie 65

Adam and Nora: The Story of a Better Decision 83

6 Live 89

Graham's Story: How Much Is Enough? 106

7 Give 111

8 Owe Debt 129

Beth's Story: Tackling Debt Head-On 148

9 Owe Taxes 151

10 Grow 167

11 Transformed Heart, Transformed Money, Transformed World 189

Notes 207

Acknowledgments 211

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Never Enough?: 3 Keys to Financial Contentment 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Fitzysmom More than 1 year ago
I have read several financial planning books over the years but I think I can honestly say that none have ever had the impact that Never Enough has had on my thinking. This isn't a mega book, in fact it comes in at only 213 pages. But those pages pack a punch. Ron Blue's plan is simple yet complex. He uses the words Live - Give - Owe - Grow to show you how your money works in your life. In fact even if you aren't actively managing it these are still the areas that your money lands in. During this tax season I particularly appreciated Ron's take on paying taxes. He presented it as a privilege rather than a burden. I honestly have never looked at it in that light but he's absolutely right. I pay taxes because of God's abundant provision in my life. The other concept that is resonating is that of making more margin in our financial lives. And guess what, he encourages doing it without adding a second job! He uses a pie chart to show you how your money decisions aren't linear but rather circular. For instance you can't overspend on something and just continue on down the line. Instead when you overspend it comes out of the overall pie taking away from another area of your finances. It's an easy concept that makes perfect sense. If you are looking for a book that will relieve the stress and guilt of money management then this is the one to get. The gentle reminders that God is in control of it all and that you can trust Him in every area of your life are a lovely way to begin setting your financial house in order. I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
Teadrinker More than 1 year ago
It is no secret that money management can be a challenge for many couples. In Never Enough?, Ron Blue and his daughter, Karen Guess, share how even though money and life are "inextricably linked" creating some challenges, you can apply the wisdom in this book to keep your finances at your best with God. To start with, Blue/Guess offer 5 wise principles anyone can use to mange their finances in the best way. Then, using a pie diagram, they share how to basically divide your money into four categories: Live, the money I live on; Give, the money I give away; Owe, the money I pay for Debt and Taxes; and Grow, the money I save. The Never Enough? authors then break down these categories and further explain them to learn how to apply them to real life. Also, at the end of each chapter, there is a short re-cap so the reader can easily remember the most important principles. Never Enough? is down to earth in style and is written in such a way that it is easy to understand. There are also many real-life examples from people who applied the principles in this book ,which are especially helpful and encouraging. I know this probably makes me weird but I like to read financial books. I always learn something new that helps my family and I manage our money a little better. Also, books like Never Enough? offer me encouragement to keep doing what I know God wants me to do in spite of a world that offers other directions. Never Enough? is honestly a good book to help learn the basics of managing your finances in a godly way. I also found it to be helpful in continually reminding me to pray about finances and my life and then proceed. Ron Blue is a seasoned financial advisor with a long list of experience in helping others handle their finances. His daughter, Karen Guess, has been working with him for the last 8 years to write and create financial content. I especially appreciated how positive and upbeat this book was. It also had a tone of encouragement through the book in reminding readers that they can follow God and live each day making the most of the financial situation they currently have while adhering to basic money principles. I would recommend Never Enough? to anyone and everyone looking to improve their financial situation from a Christian perspective. I received Never Enough? from Broadman and Holman Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.