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Thursday, May 29, 2014

61. FPU, ELPs, and Dave Ramsey

Recently someone asked the following questions:

1. After taking the FPU (Financial Peace University) class what did you change?

2. Are you investing on your own or using a one of the Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs)?

3. What areas do you disagree with Dave Ramsey?


1. After taking the FPU (Financial Peace University) class what did you change?

We took FPU twice. Once with the CD's and a second time with the videos. Both times it was free to us (in-laws had the material already so we didn’t have to pay) through our local church. I’ve also listened to his radio show for about a year or two now.

After taking the class we started getting serious about getting out of debt. We (Mrs. Eagle and I) got on a budget and built up our emergency fund. We also now talk about money at least once or twice a month as a couple.

While Dave offers several methods of tracking expenses through his website (which cost money) we found is easy to use and free. 

I now have disability and more life insurance. Mrs. Eagle also has life insurance.

We also each wrote up a will. Need to update that come to think of it.

We’ve also saved up a little to start our kids college fund.

We got 100% out of debt before buying a house. When we did buy a house we put 20% down.

2. Are you investing on your own or using a one of the Endorsed Local Providers (ELPs)?

We invest on our own through Fidelity. We also are going to open accounts with Vanguard low cost index funds this year. We do not use Dave’s ELPs. The high fees associated with the ELP program seem inconsistent with Dave Ramsey's overall message. Therefore, some DR proponents find the ELP program difficult to reconcile within the context of FPU. 

That said, I realize Dave Ramsey is running a business and part of that business is income through ELPs. Nothing wrong with Dave making money but not everyone who goes through FPU uses his ELPs. Those who want to use them are free to do so of course.

3. What areas do you disagree with Dave Ramsey?

Things I disagree with Dave on:

1. Debt Snowball
Dave recommends the Debt Snowball (lowest balance) method. That (snowball) in some cases may be good advice to people who view money in an emotional manner. However, in many cases the Avalanche (highest interest) method is a better option and of course makes a lot more sense from a financial standpoint.

2. Credit Cards
Dave recommends everyone should get rid of their Credit Cards – I believe people who use credit cards responsibly (stuff they’d normally purchase anyway and pay off the card every month) can earn good rewards such as cash back or mileage.

3. Investments
Dave recommends ELPs and front loaded investments that cost too much in fees IMO. There are better investments out there. I don’t think Dave emphasizes the 401k and Roth IRA option enough.

4. Tithing

Dave strongly recommends charity (tithing) while in debt. He even recommends it when people are in bankruptcy. I disagree with this view specifically with people giving 10% of their income while in bankruptcy. Although I do think people should give to charity as they’re able or led by the Holy Spirit. But certainly not when they’re in bankruptcy.

What about you? Leave a comment!


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Friday, May 23, 2014

60. Famous Quotes Fridays May 23rd, 2014

"The problem is NOT that people are taxed too little, the problem is that the GOVERNMENT spends too much." - Ronald Reagan

This above… is truth.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

59. What are your favorite Positive, Inspirational, and/or Uplifting Family Movies?

Positive, Inspirational, and/or Uplifting Family Movies

Here's some of mine… What are some of yours?


The Hiding Place (1975)
Chariots of Fire (1981)
The Mighty (1998)
Passion of the Christ (2004)
Facing the Giants (2006)
The Ultimate Gift (2006)
Faith like Potatoes (2006)
The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry (2008)
Fireproof (2008)
Letters to God (2010)
The Grace Card (2010)
Courageous (2011)
October Baby (2011)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Monday, May 12, 2014

58. Should I Reduce My Tithe While in Debt or Even in Bankruptcy?

Should I Reduce My Tithe While in Debt or Even Bankruptcy?

This question came up on Dave Ramsey’s show and it has intrigued me ever since. 


Should I Reduce My Tithe?
QUESTION: Janelle in Sacramento wonders if they should cut their tithe in order to help them get out of debt more quickly. Dave explains his spiritual take and that he wouldn’t stop his tithe or reduce it.

ANSWER: By definition, an evangelical Christian is someone who believes what the Bible says. That’s where we need to go for our answers, not some guy on the radio. However, I can help you with that. I’m not your authority; God’s word would be.

As I’ve studied Scripture, the word “tithe” literally means tenth. Deuteronomy says to give a tenth of your net increase—a tenth of your income. About 1,200 years of Protestant Christian teaching has been that the tithe goes to the local church because the local church is the New Testament representation of the Old Testament storehouse. The Old Testament storehouse took care of the Levites. The church in your community is supposed to be doing that. That’s an evangelical Christian definition of it.

When does it occur? As I’ve studied it in Scripture, it’s real clear that it’s off the top as it says in Proverbs. That’s before anything else occurs. Having said all of that, there’s enough toxicity in Christianity and misinformation, so let’s back up from that. God loves you whether you give money to the church or not. He doesn’t love you more if you give. We’re not going to get into performance-based legalism. We’re just doing this because we love God and that’s what He’s telling His kid to do. I’m going to follow that.

No, I wouldn’t stop my tithe. I wouldn’t reduce it. It’s a tenth. I tithed all the way into bankruptcy court and all the way out. These are a loving Father’s instructions for His kids.


A few observations:

1 - Dave probably should’ve stuck with a simple answer and not gotten involved with the theological or historical side of the idea of tithing. The "storehouse tithing" doctrine has been taught in some American evangelical churches for around 100-200 years. It’s not a 1200 year old church teaching as Dave would have you believe. Why? Because Martin Luther hung his 95 thesis around 1517, so that would be 497 years that the Protestant Reformation has been in existence. So Dave is off by over 700 years. Roman Catholic indulgencies to my understanding do go back over 1000 years so maybe he’s thinking of that. Surely that’s not what Dave is referring to though.  

2 – I’m not sure which Deuteronomy reference Dave is alluding to here. Perhaps he’s talking about the tithe mentioned in Deut. 14:22-29. The only problem with using this passage or others associated with the tithe in the OT according to Mosaic Law is that the tithe was to be given twice a year and once every third year. This would bring the tithe to 23 and 1/3 percent each year and not the standard 10% taught in many churches. The tithe was a tax to pay for the Temple expenses and the Levites (see Num. 18:21) who were commanded not to work.  

3 - There is no passage of Scripture that I know of where the Bible states the NT “local church” represents the “OT Storehouse.” The Church is composed of people or Believers in Jesus Christ. The Church is not a building.

4 – “The church in your community is supposed to be doing that.” It’s interesting that Dave says this in alluding to caring for those who teach the Gospel. I agree with him there. It also could be a reference to caring for the poor and needy. I wonder how much of your church budget goes towards helping the poor and needy? That would be an interesting question to ask at the next business meeting.

5 - Dave’s Proverbs reference could possibly be Prov. 3:9-10. Perhaps this is the “honor the Lord with your wealth and firstfruits of all your produce.” I agree that we should honor God with our wealth. And Dave does get it right that God doesn’t love us more if we give more. God loves us infinitely more than we can imagine or even fathom. Nothing we do makes God love us more. Nothing we do makes God love us less. That’s not an excuse to sin but it truly freeing to live in the assurance of God’s love.

6 - Would any serious financial consultant recommend a Christian to tithe even when they are facing financial trouble and in particular bankruptcy? The moral, religious, and financial dilemma of this suggestion are intriguing.

7 - It’s not a secret that a large portion of Dave Ramsey's company and personal income for his financial services is derived from Evangelical churches. Probably you’ve seen an advertisement at your church to attend a FPU (Financial Peace University) seminar or watch the DVD’s for a class. How popular would Dave be with Evangelicals if he were to say that Christians could reduce their giving in certain life situations or to entertain the idea that generous giving might not be 10% for some Christians in certain situations?

I think we need to encourage Dave to talk about things he knows about such as personal finance topics and less on history or Christian Doctrine. People can tithe or give while in debt but I seriously take issue with saying people should do so while in bankruptcy. 


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Friday, May 9, 2014

57. Famous Quotes Fridays May 9th, 2014

Not really on Personal Finance… But some good thoughts on Parenting: 

"God wants Prodigal parents
Not Perfect parents.
{Lavish in Love,
Extravagant in Truth,
Big spenders of Grace}"

- Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts


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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

56. Why I Don't Believe Christians Should Tithe - Part 3

When I tell people that I don’t believe Christians should tithe, I’m often met with shocked and sometimes horrified expressions. Within the Evangelical world, it seems that tithing is equated with spiritual maturity. Not tithing is often presented as “robbing God”. Tithing is generally understood as returning 10% of one’s income back to God or God’s work, i.e. the local church. Many Christian leaders support tithing using the following verses: (For reference when I say the term “Believers” I mean Christians and use the terms interchangeably.)

Due to the length of some of these points as I studied this further I broke it down into different parts. Although I may add more later. This part 3 of 3.  Please read the first two part to this post series on tithing: 

Why I don’t Believe Christians Should Tithe – Part 1 and 
Why I don't Believe Christians Should Tithe - Part 2

5. We are not under the Law, but under Grace

Grace. It’s a beautiful concept. Here’s some thoughts. No man is justified by doing the works of the law. (Gal. 3:11) All the curses of the law were abolished and done away with by Christ who was made a curse for us. (Gal. 3:13). We are justified through faith in Jesus Christ. (Gal 3:24) Our hope is no longer in the law but in Christ who draws us near to God. (Heb. 7:18-19

According to Rom. 6:14 and Gal.5:18 we are led by God’s spirit as sin no longer has dominion over us. We are no longer under the law but under grace. 

"We are not under law but under grace." - Rom. 6:14 and Gal. 5:18.

From Col. 2:14 we are shown that Christ cancelled our debt that stood against at the cross. The debt in Mal. 3:7,14 that was owed was, amongst other things, the 10% that Israel was to tithe to avoid God’s wrath. Gal 3:13 and Col. 2:14 show us that the debt and curse of the law is no longer upon us as Believers. 

Salvation and eternal life through Jesus are both free to us without money or cost. We as Believers don’t give to be saved. Instead, we give BECAUSE we are saved and because we want others to be reached for the Gospel.

For the Jew, failure to tithe under the law brought God’s wrath to Israel. For the Believer, failure to give a tithe doesn't result in God's wrath or punishment.  

I’m convinced there are two things of eternal value on this earth – God’s Word (Psalm 119:89, 160; Is. 40:8; 1 Pet. 1:25and people (Matt. 25:46; John 3:16; Rom. 6:23; Heb. 10:39; 1 Cor. 15:54; 1 John 5:13-14).

6. 2 Cor. 9:7 and Matt. 6:3 Believers Give Joyfully and Secretly

That said I do believe Scripture points to the Believer giving joyfully.  There is no specific number for the Christian but instead whatever God lays on our heart. Typically, this can be significantly more than 10%. Some people give 50% or 40%. Others give 10 or 20%. Still others give 4 or 5%. People give as they are able. And God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor. 9:7)

I think when giving in accordance with Matt 6:3 there’s a strong case that we should give secretly. Particularly to those who are in need. 

What I’d like to see taught in and within the church is Biblical stewardship and a focus on generosity. Those who follow Christ should want to live generous lives toward God. We do this to be a reflection of His Divine, perfect, generous, and extravagant giving. This kind of standard goes way beyond the tithe. It doesn’t mean we are foolish in our giving but it does mean we don’t count our wealth as our security. We also don’t count on the amount we give. We attempt to see everything as being God’s and we are just caretakers of what He has entrusted to us for a time.

7. Eternal Rewards and Who to Give to?

From 1Tim. 6:19 we see that we are storing up treasures in eternity. Again, God’s Word is eternal and so are people.

Of note the worker is worthy of his wages. Whoever preaches the Gospel should earn their living by the Gospel. This means to me that those who are leaders in the local Church should be paid fair wages. (Matt 10:10; Luke 10:7; 1 Cor 9:14)

So gifts should go first to those who teach the Gospel (Gal 6:6). That is first and foremost to the local church in support of the local church staff. These are the people that teach and equip us. It also means secondly giving to secondary sources for example the radio station you listen to, missionaries locally or overseas, evangelists, churches you visit, etc. 

Acts 20:35 reminds us that Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive.

I’d like to again say that I do believe there is a clear command in Scripture to give joyfully to God’s work (which is primarily the local Church) as people are led by God’s Holy Spirt and are able – whether that’s 1%, 10%, 15%, or more.

I’d like to re-emphasize I understand that there are differing viewpoints on this topic. In my extensive study of Scripture on this topic, these are my conclusions. I am open to feedback and know that I still have much to learn. I think we should be Bereans, searching the Scriptures for ourselves instead of blindly accepting what other people teach. That said, this is not a salvation issue, and I can agree to disagree if someone sees it differently.