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Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Worlds Apart

I just sat down at a little fold-up TV tray in my bedroom which also doubles as my office sometimes, and I opened up my laptop, checked my email and turned on Pandora. The first song to play was “Worlds Apart” by Jars of Clay.

I’ll never forget listening to this album for the first time in my dorm room at CMU. If I remember correctly, it belonged to a new friend of mine and he loaned it out to me so I could listen to it. In many ways it was the background music for the beginning of a new life, a life I’ve been living for about 15 years now.

Several years later I bought the album for myself and put it on my Ipod so I could listen to it when I ran at the SAC. Sometimes, as I listened to them sing, “Take my world apart,” I would run faster and faster until I literally felt like my legs and my lungs were going to rip apart. It felt so good to worship in that way.

And even today that song still hits home. I need Jesus to take my world apart and put it back together in a way that glorifies him more than it does right now. There’s always too much of me. It’s humbling to think of his great patience and kindness toward us in the midst of our pride and blindness.

What a merciful God we serve! “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” the blind men cried out. They knew they were broken and in need of the saving, remaking, redeeming power of Jesus. Their world was already severely torn apart and in need of someone to put it back together again. And without sight they saw through eyes of faith and grasped onto Jesus with that desperate cry. And the Savior did not disappoint.

Jesus, please take my world apart and cause me to cry out for more of you in my life because I know that you alone satisfy the deepest cravings of my heart.

 

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Gospel Economics

You’ve got to read this story. A great example of what I’m going to call “gospel economics.”

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/03/22/texas-atheist-flabbergasted-by-outpouring-of-christian-charity/

 

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Banking with PNC

Well, this is just going to be one of those very practical posts. 

We’ve been doing our banking with PNC (used to be National City) forever now. However, all we used to have was a checking account and then I would just keep track of what other funds out of that total amount were needed for other things in a separate spreadsheet. 

But then we bought a house, and now I’m self-employed through the church and so there’s all sorts of extra tax stuff and insurance money that we have to set aside for this and that and what-have-you. 

So just the other day I spend quite a bit of time at the PNC branch, talking with a really great guy there, because I needed to start doing some things a little differently. 

So, I was just going to open up a savings account at PNC so I could put some other money over that that was already spoken for, and have a more accurate checking balance at first glance, but after talking to this guy, I did that, but I did it a little differently for a few reasons. I just tell you what I did, and how it all works, and then you can see if you think it might be helpful for you. I’ve spent hours looking into this stuff and trying to save every $5 I can and this seems to work pretty good for what I want to do. 

Basically I ended up opening a “Virtual Wallet” account with PNC. This includes a regular checking account, as well as a reserve account, as well as a “growth” savings account. We’ve also been looking at getting a second credit card for a while now as it’s no fun to lose or have to shut down your only credit card for any period of time without a back-up. We have a Chase Freedom card, and they used to give you 5% cash back on gas and groceries all the time, but not they just give you 1% all the time (what most do) and 5% back in rotating categories that change each quarter. Not as good of a deal, but when gas is one of the categories it is still a good deal. I wanted to find something better, but have just stayed with the one for quite a while now because in order to keep things simple and because I couldn’t find another card that would really be “better” for us based on our spending. 

So, anyway, I also got a PNC Cashbuilders Credit card while I was at it.

Now, I know you’re thinking that this guy must have sold me hook line and sinker, but you can ask my wife, I’ve been planning on getting this card for over 6 months now, it was just a matter of timing. 

Now there are several cool things about all this, and here they are in no particular order…

  • My checking is actually a “performance” checking account because you have to keep an average monthly balance of $1,500 in it. But this also means that I will get 1.5% cash back on EVERYTHING I buy with the PNC Cashbuilders Card. You get 1.25% normally, but then with the $1,500 in your checking account you get 1.5% and if you keep $5k in there you will get 1.75% or you can get the increased 1.5% rate if you spend over $2k on the card in a cycle. But the point is that there’s a big difference between getting 1% back on everything or 1.5% back on everything. Basically, if you spend $2k a month on your credit card, which isn’t that hard if you have all your insurance and other stuff linked to it, then you’re talking about $30/month back instead of $20/month. That translates into $120 over the course of the year. And, if I want to keep using my chase card on the gas purchases on those particular months I can. 
  • If you make 5 purchases per month on your PNC debit card or a credit card that is linked to your account like the one I mentioned above you will make .55% interest on all the money sitting in your “growth” savings account. I know that’s no enormous windfall but it’s about 5x as much as I will make by leaving it in my checking account or a number of other savings accounts that I’ve looked at. 
  • Everything is linked together. This is maybe the best part of it all. I know the financial gains are not extravagant, but I would do it just for the ease of having everything in the same place and being able to transfer funds from my checking to my reserve account to my savings to paying my credit card all with a click of a button. I did some playing around on there today and they make it so easy to set aside money in your other accounts and designate what it’s for and then move it back into your checking when you need it. It makes it terribly easy to keep track of what you actually have available to spend and what you don’t. No more additional spreadsheets for me. Well, for the most part anyway. 

That’s pretty much it. Now, don’t take my word for all this. I may have missed something. It wouldn’t be the first time in my life. So, if you decide to go this route make sure you sit down with someone at a branch and ask them all these questions very specifically just to make sure that your understanding of how this works matches up with theirs. 

Hope this proves to be helpful, and enables you to be a better steward of your finances. And extra $5-$10 toward the Lord’s work each month could make an eternal difference in someone’s life. Pretty cool. 

Also, if you have kids, you can set up separate savings accounts for the kids that are linked to yours and that you can use to set some of their money aside for spending, sharing, and saving. It’s all with Sesame Street, and it’s pretty cool. We did that too. 

And, just a warning. Over the next few weeks I may be writing several posts about NCAA Men’s Basketball. 

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Ladies Love Outlaws

I’m so sorry about this.

I know I haven’t posted anything in a while because I’ve been pretty busy, but I just had to put this up here…

I was just listening to Pandora and a song by Waylon Jennings came on entitled “Ladies Love Outlaws,” and it is simply country music at it’s best.

Here’s a sample of the lyrics. If this doesn’t make you chuckle nothing will.

‘Cause ladies love outlaws
Like babies love stray dogs
Ladies touch babies like a banker touches gold
Outlaws touch ladies somewhere deep down in their soul

Pure magic. Imagine if this guy had written worship songs!

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God’s Gonna Cut You Down

Speaking of Johnny Cash, this song just came on Pandora…

 

[LYRICS]

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down

Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down

Well my goodness gracious let me tell you the news
My head’s been wet with the midnight dew
I’ve been down on bended knee talkin’ to the man from Galilee
He spoke to me in the voice so sweet
I thought I heard the shuffle of the angel’s feet
He called my name and my heart stood still
When he said, “John go do My will!”

Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down

Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand
Workin’ in the dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
What’s done in the dark will be brought to the light

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down

Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut you down
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut you down
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut you down

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Johnny Cash

I grew up singing along with Johnny Cash on 8-tracks as my dad and I would make the 20 minute ride to our hunting camp every Saturday morning until I was about 10-years-old.

I can distinctly remember one time where we were driving home and the song I wanted to sing hadn’t come on yet and so we drove around town for a good 15 more minutes until it came on.

I enjoyed his music then, and I still enjoy it immensely today. Something simple and raw about it.

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Service Update

Thanks to everyone who prayed for last Sundays service. It went surprisingly well. Many people came and it seems as though the Lord was working in some hearts. He sure seemed to be working in mine. We had many people and families there who don’t normally go to church and who are not Christians. We had more people last Sunday than we’ve ever had since I’ve been at this church. It was so good to share the good news of great joy with all those people.

This week I’m speaking on the topic of “Love.” I just read my sermon from last year, and I’m almost tempted to use it again this Sunday. We’ll see.

I’m also starting to get a little sick so prayers for strength and healing over the next couple weeks would be appreciated.

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