I Surrender All

Let's face it, we were made in God's image, and are supposed to have the mind of Christ. Let me just say, I've never known Jesus to have a shoe fetish! At some point we have to stop playing, and start being honest with God and with ourselves. Yes, God does want you to have the desires of your heart (Ps. 37:4). However, your heart should look like his. God doesn't desire to be in debt, and neither should you. Stop letting the devil deceive you into thinking that God designed you to be a consumer, because he didn't. God designed you to be a producer and to have dominion over the earth. I'm not saying that it's wrong to desire nice things, because it isn't. But what is wrong, is letting those things have control over you, especially while you're still in debt. If God asked you right now to get rid of all your shoes, handbags, designer clothes, latest technologies, bottles of alcohol (whatever it is that's controlling your income), would you be able to do it? And please don't be prideful and say, "God would never ask me to do that because he loves me." We know that God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14), and he will wreck up whatever is in his way to get to you. Take a moment to stop, think about it, and check your heart. You won't even have to say it, your actions will display what you've decided in your heart. Why is is that we can tell God, I can't tithe or give because I have bills to pay, but we can't tell our impulsive flesh the same thing? You'll be a lot better off if you dismount yourself off of your high horse, rather than have God knock you down. Trust me, it'll be a softer landing when you do it on your own terms.

God's desire is that you would get your financial house in order so that you can live life financially free and dependent on Him. Get out of debt so that you can pursue the life that He predestined for you. As much as you don't want to spend your life in a dead end job, God doesn't want you to either. But as long as you're dependent on the world for a paycheck, you won't be dependent on God. When God needs you to move, you have to be ready. A lot of us aren't ready because we all of a sudden don't have the resources to fund God's work. Seriously, let's stop playing with God and get our financial houses in order.

There is only one opportunity for every dollar that comes through your hand. If you choose to save it, you can't spend it or invest it. If you choose to spend it, that's one less dollar that you could have applied towards a debt repayment or being a blessing to someone else. You choose whether or not to invest in the world, yourself or God. Let me remind you, that people typically invest in something with the expectation of getting a return. What kind of return are you getting for your investments in alcohol, fast food or fine dining, cable, latest technology, personal grooming, overly priced clothing, shoes, and handbags? I surely never met a compliment that I could cash in at the bank! If everything that you buy depreciates in value you are not walking in the things of God. Take a careful look at the opportuinties that are flowing through your hands on a daily basis. Surrender your old ways to God and ask Him to guide you going forward. He will pour out blessings on you, but you still have the free will to obey Him or not.

Surrender yourselves today: "Lord, I am nothing without you. None of these earthly "things" (idols) matter. They do not make me who I am, YOU do. Free me from the spirit of materialism and consumption. The only debt I desire is the debt of love. Lord I thank you for your conviction so that I may stand corrected in Christ. Be with me and strenghten me as I make this transition. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen."

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

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

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

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

The Financial Garden: Maintenance

I know that it's a while since my last post, but I was really struggling with the fact that no sooner than I became debt free, I was knocked right back down to ground zero. It was like running across the finish line only to run right into a concrete wall...OUCH! Here I was, thinking that I was scot-free to finally start building my finances, only to have to come up with thousands of dollars to replace an entire A/C unit. I had cut up credit credits, had money tied up in a CD, what was I going to do? I had kept tithing through it all...but really God? Is that my reward for my obedience? It certainly can't be. And so, for the last 4 weeks  I've just been praying and seeking God for answers. Finally, the revelation hit me. In my last two posts I talked about how debt weeds choke our financial harvests, and that we have to continue to sow while we pay off debts simultaneously in order to protect and prepare for our harvests. I had been doing all of those things, so why did this happen? God showed me today, that it's not that I've done anything wrong, and I'm not being punished, but rather I'm in the maintenance phase of growing my financial garden. Now that I've killed off all of the weeds, I have to commit to rebuilding a healthy harvest. I feel like God told me to keeping sowing, keep tithing, keep saving, and the harvest will come. I can't expect my seeds to blossom overnight. They have to germinate first, and with time I will see the fruits of my labor. So now, instead of being in a state of confusion and discontent, I'm in a state of comfort and confidence.This maintenance phase will pay off in due time.  As long as I continue to do my part, God will work this out, somehow, someway.

The victory isn't crystal clear as of right now, but I do know that since debt is no longer an option, that I have to make some sacrifices in the meantime. And trust me, it's not pretty, but this box fan will just have to do for now. I keep telling people that I'm losing weight in my sleep from sweating at night! In any event, I truly believe that God is going to honor my commitment to Him of living a debt free life. People have suggested using credit cards, taking out a loan, etc., but those are no longer options for me. It might seem stubborn or foolish, but I simply trust God and his provision.

For anyone that may be in a similar situation, be it your A/C, medical bills, car repair, etc.,  I encourage you to keep working. Keep sowing, saving, and giving. If you've given up, put your gloves back on and get back to work. Know that God can and will provide, period.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The Financial Garden: Weed and Feed

"I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. Malachi 3:11

The above passage has never been as close to my heart as it is right now. Two weeks ago I paid off all of my debts except for my mortgage, and was finally ready to accelerate savings and investing. This week I'm wondering how in the world I'm going to be able to pay to replace an entire AC unit without going right back into debt, not to mention bear the 100 degree weather. I thought to myself, did I celebrate too soon? Is the devil out to get me? Am I being tested? Why is this happening to me? After realizing that all of this is out of my control at this point, I stopped being mad, dried my eyes, and turned to God.

I am a tither, and in the midst of my frustration, I remembered God's word. Not only does God pour out a blessing on those that tithe, but He also protects our crops! Having to replace this AC unit will more than wipe out all of my savings...But God! I believe that His word is true. While I was weeding my financial garden by paying off debts, I was also feeding my garden with my tithe. Killing off that which was limiting my harvest, while protecting young sprouts of abundance.

That's the difference between using weed and feed, and straight weed killer on your garden. Weed and feed will kill off bad vegetation while nourishing good vegetation. Weed killer will kill everything it touches whether good or bad. My point is, while you're killing off the debt weeds in your garden, you need to also feed and protect that which you desire to grow. It's not enough to simply pay off your debts and leave God out of the process. Your tithe is the weed and feed in your financial garden. God promises to pour out an overflow of blessings, as well as protect your crops from failing.

While I'm unable to see how this will all work out right now, I believe that my tithe has protected me from whatever pests are attempting to set me back. I've prayed about it, and I'm just waiting for God to move on my behalf. So as you remove the weeds from your financial garden, make sure that you have God's protection as well. The pests will come. Will you be ready?

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The Financial Garden: Debt Weeds

I may be debt free (except for the house), but I'm not out of the woods just yet. Now that I've completed the debt snowball, I'm ready to cultivate my financial garden like never before. All of the debts that I had before were just like weeds choking the life out of my cash crop. The seeds that I had sown weren't able to flourish because my time and attention was spent on untangling, maintaining, and killing debt weeds. Every now and then I would see a sprout or two in the form of increase, only soon to be overtaken by the weeds. I was sowing seeds with the belief that they would grow and multiply, not sprout up and quickly die.

Now, I definitely don't have a green thumb, but the one thing I cannot stand are weeds in my yard and driveway. Once one appears, it always seems like they just multiply overnight. Before you know it, they can overtake everything around them. Trimming them down or simply breaking the stems only provide a temporary aesthetic improvement. But unless I kill them at the roots, they'll keep sprouting up week after week, season after season, year after year. Debt is the same way. Unless you kill it at the roots, you'll continue to put up with the same credit card charges, loan balances, and car payments, week after week, month after month, and year after year.

God wants to prosper you and make you ruler over a bountiful harvest. But, we're unable to reap much because of all of the debt that is choking the life out of our finances. The more He provides, the more weeds we put into the garden, and that ought not be. I don't know of any gardener that purposefully goes out and plants weeds. They usually aren't anything nice to look at, can ruin the crop, and are a pain to get rid of. In the same manner, as God's stewards, we should not knowingly plant debt weeds into our financial gardens. Student loans, credit cards, car payments, any type of financing...they are all weeds that WE plant!

It's time to get rid of the debt that is limiting the growth of your financial garden once and for all! No matter how bad it may seem now, keep working at it and you'll start to see results sooner than later. You will start to see more money at the end of your month, your net worth will continue to gradually increase, and your cash crop will begin to flourish! Declare with me today: "Debt Weeds Be Gone!"

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Let Go, and Let God

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart" Psalm 37:4

I personally feel like debt is demonic, based on its attempt to keep us away from God (I say attempt, because it can only win if we let it). We have become so reliant on it that we limit God's ability to work on our behalf. If our first response to any financial hardship, hurdle, or roadblock is a credit card or a loan, it makes it harder for God to step in. The bible says that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, HE will give us the desires of our heart, not Visa, Sallie Mae, Discover, etc. Case in point...

This past weekend I took my car in to get inspected praying the whole time that there wouldn't be anything major that I would have to repair. The results came back and I needed new wiper blades, two new bulbs, and a new windshield! Those were not the results that I hoping for. All in all, the cost of the repairs would have been right around $600! I knew that I could get the wipers and bulbs changed someone else for cheaper, for $33 to be exact, but what was I going to do about the windshield? Luckily, the dealer didn't have one on hand, and that bought me and God some time. I went ahead and settled for the rejection sticker, drove off, and just started talking to God. I wasn't going to put it on a credit card, and I knew that I needed my emergency fund for another major repair, so I said God, what are you going to do?

That Monday I told a couple of my co-workers what happened, and one of them referred me to a place that ended up replacing my windshield for free! Because my insurance deductible wasn't more than $100, they waived the entire thing. My dealer doesn't charge for annual inspections, so I'll be able to have it reinspected for free! Within one week, my car went from being rejected with $600 in repairs, to passing with just $33 invested in parts replacements. So forget Geico; look how much I saved by switching to God-co!

I say all of that to say, if you would trust God, and give Him the opportunity to act on your behalf, He will. Cut up your credit cards, pay off your loans, start tithing, commit to paying in cash, and let God be your financial source. I am a witness that He will provide in more ways than one. You simply have to believe. Are you willing to take the leap of faith?

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Imagine Me...

"Imagine me, being free, trusting you totally; finally, I can...Imagine me." Kirk Franklin

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine a debt free life. What do you see? What's the weather like? What emotions are being displayed? Who is around you? I saw blue skies, the bright sun, perfect breeze, and nothing but smiles and laughter with my friends and family. The weight of debt was off my shoulders, and I was free. That's the way that life should be. In fact, that's the way that God intended for our lives to be. The thing this, if you can't see it in your mind first, you won't see it in your reality. You have to have an image of what your life will look like when you're debt free and keep that image in your mind until it becomes your reality.

Some of us have been bound by debt for so long that we've accepted it as the norm and can't see ourselves any other way. As long as you see yourself in debt, you will remain in debt. Your actions will continue to reflect what has been ingrained in your heart and mind. The war against debt starts in your mind first. You must retrain your thoughts so that your actions will follow. Vow to never use another credit card again. Make a promise to pay for your next car in cash. Commit to paying extra on loans each month even if it's just $5. Pray that God would position you to rely fully on Him as it pertains to your finances.Take time out of each day, close your eyes, and envision your life debt free. If you continue to do that on a consistent basis, your circumstances will start to change.

Are you willing to see yourself debt free? A lifestyle that some will only hope for can be yours if you would just use your imagination and work your faith. I not only imagine myself debt free, but I also imagine my friends and family being debt free as well. Free to focus on God, and free to enjoy life. Dare to be different by living free. You're only a thought away...

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Stay in Your Lane!

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. While running the race towards debt freedom, it can be very easy to get caught up in what the other runners are doing in the lanes next to you. Your friends, family, and co-workers are on one side, while Apple, Coach, and a host of other retailers are on the other. Although you all may be running in the same direction, the reward at the finish line is specific only to the lane that you're in. You have your eyes set on debt freedom, while your friend has their eyes set on buying the latest fashion or technology trend, and the retailer has their eyes set on a sales goal. Whose race are you going to run?

That sale or clearance sign might look tempting, but they're not in your lane right now. The girls or the guys want to hang out, and you can too, just not EVERY week. Apple comes out with a new model/upgrade every year, so you'll be able to catch them later on in the next race. While they are depending on you to propel them towards their finish line, they have no intention of helping you across yours.

At times it may look like you're falling behind, but keep your eyes straight ahead, and stay in your lane. If you catch yourself drifting to the left or to the right, readjust and get back on track. This is the time to put on your blinders and block out all of the temptations that keep showing up in your peripheral vision. Debt freedom is your prize. Will you leave it unclaimed or will you press on toward the goal to win the prize that God has predestined for you to obtain? If you choose the latter, I'll see you at the finish line!

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

Take the Limits Off!

The song by Israel and new Breed says, "No limits, no boundaries, I see increase, all around me. Stretch forth, break forth, release me, enlarge my territory." Translation? Get out of debt! That's what it means in my mind anyway... No limits, no boundaries =  Lord, you have designed me to live free. I want to be able to answer all of your financial calls no matter how big or small. I can have all of the desires of my heart debt free.

I see increase all around me = Lord, as I get out of debt I'll see my savings and giving continue to grow. I believe that I'll have more money at the end of my month, instead of more month at the end of my money.

Stretch forth, break forth = Lord, I can't do this without you. You are my source! I recognize and call on your supernatural power to get me through this process.

Release me = Lord, I no longer have the desire to live in financial slavery. Free me from the hands of my lenders. Allow me to be a better steward than I was before.

Enlarge my territory = Lord, as I continue to manage the money that I have and sow seeds, multiply my harvest so that I may be ruler over much more. Allow me to touch more lives than ever before!

Let's take off our financial limits by living debt free. Let's show the world just how blessed the children of God are. We will stand out by living limitless, debt free lives. Today I choose to take the limits off!

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

Fighting Temptation

Is it just me, or does it seem as if every time you start to change a habit, people, things, and every other distraction start coming out of the woodwork? Well let me tell you, getting out of debt is no different. I can't even begin to tell you the number of trips, sales, movies, events and group outings that I've turned down so that I could stay on the debt freedom track. It's a hard thing to do, especially when you've been buying what you want, when you want, with no regard to the long-term impact that it could have. Here are some things that have helped me, that may help you as well...

1. Avoid the need to eat out - Start packing your breakfast and lunch for work, and start cooking dinner at home.

2. Cancel e-mail subscriptions from your favorite stores - You simply don't need to be tempted by weekly sales...talk about torture! Out of sight, out of mind.

3. Budget for outings - Plan and save for something fun each month so that you don't feel completely deprived and turn into a caveman/woman.

4. Weekends before 5pm - Schedule activities and meals during off-peak hours when the cost is usually cheaper.

5. Check your progress daily - With your goals at the front of your mind, it's a lot easier to stay focused.

6. Just say no! - Honor your budget. You'll thank yourself later.

While you may not be able to participate in or buy everything that you want right now, find a few things to do that won't hinder your progress or completely eliminate your social life. Remember, we're leaving behind the old, and walking into the new. You will be tempted. What will be your escape route?

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