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Investing

hersheykisses

Economics doesn’t have to be difficult.  Just ask my three-year-old grandson…

Understanding Liberalism (True Story)

Cohen:  Papa can I have a treat?

Papa:  What do you want? [click to continue…]

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planting“Our behavior, attitudes, and initiatives toward others are an act of sowing.  The acts of others toward us, at least in a general sense, are an act of reaping.  If others are being critical, judgmental, or hostile to us, before we write them off as uncaring jerks, it may be wise to examine what we’ve been sowing in our own attitudes and relationships.  If we aren’t seeing generosity being returned, maybe we haven’t been giving.”

-from my journal, January 10, 2001

Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others – ignoring God! – harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life (Galatians 6:7-8, The Message).

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Sometimes when the Lord wants to tell me something significant, he opens my eyes.

Sometimes he closes them.  Literally.  And speaks to me through a dream.

A few years ago I was on an airplane, reading about how God reveals himself through dreams, and I decided to see if the Lord had anything to say to me in that manner.  That night in the hotel room, I asked him to speak to me through my dreams, and I “instructed” my brain to remember.

Remember I did.  Clearly.  Vividly.  Unforgettably. [click to continue…]

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I live in an area in which cotton farming is a multi-million-dollar enterprise.  Care to hazard a guess about how much time the farmers here spend stripping or picking cotton?

About two weeks.

Everything that determines their futures for another year comes down to a two-week process.  And yet, it’s what they do during the other 50 weeks of the year that will make or break the success of their harvest.

It’s all about the cycle, and where they are on it.

You may not be a farmer, but you were created to be a harvester of sorts.  God created you with the capacity to envision a better future and a rewarding eternal state. But in most worthwhile pursuits, you don’t have the luxury of microwaving your results in a matter of minutes.  While his medals were earned in a matter of seconds, Michael Phelps didn’t jump into a pool for the first time in June.  His victories were the crowning achievement of his training cycle.

We, too, experience life in a variety of cycles.  The seasons, economic cycles, and generational cycles come to mind.  LifeVesting is no different.  Each of the Laws of LifeVesting operate on cycles of continuous movement.

Don’t think of these as a locked-in sequence of steps; life is wonderfully much messier than that.  Instead, think of the LifeVesting cycle as a flow of activity, moving from one stage to another.  Over the next few days, I’d like to explore these with you. [click to continue…]

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GrowthA man goes on a long journey, so the story goes.  He gives different amounts of money to three managers – amounts ranging in today’s currency from around $300,000 to upwards of $5 million.  This ain’t chump change.

One day, the man returns, and asks the three managers a pretty simple question:  How much value did you add to what I gave you?

Two of the managers had done similar things with the money.  They started making trades.  Making the money work for more money.  They took some risks, added some work and ideas of their own, and increased the value of the initial stake.

Behind door number three, however, was a guy who buried his stake in the back yard.  He did nothing with what he had been given.  Assuming that somehow the landowner would be impressed, he beamed with pride as he returned the original stake.

Bad move.

You know this, of course, as a story that Jesus told.  But some of the most important words are some of the first:  “The kingdom of heaven is like this,” Jesus said.

So, while a lot of us imagine judgment as us standing before God while he counts the cusswords and dirty little thoughts we had, Jesus presents a different idea here.  We will give an account to God for how much more value we have added to the gifts He’s given us.  This is the LifeVesting principle of Increase:

I will receive an increase on my life choices in proportion to my willingness to invest and wait.

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LaughterI mentioned in my previous post that it’s possible to live in such a way that laughs at the future. Just so we’re clear, we’re in “life hack” territory.  We’re talking about what to do with your money, your time, your relationships, your attitudes, and your spirit.

Look at this biblical description:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” (Proverbs 31:25)

What is it about this woman that put her in a place where she wasn’t wringing her hands every time somebody predicted the end of life as we know it? 

1.  Establish trust in those who know you best.

“Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm,all the days of her life” (v. 11-12, NLT).

For years I assumed that her husband trusted her in a moral sense, but this is much deeper.  This man trusted her with his business, his family, and his money.  She had earned his trust.  How?  By adding value to his life. 

By doing a little more, being faithful to tasks assigned, or by keeping the trust of those who know you best, you create a compelling future.  Take it from somebody who has both earned and betrayed trust:  it takes months and years to earn trust, and you can destroy it – and your confidence in the future – in a matter of minutes.

2.  Buy like an investor, not like a consumer.

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Scarlett“I can shoot straight, if I don’t have to shoot too far.” 

“I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

-Scarlett O’Hara, “Gone With the Wind”

Everybody is fascinated with Scarlett.  But nobody wants to admit how much like her we can be.

One way to understand LifeVesting is to define it in terms of what it isn’t.  LifeVestors have four alter-egos:  consumers, hoarders, gamblers, and codependents.  Today I’d like to introduce you to the first.

While in the purest economic sense everyone is a spender, the Consumers I’m talking about are takers.  They spend their money, their time, their relationships on today’s wants and needs.  Their primary focus is on themselves – though not always in an intentionally selfish way.  They come to church for what they can get out of it.  They spend their time and money in ways that, when spent, are gone forever.  For them, there is no other moment but now.  Tomorrow will take care of itself. 

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BudgetThere are four things – and only four things – you can spend your money on.  Like me, you may keep up with your finances with computer program that has a vast array of categories.  You may be a day planner diva, able instantly to analyze what occupies your time.  But it still comes down to just four things.

Are you a leader, or a leader wannabe?  There are four – and only four – directions of leadership.

There are four – and only four – foundations of wisdom.

Same goes for other LifeVesting Currencies – esteem, love, words, and abilities.  There are four sources or directions for each:

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