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)




the best use of life is love

Let’s begin the discussion of three truths that will radically transform your life.  These are not new truths.  Everything I’m going to talk about you already know but we forget it. If you would take these three truths and write them down on a little card and make them a daily reminder – put them on your refrigerator, put them on your dashboard in your car, put them up on the mirror in your bedroom, computer screen – look at them over and over and over.  If you will follow, if you will apply, if you will practice these three truths you’ll have a healthier life.  You’ll have a happier family.  You’ll have a more productive business.  There will be far fewer divorces and separations in our culture if we will just listen to what God has said about relationships.

Here’s the first one: The best use of life is love. Wow, wasn’t that earth shattering?

1 Corinthians 14:1 says “Let love be your highest goal.” Make it your number one priority.  Make it your primary objective.  Make it your greatest ambition.  Make it your life purpose.  Don’t put it in your Top Ten.  Don’t say, “One of the things I want in life is loving relationships.”  Make it number one!

Why does God say it’s all about love?  Why does God say to make it your highest goal?  Two reasons:

1.  God says love is what life is all about.  1 Corinthians 13:3 in the Message paraphrase ”No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”  Who wants to be a millionaire?  You can have a million dollars but if you don’t have love God says you’re bankrupt.  It is amazing to me that too often we act like loving relationships are something we have to squeeze into our schedule, that we have to find time for quality time, that we have to make time for people in our lives.  That we have to just fit them into our lives as if loving relationships are an important part but just another important part along with many other things.  Wrong!  God doesn’t say that relationships are a part of your life.  God doesn’t say that loving relationships are an important part of your life.  God says loving relationships are your life.  That’s what life is all about.  It’s all about love. 

One day a guy comes to Jesus and says, “I need Cliff Notes on the Bible.  Summarize the Bible for me.”  Jesus says, “Here it is.  Love God and love other people.  That’s it”.  “Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.”  In a word, Jesus is saying the point of life is “relationships”.  It’s not about achievement.  It’s not about the acquisition of things.  It’s about relationships.  If you miss that you miss the point of life.  That’s the bottom line.  What matters most is loving relationships. 

If that’s true, why do we always allow our relationships to get the short end of the stick?  When we get overloaded we start skimming relationally.  We fulfill all kinds of other commitments but we cut back on time with those we love.  We don’t give our relationships the time, the energy and the attention they deserve because we’re too busy with what we think are more important pressing matters. 

Why do we do that?  Because we get busy.  Because we get preoccupied.  Because we get distracted with less important things.  We focus on the urgent rather than on the important and I hope you know the difference by now.  Not everything that’s urgent in your life is important in your life.  As a result we spend all of our time focusing on making a living, getting the job done, finishing the work, paying the bills, making progress, accomplishing the goal as if that’s the point of life.  It is not.  The point of life God says is love.  The point of life, God says, is relationship. 

2.  The other reason that God says you need to focus on it is it’s all that’s going to last.  The only thing that’s going to last in your life is love.  Everything else is eventually going to burn up.  It’s going to decay, fall apart.  1 Corinthians 13:13 ”There are three things that will endure: faith, hope and love.  And the greatest of these is love.”  How many of you want to leave a legacy after you die? How many of you want to make a difference with your life? How many of you would like to make a positive influence on this world that outlasts you? Foolish questions! We all want to.

God has shown us how to leave a lasting legacy.  God has shown us how to make an enduring impression.  Fill your life with love.  He says “Faith, hope and love.  These are the things that will endure and the greatest of these is love.”  He’s saying love, not work, not wealth, is the key to a lasting legacy.  It’s love.

We think it’s our achievements people are going to remember.  I hate to tell you this but nobody’s going to remember your achievements.  Five years from today nobody’s going to care what you’ve achieved.  Every trophy you’ve ever earned is eventually going to be trashed.  Remember all those trophies you got in Little League or Drama Club, Speech Club, bowling trophies.  They’re all going to be trashed, all your trophies.  You don’t have any of your grandparents’ trophies.  Why would you want to keep those?  You couldn’t care less about them.  People don’t really care about your accomplishments.  We know this.  We just forget it. 

We know by watching people when they’re dying.  I’ve been around a lot of deathbeds.  In watching people of the closing moments of their life when they stand on the edge of eternity, they’re evaluating their life; I’ve never had one person say, “Bring me my diplomas!  I want to look at them one more time…Get me that gold watch I got for twenty-five years of service!  Show me my awards.  Show me my medals.”  Nobody asks to be brought trophies because we don’t surround our lives with objects when our life is ending.  What do we want around us when our life is ending?  People.  People who love us.  People who have a relationship with us. 

Here’s the point: You are eventually going to figure out in your final seconds that what matters are relationships.  Why don’t you figure it out sooner?  Why wait until you’re on your deathbed to figure out that things don’t matter.  That the only thing that matters is relationships.  Nothing can take the place of loving relationships.  Fame can’t.  Wealth can’t.  Success can’t.  Success without love is empty.  Hollow.  Depressing.  Life is not about achievement and it’s not about accomplishment.  It’s about relationships.  When you get to heaven God is not going to say, “Now what was your career?  What did you accomplish in it? “ God is not going to say, “Can I see your bank balance and how much you’ve got in your portfolio.”  God is not going to say, “By the way, what about the hobbies that you enjoyed while I put you down on earth?” 

What He’s going to say is, “How did you treat other people when you were here on earth?”  Read Matthew 25.  He’s going to ask, “How did you treat other people?” 

I suggest that from this day forward for the rest of your life when you wake up in the morning, you set down on the edge of the bed and before you get off that bed you pray this prayer, “God, whether I get anything else done today and I may not get anything else done, but if all I accomplish today is I spend some time with You and with others, I want to make sure today I spend some time loving You and loving other people,” because that’s what life is all about.  If you miss that you have missed the point of life, and that day is a failure, that day is a waste. 

The greatest use of life is not achievement.  It’s love.  The problem is we get busy and we forget what we intuitively know. It’s time to remember.  

You’ll have to wait until the next time for the second law of relationships.