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This guest post was written by Terry Delaney. You can read more from Terry at Diary of a Seminary Student and Said at Southern.

If you are like most seminary students, money is tight. In order to be good stewards of what God has given us, we need to find ways to make our budgets stretch. In this day and age of high gas prices and even higher food costs, money disappears fast. This is where Angel Food Ministries comes into the picture.

Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing food relief and contributing to benevolent outreaches in communities throughout the United States. They do this by partnering with church to provide quality groceries at below grocery store prices.

The beauty of the program is that you get about $60 worth of groceries for $30. There are no conditions that need to be met other than you pay for your box of food and/or the special boxes you want to purchase each month. There is no need to show proof of income or even residency. There are no membership fees or long term agreements to sign. All you do is find a church that is a host site for the delivery of the food, pay for your food before the deadline (it varies according to whatever state you live in) and bring an empty box or laundry basket to carry your food home on the day of pickup at the local church in your area.

The food is name brand quality and usually consists of frozen meats and veggies and some box type dinners. You can view a menu, which changes every month, here. Keep in mind that the menu can vary from state to state and location to location. In case you might be little worried about the quality of the food you’ll get:

Our food is “restaurant grade” meats, frozen vegetables, fruits, dairy products, etc. which we acquire through our involvement with only the best producers/vendors of high quality, “name brand” foods. Never “seconds” or “day old” type products are involved.

Again, the cost for one box of food is only $30 and you’ll get about twice as much food than if you were to go to your local store and buy the same items there.

There is also information on how to become a host church if this is a ministry that you would like to share with your community. I know of some churches that purchase boxes of food to bolster their own food pantries and others who choose a family or two each month to help out with groceries.

Currently I am signed up for 2 summer classes. I thought about doing more, but I realized that I would ultimately be cheating myself if I tried to cram an entire semester into the summer. I’ve found that I retain a LOT less information when it is crammed into a 1 week intensive. So, for the sake of my training and education I have elected to only take two classes. On top of that, I decided to NOT take the classes that I knew I needed to devote more attention to than just one week. Cramming the Pauline Epistles into 1 week just seemed, to me, to not be adequate for my proper wrestling with the content…

So, what about you? Summer classes – the good, the bad, the ugly?

{democracy:17}

Slacker Saturday

Ryan Burns —  May 10, 2008

Talk about being a slacker… One measly post this week and it was merely a job ad. Hopefully I can get my act together this week, but I guess only time will tell if I can do that… Until then, since I was a slacker this week, I’ll try to make up for it in one post.

Two Cent Tuesday – Saturday Edition

Saturday is always strange for me because I never know what to expect. On any given Saturday I am as likely to have a project for work, as I am to have school work to do, as I am to have a list of honey-do’s around the house. While I always have something on my plate, I do typically try to spend at least half the day with my wife and kids. I also attempt to get a 30 minute nap in there somewhere. In the end, Saturday is like a half day off for me. Mix that with, typically, a whole day off on Sunday and I am usually ready to go come Monday. So, what’s your Saturday like?

{democracy:16}

Thrifty Thursday – Saturday Savings

Well, tomorrow is Mother’s Day and my mom happens to be in town tonight. So, in true best-mom-in-the-world fashion, she has offered to watch the kids and give Just a Gal and I a date night. As I was looking online to decide where we should go for dinner, I was reminded of a really great date resource: Restaurant.com

Restaurant.com is a great site that offers you some instant savings on dinner. The gist of the site is that you can buy a gift certificate to a restaurant at a very discounted price. Typically you can get a $10 gift certificate for $3 or a $25 gift certificate for $10. Now, you can only use one per visit, but that is a pretty nice little savings on dinner. Also, if you sign up for an account, they typically send out discount codes towards the end of the month and you can get an even greater discount. Major score on those nights.

One final note… when you buy your gift certifiate and print it out, don’t forget to take it with you! Sad to say I’ve done that more than one! Sheesh.

A link for all you would-be-Ph.D’s

Here is a great post by Sean Michale Lucas on Ministrial Students, Calling, and PhD Studies. It is incredibly insightful and is worth reading for all seminarians. Along with the original post, there is a LENGTHY comment section that I suspect will only get longer once you visit the post. Enjoy.

Wow, with the announcement of our Seminary Meme winner I almost forgot it was Thursday…

This item is something I stumbled across several months back (when uninsured) and we thought Just a Gal might be pregnant. While I knew, if that was the case, that God would take care of us, I couldn’t help jumping on Google to try and find out how to afford a pregnancy without insurance.

That is when I found the MaternityCard. The gist of the card is that, while not insurance, you get insurance prices at the doctor. See, crazy as it sounds, insurance companies get to pay less for the same services that out-of-pocket people pay. Therefore, if you don’t have insurance you not only have to pay yourself, but it is more expensive… The maternity card seems to be a good solution. Basically, you still have to pay for everything, but having this card allows you to get discount (insurance) prices on your service (check out the savings potential).

Now, most seminaries require you to have insurance, so this might not be an issue for you (actually, all seminaries require insurance) but, none the less, this is a thrifty site to remember for the future, should you or anyone you know need it.

Note: Chuck, please use the contact form so I can get you your prize.

Congrats go out to Chuck (aka, Chuckles, Chucklebunny, Chork, Chubbs, Charlie Bucket, Bucket, Bucket-Boy) who was the winner of our April Seminary Meme Competition. For answering 6 simple questions, tagging 5 other people, and being the name Just a Gal drew out of my Windies hat, Chuck gets to go on a $100 spending frenzy at Eisenbrauns.

For the inquiring minds in the group… here are Chuck’s answers (oh, and if you wanted to know, he attends Asbury Seminary):

What class do you think has most impacted your spiritual life?

Wow…so far, probably OT720 Biblical Archaeology. Getting to dive into the physical remains of the Old Testament world has been amazing for helping me digest the biblical text.

What seminary professor has been the most influential while in seminary?

Gah…I think this is really a tie between Dr. Richter and Dr. Dongell, though I’m tempted to lean toward Dongell.

What is the greatest challenge you’ve faced in seminary?

Adjusting to being back in school full-time while my wife works full-time to support us. There have definitely been moments of tension there.

What has been the greatest reward you’ve experienced in seminary?

Primarily, being connected with an amazing local congregation in which to worship. This has been a huge time of refreshment and spiritual renewal for me.

What are your plans after seminary?

I’m hoping to go on to PhD studies somewhere (right now looking at Notre Dame) for Early Church studies/Patristics.

How many times have you been asked question #6?

5,636,220,184 times. Exactly.

Again, congrats to Chuck and, of course, MANY thanks to our generous sponsor Eisenbrauns!

The semester is almost over and one of my big summer projects is going to be working on the launch of goingtoseminary.com version 2.0. I have a bunch of ideas I’m wanting to put into place, but before I rush in and commit all this time and energy into it, I wanted to check and see what you all thought. So, sound off… What do you like about the site? What do you dislike? Any ideas for things we should put into 2.0?

Some of the things I’ve been thinking about:

  • Minor design tweek (nothing major, just a little change)
  • Adding an online forum
  • Hiring (yes, as in paying) some other seminarians to help write

Feel free to let me know what you think about those ideas, but more so, feel free to let me know what you think would be a great addition to the site! Vod or Pod casting? Book reviews? More contests? Less Contest? Social networking? … You name it, I’ll consider it. Now is your chance… share your two cents!

{democracy:15}

Ok, we’re seminarians and we love books. I don’t often recommend books here as I’m sure you already have a backlog of books on your “to be purchased” list. However, I came across this amazing resource that is at an amazing price and thought it was worth sharing.

Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament is edited by D.A. Carson and G.K. Beale and is a comprehensive commentary of EVERY old testament reference in the new testament. For every reference there is a detailed explanation of the context from which the verse appears in the Old Testament, as well as its use and implication on the New Testament text. It is a truly amazing resource.

Now, the really sweet deal is that I found it at BUY.com for $31 (List is $54)… but wait, it gets better… if you use google check-out and it is the first time you’ve ever used it then you save another $10! That means you can get this amazing resource for $21. Worth every penny and then some if you ask me.

So, if you’re interested, check it out:

Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old TestamentLeading evangelical scholars provide comprehensive commentary on every quotation, allusion, and echo of the Old Testament that appears in Matthew through Revelation.

So, I have another paper to write this week. Honestly, I hate writing papers. It just doesn’t come naturally to me. I feel like I might overthink them too much or something. Anyway, I spent 7 hours in the library today working on this paper and have, basically, nothing to show for it. I’d say it takes me at least 10 to 15 hours to write an average paper. Is that normal? How long does a typical paper take you?

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{democracy:14}

I did my taxes online last night using TurboTax. Honestly, it wasn’t too bad. In the past I’ve always gone to a CPA since I had my own business, was a minister, and other crazy tax issues… however, this year with the move I decided to just do it myself since I didn’t have a CPA in our new town. The decision worked out quite well. TurboTax had a great interface and guided me step by step… best news of all… REFUND!!! I really didn’t see that one coming.

If you haven’t filed yet, remember you only have 4 more days!!!

So, one thing that all seminarians should know is that you have some GREAT tax breaks available to you. Here is the IRS publication (always fun to read) on how you can get a deduction from your education expenses. Essentially, you can deduct up to $4000 of “Tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible postsecondary educational institution, but not including personal, living, or family expenses, such as room and board.”

Besides that deduction there is also a Lifetime Learning Credit available. Now, I’m not a CPA so I don’t really understand the relationship between the two options you have, however, I know that you can’t take both of them… That is why it is really great to use a CPA or a program like TurboTax. You simply plug in the information and it determines what is best for your situation.

So, if you haven’t done your taxes, get on it! And remember to take advantage of the tax breaks your education provides you.

It might just be me, but while attending seminary I’ve noticed that money is tight. For this reason I’ve decided that I’m going to try and start a new weekly section for goingtoseminary.com called Thrifty Thursday. Every Thursday I’ll try and post links and items that will (in theory) help us save a buck or two.

Today’s Thrifty Thursday item is coupons! I read somewhere that a common trait among millionaires is that they use coupons. Now, most of us seminarians aren’t millionaires but I think we can take a cue here and apply this easy lesson. One resource for tons of coupons is the Entertainment book. Now, while yes, it does cost $15 it is really worth the investment. You literally get hundreds of great deals from restaurants and businesses in your local area. Typically, if you use just 1 or 2 coupons then the book pays for itself.

If you are interested in checking this out, the website even has a place where you can plug in your zip code and find out what type of coupons are available for you. With the price being $15 and FREE SHIPPING, this is a Thrifty deal worth looking into.

Along with the Entertainment book there are numerous online coupon sites. Here are just a few to check out:

*Disclaimer – Yes, if you buy an entertainment book I get a few bucks from them as an affiliate. Not only will you be helping yourself, but helping me too… isn’t that nice!