Becoming Money Smart by Max Lucado

A personal finance book by Max Lucado? It's true, Max Lucado - named "America's Pastor" by Christianity Today magazine and "The Best Preacher in America" by Reader's Digest has written a book on biblical financial stewardship!

Becoming Money Smart

Lucado has written more than 50 books with 28 million copies in print - none of which are even remotely about money. In fact, he is probably best known for his imaginative storytelling for kids (i.e. "Just in Case You Ever Wonder", "The Crippled Lamb", and "Hermie and Friends") as well as heart-warming, inspirational books for daily living (i.e. "Facing Your Giants" and "Everyday Blessings"). So why a book on money? Becoming Money Smart provides an engaging platform for Lucado to address one of the central issues of our walk with Christ, sharing stories and insights as only he can do.

Strengths: 

Straight-Forward: Becoming Money Smart is a 63-page book divided into four ready-to-use lessons, with a CD containing audio messages by Lucado. There is a wonderful simplicity about this book and CD that is very attractive. The four sections get right into the heart of the matter: Bible basics, Attitude, Debt, and 

Giving: Each lesson provides an overview, a fill-in-the-blank audio lesson, and a personal reflection guide. 

Interactive: From the moment you pick up the book, you realize the intent is not to give you passive reading material, but rather an engaging experience. The banner on the cover proclaims "4 interactive Bible studies for individuals or small groups" below a silver sticker that announces "4 Max Lucado Audio Messages Included." Open the book, and the very first section is entitled "How to Use This Study Guide." 

Practical: The "How to Use This Study Guide" section (mentioned above) gives seven practical ways to maximize the use of this book: pray for God to speak to you, listen to the audio segment, respond to the personal Bible study questions, reflect on the implications of the theme Scripture, record your thoughts in a personal journal, keep a Bible dictionary handy, and have fun! 

Perspective: The introduction gives readers a clue as to the root issue Lucado aims to address: "In 1900 the average person living in the United States wanted 72 different things and considered 18 of them essential. Today the average person wants 500 things and considers 100 of them essential." He goes on to describe our "obsession with stuff", pointing out that greed in its various forms (i.e. approval, applause, status, stuff, etc.) has a "growling stomach." He concludes this section by advising readers not to let their itch for things (what he later calls the "Prison of Want") derail them from God's intended design for life.

Pastoral: Because he is not associated with finance, there is something disarming about Lucado's warm, pastoral style in Becoming Money Smart. The audio lessons were recorded especially for this book (rather than simply inserting from-the-pulpit messages he had previously delivered), and convey a person-to-person feel as he effortlessly weaves biblical truth with human interest anecdotes. The same dynamic comes through in the 2-page "Overview" sections of each chapter.

Things to be aware of:

Becoming Money Smart offers a unique blend of Max Lucado's trademark style with succinct, biblical truth. And for that reason, this book is highly recommended and would be a great encouragement to all who read it. Having said that, this book would not be a good choice for people looking for help on the mechanics of budgeting, or in-depth perspective on mortgage loans, car insurance, taxes, credit cards, investing, etc. You won't find those topics covered here. What you will find is the heart of a pastor, with a special gift for communication, drawing your attitudes and actions about money closer to the heart of God.

Available at Amazon.com.