What Kind of Business Will You Buy?

     Investing 101

Are you saying you have no interest in being part owner of any business?

Let’s take a look at that comment. Have you eliminated investing in stocks, mutual funds, ETF’s, variable annuities, or private partnerships?

If you own a share of stock you are a partial owner of the company that issued it. The mutual funds and the other mentioned investment vehicles likely own shares of public companies.  You are likely partial owner of many companies.

Do you participate in a retirement program? Is it an Individual Retirement Account?  Is it through your employer, such as a 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plan?  Is your employer setting aside money guaranteeing you a pension when you retire?  Where is most of the money invested?

Your money is used to buy partial ownership in businesses. Some are incorporated in the USA. Others may have headquarters in foreign countries.  Some companies may be well established with long histories of providing goods and services. Some may be new, as recently opened as within the past few days. Some may be sharing annual profits with shareholders, others keeping the money in order to more rapidly expand business. Some have strong cash reserves while others may not have “two dimes to rub together”.

So, let me rephrase the question. Do you know what kind of businesses you partially own? Do you understand the amount of risk being taken in your businesses?

The determination of what businesses to own, how secure they need to be financially, and how diversified among industry areas and countries is an individual decision.

A trusted financial advisor can help you decide on the kinds of companies to consider and how to select the right combination of businesses.   

Let's Hear From You

What it Means to be Human. Part 4

       The Human Family

It begins with Genesis Chapter 1. Having completed an earthly habitat capable of sustaining all forms of life ‘Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in our image, according to Our likeness; and let him rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’” (Gen. 1:26)

Humans are created with two gender designations: Male and Female. (Gen. 1:27) “God blessed them; and God said to them, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth….” In Gen. 1:28 the genders are blessed by God and given a responsibility for the care and expansion of creation. Of all created beings only humans received life as God breathed into them.

The responsibility of increasing the human population is given to a woman and a man by way of a special relationship. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”. (Gen. 2:24). Male and Female join together in a sexual relationship and another human being is brought into this earthly life. They bear a responsibility of caring for and teaching the young a way of life pleasing to God. No other gender combination is physically equipped to make a new human life. All other gender designations are of fallen human origin and have not received God’s blessing.

God is the judge of all, even those who choose not to recognize God in Biblical revelation as the designer and giver of life. The apostle Paul writes in Roman 1:18 & 19, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident to them”. He continues “that God’s invisible attributes have been clearly seen, being understood” (v. 20); “all people know God” (v.21); Possess moral knowledge of what is sinfulness and of idolatry” (v.23); “sexual perversion” (v.24); ‘falsehood’ (v.25); “covetousness” (v.29; “murder” (V.29); “ill speech” (v29); and “disobedience to parents” (V30). Homosexuality is condemned as a sin “against nature” (v)26. In the final verse of Romans 1 Paul says, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these things but also approve of those who practice them”.

Humans are created to have an awareness of God even without divine revelation. God can become known through intellect and reason. Ignorance of revelation is no excuse for not being aware of God’s presence. The person who does not pursue knowing God does so as a matter of personal choice. The person who chooses to find God, beginning with a rational view of the world, will experience God’s revelation. God does not leave any one ignorant who wants to know him.

“Free will’ is the freedom to willfully know God or choose not to.

The Biblical view of the family, as presented in Genesis, finds its identity in God. It is not merely the construct of a rational materialistic oriented society. The family as the fundamental unit of society predates all other means by which individuals become part of groups. The family existed before man made relationships were designated and codified. Rules, regulations and laws should reflect the creator of the family not human thinking that comes years or centuries later. The civil political unit that maintains social order is the custodian not the source of truth, justice and law.

Let's Hear From You

What it Means to be Human. Part 3

                                 Humanity Lost

 Evil is real and in competition with God for souls. Sin results in our loss of humanity. We become less than who God created. The more we give in to evil the more we decrease our humanity. The image of God, in us, is not lost but is corrupted. Our inherent image of God means that no matter how far we may be from God we still know the difference between good and evil. (Romans 1:18-20)

The equation is: Through Adam sin entered human existence. Through Jesus restoration is extended by the grace of God. (Romans 5).

“The work of divine grace in cosmic atonement is integrally united in its regenerative activity in the individual life; the two are different aspects of the unity of God’s purpose to save men from sin, and of the accomplishment of that purpose through Jesus Christ. He has shown us the nature and goal of human personality; He has atoned for our sinful failure to realize that nature and reach that goal; He has become the center of the fullest development of human personality yet known to us. What Christ has to do for us, in this last respect, is to bring to realization the possibilities of our nature interrupted or defeated by the sinful will. Sin is the intruder, not Christ.” (The Christian Doctrine of Man, H. Wheeler Robinson, Principal of Regent’s Park College, London.)

Becoming a disciple of Jesus begins a process of restoration and transformation. The struggle for a Christian is the conflict of being a citizen of two cultures. (Romans 6). We are in this physical world, with defective societal standards of conduct with regard to family, justice, freedom of conscience, government, and economic fairness. But, we are called to not be of this world. That is the challenge. A Christian struggles to live a Kingdom view life in a Worldview society that has little or no interest in living in a way that reflects God.

As Christians we are restrained in our attitudes and treatment of others by the inherent dignity of every human, even non-believers. Psalms 8 reminds us “You have made him a little lower than the angels and have crowned him with glory and honor. You made him to have dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet”. Even in our fallen state we continue to reflect the image of God. Somewhere deep inside his spirit the worldview man senses an incompleteness.

The Worldview man compensates for it with ambition and achievement; leaving his name to be known for years after passing from this world. Or he rebels against that inner spirit of God with destructive violent behavior. He may seek to hide from it in the excesses of addiction. He creates human gods whose standards he can meet. In desperation, he denies God.

Like it or not, his origin is in God. He has been made in the image of God even if that image now is but a shadow. And, he deserves to be treated with respect.

We should not be naive and expect our convictions to be welcomed by those who are trying to live without reference to the image and authority of God. People who are avoiding God by ambition, rebellion, destructive life styles, unsatisfactory shadow gods, and denial will feel threatened and respond accordingly. Prophets, Jesus, and disciples through the centuries, including now, have been punished for challenging worldviews.

The Kingdom view provides the Christian with a standard by which we can address current cultural practices in areas such as the family, marriage and sexual identity.

Coming Next: Part Four, The Human Family

Let's Hear From You

Contributing to Tension Situations

         CONTRIBUTING TO TENSION SITUATIONS

Some people seek for and thrive on tension. This is in especially evident today in our political climate. However, it may be true in family life, at work, with neighbors, or in church. Even if most of us seek to avoid conflict we may be drawn into situations because of the actions of others. Recent consideration brought to mind techniques used to create and maintain tension.

Opportunistic people exist. Such people see issues as “causes” for them to defend and opponents as objects to conquer. They use code words to push other people’s hot buttons in order to energize the cause with great emotional fervor. Language may be used to sway opinions, degrade others, gain a foothold or push an agenda. Phrases such as “radical”, “unfeeling”, “our kind”, their kind”, “racist”, “fascist”, “elitist”, and “deplorables” are examples.

Most situations do not have two sides but rather involve a web of feelings, convictions and opinions. Individually most of us cannot be easily labeled because we are not consistent in positions we adopt. Our thinking is not as rational as we like to think.  It is colored (or discolored) by our feelings, past experiences, influence of other people and personal convenience. Thinking is time consuming and difficult, therefore it is an effort to do it. It is much easier to react out of preconceived convictions and use rationale to defend conclusions.  It is easier to parrot phrases than think through issues.

Rumors abound and thus distort facts, undermine relationships, and create an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust. Qualities which make for good character and the betterment of life are often sacrificed to error and distortion without investigation into the context of the subject’s life or ulterior motives of the rumormonger. We need to verify facts and not vilify persons.

Awareness of these factors helps me keep issues in perspective, avoid being manipulated by others, and hopefully, not contribute to increasing tensions in difficult situations.

Let's Hear From You

What it Means to be Human. Part 2

        Made In the Image Of God

We acknowledge the existence of an eternal being of unlimited power, intellectual capacity and sacrificial love. We are creatures of God’s creation superior to everything else in existence.  We are souls, embodied with spiritual, emotional, mental and physical attributes. We are capable of using reason to know the truth and evaluate alternatives. We possess a personal ability to make choices. We are creative. We function both as individuals and social beings.

In short: “We are made in the image of God’. We have a natural desire to know our creator, who infuses in us some of all of who He is. God’s desire is to have fellowship with each of us. He constantly and consistently reaches out to us waiting patiently for our response.

God came and walked with Adam & Eve.

God came and personally dealt with Cain.

God came and walked with Enoch.

God came and called Noah out of wickedness.

God came and told Abraham he will be the father of a nation.

God came and appeared to Isaac and Jacob.

God came and called Moses to free his people from slavery.

God came and was embodied in a burning bush, a pillar of fire and cloud, a tabernacle, a temple.

AND

God came and His name is called “Jesus” and he saves people from their sins. “For in him all fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:9).

God comes down and dwells in, comforts, instructs, and empowers believers with His own Holy Spirit. Jesus said to the disciples, “It is good that I go away, because if I go away, I’m going to send you the Holy Spirit”. (John 16:7).’  (John Overstreet, Responding to Cultural Pressure. Journal of Christian Legal Thought. Vol.4, #3. Winter, 2014.)

The scratched computer disk is our human nature. The sin that began with Adam and Eve has corrupted the human being God created. To become a disciple of Jesus is to begin the process of restoring us back to being a clean and complete image of God.

Thomas Howard, in his book Evangelical Is Not Enough says: “The incarnation takes all that properly belongs to our humanity and delivers it back to us redeemed. All our inclinations and proclivities, that belong to us, and were stolen away into the service of false gods, are returned to us in the Gospel. Jesus did not come to thin out human life. He came to set us free.”

Coming Next,  Part Three,  Humanity Lost