Archive for the 'Finance' Category


processing the Sandy Hook Massacre and the varying responses

I have struggled to be able to write or speak of much related to the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. I have four children, one of whom is in Kindergarten, and when I have spent more than a few minutes contemplating these recent events, I go to a place mentally I don’t want to be. Preaching at Shore Community Church yesterday was particularly difficult in light of this tragedy.

I have a lot of questions about mental illness, access to firearms, violent video games, the impact of affluence on bored young adults, how technology rewires the brain, the impact of doomsday rhetoric on young people, school security measures, the impact of divorce on teenagers, and how the combination of these things motivated Adam Lanza to do what he did. What should I say to my kids? How much or how little?

Since I don’t know yet what my thoughts might add to the conversation as a nation mourns alongside a devastated small town, I decided I should just reference some of the things I have been reading and thinking through in this time. Certainly there are other things worth reading, but here are pieces that I have found helpful personally:

The Loss of the Innocents by Ross Douthat

God Identifies with Suffering by Tim Keller

Christianity, gun violence & the nihilism of Mike Huckabee by Phil Snider. To be fair, here is the Huckabee piece.

A Letter to my daughter by T. Michael Law


I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. Also, feel free to posts links to writings that you have found particularly helpful. If you go on a rant, I will delete your comment though.



Jesus and a “Social Gospel”

Over at Huffington Post, Rev. James Martin has “changed” three of Jesus parable to reflect a Gospel that is more palatable for those who don’t feel the need to help the poor and needy because it would only enable them. His re-rendering of Jesus’ parables are quite amusing, but also have the sting of conviction in them.

His three stories are from Mark 2:1-12; Mark 6:30-44; Mark 12:17-31.


30 tasks for Financial Fitness

One of my favorite websites just finished a campaign to help people with personal finances. They called it Financial Fitness and it’s 30 tasks over 30 days that will lead you greater financial success. I was looking for a listing of all 30 tasks, but couldn’t find one, so I thought I would compile it here:

Task 1: Know where your money is.

Task 2: Assess your non-monetary assets.

Task 3: Set up online banking.

Task 4: Set up automatic bill pay.

Task 5: Create a Mint account.

Task 6: Keep a spending diary.

Task 7: Get your paperwork in order.

Task 8: Digitize your receipts.

Task 9: Calculate the cost of your commute.

Task 10: Take stock of your insurance.

Task 11: Manage your memberships.

Task 12: Make a plan to pay off your debt.

Task 13: Get a copy of your credit report.

Task 14: Make a list of what you need.

Task 15: Make a Budget

Task 16: Spend nothing today.

Task 17: Give your house a financial makeover.

Task 18: Shop for a week’s worth of groceries.

Task 19: Give yourself an allowance.

Task 20: Make a list of free activities you enjoy doing.

Task 21: Cut coupons and search for deals.

Task 22: Go out with only the cash you want to spend.

Task 23: Cash in your coins.

Task 24: Find a Financial-Health Buddy

Task 25: Make a wish list to curb impulse buys.

Task 26: Set up a work-sponsored retirement plan.

Task 27: Build your savings.

Task 28: Find a side gig.

Task 29: Stay educated and motivated.

Task 30: Set goals.


gas prices

I filled up for $3.39 today. As much as it bothers me to pay that price for gas when I remember being 78 cents a gallon when I was in college, it is a reminder to me that there are reasons for price increases.  Of course we could talk about how corporate “big oil” is lining their pockets (and that may be true), but I prefer to think of a more solemn reason. There are millions of people in multiple Middle Eastern countries engaged in what might one day be considered the largest revolutionary movement in world history. Mostly college age men and women are protesting tyranny and governmental injustice in countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Lybia, and several others. I do not presume to know very much at all about the social, religious, or political dynamics at play in these protests. But, I do know that many are risking their lives. In America, I can walk down the street with a sign and yell and the most that might happen would be a fine for not having a permit. In some of these instances, unarmed people involved in peaceable protest have been shot and killed in cold blood by military forces at the direction of their government.  So, are gas prices rising a nuisance, certainly. But, it reminds me that there are more important issues at stake here, namely, human life.


save money on gas

With gas prices on thought it would be a good time to review how to get the most bang for your buck out of your vehicle. here are some tips for getting more miles to the gallon:

  • believe it or not, over-inflate your tires.
  • manage your starting and stopping
  • use the air-conditioner less
  • control your need for speed
  • coast

(The above tips can be found and explained here.)

  • avoid unnecessary idling
  • remove excess weight from your car
  • keep your engine tuned
  • get an oil change

(The above tips and more can be found here.)

  • Don’t top off your tank
  • tighten the gas cap
  • park in the shade
  • replace your air filter

(The above tips and more can be found here.)

  • practice hypermiling
  • practice drafting like in NASCAR
  • use cruise control as much as possible
  • drive less, combine errands into one trip, walk rather than drive.

(The above tips and more can be found here.)


Sunday Recap for November 7, 2010

We began a new sermon series today called “The Blessed Life”. Over the next few weeks, we are looking at how God blesses his people through generosity, compassion, service, and sacrifice. Today we began by looking at the “Blessing of Generosity”. I started my sermon talking about how generous the people of SonRise are. But it is appropriate to speak to generous people about generosity because each of us has areas of our life where we could be more generous. Also, after the service, I found out that the people of our church gave an enormous and generous offering for Pastor Appreciation. I was completely unaware, but I felt like a big dork talking about generosity on a day when so many people were so generous to me. It’s probably for the best that I was unaware because it would have been very difficult to talk about generosity had I known about that.  God has been generous to us, he gave his own Son purchase us back for himself through the death of Jesus on the cross. This is the definition of generous. So, if we, his people, are going to live like Jesus, and present the message of Jesus to this world, we must be generous people.  The primary passage we looked at today was 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.

Here are some of the principles of generosity we discussed:

  • God desires a certain kind of generosity.
  • God is able to take your physical blessing, and through your generosity, make it spiritual blessing.
  • Our generosity results in thanksgiving to God and the proclamation of the Gospel.
  • We should thank God for the opportunity to participate in His generosity

Then we looked at two other passages of scripture to discuss two additional principles of generosity.

  • We see in Malachi 3:10 that God invites us to test his principle of generosity 
  • And we see we see throughout the scripture and especially in Matthew 6:19-24 that Generosity is about your heart, not your money. Generosity has nothing to do with your wealth and everything to do with your heart.

You should be able to hear the message here in a few days.


Sunday Recap for October 17, 2010

We had a few folks out of town today, but also some new faces and a good time together. I talked about what happens when you lose your passion. Most of us were excited about the things of God when we first began to follow Jesus, but it seems for all of us, that at one point or another that excitement, that passion, wanes. How are we to think about this and what has to happen for the passion to return? We looked at Colossians 3 to give us instruction on this issue. I talked from the text how sometimes discipline will keep you where your passion has brought you. Verse 1 tells us to set our hearts on things above. When the excitement fades, it is crucial to remember that Christianity is fundamentally a religion of the heart. Even when following Jesus is exciting, we are to focus our minds and hearts on heavenly things, not earthly things.  Focusing our hearts and minds on the things of God and the excitement will return in time.  Secondly, sometimes correction will keep you where passion has brought you. Paul continues in verses 5-10 describing behavior that has no place in the life of a follower of Christ. These things are contrary to the Gospel. He talks about sexual sin and monetary sin in the same place and equates both with idolatry. Idolatry is when we have an inordinate or misplaced desire, a focus upon earthly things, not upon God.  Most of us have no problem recognizing pornography or adultery as contrary to the Gospel and glory of God, but we have a way of justifying our stinginess rather than being generous. Jesus spoke extensively about money and we can either worship God with the way we handle it, or worship money and deny God with the way we handle it.  When our behavior regarding sexuality, finances, or attitude are opposed to the Gospel, God will bring correction to us. But this correction is good for us because it returns us to a place where we can bring him glory and bring value to his Kingdom. When correction works its purpose within us, our passion returns.  Lastly, sometimes other people keep us where passion has brought us.  I have a fire pit on my deck that I enjoy sitting beside on cool evenings or roasting marshmallows on with my family. If I take one of the embers and move it away from the others, its heat diminishes quickly. There is a similar principle for those of us who follow Christ. There is an element of community that is inherent to living out the Gospel in our lives. When we neglect that, our passion and excitement cool.  We need the community of believers to keep excited about the things of God.  You cannot practice forgiveness alone, you need community. You cannot practice kindness alone. Love is quite limited when you are alone. We need the church if we are to apply the Gospel to our lives.  Being around others who are passionate about Jesus and excited about the things of God will help your passion return.

There may be other things that are helpful to restoring your passion for the things of God. But focusing on heavenly things, removing sinful practices from your life, and participation in the community of believers is certainly a great place to start.

You can hear the sermon on podcast in a few days here.

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