Monday, February 29, 2016

Is Money Evil?

by M. Russell Thomas, PhD
Some say it directly while others imply it:  Money is evil.  Somehow, Christians seem to struggle with the concept of money.  It like a wise professor once said to me: “if the devil can’t talk you out of God’s promise, he will try to push you into fanaticism where you are discounted as an ambassador of the Kingdom of God.” 
I think that perhaps this man’s wisdom is reflected in the church’s struggle regarding money.  In one corner we have the “fanatics”.  Those who “name it, claim it”, believe that if they see it, its their God-given right to have it, and generally cling to a philosophy that God is good and wants us to have all our hearts delight in this life.  Perhaps a partial truth.
In the other corner we have the “suffering for Jesus” crowd.  Perhaps their thinking is driven from an overreaction to the fanatics, I’m not really sure, but this group of Holy Hardships is seriously entrenched in the idea that their spiritual health somehow involves poverty.  This is a group that will quote Luke 18:24 as a foundational truth for poverty mentality.  Lets look at that passage quickly:
Luke 18:24     Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for people with wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!  It’s easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God!”…but with God nothing is impossible.
Many, including me, have used Jesus’ words in Luke 18 to argue that money is evil.  Well, we know that Paul said that it wasn’t money that was evil but the love of the money (I Timothy 6:10).  My guess is that Paul based his thinking, in part, from Luke 18.  So lets look at that passage a little closer.
I think that the last statement in Luke 18:24 holds the clue.  When Jesus encountered the rich man he knew where his treasure resided.  He also knew that he would also find the man’s heart in the same place as what he so highly valued.  Personally, I don’t think money was the issue here.  Jesus always had a way of tuning into the issues of the heart and in this case, He understood that the issue in this man’s heart was money.  Don’t get me wrong, its a strong issue and one that the man will mostly likely struggle to overcome.  But I’m not convinced that the fire here is the money.  I think it was the smoke.  The fire was what it represented in the man’s heart.  Jesus was simply going with what was presented to him.  What if this man had been Hugh Heffner, the playboy tycoon who covets his sexual prowess?  Would Jesus have talked about money or would he have focused on Hugh’s untamed lasciviousness?  If Luke 18:24 had been an account of Jesus’ encounter with Mr. Heffner, I think it would have read much different.  Maybe something like “How hard it is for a man who defines his manhood in terms of how many women he’s been with to get into the Kingdom of God!”  Or what if it had been North Korean dictator Kim Yong Un?  The leader has a history of going to murderous lengths to protect his power.  Perhaps Luke 18:24 might have read a little different had Jesus been talking to him and gone something like “How hard it is for people with power to enter the Kingdom of God!”  Maybe.  My point is that Jesus went with what was given to him.  He discerned the moment and an issue in this man’s life and went with it.  Turns out, Jesus secondary message may have been about money but his primary message had nothing to do with the evils of money.  It was a message closer to Jesus’ heart and mission:  it is hard for a man to give up that what which has captured his heart’s passion…but with God, all things are possible.

Until we talk again, may you prosper and be in good health! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

THE SECRETS. By M. Russell Thomas, PhD

Matthew 13:10   [Jesus] answered, “…it has been given to you to know the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it has not been given to them.  For anyone who has something will be given more, so that he will have plenty; but from anyone who has nothing, even what he does have will be taken away.”   

A few years back there was a wildly popular movie and book called “The Secret”.  Many of you probably remember it and some probably viewed the movie or read the book. The Secret was a compilation of success gurus who informed us what it takes to be successful in this world.  Well today, I’ve got a little twist on The Secret and would like to offer that there is in fact, a secret that govern one’s success, wealth and prosperity in this world.  Based on Biblical wisdom, this secret runs a bit counterintuitive to most of our thinking.  The secret is found embedded in the 13th chapter of Matthew.  It’s message is profound as it broadens the concept that success and wealth are confined only to a person’s bank account and possessions. 

The Secret?:  Anyone who has something will get more and anyone who has nothing will lose even what they have.  This truth is a foundational principle in the Kingdom of Heaven.  So what can we learn from this secret that instructs us on wealth, success and prosperity?  At least 3 important lessons flow out of this secret.

The Secret is ancient.  Hey, we humans are always looking for that next “one big thing” that sizzles and changes everything.  But God’s secret has been around for a while.   In fact, it has been “hidden since the creation of the universe” but is now revealed…those who have will get more and those who don’t lose what they have.  Now I can hear the critics saying that it ought not be that way and to that I will simply say that like gravity itself some things have been established and are timeless classics.   As hard as you may try to change it, reform it, scrap it altogether, or get mad about it, the truth remains.  God’s secret is one of those things.  

The Secret is not for everyone.  In Matthew 13, we find Jesus speaking to a diverse crowd.  Among the people are prominent businessmen, religious leaders and of course, Jesus’ handpick band of brothers otherwise known as disciples!  When Jesus began to speak of the secret, his intentions to hide it from some while reveal it to others is blatantly obvious. His words “it has been given to you to understand” cue us that the secret is not for everyone.  The opportunity is for everyone, but not the secret.   For whatever reason, there are those who will understand and those who will not.  One can spend a lot of time trying to get those who won’t hear to accept this…but they won’t!   They will cling to their ideas that the way to get ahead in this world is to hoard and accumulate their possessions, spend all your time trying to hold on tightly to what you have or even worse, try to pry out of the hands of those who do “get it” what is not rightfully theirs.  But the Kingdom doesn’t work that way.  No matter how much one wants to level the playing fields and redistribute the blessings, to those who have more shall be given and to those who have little it shall be taken away!  …All will not hear. 

The Secret is not fair.  The Kingdom of Heaven is not based on fairness!  Its not.  I can tell you that some of the roughest periods of my life have been when I assumed otherwise.  Those were the times that I demanded that God be fair…that is, according to my definition of fair!  But from a human logic perspective, the Kingdom is not fair and Jesus is telling us as much.  For anyone who has something will be given more, so that he will have plenty; but from anyone who has nothing, even what he does have will be taken away.  

Again, I hear the masses crying out, Hey, that’s not fair!  The wealth should be shared equally!  The wealth should be spread around!”  Then I hear the words of the late Jim Rohn echoing in my brain replying to the masses “well when you get your own planet you can set it up the way you want!  Until then, we’re just a guest on this one!”  Protest all you want but when the smoke clears you’ll find that you spent a lot of time and valuable emotional energy fuming about the deal!  But the bottom line is that the Kingdom of Heaven responds to those who are doing their jobs, maintaining faithful diligence and being good stewards of what God has placed in their care.  I don’t care whether we are talking about winning souls, managing money, raising kids or just trying to do your job, the principle is the same:  if you got something and you are faithful with it, expect more!  If you’re not, expect even less!   Every good businessman or woman worth his or her weight in salt knows you don’t put the slacker in charge…the bonus goes to the faithful worker. 

Think about it…until we talk again, may you prosper and be in good health!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What Did I Pray for That Began to Turn My Financial “Titanic”?

This blog is written for those who desire to be debt free and financially sound.  I’m one of those people too.  And if you’re like me, perhaps you’ve been working at this thing for a while and perhaps you’ve tried a lot of things.  I don’t know about you but I’ve done some pretty unusual things to try to generate money and pay off debt.  I’ve done everything from network marketing to selling vacuum cleaners to taking on extra patients, just to name a few.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that I’ve done most of those things.  All of them taught me something of value that I have taken forward. 
As I look back there is one thing that began to turn my financial Titantic.  It wasn’t a job or financial pep rally or the passing of a rich uncle, but rather something that began to work on my thinking.  It was much more foundational than employing an envelope system to track my cash or purchase a software program to help me account for my money.  It was the incorporation of 13 basic principles into my life and thinking which I later shared with others through my book, 12 Pillars and a Prayer.  Once I began to practice these principles in my life and finances, I noticed something.  I stopped praying for the big check and starting praying for something else…something that has impacted far more than just my checkbook.  What did I pray for?  One simple thing:  wisdom!
Now I wasn’t the first to pray for such things.  Centuries ago a man named Solomon was challenged to ask for anything, that is, anything and it would be given to him.  He chose to ask for wisdom too.  Granted, anybody with 700 wives and 1000 concubines would do well to ask for wisdom, but the big story here is that he became an extremely wealthy man.  That is to say, his financial statement was insanely skewed in the direction of riches!  So much so that even the rich people were blown away by his enormous estate (see Queen of Sheba in your concordance). 
So what does a man like this have to tell us about his wealth?  A lot actually.  He was the Donald Trump of the day and he knew the secret of his success.  Throughout the book of Proverbs, otherwise known as the book of Wisdom, Solomon discusses his wealth.  Like a late night infomercial, Solomon discusses the virtues of his success in Chapter 8 of Proverbs. Here are a few nuggets from that chapter:
Does not wisdom cry out
And understanding lift up her voice?...
Receive my instruction, and not silver,
And knowledge rather than choice gold;
For wisdom is better than rubies,
And all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her…
Riches and honor are with me,
Enduring riches and righteousness…
My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold,
And my revenue than choice silver…
That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth,
That I may fill their treasuries.
Wisdom.  Its value eclipses that of gold, is worth more than silver and trumps the value of rubies.  Nothing compares to having wisdom.  Its value includes both longevity and integrity.  Those who love wisdom are destined for wealth and coffers that are running over.  Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, huh?  Even the witless can wrap their cerebral processes around this concept that wisdom and wealth are joined at the hip!
But how does one obtain wisdom?  This is not an easy question to answer.  Next month I’m going to share some ideas taken from scripture, shake it together with life stories and answer the question.  It is key to wealth, both generating and managing it.  So until then, my prayer is always that you prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers…

Monday, January 20, 2014

GIVING: Why Do It When I Am Barely Paying My Own Bills?

I’ve read a lot of teaching on giving the past 10 years.  I have found a wide range of ideas about giving, particularly within the Christian community.  Some will say ardently that you should give 10%…its 10% or burn!  Others assume that God will understand your circumstances and you can just give whenever you can…funny how the infamous “whenever” never seems to come!  Others say just give some portion even if its just a dollar or two.
I find it interesting that if you talk to any wealthy person, regardless of spiritual convictions regarding giving, how quick they are to tell you that giving is an important part of their success.  I’ve never met a wealthy person that was not involved in giving to charity work…not one.  Some will say to me, “Yeah, but they are loaded.  They have it to give!”  But is there another reason why the wealthy give?  Perhaps it’s the other way around?  Maybe they are wealthy because they give!  When we stop to consider this principle we find 2 dynamics in place:  a spiritual and a psychological.

The Spiritual Dynamic.  Christians generally won’t argue the point of giving even though statistics tells us that only about 2 out of 10 do so on a regular basis.  What Christians will argue about is how much should be given and when.  Paul tells us in Pillar 10 (II Corinthians 9:6) of a connection between giving and the quantity of what we receive from life.  It’s a fairly simple principle taken from agriculture that says if you plant seeds you will receive a harvest.  Conversely, if you don’t plant, don’t expect anything to grow!

A second aspect of “how much do I give?” is a different issue.  Certainly the Old Testament standard was set at 10% and given that the early church was made up of hand-picked Jews it is logical to conclude that the early church recognized the gold standard of 10%.  However, Paul seems to make a little wiggle room when he says “but let each man give as he has determined in his heart to do”.  Some use this to say that the 10% Gold Standard is obsolete and so just give what you want.  But to get caught on the numbers is to miss his point which is found in the words determined in his heart.  Paul is trying to help us understand that giving involves the heart and is not just a matter of numbers.  Paul was challenging men and women to evaluate their hearts.  Why?  Well, its because “issues of life flow from the heart” (Proverbs 4:23).  

The Psychological Dynamic.  One of those “issues of life” has to do with how one’s mind works.  Many behavioral studies have documented how people tend to operate out of a self-perceived schema or notion of who they are.  A man who was raised as a poor farmer and died a multimillionaire once said that when he first understood principles of wealth that he began to “tip like a rich man”.  Why?  Because he understood that his mind continued to operate on a lacking man’s program and that if he gave his tip sparingly his actions would surely reinforce his mind’s notion that he was poor.  He needed to do something to persuade his mind that he was no longer poor and lacking.  As it turns out an overwhelming number of rich people give, not because they somehow feel guilty for their success (as the poor assume).  Rather they give to create in their mind a program that says they are wealthy.  Giving persuades the mind that you are (1) connected to others and their needs and (2) in a perpetual state of receiving.

So giving is not so much an issue of numbers although I do not believe that Paul was intending to abolish Old Testament teachings and that 10% remains the gold standard.  Rather I believe that Biblical teaching dares us to look at our heart and if we regularly practice giving we will begin to make us a better, richer person by changing our self-perception.  

If you want to read more on this subject and begin to reprogram your thinking about money, I recommend getting a copy of my book, 12 Pillars and a Prayer.  In the meantime, I hope that you prosper and are in good health even as your soul prospers!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Does God Want You Rich?

Find out the answer to this question when you get your copy of my recent book, 
12 PiIIars and a Prayer Revisited

This weekend only, we will give away the revised version of my bookabsolutely free on Amazon Kindle!

In this book, I present 13 scriptures that will change your thinking about money, success and wealth.  With America's economy as unstable as it is, we decided to make this information available to our readers and their friends absolutely free!  Just click on the image to the right this Saturday, November 2nd or Sunday, November 3rd  to get your eBook Kindle copy absolutely free!:

Just click this link to get your FREE copy of 12 Pillars and a Prayer Revisited this weekend only!

Why do we need your help?  We have a goal of giving away 250 copies of 12 Pillars and a Prayer Revisited this weekend and we need your help.  Simply download the copy, read part or all of the book, and tell us what you think!  You do this by leaving a short review at the Amazon Kindle website or directly email us at  This feedback is critical to our efforts to help others bring their finances under control.  So please help us that we might better serve you!  
We would like to thank you in advance for helping us reach our goal of 250 copies of 12 Pillars and a Prayer given away absolutely free.  Please feel free to forward this email to all your friends and colleagues.  Your help is much appreciated as together, we can help others overcome their financial bondage and live their lives blessed beyond all imagination!  We hope that you find the book helpful to meeting your own goals of financial freedom.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Don’t Just Lay There! What to do when people reject you.

 There was once a man totally committed to his work.  He lived, ate, breathed and preached his passion...literally.  He was a preacher.  But not everybody was as excited about his message as he was.  In fact, when you're in the business of trying to communicate truth to people sometimes dissenters emerge with hostility.  Some even desire to silence you.  In this case, this man's enemies were serious about rejecting his message.  

I'm talking about the Apostle Paul.  The story is found in the book of Acts, Chapter 14.  Paul’s dissenters became so enraged with him that they stoned him, dragged him out of the city and thinking him dead, abandoned him in a remote location (vs. 19).  What happens next defies logic, not to mention medical explanation.  Records indicate that "after the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went in the city" (vs 20).  The next day Paul went back to work as usual.

Now, I have to admit I've read this story countless times but never really noticed the fine print. 
  • ·        Paul was stoned.  Yeah, I knew that...
  • ·        He was left for dead.  Yeah, I knew that...
  • ·        The disciples gathered around him.  Yeah, I knew that...
  • ·        He arose, went into the city and the next day departed to another city.  Can't say that I caught that part!   

But it begs a few questions.  What were the extent of Paul’s injuries?  We can deduce that they were severe enough that his assailants thought they had killed him.  What did the disciples do when they gathered around Paul?  I don’t know but soon thereafter he got up and returned to the city where he was just stoned.  Whether the disciples nursed his wound, prayed for his restoration or Paul just flat out had an iron will is not revealed.  But what is known is that a man left for dead is on his feet and moving on with life in a matter of hours and the next day he’s back on the road again doing his work.  This seems a little bit miraculous don’t you think?

Now, you might be wondering what in the world this story has to do with success, money, prosperity and wealth?  I say it has everything to do with it and that we’d do well to understand the story’s main points which are as follows:

  • ·        Sometimes you’re not that well received
  • ·        Sometimes your  rejecters don’t mind attacking you and leaving you for dead
  • ·        There’s power and refreshing in gathering around like-minded people
  • ·        When you’re focused on your purpose nothing will keep you down
  • ·        Finally, …don’t just lay there focused on what hurts, get up and get back to work!
It seems to me that the man or woman who follows these principles in life cannot do anything but succeed! 
Until we talk again…prosper and be in good health even as your soul prospers!
By Dr. Russell Thomas, PhD

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pillar 10 in Real Life …Sow abundantly, and you will reap abundantly!

By M. Russell Thomas, PhD

Its been 7 years since first committing the 12 pillars and prayer to memory.  Throughout that 7 years I have enjoyed numerous in vivo, or “real life” experiences that bring a specific Pillar to new understanding.  It’s an energizing moment when it happens and the words of scripture live in a practical way.  Recently, Karen & I had one of those in vivo experiences involving Pillar 10.
Pillar 10 (II Corinthians 9:6) says that if with sow our seeds in life sparingly we will also reap from life sparingly.  Conversely, if we sow our seed abundantly we will also reap abundantly.  The Pillar goes on to say that we determine what kind of sower we will be and with what kind of attitude we will cast our seed.  There are basically 3 types of givers we will become:  a cheerful giver, a begrudging giver or a withholding giver.  The choice is ours.

The seed to sow or give is given to us.  Most of us in Western culture think of giving only in terms of dollars and cents but I think its much more comprehensive than that.  Life provides us all types of seed to sow and give.  While it may be literally money, it may also be patience at the checkout line or grace when offended.  It may be a home to the orphan or clothes to the homeless.  Tithes and offerings in ancient days often involved the giving of produce or livestock, or even perfume, all of which represent a portion of one’s labor.  Whatever is given, it is clear that giving involves a heart and lifestyle verses an actual percentage or dollar amount.  Thus the words of Pillar 10…let each one give as he has determined in his heart to do. 
Pillar 10 connects the dots for us that there is a correlation between how you give and how you receive back into your life from that giving.  That brings me to our recent in vivo teaching.  Karen & I have several dozen free range chickens that roam our backyard each day.  They serve two purposes:  to eat bugs and to supply us with the most vibrant, flavorful eggs one could ever ask for! 

Recently the gals had been slacking off.  Generally, we were gathering less than half the eggs we usually received each day. While still producing enough for our immediate family, we were somewhat concerned about the lower production because we like to distribute the eggs to our older children.   Our oldest daughter and her husband had come to visit and in spite of the reduction of eggs, Karen loaded them up with 6 dozen eggs as they left to return home.  We were happy to do it and did so without hesitation. 
What happened next reminded us clearly of Pillar 10 and how these pillars are foundational for living life well.  The days following Karen’s giving saw the chickens’ egg production jump way, way up.  Generally they were laying about twice what they had been!  The principle is clear:  give abundantly and receive abundantly if your heart is set on being a giver.  We weren’t playing Heavenly Slot Machine and reminding God that we did so He must…, but rather, we were simply trying to bless our daughter and her husband with something good and in the process God reminded us that living life giving freely has its rewards. 

As I reflect on this story, I am reminded that there are foundational truths in this world.  In spite of all the changing ideas and philosophies in our world, God has set in motion a set of simple solutions 4 living life well!  They are as sure as gravity and more trustworthy than the laws of physics.  They guide us to a rich, successful and abundant life!
For more about the 12 Pillars and a Prayer and how they offer a firm foundation for your financial success and wealth, visit us at  Until we talk again…

I pray that you prosper and are in good health even as your soul prospers!