There's Hope, So Let's Get to Work!

Somehow, some way, you've managed to get yourself buried underneath mounds and mounds of debt, and it may seem like there is no end in sight...I'm here to tell you that there is hope! There is hope; however, it will require some work on your part. First, you must understand that remaining in debt is a choice, your choice. Without that acknowledgement you deny yourself the power to change. Like any other sin, you have to admit to your wrongdoing, ask for forgiveness, repent, and start again. Getting out of debt is no different. Sure, you're the on that made the bad decisions to put items on credit cards, take out loans, put spending as a priority over saving, etc. But guess what? That same person, you, can also make the decision to turn away from your consumer ways and walk in the things of God. God doesn't want you to suffer in debt any more than he wants you to suffer in your sin. That is why he gave us the gifts of forgiveness and grace. Is he disappointed that we aren't better stewards of the resources that he's given us? Sure, he is. However, the moment that we decide to turn back to Him, he is there, waiting with open arms to help redeem us. Your debt isn't going to disappear just because you ignore it. In fact, the bible says that the wicked borrow and do not repay (Psalm 37:21). You chose to borrow the money, so now you must repay it. The sooner that you do, the sooner you can move on. It's definitely going to take some time and sacrifice to get it done, but it will be worth it in the end.

Proverbs 16:3 says, "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." Let God help you through this process. He loves you and wants you to be debt free so that he can use you. On the other hand, you have to put in the necessary work to get it done. Show him that you're serious about changing your ways by doing a budget, giving on a regular basis, controlling urges to spend unnecessarily, etc. God will get you through it, but you have to put in the work. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. First you have to see it, then you have to move towards it. You are in control of your financial destiny. The question is, will you go after it? Redemption awaits!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

What's in it for me?

Sometimes we can be selfish, feeling that we're the ones toiling day in and day out for our paychecks, and can't understand why we have to just give money away. After all, we work hard to maintain the lifestyles that we've created! But I believe that God has designed giving in such a way that we both win. He's not some holy tax collector that's trying to take our money. Instead, he's a loving father that just wants to bless his children. The Bible says, in 2 Corinthians 9:6, "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." So basically, the more I give away, the more I'll get back in return, but if I'm OK with what I have as a result of giving sparingly, then why should I give more? If I have a home, food to eat, a job, a car, clothes...God has obviously provided the basic needs, so I'm good, right? WRONG!

I believe there are three reasons why God wants us to give:

1. Protection: Giving protects us. In Malachi 3:11, God promises to protect the fruits of our labor as a result of tithing. In other words, tithing is similar to paying an insurance premium. That's one insurance policy that I'm willing to put my trust in over all of the man-made options that we have. I also believe that giving protects our hearts. Matthew 6:24 tells us that we cannot serve both God and money. By giving, our hearts remain attached to God (the source), instead of becoming attached to money (the product).

2. Purpose: Giving is a part of fulfilling our purpose. Flat out, it takes money to do ministry. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. He designed us to function as pipelines for Kingdom wealth. As soon as we stop giving, our pipelines become clogged, and the work of the Kingdom is drastically diminished. Giving is instrumental in seeking and saving the lost. You never know, even the smallest act of kindness could be the one very thing that will lead someone to Christ.

3. Promise: Giving grants us access to the promise of provision. Proverbs 11:24 says, "One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty." If we sow sparingly we'll reap sparingly, and if we sow generously we'll reap generously. The key to increase doesn't lie in continuously begging God for more, it lies in the stewardship of what we've already been given. Under God's system, we're able to give our way into abundance.

So if you currently aren't giving because you're wrestling with the whole "what's in it for me" question, I hope that after reading this, you will see that there is so much in store for you! Maybe you want to give, but don't feel as if you're in the financial position to do so. Go to God in prayer, be specific about who it is that you want to bless, and ask him to provide (2 Corinthians 9:10-11). If you're already a giver, perhaps you'll been inspired to kick it up a notch. Wherever you fall along the giving spectrum, know that you'll have more to gain in comparison to what you think you'll have to lose.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Re-Order My Steps

God wants you to have the desires of your heart. However, if we are in debt, I believe we have gotten our steps out of order. Buy now, pay later is out of divine order. Why? The bible says to owe no man anything except the debt of love. Look at the trouble debt has caused in not only our own lives, but in the life of the church. We toil day in and day night to produce a paycheck only to have it taken away by our lenders, aka financial slave masters, every payday. To go through that process every month over a lifetime of employment is not God's will for our lives because it limits the work that He is able to do through us. Not only does the Kingdom suffer, but so do we. I must admit, I am tired of that cycle. So what do we do? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expect a different result. If we want different results, we must change our current behavior.

The world focuses so much on consuming, that saving and giving are mere afterthoughts. The two least thought about actions, but they are also the two most important. In order to induce change, we have to flip the script. Give, save, then spend. That is divine order. God first, then ourselves, then the world. When we put God first in our financial order, everything else falls in line. But when we put the world first, our saving and giving suffers.

Giving has to be our number one priority. When we take care of God, He takes care of us. Second, we must ensure our own financial stability by saving. There will always be a time of feast and a time of famine, as we are witnessing in today's financial crisis. The last thing on our list should be spending. At first glance, the child in us would think "but what about me?" Spending is last, but it usually satisfies some kind of temporary gratification. Once we mature, we realize that God's order will satisfy our wants and needs for a lifetime.

I have been on both sides of this fence, and I have to tell you that God's order hasn't failed me yet. If you are currently operating outside of God's financial order, I challenge you to re-order your steps and start experiencing the life that God desires for you!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Money, Power, Glory!

As I thought about the topic for this blog, the song, "Money, Power, Respect" came into my head. First you get the money, then you get the power, after you get the power, then you get the respect. This theory is a direct reflection of the worldly mindset towards money. The media teaches us that money gives us the power to do whatever we want, in hopes of becoming idols for those that are less fortunate, and gaining respect from those that have already made it. While Lil' Kim may have been on to something, I find her theory flawed.They key ingredient that's missing is God. Let's take a closer look... We can agree that we all need money in order to fulfill the basic necessities of life, such as water food, clothing, and shelter. The first course of action is to find a way to get money and to keep it flowing. Once we get the money, then we have the power to purchase basic necessities. Now, here's where we find the fork in the road. While I agree that money gives us power, it's what we do with that power that will determine whether or not God will be glorified or that person will be idolized. God is glorified when we use that power to serve him and others through our giving and debt free living. On the other hand, the person seeking respect/status for themselves becomes defined and idolized by the things that they have on display. One will serve God, and the other will chase things, as will their followers.

While the world may be about money, power, and respect, God's children ought to seek money, power, and glory. We know that God provides for his children, and that money should never be an issue because He is rich beyond measure. However, we have a choice when it comes to using the power that God has given us. The path to respect leads to debt and mindless spending, while the road to glory provides limitless abundance and freedom. Which road will you take? If you're on the wrong one, it's not too late to get off. If God is truly our source, He will provide us with the money and power. It's up to us to provide Him with the glory that He deserves.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

In God We Trust?

It's interesting the the phrase "In God We Trust" is printed on our money, but yet God is often the last to receive any of it, if at all. The never-ending debate in church about whether or not we should or shouldn't tithe...Why is it so difficult to trust God with our money?

In Malachi 3:10, God tells us to test Him regarding tithing. I have to admit that I didn't know or hear much about tithing growing up in an Episcopal church. But the first time that I heard word on it, which was about 6 years ago, I started from that moment and haven't looked back. I've seen nothing but increase year after year. It hasn't always been easy either, but as long as I've stayed faithful, so has God. Do we really think that the world has our best interest at heart when it comes to our finances when the entire nation is in a state of debt? While they're after our dollars, God is after our hearts. He does have our best interest in mind, and promises to rewards us beyond measure! That's much more than any credit card company could ever offer.

Take the test, and challenge God. Fully trust Him with your finances and you will always end up with more than enough. God rewards good stewards by giving us more and more of his resources to manage. If you're faithful over what you have, God will allow you to rule over so much more. But you will never know until you try. The world's method of "buy now, pay later" has failed us all. Now will you trust God?

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

A Debt Freedom Prayer

Lord, today I choose to live debt free. I will no longer manage money the world's way. Free me from the hands of my lenders. Although I have borrowed in the past, I will borrow no more. Lord, I believe that you are my source; not credit cards or loans. From this day forward, I will be a pipeline for Kingdom wealth. I will give, save, and invest like never before. Today, I receive the prosperous, debt free life that you have prepared for me. Renew my heart and my mind so that I may live the life of the rich and glorious. It's in Jesus' name that I pray, Amen.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The Debt Devil

Simply put, debt keeps us from God and limits His work through us. Would any of you like to be in a position to give more or to really impact someone else's life? I think most of us would, but we can't because our money has already been directed away from us and God before our paychecks hit the bank. We have the same list of people waiting to be paid each month, and God is lucky if He's one of them. That ought not be. If God has richly blessed us, we should be able to take care of Him first, and have enough left over to settle our desires debt free. But instead, our debt has become a priority over God. We have to get back to putting God's needs first, and separate ourselves from the world.

We know that the borrower is slave to the lender, and that man cannot serve two masters. If we're all enslaved to the world's creditors, who's serving God? And I don't mean just nickel and diming each Sunday because that's all that we can spare. I'm referring to the people that are financially free to answer God's call. Do we want to be one of those people? Do we care if we're not one of them? If so, what are we going to do about it?

Debt not only takes our money, but it can take away our joy and happiness by the stress that it causes. That isn't God's will for our lives. He wants us to live free. He wants us to live in abundance. But we have to put ourselves in position to receive what God as for our lives. The same way that we protect our souls from evil, we must also guard our financial blessings from the debt devil. There should be a visible difference in the way that Christians handle money. Let's regain our financial souls. We can do it with God's help. He's able, and so are we.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Chances Are...

Chances are you weren't one of the three winners of the Mega Millions jackpot. So now what? It's back to business as usual! The chances of you winning the lottery will always be ridiculously slim. But guess what? The chances of you taking control of your resources and maximizing them to the best of your ability will always be 1 in 1. You simply cannot go wrong taking control of your financial future.That doesn't mean just taking a gamble and letting the dollars fall where they may. I'm talking about being intentional about each  expenditure, investment, gift, saving, etc. As small or large as they may be, each one will have an impact either now or later.

Just like your chances are 1 in 1 when you're in control, your chances are least that high with God, if you believe. Most of you don't even realize it, but I would say that mustard seed-sized (maybe even smaller) faith was at work all over this country the last few days. The amount of money that people were dropping for a 1 in 176 million chance of winning was astronomical. I'm willing to bet that the majority of the same people aren't willing to  sow into the Kingdom with the same kind of faith. Why not? Are our chances of becoming rich greater with the lottery than with God?

I guess it all boils down to who you're willing to trust. Who is in control of your financial future? Is it the lottery, the media, the mall, you or God? Really think about who is controlling your finances right now. If you're not where you want to be, then maybe it's time for a new manage. Who do you want/need to be in control?  If it's God, continue to sow faithfully and your harvest will come. If you want to be in control, then do the best that you can to maximize what you have through saving, investing, and giving. If it's the media and society, just keep spending and focus on acting and looking rich. Chances are, whoever or whatever is in control will determine your financial success or lack thereof. The choice is yours.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Rich Towards God

If you haven't heard by now, the Mega Millions Jackpot is now up to half a billion dollars or $500,000,000 for my visual readers. What would you do with five hundred million dollars?! Maybe, go on a shopping spree, pay off bills, buy a mansion, a few cars, travel, etc, etc. With that kind of money, who wouldn't? But what about God? As I clicked through headline after headline and read about all of the things that people said they would do with the money, including everything listed above, there was one person that came close. The guy's response was “I may give the church a little and maybe I would travel a little ... oh, and I'd buy a penthouse on Fifth Ave. or Park Ave. by Central Park" (NY Daily News).

Two things are apparent to me with this response. First, he hasn't planned on or isn't expecting to get rich. Whether it's through the lottery or some other method, with a list that vague and incomplete the expectation isn't there. You should already have a list of tasks ready to go if you really believe that you're going to win. Second, if he's only thinking about giving a little to the church if he wins, he probably only thinks about giving a little to the church on a regular basis. Giving is a habit, period. If we truly are what we repeatedly do, then we're either givers or we're not. There is no hesitation, whether it's a little or a lot. So again, I ask, what about God?

One news station showed footage of a convenience store that had people in line for about two blocks waiting for their turn to buy tickets. Can you imagine a Sunday morning where people were lined around the block to give their offerings because they thought they had a chance at being blessed by God? Do we really believe that the odds of getting rich are greater with the lottery than with God? I'm not saying that God can't bless someone through the lottery; but what I'm questioning is, why don't we have that same, if not greater, excitement when it comes to sowing into the Kingdom?

Well, whoever wins, I hope that they will add these Rich Towards God elements to their portfolio: Trusting God, Giving Generously, Advancing the Kingdom, and Enjoying Contentment. All of these are acts of stewardship that we should practice every day whether we win the lottery or not. Let's get into the habit of sharing our riches with God right where we are. For if we are faithful over the few things, perhaps God will make us rulers over many or possibly $500,000,000 :-).

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Blessings or Burdens?

What does a blessed life look like? Is it the person that lives in a mansion, drives multiple luxury cars, or has a different designer handbag for every day of the week? Maybe it's the one that has the biggest diamonds, most custom-made suits, or the largest shoe collection. It could be. Or the people I've described could be just like every other consumer that's living paycheck-to-paycheck and possibly one late payment away from filing for bankruptcy. How can you really tell the difference between someone that is blessed or burdened? The answer lies in their giving, not in their material possessions.

Being blessed isn't just about what you can buy for yourself, but it's about having the abundance to give. As noted in Genesis 24:35 your blessings ought to make you wealthy. Wealth is accumulated, not consumed. God may have blessed you with a good job, promotion, or new business, but that blessing can quickly become a burden if it's mismanaged. Proverbs 22:9 says, "The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor." Are you in a position to share generously? You're blessed, not because of what you have, but because of what you're able to give away.

From the pulpit to the very last pew, your "blessings" ought not be laced with debt. If they are, your blessings can become a burden and hinderance to your financial freedom. Trying to keep up with a consumer's lifestyle will also have you keeping up with their debt burdens. Some of the real housewives "looked" blessed before they filed for bankruptcy . If you really want to look blessed, show it in your giving. That is the true face of abundance.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

It's Not about the Money...

Wait, how is it possible that getting rich isn't about money? Simply because getting rich is about freedom, which has no monetary value. The money is just a by-product of your success. Whether you are making 5, 6, or 7 figures, if you're in debt, you're not living free.The Bible says that "the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7). Most, if not all of us are repaying our debts under someone else's terms. They tell us when to pay, the amount to pay, how long to pay, and add on an interest rate to top it all off! Do you really want to spend the rest of your life in financial slavery? I know I don't; I'm way too controlling for that! Imagine if someone tried to buy your salvation from you. There isn't enough money in the world that could pay for it. Treat your financial freedom the same way. Don't let the media, your friends, name brands, or society buy that from you. Hence the reason why getting out of debt is our first step to freedom. Then, we continue to increase our net worth, pursue our dreams, and change lives. Having Kingdom wealth allows us to operate according to God's terms (abundantly) and not the world's (sparingly).

As you continue to prepare your budgets and set goals, focus on living free, even right now. Imagine what your world would look like if you paid for everything free and clear, no loans, and no interests rates. If you focus on the freedom, the money will come. Just look at our friends in Hollywood. I guarantee you, the ones that went bankrupt were focused on the money, and the ones that get richer by the day are focused on not only their freedom, but the freedom of generations to come. If you haven't done so already, shift your focus and remember, it's not about the money!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Double Vision: The Purpose Beyond the Possession

You are somebody's blessing. Whether you believe it or not, fulfill it or not, you were predestined to impact someone's life in the name of Jesus Christ. There's this one song, of which I'm not really a fan, and the lyrics proclaim "what God has for me, it is for me." I believe that is so far from the truth. Yes, God has plans for us (Jeremiah 29.11), but they are plans that were designed with Kingdom advancement in mind. Your talents, gifts, and possessions are gifts that should keep on giving, and shouldn't just stop with you. What are some of the things that you've paid for that you would be willing to just give away? I don't mean things that you don't care about and can be easily replaced, but things that are of high value like your paid off car, house, designer clothes, etc. Jesus paid a pretty hefty price for us so that we could receive salvation for free...wow!

My church has a ministry called Cars for Christ, and I can't wait until the day that I'm able to bless a single mom with my car. After I pay off my house, I would also like to give it away. Why? For no other reason than the fact that someone did it for me, and people should see that kind of love even in this day. Jesus paid the ultimate price so that we could live free. I challenge you to look for the purpose beyond the possessions with which God has blessed you, as you continue on the journey towards building Kingdom wealth. Who's life will you impact?

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The Rich and Glorious

We all watch, hear, and read about the lifestyles of the rich and famous almost daily, but what about the lifestyles of the rich and glorious? Point blank, it takes money to do ministry, and the Bible tells us in Romans 13:8 "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another. We say that we're "not of this world," but yet we continue to accumulate and maintain debt just as much as the rest of the world and government does. Just imagine what this world would look like if everyone who called themselves a Christian was debt free...Glory to God! That's Kingdom wealth! Yes, I know, the love of money is the root of all evil, but Kingdom wealth isn't about chasing money. It's about being free to spread the love of God. I would love to give more, bless more people, and impact more lives, but I can't do that if I'm stuck on the debt treadmill. I do what I can, but God's plans and needs are so much greater. At some point we have to make the decision to live differently than the rest of the world and do the work that God has prepared for us to do.

So as we work towards financial freedom,seek out the work that God would have you to do once you reach your goals; the lives that He would have you impact, and the souls that your generosity might save. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also Matthew 6:21. Kingdom wealth won't be found at the mall, in a mansion, on an island, or in a fancy car that you can't afford. It will be found in your freedom to love. Selah.

Change requires action!

Live Free!

Arianne