Three quick rules for investing

investing 3Jesus told a parable Matthew 25 that beautifully illustrates the need for investing. He said that a master gave five talents to one guy and two talents to another and one to a third. And the third guy went and buried the talent and got nothing. But the guy with 5 talents, Scripture says, The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work,” and when he invested wisely, Scripture says, “he gained five more.”

He doubled his money; he invested it, he put it to work. There’s two ways to make money; you can work for money or you can have your money working and making money.

The good news is money works 365 days a year.  Money works when you sleep.

If you would like to be a great investor let me pass on to you three quick investing rules that I have followed (though not as faithfully as I should) and am reaping the benefits from. These are all, believe it or not, from the Bible. Who knew the Bible actually teaches even about investing!

1. Don’t invest in things you don’t understand. Did you hear that? Don’t invest in things you don’t understand!

Proverbs 24:3-4 “By wisdom is a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”  With wisdom and understanding and knowledge; do not invest in things that you do not understand.

Now some of you might be a first time investor. And I want to say, there are some great people that give great advice that are selling different types of investment. So, I don’t want to belittle those in that profession at all; but you need to know that there are a lot of people that are not great and not wise who are selling investments.  They’ve leased a Lexus so they could look successful. They’re selling you something that they don’t even buy themselves. And you need to be very, very careful that you get good advice.

I suggest you learn from somebody who is a great investor. Find someone who is a mentor. That’s what I’ve done. I’ve had different people through the years who mentor me; they’re not selling me, they’re just good at it and they give me advice.

Back in the early 90’s I wanted to kick up our retirement investing so I went to a friend and elder named Ken Kessler. Ken was the treasurer of PMI an international company that owned Hobart manufacturing, Kitchen Aid, Tupperware, Wilson Art and some other companies. He knew money and investing. He advised me to invest in Vanguard Mutual funds. He said they pay good returns and they are long term reliable. I am still with investing 2Vanguard.

Now, someone else at that time, who was not a wise investor could have said, “No, no, no you need to invest in stock. In fact you need to invest in Lucent. It is the hottest thing going.” Many of you might have heard of it. You may have invested in it. I knew nothing about Lucent. It was what everyone was investing in and it was skyrocketing. If I had jumped on the bandwagon with so many others and invested $1000, that very same thousand dollars would be worth about $13.00 today! Had I bought a thousand dollars’ worth of Mountain Dew and drank it all, I would have had a caffeine buzz second to none and still would be high on caffeine today! And if I had saved the cans I would actually have more money in recyclable cans than I would have had in Lucent stock if I had bought that stock that day! Do not invest in something that you don’t understand even if everyone else is doing it!

I’ve got friends who would give a testimony of why investing in something you don’t understand is very, very stupid! I could and I will in a minute. Sometimes the best investment that you make is the one that you don’t make if you don’t understand.

Second rule of investing is:  2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Grandma will teach you that and so will the Bible. Scripture says in Ecclesiastes 11:2: Give portions to seven, or yes to eight…” In other words spread it around: …for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.”

Don’t put all of your money into one thing because if that one thing falls apart and there’s disaster there then you are in a lot of trouble.

Dave Ramsey says that investing is a lot like manure, if you put it all in one place it starts to stink; but if you spread it out it makes things grow. It is better to spread it out.

When retirement comes for my wife and me, count the baskets, we have Sharon’s Social Security and mine, (for life, I think) a guaranteed for life Annuity, one in her name and one in mine, a guaranteed for life church pension fund, an IRA in my name and one in Sharon, a money market account plus savings and whatever income I will generate. Count them, ten baskets.

Don’t invest in things you don’t understand and don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Now, the third lesson I believe is probably the most important one and the one that is really a heart check that we all need to be aware of, and that is:

3. Don’t try to get rich quick.

1 Timothy 6:9 tells us about those who really want to get rich quick, People who want to get rich can fall into temptation and a trap…” Have any of you ever been trapped by an investment that you thought was a sure thing that you didn’t really understand? They’ll fall into temptation and a trap and:…into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”

Sometimes the best way to double your money is to take your money, fold it over and put it in your pocket and walk away and not try to get rich quick.

I’ll tell you from my own personal life. About 20 years ago a friend came to me and told me about this new internet security company that was starting up called Guardian. I didn’t know anything about internet security but it sounded really good and sensible. It is supposed to go Initial Public Offer in a few weeks and when it did the stocks would skyrocket and we could sell what we bought dirt cheap and make about 100 times our investment. What an opportunity. I asked him, “Are you sure?” He said, “Yes, the owner of this car dealership,” and I’m talking huge dealership, “has bought heavily into it.”

So I scrounged up $2000 and invested in this tremendous opportunity. And I waited and waited and waited for it to go public. I am still waiting.

So ladies, if you’re reading this and thinking about your husband, “I can’t believe you did something so stupid with your money! I wish you were more like Pastor Steve!”  Guess what? He’s just like Pastor Steve who did something really, really stupid with the money!

investingDon’t try to get rich quick! And here’s the deal, I want to talk especially to the men; because we tend to be sprinters, we’re conquerors, we want to win, we want to drag something home! We’re like, “No, no, no, I’m the provider! Look what I did for my family!” We want to give more to our wives; we want to give more to our kids, so we’re looking for the BBD! Don’t give me that six percent interest, I want the BBD, give me the BBD! I don’t want it slow, I want the BBD. Give me the bigger, better deal and give it to me now!

And before long, we sprint our way into greed and destruction and trouble and we would be way better off not to be sprinters as investors, but literally to be marathon investors. We just want to be consistent and we want to be faithful and we want to be consistent and we want to be faithful and we want to be consistent and we want to be faithful.

Here’s what Scripture says, Proverbs 13:11, “He who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”

Here’s a real simple formula for you: Money plus time plus consistency equals wealth.

Little by little by little; tithe, pay the expenses, pay off debt, pay off all of the debt. We’re not in bondage to money, we’re not going to be strapped; the borrower is a servant to the lender, we’re not going to be like that. Invest long term, 15% into retirement, pay a little bit here, buy some mutual funds, buy a little piece rental property; whatever it is, faithfulness, consistency; over time, over time.

Do you think if you were crazy aggressive perhaps you could save $5 a day? Now before you answer, you stop buying your caffeine drink, one a day you can do it, with God all things are possible! You can be set free and healed from buying caffeine drinks. Or you can brown bag it, you can do it. I mean, just five dollars a day.

Let me just show you how this works, a little money over time with consistency:

If you invested $5 a day at 12% interest, because we’re talking over a long period of time: At 5 years you’d have 12 grand. 10 years you have 34 grand, 20 years, almost 150 grand, 30 years, over half of a million dollars. 40 years, if you did this from the age of 25 to 65, you’d have 1.7 million. If you did this from the age of 20 to the age of 70, 50 years, 5.8 million dollars!

$5 a day!  Those of you who are young should be dancing in your pants right now because you can do it at this age! Once you get older it’s not as easy. If you start now, money plus consistency plus time, how much could you do with money like that? How much of a difference do you think you could make in people’s lives and for the Kingdom of God?

Now, I know what some of you are thinking; “I’m not going to get 12%!”

Okay, what if I am half wrong? You’re still rich! What if you only have two million or only three million? What do you think you could do with that? If you’re faithful with a little God will trust you with a lot.

(Adapted from material by Craig Groeschel)

 

 

Where are the real men?

real men 4We live in a culture and in a society where real men are difficult to find. Where are the men who believe in truth? Where are the men who lead their families? Where are the men who have convictions and principles and stand upon them no matter what? Where are the men who love their woman with all their being and will defend her against any opposition? Where are the men who model for their children what it means to love and to serve and to be courageous? Where are men of common sense, understanding and wisdom? Where are the men who are spiritual leaders of their home? Where are the real men?

Rather than spending our time pointing fingers or attempting to find reasons for the condition of men in our culture, let’s rather talk about some solutions and new direction. Let’s talk about what a real man looks like. And then, let’s just spend a moment talking about some key pursuits that will develop real man in today’s culture.

First of all real men lead their families. They are out in front. They know what is right and what is true and what is good and they pursue it with all of their hearts. They have convictions and principles and stand upon those convictions and principles even when others in their neighborhood or workplace refused to do so. It is still true that children will not do what you say; they will do what you are. In other words, instead of following your words they will follow your model. And that is not true just of children; it is true of the entire family. We need families that are led by man who are models. They are models of values and principles and spiritual convictions and purpose that others are proud to follow.

This is not an easy task in our culture. Men have been assaulted from endless sources. Some of the assault is nothing more than an attempt to reduce and diminish the value and place of man in our culture. Other attacks are justified. Men have just failed to step up to the plate, to be what they are called to be, and to lead as they are called to lead. As a result, men face a huge challenge today. But it is a challenge that men must meet and men must conquer and men must overcome. Men must become leaders in their families.

The second thing real man are is healthy, strong, and mission driven. They know that being a real leader requires health, physical health and spiritual health. They are not content to exist or to take up space in the family. They want to be healthy leaders that are giving attention to their physical, spiritual as well as emotional well-being.

This takes time. This takes desire. This takes determination. But a real man is so committed to being healthy and strong and mission focused that they are, and this is the third identifying characteristic of a real man, they are willing to pay the price, whatever that price might be. They will sacrifice, extend, serve, exercise self control or whatever it takes to become the healthy, strong, mission driven leader that the family needs and the family is longing for.

So my question to you is this, do you want to be a real man? Do you want to be a man who leads his family, leading out of health, strength and purpose because you’re willing to pay the price whatever it is? If this is the kind of man you want to be I have a few suggestions.

I would first of all say, make the time to get alone with God regularly. The challenge is too big, the call is too high, the task is to demanding for you to do it alone. You cannot be the man that God wants you to be and calls you to be in your own strength and in your own power. There is a short verse in the Bible that says, in the book of Philippians chapter 4 verse 13, “I can do everything,” that means you can do everything you need to do to be the leader in your home that you need to be. It is within the power and realm of possibility, but it continues, “through HIM who gives me strength.” Who is the him? Who is the one who gives me strength? Who is the one who provides the power? It is Jesus. We are talking about the super natural strength that Jesus gives to those who seek, depend on, and cry out to him for such strength.

So I would say to you, if you want to be the leader in your home that you know you need to be and God wants you to be, you need to spend regular time with the one who real men 3gives you the power, strength, wisdom, and anything else it takes to be the leader that you need to be.

The second thing I would encourage you to do is to get connected with a group of men, or a men’s ministry through which you can pursue the same goals and direction together. Connect up with other men who also want to be real man. Spend time regularly with men who want to be leaders in their family. Learn from men and learn together with man who want to get healthy and strong as they pursue God’s mission and purpose for their families. You cannot do it alone. Not only do you need the power of God you also need the presence of other men who are pursuing this purpose together.

So let me wrap it all up by first of all repeating something I have already said. This is not going to be easy. The tide of culture is against you. The forces of the evil one stand in opposition. He does not want you to win this battle. The evil one does not want you to be the leader in your home that God want you to be. Therefore, he will do everything he can to dissuade you and defeat you. Be aware of that.

To that I would say, do not let him win. Look to God, depend on his strength, pursue his purpose, and you will become the leader he wants you to be in your family. It will not be instantaneous. It will take time upon time upon time. But with each step of progress and each mark of victory you will become more and more the real man God has called you to be. I believe that is exactly want you want.

debtFour “Shocking” Statistics About Debt in America

  1. 1.     The average household debt in the US is now 136% of the household income.  That means, whatever the average person makes, they owe that much plus 36% of what they make in a year. Insane! That is incredibly sloppy and dangerous money management! The only institution that does that and gets away with it is the U.S. Government!

 

  1. 2.     When it comes to credit cards and those carrying a balance, the average credit card debt is $14,517.00. That is a whole lot of shoes and belts and “cheap” jewelry and “necessities” and online purchases and $4 caffeine drinks. That’s a lot of debt!

 

  1. 3.     The average 21-year old owes $12,000. That’s also insane! But in only seven short years from the age of 21 to 28, they owe $78,000 by the time they’re 28. No wonder marriages struggle, and no wonder there’s so much tension; we live in a world where people are strapped.

 

  1. 4.     And this could be the scariest of all: The average number of U.S. households living paycheck-to-paycheck is 55% and some studies say as high as 61%. That means that if over half of you,  lost your job or didn’t get paid you couldn’t pay the house payment, the rent payment, or the car payment. You are in big, big trouble and over 50% of the people in our country are living that way today. Let me say it again, no wonder there’s so much tension.

What is normal in our culture when it comes to finances? Normal is debt, normal is car payments, credit card payments, student loan payments, house payments. Normal is fighting about money. Normal is divorcing over money. Normal is laying awake at night worrying about money. That’s why I believe with all of my heart if you’re a follower of Jesus we are not called to be normal, we are called to be different; we are not like this world. You don’t have to settle for normal. When people who are living this way give you advice they say “Well, you’re always going to have a car payment!” If you believe that, you always will, but there is a better way and it is God’s way, following His principles. To hear the first step of the better way I would invite you to click on this link and listen.  http://relaxedchurch.sermon.net/da/1199944377/play

New Venture’s Vision for the Future

visionBefore we talk about our vision for the future, let me teach you a Hebrew word. The word is Chazown. It is a word that means “a dream, a revelation, or a vision.” You can find Chazown 34 times in the Old Testament. Proverbs 29:18 is the best known verse containing Chazown. Look at how this Hebrew word is translated into English in some popular versions of the Bible.

Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint. (NIV)

                Where there is no vision, the people perish. (KJV)

                When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. (NLT)

                Without prophetic vision people run wild. (GW)

                Where there is no prophecy people cast off restraint. (NRSV)

                If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves. (MES)

No matter how you translate it, without Chazown, vision, revelation, divine guidance, people will be confused, scattered, unfocused and easily distracted.

So I want to set before you my vision for New Venture Christian Church not just for the next year but for the next five years. This has been burning in my soul for months now. Here it is in two words.

My vision for New Venture Christian Church for the next five years is to DOUBLE EVERYTHING.

Here are a few examples of what that would look like in its fulfillment. Five years from now:

200 to 250 in regular attendance

2 worship services with 2 worship bands

20 baptisms or more per year

10 small groups

50% of our people in ministry

5 ministries that we are involved in in the community

feeding 200 kids each week in our BPL ministry

60 kids in our children’s ministry

25 teens in our youth ministry

2 foreign mission involvements

our own building that gives us our own identity

You say, how will all this happen? We all know, vision isn’t worth the time it takes to dream it or write it or share it if there are no legs to it. So here are the legs to this vision. This is what it will take to see this vision happen. This is the way to move it from dream to reality, from words to wonderful results, from concepts to completion.

The first leg is PRAYER.

Spiritual work depends on spiritual tools. No spiritual tool is as important or powerful as prayer. God can do more in a tiny fraction of a second than I can accomplish in the next five years, in the rest of my life. He can do it bigger, better and more effectively than I can ever imagine. So the question becomes, how can we somehow influence God to be more engaged and moving in the bringing about of our vision for the future? The answer is prayer.

I would even like to step it up a notch or two when it comes to prayer, are you ready for this, and add fasting as well. Fasting, in the Bible, means not to eat or self-denial. Fasting is to choose not to partake of food or fleshly needs to give yourself more fully to prayer. A normal fast involves fasting from food but not from water. I would like to ask you to join me to pray daily and fast one day a week for our vision for the next 30 days.

Leg number two is a PLAN

Without a plan vision will go nowhere. Everyone can dream and talk wild and lofty thoughts, but how do you make it all happen? How do you turn dreams and vision into reality? With a plan.

So we are asking and commissioning every ministry team and ministry area to take the next two months to develop a plan to double their ministry in five years. What are the specific steps you will take to double the size and impact of your ministry area? We are talking about a well thought out and written out plan. So if you are the leader of any ministry area or ministry team, that is connected with New Venture, you are hereby commissioned as certified planners in the “double everything” vision for New Venture Christian Church.

Leg three is PEOPLE.

Vision can only become reality with people. Doesn’t that make sense? With boots on the ground! Of course, God can do anything he chooses to do, but that’s not how God works. God always works through people. When God wants to get something done he has always used people. And God wants to use you as a key part of carrying out his mission and vision for New Venture Christian Church.

Here are three things that are needed from all of us to make vision reality.

1. Consistent Worship. The Bible says in Hebrews 10:25 “Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do.” Consistent worship is so important and here are some reasons why.

It provides you with balanced spiritual nourishment. On the other hand, inconsistency in worship robs us of balanced spiritual nourishment. Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) When we fail to consistently worship we are robbing ourselves of what we need most for our spiritual development.

Consistent worship says that we really do love God and want to worship him. It says I am so grateful for his love and faithfulness and I want to take every opportunity I can to let him know and to declare it to him and everybody else. How can I do otherwise? God honors and blesses that.

Consistent worship reveals that we really do love Jesus and the church he died for. The Bible says, “Jesus loves the church and gave his life for it.” How does my attendance say that I love the church? Because worshiping God is the starting point when it comes to loving and building up the church and accomplishing its mission in the world. Most people think at all starts with work. Worship must precede work. If it doesn’t we are trying to make it happen in our own strength.

Consistent worship also builds momentum. If there is one thing we will need to move to the next level and then to the next and the next it is momentum. Nothing is a momentum starter and booster like a packed house every Sunday. Have you ever noticed the energy when that happens?

So to double everything it begins with everyone who considers New Venture to be your church to place worship at the top of your weekly priorities.

2. The second of the big three when it comes to people is everyone involved in service. Serving says I want to be a part of the body of Christ the way God designed it to be not the way I wanted to be. God designed the church body like the human body. Why do you have body parts? To serve as functioning parts of the body. If you are a part of the church, the body of Christ, he expects you to act like it. That means, function as a viable and contributing part of the body. Serving says I want to be in this body what God expects me and designed me to be in it

3. That brings us to the third big three people need, generous people. Here is the bottom line, it takes money to turn vision into reality. It takes generous people. Not much in today’s world comes free.

Generosity with our money says, “I believe Jesus knows what he is talking about when he said, on more than one occasion, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’” I may not understand it all, I may not know how it will all work out but if he said it then I believe it and I will make it the standard of my life. I will make it the foundation of my existence and my relationship with him and the church.

Generosity also says, “I believe the Bible is true and I will obey it when it instructs me to bring the whole tithe into God’s storehouse.”Again, I may not understand how it will all work out, but I will obey the teaching of God when it comes to tithing.

A third statement generosity makes is,” I will trust the Lord to work it all out.” Jesus said, “He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern.” (Matthew 6:33)  The biggest reason why we aren’t more generous is that we don’t believe God will take care of us. We don’t trust him. We would rather handle it ourselves and trust in ourselves.

So we can only turn vision into reality when all of us who consider New Venture our home church, step up to the plate financially.

So we pray and pray and pray, with fasting, develop a plan to turn vision into reality and then we, the people, must be the boots on the ground and hearts in the action to flesh it out.

And the final leg is that we must PERSIST, even when we don’t feel like it.

Make this your marching order, Galatians 6:8-9, “Don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.”

Don’t give up! Don’t give up! Don’t give up!

24/6

restThere are 613 commandments in the Old Testament. 10 of those commandments are what we call the top 10 list, the 10 Commandments from God. The first three of the Commandments address our relationship with God. The last six of the Commandments address our relationship with each other. The fourth commandment is the one that stands in between our relationship with God and our relationship with others. The fourth commandment is the longest of all the Commandments. It addresses the Sabbath.

It reads, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20: 8- 11.

On the Sabbath man was told to cease, stop, keep it holy. What we find is that we have become a 24/7 society. Think back to your growing up days. What do you remember most about Sunday? Was it spending time with family? Going to church together? Eating a big Sunday meal together? Taking a nap in the afternoon, yes? Having time to do something fun together? It seems that the things that we loved the most in growing up no longer exist, especially in our Sunday schedules.

What is missing from our life can really matter. What really is missing? What is missing is the Sabbath. There is one commandment that gets repeated over and over again in the Old Testament. That commandment is to remember the Sabbath. God’s parting words to Moses as he was leaving the mountaintop from the presence of God himself, where he had written on tablets of stone the 10 Commandments, was to not forget the Sabbath.

You see, the fourth commandment is a bridge between us and God. And it is the only one of the 10 Commandments that God himself kept. When we rest we come into sync with the maker of the universe. When you remember the Sabbath, you will over your lifetime have spent an entire decade with the Lord, by devoting one in seven days to the Lord.

What happens when you take away the rest; depression and anxiety set in? One out of nine to one out of ten people in America are currently being treated for clinical rest 2depression. Trends are pushing us toward a busier and busier society. Our leisure time is down 30% in the last 30 years. During that same time our time devoted to work is up 15%.

Pauses make the difference. We live in a society that does not make time for pauses. It is not doing more that we need; it is more pauses that we need. We are a revved up society. Only the Japanese work more hours a week than Americans do on average. God meant for us to have pauses in our life. I think the answer is for us to maximize our time by living a 24/6 lifestyle rather than a 24/7 lifestyle.

Let’s just say, you decide to do this. What is rest? Rest is the opposite of what you do all week long. So the key, is to figure out what work is for you and don’t do it. Or do the opposite of what work is for you. And as you figure this out, beware of legalism or concrete thinking. Jesus comes along and he deals with concrete thinkers who miss the point of the entire principal. They were devoted to trying to find ways around the Sabbath rest. Jesus wants us to find ways to engage in, enjoy, and be blessed by the Sabbath rest. In fact, Jesus is actually the Lord of the Sabbath, He is the Sabbath, He is the rest.

The intent of this longest commandment is to heal us. Choose the day that works best for you. For me, Sunday is not my best Sabbath day, because Sunday for me is a day of work. So I choose another day of the week as my Sabbath to rest or do things that renew me rather than drain me. I would encourage you, to even keep a gratitude journal to especially be used on your Sabbath day. We don’t really need more wonder, what we need is more wonder meant.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “As we keep or break the Sabbath day, we nobly save or meanly loose the last and the best hope by which mankind arises.”

So as we begin a new year, is there any better principle or practice for us to devote ourselves to and incorporating into our lifestyles than the Sabbath principle. I’m not talking about specifically the Sabbath day, but the Sabbath principle of rest and renewal and relaxation and devotion and focus on God. I’m talking about doing the opposite of what we do the other six days of the week.

24-6The question becomes, do we want to live the most effective lives as followers of Jesus or do we want to just live lives as stressed, exhausted, frustrated, overloaded, uptight, followers of Jesus?

While away during the Christmas break I attended Southland Christian Church in Lexington Kentucky. On that day Matthew Sleeth was the guest speaker. Dr. Sleeth has just completed a book called 24/6. The book is a prescription for a healthier, happier life. I would highly recommend it. In fact, I don’t know of a better book to begin the New Year reading, focusing on, and applying to your life. I would also give Dr. Sleeth recognition for many of the thoughts contained within this blog post.

May you come to know and enjoy a healthier, happier New Year and life.