Purpose Driven Life

The Prosperity Gospel

I know this is a touchy subject in some circles, but I recently read a blog article on the topic that started me thinking. When it comes to money and prosperity, I think I’m in the Rick Warren, author of the mega-successful Purpose-Driven Life (PDL), camp. He once said:

I don’t think it is a sin to be rich, it’s a sin to die rich. I want people to make as much money as they can as long as they give it away as much as they can.

I understood what he meant. Money is not to have/hoard/acquire but to give/use. He has an interview HERE that you should read. He talks about the decisions he and his wife made after the PDL money started rolling in. He made nine million dollars in royalties in the first three months!

First, we decided we would not change our lifestyle one bit no matter how much money came in. So I still live in the same house I’ve lived in for 15 years and I still drive the same Ford truck, have the same two suits, I don’t have a guest home, I don’t have a yacht, I don’t own a beach house, we just said that we aren’t going to use the money on ourselves.

Second, I stopped taking a salary from the church.

Third, I added up all the church had paid me over the past 25 years and gave it all back. I gave it all back because I didn’t want anyone thinking that I did it for money. And I knew that God was raising me up to a position of prominence. I knew I was going to be under the spotlight and I wanted to live a life beyond reproach. So we gave it all back and the very next week it was either Time or Newsweek came and did an interview of me and the very first question they asked was, “What is your salary?” I was able to say honestly I’ve been able to serve my church free for 25 years. It felt so good to bust that stereotype.

Kay and I became reverse tithers. When we got married 30 years ago, we began tithing 10%. Each year we would raise our tithe 1% to stretch our faith: 11% the first year, 12% the second year, 13% the third year. Every time I give, it breaks the grip of materialism in my life. Every time I give, it makes me more like Jesus. Every time I give, my heart grows bigger. And so now, we give away 90% and we live on 10%. That was actually the easy part, what to do with the money–just give it away, because I’m storing up treasures in heaven.

You’ll have to read the article for the rest of the interview. My question for you is where do you stand on the prosperity gospel? Does it include driving through exclusive neighborhoods claiming houses and cars that will some day be yours? Is it looking to be a funnel that passes on the blessings of God to others? Or is your position some combination of the two?

PDL – Week 3

pdlOkay, I know it’s late for week 3, but it seems we were all struggling a bit to keep up. Since this is my second (or is it third?) time trying to make it through PDL, I know your struggle. My only advice is not to become a slave to the book, but focus on the process. And don’t let the process overwhelm you. As the scripture says, “the sabbath was made for man” not vice versa. So don’t take something that was presented to help you turn you into a slave. OK? Enough of that.

This week’s readings made me consider a couple of things: how little I think about heaven and how much I depend on myself. Neither one of those are anything to brag about.

About heaven. . .I don’t spend a lot of time meditating on what life will be like in heaven and how things will be done there. I think if I did this more, it would drive home the temporary nature of our stay on earth so that things here wouldn’t stress me as much as I allow them to do. Okay, I know I’m living here on earth so I need to focus on things here, but I need to have a greater expectation for life after here. I think that’s how we (Christians) keep our perspectives straight. What do you think?

Second, the readings made me think about about how much I depend on myself. Now this is a thin line for me. I believe that God meets my needs, but I also believe He expects a certain diligience and responsibility/accountability from me. That said, sometimes I believe you can cross that line. Where do I stop and God start? Now that’s probably the wrong question since there really should be an integration throughout the process, with me and God working together, with Him in the lead.

That’s how it should be. But I tell you that as a single woman with no children approaching the 50-year mark, I’ve spent a great deal of time in the last year or so thinking about retirement and old age. At one point, I was thinking on it too much. Even though I’m planning for the future, I have to continue to live in the day and trust God for today and tomorrow. Easy to say. . .

About the present. . .You all know I made a move back in the summer. Well, my old house is still on the market. I was pretty proud (I can’t think of a better word) of myself for not stressing out about this too much. I’ve been able to see the Lord open doors with money so that keeping up the mortgage on the house hasn’t been an issue. As the time on the market began to draw close to six months and I began to look out and wonder how long I could keep this up financially, I could feel the itch of stress began to bubble. But I kept thanking God for the way he had made and I didn’t become overwhelmed.

Well, I have good news. As of yesterday, I have a contract on the house. Hallelujah! I ask that you pray the buyer’s inspection and then the closing go without incident. I certainly look forward to not having to pay that mortgage anymore.

I guess that’s it for me. I’m off to another week of PDL. I may take longer than a week to post to give us all time to get in a rhythm, but I will continue to post.

Have a great week and an even greater weekend!


PDL – Week 2

pdlToday marks the beginning of the second week of our Purpose Driven Life journey. Even though I’ve been through week one before (as have many of you), the readings still gave me something to think about. What struck me deepest were the chapters on metaphors for life on earth. Pastor Warren gave three: live as a test, life as a trust, and life as a temporary assignment. I don’t think I fully grasp these three.

Life as a test. This one I get. God allows for situations that test our faith. The goal is not for us to fail, but for us to pass so that our faith is increased. (He won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we’re able to withstand.) The more we see God come through for us, the easier it becomes for us to believe that He will come through for us.

Life as a trust. Now this one is deep. It reminds us that all we have on this earth is on loan to us and God is watching how we handle it. So I don’t have to worry about keeping things; I’ll have what God wants me to have.

Life as a temporary assignment. This is probably the hardest to grasp even though I know it’s true in my heart and mind. The time that we spend on earth is but a fraction of eternity. When compared to eternity, the time we spend on earth is nothing. If that’s the case, why do I allow things to stress me out? Sorta dumb, isn’t it?

My goal for the coming weeks is to keep these three in mind (test, trust, and temporary assignment) and assess the events of my life by them. So as I face situations throughout the day, I’ll assign them to a category to help me understand what God is doing. This will serve to remind me that what happens on earth can only be understood in light of God’s plan for me on earth. I’ll let you know how it plays out.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming week. Let’s get started. If you get some time, share what you learned this week. Thanks for sharing the journey with me.


PDL – Week 1

pdlToday starts our Purpose Driven Life journey. I just finished today’s reading and I’m very excited about continuing with you through the entire 40 day journey.The topic for this week, What on Earth am I Here for?, is a very appropriate (and challenging way) to get us started. The reading for today, It All Starts With God, could have been titled, “It’s not about you!” I certainly got the message.

I’ll be thinking on today’s question to ponder for a while: In spite of all the advertising around me, how do I remind myself that life is really about living for God, not myself?

For those of you just joining us, you can find the first week’s reading here. After that, you’ll need to buy the book (it’s available everywhere) or get a copy from your local library. I encouarge you to join us. I think it’s going to be a great ride. I’ll post again on Monday and we can all check in for the next week.

Scripture for today: Everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him (Col. 1:16b, The Message)

Note that Pastor Warren uses a great many different versions of the Bible in the book. The first time I began this journey I found this off-putting, but this time I’m just going to stick with the passages he presents in the book and not try find them all in the version that I primarily use (New Living Translation). You might want to do the same.

Be blessed!

Rick Warren, My HERO!

pdl I have found a new friend and mentor in Rick Warren, pastor of mega-church Saddleback in Lake Forest, CA and author of the mega-bestselling book, The Purpose-Driven Life (PDL). I have to tell you that I’ve never met Rick and though I’ve purchased PDL, I’ve only gotten as far as Day 26. You’re probably wondering then how he became my new friend and mentor. Well, I heard him this past Sunday (12/24) on Meet the Press with Tim Russert and his heart touched mine.

You see, since I’ve started writing Christian fiction, I’ve been torn about the affluence and influence that comes with being a best-selling author, not that I’ve reached any great height in either area — yet. Anyway, Rick spoke to my heart when he spoke about these two in his life on Meet the Press. As he spoke, I knew his words were for me from God. I want to share them with you. You can read the full transcript of the entire conversation here or view a video of the session here until Sunday, 12/31. It was an excellent session all around, but here I’m only going to excerpt what he said about affluence and influence. Here goes:

MR. RUSSERT: As we speak on this Christmas Eve morning, tonight. many Americans will be surrounded by an abundance of gifts. I was quite taken by something that you said, Pastor Warren, and I’ll put it on the screen. “I don’t think it’s a sin to be rich. I think it’s a sin to die rich.”

I was a goner right here. This hit my heart so strongly. Wealth is not about having and hoarding/keeping, but about giving.

MR. RUSSERT: Explain that.

DR. WARREN: Well, in my own personal life, when “The Purpose Driven Life” came out and it became the best-selling book for a long, long time in the world…

MR. RUSSERT: Twenty-five million copies.

A note here. If PDL sold 25 million copies (or 30 million as Rick corrects below), I’d guess that PDL has made over $50 million. Now that’s a lot of money.

DR. WARREN: …yeah, now 30. And it’s in 56 languages. Well, that brought in enormous amounts of money. And it also brought in a lot of attention. And I had to pray about what I call the stewardship of affluence and the stewardship of influence. And I began to go to Scripture, and I, I found a verse in the New Testament on what to do with the money, and a verse in the Old Testament on what to do with the, the fame. And on—in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul—Apostle Paul says, “Those who teach the gospel should make a living by the gospel.” In other words, “It’s OK to pay your priest or your pastor.” That’s a legitimate offer to society. But, Paul says, “I will not accept that right, because I want the freedom to serve God and be a slave to no man.” And I thought, “I want to do this.” And when, literally, when all this money started pouring in, Kay and I make five decisions on what to do with the money.

First, we said, we’re not going to spend it on ourselves. I still live in the same house I’ve lived in 15 years, I drive a six-year-old Ford truck. I don’t own a boat, I don’t own a house—a second house. I don’t own—I don’t own a plane. We just said we’re not going to—I’m not going to spend it on that. A second was I stopped taking a salary from Saddleback Church about four years ago. Third is, I added up all that the church had paid me in 24 years at that time and I gave it all back. And I did that because I knew that I was being put under the spotlight and I didn’t want anybody to question my motives of why I do what I do. And sure enough, the very next week I was interviewed by Time. . .

I cut a short quip about Time magazine here. You can read it in the full transcript.

DR. WARREN: And the first question the author—the editor—the reporter asked was, “What’s your salary?” Which I thought, OK, here’s another fat cat megachurch pastor fleecing the flock. And I said, “Well, honestly, I’ve now served my church for free for 25 years.” Her face went white and I thought, it was worth every penny just to say that. You know, I had to repent of my pride, but I really felt good for about a minute. You know, and then I got real humble again. But I did that. Then we set up some charities, one’s called Acts of Mercy, which helps those with AIDS. And another on training leaders and another on this Global Peace Plan.

MR. RUSSERT: What did the New Testament tell you about celebrity?

Not so quick, Tim. Rick’s still telling us about the stewardship of affluence.

DR. WARREN: The last thing I did is we became reverse tithers. When my wife and I got married 31 years ago, we started giving 10 percent of our income as a tithe to our church. And each year we would raise it at least 1 percent. Now, we never told anybody for over 30 years–25, 28 years. We’ve been married 31 years and, and the first year of marriage we raised it to 11 percent. Second year to 12. Well, we’ve now been married 31 years, we give away 90 percent and we live on 10. And honestly, that’s quite fun. The joy of giving at Christmastime—I really do belive in the joy of giving. I’m probably the happiest person on the planet because we get to use money in so many great ways. You can’t outgive God.

Can’t you see why this guy is my hero? How many of us think about affluence this way? Now let’s hear about the stewardship of influence.

DR. WARREN: On the, on the stewardship of affluence, I was reading Psalms 72 and it’s an interesting prayer, it’s Solomon’s prayer for more influence. When you read this prayer, it sounds like the most egotistical prayer because he says, “God, I want you to make me famous.” He says, “I want you to spread the fame of my name to many countries. I want you to give me power, give me blessing and make we well-known.” And it sounds pretty selfish till you read the, the motivation and he says, “So that king may support the widow and orphan, defend the defenseless, care for the sick, assist the poor, speak up for the oppressed, the immigrant, the foreigner,” things like that. The purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence, and that changed my life. It turned my old—I had to repent and said I will spend the rest of my life using whatever influence I’ve got for those who have little influence.

And Rick’s words changed my thinking. The purpose of the celebrity that comes with selling a lot of books is not to build self-importance or to sell more books, but to speak up for those with no influence and to build up the kingdom. I’ve wondered about the wisdom of church groups who invite people to speak just because they’d sold a lot of books. It seemed as though they were equating financial success with godly wisdom, which is a dangerous association to make. Listening to Rick, I began to understand that influence open doors that can be used for godly purposes. You may have already understood this, but I’m a bit slow. 🙂

As I look ahead to 2007, I feel more ready for any affluence and influence God may send my way, because I have some concrete examples of how to best use them for His glory. I thank Rick Warren for sharing them with me.

That said, I’m starting The Purpose Driven Life again on January 1. Anybody want to join in with me? You can get the first seven days of readings online here. Each day’s reading ends with a series of questions so the online readings will take us through the first week and then we’ll need the book. You can get the book just about everywhere, including local discount stores, bookstores, Rick Warren’s web site and online bookstores. It’s up to you.

Let me know if you’re interested and we can do this together. I know this is short notice so if you want to join with me but you want to wait until January 8 to start, just let me know and we’ll go with what works best for people.

Happy New Year!