Investing 101

 

The first thing most people think of after hearing the word investing is likely what you can do with money you have earned by putting it in a savings account, IRA, 401k, stock market, etc in an attempt to earn interest or allow your money to make more money.  While interest rates on savings accounts have been lackluster lately (I think I earned $1.50 on one account this past year), most people have several options as to where to invest their money.  Some consider short term investing in the stock market as a form of gambling, as you may just as easily lose stock value as you could make gains.  Some may consider investing in something more tangible, such as your own house or a rental property, by making improvements and seeking to gain value and increased return with time.  There are many ‘things’ we can purchase, hoping they will increase in value, but in the end, what is the purpose of these things or a big pile of money in a bank account? 

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  1 Timothy 6:10

Here is a short list of some good investments I have made, or maybe they are just things that turned out to be good ‘values’.    I bought a shop vac for $5 at a garage sale over 10 years ago, and though it has lost its wheels, which sucks, I have removed hundreds of gallons of fluid and filth with this thing, and it is still going strong.  I also purchased an 86 Ford F150 about 12 years ago at an auction for $450 and though not a parade-worthy truck, this has proven helpful more than once over the years.  We all probably have made some solid investments and gotten some good values over the years, but are we just as willing to talk about our bad investments, or endeavors which cost us more than we bargained for?  When I was in High School, I scrapped together several hundred dollars for some company to put together a folder with a drawing and rudimentary summary of an invention idea that I had.  The next step was several thousand dollars, which I decided not to pursue at the time.  There have been several other places where money was spent that I later regretted.  We all could probably come up with lists for each.  These experiences probably teach us as much about where to invest our resources as what not to do. 

Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.  The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.  Proverbs 22:8-9

Besides money, what other resources do you have that you could invest into a variety of places or things?  We can invest in educating ourselves or others, spend time in ministry to children or adults from all walks of life, or volunteer and serve others through a variety of organizations or causes.  Where you spend your time, your talents and abilities, and your money all give an indication as to the condition of your heart and what you value most in life.  When we choose to sit in front of the TV instead of catching up with our family or friends, what we value most at that time is evident to everyone.  When we spend hundreds of dollars on our hobby and complain about giving ten dollars to someone in need, our priorities may be out of balance.  When our words are harsh and critical, we are just expressing the inward condition of our hearts, which may be more difficult for us to see than for others.  What you value most is expressed in your words and actions throughout the day, not just at church or where you work. 

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:19-21

Sometime this week, take an inventory of some good and bad investments you have made over the years.  Has that changed your view of the value you place on things, or your time?  What kind of returns would you like to see when you invest your resources?  Where do you feel God is calling you to change in where you give your resources?  Sometimes simply asking God to show you where your heart is in what you are doing is a good practice to check your motives and re-direct your path when necessary.  Don’t be afraid to also ask others who know you well what they think about how you spend your talents and resources, and what most motivates you to action.  Next week we will dig a little deeper as we look at where God calls us to invest our resources. 

Strength and Courage in Christ,
Clark

The Price of Freedom

In our country, freedom is amazing.  You can grow up poor and in your 20’s become wealthy.  You can go bankrupt and start over.  We have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to own guns. We have the freedom to be educated no matter your social status or race.  This great freedom has come at a great cost.  In the wars we have been apart of, we have had almost 3,000,000 casualties and 1,400,000 deaths.  The price of our freedom is high.  Fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters did not come come come so we can have and keep these freedoms. 

Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.

Jesus endured a great price so we can walk in freedom.  A crown of thorns and wiped beyond human recognition was the payment for your rebellion.  Rebellion is resistance to or defiance of any authority, control,or tradition. God has been very clear of His standard for us to live by and we openly went against that.   We deserve the punishment for our sin and Jesus took our place.  The father allowed His Son to be tortured and brutalized on our behalf. 

He purchased our ability to be made whole!  Not lacking, not depressed, not addicted, not empty and alone, but free to no longer be held back!  He purchased the key that unlocks our chains and bondage.  Our freedom is to be healed.  Healing in marriages, relationships, friendships! Healing in our bodies, our mind, our spirit.

If Jesus purchased all of that freedom, why do we still find ourselves empty, depressed, and broken? I believe it is because we are still trying to pay for it on our own.  We want healing because we have read enough self help books, been kind to others enough,  attended church enough, read our Bible enough… We still think we can cover the bill, and when it doesn’t happen we blame Jesus for it, when He is trying to get us to come to him and be dependent on Him and not our own goodness.  We can’t write a check big enough to purchase freedom in any part of our lives.  What we need is to do is go to Jesus and ask Him to set us free.  We lean into His strength and His performance for our freedom.  

So what role do we play?  We participate with grace by walking in obedience by His power.  The price of freedom is too high for us to ignore it or choose to not have it!  So where do you need freedom?  Where has Jesus purchased your freedom and you have chosen not to walk in it?

Go to Jesus and let him heal, forgive, and make you whole!

Recklessly Obsessively Following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Challenges

I’m writing this today as I sit on a street corner in the Achiuclinca neighborhood of Managua, Nicaragua. Over the past year our church has been building a partnership with three churches in this neighborhood, and this trip has been focused on learning more about them, their members, their community, and their culture. We’ve spent the week living amongst them in the sweltering heat (100 degrees plus each day), visiting their homes, worshiping with them, and sharing life together.


As we’ve engaged in dozens of conversations with Nicaraguan Christians this week God has convicted me of a number of things in my own life. I share these with you today because I think these are problems shared by many of us.

I’m incredibly ungrateful. The people I’ve met are quick to give God the glory for EVERYTHING in their lives. If their business is thriving they give God the glory. If they recover from illness God is praised. Even though they lack many of the luxuries you and I take for granted in life (including air conditioning on 100 plus degree days), they express incredible thankfulness to God. I don’t know about you, but I’m seldom very grateful for what God has done for me. If I experience joy and success I’m prone to be proud of myself instead of thanking God for blessing me.
I surrender so little to God in prayer. My Nicaraguan brothers and sisters are people incredibly dedicated to prayer. Not only do they maintain prayer lives that are wider and deeper then mine, they also value communal prayer. I was surprised that even though I am a stranger from a strange land many Nicaraguans shared sensitive prayer concerns with me because they see such value in prayer. I’ve been reminded this week that I need to not only go deeper and wider with my prayers, but to also be more open to sharing my petitions with others.
I trust myself more then I trust God. Nicaraguans I met seemed to trust God with every aspect of their lives. Again, they are no perfect in their faith, but their willingness to trust God to carry the, throw the ups and downs of life pales in comparison to my faith. I have learned much this week about surrender my worries and learning to trust God to provide and guide.

Again, my Nicaraguan brothers and sisters have not perfected faith, nor are we as Americans especially poor in our faith and practice. I have, however, been enormously challenged and inspired by my friends here in this beautiful land, and I hope these insights inspire you this week.

Making Men – Time To Engage

Colossians 3:5New International Version (NIV)

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

The key to engaging into true manhood is to tear out the weeds of passivity by the roots and get it out of our lives. The Scripture from Colossians names them. As men we struggle and fight with them.

Are you willing to kill them? Are you willing to get them out of your life? I like the commercial from Ram Trucks, “Grab Life By The Horns”. Grab that sin in your life by the horns and throw it down to the foot of the cross so Jesus can take it away.

We have discussed what it means, “Growing Up To Be Men” by Chuck Holton. I encourage everyone to look for it online or at your local book store and get it. 

So, how do we engage?

  • Submit to your Creator and His purpose for your life
  • Honor what is valuable; Reject what is worthless
  • Assess everything; Improve upon it
  • Perish to your desires; Provide for the needs of others

When you choose to engage in each step of the process, it will turn the boy into a Man of God. These concepts are worth living by and worth teaching to our sons and grandsons.

We will get to study this week or online what it means to ‘ENGAGE’. Will you choose or will the passivity run rampant in your veins? The choice in yours.

Israelite men would chant a word, “Chazaq”! This word means, ‘My Courage Comes From Above’. Let that be our calling, men. Stand in that courage that comes from only the Father from above.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Vital Ministries News

Coming up!! May 2 at Vermeer Global Pavilion, Vital Men is having a big event. Doors open at 5:30 pm along with food from Country Catering. The cost is $7.00 for a wonderful supper. We will be learning about what it means regarding, ‘Growing Up to be Men’. The featured speakers are Marty Schmidt from The Bridge in Ottumwa and Andrew Schmidt, from Celebrate in Knoxville. Music is by Now Serving 7 with Charlie Koopman from The Wave in Chicago, Illinois. Music kicks off at 6:30 pm with speaking ending at 8:30 pm. We are also featuring an obstacle course with great prizes!! Bring your sons, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, nephews, and friends. This is a great way to begin Tulip Time Week in Pella, Iowa!

 

Will the Men of God Please Rise Up?

Hebrews 11:5New International Version (NIV)

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

We need every man to call arms and rise for the event coming on May 2. I believe the Lord has something for us that night, and it will cause a great impact in our region. When men come together surrendered and submissive to God, great awakenings happen.

God saw that Enoch was pleasing by the way he lived life. I believe that God is looking for men who are willing to obey his commands and decrees for such a time as this. It is by inviting and pursuing men to come and fellowship together  that great things will happen. It will take all of us to band together in what it means in, ‘Growing Up to be Men’.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

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