“A” Is For ATTITUDE

money“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” -William James

 

Let’s talk finances. Now, don’t click on another page. Just take three deep breaths and a couple minutes and read through this post.

 

The average person doesn’t really believe he has a problem when it comes to finances. He really doesn’t. As long as he’s making monthly payments on time, as long as he has some mad money he can play with each week, as long as he can continue to feed and satisfy those occasional indulgences from time to time, he erroneously believes things are just fine. Unfortunately he’s like the alcoholic, the drug addict, the gambler, or the person addicted to pornography who says, “I don’t have a problem.” But the truth is, the average American has a major problem when it comes to money, Christians included. They are horribly in debt, miserable managers of their money; and gullible beyond belief when it comes to buying things on credit.

 

Can I share a simple principle with you? If you’re paying interest on anything, regardless of the great interest rate you may have gotten or the low monthly payment; if you are paying interest on anything, are you ready for this? YOU ARE LOSING MONEY.

 

In fact, when you see the word “interest,” if you visualize two words in huge, gigantic letters as if they were written in the sky; “SOMEBODY ELSE,” that will help you better comprehend the principle. Why? Because that’s exactly what happens every time you’re paying interest. SOMEBODY ELSE is getting rich off YOUR money. Yet so many people say, “Well, you know, we got a great interest rate.” Or, “Luckily I got the same low monthly payment on this car that I had on my last one.”

 

Christian financial expert, the late Larry Burkett, said, “Christians are now paying nearly 10% of our income every year in interest alone. And yet we give only 2% back to God.”  So here’s the picture. The average Christian in America is miserably over his head in debt and walking in rebellion towards God. We definitely have a problem. But watch out if anyone attempts to discuss it. Why? Because we’re very touchy when it comes to our stuff. When it comes to my money and my finances, that’s a private matter and it’s none of your business. Isn’t that pretty much the way you feel?

 

So if someone suggests we have a problem with our finances, we immediately get defensive and go into money 3denial because none of us wants to admit we have a problem.

 

Does anyone remember Harry Truman? Not the President. The man who lived on the side of Mount St. Helens in Washington? I’ll never forget the guy; He had 23 cats. (Does that help?) Well, back in 1980 he was on Mount St. Helens. TV reporters were interviewing him while the mountain was shaking behind him. Harry’s sitting there with his 23 cats and seismologists were saying, “This mountain’s gonna blow; ” Volcanic experts were saying, “This mountain’s gonna blow.” Harry Truman said, “I don’t believe a single one of your ,experts. I’ve lived here all my life. I know this old mountain better than anybody else. I’m not going anywhere. “ And they’d banter back and forth.

I remember his sister on national television (you may remember watching). She pleaded with her brother, “Please, get off this mountain. It’s gonna blow;” “No, it’s not,” Harry insisted. “I’ve lived here all my life. I don’t have a problem.”

 

On May 18th, 1980, at 8:31 a.m., the mountain blew. It blew with a force 500 times greater than the power of the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. Twenty-five hundred feet blew off the top of the mountain. It blackened the sky from Seattle to New York and as far south as Oklahoma. No one has ever seen a trace of Harry or his 23 cats since.

 

Now I’m praying that you are not a Harry Truman. I’m going to assume you want God’s wisdom, God’s guidance, and God’s provision in your life. I’m going to assume you want to be financially healthy and to be free from the albatross of financial burdens, bills, and bondage.

 

lt’s possible for anyone of us. In fact, regardless of how much debt you have today, I agree with Larry Burkett, who says in seven years anybody can be out of debt. Anybody; That includes you.

money 6

 

All of us can be out of debt and financially healthy, or well on our way to it, if we really want to be. But we have to want to. But if we don’t begin with step number one, nothing else we talk about will help. We need to begin withOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD MONEY.

For more on the subject of changing our attitude click on this link:

 http://relaxedchurch.sermon.tv/pa/9792495

(adapted from “The ABC’s of Financial Freedom” by Barry Cameron)

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NVCC Vision 2014

vision 2014Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18. As we begin a fresh, New Year here’s my vision for New Venture Christian Church for 2014.

 

1. LAUNCH AN AGGRESSIVE OUTREACH TO OUR COMMUNITY. We are here to help people who are living far from God come to understand God, connect with God, and pursue a growing adventure with him. We are not here for property and buildings. We are here for people who need a personal walk with Jesus Christ. Our focus in 2014 will be reaching the people of our community in an accelerated manner.

 

Our first outreach to them is a three part direct mail campaign. Part one will go out in a couple weeks announcing to our neighbors around our new ministry center, “Under new management.” The second mailing will go out a week following the first introducing our community to our new teaching series for 2014 called “The Story” beginning February 9. A follow-up piece will go out a couple weeks after that reintroducing them to “The Story and inviting them to join us for this adventure through the Bible in 2014.

 

We will initiate other outreach efforts to the community during 2014. However, the number one way to reach the unreached of our community is YOU. More people, and I say more people by far, come to connect with New Venture through the invitation of someone who is already a part of it, than any other way. You are the key to reaching our community. Sure, you can’t do everything but you can do something. You can identify the people in your circle of influence that are not connected with God and intentionally pray for them and seek ways to point them toward God and the church.

 

We have been given a mission, every one of us. That mission is to partner with God in building his family, in bringing those who are living without hope and salvation, to Jesus. It is the calling of every follower of Jesus. May we in 2014 be more serious about reaching out to the unreached than we have ever been before. May we pray for lost people like we have never prayed before? May we connect with those who don’t know Christ like we have never connected before? May we plant seeds in the hearts of those who are distant from God like we have never planted before? And may we allow God to use us to direct them to him and the church like we have never allowed before.

 

This is why we exist. We exist to reach the unreached, to build the family of God, to redirect lost people to the Savior, to bring hope to the hopeless. This was the reason Jesus came to earth. This is the work that he devoted his earthly existence to, seeking and saving the lost. May we be about the Masters business with undivided hearts and persistent passion?

 

Here’s a personal goal for you: Each one bring one.

Another personal goal: Each one win one.

 

2. DEVELOP AND LAUNCH A WORLD MISSION MINISTRY

 

As I have already affirmed, we are sent to bring others into God’s family.    The moment I become part of God’s family He wants me to share the good news with others. 

God has given us a message the world needs and it is the greatest message in the world – how to have our past forgiven, how to have a purpose for living, how to have a home in heaven.  To not share that would be criminal. It would mean that I don’t care if they go to hell. 

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:18 “Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself.  Then God gave us the work of bringing others into peace with him.”  

Then there is the commission of Jesus, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:19-29)

And who can forget the words of Jesus right before he returned to the father, “You are my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8) We have not been going to the ends of the earth. We have been staying in our comfortable community. It is time to reach out and branch out and go out.

When Jesus gave these instructions where were they?  In Jerusalem!  So what’s he saying?  I want you to start where you are.  Start in your own city.  Start in Midlothian/Richmond Start in Jerusalem.  That’s your city.  He said to start there.

He said but you don’t just stay there, you also do your ministry not just in Jerusalem – you do it in Judea. What’s Judea?  That’s like the county.  That’s like Chesterfield Co. 

Then he says I want you to do it in Samaria.  Samaritans were of a different culture. He’s saying, reach across cultural lines in your community.  That’s our Samaria. 

And he says and you go to the whole world.

He didn’t say go to Jerusalem, then Judea then go to Samaria then go to the ends of the earth.  He said no, you do it all at once.  You go to Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and the ends of the world. We aren’t doing that. We need to get with the program, the program of Jesus.

The Bible tells us as a church we are to go make disciples of all nations.  He’s not talking to missionaries there.  He’s talking to you and to me!  We’re called to be sent.  Go and make disciples of all nations. 

Here is a quick overview of what our church is planning to do in the next three years when it comes to the world needs. These are baby steps but step we must take.

·              Assemble a world mission leadership team. I would love to hear from you if you are interested in being a part of this team

·              Gather volunteers for a world mission’s adventure in 2014, our first. I would also love for you to contact me if you are interested a missions trip. About a dozen people have already indicated interest in this adventure.

·              Be a real participant in ICOM (International Conference On Missions) 2015 when it comes to our city.

·              With volunteers

·              By having a part in planting seven churches around the world

·              Personally assist in planting one of those churches.

 

Here is a link to the VEF website that can get you connected with ICOM. http://www.vef.cc/

So 2014 is the year when we get serious about the world wide commission of Jesus.

3. ENGAGE IN AN AGGRESSIVE PAY DOWN OF PROPERTY DEBT

This is how it all stacks up. The more aggressive we are with paying down the note, the less interest we pay, (thousands of dollars less) the more equity we build, and the more willingness lenders have when it comes to us taking our next developmental step, a new multipurpose facility. These are indicators that lenders give careful attention to. So the more aggressive we can be the more willingness they will have. And the more equity we build the more ability it gives us to build a facility that has in it more of what we need.

This aggressive pay downbegins with all of us quickly fulfilling the commitments we made to the capital campaign back in May of 2013. The sooner we can get commitments in the quicker we can pay down the note and the more money we can save on interest. If you were not here for the capital campaign or if you were here and did not participate,  you are invited to join the others who are committed to covering the cost of our new property and ministry center. Send me an email at steve@relaxedchurch.com and I will get you started.

Let’s make this debt short term.

4. SOLIDIFY THE PLAN AND PROCESS OF MOVING TOWARD THE CONSTRUCTION OF OUR FIRST MULTI USE FACILITY

On our ninth anniversary I shared a dream that I would like to repeat. Since it is a dream it is somewhat lofty. The dream is that we might be able to break ground on our 10th anniversary, September 7, 2014, for our next facility. You know and I know that God will have to perform another miracle for that to happen. But hey, He’s did it in 2013 and He can do it in 2014.

 

Specifically speaking, for that to happen, we will need three things:

1. A huge amount of our current debt paid down.

2. A master plan on our property designed by a civil engineer that will cost between $15,000 and $20,000.

3. And we will need to have about 75-100 more people, who believe in the message and mission of New Venture Christian church and who are supporting it financially, to enable us to afford that step.

So, that’s my vision for New Venture for this New Year, an accelerated evangelistic outreach to the community, the development of a long overdue world mission ministry, aggressive pay down of our property note, and the development of a plan for our first multi-purpose facility.

Now, join me in turning dreams into reality.

 

debtFour “Shocking” Statistics About Debt in America

  1. 1.     The average household debt in the US is now 136% of the household income.  That means, whatever the average person makes, they owe that much plus 36% of what they make in a year. Insane! That is incredibly sloppy and dangerous money management! The only institution that does that and gets away with it is the U.S. Government!

 

  1. 2.     When it comes to credit cards and those carrying a balance, the average credit card debt is $14,517.00. That is a whole lot of shoes and belts and “cheap” jewelry and “necessities” and online purchases and $4 caffeine drinks. That’s a lot of debt!

 

  1. 3.     The average 21-year old owes $12,000. That’s also insane! But in only seven short years from the age of 21 to 28, they owe $78,000 by the time they’re 28. No wonder marriages struggle, and no wonder there’s so much tension; we live in a world where people are strapped.

 

  1. 4.     And this could be the scariest of all: The average number of U.S. households living paycheck-to-paycheck is 55% and some studies say as high as 61%. That means that if over half of you,  lost your job or didn’t get paid you couldn’t pay the house payment, the rent payment, or the car payment. You are in big, big trouble and over 50% of the people in our country are living that way today. Let me say it again, no wonder there’s so much tension.

What is normal in our culture when it comes to finances? Normal is debt, normal is car payments, credit card payments, student loan payments, house payments. Normal is fighting about money. Normal is divorcing over money. Normal is laying awake at night worrying about money. That’s why I believe with all of my heart if you’re a follower of Jesus we are not called to be normal, we are called to be different; we are not like this world. You don’t have to settle for normal. When people who are living this way give you advice they say “Well, you’re always going to have a car payment!” If you believe that, you always will, but there is a better way and it is God’s way, following His principles. To hear the first step of the better way I would invite you to click on this link and listen.  http://relaxedchurch.sermon.net/da/1199944377/play

Freedom From Debt

Let’s talk a couple minutes about getting our finances under control. I know it’s not possible but it has to be addressed. A huge part of financial freedom is the elimination of overhead.  We are talking about reducing debt.  What I am about to show you is one of the most important things you could ever learn about your personal finances.  Dave Ramsey calls it the “Debt Snowball.”  Look at the bottom look at the attached diagram.  Here’s what we’ve got.  In the first column, we will see the different people or businesses that we owe.  In the second column you will find the amount that is owed.  We owe $450 to Sears, $650 to Macy’s, $1,600 to our parents, and so on.  In the third column, you will see the minimum payment, the very lowest amount that we are allowed to pay to eliminate this debt. 

What are we going to do?  What I am about to show you will change your life forever.  Here is what’s going to happen.  You’re going to find an extra $200 a month.  Now, you may say, “Where in the world will I find an extra two hundred dollars?”  Good question.  I don’t know, but you will find it.  You will get very, very creative.  If you have to take a second part-time job, you will do that.  If you will eliminate cable TV or a cell phone, or stop drinking expensive drinks, or whatever, you will find $200 a month, and what you will do with that $200 will change future generations.

Here’s how it will play out.  Let’s start with Sears.  We owe them $450.  Your minimum payment is $50.  You will pay them $50 and add to it the $200 that we just found, totaling $250, and within a matter of only a couple of months, Sears is gone.  Bye, bye, Sears.  We’ll never have to worry about that again.  Now, we are going to let the money start to snowball away the debt.  What are we going to do?  Let’s attack Macy’s.  Macy’s, we owe $30 a month.  We are going to take the $30 and add to it $250 a month.  Now, where did that $250 come from?  You remember?  We just freed up $250 a month because we paid off Sears.  We are going to take that $250 and the $30, and together, we’ve got $280, and guess what?  In just a matter of a couple of months, Macy’s is gone as well, and the snowball is getting bigger.  Let’s take our parents.  We are paying them $200 a month.  We will add to it the $280 that we freed up, because we no longer have to pay Macy’s or Sears, and now, we’ve got $480 a month going to pay off mom and dad.  Again, a matter of a few short months, and mom and dad are paid for.  Then, we are going to take this money that grows each and every month and apply it to the next debt that we owe, starting with the smallest amount of debt, so we can knock it out, and going piece by piece down to the largest.  We are going to let the debt snowball, completely wipe out everything that we owe but the house. 

Now, how will that benefit you in the long run?  Let me show you something that’s really, really fun.  If you just continue to pay minimum payments, like so many people do, it is going to take you 120 months to pay off your debt.  That’s 10 years before you pay off all this debt.  That’s assuming you don’t take on any more.  Now, watch this.  If you do the debt snowball, your payoff time is not 120 months, but instead, 21 months.  That’s a difference of 99 months of not paying any debt.  Now, buckle your seatbelt and get ready for this.  If you take $1,110 … now, where did we get $1,110?  If you will look at the debt that you just paid off, you freed up $1,110 a month in debt payments that you no longer have.  If you take that money and you invest it at 12% for that same 99 months that you would have been paying on your debt, at the end of that time period, you will have $186,569.86.  In most parts of the country, that’s a house, paid for in cash, totally debt free.  You can do it. 

Here’s Linda’s story. As a widow she was $66,000 in debt six years ago. This week she paid her last payment on the $66,000. She is debt free.

Mad About Financial Bondage

Proverbs 22:7, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”  

The Hebrew word that is translated as servant is actually the word ebed. Ebed very literally means a servant.  It means a slave.  It means bondage.  If you are in debt, you are a slave.  You are in bondage.  The vast majority of Americans are in financial bondage.  We are slaves to our finances.  And there are reasons for it.

The problem is the majority of us as Americans have bought into some financial lies.  For example, how many of you hope that your children end up better off one day than you do. The challenge now-a-days is for our kids, when they become twenty-five, they try to obtain the same lifestyle that their parents took thirty years of adulthood to obtain, and they will do it with debt.  They will leverage themselves out the wazoo now to live like their parents lived after thirty years of progress. 

Other lies that we buy into besides thinking that we deserve that, is we think that there are certain things that without them, we will never be happy.  I know people today who honestly believe, without a flat screen plasma HD television, they won’t be happy.  We’ve got to have two flat screen televisions or one in every room.  People believe that they have to have certain things to be happy.  It’s a lie. 

The funny thing is, the very thing that most people want, that they believe will make them happy, think about it, wasn’t even around five years ago.  The iPad, the latest iphone 4S, the very things that we think we need to be happy didn’t even exist five years ago. 

Other lies.  There’s millions of them.  One of them is, you are always going to have a car payment.  You just have to accept that you are always going to have a car payment. The truth is, if you believe it, that will be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it doesn’t have to be true at all.  It is one of the most foolish places ever to leverage yourself on a depreciating asset that drops twenty percent when you drive it off the lot. 

What happened is, businesses for years have been very successfully marketing debt, and they have succeeded at convincing a generation of Americans to feel good about being in bondage.  “Got another credit card in the mail.  Praise God.”  God didn’t send that credit card!  I don’t know about you, but it makes me mad.  I am honestly sick and tired of seeing great people, God’s people hurting, fighting, miserable, buying more, thinking that will bring happiness, when they are just cutting their throats even more with financial pressure.  I’m sick of it.  Makes me mad.   

The HUGE problem is that most of us are not mad .  You are not mad.  You are just thinking this is normal.  You’re not mad.  Just normal.  Just another day.  You know what normal is?  Normal is a student loan payment.  That’s normal.  Normal is credit card payments. Normal is car payments. Normal is house payments.  I’m sick and tired of normal.  I am mad that the church of Jesus Christ hurts, hurts financially.  Can’t give generously, not just at church, but everywhere.  Can’t make decisions with freedom, because it’s all financially related.  Makes me mad.  I hope you get mad.  I really do, because that the only way you will be motivated to do something about it.

(To hear the rest of the story on this subject go to this link and listen to “Minding The Business”, http://relaxedchurch.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=57.) 

Debtbusters

For a few weeks now I have been addressing BLING-onomic$ subjects in our Sunday gatherings. Due to time constraints I have not been able to say everything I would like on money management matters. One of the areas I wish I could have addresses more extensively is the debt issue. So here are a few of my feelings on the subject and I invite your feelings, responses and even personal stories as well.

More than ever we need to be aware of and avoid the subtlety of debt. Now don’t get me wrong. I own a credit card and use it to purchase and pay for everything I possibly can with it. But I pay the total balance off every month and I earn dividend miles for free airline tickets in the process.

I get credit card offers almost daily. At times I have received as many as ten envelopes a week in the mail from credit card companies offering me new credit cards. One offered me, because of my “good credit standing,” up to $50,000 on their card at 0% interest for the first 12 months. One card said, because of my good credit standing, they’d give me $100,000 to spend. (On a credit card!)

Would you believe that not one of these credit card company applications mentioned the word debt anywhere? In fact, some of those credit card applications said I could take balances from other credit cards and put it on theirs for an incredibly low rate and everything would be fine. I kept reading and when I got way down to the itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, fine print, it said as long as I follow all their rules things would be fine. And at the end of 12 months, or if I made one late payment, the rate jumped to 18% on one, 27% on another. That’s possibly the most ridiculous loan I could ever take out in my entire life.

WHAT CREDIT CARD COMPANIES DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW

Don’t miss this. Remember the word “revolving.” The credit card companies call good credit people, in other words, people who use their credit cards regularly and only pay the monthly payment required, “revolvers.” (Sounds like something that, when loaded, can be dangerous, doesn’t it?)

Credit card companies want you, me, and everybody in the world to be a “revolver.” If they can get us to be “revolvers,” people who will just keep making the minimum payment each month and keep revolving that debt over and over again, they can make a lot of money off us. They love “revolvers.”

Guess what they call people like me who pay their credit cards off each month and never keep a balance that rolls over to the next month? This is the absolute truth. They call people like me “deadbeats.” If you pay your credit card off each month, the credit card industry considers you a deadbeat! I’d call you a genius.

Debt is subtle and those who try to encourage us to get into debt are subtle themselves and sometimes even sinister. That’s why we need to always read the fine print before we foolishly pursue debt of any amount and know God’s advice and principles when it comes to debt.

In Deuteronomy 28 we find some incredibly sound financial advice. I’ll tell you right up front that I believe without a shadow of a doubt that God wants us to be debt free. Look at these verses. Deuteronomy 28:12ff “The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty’ to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.”

Now God doesn’t say borrowing is wrong. Don’t read that into the verse; nowhere does it say borrowing is wrong. But He says, “You’re going to live in such a way (God’s people) that you’ll lend to other nations and you’ll borrow from no one.” That’s His plan.

The next verse says, “The LORD will make you the head and not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today. ”

It’s very clear. God does not want His people to be in debt. He wants us to be “lenders” instead of “borrowers.” Yet the majority of Christ followers are seriously and severely in debt.

God said, “I want you to be free so you can lend to many and borrow from none.” That makes you the head, the one in control of the circumstance, instead of the tail, tossed around by whatever the one in control desires. Are you with me?

Debt enslaves. Debt takes away our freedoms. I want to invite you to deal with this bondage of debt issue. I would like for you to get to the point where the word “debt” make you sick in your stomach. I wish we could all get to where whenever we hear someone talk about debt or we see the word we just say to ourselves, “I hate debt.” I wish it were something we ran from like the plague.

So, now that you know how I feel about debt, how do you feel about it? What are your insights and stories?

If you would like more information about getting out of debt email me at steve@relaxedchurch.com and I will send it to you.

Down with debt and up with financial freedom.