Category Archives: Debt Reduction Course

Stewardship

Gary North

Let’s review the five points of the biblical covenant model:

1. God’s sovereignty
2. Man’s delegated authority
3. God’s law
4. God’s sanctions (positive and negative)
5. Inheritance in history

This is understood in terms of five questions.

1. Who’s in charge here?
2. To whom do I report?
3. What are the rules?
4. What do I get if I obey? Disobey?
5. Does this outfit have a future?

These five points are inescapable in economics.

1. God’s original ownership
2. Man’s stewardship
3. God’s kingdom: “seek first”
4. God’s blessings: “all these things”
5. The inheritance: “the meek shall inherit the earth”

This course began with an Introduction. Then you were sent Lesson 1. It was devoted to a study of Jesus’ parable of the talents. The owner prepared to leave town. He allocated capital to his servants. Some invest their coins. Another buried his coin. The owner returned to judge their performance. He took the coin from the man who buried it and gave it to the most successful investor. The successful ones inherited new kingdoms. This parable follows the five-point covenant model as it applies to economics.

The mark of God’s sovereignty is the tithe. I covered this in the next lesson. This was an aspect of Point 1.

We now come to the second point in the covenant: stewardship.

Stewardship

God delegated comprehensive authority to mankind in general. This original delegation of authority defines mankind. It cannot be escaped. This is the dominion covenant.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth (Gen. 1:26-28).

He reconfirmed this covenant with Noah and his sons.

And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things (Gen. 9:1-3).

Finally, Jesus reconfirmed it after His resurrection. But He modified it. He established it with His followers, not with mankind in general.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matt. 28:18-20).

Jesus’ transfer of authority to His followers was based on His authority in history as a perfect man who fulfilled God’s law. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17).

God’s transfer of authority to mankind is two-fold: (1) as a disinherited son of Adam, who came under a curse in history; (2) as an adopted son of God through Christ.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (I Cor. 15:20-22).I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:9-10).

There are therefore two kingdoms: (1) the kingdom of Satan, disguised as the kingdoms of men; (2) the kingdom of God, manifested as the kingdom of Christ, God’s Son. They are both kingdoms by covenant. They both reflect the five points of the covenant.

There is constant competition for top position in history, in every area of life. There is a debate over “Who’s in charge here?” There is also a debate over “To whom do I report?”

Borrowing and Lending

According to Moses, this competition is manifested in terms of credit and debt. Who is the lender, and who is the borrower? Moses wrote:

And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee. The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them (Deut. 28:11-13)The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail. Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee (Deut. 28:43-45).

Solomon reconfirmed this. “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Prov. 22:7).

This brings us to you. I ask these five questions. Answer them honestly, please.

1. Who is lord of your life?
2. Are you a net borrower or a net lender?
3. Which kingdom are you financing?
4. Who is reaping the blessings of your productivity?
5. To whom will you leave your inheritance?

The proof of your answer to question #1 should be evident in your monthly budget: the tithe. Is it?

Which absorbs a larger percentage of your income: God’s tithe or your lenders’ interest payments? (I am not speaking here of your mortgage’s interest, which is payment for a long-term capital good — a payment that you have substituted for a rental payment to a house owner. But if you live in a nicer house than you would be willing to rent, then this extra payment is consumer debt.)

Your budget’s figures do not lie. They testify to your reality.

Your Testimony Before God

If your spending pattern testifies to your loyalty to Satan’s kingdom rather than God’s, which testimony do you intend to continue?

This is why a Christian who is in debt for depreciating consumer goods is in sin. His spending pattern testifies against his official testimony at church.

Are you double minded? James warned:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:5- 8).

How unstable are you? How stable do you want to be? Remember the three questions.

1. What do I want to achieve?
2. How soon do I want to achieve it?
3. What am I willing to pay (do without)?

Homework Assignment

Use one of the calculators on my site to determine how long it will take you to get out of debt at your present rate of repayment, assuming no new debt.

Note: This time estimate should apply after you are tithing.

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Your Calling In Life

Gary North

Let’s review the five points of the biblical covenant model:

1. God’s sovereignty
2. Man’s delegated authority
3. God’s law
4. God’s sanctions (positive and negative)
5. Inheritance in history

This is understood in terms of five questions.

1. Who’s in charge here?
2. To whom do I report?
3. What are the rules?
4. What do I get if I obey? Disobey?
5. Does this outfit have a future?

These five points are inescapable in economics.

1. God’s original ownership
2. Man’s stewardship
3. God’s kingdom: “seek first”
4. God’s blessings: “all these things”
5. The inheritance: “the meek shall inherit the earth”

What Is Your Calling?

Your calling is the most important thing you can do in which you would be most difficult to replace.

Your occupation is what pays your bills.

Rarely are these the same.

Jesus was a carpenter for a while (Mark 6:3). Paul made tents (Acts 18:3). We do not remember them for their occupations.

Paul was a tentmaker. He supported himself from money he earned at his job. His job supported his calling.

Your job supports your calling. But what is your calling? What is the most important thing in your life in which you would be most difficult to replace?

Regarding your funeral, would it please you if you knew on your deathbed that the main speaker planned to focus on how you made a living? No? Then what would you prefer that he focus on? When you identify that topic, you are getting close to your answer: “What is my calling in life?”

You are worried about your finances. You are probably not worried about your calling. I am arguing here that your lack of attention to your calling is a major reason for your problem with finances. If you have tithed for years, this is the main problem with your finances.

For information on what the calling is, and how you can identify yours, read my article:

https://deliverancefromdebt.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/goalsetting-callingvsjob/

Getting Your Finances Under Control

To get your finances under control, you need to be highly motivated. What is your #1 motivation today? Fear? I don’t think fear should be your motivation. Jesus said:

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:31-33).

Jesus made it plain: His people are required to seek His kingdom. Jesus also said: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matt. 7:7-8).

Have you asked? On what basis? That you want more? Why do you want more? To finance your kingdom or God’s? To finance your lifestyle or God’s kingdom?

What is God’s kingdom? Jesus said it is like leaven (yeast), which expands.

Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened (Matt. 13:33).And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened (Luke 13:20-21).

He also used the metaphor of a man who distributes coins to servants as capital for investment. “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods” (Matt. 25:14). I covered this in the second lesson, on budgeting.

The kingdom of God is the whole world. It is wherever covenant- keepers can lawfully exercise authority. They have responsibility to do this.

The kingdom belongs to God. He is sovereign. This means that He cares more about His kingdom more than He cares about your self-serving goals. Therefore, so should you.

He cares about your goals insofar as they are consistent with His plans for you in relation to building His kingdom. This should give you hope.

How do your plans fit with God’s? That is what “seeking the kingdom” is all about. You are part of a hierarchy: God>you>the world around you.

God’s kingdom is associated with God’s righteousness. This means that ethics is more important than money. Jesus said this in what has been called the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

Yet God wants to see His kingdom in history expand. He wants to see your influence on His behalf expand. He therefore has structured cause and effect so that righteousness produces capital, which should be used to expand God’s kingdom. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Obeying God’s laws produces economic success. The text lists food, drink, and clothing. You already have these. You probably could lose a few pounds. You can drink safe water from a tap. You don’t wear all the clothes you own.

Think of yourself as rich. Kings in 1900 possessed less of the following than you do: electricity, automobiles, entertainment medical care, communications technology. What did kings possess in 1900 that you don’t. (1) Large estates invisible to the public; (2) large staffs to care for these estates; (3) jewelry that they rarely wore; yachts for lavish entertaining.

Would you trade lifestyles with a king or queen in 1900? Probably not, unless you like leisure. With leisure comes great responsibility: not wasting your time, which is God’s time. How much responsibility are you willing to accept?

This raises a crucial question: Why do you need more goods than you possess now? With more goods always comes added responsibility. Could you do with fewer possessions than you have now? Probably.

You are to seek God’s kingdom first. God’s kingdom is deep and wide: a civilization. Everyone has a role to play: specialization. What is your role?

Productivity

God delegates tasks to individuals and associations. If anyone slacks off, the work does not get done. Cooperation increases productivity.

Good work requires the right tools. Good tools are expensive They cost money. They cost time to master them. Good tools are worth saving for.

Which tools? The ones you can use in your specialization in God’s kingdom.

You must discover your dual roles: (1) occupation: your job (serving paying customers); (2) calling: your most important lifetime task.

There are three questions that you must get answered.

“What do I want to achieve?”
“How soon do I want to achieve it?”
“How much am I willing to pay?”

When you have these three questions answered in a preliminary way, you have your lifetime goal. This is why goal-setting is crucial for your program of debt reduction. It gives you focus. It also gives you motivation. Budgeting requires both.

Why do you need to get out of consumer debt?

To decrease your dependence on lenders
To increase your mobility: geographical and occupational
To gain control over your life
To have money to buy capital, including education
To have more money to give away

These are primary goals. They have to do with production. You must shift your perspective from money for consumption to money for production.

Homework Assignment

Identify your calling, in contrast to your occupation. What is it that you want most to leave behind? What do you want to be remembered for? By whom? For how long?

Why should anyone remember your legacy? If you don’t know, you may not have one clearly in mind. Get it clear in your mind.

Write down a full description of the legacy you want to leave behind. Be as detailed as possible.

Then write down why you think you are uniquely able to produce such a legacy. Be as detailed as possible.

Finally, review your monthly budget. How much money have you devoted to pursuing your calling?

Have you self-consciously allocated any money at all to your calling? If you haven’t, then start thinking about what percentage of your income and time you think is reasonable to allocate to your calling, after you are paying your tithe and after you are debt-free, except for your mortgage?

This should be your primary motivation to get debt-free. Not fear. Not greed. Your calling.

Why Tithing Is Mandatory

Gary North

Let’s review the five points of the biblical covenant:

1. God’s sovereignty
2. Man’s delegated authority
3. God’s law
4. God’s sanctions (positive and negative)
5. Inheritance in history

This is understood in terms of five questions.

1. Who’s in charge here?
2. To whom do I report?
3. What are the rules?
4. What do I get if I obey? Disobey?
5. Does this outfit have a future?

These five points are inescapable in economics.

1. God’s original ownership
2. Man’s stewardship
3. God’s kingdom: “seek first”
4. God’s blessings: “all these things”
5. The inheritance: “the meek shall inherit the earth”

Acknowledging God’s Sovereignty

God lays down His law. He has the right to do this, for He is sovereign.

One of the marks of His sovereignty is His collection of the tithe. It belongs to Him. It is a minimal token of His sovereignty. It is a symbol of His sovereignty.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone (Matthew 23:23).

Jesus was harsh on the scribes Pharisees — intellectual leaders of Israel. They tithed. That was good, Jesus said. It was not good enough.

He was not telling them ignore the tithe and pay attention to the weightier matters of the Mosaic law, exercising honest judgment, showing mercy, and exercising faith in God and His works in history. He was telling them to do all of the above.

I have already presented my analysis of the parable of the talents. I pointed out that the owner (God) delegates control over money (and everything else people own) to His subordinates. They become responsible for administering this capital. They act as trustees or stewards. They do not own these assets. God does.

God distributed these assets in terms of His assessment of their abilities. Their past performance influenced Him. He had assessed their abilities already. He assumed no major changes in these abilities and performance.

He tested them to make sure. He gave them control over His assets temporarily. God has done this with you, too.

You have received assets from God. Your assets reflect God’s assessment of your abilities. You should assess your past performance as He has.

You have been given an opportunity to do better. The #1 test of performance: the tithe. The tithe is a mark of subordination to God.

Pay God First

The tithe imposes this principle: God is to be paid first. God receives His money “off the top.” This is your affirmation of His sovereignty. This affirms your dependence on Him for whatever success you achieve in life.

The tithe is numerical: 10% of net income. God does not tax capital. He taxes only the fruits of capital. If you plant 200 ears of corn (on which you have paid your tithe), and 2000 ears grow, you tithe on 1800 ears. God does not tax seed corn. He does not tax you twice on the same goods.

If you make $10,000 on one investment and lose $10,000 on another, and you sell both in the same time period, then you owe no tithe. You pay on the net increase. There was no increase.

Under the Mosaic law, if a man had 9 sheep, and one died while another was born, he owed no tithe. Only nine sheep went under the rod. He owed the Levite only the tenth sheep (Lev. 27:32). In short, he tithed only on the net increase.

The tithe is continuing: paycheck by paycheck. The tithe requires faith in God’s sovereignty. You are announcing to God and yourself the following:

“I am not fully in control.
I do not trust my abilities 100%.
There will be a stream of future income.
This income will fund my kingdom-building activities.

Who Receives the Tithe?

You owe your tithe to your local congregation. This was affirmed by the prophet Malachi. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). There was only one storehouse in each community. It was controlled by the Levites, the priestly tribe.

The local congregation should prosper along with its members. It should suffer with them, too. The tithe funds the church’s base of operations. The tithe makes its income more predictable.

The tithe is not institutionally enforced in our day. This does not mean that it is not mandatory.

The tithe requires continuing self-assessment. You must determine what your net income is after return of capital. God does not tax capital. The tithe is on net income. A farmer pays a tithe on what the seeds produce, not on the replacement of what was planted.

Success and the Tithe

Your tithe reflects your degree of economic success.

By establishing the minimum owed, the tithe reduces guilt for not giving enough. Everyone is under the same percentage obligation, but no more. Offerings are voluntary donations above the tithe.

The tithe requires careful budgeting. By paying the tithe, people learn from an early age how to budget. They must keep track of their income. This is an important self-discipline.

Tithing also makes it easier to save. People get used to the practice of not spending all of their income. This attitude is transferred to thrift: Pay yourself second.

I have written a report on tithing. It demonstrates biblically that Christians owe God a tithe. If you have doubts, read it.

You Also Owe God

You want to get out of debt. You think that by allocating all of the money you save to paying off debts that you will get out of debt faster than if you pay your tithe. This assumes that God will not honor your tithe by increasing your income or by showing you cheaper ways to live, or both. He may not. That is His business. But the prophet Malachi announced this:

For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts (Malachi 3:6-12).

The prophet Haggai warned against not building the temple after the Israelites’ return from captivity. These people had short-changed God by short-changing the church.

Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that warneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes (Haggai 1:5-6).Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands (Haggai 1:9-11).

The Book of Job made it clear that men never have God in a hammerlock. God can do what He wants. But He honors His work in the long run.

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Allow me to summarize:

God is sovereign. You are not.
You are responsible to God. God is not responsible to you.
Tithing is morally mandatory.
God blesses those who tithe.
God prefers a tithe on more rather than less.

Conclusion: If you want more, then pay your tithe.

I have written a book on this: The Covenantal Tithe. It is sold by American Vision.

Homework Assignment

Examine your budget. Then think through how you can pay your tithe by cutting expenses. Write down each item to be cut and by how much. This will become the basis of your re-structured budget.

Why You Must Create a Budget

Gary North

Jesus’ Parable of the Talents(Matthew 25:14-30)

Matthew 25 is the New Testament’s main chapter on the final judgment. In this context, Jesus offered the parable of the talents. A talent was a weight of silver or gold.

Jesus often used what I call pocketbook parables. People understand money. They are interested in money.

The parable of the talents teaches about personal responsibility and final judgment. It uses money to explain this. This parable reveals how God expects us to use our money. We are to expand it — meaning our influence — rather than waste it. This is a lengthy parable.

For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

There are five principles governing this passage:

1. God is the owner.
2. He delegates administration to representatives.
3. Each representative adopts a plan of action.
4. The owner requires a final accounting.
5. There is a system of inheritance and disinheritance.

This structure reflects the five points of the biblical covenant model. (On this model, read Rev. Ray Sutton’s book, That You May Prosper [1987]. Download it for free here.)

1. The sovereignty of God
2. The delegated authority of man
3. The law of God
4. The judgment of God
5. The kingdom of God

Put more commonly:

1. Who’s in charge here?
2. To whom do I report?
3. What are the rules?
4. What do I get if I obey or disobey?
5. Does this outfit have a future?

God is the Owner

God has servants (verse 14). All people are His servants. God also possesses assets (v. 14). In this case, talents (money). He allocates these talents in terms of the servants’ abilities. This means that He understands their abilities. He allocates the money unequally. The good performers receive more.

He then departs, putting His servants in charge. There is no escape from this responsibility. In the parable, He does not tell the servants what to do with this money. He leaves this up to them. They are responsible.

Each of them has a plan. Two enter into trade. The other one buries his talent.

The Owner Requires an Accounting

Two of the men double their money. The one who had more to begin with receives greater praise. He had greater responsibility. The owner praises both of them. He then rewards them according to their productivity. What is their reward? Greater responsibility.

The message is clear: We are to be net producers, not consumers, of wealth. We are to leave more behind than we inherited on our arrival.

One man returns the buried coin. He says he was governed by fear. He accuses the owner of being a hard man. He accuses him of benefiting where he had not worked. This is erroneous. He ignores the risk associated with allocation.

The owner curses him. He gives the spare talent to the most productive man. Conclusion: The rich get richer. The rich therefore get more responsibility

In Luke’s version of the parable, this is clear.

And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. (Luke 19:13-19)

Lessons

1. There is no escape from responsibility.
2. There is no escape from stewardship.
3. There will be a final day of reckoning.
4. You are commanded to multiply your gifts.

If you are in debt for consumer goods, you are not multiplying. If you are deep in consumer debt, you are falling behind. You are in rebellion.

Making Your Budget

The three servants were required to present an accounting of their use of the assets entrusted to them. Each of them had a plan.

Having a successful plan requires budgeting. A budget lets us put numbers to our plans. These numbers serve as success or failure indicators. If we find that we are going deeper into debt, the numbers are failure indicators.

The parable is clear. We are to multiply our assets, in the broadest sense of the word: our talents. If you find that you are consuming your talents, you are in worse economic shape than the servant who buried his talent.

You need to monitor your success in handling money. A budget lets you do this. You need a plan. You need a budget.

Homework Assignment

Last week, I asked you to assemble receipts of your spending. This week, you must make a budget. I have provided free tools to help you do this.

https://deliverancefromdebt.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/budgetingsoftware/

If you don’t like using digital tools, then do it on a sheet of paper.

Free Download: That You May Prosper

Ray Sutton

To download this book as originally published (second edition, 1992), you must first download the free DjVu reader. It’s like the Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Go here: http://www.djvuzone.org/download.htm.

Once it is on your computer, you can read the book (unless you use FireFox). Download it here: http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/21f6_47e.htm.

Lesson #1: Introduction

Gary North

Benefits and Costs

A good salesman presents the benefits of whatever he is selling. I want to list some of the benefits that you will receive if you adopt the spending program that I present in this course.

You will have greater confidence in yourself.You will have greater confidence in the word of God.

You will receive the foundations of a lifelong success program.

You will find that you have increased income every month after expenses.

You will be able to leave an inheritance for your children. I don’t mean simply an economic inheritance; I mean an inheritance relating to their lifestyle.

An honest salesman also discusses costs. With respect to the material you will be receiving in this course, these costs are actually benefits, but a person who has found himself in deep debt does not initially perceive that these costs are benefits.

It requires a leap of faith.It requires tithing, which means reduced consumption initially.

It requires a systematic program of budgeting.

It requires constant self-assessment through a series of budget reviews.

It requires a savings program.

What should you expect over the next 11 weeks?

First, there will be a weekly homework assignment. This is required to make good use of the following week’s lesson. These steps are cumulative.Second, you will be introduced to a series of tools that you can use to implement the recommended plan.

Third, if you join this site (free), you will be given hundreds of real-world ways that you can cut your spending without sacrificing greatly.

Fourth, if you join this site, you will be able to get advice on the forums.

Fifth, you will be asked to recommend this site to others.

Why should you do all this? Let’s go through the basics.

First you are worrying about money. You find that you have more month than money. If you stick with this course, you will stop worrying about money because you will have more money than month.

Second, you are paying other people for past purchases. When you’re through with this course, you will know how to live comfortably without signing away your future income.

Third, you are burdened by a sense of personal failure. There is a reason for this. You have failed. I am going to show you how to succeed.

Fourth, you lack a lifetime plan of action. I’m going to show you how to construct a new lifetime plan, and then follow through on it.

Fifth, you are consuming your children’s inheritance in the broadest sense of the term. They cannot look to you for guidance in the handling of their personal finances. Even if you know what to do, you’re going to be in the position of generations of parents who tell their children, “Do as I say, and not as I do.” That statement has never convinced very many children.

Where should you be after 11 weeks?

First, you should be rejoicing at your life’s benefits.Second you will be much less of a borrower. You will learn how to become a lender.

Third, you will find that you are expanding your personal influence. This is part of the training of this course.

Fourth, you will find that you are able to fulfill more of your life’s goals. Not only that, you will have new goals that you have not paid any attention to previously.

Fifth, you will find that you are on the road to accumulating wealth. You ought to be there now, but you’re not. This is going to change.

This course is going to show you what you must do. That is not enough. You need greater assistance than this. God is going to deliver you from debt-cursed living, but you can regard me as his nagging messenger. The Bible teaches that the borrower is servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7). I am going to show you how to cease being a servant to lenders.

A 11-Step Recovery Program

This course is a how-to program. It will show how to get out of debt and stay out of debt for the rest of your life. It will provide the tools needed. The web site’s forums will provide assistance.

Create an email folder for this course. You will use this for filing each of the 12 lessons.

It would not hurt to create a separate folder for Favorites or Bookmarks to file the HTML pages, such as this one.

How-to programs are self-help programs. This is less of a self-help program than a 12-step addiction-deliverance program. If you could do it by yourself, you already would have done it.

The problem that we all face in life is that it is not good enough to know what to do; we then have to do it. Someone may want to lose weight, but he is not going to lose weight if he reads a diet book while munching on chips and bean dip. It may be the best diet book in the world, but unless he changes his eating habits, he is not going to lose any weight. It is exactly the same thing with personal finances.

This is your diet book. You must stay away from the bean dip.

Cure and Prevention

Those of us who are involved in direct-response marketing know that it is always easier to sell a cure than prevention. There is an old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The problem is, most people are unwilling to pay for the ounce of prevention, so they wind up paying a pound of cure.

This is probably your situation.

If people were trained by their parents from an early age to budget their money, they would probably not fall into the trap of massive debt when they become adults. There is no guarantee that this would be the case, because the lure of “buy now, pay later” is very great. But, on the whole, people who learn good habits with respect to their spending when they are teenagers are much less likely to fall into bad habits when they are adults.

If you follow the recommendations that you will receive each week for the next 12 weeks, you will gain a new set of habits. These new habits will change your life. But, as with any new habits, it takes time to make them a part of your life. Even more difficult, when they have replaced a long-entrenched series of bad habits, a person finds that it is very difficult to keep from falling back.

One of the reasons why I divided up the course into 12 weekly lessons is because I know that people need time to make the transition from debt-based living to thrift-based living. It is almost impossible in a brief period of time to make all of the changes that you need to make. So, I have put together a course that will take you through the fundamentals in a 12-week period. The course will not simply tell you the fundamentals; it will enable you to adopt these new habits as part of a new way of living.

In the same way that a diet is not supposed to be a temporary change of a person’s eating habits, so is this program not supposed to be a one-time debt-reduction program. A diet may work for the period of time that you are on the diet, but if you go off the diet, it will have done you no good.

In the same way that a diet does not do you much good if you see it as a temporary change to achieve a short-term goal, such as going back to your high school reunion in a slimmer condition, so this course will do you no good if you think it is merely a means of getting debt free on a one-time basis.

Your goal should not be to get debt-free on a one-time basis. Your goal should be to stay debt-free for the rest your life. A diet will not keep you slender unless it becomes a new way of eating. The same is true of the information that you will receive in this course.

The Curses of Debt

People who are in debt have very little wiggle room with their budget. They have no room for emergencies. The trouble is, I emergencies always arise. So, people go into greater debt in order to handle the emergencies. This is a downward spiral.

When you are in debt, you have low mobility. You have low mobility geographically, and you have low mobility in your career. You are unable to take advantage of opportunities that spring up, because you are so far in debt that you are unable to rely on personal financial reserves long enough to take advantage of the opportunity.

Another curse of debt-based living is that you make purchases that you later feel guilty about. You are tired of the guilt, but you seem to be unable to break the addiction of making purchases. I’m going to show you how to escape that bondage.

You face higher interest costs than other people, precisely because you have so much debt. You cannot take advantage of low mortgage rates, because lenders are not going to lend you money at the lowest possible rates.

You are paying more for the goods that you buy because you are not paying cash. You do not have cash, so you are not in a position to negotiate lower prices. This is always a disadvantage. Money talks. Cash talks loudest of all.

30 Days to Better Spending Habits

It takes 30 consecutive days to break a bad habit. I discuss this here. But debt addiction involves more than one bad habit. This is why deliverance will take you longer than 30 days. With this 12-week course, it will take you at least 84 days.

It took you longer than 84 days to get into bad habits. Remember this law of human action: Things are easier to get into than out of.

This Week’s Homework Assignment

Here is your first homework assignment. Collect as many receipts as you have for your expenditures over the past three months. I hope you have saved the receipts somewhere. If not, you must develop the habit of saving receipts. This is going to help you determine where your money is going. Right now, you need to know where your money went. I hope you are in a position to make this determination. Go through all of your records to find out where your money went.

If you don’t have physical receipts, you have receipts in your credit card statements. Gather those credit card statements together in one location. I am not asking you to go through them yet. I am asking you merely to assemble them as a first step.

There will be an assignment at the end of every lesson.

Identifying Your #1 Goal in Life

Gary North

If you do not have a compelling lifetime goal, you do not have a compelling reason to get out of debt.

You must perceive your debt-accumulating lifestyle as a threat to your legacy. Your spending habits are your enemy.

If you do not see how your lack of thrift is thwarting your achievement of something really significant, then it will be difficult for you to make the mental changes required to get out of debt and stay out.

If God poured out His blessing on your work, what should that work be?

Your #1 Lifetime Goal

What is your #1 lifetime goal? If you say, “to serve God,” that’s not specific enough.

How do you know if you are getting closer to your goal if your goal is to serve God? What success indicators do you use? What timeline do you use?

If you are not highly specific, you cannot plan effectively. You need medium-term goals as markers. The same is true for short-term goals. You need a series of temporal markers. If you don’t have them, you will not be able to pace yourself rationally.

You must match your dream with your skills. You must also match it with your capital, which above all includes time.

You could drop dead tomorrow. But if you arrange your goals in stand-alone segments, you will leave something behind that is of value, even if you die before your scheduled goal.

What is it that you would like in your obituary? On your headstone? I know what I want on mine: O deadline, where is thy sting?

You will probably not be remembered three generations after you die. Hardly anyone ever is. Even then, only a couple of facts survive in the history books. So, fame is illusive. It is probably worse than money as a mistaken goal. It fuels ambition for self.

In contrast, leaving something behind that survives physically, like a work of art, or institutionally, such as a way to get things done, is legitimate.

If you figure out a way to get a task done, and it gets imitated, you have accomplished something important.

If you put up a blogsite that helps people, and is practical enough to survive for a hundred years, that is important.

How about a video series on YouTube or another video site? The Web will keep your work alive long after you are dead. This has never before been possible for people to plan for.

The technology of leaving behind an enduring legacy is now available to almost anyone who can find this website. Yet most people do not perceive the opportunity.

What is a person’s calling? It is the most important thing he can do in which he would be most difficult to replace. Want more information on this? Click here.

Have you identified your calling? Will it lead to a legacy that someone younger will be able to imitate? Is your calling tied to your #1 goal in life? Will it be extended after you die?

Your Assignment

What are your talents? Write them down.

How much time do you think you have? Aim at age 70 (Psalm 90:10).

What assets do you own that can help you? This is your capital. Do an inventory.

If you were out of debt, would you be able to pursue this goal more effectively? Be specific.

You need motivation to get out of debt and stay out. If you can identify this motivation now, you will find the task ahead of you easier to attain.