Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Financial Peace Wednesday

We at New Season Church are in the midst of the video series of studies by Dave Ramsey called Financial Peace University. Leading up to this study and during I have been sharing some of what I have been learning as it pertains to managing the resources God has given me stewardship over. Today I wanted to share about the 401k (or the non-profit equivalent of the 403b).

Here is what I am learning:
  • The 401K is a great investment tool for saving for retirement as your contributions can be pre-tax (meaning you do not pay taxes on what you contribute on the front end) and they grow tax deferred (meaning you don't pay taxes on the growth while it is happening).
  • If your employer has a program where they match your contribution to your 401K take full advantage of it as this is free money. Max out your match.
  • Don't dip into your 401k except to avoid repossession of your car or foreclosure (these things drop atom bombs on your credit score). When you dip into your 401k you are giving the government a great gift. You pay a 10% penalty and then you pay your marginal tax rate on what you take out. In the end you can pay 40% in penalties and taxes on what you take out. Is it worth that to go on vacation?
  • Don't take a loan on your 401k either. If you leave the company they often require FULL repayment of the loan amount and you could be up the creek without a paddle and quickly visiting the parasitic loan sharks at the pay day lending store.
  • If you are young and do not have an employee match available for a 401k consider investing first in a Roth IRA which grows completely tax free! There are income limits to this (i.e. if you make above a certain amount of money you cannot do a Roth IRA- we must penalize those evil people that have succeeded!). There are also contribution limits.

Please consult your professional adviser for how best to invest and allocate your hard earned money so you do not have to rely on Social (In)Security as your sole source of retirement income.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We're Not the Duggars- Parenting in the Real World

Have you see that show "18 Kids and Counting" featuring Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their 18 kids with one on the way? It is amazing!! It is amazing they are able to keep that house running. What is equally amazing is the love, peace and harmony that exists amongst the children and how they are obedient to their parents. Whatever you want to say about Jim Bob and Michelle and them having 18 kids with one on the way somewhere along the way they have done a good job parenting. I think they are great and I think the show is good too.

But most of us who are parents don't live in that reality. We're not the Duggars in many ways. We do not have 18 kids we have 1, 2 or 5. And, our households don't run like the Duggars and most of us do not have children who behave like the Duggars. We are left to use the Bible to glean principles for parenting to help us be good parents which is more trustworthy than even the Duggars.

That is the premise of our current message series at New Season that we are having a lot of fun with. We started with the message "The Parents Priority" where we talked about our primary job as parent's is to shift our child's dependence on us to dependence on God. Then last week we talked about "Unchanging Biblical Principles of Parenting." We talked about the need to give our children:
1. Appropriate loving touch
2. Abundant time
3. Encouraging words

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs on the planet. Thankfully, God's word gives us guidance.

Check out the text of "The Parent's Priority" here (sorry no audio for this one).

Listen to the "Unchanging Principles of Parenting" here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lessons From a Dinosaur

Following up on my post from yesterday in regard to what I am reading I finished a couple of weeks ago 44 Questions for Church Planters by Lyle Schaller. Lyle Schaller seems to have been around for as long as the dinosaurs but he is the dean of church leadership and evangelism and has written tons and tons of books. Anyway, I wanted to share five quotes/ take aways from the book.

p. 22 New churches are more likely to reach more people and to grow in size than are long established parishes.

Confirmed by dozens of denominational studies.

p. 30 No one congregation possesses the skills that can muster the resources necessary to reach, attract, serve and be responsive to the needs of every resident.

p. 157 Getting to church on time with a one year old and a three year old is a big challenge that deserves a reserved parking spot.

p. 165 The key variable (for choosing where to plant) is not net growth.

The key indicator is the number of newcomers who do not identify with the subculture of the remaining residents.

Too often policy makers responsible for planting new churches are mesmerized by that glittering identification of high profile areas.

This usually means there are zip codes experiencing a rapid increase in the number of residents.

This might overlook areas not growing as quickly who have a high turnover.

For similar reasons it is not surprising to find disappointed denominational leaders who had expected rapid growth in the new mission that planted in what is really a highly competitive ecclesial environment.

p. 180 An examination of those denominations that are experiencing significant numerical growth suggests the common variables are: 1. Starting new churches. 2. Increasing the number of large churches. 3. Improving the quality of preaching in long-established churches.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What are you reading?

I have said many a time along with others that you can tell where a person's heart and passion are by taking a look at two things: their checkbook and their day planner (calendar). Where we spend our money and where we spend our time says a lot about us.

I might add a third item to that list. On what do you and I spend our time reading? On what you and I spend our time reading says a lot about us. If you are a follower of Jesus whether or not you read the Bible on a regular basis says something about you? The kinds of books you read on a regular basis says something about you- are they fiction or non-fiction, only fiction or only non-fiction, are they books related to your career or books about your hobby? Do you spend your time reading the sports section or Glamour or your favorite blogger? What we choose to spend time reading says something about us. The greater question is, just like when it comes to our checkbook and day planner, is whether or not what we read honors God?

For example, apart from the Bible and devotional reading I mostly read non-fiction books about church planting, church growth, evangelism, leadership and finance. I almost never read non-fiction.

One might say in light of this I am too serious or need to lighten up blah, blah, blah. The point is some statements could be made about me in light of my reading list. I focus not so much on what a friggin dork I am for reading mostly non-fiction books to focusing on what my choice of reading says about my passion. On the one hand I am glad that my passion is how to better help people experience the love of Christ and cooperate with God's action in the world to grow the Kingdom of God. I am glad I have an interest in handling God's resources and helping others to do so in the area of finances. But what about the missing stuff? What about reading about being a better dad, a better husband, a better friend? Hmm. What does this say or not say?

What does what you read or not read say about you? I wonder...what are you reading? (besides this!)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Things My Parent's Said I Swore I Would Never Say- but do!

I have been a dad for over 7 years and continue to be horrified that I find myself saying some of the same things my parents said to me though I swore I never would. I am not talking bad or hurtful things but the stupid little saying parents have. I think these things must be passed down in the DNA. Maybe your parent's said some of the same things. Maybe all parents say them. Maybe you say some of these things though you swore you would never. Things like...

...You want to cry and whine, I'll give you something to cry and whine about.

...I brought you into this world and I can take you out.

...If you brother told you to jump off the Bourne Bridge would you do that too!

...Don't make me stop this car.

...You better stop while you are ahead.

I guess that saying is true: the more things change the more they stay the same. I wonder if there are other sayings I am missing because I can't think of them right now.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Here are the last two messages from our current series "Heroes".



Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Financial Peace Friday on Tuesday- Money is (A)moral

I previously have posted about the Total Money Makeover Simulcast on Saturday September 19th and the Financial Peace University class starting September 21st we are going to be holding at New Season. You can always sign up for those events at our website. Leading up to those events I had hoped (though I made no promises) to do a Financial Peace Friday on this blog. Well it is Tuesday but better late than never. I will be sharing some things I am learning about biblical principles for handling the resources God has given. I am no expert, I have a long way to go in living out some of these principles, but I am confident that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (and so can you!).

Today I want to write about how money is amoral.
There is a difference between amoral and immoral. To be immoral is to be contrary to what is moral. To be amoral, like money, is to have no moral value either good or bad. Money in and of itself has no moral value. Many have mistakenly misquoted from the Bible 1 Timothy 6:10 that "Money is the root of all evil." Not so. A closer reading of that verse says "the love of money is the root of all evil."

So money is amoral, without positive or negative moral, until you put it into the hands of us people. How we use what God has given us becomes a moral issue. We can then either use it for good or ill like all that God has gifted us with. We can quickly see how we manage our money becomes a spiritual issue. If it comes from God and is to be used for God then gaining, saving and giving all we can are spiritual issues.

I like how St. Ambrose put it. "Just as riches are an impediment to virtue in the wicked, so in the good they are an aid to virtue."