The Face of Abundance

Looks can be deceiving. In fact, we’ve confused having an abundant life with how much we spend, rather than by how much we give away. Spending is a sign of consumerism, not abundance. These days we have the ability to buy things with money that we don’t have, without anyone else knowing the difference. Just because somebody buys something, it doesn’t mean that they could actually afford it or that they used their money to do it. For all we know, the person could be waist-deep in debt, one phone call away from repossession or foreclosure, or on the brink of bankruptcy. It’s just too hard to tell, even in our own circles. If you want to see the true face of an abundant life, look for the person that isn’t reluctant to give, looks for opportunities to give, and is generous when they give. Giving is the face of abundance, not spending.

When I look back over my short “giving” life, which only started about 6 years ago, I’m completely in awe of how much I’ve given away compared to how much God has blessed me above and beyond that. I honestly believe that I’m where I am today, financially, because of my generosity and faith in God. While it was easy to give while I had something to give, it was in the tough times that my heart was tested. I remember a time that I had planned on sowing $40, but because I had overspent in some other areas, giving away that $40 would have left me with about $10 for a week. After coming to that realization, I thought about not sowing the seed so that I would have enough money to get me through. Then I remembered God’s word that says he gives seed to the sower, and he will also increase my store of seed. So I said God, you know my heart to give, I know that you will provide, and I’m just going to sow in faith. No sooner than I had sown the $40, someone had blessed me with $40 later on the same day. God is crazy faithful! While $40 may not seem like a lot, it was a lot to me that day. I was just glad that I had passed God’s test: Did I really believe that I was living in abundance even thought it didn’t look like it?

Abundance is also mindset that you must choose to have on a daily basis. If you’re having a rough month financially, give something away, even if it’s only $1. God will honor that $1 because he sees your heart and the sacrifice. The question is, do you believe that he is your provider and that he will supply? If so, your actions have to show it. You have to acknowledge God’s power right where you are. Will you be faithful with a few things so that God can put you in charge of many things? (Matthew 25:21)You don’t wait to get rich before you start giving; but rather giving, will lead you to riches. Once giving becomes a habit, you will start to live an abundant life. As surely as spending remains a habit, you will continue to have the face of a consumer. Keeping up with the Joneses will keep you broke. Keeping up with the giving spirit of Jesus will keep you rich.

My challenge to you is to perform an act of abundance this week. Whether you buy someone lunch or sow an extra offering at church, whatever it is. Really think through the process. Think about the faith required beforehand, how the act made you and/or the other person feel afterwards, note any “unexpected” blessings, etc. Keep doing that until it becomes like second nature. Long-term, you will continue to think through the process; but instead, you’ll start asking God for opportunities to give instead of hiding from them, and the hesitation will eventually wear off. The face of abundance will look so good on you! So, are you ready for God to give you a financial facelift?

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

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I Choose to Worship

Giving is an act of worship. When we choose to give, we say with our actions “God, I acknowledge that you are my source and that you have abundantly provided for me.” When we choose not to give, we display actions of doubt and deny the fact that God has blessed us. Whether it’s $1 or $1,000,000, the fact that we’re willing to sow it unto God speaks volumes about our faith and love for Him.

At one point, I used to get caught up in the size of the seed that I was sowing. In my own mind, I imagined that God was frowning upon the little $1 or $2 offerings that I had planned to sow above and beyond my regular tithe. Even though God hadn’t said it, I felt like it wasn’t good enough. I guess you could say it was more like self-inflicted shame. So instead of putting my ego aside, I decided to avoid the risk of the imaginary embarrassment that I had created in my mind by keeping the money to myself. And let me tell you, God surely convicted me!

2 Corinthians 9:10-11 says, “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”

By not sowing, I was saying that wasn’t blessed, I was being selfish, and giving up an opportunity to worship God. And here I was, focused on a number. Wow! The word says that God not only supplies seed to the sower, but as you sow, he will also increase the amount that you have available to give. God knows how much you have to give, because he gave it to you! He will supply, but you have to fulfill the act of giving. It is the act that brings Him glory, not the size.

From that point on I decided that I was going to lay my ego aside and worship God. I may have started off with small seeds, but God has increased them over time. From the moment that I purposed in my heart to give, I have always had something to give. I put my faith in God, believing that he would supply and kept plowing ahead. Even in the midst of financial crises I still remained faithful, as did He. Don’t let your ego or self-inflicted shame disrupt your opportunity to worship God. More than anything, God wants your heart, not your money. Acknowledge Him in all your ways, even with your giving. Choose to worship, and leave the numbers to God.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The Personality of Money

We have all heard sayings like, “Money can’t buy happiness,” “Money is the root of all evil (which is a misquote),” and “Money isn’t everything,” as if money is something negative to have. Money is neither good nor evil, it’s an inanimate object. However, money can be used by people to bring about positive or negative outcomes. Figuratively speaking, money simply takes on the personality of it’s holder. If the person is a giver, they’ll use their money to fund different types of charities, random acts of kindness, and other charitable acts. If the person is greedy, the love of money will ultimately destroy their lives and their relationships. A consumer is more likely to use their money to fund a materialistic lifestyle rather than a savings account. At the end of the day, money doesn’t change; it is a tool that is used by whomever has it their possession.

1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  We can only serve either God or money, hate one and love the other, but not both (Matthew 6:24). Again, money isn’t evil; but the PERSON that loves money has the potential of being drawn away from God. On the other hand, poor stewardship of money also draws us away from the work that God has called us to do. God didn’t intend for us to live as slaves to debt, but rather to live free to fulfill the work of his ministry. Whether it’s feeding the poor, providing clothing or shelter to the homeless, funding mission trips, etc., all of that takes money. According to Business Insider, Americans spend $49 billion on credit card interest each year. Imagine what the Kingdom of God could do with $49 billion a year! Whether it’s used to fund credit card companies or the work of the Kingdom, money doesn’t care either way; but we have the power to control that.

Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”What personality have you given your money? Does it display the personality of God, a consumer, philanthropist, hoarder, socialite, shoe, purse, gadget or video game addict? To those of you that are single, while you should not marry FOR money, it would be wise to determine if your potential mate uses money in a way that is pleasing to God. They should be a tither, hate debt, concerned about financial freedom, free to give, and free to live. Studies show that money fights are the #1 cause of divorce. Couples who fight about money once a week are 30% more likely to divorce than those who fight a few times a month. So while the actual amount of money each of you has may not matter, the mindset behind the tool should be similar.

Money may not be everything, but money placed into the right or wrong hands can quickly become a work of good or a work of evil. You give your money a personality simply by how you use it. So let’s change the negative identity money has been given by being better stewards of the resource God has bestowed upon each of us. Instead of more money, more problems, let’s make it more money, more problems solved in Jesus’ name.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

How to Control the Urge to Spend

1 Corinthians 9:24 [ The Need for Self-Discipline ] Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

BOGO’s, Coupons, and Sales, Oh My! Retail marketing sure has a way of enticing us to spend money that we don’t really have on things that we don’t really need. You know how it is. You’ve gone to the mall or some store thinking that you were just going window shopping, keeping a friend company, or picking up only a few items but came home with more than you intended. Have you ever bought something, gotten it home and said, “Now I know I didn’t really need this,” but ended up keeping it anyway? This is an example of the on-going battle between temporary pleasure and long-term gains. At some point, the long-term gains have to speak louder than temporary pleasures and impulses. It can happen if you modify your shopping habits.

You have got to be so committed and dedicated to getting out of debt that something as little as a sale sign won’t completely derail your plan. If it’s on sale and you weren’t planning on buying it, it’s simply not a good deal! It’s only a good deal for the store that now has your money instead of you being a payment closer to debt freedom. I know, I know, it would be a sin to let that 40% off coupon go to waste. After all it’s like throwing away free money right? Wrong! The retailer wins and you lose. Now, I will say this…if you already had money allocated in your monthly budget to purchase a particular item and you just happen to get a coupon for it, then by all means take the deal. However, impulse buys are not good buys and can quickly diminish your progress towards debt freedom. It’s just not worth it.

How can you control the urge to spend?

  1. Learn to say no. You will be OK if you don’t buy that thing right this second or participate in every social outing.
  2. Keep your financial goals in mind. Before you spend the money, ask yourself if it’s worth it. How will the purchase impact your progress?
  3. Allocate “play” money in your budget. You can still treat yourself while you’re getting out of debt, just do it in moderation. Once the money is gone, it’s gone.
  4. Use cash. It’s very easy to overspend by swiping a debit card. Using cash will give you the reality check that you need when making buying decisions.
  5. Ignore marketing tactics. If you don’t need it, no coupon or sale can change that. Your favorite store wants your money, but when’s the last time they sent you a check?

Remember, the goal each month is to have as much money as possible left over to apply towards debts. Even if it’s only $5 or $10, the impact on interest could be significant. Be intentional and smart about your purchases. Talk it over with yourself first. I may have eliminated my consumer debt, but I have a long way to go in the wealth building area. Every dollar matters as much today as it did when I was paying off my last student loan, and it will continue to matter until I have no need for money. As marketers chase after consumers’ dollars every day, you be the one that gets away. Debt freedom awaits!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

What Can Separate Us?

Romans 12:2 tells us “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Unfortunately, we Christians have conformed to the world’s addiction to debt. We’ve believed the lie that we need debt to get the things that we want. God says to owe no man anything except the debt of love. He also tells us that the borrower is slave to the lender. There is nothing Godly about being in financial bondage; but somehow we have allowed companies like Visa, MasterCard, and Sallie Mae to come between us and our God.

Christianity should be synonymous with debt freedom. When the economy fails, every Christian should be able to thrive because we’re connected to a God with an unlimited supply of resources. God knows when we desire higher education, housing, transportation, basic income, entrepreneurship, etc. Seemingly enough, God doesn’t move quite as quickly as we’d like him to, we aren’t willing to do the work required to get our blessings, or we really don’t believe that he will provide. As a result, we’ve chosen to turn to debt in order to get our needs met. In actuality, it would appear as if we have a faith issue more than a money issue. Matthew 21:12 tells us that we will receive whatever we ask for in prayer IF we believe. So we’re either not asking, not believing, or a combination of the two.

The bottom line is this, we have to separate ourselves from the world and return to God as our source. Even if you’re currently in debt, pray that God would accelerate the repayment process so that you can return to him. As the blessings start rolling in, apply it towards your loans. Show him that you’re serious about this. Get out of debt, and commit to never borrow again. It won’t be easy, and you’ll have to be patient, but God will provide. I can surely attest to that given all of the financial “emergencies” that I’ve encountered over the last couple of months from having my entire AC system replaced to numerous car repairs. The devil’s temptations were no match for the faithfulness of my God! I pray that everyone who reads this would surrender their finances to God, and really give him the opportunity to bless your lives. You’ll be glad that you did.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Monkey in the Middle

As this year’s election quickly approaches, I can’t help but to wonder what will eventually happen to the middle class if they don’t take matters into their own hands. For as long as I can remember, it’s really not fun being in the middle. You either made too much money to qualify for assistance, or not enough money to qualify for a tax break. Being in the middle always seemed like receiving the short end of the stick. It’s almost like an ongoing game of Keep Away. Even in our day-to-day lives, the middle position seems to have the least amount of freedom compared to those on either end of the spectrum. Think about what it’s like to sit in the middle seat on an airplane or in the back seat of a car. It’s never really as comfortable as when you’re sitting on either end. Why is that? What if God never intended for his children to live their lives in the middle? What if the middle is supposed to make us so uncomfortable that eventually we’ll do whatever it takes to pass through to where God wants us to be?

I recently read a book by Keith Cameron Smith titled “The Top 10 Distinctions between Millionaires and the Middle Class.” What I concluded was that it’s not the money that separates the two, but rather a mindset. The author’s points are as follows:

  1. Millionaires ask themselves empowering questions: Middle-class people ask themselves dis-empowering questions.
  2. Millionaires focus on increasing their net worth: The middle-class focuses on increasing its paychecks.
  3. Millionaires have multiple sources of income: The middle-class has only one or two.
  4. Millionaires believe they must be generous: The middle class believes it can’t afford to give.
  5. Millionaires work for profits: The middle-class works for wages.
  6. Millionaires continually learn and grow: The middle class thinks learning ended with school.
  7. Millionaires take calculated risks: The middle-class is afraid to take risks.
  8. Millionaires embrace change: The middle-class is threatened by change.
  9. Millionaires talk about ideas: The middle-class talks about things and other people.
  10. Millionaires think long term: The middle class thinks short-term.

We’ve got to find a way to break away from the middle and separate ourselves from mediocrity. The top 1% should be, and can be, filled with children of God. Not because we’re greedy, but because God has promised us an abundant life. As we can see, when abundance gets into the wrong hands, everyone suffers. What are we to do? We can exercise the power that we have, right where we are by getting and staying out of debt, by boycotting the use of credit cards, by committing to give and save, by starting our own businesses, etc.

It’s time to make a shift. Quite frankly, I’m tired of playing Monkey in the Middle with the world. We’re the monkeys, and the world is playing keep away with our finances. The good thing is, we get to choose how long we’re going to continue to play simply by changing our behaviors. God has plans to prosper us, not the world. I pray that no matter who wins the election, that we see a much bigger picture and continue to strive towards debt freedom and dominion over our lives. Sooner or later it will be the ultimate mode of survival.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Who’s Your Daddy? MasterCard or The Master?

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money”(Matthew 6:24)

This whole debt freedom thing is about more than just money. Debt freedom is about showing the world who we serve as Christians. It’s about showing them what we believe through our actions. How can we declare that God is Jehovah Jireh, our provider, but yet and still our lives are laced with debt? Whether it’s credit cards, car payments, student loans, etc., those are not blessings, they’re curses that we’ve bestowed upon ourselves. Not only do they keep us from enjoying God’s blessings, but they bind us from doing the work that God has called us to do. We’re too broke to tithe, feed the hungry, sponsor missionaries, build shelters, clothe the naked, care for orphans…Do we care that the work of the Kingdom has fallen short?

The word says that we either hate the one and love the other, we’re either devoted to one and despise the other. Our willingness to rely on a debt system, shows the world that we don’t really believe that God is our provider. We say that we love God, but our actions, according to His word, say that we despise Him. What are we going to do about it? Are we willing to turn the tables and despise debt instead of our God? Or will we continue to look for ways to provide for ourselves, no matter what the cost?

At the end of the day, God wants to be our source. In fact, I believe that He is our source. We just have to allow Him to work in our lives. God knows your heart and can see your needs. Will you be patient enough to allow Him to provide for you? Instead of reaching for the credit card when the next emergency comes, go to God. Tell Him that you don’t want to go into debt, and you need Him to provide. He will do it, if you let Him. God’s system is based on sowing and reaping. If you’re sowing into debt more than you’re sowing into God, you’re probably reaping more bills and payments than you are blessings. The banks may be great at selling their products, but God is greater at delivering His promises…EVERY time. So which will it be: MasterCard or The Master? Only one of them has your best interest at heart. Which will you choose?

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne