Posted by: drb1020 | December 19, 2011

Excellent Point by Chuck Colson

Today I read a great article by Chuck Colson.  Excerpt below …

A recent piece in the Atlantic Monthly named Tim Tebow as one of the “15 Most Divisive Athletes in Recent History.” Others on the list included Michael Vick, Barry Bonds, Dennis Rodman, Pete Rose and O.J. Simpson.

So, let’s see…that’s one man convicted of animal cruelty, another of obstruction of justice, yet another of tax evasion and banned from baseball for betting on games, someone who probably killed his ex-wife, and a guy who appeared at a book signing wearing a dress.

What did Tebow do to make this august list? Essentially, he is upfront about his Christian faith and that he made an ad saying that he was glad that his mother didn’t abort him.

Ultimately, what makes Tebow “divisive” and “controversial” has little, if anything, to do with what he does on the field. It’s all about our increasing intolerance of faith in public life. Tebow isn’t trying to “impose” anything on anyone besides himself.

Yet, even that is too much for some people. I can’t help but suspect that our generation is getting the kind of athletes it deserves.

Posted by: drb1020 | December 5, 2011

Well Worth Your Time

This is why I believe Rick Warren truly understands the definition of “Stewardship.”  Forget that he is Rick Warren and just listen to his words and ask … “How am I doing?”

This is good stuff!

http://vimeo.com/32153286

Posted by: drb1020 | November 8, 2011

The Next Bubble to Burst?

I believe we should be more concerned than we are about the state of higher education in this country.

Here are some facts from Jack Kelly writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

  • Tuition and fees at colleges and universities rose 439 percent between 1982 and 2007 which median family income rose just 147 percent.
  • Since June of 2009, median household income has fallen 6.7 percent while the average cost of tuition at public universities increased 5.4 percent.
  • The average graduate of a 4-year school now owes $27,000 in school loans.

But here is the biggest problem, college students are not getting much for their money.  Nearly half learn next to nothing in their first two years; a third learn almost nothing in four, according to a report authored by Prof. Richard Arum of New York University.

“Our institutions of higher education no longer insist on excellence,” according to Ann Neal, President fo the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

“A college degree nowadays does not necessarily signal that its holder has any useful work skills,” said Charlotte Allen of the Manhattan Institute.

According to Kelly, the problem started getting worse when the government got involved to “help.”  Money was loaned to students to go to college that were not college material and not capable of succeeding in college.  If they made it through it was with a degree that offered them no skills to offer to a prospective employer or if they dropped out, they still had the college loans without the sheepskin.  Giving government money to allow people to go to college without the ability to be successful has created this problem.  When so many could have better used their time to acquire an actual job skill, like plumbing, electrical work or auto repair, they were “prodded” into heading to a four-year school teaching subjects not readily converted into tangible job skills.

In 2008, 318,000 waiters and waitresses had college degrees, as did 365,000 cashiers and 18,000 parking attendants.

The problem was made worse when the government stepped in to make college more affordable by making more loans available, which inflated the amount of money “in the education system” and had the effect of driving up the cost of tuition.

We are spending 377 percent more money (in inflation adusted dollars) on public school education than in 1961, yet a full 75 percent of students who go to college require remedial work.

More money is not the answer.  Some of us feel that the higher education system is the next “bubble” to burst as more people realize a college education received without gaining real-world work skills … is one of the worst investments you can make.

Any thoughts?

Posted by: drb1020 | October 25, 2011

Something to Think About

A little different perspective on our personal financial lives …

“You will spend less money … when you choose to spend your life doing more meaningful things.”

Posted by: drb1020 | October 25, 2011

How Are We Doing?

It is not possible to spend time in God’s Word and not see the importance that God places on integrity and honesty.  Values we often minimize in today’s culture … are ignored at our own peril.  Proverbs has much to say to us about integrity …

“The man (person) of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.”  Proverbs 10:9

Could feeling a lack of security be driven, at least in part, by areas in our lives where we are tempted to cut corners?

“The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.”  Proverbs 11:1

Are we dealing with others in a way that shuns dishonesty?  God does not take lightly dishonest scales that benefit us by taking advantage of others.

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”  Proverbs 11:3

When we live lives of integrity we walk a path that is guided safely away from the destruction of the unfaithful.  A comforting thought when our character and commitment to integrity costs us something.

“Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”  Proverbs 13:11

The fate of anyone who strives to “get rich quick” by dishonest means is destined to lose both the money and their reputations, while those who honestly gather a small bit at a time will see long-term results.  Amazing how relevant the Scriptures are even though they were written thousands of years ago …

Jesus said that those who cut corners in the little things cannot be trusted to avoid that same temptation if they were given authority over greater things.  Our character and commitment to integrity is either absent or present apart from the external circumstances around us.

How are we doing in the integrity area?

Posted by: drb1020 | October 18, 2011

We Can Make A Difference

One of my favorite quotes in teaching about money and possessions is, “Comparison destroys contentment.”  In our modern American culture, comparison involves looking at what we have, comparing it to others who have more stuff or better stuff and becoming discontent with what we have.  I have seen it in others … I have seen it in myself.

Last week, Debbie and I were confronted with comparison that did the opposite … it dramatically enhanced our contentment.  We participated in a 3 day mission trip to Juarez, Mexico to build two houses for two families without homes.  In this case, comparison alters your life.

We have cheap, plentiful water available at the twist of a facet … our new friends in Juarez paid for a bucket of semi-clean water delivered by the water truck in its daily trek through the dusty streets of Juarez.

We can’t decide which pair of shoes to wear to school … the 8-year-old boy who’s family we built a house for was not in school since he did not have shoes to wear.

We justify our need to upgrade to a sleep number bed … the pregnant mother of the family we were helping was sleeping on the cement floor.

We get frustrated over having to lug containers of baby formula from Costco … families in rural Juarez are scrapping off the foam from the top of beans while they are cooking to feed their babies.

For those of us on the build team, a little comparison was exactly what we needed to reorient our hearts and increase our contentment … and our thankfulness.

If you ever get a chance to be part of a team to do even a small part in helping those in need … do it!  It will change you.

You want to be effective in introducing people to the reality of Christ?  Then show them His love before you explain it to them.

The ministry we partnered with was Missions Ministry based in Denver and working in the rural sections of Juarez.  For $16,600 in donated funds we were able to build a three room home for two families in less than two days.  You cannot imagine the thill of watching the keys to a new house being handed over to a young family that 48 hours earlier had no place to call home.

In this case … Comparison most definately enhances contentment …

Posted by: drb1020 | September 9, 2011

Jobs

I am not a politician, but I did spent over 25 years in the corporate world and have pretty much been a “finance guy” my whole life.

So set aside political emotion for the moment and focus on the latest discussion about the need for more jobs in this country.

First of all … real jobs are not created by government action.  Real jobs can be encouraged by government when they create a climate and a culture that causes people who have the means to create jobs to take action.  When a climate has been created by government officials which discourages the job creators because the risk of failure is too high … they sit on the sidelines and wait until a climate of greater certainty and stability develops.

Government can only try and change the job creating culture so that individuals can create jobs.

Jobs are a result of needing to produce more or do more resulting in a need for more help.  Tax incentives to hire more people when you don’t have the work for them is just foolish.

Government cannot create jobs, other than temporary jobs using taxpayer or borrowed money, only individual job creators can do that.  Which is why I see little, if any, success coming from any government official that believes we can borrow more money, spread it around, and expect jobs to be created.

I fully expect the unemployment rate to stay pretty much where it is for a while … until the real job creators feel more supported in a climate that encourages businesses rather than tries to tax them more.

Posted by: drb1020 | August 22, 2011

Lazy or Diligent?

“Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.  He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.”

Proverbs 10:4-5 reminds us that laziness leads to poverty … and gaining resources requires diligence.  Then God provides us with two examples.  The prudent person takes advantage of the opportunity and the disgraceful does not.

My key take-a-ways from these verses …

  • God provides the wealth and the opportunity for us to “gather” it
  • The prudent take advantage of the opportunity by working hard at the proper time
  • The disgraceful would rather “sleep” during the time of opportunity

Are we blaming our circumstances for our lack of resources when in reality we have been lazy?

Have we failed to recognize God’s provision and His challenge to us to “get about the task of gathering?”

Are we often “sleeping” when the harvest is ready?

Proverbs has a way of challenging us …

Posted by: drb1020 | August 16, 2011

Gold, Silver and Proverbs 8

10 Choose [wisdom’s] instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.

18 With [wisdom] are riches and honor,
enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 [Wisdom’s] fruit is better than fine gold;
what [wisdom] yields surpasses choice silver.

The selected verses in Proverbs 8 are very powerful.  Here is what we come away with when we take these verses seriously …

1)  When compared with gold, silver and precious rubies … possessing wisdom is of far greater value

2)  We have a choice.  We are challenged to choose the instruction of wisdom rather than wealth

3)  The irony is … when we choose wisdom, then riches, honor and enduring prosperity follow

4)  When we make wealth our goal we risk having neither wealth nor wisdom.  When we make acquiring wisdom our goal, we gain both.

Since God has made His message to us in Proverbs 8 crystal clear, why do we so often make chasing after wealth our focus while ignoring the challenge to gain true wisdom?

Could it be that this is the root of so many of our day to day problems and much of our financial stress?

God’s Word says we have a choice.  What are we choosing?

Posted by: drb1020 | August 15, 2011

Something to Think About

I read this today in an email from Stansberry and Associates and thought I would pass it on.  It speaks of the need to be very careful about the “unintended consequences” that often arise from a seemingly painless change in tax policy …

In 1990, the government passed a 10% tax on yachts, luxury airplanes, jewelry, furs, and expensive cars. It was touted as a fair, easy way to soak the rich without harming the working man.

Within eight months, the largest U.S. yacht company, Viking Yachts, closed one of its two plants and laid off more than 1,100 of its 1,400-member workforce. Within 12 months, one-third of all yacht builders in the U.S. ceased production. The industry lost 7,600 jobs in the first year. Before the tax was finally repealed, 25,000 workers lost their jobs. The U.S. went from exporting yachts to importing them. Viking Yachts shrank to just 68 employees. Congress estimated the tax would generate $5 million in revenue the first year. Reality didn’t read the estimate … The Treasury lost $24 million in tax revenue because all the yacht makers either closed up or left the U.S.

Congress repealed the tax in 1993.

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