FPU: Savings

I first started saving regularly after going through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University a few years ago. I don’t really like saving. I’d rather give money or spend it. But as a result of FPU a few years ago, I started being intentional about savings.

And I started saving just in time. Experience has taught me well. We save today for tomorrow’s troubles. My car has taught me that. 

Two and a half years ago my car died. It was a 99 Honda Civic. It had 145,000 miles on it. I was planning on keeping it till 200,000 miles and was saving up for a new car. Unfortunately, my car never made it to 200,000. It died of a mysterious aliment. The mechanics had no idea what the trouble was. So I had to buy another car years before I thought I’d need to. That’s why you save in advance. You never know. 

Last week I was in a car accident (a minor fender bender in a parking lot). So this month I’m out 500 extra dollars (my deductable). I was not planning on getting into an accident this month. That’s why you save in advance. You never know.

Jesus says:  In this world you will have trouble. He’s right. That’s why we save. We make provisions today for tomorrow’s troubles. God’s word has taught me that. My car troubles have confirmed this teaching.


You *Are* the Black Sheep.

The term black sheep is a familiar one.

Apparently every family has at least one. Oftentimes, the black sheep is the middle kid (full disclosure: I’m a middle kid).

And it’s kind of a bad thing.

The kinds of things that mark someone as a black sheep vary. But when it comes down to it, it means: “You don’t fit in because there’s something wrong with you.” Mama Sheep and Papa Sheep had four lovely white sheep… and then came Bobby Black Sheep. Sigh.

Sheep are one of those nice, neat and tidy Biblical images. Jesus is the Lamb of God. David was a shepherd. God is the Good Shepherd. Pastors sometimes refer to their congregations as “the flock.” We’re sheep. So on and so forth. The visuals accompanying all these sheep were white sheep: white-sheep illustrations, white-sheep flannelgrams, white-sheep stickers, white-sheep posters. So, we can say Bible-sheep are white sheep.

And being the black sheep among a bunch of white sheep is kind of bad because that means you stick out like a sore thumb. The thing about being a sheep is that you’re supposed to work as a unit and go along with the others. You follow directions, and you behave and look like the other sheep. It’s about blending in. 

If you’re a black sheep, you’re in big trouble right from the get-go. You are just different and there’s nothing you can do about it. Basically, Black Sheep are loners, outsiders, and not a part of the larger group.

This feeling of being different and tainted sometimes makes people afraid to join “the flock” on Sundays. Church People have this reputation for being “good.” They’re the white sheep. Black sheep who go to church feel like they have to put on a nice white overcoat to try to fit in, and hope nobody whispers about how their real wool is showing.  

But let’s be honest with one another: We’re all Black Sheep.

None of us stick out like sore thumbs, because we’re all sore thumbs.

This is good news.

The thing about people is we’re not perfect, and we need one another.

We were built to share our struggles and our problems with other people, not necessarily because these other people are perfect and have all the answers, but because these people know what struggles and problems are, simply because they have them, too.

The sooner we realize this, the better we connect and work as a group. When we pretend we’re perfect, and try our hardest not to show our true selves to others, and when the church tries to promote a holier-than-thou kind of image, we’re only hurting ourselves. 

(This Post is the fourth installment in a series inspired by the book How People Grow.)


Attention gardeners

To all my fellow garden-lovers, at St. Paul’s and beyond…

My cup overfloweth – and so do my garden beds! If you are in need of locally tested perennials, please check my yard first!

I encourage anyone who is interested to come by and take a look around – I am happy to split and share. Pachysandra, burning bush, daylily, feverfew, Persicaria “Painter’s Palette”, sweet woodruff, Queen Anne’s lace, Chinese lantern, Evening Primrose, Black-eyed Susan, ajuga, fern, lilac and much more…

Come see for yourself – we are home most evenings. I’m happy to dig and bag for you.

These plants are offered free and without obligation. However, if anyone is so moved, Katie and I are happy to accept contributions to our “overseas travel savings account”.

God bless you, and happy gardening!

SLT this weekend

The SLT will be meeting again this weekend.  We’ll meet from six to nine Friday night (dinner included).  And we’ll meet from eight to twelve Saturday morning (breakfast included).

We’ll be talking about facilities and finances:  two important issues at St. Paul’s.  So if you’re part of the SLT please attend.  If not please pray for us.  I’m looking forward to recieving some much needed wisdom in these two areas for our church.

FPU: Application

Last week we had our first Financial Peace University small group.  This is the second time I’ve gone through the material.  And that’s true for everyone else in the group.  We’ve all been through this material before.

So why are we going through it again?  It’s simple.  Application.  As Dave Ramsey himself says:  “FPU is twenty percent information and eighty percent application.”  Most of what he teaches is common knowledge.  You spend less than you earn.  You save.  You budget.  The problem we have with finances is not information but application.  We fail to apply what we already know.

And that’s why our group is going through the material a second time.  We are looking for more application.  And that’s where the group comes in.  There is built-in accountability in a group.  We are all in this together.  And there is built-in encouragement as well.  We celebrate one another’s sucesses.