Dear Mr. Alcorn,
I am a successful attorney in the Grand Rapids, MI area. My wife Renae and I have been faithful tithers all of our lives. The Lord has tremendously blessed us financially on every side. We have always given God the glory for his blessings on us. But it seemed to me that something was missing.
While on vacation last fall, we could not find a church to attend so my wife asked me to read a passage from the Bible. I randomly chose the book of Ecclesiastes and read it out loud. I immediately picked up on the thesis that Solomon was developing. Every good thesis starts with the conclusion which he did in the first chapter. But then he broke it down into components. His first component started in Eccl. 1:13. He set his mind to seek wisdom. I found myself completely identifying with that. I have done the very same thing all my life. I am continually seeking wisdom and understanding in all areas that peek my interest. He found it not quite satisfying.
He then went to his second component in Eccl. 2:1. He went for pleasure. He withheld nothing from himself. He first tried entertainment (laughter), and called it madness. Next he tried to stimulate his body with wine.
He then went for the third component in Eccl. 2:4-7. He went for possessions. A large house. A huge garden. A great pond in the back of the house. He had many employees (slaves) working for him. He had great investments (in flocks and herds).
He then went to his fourth component in Eccl. 2:8. Solomon did some serious savings and investing. I love to do this too.
His fifth component is found in the last part of Eccl. 2:8. Singers and concubines.
The whole rest of the book simply stated how all of this left him empty. And after I had read it out loud I felt totally empty too. I was very discouraged about everything that I had accomplished. I told Renae that it really did describe my life up to this point. I should be happy with two wonderful sons and a very good life. But there it was. I was not satisfied.
The Lord left me to twist on these thoughts for a week. I was being set up by the Holy Spirit.
Our second Sunday found us in a very rural area of NH with nowhere to go to church. Again, we decided to read something out loud. I picked up a small book that a stockbroker had given me about four months prior. I could tell from the cover of the book that it was a Christian oriented book about money and finances. Right.....like I haven’t read about a zillion of these types of books before. But what I do on vacation is grab all the reading material that has been collecting next to my easy chair at home and take it with me on vacation. I read and toss the whole vacation. So it was time to read the first chapter of this little book, scan the remaining chapters for anything interesting, and then toss it.
I picked up The Treasure Principle and started reading out loud. I found it to be an exact mirror image answer to Ecclesiastes. And the book used nearly all New Testament scriptures and Jesus’ words to answer it. I started crying about half way through. Answers in my head were coming very fast. The Holy Spirit was working with lightening speed. I had perfect clarity of mission. It wasn’t about me anymore. It was about something larger than me.
I completed the book and Renae and I immediately started making rules. If we really meant to change, we needed new rules to live by.
First, the mission.....The Lord has consistently identified four classes of people that He always has his eye on...orphans, widows, foreigners, and the poor. Renae and I committed to this mission. We are now zeroed in on these four classes of people.
Second, the fence. We committed to a “wealth cap.” We chose a number (which we are already over), and decided we’re not going to let our finances grow over this cap. This has really set me free. I told my partners at work and they were dumbfounded. I told them that since I had already reached my cap, I really didn’t have a need to work so hard. So as of January 1, 2008, I have cut back my workload by 20%. I decided to use this “extra” time to figure out how to reduce my wealth. I have needed every extra minute of that time. The Lord has so blessed my finances and investments that we are struggling to get under the cap. We use Quicken to keep track of our personal finances. We decided that all money goes through the checkbook. If we are over the cap at any time, then the money stays in the checkbook until it is spent on kingdom work.
We have never prayed so much about a matter as this. We are dead serious. We are asking the Lord to show us how to spend the excess. We don’t just want it going necessarily to other non-profit organizations (even though we do make room for that kind of giving). But we want direct involvement with the four classes we have committed to. The Lord has already opened many, many doors to “near” widows (those whose husbands have divorced or left them, and especially those that still have small children at home).
I have talked to all my close Christian business friends about how life changing that little book was to me. I gave that book out to all my friends. It is really interesting how people react to it. Some get it. Some don’t. Some get it, but do nothing about it. Some think I am crazy for doing what I am doing. Some have justified their own lifestyle by saying that the more they can save, the more they can give away later. I don’t judge anyone. It is not my job (thank goodness). My job is to spread these principles around to as many friends of mine as I can to see if the Holy Spirit touches their lives in the same way that He did me.
We can’t thank you enough for taking the time to write that book. The kingdom of Heaven has been advanced greatly. If the Lord allows me to live longer, we intend to keep reducing the wealth cap number until we get down to the dollar amount that we want to leave our sons as an inheritance. We agreed on that number too. We even took our grown sons out for dinner and explained to them what we were going to do and how we have set a dollar amount for each of them to inherit. They both looked at me and smiled and said that this whole thing really didn’t surprise them. Well, that answer surprised me!
Ron and Renae David*, Grand Rapids, MI
My Giving Story
by Pat DeHart*
In 2006, one of the members of our church was so moved by a book called The Treasure Principle that he anonymously donated cases of this book, and the pastor invited everyone to take one on their way out of church.
I took the book, flipped through it and placed it on my bookshelf for a few years. In early June 2008, my husband asked me to go for a motorcycle ride. I usually read a book while on the back, so I picked it up off the shelf and took it with me. As I read the book, tears streamed down my face, as I began to realize that God wanted me to give more of what He had provided for us. I prayed about it, got an idea and when we got off the bike, I told my husband that I wanted to order 15 books and pay our adult children and their spouses, plus three “kids” that we help, $200 each to read the book ($3,000 total). I knew that they would not read the book on their own, but I so believed in the principles that I wanted to give them an incentive. We would pray that God would speak to their hearts about their own giving, and see what happens. I really appreciated the point in the book that tells us to share our “giving story” with others; not for our glory, but to encourage others to give.
I drafted a letter to each of our children, telling them that I would pay them $200 to read the book—no catches, no pressure. If they read it, I would send them a check and ask them to pass the book on. After we mailed the books, I had to leave for a business trip. I packed the book for one of our directors. When I arrived at the meeting I described it and the plan to several of the people there. Many asked me the name of the book that I was so wowed about.
During the next four days, I won several awards for a total of $3,000. The Lord had sent me a clear message about giving. I didn’t win $2,200 or $3,200—I won exactly $3,000 before I wrote the next check! The people who I had previously told were astounded as they watched me win award after award! People started to email me to get the name of the book.
Meanwhile, our family started to read the book, and by the end of it, told how they were going to share with others. It has been so amazing to watch this unfold. I asked our pastor if he remembered who donated the books, so I could share how it blessed me. He told me that our friends had donated them! I called and shared the story of how their generosity had carried on even two years after they donated the book. They were so encouraged.
I thank God for all of His generosity and grace for me and look forward to the many blessings that this book will bring in the future. Thank you, Randy Alcorn!
* (names used with permission)