Being at Peace . . . Financially

by Jerry Verseput, Elder

Talking about finances is always a dicey subject for churches.  On one hand, faithful and sacrificial giving is an important spiritual discipline that teaches us to depend on God and allows us to have a tangible part in the story God is directing for the world.  On the other hand, the church needs money to keep the lights on and paper towels stocked in the bathroom, so teaching about money is often viewed with some skepticism.

Although this can be uncomfortable, Oak Hills has waded knee-deep into financial topics this month, with a Budget Seminar and Estate Planning Seminar this weekend (29th and 30th), and a 13-week Financial Peace University (FPU) class kicking off on Feb 10.  Since I’m facilitating the FPU class, I wanted to talk a little about why I’m excited about it.

FPU is a biblically-based video class taught by Dave Ramsey, and is focused on getting out of debt, staying out of debt, and establishing a lifestyle that is free of debt.  Credit card debt has tripled over the last 20 years, and going into debt to pay for things we can’t afford can be a habit that is extremely hard to break.  The average family that goes through FPU pays off $5,300 in debt, although there are plenty of dramatic stories that go far beyond that.  If you missed the interview with Andrew and Shelley Cloutier last Sunday, they mentioned that they got rid of $88,000 in debt when they went through the class about a year and a half ago.  That’s not paying off some credit cards.  That’s establishing a new lifestyle.

When the Bible talks about debt, it is often in the context of bondage or slavery.  It is difficult to answer the call of God to give generously when you still owe a creditor for something that you stopped using a year ago. But debt isn’t the only thing that can drain our resources and prevent us from helping others.  Have you ever signed up for a Zero Interest/Zero Payments promotion but forgot to pay off the balance on time?  Have you ever paid a certain price for an item, and then found out someone else got it much cheaper because they asked for a discount?  This is what Dave Ramsey calls the “Stupid Tax,” and I am guilty of paying it more than once.  So the class is not a 13-week beat-down on staying out of debt.

Topics include:

–        Credit Sharks In Suits: Understanding Credit Bureaus and Collection Practices

–        Clause and Effect: The Role of Insurance

–        Of Mice and Mutual Funds: Understanding Investments

–        The Great Misunderstanding: Unleashing the Power of Generous Giving

I’m hoping it will be a lot of fun (since I’m going to be there for 13 weeks as well), and it’s not too late to sign up.  You can either call the church office or contact me (Jerry Verseput, 916-817-1940) for more details.

Editor’s Note:  Contact Jerry Verseput if you’re interested in the Financial Peace University small group.  If you are interested in the one-day Budget Seminar coming this Saturday or the free Estate Planning Seminar this coming Sunday afternoon, please contact Pastor Rick at 983-0182 x12.

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