[THRIVE! Series]: Thriving with Money

BY DANNY LEE

This past January through March, I had the opportunity to facilitate Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, or FPU, at ODPC with my co-coordinator, Zack Skinner. Along with about thirty ODPC attenders and four folks from the wider community, we learned what God says about handling our finances and how to be good stewards with our money. Each session of the nine weeks was about 2 hours long: a 45-60 minute DVD lesson followed by discussion in small groups.

I was first introduced to Dave Ramsey’s teachings while living in Kansas, back in 2007. I had just graduated from college with student loans and a new car loan. I came across Dave’s book The Total Money Makeover in a bookstore and read through the entire book in one day. That sparked my interest in personal finance and motivated me to pay off my car in just over one year and my student loans in just over two years.

If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.

I’ve been attending ODPC since October 2008. I took FPU with a friend about 8 or 9 years ago at a church in Annandale. I had always thought about bringing FPU to ODPC, but never took any real steps to make it happen. I didn’t want to take on the responsibility of running this on my own, but God surrounded me with the right people and opened up doors to make it happen.

Last summer, my wife and I hosted a NextGen group at our house. One of the NextGen members, Daniel, asked if ODPC offered FPU, and I informed him that we did not. He told me that his coworker, Zack, would be willing to facilitate it at our church. I told Daniel I would think about it and look into it.

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Financial Peace University hosted at Open Door Presbyterian Church

A few weeks later, after getting approval from the pastors and our finance deacon, we decided to go ahead with planning. We weren’t sure if anyone would sign up, but we were surprised when we had about forty people register or show interest. We had expected maybe ten or twenty, at most. During registration, many parents asked us if we would have childcare—another occurrence we hadn’t anticipated. My wife, Jenny, and Zack’s wife, Natalie, stepped up and took care of eight kids over the nine weeks of sessions. With a consistent group of about thirty people, Daniel stepped up to lead one of the three small groups. When I look back, God provided someone to fill each need that we had. I learned that, as with most things in life, the journey can be difficult if you go it alone, but with people that God places by your side, anything is possible.

What Dave Ramsey teaches about money is surprisingly simple. After accumulating millions in real estate, Dave went bankrupt at age 30. He decided to see what the Bible says about money and applied those biblical principles to his life. He vowed never to borrow money again.

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.  (Proverbs 22:7)

Over the course of the nine weeks, we learned about debt, relating with money, saving and investing, retirement and college planning, the role of insurance, and most importantly, giving. Each small group had representation from all different life stages, from recent grads saddled with student loans, all the way to retired empty nesters.

I believe that my passion for personal finance is something I can contribute to our community here at ODPC. FPU is a great tool to teach what the Bible says about money, and the workbooks foster interesting and engaging discussion. My hope is that we will be able to offer the course once a year. If you’re interested in being involved or helping out, please reach out to me. No experience necessary!

My take on all of this is that if we can live below our means, where our finances are not servicing debt payments month after month, we are free to give more of our time and our finances to the causes we believe in.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.  (Proverbs 13:22a)


For more information on personal finance and financial independence, check out Danny Lee’s blog LiveFrugaLee.