Tuesday, June 23, 2009

plastic pearls (Biblical Advice in Difficult Times)

A four year old little girl attends a class, in which she makes new friends.  All her friends have these bracelets simply made of a string and some plastic pearls.  The little girl goes home and tells her mom how she would really like a pearl bracelet.  Her mom tells her that if she saves up some money, she can purchase herself a pearl bracelet.  Finally, the little girl raised $4.00 and asked her mom if she could now purchase her very own pearl bracelet.  The mother took her to the store, she purchased her $3.99 bracelet and wore it the next day to show to her friends.  She was so excited about that bracelet that she wore it every day, in her sleep and never took it off.   

Her dad came into her room one night to tuck her in, and he asked her, "do you trust daddy?".  "Yes daddy, I trust you" she replied.  "Can if have your pearls" he asked? "No, daddy, not my pearls" she replied.  He smiled, kissed her head and turned out the light. 

The next night her daddy comes in, sits down next to her on her bed and again asks "do you trust daddy?" "Yes daddy, I trust you", as she reaches and covers up her pearl bracelet.  "Can I have your pearls" he asked.  "No daddy, not my pearls, no" she replied.  He leaned in gave her a kiss good night and left the room.

The third night her daddy walks in and looks at her, and before he says anything the little girl is already placing her hand over her pearls to protect them, for she already knew what he is about to ask her.  He sits down and smiles at her and again asks "do you trust daddy?" Yes, daddy I trust you" while she slowly slips off her bracelet and hands them over to her daddy with a slight frown on her face.  When all of the sudden her daddy smiles, takes her plastic pearls and puts them in one pocket, reaches in his other pocket and pulls out a real pearl bracelet for her.  

Her eyes light up and a smile covers her face, as she jumps up and gives her daddy a big hug.  

This is how God, our heavenly father wants us to trust him.  Trust him in every way, including the finances if your life.  God can teach and show all of us how to plan ahead and prepare and live a recession proof life, while also growing and building an empire for us.  

The bible doesn't speak only about tithing ten percent of all your earnings.  Unfortunately, it is about all you hear in the church and from pastors when they do speak on money.  Well, not at our church, and many other modern and fast growing churches out there today.  They are changing that bad reputation.

Money is such a sensitive subject for EVERYONE rich or not.  A lot of churches have gotten to where they are so careful about how they speak about money and how often, because of the history and bad reputations on churches in the past hounding people for their money, that they avoid this topic more than they should.  

Although these hip and fast growing churches have tip toed around this topic, they have finally realized that by not talking to their people and sharing biblical truth about how God tells us many times all throughout the bible how to manage and be responsible with our finances. They in return are not telling the whole truth of what God has to say and that is sin itself. 

Our church www.cbglades.com just did an amazing series called "Recession Proof Life." Each week they gave out boxes and thousands of dollars worth of food to hungry hurting families, struggling to stay above water in this economy.  So many of our church family members have lost homes, jobs, marriages and they have no where to run or turn to except the church family for hope, faith and help.  

At the end of "The Recession Proof Life" they offered a financial seminar to anyone interested for a really low cost, to listen to Dave Ramsey speak on Life.Money.Hope, Biblical Advice in Difficult Times.  He is a familiar face on FOX news.  

Mark and I attended this seminar, and I am so glad we did.  You see, Mark and I would like to think that we are ahead of the game because we do not have debt.  We are not in financial debt.  Most people coming to these things are in serious financial debt.  We wanted to attend as a married couple to hear more on the biblical side of things and how God intended for us to handle our finances for our family and our future.  We don't save.  We aren't putting anything back and we aren't building our empire for our children and our children's children.  We are basically living month to month and running out of what we bring in.  Not good, and not biblical.  It's poor management of what isn't even ours to begin with. 

I felt we learned a lot at this seminar, and I know that not everyone has the chance or the opportunity to attend one of their own.  I thought I would share some important biblical things that was spoken by Dave Ramsey at the seminar we attended here in my blog, so that maybe it will get you motivated to start getting a hold of your own financial struggles, mishaps, debt and stress in your home, your marriage and your life.  I want to share the help that we have received, and are putting to use in our own home and marriage. If we can do it, so can you, even if you do have a ton of debt to start with.  

I do suggest though that should you have the opportunity to attend a financial seminar, especially if Dave Ramsey can be heard, to attend on a video or in person, to do so.  Not only was he entertaining, but he put a fun spin on things, while giving you the GOD truth about your finances. While also sharing his own personal experiences from having nothing, to having millions, to having nothing again, to having multi millions now. 

Although, I can share with you some important steps to begin with here in this post today, or you can attend financial seminars all you want.  Unless you take GOD, your finances, your family and your marriage serious enough, none of it will matter and you will keep struggling, stay in debt, and it will be no ones fault but your own.  It won't be your spouses fault, your kids fault, your jobs fault, your bosses fault, your college debts fault or the presidents fault.  By listening and following God's basic biblical financial advice, you can out smart and out finance anyone.  

You ready? 

Session One:

1.  Get out of DEBT (first things first)... DEBT = RISK. 

"The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender." Proverbs 22:7 (NRSV)

By borrowing and having debt, you allow the lender to be master of you. God says you are to only have one master, and that is HIM.  You can't focus on the ONE master, if you are being pulled and slaved by another (i.e. "master"cards!! lol) When you are in debt you have a ball and chain on your feet and your life isn't going to go very far at all.  In fact, it will eventually get so heaving to carry that burden "ball and chain" you will eventually give up and be swallowed up by your debt.  


Find away.

Get rid of things, cut down on expenses and live BELOW your means for a little while (or long while) in life.  You may think its too hard to start, and it will be.  Just as you start, the devil is going to jump in and try to make things harder and mess things up even more so. Just when you start to clear your debt and live a biblical financial life, something is going to go wrong.  The car is going to break down,  a kid may get sick or an unexpected bill will arrive.  Be ready for it, but don't fear it.  TRUST in GOD, and know you will get through it.  

Sell things.  Maybe rethink about the cost of your car(s) you are driving.  Budget.  And start knocking out that debt one small step at a time.  

In order to feel victory, in what normally can feel like an endless scam or trap, start small.  Pay off and get rid of your debt starting at the bottom.  If you have multiple credit cards, pay the smallest balances off first and quick as possible.  Give yourself a WIN.  Before you know it, that WIN, starts a snowball effect, and with having that small balance paid off, you suddenly realize you have a little extra to pay the next balance above that.  Pay a little more than the minimum and do that as often as you can until you can pay it off in full.   Just by getting that first and second debt paid off will feel amazingly great. Its a very powerful and freeing feeling, and with that comes motivation.  

2.  Act your WAYS.  

"A foolish man devours all he has." Proverbs 21:20 (NIV)

Don't act what you are not.  Don't act rich, when you are not.  Don't try to impress people with things, that you can't afford, when in truth you don't even really like those that you are trying to impress.  

Dave Ramsey made a joke about those sitting in a fancy car at the red light, all leaned back in their seat, feeling "cool" about the ride they are driving.  They look over at the car next to them, give a head nod and drive off.  He said "see you felt good for that second, thinking that you impressed the person next to you, a person that you will most likely never meet.  So I hope you like that car, because that "cool feeling" in that fancy ride, just cost you a $1000 dollars, just to impress that person, that probably doesn't even care what you drive, that you will never meet and that you probably wouldn't even like even if you were to meet."  So stop trying to keep up with the false ideal image of what the world says or tries to make us feel and think we should be living.  Live within your means.  Humble yourself.  

None of this is YOUR stuff to begin with.  Its ALL God's and he has loaned it to you to manage.  You are a manager of God's things, so be responsible with it.  

Ask yourself this. 

"If YOU were God, and you were looking to promote someone to manage more of your money and things, would you hire yourself?" What does your spending habits, or your check book, or your credit cards say about you?  

This is how you should look at the the things you have.  How do you manage things now?  Are you responsible?  Are you someone that God can trust and rely on to manage his money and build an empire with? Or are you one of his silly kids?  As a parent of many you may realize that there is almost always a slacker in the bunch.  A silly kid? A irresponsible child? You still love that child no matter what, but you just may not entrust that child with much of the family assets because you know they will not handle it maturely.   God looks at us in the same fashion.  If we act our ways, and we show God that we can be responsible with managing the little things in life he has placed in our care, then eventually he will trust us with bigger things and he will bless our financial growth.  

So act your ways, you are not the big boss, you are simply a manager. Act responsible and earn your promotion in Gods financial empire he wants to build for your family, and for generations and generations after you.  You can leave behind an amazing Godly financial legacy to your children and grandchildren, starting today.  Think of the BIG picture, not just about today or tomorrow.  THINK BIG by starting small. 

3.  Get on a BUDGET.  

"For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it?" Luke 14:20 (NKJV)

This means budge EVERYTHING.  

One of the things that I came up with that we are going to make use in our home is this.  One of the things that Dave Ramsey said to do when budgeting is to first cut up and get rid of every credit card.  You don't need them.  He has met many very wealthy people along his journey up to the top and down to rock bottom and back to the top again.  Not a one of them that he spoke with ever said "I am a millionaire because I had credit cards and I now live life on "award points"."  Instead, get in a place where you don't need to get in debt, to feel that you need to rely on those "award points" ...but be better and bigger than that.  Get in a place where you can simply smile and pay for anything those points may you think they are paying for, and pay for it in cash yourself. Because in the long run, you are not really getting 'free points." that is just the bait that keeps you coming back to borrow more from them, keeping you as a slave to them (the lender) and remaining in debt, because its your money that is paying for someone else "reward points" and the same with the points that you think you've 'earned' or getting something free with.  So cut up the cards!! If you must have one, then only have ONE card. Have one card for the entire house hold and pay off the balance at the end of the month.  Always! 

However, the best way to budget is to figure up your spending, (bills, groceries, gas, misc. etc). Pay your bills you are going to pay online, by check book etc.  whatever.  Then give yourself a budget of what you can afford to pay for the rest of things, (food, gas, dinners out, entertainment for the month etc.)  Take that amount and put it in an envelope and pay it with cash.  People often find it much easier to spend when they don't physically see the money coming out of their hand.  A wipe of the debt/credit card here and there, and before you know it you have gone over your budge.  If you have cash, you see it, and you become more aware of it going out, and when it does run out, you have no choice but to stop spending.  You can't just keep swiping the card, so you can't go over your budget, you just have to make ends meet without.  

However, I don't like carrying cash around.  When you carry cash around you have some control, but I also like to know where the money is being spent.  You need to keep tabs.  What I came up with in our home is this.  Mark gave me for Mother's Day, a gift card VISA.  Basically, its a money card from Wal-Mart, similar to a prepaid credit card.  It acts as a VISA/DEBT card, but you don't get the credit card history on your credit report. 

I activated my gift VISA card, in which I then paid $3.00 to get a second card in Mark's name. My VISA card was a gift to me to go shopping, but I then turned into something that will in the long run help our family finances. 

They sent to me in the mail a card that looks and acts just like any real VISA or DEBIT card would.  Then we place on that card "prepay" our spending amount for the month.  You have an online view of each transaction, you don't have to carry around cash in your wallet or purse and your spending is accountable for.  Wait that isn't it, it also sends you a text message with a current balance as soon as you make a purchase.  You have 2 cards, one for your spouse and one for you, with access to the same account and funds.  So if your spouse just spend $120 on groceries, the main card holder will get a text message giving the remaining balance on that card.  This way you both keep up with what is coming out and what is left come towards the end of that month.  

4.  SAVE and invest.  {emergency funds, college, health, death etc.} 

"In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil." Proverbs 21:20 (NIV)

Find things you can cut out of your every day.  

-Minutes on cell usage.  
- Cable vs Direct TV (or both all together)
- Home, phone, fax 
-Gym memberships if you have a free community gym.
-Cars (humble yourself and your fancy ride)

5. GIVE.

"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in MY house." Malachi 3:10 (NKJV)


God demands that we tithe 10%  of all given to our storehouse.  He is the MASTER, the mega-lender.  HE is lending everything to us, so cheerfully and trusting bring and give back the first 10% to the MASTER (the church).  

And if you want to really be wise.  Give the first 10% of all you earn to God, the family church, and then put the next 10% of your earnings in savings.  Budget, act your ways and live on 80% of your income (or less).  Most people today, especially and sadly Americans, we live so out of our means, that we spend 120% of our income.  That is a NEGATIVE balance every single month, friends.  Its not healthy, its not biblical and its time that YOU step up and get things on a better and more biblical financial track for your home, family, and future generations.  

Final thought:  Pray for your specific financial needs and commit to specific goals that you would like to accomplish in a specific time frame.  Ask God for wisdom in understanding His plan for your finances.  

That doesn't mean ask God for more money, it means to ask HIM, HIS plan in your financial life and give you the wisdom to manage what HE has put in your trust to manage.  

Only have ONE MASTER.

Our God is a jealous God, he wants to prosper you, but you first have to trust him in all areas of your life.  You can't say to Him "yes daddy, I trust you, but no daddy, not my pearls not my finances, I want control over that all myself." 

Don't settle for the little plastic pearls in life.  Let God reward you with the REAL and bigger pearls He is holding in that other pocket, that you just can't see yet, but have to have trust and faith in.  

Lord, I want to take this time to pray for my family, friends and readers, Lord.  I want to personally ask that those reading this post, Lord, that they get fired up and motivated.  Motivated to live a recession proof kind of life.  A life free of ball and chains.  I life free of financial strain, stress, and hardship.  Lord, we all have made mistakes in dealing with our finances, Lord and they are no different than the rest of our sins.  There are no perfect people.  No one has their finances perfectly in sync.  Lord, that is why we rely on You and ask for Your wisdom and guidance.  Only You can free us from all this debt and build an empire for us to manage and grow in our own homes, but in Your name.  

Lord, You are the one and only master.  I will not settle for the plastic pearls, and I will not force my own children and their children to live with the plastic pearls in life either.  I want to earn and wear the real pearls you have planned for me in my life.  I want to pass on my beautiful pearls to my children and watch them grow and trust You in the same way, Lord.

That motivates me, enough.  

Thank you for the blessings you have already placed in my life, and I know that I often can mismanage Lord, but today I ask for your wisdom on how to manage the things in my life, so to please You.  I want that promotion.  Although, it may not be the promotion I envision..... 'being rich', although it very well could be just that also.  I know that my needs will always be met and that I am already abundantly blessed and spiritually rich.  I have a MANSION made for me in heaven. I am rich! I will never go with out food or clothes, Lord, and so with that, that is all I need to know.  I want to lead by example to my friends, my children, and I am not here to impress anyone I know or don't know, but YOU.  I pray for the same kind of heart and courage to my friends, family and readers to this blog.  Lord, let us rely on YOU to protect us and teach us how to live a happy recession proof life.  Amen.  

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