We had the privilege on Sunday October 15, 2017 to share our journey to financial peace with Connect Christian Church. We talked about “Choosing Freedom” from debt and shared an acrostic for HOPE explaining how we chose freedom in 2009 and how you can choose freedom from debt as well. Check out the sermon video below:
The keys to finding financial peace and kicking debt out of your life is recognizing you need to be Honest with yourself, understand you have Options and Opportunities, have a financial Plan (aka a budget) and Execute your financial pan.
H – Honest with yourself
O – Options and Opportunities
P – Plan
E – Execute, no Excuses
We would love to do this more often and share our story with other churches. If we only encourage one person to choose freedom it is worth every minute. Feel free to contact us if we can help/serve your church or business.
Alright Connect… Now that we’ve talked about hot sex for four weeks and said Yes to Kids (not sure if we thought that combination through or not). Let’s talk about something really fun, MONEY!! Thanks Mike I hope you are enjoying your vacation… I’m kicking off our next series called FREEDOM! And this week is call Choosing Freedom
I’m James Carwell and I know what you are thinking, is that the guy who is married to that wonderful, sweet and loving women Tish, you would be correct with that statement but I’m also one of the partners here at Connect and co-owner with Tish of E3 Financial Coaching. As partners at Connect, E3 is our ministry here. So Tish and I are available to any other Connect partner to do 1on1 financial coaching absolutely free of charge. As we walk through this message together today on choosing freedom if you want to talk to Tish or I just stop us one week at church or go to connect.cc/e3 or the Connect App on your mobile device and select free financial coachign.
So why is it important for us to talk about debt in church. In a nutshell debt is not allowing us to do the things God has planned for us. Proverbs 22:7 says “The borrower is slave to the lender”. The leadership at Connect doesn’t want you to be enslaved. They want you to live the life God intended for you, to live free from debt and choose freedom.
Tish and I were enslaved back in 2009. I had been an electrical engineer for 12 years and just graduated with my MBA. All outward appearances showed we were successful and could do anything we wanted to do but that was far from the truth. When we were introduced to Dave Ramsey’s principles by a good friend of ours it made me start to really search deep inside myself. Was Tish and I honoring God with what he had blessed us with? Were we making an impact on the world with the blessings He had given us? Were we teaching our kids how to handle money God’s way? I quickly came to the conclusion that we were NOT. I came home from work one day in April 2009 mad, actually I was PISSED OFF. I wasn’t made at Tish, the kids or God. I was mad at myself. I told Tish, look at how much money we had made in these last 12 years and we have nothing to show for it other than some retirement savings, a house, that we didn’t own, cars, that we didn’t own, home remodeling that we financed and the list just kept going on and on and on. Listen folks we even had a flute our daughter was playing in band that we didn’t own. Come on! we were enslaved by a freaking music store! I told Tish we should be like this (show scrooge mcduck) swimming in piles of money around the house but we have nothing to show for all the hard work and blessings God had given us. So that day we bought Dave Ramsey’s Home Study kit and we went to work. We went through Financial Peace University as a family together and haven’t looked back since. We CHOSE FREEDOM!
Given the impact Dave Ramsey has had on our life much of what you hear today comes straight from the principles he teaches in FPU and everyday on his radio show. So I hope if you are a Dave Ramsey fan some of this sounds familiar. If you’ve never heard of FPU then make sure you sign up for the class Connect will be offering in February.
So how do YOU choose to be free from debt? Tish and I like to say it is all about HOPE
H – Honest with yourself
O – Options and Opportunities
P – Plan
E – Execute, no Excuses
The first part of Hope is being honest with yourself. We learned the hard way that debt isn’t a math problem it is a behavior problem. You got yourself into this mess now you need to scrape, claw and fight your way out of it. You need to get to the point where you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Look around you, 7 out of 10 people in America today are living paycheck to paycheck. That means there are at least 50 people in this room today that generally have too much month left at the end of the money. Part of honesty is asking you to look in the mirror like Tish and I did back in 2009. You need to ask yourself is this what God made you to be. Are you honoring him with your financial behaviors. Is all the “stuff” you are you’re searching for and struggling with worth all the risk you are putting your family in? Who are you trying to impress? John 5:44 (NLV) says 44 How can you believe when you are always wanting honor from each other? And yet you do not look for the honor that comes from the only God.
When I was in high school I can remember driving around in my Honda Accord with the tinted windows and the music blaring out the extra large sub-woofers in the back, all while I was leaning to one side. One hand on the wheel and my babe on my side. Can anyone else relate to that? I want to make it perfectly clear that I did keep my pants above my boxers though. I was trying to impress all these strangers that I would never saw again. Boy was I dumb, I was too worried about impressing strangers than worrying about impressing the owner of the universe.
In 2017 Americans have borrowed more money than they had at the height of the credit bubble in 2008. The average american is $136,643 in debt with an average credit card balance of $16,748. Do you realize if you are like the average american with your credit card debt you are paying over $2700 in interest payments each year? To put that into perspective that would be over ½ of the average american’s Tithe for the year, you could feed over 10 kids in Haiti 3 meals a day for a year. Or another way to look at it if you have the average balance on your credit card and you make the minimum payment (2%) it will take you nearly 55 years to pay it off and you would have paid over $48,106 in interest. I wonder why all the banks spend so much money peddling their credit cards? So the first step is to be honest with yourself, get mad and determined to change. You got yourself into this now it is time to get yourself out of it! Tish and I had to get pissed off before we could make the change.
The second part of our HOPE acrostic is to understand you have Options and Opportunities.
Luke 16 says 10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? Earlier I talked with you about a conversation I had with a good friend of mine about Dave Ramsey. I believe that was a God ordained conversation. God didn’t want Tish and I to continue to be enslaved, He was giving us options and opportunities for freedom. While that conversation got me mad and caused me to be honest with myself it also showed me we had options and opportunities to break the chains. Everyday we are faced with options, we have the option to do things a number of different ways which will led us in a certain direction. You have the option to keep buying stuff and accumulating debt which results in you becoming more and more weighted down and enslaved by your lenders. Or you have the option to sell the boat, extra clothes, furniture, that treadmill that has enough dust on it to make yourself a new sweater to replace the one you sold. You need to sell enough stuff that your pets and kids feel like they will be next. If you haven’t used it or seen it in six months sell it. You also have the the option to sacrifice some expenses. When Tish and I started our journey on choosing freedom we turned off texting, cut out cable tv, reduced how much we were eating out, stopped sports and musical instrument lesson and etc. Just remember it is only for a short period of time.
You also have the opportunity to produce more income. There is a great place to go when you are broke, go to work. During our journey I worked overtime, Tish worked an entire summer with me to earn money for our emergency fund. You have the opportunity to do the same and guess what, now that you don’t have cable you’ll have more time to spare to work since you don’t need to know what Boy Toy got voted off the The Bachelorette or which NFL player can dance better than the child actor you remember from your childhood. Work like no one else so one day you can WORK like no one else. All those things are hard and hurt but this is important guys… Tish and I chose the pain of discipline over the pain of regret. We had so much regret from poor decisions we made in our past we had felt that pain and didn’t want to continue with that pain for the next 20 years. We chose the pain of discipline which lasted for a couple years and now we can enjoy the next 50 years together without the pain of regret. We chose to break the chains of debt. As it says in Hebrews 12:11 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
What do you want to chose the pain of discipline or the pain of regret? Tish and I’ve felt both; trust me you want the pain of discipline.
The Third part of HOPE is to develop a Plan. Here it comes the dreaded B word. You know what it is and I’m going to just say it, Are you ready? Budget. There you go I said it in church and I’m not ashamed. Your budget is your plan for how you are going to use your biggest wealth building tool; your income. Proverbs 27 23 Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, And attend to your herds; 24For riches are not forever,. If you don’t have a plan for your money it WILL leave you.
You need to be diligent and understand where your money is going. As Dave Ramsey says “You can wander into debt but you can’t wander out of it.” Your budget is your plan and it needs to be complete and agreed upon before the month begins. Use a budget to be your compass or guide on how you are going to spend your money don’t aimlessly wander around for the rest of life wondering what happened. Be in control and tell your money where to go and how to work for you and your family.
Most people we come in contact with have a negative opinion about budgets. It isn’t because budgets are bad it is because we have the wrong idea about budgets. Budgets are not controlling and restructure, the last time I checked a budget is just a piece of paper or a spreadsheet on a computer and has no power to make you do anything. A budget is simply a blueprint for how you want to build your financial house. If you want to spend all your money eating out and not pay down your debt you can choose to do that and your budget can reflect that. I wouldn’t recommend to do that but the point I’m trying to get at is your budget isn’t telling you what to spend your money on you are. You make the budget so make the budget say what you want it to say. Remember this though, your budget is simply a reflection of what is important to you. A good exercise we like to have people do is track your expenses for a month or look at your budget if you already have one then highlight the top three things you spend the most money on besides your house. Are those the most important things in your life. Is that chipotle burrito more important than having an emergency fund to take care of you or your family in a time of crisis. Is paying interest to the bank on your car loan more important than making sure you have or can afford life insurance? Is going on vacation more important than being able to help a friend adopt a child? Matthew 6:21 says 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. This exercise of identifying your top three items will open your eyes and help you understand where your heart lies at this moment in time but this is just a single moment in time and you can choose where you heart lies from this point forward.
When I doing research for this sermon I found some alarming statistics. Did you know that bank overdraft fees were $33.3Billion dollars last year according to the Wall Street Journal and the crazy part is the average amount consumers overdraft is $24 while the average overage fee is $34. I can tell you that since Tish and I have chosen to follow a plan (a budget) we haven’t had to pay a single overdraft fee. We are sick and tired of seeing christians give God’s money to the banks. This is going to hurt but overdraft fees are just us being lazy. Understand God owns it all, don’t be lazy and foolish with what he has given you.
You know what else is cool about choosing to have a plan for your money; it feels like you got a raise. I can’t tell you how many people do 1on1 coaching sessions with Tish and I who come in for the first session and say “we don’t have any extra money, we live paycheck to paycheck” but after a few sessions, developing a plan and changing some behaviors they feel like they got a raise and start making a big impact on paying off debt and changing their financial future. Managed money feels like you got a raise
The last part of our HOPE acrostic is to Execute, NO Excuses. You’ve been honest with yourself, you have discovered you have Options and Opportunities and you have a plan but without execution none of that matters. Watch the screens; Tish and I would like to share a special moment we had just last week.
That was a result of Tish and I following the steps I shared with you today. Tish and I want to be there cheering you on when you do your debt free scream. You have to be sick and tired of being sick and tired. You have to stop making excuses and start making things happen. You are in control. You can do this. You can change your family tree just like we did. I am so proud of our kids. This isn’t Facebook so I’m not going to lie to you and say our kids are perfect but because Tish and I choose be honest, choose to take advantage of Options and Opportunities, choose to develop a plan and then choose to execute we have changed our family tree. Our kids are killing it. All four of them live on a budget, save and most importantly they give. How much could you save, invest or give if you didn’t have any payments? How much of a difference could we make in this world if we didn’t have any debt payments?
God, the leadership of Connect and E3 Financial Coaching do not want you to be enslaved anymore. We want you to choose freedom and live like no one else so later you can live and GIVE like no one else. I know some of you are saying I can’t do this James, you don’t understand how much debt I have, you don’t understand how little money I make, you just don’t understand my situation. I’m here to tell you that what I do understand is your heavenly Father loves and adores you. You are not an afterthought in his daily routine, you are on his mind every second of every day. I also understand that your heavenly Father is richer than anyone you can ever imagine. He owns the cattle on a thousands hills and He owns the hills. I love how Dave Ramsey ends his radio show. He says, “there’s ultimately only one way to financial peace, and that’s to walk daily with the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus.” If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus please do not let another day pass without talking with our Care team that will be over by the Care sign directly following the service. You can talk to me or Brian as well. I want to make sure you know that your heavenly Father loves and adores you. He wants to throw a huge party for you when you come home and accept him as your personal Lord and Savior. Take that first step and make Him your master then we can work together on kicking these debt masters out of your life.
Isn’t our heavenly Father beautiful. He has no rival, He has no equal. Nothing can stand against Him. He is a alive. If you are still thinking about making Him your Lord and savior stop thinking about it. If you are still thinking about telling someone you need help with your finances, stop thinking about it. The care team is there waiting to walk alongside you. Get up right now, get up while I’m talking, get up while we celebrate Jesus in this next song, make that first step in choosing freedom!!!! I know 78% of you are struggling financially. I also know that if our heavenly father would allow his son to come down to earth and go through what he did he will certainly help you get through this. He is Alive and He has set us FREE! Let’s break the chains of debt Connect! Lets kick these debt masters out of life. Lets choose freedom and set ourselves free and celebrate that with this last song.