Drinking Deeply

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 10:46 AM

FighterArc: Philippians 2:12-13

It's been a while since I've tried doing this. But here's a link to the latest fighter verse and my arc with questions.

I also (in the continuing attempt to fiddle with this screencast thing) recorded a video!

An interesting observation that I felt like reproducing here:

Q: What does it mean to "work out your salvation"?

A: This is a tricky one, especially in light of God's sovereignty highlighted in v.13, as well as earlier in Phil. 1:6. I think the answer is that Paul is recalling back what he wrote in Philippians 1:27-28

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy [8] of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.

In that passage, their unity in the Gospel and fearless Christ-like living is a sign of their salvation. In the same way for this passage, continue to work out this salvation through living a manner worthy of the Gospel.

Another tie is the remark "whther I come and see you or am absent," which seems to parallel, "not only in my presence, but much more in my absence"

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Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Mortgage calculator

In an effort to win a debate with my dad about if it would be better to rent or to buy, I put together an excel spreadsheet mortgage calculator.

You can view and download it here:

I wasnt' able to convince my dad, but the spreadsheet makes me think it's a lot closer than I thought.

Update: I have been fiddling around with a screencasting program, so I tried recording a basic explanation of what I was doing. Check it out.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Notes on I will Teach You to be Rich

I recently read this book on psychology and making money. Not a Christian, but definitely helpful in clarifying things for me as I look toward the future. It was worthwhile enough that I wanted to type up the notes for this one too. I liked the book, but there are additional concerns as a Christian that I had to keep in mind as I was reading.

Notes from: I will Teach You to Be Rich, by Ramit Sethi

Central Thesis: 99% of people spend too much time worrying about the absolute perfect ideals with regard to money management, and do nothing. If you just shoot for the 85% solution, then you’re miles ahead of the rest of the crowd. Get out of credit card debt, set up some automatic withdrawals with your paycheck, and set up an automatic investment system, and you’ll be set.

1)Getting started is more important than becoming an expert – Lots of people worry too much about the details. Focus on getting off the ground, adjust as needed.

2)It’s ok to make mistakes. There is a possibility of losing everything, but it’s better to do it earlier than later, plus you are gaining skills.

3)Ordinary actions will get ordinary results – No need to follow the crowd.

4)There’s a difference between being sexy and being rich – Being rich doesn’t need to be flashy or fancy.

5)Spend on things you love, cut on things you don’t. – Some things are worth the value to you, some things are not. Marginal utility!

Power of compounding early:

If you start at 25 years and invest $100/month for 10 years, at 8%/yr. you’ll be at $200,000 at age 65.

If you start at 35 years and invest $100/month for 30 years, at 8%/yr. you’ll be at $150,000 at age 65.

So we should start early! No excuses.

Ch. 1 – Optimize your credit cards.

Having great credit helps with future loans, making a huge difference with just a few percentage points.

What’s in your credit score?

1) Have reliable payments

2) Minimize amount owed (pay off debt in full!)

3) Length of history

4) New credit

5) Types of credit (varied is better)

Don’t put things on the credit card! If you buy a $250 ipod and pay minimum payments, you’ll pay $47 in interest (1/5!) and it’ll take 2.5 years1

Getting a new card – get one with good benefits, without yearly fees. Compare online. Make sure the rewards are good. Cashback cards aren’t that great. Free flights are better.

Don’t go card crazy.

Be willing to ask for refund of fees. Don’t let the rep easily turn you down!

Track your calls to financial companies

Be ok with disputing charges if they’re not what you wanted! Credit cards are on your side.

Credit cards have amazing protection: Automatic warranty doubling. Car rental insurance. Trip cancellation insurance Look into the benefits you can get.

Pay off the debt aggressively. Do the calculations on how much the loan is costing you. See how much you can reduce it by increasing the payment. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference it can make!

If you’re paying off debt aggressively, ask for lower interest rates to help.

Ch. 2 Beat the Banks

Call to ask for the fees refunded. One overdraft wipes out your interest for the entire year.

Online banks like ING Direct and Emigrant Direct are good, high interest and good service with low fees.

Best to split checking and savings. Checking is where you write checks out. Savings are for that. Savings are way better for savings. You should be able to get a much higher rate than checking.

It’s about developing the habits. Start early

Credit unions are generally better than big name banks. Better loan rates and more personalized service.

Don’t go for teaser rates or minimum balances or bundling with a credit card.

Ask to have fees waived! Say you’re a long time customer. Generally that will do it.

Ch. 3 Ready to invest

Investing is the beginning. Compounding is amazing.

Investing is not about picking stocks! Contribute to 401k, Roth IRA, it’s basically free money if you have a company match. Start early! If you just sit on your butt and do nothing, you’re going to have a harder time catching up.

Investing is the best way to get rich. Set up an automatic money transfer.

Steps:

Max out 401K match

Pay off credit card debt

Open Roth IRA

Max 401k

No retirement account.

401k – money goes in pretax. You’ll get taxed on it coming out.

Roth IRA – money goes in post-tax, but no taxes coming out.

Roth IRA are better than IRA if you think about it.

Generally places have minimums

Vanguard – 3000 (lots of low cost funds)

T. Rowe Price 1000 (minimum waived with $50/month auto contribution)

Schwab 1000 (minimum waived with 100 auto contribution)

Ch. 4 Conscious spending

Don’t worry about budgeting. Set up a system that works. You have to do some thinking ahead of time though. Be frugal, spend money on what’s valuable. This is different than being cheap.

Conscious spending plan.

Allocate where your money is going to go before getting it. Set up automatic withdrawals for each category. The rest of the money is guilt free.

Fixed Cost – rent, utilities, debt 50-60%

Investments – IRA – 10%

Savings – vacations, gifts, house down payment, unexpected expenses 10%

Spending money – guilt free! 10%

(I would also add tithing) 10%

Make sure you include savings goals!

When cutting, go for the big wins. Where are you spending most of your money? Cut there and don’t worry about the rest.

Focus on one or two big wins each month. Set realistic goals!

Use envelope system to target your big wins:

Negotiate a raise – Take the research and prove your value to your company. Discuss ways you can excel at work. Track your results. Role play your interview.

Get a higher paying job

Do some free-lance work.

If you have known irregular expenses, then you can put those into your “savings” accounts.

Unexpected income – spend some of it, but save a good amount.

Ch. 5 – Save while sleeping

Set up automatic withdrawals at the first of the month so you never see the money go. Defaults are your friend.

1st of month – pay

2nd of month – 401K

5th of month – automatic transfer to savings account

5th of month IRA

7th of month – pay monthly bills.

Tweak the system

Review the credit card bill.

Ch. 6 Myth of Financial expertise

Go with index funds that are low cost. Don’t need to trust the experts. Experts can’t time the market.

Passive management is worth it.

Dollar cost averaging – buying the same amount of fund ($100) each month, averages out highs and lows.

Expense ratio should be less than .2%

Ch. 7 Investing isn’t only for rich people

We make too many excuses, “I don’t have time”, “stock can go down” “etc”

Make automatic investments. That makes it so much easier.

Go with lifecycle funds – simple plans. It takes care of everything for you and you don’t need to rebalance.

Asset allocation is responsible for 90% of your returns.

Stocks are higher risk and bonds lower risk. Early on go with stock, later transition to bonds.

Don’t go with mutual funds!

Ch. 8 – Easy maintenance

Make sure you’re rebalancing. (not necessary with lifecycle funds).

Renting can be a good decision.

Don’t worry too much about taxes as long as you’re giving to 401k and Roth ira. They are tax deferred. Think twice about selling. There are strong incentives to holding.

To figure out what you want to do, ask people who are 10 years older what they wish they could have done when they were your age.

Emergency fund, buy insurance. Start children’s education.

Ch. 9 Rich life

Make a plan! What are you going to do regarding renting or home ownership? About a wedding? Run the numbers and come up with something.

Negotiating salary. Crunch the numbers and see what you can do. Do the research and preparation for a job!

Buying a car – do the research! Figure out the total cost of ownership.

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Friday, March 04, 2011 at 7:38 AM

Random notes from "The Trellis and the Vine"

I just typed up my notes from a book that blew my mind. Sorry it's not a full "review" or anything, but I felt like it was important enough to take down for my future reading, so I'm sharing it on the blog.

Central Thesis: The Trellis is the (organized) church structures, needed for growth of the body of Christ, but not equal to growth in the body of Christ.

General goals

1. From running programs to building people

2. From running events to training people

3. From using people to growing people.

4. From filling gaps to training new workers

5. From solving problems to helping people make progress

"If ministry in our churches is based on reaching to the problems people raise, many will receive no attention because they are more reserved in sharing their problems." (pg. 22)

Are we reactive or proactive in ministry?

6. From clinging to ordained ministry to developing team leadership

7. From focusing on church polity to forging ministry partnerships.

8. From relying on training institutions to establishing local training.

9. From focusing on immediate pressures to aiming for long-term expansion.

10. From engaging in management to engaging in ministry

"Could your minister be relieved of some of his administrative workload so that he can devote time to training one or two new leaders?" (pg. 25)

When we look for something we can do in church, don't look for a j ob or roles, but look for opportunities to love, care, and disciple.

This is hard! - The paths to glory often leads through suffering and difficulty. It's much easier to measure how many people attend, than to measure how people are growing.

"The only growth that has any significance in God's plans is the growth of believers." (pg. 38)

"People growth only happens through t he power of God's Spirit as he applies his word to people's hearts." (pg. 39)

Every Christian is called to be vine worker

"There are not two sorts of disciples, there is one. To be a disciple is to be a slave of Christ and to confess his name openly before others." pg. 42

Speak the word of God to one another. Build the body in love. Ephesians 4:15-16

Hebrews 10:24-25 - Stir one another up to love and good works.

Not every Christian has the same gifts, but all have the same goal.

"A Christian with no passion for the lost is in serious need for self-examination and repentance." (pg. 53)

Examples:

1) Sharing about a good sermon at church on Monday when a coworker asks about weekend. How the Bible actually impacts the way you live.

2) Caring for your child and speaking God's truth

3) Sharing with fellow believers how God has blessed him by a verse.

4) Meeting one on one with a new Christian to talk over some basic stuff.

5) Caring for a friend who has been anxious and is slipping off of the church.

6) Preparing ahead of time for Bible study.

7) Phoning an elderly friend to share and pray

8) Developing and praying for a friend who isn't a Christian. Inviting them to church and talking about it afterward on the ride home.

9) Rearranging your schedule so you can take off a morning to volunteer at a local school teaching Scripture.

10) Sharing a testimony with the church about God's grace and providence.

Partnership not membership

The call of the Gospel isn't a call for membership in a church, but rather partnership in a movement. Active, not passive.

Training is not a skill, it's a worldview. It's not about answering the questions than an unbeliever asks (though those answers are important), but rather it's about thinking through life in a manner that honors God. Training is in righteousness, godliness, not merely in content.

Set an example - This life lived of righteousness is caught as much as it is taught. This can be formal or informal both. We need classes, but we also need mentorships.

Stages of Gospel Growth - Outreach, follow up, growth, ,training.

Someone isn't a Christian, is a new Christian, is a growing Christian, is a training Christian.

Outreach - raising issues or heard the Gospel?

Growth - need help, or solid

Training - General or specific

Goal is not to categorize, but general progress.

Sunday sermons are necessary but not sufficient.

Pastor is not the only worker in the church. He isn't the one that must do all the visitation. Ministry does not happen only in the preaching individual visits of the clergy.

Example: Richard Baxter

"Reformed Pastor" - disciple every individual!

Multiply growth -

Dont' need to focus on the urgent - you may never get to multiply things. You can put a good focus on those who just need the next step to continue training others.

We need co-workers!

Co-worker -

Same basic theology. Not necessarily flashy up front Serve in the background Not out of need, but out of real ability Teachable Not just volunteers!

We're calling them to continue to give up their lives for Christ!

Ministry apprenticeship

There needs to be a period of training and development. Get their feet wet. We can actively recruit people

Go for it!

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