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Summary: The Dow is Down! What would have happened if your had invested in the "Naperville Christian Church Spiritual Index" instead? A fun stewardship message that focuses on the value of eternal investments.

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Investing for Eternity

Naperville Christian Church

David Limiero, Lead Minister

July 28, 2002

*How Are Your Investments Doing? (Part 1)*

Remember the old hymn "All to Jesus I Surrender"? (sing/speak the words of verse 1)

Well I’ve taken the liberty to re-write the words from the standpoint of the average person in our society today:

All to Dow Jones, I surrender

All to it I sadly give

I will ever watch and worry,

In it’s presence daily live

I surrender all . . .

INTERACTIVE/PARTICIPATORY QUESTION: Turn to your neighbor and ask them: "How are your stock market investments doing?" (Going up, going down, or staying the same?)

That’s a silly question isn’t it? Stock market investments everywhere are headed down, down, down. Tuesday morning’s Chicago Tribune carried this ominous headline:

“Dow slides below 8,000 to ’98 level: Triple-digit loss for 3rd day in row”

The story continues:

The Dow Jones industrials plunged below 8,000 Monday for the first time in nearly four years, as investors remain too preoccupied with scandal and earnings fears to shop for bargains.

In a seesaw trading session, the blue-chip index fell 234.68 points, the third consecutive triple-digit decline, to close at 7784.58. The last time the market tumbled to such levels was mid-October 1998, when it finished at 7968.80.

The drop continued the brutal sell-off of the past two weeks, punctuated by Friday’s 390-point fall, the biggest one-day point drop this year.

Investors have coined a new phrase for the relentless declines: "irrational depression," a play on the famous phrase "irrational exuberance" uttered by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to describe the stock-market surge of the late 1990s.

The bottom line of the story is this: if you’d invested $10,000 in the basket of stocks that compose the Dow Jones Industrial Average in October 1998, your investment today would be worth $9,768.

Of course, you could be doing a lot worse.

• If you’d invested $10,000 in the NASDAQ last August, today your portfolio would be worth just over $6000 today. That’s a 40% loss.

• If you’d invested that same $10,000 a year ago in an S&P 500 index fund, that fund would be worth just over $6700 today. That’s a 33% loss.

• If you’d invested $10,000 in WorldCom in 1999, when the share price was $60, your $10,000 investment would be worth about $28 today. That’s a 99.75% loss.

• If you’d invested $10,000 in Enron last November, today your $10,000 investment would be worth just nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. Nothing. A 100% loss.

Perhaps that’s why Jesus uttered these prophetic words:

Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Let me ask you again: How are your investments doing?

*How are Your Investments Doing? (Part 2)*

Just for fun, I calculated what a $10,000 investment in the “Naperville Christian Church Spiritual Index” would have returned. How would your investments be doing if you had given $10,000 in charitable contributions to Naperville Christian Church?

The results are pretty impressive:

• If you are in the 15% tax bracket and itemized your deductions, you would have immediately saved $1800 on your combined federal and state taxes – an automatic 18% return.

• If you are in the 28% tax bracket, you would have saved an immediate $3100 on your combined federal and state tax – an automatic 31% return.

I don’t know of too many investments today that can boast those kinds of numbers!

Of course, that’s a completely ridiculous illustration, because you can’t measure the value of investing your treasures in heaven in temporal things like dollars and cents. When you invest in the Naperville Christian Church Spiritual Index, your return on investment is measured in a completely different way. It’s not measured in dollars and cents, but in changed lives.

And the timeframe on your investment is also different. It’s not measured in months or years, but for eternity.

So, on a more serious note, what does the prospectus look like for investing in the Naperville Christian Church Spiritual Index?

BAPTISMS

One way to measure the return on that kind of investment would be the number of people who will be in heaven as a result of your investment – the number of people who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and been baptized into his name.

How would your $10,000 investment in Naperville Christian Church at the end of 1998 have fared? As of last Sunday, your investment would have been a big part in seeing 117 people baptized into Jesus Christ in the last three-and-a-half years. 117 people who will be in heaven. 117 people who will spend an eternity with Jesus instead of an eternity without Him.

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