Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God’s Glory and Your Finances

Episode Resources

Check out "My Legacy Planner."

Leslie Basham: Why are we called to take good care of what God has given us? Here’s Karen Melby.

Karen Melby: We need to be good stewards of the life God has given us. But ultimately, take a step back and look at the larger perspective. It’s about the hope of heaven one day. We’re good stewards today with what God has given us, whether it’s our finances or our time on earth, and what we do with it. But it’s really what we do here is going to impact the hope that we have of eternity.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of True Woman 201, for August 24, 2018.

We’ve talked all this week about being prepared for the future by managing your finances well. But being stewards of what God has given us isn’t just about saving or investing. Giving generously is a huge part of that as well.

Nancy is wrapping up a conversation with this week’s three guests: her friend Karen Melby, who was widowed a few years ago, Lisa Hagenauer, an estate planning and probate attorney, and Andrea Karsten, a financial advisor.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: As we come to the final day of this discussion on “Prepared to Carry On,” I’m a little embarrassed that we’ve never addressed this subject before in eighteen years of Revive Our Hearts. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older that I’m now thinking about this more, and I’m seeing friends walk through challenges, many of them not as prepared as they wished they had been. Some of them have done a great job of preparing and been a great example.

So every one of us, no matter what our season of life—married, single, younger, older—there’s some steps that we need to be sure we’ve taken to be good stewards, while we’re living and after our lifetimes, to care for what God has entrusted to us.

We’ve just touched on some of these things, and I hope that the conversation we’ve had with Karen Melby and Lisa Hagenauer and Andrea Karsten, coming at this from a personal standpoint and a professional standpoint as well, has been encouraging to you.

Karen, I know this conversation has all been very personal for you. In fact, we were together in the hospital. I was visiting you and Scott when you had just learned that this was a more serious diagnosis than what you had thought it might be, and you guys were kind of reeling, and that wasn’t the last one of those really difficult days.

I watched your husband Scott go through this journey with . . . it was holy. It was super hard. It was heartbreaking. But it was incredibly holy. I just remember Scott one visit when I was there. Scott’s mom was there in the room, too. Scott was super uncomfortable, kind of writhing, and couldn’t get settled physically.

I don’t know what was causing that at the moment, but I just remember him, when he could say something, it would be something like, “God has been so good to us.”

And I’m going, “How can a man in this really difficult, painful moment . . . that’s what he’s thinking about? God has been so good to us?”

There were three things that related to that that were kind of anchors for Scott—even when he could hardly talk. These were the things he kept coming back to, and I know they’re woven into the warp and woof of your life. They were before, and they are even more so now. Remind us what those three things were.

Karen: Well, it started with a page in his journal that I have with me today. He wrote—you can see it right here—he wrote on the page: “I believe”. . . And he’s got several things ticked off:

  • God is good.
  • God has a plan.
  • It’s all for His glory.
  • God is totally in control.
  • God knows everything that he’s going through.
  • God can totally be trusted.
  • God promises to supply all our needs.

He wrote verses or just other little things in there, but he boiled those “I believe” statements down to one phrase: God is good; God is in control, and He can be trusted. And he said it over and over and over. He would say it when he was writhing in pain.

I think it was a conscious choice to frame his mind in the right place and not complain, not be feeling sorry for himself, and to set a good example to us who were watching. It was a purposeful training of his mind to remember what he believed about God.

Nancy: Okay, I don’t want us to just skip over that because you may not be thinking about wills and trusts and powers of attorney and end-of-life issues right now, but whatever your life situation or circumstance is, you need to be thinking—we need to be thinking—God is good.

Even when it doesn’t seem like what is happening to you is good, God is good.

And God is in control. He knows what He’s doing. He’s not making mistakes. God is in control.

And, number three: God can be trusted. God can be trusted.

I think those are three things that we need to just perpetually counsel our hearts with in every season of life. We need to keep telling ourselves, even when we don’t feel like it’s true, even when our circumstances seem to be screaming just the opposite.

You say it with me in your heart as you’re listening to this: God, You are good. God, You are in control. And, God, You can be trusted. When I can’t see the outcome of this, when the outcome is not at all what I would script, You’re good, You’re in control, and You can be trusted.

So if you don’t get anything else from this conversation this week, I hope that’s your take-away. No matter what hard thing you’re facing and what hard issues you’re having to deal with or hard decisions you’re having to make, that’s what Scott clung to.

Karen: Yes.

Nancy: That’s what you clung to during those times.

Karen: Yes.

Nancy: That’s what your children, your grown children, are clinging to because they saw this in you and Scott during that really hard time.

Karen: Well, it’s about the hope that we have. It’s the hope of heaven as a believer.

Nancy: This earth is not it.

Karen: Under this point: God can be totally trusted, Scott wrote in his own handwriting here, Hebrews 10:23, “without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we have.” He has that underlined, the hope we have, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.

It’s not about life on earth. That’s one of the things this whole experience has taught me. We need to be good stewards of the life that God has given us, which is why we’re having this conversation. But ultimately, take a step back and look at the larger perspective. It’s about the hope of heaven one day.

We’re good stewards today with what God has given us, whether it’s our finances or our time on earth and what we do with it. But really, what we do here is going to impact the hope that we have of eternity. That’s what we look to. That’s what Scott was looking to because he knew his time on earth was fleeting.

Nancy: Yes, as is true for all of us.

Karen: He was focusing on the hope that he had.

Nancy: And the promise is whatever your life circumstances are, here’s the fact: The best is yet to come. For all of us who know Jesus, the best is yet to come.

Karen: Yes.

Nancy: So all this stuff we’re talking about, preparing for end-of-life stuff, it’s all with that hope. Listen, if there’s no resurrection, if Christ wasn’t raised from the dead, if we’re not going to be raised to live with Him in eternity, then all this stuff we’re doing to plan for the end is, like, “Why take time for that?” But the best is yet to come, and God is writing our story.

Karen, I know the day that Scott was diagnosed, you had a really defining experience that only God could have scripted this way, but it helped you run into the fears that you were facing right at that moment.

Karen: Yes.

Nancy: Tell us that story.

Karen: Honestly, Nancy, I never put that together, but I think it was the very same day you visited us in the afternoon. That morning I had learned that the father of one of my daughter Kirsten’s high school friends had passed away that day from cancer. So Scott’s diagnosis with cancer hit us really hard.

A few days later, Kirsten and I decided we should go to the funeral. We sat in the back of this memorial service at our church. It was difficult to even be there.

Nancy: You weren’t sure initially should you go or shouldn’t you go.

Karen: That’s exactly right.

Nancy: But you made that decision.

Karen: Neither one of us felt emotionally strong enough to go. We intentionally sat in the back, thinking that if we need to leave, we could easily scoot out. But as the service went on . . . As you know, when a believer goes to heaven, the service is usually quite joyful, and it did our hearts good.

In fact, it was exactly where God wanted me to be because throughout that service, after a time of worship and then laughter with the family stories and such, I felt like the Lord and I had a conversation. I could hear—not verbal words from the Lord—but I know what He impressed on me during that service. It was, basically, “Karen, what is your fear? Are you afraid that this is going to be you? You just have to let that go. Give that fear to Me.”

Nancy: At that point you didn’t know the outcome.

Karen: I didn’t know any outcome. I just knew that it was not good.

Nancy: Yes.

Karen: And so the Lord just pressed upon me to give that to Him. “Let Me carry that. Let Me walk with you. I’m going to carry this, and I’m going to carry you. Give Me that fear. You have a long journey ahead, but I’m going to be with you.”

Nancy: Yes, and He was.

Karen: Yes. And the rest of the story is that after Scott passed away, God reminded me of that conversation as I sat at my husband’s funeral. He reminded me that He had carried me through, and that He will continue to carry my children and me as we carry on without Scott. God has been faithful. He was faithful.

Nancy: God’s writing the story.

Karen: He’s writing the story.

Nancy: He’s good. He’s in control.

Karen: And He can be trusted.

Nancy: And He can be trusted.

In that whole process, as we’ve been talking about the past several days, you had for months before Scott’s death and then, I think, it took you eighteen months, and even at some level continuing today, to deal with some of the practical considerations—the financial aspects, the plans, even we talked earlier this week about plans for burial, and we’ve talked about end-of-life directives that may need to be given, or decisions that may need to be made.

Karen: Yes.

Nancy: But these practical, tangible things that need to be dealt with.

Karen: Yes.

Nancy: Scott had done a great job of preparing your family spiritually. He was an incredible—you had to be there. But anybody who was around you and Scott in that season was experiencing a sense that, “This was holy ground. God’s here, and God is speaking through all of this.” It was something that touched so many lives in the process, as did the memorial service, as has your life since.

But there were a lot of tangible things that you also had to trust the Lord for.

Karen: Yes.

Nancy: That’s why we’ve brought this conversation together, saying, “The intangible stuff matters the most.”

Karen: Right.

Nancy: Your heart being in the right place, being right with the Lord, having right family relationships, insofar as you can. Karen, I wish we could have your children here today. Each one of them could talk about how God used Scott’s life and death, and His work through you as well to touch their lives.

Your children were in different places in terms of growth and season of life and spiritual maturity, and God has worked unbelievably in each of those kids. They’re not kids anymore. They’re all grown up.

Karen: Yes.

Nancy: Their lives—that’s the intangible.

But the way you’ve handled the tangible has also been speaking to them and is now speaking to us.

We’ve talked throughout the course of this week with Andrea Karsten, who’s a financial advisor, and Lisa Hagenauer, who’s an estate planning and probate attorney. Those are, like, big terms, but these are really important services that people like Andrea and Lisa. They’re not here to sell their services. They’re here to help us as women to know these are the kinds of things you need to be thinking about.

It varies from state to state on how you do this, what this looks like. We all happen to be Michiganders—is that how you say it?—but in your state it may be a little different. But there are people who know and can help you with these, preparing for the future.

Karen: For instance, we’re talking about the intangible. One of the things we discussed earlier was having a conversation with your husband before things are going south.

Nancy: While you can.

Karen: While you can, when things are healthy. One of those things that I would say would be: Find out what is his heartbeat when it comes to giving. So what if he were to pass away? Did I know what meant a lot to Scott in his passing on?

So, tangibly, what that means to me is . . . I just recently said to my financial planner, “How can I give more?” I’m on a budget now. I’m on an allowance. That was a whole new thing for me. But I said to him, “I want to be a good steward of what I have, but I also want to be able to give more. So help me with that.” That’s not something that I knew how to tangibly do.

Nancy: But you knew it was Scott’s heart.

Karen: But the intangible was that it was something that Scott desired.

Nancy: And your hearts were together.

Karen: We both did. But I knew that. So, tangibly, how do I carry that out? That’s where the financial planning piece helps out so much.

Nancy: And I think this thing of generosity is so important.

And, Andrea, you help a lot of people with getting a plan in place for how they live and what happens afterwards.

Andrea: Yes.

Nancy: Lisa, you’re helping people come up with wills and trusts for after they pass on.

A piece that a lot of people don’t think about is: “How can I invest in the kingdom? How can I invest in the Lord’s work?”

Some people think, I don’t have enough to do that. It’s a huge part of being stewards of what God’s entrusted to us, realizing it all belongs to Him, and generosity doesn’t restrict us. It’s actually a means to even greater freedom.

Andrea: Right. It’s hard to know exactly what’s going on in someone’s mind when they say, “I don’t have enough,” because there’s so many ways that we can look at their assets and their wealth and their means and their cash flow and just help them take that step, especially if that’s what’s in their heart to do.

Nancy: And they may just be thinking about what they have in the bank.

Lisa: What’s in the checkbook at this time.

Nancy: And not thinking about other ways to be generous.

Andrea: That’s right. Being generous now from their cash flow or their income or being generous later from their estate plans.

Nancy: And various assets.

Andrea: Oh, absolutely, and various assets.

So we have this amazing rule book—right—we have this great Bible, and it gives us so much wise financial counsel that we know, if we implement just some of what’s in there, that it can go better for us.

One of the things that God is just so clear about—in the Old Testament it’s about a tithe, and in the New Testament it’s about generosity and giving. If we follow that, this is our guidebook as believers. We’ve got to take that step. It’s a faith step for us just to open our hands in such a way.

And then in the practical . . . we will find the practical ways as financial advisors and counselors to help with those instructions, help with that manual, help with that heart directive.

Nancy: Listen, I’ve had an accountant say to me in the past . . . I’m learning on all of this. This is a process for me as well as all of us. But I’ve had an accountant say, “Look at the income and the expenses and the giving and say, ‘This doesn’t add up. This doesn’t make sense.’”

But I had a dad and mom (still have a mom) who loved giving. It was reflexive to think about giving to the Lord’s work first and off the top, not just what you had left over. It was reflexive to give by faith—asking God for the ability and grace to give more.

So I grew up in that kind of atmosphere. That was the air we breathed in our home. I’m so thankful for that.I love that passage in 2 Corinthians 9 that says, “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food . . . He’s going to meet your needs. That’s why we pray for daily bread. We trust Him for that.

“He will supply and multiply your seed for sowing [What you can invest, He will multiply it], and He will increase the harvest of your righteousness.”

I remember as a very young person looking at that verse, 2 Corinthians 9:10, and saying, “Wow. This is a promise from God’s Word that He will meet my needs. He will give me more to give, and He will increase and multiply the harvest beyond what you could expect.”

I don’t know how all that works—I’m not really a numbers person. God gets the numbers, but He also has an unbelievable way of multiplying.

And, Karen, I know that your dad, who was a sweet friend of my dad’s. My dad’s now with the Lord. Your dad is still here. But he has this same kind of heart for just giving.

Karen: Yes, he does.

Nancy: There’s a saying that he said.

Karen: He just has always said, “Never dismiss a generous thought.”

Andrea: I’m thinking about the seed that’s planted. You need to remember that, if you have a generous thought, it has probably come from the Lord. And to dismiss that means that you’re missing out on an opportunity to bless somebody that God wanted to bless through you.

Nancy: Or for a multiplied harvest. It doesn’t always add up, but it’s God’s math. I love it.

Lisa: I know. Ron Blue will sometimes talk about compounding interest. He was a financial planner and a C.P.A., but he’ll talk about eternally compounding. We talk about ten-year compounding or twenty-year . . . but eternal compounding.

Nancy: Which is massive.

Andrea: So God's kingdom is just so big, right! So big.

Nancy: And what a privilege it is through planning . . . I have just a great example in this. I don’t mean to brag about my dad, but I’m so thankful this has touched my life.

Karen: You can.

Nancy: Thank you.

But in his lifetime, not knowing that at fifty-three he would drop dead of a heart attack, he had made provisions and plans for his estate to be able to give far more after his death than he was able to do (and he was generous) while he was living. But the way he planned, and with the help of people like the ones that are sitting at this table—Lisa and Andrea—he was able to give many times more after his death even than before his death with some helpful financial planning, tax instruments to minimize tax liabilities, and now I’m telling you more than I know when I start talking about those things.

Lisa: And what a great gift to you kids, too, as far as a life lesson.

Nancy: Absolutely. When you think that way . . . One of you has sat here at the table quoting this, and we’re not sure where it came from, but “money loses its power over you (to control you or make you fearful) when . . .”

Lisa: “. . . you hold it with an open hand.” Yes.

Nancy: So when we say, “Do this planning, do this preparation, get this financial planning done,” this is not, like, restrictive. This is to help you be able to be a better steward of what you have and to be able to be more generous and to be able to better reflect kingdom values.

Lisa: Yes.

Nancy: As we’ve thought about coming into this conversation, the passage that was on my heart was Matthew chapter 6. We could spend a lot of time on this—we won’t—but Jesus talks about giving and says, “Don’t do it so you can be seen by other people” (see v. 1). This is not for your reputation. This is truly for God’s kingdom.

And then He says,

Do not [store] up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in a steal (we could have lots of illustrations of those things), but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (vv. 19–21).

What we do with our treasure here reveals a lot about our hearts. And where our hearts are, there our treasure will be also. That’s part of this planning thing. It’s part of thinking ahead and saying, “What I do with my stuff—not just money, but possessions and material resources—how can I reveal a heart for God in that?”

And then He says—and I love this. Jesus is speaking tenderly to His disciples then and to us today, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious.” And we could think, after having a conversation like this, “Oh, this is going to make you anxious.”

No, He says, “Don’t be anxious about your life, what you will eat, what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on” (v. 25). And He talks about the birds and the flowers and how God cares for them. And if God cares for them, doesn’t He even more care for us? And so He says,

Oh you of little faith. Don’t be anxious, saying, "What shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear?" The Gentiles [those who don’t know God] seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father . . . (vv. 30–32).

This is a relationship with our heavenly Father, whether my sweet friend Karen here, who is a widow for whom God is a Father to her children and a husband to this widow, but for all of us, as He tenderly cares for us.

He knows that you need all these things. He knows what you need today. He knows what you’re going to need ten years from now. He knows what you’re going to need when you retire, whatever that looks like, whatever that means, and whenever that is. He knows when your mate will pass on—if you survive your mate, He knows what you’re going to need.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow for tomorrow will be anxious for itself (v. 33).

He’s not saying, “Get stressed and tied up in knots about these things.” It’s easy, because we have a lot of stuff to think about. But He’s saying, “This is supposed to free you from anxiety because you’re trusting your Father to provide and in His way.” And you’re partnering with Him in seeking His kingdom and advancing His will here on earth.

And that’s really a privilege. That’s a great opportunity.

I just believe that as a result of this conversation, there’s going to be a lot more peace in people’s hearts, a lot less chaos when the time comes for the Lord to take one or both partners home, peace for their children, less chaos for their kids and grandkids, and a passing on of the baton of kingdom values and a lot of resources pumped into the kingdom of God here on this earth—not because God needs our money, but because He uses that to accomplish His purposes here on earth.

Thank you so much for joining us for this conversation.

Karen: Thank you, Nancy.

Lisa and Andrea: Thank you.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

When you visit today’s transcript, you’ll find a link to an online tool called, “My Legacy Planner.” It will help you evaluate the way giving can be an important part of your overall financial plan. You’ll also see how your giving will affect taxes.

To access this online tool, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. We’ll put a link in today’s transcript.

For the past seventeen years, Nancy has been the one interviewing guests on Revive Our Hearts. On Monday, the tables are turned as a special guest takes over the broadcast to celebrate a milestone in Nancy’s life. Please join us next week for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth believes God wants to use you to accomplish His purposes here on earth. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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