YNAB (You Need a Budget)

I do not like to advertise — I do not like to tell people that they should try something unless I REALLY believe in it.  There are some things that I am very open about — for example my faith.  I love telling people about my faith, about how it has made a positive impact in my life.  I don’t mind telling people about Shaklee — the nutritional company that I have been a part of my whole life!  I know that I would be in a different place; health wise – if it was not for Shaklee.


There is something new that I have been a part of recently that I want to share.  I have included a link in my sidebar that you can click on to find out more information.  The program is called You Need a Budget.  It is a budgeting software program for Windows (the Mac version is coming – but there is an excel document for Mac users).  But it is more than just a program……there is a Methodology behind the whole system.  It has changed the way that I view money and budgeting and I know it has worked for many, many people.

The mythology is quite simple – there are “four rules” that you keep in mind when thinking about your money.  If you abide by these four rules then you will be doing well when it comes to finances.  Some of you reading this might already be doing this, but for those of us who have not been doing this it is a real eye opener.

Rule number One: Live on last months income – this is the hardest one to start with but the most important.  If you live on last month’s income then you do not have to worry about what your current month’s income will be!  For those of us who live on a variable income you never know what to budget for because you do not know what your current month’s income will be!  That is a hard way to live.  But if you live off of your lasts month’s income then you know exactly what you have to spend.  The challenging part is to get to a place where you can live like that — this is called the Buffer — and you have to save your buffer until you have that money in the bank.  There is no more timing bills – there is no more worries about having enough money in the bank, because the money is there!!  We are currently saving for our buffer and I will share in later blog posts things we are doing to get to the full buffer point.

Rule number two: Give every dollar a job — For those of you who already live on a budget you might do this — but the difference is that we now only budget the money we have in the bank.  We give those dollars a job.  In the past we have budgeted for the whole month – not knowing what is going to come up and how that is going to change.  When things did change our budget and spirits were out of whack — but now we are taking things one day at a time…..one week at a time. Sure there are things that still come up but we have a better handle on those things and it is easier to adjust when you know what your plan is.

Rule number three: Prepare for a Rainy Day –  On top of the buffer, one needs to think about the future.  With the YNAB program this is easy.  If you know that you can get a discount on your car insurance if you pay the full 6 months at once — you can stick that into your budget and YNAB will calculate that for you!  Recently we had the engine go on our car.  In YNAB we have a car replacement category and a car repair category.  If we had more than $40.00 in either category we would be okay but we are just starting…..so we were not prepared for a rainy day — but soon hope to be!

Rule number Four: Roll with the punches —  Recently we have had some problems that can only be cured by money.  Our car died, my cell phone died and the holiday’s are coming up.  Some stuff we can expect and others we can’t.  Things are not perfect — they may never be perfect– that’s why this rule is so important.  It is easy to give up and just go into things blindly.  But that will help no one and that will make things worse.

That’s YNAB in a nutshell.  I know it has helped us out and I know it will help you out.  Feel free to leave comments if you have questions.  I have to admit I am a newbie at this program but I feel like I have a good handle on the rules and what to do and how to get started.  I make frequent use of the forum for help with questions that I have.  I know that Jesse is always working on improving the program and I am excited to see how things progress.

So please click here and give it a try– you can try it for 60 days for free!!!

2 Corinthians

A few weeks ago I was at the Upstate New York Synod “Welcoming Event” at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center. It was a time for all the pastors new to the synod to get together and meet the synod staff and the Bishop and one another.  It was a time for us to hear the expectations that the synod has for us and for us to ask the synod staff questions.

Book of 2 Corinthians

Throughout the event there was a basket where we could write scripture passages that we talked about during our time together.  Or we could write scripture passages that were meaningful to us while we were there.

During the final worship time we passed the basket around and we read the scripture passage that we picked out.

I have been reflecting on mine since I recieved it and here are some of my thoughts…..


2 Corinthians 4:5 “For we do not proclaim ourselves, we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake”

I have been asking myself why I got this verse.  What is this verse saying to me?  I think the last few weeks I have been praying alot about my pastoral identity.  Coming into the church with my first call has been the biggest transition in my life — I think bigger than getting married or having children! When I was married or had kids I took on a new identity but that was tangible and there were set expectations that everyone new.  There was something there that I could show people my new identity.  But now it seems less tangible and less defined.  Everyone has their own idea of what it means to be a pastor.  I have had several mentor’s in my life guiding me along the way, helping me create my own pastoral identity and I have been thankful for that.  However, it is a different ball game when I am out here on my own.  There were many things that have happened here that did not happen when I was in other churches, and we did not talk about these things while I was in seminary.  So the new experiences as a pastor, the new identity and getting to know the new community has been a big transition for myself as well as my family.

The one thing that has helped recently is reading 2 Corinthians 4: 5 on a daily basis.  I remember that I am not the one to be proclaimed but it is Jesus that is being proclaimed.  While I struggle with what I need in this transition the one thing that I can fall back on is Jesus. It is Jesus who is the head of this ship not me.  I can do all I can in ministry but when it comes down too it, I am going to mess it up– but Jesus’ got my back and as long as I keep grounded in that, I know that I will be okay.  I am not here to be anyone’s savior — but I am to point to the one who has already saved us all.

I am thankful for this verse in my life and the experience that I had at LCLC.

I recently came across a video from Beyond Relevance.

It is an eye opening video on some levels.  It really shows the church in a different light.  It basically takes all the things that people view the church as and puts it in a different context.  At the same time I think it is hard to compare Starbucks and the church.  They are not one in the same, and they operate completely different from one another.  If we want our churches to have a consumer mindset then perhaps we can start putting in the principles of a Starbucks or a Wal-Mart. But the church is more about relationships and building up the body of Christ.  People do not come to the church in order and put money in the offering basket to “pay” for their faith, or what they received from the message (one would hope) but people are responding and giving back to God in thanks for all that God has done for them in their lives.

It is a hard thing to grasp because we are trained since birth that we are to get what we pay for.  It is hard to turn our mind around and instead of thinking in a consumer mentality — we start to think with a Christ mentality.

Regardless I really enjoyed this video- I learned from it and I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch it as well.

What is Ministry

I have been thinking about this question since I started my call in July….what is ministry?

Businessman thinking and questioning

When I was in youth ministry before and during seminary, ministry for me was connecting with the youth of the church. It was sending out permission slips and making phone calls. It was getting in the lives of the youth of the church making sure they felt weclome and that they were being treated fairly in the church.

During seminary (at least the educational part) ministry was filling my head with knowledge. I read hundreds of books about the Old and New Testament, Pastoral Care, preaching, basic and not so basic theology, and anything else they could throw at us. Ministry was learning.

I had my internship during seminary and that was a learning experience. Besides learning about the church, the context of ministry, I learned how to apply some of the stuff I read in books to actual ministry situtations. I also learned how to change my name to a title of “Vicar”

The main purpose of ministry for me was relating with people. It was getting out there and getting to know people and hear their stories. As I settle into my first call, my idea of ministry changes — I still believe relationships are key to good ministry. In order to know the context of ministry that you are in, you have to know the people in which you serve. That is fundmental in my opinion…..

But I have expanded that, there are so many behind the scene type things that need to get done, I have been amazed at the type of things that I have needed to do the last three months. There have been things that I have had to deal with that I never learned in seminary or on internship. If it was not for my mentor and colleagues I would not of made it. I have learned that ministry is relating to colleagues because I would never last as a pastor who is out there trying to do things on my own without support.

Ministry is evolving and never really constant, when you think you know what ministry is – it changes into something else. Ministry is thinking a month a head of time, while at the same time reflecting and learning from the recent past.

Even though I have not figured out what ministry is — perhaps I never will, I do know that I love ministry. I love the basic parts of ministry and I love being able to experiment in ministry in the church – to help people find God moments in their life.