Discovering the Journey to Financial Freedom
By Pearl Homiak
"Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another."
"Americans spend $1.22 for every dollar they earn," declared Debbie
Harper of Crown Financial Ministries. "In addition, 62% of Americans don't save money for
emergencies." This was the focus of the Journey to Financial Freedom seminar presented at
Calvary Church in Orland Park, IL, on Saturday, February 15, 2005. Over 100 attendees,
including a small group from St. Luke, learned how to get out of debt and stay out.
The eight-part seminar began with the important acknowledgement: God
owns everything (Psalm 24:1) and wants us to be free from bondage (debt) (Proverbs 22:7)
so we can have financial peace (Proverbs 10:22). God does His part by fulfilling all our
needs (Philippians 4:19). We do our part by being faithful (I Corinthians 4:1-2) and
accountable (Matthew 25:14-29).
The Attitudes and Symptoms of Debt
Four attitudes foster debt: ignorance, or lack of financial training
(Proverbs 22:3), indulgence, or unrestrained gratification (Proverbs 13:25), imprudence,
or poor planning (Proverbs 16:3), and isolation, or lack of communication (Proverbs 28:13).
However, by seeking God's intervention through repentance (Acts 26:20) and establishing the
right relationship balances in life (Colossians 3:17, Ephesians 5:21 and 6:4, Psalms
127:2, I Peter 4:10), it is possible to get out of debt, i.e., financial bondage, and stay
The symptoms of financial bondage include a spendthrift attitude
(Proverbs 28:22), overdue bills and late fees, (Proverbs 3:27-28), habitually making
minimum payments, and using one credit card to pay for another. These behaviors cause
worry, envy, resentment, bitterness, pride, rebellion (Hebrews 12:15), stressful
relationships, unwillingness to share, and hasty decisions (Proverbs 21:5).
This lack of self-control leads to unmet family needs, over-commitment
to work, and no planning for emergencies. "I want more things, so I spend more money. But
then I have unexpected expenses for which I have no savings. So I work more hours and
become over-committed to solving financial problems. However, this sucks away my time, and
I get depressed. Then I go out and buy something so I will feel better."
Debt Relief According to God's Timing
Relief from debt allows me to more readily respond to the Holy Spirit's
promptings and, thus, fulfill God's purpose for my life. I become more open to His
teachings regarding prayer, self-control, cooperation, communication, direction, and
timing (Hebrews 13:20-21), which directly involves my wants and needs.
There are two Greek words for time: chronos, (chronological time), and
kairos, (opportune-fullness of-time). Often we expect God to respond to us through
chronos, timing perceived through our senses. However, He usually communicates to us
through kairos, timing according to the Holy Spirit.
To live and work according to God's timing, I must first clearly
identify my actual needs and wants (not frivolous desires). Then I need a written plan to
make sure I use God's resources responsibly in all areas of my life. (Only 3% of people
actually write this out). This prevents spending guesses and the impulse buying that is
based on my checkbook balance.
Creating a Meaningful Financial Plan
Debbie Harper explained the steps to creating a financial plan based on
what I'm really doing, not just what I think I'm doing. The handbook distributed at the
seminar contains guidelines and various forms for creating and implementing a financial
plan. Also, a chart shows the suggested percentage allocation for each of several
categories of spending, such as contributions, taxes, housing, clothing, etc. A "Savings"
category is included (God wants us to save for the future-Proverbs 21:20), which prevents
credit-card use for unexpected emergencies. Debbie mentioned various mistakes that cause
debt and the remedies for getting out of it. These mainly involve credit-card abuse and
unaffordable house and car purchases.
Tithing is also a part of the financial plan. I learned that if I think
I can't tithe, I am probably struggling financially or spending unwisely. As I reduce my
debt and learn to manage money more effectively, I can more easily increase my giving to
the church. This more fully glorifies God, meets the spiritual and other needs of people
the church is trying to help, and allows the church to also become debt-free.
God expresses His love to us by giving (John 3:16), and we are called
to express our love to Him by also giving, not only money but also time, attitude,
forgiveness, and encouragement. We grow spiritually when we give through the promptings of
the Holy Spirit and obediently share from our abundance (2 Corinthians 8:2-15). And God
also wants us to give sacrificially, i.e., do without a need or want so someone or
something else can benefit. For all this, God has "eternal rewards" waiting for us
The Journey to Financial Freedom seminar was very valuable. I was
especially encouraged when Debbie Harper said she and her husband got out of debt (even
while tithing and saving for emergencies) in eleven months, not the three years they
thought it would take.
To find out more about using God's resources Biblically, go to
www.crown.org. You will be glad you did.