Tag Archives: Christ

The Clothing Exchange: Bartering, Giving, Saving & Making A Difference

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You know what I love most about the above photo? Its location.

These folks aren’t camped out waiting to purchase tickets to the newest Batman movie. They’re not waiting to get into the V.I.P. line at a night club nor are they waiting in line to get to their Houston Rockets seats.

This was the scene outside the doors of Eagle Heights Fellowship in Mont Belvieu, TX. This is the Church home of Penny Glass & her three well-rounded, funny, adorable daughters.

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Mrs. Glass created an ingenious bartering system called The Clothing Exchange and it has grown exponentially over the last few years. As a result of her need to provide for her own children she wondered, “What if there was a place where I could give up what we don’t need in exchange for what we do need?” She approached her Pastor and pitched her idea. He fully supported her and gave his permission to use the Church as headquarters for this economically sound solution to clothing needs.

Viola, the Clothing Exchange was born!

How it Works
Many families are having trouble dealing with the current economic climate. They’re struggling to bring home the bacon (in my house it’s veggies). As a result clothing is an area that may be sacrificed in order to keep the family car running, keep electricity on, and stock up on groceries.
The Clothing Exchange allows families and individuals to bring in used but reusable clothes in exchange for a voucher equal to the number of items donated.
So, for example, Molly donates three jeans and five blouses which she’s outgrown-eight items. On exchange day she bring in her voucher and picks out eight items of her choice. She can choose 8 pair of jeans or seven jeans and one blouse or maybe she wants six pair of jeans, one pair of shoes and a scarf. Any combination is allowed as long as she doesn’t exceed eight, the number on her voucher. All participants are made aware that there is no guarantee they’ll find somethung in thier size or something they’ll like. But all are still willing to take part because it means they’ll be donating to others in need even if they get nothng in return. However, according to Penny, there’s never been a situation where a participant couldn’t find clothing they could use.

Simple, smart, effective and very much in need. In fact the need is so great that hundreds of people from miles around came to donate their used clothing in hopes of helping others while providing for their own families. Talk about a win-win situation.

Economic Ripple
So is there a positive economic effect? Most definitely! Most families shop at big department stores. Others, like myself, love thrift stores. When we shop at these locations the money doesn’t always stay within the local economy. Big companies need to spread their profits all over the globe in order to thrive. They have to pay for advertizing, put money into payroll and employee benefits and maintain thier facilities.
The Clothing Exchange allows local money to stay local—in the bank accounts of members of the community. So Mr. J donates his sons old clothes yet comes home with more clothes for his son without spending a single cent. With the savings Mr. J can put more money into an emergency fund or save for his son’s trade school education. Now imagine hundreds of families within a certain area doing the same thing. This creates more economical stability within the region. It makes sense, too, that if a family is more stable they’re able to donate to charities, give to missions and shop at local farmer’s markets. These all help give strength to the local economy.

An important aspect to the Clothing Exchange that builds a strong economy is what Penny does with the clothes that cannot be used in the exchange. See, if donated clothes have rips, tears, stains, etc they’re either given back to the donor, given to other churches or given directly to the homeless. This ensures only clothing of the highest quality are available on Exchange day. Providing the homeless with clothibg has several amazing results. It helps build confidence, gives a sense of added security and it offers an opportunity to excell. Imagine being homeless, sleeping on the streets, unable to shave and shower. Across the street from the box you live in is a NOW HIRING sign in the window of a locally-owned diner. You know you qualify for any open position. You’d work hard and put in extra hours if someone would just give you a chance.
Problem: You don’t feel presentable. And the fact is, most employers won’t hire someone who smells bad and is dressed like….well….a homeless person.

But, if the clothing exchange provided you with a fresh pair of socks, a pair of shoes, nice slacks and a long sleeved shirt and maybe even a tie; well your future could look very different. You can wash up in the restroom of a convemience store, change into your new duds, then walk confidently into that diner and tell them “You sould definitely hire me”.

This is one way a homeless person can become a productive member of society. All because of the generous hearts of Clothing Exchange participants.

Want to Join In?
The next Clothing Exchange event will be in Feb or March of 2016. In the mean time
1. Set aside those items you no longer want or need: shoes, shirts, pants, jackets, sweaters, hats, etc.
2. Tell others about this blog so they’re informed on how they may participate.
3. Follow this link to the Clothing Exchange facebook page so you can stay up-to-date on future events-
https://www.facebook.com/groups/237924579719778/?fref=ts

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The #Frugal Life: A Frugal Mentality

How Much is Enough

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Often, upon hearing the word frugal, inaccurate images float through the mind’s of many people.

Some imagine a penny-pinching Grinch that hoards every dollar as if clinging to life itself.

Others imagine a destitute fool who doesn’t recognize the so-called “finer things in life.”

My hope is that this blog post gives a better picture of the mind of the frugal individual. Set aside the inaccurate, and sometimes insulting images in your mind, and let’s discover the real reasons for developing the frugal mentality.

There is a scene in the movie The Great Gatsby where Gatsby is on the second floor of his bedroom, throwing pieces of clothing down to the woman he loves. His intention is to entice her with his riches, impress her with expensive clothing, and therefore hold her affections.

This is a far cry from the frugalist’s mindset and definitely far from the mind of God. I say this because of what is written in #Matthew 6:33

Seek the Kingdom of #God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (NLTse)

God prompts us to seek His Will, His pleasure and His mission for our lives above all else. We are not to be trapped in the vicious cycle of working hard for material gain just to be foreced to work even harder to afford even more. If we concentrare on our relationship with God first, He will align our mind and goals with His and therefore free us from such dangerous materialism that inevitably lead to greed.

The Christian Frugalite (yes, I created a new word), following the Spirit’s direction, is free to see things as they really are. Free from the prison of materialism. The frugalist understands that the really important things are neither material nor monetary. Unlike the get-all-you-can attitude of most folks, the frugally minded actually see the ultra-lavish lifestyle as both sickening and greedy.

The movie scene I described earlier actually turned my stomach. Why? Because I think of all the desperate people in the world who could benefit from the generosity of the ultra-rich.

Can you imagine the problems that would be solved if every mega-rich celebrity or sports personality decided to sell their mansions and some of their many luxury vehicles, then donated the proceeds to feed the hungry or help rescue victims of human trafficking? What if all those millions were funneled into creating jobs for those in desperate situations instead of being used to buy expensive purses, over-priced shoes and jewelry?

That would be an amazing thing!

It is the Christ-centered, frugal mind that can do this world the most good because it is not trapped by the unproductive idea of gathering more and more stuff. The Frugalite is free to give to charities, churches, and the indigent on the street without feeling she has missed something.

She understands the importance of paying a homeless person to wash her car instead of going to the car wash. In fact, giving to those less fortunate gives the frugal person a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

So the next time you’re tempted to think of a Frugalite as stingy or cheap, you may want to consider that she is not hoarding her pennies, she is proactively funneling them to where they do the most good.

I’d really love to hear:
*What frugal practices have you adopted?
*What frugal habits do you plan to employ in 2015?

A Lot Can Happen in Thirty-Eight Days: A Lack of Priorities Can Be Costly

A LOT has happenned over the last few months. I won’t go into the details right now, they’ll unravell in the blog posts to come. One thing I can say is I’ve regained perspective and focus. As much as I hate to say it, I had lost focus and God saw fit to slap me around in order to show me my own foolishness. (OUCH!)

Ya know that “wake up call” moment when everything important to you starts slipping away and you hit your knees asking Him to please, please, please step in and allow you to keep that which is most precious? Yeah, I had that moment- for 38 days in a row. It was brutal, agonizing, painful and an emotional rollercoaster. But, it did cause me to run to Christ’s feet, reprioritize, rethink and come to certain realizations about myself. One question God kept asking me is, “Would you be this distraught if I were to threaten to leave you?” At this question I replied with the intelligent response of, “Aaaaahhhh…..well…..”

Needless to say I had to evaluate exactly where I was placing God in my list of priorities. You’d think this would be an automatic response for someone in the ministry, right? Shouldn’t a long-time Christian have this down to automatic pilot? Yes…..and no. See, I think I was relying on automatic pilot a bit too much. I made a conscious effort to please and love my wife. (I’m now divorced….more on that later) I text my son daily saying how much I loved him. Throughout my day I’d text or email folks asking how they were and if they needed prayer for anything in particular.

You may be asking, what’s wrong with that Taz? Nothing at all, except that I wasn’t speaking to #God as often as to these fellow-humans. My significant other, my son and other sinners got more of my time and attention than my Creator!

(Just thinking about that reality makes me hang my head in shame and annoyance)

Did I really mess up that badly? Did I really put my wife before my Savior? SHAMEFUL!

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of spending more and more time with Christ has been a goal of mine for quite some time. I always wanted to think of my entire day as a long conversation with God, interrupted by daily chores and interaction with others- I just wasn’t getting it done! So, God grabbed my by the ear, pulled me into a confined space, sat me down and had a good Almighty-to-sinner conversation. He didn’t pull any punches nor did He sugar coat anything. He ripped open this wretched heart, magnified my evils and brought me to tears. I trembled, shook, felt regret and remorse, apologized and begged forgiveness. I dove into The Word, read three Christian book, including “The Purpose-Driven Life” and “The Story” and got closer to Christ.

I felt “washed”, as if I had a #spiritual shower with extra highly-concentrated cleanser added.

Aaaaaahhhh, that felt good!

So, what does this have to do with #financial world?

Good question, the answer is simple: Do not put anything, including your financial goals, before your relationship to God, period!

Infact your financial goals, outlook, attitude, etc. should be a RESULT of that first-place relationship. Your devotion to Him should result in seeking His direction in finances. Following Him should result in seeing His financial goals for your life and His goals becoming your goals. You line up with #Him, not the other way around.

Need proof that this concept is a reality? Well let’s look at ancient Israel. Many times they have served as our Biblical examples of what happens when we follow God and also the tragic consequences of straying from His path. Joshua chapter 7 is where we find the account of Achan who disobeyed God by keeping precious plunder from a recent victory.

Pause for one second. Achan may have had really good reasons for keeping the treasure. Maybe he would have sold half and donated the profit to a local charity. Or maybe he planned to buy materials to help mend his neighbor’s tents. What about feeding the hungry? He could have had a grand feast planned form them, right? While all those intentions are not evil in and of themselves, the fact that he violated the Creator’s command is still sin!

The punishment for Achan’s sin is found in verses 22-24. He and his family, yes his family, were all stoned to death and their bodies burned. Seems a bit harsh? Not really. Remember sin is a violation of the most pure, perfect, Holy and magnificent being in the entire universe-God. The more we respect a person or that person’s position the more severe the punishment for an offense to that person. Assaulting your neighbor on the street is one thing, assaulting the President of The United States, i’m sure you’ll agree is something different all together.

We cannot allow our financial goals to be placed ahead of a close relationship with Christ. We must “keep the main thing, the main thing”.

A few of you may be tempted to make use of the old saying, “Experience is the best teacher”. While this is a true statement, most people are unaware of the rest of it. “….and it’s a fool who learns by his own”.

Don’t be a fool. Learn from the mistakes of others. Learn from those who have already- foolishly- tested the waters. Stay on the path that God has laid out for you, keep Him first, love Him more than precious stones, metal and American green. I speak from experience when I tell you that if He is not first in your life it could cost you A LOT.

I lost A LOT in just 38 days.

BBM Interviews Audrey Ostoyic

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Today’s interviewee is a wonderful lady I met through a Google+ group, Christians In Business. Mrs. Audrey Ostoyic is an upbeat, positive, social media strategist, mother, wife and Christian business owner. Through following Audrey’s posts, blog and YouTube videos, I’ve come to greatly respect and admire her. Due to this respect and admiration I asked to interview her concerning her perspective on personal finance.

I hope you find her answers as inspiring and encouraging as I did.

BBM: Is the Bible one of your financial education sources? Why or why not?

Audrey: The Bible is my ONLY financial education source. I have listened to Dave Ramsey before and he gives amazing tips on the ins and outs of debt and debt collection agencies that are relevant for today and that you don’t find in the Bible, however the Bible is it for me. If you think about it, if you read your Bible and follow it then you don’t need to worry about your credit score, debt or debt collection agencies calling you. I’ve never owned a credit card in my life and never will. My husband on the other hand has 2 but pays them off every month. The only debt my husband and I have together is our home and we are working on getting that debt erased. My motto has always been, “If I don’t have the cash to buy it then I don’t need it and if I need it then God will supply it according to His Word.”

BBM: Do you believe that small businesses contribute positively to the economy? If yes, how so?

Audrey: Absolutely! I believe that Small Businesses, for the most part, really care about, not only their customers, but also their employees. Every Small Business that I have had the pleasure of training in Social Media is more like a family than the larger corporations I’ve worked with. I’ve also noticed that small businesses take care of their employees by paying them more and giving more/better benefits. In this way small businesses are keeping employees longer, they (employees) are more loyal and they become invested in the business as much as the owners.

BBM: How do you manage your finances? (Examples: Financial adviser, spreadsheets, envelope system, checkbook register, a combination of tools, or something else)

Audrey: Well, I’m very blessed (or some might say not very smart) to have my husband take care of the finances. I am not a spender at all and have always thought about each purchase as to whether it is a need or a want. If there is something I do want I simply ask my husband if there is enough money and if he says yes, I go buy it, if he says no then I just don’t get it. 😉

BBM: At what age did you begin to form a “financial freedom mindset”?

Audrey: About two years ago when I turned 39 yrs. old (I guess I just gave my age away lol) Took a long time but it’s not only the “financial freedom mindset” as much as it is the “God’s got this” mindset. No matter what financially may be going on if I abide in Him and He abides in me then there is nothing that can touch my finances.

BBM: Why do you believe financial wisdom is important?

Audrey: I believe Financial Wisdom is so important because it allows us to be in a position for The Lord to use us whenever he needs to. For me every single penny that comes into my home is The Lord’s. When the Holy Spirit speaks to me to give, no matter how much it is I will do it in obedience. My husband and I have gone through some of the worst financial storms since we got married in 2001 and through it all we HAD to rely 100% on the Lord and he never failed us.

Amen Audrey! Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed and I really appreciate your openess and honesty.

I highly encourage BBM readers to follow Audrey Ostoyic on Google+ as well as her blog page, http://www.livinlyfemarketing.com

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Zero Christmas Presents Next Year

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I’m guessing the title of this blog got your attention. How many of you can imagine a #Christmas without exchanging gifts? Does the idea bother you? Yes? Then you’re meant to read on.

Sadly, every year many people see the Christmas holiday approaching and their shoulders tighten. They remember last year’s task of figuring out what to buy everyone, long check out lines, the nervousness of hoping they chose the right gift, and so on and so on. Even before the biggest holiday of the year is actually here they’re already weighed down by unnecessary stress.
It’s really a shame.

I’ve heard on the news many times, “….burgular has stolen Christmas from another family”.

Stolen Christmas?

As a Christian, I have a problem with that phrase. Christmas is not something that can be stolen. It’s the celebration of Christ’s birth. Can you take that from anyone? Of course not. That’s the problem with the zombie-like, “must buy presents” mentality. We’re slaves to materialism!

How about we take the words of Christ to heart? Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need”.

Two things are important here.

First, seek His Kingdom above all else. We need to ask ourselves, “Am I focused on His Kingdom above all else or are presents, people, candy canes, celebrations and lights in the first-place position in my heart?”

Be honest!

Second, notice the verse ends with “…and he will give you everything you need”. Christ didn’t say He’d supply a PS4, a new sports car or a Hawaiian vacation as a result of our dedication to seeking His Kingdom. God is telling us here that our needs are a higher priority to Him than our wants. Obviously, we should mirror His perspective- God first, needs second and then wants….maybe.

Picture a world where this was reality. Instead of long lines at retail stores we’d see those lines at the soup kitchens, waiting to help the needy. People would camp out in front of their Church waiting for Christmas service, not in front of Macey’s eager to get their hands on the latest name-brand purses. Families would not continue sinking deeper into credit card debt. They’d pay cash to buy a homeless family an entire wardrobe instead.

Man, I’d love to see this kind of economic prosperity in our country. Wouldn’t you?

I would love to see a world where Christmas isn’t a source of stress but tranquility, unselfish acts, and the celebration of Christ’s birth.

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The decision to go without buying presents at Christmas can affect your bottom line grately. Think of what you spent this Christmas season on gadgets, gifts, toys, clothes, wrapping paper, ribbons, fuel, time, etc. Now add that number your current bank account balance. Wouldn’t you rather that total be in your account right now in case something major rears its ugly head? Or you could put it towards paying off a credit card, paying on a loan or paying extra on the monthly rent at you apartment. That would be a Frugal Lifestyle decision that helps reduce stress and would eventually lead to financial Freedom.

A No-Presents Christmas also sets an example to the following generation. They’d understnad that God being born as a human baby is the resaon for Christmas. They’d learn to focus on the Ultimate Gift they’ve already been given, not the material gifts they’re expecting.

A no-presents Christmas is also a great way to weed out those “what did you bring me?” people. You know, the ones that are only interested in what they can squeeze out of you? We all have them in our lives. But, telling everyone that there will be zero Christmas presents next year will also expose the cream of the crop. Those who actually care about you will say things like, “Spending time with you is present enough”. Those are the ones you hang onto!

As 2013 comes to a close let’s start imagining a stress free, laid-back, relaxing, Christ-centered Christmas for 2014. After all, we’re celebrating HIS biryhday, right?

Prayerfully consider a “no-presents Christmas”.

What’s Your “#Business Calling”?

I was browsing a Google+ community called “Christians in Business” earlier today. I came across a new post where one member, Carey Green, ask a question directly to another member. Here is Carey’s question and the resulting open, honest reply.

 Q: What’s the mission the LORD has given you as it pertains to business?

 A: I love the question and it’s one that, as Christians in Business, we should all be asking ourselves.  First, all of us have the same mission. We should all be spending as much time spreading God’s word and encouraging others, as we spend promoting our profiles and our businesses.

Am I doing this in my own life?  The honest answer is, No.”  Like many Christians In Business, I am a good person, I don’t steal or commit crimes and I genuinely want everyone to be successful.  Where I struggle is how to use my business and my talents to increase God’s Kingdom.  It is something that I pray about often. I sometimes ask myself, “Is my life, being led by God, or by my own ego?”  I do know that I want to help other Christians in Business to succeed.  My guess is that God also wants more from me.  I am praying and hoping that 2014 will bring more opportunities for me to open the eyes of others who need it. I greatly appreciate being asked this question today… thank you Carey Green 

 Wow! There’s today’s heaping dose of brutal honesty.

 Both the question and its answer are important, especially in today’s world. Christian business owners have a responsibility to spread the Word, period. Too often we consider our business to be separate from the Great Commission, it’s not. Here’s why I say this without apology.

 First, the Great Commission itself says so in Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Did you notice there’s no clause allowing business owners to opt out? We’ve been given a command, not an option, by the Creator wrapped in human flesh- MAKE DISCIPLES, period.

Having a business doesn’t allow you to pass on this command. In fact your business should be seen as a tool for spreading His Word, not a hindrance to doing so.

Think about this: Do you think God would put you in business if that business prevents you from spreading His Word?

How can you spread the Word while going about the busy day of a business owner? Here’s an easy suggestion- play Christian music in your place of business. Your customers will notice, and may ask questions. When they ask you have the opportunity to answer, share your testimony or share something amazing God’s done in your life.

(insert referee with both hands raised straight up here)

Some may threaten to “do business elsewhere if you keep playing that Jesus music”. Of course this is a legitimate concern for any Christian business owner. However, we are supposed to be trusting in Him, not our potential customers and the dollars they bring with them. A creative way to handle this threat is to reply with something like, “Tell ya what. My Jesus music isn’t going to stop, but, I’ll give you 5% off any time you choose to do business with me. And you can feel free to question me about my faith any time you want. Deal?”

If they accept, you will have accomplished two things. First, you’ve kept a customer which is good for business. Second, and more important, you’ve left the door open for discussions about your relationship with Christ. Hello!! What could be better?!

I’m not saying the only mission of business owners is to tell the message of Christ. We all need to make money, pay bills and take care of our families. These are also Christian responsibilities. But, we stray when we fail to remain focused on His mission for us and, instead, think of our own selfish, money-motivated, status-motivated vision.

In the honest answer to the original question, our business owner admitted he struggles with “how to use my business and my talents to increase God’s Kingdom”. What really strikes me as important is that he also said, “It is something I pray about often”.

 

(may we all develope the same habit)

James 5:16

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

1 Thessalonians 5:17- Never stop praying.

These are two of my favorite verses. They remind me that as a Godly business owner my prayers are powerful and will cause Godly, positive things to happen.

Q: Confused about how to use your business?

A: You, business owner, need go remain focused on your relationship with Christ. This will result in a righteous life which yields prayers that cause powerful things to happen in your life and through your business. 

If I were to answer Carey’s question, I’d have to say that my Business Calling is to:

1. Help God’s People Use God’s Money at God’s Direction

&

2. Help business owners Grow and Protect their businesses.

While…

3. Spreading the Word of God.

Many thanks to Carey Green for posting this question. Feel free to check out his podcasts at http://www.podcastfasttrack.com