Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Trouble With Dave Ramsey


Right as we invited the shimmery gift of adoption into our life, Dave Ramsey moved in, too. (Realizing that you need to quickly save up $28k will do that to you.) We made our budget, the one I swore I'd never make. We put it down "on purpose on paper" and I wrote "Food" and "Clothing" in half-baked ink across the tops of the flimsy Financial Peace envelopes.

It was so different, so new. Nothing could have made me do it except for the dream of an almond-eyed boy, waiting for us somewhere across the ocean.

Well, we liked it. I fell into a rhythm of tracking our expenses and tapping numbers into an Excel spreadsheet before the start of each month. It signaled a new beginning to me. A fresh start. I liked knowing where we were, what we needed, how low our grocery budget really could go. I'd walk out of the bank on the first of the month with a wad of cash stuffed deep in my bag, feeling like a Brinks armored truck sure would be nice.

It was a good system and the longer we used it, the more sense it made.

Then, one day, I rounded the corner to Slightly Crazed. It happened so slowly, I didn't even feel the signs. I listened to his radio talk show when I could have been shaking my fist with Kelly Clarkson. I borrowed podcasts from a friend for a road trip.

Sometimes, I couldn't help but feel just a little smug when the hopeless chaps called in, all despondent over their heaps of money trouble. Good grief, it wasn't rocket science. Earn more. Spend less. Eat beans and rice. Read the darn book.

I wished Dave would talk to them with a little more kindness, sometimes. It helped when he sent them the book for free.

It wasn't much longer before I started crying in my car when someone called in to scream, "We're Debt Freeeeeeeeeeeee!" The Braveheart "Freeeeeeedom!" would overlap their tail-end and the goose bumps came. I believed that they really were free. The hard work had paid off and they were at the start of something new.

Because the truth is, living without debt does mean freedom. The hard work does pay off. 

The more I listened, the more I learned, but most of what I learned started to sound something like this, "Live like no one else so that one day, you can live like no one else." What Dave meant was, eat enough of those beans and you'll retire a millionaire. Buy the car of your dreams, as long as you pay cash for it.

(Oh yeah, and give some of it away, if you want to.)

Imagine my shock when, years later, the scales fell off and I read this:

"Don't store treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." Matthew 6:19-21

"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 6:24

I'm sure there are lots of ways around these verses. People have been bending them to fit their lifestyles since the dawning age, myself included. But suddenly, we were faced with the reality that we were working much harder to build our bank account balance than we were serving the needs of those around us.

We used to go on dates and daydream out loud about owning a second home one day - one on a lake. Because Dave told us that we were on track. We would easily retire as millionaires, if we kept our pace. I would shop at Talbots and White House/Black Market. I might do something about my spider veins and shop for lipsticks at the Lancome counter. We'd add on to our already large home. I might like a brand new Nissan.

We'd be those retired people who were busy and tan. The goal was way off in the future, but I secretly loved the idea of a life where I could do what I wanted, buy what I wanted, go where I wanted. I was ready to claim what we had earned.

We resisted what we believed in the pit of our stomachs to be true. We thought we could serve them both. We thought maybe we could be that one rich couple who has a lot of money so that they can give more away. We wanted a piece of the blessing of God's promise, but we hoped it could be without sacrifice. We didn't want the "living like no one else" to be for nothing.

The more we studied and prayed, the harder it got to reconcile a large bank account with a world that dies of starvation while we sleep. Our current life and all of our future didn't put us in the path of people who struggled.

God sensed our wavering, so he shoved us right into the deep end. He started relieving us of our money. (We couldn't be trusted to do it willingly, back then.)

He shoved and we reached and he grabbed and with our hair still dripping down our necks, we realized that he was close enough to touch. And we were still standing. So maybe we could try it his way.

We did all we knew to do, we turned off the radio and we let those old dreams die. It was more painful than it should have been. But while the old roots died, new dreams started to take shape and they looked more like Heaven than a Nissan. We started to think more about the things of Heaven and much less about the things of earth. Life started to feel really long, like maybe we were put here for 80 years to do more than buy crap and feel safe on our own merit.

So I'm conflicted on Dave. I'm thankful for that Excel budget sheet that I look at every month. Being debt free (aside from our mortgage) expedited the start of our new dreams, in which Cory took a job that paid less and we brought home our third child. But he made it harder to "downgrade" our dreams for this life and to re-frame what it might look like to live "like no one else". Dave taught us more about Biblical stewardship. He reaffirmed the importance of living below our means. I just wish he had stopped right there.

Sacrifice was never meant to expire when we hit a certain age or the balance grows tall enough. God's money was never meant to be stock-piled.



152 comments:

  1. Shantel, you know I'm all about this. I keep feeling this nudge to get rid of it all - and I do mean all. Money is an illusion. It's not ours to begin with, and yet we cling to it so tight, like it can really give us anything worth wanting, or needing for that matter. Sure - food, clothes, shelter. I'm in a lilies of the field state of mind my friend.

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  2. Sometimes I feel like Dave (and I do love Dave overall) doesn't ackknowedge you can work hard and cut things out, and sometimes life just is financially hard. I have only done the FPU course - and we lived on the budget pretty well until our NICU babies came and wiped out all of our savings pretty much (PTL we had done the FPU course and had several months saved). We have cut almost everything out (except coffee runs and some fastfood b/c when you have cut out cable and entertainment and a second car and..... you gotta have SOMETHING), but we are still living on less than what most Americans make, especially 2 Americans with advanced degrees. And I still get really frustrated with people who God seems to be "blessing" financially more than us. But both before and after FPU God has continued to show us how to give sacrificially. And the poorer we get, the easier it is, strangely enough. I hope that someday God blesses us with more so we can give even more, but we'll have to wait and see on that. (Sorry that this comment was ALL OVER the place.)

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    1. Girl, I would say you're right where God wants you. Dave should envy THAT. Jesus meets us in the lack. I don't know about the whole idea of God blessing people financially. I know anything is possible, but that doesn't seem right to me. I think it's actually the opposite. And yes, I know I'm not making much sense right now...my thinking stage is often long, winding and semi-senseless. ;)

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    2. Well, I think, he has blessed us. Just not in the way others would think. God has always taken care of our needs financially. He has especially blessed us financially even though we have been utterly stupid, selfish, greedy etc. Our sin has caught up with us, we have paid the price, and yet through all of it had a home, food,and a job.
      Mind you, not a nice home at times, broken falling apart vehicles, and moving 4 times across 2 provinces (states) for jobs and a home. We followed his lead. It may not have looked like him blessing us at all but that is exactly what it was.

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    3. I love your heart in this comment, Amanda...

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  3. You do not know how many Amens I have for this.

    Countless.

    xxoo

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  4. Some of these very similar thoughts have been rolling around in my brain lately...although here they sound much saner than, "I think Dave might not have it ALL right". The bottom line is that there IS so much more to this life than stuff and things and the big green wads of cash. Freeeeeeeedom! (Think Braveheart) That's where it's at!

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  5. That was GOOD. Now to live the reality of it...

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  6. You have a beautiful way with words.

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  7. I definitely agree. My husband and I chose to take what we could from Dave and the rest we left. Thankfully we are completely debt free (including our mortgage) and the feeling of being able to help someone when they need it because we aren't maxed out every month is unbelievable.

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  8. Wow. Ok so I have wanted to find out more about this man's doctrine. I am glad you filled me in and now I won't waste my time.

    We have always had a budget, driven 2nd hand, paid for cars, and lived within our means. No holidays, no extra frills.....just good old fashioned hard work, and many many mistakes, along the way.

    Thank you for letting me know I was not missing out on some great revelation. I would have disagreed with it completely anyhow, and been really disappointed.

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    1. I hope you get to go on Holiday every now and then. It is nice to get to see and appreciate other parts of the world then the one you see every day.

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  9. i recall dave also saying "live like no one else so you can give like no one else". i think that's where his message is different than anyone else's in the financial world - you can't afford to give your money to others if you're in debt because you can barely get by yourself. that's the message i always took from dave's plan to live like no one else. does that sound about right?

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    1. In my (extensive - ha) research on Dave, I remember him as spending only a fraction of his words talking about giving. He definitely touches on it, but it often sounded like an after-thought to me. We saw the beauty of being able to give more by having more, but we never considered giving most. He emphasizes tithing, but he also knows who his audience is... As I said, I'm not "mad" at Dave. The problem was/is always me. I bought into his message that I "should" retire as a millionaire. I don't think that's true anymore.

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    2. That's right Apryl! Dave is ALL about giving ...and Living to honor Christ. I am very disappointed on how this article portrays him. He is a God honoring man and runs an incredible company that has helped many people honor Christ with their finances. If we have an idolatry problem with money that's our fault not Daves.

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    3. I've always taken that away from his message too. That you need to make sure that you will have enough money to meet your basic living expenses when you retire, which is why you should be saving. because if you can't make basic living expenses, then you will wind up being the one needed the help all the time, and not the one being able to help all the time.

      though i do see how one can easily look at his "building wealth" stuff and feel like you have to retire a millionaire... what many forget though, is that you have at least ten years after retiring (if you retire at age 65 and life expectancy is around 75... a million divided by ten years is 100,000 a year... you will still have family and to give birthday gifts and christmas gifts. heck, you may have MORE family because of grandkids and kids etc. sure they dont need expensive stuff, but that's still money that has to be spent... as you age, many times more health care costs is a part of that. so... 100,000 a year may be a lot... but with medicine, doctors visits, tithing, helping others.... it can go very quickly. you also won't have an income to help you when your car breaks down. or to pay your electric or gas... a million may be a bit much when you think about it... but it's really not a huge amount when you start to break it down...

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  10. Agreed with Joy, many many Amens, love the scripture references! Your blog is always so refreshing and brings me back down to reality from blog-heaven. xoxo
    April

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  11. Wonderful post. I go back and forth with Dave Ramsey. I think his principles are excellent, and yet, sometimes life just doesn't match and then it's easy to think that one has failed. You know, the sickness, lost job, those times in life when the budget flies out the window because the income is gone. His principles are spot on. Life? Well, life is messy.
    And, lol, I'm like many of your commenters wishing just to get rid of it all -- it's too much too manage, too much to get caught up in, and so on.
    So, I've rambled. But, I wanted you to know that I appreciate this post and the honesty that goes along with it. Refreshing.
    Blessings,
    Rachel

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  12. I completely agree with Apryl. Have you read his book "More Than Enough"?
    We wiped out over $80,000 in debt on his plan which enabled us to give so much more and save for our family. He also has a great personal testimony you should listen to if you have not had a chance. It explains that all of this is not so he can be rich but so that he can lead people to the Lord.
    Great post!
    Abbie

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  13. i have felt the EXACT same way about Dave. only i was too afraid to say so. you are speaking my language. if i called him, he'd probably say we were failing miserably and would never be able to retire. but i'm storing my treasures some place else fo' sure!

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  14. A to the men my friend! We live on one income (pastors income at that) and we have 3 children, which included a debt-free adoption. We are debt free except for our mortgage! I am not tooting our horn because on paper it makes nooooo sense, but our God made a way and has provided every single thing for our family! We have increased every year what we give away, too. It has been truly miraculous to just let go of it and watch what He does with it. He always has better ideas than I ever do :)

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  15. Another problem with stockpiling for retirement is that we just can't be sure we'll live that long. Or feel well, for that long. We just can't be sure.

    Heartbreaking, the division in families over money that people sacrifice to stockpile when they could be feeding the hungry...or, hey, reconnecting on a tropical island.

    Having said that, my husband makes Dave Ramsey look like a joke. Seriously. He doesn't make me reuse my paper towels and Ziplocs, but he's pretty hard core. I've been on a steep learning curve over the last five years that we've been together. I'm mostly very thankful.

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    1. Odds are most of us in the U.S. will live long enough to retire. If we don't feel well, it is even more important to save for retirement because we will be less able to earn money.

      There is no more problem with this than with "stockpiling" on a smaller scale - a few thousand for the next car or a few hundred for the next month's groceries and water/lights for example. We could feed the hungry with that because we might die before our current car needs to be replaced or our next trip to the grocery store.

      If we do die before we need that food or car or retirement, the money can go to the hungry then.

      We can still put some toward giving now, even while we put the 15% (is it?) toward retirement.

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  16. I just love you. Thank you for this. Husband and I are in the stages of paying off some debt. We want to be a place where we don't have financial commitments so that we can do the things we want to do: move to China to do ministry, we would love to adopt, etc.

    My hope and prayer is that we can do just what you said, keep it to that.

    Thanks for being so beautiful and honest and real.

    Mwauh.

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  17. I'm a wife to a hubby whose employer is Dave Ramsey. So, needless to say, we eat and breathe Dave Ramsey on a daily basis.

    In the FPU course, there's a series called The Great Misunderstanding. If you haven't seen this, you should. It's the lesson in FPU that people just don't get to. Because they take away the budgeting and the investing, but they miss the really awesome part of giving like no one else.

    If you need the dvd, let me know :) c@holloway.me

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    1. We did take the FPU course. My experience has simply been that he says things here and there that don't always translate as his broad message. I'm not comfortable with the focus of retiring as a millionaire.

      Incidentally, I always thought it would be fascinating to work for him! He seems like a pretty fun guy, though I hear the hours are rough.

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    2. God is balanced. He is a God that desires us to trust Him for our provision, but then He is the same God who taught Joseph to save for the famine. My Father is 55 years old and cannot financially support himself. God gave us ministries of wisdom like Dave, so we as a body can be the head and not the tail. When we are entrusted with the little, He gives us more. that's scriptural. There is not one case of complete poverty in the Bible when God blessed someone. Money is not evil, but Daddy God does have to bring us to a place where even in wealth our eyes are still on Him. I have millionaire friends who are passionate about God's Kingdom and have been a great source of blessing. I am not about the name it and claim it, but if you have worked and saved hard, and been faithful, God is excited to watch you have a new toy. He just never wants toys to have you, and that's a process of maturing in everyone's spiritual journey.

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    3. Retiring as a Millionaire is not the same as it used to be, if you retire at age 65 with a million dollars saved and you live to the average age of 85 that is giving you $50,000 a year to live on...not exactly enough to be jet setting and doing anything you want beyond reason but certainly enough to be comfortable. Dave doesn't preach to hoard wealth, he preaches to live within your means so you have the financial freedom to do what you like-whether that be paying cash for a new car or being able to help out others in need-that is your personal choice.

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  18. If you listen to Dave long enough, you understand that his true heart is not for hoarding money to buy things. He wants God's people to be free from the bondage of debt that keeps them from being able to give and serve freely. We love Dave's message-it's one of hope and encouragement and has blessed us and strengthened our marriage. However, my husband and I heard about Dave after we took a course called Crown Financial Ministries. That course rocked our world about money. It is an in-depth study of what the Bible says about handling finances and God used it to transform out hearts. It sounds like it might be one you would enjoy. It also sounds like God has taught you through circumstances the lessons we learned there. But can you see how if you knew what you know now, hearing Dave after that might be different? Your goals might not have immediately been about how much can we have later and more about how much more can we serve and give once we are free from the slavery of debt/consumerism? I guess I'm just wondering because I haven't had the same feelings about Dave's message and I certainly wouldn't want people to feel like he's encouraging people to ignore God's principles about money. I would hate for others to miss out on the potential blessing that his ministry can facilitate because I believe the reason he is so successful is because he really is passionate about teaching people how to honor God through financial stewardship.

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    1. Now that is the truth! Thank you. You apparently know Dave better than this author. I highly dislike when people talk wrongly about someone else, especially someone that is doing such an incredible job as Dave is. I think an apology is needed .

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    2. I hardly think an apology is needed for a respectfully voiced opinion.
      Seeing pictures of Dave's new mansion left me feeling a little sick.

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  19. I have been waiting for you to write this post. :) I love seeing how you have changed perspective over the years. I SO agree! When I hear people talk about Dave I cringe. He has wonderful insight on how to not spend money frivolously but I have such a hard time with the saving of it while others are in desperate need. What a touchy subject. Thank you for being brave and sharing this knowing that there will be people whose toes you will step on. We all need to look at money from God's perspective. (and not Dave's)
    xo

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  20. Preach it sister! I spent years rolling my eyes at the mention of Dave Ramsey. Then I spent some time more recently realizing that he had some pracitcal advice that could help us. But as I finally read the info I was having to sift through a view of prosperity that I could not agree with. Now, admittedly, most of what made me cringe for so long was nothing righteous. It was just me, my personality, and I. I break out in hives at the sight of a spreadsheet and while I'm blessed with a very compatible marriage, it's because my husband is a lot like me and doesn't do "money" stuff the way "money" people do it either. Reading Dave's stuff DID help us, but I also have to put it in it's place. I can either be who God wants me to be, or I can be an anxious mess trying to be all these other "good" things other people are good at. And when it boils down to it, I would rather wake up each day wondering what God has for me and doing the work it takes to be open and willing to follow through with it then wake up with some plan in mind of what I want to be when I grow up. The not knowing and trust actually brings peace and the planning and control bring fear and anxiety.

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  21. girl, we've been having the same revelation lately... God is doing something big among us, i believe. he's drawing out real faith, because he wants to become real and holy and completely among us. no more of this wobbly christianity. it's all or nothing. so we're walking this crazy radical road beside you. love you so much, em.

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  22. I love your brave voice. The truth you speak, the obedience with which you take steps. I know not all of your steps, but a lot of them. <3

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  23. When we couldn't reconcile our income and expenses to Dave's (free resources online) recommendations, and this with zero credit card debt, zero car debt, zero college debt, and only renting (no mortgage), I didn't go any further with his program. I was actually quite angry that his percentages for rent/mortgage, utilities, health insurance, car expenses ... well, basically ALL of the categories, weren't doable in my area.

    Just an FYI for others in the same discouragement about Dave Ramsey, I looked at Crown Financial by Larry Burkett and was much more encouraged!

    I just found your blog via The Lettered Cottage, and am so blessed by your financial story and rental story. We also chose to downsize and get rid of debt, sold our house, bought land with equity and are building on it as we can afford, and renting meanwhile. Ah, renting after owning!!! I really do understand the conflicting emotions of wanting less materialism yet feeling deserving of it all at the same time.

    When people say God must have led them to a big, beautiful home since he didn't close the door, I wonder sometimes if they explored any other options, price points, locations (I know we didn't in the past). Does God sometimes just allow our choices ... "Well, if that's what you think you want or will make you happy, the door is wide open ..." ???? When maybe if we really went and looked at everything, doors would close and open in His very best plan for us?

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  24. I've read your blog religiously for about a year now and I've never commented. We JUST this week finished FPU, it was done churchwide through our small groups. You always hit the nail on the head on the way I feel about, well, everything. But today's post couldn't have been said better. You've said what I've been thinking for 13 weeks and I appreciate you putting words to my thoughts. We're definitely loving the budgeting, saving, and debt snowballing he taught, but have felt all along like you so perfectly put it. So this is a much long overdue thanks for sharing your words, pictures, and life with us. You are more of a blessing to me than you could know!!!

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  25. I've read your blog religiously for about a year now and I've never commented. We JUST this week finished FPU, it was done churchwide through our small groups. You always hit the nail on the head on the way I feel about, well, everything. But today's post couldn't have been said better. You've said what I've been thinking for 13 weeks and I appreciate you putting words to my thoughts. We're definitely loving the budgeting, saving, and debt snowballing he taught, but have felt all along like you so perfectly put it. So this is a much long overdue thanks for sharing your words, pictures, and life with us. You are more of a blessing to me than you could know!!!

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  26. oh money. It stresses me out. Even when you have a lot, you worry if you're doing it right, beating yourself up over things when you don't do it right...in a moment of weakness you buy something and wish you could have been better with the money, or your investment doesn't yield like it should have, and really it's all tumbling around, sifting through your fingers.
    I don't like money, but I like it. So complicated. I don't know if one man can help me with it. I want God to put his hands over my pocketbook, amen. I can't do it, man, I just can't do it.

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  27. No two ways- Dave Ramsey helped us get out of debt...which I'm fairly sure there's a proverb about that somewhere...owing people and all. Living in the black is fantastic.

    Then, before we could do much with the little we could save, things like the Bible and Radical happened to us too. And our friends' adoptions, our adoption, the poor and mission work seemed way more important and necessary than retirement.

    We figure God is trying to get glory from our lives. So that is what we aim when either saving or spending. We usually save for specific things temporarily and when we have to spend we don't get worried. It's scary as heck sometimes though...out there on the cliff, knowing a immeasurably rich Savior is about to provide for every need. And as scary as it is, I think I wouldn't have it any other way because jumping off a cliff and watching God provide for everything is a much better way to live life- because it's a much clearer way to give God glory- than saving it and patting ourselves on the back.

    Love Dave Ramsey and love it when God asks me to give more than I think I can. Living like no one else is weird sometimes!

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    1. ...and this just came to mind... ever heard Ben Harper's "The Power of the Gospel"... while, very clearly, not exactly to the point theologically on all words, he has a line, speaking of the Gospel that says,
      "It will make a weak man, mighty. It will make a mighty man fall.
      It will fill your heart and hands, or leave you with nothing at all."

      I always think about the Christians in America and Christians in poorest India when I hear it for some reason.

      Just a lil' soulfood for thought.

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  28. This post had me captivated. I agree on saving (especially for an addition to family). But also on living life, enjoying life within our means. Retiring comfortable is wonderful but also we need to look back and see we enjoyed life, we gave to help those in need. Those things will be worth more than money in the bank. Lovely post as always.

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    1. Great comment Valerie! Balance is KEY :)

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  29. We took the crash course, read all the books, made big changes, and crawled out of debt. That was the goal and that is where I draw the Dave Ramsey line.

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  30. We spend our money on vacay. It's not the Dave Ramsey way but I wouldn't trade one second of the time we've spent in far away places. Those memories are like gold to me. When I'm old I may not be tan...walking on lush golf courses. I'll probably be sitting in my mobile home somewhere...ha! But I will have a whole lot of sweet memories to reflect back on. The whole wait and live it up later thing seems strange. Especially since I've only got my girls home with me for a very short while.

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  31. You've definitely touched on something that struck me when reading Dave's books. Thoughts to ponder...

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  32. I love this post ! THANK YOU - especially since I told my hubby that I would like a car for Mothers Day ! We listen to Dave too.......not a NEW car, but a nice "pre-owned" car that we could pay for w/o debt :) My very wise cousin always says "cars are depreciating investments" But then again......we are in the car so much ! Well, God bless and HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all of you! oxox

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  33. I have close friends who are devout Dave followers and are indeed totally debt free. I do feel like though - even though they must have very large bank accounts they feel the need to squirrel that money away and don't "live to give." It's an interesting take on Dave - I totally get what you are trying to say!

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  34. Hey
    Excellent piece of writing, Thanks for sharing this info! It feels great reading such a post this way.

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  35. Thank you for this! Love you!!

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  36. Money. It's a tool, along with everything else that God gives us. Our job is to always ask and listen to him to know how best to use it. Sometimes,I do believe God wants us to use it for ourselves and our family, other times, it is given to us so that it can be given to others. When we hand ourselves over to God, we also hand over our money and possessions. Whether you have a lot or a little, I think the biggest thing is to remember it's really not ours to control. I just finished reading the book "You were born for this" and it gave me a new perspective of money. It's more of a trust thing, really. If you are feeling a nudge to give away a chunk of money that you think you can't afford to do, it's tough to do it anyway and trust that God knows what he is doing. But isn't that just what God wants? Our total trust and obedience? It is easier to write about it than do it though! I am still struggling with the reality of it on a daily basis!! So, thanks Shannon, you are always thought provoking!!

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  37. Wow! Through some financial discussion out there, and everyone is comin out of the woods to talk about it! I agree, Shannon. Dave has so much good advice, my husband and I have taken much of it to apply to our up and down financial situation. But I 100% agree with you-- if your ultimate financial goal is self-serving (to have whatever you want, whenever you want it) then God will not be honored. We have since modified our approach to finances. Still being responsible, living within our means, but free to give when the Spirit leads, out of sacrifice, not plenty. That is where I have sensed God lately.

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  38. My husband and I are at the beginning of Dave's baby-steps. It seems to me that "retire as a millionaire" means you have the money you need to take care of yourself for the rest of your life (since you won't be working), not just swimming in money. He's big on 'sharing'. Once when he gave something to a caller, he asked, "Please pass this on to someone who needs help once you've used it." His daily radio show is now in our town. What I hear him saying is to be strict strict strict with your money in the beginning of those baby-steps, but when the time comes to do a vacation, work on something for your house, etc....he says DO IT because you HAVE done all that hard work. He has not said to never have fun, never go out to eat, never build those memories for the future....all that 'beans and rice and no life' is in the BEGINNING of the program. He's mentioned on the air regularly to callers to 'lighten up' once they have things in order. I personally don't see him preaching just "being" a millionaire. Again, it's so you have money for all the medical expenses (for one thing) once you are elderly, and not having to rely on the government (other people). I like him. Can you tell?

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  39. Dang, I know this. A whole bunch of it because that was/is us. Our dreams were bigger than the sky - us youngins with our two cushy incomes and our growing retirement account. And then the hubs felt the calling to go back to Seminary and here we are with our one tiny income in this tiny run-down-ish town. Some might say that we've taken 10 steps back by leaving those jobs and the comfortable big city life. From a worldly view, they are spot on, but God doesn't look at it with those eyes. And we have started to see His view more clearly and we're learning and letting go along the way.

    I am over the moon excited to see what God has up His sleeve for you.

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  40. Love hearing everyone's thoughts! Just wanted to clarify, I'm not condemning Dave. None of us can really know where his heart is. I understand that he does mention giving from time to time, but the intro to his radio show says (or used to say - I haven't listened in years) "It's about building piles and piles of CASH!!" That's where my problem begins with his message. He did help us. He does offer wise advise about getting out of debt, which is the beginning of good stewardship. But his main focus, from what I heard, was to "build wealth". And I hear some of you saying that his point is to build wealth so you can give some of it away, but I don't fully agree with that approach AND (more important to this discussion) the giving is not his main focus. It always struck me as more of and endnote. I'm sure he's a wonderful man. I have nothing against him personally. I just wish there was more biblical meat to his message. And of course, yes, I wish I wasn't so darn selfish and so inclined to serve myself. :)

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  41. Seems like you know what is going to happen next. You are smart.

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  42. Just read this. Thanks. You've put the stuff I've been hashing around in my head for months now to words. Live intentionally for heaven. I love it.

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  43. I really agree with every word girl. It's exactly where I've been and it's really hard living in this world and keeping the right perspective.

    Love you!!! :)

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  44. Hmm, I listen to Dave everyday, and even though I am far from debt free, he inspires me so much to care about the things that matter. I have never heard him tout owning two homes, unless you can afford to do so, and want it. He himself invests in real estate, but that's because he can afford to. I have never heard him say you have ot shop at Talbot's...although there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.... he always says you can do whatever you want with the extra income, be it charity, family vacations, etc. Being free from debt is just that: being FREE. He always, always mentions giving as a top priority, but that's the individuals CHOICE!! The master WAS the debt, if you are debt free, you are FREE to serve whatever master you believe in: God, Talbot's, or Ferrari. Its all about free will. Yes, he is sometimes very tough with people who are in a bad financial place--he explains to them what they have done to get themselves there, and how to get out. Sometimes they don't want to hear it. He makes it clear its not easy. He has been in the place where many of the callers are, a mess. I am not 100% on his political rants, but I respect the guy immensely. He is inspiring people to live their dreams, to have security in case of rainy days, he is a unique voice out there. Just my thoughts... It sounds like you are making YOUR choices, and that's a good thing. Good luck with your adoption, sounds so exciting!

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  45. Context

    << Mark 12 >>
    New American Standard Bible

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    42A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. 43Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”


    I think, it is harder to give out of your lack, than your wealth. When you do that, it only boils down to what is in your heart. Storing up wealth, living frugally has more to do with the heart, and what is in it. You can do everything, this guy says to a tee, have excess and give out of it, and it could be essentially worth nothing if it is given out of pride, or some other sin. I wonder, and since I have not done this program or read his stuff, it is generally not about him persee but can ANOTHER christian program be another idol, that would take our hearts away from the message of Christ? I agree, we need to take charge of our finances, because, living worldly with that focus of having more and more is like idolatry.

    But I wonder if it just as easy to become so engrossed in this way of living that it too can become a source of pride, and idolatry.

    THE BIBLE has all the principles of living that we need and should follow. When it comes down to following a MAN with a METHOD can that not also become idolatry?

    I was wondering are we all so daft that we have to follow some guy, that we cannot pick up a Bible ourselves and come to the same conclusion as he?

    Don't condemn this author, she is merely pointing out scripture, and being really honest.

    God wants what is in our hearts, the old woman giving from NOTHING is what JESUS took notice of, and it was highly esteemed above those giving from their abundance.

    I just wanted to air these thoughts and see what you all thought.....

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    1. Yes, we are all so daft that we can't pick up the Bible and figure it out. Take a look at the mess we are in - that most countries are in. Most churches don't even have this figured out. They go into debt for millions of dollars with building projects. And then they turn around and preach God's word!

      Please remember that God sent lots of messengers to deliver his words and ways of life. That bible you talked about is full of stories about those people. They weren't perfect, not by far. Thank God He still chooses to use imperfect people. And thank God those people still feel led to the work that God laid before them, even as they are judged by the world.

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    2. I guess my thought is, the woman was POOR. I'm an American. My husband brings in a good income. But we are nearly living month to month and every challenge nudges us close to the brink. I know we have loving family that would bail us out in dire need, like now when we are borrowing my parents van, hoping we can afford a down payment on a used one this fall (ugh, more debt). But I want to be in a safe zone. Where we won't loose it all if one bad misstep happens. Where when missionaries or friends in trouble approach, we can be generous without being foolish and unable to pay the electric bill. Yes, I do need to check my motivation as I get a little thrill at the idea of accumulating wealth, but I do feel we need the accountability of something bigger than us.

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    3. I guess my thought is, the woman was POOR. I'm an American. My husband brings in a good income. But we are nearly living month to month and every challenge nudges us close to the brink. I know we have loving family that would bail us out in dire need, like now when we are borrowing my parents van, hoping we can afford a down payment on a used one this fall (ugh, more debt). But I want to be in a safe zone. Where we won't loose it all if one bad misstep happens. Where when missionaries or friends in trouble approach, we can be generous without being foolish and unable to pay the electric bill. Yes, I do need to check my motivation as I get a little thrill at the idea of accumulating wealth, but I do feel we need the accountability of something bigger than us.

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  46. Shannan I love this post. I am slowly slowly on my way to financial freedom. I do have a question though. Right now I am in a position of only being able to pay for the necessities of life. I just bought new clothes for the first time in a few years and they were "garage sale new" :) Just curious how you budget the more frivolous spending and what do you name that envelope? And do you ever have guilt for those purchases now that you are "here" ? For example, calendar tea towels?

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  47. I so agree with Tima-way up there towards the beginning of the comments. Our family has always tried to meet needs in whatever way we could, but we also tried and did live way below our means-not by being stingy with others but most often with ourselves. We are debt free and the freedom that gives you to assist in the cause of Christ is a mighty, mighty blessing. "Live like no one else (not wasting money on junk for ourselves while still blessing and giving to others and our church) so that you can live like no one else" is TRUE. Don't disregard Dave's good advice, people!

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  48. this is a very timely post for me. i just got done reading "Radical" and it has me thinking on all sorts of things. I'm waiting on my husband to finish so we can start to implement somethings together. But what you are saying here rings true in my own heart. Thanks for sharing.

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  49. Thank you thank you thank you, Shannan! Your honesty and commitment to keepin' it real is such a blessing. Your blog is so encouraging to me and your family is so dear. Have a wonderful week!
    -Ceci Loves

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  50. Shannon
    I enjoy reading your blog but must say that this posting has made me quite sad. You come across as sounding a bit self righteous. Atleast that's what I'm getting from this lesson.
    (((Hugs)))

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  51. I don't think you sound self-righteous at all. You sound like you're examining everything about your life in light of scripture. Amen to your post. Dave Ramsey's plan is good and helps a lot of people. But there is a tension there. We have to make sure SAVING money, or even living below our means, doesn't become a god for us. I think Dave Ramsey would love to hear about this. I'm sure he'd like to talk about balance. You should submit this to him, let him address it with his listeners.

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  52. "they looked more like Heaven than a Nissan". Lord give me that vision and help me dream those dreams!

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  53. You are a rare beauty that although I have never wrapped my arms around your neck, I simply adore! How can words move us to tears and beyond that to questions that did deep and clean out? That's what I find myself asking when I read this post, knowing I've thought these things but not had enough courage to share my thinking...

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  54. oh dear one you are sooo brave! our church did a class on crown financial. my hubby and i didn't buy into it. we live pretty frugal, but don't have a ton of savings. our only debt is our house. however, we give even when we don't think we can. what i witnessed from our friends who bought into crown was that they were working harder to make more money to pay our debt faster and be able to one day give more. it came at the sacrifice of young families. they were pulled apart for all this "work harder" and while i can't judge their giving, they certainly have nicer things now. i think we become so obsessed with money, retirement, etc. i say learn to live simply, give extravagantly, and love fully!!!!!

    i will say the concept of budgeting is one people need to learn, i just don't get into making our budget become something about us making more. we aren't called to make more. we are called to ask for our daily bread:)

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  55. Just wanted to be another one to say that I totally agree with you! And I think this post was written with a great deal of respect and grace and humility. You are allowed to disagree with someone and I think you are very discerning in what you have observed. Thank you for writing this!

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  56. This is exactly what I love about you.

    It's been a hard lesson for me to learn as well. I started out with no money, then I earned more, then more.

    Then I began to wonder "What the hell am I doing? I can't possibly spend constantly, I don't really WANT to live life as a consumer."

    Fast forward to 2011, Brad's hip surgery...disability checks that arrive whenever the folks at the insurance company "decide" to process the payments. Sometimes every few weeks, a few times every 2 months! Yikes. Makes it hard to pay bills on time & plan for anything.

    In the end...I can live on very little. While we were broke, we were still very committed to helping our Compassion child, Edgar. I've realized all of the junk I think I need is useless garbage. Generally, a year or so after purchasing a lot of things, I can't recall where or why I bought it.

    You always speak to me, Shiny!

    Rock this Monday, girl.

    xxoo

    TT

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  57. What a great post and comments! I am a huge Dave fan and he has helped me more than I could ever imagine. I read his books and listen to the podcasts every week. This is really interesting because I often think what a generous person he seems to be. I've read a lot of other financial authors--Suze Orman, David Bach, etc. and I don't think I've EVER heard any of them mention anything about God, religion, giving, etc.

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  58. Enjoying your post! As I was reading some of the comments, the word "balance" came to mind. That makes sense to me...it's all about balancing Dave's wisdom with your feelings.
    Blessings,
    Susie

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  59. This is a direct answer to prayer for me today!!!!! Thank you!!!!!

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  60. I just have to agree with Colorado Tile Installment's insight and wisdom up there. You ARE smart! ;)

    Money, it's a drag. (Totally kidding) Maybe "not participating in this recession" also means treating this recession or this economy or our lives on this planet a little more like a natural disaster or a catastrophe where everyone comes together with whatever they have to help each other out. This is a very Church of Corinth philosophy you've got going on, FPFG. And it sounds about as easy as "sell everything you have and give it to the poor." Wowee.

    Dave strikes me as a very secure (not to mention bold) fella and I also think he'd welcome a conversation like this one. It sounds to me like his help was one of the steps along the path of your journey, just not your destination.

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  61. I cant thank you enough for this article. We have never followed Dave Ramseys programs, but I can definitely identify with the conflict between God and Money.

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  62. Listening to Dave on the radio is very inspiring for paying down debt. I think he has watered down his stance on giving somewhat on the radio program - it is stressed and his opinion is very strong on the importance of giving in his FPU class and videos. Could this be to appeal to the masses more? not sure, but he lights a fire under people to stop making stupid choices and if you listen closely he does recognize that sometimes life happens, it stinks, and you get stuck between a rock and a hard place. We took his class and what I got out of it is that not matter where you are with debt you still need to give whether it is to a church, non-profit or other charity - he does view giving as important. Everyone's opinion of living like no one else is different, so if you are living like no one else - awesome!

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  63. I am so thankful that you're sharing your journey. We're asking ourselves a lot of hard questions about what we have and what we need. It feels crazy and lonely sometimes. You remind me God is in this!

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  64. we are following dave's 7 baby steps and working to pay off our debt right now. my husband and i read his book and it was just what we needed to get us going. it was very convicting for us, because we were not being very good stewards of God's money. anyway, i can totally see where you're coming from, and i have to agree that sacrificial living doesn't stop once we hit a certain point...just because you have a surplus in money doesn't mean you get to stop living sacrificially. my husband and i desire to be able to have a nice stock-pile of cash someday. but not because we want to keep it for ourselves and give some of it away as an after-thought. we would love to have so much extra cash that we can just give it away. as a gift. money to buy our church a building. money to support a missionary. things like that. so, we have our own interpretation of the live like no one else phrase. living like no one else, for us, would be continuing that sacrificial living that God calls us to do. i also have to mention that i read randy alcorn's the treasure principle around the same time i completed dave's book. using dave's practical methods of obtaining financial freedom and the biblical wisdom provided in alcorn's book has really helped us focus on where we need to be at financially.

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  65. You've got lots of comments so I'll try not to repeat but I SO agree with you on every dang thang! Love you Missy.

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  67. You articulate my inner battle so well! Thanks for the inspiration to dig deeper!

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  68. I sense God is starting to "relieve us of our money" too.

    So thankful for these words. Right now.

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  69. It's all God's anyway. If we lived like we really believed that, really and truly, I don't think Dave Ramsey would have a job.

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  70. We've been in this place. Freedom from Debt is like breathing clean air for the first time in years. And then one day, after seeking Truth, it became clear that we needed to look at what we were serving, putting our hope and our future into. We have lived on much less than most in this country and we always had what we needed and then some. Now God provided more and we're still the same people. Having a good income does not mean you have to live "rich". You can choose a humble life no matter what you make. You can serve God no matter what your circumstances. Dave serves God and teaches people to be free from their master and tries to direct them to God along the way. Go Dave!!! He doesn't sugar coat it. He's a financial adviser to all and they need to know how to advise everyone, the lost and the found. We dont know what God has done with this man or how he uses him or is currently teaching him. But its clear that God is revealing his truth to you and that is awesome. I went through this with Glenn Beck as well. I started to think about doing food insurance and it hit me, we're not supposed to WORRY about tomorrow. Thank you for our daily bread. I would honestly thank God for using Dave to free you from debt then move forward without judging or looking back. I'm glad to hear of others seeing this too : ) - Katie

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  71. Love this perspective. It's refreshing when people realize that having/spending money isn't the goal we should be striving for. Thank you for sharing!

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  72. AMEN. Good post! Glad you're using your voice.
    ~FringeGirl

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  73. What's your top Beans N Rice recipe? I'm gettin' a bit tired of ours! ;)

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  74. Something I've learned through our journey to get debt-free (which happened in March)and what I'm learning even today, is that it is all God's, and it's not that He doesn't want us to HAVE money. It's that He wants us to TRUST HIM for our needs, and He wants us to take care of the needs of those who DON'T have money. I don't need to retire a millionaire. I need to be in the center of God's will.

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  75. I am so with you on this. God took us on a journey that started with eliminating debt but ended with us wanting to find ways to give away more. I even wrote a Bible study about it. Money is just another thing that clutters up our lives and distracts us from the most important task in life- living for Jesus.

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  76. YOU GO GIRL! We love the practicals of Dave Ramsey, and it has led us to being debt free, with the exception of our modest home on a 15 year mortgage. I agree wholeheartedly that the entire underpinning philosophy of accumulating wealth and making yourself wealthy for your own benefit and enjoyment make DR totally uncredible as a 'Bible-based financial program.' Helpful and effective, yes. Biblically sound motivation/overarching philosophy--no way.

    We do the cash system with a Randy Alcorn heart and movitivation. Have you read Money, Possessions and Eternity? His philosophy is to live modestly, set a cap and GIVE EVERY PENNY over that cap to the Lord and reaching the lost--or wherever the Lord is leading you to invest in the ETERNAL. Your goal is to make more so you can give more--live on 10% and GIVE 90% away. This is WWJD financial counsel.

    If you want to see where Dave lives, check it out here:
    http://www.coolsprings.com/news/dave-ramseys-house

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  77. amen says my heart! oh & i can't type w/o lotsa mistakes. notice comments removed just above! ;)

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  78. Yes. Yes. Yes. Thank you for honestly sharing your heart. You are a blessing!

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  79. I just looked at his house and lost all respect I had for him. I did respect him for his advice. I don't respect him living in such a ridiculous extravagant house. It pisses me off and anybody who has so much pride that he needs to build such a big house, that screams "Look at me" " I am a success" lost my vote.

    So how can he explain that to the poorest of the poor. People who are losing everything because there is no work. I find it completely shameful.

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    1. How dare you judge this man for the house he lives in???? He has worked hard for that money, and you have no idea how much he gives away. Also, you have no way of knowing what percentage of his income went into building that house.
      I do not begrudge him his success at all. Only God knows what it is in a person's heart, and I think we should be VERY careful not to judge that which we know nothing about.

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  80. Ok so I loved this post. I have some real trouble with Dave Ramsey. Now if I'm being honest, it's probably a combination of my own frustration with myself and my inability to stick to a strict budget (in my defense, that's mostly because we have lots of unexpected expenses such as 25 kids showing up for dinner every night) . . . Anyhow, we were at Catalyst and Dave spoke. And my spirit was just not ok with it. I feel like EVEN if you can afford multiple houses, that does NOT mean you *should* as a Christian spend your money on that. Not to mention that my husband and I dont know if we believe retirement is Biblical. Sigh. I'm so conflicted about the whole thing though, and honestly I dont know Dave's stuff well enough to criticize it. . . .

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    1. I agree with your point that anything done without love is meaningless. I sure hope you didn't take from this that I "hate" Dave Ramsey or anyone, for that matter. I am simply expressing my opinion that there are things I would change about his message, if I could.

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  82. Thanks for saying what I've been thinking for years. We, like you, have read the book, do the excel spreadsheet, and are living debt free, but I have been asking the same questions. So thank you, thank you. And if Dave Ramsey reads this post, I think he'll read your heart, too. :)

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  83. We've always lived below our means. So I never needed Dave Ramsey's advice. My husband is Scotish and we're Catholic. Not Kennedy type Catholics. We're very frugal and if we do treat ourselves in ways others would think just plain boring the Catholic guilt kicks in. It's a blessing and a curse. Really if you hang out with people that have LOTS of stuff you get swept up in that too. So I really pick and choose where it's best for me not to get tempted or dissatisfied with my love life. I do have to say THANK God for wealthy people. If not for wealthy people employing many of us we would all be in a place of despair. The problem isn't with Dave Ramsey is his common sense he isn't responsible for the fact people haven't developed a sense of values. That problem is much larger than anything he can solve. It like living beyond our. Eans is person responsibility both financially and morally.

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  84. And for some reason this thing is not allowing me to go back and correct my errors! I'm really not as ignorant as the comment above sounds hahaha well that's what I tell myself at least.

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  85. I appreciate you writing this post and opening up this topic for discussion. My husband and I have been married 3 years and are working through our debt using Dave's method. It is working for us and seems to have worked for so many others that have commented.

    Dave goes to my church and I've heard him speak several times in person. First and foremost, when given the platform of a church alter instead of a radio studio, his message is much more clear. Do I wish that he could be as clear about the end-all message on the air? Absolutely. Do I know of the restrictions (if any) that are given to him while on the air? No. Am I glad that he's getting the message out anyway and making people angry enough to get out of the bondage? Yes.

    He delivered a rather impactful message at my church recently on "How big is your WHY?"

    When we first begin this debt-free journey, our "why" is selfish. Noble, maybe, but selfish. "We want to be free! We're sick and tired of being sick and tired!"

    As we pay off debt and build up "wealth" per se, our "why" morphs into something bigger - to "change our family tree". For me, this is very real. I have an enormous amount of student loans from nursing school. I put no blame on my mother for this; I am thankful for her supporting me in the ways that she could. But the thought of sending my children to college and allowing them to start "real life" without (what the world calls "good") debt puts tears in my eyes. I refuse to pass the legacy of debt on to my children. "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children." Prov 13:22 This inheritance may not be a lofty trust fund, but it certainly won't be a huge chunk of debt.

    As our wealth grows, so does our "why"... It seems that most people have a problem with what they call "hoarding wealth", but Dave recommends that you not save more than 3-6 months of your living expenses after you are debt free. I see this "emergency fund" as this: 1) taking care of your household if you were to lose your job. You are to take care of your family inside the four walls of your home first and foremost. 2) to put you in a position where "emergencies" are now just "inconveniences". You're going to have tires blow out, AC units that fail, and a leak in the bathroom... maybe all in the same week. But that emergency fund allows you to take care of those things without dipping into your monthly income and causing a true "emergency". Now replacing that AC unit is only an inconvenience...

    Which leads me to my next (and final, promise!) point - what some may call "hoarding wealth", I see as allowing one to free up their "other" money to GIVE. Instead of having to postpone your gift to the adoption fund of the family across town for a month because the car broke down, you have a safety net that allows you to do BOTH. And that is freedom. Too "comfortable" for some people? Maybe. But it allows you to be consistent and excessive in your giving and I do not think that the Lord frowns upon that.

    When my husband and I get out of debt (crossing our fingers for Jan 2013), we will save up our 3 to 6 months of income, and will be able to give in excess of what we do now, while we try to start a family and save for adoption.

    I, personally, am thankful to Dave - that someone finally spoke out and said that it's NOT OK for believers to be enslaved by debt. That we are not good stewards when we are in bondage to lenders. That true freedom comes when you are able to give CONSISTENTLY and EXCESSIVELY because you have been financially responsible. I would hate for people to miss that.

    Thank you for opening this up for discussion! I love your thoughts and the way you put them into words.

    Lauren

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    1. Love what you wrote, Lauren. I agree with what you had to say! I think there's nothing wrong with having money in order to be prepared. For people to say, "God will take care of us" and for them not take care of themselves in the earthly way we need to, is irresponsible. I think there is no trouble with Dave Ramsey. He is a financial advisor, and he does it well, and his financial advice gives people the freedom to do more with their money, in the way they see fit. I don't think it's Dave's duty to be a financial advisor AND a spiritual advisor. Credit where credit is due, and no criticism for things he may have not been called to do. Wow! FPFG certainly got some conversation going!
      Lisa

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  86. This is beautiful... thanks for sharing. It is a good thing, and even a Biblical thing, to be out of debt. But as you shared, stockpiling isn't really where it's at either, in God's eyes. I needed that reminder! So glad I stopped by your blog for the 1st time today. Blessings!

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  87. friend, you've always been brave with your writing. but it's been awful braver lately :).

    i think of Jesus, who chose to walk this earth as a Man and had nowhere to lay His head and i see God's pattern for life, money, possessions. He was obedient even to the point of death. and it's the hardest pill i've ever had to swallow. whatever God asks of me, i want to be willing to give Him. even when it hurts. even when i just don't think i can. God is going to confront every single thing i feel entitled to because He is grace, mercy, love and enough. And when others see us choosing Him over what we have treasured? When they hear us? When we carry that out into the world? That. That is a testimony to His goodness and His Godness.

    yep. i love your heart.

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  88. Ahh. You speak to my heart. Thank you. I struggle with wanting more and being blissfully happy with our modest little life. It's so easy to get caught up in the desire for more. This is a beautiful post. I hope it goes viral so you can knock at the hearts of the whole world!!

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  89. I didn't have time to read all the comments. But to those who say it's not important to save for retirement because there are no guarantees. Just please remember that if you do happen to be around at retirement, your going to be putting the burden of supporting you on your kids. This is exactly what is happening to me. I'm trying to get out of debt, and save for college for my own kids but I've got parents who didn't plan and save and now I'm helping them out financially as well. Please don't do that to your kids!

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    1. I meant to say "you're" not "your" going to be putting the burden of supporting you on your kids.

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  90. I am jumping up and down with this post! yes! yes! And Yes! it's exactly where we found ourselves two years ago...I'll admit there are days that like those leaving Egypt, I look back with longing and something very much like envy. How nice it felt to live for myself....but truly, to die is gain!

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  91. Great read, Shannon. I thought you articulated your feelings brilliantly (as usual!) Dave can be very inspiring, and he's helped us a lot, but I do take his advice with a grain of salt since I remember he's talking a very large audience, of all different peoples. Another great title of this post would be "How we've molding Dave's teachings to fit our lives." :)

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  92. I sincerely appreciate you writing this post. I was surprised to hear that was how you and so many others felt about Dave's message. We too are FPU grads and we've facilitated the class several times as well. I never interpreted the "living like no one else", to mean stockpiling money to live extravagantly. I always assumed to "build wealth" was more in the sense of being able to retire without depending on the government or anyone else for that matter. I think we almost instinctively knew that once we paid off our debt, we would be able to increase our giving exponentially. I never interpreted Dave's class to be lessons on how to be wealthy, more like how to be responsible, and I'm so bummed to hear how many people see it differently. As coordinators, we did have some insight into a program that Dave offers called "Momentum" - the premise of the program was to encourage churches to get the majority of their members to take FPU with the hope that completing the course these members would be debt-free and consistent, extravagant givers. I remember one of the lines saying something to the effect of just think what the body of Christ could do. Like I said I really appreciate you writing this post especially since I'll make sure to be more aware that Dave's message could be interpreted that way and try to clarify that when we facilitate the class.

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  93. I am in agreement with Ellen from Sko-momma. Hubby and I give more since we are debt free other than mortgage. I can see how others might interpret Dave's ideas...but I think he really wants people to be free of debt and to encourage them to not have to be 75 and barely making it. I love where your heart is and I wish more people could or would get there. I have seen God take care of us since we have been good stewards of our money...and where having the emergency fund came in handy. Thank you for your message. So good to hear.

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  94. YES! I have been waiting for someone to say this!!!

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  95. YES. EXACTLY.
    We've done Dave Ramsey for twelve years, but I've ALWAYS felt this way about retirement and storing it up....I just can't find a scripture to back up ALL that Dave promises.

    YES!!!!!

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  96. just read some of your comments from others...ouch.

    I never understood you to be saying that you don't like Dave Ramsey. not at all.
    I only understood you to say that you can't seem to justify storing up your money for crap....ehhhh "treasures" here on earth.

    oh girl...hope you let the meanness in a few of these comments wash right off of you....praying they don't have sticking power. :)

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  97. Thank you for this post.

    I completely agree with you. When I first discovered Dave Ramsey I was super into it, listening to his show everyday and trying to follow his advice. I realized that at some point I wasn't doing it to be a good steward of the money God has given me, but my goal was earthly gain and my own treasures.

    I did not grow up in the US and my parents never had debt paying for everything with cash, so this whole being in debt thing was very new to me. But yet, I still felt that the advice Dave gave was helpful in terms of budgeting and being mindful of your money and future. I really appreciate his advice but feel that I need to be careful that my motivations and goals are in the right place. His "wake-up call" and steps to becoming debt-free are exactly what people need to hear today.

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    1. Thank you for really understanding where I'm coming from with this post! You're so right - he IS helpful. He's spot-on about not being in debt. I think it's just a really fine line beyond that. I don't "blame" him, but he gets people excited about "being rich" and, unfortunately, I started to slide into that trap. It just didn't/doesn't feel right to me. Anyway, thanks. :)

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  98. Shannan, What I hear in Dave's message is the ability to "Be Rich" to help others. Isn't it funny how we all hear the same thing differently.

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  99. While I agree with you that we shouldn't store up wealth for our own gratification, I believe that Dave Ramsey has his place. Most people need him because they spend more money than they make, and they spend it on things they don't need. They are a drag on the economy and most of all, they trap themselves in a financial situation that does not allow for helping others.
    It is a good thing to learn to live below your means, but I believe we each need to search our hearts and ask what God would have us do with the money he blesses us with.
    I also believe that wise stewardship so that we can be responsible for ourselves, and others, is biblical too. As with everything in life, balance is so important.

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  100. God calls us to be good stewards of our money, and I believe Dave helps many people to do that. Maybe your "living like no-one else" means that you will eat rice and beans so that you are able to give your excess to those less fortunate. Who knows, but I do believe it is better to live Dave's way than to live in debt. Good thoughts!

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  101. It isn't easy to pick up our cross, die to ourselves, and follow Him. I have known the depths of His love more in times of suffering than any other...and the deeper I get into His wounded side the more I know love. There is no thought of money...at all. He is the good Shepherd that cares for me. I am nothing, He is all.

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  102. Jesus never aspired to be wealthy...Kerrie above says it well. I am nothing, He is all.
    We live in a corrupt and greedy culture. To be warm, and fed and clothed is rich. Somehow greed has crept in to the mainstream church, and has found a home there. Tell everyone they can and should become rich, they will follow like sheep.
    "one thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor,and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me"

    not as popular it seems, but it is where freedom begins.
    <3

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  103. I think there is a big part of Dave's ministry that you've missed. That is that it's a ministry. I'm going to guess that most non-believers would not be comfortable in a Crown Ministries class, good as it is. But you can bring anyone to a FPU class, and there they will connect with what Dave is talking about as he slowly introduces them to God and His ways of handling money and life. Do you think there might be a method to Dave's madness for that reason?

    I agree that the giving message could be stronger. But most people just need to get out of the mess.

    As I said in an earlier post, God used all sorts of imperfect people to deliver His messages to the world. Yes I would love to see Dave point people to what they could give instead of what they could get as a motivation. But for a lot of people that has to come with time and changed hearts. And for most people that doesn't happen overnight. They can't get their heads there until they've dug themselves out of the hole of debt. I think it's ironic that so many people say, "I loved him while we were getting out of debt, it was great! But now that I'm there I started feeling . . . " Again, perhaps that's the real plan.

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  104. Great article. I am glad to see this on your blog, because I know a lot of people read it, and a lot of people need this message. The stuff of the earth becomes so meaningless when you start thinking about Heaven and what our purpose here on earth is (to be like Jesus and lead people to Heaven).

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  105. Have you read 'Happy Are You Poor' by Thomas Dubay? I really recommend this. Your candor is so great, I remember blogging about this awhile back and coming to a similar conclusion. I am a dirty sinner in need of conversion, not a Mercedes. Thank you!

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  106. If you have listened to Dave Ramsey long enough you have heard him say that he is giving the "same advice your grandmother did, he just does it with his teeth in!" What he is teaching isn't anything new. It really is how our grandparents lived - no debt!! And I know that Dave and Sharon Ramsey are HUGE givers and I think it is amazing that God is able to use them to bless the socks off of other people, ministries and churches!!

    My family used a budget waaaay before Dave Ramsey came along! And guess what? We aren't rich. We don't have the money for yearly vacations and we don't drive new cars. We live within our means, but we choose to sacrifice so that I can stay home with our children. Just because you follow a budget doesn't mean you will automatically become wealthy. It is really hard to speak about a person's heart that you do not know. And I don't know you, so I can't really speak about your heart either. That wouldn't be fair. But the title of this blog "The trouble with Dave Ramsey" isn't so fair in my opinion.

    The trouble with ALL of us is that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. None of us has a corner on the truth. None of us is better than the other. Dave just happens to have a platform in the public eye. So, of course he will face scrutiny from others. The great thing is that when you bring up points like you have, it makes us go to God and ask Him what HE wants from us. We get to "wrestle" a little and that is what draws us near to God. I hope that in sharing what you have, it causes people not just to vent in the comment section, but to look at their own motives and hearts on the matter. Ask themselves if they are being obedient to what God has called them to.

    Cause in the end it really doesn't matter if any of us agree, but rather if each of us is bringing glory to God with that which He has entrusted to us.

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    1. The "trouble" with Dave Ramsey is that not all of his message is Biblical. I'm not commenting on his personal heart, I did not discuss whether or not he personally gives enough. That's not my concern. It is not a personal attack on him or his character. It is a heart-felt opinion against PART of the message that he sells to millions of Christians. Would it help if I wrote a future post titled "The trouble with Shannan Martin"?

      I think it's important that we begin to understand that disagreeing does not equate judgment.

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  107. Hmmm... I had always interpreted the second "live like no one else" to be that one day after budgeting and getting rid of debt, you could bless people monetarily, give gifts, support ministries, and tithe abundantly. But I could definitely be wrong!

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  108. "I think it's important that we begin to understand that disagreeing does not equate judgment."

    AMEN!!

    my husband and i have done the whole financial course. the envelope system. gazelle like intensity! and living like no one else... ;) even met ramsey personally. really like him! he's hilarious. and smart. but. there's some things we don't agree with him on~ so, we keep what we do. and don't worry about the rest. i think it's called chewing up the fish, and spitting out the bones! ;)

    to me. that's what i heard in this post. a very gracious, candid, honest spitting out of the bones.

    thank you.

    and to those reading and getting their panties all in a wad over what they call "judging" mr. ramsey~ perhaps you should do the same with this post.. keep what you like. forget about what you don't.

    just sayin~ ;)

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  109. i have to say i respectfully disagree. :) i don't feel like dave ramsey encourages us to "hoard" our money. i also think he' be the first to tell you not to buy the brand new nissan, too. ;) i think it's important to have an emergency fund and to have money for retirement so that we are not a drain on soceity, that we don't become enslaved to the creditors. Dave repeatedly says not "to keep up with the jones's". i think people might misinterpret what he has said or only part of his message. i think he is clear that he wants us to get out of debt, find freedom FROM money so that we can GIVE it away. live like no one else so you can give like no one else.

    let me also say i think there is nothing wrong for people to live in a nice house and to drive a nice car and have nice things if they can afford it. if God blesses a person that way, who am i to judge? i think that anyone who reads this post who hasn't read Dave Ramsey, really needs to make their own decisions about what he says. i've taken a complete different viewpoint about him than you have and i encourage everyone i talk to about money to listen to what he has to say. as my husband and i have gotten out of debt and have become satisfied to live within our means we've found more ways to give of our excess. ( i hope this makes sense! i'm afraid i have my mommmy brain on and i just rambled!)

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  110. This is beautiful! Just wanted to let you know a linked this post on my blog. Hope you don't mind!

    Long time reader,
    Erin

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  111. We followed Dave's principles and when we got our finances settled we moved to Paraguay as independent missionaries. We now live on love offering donations because we are not a part of a mission organization. We didn't pile up a big bank account or possessions. We sold everything of value and used the small cushion to set up our life here. To me that is where the value of financial freedom comes in. It can get scary sometimes financially down here but it's ok, God has it under control

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  112. Hi
    I am joing the conversation and I hope it is ok because it is a bit late in the piece.
    I come from money but it has not been 'given' to me. I have had to learn to budget and I do like Dave Ramsey. What I personally take from his lessons is that people need to be responsible. Sure at the end of the day our faith is in the Lord. But I have helped people who have no food on the table to feed their children and they are on $45,000+ per year. No food but the latest iPad and the like. At the end of the day he is frustrated because people are earning the $$ but wasting it. I don't think he is encouraging a self indulgent lifestyle, but rather responsibility. The Bible does clearly say "owe no man". My family has helped a lot of people over the years because they had money to help people.
    I think the most important lesson is that just changing the habit of lifelong car loans and a mortgage will make you financially independent and not rellying on the government and food stamps. That is an important lesson. To tan or not to tan is a personal choice and not his teaching.
    At least you are questioning it. But I don't think irresponsible spending is the Lord's will either. Bless ya xx

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  113. What would Jesus do? Buy term and invest the rest or buy whole life? I never read in the Bible where Jesus did anything half way. But always to the fullest. That's all I have to say, I'll take the narrow gate thank you very much. My Bible is my advisor, everything else is secondary advice.

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  114. I actually stopped reading Dave's book after the advice for paying down debt. I could sense the direction of "ultimately have more in the end" he was going and decided that we would rather "free" ourselves from debt simply because it's Biblically sound to be a good steward or our money and not to owe anyone. That freedom would allow for a potential life of missions or just living on less so that we can give when and where it's needed. Great post!

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  115. This such an awesome post and a huge reminder to me about what I should keep my mind on. I have always struggled with Ramsey's attitude toward many things, particularly those like myself that use credit wisely. I am not in a hole so big I cannot dig out in a reasonable amount of time. Perhaps I should eliminate all debt. However, that cannot stop a major medical crisis impacting our finances for years and years to come. He also seems to side with those who want to "live the good life" by not owing anyone anything. I feel that pull all the time. This whole human "money" thing could fall apart anytime....money only has the value we impart to it.

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  116. I think the post is very encouraging. Sometimes when there is an expert with "all" the answers and they are a Christian, we think, Oh I should do it this way because he speaks in churches and on Christian radio. I'm sure Dave is a great guy and he does have a lot of good advice, but ultimately I will take what seems to work for me and my family, leave the rest. I put my trust in God, not the things of this world. For myself and my husband we were involved in a cult like church for many years before we broke free. Now we are older adults who don't have much savings or retirement, but that does't mean God will not take care of us. I know he will, because he is faithful and doesn't care about how good or bad with are with money. He is faithful and forgiving and He hears our prayers.

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  117. The Holy Spirit can answer this different for each person. Some can be wealthy and have no love or lust for money and materials, while others cannot. I think money has and will always be a great stumbling block

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  118. For many. However, the Bible says if any body part causes me to sin, I am to cut it off. That it is better to enter heaven without it, than not enter heaven at all. I see money in the same light. But there are many more debatable points. I believe true wisdom and understanding can only come to the individual from the Holy Spirit on this point.

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    1. I agree. What I struggle with the most (me, personally) is that *any* "wealth I have could be meeting the needs of someone else who has less. It's hard for me to wrap my brain around stockpiling cash when MOST of the world is trying to survive. I wrestle around with this thought constantly. And quite honestly, this is something Dave's teachings don't really address. He talks about giving, but not sacrificial giving. I think there's a difference!

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  119. It's strange and pathetic that you felt the need to use the term "brown-skinned child".

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    1. It's interesting to me that you see talking about our children's culture and heritage as "pathetic". Our kiddos are tremendously proud of their brown skin and identified as "brown" as soon as they were able to talk about it. We celebrate these differences. It's a beautiful thing, the way our family took shape and continues to grow!

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