Category Archives: Finance

Buyer’s Market

There is a positive element about the current economic calamity: It is a buyer’s market. The price of real estate is down, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is at a 12-year low, and Christ’s redemption is being given away freely.

Translation:

  • Buy real estate if you can. Jesse Duplantis says, “Buy land, God ain’t makin’ no more!” It’s demand has to go back up because it’s supply never will.
  • Buy stock: There’s a big reduction sale going on right now. You can buy more shares for less money! If this was at your favorite place to shop, you’d be having a field day!
  • If not “buy land”, then buy “C” (C being Christ). If you’ve never before considered the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, there is no better time than now. Invest in the kingdom––it’s free! And of all these, it is the biggest bargain with the biggest payoff.

I’ve heard my pastor say, “Until God is all you have, sometimes you don’t know He’s all you need.” Maybe you’re at that point. Maybe you don’t have the resources to buy land or purchase stock. Who knows when and if your resources will be replenished? Stop trusting in the resource and put your trust in the source.

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MythBuster

I don’t have traditional cable (too cheap, I mean, fiscally prudent) but I was lucky enough to catch a few MythBusters episodes while on break at work. If you haven’t seen it, it’s where science meets entertainment. The hosts take urban legends (for example, is it possible for a human to catch a bullet with his teeth?) and either confirm or debunk the myth basically by destroying stuff. [GRUNT Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor-style]

I think reality can be a better measure of outcomes than reality TV. Take the following old adage for example:

“Money makes the world go around.”

Is it Myth or Fact?

No laboratory or studio needed here. The testing grounds for this myth is real life. It routinely has a way of wrecking things on its own (or at least the entities in life like greedy corporations and corrupt governments do). There hasn’t been many times in history when the dollar has taken a beating like it has the last several months.

  • Foreclosures up 81%
  • Layoffs up 55% (200,000 in January alone)
  • Unemployment up 2.7% to 7.6% (4.1 million more jobs lost in ‘08 than ‘07)
  • Burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft up
  • Real estate value down 15.3%
  • Dow is Down 37% (4700 points) since one year ago
  • Consumer spending down 8.9% Q4 2008 (worst since 1947)
  • Federal government over $10 trillion dollars in the hole
  • Fed $787 billion more down (pending the “stimulus” package)

There is no money left out there! Has the earth’s rotation slowed? Has the days gotten any longer? Has the world stopped?

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Bottom Line (no pun intended):
Money does NOT make the world go around.

Less Is More

If I had to describe my New Year’s resolutions for this year in one word, it would be “constructive.” I want the things that I do to serve a useful purpose. That’s not to say that I’ve been useless in previous years, it’s just that I haven’t been as effective as I’d like to be (welcome to the club, right?). This year, I want that to change. I desire to be more productive in the things that matter. I want to love more, give more, save more, lose more, and just plain accomplish more. Oh, and did I mention that I want to do it all with less? “More for less”––sounds like a TJ Maxx ad. Here’s what I mean:

Less impatience, more restraint

Goal: Too subjective to measure so get off my back already! (Sorry, I guess I got my work cut out for me.)

Less calories taken in, more pounds taken off

Goal: Me minus 20 lbs. (or 5 slices of pizza per week, same thing)

Less spending, more saving

Goal: Cut my specialty coffee / dining out expense in half (my belt size too)

Less debt, more freedom

Goal: A slave to lender no longer (except for mortgage)

Less TV, more time (for God, family, and my dream)

Goal: Read through entire Bible, do not neglect my family, post blog three times weekly, and write a book to have ready for publication

Less of me, more of Him

Goal: Take up my cross daily. (And two aspirin ‘cause I’m already getting overwhelmed.)

WOW! Sounds like less leisure, more exhaustion. What about you? Are your goals for 2009 big or small . . . audacious or cautious . . . lofty or puny . . . ambitious or attainable . . . more or less?

Here’ s some inspiration from Pastor Steven Furtick:

I’m sorry to say that your dreams are too small too. You serve the God of inexhaustible, all sufficient, overflowing resource. Whatever you might imagine God wants to do through your life in your most faith-filled, bold, reckless moments, multiply it by 10. Take it to the 100th power. Double it again. Now you’re starting to uncover a fraction of the blueprint God has already drawn up.

Sometimes, under the guise of getting wiser, growing deeper, or waiting on God, we let our audacity atrophy and set the stuff that made us special on the shelf. That must really insult God.  After we’ve already seen Him part seas, kill giants, and multiply fish and loaves, we should be more inclined to push our chips to the center of the table, not less!

It turns out God isn’t intimidated by my big requests. He is insulted by my puny ones.

March On!

People, Christians included, tend to have the logic to sort of lay low or back down when times are tough. For example, secular and Christian charities alike seem to be taking the biggest hit from the economic crisis that the world finds itself in. Non-profits, at least the Christian ones anyway, shouldn’t be suffering much. Isn’t a crisis a time for the Church to shine even brighter? If we are in the world but not of it, isn’t that a call to be different than the world? If Jesus is the difference in our lives, shouldn’t that be evident in our deeds especially in a trial? Let me put it another way: If we serve a God who saw a problem (sin separating us from Him) as an opportunity for action (redemption and reconciliation) despite great sacrifice (His son’s death), wouldn’t it not only make sense, but also honor God greatly, for us to do the same?

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed,” says the Apostle Paul. This is not a season for God’s people to back down; it’s an opportunity for us to rise up and advance the kingdom of our Most High God! If you’ve relaxed any area of your spiritual walk, consider doing like the Macedonian churches, giving “as much as you are able, and even beyond your ability” (2 Corinthians 8:2-3) regardless of the current hardship. God will not only sustain you but He will reward you for your faithfulness. March on good Christian soldiers!

Other scripture references for further study:

Hebrews 10:35-39

2 Corinthians 8:1-9

Hebrews 4:14-16

Stinkin’ Thinkin’

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As you walk into the worship experience at my church on Sundays, they hand you an ink pen along with the worship guide (bulletin) with which to take notes during the service, write prayer requests, etc. Two weeks ago, Tina got a faulty pen. You could click the pen open but you couldn’t click it closed. The only way to close it was to press the tip against something. At one point, she actually pressed the tip of the pen into the cover of my Bible to get it closed (for that, she’s going to hell I’m sure).

Well this week, I was the victim. After taking my first note, wouldn’t you know it, the pen wouldn’t close. With a couple of thousand people coming through two different entrances at two different services each week, I quickly dismissed the possibility that I got the same ink pen as my wife did the previous week. So as the pastor was preaching on debt and how blessed we are, I couldn’t keep my mind from wandering to how cheap these pens must have been. As I continued to play with the pen during the sermon, I got it to close (on accident of course). It turns out that the pen closes when the pocket clip is pressed. It was then that I realized that it wasn’t the pen that was broken, but my thinking; my perspective was second-rate, not the ink pen.

Have you ever done that? Do you sometimes have stinkin’ thinkin’? Do you count your costs when you should be counting your blessings? Is there an area in your life that might appear to be a burden but is actually a blessing if you examine it more closely or look at it from a different angle?

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. ~Romans 12:2

No Easy Button for America

BREAKING NEWS: A revised $700B financial industry bailout bill passed Senate by 74-25 vote tonight; the House is to vote Friday

Government interference, corporate irresponsibility, public ignorance in part—a trilogy of events that has lead us down this path of economic calamity. Unfortunately, there is no “easy button” for this dilemma; there will be no easy street for Wall Street or Main Street. Either strategy, the pay out or play out, has its share of consequences that will likely burden America for years to come. And while the economic fate of America hangs in the balance waiting for elected officials to act, what are we to do?

Trim the fat—America needs a diet!

For government:

  • Govern more and meddle less when it comes to business
  • Don’t prostitute citizens to big business but protect them from it
  • Reduce wasteful, excessive spending
  • Don’t accept handouts from corporate America (or other special interests)

For corporate America:

  • Stop the madness of overinflated executive salaries at the expense of the company’s performance
  • Limit risky ventures like sub-prime lending
  • Run lean even in prosperous times
  • Don’t expect handouts from the government

For the American people:

  • Reduce debt, spend frugally, increase savings
  • Quit confusing privileges for entitlements
  • Don’t expect handouts from the government
  • Hold your public officials accountable
  • And by all means—VOTE!

Here’s a question:

$10 trillion deficit overall, $400 billion budget deficit just this year and the US government has the audacity to describe their plan as a “bailout” and “rescue.” Does that even sound logical?

The answer to bad government is not more bad government, to paraphrase Jeffrey A. Miron, a senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University.