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New Horizons

June, 2014: Counting the Cost of Education

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The entire issue is available in the following formats: PDF  ePub  and  Mobi 

Counting the Cost of Seminary and Other Education

When OP pastor Cliff Blair sensed a call to the gospel ministry around 1998, he knew it would mean upending a comfortable life. At the age of thirty-one, Blair had a good job as a graphic artist at a Tallahassee newspaper that provided well for his wife and three children. As he considered the cost and effort involved in quitting his job, moving away, paying for seminary, studying full-time, and caring for his family, Blair says he remembers thinking, “I don’t see any possible way to do this.”

He certainly wasn’t the first prospective pastor to have such a thought. The soaring costs of higher education pose substantial challenges for everyone from college kids to seminary students wondering how they will pay for a degree. Inevitably, a daunting question arises for many: “Will I accrue debt, and how much am I willing to borrow?” Read more

The Heavy Burden of Debt

A young man came to me seeking financial advice upon the recommendation of his parents. There had been many similar inquiries over my two decades as a financial planner, typically from young adults wondering how to save up for their first home or curious if they should open an IRA. But this conversation was different: “I love her; we’ve been dating for three years, and I would like to think about marriage,” he explained, “but I know that if we do marry, I’ll inherit her $50,000 of student loans. It doesn’t seem right.” He was struck by the contrast between his parents, who had encouraged him to work and save during high school and college, and her parents, who, despite limited financial means, had encouraged her to attend a private college and cover tuition primarily by borrowing. Sadly, this young couple’s relationship soon ended.

What are we to think about debt? While most Christians would concur that “excessive debt” is unwise, what exactly does that mean? With whom are we to talk about debt—or, even more generally, our personal finances? The topic may seem unworthy of an adult Sunday school class and too personal to discuss with peers. Our parents may have felt uncomfortable broaching the topic or unqualified to offer more than the truisms they heard from their parents. And so, more often than not, we default to a pragmatic view that says, “I’m intelligent enough to figure this out ... and the lender’s guidelines will keep me from getting into too much trouble.” Read more

Debt and the Christian Life

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (Prov. 22:7 NASB).

Debt can crush us. Debt affects us personally, corporately, and spiritually. Debt itself is not sinful, but it may be unwise. Too much debt can be sinful. Read more

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