Peter, Cornelius and money

My mind was going ten to the dozen during the bible study. I saw something in the passage that I don’t think anyone else saw. We were looking at the story of Cornelius and Peter in Acts chapters 10 and 11.

In some ways it was reassuring but more of that later. Lets go over the main points of the story.

Main characters

Cornelius was someone who was God-fearing i.e. someone who saw the benefits of developing a good relationship with God. God decided that he was someone he wanted to draw into the fellowship of the church and sent an angel with instructions on how to find someone who could help him join the church.

Peter was a church leader who was trying to do his best to stay in step with what God wanted. He knew that there were some things that were not God’s best. One of those things was not to associate himself with things that were unclean. The idea was that if he stayed away from things that were unclean then he would not get dirty. God had a message for him as well. In his case it was that he would not come to harm by being in contact with some unclean things.

God the matchmaker

Both these men had something the other needed. Despite this God had to work on both of them to bring them together because in the normal course of events both of them would have stayed far apart from each other.

Cornelius needed to be assured that those who were causing a stir in the Jewish community were doing this because of God rather than just being mischief makers. After all some of the leaders of the Jewish community were trying to kill these people and so extinguish this movement.

Peter needed to be assured that there were some people who despite being outside the Jewish community had a good relationship with God. A relationship that God himself wanted to take further. It was as if some people had done the basic course but others had not. From Peter’s perspective only those who had done the basic course could go on and do the advanced course. God had to show Peter that although he held those opinions from the best of motives that they were not in line with what He, that is God, really wanted.

How does this apply to Christians and money?

Something that is common in the church is the attitude that money is something that is unclean. So someone might have a profitable business but then apologise for their connection to “filthy lucre”. Others have been told that making money is so wrong that they would not even try to do anything that would increase their income.

Many have had the idea that not having enough money is actually a good thing. They can actually become uncomfortable when they have enough money. In fact if they think they are at risk of being comfortable they will do something, like pay extra on a bill or give more away so that they cannot become comfortable.

Why did I find this story reassuring?

I could easily put myself in Peter’s shoes. Someone who had been trying to learn more what God wanted them to do and found themselves out of step. Someone who saw things in a different way to many others.

The number of times I have been saddened by the way other people see things is amazing. It is as if they have taken the negative teachings about money to heart and not realised that they were a response to things that they are not even doing. Do that and your attitude is certain to become unbalanced.

Yet this passage reminds us that God is willing to do some quite amazing things to make sure that his children get the right message. He will get us to the place where we can hear what He wants us to hear. The sticking point is do we want to hear what God wants to say. Many of those around Peter and thought they knew what God wanted and stuck with that even when God tried to show them otherwise.

May we be like Peter and Cornelius i.e. open and willing to listen and respond to what God wants, even if it challenges what we have been taught previously.

Learn to make money so that you can help others

There is an old saying that you cannot lead people where you have not been yourself. It makes sense really as you need to have done the reconnaissance so that you know what works and what does not work.

If all you know is how to find a job and there are no jobs out there for the people you want to work with what do you do? There are many who would say set up your own business and just get on with it. That is easy to say for someone who has not done that but how do they know what it really involves. How can you be an effective support to someone else unless you know what it is like to walk in their shoes? God thought it was a good idea to reassure us that He knew it was like to be a human, even one who who suffered more than we are ever likely to do. In the same way we need to reassure those who are looking to us for help that we know what it is like to face and overcome challenges.

The challenge itself

Setting up a business is not something for wimps. It means stepping out and doing things that stretch you and that often demand a lot of inner strength. It involves persuading other people that you can add value to their lives and that you should be rewarded for what you do for them.

How can you persuade others that you can add value to their lives if you do not value who you are and what you do? If you value who you are then you will charge prices that will make it easier for you to survive financially. If you value what you do you will be able to persuade others to buy what you  have to offer them. Knowing how valuable you are and how you can prove that value to others is essential if you are going to succeed in the business arena.

It means facing up to your fears. It means facing up to the fear of rejection when people do not buy what you want to offer them. It means facing the fear of the unknown when starting something new.

It means stepping out on your own without the support services those in a job take for granted. If something needs doing you have to find a way to get it done. Either you learn to do the accounts or you hire a book-keeper.

Going into  business is not a get rich quick scheme. However, it is probably the best personal development programme that you could ever embark upon.

Learn from doing

We look at people who have succeeded in business and forget that in order to get to that exalted status they have had to face some failures as well. Teachers talk about discovery learning i.e. setting up ways of learning by doing. Entrepreneurs learn from their unsuccessful business ventures, the launch that flopped, the product that did not sell. Many tell the story of the thing that they did not do in their first business that eventually caught up with them and put them out of business so teaching them a valuable lesson they never forgot.

There are no guarantees in business. Some things work and some things don’t. Experience shows what you need to put in place to minimise the risk. Failure is always a possibility. In fact when it comes to business start ups the majority do not survive past their first birthday.

However, it is possible to succeed. In fact in some communities being in business is the norm. They know that the skills and attitudes needed to succeed can be learned. In fact setting up and running business ventures has become part of the informal learning that takes place within the family.  That used to be very common in the UK until the industrial revolution when one factory with its economies of scale took over the work done in many many little cottages. A few generations later people are struggling to find jobs in these factories and they have been left floundering because those skills and attitudes are no longer taught in their community. In fact some would say that rather than being taught how to succeed in business they have been taught how to succeed in a job and know nothing about how to survive without one.

Lead from the front

Are you are up for the challenge? Do you recognise that you have what it takes to stand up and be an example for others to follow?

One of the secrets to success is to try something on a small scale and if you can make the idea work then expand on the idea. Closely associated with this is the idea of testing things carefully to see what is the best way at that time and in that situation to do something. Some even suggested trying to make an idea work in a secluded place or behind the scenes so that you can test it and refine it before it is exposed to the world at large. To be honest that is often the secret behind the so-called overnight successes that we admire.

What does this mean in practise? It means setting up a small money making projects to see if the idea you have actually works. It means setting up pilot schemes that are used to test your ideas.  It means setting up a small business in addition to the job you are already doing so to that you learn the practical skills and soft skills required to make a success of it.

Some would say that everyone, whatever their circumstances, should, embark on that kind of project so that they are better prepared to face an uncertain future. However, even after being out of work for a while it is not too late to start such a project.

 

Do it yourself so that you can lead others to prosperity

There is an old saying that you cannot lead people where you have not been yourself. It makes sense really as you need to have done the reconnaissance so that you know what works and what does not work.

If all you know is how to find a job and there are no jobs out there for the people you want to work with what do you do? There are many who would say set up your own business and just get on with it. That is easy to say for someone who has not done that but how do they know what it really involves. How can you be an effective support to someone else unless you know what it is like to walk in their shoes? God thought it was a good idea to reassure us that He knew it was like to be a human, even one who who suffered more than we are ever likely to do. In the same way we need to reassure those who are looking to us for help that we know what it is like to face and overcome challenges.

The challenge itself

Setting up a business is not something for wimps. It means stepping out and doing things that stretch you and that often demand a lot of inner strength. It involves persuading other people that you can add value to their lives and that you should be rewarded for what you do for them.

How can you persuade others that you can add value to their lives if you do not value who you are and what you do? If you value who you are then you will charge prices that will make it easier for you to survive financially. If you value what you do you will be able to persuade others to buy what you  have to offer them. Knowing how valuable you are and how you can prove that value to others is essential if you are going to succeed in the business arena.

It means facing up to your fears. It means facing up to the fear of rejection when people do not buy what you want to offer them. It means facing the fear of the unknown when starting something new.

It means stepping out on your own without the support services those in a job take for granted. If something needs doing you have to find a way to get it done. Either you learn to do the accounts or you hire a book-keeper.

Going into  business is not a get rich quick scheme. However, it is probably the best personal development programme that you could ever embark upon.

Learn from doing

We look at people who have succeeded in business and forget that in order to get to that exalted status they have had to face some failures as well. Teachers talk about discovery learning i.e. setting up ways of learning by doing. Entrepreneurs learn from their unsuccessful business ventures, the launch that flopped, the product that did not sell. Many tell the story of the thing that they did not do in their first business that eventually caught up with them and put them out of business so teaching them a valuable lesson they never forgot.

There are no guarantees in business. Some things work and some things don’t. Experience shows what you need to put in place to minimise the risk. Failure is always a possibility. In fact when it comes to business start ups the majority do not survive past their first birthday.

However, it is possible to succeed. In fact in some communities being in business is the norm. They know that the skills and attitudes needed to succeed can be learned. In fact setting up and running business ventures has become part of the informal learning that takes place within the family.  That used to be very common in the UK until the industrial revolution when one factory with its economies of scale took over the work done in many many little cottages. A few generations later people are struggling to find jobs in these factories and they have been left floundering because those skills and attitudes are no longer taught in their community. In fact some would say that rather than being taught how to succeed in business they have been taught how to succeed in a job and know nothing about how to survive without one.

Lead from the front

Are you are up for the challenge? Do you recognise that you have what it takes to stand up and be an example for others to follow?

One of the secrets to success is to try something on a small scale and if you can make the idea work then expand on the idea. Closely associated with this is the idea of testing things carefully to see what is the best way at that time and in that situation to do something. Some even suggested trying to make an idea work in a secluded place or behind the scenes so that you can test it and refine it before it is exposed to the world at large. To be honest that is often the secret behind the so-called overnight successes that we admire.

What does this mean in practise? It means setting up a small money making projects to see if the idea you have actually works. It means setting up pilot schemes that are used to test your ideas.  It means setting up a small business in addition to the job you are already doing so to that you learn the practical skills and soft skills required to make a success of it.

Some would say that everyone, whatever their circumstances, should, embark on that kind of project so that they are better prepared to face an uncertain future. However, even after being out of work for a while it is not too late to start such a project.

I need to get a job

Who told  you that? Yes it is common expectation but is it really the only way to earn enough money to live on? There are alternatives if you look for them. You won’t see them unless you are looking for them. If all that is on your mind is looking for a job if you see any opportunities of earning money in another way you will dismiss them. You may not even recognize them them for what they are.

You believe that is you should look for a job so you start looking for a job. You can even become blinded to other ways of making money. Think of all the times when our minds are prompted to look for a blue car because someone else has one. We start noticeing all the blue cars that are like that person’s It is as if something in our mind gets triggered and we start to recognise the blue var everywhere. It is not although there are more of them but we notice them more.

It gets worse as when we expect something to happen we behave in a certain way that to be honest actually encourages whatever it is happen. So we expect to get a job so we look for a job and if we sot any other ways of earning money we they are put to one side because they are not the rith thing. So even if we spot alternatives they are ignored

Where does that belief come from?

You were probably told that you needed to get a job while you were at school. In fact some people say that schools and even universities were set up to train people to be good employees. The expectation being that you need to get a good education to get a good job so that you can achieve all that you are supposed to achieve. Well when you think about it, that is all a teacher who has a job knows and understands.

Then of course it could be family members that say that you should get a job. In fact they will often tell you to get a job until you earn so much that you would be worse off getting a job. Some families are quite different. They encourage and mentor the next generation so that they follow their steps into business.

Some people have the gradual awakening from reading success books or books about getting rich that a job is not the fastest way to cash. It really is all in the mind and if you can change your mind your life will change.

Is setting up a business for everyone?

Quite honestly no! It is for the brave. Sometimes it is those who are plain desperate who succeed. Some stories of online success tell of people who were reduced to living in a car but then found a way to make money and started back on the journey to where they are now.

Others tell of how they managed to start and maintain a business while spending time at home with the children. There is the computer programmer who works from home so he is there for the children while his wife works full time in the church. There are many women who work from home while their children are at school or in bed.

There are the people facing the challenge of medical issues or disability who have found something that they can do despite their physical challenges. These include a guy who can do little more than speak who teaches others how to write as well as he does and earns enough to pay for all his own care needs.

There are people who achieve amazing things but equally as well there are people who struggle and fail. It is not easy especially in the beginning. Some people have the self-belief and determination to make it work and others do not. Some people pick up the necessary skills quickly enough to make it succeed and others do not.

However, for those who are called to start a business  to serve others or for those whom setting up a business is a stepping stone to what they are called to do in the future it is the best thing that they could possibly do.

What is the alternative?

When there are no jobs to be found the only thing that you can do to earn money is to set up a business. In fact it was during times of hardship such as in the depression of the 1930s and Russia in the 1980s that more people try setting up businesses simply because they have no alternative if they are going to survive financially. There again many of those who thrived during the hard times found that they laid the foundations of financial success beyond their dreams when times became easier.

The other alternative is trying to survive on benefits. That in itself is not easy. Managing to live on a low income takes a lot of effort and surviving in that situation is in itself a huge challenge. On top of that the Welfare Reform Act 2012 has caused a lot of concern to those living on benefit as it has led to to many people needing to find ways of living on even less than they were before. There again this could be only the first step of the process of trimming this part of the government’s budget.

Food banks and money management programs can only go so far. In fact without people willing to support them financially and in other ways they are pretty much dead ducks anyway. Many would like to support them financially but cannot. That is another reason why helping people to increase their income is a good idea. More income means they are better able to give money to the good causes that are dear to their heart.

The government is trying to enforce the law surrounding illegal lending and therefore tackle the menace of loan sharks. Yet they still prey on people in need and cause more heartache for them. The idea that people are taking out short term loans at huge rates of interest simply to buy food is shocking but a survey done by a debt management charity in September 2013 has found that over 1000 people have done just that. A small survey of a particular group of people but it does show that people are willing to admit that is what they are doing to try and survive.

The online world is no better in terms of predators. It is a case of buy my product, my book or join my group and I will share with you the secret of how I earned more money than you could dream about and still had the time to spend with my family. A small fraction of people do succeed in making money online but it is possible to spend a fortune on different projects and programmes and still not succeed. Some of the things available for sale are rubbish and navigating that world without a guide is extremely difficult. Enough people do well enough to persuade others to keep going but most fail. There again those who find ways of making money from those who try and fail often do well.

I nearly forgot there is also the cost in terms of relationship breakups and even on occasions children going into care. On top of that there is the cost in terms of physical and mental illness. The saddest thing is that it is not unknown for people to believe that the only way to escape a loan shark is suicide.

I cannot get involved in business it is all about “filthy lucre”

What on earth is filthy lucre? Lucre means wealth or profit and filthy is something that is dirty or shameful. Why should anyone be ashamed of wealth or profit? One reason of course is if they are involved in ill-gotten gain. In other words they have cheated someone or used dishonest weights or provided a product that harms others.

However the majority of business people have nothing to be ashamed of. They treat their staff fairly. They make sure their staff have a safe environment to work in. They stay within the law. They provide their customers with a good product. They have a reputation to be proud of in terms of service and the quality of their product. In other words they operate in a legal decent and honourable fashion.

Why the shame of making money? It comes from the idea that it is better not to have money because then money cannot control you. Do you know who money really controls? Those who do not have any or at least enough to do what they believe is right for them to do. If you do not have enough money to buy food then you will be thinking about money more of the time than you would if you could buy enough simple food for your family. In fact if you had money you could bless someone in that kind of situation with the food that they need.

It is not money that is the problem but how we use it

Money is a tool. You can pursue a path that enables you to draw a lot of money to yourself and then use that money wisely to help others. You can support that food bank or that charity that you know does a lot of good work. Run from money you cannot do as much to support others.

Money is linked to power. Power that can be used to bring about good things or not so good. One of the issues that Wilberforce faced was that the slave traders had both money and power. It was not as much of a social issue as an economic one. Part of the campaign involved discouraging people form buying things that were made with slave labour i.e. hit those using slaves where it hurt most their pocket.

There again there are times when we wish we had more of a voice to speak out against evil and if being in business gave that kind of voice then just being able to do that is reason enough to venture along that path.

I need to get a job

Who told  you that? Yes it is common expectation but is it really the only way to earn enough money to live on? There are alternatives if you look for them. You won’t see them unless you are looking for them so as long as you believe what you need is a job then that is what you will look for and therefore find.

You were probably told that you needed to get a job while you were at school. In fact some people say that schools and even universities were set up to train people to be good employees. The expectation being that you need to get a good education to get a good job so that you can achieve all that you are supposed to achieve.

What happens though if you cannot find a job? What happens if no one wants the skills that you spent years learning?

A business helps you help others

A business can be a means whereby you help others. What sort of needs could it meet?

  1. People need jobs and businesses provide jobs. Provide a job that someone can do and you will be able to help them turn their life around.  There are large numbers of people who cannot find a job that they can do because of family responsibilities or disability issues or health issues. Some struggle to find work because of their criminal background. Now if you could find a way to offer people like that work that they could do then that would be a blessing to them.
  2. People need the goods and services provided by businesses. Imagine if no one had a farm that sold milk or a plant that bottled it or a system to distribute it. Without businesses like these we would be in a sorry state. A business cannot survive without customers and customers have needs.
  3. Communities need renewing and regenerating and the feel good factor from people being able to find jobs can be a great help achieving those kind of aims.

You can make yourself a job and avoid the problems of being unemployed

When there are no jobs to be found the only thing that you can do to earn money is to set up a business. In fact it was during times of hardship such as in the depression of the 1930s and Russia in the 1980s that more people try setting up businesses simply because they have no alternative if they are going to survive financially. There again many of those who thrived during the hard times found that they laid the foundations of financial success beyond their dreams when times became easier.

The other alternative is trying to survive on benefits. That in itself is not easy. Managing to live on a low income takes a lot of effort and surviving in that situation is in itself a huge challenge. On top of that the Welfare Reform Act 2012 has caused a lot of concern to those living on benefit as it has led to to many people needing to find ways of living on even less than they were before. There again this could be only the first step of the process of trimming this part of the government’s budget.

Food banks and money management programs can only go so far. In fact without people willing to support them financially and in other ways they are pretty much dead ducks anyway. Many would like to support them financially but cannot. That is another reason why helping people to increase their income is a good idea. More income means they are better able to give money to the good causes that are dear to their heart.

The government is trying to enforce the law surrounding illegal lending and therefore tackle the menace of loan sharks. Yet they still prey on people in need and cause more heartache for them. The idea that people are taking out short term loans at huge rates of interest simply to buy food is shocking but a survey done by a debt management charity in September 2013 has found that over 1000 people have done just that. A small survey of a particular group of people but it does show that people are willing to admit that is what they are doing to try and survive.

I nearly forgot there is also the problems that arise in the form of relationship breakups and even on occasions children going into care. Then there is the cost in terms of physical and mental illness. It is not unknown for people to believe that the only way to escape a loan shark is suicide.