Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Financial Hope February 23, 2009

We had our second Financial Hope class and it was great. My wife, Gloria, led the class and did an awesome job. She talked about how to save money on food -- which is a pretty variable and controllable expense for most folks.

The following is her notes--

Celebrate God’s Bounty
Come To The Table

I know that no thing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame. Joel 2:26
How precious is Your lovingkindness O God! Therefore, the children of men who put their trust under the shadow of Your wings, They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house. And You give them drink from the river of your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; In your light we see light. Psalm 36:7:9
I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. Psalms 37:25
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35
If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20

Eating Well on A Budget
Key Concept: Food is a variable and controllable expense in a family’s budget.
1. Plan your menus for a week or two in advance.
2. Before shopping, take inventory of what you have on hand. Type in ingredients you have on hand and find creative recipe ideas at:
3. Buy one or two Sunday papers and clip the coupons Ask friends to give you coupons from their papers. Pay attention to the mail coupons you receive in the mail. Be alert to coupons as you walk through the grocery store. Sign up for coupons to be delivered to you by registering at:
Ask at your favorite grocery stores if they double coupons or allow you to use a store coupon plus a manufacturer’s coupon.
4. Pay attention to the sale items and plan menus around them.
5. Stock up on sale items and have a well-stocked pantry with staple items.
6. To save time, prepare cubes of chicken breasts, brown ground beef, or marinade meats and keep them in the freezer. These FROZEN ASSETS will save you money and time.
7. Plan one or two meatless or meat as a garnish meals per week (e.g. baked potato bar, macaroni and cheese, fettucine alfredo, red beans and rice, vegetable soup, pizza, and spaghetti and meatballs)
8. Buy food at the drugstore with CVS Extra Bucks and Walgreens Easy Saver Programs. Spices are a steal at CVS!
9. To make meal-planning easier, have a weekly dinner pattern. Some people plan two weeks ahead….but HAVE A PLAN and the food on hand. For example:
Monday: Italian or Cajun
Tuesday: Grill Out
Wednesday: American
Thursday: Slow Cooker
Friday: Seafood or Chicken
Saturday: Try Something New
Sunday: Anything goes or dine out
10) Angel Food Ministries sells boxes of food for 35.00 but are worth much more. There are no income requirements. Also, they have prepared meals for seniors. In Augusta, they are available once a month at Whole Life Ministries. You have to order in advance.

Useful links:

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Love of God

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:14-21

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2nd Corinthians 3:5-6

Our sufficiency is from God. Not from our own works, our own righteousness, or our own goodness. In writing to the Ephesians Paul makes a direct connection between the love of Christ and being filled with all the fullness of God. The fullness of God is a wonderful, awesome concept. In John 10:10 Jesus said He came that we would "have life and have it more abundantly". He is our abundance, our source, our hope, our help, our healer. He literally is everything we need.

And yet most of us struggle to grasp just how much God loves us because we are natural legalists. What do I mean by that? Look around. Life teaches us over and over again that you get what you deserve. If you work hard you get rewarded. If you do what is right people commend you. If you do wrong people frown upon you. Life pretty much operates on sowing and reaping. And yes, we do need to understand that, or life will bite us pretty hard.

The problem we have is that God's love doesn't work that way. God's love caused Him to pour out His grace and now we receive what He has done for us by faith. Ephesians 2:4-6 says, "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

We can't approach God based on what we have done or not done. My relationship with Him is not based on my goodness but His goodness. We fall short. We mess up. We do dumb things. We make mistakes and yes, we sometimes sin. Because we do not grasp the love of God we open the door for guilt and condemnation.

The letter kills. We are called to a love relationship. Love cannot thrive in an environment of fear. 1st John 4:17-18 says, "Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love."

The abundance, the fullness we have in Him, only comes in grasping His love. The prayer Paul prayed in Ephesians is so critical for us. Note that Paul was writing this to believers. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him".

We thing of faith in terms of believing for things we are praying about but what if we began to think in terms of actually believing what the Word of God says about how much He loves His children?

As we gain confidence in His love we gain confidence in His good work and help for our lives.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Interesting Article from CNN

The original link is


By Lisa Respers France

(CNN) -- Jennifer Pedley had very little interest when her husband, Ken, suggested three years ago that they enroll in the Financial Peace University program their church in Brighton, Michigan, was offering.
Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, is seeing an increased need for financial programs.

Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, is seeing an increased need for financial programs.

The couple signed up to learn how to reduce their debt and get on a budget. Partway through the course, a light came on for her, Pedley said.

"I started to see the changes it was making not only in our money but in our relationship," she recalled.

"It was unbelievable, but 80 percent of personal finance is personal. There is so much related to communicating about money and communicating about life."

Now Pedley is facilitating the course at 2/42 Community Church, where many in the area depend on the auto industry for their livelihood and are struggling with a deepening recession.

Throughout the country, places of worship are not just offering prayers for the improvement of their members' finances. They are offering help in the form of classes, seminars and workshops. Tell us how you're surviving tough economy

Programs that teach debt elimination, financial literacy and money management are gaining popularity among the faithful who are seeking some stability in the midst of uncertain times.

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox is a personal finance expert and author who has launched the Zero Debt Tour, a financial literacy initiative designed to teach people how to better budget, manage credit and debt wisely, and save money.
Don't Miss

* Tell us how you're surviving
* Family of 5 weathers economy with 7 housemates

Khalfani-Cox, who provides the program free for churches, said she is hearing from places of worship, both big and small, nationwide who want to offer resources to their members.

"In faith-based communities, if you ask pastors across the country, many will tell you that attendance is up; however donations are down," said Khalfani-Cox, who is known as the Money Coach. "People are turning to the church for help, whether it's help making their mortgage payment, putting in a prayer request, assistance in finding a job or just getting practical, day-to-day strategies for managing debt."

Jeff Foy, manager of training and evaluation for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Employment Resource Services, said traffic has increased to the church's Providentliving Web site, which offers resources on family finances and employment assistance.

It's very difficult to reach someone spiritually if they are struggling temporally, Foy said, and some have had to sacrifice time with family and church to pay the bills.

"We see a lot of our members perhaps that wouldn't ordinarily be working on a Sunday that are working on a Sunday instead of attending some of their meetings," he said.

The Rev. Steve O'Dell of 2/42 Community Church said he believes that people have a desire to give more of their time and money but just don't have the means.

That's why programs that help get them on track financially are beneficial, he said.

"A lot of people are imprisoned by debt," said O'Dell, whose church has expanded the number of Financial Peace University sessions to meet the growing need.

"If people are in place where they are not going further and further into debt and all of their money isn't going into paying off debt, then financially they are freed up to give to things they would like to give to," he added. "Whether that's the church or charitable organizations or places that reach out to people in times of need."

Joel Schwartz is director of the Moving from Debt to Assets program, which was founded in 2005 by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization. It offers sessions on finances, a peer support group and private sessions with a financial counselor.

Schwartz said that since its inception, Moving from Debt to Assets has graduated more than 400 participants and now has half of its groups run in languages other than English.

What makes his program and others like it so effective is that they are offered through organizations that have a relationship with those participating, Schwartz said.

"It's embedded in institutions that are part of the fabric of people's lives," he said. "This creates a lot of opportunity for reinforcement. People who see each other every Sunday can say, 'How are you doing paying down those credit card debts? I know you are working hard on that.' "

Programs like Financial Peace University and Crown Financial Ministries, which have components that speak directly to biblical principles about money, have been seen as integral to the ministry.

At Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, a stewardship workshop series based on Crown Financial Ministries "Road to Financial Freedom offers topics like "Who's in Control?" which covers God's responsibilities versus those of the believer, and "A Slave to the Lender," about living debt-free.

Kevin Stacia teaches stewardship at Ebenezer and said that with everyone from the wealthy to the disadvantaged being affected by the economy, it makes sense for churches to offer such programs.

"We always want members of the church and our community to be grounded in how God wants us to manage the things he has entrusted us with," Stacia said. "We want to give people an avenue to get knowledge and understanding."

Cheryl Spiva has attended the series and said education is the key.

Spiva retired at 45 from her position as senior vice president of sales for the southeast division of the investment group Charles Schwab and said financial education programs can be empowering.

"Often, people don't really know what to do with their money," she said. "If you give them tools, they become more confident and they make better choices."

Jennifer Pedley said she and her husband have benefited from learning how to manage their money more effectively.

They have paid off a car and their credit cards and are well on their way to being debt-free.

Pedley said they are also much better off in the current economy than had they not taken the course.

'When we took [the course], people had questions like, 'How do I budget vacations and going out to dinner?' " she said. "Now it's, 'How can I pay my mortgage and save my house?' "

And despite her initial resistance, Pedley said, she views it as a learning and growing experience.

"I never realized how practical the Bible is about money," she said. "It just makes so much sense."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009



We had our first Financial Hope class this past Monday and what a great time we had. This class is going to be a time of encouragement and equipping people to make life-changing decisions in small ways and big. We want to see people get God’s vision for their finances. We are going to be dealing with both practical and spiritual issues. For the first class we primarily spent our time of God’s goodness and things that people would like to see covered.

We had a list prepared of topics we will be covering in the class. We also asked the class what things they would like to see us talk about. We came up with the following-- budgets, agreement in marriage over finances, tithing and giving, insurance, living in God’s economy, how and where to find bargains, lowering your food bill, health and its relation to finances, investing wisely, taxes, dealing with fear and worry, emotional shopping, real estate, couponing, getting out of debt, balancing your checkbook, being in control of your money, help for college, jobs and careers, and being a blessing to others. There are so many issues and angles to hit.

We also had a wonderful time of prayer and ministry to one another. We have agreed to keep one another in prayer during the week.

Why deal with God’s goodness in a financial class? He is our source and the real hope and help for our lives.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

When we’re looking at finances we can easily grow discouraged because of our own poor decisions or by the doom and gloom from the media and the present state of the economy or just a general sense of hopelessness. Proverbs 13:12 tells us that, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But [when] the desire comes, [it is] a tree of life.” Losing hope and becoming discouraged is a hard place. Thankfully, God is not limited by the economy. He’s not afraid, fearful or worried. He calls us to radically put our trust in Him and not in man. We gave the following handout to the class and encouraged them to take it home, put it some place prominent in the house, and read over it every day. The enemy is a master of discouragement and fear. By meditating on the Word of God we are renewing our minds and robbing the devil of the opportunity to sow fear and doubt into our hearts.


Hebrews 11:6
But without faith [it is] impossible to please [Him], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and [that] He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Psalm 31:24
Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD.

John 10:10
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct [fn] your paths.

Hebrews 4:16
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Matthew 6:33
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Matthew 18:19
"Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.

Psalm 37:3-7
Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring [it] to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

Mark 11:24
Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive [them], and you will have [them].

3rd John 2
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Word of God

God's Word is so good! In the information age there are a lot of lies and speculation floating around. How do you know what to trust? In a topsy-turvy world God's Word is the level against which we judge. God's Word is true. He is faithful and does not lie!

Following is a selection of Bible verses concerning God's Word. Enjoy! Let them speak to your heart.

Every word of God [is] pure; He [is] a shield to those who put their trust in Him.
Proverbs 30:5

Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.
Psalm 119:89

Your word [is] a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105

For the word of God [is] living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
James 1:22-24

But the word of the LORD endures forever.
1st Peter 1:25

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
John 17:17

For the word of the LORD [is] right, And all His work [is done] in truth.
Psalm 33:4

For they [are] life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.
Proverbs 4:22

Establish Your word to Your servant, Who [is devoted] to fearing You.
Psalm 119:38

So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me, For I trust in Your word.
Psalm 119:42

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
John 17:14

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Colossians 3:16

Monday, February 9, 2009

Some of My Favorite Bible Verses

While the whole Bible is the Word of God some verses affect us in a more profound way than others. An example would be John 13:34 and 35 verses John 4:4. Both are the Word of God given to us but understanding, meditating on and doing the command to love one another in John 13:34 - 35 is far more profound and life changing than the fact that Jesus traveled through Samaria as found in John 4:4. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. In Philippians 4:8 Paul writes, Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things. While there are many life changing verses in the Bible I have found the following twelve to be particularly maningful to me. Read over them. Meditate on them. Memorize them. They will become part of who you are and change who you are!

"Death and Life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit."
Proverbs 18:21

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."
Matthew 7:1-2

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap."
Galatians 6:7

"For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
2 Corinthians 10:12

"For without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."
Hebrew 11:6

"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in our time of need."
Hebrews 5:16

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
John 10:10

"Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
Romans 10:17

"If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
John 15:7

“Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
Mark 11:22-24

"Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two or more of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven."
Matthew 18:18-19