What God would say to Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, who controls the US banking system. This privately owned bank has more influence over our economy and our money than any other single entity in America. Yet, it is relatively unknown by most Americans and operates behind a curtain like the “Great and Powerful Oz.”
Before we dig into how the system works, let’s understand that money has the power to deceive us. It has the power of illusion. I’ve been an illusionist since I was ten years old. I learned some card tricks and later learned how to make coins appear and disappear. I later moved on to bigger stage tricks like magic linking rings. As a father of three small children, this skill came in very handy. The great thing about being a magician dad is that you can make annoying toys disappear. I could ask my son to look at a toy in one hand, offer a little misdirection with the other, and suddenly it had vanished. It was the power of illusion. Money has the power to deceive the human heart in a way that nothing else can.
I sold a boat several years ago and received three thousand dollars cash for it. I brought the hundred dollar bills into our living room and spread them out on the coffee table. The kids had never seen so much money in one place. Their eyes were huge; they couldn’t believe the piles of Ben Franklins. I seized the opportune teaching moment and said, “Money is important, but money can actually take our hearts away from God.” We engaged in a conversation about how money can be used for good and how the love of money can cause problems. I said, “In fact, I’m so concerned that money may one day take your heart away from God, we’re going to burn up the three thousand dollars to remind us that God is more important than cash.” I took the three thousand dollars and stuck it into a brown paper bag. The kids began protesting “Wha… Wha… What are you doing, Dad? We get your point.”
“No, no, no,” I said, “We need to understand that if anything is getting between our heart and God, we must really go after it and destroy it.”
“Dad, we get it.”
“No, no, come on outside to the fire pit.” We went outside and walked to the little burn barrel. I took the bag and I set it right there on the top of the pile of wood. We took out the matches and slowly poured some kerosene over the bag. Javan and Sierra tried to intervene, “Dad! We get it! We get it! You don’t have to do this!”
“Nope, we have to do this. We need to make sure money hasn’t deceived us or become more important than the things that really matter.”
I took the match out and threw it onto the brown bag. It began to burn. My children were watching me, “Dad, OK. Can we stop now? Could we save at least some of the money from the fire?” The bag disintegrated into ashes.
As the fire died out, they sadly looked at me and said, “Dad, what have you done? Why did you do that?” I was trying to teach them an important lesson, but I’m no fool. What they didn’t remember in that moment is that their father is a magician. The great thing about being an illusionist is that I swapped bags without them realizing it. As I was making my way outside, I took the bag with the real money and stuffed it in the corner. I had a separate bag filled with Monopoly money that we actually burned. The lesson stuck with the kids; we didn’t waste our resources. They still talk about that incident because they realized that anything that comes between our heart and God needs to be radically dealt with. We must realign our hearts and lives regularly making sure God is our priority.
For more information, check out the first session of Godonomics here