On Palm Sunday, the congregation gathered for a time of fellowship, as well as Adult Ed and Easter activities for kids. While the kids made Easter chocolates and did crafts, adults gathered to study the Holy Week stories of Jesus' arrest, crucifixion and burial. To guide our discussion, we used Resurrection Eggs that each contain a small object representing one part of the story. At the end, each group put their object in order of the whole story. Below, see their final product.
Last year Pastor Emma held a class called “Money Matters: Financial Freedom for All God’s Children" by Michael Slaughter. I did not know at the time what it was all about, I just knew that it sounded like something I needed to attend at this stage in my life.
At the end of 2008 I realized just how much money I lost from my savings when the market went south, a lot of administrative jobs at the company I retired from were being sent to Manila, and a lot of folks lost jobs and it will be years before we recover from this financial nightmare. In 2007 my home was worth $175,000 and my savings looked very good. At the end of 2010 my home was worth about $70,000 and my savings looked grim. I was (am) not sure if what I have left will last me all through retirement. It was time to take a long hard look at my money and what I am doing with it.
This class brought me the realization that I spend too much and that I did not have a true picture of where my money was going on a monthly basis. Emma shared an Excel home budget template with the class and I found that very useful. The class was not only about our own personal Money Matters but covered the Money Matters of the Church as well and how our contributions help the church grow. The book made me aware of “things” I’d bought that I really did not need at all and using credit cards that I should not have used. We cannot take “things’ to heaven with us, just the knowledge that we hopefully lived our lives well. It was so easy to pledge what I thought that I could afford to my Church but realized that if I cut back on unnecessary spending that I could in fact pledge more to my church to be used for God’s work instead of “things” sitting in a closet that I had not eve used yet.
We talked about the snowball effect on finances, paying all the small bills first and then taking those dollars and adding them to the bigger balances until one day the financial picture looks a lot better. That is where I am now and it is scary taking a long hard look at where my money goes. I am not in a position to fully give 10% to God, at least not yet, but it just may be a new goal in my life to get there. The book and the class showed us how to do God’s math, which is based on spiritual principles found in Scripture. God’s math results in:
Debt-Free Living, Focus & Planning
A Disciplined Lifestyle Easy Simplicity
Surrender & Trust Creating versus Consuming
Stewardship versus Ownership Generosity
I created my own financial problems and I hope that after sitting in the class and reading the book that someday I can look back and remember what I learned and learn from it. It will take time and there are times right now when I see a “thing” that I want and in some cases I walk away and say to myself “you don’t need that.” I did end up pledging a few more dollars to Church this year and that gave me a good feeling to make it a part of my “budget” for 2012. I ask God to help me get through this year and to help me make good financial decisions so that I can be prepared for those uncontrollable expenses that come up now and then.