Revive Our Hearts Podcast

What You Receive from Giving

Jan Thompson is a Registered Representative offering securities through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC, and advisory services through Securities America Advisors, Inc.

The information provided in this program is for general education purposes only, and should not be construed as specific investment advice. Please consult a financial advisor regarding your specific situation prior to implementing an investment plan.

Leslie Basham: Financial counselor Jan Thompson says, there is always room for improvement in your finances.

Jan Thompson: Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity. Get to the point at whatever level of income or net worth statement you have, you are truly working towards significance. As long as there’s debt in your life and you are not putting God first in your finances and not tithing, you will always, always, always be in a survival mode.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, July 30.

Jan Thompson saw trouble coming back in 2006 when Nancy Leigh DeMoss interviewed her in front of a group of women. Jan anticipated some challenging times ahead. The advice she gave on avoiding crisis is just as important today as so many try to dig out of a crisis. Let’s pick back up on the conversation between Nancy and Jan Thompson.

Jan: There is a difference between debt and obligation. Debt is making payments on a depreciating asset or being delinquent in an obligation. So let me tell you what I quantify as an obligation. Obligation is making systematic payments on an appreciating asset.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Such as?

Jan: A home is typically a wonderfully appreciating asset. I go so far as to say if the only way to get an education is for some student loans, I believe that’s an appreciating asset because if you look at the earning power of a student with a college bachelor’s degree, it is substantially more than someone without one. Now, get that paid off as quickly as possible. But that’s got tax-favored benefits to that student loan, etc.

But the moment I’ve taken that obligation and not made a timely payment—I was delinquent in paying my house payment this month—then I’ve turned that obligation into a debt and I’ve now gone on to the side where I’m not honoring the Lord by managing credit wisely.

Nancy: When we talk about college education, I think you would be quick to encourage people not to assume that that’s required to get a college education, that you ask the Lord to direct your steps in this and perhaps God may . . . I have so many friends who’ve watched God provide in an unusual way for their children’s college education without having to go into debt.

Jan: In extraordinary ways and there are so many resources out there that people just assume go to the loans first, figure out scholarships, grants and all of that later because, you know what, it is a lot of work to dig through all of that. But there are wonderful resources to explore.

There’s a wonderful way to trust God and particularly for those of you who have children going into ministry. You are typically limiting your financial resources, and I would be extremely careful.

What I’m seeing now with young missionaries that are coming out of school and going into the field is that the missions offices are no longer allowing them to go to the field with college debt. So I tell them, you understand that if you take out these loans, you are delaying the day that you’re going to go to the field. Is there another way we can trust God to meet this need so that you can get to where God’s calling your heart?

So yes, there’s miraculous ways He does that. I think of two young college students that graduated that were in my class. Both called to missions and determined as soon as they graduated from college, the first thing they did, they got married and they came in and sat down with me and said what do we have to do to organize our finances so we can get to the field sooner?

They did everything to a "T." We went through the spending plan exercise. We went through the cash flow analysis. We set them up on a spending plan and held them accountable. It wasn’t but about three years into that they had paid off almost $40,000 of student loans. Now mind you, all the while their friends were buying new cars, renting the fancy condos, and they would come in and they’d say, "It’s so hard." I said, "But you’re experiencing freedom. God’s put something on your heart to do, and that’s where you want to go."

Let’s fast forward here now. It’s been eight years since they went on the field as teachers. They came back from the field on their first furlough and actually had accumulated enough money to buy a piece of real estate in Southern California. They turned around and rented that property and that actually became part of their support base while they were on the field.

Nancy: Wow.

Jan: God has since given them two children. They’re now coming home from the field. God’s called them back to the U.S. They now have a home that’s almost paid for because they’ve been putting money back into this. They are financially free. She has the privilege of living in Southern California and not having to go back to work.

Nancy: While some of their friends . . .

Jan: While their friends still have no real estate. They’ve got the fancy cars and all the toys.

Nancy: And some of them are head over heels in debt undoubtedly.

Jan: Because they’ve leveraged their lifestyle instead of saying, “God we trust You. This is the calling You’ve put on our life and we’re going to pay the price to do things Your way.” I just have such a joy every time I get to meet with them because they are again another poster child for someone who is committed to doing things God’s way. Willing to pay the price but are reaping God’s blessing.

Nancy: What do you think are the basic heart issues that keep people in financial bondage and debt? Some of the heart idols or issues?

Jan: First of all consumerism mentality. I think we are the microwave generation. I find in my own heart an impatience with standing in line anywhere. I want it done now. We all want instant gratification. We are bombarded with advertising and unique ways that they are getting into our hearts and our minds through different mediums. And now on the Internet, pop-up ads. You can’t go anywhere without being bombarded with “to be really happy in life, you need this—you can’t live without it.”

So it’s developing that sense of godly contentment that doesn’t rely on the things that are acquired in life. Godly contentment that doesn’t compare ourselves with our neighbor or someone who is our age that lives in the right neighborhood and drives the right vehicle. Being content with the situation God’s put you in knowing that . . . If you’ve ever read the book The Millionaire Next Door or heard of that book, the ones you least suspect are probably the ones who have the most satisfaction out of life. You would never know it from the outward appearance. So I think developing that godly contentment.

Developing that commitment to spending less than you earn because there again that consumerism mentality is “I got to have it now.” Setting long-term goals. Tom and I have a wish list. As we have managed resources throughout our lifetime and as God has supplied additional resources and we’ve felt like we have honored Him with our giving commitments and what He has asked us to do, those wish list items have come on to our spending plan.

Now I’ve told you my husband is a spender and I am a saver. If I had a spending plan and was a single woman, mine would probably be about this long. It would just be a few little simple line items. Done. But I married a man who has a huge giving heart and gives . . . I remember when he was working at the college, he had a heart for college students. If they needed money to go out and have a Coke, he’d whip out his last ten bucks and hand it to them and say, “Go take your girlfriend out.”

But then what would he do? He would come home and say, “Honey, I don’t have any money.” So we had actually built our spending plan as a reflection of the things that bring him so much joy—his ability to give. But we haven’t sacrificed all the long-term goals that God has put in our heart to prepare for. Those have come in as the resources have been there.

That’s again where I truly believe if you’ll trust God with everything you own, let Him have the priorities right in your life and He sees He can trust you with more, He’ll give it to you—not so that you can be a consumer, so that you can go with the whims of all the ads that we see in the media, but that we can truly manage and give—to be that conduit. Not the closed hand but the conduit. He puts it in there so you can continue to give it out.

Nancy: It strikes me that there’s so many other areas of sanctification and Christian traits and characteristics that come into play here. I’m thinking of self-control while you’re talking and how that’s a fruit of the Spirit and something that if you’re being impulsive, mindless spending as you call it, that really goes against self-control.

Jan: It goes against all the fruit of the Spirit when you think about it. If you just take every one of them, you can apply it to this area of your life. So if the Spirit is truly in control, He’s going to put His finger on one of those areas where the fruit of the Spirit is not being manifest by going into debt, by the type of impulsive, mindless spending that you’re doing.

Woman 1: My husband and I are in debt and trying to work our way out of it. One of the things we’re confused about is the issue of tithing because one person will say, “Well, you shouldn’t tithe because the money really isn’t yours. It belongs to your creditors.” And somebody else will say, “Well, you should tithe because that’s an expression of faith.” I was just wondering what your opinion is on that.

Jan: Well, there’s a great book by Mary Hunt entitled Debt-Proof Living. I remember when I was first getting into the practical side of this finance area, I read her book and was fascinated by the principles that she taught because it resonated with what I had seen in Scripture. And that is if we’re truly putting God first in our finances, He is going to get us out of debt much more quickly if we will honor Him with that tithing commitment.

Having practiced that principle now in my private practice with clients, I have seen where if we do put God first in the plan with that giving commitment and then truly control the spending and then manage the debt by paying it down as quickly as possible, the ones who do put God first, do pay off that debt much more quickly.

Are you taking resources belonging to a creditor? No, what I truly believe is that you’re honoring the Lord and being much more sensitive on how you’re managing the remaining amount. If you don’t do it that way, the odds are you’re not going to get the rest of your priorities straight anyway.

Incidentally, for those of you who may not know, Mary Hunt found herself $100,000 in debt and talked about her journey on understanding that debt, what it meant, how could she honor the Lord and how she actually dug her way out of it. Fascinating story if you’re dealing with debt issues.

Woman 2: When I was a new Christian, I was in my late 20s, the first thing I realized, God told me, was that I had to tithe. I was a single schoolteacher living in Mississippi. If you know anything about salaries in Mississippi, that was not very much. But I was determined that I was going to do that.

So that first month I gave my tithe to the church and at that particular time I needed some new tires on my car, and I mean they were in bad shape. I didn’t know how I was going to do it because I wasn’t going to charge. I wasn’t going to borrow. So I just went on tithing, and I just trusted the Lord.

I want you to know that within that month, I received a check from the bank where they had somehow—my car payments—I had just paid my car off. I had overpaid. And I received that check and it paid for my tires. God just told me to trust Him.

Jan: You know what? It’s the one area in Scripture that He says try Me. I dare you. That’s all you have to say to me.

Woman 2: That was God showing me “I will provide.” And I could buy my tires.

Nancy: Even if it means getting a check from the bank. How often does that happen?

Woman 2: How often? I’m saying it was just an amazing thing when I got that. But God showed me “Just trust Me in this,” and He’s always provided if I put Him first.

Nancy: My dad, by the way, some of you have heard me talk about him in the past. He came to know the Lord in his mid-20s out of a very—we’re all very lost before we get saved. But he was very lost before he got saved. He was a compulsive gambler. He had a knack for making money—but not legally. This was in the days when gambling was not legal in those parts of the country. He had ended up with a whole lot of debt. He had made a lot of money but had lost a lot of money.

He talks about how when he first got converted, he was tens of thousands of dollars in debt. This was back in the early 50s. From the beginning he began to commit himself to biblical stewardship and pleasing and honoring God with his resources, including paying off his debt, beginning to make wise spending decisions, but also giving to the Lord first.

He said how counter-intuitive that seemed to be giving when you didn’t have it to give. As we were growing up we would hear him talk about how God had honored that, blessed that, got him out of debt, and put him in a position where, as the years progressed, God caused his business to succeed in ways that enabled him to give even more than he had ever dreamed possible.

He really felt it was such a key foundational thing for him early in his Christian life when he didn’t know where the money was going to come from, when he didn’t have the business that he ultimately did. To be able to say God is first even though this is very difficult right now. But that became a huge guiding principle in his life and in what he taught us about the whole area of finances.

Jan: Seeing God work the miraculous brings so much depth to your relationship with the Lord. If we can quantify things and figure it out, and I actually tell my Christian clients, “Man plans his way; the Lord directs his steps.” My goal is to get us to a point where we get beyond mediocrity and that is having it all figured out and not having to experience faith or that depth that comes from walking with Him and getting to a point where we’re living the supernatural and seeing God do what we can’t explain.

I want a life that’s characterized by the unexplainable but that doesn’t come without understanding what that looks like and embracing those principles and paying the price. But let me tell you whatever price that we have paid is nothing compared to the blessing that we’ve experienced.

If there’s one thing I can impart to you in the listening audience is don’t be satisfied with mediocrity. Get to the point at whatever level of income or net worth statement you have, you are truly working towards significance. As long as there’s debt in your life and you are not putting God first in your finances and not tithing, you will always, always, always be in a survival mode. That’s just human nature.

But if you’re determined to live at a significant level where you are leaving a legacy, where you are giving more than you are getting, you’re truly honoring God with an eternal perspective and kingdom purposes, that’s where it gets exciting and that’s where I want to challenge you to get.

Woman 3: You mentioned the envelope system. I’ve read about the envelope system. I’m interested in implementing that in our lives and I’m very fortunate that my husband and I do most of these things together. That’s a whole other story, but anyway, I keep hearing about doing the envelope system but can’t figure out where to jump off.

If you start in the middle of the month, then you have lost half of the month. If you start at the first of the month, then you still have things from the end of the previous month that need to be done. So can you speak practically to how to begin that. Where do you jump off? Do I start with all empty envelopes or do I just guess at what needs to go in the envelopes?

Jan: The first thing you do, you need to track your expenses for three months to find out what you even need in those envelopes. So the envelopes are first of all used for the receipts. Probably the easiest way is when you spend something, put a receipt in the envelope and go back later and reconcile what category did that spending go in. That’s why I will spend three months tracking expenses.

After you’ve done that three months, you’re going to have periodic things. Christmas comes once a year, but you know it comes. So if you’ve done your tracking from February, March, and April, you’re not going to be factoring in Christmas is coming. You know it’s there but it’s not a part of this reflection of how you’re spending your money.

So after we get that three-month idea of the day-to-day expenses, we multiply that by four and then we bring in the annual, semi-annual or periodic things that are not being accounted for during that period of time.

Then we go to the actual envelopes where we’re putting cash or the electronic system or whatever system you’re using so that we have an idea of how we’ve spent, how we believe we can honor God by how we’re spending and actually then start controlling those expenses. You can just put a hundred dollars in an envelope with no idea, if you’ve never tracked expenses, if that’s even close to the mark until you’ve spent that period of time understanding.

Kim Wagner: My husband and I came into the marriage from totally different backgrounds. I was raised in a family that would be considered wealthy in our area of the country. My husband, however, his family I don’t think ever spent a dime. They didn’t have central heat or air. They lived in what I considered a shack in the Ozarks. So he had no concept of spending money. It was saving.

Because I’d worked in my father’s business in the accounts payable department for a while, my husband just let me start off doing the accounting and the checkbook, which was a mistake because I am the optimist and I felt like we’ve got money in the bank—I’ve got a check I can write. I can buy this.

I am so thankful that not too long into our marriage, my husband had the wisdom to take things over and he established us on an envelope system where he would put the amount in in cash. He would cash his check each week, which the bank tellers loved because he would tell them to give him so many tens or twenties, according to what the envelope needed. He would give me—well, still does—the cash that I’m supposed to use on groceries each week.

At first, when you first start doing this, you have to have the commitment. Many times in the beginning I would take my little calculator, or if I forgot my calculator, I’d have to do it in my head as I’m gathering my groceries in Wal-Mart. That meant I couldn’t get the craft supplies I wanted this week. I could only buy how much grocery money I had.

Many times as I came to check out in the checkout line when she totaled it up, I hadn’t figured enough for taxes and I’ve had to say, “Oh, would you put that box of cereal back?” Or “I need to put this back.” I’ve had to stand there a little embarrassed but determined that I only have this much money and that’s what I’m going to spend for groceries.

Jan: Wasn’t that empowering though when you walked out?

Kim: I don’t know if that’s the word I would use! But I am thankful. It was good to be obedient and what was really good was for my husband to be in headship over our finances and know that I no longer needed to worry about it. He gave me the allotted portion that we needed and at times he slowly, gradually raised that.

Jan: Did you find it challenging though to figure out how to stretch this and make it work and work within those parameters that gave you a great deal of freedom and flexibility?

Kim: Well, you can ask Holly, I’m a frugal shopper and also a wheeler dealer. I try and find the best buy/value for God’s money because we do view it, every penny, as God’s money, not my own.

Nancy: And I’ve been with you, Kim, in the process of spending, and I know that you pray before you go out and you’re asking the Lord to help direct your steps, to provide. And I’ve seen the Lord provide in some incredible ways for you, and it’s challenged my own faith as you’ve not just tried to live by what you can see, but live in the realm of the supernatural that Jan has been talking about.

Woman 4: You were talking about debt versus obligation. I just wanted to ask your opinion about the obligation, say a house payment, versus a car payment I know you would say is debt and you don’t want to do that because that’s a depreciating thing. But the obligation—I even think that maybe I shouldn’t have a house payment. So what is your opinion about obligation debt—or obligations?

Jan: Well, first of all, the goal is to get the debt paid off first and then chunk away at the obligation. Ideally, I’d love to see your home fully paid off. I think that gives you maximum flexibility and freedom. For women in particular it meets that security need. Women are driven by security and freedom. There’s two reasons to pay a home off. Number one, it makes financial sense. And number two, it makes psychological sense. I typically find the average woman that comes into my office needs that psychological relief.

So after we’ve paid off debt, we are working on the long-term goals. I’ve actually got a calculator at my office where we look at the mortgage rates, the terms and all of that and determine with all the other long-term goals what is going to give us the most bang for our buck. Do we pay off the mortgage first or do we continue to save for the longer term commitments through an investment portfolio or whatever tool that we’re selecting?

But eventually, yes, my goal is to get that house paid off. I understand there’s tremendous tax benefits to home ownership. I know all of that.

Woman 4: Yes, because that’s what the accountant tells us. “You’re in a tax bracket that helps you to keep that debt.” But just my heart says you should not have that house payment and give that money other places—more freedom as you talked about.

Jan: Right. And that’s where an accountant who may or may not know the Lord but doesn’t value biblical principles is going to tell you from a financial standpoint that doesn’t make sense. And I will challenge them to say, but from a biblical standpoint it does make sense. While it may be leveraging this long away, tax law changes.

So actually what Tom and I are doing because of the leveraging it’s giving us in our own investment or our own financial plan, I am saving for the day when it’s no longer giving me the tax benefits, and I will pay that mortgage off immediately when I’m not getting any benefit from that.

So that’s what I’m saying. It’s a combination of the type of mortgage, the interest rate, what are your other savings goals, what are you getting from your investment portfolios, does it make sense to put money there or for the long term?

Leslie: Jan Thompson recorded that interview with Nancy Leigh DeMoss in 2006. That’s why you didn’t hear any phrases like “housing bubble” or “economic downturn.” Jan Thompson saw the trouble coming back in 2006, and it’s intriguing to revisit that interview now that we see the consequences of the actions she warned about.

Jan’s booklet, Managing the Money Maze will help you get your finances out of crisis mode through solid, time-tested principles. We’ll send you a copy of the booklet when you donate any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. We’ll also send you the CD of this week’s conversation with Jan. You’ll also get the teaching Nancy recorded at the start of the crisis. That CD is called Hope for Uncertain Times.

So, to review: support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with your donation. Help us continue broadcasting in your area. And when you donate any amount, we’ll say thanks by sending two radio series on CD and the booklet, Managing the Money Maze. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or donate online at Revive Our Hearts.com.

Jan touched on tithing today. Is it possible for a wife to tithe when her unbelieving husband doesn’t believe in the practice? She’ll provide counsel on that issue tomorrow, on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

Jan Thompson is a Registered Representative offering securities through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC, and advisory services through Securities America Advisors, Inc.

The information provided in this program is for general education purposes only, and should not be construed as specific investment advice. Please consult a financial advisor regarding your specific situation prior to implementing an investment plan.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.