Monday, May 30, 2016

BookPastor >> "The Christian Wallet" (Mike Slaughter)

This review was first published on Jan 15th, 2016 at Panorama of a Book Saint.


TITLE: The Christian Wallet: Spending, Giving, and Living with a Conscience
AUTHOR: Mike Slaughter with Karen Perry Smith
PUBLISHER: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016, (200 pages).

It has been said that money makes the world go round. It is an expression that talks about the way how money has the power to make things happen. Even the Bible has lots to say about money and how we handle wealth. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:24 that we cannot serve both God and Money. If we love God we will serve God. If we love Money, we would be serving Money. That underlines the importance of this book about how Christians are to be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves, in the way that we use money. In this very insightful book about how Christians can use their wealth; in the way they spend; the way they give; and the way they live. Mike Slaughter is Lead Pastor at Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio and author of several books including, “Dare to Dream,” “Change the World,” “Renegade Gospel,” “Upside Living in a Downside Economy,” and “Money Matters.” Now, in this new book, he expands on the area of wealth, money, and how Christians ought to steward this important resource. How we spend money reflects our financial priorities and values. How we live with money reflects our philosophy of life. In fact, money has a way of replacing our faith. Instead of prioritizing our activities with God in mind, many people consciously or unconsciously prioritize everything with money in mind. Slaughter asks some challenging questions about morality and money.

In Part One, he asks about how we spend money. In a culture of consumerism, instead of learning to share what we have, we purchase stuff for our individual uses so that we don’t even need to share. We buy into consumerism with compulsive shopping, rising debt, spending over and beyond what we can afford, and oblivious to the poverty happening in other parts of society or the world. We succumb to worry and anxiety as we chase after all these things. What about the way we budget our spending? Where does our money go each month? What if we use our spending as a way to measure our moral compass? How is our spending glorifying to God? In conscious spending, readers are urged to ponder about not just stretching their dollar but about how their dollar contributes toward the benefit of the needy. We learn about the need to distinguish wise spending versus wasteful spending. It can be as complex as environmental concerns to as simple as buying a cup of coffee. We are reminded that all money and possessions are God’s and we are to steward them accordingly.

Part Two wrestles with the topic of giving. On generosity, we are encouraged to ponder on the motivation for our money making, whether it is for the self or for the benefit of the greater good. We can give to the Church via tithing. We can give in faith that reflects our trust in God. When we give of our possessions to help the present, we trust God to provide for our future. Our generosity can even be a witness in itself. Slaughter provides tips for giving, from personal giving to helping non-profits in their ministry. he also gives us some advice about panhandlers and family members who come to us for financial help? Learning to invest wisely is also a Christian discipline. Invest in God’s kingdom. Invest in financial strategies that benefit others. We learn about taxes and the responsibilities to the poor, whether it is the government’s responsibility or ours. Micah 6:8 is a guiding verse for a lot of Slaughter’s recommendations.

Part Three deals with the broader subject of Christian living. First off, do we live to work or work to live? Sometimes, we don’t ask this question enough and find the question itself hard to answer. Slaughter gives us three dimensions to think of this matter.
  • We have to work
  • We want to work
  • With my work, I worship God.
The first dimension is about making ends meet. The second is about enjoying the work we do. The third is about honouring God with our work. He mentions the importance of knowing our neighbours and how our choice of where we live affect our interactions and mission. The irony in many Christian communities is that while they report their desires in one way on official surveys, they live opposite to what they have indicated. For example, while many agree on the importance of ethnic diversity, they still prefer to hang around with people similar to them. While the world is often perceived as a complex place to be living in, readers are exhorted toward a joyful and simple life. Learn to abstain when needed. Some powerful tips for us include:
  • Recognizing God is the owner of all our stuff, so live appropriately
  • How can we live more simply so that others could simply live?
  • In trying to reach contentment, perhaps, gratitude can be done more frequently?
  • How we spend can be a direct contribution to doing God’s work and God’s will.
Filled with lots of practical advice and a focus on how our relationship with money reflects our relationship with God, this book is a challenging one for Christians, especially those who are more affluent. While most of us chime that money is not everything, our daily living often reflects otherwise. All of us are called to worship God fully and unreservedly. This means our spending, our giving, and our living ought to reflect a wise stewardship surrounding money. Our faith needs to inform our use of money and not the other way round. While I appreciate the challenge of asking the question: "If you were to die today, what would you do tomorrow?" I am exhorted to ask the same question in a different way, "If I were to live tomorrow, what would I be doing?" Both questions are calls to action, to ensure that the life we now live, we live it in faith and in purpose to bring glory to God. It’s not about what’s in your wallet, but what you do with it that matters.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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