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Intentional Generosity

by Curtis Burkholder

As a young boy growing up on a dairy farm, I remember my mom talking about adding money to her Christmas Club.  At the time, I didn’t understand what this meant.  What I understand now is that she was intentionally setting money aside each month so that when Christmas came around my parents would have money saved to be able to buy gifts.  Instead of just buying gifts out of their monthly income they had a lump sum saved to buy gifts.  My parents valued generosity at Christmas time and knew that it wouldn’t happen naturally.  They intentionally planned to save monthly so they could be generous at Christmas time.  They had a vision of being able to enjoy giving as well as experience the joy of my sisters and I opening our gifts.  This was one of the earliest examples of intentional generosity that I remember.

For many of us, giving and generosity does not occur naturally but requires intentional thought and planning.  2022 at Bare Wealth Advisors is the “Year of Intentionality.” In addition, one of our core values is generosity.  Today, we’ll consider how intentionality and generosity are related.  Generosity is a way that we can inspire others, a way to enrich our relationships, and allows us to expand the influence of what we manage.  This kind of generosity requires intentional thought and planning.

Generosity inspires others by making an impact upon their current situation.  It may be a gift that is made right when funds are needed to pay a bill or to meet the current need of a charity. Generosity can also provide funds for an organization to venture into new areas of opportunity.  Then, as we share stories of generosity, others are inspired to give as well.  This can cause a community to gain momentum around generosity.

Giving generously enriches relationships as it communicates, “I value who you are and know what is important to you.”  Generosity requires intentional thought and planning to find a gift that reflects who the person is as well as their interests. With an organization, giving can also enrich the relationship between the giver and the organization as it allows gratitude to flow back and forth between the giver and the recipient.

Generosity expands the influence of what we manage by sharing what we have with others.  Instead of keeping money, time, or talent to ourselves, as we share our resources it allows us to influence others in ways we would not have been able to do otherwise.  We can encourage, train, and teach others as we share what we have.

The apostle Paul in a letter to the church at Corinth encouraged them to excel in the “grace of giving.”  To excel in something requires hard work and effort.  It does not occur naturally but requires sacrifice and discipline.  To intentionally live a generous lifestyle requires us to say “No” to some things and make sacrifices so we can say “Yes” to others and be generous.  This requires us to have a vision for our giving and to intentionally plan. Just like my parents saw on Christmas morning when they watched the joy on our faces, the energy that it takes to intentionally be generous is well worth the effort.

As you think about your personal life and giving strategy, take time to consider one area or cause that you feel inspired to be more generous in.  Consider the potential impact of an increase in your generosity and develop a plan that will help you accomplish that goal.  (We would love to help you create this plan!) As you develop a plan, make sacrifices, and take steps towards greater giving, you will be living in intentional generosity and experience the truth, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.”

No more waiting!

by Ron Bare

I remember as a child waking up on Christmas morning full of excitement and anticipation for what the morning would bring – a special breakfast, stockings, and…presents!

However, growing up on a dairy farm meant it was also a morning of waiting. The cows still had to be milked on Christmas morning just like every other day, and that meant that I had to wait until all the morning work was done, showers for my parents who were doing the work, and breakfast to feed those who already put in half day’s work until I could get to those presents! Ugh! Time seemed to move so slowly!

Then, the moment finally came -the Bible was opened, and the Christmas story read. And we could begin opening presents! Whatever the gifts were, they were usually worth the wait! However, by the next year I somehow would forget the gifts from the prior year and be looking ahead to what the next Christmas would bring.

Christmas Day more than 2000 years ago the world was also in waiting. Waiting on a promised Savior who had been foretold hundreds of years prior. But finally the wait was over. Jesus Christ was born! Unexpectedly, he came as a baby…. grew into a man…and died on a cross for the sins of the world. This was and is great news! He lived a perfect life, performed many miracles, and taught and modeled for us all how to live a life of impact. A life that is willing to serve, put others first, and ultimately die for others who are underserving of such sacrifice. Jesus was and is THE gift of Christmas.

“For God so loved the world that HE gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16. This gift lasts throughout eternity and is not like earthly gifts that rust and rot away or are quickly forgotten. He is the gift that forever changed the world and was worth the wait. He is the gift we should all reflect on every day, but especially during the season of Christmas, not to be lost in the hustle and preparations of the upcoming day.

Throughout 2021 at Bare Wealth Advisors, we have carried the theme “Year of Impact” both internally and with our valued clients. As we come to the end of another year and bring the “Year of Impact” to a close, I am drawn to the impact the life Jesus had on all of humanity. 2021 years after his birth we are still celebrating this life on the most widely known holiday celebrated each year. The life of Jesus Christ is the most impactful life of anyone who has ever lived and one we should look to model. He did it not with much wealth (actually very little), but rather with a life that served, loved, and ultimately was laid down for others – you and me. So, as we celebrate another Christmas season let us remember that the wait is over! The best gift ever has been given to all! And we are free to live a life like Jesus, a life of impact.

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 

 

Larry Burkett – A Life of Impact

by Ryan Kurtz

As many of you know, our theme at Bare Wealth Advisors for 2021 is “Impact.” Specifically, we are challenging our staff and clients to ask, “how can we use our resources and lives to have an impact on others?”

As I reflect on my life and career, a man comes to mind that was very influential in my own life as well as extremely influential in our industry.  Even though he is no longer with us on earth, Larry Burkett epitomizes a life of impact.

Larry passed away when I was 25 years old, and I was never able to meet him.  My remembrance of Larry Burkett was when I spent afternoons as a young boy feeding animals and milking cows in the barn on our family farm.  Typical of many farmers, the radio was playing, and every midafternoon a show called “Money Matters” aired. It was a “call-in” type of show where people would ask Larry financial questions and he would answer them.  I was always struck by the way Larry gave answers to callers with knowledge for each financial situation while simultaneously integrating Biblical wisdom with the answer. His words were full of love for each person regardless of the financial situation – even if the caller found themselves in very negative appearing circumstances.  Years later, as I began my career in the financial field as an advisor, part of my desire to help others came from wanting to “be like Larry” – to give loving financial advice integrated with God’s Word.

In addition to the radio show, Larry published over 70 books in his lifetime, and sales of these books now exceed 11 million copies.  As I prepare for meetings with clients, I still have many of his books in my office that I pull out from time to time to see what Larry said about a certain topic.  It is interesting to me that when I look up the advice he gave in his writings there is almost always a Bible reference included.

Not only did Larry impact me personally (and many others) through his radio broadcasts and writings, Larry was also instrumental in starting or helping to start a number of wonderful Christian financial ministries. At Bare Wealth Advisors we still are closely connected to several of these ministries, and they continue to impact so much of what we do each day. Some of these organizations that we use and connect with regularly are Kingdom Advisors, National Christian Foundation, Crown Financial Ministries, and the Money Wise radio show.

As I reflect on the impact that Larry’s life had on me and many others, I ask myself, “on who am I having an impact?”  “Am I having the same life changing impact on others as Larry’s life impacted mine?”  I will always be forever grateful for Larry’s life and the way God used him to influence me in so many areas of my life.

Having an impact through Volunteering

by Tina Bare

As we are now halfway through our 2021 Year of Impact focus at Bare Wealth Advisors, we wanted to encourage you that giving back to organizations with your time and talents can be as important as giving your treasure. Many organizations rely very heavily on the support of volunteers and would not be able to survive without them! Ron and I (Tina) have been involved with a local youth ministry, the Parkesburg Point, (parkesburgpoint.com) for many years. We have served in different capacities – from board member to Bible study leader to cooking meals, staffing retreats and mentoring. At times we question do we have “the time” to volunteer and do these things, but we have always found that the Lord extends our time, blesses us, and fills us when we give of our time and talent to His work. The impact is two-fold; the Point meets the needs of those they serve and we in turn are impacted through the interactions that occur. I asked Amy Walton, Volunteer Coordinator at the Point to share her perspective on how volunteers impact their ministry:

“The Point addresses the spiritual, academic, emotional, and physical needs of the students. Volunteers have served those needs in many ways and help carry out the vision of a victorious life. One volunteer couple responded to a student who moved 41 times before coming to The Point. As a high school student, he could not read. Our volunteer couple began to address his academic needs by helping him learn to read. The time spent with this young man turned into a long-lasting relationship. Through their love and encouragement, he began learning about his passion to pursue real estate, learned how to budget, buy a car, and an apartment – and enjoyed eating family meals, something many of us take for granted! As a successful adult, he thanks The Point and this faithful couple for changing his bleak outlook into a life filled with hope, purpose, and love.  

Volunteers also help carry out the programs that work towards our mission. Each month 150 volunteers from multiple churches come and serve home-cooked meals to our students each day that we are open. This service covers a nutritional and physical need for our demographic which falls below the poverty level. Other volunteers use their gifts and talents to teach cooking, woodworking, boxing, electrical work, skateboarding, tutoring, reading, and music. Additionally, we have volunteers who open their homes and pools for our Summer Bible Study students to swim—giving a chance for students to experience a peaceful, faithful atmosphere that they strive for in their own future home.  

Volunteers support our mission, make an incredible impact, and show that true service does not require anything in return—we are grateful! Hundreds of volunteers have been serving, praying, supporting, giving, and believing in The Point for the last 18 years—the impact is priceless.”

We at Bare Wealth Advisors love to help you intentionally manage your wealth in a way that aligns with your God-given purpose for maximum impact – but, we also want to encourage you that there are so many ways to have impact outside of finances. We challenge you to ask yourself, “How can I leave an impact not only through my finances but also with my time and talents?”

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” – Proverbs 11:25.

 

Using Your Platform for Impact

by David Denlinger

Like most avid sports fans, I cheer for certain athletes more than others. As a kid, I was captivated by the athletes who performed the best and kept a “likeable” persona. Apparently, these athletes made enough of an impact on me that I would spend hours in my backyard pretending to be them. Since my years as a little squirt, I have gained a greater appreciation for athletes who are outspoken about their faith and have made a difference outside of their sport. As I reflect over some of my favorite athletes, Tim Tebow is someone who has made a significant impact on my life.

In the 2009 NCAA Football National Championship, Tebow wore eye black with “John 3:16” written across it. As the star quarterback and Heisman trophy winner, there was no surprise that he consumed more airtime than the other players. As a result, 92 million people googled the Bible verse John 3:16!

It amazes me how Tebow’s small decision to write John 3:16 on his eye black compelled 92 million people to search it on the internet. Since 2009, Tim Tebow has continued to use his platform to make a significant impact. In 2010, he created the Tim Tebow Foundation which “exists to bring Faith, Hope and Love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.” In addition to his foundation, Tim has written books and speaks in front of large groups of people. It is evident that Tebow is letting his light shine for his maker and allowing God to use his influence to impact the world.

Although wearing eye black might not be the best way for you to influence others, it is important for us to look for ways in which we can make an impact using our God-given gifts and talents. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Whether you are a famous professional athlete or not, we all have a unique “platform” that God has prepared for us. What ways do you intentionally choose to make an impact? What are some new ways you can intentionally make an impact?

National 529 Day!

by Curtis Burkholder

As we continue to discuss ways to have an “Impact” with our time, treasure, and talents, we wanted to highlight that tomorrow is “National 529 Day”! This day was established to focus on the importance of planning and saving for college – through what is known as the 529 plan.  By utilizing a 529 plan, you can help impact someone’s educational life. As you know, education can be expensive. The 529 plan is an excellent way to purposefully plan to save for an individual’s education – whether that be your child, grandchild, or another special child in your life.  If you do not know what a 529 plan is, you are not alone!  Keep reading to learn more about how these accounts can be a helpful and impactful tool when saving for college or K-12 private education.

The 529 plan received its name because it was authorized in section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. It does not actually have anything to do with the May 29th other than it’s a great date to highlight this plan!  The 529 is a college savings plan that allows individuals to save for college on a tax-advantaged basis without paying federal taxes on its growth – but only if it is used for qualified higher-education expenses.  A few years ago, the tax laws were updated to allow families to use funds toward a private elementary or secondary education-up to $10,000/year per beneficiary.

If you contribute funds into a 529 account and the original beneficiary does not need the funds for their education, the beneficiary can be changed to another family member.  This provides flexibility in funding and planning for education expenses as funds can be transferred between different siblings as well as down their family line.

It is also important to understand the tax treatment of 529 accounts. There are tax advantages for contributions into a 529 account.  Each state has established their own plan with an investment company so you will receive a state tax deduction for any amount that you contribute into a 529 account.  However, if you live in Pennsylvania, you may claim a deduction for a contribution to any state’s 529 plan.  This means that you have a wide range of investment providers to choose from for the 529 account.   This also means that you can contribute to 529 accounts for your grandchildren even if they live out of state.

Another important element to consider is how 529 distributions are treated from a tax perspective.  If the funds are used for qualified education expenses, there are NO taxes due on the distributions.  However, if the funds are not used for qualified education expenses, the earnings of the non-qualified distributions will be subject to income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax.

Almost anyone can open a 529 account including parents or grandparents.  No matter who opens a 529 account, anyone can contribute to the account for the student.  If you have grandchildren, you can contribute to their college education by establishing a 529 plan for their benefit or using one that is already established. This can also be useful if your grandchildren attend private school, as you can help cover the cost of their education and get a state tax deduction for any contributions made into a 529 account.  The funds in the 529 account can then be withdrawn to be used to pay for the private school tuition.

Hopefully, you have gained a better understanding about 529 plans, as well as the advantages to using them. If you wish to learn more about 529 accounts and how they can be used for your children or grandchildren with great impact, please contact our office and we would be happy to discuss this with you in greater detail. Happy National 529 Day!

Securities America and its representatives do not provide tax advice; therefore, is is important to coordinate with your tax advisor regarding your specific situation.

Impact for Generations – How George Whitefield influenced the world

by Curtis Burkholder

Have you ever considered how your life may impact future generations?  Does your heart burn with a passion for a cause?  Today, I want to briefly share the story of one individual who impacted many generations.

Recently the team at Bare Wealth Advisors read Gospel Patrons and discussed it weekly.  Gospel Patrons is a book about generous people who funded the work and ministries of other people in history.  This book specifically highlights the story of three individuals and their financial supporters.  The book tells the stories of the impact they had in their world at the time and how many continue to impact us today.  One of these stories is the story of George Whitefield (1714-1770).

You may have heard of Whitfield before as many people know him as one of the founders of Methodism as well as a preacher during the Great Awakening, but some parts of his story are not as well known.  Whitefield had a financial backer known as Lady Huntingdon who helped to fund his ministry.  Lady Huntingdon became widow at the age of thirty-nine and used her financial resources for eternal purposes.

Whitefield had a preaching style that was unique and uncommon for his time.  He was known for speaking of spiritual things as being real.  In stark contrast to sermons of the day that were often read and were dry, Whitefield’s sermons were passionate, biblical, and joyful.  Often Whitefield would preach twice a day seven days a week.  He also tried something that had not been tried in England at the time, preaching outside.

Amid drawing large crowds to hear him speak on both sides of the Atlantic, Whitefield also faced opposition.  He regularly had rocks, dirt, and even eggs thrown at him.  He was almost stoned to death in Ireland, two people attempted to murder him while he slept, and others tried to distract him and his listeners.  But despite the opposition, he continued preaching.

By the time of his death at age fifty-five, he had preached at least 18,000 sermons averaging over ten per week-more than 500 sermons a year for thirty-four consecutive years.  In his will, he left everything to Lady Huntington who had supported his ministry.

Through Lady Huntingdon’s support and Whitefield’s tireless preaching, they influenced many in both England and America.  It is estimated that over 80% of those living in the American colonies at the time heard Whitefield preach.  This provided a common theological framework that influenced the nation for many generations.  Between both England and America, it is estimated that over ten million people heard his sermons.

As we reflect on the life of Whitefield and what he accomplished, it is amazing to consider what he did without our modern transportation or sound projection systems.  Considering this, I encourage you to reflect on everything that we have, and to think about your talents, time, and the resources God has given you.  How may God want to use you to impact not only this generation but future generations.  It may not be an easy road, but through perseverance may you accomplish the dreams and desires God has placed within your heart.

The Impact of Mothers

by Ron Bare

As we continue our theme of impact for 2021 at BWA I thought it would be appropriate to spend time focusing on the impact of mothers. Mother’s Day is just around the corner – in case you forgot, it’s May 9th! Mother’s Day is a day reserved to honor and celebrate the mother of a family, and according to Wikipedia “as well as motherhood, maternal bonds and the influence of mothers in society”.

I was blessed to have a mother that exemplified all that God designed a Mom to be. She had a true servant heart and selflessly served her family daily, worked harder than anyone I know, and modeled well a Proverbs 31 woman.  She was always available to talk to, ready with a hot breakfast when my brother and I would come in from the barn (I can still remember sitting at the island and she would flip pancakes onto our plates!) She loved raising puppies, collecting funny things like beanie babies and McDonalds dalmation toys, and she loved to say “not in my book” when she disagreed with something! – we’d always ask her when she was going to write that book!  After a six month battle with cancer in early 2019 she went home to be with her Lord Jesus. When she was diagnosed with cancer (her second round with this awful disease), the depth of her faith became such an inspiration to all of us as she lived it more openly than ever before. Her life Bible verse is found in Proverbs; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” My Mom trusted her life – all the days of it, to the Lord. Prior to her passing she put this verse on a laminated card and gave it to all her children and grandchildren. I read this every morning before I head out for my day and reflect on the truth and impact of living these verses out.

I am prone to lean on my own understanding, and when I do, the “right path” becomes foggy quickly. Learning to trust the Lord and lean into His wisdom, and seeking His will is a daily battle for me, and probably for you as well. When we fight and win this battle, we experience freedom to live without fear – which was exactly what my Mom did over the last months of her life. We never once saw or heard fear in her.  Finding the right path in life is not accomplished on our own but rather with a dependance on our creator. My Mom taught me this and continues to remind me of this daily through the legacy she has left her family.  She passed with her family by her side, loved and missed by her husband, children and grandchildren – a life so well lived!

I am so thankful for the impact my Mom had in my life. Motherhood should be honored and celebrated – my mom embraced her role as a mother, and it showed in the way her family rallied to her in her time of greatest need. I find it ironic that our culture seems to want to blur the lines of what it means to be a mother and/or father. These are roles to honor and celebrate and essential to the wellbeing of healthy families and communities. As Mother’s Day approaches be sure to tell your mom (or mother figure in your life), the impact she has had on your life (while she is still with you) and if you have lost your mom take some time to reflect on her life and the sacrifices she made on your behalf. Then together let us honor the moms in our areas of influence and be sure they know we appreciate the sacrifices, impact, and love they have showed to us and the next generation.

Resurrection Impact

by Lamar King

Growing up on a farm, I (Lamar) was often encouraged to start my own business. So at the age of 12 I began raising and selling puppies.  I purchased a beautiful yellow Labrador retriever and remember vividly one winter when she gave birth to a litter of puppies. One was not moving.  It had gotten away from her mom and was lifeless.  My father brought her inside and with warm water rubbed this little puppy and soon enough it was moving around, and life was evident!  Like a real-life version of 101 Dalmatians, this puppy had seemingly come back to life!  This experience is the closest I have ever come to physically seeing resurrection and I can assure you, it had lasting impact!  As we approach Easter, this memory brings to mind a resurrection that has had an impact on me personally and on the world we live in – the most meaningful resurrection in history – the res urrection of Jesus Christ.

As Ron shared in our most recent blog, 2021 is our “Year of Impact” at Bare Wealth Advisors. There has been and is no greater impact than the person of Jesus Christ.  The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used on earth currently and whether you call it the Common Era or Anno Domini (AD), the counting of years to get to 2021 started at the birth of Jesus Christ.  He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and willingly laid down His life at the hands of those who were His own people.  He came as a King yet acted like a servant.  He often taught with stories and parables to turn peoples’ hearts rather than with decree to only chase obedience.  He restored the marginalized and showed the value of people no matter their age, gender, or ethnicity.

Throughout His ministry on earth, Jesus predicted his resurrection. Most of the time his followers really did not understand what He was talking about. Three days after His death, so much became clear. The tomb was empty! Everything Jesus had talked about suddenly made sense. For 40 days on the earth before ascending to Heaven Jesus physically appeared to many people.  From groups of two to gatherings of 500, His presence is documented.

Jesus said to His followers in John 15:5 “Apart from me you can do nothing”.  I believe this.  The deepest and truest impact can only be found in and through Him.  Him who conquered the grave.  Him who walked in humility and obedience to His Father.  Him who led people as a servant.  Him who gave generously.  Him who was patient with difficult people.  Him who laid down His life for His friends.  Him who empowered the broken and despised.  Him who spoke with and encouraged those left alone.  Jesus Christ impacted every person He met. And He gives us this same ability to impact others – through His example and the Holy Spirit.  As we approach Good Friday, the day of His death, and contemplate the impact His resurrection had three days later, on what we now call Easter – may we all consider and remember His impact. And may it cause us to ask – Who am I impacting?  And may we all walk anew with impact like this, by His strength.

If you would like to experience and walk in this life changing power and have lasting impact beyond your time here on earth, please feel free to reach out to our team.

Investing Perspective in an Election Year

by Curtis Burkholder

As we enter the fall season with changing leaves and weather, it is easy to feel the world around is changing as well.  However, as the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote, “There is nothing new under the sun”.  In light of all the changes, we can be paralyzed by feelings of fear as we consider the upcoming election, the nationwide racial unrest, and the ongoing Covid-19 concerns.  It is important to maintain a long-term perspective and look at the facts to confront some of our emotions and the pictures we paint in our own mind.  It is natural to want to react and wait to invest for a “better time” or when “things don’t seem as scary”.  However, as we will look at below, the facts tell a different story.

In looking at historical market averages, the S&P 500 Index has averaged approximately 11% over the past 75 years.  This is a time period that covers both Democratic and Republican administrations.  If you fast forward 2 months from now, the election will be over. Some people will be happy, and others will be fearful based on the winning candidate.  These emotions can lead us to make irrational investment decisions. We need to always remember that it is important to remain invested in the markets and not give in to fear.

A second fact to consider is that you don’t need to like who is President to do well in the market.  According to Invesco, some of the best returns historically came when the presidential approval rating was between 36-50%.  This occurs approximately 40% of the time.  Take a moment to stop and reflect on this – the best returns in the stock market have come when half or more of the country has not approved of the sitting president. 

A third fact to consider is that while we may feel this election is more divisive and contentious than in the past, we can look at our history as a nation and find another political disagreement that was more contentious.  In 1804, the sitting Vice President of the United States, Aaron Burr, engaged the former US Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in a duel.  This duel led to the death of Hamilton.  While there are strong opinions on either side of the political spectrum today, none of us expect to see the Vice President (from either party) engage in a duel!  As a nation based on freedom, there will always be different opinions and perspectives.  We cannot let the political tensions impact our investing decisions.

As always, if there are significant changes to your personal situation, please contact us so we can relook at your plan and adjust accordingly.  We do not want to make emotional decisions in reaction to the news, markets, or presidential elections.  However, we will make changes as your goals and life situations change.

In conclusion, as we consider where we are as a nation and look to the future, none of us knows what today or tomorrow holds.  But we do know WHO holds our future – Jesus Christ. As we look at the past, we can gain helpful perspective.  We don’t know who is going to be elected, what the market is going to do, or if there will be a spike in COVID 19 cases this fall.  We can take courage and comfort in the words of Jesus from John 14:27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (NLT)

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