Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Seeing God's Provision

Last week it seemed that we were inundated with one request after another for money. The amount of money we would need kept piling up. I was quickly entering this state of numbness. It was the only way I could keep from just melting into a pile on the floor.

But as the week came to a close, we suddenly were presented with God's provision. The exact (and I mean EXACT) amount that we needed arrived in one day. But the thing that got us the most was not that God DID provide, but that He knew how much we would need and when we would need it. The money we received came from a wedding planned a month ago and happened this past Saturday. A check to be used for whatever we needed was mailed before we even knew we had the need. There was nothing extra, but just enough.

Sometimes it gets a little frustrating that there is never any extra. We make a plan for extra money we know we are getting, but it never fails that a need comes up that it has to be used for instead. But I guess that is a testimony to the song I mentioned in my last post. "Morning by morning your mercies I seek. All I have needed thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me."

God provided the Israelites manna from heaven each and every morning as they wandered through the wilderness. They were only to collect what they needed for that day. Anything left over would rot. The Israelites had to trust God for their provision day by day.

The economy today if very uncertain. Some would want us to put our trust in the government to "rescue" us and to fix the problems. But there is only one in whom we can place all of our trust for all of our needs. That is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We may not be able to see how He will provide, but we can always know He is there. He is providing for us. He is loving us. He is carrying us through each day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

This morning in Chapel we sang the chorus of a great old hymn, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness". As I sang this chorus, I was reminded of God's faithfulness and His provision for every need. Focus on these words as you lift them up to the Lord today.

Great is thy faithfulness.
Great is thy faithfulness.
Morning by morning your mercies I seek.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Zero-Based Budgeting

Budgeting has negative connotations, but it can actually be very "freeing". You already know what is coming up and when. Basically, budgeting is just telling your money where it is to go. With zero-based budgeting you are telling every penny of your money where it is going. There are no categories for "miscellaneous" or "what if". There is a category for "savings", which will hopefully be able to handle anything unexpected that comes up. The goal of course is to live within your means and save as much as possible.

The other aspect to budgeting is keeping track of what you are actually spending. One of our problems has been that our budget was based on what we thought we were spending or what we thought we should be spending and not based on reality.

It always seemed like too much work to keep track of receipts and every little penny we would spend. However, I have found a system that I think is an easy and effective tool to aid in that process. PearBudget is an online program that keeps track of your budget and receipts and gives you various reports on your spending/budgeting. (You do not enter any actual account info, just budget stuff.) It is streamlined and not filled with a bunch of stuff I never use like Quicken.

One thing I really like about it is that I can enter receipts or tweak the budget from anywhere. So, when we go out for lunch or stop at the grocery store, I can immediately enter those receipts once I return to work. You can get a 30 day free trial membership at www.pearbudget.com to try it out and see how you like it. After that it is $3/month or $30/year (2 months free).

Another realization I have come to is that our budget will be changing from month to month. It is not, and doesn't have to be, the same each month. For instance, our income in January was different than it will be in February because Brian didn't teach in January. Our income in March is going to be different than February because Brian will be off work for 2 weeks without pay (annual England trip). But each month we will be doing our best to make sure what is going out will not be more than what is coming in...zero-based budgeting.