Monday, November 10, 2008

Before We Begin (Part 1)

Frugality: Stretching God's hard-earned dollars so you can simplify, save and generously give more!

Frugality is not a onetime choice; it is a lifestyle! A way of life, that once adopted, leads to exciting memories and a less stressed family life. The biblical purpose of Frugality is to stretch God's hard-earned dollars, so we can simplify, save, and generously give more to the Lord! Being frugal is the, "practice of economy, the art of being thrifty" — it is one tool the Lord has used in my life to teach self-control. The Lord addresses the handing of money over 2,000 times throughout the Bible – money/possessions are referenced more than any other topic in the Bible.

Obviously, it is a very important topic to God, so it needs to be important to us! The Bible says in Deut. 11:26-28, “... I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse- the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.” I believe that we are passing on a curse or a blessing to our children and future generations based on how well we obey the 1st commandment, “thou shall have no other God’s”. We are so good at making money our god. My prayer for you is that money will be a healthy tool used in your family to bless the generations and provide for your family’s needs! Remember that our children are watching, Luke 6:40 states, “A disciple is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”

Your children are the disciple and you are the teacher, how well are you teaching and preparing them to handle money? Abraham Lincoln once said, “A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started. He is going to sit where you are sitting and when you are gone, attend to those things that you think are important. You may adopt all of the policies you please, but how they are carried out depends on him. He will assume control of your cities, states, and nations. He is going to move in and take over your churches, schools, universities, and corporations. The fate of humanity is in his hands."

A few years ago the Lord spoke to my husband and I during one of our “fasting months.” These fasting months we have twice a year (February & August), our family commits to only buying the very basic of necessities. We block out television and dining out from our month and focus on our family and the Lord. We make it fun by finding free family things – like a free evening at the art museum or by taking a picnic to a park and feeding the ducks. Life seems to be simpler that month and we all enjoy the fun memories of eating “rice like the Chinese for a day” or camping outside under the star. Each time our fasting month rolls around it often turns into a radical mind and heart cleansing. Last February, during our fast, the Lord really pressed on my heart about my view of materialism – I was in love/lust with anything that involved immediate gratification – coffee shops, TV veg. time, fast food, quick grocery trips that were unplanned - you know the one, where you’re hungry and tired and you throw anything and everything into the cart? These things in themselves are not bad, but I was becoming addicted to the “now” mentality, instead of being disciplined to wait and plan.
As parents of two wonderful children, my husband and I were convicted and committed to working on a few basic areas, the process has been slow and steady, but over the past few years we have learned how to sacrifice, save, and enjoy the blessings from the Lord in great abundance.
Before I get to the ways in which we’ve learned to save money, I must stress that there are two ends of a spectrum you will tend to drift towards: either you’ll want to change everything immediately and then crash in exhaustion – also called burnout. Or you’ll say this totally isn’t for me, it takes too much work and time. I humble ask that you find just one idea today that saves you money and try it out. If it does not work for your family, try another idea, or come up with your own ideas to save some money. There is not just 1 method, there are tons! Don’t give up! For example, if you’re eating out 5 days a week, start by only eating out 3 times a week, or spending 600.00 a month on groceries, commit to spending only 500.00. The bible says in proverbs 21:5 that, “Steady plodding brings prosperity; hasty speculation brings poverty.” Remember it’s a journey not a destination – try not to drift to extremes! We cannot idolize money, but we also can’t love being frugal so much that we begin to worship the art of not spending money – try learning how to view money in a balanced and healthy way. God provided us with money to spend wisely and to enjoy within the boundaries of tithing, serving others, meeting family needs, and offerings. Have fun – if you find ways that are fun to you to save money your more apt to stick with it until it becomes adopted as a lifestyle.

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