Fellowship Number 15, Winter 2008
Cross alk Forgive us our debts! Inside this issue: Forgive us our debts!
Changed ‘On The Inside’
Money for Nothing?
Getting to grips with Debt
Website now in Irish language
Create your own dual language website
The Reason for God
‘Open House’ Bible Study
• UK has 1/3rd of Western
Europe’s unsecured debt.
• Total UK personal debt at end of Sept 2008 was £1,457bn
• Average household debt in UK:
£9,740 (ex. mortgages) £59,715 (inc. mortgages) • Average household interest paid on total debt is approx. £3,950 each year. • Over 1/5th of UK households struggle to keep up with bills • 121 properties are repossessed each day • Citizens Advice faced 1.25 million new debt cases last year (statistics from various sources)
A financially secure person may complain: “Is there nothing else on the news? All we hear about is debt, credit crunch, negative equity, stock market crashes, and so on.” True, some people may feel that there is more to life than the barrage of media attention and endless statistics about the UK or global financial situation. But if they were not so financially secure, they would have a different point of view. If they had missed a few mortgage or rent payments and were facing repossession or eviction, or if they just couldn’t pay the shopping bills each week, or were facing a Christmas without the money to buy presents, they would be more sympathetic to the difficult situation many are in. How did we get here? Dorothy Rowe commented; “I was born during the Depression and my mother was extremely careful with money - you simply couldn't get credit back then. It wasn't until the 1970s that the Government relaxed the credit laws.” Our desire for more, fed by unscrupulous credit providers, has gradually got us addicted to spending. As Alice Douglas wrote; “We were happy with a £60 TV. Now we spend £1,500.” The result is that we are ever deeper in debt. We have to keep buying to keep the economy afloat. Yet more recently, other factors such as rising fuel and food prices, inflation, student fees, etc, also push us towards credit and debt. What can we do about it? We can’t expect to wave a magic wand to make our debt vanish. It’s often a hard road to get back into the black. Thankfully, there is lots of help to get there. But it also needs changes to our spending habits and
outlook. (See the inside article ‘Getting to grips with debt’ for some practical advice.) Our biggest debt is unseen If we sort out our financial situation, we may think that all our debts are resolved. But there is another unseen account where we have run up massive debts. Jesus taught us to pray in the ‘Lord’s Prayer’; “Forgive us our debts” (trespasses or sins).1 He meant that we owe God a life of love and obedience, in response to his kindness and grace. Where we have not delivered, we owe God. Our love of the things that money can buy is only one of the ways that shows we don’t love God as we ought to. God’s debtdebt-cancellation service A day is coming when we will have to settle our account with God.2 But he doesn’t want to punish us for our sins. He loves us more than we can imagine, and wants to bail us out. Motivated by love, Jesus paid the price of our debt on the cross. It was a debt he did not owe, and a debt we could not pay. Ask for God’s forgiveness, and he will not only clear your debt, but put your name on Jesus’ account, so you will never be in debt again. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”3 1) Matt. 6:9-13 2) Acts 17:31 3) 2 Corinthians 5:21
Changed ‘On The Inside’
“He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed” Jesus (Luke 4v18)
One moment I was me, an angry confused young man lying in a prison cell and not for the first time. I have a companion and there is something about him. His face is shining and he talks about God as if he knows him personally. I thought he was a bit of a nut to be honest. There was a peace about him though that could not be denied. I envied him.
Crumlin Road Jail, 2007
The screw turned the lights out and as I lay on my bed I could hear him praying. When he had finished we spoke for a while. I questioned him about his faith and he told the
reason for his hope. I couldn't sleep and half remember saying a prayer asking for a share of whatever it was he had. In the twinkling of an eye I was flooded with a peace that surpassed all understanding. I knew right then that Christ had risen and that he was alive. I was no brain surgeon but I knew that I had been equipped with something more than mere knowledge. My life had changed, I knew that and it would never be the same again. It hasn't been easy these many years, I'm only human. One thing I know is that He is with me where ever I go. In my lowest moments He is with me. When I am happy He is there and I thank Him. When I get angry about some injustice or watch the arrogance of the evil I am content that no one shall escape His justice and we must all give an account of ourselves to Him The King of Kings. He has made me strong, “In all the broken places”. Call out to Him today I challenge you. He will give you peace. He will give you strength. Amen.
Money for Nothing?
“The best things in life are free. But you can keep them for the birds and bees, now give me money… That’s what I want!” Radford/Cordy
On June 6,, as part of a survey, over 1800 passers-by in London and Manchester were offered free genuine £5 notes, just for the asking. Only 1% of people took up the offer.
through forgiveness for all our sins, a fresh start with God in our heart, and a place in heaven with Him. And all of this is for free!
While moneysupermarket.com concluded that people did not make “sensible financial decisions”, it may be more to do with the fact that, despite their love of bargains, people have reservations about getting things for free.
The reason is that God loves us so much, even while we are still sinners. He can forgive us because Jesus paid the price for our debt of sin, by suffering on the cross.
Why is this? Is it that we generally get what we pay for–if things are free, they may be poor quality? Or is there an unseen catch–such as doing a timeconsuming survey? Or are they rejects–in this case forged notes? Or is it that we just don’t want what is on offer–but can this be said about money? Or do we simply just question the motives of the person giving something away for free?
Why does God do this? How can he do it? And are there any catches?
And yes, there are some catches. We must want to be free from the control and consequences of sin. We must want to be with God and be holy like him. And we must accept his offer as a gift, not because of who we are or what we have done, no matter whether it has been good or bad. Will we just walk on past God’s free offer?
If everyone had taken up the offer, it would cost moneysupermarket.com a lot to give away free fivers. Could they afford it? Why did they do it? Yet, God is offering us something different for free, which is far more valuable than a fiver. He is offering us a restored relationship with him
Street survey with a difference by www.moneysupermarket.com
Getting to grips with Debt People get into debt for different reasons. have debts written off. When they’re all Sometimes situations are outside our agreed, then contact lower-priority creditors. control, such as rising costs, redundancy, • If this is too much for you to handle on bereavement, or large unplanned expenses. your own, seek help from the CCCS or CAB But sometimes we just spend, spend, spend, website or office etc. (see below), or other as our desire for ‘more’ is fed by easy credit. agencies that will help manage your debt. • An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) Probably the hardest thing is to gather up or bankruptcy is an option if all else fails. the courage and face up to the debt problem, all of it. Don’t let embarrassment or the Ways to help avoid debt size of the debt put you off. The worst thing • Use cash—Plastic doesn’t give the same to do is to ignore it, as small debts grow sense of value as cash out of the pocket. much larger with fines and admin fees. • Cut up credit cards, don’t take up new ones. “Debt is the slavery of the free” P. Cyrus
Yet there is lots of help to deal with debt and get back on track. Sometimes drastic action cannot be avoided, but in many cases it can by getting to grips with debt as early as possible. Below are some helpful steps and sources of help.
Are there signs of a debt problem? • Are you using credit to live on or pay off other credit bills? • Have you missed priority bill payments? • Are you unable to save for the future or for unexpected expenses? • Do you have CCJs against you? • Do you ignore or leave bills unopened?
Seek help • Managed debt is generally what creditors want to see. Unmanaged debt is problem debt. • If you have a spouse or partner, try to share the debt problem with them. If you need to, ask a sympathetic friend or relative to help you, in confidence. Or seek other help (see help below).
• Think wages—How many hours work will it cost to pay for an item? • Talk about it—Discuss finances with spouse/partner and family. • Avoid late payment fees—pay bills on time. • Switch to lower cost services—change car insurer, use Freeview or Freesat, etc. • Sleep on it—Wait 24 hours. Impulse buying is often not affordable. • Plan for the unexpected—open a savings account for unplanned expenses. • Plan for the expected too—holiday, wedding • Use a budget—Stick to agreed amounts for food, entertainment, holiday etc. • Keep all the paperwork—debts can get out of control when we don’t know what we owe.
Getting Help Visit a local Citizens Advice Bureau office, or see the self-help booklet ‘Dealing with Debt’ online at: www.citizensadvice.co.uk
Consumer Credit Counselling Service is a registered charity offering free, confidential advice & support to anyone worried about debt. Ring 0800 138 1111 to speak to a Get out the calculator Debt Counsellor. Or use their online ‘Debt • Calculate the size of the debt. Add up all Remedy’ service at: www.cccs.co.uk the total balances. • Prepare a list of income v outgoings to see how things stand. Use a financial calculator or statement to help list all the items.
Prioritise creditors • Separate out priority debts from the lower-priority ones. • Priority debts include: rent/mortgage, secured loan, gas/electricity, tax or child support arrears, etc. • Lower-priority debts can include: store cards, credit cards, cable/satellite, etc.
Move from RED to BLACK
• If you can manage it on your own, budget weekly or monthly how you will pay off For more info. on helping others with debt, or debts in the long term, but keep to it. for Christian resources, visit Stewardship’s • Contact priority creditors first to agree campaign at www.red2black.org.uk affordable payment terms, or possibly www.cgcf.net
Website now in Irish language We are pleased to have our website now available in Irish as well as English. To view the same content in either language, click the language selection option. The same webpage will then appear in your choice of either Irish or English. Visit it at www.cgcf.net
Create your own dual language website free The software that we use to create our dual-language website is available freely for others to use to create dual or multi-lingual websites. The free ‘content management system’ (CMS) software is called Joomla! Use the new Irish language extension to a Joomla! v1.0 website, with the multi-lingual component, and just start writing and translating. For details of all that is required to get a multilingual website working, visit our website at: http://cgcf.net/content/view/31/54/ For more information or queries, contact J.D. (details below).
The Reason for God Sometimes a book comes along that is really interesting and popular. This one is a well thought out read for the serious doubter about Christianity. What makes Timothy Keller’s approach attractive is his logic and his respect for other’s views. “I urge sceptics to wrestle with the unexamined ‘blind faith’ on which scepticism is based. I also urge believers to wrestle with their personal and culture’s objections to the faith. At the end of each process, even if you remain the sceptic or believer you have been, you will hold your own position with greater clarity and greater humility.” He considers issues such as: There can’t be just one true religion! How could a good God allow suffering? Christianity is a straight-jacket! The Church is responsible for so much injustice! How can a loving God send people to Hell? Science has disproved Christianity! You can’t take the Bible literally! It can be purchased online at: www.thegoodbook.co.uk/The-Reason-for-God-trfg_1036/
Sunday services Join us for Sunday worship services: 11am—12.15pm. Everyone welcome. Ring for details including location. See the calendar at the website for more information.
‘Open House’ - Bible Study We meet on Monday evenings for Bible study with supper. Join us as we look into the Bible to see what we can learn from it, and how it is relevant to our lives today.
Join us for Bible study on Monday evenings. Everyone is welcome.
Everyone is welcome - just turn up, or ring for more details. Every Monday 7.30-9.30 pm (except July). We meet at 42A Cloona Park - Just off the Stewartstown Road roundabout.
John and Elaine Duffy Phone: (028) 90600323 42A Cloona Park, Upper Dunmurry Lane, Belfast, BT17 0HH email@example.com www.cgcf.net
Photo credits: P1 cards by ‘The truth about mortgage’; Cross by ‘FreeFoto.com’ ; Crumlin Road Jail by ‘Aidan McMichael’; P3 cards by ‘Wajakemek’