My 30-day TV fast, day 30(ish)

[For those of you who care about things like this, the thirteenth was day 30 of my TV fast, but I’m writing this on the twelfth and publishing it on the fourteenth.  So, I guess I’m writing this in the past (when you read it), but it is about future events (when I write it).  I’m so sci-fi.]

There isn’t really much to report about my TV fast.  It was pretty low impact, except that I missed the start of the NFL season, but at least my Lions and my hubby’s Packers both won (yes, I’m a Lions’ fan, is that a problem?  No?  Good).  I didn’t miss it much, except when my kids were sick and kind of snuggly and I couldn’t cuddle up with them and watch a movie.  I might even try to convince my hubby to sell the TV.  We’ll see.

Anyway, since it had so little impact, I am acknowledging that it was kind of a cop-out.  What I really should have done is an internet fast.  That is where I waste the most time these days.  And that’s why I’m writing this post before my 30 days is really up.  We are going to Colorado to determine where we want to live when we move (what neighborhood, or rather, what neighborhoods we don’t want to live in) and we leave tomorrow (or yesterday by the time you read this).  I think, though, I am going to do a 30 day internet fast beginning the fourteenth (today).  I haven’t determined the rules yet, but I still have two more days to do that (it will probably involve at least getting online once a day or so to clear out my email inbox).

The point is this: I’m going to use that time to determine if I want to keep blogging or not.  I feel like this whole thing has taken a turn that I never really intended.  I just want to evaluate why I do it, what my goal of blogging is, how much time I want to invest, etc.  If I determine that I want to keep blogging, I’ll launch my new blog when my 30 days are up.  If I decide not to continue, I’ll let you know then.

[As an aside, I get, like, at least 100 new posts in my feed reader a day, so I’m not going to be able to read everything when my 30 days are up.  So, if you are reading this and you write something really cool between now and October 14th, please leave a link to it in the comments of this post.  Otherwise I probably won’t read it.]

My debt free journey, again

I received an awesome comment on my post here that I wanted to share.  I think it raises valid questions and wanted to address them, but rather than just do it in the comments (and write a novel because he raises a lot of good points), I thought I would just make it another post.  If you haven’t read that post, go read it and then come back and read this one.

Here is the comment from Robert Cullen that this post is going to address:

I find it interesting and slightly ironic that you’re chosen method of clearing debt involves purchasing a membership… Not yours personally but that Dave Ramsey person.

Also not to be over critical but… God’s opinion on debt is?

Proverbs 22:7–”The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” If you borrow money from anybody, you become a “slave” to them. If you owe somebody money, then you are not free to do as you choose with your money until you pay back your debt.

I’m trying my hardest not to insult your religion as I’m agnostic but If Gods opinion is as above – then the end of the world is nigh… Most of the countries of the world are in debt and if a country is in debt, then does that mean that the whole country is slaves to the countries lender?

To be honest if that is the case, then I’m even further from the belief of God than I am when I first started….

As I said – Not looking to start a religious debate, but I can’t see how telling someone they’re a slave to someone else because they’re in debt… would ever help someone get out of debt… also how signing up to something that costs money, could ever get you out of debt either!?

Thanks,

Robert.

I honestly thought that he raised some awesome points (and wrote a really long novel of a comment reply before I decided to just make a post out of it).  First, Financial Peace University.  To clarify, taking this class was not my method of getting out of debt.  It was a thirteen week course that my husband and I took to learn how to use money.  One of the things addressed in the class is getting out of debt, but there are also entire classes on budgeting, investing, insurance, dealing with creditors, getting a good deal, and many other subjects.  Five years ago when we took the class, it cost about $100, and we thought it was worth it at the time (I still think it was worth it).  Not everybody will want to or need to take a class to learn how to handle money.  There is nothing in the class that you can’t learn on your own if you really want to do so.  We chose to take the class, others wouldn’t, but taking the class was not how we got out of debt.  It gave us some tools that we didn’t have before we took the class that we then used to get out of debt.

We also, now, have a lifetime membership (included with our onetime $100 class registration fee) so that we can take the class again any time we choose at no cost.  If we want a refresher on some aspect or want to take the whole class again with our children (something we will no doubt do at some point), then we can do so (because the lifetime membership includes our entire household).  Dave Ramsey can rub a lot of people the wrong way, so the class isn’t for everybody, but we enjoyed it and recommend it to all of our friends (and complete strangers).  One thing that we got out of it that we didn’t expect was that we now communicate a lot better than we did before we took the class, and that in itself was worth the $100.

Now on to the landmine topic that was set up for me next: The borrower is slave to the lender.  Ouch.  It does seem overly harsh, doesn’t it.  I can see how somebody would be turned off by this.  I probably would have been turned off by it before I came a Christian (almost ten years ago now), but disagreeing with it doesn’t make it untrue.  I have seen this statement played out in my own life, so I accept it because I have lived it.  Somebody who has not had the same experiences with money that I had might feel differently.  Let me explain how it played out in my life.

When I was growing up we didn’t have money, so I never learned to handle money.  So, when I went to college and took out loans, that was fine with me.  When I got credit cards so I could do what I wanted to do, that was great.  When I wanted a new car and had car payments that I (realistically) couldn’t afford, it was okay because we had a great car.  The thing that I started to regret, though, was that all of my money had somebody else’s name on it.  When my husband and I got paid, our money went to Sallie Mae, or Countrywide, or Chase, or Visa, or whoever else we owed.  We didn’t have enough left over to give to ourselves (that is, save), nor did we have funds to help people we knew who were in need, or to give to charities that we admired, or for anything else that we wanted to do.

Once we were out of debt, though, we were FREE to give to the needy, support charities that we liked, go on vacation without paying interest on it (our families are both 1500 miles away, so this was a big one).  We have paid for a car, a furnace, a water heater, a deck, a roof, two births, two ER visits, and so much more without having to worry about how much it was going to cost.  We have a twelve-month emergency fund, so all of these things were covered.  We then just pay ourselves back, interest-free, so we never owe anybody anything.  Our money isn’t OBLIGATED to anything else.  Admittedly, we are not entirely debt free, since we still have a mortgage, but it is less than 25% of our income so we can still give, save, and spend pretty freely.  Someday we’ll pay off our mortgage, too, and then we’ll be even more free to do what we want to do with our money.  (I fully acknowledge that there are other bills that are not debt-related that we are still obligated to pay once we are debt-free, but they are far fewer and smaller than a mortgage or car payment or student loan payment and are but a small portion of our income.)

So, that is the sense in which I believe the statement from Proverbs (the borrower is slave to the lender) is true.  When I borrow money I am obligated to do something with the money that I get after that, that is, pay back the loan.  If I don’t borrow money, I am free to do with my money as I please.

As far as nations, and how they should spend their money, I usually don’t get political here, but I’ll give you a little taste.  There are a lot of people who would say that governments should spend their money the same way that individuals and households do.  There was probably a time when I would have said the same.  I tend to have a different opinion now, though, and please bear with me as I outline it.  I believe that part of the job of nations (and I would argue individuals) is to take care of those in need.  If we can’t take care of those around us (or, in the case of countries, our citizens) who are impoverished, who are sick and needy, who fall on hard times, then we are in sad shape.  As such, the worst time to cut spending on programs that help the (truly) needy is when we are in an economic recession.  We also cannot, as a nation, expect those same people who go hungry or are struggling to pay their bills to pay higher taxes.  It is unrealistic and uncaring.  There may be times when nations should handle their money the way that households do, but that time for the US is not now.  That is about as political as I get here, so let’s leave it at that.

I’m sorry that my personal views cause anybody not to believe in God.  As a former-atheist-turned-agnostic-turned-Christian, I get it.  There are a lot of things that people who don’t believe in Christianity don’t agree with about Christianity.  There are also a lot of wrong interpretations out there that drive people away from Christ.  I find it unfortunate, but that won’t keep me from telling the truth.  I do appreciate correction when it is necessary (and have received some lately, thanks Lisha), so feel free to give me feedback.  The truth about God and money is that the Bible is full of references to money (over 800 by some counts) and one of the common themes is don’t lend or borrow money at interest.

I know that my beliefs aren’t popular.  I’ve never been normal and I don’t intend to start now.  I also know that the way that I got out of debt is not the way that everybody does it, nor do I for a second believe that everybody will choose to follow in my footsteps (or follow their own path to financial freedom).  I do hope that people will experience the liberating feeling that is being debt-free, but I hope that nobody will fault me for wanting others to experience freedom the way that I have.

Hate « Badly Drawn Bible

Hate « Badly Drawn Bible.

 

I love this blog.  So many reasons that I can’t list them all.  Here’s one for all the haters out there.

Theology Thursday: My Conversation With An Atheist

Theology Thursday: My Conversation With An Atheist.

 

So, first off, I read too many blogs.  Now that I’ve said that, here’s an interesting “conversation” (in quotes because usually I wouldn’t normally use the word conversation to mean a comments exchange) between a godly woman and an angry atheist.  Enjoy!

What would Jesus like? | Think Christian

What would Jesus like? | Think Christian.

 

For all you Facebookers out there.  Enjoy!

Wisdom is calling

Proverbs 1:20-33 (AMP)–Wisdom cries aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the markets; She cries at the head of the noisy intersections [in the chief gathering places]; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: How long, O simple ones [open to evil], will you love being simple? And the scoffers delight in scoffing and [self-confident] fools hate knowledge? If you will turn (repent) and give heed to my reproof, behold, I [Wisdom] will pour out my spirit upon you, I will make my words known to you.

Because I have called and you have refused [to answer], have stretched out my hand and no man has heeded it, And you treated as nothing all my counsel and would accept none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when the thing comes that shall cause you terror and panic–When your panic comes as a storm and desolation and your calamity comes on as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then will they call upon me [Wisdom] but I will not answer; they will seek me early and diligently but they will not find me.

Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord, Would accept none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof, Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices. For the backsliding of the simple shall slay them, and the careless ease of [self-confident] fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkens to me [Wisdom] shall dwell securely and in confident trust and shall be quiet, without fear or dread of evil.

I’m not a very visual person.  When I think of something that can be represented in physical space, I don’t usually picture it in my head.  When I read a book, I don’t usually imagine what the characters look like or what their surroundings are like.  I just don’t think visually most of the time.  So, when something does strike me in a way that causes me to see it in my head, I usually take note.  This passage is one of those things.

This is the picture that comes to mind (and, if you are not a visual thinker like I am not, then you probably won’t see it, either, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t understand).  There is a busy outdoor market, like a bazaar or something.  There are lots of stands where people can buy various foods and goods, and they are.  The roads are packed with people talking, bartering, haggling, greeting one another, etc.  There are street entertainers performing for the crowds.  There, in the midst of all of the hustle and bustle, is one woman shouting out for people to come to her.  She is yelling, trying to be heard over the noise.  Her message is urgent, but few hear it because of all the distractions.  Few come to her house of learning that is open to all and the message doesn’t get through the crowded streets to those who need to hear it most.

And that woman is us.  Crying out in the streets that the world needs wisdom.  Being heard by only a few.

What does this really mean?

1 Corinthians 14:33-34 (AMP)–For He [Who is the source of their prophesying] is not a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and order. As [is the practice] in all the churches of the saints (God’s people), the women should keep quiet in the churches, for they are not authorized to speak, but should take a secondary and subordinate place, just as the Law also says.

So, I have mentioned before how I did not grow up a Christian.  I was a pretty independent young woman with certain ideas about how the world worked (or how it should work).  I had a lot of feminist and liberal leanings, which I won’t go into detail on.  Suffice it to say that I thought that I was just as good, just as smart (usually smarter), just as capable as any man and I was never going to subject myself to anyone, but especially not a man.

I took this idea of not being “womanly” (read: weak) further than I should have.  I didn’t like girls.  I didn’t like doing the things that girls did (cooking, sewing, crafting, caring for children, etc.).  I wasn’t going to follow “the rules.”  I was never going to get married, have children, become domestic.

Well, I’ve obviously changed my mind about most of those things.  I am married with two children.  I am a stay-at-home mom.  I love to cook.  I own a sewing machine (although, I’m still working on learning how to use it).  I do lots of things that I never thought I would ever do and I am exceptionally happy doing them (most of them . . . cleaning house still isn’t one of my favorite things).

So, having said all of that, let’s talk about this passage in 1 Corinthians.  I accept that it is a part of the Bible and I submit to God’s Word.  I have no problem with the fact that it is there, but I do take issue with the way that a lot of people interpret it BECAUSE IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE WITH THE REST OF THE BIBLE.  Let me explain.

The Fundamentalist take on this passage: women shouldn’t have authority over men in any aspect of church life (and sometimes in other aspects of life).  They cannot be pastors, teachers (except to children or other women), leaders (prayer leaders, worship leaders, deacons or elders, ministry leaders that would place them in authority over men), and many other things.  Women can be leaders only when men are not involved.  Their husbands can be leaders and they can influence the church only through their husbands.  This is a very literal interpretation of this passage, which is the way that Fundamentalists interpret the Bible: literally.

The Liberal take on this passage: women can do anything in the church.  This passage applies specifically to the Corinthian church at that time and discusses cultural issues that arose in that specific church.  The part of this passage that still applies today is the part speaking about orderly worship (because that is the context).

[An aside: I have no problem with submitting to my husband.  I also don’t have a problem with women not being pastors or elders.  My issue is where people decide to draw the line between what is acceptable and unacceptable for women to do.  It just seems so arbitrary at times.  But, I digress.]

I think they both miss the mark.  I’m pretty moderate, so, naturally, my take on it is somewhere in between.  I’m not saying that I’m right (I’m no expert), but I think that in order to accept either of these extreme interpretations you have to ignore a lot of what the Bible says about the matter.

Where Fundamentalists miss the mark is in their failure to recognize the examples in the Old and New Testaments of women taking on these and other roles that they deny women today.  The Amplified Bible footnote for Judges 4:4 has this to say about the Judge and Prophet Deborah:

According to Num. 11:25, the prophetic gift has its source in the “Spirit of the Lord.” The prophet is a spokesman of God and for God. Miriam was the first prophetess who praised God before all the people (Exod. 15:20). Deborah was not like Miriam, the sister of such men as Moses and Aaron. The objective Spirit of her God elevates her above her people, above heroes before and after her. Not only the ecstasy of enthusiasm, but also the calm wisdom of that Spirit Who informs the law dwells in her. Of no judge until Samuel [the last of the major judges] is it expressly said that he was a “prophet.” Of none until him can it be said that he was possessed of the popular authority necessary for the office of judge. The position of Deborah in Israel is therefore a twofold testimony: it proves the relaxation of spiritual and manly energy, and, secondly, the undying might of divine truth, as delivered by Moses, comes brilliantly to view. History shows many instances where in times of distress, when men despaired, women arose and saved their nation; but in all such cases there must be an unextinguished spark of the old fire in the people themselves. Israel, formerly encouraged by the great exploit of a left-handed man–Ehud (Judg. 3:15), is now quickened by the glowing word of a noble woman (J.P. Lange, A Commentary).

If women in Biblical times could be prophetessess, deaconesses, doorkeepers, and hold other positions in the temple and the churches, I find it hard to accept that they cannot do the same today.  But, before you get too upset with me . . .

Where Liberals miss the mark is in their insistence that men and women are the same.  They were created different, a fact that we cannot ignore.  Even science can’t ignore the fact that men and women are different (recent studies including this one have shown sex specific differences in the brain transmitted through epigenetic mechanisms).  Women have never been priests or elders, which (I believe) translates to women not being pastors or elders in the modern church.

I don’t want to be accused of ignoring passages like 1 Corinthians 11:3-12 and 1 Timothy 2:11 that point out how men and women are different and should worship differently.  I acknowledge that men and women are different.  I fully accept that there are reasons for women not taking on the role of pastor or elder, but I cannot accept that God doesn’t want women to share the gifts that He gave us.  Some women are gifted musically, in teaching, leadership, administration, and many other areas.  They should use those gifts to edify the body of Christ.

There is a lot more that I could say on this topic, but I’ll just leave it there for now.  PLEASE, feel free to disagree with me.  Like I said before, I don’t have all the answers.

So, what do you think?

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