Let me begin by saying, “Praise God for the Civil Rights Movement.” I, along with every African American in this country, stand on their shoulders, whether we acknowledge it or not. Our lives have been easier and more prosperous because of the sacrifices of many great men and women, both black and white, during that crucial time in history.
However, as I look out over my city today, I see some strange things. Things that cause great pause and concern. I live in a city that was, if not the heart of the civil rights movement, at least the lungs! Rosa Parks was living in my neighborhood when she refused to get out of her seat on the bus. The Montgomery bus boycott was organized and orchestrated from many of the churches in my neighborhood. The marchers, who walked from Selma to Montgomery, spent their last night in my neighborhood before making their final push to the steps of our State’s Capitol.
Yet, when I look at my neighborhood today, I see monuments and no movement! I see Historical Preservation Markers in front of buildings that are so dilapidated you couldn’t walk inside without fear for your safety! I see a wreath on the door of Rosa Parks’ apartment…in the projects with drug dealers on the corner, children who have dropped out of school, and people being killed…like they are no more than animals, just steps away from her front door. I see homes so destroyed along the Historical Route of the Selma To Montgomery March, that you would think you were in a third world country rather than in a community that once thrived with leaders like Martin Luther King. He was a regular contributor and champion of this community. Instead of this community being one of the best communities of the city, it is one of the worst. It has been largely abandoned by those who could truly make a difference.
If this was not enough to make you cry, it seems like the majority of the people who do care about the Civil Rights Movement today, are more concerned with preserving what happened, as opposed to improving upon it.
If MLK had to choose, would he want thousands of dollars spent remembering him or advancing the causes he believed in? Since he risked his life for great causes, surely he would choose to invest in advancing those causes today. He would tell us to invest in the community! He would tell us to value life. He would tell us to invest in the children, and in education. He would tell us to come together around the issues we face and demand continued progress. He would tell us to stop cowering behind the prospect of persecution, or worse death. He would tell us to stand. He would tell us to stand “until justice roles down like water, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.”
I’m all for remembering from where we have come, just not at the expense of refusing to make a better tomorrow.
I’m praying that the Lord would continue to raise up a generation of people who feel the same way. I’m praying that the effects of the Civil Rights Movements won’t just be captured in museums downtown, but on the streets where people fought, so fiercely, to make changes.
I remember (very vividly) the layers of meanings behind the words my wife spoke exactly 30 days ago. Her tone was even keel. Her mannerisms were very mild. She even said the words in passing, rather than in the middle of a deep conversation. Her words were, “We have got to do something.”
Yet beneath the words, I detected some major heart wrenching activity. I detected desperation. I sensed sincere concern. I saw anxiety and doubt that things were actually going to be okay this time. I could feel that the broken record of us meandering through another month financially had played one too many times.
I knew from the moment she finished that sentence that a complete financial overhaul was necessary. I knew we needed to be seriously educated, unwaveringly intentional, and unshakably unified when it came to our finances. Yet, I was lost on how to make those things a reality. We had been trying for almost two years to consistently live by a budget. We are not excessive spenders. We don’t have school loans. We have very little credit card debt. Yet, we often felt like our money was controlling us, instead of us controlling our money.
God, in His great love for us, heard my wife’s internal frustration. He saw my assessment of my wife’s struggle and my cluelessness as to how to improve our situation. In His kindness He allowed me to providentially sit down with a friend who had recently finished a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Course. He said, “You really should check this out.” I knew at that moment that the Lord was throwing me a lifeline. Later that day I went to Dave’s website. I saw a class in my area that was only a few days from starting. I saw the fee for the course was 99.00. I believed in my heart that the 99.00 investment in this course was going to quickly pay for itself with the things the Lord would do in us and through us as a result of this class. Without consulting my wife (hopefully that’s the last solo financial decision I make), I spent the money for the course and signed us up. Quickly, she jumped on board to attend the course. Oddly enough, her prayer was that we would sit down with someone who would intentionally teach us about money and hold us accountable to managing our finances God’s way.
The first night of the course set a fire in our hearts that had never been there before. We did not desire to be rich. We did not desire a shortcut for success.
A fire was lit that we would be good stewards of the resources God has given us!
That was exactly 30 days ago. We have finished the first four lessons in our class. Earlier this evening, we attended the class on debt and we created our second monthly cash flow plan. In just four weeks, it is not an exaggeration to say that we are new people when it comes to how we view, money. If I hear the phrase “90 days same as cash” one more time, I may vomit! Before the class I would have thought that was a bargain. In just four weeks the Lord has allowed us to save and pay off enough debt to pay for this class 7 times!
I’m eternally grateful that the Lord heard my prayer! Dave Ramsey is not the only biblical financial adviser in the world. Nor is every thought perfect. Some things will look differently as they are applied to each family’s situation. However, the overall point is that we need to be taught about how to handle money. Dave Ramsey is an excellent resource. If his principles are applied consistently, your family will reap positive results! I intend to write about all the positive we have seen because of this class. The sun is rising on our financial outlook and we are excited as this new day is just beginning.