18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:Three (3) years ago we started attending a class at church entitled "Discovering God's Ways of Handling Money" put together by a ministry called Crown Financial Ministries. What we discovered was that the way we were living was, to put it bluntly, STOOPID! Or in the terms of Proverbs: foolish. And yet to all those around us we looked perfectly normal. The problem is that normal in America is broke, overweight, deeply in debt, chronically diseased, and generally not happy with life. The class forced us to examine our financial situation, and gather more information on how to do things the right way. The results were quite dramatic as I described in detail earlier.
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." 1 Corinthians 1:18-19
We were greatly focused on our finances which added an intensity that accelerated the whole process. The problem with focus is often that other things suffer. So while our relationship with regards to money was improving we also saw the need to work on other areas of our relationship with each other as well as our relationship with our kids. So we've read many books over the past few years on these subjects and attended several seminars to help in these areas. The signs are not as outwardly visible as with our finances but we see them in small things in our lives. In a couple weeks we'll be attending the Focus on Marriage simulcast seminar put on by Focus on the Family. In addition to books, we often listen to the Focus on the Family free podcast which brings us their daily radio program right to our computers to listen to at our leisure. The interviews and speakers they bring in are amazing.
There's one more major change we're currently undertaking that I'm not quite ready to write about in detail. But I do want to consider what are the circumstances under which change occurs. Not just temporary change, but lasting change.
- First, you have to recognize the need for change. When we recognized our mountain of debt and it's impact on our lives, it served as a great impetus for us to make look for more information on how to get better.
- Second, you have to gather information. Often it is information that is the impetus in #1. But you can't just gather any information, you have to gather the right kind of information from knowledgeable, non-biased sources. Examining the motives of your sources of information is key in this. Gathering information on getting out of debt from your credit card company is going to be suspect.
- Third, and this is the hardest one, you have to make a COMMITMENT TO CHANGE your actions. James 1:22-25 says:
22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.Many people I've talked to recently know the information needed to effect positive change in their lives, but they're not willing to add or remove the necessary actions from their lives. Whether it's how you spend, how you serve, how you parent, how you love, how you eat, or anything you do you will have to change your actions and make sacrifices in order to change your life for the better. And when you make those sacrifices, you may just realize that the sacrifice is not that great and where you are is so much better than where you were that you kick yourself for not making the change earlier. I know my legs are tired from doing just this.
One final verse, Romans 12:2
2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.