We've been out all day and I won't have a moment to *write* anything (plus I bought some BRAND NEW fabric and I'm itching to cut it up...yeah, I know I wasn't meant to be buying anything *new*....at least now you know I'm not being legalistic about it!)....anyway, I took a squizz at my docs and found something that I wrote a while ago and can cut and paste (oh yeah, I have to cross out my hubby's name and replace it with Mr Bear too!!) For those of you who have requested a post on finances, here it is! It only just starts to scratch the surface, so if you have any questions, feel free to comment and if I can't answer them, I'll find someone wiser who can!
This is the text of a little chat I was asked to do at a Church Youth Group gathering one evening in 2005, the general topic for the night was stewardship, my Ten Minutes was to focus on stewardship of money:
My qualification for talking to you about stewardship of money tonight is that I am helping my husband bring up seven kids on one income – and a tutor’s salary at that! First piece of advice: if you want to get rich, don’t go into education.
Let me start by telling you a story.
Once upon a time a girl made a lot of money one summer holidays…and God challenged her to only keep 10% of it.
A boy had met this girl and realised it was no ordinary girl he was asking to marry him…and God challenged them both to sell everything they had and follow His leading to Europe. Two days after their wedding they left.
In Poland they learned to live simply. There was no car, no tv, no cellphone, no regular phone at all, no computer, no coke; in fact drinking water was collected from a well up the street and they slept on straw mattresses on the floor.
God showed them a different way of living.
They returned to New Zealand and had $30 to their name.
Six months and a lot of hard work later they were both enrolled in a post-graduate diploma at university – debt-free. Lectures were from 4-9pm so they were able to work from 7-12 in the mornings and study in the afternoons. Somehow they managed to tutor refugees as well.
They studied and worked for a couple of years, having their first baby just before final exams.
In spite of them giving away a lot of their money, God blessed them financially and the dollars started accumulating in the bank, so they asked God what to do with it.
BUY A HOUSE. But they didn’t WANT to settle down with a house, a 25-year- mortgage and 3 kids and become like those thirty-somethings they knew! They wondered why the Old Testament talked about seven year debts and decided to go for that! So with the maths worked out, the girl went to the local real estate office and asked what she could buy for $100,000. The agent smiled pleasantly and noted, “You must be looking for land?” You needed another $30,000 to buy a house. Boy and girl decided to build a house, so they purchased the cheapest section they could find in Nappy Valley the day after their second child was born.
They built for $95,000 all up.
They had a very tight budget. Every cent was accounted for, right down to the $2.36 spent on screws for the letterbox they made themselves. There were no Christmas presents that year.
As the boy’s salary increased, they basically retained the same budget. It got tweaked a little as more and more children joined the family. Seven of them in fact. But after eight years, the mortgage was gone. Now they have added a personal spending category to the budget - $10 a monthJ
And they are living happily ever after.
In Poland we had learnt the joy of living simply – taking walks in the park, having cherry stone spitting competitions in the summer, watching pigeons on our balcony, reading together, playing in the snow, cooking food from scratch……… back in New Zealand we have had to learn to be intentional about simple living. There are just so many choices here. It is no accident that we have one vehicle, make the children share bedrooms, use cloth nappies, grow most of our vegetables and have a home-based life. We are living simply by design within our means, treading gently on the earth (now there’s another stewardship topic) and are content doing so. As pilgrims, we know what we value as we journey together towards our eternal home.
When "R" asked me to talk about stewardship, Mr Bear and I brainstormed what we had learnt about it over the years. Here’s a very quick summary:
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” *Everything* we do has to stem from our love of Jesus – and that includes our stewardship of money. It’s not just about budgeting; it’s about LOVING AND HONOURING GOD.
And it’s about CONTENTMENT.
“When God gives any man wealth and possessions and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God.” I love this verse from Ecclesiastes. It reminds me that God is the giver. He is the owner and I am just to take good care of that which he has entrusted to me. God gives and Loreal is wrong – we don’t deserve it! But we will be blessed and experience true freedom if we can enjoy what He has given us and be happy in our work.
So it’s also about WORK.
“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works” (Eph 2:10)
In a generation that seeks pleasure and is prepared only to work enough to pursue entertainment as much as possible, we will need to carefully consider God’s plan for work.
And there’s another point. We need to be AWARE. We’ve got to learn to think and be discerning. We need to recognise the trends in society and the tugs they have on us. We can be helped by reading such books as Marva Dawn’s “Unfettered Hope” and the Mennonite book “Living More With Less”
One of the trends today is instant gratification, but we need to learn to be PATIENT. How will we learn to wait on God if we can’t wait more than 60 seconds for our dinner to be made and served? And as far as money goes, advertisers tell us we can have things interest free and not pay till next year – but we need to say NO to these things and wait until we have the money. Save up instead of buying on credit.
Another trend is towards selfishness, each man doing what is right in his own eyes, and just looking out for himself. But God wants us to be GENEROUS and give to others. God loves a cheerful giver.
And look at the trend planned and built into our gadgets – perpetual obsolescence. We always need a newer, smaller, faster computer, cellphone, car. Do we even question these purchases? Do we ask how we will be better able to serve others through their purchase? Do we ask how we will better be able to serve God?
Finally, can I encourage you to be FANATICAL? Mr Bear and I spent the first dozen years of our marriage trying to convince ourselves that we weren’t extreme – we were normal, like everyone else. OK, so we knew we were a bit different, but not *that* different. Now we are reconciled with the fact that we are extreme and supposedly unbalanced, opinionated and intense. If you want to be hot for God you are going to be different. It doesn’t mean He’ll give you seven kids and require that you bake your own bread, but it will be a special plan that is far from mediocre and almost certainly counter-cultural. Will you be a good steward of your money for God’s sake?
I simply want everything I do to be an act of worship to God. ********************EVERYTHING******************** like a spider's web, intricately woven, the threads of our lives are entwined, making us who we are, where we are, at this time in history.... here's a small record of one family's journey to love God