Friday, September 26, 2008

Diet Verses Budget ( Part 1 of 2)

By Chet Nowlen

Managing your money on a budget is an excellent form of stewardship because our money is not our money. It belongs to God and we are simply managers of His money. A budget helps you see where God’s money is going and if there are certain areas whereas you may need to cut back or even eliminate in order for the budget to balance. By using a budget you may find that you may have more going out than is coming in therefore adjustments in your spending are necessary.

Usually when a budget is out of balance is because of debt. I don’t think God’s plan for you to be a good steward was for you to be in more debt than you can pay for at the end of each month. God did not plan for us to live beyond our means. This is what I think of as being “Debt Obesity”. In order to cure “Debt Obesity” one must put their finances on a diet to lose that excess debt. How does one do that?

  1. The first step in winning any battle is to have a plan on paper, and that’s your budget.
  2. The next step is commitment to the plan and all parties involved must be committed to the plan and in agreement with the plan.
  3. The plan must have adjustments to spending for a balanced budget, but more importantly the main goal is to eliminate debt.
  4. Start with the smallest debt and pay it off first. Then take the money you were spending on that debt and apply it to the amount you are spending on the next lowest debt until it’s paid off. Then take the monies from the first two debts and apply them to the third until all the debts are paid off.

Sound simple doesn’t it? It is simple but it’s hard at the same time. It takes discipline, sacrifice, persistence, and most importantly patience. It has to be something that is so very important to you that you will not quit or give up no matter how hard it gets.

The secret to winning this war on debt is to see the end at the beginning. You have to use your visual imagination and see yourself out of debt, slim and trim financially so to speak. Plant your seeds of prosperity in your vision, your mental picture of yourself, and make your way prosperous according Joshua 1:8. Notice the key words in this scripture, “. . . but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Plant the seeds of the word in your heart and meditate on those words day and night and in due time you will see a harvest of debt cancelation.

In the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus gives an example of faithful stewardship (management). The master gave talents, money, to three different men to manage while he was away. He gave each one of them according to their own ability to manage. To one he gave five talents, to another he gave two talents and to the last one he gave one talent. The man with five talents invested the talents and received back a 100% return on his investment. The man with two talents also invested his talents and received back a 100% return for the master. The third man wasted his talent. Instead of investing it in a venue that would reap a return he dug a whole and buried the Lord’s money in an investment vehicle based on fear. The law of sowing and reaping could have worked for the man if he had planted his seed money in the proper soil (investment vehicle). But, he planted his seed based on fear, which will not bring about the desired harvest the master was looking for.

The faithful steward that the ten talents received the one talent that the unfaithful servant had. The lesson here is the faithful stewards will receive the rewards of their faithfulness and also the spoils of the unfaithful. The unfaithful will lose what they have and it will be given to those that are faithful.

All debt is not necessarily bad debt. With all investments you run the risk of loss, however, investment in real estate normally is the safest investment going. When you purchase the home you live in you probably did not have the cash saved up to pay for it in full at closing. You probably put something down, hopefully at least 20% to keep from paying the PMI insurance. As time goes on you keep making your mortgage payments on time and your equity in your home increases in value therefore your wealth is increasing. Investments in other vehicles like stocks have made people a lot of money but the risk of loss is far greater.

My wife and me have bought and sold four homes and one office building in the fifteen years we’ve been married. One property we only live in one and a half years and still netted over $20,000 in profit. Each property netted us a sizeable profit and now we own the office condo free and clear. We increased our net worth on every property.

Credit Card debt, on the other hand, is bad debt. Its negative debt as it like digging a hole and burying your money in that hole because instead of your money making money for you, you are making money for the credit card company. You now have become a slave to the lender. If you are disciplined enough to pay your credit card balances off on every statement then credit cards are not a bad thing. It’s when you have to use your credit card to live off of is when you have become an unfaithful steward or unfaithful manager of His money.

Sometimes things can happen, i.e., lay off, divorce, economic slowdown, high gas prices, etc., can cause you to get behind and go deeper in debt. I know the feeling because I’ve been there and done that. There is hope! You can overcome the debt but it will take sacrifice, persistence, time, and patience for you to work your way out.

The secret to successful management of God’s money is to plan for life’s emergencies that could come your way. After paying God His tithes pay yourself first and then pay the bills. Most people try to save after paying all their bills and there is usually nothing left over to save. By arranging your budget to where you pay yourself first then you learn to live off of what is left over. If there is not enough left over at the end of the month then start eliminating expenses where possible until your budget is at a zero balance. (See Part 2 of 2 for help in reducing food expenses)

In this lesson we have learned that the money we earn is not ours, it’s actually God’s. We are merely managers or stewards of the money we earn. He expects us to invest our seed tithe of 10% back into the kingdom and then we are to manage the other 90% in such a way that we reap an increase with our investments. Does God need the money that He’s entrusted us with? Does He need the tithe? No, then why the tithe? Because God uses that 10% seed of faithfulness to multiply back to us in order for us to be a blessing to others. He wants us to live life in abundance having more than enough to meet our needs in order that we can give to meet the needs of others. The more we give the more He blesses us.

For additional help in managing your finances please visit my BLOG “Winning the War on Debt” at

Please also read Part 1 of 2

Diet Verses Budget (Part 2)

By Chet Nowlen

The scriptures tell us in 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 “. . . What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and you are not your own?

For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify god in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” KJV

Not only is the money we earn not ours but our own bodies are not our either. In Part 1 I talked about “Debt Obesity” and now in Part 2 we will talk about “Body Obesity”. One of my most embarrassing things I do every day is to look in the mirror and realize that my obese body is not glorifying God. I am ashamed to say that I have neglected my body and have not been a faithful steward of my body.

Back in June my cardiologist weighed me in at 265 lbs. and that is the most I’ve ever weighed. All of my clothes were too tight, I could not sleep all night; I was taking pills for high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, and mild diabetes. Seven years ago I had a quadruple bypass because of partial blockage in my arteries.

Losing weight has never been easy for me but this time I made up my mind I was going to lose that weight so I put myself on a diet (food budget). I decided I was going to lose weight just like getting rid of debt and that was a food intake budget (also known as diet). I use a free website to track my consumption that I recommend you use as well: I set my own goals and my target calorie range per day.

After three months I’ve lost 21 lbs and I can wear all my old clothes again. My target weight is to lose a total of 85 lbs. so I have 64 more pounds to go. My nutritionist helped me set daily goals as follows:
  • Calories: 1500 - 1600
  • Fat: 50 - 55
  • Carbohydrates: 125 - 150
  • Protein: 75 - 94
  • Potassium, K: 4500 - 6000
  • Sodium, Na: 0 - 2300
  • Cholesterol: 0 - 300
  • Fiber, total dietary: 25 – 35

You should talk to your doctor and a nutritionist before beginning any weight loss plan.

Proverbs 23:2 says “And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. I was killing myself with food and yet was on a roller coaster ride that I could not seem to get off of.

One good thing about being on a food intake budget is it has helped me to realize I was wasting too much money on food. I track all my income and expenses in the software program Quicken. I was shocked to discover that most of my money was being spent on groceries, eating out, doctors, and medicine. My monthly cost for food was averaging anywhere between $1,000 and $1,500 for our household of three people.

After realizing I had to cut my food expense I decided to think about the kinds of food we were buying. I remember reading a book years ago titled “Help Lord, The Devil Wants Me Fat.” In this book the author teaches the only safe foods are the ones on the outside edge of the store as you first come in – the produce department. I recommend that you read this book - see the side bar on the right for more information.

We changed our purchasing habits and bought mostly fresh raw vegetables, very little meat (except for turkey, fish and chicken), milk, and processed foods. We also limited our eating out and out monthly food expense dropped to between $500 and $700 per month.

We noticed also when we did go out to eat and ate some of our old favorite high fat foods they made us feel sick every time. Our bodies had adjusted to healthy eating and preferred healthy over junk. When we eat out now the only food that doesn’t make us sick is to eat a salad.

Here’s another scripture from Proverbs 23:20, 21 “Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.”

Please feel free to leave your questions or comments by clicking on the link below.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Prayer Guide for the Presidential Election

It is critical that Christians pray for the coming presidential election. There is amazing power in united prayer. Please print out this prayer guide and pray daily until the election. Pray with others whenever possible. The power of prayer can overcome any obstacle or ungodly influence and, indeed, do great things! START TODAY.

Psalm 32:6-7 - Pray that Christians will be motivated to pray faithfully for this election and that the Lord would deliver us from the wrong leaders.

Psalm 16:7-8 - Pray that the Lord would give wise counsel and guidance to His choice for president in this campaign.

Proverbs 16:13 - Pray that our nation will listen to the truth and not be led astray.

Psalm 18:32-36 - Pray that the Lord would arm the man of His choice with strength; that He would guide him in battle (this election), and that He would sustain him and give him victory.

Hebrews 11:32-34 - Pray that God's man could, through faith, persevere and maintain his courage throughout this election.

09/05 -09/11
Psalm 125 - Pray that those who trust in the Lord will not be shaken.

09/12 - 09/18
Psalm 86:14-17 - Pray that the Lord would defeat those who have no regard for Him in this election.

09/19 - 09/25
2 Cor. 12:9 - Pray that the Lord would empower and enable his man in any area of weakness.

09/26 - 10/02
II Kings 13:16 - Pray that the Lord would put His hands on the man of His choice for president (and his team) and guide them in this election.

10/03 - 10/09
Proverbs 1:5-6 - Pray that God's man will listen with discernment, add to his knowledge, and receive wise counsel in this campaign.

10/10- 10/16
John 16:33 - Pray that the man of God's choice would be given wisdom and ability from the Lord to overcome any obstacle or difficulty during this campaign.

10/17- 10/23
Acts 17:30 - Pray for repentance for yourself and for our nation.

Luke 12:54-57 - Pray that God's man and our nation will be discerning and do what is right.

10/31- 11/06
Phil. 4:13 - Pray that the Lord's choice for President will have special strength and unusual ability from God.

Habakkuk 1:5 and 3:2 - Pray that the Lord would do something that would utterly amaze us and give His servant victory.

During the days of Nov. 7 - 11, be encouraged to set aside a time of fasting during these days to commit this election to the Lord in whom we put our trust. Acts 14:23

Remember 2 Chronicle 7:14: 'If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.'