Monday, June 2, 2008

A Crowning Achievement

Last evening was the end of a very interesting journey for my wife and me. We attended that last of a 10 lesson biblical financial study. Its purpose is to teach God’s principals for handling money and possessions. The study is published and sponsored by a group called Crown Financial Ministries. I recommend it to anyone who wants to be spiritually responsible with the gifts that God has given them in their lives.

This was not an easy study for us to go through. In fact I would have to confess we didn’t take full advantage of the recommendations or organizing tools that were taught. However we now know about them and are agreed to make it our goal to institute them into our lives making us better stewards of our gifts.

If I had to sum up the study in one word I would have to say “Stewardship.” It is not a study just about money. The scriptures and lessons point more toward developing an attitude of discipleship in your relationship with Jesus Christ than anything else. An avenue of that attitude is the scriptural use of your finances.

Now while I am admitting that my wife and I weren’t ideal students in regard to this study we did get some wonderful things from it. We learned to discuss and share our views on finances. We developed a “teamwork” attitude in monitoring and planning our spending. We also became very comfortable studying God’s word together; sharing our thoughts on how it applies to our lives. We often approached the same issues from different perspectives. This is a great way to not only know more about your marriage partner but learn from them as well.

In addition, we discovered the size of our credit card debt. That realization was a real eye opener in terms of the need for changes in our finances and lifestyle. We immediately took three positive steps to resolve this issue. First, we stopped charging anything to our credit cards. Second, we developed a focused and accelerated pay back plan that was within our budget. Third, we became very aware of the difference between the things we really need as opposed to the things we want.

While I shouldn't’t be surprised the most amazing thing about our participation in this Crown Financial study is how much it helped us with real life events that happened over the course of the time we took the study. God really showed his care and concern for us by leading us to this course. Here are some of the things that came our way over the 3 months we were involved in the study.

My wife received her salary bonus. While this was a real blessing; the way we applied it to our financial needs was directly affected by what we learned. We distributed it to places where it will meet our future needs than better than it would have had we decided to use it on some of the things we felt we “deserved.” We applied the same planning and saving principals to both our tax refund and our economic stimulus rebate.

Car issues also came up. The price of gas steadily increased. It now hovers around $4 a gallon as I write this post. Paula’s Oldsmobile developed an electrical system problem that made it unreliable and the air conditioning system needed its second recharge in the last 2 years. Thankfully, God provided solutions for dealing with these issues. My consumption of gasoline dropped because I was not driving 60 miles a day to work. Paula decided to park the Oldsmobile and start driving the Saturn LS. Its the car that our son, James, had been using for the last 4 years. We will get the Oldsmobile fixed eventually when it’s more financially feasible.

Losing my job in April was potentially a life shaking event but after only a few days of anxiety, thanks to our recent financial evaluation, we realized that things were financially stable for us. Everything was going to be okay. We could relax about the next few month. God had provided for us.

The approval of my unemployment claim assured us of a temporary income that would help us keep paying our bills. My time off gave me a chance to do some things around our home that needed some attention. It also gave me a chance to arrange my ventriloquist practice area (see some of my previous posts for details). I have also had the chance to do some volunteer work both at church and at the local library.

During the 2 months I’ve been home both Paula and I have considered the possibility that God is leading me toward a more unconventional career path. Perhaps that means earning money on just a part time basis, working from home, and or getting paid for my ventriloquism.

For me, without a doubt the most faith building event that occurred during the course of our involvement in the Crown Financial Bible Study was God bringing me the opportunity to get my Axtel puppets. Please go back and read my April 25 post for my testimony about God working this out for me.

So there you have some of the things that have happened to us during the time of our involvement in the study. Again, let me assure you that without the principals and scriptures we learned from the study, along with God’s guidance, our actions and emotions would have been quite different. But those principals are much more to us than just a lifeboat in a sea of temporary problems. They are insights into God’s love and caring for us that are now anchored in our hearts and minds.

God has set up rules for how we handle our money. The reasons for these money handling principals are that money effects every avenue of our lives; most importantly our relationships with Jesus Christ and with other people. Also if we handle money according to the Bible we will be good stewards of all God has given us. We will be able to give much more of our finances, time, and efforts to spread the gospel to people who are lost and dying without the saving Grace of Christ.

If I have whet your appetite about this Crown Financial Ministries Bible Study you can get more information on their website: Our prayer is that the study will be as much of a life changing experience for you as it has been for us.

No comments: