Virtual Voices

Book Reviews: Biblical advice on money and facing difficulties

Books

The Truth About Money Lies

By Russ Crosson with Kelly Talamo

Harvest House Publishers

Crosson is a Christian financial advisor, and he doesn’t do technicalities. He simply outlines the principles of financial wisdom as they are revealed in the pages of Scripture. Each chapter begins with a fictional narrative about some sort of money situation. Then, in case you missed it, Crosson gives you, in bold print, the money lie that drove the foolish choices in the story. Then he counters the lie with the truth, in the form of a direct quote from the Bible. This method sounds simple-minded, but for those (like me) whose gut instincts about money are simply wrong, it is a godsend. It may be easy to recognize that debt is a poor idea and that taxes are inevitable, but most of us have trouble comprehending the ramifications of the truth that a penny saved is a penny earned. Crosson explains exactly why budgets are freeing (not restrictive), why retirement is likely to be disappointing—and why working hard doesn’t guarantee wealth.

The Truth About Money Lies: Help for Making Wise Financial Decisions (Harvest House Publishers, 2012) is straightforward and direct, with no frills. It is a book of principles, not dollar amounts or carefully configured charts that readers will forget the instant they close the book. Crosson teaches that wise investors never put their money in something they can’t explain, and he follows his own advice: The book is a model of clarity. He wants his readers to understand why to manage money; the rest is easy.

If you think saving is more important than paying down debt, or if you now or at some future point in your life plan to deal with money, then read Crosson and follow his advice. After all, he has nothing new to say; he is simply putting God’s Word into financial terms. 

Sifted

By Wayne Cordeiro with Francis Chan and Larry Osborne

Zondervan

The subtitle of Pursuing Growth through Trials, Challenges, and Disappointments, is probably the most boring part of the whole book. Sifted (Zondervan, 2012) is specifically targeted at church leaders, but its message is necessary for the whole church. Any Christian who wonders why life is so hard should read it.

In brief, Cordeiro exposits Christ’s words to Peter in Luke 22: “Satan desired to have you, that he might sift you like wheat.” Sifting is the process of getting rid of the chaff. Some of this sifting originates with Satan, and some with God, but in both cases, what we love (family, prestige, success, money) will be threatened or taken away entirely. God’s goal in it all is that we come to see that He alone is enough.

Cordeiro illustrates what he’s talking about from his own life. For years he experienced phenomenal success in ministry. He moved to Hawaii to plant a church and soon had a church 15-times larger than any other church in the area. But he was working at an unsustainable pace and experienced a nervous breakdown. Having checked into no-talking-allowed monastery, he spent a day wrestling with God’s question: “Would you serve Me in obscurity for the rest of your days?” If not, of course, then the question is, “Who are you really serving?”

The book is divided into three sections: “heart work,” “home work” (how to make sure that your wife and children aren’t casualties of your “successful ministry”), and “hard work” (lifelong growth and learning). The first is the best, as it deals at length with the “weight beneath the waterline” that keeps the rest of one’s life on an even keel. Without the heart right, none of the rest matters.

That message is the real point of Sifted. Cordeiro wants to train his readers’ hearts to depend on Christ.

Caleb Nelson
Caleb Nelson

Caleb, a graduate of Patrick Henry College, is a Presbyterian rancher from Northern Colorado who loves the quirky, the eccentric, and the true.

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