05 January 2023
Don't follow me; find your own path.
I've had church folks condemn me for a lot of things, but the silliest issue of all is that I know beyond all doubt the Lord intends me to live in relative poverty. I've received no end of abuse for saying so. It's not just the name-it-and-claim-it folks of the Prosperity Gospel, but an awful lot of more conventional "conservative" evangelicals. I'm not a fan of Dave Ramsey because his whole schtick rests on the notion that you are obliged to be ambitious about money.
Yes, there is a lot of dirt out there on Dave Ramsey; he's not a nice guy at all. But that's not my point. You can chase that down for yourself; his "ministry" is a cult and he's the only person who can speak for God. The real problem is that he is part of the western mythology that says you cannot call yourself a man if you aren't financially ambitious. Not greedy; he preaches against that. However, nothing he teaches will help you if you know the Lord is not leading you to become a millionaire.
Thus, the point here is that he leaves no room for God to work in your life differently than he envisions. His advice works only for those who have a middle-class income or higher, and he offers nothing useful to folks whose income varies a good bit. Worse, his advice works only for a very limited range of personality types. He has no advice for people who are outside that narrow range; you become an obsessive bean counter or you are a failure. I'll never be a bean counter, and my income varies.
Over the coming year, should the Lord keep this blog alive, I'll be exploring from time to time topics on how to live cheaply. Not so you can save up huge sums of money for something else, but to teach people how to face the coming global financial depression. I've lived very close to the official poverty line most of my life. I've had some nice stuff, but most of that was comprised of gifts people gave me. The two times I've owned homes were a disaster, and I knew it was because I had left my mission and calling to gain them. They tied up all my time and resources and kept me from serving as freely as I should.
Any house I own will have to be ready for displacement in short order, and obviously not very big. If you've got a mid-sized travel trailer you need to get rid of, let me know. I'm the kind of person who prospers when things are unpredictable. The vast majority of people mentioned in the New Testament had highly variable incomes and expenses. The first church in Jerusalem had a lot of people who intentionally moved their lives to a lower level of wealth. They knew that God would handle the details, and that's how I've always done things. When I need something, I start praying as soon as I become aware of the need.
A major element in all of this is the Anglo-American presumption of "saving for a rainy day" and having what is often referred to as a future orientation. Do you realize that court cases have been decided on the basis of whether a defendant was planning for the future? Those cases reek of despising anyone who lives with a very short horizon, thinking only of today and their immediate comforts. But nobody in the court system will give serious consideration to the idea of being faith oriented. Both the future and present orientations are materialistic; the faith orientation is not material oriented at all.
There's nothing wrong with counting every bean if that's your nature. There's nothing wrong with having a carefully controlled budget, but some of us worry about second-guessing God when it comes to things like that. I'm sick and tired of folks evangelizing on behalf of Dave Ramsey. The Lord provides my every need. One size does not fit all. Follow your heart; live as the person God called you to be.
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