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Generosity in Unexpected Places

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“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.” (Psalm 139:11–12)

It’s awe-inspiring to witness the transformative power of God in the most unexpected places, like the Okaloosa County Jail in Crestview, Florida. Despite the darkness that often shrouds such environments, stories of God’s profound impact on individuals’ lives shine through. John Reaves, a valued partner, collaborates with the Emerald Coast Life Center (ECLC) and Joy Fellowship Ministries to run a recovery program within the jail.

Their efforts extend beyond rehabilitation to equipping inmates with essential life skills. Recently, inmates participated in Crown’s Do Well program, focusing on biblical principles of financial stewardship. The profound impact of these teachings was evident as hearts began to change. In a remarkable display of generosity, inmates started tithing their commissary funds to support fellow inmates in need. This selfless act exemplifies the transformation occurring within these men.

Let’s celebrate the incredible work happening within these walls, acknowledging God’s presence and guidance. May these men continue to seek Him and live by His teachings, and may the leaders involved be granted strength and encouragement in their ministry.

Meet Ella Mae

Ella Mae Koliyah went through the Restoration Path Facilitator training with the desire to help others, but found she was in just as much need of restoration as those she hoped to serve. Listen to Ella Mae’s beautiful testimony of how Restoration Path helped her own journey of healing. To learn more about Restoration Path, click here.

Stewardship Changes Everything

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Joel and Morgan shared that their most profound takeaway from Crown’s Budget Coaching© program was anchored in the reminder that God was the true owner, and they were mere stewards. With this perspective, they found new freedom and purpose in their financial decisions.

In a world where finances can strain even the strongest of bonds, Joel and Morgan found themselves at a crossroads. The weight of mismanaged budgets, overspending, and misunderstood conversations had cast a shadow on their relationship. As they stood on the threshold of uncertainty, a glimmer of hope arrived in the form of Crown’s Budget Coaching program.

Morgan’s apprehension was palpable. The thought of exposing their financial struggles to a coach triggered feelings of shame and guilt. She was the primary caretaker of their budget, and her sense of responsibility made it hard not to blame herself. “I was nervous that our Crown coach would look at our budget and have terrible feedback for us,” Morgan shared. Yet, the courage to embrace change was stronger than her fear.

Enter Richard, their Crown coach, who would prove to be a beacon of encouragement and understanding. Morgan’s worries dissolved as Richard created a safe space for them to share their challenges openly. His gentle guidance paved the way for the couple to confront their financial reality head-on.

Joel had also grown weary of financial strife. Frustration had become the backdrop of their conversations. Seeking a solution, he enrolled in Crown’s program, hoping for a bridge to understanding. What he found was far more transformative than he could have imagined.

The program normalized open financial discussions, coaxing them out of their corners and into a partnership rooted in shared goals. Richard’s warmth and strategic insights breathed life into their attempts to communicate better. Though their journey was far from complete, Joel felt a renewed sense of unity with Morgan.

During the course, a fundamental truth from scripture echoed: “God owns everything.” For Morgan, this was a revelation that changed her perspective. It was a reminder that their finances were entrusted to them by a gracious God, who walked alongside them through the stress and worry. The weight lifted, replaced by a sense of divine partnership.

Joel’s experience mirrored Morgan’s realization. He found comfort in knowing that they were not alone in this journey. Wise counsel surrounded them, a reminder that God’s presence extended to every aspect of their lives, including their finances.

With newfound understanding and faith, they reshaped their budget. No longer guided by assumptions, they crafted a plan rooted in their actual financial situation. Their focus shifted towards saving and seeking creative avenues for generating income, guided by the principles shared in Crown’s resources.

However, their transformation wasn’t confined to spreadsheets and strategies. Even when faced with overspending, they had learned to adjust and to support each other in the process.

Yet, the most profound lesson was anchored in the reminder that God was the true owner of their resources, and they were mere stewards. With this perspective, they found new purpose in their financial decisions, asking themselves, “How well does my budget represent the owner of the money I’m spending?”

Joel and Morgan’s journey with Crown’s Budget Coaching program had bridged divides and illuminated a path toward a united financial future. Their story is a testament to the power of partnership, the impact of wise counsel, and the transformation that can unfold when God’s stewardship principles are woven into every aspect of people’s lives.

Generosity and Treasure in Heaven

David Wills, President Emeritus at National Christian Foundation, shares his heartfelt insights into his relationship with Crown Founder, Larry Burkett. Larry Burkett embodied an abundance mentality, and in this pivotal moment, David reminds us that it’s the perfect time to be generous and lay up our treasures in heaven. The urgency to spread the gospel has never been more crucial. Don’t miss this inspiring message of wisdom and generosity.

Restoration Path: The Point

In 2021 a beautiful partnership emerged between Crown and leaders of The Point Youth Center in Pennsylvania. A group of single moms, in desperate need of hope and God’s life-changing principles, became the pilot test group for Crown’s new Restoration Path© program.

During the program these moms overcame tremendous obstacles: many secured jobs, reliable transportation, better accommodations, and were even able to escape dependency on government programs.

But most of all, their hearts were transformed as they understood God’s great love for them, who they are in Christ, and how to live a life aligned with God’s purpose for them. Their newfound confidence and sense of God-given purpose provides the hope of a new reality not only for themselves but for generations to come.

Montana Bible College: The Gift of Understanding Your God-given Design

 

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Most people do not understand God’s design for their lives which can lead to many insecurities and questions, especially during pivotal seasons of life. We believe God created each person to fulfill a unique purpose through their work. And we understand the frustration and helplessness of a life spent in the wrong career. That’s why for over 40 years, we’ve made it our mission to help professionals and recent graduates chart a course for work they love. This is also why Montana Bible College decided to use Crown’s Career Direct assessment with their students. Several key leaders shared their experiences with us.

Christa Forsythe, Dean of Women at Montana Bible College reported:

A few years ago, we started to see that some of our MBC graduates indicated in their exit interviews they had no idea what they were going to do next. They really didn’t know how they were uniquely gifted or designed and were leaving without direction. This was concerning. Through those conversations, Dave Hockman connected with Career Direct. Through a partnership with Career Direct and a very generous grant we have been able to offer the Career Direct assessment and counseling to our students. It has been a gift! Just this semester I have had students in my office, who have been struggling with their current jobs. Being able to help them rethink through their Career Direct assessments has helped them understand their frustrations. I have been able to pull out their “money page” [a page from the Detailed Report, covered during the consultation] and help them think through how to interview for a job that would suit their giftedness and be able to communicate that well during their next interview. Recently, I was helping to interview a student for a student Ambassador job and when my boss asked her to describe her strengths. I could see she was stuck and so I leaned over and asked her if she had taken the assessment. She said she had, so I told her to think about her assessment and that “money page.” She immediately began to list off her strengths.

From the group that took the assessments this past spring, we’ve seen quite a few of them change their majors in response to what they learned on their assessment.

It is a gift that our students have this opportunity to see how they are uniquely designed and to pursue careers where they can work in their design. I really think that our students will be better prepared when they graduate because we’ve been able to counsel them with this partnership with Career Direct. I’m so very thankful. 

We also received a note from the Dean of Students in regards to how the Career Direct assessment helped in choosing their Resident Assistant team:

We had the “good” problem of many qualified applicants for our student resident assistant open positions last year. The Career Direct Consultant on our staff offered to review the Career Direct summary survey information [from their assessments] with us in the Deans’ office to see if it could help us in any way. It was such a big help. With the quantifiable data disseminated through the survey results, some of the intangible “hunches” and general sense of the strengths of the candidates became concrete and clear. This led us to very confident choices and a well-rounded team of resident assistants with the maturity, skill set, and personality mix to serve our student population with excellence! We intend to employ this data tool each year moving forward.

Over 300,000 people have completed our personalized Career Direct Assessment. The assessment has been validated and tested as an extremely accurate tool designed for identifying someone’s unique Career Type. Additionally, our team of over 2,000 expert coaches has come alongside hundreds of professionals and students with insightful advice to help them find their perfect job fit.

If you feel you could benefit from the help of a Career Direct Consultant, or are interested in becoming a Consultant to help others, please click here.



From Wounded Victims to Restored Victors

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We believe the Lord has shown us a breakthrough solution by starting with a person’s heart before helping with their finances. This means we help people discover

  1. Their God given identity
  2. Their purpose in life
  3. How their history shapes their future.
  4. How to inventory what they have and
  5. How to manage all that He has given them.

We call this process:  Restoration Path. The name is taken from the 23 Psalm verse 2-3:  “He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” 

Latest News from the Field

Recently, Crown team members traveled to Pennsylvania to lead a Restoration Path training. We were able to equip volunteers, pastors, and non-profit leaders in Chester County, PA to use Restoration Path with their clients and congregations. This training, which was held at one of our partner testing sites, The Point Community Center, was unique because many of the participants had once been discipled by the center as teens. As they learned how they could teach others, they were surprised to process through their own difficult circumstances. Instead of walking away as wounded victims, these men and women began to see that they could be restored victors!

I honestly thought that entering into this program would be more about math and finances and how to become a better saver and preparer. What I’ve come to realize is that I needed this program to accept who I am and who God has made me to be. This program has given me the courage to continue confronting my past – through the lens of Jesus always being there and developing me. I never knew my purpose [and passion] was developed through my pain. – Trainee Testimony

How Great Is the Need?

11.6% of Americans are living in poverty. There are even some counties in the United States where 72% of children are impoverished. Restoration Path is a process that restores hope, shows a way forward and gives purpose to setting and pursuing financial goals that lead to freedom. This program is uniquely crafted to speak into the pain that comes from living in uncertainty and trauma. It helps people discover that no matter how materially poor or defeated they are at the time, God loves them and His principles can lead them to flourishing. 

Words from a Student

On my first day of Restoration Path, I was a little unsure. I was very depressed. Honestly, I didn’t want to hear anything about God or the Lord. I wanted to end my life. I was just struggling. As I went through the program I learned that I am very strong. I am independent. I am smart. I can be bossy! I know what my purpose in life is now.  I committed to a church. I got baptized. I applied to school, and I got accepted.

God has made a way for our ministry to have a unique and transformative impact in the lives of the poor, forgotten, and hurting and we are excited to follow His call!

 

 

 

Benson, C. (2022, December 8). New 2017-2021 American Community Survey Data Show Child Poverty Declined but Remained Higher Than Overall Rate. Census.gov. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2022/12/poverty-rates-by-age-county-region.html

Finding True Financial Freedom

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Jim and Brenda Martin were a couple who had always dreamed of financial freedom but found themselves entangled in a web of credit card debts, overspending, and missed opportunities. One day, they decided that enough was enough – it was time to take control of their finances and embark on a journey towards a more secure future.

Their journey began with a decision that would prove to be both challenging and rewarding: enrolling in Crown’s Budget Coaching program. As they stepped into this program, they had no idea just how transformative it would be for their lives.

Jim reflected on the course. “This has been a challenging, convicting, and rewarding course,” he admitted. The program forced them to critically examine their spending habits, the importance of saving, the power of giving, and the potential of investing wisely. What ignited their hope, however, was the realization that they could claw their way out of their debt-laden existence and stay debt-free.

Brenda’s perspective was just as enlightening. “This course has been very enlightening and convicting,” she expressed. She wrestled with regrets for not taking such steps years ago. Nevertheless, she found encouragement in the course’s emphasis on starting from where they were and moving forward with newfound wisdom.

The couple’s beliefs were being challenged by their behaviors – a stark contrast they could no longer ignore. The blind spots in their financial habits were no longer concealed; the course had spotlighted them with undeniable clarity. Priscilla Douglas, their Budget Coach and guide through this transformative process, played a pivotal role with her patience, compassion, and unwavering commitment to their financial well-being.

Jim recognized the need for discipline and diligence as they navigated the intricacies of their cash flow. The allure of “try it free for a month” offers, which had quietly drained their finances, was now seen for what it was: a costly temptation that had to be firmly resisted.

Brenda realized that while trusting in God’s providence was essential, it did not absolve her from the responsibility of being a careful steward of the resources they’d been entrusted with.

Trusting God to do what He can do, and taking practical steps to faithfully do their part, creating a budget became a cornerstone of their journey. The budget forced them to make tough decisions, cutting back on unnecessary spending to align their lives with their financial goals. One of the most significant turning points was the decision to have their sizeable credit card debts taken over by CCC – a decision that facilitated their path to financial redemption.

As their journey progressed, Jim and Brenda faced numerous challenges. They had to communicate, cooperate, and compromise to ensure their finances were under control. This collaborative effort, while not without its difficulties, became the bedrock of their transformation.

Through ups and downs, moments of clarity and bouts of uncertainty, Jim and Brenda Martin weathered the storm. Their commitment to change, their dedication to following the lessons of the course, and their willingness to face their financial past with honesty and intentionality propelled them forward. Over time, they saw their debts shrink, their savings grow, and their perspective on money transform.

Their story serves as a reminder that financial freedom isn’t just about numbers; it’s about the transformation of beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes. With each step they took, Jim and Brenda Martin moved closer to the life they had dreamed of – a life defined by financial wisdom, responsibility, and the promise of a debt-free future.



“Exactly what we asked God for, was what Crown offered”

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Loverne and Robert are among the many economically vulnerable people who have been impacted by life changing, biblical financial principles. They immigrated to the United States and found themselves in a deep financial pit. But with the help of a Crown Budget Coach, Robert and Loverne deepened their faith and God has set them free from the burden of overwhelming debt and financial stress! 

As immigrants we were new to this debit focused financial culture and fell prey to using our credit card for payments until we weren’t able to keep up with clearing the cards monthly with our paycheck. We thought the card would help build our credit score and give rewards cash, but quickly got out of control. After Christmas purchases, untimely medical bills and an unfortunate timeshare purchase, we were overwhelmed with our financial state and began to seek debt consolidation but were rejected because we were still paying on the debts ‘too often’ . 

We cried out to the Lord for a solution since this was the first time in our marriage, we had such debt and knew that God had something better in store for us. The Holy Spirit reminded me of the Crown Money Map that I got when we just migrated, and I went in hot pursuit of that site. We searched through the site and saw so many tools but were convinced that we needed to have personal guidance to mentor us into this unknown system and were elated to discover that exactly what we asked God for was what Crown offered. We knew God was taking us into a new season and was prepared for change. The new biblical perspective about our mindset on money, transformed our approach to facing our challenges.

A small, colorful piece of paper (the Crown Money Map) was the start of Robert and Loverne’s journey to freedom in their finances. That map was created more than 15 years ago, and has since been updated, digitized, and continuously shared around the world. 

The creation of biblically based tools that are easy to use has been at the heart of Crown’s mission for decades. And just as important as creating those materials is getting them where they need to be. Millions of people around the world have started on a journey like Loverne and Robert’s because one of our trained partners or volunteers ministered to them. An act of kindness to a new migrant, a Crown Money Map and a Certified Budget Coach, was all God needed to spark change in this couple’s life. 

Our mentor was a Godsend, he brought a level head and new insight that helped us in the debt elimination. Today, our credit cards are paid off and we are on our way to eliminating all our debt. The topic of God’s economy and man’s economy had a significant impact on us. Everything in God’s economy gives. Whatever God created on the earth provides us with sustenance and enjoyment, in contrast to man’s economy of hoarding and taking without regard for others and is entirely about self-gratification. Contentment and peace were another area that helped us grow. The Lord is our ultimate provider,and no matter where we are in our journey, we should be content while simultaneously thanking the Lord and resting in His promise…So much freedom and mental relief came from seeing the debt reduced even though our income didn’t change, our hearts and minds did and started giving priority to closing those debts one by one.

Crown is helping individuals in a uniquely personal and transformative way. While organizations that provide free food, clothing, and more to people experiencing financial hardship are needed and helpful, this testimony points to something greater that is necessary. Learning to steward what we already have! Our certified budget coaches are on the front lines, serving as the guides God is using to provide the one-on-one counsel so many people are looking for. If you are interested in serving as a volunteer Budget Coach so more people like Robert and Loverne can experience a life of true freedom and purpose, Crown can help. Our online Budget Coaching program matches you with one of our certified coaches to thoroughly analyze your financial status. Your coach will work with you to develop a customized spending plan and debt elimination strategy to put you on the road to financial freedom! It all can be done securely and from the convenience of your home. Learn more and connect with a Budget Coach by clicking here. 



The Priceless Economic Impact of Bible Believing Churches

Dear Chuck,

I work very long days and provide nice things for my wife and children. However, I’ve grown increasingly aware that I am missing out on valuable time with them. Can you help me find balance?

Torn Between Work and Home

Dear Torn Between Work and Home,

Having struggled with this early in our marriage, I can certainly relate to your struggle. The tension between providing materially and relationally can easily get out of balance. For most, money tends to be the top priority because it seems inflexible in order to meet monthly payments and flexible because one can make up for lost time with family later. So your question of balance is a very good one.

Don’t Let Money Master You

If you prioritize money over time, you may be undermining your happiness. An article by Elizabeth Dunn and Chris Courtney at the Harvard Business Review tells why. They reference several studies
supporting this theory. Researchers found that students who prioritized money were less happy a year after college graduation than those who prioritized time, even after controlling for happiness beforehand and accounting for various socioeconomic backgrounds.

Evidence shows that wealthier people are happier than the poor, but excessive amounts of money do not inevitably make one happier. On the other hand, low deposits in bank accounts impact people
negatively. Those who can build a cash reserve, even while eliminating debt, relieve stress. Those who can access $500 of cash show a 15% higher life satisfaction. So these authors propose two
questions to consider prior to spending:

Ultimate happiness is found not in spending money on things but in experience, time, and investing in others. In addition, research proves that giving can boost your mood. Jesus warned us that we cannot
serve both God and money. When we serve Him as our top priority, He will lead us to care for our families while also providing for our needs to do so.

All the Time in the World

I’ve traveled the world and been invited into many different cultures. One thing I’ve witnessed is that people in other cultures tend to do a better job spending unscheduled or unhurried time with one another. Africans have a saying that “they may not own a watch, but they have all the time in the world.” They are not driven by clocks or schedules or impacted by things that people emphasize in our culture.

Perhaps you know the lyrics to Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin.

Busyness does not mean effectiveness. Movement does not mean eternal impact. Unless we control the minutes in our days, they will control us. External pressures will drive us; escapism will lure us. Proverbs 90:12 is appropriate for combatting warfare over the minutes of our days: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Time Impacts Finances

Employees who use their time wisely, on and off the job, are more productive and better employees. They are the ones who often receive raises, promotions, or new opportunities. This translates into more money.

If you grew up in a home where hard work was modeled for you or if you are passionate about your job, it is even more challenging to learn to relax. Balance is important so that time with family, church, neighbors, and community is not neglected. Learn to detach from work (as much as possible) when you are home. Develop healthy habits. Laugh and play with your children; invest your time into their lives. Ask your wife to hold you accountable. Is there an older man (father, uncle, pastor, mentor) who will honestly speak wisdom into your life?