Thursday, April 29, 2010

How Children Ages 5-8 React

Children ages five through eight can have a great deal of anxiety about their parents' divorce. They don't have the thinking skills or the experiences to understand they will be taken care of and that life will go on. The fear of the unknown is scary for them. They wonder if the other parent will leave too. Children this age need to be reassured they are safe.

When children are on emotional overload, their schoolwork can be affected. They may have trouble focusing and processing information. Often this results in academic and behavioral problems at school.

Classroom problems can include
* being easily distracted
* becoming discouraged or frustrated quickly
* being overly tired or sleeping in class
* showing aggressive behaviors on the playground
* acting out with peers
* saying hurtful or angry words to peers or teachers
* being oversensitive to comments from peers and teachers
* having difficulty concentrating
* having low or failing grades

As a parent, it is important that you talk with your child's schoolteacher and become aware of what is going on in the classroom. If what you hear disheartens you, do not be reactive, but be proactive. Work with the teacher, your child, the school, and after-school providers to best meet the needs of your child during this difficult time.

"The LORD . . . sustains the fatherless" (Psalm 146:9).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Make Someone Happy...

Help out your Ubuntu challenged neighbors by giving the gift of technology. Spread the word, donate your old computer and make someone happy and if it helps you justify buying a new one for yourself, so be it.

Make Someone Happy!!
There are lots of people around Westlock that would LOVE to have YOUR OLD COMPUTER to
use. It may be old and slow for you, but with Ubuntu it can be fantastic, brilliant and magical for a less fortunate person. This is where you can make a difference today! You can recycle your old working Pentium class PC and MAKE SOMEONE REALLY HAPPY just by contacting Pastor Steve at WestlockNaz [at] gmail [dot] com
Go Green!! Help SAVE the Environment! Did you know that there are landfills around the world full of unused and unloved computer equipment, some of it even leeching toxic chemicals into the ground and none of it biodegrading?! You can recycle your old working Pentium class PC and KEEP IT FROM THE LANDFILL just by contacting Pastor Steve at WestlockNaz [at] gmail [dot] com

Even if you don’t have the time or inclination to reload your old machine with Ubuntu, you can still participate. Contact Pastor Steve and we will do our best to find someone to take care of that for you! Just e-mail WestlockNaz [at] gmail [dot] com and let us know how we can help!

This Sunday is our Faith Promise Sunday

Faith Promise giving is a biblical method used by many local churches for raising financial support for world missions. Missions in the Church of the Nazarene is a large enterprise. Our work includes church planting, compassionate ministry, education, economic development and more. To accomplish the Great Commission-spreading the gospel and and making disciples around the world-requires financial support.

In “faith-based” missions, missionaries must spend valuable time raising financial support. They conduct services, take offerings, receive pledges of support, and then pray the amount raised covers living expenses. Sometimes if the money runs out, missionaries are forced to return home. In this type of support, churches do not always share equally in the mission work. Larger churches are sometimes visited by more missionaries than they could possibly help, while some smaller churches are overlooked.

The World Evangelism Fund was created to allow missionaries to work more effectively and to encourage all churches to support missions. The World Evangelism Fund goes directly toward accomplishing the mission of the Church of the Nazarene, to make Christlike disciples in the nations. The World Evangelism Fund is the funding that operates the Church of the Nazarene and its entire mission effort, from the operation of the Global Ministry Center to districts and churches around the world.

How Preschool Children React

Preschool children may appear to take the news well at first. This may be because they don't understand what is actually happening, but as time goes by, they begin to realize the other parent isn't coming home. One of the first responses is fear. They wonder if one or both parents will care for them. They may be clingy and may regress to behaviors such as thumb sucking, tantrums, and toileting accidents.

Linda Jacobs says, "Parents need to reassure the children they are safe and talk to them often, explaining what is happening and what will be happening. Children don't need sordid details of the adults' problems; they need reassurance that the parent will be there to meet their needs.

"When leaving children in preschool or daycare, make every effort to pick them up at the same time every day. Young children can sense when it's time for the parent to come. If a parent is late, the children will wonder if the parent is going to return. Trust levels can be hard to maintain if parents are not consistent with schedules and promises."

Do not be fearful about the impact the divorce is having on your children. God does not want you to be anxious. Know that God can take horrible, impossible situations (such as divorce) and turn them around for the good of those involved. Take wise, practical steps today to help your preschool-age children through this difficult situation.

"'So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.' And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them" (Genesis 50:21).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How Infants and Toddlers React

Children react differently to the news of the divorce and to the divorce process depending on their age. "Young children can sense problems through their parents," says Linda Jacobs. "Infants can tell when a parent is physically but not emotionally present. It can affect their eating and sleeping patterns. Even if one or both parents are emotionally involved and bonded to the children, the children's routines are interrupted as a result of the separation or divorce. Different households, different sounds and smells, and changing bedtimes can affect both infants and toddlers. Toddlers can be affected by the disappearance of furniture and other household items as well as by the constantly vanishing parent." It is important to establish daily routines to help your children feel secure.

Linda continues: "Many infants and toddlers will experience more ear infections and other illnesses such as upset stomachs, constipation, diarrhea, and colds. For a divorcing parent, a sick and fussy child only adds to an already stressful life. The children, in turn, will feel the stress of the parents, and this will contribute to the ever-increasing insecurities they are already feeling."

Relate to your children with love and tenderness each day. Learn how to have a heart that is gentle and kind toward everyone. If you harden yourself toward your former spouse or toward anyone else involved in the situation, your children will pick up on it and learn from it, despite your intentions to keep it from them.

"A tenderhearted person lives a blessed life; a hardhearted person lives a hard life" (Proverbs 28:14 Msg).

Monday, April 26, 2010

Effects on Your Children

Divorce affects all children who go through it. Some children seem to heal quickly while others appear to struggle for a lengthy time period. Research shows that those who appear to breeze through the divorce will struggle later on.

"To children, divorce is the death of the once intact family," says Linda Jacobs. "Children experiencing a divorce need time to grieve. Grieving is hard work, so expect your children to take breaks in their grieving. Don't be misled and think they are over the divorce. They are only taking time out to be children."

Your children will each handle the news of the divorce in different ways, and they will have different methods of coping during and after the process. Anger, guilt, fear, withdrawal, aggression, denial, regression, self-blame, and depression are common reactions.

Children can survive and become healthy, competent members of society, but it takes hard work on the part of the adults around them. As a single parent it's important to stay connected to God and a church family and to develop family and community support systems for you and your children.

Some churches offer programs specifically for children whose parents are going through separation and divorce. DivorceCare for Kids,, is a fun and powerful program for children ages 5-12 to learn to cope with and heal from the confusion, pain, and the many consequences of divorce.

God promises help for single parents.

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling" (Psalm 68:5).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Being Proactive

God will provide and will work miracles, but your part is to actively trust in Him. Make forward movements each day to grow in your faith and to make wise decisions about money, work, children, and all aspects of your life.

"You can't just sit back and let the rest of the world take care of life for you," says Cynthia Yates. "You've got to roll up your sleeves. If you've never stood on your own two feet, now's the time. People will help you. There are resources out there, but you're going to have to take that first step."

God doesn't want you to be irresponsible or to spend money foolishly and think, I can do this because God will come through. He always provides. Yes, God is faithful to provide, but He asks you to be wise about financial decisions and to move in the right direction. He often answers prayers through other people and through circumstances, but you have to be prepared to receive His answers.

Sometimes God will allow you to go down a wrong path and suffer the consequences of your own willfulness, but He does this so that you will turn to Him. You will then be in a position to understand how much more sensible His path is, and you will let Him take the reins of your life.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5).

Friday, April 23, 2010

God Is Faithful

Cynthia Yates shares her lowest point during her divorce. She says, "My son and I were put out in the snow on Christmas Eve. I found myself homeless and penniless with a little child, stranded in a log cabin in the Rocky Mountains in the middle of a snowstorm. I had a diet pop and a can of tuna fish, and I didn't have a can opener. You could say it was the lowest point of my life—until you look at the next day, Christmas Day, when I crawled around on all fours in a broken-down old van my son and I had traveled across the country in, looking for sunflower seeds we might have dropped so I could have something to feed him. That was probably the lowest point in my life.

"I had nothing—and that's the moment when I had more than I ever had in my life because that's when God the Holy Spirit started flooding my heart and filling all those empty spaces.

"We live in a fallen world. Christians distinguish themselves by how they handle the hardship that comes their way. It's a matter of trust, and your trust must be in our Holy God. He will direct your path. I am living proof."

The answers to Cynthia's prayers began coming right away, in ways that Cynthia could never have expected. God is always faithful, and her passionate plea to you today is to trust Him.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

God Will Provide

Elsa Kok shares how God provided for her during the divorce. She says, "God will take care of your needs. I lived under $10,000 a year, and my rent was $500 a month. My daughter was going to a private Christian school, and I was tithing to the church. I should not have made it.

"But when we had a need and brought it to God, and we weren't being frivolous with our money, He provided for our need.

"One morning we woke up and there was an envelope of cash on our table. Another time God provided work, so I took an extra job. Sometimes we'd receive an anonymous check in the mail or groceries on our doorstep. God was our provider.

"At times I would say, 'How am I going to pay this bill?' and my daughter would say, 'Mom, remember last time when we prayed about it and God came through? Let's pray.' To see her beginning to trust God for our financial care was amazing. She'd say, 'You know, Mom, God is the father and the husband in this family. He's not going to let us go under.' We'd get on our knees, and God would provide."

Through this experience Elsa not only grew closer to God and stronger in faith, but she had the opportunity to teach her child to do the same. God is good—get on your knees and believe it!

"He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. 'So don't be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom'" (Luke 12:31-32 NLT).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Second Nazarene coffee house in Poland officially opens

After a six-month delay, Sweet Surrender Coffee House opened its doors for official business on Tuesday, April 6. The Poznan café, was held up by a conflict in disabled access requirements between the historical society and the city. Sweet Surrender finally received the permit at the end of March.

The delayed permit didn't stop the ministry team in Poznan from reaching out to its neighborhood in the meantime. Missionaries Everett and Rhonda Tustin and their team of Polish and American Mission Corps and staff have been hosting Saturday night worship services in the shop since September, with attendance now 12-15 people. They've also allowed people to reserve rooms for meetings.

Because an estimated 200 people from the community had already explored the shop during a well-received open house last September, the ministry team decided to open for business quietly. In retrospect, Tustin said the delay may have been an advantage for the ministry.

"The church seems pretty solid now," he said, "more so than if we were in full business mode these past few months, perhaps." It has given the team time to develop the relationships that started with a few neighbors who at first opposed the coffee shop, and have since become its allies.

One woman tried to stop them from renovating the coffee shop building last year. When they explained their mission to provide a community gathering place and use profits to help struggling families locally, she became an advocate for the coffee shop to the neighborhood association. In March, her family had dinner with the Tustins and, with emotion, she opened up regarding deep concerns in her life. "Would you please pray for my family?" she asked.

A Polish leadership team is now seeking city approvals to open a third location in Krakow.

The first Sweet Surrender opened in 2008 in Gdansk, on the northern coast of Poland, with leadership from missionaries Dawid and Simona Berdowski.

--Eurasia Region Communications

Jesus Makes a Difference

Can Jesus make a difference in the way you deal with financial crises? Yes!

"I don't worry anymore about where I'm going to live or where the money's going to come from," shares Marie. "It comes when it's supposed to come. It works out when it's supposed to work out. Sometimes there is overtime I can do, and I once had somebody send me fifty dollars anonymously. Little things like that are signs that God is on the throne, and if I let Him stay there, everything else will fall into place."

Sue says, "No matter where I am, He's watching over me. Whenever I had fear or panic attacks about finances, I would quote, 'Be still and know that I am God.' It has been a hard struggle, but the Lord has got me through it, and I'm finally out on the other end."

Nothing the world offers can compare to the peace and contentment offered by Jesus Christ. His provision for you will be abundant and have everlasting rewards if you turn to Him for help. He has already paid the price for you to receive this rich life, just believe and receive.

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare" (Isaiah 55:1-2).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Living Frugal Means . . .

Cynthia Yates knows from experience how important it is to live frugally. She offers a wonderful explanation of what it means to be frugal:
"Frugal is not trimming your wicks and living in a cave. Frugal is not eating gruel. Frugal is not walking around saying 'Woe is me' or being some type of tightfisted grump.

"Frugal is being able to enjoy your surroundings. Frugal is making the most out of what you have. Frugal is rejoicing. The Bible says that in all things rejoice. Frugal is rejoicing in the blessings that He has given you-even if it's a broken down clunker. It is being so joyful to know Him and to make Him known to others around you. Frugal is smart above all things. It is the wise use and care of things around us, including time and finances."

When you consider your financial situation, you are the one who chooses what attitude to take. And choosing to have a good attitude brings honor to God. Looking at the above descriptions of frugal, which words best describe the attitude that you take when it comes to budgeting your money?

"The wages of the righteous bring them life, but the income of the wicked brings them punishment" (Proverbs 10:16).

"But godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Your Attitude

A good attitude leads to financial success.

"Attitude is pivotal," says Cynthia Yates. "It is the key to any kind of success that you're going to have with anything in life. Attitude represents the strength of your maturity, and it also represents your worldview. If you can change your attitude, you're going to be able to change the way you approach your financial circumstances and the way you approach your life."

Dr. Dennis Rainey says, "Contentment arises from a spirit of gratefulness and thankfulness. It is a courageous choice to thank God for what you have and for what you don't have."*

You may need to redefine your attitude to get yourself on the right track toward financial success. The Bible instructs us in the type of attitude believers in Christ are supposed to have. Use the Bible to renew your attitude.

"Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. . . . Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances. . . . Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:12-18, 21-22).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"I Deserve It"

Many people believe they deserve to spend money on themselves. They think, "I work hard; I deserve to get something special for myself." This is a common and accepted practice in our society. Yet, there is no biblical basis for spending money on something unnecessary when that money is needed for other things.

Cynthia Yates says, "I believe that a sense of ethical stewardship has been replaced by a feeling of entitlement. People are so accustomed to immediate gratification that they want their needs met and they want them met now: 'I'm entitled to have that boat in the garage. I'm entitled to have a latte on my way to work every day.' Yes, you're entitled, but you're also entitled to be able to sleep well at night because your bills are paid. You're also entitled to face your future because you have a retirement nest egg, so let's rearrange some of the thinking about entitlement."

If you are loyal to God's teachings, the Bible says you will prosper and your house will be full of great treasure. So, when you begin to have "but-I-deserve-it" thoughts creeping into your head, reject them and think of the treasures you are accruing by choosing God's way.

"The house of the righteous contains great treasure, but the income of the wicked brings them trouble" (Proverbs 15:6).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Using Credit Cards to Satisfy Emotional Hunger

"Many times spending takes the place of feeling," says Cynthia Yates. "People run rampant out there with a little plastic card. They don't stop to consider what their income might be. It's not even a factor. The idea is they need that next fix. They need to go out and buy something. They need to reward themselves."

In our culture, buying things is a way to "feel good" if only for a short time. Sometimes people go out and buy things they can't afford to feel good about having new things, to feel good because they are one step ahead of the neighbors, to feel good about getting back at a spouse who shares the credit card, or to feel good because they know they can buy almost anything they want. That kind of "feel good" isn't worth much at all. It's short-lived, it's shallow, and it never truly satisfies. If you have an empty space inside you, buying things will never fill it.

"Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy?" (Isaiah 55:2 Msg).

God can fill you. He can satisfy your emotional hunger. Hold on to your money and use it wisely, and turn to God when you have the urge to buy something to make you "feel good."

"Jesus replied, 'I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in me will never thirst'" (John 6:35 NLT).

Friday, April 16, 2010

Canceled Debts

In some instances, if you are honest with your creditors, they may surprise you by lowering the amount owed or even canceling the debt.

Ed had nine months left on the lease of a house he wasn't living in. He could not find another person to rent it and take over the payments. He shares, "I said to my landlady, 'I can't pay, and I can't get another loan. My mom's got cancer, and I'm buying her medication. I don't know how to pay you anymore.' About five seconds went by and she said, 'Well, you paid for the three months it's been empty, and you've tried, so we'll just tear the lease up.'

"Three months earlier there was no way she could tear the lease up because she was still making payments on the house. Just when I couldn't possibly pay, she was able to tear it up. The more I think about it, the more I realize I really am in good hands. God is leading me now."

Perhaps you have had someone who, by the grace of God, canceled one of your debts. The Scripture below is an illustration of Jesus' forgiveness and grace. Jesus canceled our debts (of sin) by dying on the cross, and He saved us from future debts by rising from the dead. He lives forever in heaven and guarantees the inheritance of everyone who calls on His name.

"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both" (Luke 7:41-42).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Talk with Your Creditors

If you owe money and cannot make the payments, talk with your creditors. Explain your situation in a calm, straightforward manner. Show that you have done your homework, that you know how much money you have coming in and going out, and that you are carefully budgeting your current income. Reassure the creditors that you are willing to work out a payment plan and be faithful to it.

Mike Klumpp says, "I had to go to some of my creditors and ask for their assistance and tell them I was not going to be able to meet my commitments on time or make payments in full. I had to pay some penalties and interest fees along the way, but by and large, the creditors were understanding and helpful. They'd rather work with you and get paid than risk not getting paid at all."

Have a plan in mind when you call your creditors—a plan as to how much you can afford and how often you can make those payments. Understand that you may have to pay certain penalty fees.

"Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn't first sit down and figure the cost so you'll know if you can complete it? . . . Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can't, won't he send an emissary and work out a truce?" (Luke 14:28, 31-32 Msg).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Anti-Debt as a Lever and Fulcrum

a guest post from "the Christian Dollar"...

I was thinking about people who claim that debt is like a “lever and fulcrum” or “tool” the other day. Why do they think that? Perhaps it is because you can “get more stuff” before you actually have the money. Debt, I suppose, gives you a way to get what you want before you can have it.

But what about anti-debt? What does that get you? I would argue that not having debt is a stronger tool than having debt. I suppose that the “tool” we’re talking about here is a financial tool. You will have more money by having anti-debt than having debt.

Advantages of Anti-Debt

  1. No interest payments! Imagine what you can do if you got rid of your payments. You’d have more money to invest, more money to make you money, and ultimately more money to give!
  2. Less stress. No more having to remember all those payments you have to make. You don’t have any! Instead, you can focus on the things that matter in life.
  3. An appreciation for the true value of money! It’s easy to spend someone else’s money, isn’t it? Well, when you have “anti-debt,” you will be pushed to realize the true value of money. You’ll be spending your own money and feeling the pain when you hand over those crisp dollar bills!

So you know what, my anti-debt is my lever and fulcrum! I’m sacrificing what I want in the here and now for the power of investments in the future. Don’t you want to be able to have your money work for you?

What is it in your life that you perhaps need to sacrifice in order to win financially? Remember, anti-debt is the ultimate tool. Don’t be fooled by clever marketing attempts by the credit industry. Lower your debt and be free!

Buying on Credit

Mike Klumpp considers his maxed-out credit cards a "blessing in disguise." He says, "Credit cards are interesting because they look like financial salvation. One thing that happened in my divorce was that my credit cards were already at their limits. I had to learn to budget without a credit card."

Cynthia Yates says, "Credit is your future money used up. If you can't afford to pay the full price for what you want right now, how can you afford the full price plus interest?

"Credit drives the economy. What's happening now, statistically, is people are using credit cards as short-term, high interest loans to pay for diapers or food. I had an older woman come up to me and say, 'I'm scared because my husband's retirement check is not enough, and every month I go to the bank and borrow money on our credit card. What should I do?' I went to the people in her church and told them the situation. I was assured she would be helped. I followed up a year later, and the woman was well on her way to financial stability."

Don't get sucked in by credit. Talk to people who are knowledgeable about financial matters and seek wise counsel. Do this if you have debt or might potentially go into debt. Evaluate your current situation and make a plan to get rid of your debt and to avoid future debt.

"Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?" (Proverbs 17:16).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The “Hill and Valley” Fund

A guest post from The Christian Dollar...

I recently heard Dave Ramsey speak of a new type of budgeting category – one that I’d never heard of before. It’s called the “Hill and Valley” Fund. Dave described it as not quite an emergency fund, but a fund that allows some flexibility for the monthly budgeting categories.

For example, if you were to have more medical expenses this month than you expected, instead of pulling money from your hard-to-access (but not TOO hard-to-access) emergency fund, you might pull some money from the Hill and Valley Fund rather than touch your main emergency fund.

This makes sense to me. In fact, I recently discovered the need for such a fund. Prior to hearing Dave’s advice, I would just maneuver money between categories as I saw fit. I thought of having a separate “mini” emergency fund to cover these oddball expenditures, but scrapped the idea because I wasn’t sure if I was being too extreme (having multiple emergency funds seemed like a crazy idea at the time).

Courtney and I have yet to start such a fund, but I think we’ll definitely put it on our to-do list of items to discuss. $100 or so monthly seems like a reasonable amount of slack in our budget to combat those valleys. This type of fund would NOT roll over to the next month, as this excess might produce a feeling of not having to stick with our planned budget.

Emergency fund-type rules should apply to such a Hill and Valley Fund: we shouldn’t use it for lavish, discretionary expenditures. Instead, we should only pull from it in the event that we REALLY NEED more grocery money or REALLY NEED a hair cut! You get the picture.

The benefit to such a fund is that we won’t be skimping on other important categories. To be honest, sometimes we would pull from the insurance category to fund the medical category. Insurance is important too! I think the Hill and Valley fund will make for a great “slush fund” as we do our monthly budget.

What do you say? Do you think the Hill and Valley Fund is good antidote to the rigid budget?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Reentering the Workplace

The job world is constantly fluctuating, and new technology is being invented every day. This can be intimidating for a person who has been out of the workforce for more than a year.

Cindy was in her fifties when she divorced and had not worked outside the home in twenty years. She advises: "Look into different classes to learn things that will help you in the workplace. Women's centers have computer and finance seminars. Do what you can do to help yourself add to a resume.

Not only is it possible to survive, but it's possible to thrive in a career.
A good place to start in determining which job is best for you is to get help from a career counseling ministry. These organizations will help you determine what your aptitude is, what career you are best suited for, and how to get the training in that field.

If you already have a job, but it seems like it is not going anywhere, do not give up hope. Your current job could lead to another job as a result of your hard work, as a result of networking, or just because you are in the right place at the right time. Be encouraged, God's timing and circumstances are always best and are often surprising to us:

"He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:26-27).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Feelings of Failure

You may hesitate to seek outside help because you feel like a failure. You are not a failure. Stop condemning yourself, and stop hiding the truth of your situation. Accepting and being honest about your circumstances is wise and mature.

Cynthia Yates tells about a time when a friend came to her home after the divorce and discovered Cynthia's true situation: "One day a friend came to visit and found me in the corner of my kitchen in a fetal position, drooling out of the corner of my mouth. I was rocking back and forth.

"On the outside I had looked like I was managing, but inside I was so scared.

"You could be talking to somebody who looks perfect on the outside but doesn't have a cracker in the cupboard at home. Is it pride? Is it fear that people will think you failed in life? We all fail."

Being honest with your friends will help ease your burdens. Don't cause your friends to miss out on God's miraculous answers to prayer.

In the Bible, four men carried their paralyzed friend to Jesus to be healed. When they arrived, the crowd was so thick they could not get close to Jesus. They decided to make an opening in the roof above Jesus and lower their friend through the roof.

"When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven. . . . I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.' He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, 'We have never seen anything like this!'" (Mark 2:5, 11-12).

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Mike Klumpp, after divorce, became a single dad of four children. He talks about the financial difficulties he faced and how he put aside his pride in order to best care for his children: "I took an 80 percent cut in income to be home every evening for my family. At the same time I shouldered the debt my wife and I had amassed for ourselves.

"I just didn't have enough money. I didn't have enough to pay my creditors. I had to be honest. I had to put down my pride and say, 'I'm in a situation where I can no longer provide for my family the way I once did.' I had to recognize it was more important to see to my family's emotional and spiritual needs. I had to back off from the lifestyle I had grown accustomed to and accept the fact that there were going to be some changes."

Cynthia Yates addresses the person who is too ashamed to accept help from other people or organizations: "Are you going to say to your children, 'Gee, there's no food on the table because mommy or daddy was embarrassed'? The Bible tells us that we should be there for each other. There may be a time when you'll be sitting on the other side and be able to reach out and help somebody too."

Please don't let pride stand in the way of asking for help. Let others share the hard times and not just the good times with you.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn" (Romans 12:15).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Single Adult Ministry Survey results

The Single Adult Ministry Survey was conducted for Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries International (SDMI) by the Research Center in the winter of 2009-2010. Single adults were defined as individuals at least 30 years of age and currently without a spouse.

1. Churches of all sizes have single adults. The number of single adults increases as church size increases, and so does the mixture of those never married, divorced, and widowed. Smaller churches are less likely to have never-married singles or widows/widowers. Single adults who are divorced are present in churches of all sizes.

2. One-third of congregations responding to the survey agreed to the statement, "Our church effectively disciples single adults." Churches under 50 in attendance were much more likely to agree with the statement (62 percent). Churches with 250 or more in attendance were much more likely to disagree with the statement (68 percent). However, large majorities of churches in all sizes agree that, "Our church's ministry to single adults needs improvement" (86 percent overall).

3. Twenty percent of churches responding to the survey agreed to the statement, "Our church has a ministry plan for ministry to single adults." Churches with 250 or more were slightly more likely to agree with this statement (31 percent). Developing a ministry plan may be difficult because of the diversity in which single adults find themselves (divorced vs. never married vs. widowed vs. parent vs. young vs. old).

4. Sixty-three percent of churches responding to the survey said, "Our church does not offer specific programs or ministries for single adults." Seventy to 80 percent of churches with less than 100 in attendance do not offer specific programs or ministries for single adults. However, 23 percent of churches with 250 or more did not offer specific programs or ministries for single adults. Grief Recovery programs are offered by 42 percent of large churches; 23 percent offer a Divorce Recovery program; and 39 percent of large churches offer Sunday School or small groups specifically for single adults.

5. Although most churches do not offer specific programs or ministries for single adults, large majorities of churches in all sizes agree that, "Single adults and married adults mix well in our church." Majorities of churches in all size categories report having single adults serving on the church board.

Suggestions for Churches:

1. Become single adult sensitive. Listen to announcements, lessons, sermons, etc. with the perspective of the single adult in mind. In your presentations, written or oral, does "man" equal "husband" or "woman" mean "wife?" In other words, will single adults feel included?

2. Recognize singleness as a viable lifestyle. It is possible to affirm single adults and their singleness without undermining family ministries. Some single adults are unmarried due to their Christian dating standards. Others have experienced the death of a spouse. Some adults are single as the result of the decisions of others.

3. Realize single adults are a growing part of the population. As baby-boomers continue to age, and they lose their spouses, there will be more single senior adults.

4. Build a relationship with a single adult. Do you know what his or her goals, hopes, and dreams are? Journeying with a person provides valuable insights into the issues and challenges he or she faces.

5. Realize that some single adults had reached a place of contentment with their singleness. This does not mean they have closed the doors to future relationships. Rather, it means they have learned to be content at this stage of life.

6. Be aware of events that create stress. These events will vary with each single adult. However, here are some trigger-events:
  • Loss or threatened loss of employment
  • Parenting challenges - parenting was designed as a two-person responsibility. Single-parents may need assistance in providing role models and mentors for their children.
  • Death of a parent or friend. This is especially difficult for never-married adults. Single adults who have lost a friend or parent to death have lost a major part of their identity. They can feel like an orphan.
7. Remember we are all part of the Body of Christ. When the Body of Christ functions at its best, there is a role for every person regardless of marital status.

Tell God Your Needs

"You do not have, because you do not ask God" (James 4:2).

Have you told God about your financial situation? Have you asked for His help?

"God says that you don't have because you don't ask, and you don't ask because you don't trust," says Elsa Kok. "He wants to help you. He's knocking on the door of your heart. If you open the door and receive Him, He can come in and make an impact. If you just leave Him out there knocking, then He can't impact your life. You may have cried out, 'Why haven't You helped me, God?' Maybe you haven't invited Him to help."

Tim shares, "I never thought God could help me in my daily struggles, in finances, and in decision making. I thought I had to do all that. I know now that if I pray about it, it'll all work out for the good. God knows what's going to happen in the future, and I don't."

God will supply your needs. Sometimes He provides in ways that are mysterious, and other times He provides through the practical help of other people. Don't leave God out of your financial situation.

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Make Your Needs Known

Make your financial needs known to other people. Everyone has financial ups and downs. Don't let pride stand in the way of letting someone be a blessing to you.

Cynthia Yates says: "Many churches have volunteers who help people set up budgets and savings plans. There are also nonprofit organizations that will help you set up a payment plan if you're in debt. Even some people from collection agencies say, 'We will work with most people and come up with a plan if they will approach us and communicate with us.' Buy a notepad, write down the people you think you can call, and start calling."

In the first Christian churches, the believers shared their possessions, and no one was ever in need of anything. This is a model for churches today. Find out what ministries are available to help you with your spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. God's plan is for people to help one another. Today you may need help from someone, and tomorrow someone may need help from you.

Listen to benefits that were bestowed upon the people in the early church, who were faithful to God's teaching:

"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the
Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need" (Acts 4:32-35).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


You also need a category in your budget for miscellaneous expenses. Miscellaneous expenses can include a birthday gift, a cup of coffee on the way to work, postage stamps, a small household appliance to replace one that's broken, a haircut, and anything else that does not fall into another category on your list.

"I recommend the miscellaneous go into an envelope, and whatever you buy as miscellaneous, pay for it out of the envelope and put the change back in. When that envelope is empty, you say, 'I will not buy anything else this month no matter what. I'll do without it,'" said Larry Burkett.

If this category is not monitored, the amount of money you spend can grow quickly. Be creative in making do without certain things, and be wise about prioritizing items in this category; for instance, you could decide to get a haircut next month instead of right now. You could bring to work a thermos of coffee from home. You could pay your bills online to save on postage. For birthday gifts, you could make a homemade birthday card, bake some cookies, recycle a nearly new book or stuffed animal, or make a "coupon book" (coupons can include babysitting, a visit, a cup of tea together, a hug, a trip to the park, or a game of basketball, Frisbee, or cards). Saving money can actually be fun.

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much" (Luke 16:10).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


"He who gathers money little by little makes it grow" (Proverbs 13:11).

Each month it is necessary to put a set amount of money into a savings account. Laura Petherbridge says, "This is important because inevitably there will be a crisis—perhaps a shingle blows off your roof or the car breaks down or you fall and break your hip and can't go to work. You may have disability insurance, but that might not kick in for a few months. You must have money tucked away so you can manage for a few months or pay for whatever crisis has happened. Saving is not a luxury or an option; it's a necessity."

When you receive your pay, immediately put money into your savings account. This amount does not need to be large, just let it build over time. Make sure your savings account is not so easily accessible that you are tempted to pull money from it to pay for other budget items.

"It's when you are literally at your worst that you most need to consider saving," says Cynthia Yates. "Saving does not necessarily mean putting aside 10 percent every single week, but it means putting something away as a little security blanket for yourself because you're going to need it."

Scripture reminds us of the importance of saving money:

"On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up" (1 Corinthians 16:2).

Monday, April 5, 2010


"To have nothing in the budget for clothing is unrealistic. I've said many times: 'I've never once counseled a naked person,' so I know they've got a clothing budget whether they admit it or not,'" said Larry Burkett.

Clothing is an expense category you have more control over than others. Two of the best places to purchase clothing are thrift stores and yard sales. Many thrift stores are clean, organized, and selective about the items they sell. You can find brand name, quality clothing of all styles and sizes at these stores. You can also find new items on the racks. Yard sales are a good choice as well. One suggestion is to go to yard sales or thrift stores located in or near affluent areas. The condition and quality of the clothing is usually excellent in those areas.

Being able to shop at thrift stores and yard sales is a blessing. This is something to be thankful for, especially in our culture where clothing and appearance is made much of.

When thinking of God's provision of clothing for you and your family members, be thankful and remember there are other people who are worse off than you financially. In the Bible in the book of Isaiah, God reminds us that He wants us to help others who are less fortunate financially. What can you do to help someone else today?

"What I'm interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families" (Isaiah 58:7 Msg).

Sunday, April 4, 2010


"On payday my kids and I would always go out to eat and celebrate. They looked forward to payday," says Jan Northington. "They got to choose the restaurant, and they always chose Bob's Big Boy, so we had fries and burgers every two weeks on payday."

You might not think there's money in your budget for entertainment, but this is a necessary category to allocate funds for. If you excluded this category from your budget, you would probably end up pulling money from another category and using it for occasional entertainment activities.

There are several free and low-cost activities you can participate in. Check your local newspaper, library, or community center for these activities: concerts, outdoor movies, magicians, plays, clubs, school fairs, craft shows, sports events, and more.

"Entertainment is important," says Mike Klumpp, "but you may sometimes think you can pay for it as it comes. The danger is that you overspend. You say, 'Well, I've earned the right to this, so I'm going to take my family out to dinner and the movies tonight.' Then you sit down at the end of the week, you look at your budget, and you're short. If you budget for entertainment, you'll live realistically within your means. You can look forward to it; you can reward yourself with it. And it won't come back later and bite you."

Be thankful to God for the money you have. Use it wisely and enjoy it.

"Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what's given and delighting in the work. It's God's gift!" (Ecclesiastes 5:19 Msg).

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Medical Expenses

"I would have gone to see a doctor, but I didn't because I wasn't able financially to do it," says Jeannette.

Medical and dental care can be expensive. It is good to be honest about your situation with your doctor or dentist. You might be able to work out a payment plan, discount, or bartering plan with them. If your current medical professional cannot work something out, go to your local church and see if someone can recommend a doctor or dentist who might be able to help.

"I know a lot of Christian dentists and a lot of Christian physicians who would help out in a minute if a single parent came to them and said, 'Listen, I want to be really honest with you. I need the care and my children need the care, but I can't afford your fees. I'm willing to work out some kind of arrangement,'" said Larry Burkett.

It can be intimidating and embarrassing to have to explain your marital and financial situation to strangers, but your honesty and sincere willingness to be responsible for what you can will bring results. God is working not only in your life but also in the lives of everyone you come into contact with each day. He is always by your side giving you the wisdom and strength you need for each moment.

"God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ideas for Saving on Food Expenses

One suggestion for saving on food expenses is to start a food co-op. A food co-op is a group of families who buy food in bulk together to save money. Some groups take turns shopping monthly for bulk items, and they get together once a month to prepare meals in large quantities. Then they divide the prepared dishes into family-size portions in freezer-friendly containers, and each family takes home enough meals to last a month! This saves money, saves time, and gives you the opportunity to build bonds of friendship.

Mike Klumpp offers another idea to save on grocery bills: "Sunday papers are filled with coupons. If you have grocers battling for control in your area, they'll often offer double and triple coupon deals. If you have a product that costs seventy-five cents, and you have a coupon for fifty cents and the store triples that coupon, you just made a dollar and a quarter."

Cynthia Yates offers this advice for saving on food costs: "Most people could feed their family on what they have in the house right now for probably weeks. It takes a little bit of grit, determination, and creativity."

Perhaps one of the above suggestions will be helpful in your situation. But what is most important is that you approach all your financial decisions with wisdom, including how much to spend on groceries and what to buy.

"Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor" (Ecclesiastes 7:12).

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Food is an area where you can discipline yourself to remain within your budget. Some practical ideas are to bring a lunch and drinks to work, take advantage of free or reduced school lunches for your children, and cook meals from scratch.

You are probably tempted to buy prepared foods, popping them in the microwave after a long workday. Unfortunately, the cost of prepared foods is typically much higher than if you were to buy the ingredients separately and prepare the same meal. You get more for your money when you prepare your own food. If you cook extra portions, you can freeze some for future "quick" meals!

Mike Klumpp shares, "I couldn't go out and buy prepared frozen foods because my grocery budget wouldn't allow it. Right now I'm responsible for eight children, and I still keep a $500 per month grocery budget. If you shop smart and cook from scratch, you'll find it's possible. It's the easy, convenient foods we are accustomed to in our culture that wear away at a grocery budget."

Jesus admonishes you to not worry because He will provide everything you need: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Luke 12:22-25).