Well folks, this is a post that I’ve been meaning to write for a while.  There are a lot of good ministries out there, but very few that I am dogmatic about and will say, “Everyone has to somehow get connected with Ministry XYZ.”  But, I am about to say just that.  Even before the financial crisis, these 2 ministries should have been staple names in every church and every Christian home.

Both Crown Financial Ministries (CFM) and Financial Peace University (FPU) are Christian based programs for helping Christians (and non-believers willing to come to the workshops/conferences) handle their finances in a way that not only honors God above wealth and self, but also increases wealth in amazing ways.  I took CFM workshop in Massachusetts before leaving seminary, and my wife is currently enrolled in FPU at our church here in Tulsa.  I believe that CFM includes a little more Scripture and Christian lingo, but both are unashamed in using the Word and the financial principles found therein to help Christians stop worshipping money, or to put it another way, to stop serving our money and start making our money serve God and us!  I think non-believers would probably connect better with FPU so if you have a non-believing friend who is in need of practical advice, that might be the way to go. 

CFM was started by the late Larry Burkett and FPU by Dave Ramsey.  Ramsey is often a financial expert on Fox News, etc. and that may be another reason non-believers would enjoy it better.  Either way, you will be blessed if you take one of these courses and apply the principles to you life.

My wife and I have always tithed.  There have been months when we flat forgot to…we have not been perfect, but in general, since we were married, we’ve given at least 10% of our income back to God.  I say this, not to brag, but to say that this part has come easier for us in our finances.  It’s really figuring out how to honor God with the other 90% of our money that was a challenge for us.  Particularly, we didn’t know where our spending went.  We never got into any real debt, but we also weren’t saving, investing, etc.  2 months after my attending the CFM during seminary in Massachusetts, our savings account had almost tripled.  Wasteful spending was being knocked out.  Suddenly, we started to believe that God’s principles of money management are amazingly wise words.  Moving back to Tulsa put a big strain on us financially as gas and moving truck and flights and everything else was more than folks who just finished seminary were ready to handle, but just 6 months removed, we’ve paid off the thousands in Credit Card charges from the move and our savings is back to where it was pre-move!  My wife is right in the middle of FPU and it seems like we are starting to apply even more of these great principles, and it is even looking like we might double our savings in just this month alone!  I share this, not to brag, and believe me when I say that even after our savings is doubled, we aren’t rolling in the money by any means, but we are starting to make our money serve God and us more and we are serving our money less.  There is a funny video about this you can see here:  http://www.metacafe.com/watch/917506/theres_something_about_benjamin/.  While I’m talking about money advise and funny videos, you have to watch this:  http://consumerist.com/consumer/clips/snl-skit-dont-buy-stuff-you-cant-afford-252491.php

My wife is taking the class with her mom who is also starting to apply these principles.  She now has a plan set so that she’ll be able to pay off her considerable consumer debt within 9 months, and even have her house paid for within just a few years.  After that, she’ll be able to really put away savings for the future.  She’s also started the road to tithing.  She told me the other day that while they can’t start giving 10% right away, they have a plan for increasing their giving until they are at 10%!  Her money is starting to serve God and her, instead of the other way around! 

What I am about to write may seem strong, but I mean every word of it:  I BEG YOU TO TAKE ONE OF THESE COURSES AND APPLY IT.  Before this financial crisis, we needed these courses because the church worshipped money the same way non-Christians worshipped it.  Now we need these courses because we have so little money that we can’t afford (and really never could) to not know where it is going.  These 2 states are exactly what  Proverbs 30:8-9 warn us of when the writer says, “give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”  Seriously, will you take one of the courses as soon as you can?  If you are in college, grad school, working, retired, WHATEVER, will you look into the idea that you might could honor God more with your finances.  The benefits are not only financial.  You will sense the wall tumbling down.  The one that has stood there guarding your money from God, afraid that He’d ask too much of you, and not sure if He’ll provide…not sure if He’s faithful.  Take this step if you haven’t.  We have been so blessed.