3371 Chattanooga Valley Road Flintstone GA 30725 706.820.2833

3371 Chattanooga Valley Road Flintstone GA 30725 706.820.2833

Friday, November 20, 2009

Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and I have yet again become so consumed with the preparation -cramming a 5 day work week into merely 3, readying the house for holiday guests, etc- that I have forgotten to be truly, really, and actually THANKFUL. But what exactly does that mean? Is it merely writing out a list of pros and cons, and hoping that, at the end I can rejoice in one list being longer than the other? Or, perhaps I should spend a few extra hours in nature, wrapped up in winter-appropriate attire, counting leaves and petting woodland creatures. After all, I am thankful for the wonders of the world God has created.

But being thankful isn't about feeling good about ourselves or our world. It's not about a warm holiday feel-good time. Let's leave that to the morning talk shows and television broadcast parades. On the contrary, the Bible is chock full of passages where we are commanded to, in our thankfulness, praise God by giving! Just as he gave himself sacrificially on our behalf, so should we give of ourselves.

In the book of Deuteronomy, chapters 14:22- 15:11, God lays out specific commands regarding care for the poor. In this particular instance, money is involved- but there is much more to it than just writing out a check. The tithes in this passage are to be used to care for the poor. When God's people care for the poor, it brings him glory. Outsiders can see that the poor are being cared for- in this passage, those who cannot earn for themselves. And these gifts are given in thanks.The landowner looks at the abundance that God has given him that year- grain, vegetables, animals, wine, oil- and gives to the Lord in thankfulness and praise. God is good! He has given this abundance. And in giving to the Lord, this man or woman has a chance to be imitators of God by sharing the abundance with others.

There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Deuteronomy 15:11

So taking this into 2009, this is what I propose. If we are to give sacrificially (See Matthew 5:1-2; Luke 14:12-14; Proverbs 28:27), we must see this in not only a financial context, but also in that of whatever you hold dear. Maybe this means bringing a lonely stranger into your family. Or maybe it means giving of your precious time to help a widow clean her home or rake her leaves. You might tutor children who don't have a mother or father to spend time with them. You could even make a lifelong friend of a somewhat scary person you see sitting on the street. Really. God actually commands it.

There are lots of terrifying opportunities out there this holiday season. I encourage you to take one. Be thankful. Put yourself out there. After all, didn't our Father do just that when he hung on the cross, giving His all to those he loved? God is good. For this I am very, very thankful.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Avoid the Predator

With so many Americans in debt, it is no wonder that companies who promise to take it all away are enjoying a booming business. Some studies show that up to 56% of Americans suffer from some kind of debt. Many of these people are overwhelmed by the burden of debts they cannot pay. Creditors are knocking on their doors and the bank is taking a look at that unpaid mortgage.

The frightening thing is that there are plenty of companies who prey on those who are overwhelmed with their debts. These villains are called Predatory Lenders. They lend out money but on terms of very high interest rates, among other fine print details.

There are many helpful tools for avoiding such predators. Americans for Fairness in Lending has a great site with many tips for avoiding the scam. They also explain various kinds of loans and what all the technical terms mean. Don't be fooled. Check out their website.

If you are already in debt and are looking for a way out, get help immediately. Find a Debtors Anonymous group near you by emailing them at da-gso@mindspring.com. You can also visit their website at debtorsanonymous.org or mail them at letter here:

Debtors Anonymous, General Service Office
P.O. Box 920888
Needham, MA 02492-0009

If you live in the Northwest Georgia area, Hope would be glad to help you get out of debt. Heather and Travis are currently working on a financial literacy program and would love to walk through it with you. Please contact the Hope office for more information.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Take Control of Finances

For many, this past year has been a rude awakening. Some have come to realize that their investments were not as stable as they may have believed them to be. Others lost a great enough percentage of their "savings" to find themselves living on quite a lower standard of living. There were the scandals and exposed intrigues and schemes -wealthy men went to jail, and poor men lost their jobs. And of course, there were plenty of us who were just "poor" enough to live exactly as we had been, with no investments, a modest amount tucked away in a savings account, and a job in a fairly safe location.
No matter who we are, or how we did or did not feel an impact from the change in the world economy, the truth is that we could all stand to take another look at our finances. Have I been responsible, or just lucky? Did I spend that as a wise investment, or in frivolous celebration of an unexpected windfall? What would happen if ____ happened? Where will we live ten years from now? What will we need in the future?

Guess what? There are some incredible resources out there that can be of help in answering these questions and more. One of these is Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. I looked up classes in the North Georgia area and found 7 that are going on right now! Click on this link to find out where you can get plugged in.

The Dave Ramsey site is also very helpful on various financial issues. Check it out here.

Another helpful resource is Crown Financial Ministries, which was founded by Howard Dayton in 1985 and joined with a financial ministry of Larry Burkett in 2000. Get in touch with a crown coach in our area.

Hope also offers financial counseling with our participating pastors. We hope to offer a Financial Literacy course sometime in Spring 2010.