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    I Didn’t Win The Powerball Lottery

     

    I DIDN'T WIN THE POWERBALL LOTTERY

    Yesterday, I walked into a local convenience store at lunch time after a quick-lunch time geocaching run.  I couldn’t believe how many cars were in the parking lot.  As I entered the store there was a line of people wrapped around the store.  I followed the line and saw that it led to a lottery machine in the middle of the store.  I was clueless.  I had no idea that everyone was in line for a huge Powerball jackpot.

    It kind of cracks me up.  People stand in line for their entire lunch hour just to plunk money into a machine at $2 per ticket for an unlikely chance to win a $579 million dollar lottery jackpot.  What are the odds of winning this jackpot?  Some reports indicate that the odds of winning are 1 in 175 million.  The news today is reporting that there were 2 winning tickets (one in Arizona and one in Missouri).

    I didn’t win.

    I didn’t purchase a ticket though either.  They say you have to play to win.  But I think I may have already won.  In Proverbs, Solomon talks about ways to become wealthy:

    Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.  Proverbs 13:11

    I’m not sure that the whole lottery system is dishonest, but it’s not a smart way to gather money.  People think they can get rich quick by spending their paychecks on $2 lottery tickets or by putting their money in a slot machine or on a blackjack table.  Sure, it’s possible that someone could win and alter their financial existence forever, but is it likely?  Of course not!

    As Christians, we are called to be good stewards of our resources.  While I’m not wasting my money on $2 dollar lottery tickets, I’m sure there are purchasing decisions that I have made that don’t offer the best return on investment.  Over the years, I’m learning more about good stewardship, and it’s an ongoing lesson.  Here are a couple of thoughts to get the conversation started:

    1. Don’t go into debt.  This is a challenging one for Americans.  We have built a culture of consumerism where consumer debt is the norm.  We want the latest thing now, so we go into debt instead of saving up to make the purchase.
    2. Get out of debt quickly.  So most of us missed step one.  There’s still hope.  Get out of debt as fast as you can.  This means cutting up credit cards.  This means sacrifice.  But it can be done!
    3. Have a plan.  This is an area that has taken our family a while to develop.  Sitting down once a month to plan your spending is key.  Your plan shouldn’t involve spending more than your income (makes sense).  Review your plan regularly throughout the month to make sure you are on track.
    4. Save your money.  Since when did we have to spend it all.  Just like the verse above states, wealth happens when you gather your money little by little.  Do you have a retirement fund?  Do you have a college fund?  Do you have an emergency fund?  These are great places to start.
    5. Give your money away.  When you get out of debt and start saving money, you suddenly have money that can make a real difference in the world.  I would say that this includes tithing to your local church (which should start from the beginning).
    6. Remember who owns the money.  If you are a Christian, you should realize that it’s not your money anyway.  Every good and perfect gift comes from God.  When we remember this fact, it will help us to make better decisions about how we spend the money we’ve been given.

    Did you play the Powerball?  How are you being a good steward?  What other advice do you have for the Stretched Community on practicing good stewardship?