Live like no one else

Yesterday, we had free tickets to go to the Dave Ramsey “Total Money Makeover Live Event”…so we went – because I like free stuff.  Now, we are fortunate – we have basically done all of the baby steps in his plan.  We don’t have debt (except the house and now med school loans – and we aren’t taking out nearly as much as most); we have a good bit in our IRA/403b accounts; we have 3-6 months of expenses in savings.  And ministers aren’t exactly raking in the big bucks.  But we’re smart and practical.  We made it through college and seminary without debt at all – which is rare these days. 

But I went to the event because some church folks had talked about doing his “Financial Peace University” course at church.  This is an important issue that churches need to address, but after going to the event, I’m just not sure if this is the program we want to use.  It felt a little to me like the prosperity gospel – aka Joel Osteen.  (sidenote – one of the church members brought me an article on him today entitled, “God wants you to be rich now” because of a recent conversation on this very topic – ha).  Is that really what we are called to be – rich?  Dave Ramsey had a good beginning – being frugal, getting out of debt, saving money, and in the end he did talk about giving, but it seemed like an afterthought.  His slogan is “Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else”  meaning, if you are smart with your money now and make sacrifcices, then one day you can have all of the nice things – the nice cars, lobster, the big house, nice clothes – and still be debt free.  But why is that the goal?  He claims a Christian message and quotes a good bit of scripture, but to me faithful living is not working to become rich so you can have nice things, but working to be rich so you can be a blessing to others.  Ghandi said, “there is enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”  That makes perfect sense, and goes right along with the biblical notions of Jubilee and redistribution.  I would love to see a cage match debate between Dave Ramsey and Shane Claiborne…I would even pay money for that.

Personally, the way I look at it, I am living on the generosity of others – my paycheck comes from the offering of the congregation.  To me, that’s a pretty big responsibility and I can’t justify frivilous spending.  Of course, we are particularly frugal right now with my love in school.  again.  We don’t have cable.  We don’t have nice cars.  We don’t have a big nice house in a nice neighborhood.  We don’t have fancy things – we have old second/third/fourth hand furniture and the things we got as wedding and baby gifts.  Don’t get me wrong – I am so thankful for what we have and know that others are not as fortunate.  I’m not complaining.  I’m just stating the facts.  And I think about my love being a fancy pants doctor one day…and I have an internal battle with myself.  On one hand, I want to have nice things – at least couches that aren’t blue and pink and stained and nasty.  I want a nicer house in a nicer neighborhood.  I want a pedicure.  I want TBS and TNT and USA and Lifetime and MTV.  But then I think about the Church Unbound conference we went to in the beginning of July…and the thought of simple living.  It’s not about how much you make, but how you spend it.  My love could be bringing in lots of money one day, but what could we really do with that?  It would be nice to splurge a little, but I feel called to be faithful.  To really “live like no one else”.  To give my money away joyfully and abundantly – to redistribute the wealth – to share the well.  I could go on forever…I won’t here, but the internal debate continues…

For those of you who come to read about light, funny things Piglet does, sorry – but here’s a little update – she’s WALKING.  crazy.  And she’s plays peekaboo really well.  She will hold a towel over her face (without any prompting) and wait until you say, “Where’s Piglet?”  Then she pulls it down and laughs hysterically as you say, “There she is”  And repeat…repeat…repeat….so much fun, I could play all day.

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