Sunday, November 13, 2011

The spirit of giving?

I know I'm about to step on all sorts of total-money-makeover toes, but my heart is unsettled and twisted so here it goes. I'm not a big Dave Ramsey fan. But before you throw your shredded credit cards at the computer, I praise the Lord for the many many people who Ramsey has helped snowball their way out of suffocating debt. And I mean that.

Okay, so here's my beef. For starters, I can't quite wrap my head around the live like no one else so that you can live like no one else philosophy. Does Ramsey mean for us to live like no one else TODAY (by driving a junker and shopping Goodwill) so that during our retirement years (whatever those are) we can live more comfortably? luxuriously? Or does Ramsey encourage folks to live like no one else TODAY so that when they reach eternity, they can live like no one else? The latter might be more Biblical, sort of, but is that what Ramsey is saying? I get the sense that he means the former, and that is where he loses me. It is in that concept where our culture has interfered with Biblical Truth. God doesn't motivate people to live simply or frugally so that one day they can live a grandiose lifestyle. Our culture tells us that's how it should go, but that's not God's way.

Secondly, I don't agree with his seven steps to financial peace (and can someone please define financial peace?) The steps begin with building an emergency fund and are followed by getting out of debt, saving, investing, saving for college, paying off your home, and then building wealth. Building wealth is step 7a. Step 7b? Oh you know, that thing that we're supposed to do . . . um, um, oh right . . . giving. You know, that act of being Jesus to the world that we are commanded to do over and over and over and over and over again. At least that's the way it goes in my Bible.

Look, I'm not discrediting that there is Biblical support for saving and investing, in fact, each of the seven steps on their own are valid. But who is to say that God wants each of us to follow them in that order? And the God I know would never ever ever put giving last (after building WEALTH?!) That's just not the Jesus I know. (I realize that Ramsey puts tithing up at the front. It's not one of his seven steps, but he absolutely prioritizes it. But tithing and giving are two separate issues, and to my disappointment, too many believers aren't doing either one. For what it's worth, tithing means 10%. Tithing is not monthly leftovers or an arbitrary number. It's 10%. That's what a tithe literally means. You can't tithe 3%. That's giving 3% and calling it 10%. That's lying. Okay, I needed to get that off my chest, phew).

All that to say, I don't know why I was surprised recently when I saw on Dave's facebook page that he is promoting a Give Like No One Else challenge. My initial thought: Awesome! Seriously, now that's what I'm talking about. At least that's what I thought. Until I clicked on the link. And realized that in conjunction with the giving challenge are cash and prize giveaways. Dude, are you serious?!

Why oh why oh why is it necessary to motivate giving with materialistic reward? It's as if he's saying, "Hey, the Bible teaches that the true spirit of giving produces eternal fruit, but who needs eternal rewards when you can win a Kindle right now?"

And before you get me all wrong, it's not about the money or the stuff. For heaven's sake, I'm one of the wealthy ones! It's about the heart. It's not about the car or the square footage or the label. It's about our grip. And that's where we've screwed it all up as Christians. We're too busy pointing fingers at so-and-so's such-and-such when we ourselves can't get past a toilet-submerged iPhone or the collapsing economy of the richest damn country in the world. Relative to someone else, we all have too much. Yes, you. And me. But it's not the too much. It's the letting go. If God asked his faithful servant Abraham to sacrifice his long-awaited and only son Isaac, you better believe he wants you to let go of your insert-most-treasured-earthly-possession-here. It's not the I-saved-for-5-years-to-own-the-car-of-my-dreams that matters. It's that if God speaks to your heart to sell your precious wheels and do something else with those resources, would you? Could you? Without hesitation? It's all a matter of the heart. It's holding loosely to our money and stuff knowing that at any moment, God might have other plans.

Because let me tell you, following Jesus doesn't come with health and wealth. That's a crock, and a sickening one, if you ask me. Remember Paul? He followed Jesus nearly to his death by stoning. He traveled BY FOOT hundreds and hundreds of miles to share the Gospel, without earthly possessions. All he had was faith, and that is all he ever needed. And that's all you and I need no matter how badly we want to convince ourselves that we need or deserve or own x,y, and z.

So why do we have such a gosh-darn hard time giving selflessly and sacrificially? Why do we need earthly incentives when that is not the Gospel? Why are we consumed with establishing financial peace when our dependency should never ever ever ever be on ourselves?

And that is my biggest beef with the Dave Ramsey culture. How can we put ourselves in a position to trust God with every single penny He has bestowed to us if our goals are retirement funds and college savings? There is only one goal that matters, and it's going to manifest differently for each of us. That goal is glorifying God with the resources He has given us (and He gives to each of us separately and differently). It is finding contentment no matter if we are climbing our way out of debt or sitting on a hefty cushion of savings. It's trusting God when He tells us to save or buy or let go or liquidate or sell or give or give or give or GIVE. It's praying over every check we write and through every payday. It's turning to Scriptures before we turn to a so-called financial guru.

And let me tell you, I'm just as big a failure as the next guy. I make greedy, selfish choices every. single. day. Without fail. My flesh craves Target and Pottery Barn clearance and a black Range Rover with tinted windows. I am human, watch me spend. But God is BIGGER. He continues to stir in me a love for giving because it glorifies HIM. And for every day that my lifestyle doesn't match the one I deem more comfortable, He blesses me with something internal (and eternal) such as His peace. His comfort. His contentment.

I hesitate to even post this because I'm just as big a hypocrite as anybody else. I suck at letting go of a certain appendage better known as my MacBook Pro (among other things), and I'm really good at pointing fingers at that family with the heated driveway (or worse yet, coveting that heated driveway everyday during the month of February).

But God has brought me a long way. And I have faith that if I continue to lean into Him, He will continue to do a good work in me. I want to take this amazingly blessed life that He has given me and turn it all over to Him. And as I stumble in big fat ugly ways throughout this journey, I can only pray that I develop a greater sense of what it means to depend on Him. And I don't ever want to fall out of love with giving from my heart for His sake and not my own selfish motives.

So hear me out. This isn't about Ramsey. I clicked on what I thought was going to be an encouraging link about giving and was terribly disappointed. And I was reminded that much like my two-year-olds favorite exclamation is "Mine!" we are all in desperate need of a reality check. I pray that more people turn to God for financial direction and are filled with a desire to give for one reason and one reason only, because He first gave to us. And for that we can never give too much.

77 comments:

  1. I read this three times, and I'm pretty sure I agree with EVERY SINGLE THING you wrote.

    I love you, brave girl, and I think you're amazing.

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  2. Oh sister, this is good! And I really like Dave Ramsey:)

    Your best point, and the one I need reminding of so often, is that we give because He first gave to us. We are commanded to give, sure. But we should WANT to. We should be looking for ways to. We should squirm when we're not. Giving should be a way of life.

    And it drives me crazy when people don't "tithe" their 2% because it's an "Old Testament thing." It's 10% and it's not negotiable.

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  3. I may not understand much about this, but I do know that you inspire me. I am so proud that my big sister is never afraid to share what is on her heart. You not only challenge others, but you also challenge yourself. God looks down on you very, very proud! Love you!

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  4. I love when Pastor Mike points out that giving a 10% tithe is great, but it's an Old Testament requirement. If you turn to the New Testament and follow Jesus - you have to give it all.

    I cling too tightly to my 10% tithe, because giving it all can seem terrifying. But that's when I have to remember, like you said, He gave first to me. And He gave me His life.

    Love you. Thanks for posting.

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  5. Good Stuff!!! Thanks for sharing from your heart!

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  6. Wondering how late I should stay up pretend-moderating your comments...

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  7. you just got another follower. Loved it!

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  8. oh man. i was just about to go to sleep and now i have to think.... ;) and prob reread.... but really, this was great. painful. familiar. all that stuff. Like :)

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  9. Ali, I love your post and I think it is right on. I would like to throw out one point though that is somewhat different. Just like Mary Kate said, tithing at 10% is an Old Testament thing, not a New Testament thing. I think that we sometimes get too wrapped up with the numbers. So the thing I would throw out there is that a tithe can be 3%, it can be 10%, it can be 20%. The point is that a tithe is what you CAN give. If you can only give 3%, then God loves your giving heart. Now that doesn't mean that you say I have a lot of material needs so I can only give 3% when actually I could give more. But to say that 3% is not a tithe I don't think is right either. Remember the story (don't ask me where in the Bible right now), where the lady could only give a couple of cents, and the richer people were mocking at what she could give? The point is that she could give what she could, as little as it was, and that was more meaningful to God then the rich people giving there 10%, but could of done much more. So that's my little tidbit, that a tithe is whatever the percent that you are able to give, freely, and lovingly from your heart. Love you cuz and I love your heart!

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  10. Wow! I too have liked what I've seen of Ramsey, but this is a real eye opener and done so respectfully. And I didn't even know people had heated driveways. :)

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  11. Her comments are valid.. But in order to be self-sustaining, and not reliant on government, One needs to be financially secure. This enables the individual or family to be ready for the hardships to come, but it come to a point. We still need Christ. Proverbs 6 states "Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler. Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest."

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  12. With regard to tithing and that it's 10% and that is that.....I guess that means nobody can give more than 10% right? After all, the law is the law.

    We use the concept of grace giving in our church. Grace does not undercut the law. It actually rises above the law. The Old Testament law said adultery is a sin. Jesus upped the ante by saying merely looking upon a woman not your wife with lust is adultery. We shouldn't judge those who give 5% nor should we believe that we are limited to only giving 10%.

    As for saving, investing and putting money away for college, the bible calls upon us to be good stewards with what God has blessed us with (Luke 16). There's nothing wrong with getting ones financial house in order so that we can prepare for our earthly future. There is a difference between playing it safe and being smart just as there is a difference between risk and recklessness.

    Ramsey's philosophy with regard to "live like no one else" is not some call to arms to live simply so that one day we can live extravagantly (though if that happens, so what? There are very wealthy people that do amazing things with their money to glorify God. I really do not care for sniping about people who drive fancy cars when they're giving away 3 times what those cars are worth) but so that we're no longer beholden to debt, credit cards, living beyond our means, etc. Ramsey places an amazing amount of focus on giving generously. Beyond the tithe.

    Also, I think you are being unfair with Ramsey's Giving Challenge. The cash and prizes they are giving away are just that - cash and prizes he is giving away. That's it. You're framing as though he is saying, "Hey, send us a story about your giving and you'll be entered in to win an Amazon Kindle Fire!" That's not the case. They are asking people to submit stories and ones chosen will be entered into a drawing so that Ramsey's organization will give that person $5,000 to give away.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me like you're questioning his motives and that's where I take issue with this. You say it is not about Ramsey, but you spent the entire time talking about him.

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  13. Tithe IS 10%. That's what the word means. I always assumed from the context that the woman's 2 coins were actually 100% of what she had; i.e. New Testament giving model.

    I appreciate your writing, Ali. As one with a background in finance and who has read Dave's stuff, I too, disagree with much of the "heart" of it.

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  14. Jared W.--The story in the Bible you are referring to is from Mark 12 and the poor woman actually gave 100% because Jesus said in verse 44: "They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

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  15. Hey there, Anonymous (11:58pm). The verse about the ant and the sluggard in Proverbs is a lovely one, but I hear it over and over any time I question Dave Ramsey. And here's how I look at it. It's one verse. In Proverbs. Directed at some lazy dude who doesn't want to work. And it can't hold a candle to the HUNDREDS of verses in the NEW Testament spoken by JESUS himself about giving all we have and trusting in God alone to provide for us.

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  16. just loved reading this post this morning. I feel like it gives me a great perspective, especially with the xmas season approaching and the thanksgiving holiday. i'm just sucked into your words. I'm going to share them with my family.
    on another note...write a book lady! You're good!!!!:)

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  17. I just wanted to say that I agree with everything you wrote....:) Very convicting.

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  18. Christ gave it ALL, His very life. Keeping that in mind, how can we get so hung up on money? We should desire to be financially responsible, but not hold to tightly to our savings. With everything we have and everything we do our main goal should be to glorify God with our actions. This may be tithing our 10%. However, if we look at the bigger picture our trust should be in Christ, NOT in our savings account. Yes, I agree we should be wise with our finances, but that does not mean we stop trusting Him for our next paycheck, or to guide us in our giving, or be willing to give it all!!

    Love you friend for your boldness to post your heart!

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  19. Am I missing something with the Giving Challenge? It says very clearly at the top of the page, "Tell us your giving story and you could win $5,000 to give away!"

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  20. Great post, friend. You've given this Dave Ramsey fan some important points to ponder. Have you read Treasure Principle by Alcorn? I know I need to re-read it. God has been putting the needs of others on my heart this week (especially through reading Ann Voskamp's blog), and gently prodding me to respond. Now I just need some direction from Him, and the courage to follow.

    The phrase "break my heart for what breaks yours" from the song we sing in church keeps ringing through my head. I think a heart truly broken for what breaks God's heart can have a very real affect on finances.

    Jesus, show me the way. And don't let me screw it up.

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  21. But just a couple of practical notes to bring it down to the day-to-day - if you don't own your car or your house (or whatever) but the bank does, you can't sell it to give the money away. God does want us to give from the heart but also to be resourceful and responsible - parable of the talents, Paul's point of not being a financial burden to anyone as he preaches. I mean, I don't believe the vast majority of us will EVER be sitting on a big pile of money - life or stock-market "corrections" can take care of that for you. But by being financially sound, we are able to give, to take in that brother who has been unemployed for a long time, to grocery shop (with coupons) for us and for the food pantry, to support mission trips, whatever God calls you to do. I think there is room for both - the Dave Ramsey's and the one's with the gift of giving (and those are many times the same people) under God's big tent.

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  22. I love posts like these, because they challenge me to get out of my little box (right now I'm just jealous of those with a garage - i didn't even know heated driveways existed!!)

    although I will say that the prize for entering the giveaway seems more an indictment of our culture and not ramsey himself.

    while we should have a heart for giving - I have to say that better for people to give out of selfish motives than not at all. those hungry, cold bodies who are the recepients of the giving won't care why the person gave, just that they did.

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  23. Bethany - Yes she gave 100%. My point exactly! I didn't say because it was a small amount that was less then 10% of a tithe. Should she have saved her money and only given 10%? The point was that a tithe can be anything that you are able to give. 10% is great, but I wouldn't tell someone that less then 10% is not right, or not a tithe. It is what you can give. God knows your heart and if you are giving your all, or if you are holding on to things yourself. I believe that is what God is wanting from you, to give your all. Not to say here's my 10% so I can keep everything else if I want to.

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  24. Hi Marla,

    Where does it say that people are getting "cash and prize giveaways" on the Give Like No One Else Challenge? I read on Dave Ramsey's FB page that you can win $5000 but even that money is designated to be "given away". It doesn't go to the "winner" to keep for him/herself. If in fact, that's all it is then I think it's great. Obviously I'm a Ramsey fan but he's not my college friend from the 90's, you are! :) So, please don't take this as bashing you. I just don't see the harm in giving someone $5000 that they will in turn give to someone else. I see this as a blessing to Dave Ramsey to give that money away, a blessing to the "winner" and a blessing to the final recipient of the $5000. Also, I've never gotten the feeling that Dave is teaching people to depend on themselves for Financial Peace. Otherwise he wouldn't end his show everyday by emphasizing, "The only way to true financial peace, is to walk daily with the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus." Just my 2 cents worth.

    Your friend,
    Mike McCleese

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  25. Nicely said Ali. Provocative and challenge--I like that. Once upon a time I thought I understood giving. I had taken a spiritual gifts inventory and it told me that I had the gift of giving. And who knows, maybe I do, but I really don't care about what gifts I have anymore. Giving implies the maintenance of control as I decide what to keep and what to give. I suspect the decision about what I keep says more than what I choose to give. The biblical model of surrender is a notch deeper but is related to giving--in essence it is the opening of the heart, head, and hand to all that God desires for me and from me. As Apostle Paul mentioned, I know what it is to have plenty and to have need--in both conditions I have a settled contentment.

    God has given many of His people profound resources for their enjoyment. But not necessarily for their consumption. In my experience during times of plenty, I have found way more enjoyment in giving than in hoarding. In lean times I have been humbled by God's faithfulness in connecting me with people who generously shared. In both conditions I am learning the value of contentment and surrender. Contentment vs. Consumption which will it be today??

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  26. My whole church is about to go through Financial Peace together and this perfectly encapsulates my uneasiness/reservations with that decision. Thank you for this post!

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  27. I'm testing this . . . supposedly this will reply directly to your comment. If this works, then I will be amazed. @Marla Taviano

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  28. One thing I learned from Ramsey was the psychology behind our spending is crucial to keep it in control. When we spend tangible dollars and cents, we experience a level of physical attachment in that transaction (as opposed to spending with a credit card swipe - it's a more detached way of spending). He is so right about this. Whenever I spend cash from my wallet, I'm much more conscious of that decision (as opposed to using a credit card). And to your point about tithing, I plan on posting more about tithing tomorrow. I didn't expect so many comments on that issue! Thanks, friend. @Elizabeth

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  29. Mo - you are such a good sister. Thanks for all of your love and support. You help me to keep my head up. Love you. @auntmomo

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  30. @Mary Kate I'm going to post more about tithing tomorrow. I had NO idea that this would strike such a chord with people. And did I mention, I really like you?

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  31. Hi Jared W.,

    Forgive me for being a bit nit-picky, but the very definition of the word "tithe" is one tenth. It's like a dozen is always 12, a tithe is always 10%. You can't have three eggs in a dozen and you can't tithe 3%. One can give an offering of 3% and if that's all one can do, God knows the heart and cherishes the offering, but it is not a tithe.

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  32. @jared W LOVE you, cuz!!! More on the tithe debate tomorrow. You are the best.

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  33. @Lelia Chealey You are sweet. And I'll be honest, I used the heated driveway example because it's an extreme. I tried to stick w/an example that wouldn't hit too close to home as to offend anyone but still deliver the point I was trying to make. Because my point isn't the heated driveway, it was that I struggle daily with wanting what I don't have and judging folks for having what I consider "too much." The reality is I'm one of those "too much" folks, too. It's a messy messy tension in my heart.

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  34. @Anonymous I don't want to be self-sustaining. I want to be God-sustaining. His Word is full of guidelines about how to live more like Jesus, but it is up to us to pray through each decision, asking Him for discernment about saving, spending, investing, and giving. Above all, we need to approach Him with the faith that we know He will provide our needs. And often that provision comes through hard work, wise spending, and prayerful savings.

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  35. @jaycaruso I intend to write more about tithing tomorrow. In the meantime, I pray daily that God would remove judgment from my heart. I'm full of it, and I loathe it in myself. And the bottom line is that I am one of the wealthy ones. Sure, I don't drive a "fancy car," but there are millions of people barely surviving in this world who would absolutely consider my car to be fancy. This is not about the wealthy. It's about the heart.

    And yes, I spent my blog post talking about Dave Ramsey because I don't know what else to call his empire. His name is attached to all of it. How do I take the Dave Ramsey out of daveramsey.com and The Dave Ramsey Radio Show? I am fully aware that it is a corporation involving many many players, but it all sits under the Dave Ramsey umbrella.

    Finally, what doesn't sit well with me about the Giving Challenge is the way it's packaged. The giveaways are part of the Giving Challenge. It's all part of the hype. There's hoopla and gimmicks, and that undermines God's teaching on the heart of giving.

    Jay (I think that's your name), I appreciate you commenting. Your comments are thorough and sincere, and you've challenged me to think even more deeply about these issues. I'm spending a lot of time today in the Word, sorting out the many things swirling around in my heart and mind. I hope to get my thoughts organized and on paper so that I can follow-up with another post tomorrow. Thanks again.

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  36. @Dorian Friend! I'm looking forward to our playdate . . . I'll be in touch soon. Thanks for commenting, gal.

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  37. @Bethany Powerful, powerful story. It continues to convict me.

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  38. @Marla Taviano You continue to stretch me and teach me. God is so good.

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  39. @Erin Heiing Can I just say that it melts my heart that you stopped by and left a comment? And now can I say that I can't get enough of you and your adorable babies on fb? Seriously, y'all are so stinkin' beautiful! BEAUTIFUL!

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  40. @McBrien Thanks for stopping by, and would you believe me if I told you that I'm being convicted right and left today as I read comments and respond. God has a wonderful way of teaching us through His community.

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  41. @Crissy How many Amens! do I need to write as a response to your comment?! Love you, Crissy. I need some Crissy time, by the way.

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  42. @Christy The initial link I clicked on was a video promo for the Giving Challenge in which the viewer learns there will be $150,000 in prizes for folks who enter.

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  43. @Jessica Brown I have read Alcorn's Money, Possessions, and Eternity. It is my understanding that Treasure Principle is focused on the passages of MPE about giving. I need to read it regardless. MPE rocked my world when I read it.

    And I'm with ya about Voskamp - I hope to link to her blog tomorrow. Her Compassion posts are beautiful and intense and full of conviction.

    Finally, the quote from Hosanna is probably one of my absolute favorite lines in any song. So so so powerful. Thank you for sharing.

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  44. @Anonymous "If you don't own your car/house but the bank does, you can't sell it to give the money away." I think we have become a culture of loans and mortgages, and that scares me. I have a car loan and a mortgage. But what if God asked me to turn my car back into the bank, or harder yet, my house? Could I do it? Am I presuming that God will maintain my standard of living because at the time that I took out the mortgage on my home I could afford the payments? This is a slippery slope. James 4:14 is a great place to meditate and pray before taking out any loan. And it's certainly a place where I need to spend more time.

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  45. @Brooke I mentioned on an earlier comment that it was hard for me to write the post without pointing the finger at Ramsey - his name is attached to everything. I absolutely agree with you that the prizes/giveaways are part of our over-the-top and hoopla-filled culture. I was bummed to see that as part of the Giving Challenge commotion.

    Also, Brooke, I think it's difficult to give without even a tinge of selfishness. At least I know that this is an area where I struggle. When my husband and I decide to give, I find myself praying through Matthew 6: 2-4, "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." It's a battle with my flesh - my flesh desiring that pat-on-the-back - but my heart knowing that God's promises are greater than any reward I can receive here on earth. Thanks for the reminder. I so appreciate your insight.

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  46. dave ramsey makes me sick....he is living a life making money off of people who have no money! buy my book and your life will be wonderful! ha! i know for a fact that he lives in a 14,000 square foot house worth over 5 million dollars! does this sound like someone who believes in God and giving to the poor by blessing others with what God has blessed you with? i think not!

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  47. @Anonymous Mike - I clicked on a link that took me to a video promo - it was promoting the $150,000 worth of prizes that Ramsey will be giving away.

    And thank you for reminding me that he ends his shows with the "walk w/Jesus" phrase. I haven't listened to him in a while, and I appreciate the reminder. Most of what I know about him comes from his books and websites. My disappointment is that when I go to his site and look through his stuff, I don't get that same message. It's secondary to the financial peace message (if at all). I suppose I'd like to see the 'glory to God' and dependency on God message outshine the dependency on our own financial stability message.

    Thanks, Mike.

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  48. @Tim Stauffer I certainly don't understand everything God wants me to know about giving. I love that He continues to reveal Himself to me, even today as I read through these comments. I'm exhausted :)

    I LOVE this: "I suspect the decision about what I keep says more than what I choose to give." Actually, I LOVE every sentence you wrote after that. Contentment . . . enjoyment and consumption . . . humility through receiving . . . surrendering. Wow. Thank goodness you finally started a blog of your own! Powerful powerful stuff.

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  49. @HopefulLeigh Thank you for stopping by. Praying for you.

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  50. So much good stuff in your post and the comments!

    I believe in living within my means and not going into debt as much as possible. However, I also believe that no matter how much or how little we have, we need to give. Even though finances are tight, giving(both tithing and as we feel led) is built into our budge. Like you've mentioned, it's about being a good steward of what God has given and also being dependent on His provision, not my own.

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  52. Ali - this is such a great reminder at this time of the year, as we are approaching a season where the true meaning of gratitude and celebration of Christ are secondary to spending, spending, and more spending.

    I struggle, too, with consumption. I have more than I need. And yet every day, I pass people who are in need. I am working on it.

    And I am a huge fan of Matthew 6: 2-4 - and practice that sentiment as often as possible. I agree - giving shouldn't be for others to honor you, but for you to honor God.

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  53. @Rebecca Great analogy with the dozen. Thanks for sharing.

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  54. @Anonymous I don't question where his heart is w/Jesus, and I certainly can't judge his lifestyle. But what I do question is the way folks might be tempted to because self-reliant rather than reliant on God through Ramsey's teaching.

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  55. @alittlebitograce I couldn't agree more. No matter how much or how little we have, we are called to give. I continue to be inspired by folks who have less than we do yet give more freely.

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  56. @Ougrad Alyssa, thanks a million for stopping by. I am already feeling the weight of the holidays. I started my "list" the other day because it was overwhelming me. I had to take a step back and be thankful that my lifestyle allows me to experience Christmas with such joy. And I suppose it's never too early to pray that we go into this season aware that so many are going without food, let alone gifts. Thanks for the reminder.

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  57. Hey Ali, Beautifully written! I am in my car every day and so every day Dave Ramsey is on the radio which keeps me entertained and motivated to stay debt free. (I also love Target and PB clearance.) :) I don't agree with absolutely everything, but you should give his theory another chance. He major motivation for living like no one else is to that you can GIVE like no one else. He is constantly scolding people, society, etc for our greed of material things and discontentment. Also, he claims that there is only one way to financial peace and that is the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus. Finanacial Peace is not being a slave to debt. If the Lord speaks to someone about getting out of debt in another order than the 7 steps, then awesome! But most people respond well to a program, like AA or Stephen Covey.

    Personally, if we didn't have this ridiculous mortgage, we could be giving so much more to so many others in need. And when we are wealthy, we can give even more! How cool would that be to build an orphanage in Africa?

    You are so right about the scriptures- money is discussed more than any other topic including salvation, heaven, faith, etc combined! So, yes, money is so important to God. He does ask us to depend on Him (We are SO depending on Him right now to provide for our adoption!) but He also commands us to plan, manage our money so we don't have to depend on others, take care of our family, and give generously. It is the church that should be giving to the poor and widows. Like you said, if Christians were giving like the new testament church, then we wouldn't need all these government programs that create dependence.

    Anyway, I am touched by your sweet heart. Just give the guy another chance- I think you are both preaching the same thing.

    (By the way, 10% is just a minimum suggestion. We should be giving more!)

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  58. I love these comments. Lots of humble, teachable spirits on both sides. Excited for tomorrow's post. You sure you have the energy to write it?

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  59. Ha! Okay, fo-rizzle people have heated driveways? I never heard of such a thing. Here I am coveting the neighbor’s snowblower!

    Okay, so my take (my personal opinion). “Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else.” Is not about retirement or even eternity, but just the idea of not being in debt. And, the financial peace he speaks of really is an illusion, considering God Almighty has the power to do whatever He wants with your finances. I guess I take it in terms of making the choice to not live on more than what I make, so that later (God willing of course) I’m not stressed and consumed by that acquired lifestyle. That I can actually live my life and worship God instead of money. Not that you can’t do it while you’re in debt, but that’s just my personal take on it. No, good ol’ Dave may not have meant it this way, but that’s the value I found.

    As for his idea of tithing. It has always been my understanding that it’s just assumed. And as for the additional “giving or offering” I guess I don’t know what his take is on it, nor do I care. Like any other human in a leadership role, you gotta take what they say and compare it to the Truth in the Word. I’m thankful that I came about his radio station and he taught and encouraged me to be debt free and live on less than what I (my hubby ;-) makes. But, the rest isn’t really important to me. Yeah, I like to use it as a general guide, but by no means do I take everything he says as my truth. I think he guided me towards a paradigm shift that really didn’t fully come about (still kind of is) until I started reading scripture more.

    I know that there are many people who are not Christians who step foot into a church to take one of his classes and then end up going to church and being saved.

    Ha, but you said this isn’t about Dave. And, you’re totally right. I didn’t see that link, but it probably would’ve made me want to puke. The sad truth is, that many people don’t want to give (especially if it’s not tax deductible) just to give, and because God first gave. But, many people can still benefit from God’s truth on the other end of that transaction (even if there was an incentive). It’s just too bad that our culture is wired with this concept of entitlement. “It’s my money that I’m giving”......nothing is yours. It’s all God’s. He blessed us with it and we are completely undeserving.

    God Rocks! Preach on Sistah!

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  60. @Tara Monks Tara!!! Gosh, I miss you and your sisters. And though I haven't heard his radio show in a while, I too remember being entertained by the excitement of a caller who is finally debt free - it could bring me to tears.

    And thank you for sharing about your journey with Dave Ramsey. I'm beyond thrilled about your adoptions. God is so stinkin' awesome.

    I'm still not sure how I feel about the wealthy piece, mainly because I know that we are already one of the wealthy. Wealth aside, I'm cautious of folks who wait for the "wealth" to give freely. Generally speaking (and this is obviously not true of everyone) the wealthier the Christian, the less they tend to give (according to percentage of income). It's a scary trend, and I can only pray that more folks turn prayerfully to the Bible to understand the power of giving regardless of their income.

    Thanks again for commenting, Tara. I love following your adoption journey on fb and your blog. I continue to pray for your family and your babies.

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  61. @Tonia You always challenge me, Tonia. You tell it how it is, and that's why I love you. And I so appreciate your maturity - taking what people teach and holding it up to the Word of God. I find that I learn so much more when God reveals it to me than when an author or pastor or leader says it. Thanks for that oh-so-important reminder.

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  62. @Ali My blog is doing something crazy and I can't find your reply comment, but I thought I'd reply to it anyway :)

    What I tried to explain in an earlier response, and maybe I didn't do such a great job of it, is that I'm bummed to see so much hype surrounding the Giving Challenge. We have become a culture of sensation - everything comes with confetti and fireworks. And the Giving Challenge carries that same energy with incentives and giveaways all tied into one big exciting package. And that's what disappoints me about our culture. It's hard to know what is sensationalism and what is genuinely a gift of the heart.

    I'm drawn to the first few verses in Matthew 6 when God warns us about practicing our righteousness before other people to be seen by them, "for then you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." The passage continues, "When you give, sound no trumpet, as the hypocrites do, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing . . . And your Father who sees will reward you."

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  63. Just came across this. I have really struggled with the Dave Ramsey lifestyle. I do believe for my family that God is calling us to do differently with our money and get rid of some debt...but have struggled with whether or not that should be at the expense of us giving. Paying of debt is so important, but so is giving. I don't think one should come at the expense of the other...so we are working through that. I do believe that as we proclaim and preach the gospel, that we have to be willing to put our money where our mouth is. Living with a heart willing to sell everything and follow Him...is a challenge, but how awesome that you are brave enough to share what God has put on your heart!

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  64. came over here from Marla...and now am totally convicted. You're right. When I only give 3% and call it my tithing..I am a total liar. This was amazing, and needed, for me anyway.

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  65. Okay, first off Ali. You need to know that if you ever want a heated driveway, just move to Houston. My driveway is heated about 300 days out of the year. It's three days before Thanksgiving and 83 degrees outside. Voila, heated driveway!

    I agree with some of what you wrote and am going to chew on the rest of it.

    I listen to a little Dave most days (he is on the radio at the strategic carpool hour here in Houston) and I do think that his philosophy on debt is great and the techniques work. I know what financial peace is - we are living it now, because we lived in financial turmoil for a long time and peace is much, much preferable.

    That being said. The guy is a financial adviser. And a good one. But that's all he is.

    I am glad that he is a Christian, but many, many times I have rolled my eyes at him and said out loud, "Dave, dude, you do NOT have a seminary degree so please leave the preaching to the preachers." His theological theorems are often quite off base. I think he would agree with this, but have microphone, will ramble (I deplore it when he goes off on what I call a grandpa tirade against politics etc. I listen to him for financial advice. THE END.)

    Dave had a caller recently who wanted to adopt, and Dave told him God wouldn't want him to adopt until he had the finances. So then I had to shake my head and tsk tsk tsk. Cause that's absurd, and we have about $25000 sitting in a bank of money that God has miraculously provided to bring our baby home from Ethiopia to prove it.

    But people - if you call Dave asking for advice on anything other than how to get out of debt, then that is your own foolishness. He's not a theology professor, he is not a preacher, he is certainly not an expert on adoptions or missions he is not a 'life coach.' He's a money guy. The end.

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  66. @Danielle The tension between giving and saving and paying off debt/loans is so tough. And I am far from understanding it all. I pray that I stay in a space of asking God before I make any of those decisions bc let's face it, if I had listened to God in the first place, the decision wouldn't be so hard to discern. Thanks for this reminder.

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  67. @Anonymous Thanks for stopping by . . . I've enjoyed reading Marla's posts re. this same topic. It's been a challenging week!

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  68. @Missy @ It's Almost Naptime Thank YOU for this perspective on Ramsey. You are keeping me in check :) It's a good reminder that I need to spend more time discerning what is from God and what is from the expertise of some American who is promoting the so-called American dream. I couldn't agree more that Ramsey is a no-nonsense voice to folks who desperately need out of debt. He doesn't mince words, and I appreciate that.

    And I can't believe you're serious about the 83 degree weather?! You have got to be kidding me!

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