PCC Scroll: Your Money Matters

Here is the “Your Money Matters” section of the latest PCC Scroll.

There is an old saying that goes, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” This adage is especially true when it comes to managing your money. If you concentrate all of your investments and planning in one area, you could lose substantially. That’s why it’s important to diversify your portfolio.

 

When it comes to financial planning, diversification is critical to mitigating risks. This could be done by diversifying your investments in stocks (U.S. and foreign), bonds, mutual funds, etc., while having liquid cash. It also means diversifying risk levels (high, moderate, and low), investment types (large cap and small cap), and market sectors. Some people also invest in real estate or rent out space(s) in their home on sites like Airbnb.

 

Stocks are more volatile than bonds with the potential for high growth and high loss. Historically speaking, the market seems to run on a ten-year, up-and-down cycle. Bonds are shorter-term investments with less risk. But with their stability, there is also less growth. Stocks may be better for long-term investments, and bonds may be better for short-term investments. And of course, cash is always good to have in an emergency. If you are considering investing in real estate, remember you will need to monetarily plan for vacancies and repairs (planned and unplanned).

 

While you are diversifying your portfolio, you can also diversify your income stream. Outside of your “9 to 5” job, you could use your skillset, time, and hobbies to earn additional income. Some examples include: babysitting, tutoring, consulting/coaching, writing, singing lessons, piano lessons, social media management, resume/grant writing, etc. I met a woman who started making candles for herself and her friends and family as a hobby. She now spends her weekends selling them at farmers’ markets as an income generator. I have also met several people who sell their travel photos at farmers’ markets. People also sell their pictures as stock photos and make royalties. This is actually something I want to explore. You could also drive for Uber, Lyft, and UberEats whenever convenient for your schedule. A lot of people will also pick up seasonal, part-time work, especially during the holidays. If you are eligible for overtime pay, picking up extra hours is also a good option. I recently stayed at an Airbnb, and my host only does it when she needs extra cash for a large purchase.

 

It is important to know where you are financially and where you want to go. When developing your portfolio, think about your investment goals. Think about your risk tolerance. Consider where you are in your timeline. For example, if you are planning for retirement, are you less than ten years away? If so, stay away from high-risk investments.

 

As we start a new year, it is always a good time to reset your finances. How much money do you currently have invested? Can you invest more? Look at where your money is currently invested and reallocate it if necessary. Think about the end game. How much money are you looking to earn over how many years? Also does your job offer a 401 match? If so, you should take advantage of this benefit! If you are risk adverse, why not use your employer match funds to invest in higher-risk stocks?

 

Invest in a financial planner if you need help. A good financial planner can help you create the financial future you desire. When looking for an advisor, make sure it is someone you can trust and seek recommendations. If you do go the advisor route, understand what fees you will pay. The bottom line is knowing yourself. If you have the discipline to do the research and monitor your accounts, do so. Otherwise, seek professional help.

 

Whatever you do, conduct your own research and keep a balanced portfolio.

 

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PCC Scroll: Men of the Bible (Joseph)

Here is the “Men of the Bible” from the latest issue of the PCC Scroll.

Name: Joseph

Meaning: May He (Jehovah) add

His Character: Joseph was wise, prudent, and spiritually sensitive.

His Sorrow: In their jealousy, his brothers sold him into slavery. He was also imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.

His Triumph: Joseph was reunited with his family. He reconciled with his older brothers and was reunited with his father and younger brother, Benjamin. He was able to provide for his family and a nation during a famine.

Key Scriptures: Genesis 30 – 50

Being Jacob’s first child from his beloved Rachel in Jacob’s old age, Joseph was Jacob’s favorite. Jacob’s favoritism was further illustrated when he purchased, for Joseph, a colorful robe. Joseph was naturally confident and knowing he was his father’s favorite amplified it. Joseph was also aware of the call of God on his life. He had dreams that pointed to his eventual greatness, and he was not afraid to share them. His older brothers found his being their fathers’ favorite, his confidence, and his dreams unbearable and conspired against him. Some wanted to kill him, but they ended up selling him into slavery.

 

Joseph managed to survive and prosper wherever he landed. He was a person who walked in favor, and, as he aged, wisdom was added to his confidence. From Potiphar (who placed Joseph in charge of everything he owned), the prison warden (who placed Joseph in charge of the other prisoners), other prisoners (including the pharaoh’s cup bearer who would later remember and recommend Joseph to the pharaoh), the pharaoh (whose dream Joseph interpreted), and eventually the same brothers who sold him into slavery–Joseph won the hearts of those around him.

 

Joseph was known for his integrity and spiritual sensitivity. Because of his spiritual sensitivity, he was able to hear from God and correctly interpret pharaoh’s dream. This interpretation gave them the steps needed to prepare a nation to survive the famine, saving many lives. Egypt’s being prepared caused many to go there, including Joseph’s family. He was able to help his family, see his father and younger brother, and reconcile with the brothers who sold him into slavery.

 

At Joseph’s initial reconnection with his brothers, he recognized them although they did not recognize him. As they bowed before him, he was probably reminded of his initial dream. He accused them of being spies. The interaction with his brothers may have been to test to see if they had changed, and he wanted to ascertain how they treated Benjamin. When the brothers returned with Benjamin, at Joseph’s command, it was Judah’s protective nature toward Benjamin that caused Joseph to emotionally reveal himself. The eventual reunion of Jacob and Joseph is one of the most moving scenes in the Bible.

 

In his life, Joseph experienced a lot. He was betrayed by his brothers, but he was able to forgive them and hold no bitterness toward them. He was wrongly accused of rape and imprisoned, but he knew he did the right thing in resisting temptation because he did not want to sin against God. Even in his darkest situations, Joseph was aware that God was with him. He rose from being a slave to being a ruler in Egypt. To paraphrase Joseph, God made him fruitful in the land of his suffering.

 

In Joseph, we see a wonderful example that even what others intend for evil, God can use for our good. God was continually blessing Joseph and delivering him from challenging situations. God blessed Joseph with wisdom and success. Joseph moved from strength to strength in his life and was blessed even in the most unlikely situations. He rose from being sold into slavery at 17 years old to being a Hebrew slave and prisoner for 13 years to becoming the second-in-command in Egypt by the age of 30 years old.

 

PCC Scroll: Women of the Bible (Rizpah)

Here is the Women of the Bible from the latest PCC Scroll.

Name: Rizpah

Meaning: Glowing coal or hot stone

Her Character: Rizpah was a dedicated and devoted mother who guarded the bodies of her sons and kinsmen.

Her Sorrow: Her two sons and kinsmen were executed.

Her Triumph: Her watch was noticed by King David, and her sons and kinsmen were buried in their family’s tomb.

Key Scriptures: 2 Samuel 3:6-8; 2 Samuel 21:8-14

Rizpah, who was the daughter of Aiah, was a concubine of King Saul, and she had two sons by him. We first hear of her when the houses of Saul and David were at war. Abner, who was the commander in chief of King Saul’s army, was accused of sleeping with her by Ishbosheth. Ishbosheth was King’s Saul’s son. He was a weak and ineffective ruler after his father’s death. Ishbosheth’s accusation was serious because to sleep with a wife or a concubine of a king, or in this case former king, was considered treason. It was considered trying to make a play for the throne. This accusation angered Abner and caused him to shift his allegiance to David.

 

We next hear about her during the later years of King David’s rule. There was a famine in the land for three years, and King David sought God about it. God’s answer was that the famine came because King Saul and his family were guilty of massacring the Gibeonites. This slaughter broke an oath Joshua had made with the Gibeonites years ago. King David sought the Gibeonites about how to make amends and atone for the murders, and they called for the execution of King Saul’s sons. Two of the sons, Armoni and Mephibosheth, were the sons of Rizpah.

 

The execution of her sons and five of King Saul’s grandsons took place at the beginning of the barley harvest, which was typically late April/early May and lasted until October. Her two sons and their nephews were executed, and she watched over the bodies that were left on the gallows for months.

 

Rizpah spread sackcloth on the ground and stayed and guarded the bodies the entire harvest. Sackcloth is associated with mourning for the dead as well as a public expression of penitence in view of misfortune. A woman who had once wore queenly garments now rested on sackcloth. She spent months preventing scavenger birds from tearing at the decomposing bodies during the day and preventing wild animals from devouring them during the night.

 

King David learned of what Rizpah was doing. He gathered the bones of King Saul and Jonathan and the remains of the men the Gibeonites had executed. They were all buried in the tomb of King Saul’s father in the town of Zela.

 

Rizpah is known for the loving care of her dead. She was left without a husband and her sons and was probably living in poverty. She did not have the power to stop the deaths of her sons, but she took action to protect the bodies of her sons and kinsmen, and her bold actions were noticed by the king himself. Her desire for the proper and respectful treatment of her dead was fulfilled.

 

Rizpah has been honored in art. She is believed to be the inspiration for Tennyson’s poem “Rizpah,” and the painter J.M.W. Turner created a famous piece of her watching over the bodies. Rizpah’s vigil over her sons’ bodies is often compared to Mary standing at the cross watching over her son, Jesus. Rizpah is also compared to Mary Magdalene.

 

We do not what her life was like after her vigil, but we can imagine she found comfort knowing her sons were lying in the tomb of their family.

 

 

PCC Scroll: Word of the Quarter

Here is the “Word of the Quarter” from the latest issue of the PCC Scroll.

In this issue of the PCC Scroll, we continue the overarching theme of “Being a good steward: Working what’s in your hands.” The overarching focus started in the fall issue with the subject of “Recognizing what is in your hand: What are you steward over?” The overarching thought continues with the topic, “Exploring creative ideas: How else can you use your gifts.”

 

In terms of using our gifts, if we don’t branch out and think outside of the box, we have the potential to become boxed in. We can become boxed in by external forces (how other people perceive our gifts and capabilities) or by internal forces (how we perceive our gifts and capabilities). When we become boxed in, we neglect to explore new ways to create, and we become stuck in a rut or perform out of routine behavior.

 

The practice of exploration requires us to investigate, study, and analyze. Exploration requires us to travel into new spaces and territories. Explorers value and want to see what is outside of their native land. Perhaps one way we can experience God in a different way is by going outside of the four walls of the church with our ministry. People are looking for light and hope, and it requires us taking the light and hope to them. This requires us to look at need in a different way. We must look beyond what we think someone needs and discern what they actually need.

 

When the editing team met, we asked ourselves a few questions. How do we create new avenues to use our gifts? We can start by asking, “How else and where else can I use my gifts?” We talked about different ways to express our gifts. A few examples came out. If you are a member of a choir, there are opportunities to use your gift outside of the church. For example, you could volunteer to sing at a nursing home. If you have the gift of hospitality, perhaps you could invite new members of your church to dinner. It would be a good way to use your gift and welcome new members into the congregation.

 

One way you can stretch yourself is to take or retake an inventory of your gifts. We invite you take or retake a spiritual gifts survey, which can be found at the following link: http://gifts.churchgrowth.org/spiritual-gifts-survey/. For those who have already taken the test, what has expanded and what is new? How do you live out the gifts you have been given?

 

Other questions the editing team asked were, “How else is God causing us to use our gifts?” and “What does it look like for our gifts to live in a different space?” We invite you to reacquaint yourself with wonder. It is okay to not know how things will work out, but it is not okay to be complacent. Be an explorer. It’s part of our faith journey. Be okay with trying new things, failing, asking questions, taking weighted risks, and learning. We must be open to assess our effectiveness. Be honest about what worked and what didn’t work. It is a process. Do not be fearful of failure. Be brave, courageous, and open to the unexpected.

 

You have the skills and gifts. We invite you to explore how you can use them in a different way.

 

PCC Scroll: Editor’s Corner

Here is the “Editor’s Corner” from the latest issue of the PCC Scroll.

I am going to steer this article toward people who write, like to write, or want to write. It has always struck me how many people who write attend or have attended PCC. With so much writing talent in one place, how can we best harvest this gift?

 

We currently have several avenues of using the gift.

 

We have the PCC Scroll, which I think is a great way to get your writing out. We have an international distribution list. We are continuously looking for new, dedicated writers. We are looking for staff writers for “Men of the Bible,” “Women of the Bible,” and “Your Money Matters.” The commitment would be one article a quarter of around 600 words. The editing team develops an editorial calendar each year, so the subject matter would be provided. If you have an interest in writing for the Scroll, please talk to me. Also, if you have an interest in editing for the Scroll, please talk to me. And don’t forget you can always submit creative expressions, testimonies, book reviews, etc. We really do want to hear from you!

 

The church has also published two anthologies, Illuminations and The Outpouring. Is it time to do another one? I have been struck by the powerful testimonies of our members and greater community. So perhaps a book of testimonies. If you have an interest in exploring this project, please talk to me.

 

Earlier this year, we formed a writing group, but the momentum faded. Perhaps we should pick that back up? I know there were ideas for books for children. There were also some interested in having members write and produce a play.

 

How else can we use our writing gift?

 

One area that I have always wanted to explore is producing literature and brochures on various topics.

 

I currently blog. Would there be an interest in having writers rotate on a church blog? We would need to talk to pastor of course (smile). But a church blog with messages of inspiration could easily be turned into a book of inspirational writings.

 

And remember, we have a dedicated editing team to help smooth out bumps in writing.

 

With any of the ideas mentioned above, keywords are going to be commitment and dedication.

 

If you have a talent and a passion for writing and ideas of how we can collectively or individually use our writing gifts more, please get in touch with me. I would love to hear them and discuss ways we can bring all of our ideas to life. Again, we have so much writing talent. Let’s explore ways we can creatively use it.

 

And don’t forget you can use your gift in other areas. For example, at work, I am writing more press releases and wrote an article for an upcoming magazine. I am also trying to intentionally use LinkedIn and Facebook as a way of steering more people toward my blog,

latonjab.wordpress.com. The blog is a mixture of travel blogging, church writing, social/political commentary, and random musing.

 

Then the Lord replied:Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it,” Habakkuk 2:23.

 

Oxford, Tolkien, and Lewis…oh my!

Today, I took a train to Oxford. I caught the train at Paddington. From there, Oxford is an hour away.

 

My sightseeing was focused around the college, though I did go to Blackwell’s Bookstore, but I did not allow myself to shop.

 

I went to the Weston Library. In its “Treasures” room, there were a few items worth noting. One was a written manuscript of Jane Austen from when she was 12-15 years old. It’s called “Beautiful Consent.” There was a book that then 11-year-old Princess Elizabeth (Elizabeth I) gave to Katherine Parr. Inside is a French poem translated into English. It is believed that she did the binding as well. There was also a book that belonged to Margaret, Queen of Scots. She died in 1093. There was also a prayer book made for an abbess, who was a Benedict nun in what is now Zadar, Croatia, which is such a beautiful place. The abbess died in 1093.

 

The next stop was the Museum of History and Science. What a wonderful place. I was there for over an hour. The people who worked there were really into the pieces, so when I asked questions, the answers were very thorough and informative. I like telescopes, sun dials, sextants, abacuses, microscopes, cameras, sand glasses, and globes/celestial globes. If you want to get me a gift (smile). I was in heaven. The collection included an astrolabe that Robert Dudley gave to Elizabeth I. One of Herschel’s telescopes is there. When I was in Bath, I learned that it was there that he discovered the planet Uranus. The pieces still work. It is amazing how things fall apart so easily today, and medieval equipment is still functioning. Oh, and a board including hand-written equations Einstein made when he gave at a lecture at Oxford was there. It was such a great place to hang out. It may be my favorite place from today.

 

I went into the Divinity School. The infirmary scene from one of the Harry Potters was filmed there. The building has constructed in the 15th century and was the first “purpose-built classroom.” I also went into the Church of St. Mary the Virgin aka The University Church. It had nice windows.

 

I went to Christ Church College. It was founded by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1524, who was Henry VIII’s chancellor before he fell from grace. It is on the site of an abbey that was dissolved under the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The Cathedral was quite magnificent. I spent a lot of time there. It was built in the 12th century and is one of the oldest buildings in Oxford.

 

I went to Magdalen College because that is where C.S. Lewis taught for 25 years. It had lovely grounds with a deer park in the back. And of course, I went to Exeter College where Tolkien studied. I went to the Eagle and Child pub where the Inklings used to gather. Imagine all those great minds in one place!

 

It was a great day there. I am going to sleep very well tonight with all the walking I did.

 

Excuse any typos. I am tired (smile). As always, my disclaimer is I will edit when I get home.

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PCC Scroll: Women of the Bible

Here is the “Women of the Bible” from the latest PCC Scroll. It features the Widow of Zarephath.

Name: Widow of Zarephath

Her Character: Though poor, the Widow of Zarephath was willing to share what she thought was her last meal with a stranger.

Her Sorrow: She was a widow, and she lost her son for a short period of time.

Her Triumph: Her time with Elijah taught her abundance, and her son was raised from the dead.

Key Scriptures: 1 Kings 17:8-24; Luke 4:25-26

The Widow of Zarephath’s story is found in 1 Kings. During an extended drought, Elijah was instructed by God to hide near a brook. He drank from the brook and was fed by ravens. When the brook dried, he was instructed to go and live in the village of Zarephath. God would provide provisions for him there through a widow. When he arrived at Zarephath, he saw the widow gathering sticks, and he asked her for food and water. She, unaware of her assignment, told Elijah that she was going to make her last meal with her remaining provisions and then she and her son could eat it and die.

 

Elijah encouraged her to not be afraid, and he gave her specific instructions along with the prophecy that there would always be flour and oil in her containers until God sent rain. She did what Elijah instructed, and she and her son ate. During Elijah’s stay, the widow’s son became sick, and he died. I am sure she must have been bewildered why God provided food to only take her son away from her. She confronted Elijah, and Elijah prayed over the child. God heard Elijah’s prayer, and her son’s life returned to him. The widow was not Jewish, but she had heard of the faith of the Hebrews before Elijah arrived, and she experienced God’s power first hand. Elijah stayed with them for some time, and her provisions lasted until the drought was over. During a drought, she experienced God’s abundance.

 

In the Widow of Zarephath, Elijah found help from a foreigner. Her story reminds me of the Good Samaritan. Let us be willing to give help and receive help from the unexpected. I find the willingness of the Widow of Zarephath to share what she expected to be her last meal amazing. In life, I have found a willingness amongst those who have so little to share what little they have without hesitation. Meanwhile, those with so much tend to have closed fists. It’s very perplexing.

 

How many of us would be willing to share our last dollar or meal with someone in need like this unnamed woman? I can think of a few real-life examples that remind me of this widow. One is a colleague’s grandmother. Her grandmother lived in Jamaica, and the grandmother would ask family who lived in England and the U.S. for old clothes. No one was quite sure what she did with all of the clothes that were sent to her over the years until her funeral. People came by the hundreds to share stories about her generosity. There were stories from people she clothed. There were also stories from those she fed, sometimes bread being shared. There is also a widow in Greece I read about. The widow is living on a small pension, but she has opened her home to refugees. People are free to come in, shower, share a meal, and get a good night’s rest. I love these examples of real-life women who bring the Bible to life.

 

The Widow of Zarephath is honored by Jesus. He refers to her in Luke while preaching in Nazareth. This is before he would raise the only son of the Widow of Nain. I am not sure what the Widow of Zarephath’s life was after Elijah moved on, but I imagine his presence had a lasting impression on her and her son for the rest of their lives. Like the widow, let us be stewards of all we have in a manner that allows us to share our little or our abundance.