Category Archives: Testimony

A Story of Life Changes, Faith, Risk, Tithe and Blessings

Life can be interesting for many of us. It seems as if only a small percentage of people work for the same company until retirement, and then are set financially for the last chapter of life, living on a good company sponsored retirement plan. While many others of us, our careers and life is more like a winding road. Change is rapid to our economy, businesses, and even the best employees can get left behind in the wake of corporate buy-outs and re-organizations. Here is a great story of life change, faith, trust, giving and subsequent blessings.

I worked for a company for twenty years and had a well-paying job with good benefits. I was a shift supervisor but was getting increasingly frustrated with my job. My company was in the process of downsizing. I always made an effort to keep a good attitude because I knew I was blessed to have a job. I began to ask the Lord for direction in seeking a new job or a different career.

About 11 years ago, my wife and I went on a short vacation to have some quiet time to specifically seek the Lord for direction. I read through the whole book of Proverbs one afternoon on vacation. It felt as though the Lord was showing me numerous scriptures pertaining to finance and prosperity. I underlined and numbered these scriptures, stood on God’s word and continued to pray and seek the Holy Spirit’s direction. The Sunday we were on vacation, we went to church and the guest speaker was speaking on stepping out, which I took as a word from God. Another day on vacation, the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that my employer had been bought out. The following Sunday we went to our home church, in Columbus, and the minister was preaching the same sermon.

Monday, I went back to work and was told that more cutbacks had been made while I was on vacation. Several people were laid off and given severance packages. I was told we weren’t going to have a supervisor on day shift any longer and I could move to second shift as the supervisor, or remain on day shift and give up my shift supervisor job. I called my wife and told her I was going to ask my employer if they would offer me a severance package. My employer agreed to give me a severance package good though which gave me thirty years in the union and will be beneficial to me when I retire. I thanked my employer for all that he had done for me and left on good terms. My children had graduated from high school, so I felt now was the time to step out and take a chance. There was only one problem, I didn’t have a job.

Several years before I quit my job, I helped my son start a summer painting business which I thought we could grow. I tried painting for a few weeks and had problems with carpel tunnel from working with computers for so many years. The Lord was directing me out of the painting business and into another business.

I continued to pray for direction from the Lord. I decided to go to school for my real estate license. I hadn’t been in school for many years, but was able to pass the real estate exam. While attending school, I herniated a disc in my back. I was in a lot of pain and my medical insurance was close to expiring. I prayed, got therapy for my back, and it eventually healed. Even when you are in God’s will there are plenty of obstacles.

I started in real estate about 10 years ago and tried to figure out how many closings I would need per month to survive. I called expired listings everyday and “For Sale by Owner” ads once a week. When I saw a ” For Sale by Owner” yard sign I would stop at the home, take a deep breath, knock on their door, and try to persuade them to list their home with me.

My severance package was running out and I had a few thousand dollars in the bank but I never quite tithing. TITHING WORKS. Finally after several months I had my first listing appointment and I was scared to death. I walked into the listing appointment with my listing presentation and started to talk to the owners. I didn’t even get through the presentation and they said “do you want the keys to our house to put in the lock-box”? God had it all worked out before I arrived at the Seller’s home. To this day I continue to see God’s favor in business.

The Lord’s business, because it is His business, continued to grow. At the end of my first year in real estate my income exceeded the income from the last year of my previous job. God was so faithful. Was it easy? No. Sales are a lot of work and a lot of disappointments. In the subsequent years, the Lord has continued to bless and the business has continued to grow.    

I would encourage you to not give up, pray, stand on God’s word and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. God wants to bless and prosper you. Lastly, don’t stop giving and tithing.

God Chooses to Bless Others Through You and Me

A few months ago, I asked people to email me testimonies about how God blessed them, or blessed others through them. Here is a great story, of something that happened during just a normal activity of life.

I have been so blessed by God throughout my whole life, it  would take a book to tell it all. Instead I will let His Book tell of  the blessings we have in Jesus Christ. But one of my responses to His goodness to me is to ask Him to show me someone to help everyday. Well let me tell you that includes the gas station at Costco! I was getting gas recently and noticed a young women with a frantic look approaching the gas station on foot with a baby in one arm and a toddler in another! Having had four children myself I could relate,  let me tell you! I asked her if she needed help and she pointed to her stranded out of gas vehicle sitting in a lane clear on the other side of Gemini Parkway.

Yes, it was rush hour and cold! Why make this simple? We have a Mighty God, no problem! Anyway, neither of us had a gas can but the gas attendant found one, sanctioned it for unofficial use, filled it with gas using my card and offered to briefly leave his post, risking his job I’m sure, took the can and went and put the gas in her car! I drove the mother and children to their car and shielded a lane of rush hour traffic with my car’s emergency lights flashing so hopefully they could get into their car and on their way in one piece, which they did! I was able to say “God Bless You” when she was leaving, which of course He already had! Her gas tank was filled and so was my grateful heart!

Then a few months later, this same person emailed me another testimony. This is awesome:

Also, I want to tell you I was at a Saturday evening service early May and after the service there was a call to come forward for people with throat and neck issues. I went forward as I was facing surgery for a golf ball size growth on my right thyroid. I had surgery July 20 and my right thyroid was removed. Praise God there was no cancer and the most amazing thing is that when I awoke from surgery I literally felt no pain!! I never needed any pain medication. The doctors and nurses were amazed! So was I! was back to work and exercising etc in a week, I feel great! Praise God!

God is generous, and he is also aware and responsive to people’s needs of those around us. Many times, maybe most of the time, he desires you and me to be the agents of heavenly blessings. When we are thankful for all of the numerous ways that God blesses us (like the lady who wrote me this email appears to be), and not so much focused on our needs all day long , I think our spiritual ears are more open to God’s appointments, like the example given here. God blesses the giver and receiver, it’s so cool! Imagine the blessings you miss, because you hesitate?

Testimony of Financial Change Following D. Ramsey Class

For today’s Tuesday testimony, a Financial Peace University attendee’s demonstration of the change it brought to her. It sounds to me like she was liberated from money focus, and now wants to bless others. Heart and financial change working together.  The next Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Class starts September 9th at Vineyard Columbus, and you can check it out first by attending the first class free, or the preview class September 2nd at 7 pm. More information is online.

The Financial Peace University Class has been a blessing to me. It has helped me reorganize my priorities with my finances. Since taking the class I have been able to support A child Through the World Vision Organization on a monthly basis; I have doubled my contributions to the Vineyard and have been volunteering my time and some financial support to a non- profit group called A Kid Again that supports children with life threatening illnesses.

I have had more money to carry out random acts of kindness in my neighborhood as well. I have also taken out an insurance policy on my new granddaughter so that when it matures she will have $18,000 a year for four years to help pay for her college; a vehicle or other needs. I would have never been able to do all of the  things listed  had I not received the focus from the class and the faith that God will provide.

After taking the class, I realize how easy it is to lose your financial focus and how much stress it removes from your life when you have a plan. I have encouraged others to enroll in the class as it has been a blessing to me.

The class is just a beginning for many people. It opens people up to a new way of living, and a new perspective on finances. Dave isn’t right about everything; no one has all of the answers. But he helps steer people in the right direction with a ton of information. We provide additional resources and guidance, to not only help you get the most out of class, but to fill in any gaps from a spiritual perspective.

Gifts from Jesus Come in Many Forms

I love this Tuesday testimony, because it simply communicates Jesus’ heart of generosity and his intimate knowledge of us. He loves us, and knows and loves what makes us tick. Likewise, Jesus shows himself in many form to us throughout every day, and often it’s through the generosity of others.

A large part of my life has included music in a huge way. Before I was a Christian I was a professional singer and flutist then as a Christian ministered in worship teams and even helped build and work with contemporary worship programs in Ukraine as a missionary for eight years. Being involved in music has always been important to me. Then, about six years ago, opportunities to serve the Lord and participate in music dried up as I was led in different directions for service and life in general.  A few years back I was particularly disheartened over this but really didn’t share my pain with anyone.  We had just finished putting in a family room at our home Christmastime of 2011. I had hoped to have a piano in that room, but knew there was not room in the budget. Then, on Christmas Eve, the day after the furniture came for the room, a friend showed up at our door with a beautiful new electronic piano. She said the Lord told her to buy it for me. I was so thankful, and knew from that experience – that the Lord meets with me where I am. The obedience and generosity of a friend became Jesus to me at that time.

This is encouraging to me, and likewise reminds me to be more aware of Jesus.

Two Tuesday Testimonies About God Providing Financially

Today, I have two testimonies about God providing. The first one comes from someone I have been doing some budget counseling with, and they are wonderful sweet people. I’m so very proud of their hard work and commitment. The husband just told me about the blessing they recently received. This is what I recall from our conversation:

We are working through our budget, trying to follow it well. We are tracking spending on, but we made a few unplanned purchases perhaps we shouldn’t have, but we were not discouraged but more committed to getting it right.  I prayed to God; “Lord you know my heart, and am asking you for help with our expenses, let us find some money.” Later that day, we were in the car going somewhere, we came to an intersection and stopped. I looked over, and there on the pavement I saw Benjamin Franklin’s picture. I was in the passenger seat and jumped out of the car, to pick up the blessing of a $100 bill. No one was around to claim it, and knew in my heart this was God’s blessing. We were able to fill up our car with gas and replenish our kitchen with food. – Anonymous

The second testimony was emailed to me a while back, from a friend.

“To pay for seminary, I needed to make some financial decisions.  One was to keep my old car…15 years old…believing that God would provide a way to get a newer one in the future.  After seminary, I still needed to make financial sacrifices to pursue the goals that God had for me.  So the car got older…18 years old ….  but it got me where I needed to go.  I was grateful.  In September 2012, I felt like God wanted me to start praying for someone to give me a car.    I thought I would win a contest or something.  Nothing happened that I could see.  So I put the prayers “on the shelf” and continued to be grateful that I only had to drive 8 miles a day.   In March, of 2013 my 19-year-old car had the brakes go out and would require $1000 brake job.  I asked God what to do since I did not have the money.  My next door neighbor came forward and told me that God had told her to give me her car (a 6-year-old car in perfect condition).  I offered to pay what I could, but she said that God had told her to give it to me for free.  I gave my older car to the mechanic who had always taken care of me.  He was overwhelmed, knowing that he could fix it for the cost of parts and give it to his son who was in a bad place.  My neighbor’s act of generosity gave me so much courage that God would always be there for me.  Whenever I see my mechanic, he is still amazed at God’s provision to him and his son. God is always amazing in his generosity.” – Anonymous

God provides and is generous. Pray to him, with a grateful heart, bring him your needs and wants and don’t give up.

Taking a Financial Class Was the Beginning of Transformational Faith

Tuesday Testimony, about how a great guy’s financial and faith life was totally transformed after he took Dave Ramsey Financial University at Vineyard Columbus. Our next class starts the 2nd Tuesday in September. For more information and sign-up click here.

Here is my family’s story of great generosity from other believers through God’s power:

After attending the Dave Class, we went Gazelle intense for about 2 years.  We didn’t buy clothes.  We ate the “beans and rice” diet.  I worked 5 jobs.  We were paying off a lot of debt, but not enough.  Despite all our effort, we still ran up against the wall and didn’t have enough for our minimum credit card payments.

My wife was in tears.  She couldn’t make the math work to pay all our bills.  We were going to default.  I’m usually the one to fall apart when finances go south.  God pressed upon my heart to not worry and to pray for provision.  I felt a tremendous peace on my heart.  I KNEW that God would provide.

Literally, the next day I went to my weekly Guys Night (fellowship) with some of my closest friends.  At the end of the night, one of my friends handed me a check.  He said that he, his wife and my other friend felt God pressing on their hearts to give us this money.  I gave them a hug and didn’t look at the check.  I said I didn’t want to open it until I was with my wife.

I went home and my wife and I opened it.  It was a check for $6,000 dollars.  It covered ALL our credit cards and took a nice chunk out of the next debt in our snowball.  We cried for a long time.  I remember my wife repeating over and over, “They can’t do this..”.

I have to hold tight to this memory.  Since this time, we rapidly went back to trying to follow Dave’s plan and force our way out of debt under our own effort.  We have been on baby step 2 of the Dave plan for 5 years.  Due to my wife’s and son’s disability, we have not been able to knock out our last debt, my student loan.  We honestly questioned Dave’s plan because it doesn’t seem to be working for us.

Recently, I have come to understand that Dave’s plan isn’t the issue.  We are in God’s plan and he is the one providing for us.  An overlooked part of Financial Peace University is this; when everything else fails, pray to your Father in Heaven.  He loves you and wants to provide for you and that’s what I’m holding on to now.   I’m taking the wisdom on how to handle money from Financial Peace University and praying to God in my deep helplessness to provide for my family’s needs.  I’ve been learning through all of this that all generosity comes from God, and that’s where I’m placing my trust. – Anonymous

Testimony About Giving, Faith and Worship

Putting money is the offering plate can be a difficult thing for many people to do. It isn’t easy to part with money, when we have so many needs and wants in life. Giving regularly often begins with letting go and trusting. Even if our hearts aren’t totally into it, God then often blesses us, and encourages our faith. Ultimately, giving should be about worship (read the excerpt at the bottom), but God meets us where we are. I think this short transparent testimony that was emailed to me demonstrates this quite well.

“The first time I paid tithe, I tossed a small check of $25 in the offering plate. My face immediately turned beet red. I was a FOOL! I watched my check get further away as it slowly flowed away. As the offering plate was passing in the next row BEHIND me I nearly fainted. I wanted MY money back. What was I thinking…giving good money away. I cringed but refrained from dipping my hand into the plate and removing my check. As a new Christian I heard of “being blessed” when tithing but I was a skeptic. That week a three figure check showed up in the mail. It was an unexpected “refund” from Uncle Sam. I knew it was a mistake so I mailed it back. Not long after…it was again returned with a letter telling me it was mine. I sent it back. Again it returned, I CASHED IT! I chalked it up as being “blessed by the IRS”. Decades later I have been financially blessed many times over because of my faithfulness to paying tithe even when I felt that I couldn’t “afford” to.” – anonymous

From the NIV Stewardship Study Bible:

“Many people seem to think that the reason we have an offering during the Sunday morning service is because the church needs to pay its bills and also wants to do good things with the money that is collected. Your church does need to pay its bills, and it probably does do good things with the money you put in the offering plate … but that is not why we have an offering during the Sunday morning service.

The offering is an act of worship, an instance in which we are invited to give up something that we value—our money—as a sacrifice to God. In many ways, it is the high point of the liturgy. We come to church to worship God and at no other point in the service are we provided with so pure an opportunity for worship as this …

We are invited to put money in the offering plate on Sunday morning not because the church needs our money but because we want and need to give it. We have a spiritual need to worship God, and through our offerings we are able to express our love and devotion for God in a way that is simple and sincere. The motivation of the giver is what counts most, not the size of the gift or the degree of benefit to the recipient (see Mk 12:42–44). The good news of stewardship is that church offerings are not fund-raising rituals but acts of worship in which we are invited to express our heartfelt devotion to the God who is so good to us.” -Powell, Mark A. NIV Stewardship Study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009. Print, page 1614.

Testi-money About God’s Generosity

A good friend of mine, sent me an email recently about giving, that I thought might be encouraging.  He has lived good stewardship, and gotten back on his feet financially, after deeply digging out from a failed business venture.

“I was looking at our tithe last year and it was indeed 10% but given our income amounts it was some crazy number that ended in 39 cents (or similar) and I thought that perhaps God was due at least a “rounding up”. After thinking about it – I rounded it up even more (because God deserved more than THAT). But wouldn’t you know that I got a raise a month later and when I recalculated my tithe base on the additional income it worked out EXACTLY to what I had previously rounded up our tithe to. You can’t out give God.”

In summary. This is true, you can’t out-give God. Sometimes he blesses us monetarily, but often in much better ways too. God is generous and loves to bless his kids. Tithing is often a test with our money (hence the title testi-money) and our trusting him. A good scripture reference is Malachi 3:10.

Being Interruptible to Bless Others

A friend recently emailed to me this story about how God used him to bless someone.

One Sunday afternoon when I was 22 years old, I sat down with my girlfriend at a nice airport restaurant while waiting on a flight. Travel activity was low that day, so the restaurant was all but empty. Our server was a man who looked to be about 45 years old. He was cheerful and considerate, but also quiet, almost to the point that I wondered if his smile might actually be hiding a deep sense of sadness. As we finished eating, I felt a sudden tugging in my heart to do something that I had never done before. When he brought us our check which amounted to about $30, my heart started racing. My hands trembled and my as I wrote “$90.00” in the tip line. For some reason, I was nervous. We waited until the waiter was out of sight and then quickly slipped away from our table. We practically ran away from that restaurant, laughing as we imagined the surprise that would soon appear on our waiter’s face. We wondered aloud about what God had in mind. What if the waiter had prayed earlier that day, asking God to provide exactly that amount of money? Not only was this experience a total rush, but it brought us much closer as a couple and had a major impact from that moment forward on my attitude toward giving. It was the best $90 I’ve ever spent.

In summary, I think it is important to be interruptible. Meaning that you conduct your life in such a way that you are aware when God is trying to get your attention to say something to you, maybe it is to encourage, warn you, or to use you to bless others that you come into contact with.  This is an excellent example of what can happen you if you are open to it.

Being Aware of Opportunities to be Generous

Here is an excellent story about a man who gave his last two dollars to bless someone else. He learned several lessons, and you will to.

As a middle school teacher my voice is usually my craft, without it I am already defeated in a classroom. One Friday I was beginning to lose my voice and my throat was becoming scratchy. I left school that day craving one thing, cough drops. I knew it would relieve the pain but I only had $2 cash left for the week according to my Dave Ramsey budget which I was sticking to. I pulled into CVS parking lot and made a b-line toward the door. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a guy approaching me. “Oh no” I thought in my head. I got to the entrance of the store when I heard a loud voice from behind “Hey buddy…” I could literally see the cough drops sitting on the shelf in the store. I turned around “yeah man whats up?” Praying in my head he doesn’t ask for money. “Do you have $2 you could spare so I could catch a bus uptown, I forgot my wallet.” Part of me wanted to bolt through the door and pretend like I didn’t hear anything but I said sure. I opened up my wallet and handed him my last two dollars. I still continued to go into CVS hoping God would bless me with some FREE cough drops but that wasn’t the case. They were $1.80 and I just gave away my last two dollars.

I left feeling upset and agitated even though it was only two measly dollars but I knew God wanted me to give that money away. The next Monday I came into the school forgetting about my miserable throat and the $2 cough drops I never purchased. My day was normal just like any other until I had a little 2nd grader come up to me and pulled on my shirt from behind. I said “how are you darling” she responded “I saw you give that man money the other day.” I was taken back, what do you mean? “He needed help and you helped him. That was nice of you.” Again later in the day one of her other siblings came up to me, a fifth grade. “Mr. Jones (named changed) I saw you give that man money, that was generous of you. I want to help people like you do one day.” My first reaction was to ask how they saw me but before I said anything she spoke up “My little sister, brother and I were waiting in the car in the parking lot and saw the whole thing.” God knew that would be a teachable moment and I had no idea the impact it would have the kids around me. Not only did it remind me that people are always watching but that God is always watching and developing our character. He also reminded me to never have a grip on money so tight that I miss what He is doing and the opportunities He gives us to steward his money.

This story exemplifies well, that we should be aware of our surroundings wherever we go, looking for ways to be good stewards, show generosity and love to those around us, and to be open to ‘Jesus Moments,’ Matthew 25: 35 – 40.

Improved Finances Helped Marriage, Ministry and Career

This couple took a financial education class 3 years ago in the Fall of 2010, and it dramatically changed the course of their lives; in ministry and careers, as well as marriage. The work to improve finances is hard, but it is worth it, as this story demonstrates.

“God used the financial ministry at Vineyard Columbus and the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course to help break the bondage of debt in our lives and our marriage.  We had $20,000 in credit card debt when we started the program and were in what seemed to be an endless cycle of running up the credit card bills, struggling to pay them down, only to run them back up again.  Using the principles learned in the Financial Peace University course, humbled hearts, and thankfully a promotion at my job, we were able to pay off our debt in its entirety over the course of 12-14 months.  Shortly after paying off our debt and building some savings, God opened a door for me to take a job working full time with World Vision at their corporate HQ in Federal Way, Washington.  Had we still been in debt, there is no way we could have accepted the opportunity with World Vision and moved our family across the country to chase a dream to serve Jesus in a greater capacity.  Our debt burden and bad money management habits were a point of contention in our marriage and caused much contention.  Therefore, the freedom we gained was not just breaking free from the burden of debt, but freedom and unity in our marriage like we had not known in the past.  Praise God!!!”  -R. & J. D.

Perseverance, Encouragement and Testimonies Help You Achieve Financial Goals

Perseverance is key in personal finances, but sometimes it’s hard to do, when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. A few people sent me these emails about how the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Class has helped them. I am posting them to be an encouragement to you: whether you’re taking a class, reading personal finance books, and trying to implement good personal finances- all the hard work is worth it.
  • The Financial Peace University gave me the confidence that I could be strong in my financial planning. Before the class I had only about $500 in my savings account. Now I have $3,000. I have paid off several bills and I am having success in getting the others paid off. I have started a savings account for my new grand daughter which I am excited about. Also, I have become more involved with non- profit organizations. I can help out on a volunteer basis and a little financially as well. The non-profit donations are not large, but I feel like it is a start. I have also been able to increase my contributions to the Vineyard -which I am most excited about. I God has rewarded me ten fold for my financial focus. -M.K.
  • My greatest success after applying the principals of Dave Ramsey was that I was able to pay for graduate school without any school loans.  I switched my spending habits to cash only and all of a sudden I had excess cash available each month.  I used this extra money to pay for my tuition. I couldn’t have done this without Dave Ramsey’s help. -L.B.
  • Just want to thank you again for offering this course.  It’s so important!!  After taking the session last summer and meeting with you, we were motivated to pay off his old student loans that had been lurking around forever, and are currently debt-free (except for our mortgage), and have about $13,000 (above our 6-month emergency fund) in the bank so far, being saved toward a 20% down payment on a future home, or whatever the Lord leads us to!  Best of all, we are more at peace about any lay-off or job change concerns that might pop up.  So thankful for this ministry!!!  -M.L

Perspectives on Wealth from a Missionary Doctor

I asked Dr. Tim Kubacki D.O. to share some of his perspectives about wealth, particularly as they relate to traditional American views. Tim and I served together at the Delaware (OH) Vineyard church plant back in the late 90’s, but now he lives in Africa as a missionary doctor. Tim is a very humble and gentle man and he never came off being wealth centered as he notes below. Tim started the Vineyard Columbus free health clinics in the 90’s.

First let me give you some background about Tim. He practiced emergency medicine in Central Ohio for 15 years, and from 2005 – 2012 was in Brazil in the Amazon basin, taking health care and the Good News to the most remote villages he could find (in the jungles for 3 years by motorbike and on the rivers for 3 years by boat). He has been in Angola since April 2012. He lives at a mile elevation and the climate is nice (especially compared to the climate on the equator during his 6 years in Brazil). It is mountainous desert, with a long dry season and a short wet season. The languages are Portuguese and various tribal languages. His days are variable. Sometimes he helps at several hospitals for long (almost 12-hour) shifts. The work is plentiful as the health care need is great there after 30 years of war and little infrastructure. The gospel need in the cities isn’t great, as there are plenty of churches (quite religious ones but lacking in love for God and for each other). In the rural areas, there are many tribal groups with no gospel presence at all, and it is these groups that Dr. Tim is targeting with his health care ministry. He has three small airplanes and two pilots, and he has begun to visit these groups to introduce modern medicine and Jesus. If you are interested in learning more about Tim, visit his blog.

Here is what Dr. Tim shared with me:

I think that my views on money have changed radically over the past ten years or so. Much has to do with the global perspective that I’ve developed as I lived in developing countries. I once had a doctor friend (making over $300,000/year) say in the course of a conversation, “One day if I become wealthy…” In the US, we are like this friend of mine, completely ignorant that even the poorest of us in the US are attempting to serve God and money (though we would all deny it) and Jesus said that it simply cannot be done. This has created in our churches a radical, comfortable, lukewarmness that allows us to attend services and be too busy (chasing what money can buy) to have concern for the rest of the world (Jesus’ new commandment), most of which both live apart from the Kingdom of God and suffer tremendously from sickness and poverty (so in need of the resources that we hoard).

Many of those seeking to walk with Jesus in the States don’t realize the bondage they are in as they try to serve Jesus and money. I can attest to this from personal experience. I had to get really tired running the US race and leave, only to finally recognize that I had been, indeed, trying to serve two masters. After entering the developing world (where life is necessarily radically simplified), I was able to look back and realize what bondage (“more, more, more…”) I had been in, and the damage that it had done to me. The “more, more, more” bondage was not only material, but spiritual, as well. The American dream has something to do with never being satisfied and this attitude is sadly seen also in our churches, however the radical lack of contentment in US Christians validates that our hearts aren’t right. I’ve learned that desire for the Kingdom of God minus distractions equals contentment. It’s really tough to maintain a Kingdom focus and experience contentment while chasing many distractions. And, of course, less money always yields less distractions, period.

I had a very real desire to have a Kingdom focus while living in the States (as do so many U.S. Christians), but because I was trying the impossible (serving two masters, money -and everything it buys- and Jesus), pulling it off was… impossible! I pursued money (and all that money buys – comfort, security, leisure, etc) and therefore could not serve Jesus, though this went largely unrecognized until I moved away and lived with far less.

I’ve learned first hand that more money and more things do not yield happiness, joy, peace, etc, in this earthly life. I’ve had a lot of money and I now have very little and I would always choose the latter. In fact, I so regret the years that I tried to serve two masters because I now see how that kept me from walking more closely with my Father and from more fully serving him and those He loves.

The Benefits of Dave Ramsey FPU Outweigh the Cost

A couple more people sent me short notes about how they benefited from  taking the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class. The cost is less than $100, but most people save that much in the first few weeks of taking the class by living on a budget, eliminating credit card debt, avoiding unneeded purchases, being smart with insurance, investments, mortgages and home purchasing. If you add up just the interest many people save from paying off credit cards so that they are no longer paying high interest rates, the return on their $95 tuition would be over ten thousand  percent. The financial pay-off is one thing, but people tell me all the time that they feel freer spiritually and closer in their walk with the Lord when they are being Biblically wise and obedient with money. People also enjoy the blessings from tithing and blessing others in need. Time and time again, I hear from married couples that there is new harmony in their marriage, because they are communicating better and working together toward common goals. Imagine how much happier people are with fewer financial arguments and less anxiety, buyers’ remorse and stress.

I think I went through the class about two or three years ago. At that time I had debt hanging over my head. It wasn’t as much as it had been when I was in my deepest debt but it was enough to make me not ever want to be in debt again. While in the class I paid off my remaining debt and continue to be debt free. I incurred my debt in my 20’s. I was always living paycheck to paycheck and at times would need to borrow money from family to make my mortgage payment. Today I am living debt free and I pay for EVERYTHING in cash. My car was already paid off. I have been saving the money that I would have been paying for my car in a separate account so when I need a new car I can pay cash. Being debt free is the best feeling ever! – T.S.

In March of 2011 my wife, and I scraped up the money to attend FPU at Vineyard Columbus.  I had just started a new job.  For the majority of 2010 I spent all of my 401k savings and our personal savings on a failed retail business venture.  At the start of FPU my wife and I had no savings, and over $50,000 in credit card, student loan, and business loan debit.  During FPU we began utilizing the tools taught by Dave Ramsey such as budgeting, the envelope method, and most importantly the debit snowball.  By using these tools we eliminated each one of our debits over the course of 16 months.  Today, aside from our home and one car, we are completely debit free.  We have set aside a six month cash reserve in a savings account, we are diligently putting money away for retirement, and we are expecting our first child.  We are truly blessed!  Thank you Vineyard Columbus for sponsoring  such an awesome program! – J. P.

How Financial Peace University Has Helped Us, 2 Stories

Just a brief thank you for offering these (FPU) classes. They were a real blessing to us.  We have been blessed to be totally out of debt now except for our house.  The freedom that this has opened up for us as a family is to be available to say yes to the Lord’s leading for us to adopt again, which we are very grateful to the Lord for.  Thanks again for your faithfulness in serving and educating the body of Christ in wise financial practices. – Jason P.

My girlfriend (now wife) and I took the class (FPU) together first because we thought we would learn important life lessons but we also wanted to be on the same page about finances. These lessons and what “Dave says” became foundations for the way we handle our finances as a married couple. I am SURE it has saved us a lot of trouble as it is easier for us to come to agreement on the way we spend our money. Thanks Vineyard for hosting Financial Peace University! – Anthony W.

Following God’s Principles and Experiencing Giving

A long term financial ministry leader and follower of Christ in her family’s finances shares some thoughts on God’s financial principles and giving. It is really encouraging.

“Our perspective and feelings about our finances changed dramatically when we went through a Crown Financial Bible study during the first year of our marriage. Both of us were pretty responsible when it came to finances, but the study revealed to us that we never truly believed that our money and possessions belonged to the Lord, not ourselves. As we began to learn and see through scripture that God is the owner of everything we have — time, money possessions — giving took on a whole different meaning.  If everything you have belongs to the Lord, you can’t ever give too much, or too sacrificially. We truly started to feel peace about our finances and joy in giving when we fully realized that as Christians, God owns it all….everything.

“One of the most important things that God has taught us is that He deeply desires freedom in our lives so that we can better know Him and love Him, without distractions.  As a couple, we are united in our view that serving Him with our resources is so much more fulfilling than committing those resources to credit cards, car payments, expensive clothes, extravagant gifts or vacations. When we began letting God change our hearts regarding work, saving, becoming debt-free and giving, we began to experience more and more freedom and a greater capacity to give of both time and money. Knowing that we have been able to contribute financially to the building of the community center and the fruitful growth of this church has expanded our dreams for the future — not dreams of margaritas on peaceful beaches, but dreams of how we can share in expanding God’s kingdom.”

Hard Work and God’s Blessing

A Dave Ramsey class attendee sent me an email awhile back, and it was so encouraging I wanted to pass it on to you. This is a wonderful couple; it’s just that finances have been a major struggle for them. Taking the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University (FPU) class has led them to financial freedom.

“I wanted to let you know the impact that this study (Dave Ramsey FPU) has had upon me. I have a WORKING BUDGET for the first time in our 27-year marriage. I have completely overhauled the way I go grocery shopping; my previous cost was more than $150.00 a week and is now down to $100.00. I also save between $9 to $18 dollars on manufacturers coupons. So I am saving around $250.00 a month. I have saved over $80.00 on car repairs by asking my present dealership to honor other dealer coupons. I have paid off 3 debts and am snowballing 2 others. Our taxes were paid by April 14th. WOW!

“When I went to the bank last week to set up my check card, I started a conversation with my teller and mentioned the Dave Ramsey class. She immediately asked if I wanted envelopes…. she started the class a few years ago and petered out after class 5. Sweet gal, though, and we shared a few laughs. As of today, I have the funds and I cut up my gas and credit card and will be using only cash! My heart did race a little as the paper shredder groaned over the plastic but what a Powerful Prayer of Thanksgiving and YIPPEE!!!! I am free!”

She recently sent me an update: “We have now paid off ALL debt except the mortgage on our home 🙂 Have three months of earnings in the wings. I will be replacing my current car with 215,000 miles on it for a new one with cash. (All the while paying off hospitalizations, surgeries, assisting our three 20 something sons, a major employment change for my husband, and I went back to college.) God has been incredibly faithful to us during this process and we owe Him all the praise!”

God is Faithful

The wife of a married couple that I have known for several years now, recently shared her experience of finances and walking with the Lord. They have really tried hard to seek counsel, reduce debt, and follow a budget for quite some time, and with these efforts and the help of friends and the Lord they are doing very well:

In 2008 my husband’s company required him to transfer to another state to keep his job. Besides the fact that we couldn’t sell our house, we felt that God was telling us to quit, that we were done with this company. So we quit, with 2 kids and no savings. Our families thought we were crazy, but it was what we believed God was calling us to do. We were unemployed for 9 months, and then under-employed for another nine. But for the first 9 months, we never missed a house payment or any other bill; God always provided. We learned to really trust Him as our provider. We would receive anonymous checks in the mail for hundreds of dollars. It even got to the point where we almost expected one to be there when we needed it.

Our small group community came around us, giving us gift cards so we could get our kids Christmas presents, buying them clothes, and even bringing us meals when we didn’t have enough money for food. We learned humility as never before. We tried so many ways to provide for ourselves during that time, but over and over, God said to let Him provide and He did. In a culture where it is enforced to be independent, to not need anyone, we learned that we couldn’t live without the body of Christ. God has taught us to be faithful as He is faithful, and generous as He is generous. Nothing sways us anymore. Whatever comes our way we know God is in control. Even when we had moved out of our house because we thought we were losing it, He had a plan to bring us back, and we waited patiently until we realized that was His intention. 🙂

One last note–shortly after losing our job, Rich Nathan gave a sermon that was talking about tithing, and saying how you should tithe even off of gifts, not just income. We had always been good about tithing off income, but had never thought about gifts. And I didn’t know it then, but we were entering into a season where we were living off of gifts. So when we heard that sermon we decided we should tithe off of gifts. It was hard sometimes, because people would give us gift cards, and we’d want to tithe off of them, but had to use cash to do that. I don’t know how many times I wrote tithe checks that would clear out our bank account when we had bills due and didn’t know where the next bowl of cereal would come from. But the bills got paid, we all got fed, and our tithe for those months stayed the same as it had when we were employed.

You definitely can’t out-give God! While it was a very hard time, we wouldn’t trade it for the world. In this process, we learned what it was like to be poor, to need people to survive, and how to lean on our church and God. The  lessons we learned about God and the relationship we found with Him are priceless. And to top it all off, when my husband was finally restored to full time work, his salary was the same as it had been for the job he originally gave up!

Financial Miracles Happen

My wife Laura shared this yesterday with her Dave Ramsey FPU small group break-out class–something that happened to us about 6 years ago.

A few years ago when we were both jobless and I was ill, I was told that I needed to have surgery.  At the time we were using Cobra and it was supposed to end before my surgery was scheduled.  To shorten the story, a mistake was made with our Cobra and they extended it two extra months.  I was able to get the surgery during the time of that extension saving us somewhere around $20,000.

In my last Ramsay small group we all prayed for a miracle of getting a raise or unexpected checks.  Several of us in that group got raises.  We brought it up to the whole group and many of them prayed the same way.  One evening several people told of how they had been given or received unexpected sums of money, raises, etc.

I guess I want to make the point that while you are doing the homework and trying to ‘live like no one else’, remember to pray for miracles.

The biggest miracle that we hear about over and over is that marriages are strengthened when couples take the course and that single people gain a sense of empowerment and security.

It doesn’t matter what has already happened to you, what mistakes have already been made or what your situation is right now.  If you follow the concepts in this class you will see a big difference by the end of our classes.  We are on this road together.