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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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Came across this link to one of John Piper’s first sermons he gave when he was 25 years old. It’s only 18 minutes long, a good lesson in itself, but even more importantly, it’s 18 very solid minutes. Enjoy.

LINK TO SERMON

Prayer Requests

Just a few quick prayer requests.

One is for a lady who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She is a friend of one of the families at our church. They also found the cancer in her lymph nodes and so they went in to remove 2/3rds of them, and when they were done and did all the biopsies they found at that they removed the wrong ones. So that bad ones are still in there and she has to decide whether to get those taken out or just leave them in and try to start chemo right away. Heartbreaking situation.

I need wisdom for leading the church this summer. It presents good opportunities for outreach, but I need to know what to take advantage of and what to pass on. I don’t want to get spread too thin–me or the church.

From now until May I have to call in to my morning job every day to see if they need me to come in and work. If not, I get to work longer at church and they will compensate me accordingly. It’s a good opportunity, but it really messes with the flow of your week and it can be hard to hit a good groove.

Pray that people would come to Christ and grow in grace.

Pray that my relationships with area pastors would stay strong and I would take time and be intentional about developing those relationships and serving those men.

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. 

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!

So, Wednesdays are usually pretty full days for me because I have to try and get some stuff done for later in the week but I’ve also got to prep for a youth group meeting that we have at 6:00pm.

Each week there are a handful of elderly women at different nursing homes and long-term care facilities that I try to visit.

And this week I found myself wishing that I didn’t have to do it. Not because I don’t like the ladies or anything, but just because time was tight and I had visited them so many times already that I just didn’t want to try to switch into a whole different gear and hop in the car and make the rounds.

I ALMOST didn’t do it. I could have justified it a hundred different ways and I don’t think I would have been wrong to take a break this week.

BUT, I figured I would break it up and make a quick trip and visit half of them before youth group and then try to do the other half another day this week.

So I went… and I’m so glad I did.

At my first stop my friend’s brother was also there visiting her and so I got to meet him for the first time and it turns out that he is friends with my uncle and was at my aunt’s funeral that I spoke at. He immediately recognized me and you could tell that funeral had left an impression on him and he was so thankful that I would stop and talk with his sister as often as I did. In particular, he was very thankful in light of that fact that her pastor won’t come and visit her but I will and she’s not even a member of our church.

I ended up talking with this gentlemen and his girlfriend for about 15 minutes out in the parking lot before we left. We talked until it got so cold we were shivering. As I left, I could tell that God was in it in a very big way. And I was thankful I had come. It was an encouragement to me in many ways.

Then I went to the nursing home in town to visit with an old friend of our family who babysat me when I was a little kid. She has advanced Parkinson’s Disease and recently had to be admitted because her daughter just couldn’t take care of her at home anymore. She’s a Christian but still a pretty “young” one in a sense. She’s pretty much confined to her chair and has to have someone feed her because she shakes too bad to feed herself. I have a Bible at my house that her daughter have to my parents to give to me when I was like four years old.

We talked about how hard it is to lose your independence and have to be served instead of doing the serving. I can tell that it is very hard for her to be there and away from her home.

Before I left I asked if she would pray for me and then I would pray for her, and for a moment she hesitated. I forgot how nervous people can get praying in front of “the pastor” because I don’t think of myself like that at all. But she said, “Yes” and she prayed one of the most honest, heartfelt, and simple prayers I have ever had anyone pray for me in my whole love. I was in tears by the time she was done. I did my best to pray for her and then we talked for a little while and I left.

I think I have this whole thing backwards. I don’t think I visited anyone on Wednesday, I think they visited me and God came with them. And just to think that I ALMOST didn’t do it. What a fool I can be.

What are you ALMOST not going to do today, this week, or this month because even though you know it would be honoring to God you just don’t feel like you have the time or energy to do it? Would you reconsider? Don’t worry about doing everything, just do that ONE thing and see what happens.

Oh Lord, may we be faithful in the small things. Faithful in the small things, for your name’s sake, that your Son might be praised and that we might grow in grace just as much as those we seek to minister to. Please help Bev and Mary and even me to remember that we are never alone, for you will never leave us nor forsake us. Amen.

Kids Choir

This Sunday we are going to have the little kids sing a few songs and play a song or two with the hand-bells. These services usually brings in a handful of extra people who don’t normally go to church so please pray that God would speak to them through his Word while they are with us.

I will be in Matthew 8:5-13. It will be the second sermon in a two-part series. The first part was titled “Distance” and I talked about the distance between Jesus and God according to the centurion who approached him… and just in case you’re wondering that distance was zero. And that’s why Jesus had more power than the entire Roman Empire.

This Sunday we’re going to talk about the distance between each other that results from distance between us and God, and how that gap is bridged by grace through faith in the saving power of Jesus Christ.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

I need prayer that I would go shorter this Sunday than I have the past two Sundays. My sermons lately have been nudging up near 50 minutes a piece.

We just won’t have the time for it this Sunday as we’ve got communion and some special music as well.

Pray for clarity, conviction, and faithfulness to Jesus in under 30 minutes. That sounds funny, but it works.

Thanks.

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