Archive for August, 2011

My Jeep - stalking prey in it's natural environment

I love Jeeps.  In fact, I’ve had 4 of them (if you count the Grand Cherokee I had for 6 months).  If you count my wife’s Jeep, then I’ve had 5.  My current Jeep is a 2006 Wrangler Rubicon.  I love it, it’s by far the nicest one I’ve owned.  I had a CJ-5 in high school and I bought a CJ-7 just a few years ago.  I got rid of it and the Grand Cherokee to get the Rubicon when I decided owning 2 Jeeps was pretty unnecessary.  My love for Jeeps runs so deep, I even married a girl who owns a Jeep (hers is a 2007 Wrangler Unlimited for those keeping track).  Granted, that’s not the only reason I married her, but it was a pretty sweet selling point.

Now that I’m married, I have been thinking a lot about finances, specifically debt, and wondering if making payments on two Jeeps is a smart idea.  My wife and I have two car payments, a motorcycle payment, credit cards and student loans.  I understand that it’s not so abnormal to owe lots of people money.  In fact, I would venture to guess that you are in a similar situation. Although debt is normal, normal does not seem to be working anymore.  At least not for me.  I see a lot of people around me who are struggling financially, but have no plan of escape, and don’t have any idea how to even start to dig free.  I want to be in charge of my financial life.  My wife and I decided to take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course and in it, we are learning about how to look at money from a different perspective.  To be honest, we just started the course, but it has already taught us a lot about money, retirement, debt, emergency funds, credit cards and savings.

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1499

I put a quarter in, but the loan on the piggy bank is $100 a month

My wife and I have been talking for a few months about our debt and how we plan on getting out of it.  We are both fairly impulsive with our money, and we both want need to make better decisions.  We both want to have more financial freedom and we both want to be able to give money to those who need it.  We also would love to be less tied down by our debt.  We want to be able to move around and do whatever we feel called to do.  We are sick of being stuck by our financial decisions.

We now have a choice to make.  Keep the Jeep because it’s fun, or sell it because it makes financial sense.  If I sell the Jeep, I can make enough money to pay it off and buy a cheap car with the money left over.  How willing am I to get out of debt?  How willing are any of us?  Are you out of debt?  Did you have to make tough decisions?  Are you glad you did?

I’ve heard that a lot, and as a Christian, I’ve said that a lot.  “II pray for you” is the Christian knee-jerk reaction to hearing anything from anyone.

  • You need a job, I’m praying for you.
  • Sick grandma, I’m praying for you, and her, and any other random family members who might be affected.
  • Hey, you lost a limb in a strange farm equipment accident, I’ll be in touch with the Big Guy, maybe He’ll get you a new one.

There is nothing wrong with praying for others.  Prayers of intercession (the ‘hey, look at me, I know big words’ way of saying prayers that help others) are an amazing way to support people.  Why would you not pray for those around you who need help?  All of us know people who have needs.  Whether those needs are physical or spiritual, we are all close to people who could use some prayer.  God is a big God, and why not spend some time talking with Him about the issues on our minds?  I love praying for other people’s needs.  It really helps me take focus off myself, and it reminds me that God is in control.

You know what else is a kind gesture to those in need?  Helping them.  It’s a novel concept, I know.  Some of you are probably staring blankly at the screen, trying to understand what that even means.  ‘Helping them? I’m not sure what he’s getting at.  I mean I said I’d pray for them, what else can I do?’

Not that prayer isn't good, but these kids might need some physical help we can provide right now.

When I see people around me who have needs, I pray for them, but I try to help them when I am able.  If they are feeling low, I offer an ear or a hug, or both.  If they need some money, I offer to help out.  I allow myself to be open to the needs of those around me so that I can be used to reach into their lives.  I get to use my gifts to help others, and I love it.

Where is the love?

Apple Inc. has made so much money during the recession that it is poised to beat ExxonMobile as the most profitable company on the planet.  This is not a statement against Apple, but a question posed to those of us who helped make that happen.  The unemployment rate is just above 9%.  Costs of goods and services are skyrocketing, and yet we spent so much money on unnecessary gadgets this year that we pushed a company that only makes unnecessary gadgets into a position to become the most profitable company in existence.

I have no problems with buying iWhatevers or iShinyThing#3 but where is our neighborly love?  Why must we force social programs onto the shoulders of our government?  If we, as ordinary people, took some time and helped those around us (volunteering at shelters, donating food and clothing, adopting and fostering children…) we wouldn’t need so many government programs.  There are so many people in the world with their legitimate needs left unmet, and so many people with so much excess in their lives, why don’t we give a little bit away to help those around us?

Prayer is an amazing way to help those around us, but we need to realize that sometimes there are practical solutions that we can provide to others.

James 2:15-16 - Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?