From Pastor's Desk

Alright, let’s talk everyone’s favorite subject–finances and personal discipline. Everyone excited? Ready? RIGHT. No one likes to deal with this unless you’re a financial planner or a banker. We love the things money brings, but being disciplined about our stewardship of money, that is being a good caretaker of what God has blessed us with, is not something we love so much because we don’t do it well, we struggle with it, often we fail at it. And as they say, that struggle is REAL. How do we know? Just look at the statistics about indebtedness in our nation: revolving debt – $1.1 trillion, non-revolving debt- $3.39 trillion, housing- $10-11 trillion, medical debt -$200 billion, back taxes debt -$441 Billion, payday loans – charges 391-600% APR…and so on. While some of these things are necessary for living, like housing, much of our debt comes down to poor management of not only our finances, but our desires. And it’s not just a personal issue.

At this time, America as nation is about or over 31 trillion dollars in debt to the world around us. It seems like every other day we are cranking up the printing presses to print more money. We have become indebted to our foes and potential foes more than to our friends. It is a whirlwind that can overtake us and will impact every person in our nation. Where do we begin to tackle such a problem? As Christians, how do we deal with indebtedness especially in our personal lives?

I find that many people just look at it as a way of life and resign themselves to it as a necessary evil.  Almost as if to say, “I am in debt and I will always be in debt and that is just the way of life.”  I can understand that feeling. I have felt it myself. We live in a society that makes us feel that if we don’t have this or that, then we can not function, or somehow we are living the good life. Who doesn’t want to live the good life? I do. I can look through car magazines and all of the sudden, spy a new tool or a new technique in mechanics and just as suddenly,  I need to know that or I need to have that. Out comes the plastic card! That little plastic card can get us into trouble if we don’t watch it. I have also learned that personally. Advertisers have a plan for you and me and they are not shy about telling you what you need. You’ll find yourself thinking, “I need that in my life. I can’t live without it and if I purchase it in the next 15 minutes, I’ll get the best deal…” As if you really needed that thing that just five minutes ago you didn’t even know existed. And you know what? It didn’t satisfy as much as I thought it would. It never does. It never can. But now you have it and you will be paying for it at something percent interest or your bank account is short the cash you used to purchase something that will not satisfy. Isn’t this how we are?

I look back at my grandma. Her name was Minnie and she lived on a shoestring and a dime most of her life, but to me she seemed to have  everything that brought her satisfaction. When she died there wasn’t big money in the bank, or a big nest egg of inheritance, but every thing on the farm was paid for lock stock and barrel. I bet you could go through her house and find a few valuables like her collection of salt and pepper shakers and most of those kinds of things would probably add up to $100 worth over the course of 50 years collecting.  Her prized possession was an old worn out Bible that she read daily and carried every week to church. I mean this was her life and it seems like she was a whole lot more content than I have ever been.  It was not a life of ease but a life of fulfillment.  There was always fresh vegetables, and lots of potatoes and meat to eat. My life is a whole lot more complicated. As I look at even this younger generation it is even a lot more complicated but it includes a whole lot of debt and for many, a lifetime of debt that they are not even worried about ever getting out from under.  New phones, new cars, new clothes, new shoes, I mean, I have more in my closet at home than probably my grandparents had in all their lives. Life was simple, but it was good and there was very little indebtedness. There was a certain freedom in their lives because they were not indebted to anyone. The only thing that kept them back from going and doing whatever they wanted was the obligation of their farm, as in who was going to feed the cows and the chickens.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that we shouldn’t have things, but sometimes, our things have us. We need to realize sometimes the things that we think are freeing us actually occupy a lot of our time and resources. How? 1) We live with the worry of how we are going to pay for them, and 2) They are the kinds of “things” that sure gobble up and waste a lot of our time.

I will rip off the band aide and say what is not popular. We need to strive to live debt free as much as possible. Debt is an albatross around our necks or it can be in many cases. It’s not just that, but think of how we are hindered by debt and how it consumes our time and our energy. But when we are not indebted to this, that, and the other, then we have the freedom to be obedient to God in our giving of money, (not just to the church but also to other ministries as God leads us) we have energy to offer our talents and we will even find that we have time to give.

If you really want to learn how to be free financially I encourage you to look up, “Financial Peace”  by Dave Ramsey. This course is easy to understand, it is practical, you will see results right away and Dave Ramsey makes it fun. Tens of thousands of people have experienced financial freedom and also wealth as a result of following Ramsey’s principles.  It will be well worth the investment if you be willing to try.

See you Sunday,

Bro. Dennis


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