Thursday, January 30, 2014

"The First Step: Short Range Objectives"

Stewardship Lesson #6

The First Step: Short Range Objectives

There is a Chinese proverb which says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” The same is true with finances. We have to take the first short-term “now” steps before we can make it to our final goals. In the short term there are only five ways money can be spent:

  1. Given away
  2. Spent to support a lifestyle
  3. Used for the repayment of debt
  4. Used to meet tax obligations
  5. Accumulated or saved

Every spending decision will fit into one of these five categories.

How you allocate the money you have been given by God is determined by two factors: The commitments you already have & your priorities. If you have bought a house, then you must pay for that house. That is a commitment. You also have a commitment to feed & clothe your family. You have a commitment to pay the government the taxes due it (“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's & unto God the things that are God's”). These are all commitments. It is your priority to give money to God's kingdom because you are in a covenant relationship with Him. It is your priority to place money in savings for retirement so that your living needs can be met at that time. How you spend your money will be determined by your commitments (either good decisions or bad decisions) & by your priorities. This is exactly why stewardship can't be faked. Priorities are shown in what we commit ourselves to & in how we spend the leftovers of the budget.

Of the five choices for spending, three are consumptive in nature: Lifestyle support, repayment of debt & taxes. Money spent in these three areas is money you consume. You never see it again. It's doesn't return you anything.

However, when you save, you accumulate assets & cash, & these increase your net worth. With the net worth, you can then choose a combination of six things:

  1. Financial independence – means that the resources accumulated will generate enough income to fund all of the short-range objectives, with the exception of savings. You don't need savings because enough has been accumulated.
  2. College education for children
  3. Paying off debt
  4. Major lifestyle desires
  5. Major charitable giving
  1. Owning your own business


  1. There are only five ways to allocate money. List them.
  2. Of these five, which three are consumptive in nature?
  3. Which choice builds assets & increases your net worth, thereby giving you more choices in spending & more ways to use your money as a tool?
  4. How can you know what God would have you do with your money?
  5. How can you know how much to allocate in each of these five areas?

To determine what God would have us do in balancing our priorities requires the discipline of spending time with Him.

We can't know the will of God if we don't know God. This, too, is why we can't fake stewardship. Our spending reflects our priorities. And our priorities reflect our relationship with God.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"Financial Planning Overview"

Stewardship Lesson #5

As mentioned earlier, there are some natural laws involved with finances. When we understand those natural laws, decisions in spending become easier. It is easier for us to make spiritual decisions regarding money when we realize the principles God has already set into place.

Financial planning is allocating limited financial resources among various unlimited alternatives. As we have discussed, there are always more ways to spend money than there is money, regardless of how much money you have at your disposal. Financial planning is simply determining before you spend the money how that money will be spent. It is a map, if you will, of your spending for the future. There is a cliche that says, “People don't plan to fail, they just fail to plan.” This is very true with finances. No one says, “I want to be broke all the time. I think I'll go spend every penny I have & then borrow more to spend so that I can be broke. Being without money is great fun!” NO! We don't plan to fail, we just fail to plan. Hopefully, you can learn how to plan so that you are successful in the management of the resources God gives to you.

There are four overriding factors involved with all financial planning:

  1. Everyone has limited resources: It makes no difference if you have ten million dollars in the bank or if you have only ten dollars. Your resources are limited. Knowing this, you must learn to live within whatever your resources are.

John & Gail Douglas are missionaries in Africa. Their nation is one that is torn by war & strife. Famine & drought have taken their toll on the livelihood of the people they work with. People live here whose possessions all fit in one trash bag. They live on less than $150 per year. Yet, the Douglas' teach the people that they must learn to live within what has been provided for them by God. Absurd you say? No, not at all. The people of that locality continue to live regardless of their state of comparative poverty. You see, everything dealing with money is comparative. There will always be those wealthier than you & those poorer than you. And we are all limited in our resources.

  1. There are more alternative uses of money than money available. We talk about this previously. You will always have more choices to spend money than you have money. What then, can help you know how to properly spend what you have?

  1. Today's decisions determine destiny. A dollar spent is gone forever & can never be used in the future for anything else. And if you spend money today that you will need tomorrow, what will you use tomorrow?

Our nation has become a nation of overachievers when it comes to spending money for consumption. We reason that if we want something, let's buy it. After all, we can save some of next week's paycheck for retirement. We will be diligent about our spending at some later date – but not now. For now we want to buy what we want - & we'll pay for it later. But what if we loose our job? What if illness comes? What if we don;t make the money we thought we were going to make? What then?

Every penny you spend today determines, financially, what tomorrow will be for you. Once a dollar is spent you can't retrieve it. When it's gone, it's gone forever.

  1. The longer the term of perspective, the better the decision making. The further into the future you can look, the further into the future you can see your needs - & if you will buy accordingly, the better decision you will make. If, for example, you know you need shelter now, & you have a choice to rent or buy, the further into the future you can see, the better your decision. If you know you will be in a locality for a few years, & you can afford to do so, purchasing a house is a better decision than renting. To rent is a temporary decision. To buy is long-term perspective.

The same is true with cars. If you need transportation now & you know you will also need it in the future, it is better to buy a car that will last than one that is all glitz. The longer the term perspective, the better the decision making. When considering a purchase, always ask: “How will this serve me five years from now? Ten years from now? Twenty years from now?”

Obviously, some items cannot be considered for long-term usage because they are not long-term items, but the principle still holds true. The longer the term of perspective, the better the decision.


  1. List the four Biblical principles of finances (lessons 1-4).
  2. Now list the four natural laws of financial planning (in this lesson).
  3. How do each of these laws apply to you personally?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

“Faith requires action”

Stewardship Lesson #4

Principle #4: “Faith requires action” – Matthew 25:24-30; “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The definition of stewardship: “Stewardship is the use of God-given resources for the accomplishment of God-given goals.”

If we believe God owns all the money we have & He owns all our possessions, & if we believe we are in a growth process, & if we believe that the amount is not important, then what we do with the amount given to us by God requires adherence to His principles for spending.

Richard Foster states it well when he says, “If what I have is a gift, & if what I have is to be shared with others, & if what I have is on loan from God, then, & only then, can I experience true freedom from anxiety.”

There is a natural law involved with the spending of money. By natural law, I mean a law of nature, set down by the Creator. One of these laws is that if you spend it, you don't have it to spend. And there are more laws, too, which we will be discussing in further lessons.

To be able to apply the natural laws of stewardship to your finances, you must first determine to act upon your belief. If I told you your house was on fire, & if you believed me, you would act – notably, you would get out of the house. If, however, you did not believe me when I told you your house was on fire, you would remain seated in your easy chair. The same concept is true with finances. If we believe that God owns it all, we will behave very differently than if we believe it is our money. Our spending will reflect our belief.

  1. Do you really believe God owns all you have?
On a sheet of paper, list everything you own. Include an approximate value to the item. For example, you may own a car worth $10,000. On the paper you will list the car & beside it a value of $10,000. You will also list any personal possessions you have. 

After having listed all you have & placed a monetary value on it, write these words: “I hereby acknowledge that all of these possessions are owned by God. As owner, God has the rights to these things. I am only a steward. As a steward, I have only responsibility for these things.” Now, sign your name & date the paper.

Monday, January 27, 2014

“The quantity of money I have is not important”

Stewardship Lesson #3

Principle #3: “The quantity of money I have is not important” – Matthew 25:23; “His servant replied, 'Well done, good &faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come & share your master's happiness!'

This concept shocks most people because it goes against the training of the world. The world tells us that quantity of money is always important. This philosophy is summed up on the bumper sticker that says, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” We are taught that to be successful in life, we must make “a lot” of money. The amount is important, & we play a game with others in relationship to it. Sometimes we try to act like we have more money than we have. And other times we think we should act like we have less. But always, the quantity of money is a priority.

Yet, Jesus taught that it was not the amount of money or possessions that were important, but the attitude towards them & the use of them. For those who have learned contentment, the amount of money is not important. Certainly to have enough to meet our needs makes life easier. But still, the amount is not the issue.

Did you know that most instant millionaires are broke within two years? In other words, if given a million dollars, most of us would spend it in such a way that we would have nothing left in two years. And life goes on, whether you have a lot of money or only a little. By the same token, a person who has a little will live just the same (although on a lesser scale) than the one who has much.

Neither happiness nor success are tied to the amount of money we have. But both happiness & success are determined by our attitude toward money & how we spend it.


  1. If the amount of money is not important, what is important in relationship to money?
  2. If you went to a large shopping mall & had a million dollars to spend, could you buy it all?
  3. By the same token, if you went to a large shopping mall & had only $20 to spend, could you buy it all?

    The answer is “no” to both! There are always more choices for spending money than there is money, regardless if you are a millionaire or a pauper. The amount makes little difference. But what you do with the amount given to you makes all the difference in the world.

Friday, January 24, 2014

“We Are All Growing”

Stewardship Lesson #2

Principle #2: “We are all growing” – Matthew 25:21; “His master replied, 'Well done, good & faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come & share your master's happiness!'

In lesson #1, we learned that God owns everything. It is He who has the rights to it. We are stewards & have the responsibility for what He gives us.

Because God is God, & because He chooses the best for us, God uses money & material possessions in this life to teach us. In the above Scripture reference, we can clearly see that God uses money & possessions in three ways:

  1. God uses money & possessions as a tool. It is through the means of money that God often accomplishes His work. It is also through the means of money that God provides for His children. Because this world is material, we have to operate in a material way, & we, therefore, need an amount of money or provisions to survive. Money is used by God as a tool. And when it is used as a tool for His kingdom, it is a blessing. Tools are used for a specific purpose, & their purpose is only their use. The same should be true with money. Money is only a tool for a specific purpose, & the purpose of money is to be used. The purpose of money is not to be hoarded. It is to be used.

  2. God uses money & possessions as a test. In our Bible reference, the story reflects a testing process. Our use of money reflects who we are & what we believe more than anything else. It is a true testing of us. If I spend money on a new car, I am saying I place value on that car. If I spend money on jewels, I am saying I value jewels. And if I spend money on the things of God's kingdom, I am saying I value these things. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” And it is very true. Wherever & whatever I spend money on, I treasure those things.

  3. God uses money & possessions as a testimony. See Philippians 4:11-12. How we spend money, how we invest, how we get along with money & how we get along without money, is a testimony to our relationship with the Lord. Paul learned how to be happy with money & without it. He knew that God was His source, not money. And God clearly used this knowledge as a testimony to you about money. It may have been positive or negative, but their actions said something about you. You are always either influencing someone, or being influenced. What are you, either good or bad, is a testimony to someone as to your relationship with the Lord. And money & possessions is one of the areas which clearly shows, without a word, what your relationship with God is.


  1. How can money be a tool?
  2. How is money a test?
  3. How is money a testimony?
  4. Of these three choices, which do you think God intended money to be?
    List them in priority & explain your choices.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

“I'm Not The Owner”

We began a new chapter today in our Weaver curriculum & I'm excited about it! The more I seek to draw closer to Him the more He shares. Most times it's extremely difficult because that means changes are coming.

For the next 11 days, we will undergo an intense study about money, stewardship & wars according to Scripture. I will do my best to post for the next 11 days what we learned that day. Included are food for thought & some personal questions. I pray that you benefit from these 11 lessons as well!

It really makes you look at yourself & your relationship with the Lord. Am I truly honoring, praising & glorifying Him or myself?!

My prayer is that as we listen to the Spirit. Allow Him to lead us more closer to Him when dealing with our finances, & that He continue to share His ways through Scripture.

I'm ready Lord, be gentle!

Stewardship Lesson #1

  1. How much money do you have?
  2. Do you have enough?
  3. Will this be enough for you later in life?
  4. How much is enough?
    Principle #1: “I'm not the owner” – Matthew 25:14; Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants & entrusted his property to them.

    God owns everything we have. Indeed, He owns all the earth. It is only by His power & blessing that we awake each day & have the strength to make the money that we have. It is all His. He has given it to us.

    Because God owns it all, He has the right to do whatever He wants, whenever He wants. He owns it & has the right to it. Because God owns it all, but has given it to us, you are only a steward & have only responsibilities. You possess much, but own nothing.

    Because God owns it all, every spending decision is a spiritual decision. You see, as a steward, you are in a relationship with God, a relationship of accountability. And because God is God, whatever you do with His possessions is a spiritual decision. This concept is based upon the concept of covenant. You are in a covenant with a higher power. The terms & conditions of the covenant have been clearly laid out in Scripture. And how you respond in your covenant relationship with God & in the position He has placed you (in this case as a steward), every act is a spiritual decision. This realization alone will affect your spending. It will be the motivating factor in determining how & when you spend the resources God has placed in your care.

    Because God owns it all, you can't fake stewardship. Did you really think you could? Well most of us would answer, “NO.” Then we would try to fake it anyway. The area of money management is one of the most unforgiving areas of living. If you overspend, you pay dearly. There is rarely a great time lapse between our decisions & their rewards or consequences. You can't fake how you handle money. It is reality – cold & stark. If you are a good steward of your money, it will show clearly. If you are not a good steward of your money, this too, will show clearly. You can't fake it with money (at least not for very long), & you can't fake it with stewardship. Remember that God is an all-knowing God. He knows if you are correctly handling what He has given to your control.

  1. How much is enough? 
  2. If God owns it all, what is your position in relationship to what He has given to you? 
  3. If you decide to buy something, is it always a spiritual decision? 
  4. And if it is, does this mean that God doesn't want you to buy something for yourself? 
  5. How does today's lesson change your opinion on money? 
  6. How will it change your action?

I believe that this 11 day study will get my family back on track. About 5 years ago, Rob & I attended the 6 week Dave Ramsey FPU & loved it! We were on fire & ready to be debt-free! That fire has since fizzled out! We've managed with God's guidance & strength to pay everything off on ONE income, except for our house. We make almost 2 extra house payments a year & are prayerful to have it paid off 7 years early. I think this will help get that fire started up again!!!

Blessings & Love,

Thursday, January 16, 2014

God is faithful!

It's been a while since my last post, I've been just a little

Allot has gone on in the last 4 months! Homeschool is very enjoyable most days, but we have had some tough ones too. It's to be expected when your children have always been in public school & they've learned completely different then what you're teaching them now. It's a learning experience for us all!

We're getting better at it. I doubt myself allot! More than I'd like to admit! I struggle with "am I doing the right thing", "am I strong/smart enough", "will they get to go to college", "how am I suppose to balance this all" & I could go on......! You know these questions all to well yourself! These are doubts & fears you hear consistently from the Accuser! I mean, that's his full time job, he's great at it & he never rest!

No matter how discouraged I've gotten in the last 4 months, God has been SO faithful & true! Over & over again, He continues to reassure me in this difficult but rewarding calling! He's blessed us by providing the monies & then some for our homeschool needs. He's blessed us by using our old church family that had just rebuilt a new church building & was GIVING AWAY stuff from their school. We received 4 desks, 4 chairs, a large white board, several bookshelves, wall hangings, Legos & some books for FREE! God is SO GOOD & we are truly thankful! We honestly wasn't sure how we were going to homeschool the children on one income, but God has showed us that when you put your faith & trust in Him, He will always provide!

He also lead me to the perfect curriculum for our family! I LOVE everything about it! At first I was extremely overwhelmed by all of the information, but it's clicking! I especially love the fact that I have a Facebook support group of other homeschool Mom's that use this curriculum! It's so nice to be able to go there for support, encouragement & wisdom from veteran homeschoolers!

Pictures have been taking over the last few months of the kids doing their projects, crafts & field trips. My plan is to sit down during our sixth month this homeschool year & post them with a description. We are currently studying about Animals & Effects of Famine on Animal Life. It's a twelve day unit study & we are on day nine today.

We've covered SO much in such a short time. My favorite has been scripture memorization! We've learned a total of fifteen scriptures so far & two of those being the books of the New Testament. It's really given me a different understanding of His Word! I love how Rob & I can share that understanding with our children as we're doing it all together!

Beginning Thursday, January 30, 2014, we will forgo our first semester of homeschool Co-Op! A Co-Op is a group of homeschool families coming together & using their strengths in a subject to teach a class of children. Each of our children has picked what class they would like to take & I have the class registration tonight. I'm really looking forward to this because this will give the children a chance to meet other children. This has been something they have missed terribly since we began homeschooling! I pray that God will open positive, godly relationships up for us all!

With just a little over a year homeschooling, I'm exhausted! I will admit, I honestly don't know how other homeschool mom's pull it off & make it look so easy! I've really struggled with balancing it all & having hardly any time for myself! Through the tiredness & fatigue, God continues to show me that I only have a short time with these precious children! So make every minute count! For me to put everything I have into them while I can & while their here to learn from us! And that I need to seek my rest in Him & only Him!

Blessings & Love,