future funded ministry

What's in your future?

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I pulled into the Envoy parking lot and there it was - a 426 HP, bright orange, 2013, Camaro that existed in my friend’s dream. Now a reality! He confided in me a month or so earlier that he’d finally convinced his wife that “they” should have the car of his dreams. How much fun is that?

Interestingly, parked beside it was another Chevrolet...60 years older. A 1953 rebuilt farm truck with 70 HP. Not only were they years apart but they went from functional to fantastic. It took me back to my college years selling new Chevrolets at Mahlon Maxton Chevrolet in Worthington, Ohio. It got me through college and a good part of graduate school. I guess it proves you do not have to be an expert to sell a lot of cars. How thankful we were!

Dreams and reality, function and fun, are all key parts of life.

The Chevy truck was built before most reading this blog were even born. So, think out a decade or more, what will you be driving? What will you be doing? Will you be active in your current ministry or vocation, or called to whole new activity? Will it be more like a 1953 Chevrolet Pick-up or a 2013 high-powered Camaro?

Whatever your future calling, it will certainly cost money. It will have a financial component.

My friend was so excited that he could afford to purchase his dream car. If he, they, could not have afforded it, the dream would exist, but with no reality in sight.

Being able to live a dream creates the foundation for another one. Experiencing the dream, seeing it come into full-throttled fruition is energizing. It also provides the fuel for a powerful future.

When we are open to God’s plan for our future, particularly after retirement, there are two action steps to take:

  1. Connect with His vision for your future and the dream he places in you.
  2. Prepare for it financially. We call this a Future Funded Ministry.

What would you put in your picture? Think about it…and be glad you’re not buying the gas.

Let me know your thoughts and comments. Our dialogue continues.

Living with Trusted Advice together


Bruce

Your work: a reflection of the nature of God

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John Calvin believed that work is as much a part of worship as giving. 

In the Christian community, we talk about work as worship, work as ministry, and work as stewardship.

We often think of the work that we are required to do in order to earn a living. We then separate that work from our spiritual life and role as one of God’s stewards. Stewards of what? Well, steward of everything is the most inclusive definition. Stewardship requires work, yours and mine.

 So work is so much more than expending the time and energy to "earn a living."

Not only do we work, but our work is a reflection of the nature of God. We are made in God’s image and we know that He worked to create the world and works today in our daily lives.

Let's take an even closer look at "work." It is comforting to know that each of us is both chosen to be a friend of Gods and called to roles in His Kingdom. There are general roles for all and then specific roles for each of us in His kingdom. To put it another way, God is at work in both of those areas, choosing and calling, being chosen and being called.

First, we have to respond to the "choosing" with a step of faith. After that, we  go to work and carry out the "calling." So both God and His creation, you and me, are in fact working together. 

While we are in the process of working at our calling, God is also at work in our circumstances. He prepares us, strengthens and upholds us. This is how He enables us to carry out our stewardship mission.

How comforting is that? We are not alone. We have His wisdom and power to support, strengthen, and uphold us. It sure makes a difference in those tough circumstances and difficult situations….you know, the ones that totally get you down.

Nothing gets done unless someone does something….that something we call "work." Work for which we are either already prepared or tasks we are working on that will, in fact, prepare us for what is next. The next step in carrying out God’s call on our life. By the way, those next steps extend for a lifetime, not just a season. 

So here is the rub given our current culture's perspective of the last quarter of our life....retirement. The rub is that our culture embraces the perspective that at retirement we will stop working. Stop working and focus only on satisfying ourselves. In other words, we will do nothing but focus on our own desires and pleasures. 

On the other end of the spectrum is the supposed Christian mantra that “I’m never going to retire."  "I will never stop working."  The assumption that goes along with this life view is that the work will provide an ongoing income too. The back story is that this mantra presupposes never stopping earning. Work for pay becomes the lifetime annuity. That is unrealistic for sure. I just can’t envision hiking to the office at 90.

So what is a God-honoring perspective of work and of retirement? 

What you do in retirement, your work during retirement, is, in fact, your response to the opportunities God puts right in front of you and has uniquely prepared for you.

Pretty cool. You are prepared for a lifetime of service to carry out a uniquely called mission extending not for a season, but for a lifetime. This also presupposes that you have prepared financially for this strategic time of service. 

I take great comfort in knowing that regardless of my age or circumstance, God is at work preparing me for a lifetime of service….service for a lifetime. We will explore the three stages of retirement in another blog. The great comfort comes from knowing that there will always be meaning and purpose in my life fulfilling God’s call which always means “changed lives."

All this is true if you are spiritually prepared and the results of your financial stewardship give you the freedom to respond to God's call. 

Love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Work is a sacred activity and when done to His glory fulfills our mission to the world.

-Bruce

We can be better than this

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Is this the best we can be?

There are times when we are challenged as a nation—a people—to look beyond our own individual self-interests. I am reflecting on this point as the “gun control” conversation swirls around us.

During my lifetime, these moments of reflection have come as the result of someone dying. The deaths of Franklin RooseveltJohn KennedyBobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King are points in time that have become permanent fixtures in my mind.

There are times when we are challenged as families to look beyond ourselves. These too often come as the result of a death. I think of the passing of my mother, father, and brother, as well as uncles, aunts, and cousins.

During the shock, pain, and sadness, I (maybe all of us) allow my mind to drift towards the meaning of these lives. Not only the meaning but also the guiding principles for the future that their lives suggest. Roosevelt's, the Kennedy's, and Martin Luther King’s prompt personal courage in the face of major challenges. Examples closer to home include my mother’s admonition to ‘love and forgive,’ and my Dad’s creative energy and unrelenting commitment to ‘make it better.’ My brother’s life (he died of AIDS) prompted a deeper understanding of the need to persevere.

The more recent shooting deaths across our country prompt reflections that involve social issues and questions that start with “How could … ?”

When Obama stated “We can be better than this,” I echo “Right on.”

Regardless of what you think of his politics, you cannot doubt the value of this very human question each of us must reflect and ask: “Am I contributing to the better?" “Am I sitting on the sidelines?” Or maybe “Am I part of the problem?” President Kennedy’s inaugural challenge to all of us is part of our National heritage: “Ask not … but what you can do for your country!

It seems—after 7 decades of life—that a key question posed by Martin Luther King is very relevant. He said, “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?’”

These penetrating questions about life are independent of politics and cut to the very heart of “Being Human.”

As followers of Jesus, we are challenged to be “better” and to be thankful. When we are not thankful, and our “humanness” takes over, Grace is sufficient. We see this desire to be “better” played out in one of life’s great learning laboratories, developing a Future Funded Ministry. In this laboratory, we have the challenge of a lifetime: creating a financial base from which we can truly experience a Lifetime of Service. A Lifetime of Service that allows us to decide how much better we can be, and to whom we are going to minister, to serve. The Future Funded Retirement Plan provides the freedom to “be better” by doing better.

One of our Plan Sponsors recently asked me, “What is the most important reason for having a retirement plan?” My answer? “We demonstrate our love for God by preparing for—and then choosing to—serve others for a lifetime. That is the heart of Future Funded Ministry.”

We can all be better. Here is one formula: A good plan. A little help. Persistent effort. And a lot of prayer. Join me in the endeavor?

Let me know your thoughts and comments. Our dialogue continues.

Living with Trusted Advice together,

Bruce