Go ye into all the world - Mark 16:15

Go Ye Into All The World

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Mark 16:15

I once heard an interesting observation that many people who live in rural areas can be very afraid of the perceived dangers of a big city…crime, traffic, strangers, etc. And as a corollary to that, many city dwellers can be exceedingly fearful of the risks to be found out in the country…wild animals, getting stranded, isolation, etc. This idiosyncrasy of human behavior is known as “familiarity bias” in that the risks with which we are most familiar appear less threatening to us while those risks with which we are less accustomed can be quite terrifying.

In investments, one of the most well-researched examples of this familiarity heuristic is what is referred to as “home country bias”. Home country bias is the condition by which investors show an excessive preference for investments emanating from their home market over those opportunities found in other parts of the world. With this behavioral predisposition, domestic risks generally seem relatively tame because they are more familiar when compared to those perils coming from overseas which are less well understood. While instinctual, home country bias could cause suboptimal decision-making by investors with possibly detrimental effects on their long-term investment results.

These days in particular, the flames of investors’ home country bias are reasonably being fanned by a litany of worries that are coming from outside our borders…China trade disputes, Brexit, Hong Kong protests, slowing Chinese economy, stagnating European economy, declining Japanese population, Middle East tensions, terrorist threats, etc. Add to that the recent outperformance of the US stock market versus the rest of the world and it is quite understandable that US investors are currently beset by home country bias. However, because of this familiarity bias, investors may be making the behavioral mistake of focusing on the risks of investing internationally while overlooking the opportunities that can be found abroad. Consider the following:

  • 96% of the world’s population is outside the United States.
  • Amidst concerns for the greying US population with a median age of 38.2, the median age for the other 7.2 billion people on our planet is much younger at 29.8.
  • While the US population growth is only 0.8% per year, the population outside the US is growing at 1.1%.
  • 85% of the world’s economic production (Gross Domestic Product) comes from outside the United States.
  • The US may have the world’s largest capital markets, but nevertheless 70% of the world’s securities (stocks and bonds) market value is found outside the United States.
  • The US economy (real GDP) is likely to growing around 2.3% this year, but the overall global economy outside the US will grow about 3.5%
  • The US stock market is near its all-time highs, however International Developed as well as Emerging Market stock market indices are both still 20% below their 2007 all-time highs.
  • While there is growing concern that US stock market valuations (Price/Earnings, Price/Book, etc.) may be getting a little lofty, valuations of International Developed and Emerging Market stock market indices trade at least a 25% discount to their US peers. Relative interest rate differentials make these even more attractive.

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Standard & Poor’s, MSCI, and Factset

While we do not know for sure, it is possible that the Disciples were also wrestling with their own home country bias as they pondered what to do next with their lives as their physical time with Jesus came to an end. Could that be why Jesus had to remind them several times about the importance of venturing into foreign lands? Once, with the Great Commission (Matthew 28, Mark 16, and Luke 24) and again just prior to ascension (Acts 1), we see Jesus’ instruction to go outside of their homeland. Even more so in today’s global society, the Bible’s instruction to go out into the world still applies. And as scary as it can be at times, the admonition probably applies even to investing!

Therefore, getting practical, as a general rule, it makes prudent investment sense to allocate between 25% – 50% of one’s equity exposure to International Developed and Emerging Market stocks. For example, if an investor’s overall portfolio allocation to equities is 60%, then 25% – 50% of that 60% should be allocated to international and emerging market stocks, i.e. 15% – 30% of the entire portfolio.

Go ye therefore into all the world!


 
 
 

 

Dr. Erik Davidson, DBA, CFA

Dr. Erik Davidson, DBA, CFA

Erik Davidson, DBA, CFA, is the Chief Economic Advisor for Inspire Investing. Previously, Dr. Davidson served as Chief Investment Officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank, overseeing more than $200B in assets. Davidson holds a doctorate degree from the DePaul University Graduate School of Business with a dissertation in the area of Behavioral Finance.

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*Advisory Services are offered through CWM Advisors, LLC dba Inspire, a Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC. All expressions of opinion are subject to change. This article is distributed for educational purposes, and it is not to be construed as an offer, solicitation, recommendation, or endorsement of any particular security, products, or services. Investors should talk to their financial advisor prior to making any investment decision.

Blessed are the Risk Takers

“He who watches the wind will fail to sow, and he who observes the clouds will fail to reap.”

Ecclesiastes 11:4

As human beings, our capacity to worry is quite exceptional. In a worldly sense, this predilection towards fear is very understandable as bad things do happen in our lives and in the world around us. In fact, at times our worry has likely kept us from danger or harm. Personally, I know that even as the years have gone by, I have found it very difficult to break the grip of fear in my own life. If anything, I can take some small comfort in the fact that the nature of my worries has changed as time has gone by. These days, I find myself still worrying, but about different things than I did in my earlier years. That probably does not count as progress though!

Given our very human predisposition to worry, it should be no surprise that fears are especially heightened when it comes to investing. In fact, the foundational theory in the area of behavioral economics, Prospect Theory, by Noble laureate Daniel Kahneman (author of Thinking Fast and Slow) and Amos Tversky showed that humans are so overcome by fear that we instinctively weigh loss and gain prospects unevenly thereby causing suboptimal decision-making. Especially in the wake of the trauma of the Financial Crisis of 2007 – 2009, investors are predisposed to see danger lurking around every corner. These days, the list of fears that investors face is quite long: trade disputes with China, Brexit, domestic political divisiveness, Hong Kong protests, inverted yield curves, recessionary concerns, etc.

Nevertheless, despite the enticing self-preservation benefits of fear, the Bible is filled with admonitions against it (Isaiah 41:10, Luke 12:22, etc.) because of the obstructive effect it can have on our God-given destinies. Many times in the Bible, the challenge is put forward to “fear not”. Both the Old and the New Testaments have numerous stories of ordinary people overcoming their fears and taking significant risks with extraordinary, even miraculous results (think Moses, Esther, the Disciples, et al.).

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25), it is illuminating to read of the master’s praise, “well done, good and faithful servant”, for the two employees who took risks with the funds that had been entrusted to them. Yet, maybe even more instructive is the scorn directed at the servant who was afraid and went and hid the entrusted funds in the ground . . . “You wicked and slothful servant.” and “cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness”. If this isn’t a call to guard our hearts against acting out of fear, I don’t know what is!

Carrying over this Biblical call of risk-taking to investing, it is important for investors to be on guard against getting wrapped around the wheel of whatever the “worry of the day” may be. Rather, investors should undertake prudent risks aligned with the timeframe of their financial objective. Certainly, for short-term (less than five years) financial objectives such as planned major purchases or expenditures, risk-taking should be minimized. Actually, these sort of short-term financial goals are better viewed as “savings” rather than “investment” strategies. However, for those financial goals that are long-term (more than five years) such as young children’s college funds, retirement, a vacation home, estate plans, charitable bequests, etc. a spirit of prudent risk-taking is necessary in order to grow the funds while outpacing inflation and taxes.

The history of the stock market shows the wisdom of the Bible’s guidance on fear and risk-taking. Going back to its inception in 1927, the S&P 500, the benchmark U.S. stock market index, despite dramatic corrections and crashes, has had a total return of approximately 10% annualized. During this very long time period, despite prior generations’ “worry list” including wars, rise/fall of Communism, recessions, famines, assassinations, political discord, etc. there has never been a 14-year holding period in which the total return of the S&P 500 has been negative. Prudent risk-taking pays off over the long-term. Source: Standard & Poor’s

Obviously, “blessed are the risk-takers” is not actually one of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5). Nevertheless, investors who believe that the Bible has wisdom applicable to contemporary life are well advised to consider its guidance as it relates to fear and risk-taking as they make investment decisions.


 
 
 

 

Is Practical Or Biblical More Important In Your Financial Life?

Looking To The Bible

Millions of people look to the Bible for advice on financial matters. And they should. God has provided for us eternal, perfect wisdom through His infallible Word that instructs us in “all things pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), including wise principles for managing money.

But sometimes I wonder, how many of these people are coming to the Bible just because it is practical? How many financial advisors and how many ministries provide guidance that is only utilitarian in nature, exhorting adherence to biblical truth simply for the utility of the thing?

This is not wrong by itself, and certainly scripture is vastly utilitarian. Indeed, the salvation of my soul is extremely utilitarian! However, if my only concern and motive in believing in Christ is to receive the practical benefit of the salvation of my soul and escape from hell, then it is doubtful that I have ever really been saved at all!

If all my care for the things of God subsist in the practicality of what I receive, and not in the joyful worship and adoration of the “glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6), then my so-called faith is without power to save and I am in danger of hearing those chilling words, “away from me you evil doers, I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23).

Burning With Zeal

And so it is with financial discipleship. It is the glory of God which compels the true believer to apply biblical truth to their financial life, and not simply the utilitarian benefits of a budget, appropriate use of debt, wise saving and investing.

Are we compelled to apply scripture to our finances only for what we receive? Or does our heart burn with zeal for God’s glory and joyfully seek every opportunity to honor Him, whether financially or otherwise, regardless of our personal gain?

This is the great purpose and call for every Christ-following financial advisor, every Christian ministry of money, every Christian with influence over financial decisions: To fire the believer’s heart with a vision of God’s glory in their financial life that compels them to submit to His supremacy in and over their financial matters, completely, joyfully and without reservation. We are to be teaching Christians to rejoice in and worship the Lord through their every financial decision because He is worthy, not because of the worth He can provide.

Oh, God, give us such grace!

Supreme Center

Anything short of this is missing the mark and, while the believer may benefit practically in an earthly manner, they are left spiritually bereft and without eternal significance and blessing. Without the glory of God as the supreme center of our message, we are in perilous danger of teaching our clients and congregations to store up treasure where moth and rust do destroy and thieves do break in and steal, instead of laying up treasure in heaven, leaving them only a pittance at best in their heavenly investment accounts.

Why do you look to the Bible for financial advice?


 
 

Inspire CEO’s Letter To The LGBT Community

Dear Neighbors in the LGBT Community,

Since Inspire Investing’s high-profile and broadly sensationalized media exposure began in 2017, there has been much contention about our exclusion of LGBT activist companies from our biblically responsible investing portfolios. In the spirit of fostering civility and understanding amidst our disagreements, I wanted to write this letter to clearly communicate our heart and position on LGBT matters.

As Christians who follow Jesus and believe the Bible is the word of God, we love our neighbors in the LGBT community as Christ taught us to do, and we actively seek the good and flourishing of all people, whether they identify as LGBT or straight, are Muslim or Christian, black or white, friends or enemies, or whoever they may be. All people are created in the image of God, are loved by God and deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and love. The Bible teaches this and we strive daily to live this out, both in our personal lives and in our investment methodology.

God’s Design Brings Highest Joy

We also believe the Bible teaches that God’s design for marriage is between one man and one woman, faithful for life, and that this pattern of sexuality offers humanity the highest and best joy in this life. As such, our calling as Christians is to treat all people with dignity, respect and love, while upholding the moral law of God for His creation, and in our view the two are not in opposition.

One way this translates into our investment methodology is that we actively seek out companies who are excelling at providing all of their employees with safe, tolerant workplace environments, above average employee benefits and generally an inspiring employer/employee relationship. For instance, in relation to this particular issue, we encourage our portfolio companies to provide high quality, equal employee benefits for LGBT employees and all other employees.

Excluding LGBT Activism

We also have an exclusion criterion which avoids investment in companies which are taking active steps to advance the issue of gay marriage, using their corporate clout and investor dollars to advance a political and social issue that is unrelated to their core business. An example of this would be a corporation which gives corporate dollars to sponsor a gay pride parade or signs on to a legal document to put pressure on local, state or national government to push LGBT marriage policies.

We acknowledge that LGBT issues are a hotbed of contention in our society today, and we understand that not everybody believes as we do and that our investment methodology may not be a fit for all people. We respect investors who desire to invest in pro-active support of LGBT marriage, and we ask for the same respect for our investors who are investing according to their faith-based convictions to invest in support of what they understand as the Bible’s teaching and advocacy for one-man, one-woman marriage.

Sticks And Stones

We also acknowledge that some are quick to apply the label of bigot or other such terminology to anyone who believes that heterosexual marriage is God’s singular design for human sexuality. We believe that is an unfair categorization, just as it is equally unfair for those claiming the name of Christian to call names and use derogatory labels for our neighbors in the LGBT community.

We hope that despite deep-rooted disagreements over the rightness or wrongness of certain expressions of sexuality, that we can all treat one another with the dignity, respect and love that we each deserve as those created in the image of the living God.

May grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Robert Netzly
CEO, Inspire Investing


 

 

Magnify Messiah

What has God done for you this year?

As Christmas is upon us and year winds to a close, it is proper for us to reflect on the year behind. Often our reflections lead us to major crises that we endured, or possibly narrowly avoided, and hopefully some major accomplishments and joys that we have celebrated. But do our reflections take us deeper than just the “what” and lead us to the “why” and, more importantly, the “Who” that is behind every detail both great and small of our life?

Fleeting sorrow, everlasting joy.

If you are celebrating the joy of a new birth, or a successful year in business, or a breakthrough in your personal life, do you recognize that it is God who has done these things? Moreover, that it is God who has done these things for His glory and your joy? How much greater is our joy when we remember and rejoice in our God, who has blessed us by His grace! How greater is our gratefulness when we realize that our own hands have not done these things, but God’s hands!

If you are suffering the sorrow of a lost loved one, personal or professional failures, or any number of trials and temptations that surround us in this life, do you recognize that it is also God who has allowed these trials and sorrows to come? And that it is He who has sustained you through them and drawn near to you in them as light in the darkness? How great is our joy, even in our sufferings, because of the glorious mercy and comfort of our sustaining Savior! And what confidence we find in knowing that no hardships will ever befall us but that which is allowed by our good Father, who is faithful to also deliver us through and from them!

He who is mighty has done great things!

So, as we reflect on the year past and dream of the year to come, may we magnify our Messiah as did Mary, when caught in a rapture of praise declared,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever” (Luke 1:47-55)

Grace and peace be yours in abundance this Christmas, and joy immeasurable in the year to come as you place all your hopes in our only real Hope, Christ the Lord!

Blessings,

-R


 
 

 

Black Friday Lightens Up

Black As Night

I have a love-hate relationship with Black Friday.

On one hand, the deals are great and it certainly helps with the Christmas present budget. But on the other hand, Black Friday has also become our unofficial “National Day Of Covetousness” where we bow down to the United States’ favorite idol, the Almighty Materialism.

The crescendo of our idolatrous revelry comes sometime in the wee-hours of the morning as millions of the faithful storm into our retail temples, trampling the tender, shoving the slower and celebrating the gospel of the “first shall be first and the last shall be last”, gleefully laying down our cash sacrifices upon the altar.

Those images of stampeding shoppers they play on the news every year kind of turns my stomach. Massive herds of people, eyes wide with materialistic hysteria, driven to the edge of madness by the insatiable desire to get more for less before anyone else does.

There are just all kinds of things wrong with that, but that is not the point of this article.

Lighter Shade Of Black

The point of this article is the encouragement I have gotten this year that perhaps the darkest hour of night has passed and we are seeing a lighter shade of Black Friday dawn upon us.

As I tuned in to my preferred news sources the morning of Black Friday to take the temperature of the retail sector in relation to the sky-high expectations the industry was prophesying for this holiday season, I was taken aback not by the usual mobs and mayhem, but by the relative calm and orderliness being seen in stores around the country.

As reported by Bloomberg, “Many malls reported a late-arriving crowd on Friday. And shoppers that did show up early were pleasantly surprised by the relative calm…The frenzy of Black Friday as we knew it is over…We are watching the next edition of Black Friday, a more civilized and opportunistic edition.”

Well, hallelujah!

Now, I’m not wearing my “today-only sale-price 89% off rose-colored glasses”. I know the absence of mobs and trampling incidents does not necessarily equal a diminishing of national covetousness. Nonetheless, I am thankful for such a development and consider it a very positive sign, and even a shimmer of God’s common grace and mercy upon our collective consumer culture.

Buyers, Not Shoppers

And, despite the smaller and more civilized crowds, retailers are still posting record numbers as they see increased online transactions and more focused “buying” rather than “shopping” in their brick-and-mortar locations. In other words, the shoppers coming in the doors know what they want, buy it, and go home, rather than shoppers who show up, stick around and walk out hours later without anything in their bags.

“They’re not just shopping, they’re buying — they’re on a mission,” said Craig Johnson, president of research firm Consumer Growth Partners.

And more people are choosing to buy online rather than get up early, brave the cold and dark, wait in line and fight the crowds. I can’t say that I blame them!

All this to say that while American Materialism is still alive and kicking, as evidenced by the record sales numbers at retailers such as Kohl’s, who registered an all time spending high on Thanksgiving Day, and massive online numbers north of $6.5 billion on Black Friday, which is bigger than last year’s Cyber Monday online spending stats, let alone last year’s Black Friday online haul, we are perhaps seeing a turn of the tide.

Perhaps the subduing of materialist mayhem this Black Friday is the first glimmer of a brighter future for the hearts of our nation’s consumers. Maybe the masses are seeing the danger and damage that comes from exalting stuff and self above others and honor.

Or maybe people were still just digesting their Thanksgiving turkey.

So, to you, the “rich in this present age”, I echo the words of Paul and charge you “…to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for [yourselves] as a good foundation for the future, so that [you] may take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:18-19).

May God grant you (and me!) the grace to seek Him first this Christmas season, to give more than we get, to spend ourselves for the gospel instead of spending our dollars for stuff, and to treasure Christ above all else.

Blessings,

-R


 
 

 

Find a Christian financial advisor

Find A Christian Financial Advisor: What Christian Investors Should Look For

How Do You Find A Christian Financial Advisor?

How do you find a Christian financial advisor? It can be a stressful process. Who can you trust to skillfully and wisely guide you through all of life’s financial twists and turns? What if you find a Christian financial advisor and they end up being the wrong pick? And what if you don’t realize they are the wrong advisor until it is too late? And for us Christians, are there biblical considerations that we should take into account to find a financial advisor?

Here are four qualities that Christian investors should demand when looking to find a financial advisor.

Find A Christian Financial Advisor Who Fears The Lord

If you want a financial advisor who has wisdom, then this is a non-negotiable. The Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”(Proverbs 9:10) If we are to believe the Bible, which we do, then this verse states very plainly that only those who fear the Lord can attain to wisdom. If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and a certain financial advisor does not fear the Lord, then scripture says that financial advisor does not have wisdom.

But some may challenge this notion, asking, “Surely there are non-Christian financial advisors who give good advice, aren’t there?”

To answer that question, let’s start by assuming that the Bible is actually correct, which it is. Next, let us consider the definition of “wisdom”. Does wisdom mean making decisions or giving advice that has beneficial earthly outcomes, such as a high performing investment portfolio? Or is there a deeper, and more important element to wisdom that the Bible is referring to?

Consider another verse of scripture dealing with wisdom, “For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’”(1 Corinthians 3:19-20) This verse makes clear that God has a different definition of wisdom than the world does — and importantly, His definition is the correct definition! 

True wisdom has its roots in the fear of the Lord, and as such it always brings glory to God. Worldly “wisdom” has its roots in the cleverness of men, and as such never brings glory to God. We must recognize that there are decisions that the world would count as wise but that are complete foolishness to God. Conversely, there are decisions that God counts as wise, yet the world sees as abject folly.

Which decisions would you rather make?

Find A Christian Financial Advisor Who Operates With Excellence

But, that does not mean that all Christian financial advisors give wise advice.

That brings us to the second point. At the risk of sounding redundant, if a Christian investor is going to seek advice from a financial advisor, they should only seek advice from a Christian financial advisor. Always.

And they should also demand excellence from that Christian financial advisor, just as they would from any other professional advising them on the most important decisions in their life. Always.

Scripture warns believers about receiving advice from those who are not following after Christ:

“Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)

We must remind ourselves that apart from Christ, “None is righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). Only by grace through faith in Christ can we escape our wicked, sinful, scoffing state of depravity. “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)

The implication is that no matter how nice, talented or helpful an unbelieving financial advisor is, they have not had their minds, hearts and spirits renewed by faith in Christ, and as such their advice is inherently, spiritually flawed and the Bible warns us not to seek their guidance, not to “walk in their counsel”.

However, that does not mean that Christian investors should choose to work with just any Christian financial advisor. Putting a Jesus fish on a business card is not a free pass to deliver sub-standard performance. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Christian professionals should be the hardest working, most trustworthy, devoted to excellence individuals in the marketplace. Christian investors should demand excellence in their search to find a Christian financial advisor.

Find A Christian Financial Advisor With Godly Character

Jesus said, “Each tree is known by its own fruit.”(Luke 6:44)

There are many people who may claim the name of “Christian”, yet their pattern of life does not give evidence of the Lordship of Christ. Put another way, there are many financial advisors who may claim the name of “Christian”, yet there is no “fruit” to give us confidence that they are born again followers of Christ.

Worse than that, there are also those who would masquerade under the Christian banner with the explicit purpose of defrauding Christian investors. Wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Before doing business with a Christian financial advisor, be sure to evaluate their character and pattern of life. Check character references from a pastor, ask them what church they attend and what ministries they serve or volunteer in.

Only God truly knows the heart, but the Bible exhorts us to be wise in our assessment of the people in our life, and especially those who we take advice from.

Find A Christian Financial Advisor Skilled In Biblically Responsible Investing

Finally, Christian investors should look for a Christian financial advisor who is skilled in biblically responsible investing (BRI).

BRI is the practice of aligning investment portfolios to support biblical values by excluding companies that are engaged in immoral activities, such as abortion or human trafficking, and instead seeking to invest in companies which are more closely aligned with God’s heart and operate as a blessing to the world.

Unfortunately, many Christian financial advisors do not have the resources or experience to deliver high quality, biblically responsible investing advice. Often this is no fault of the advisor, but rather a result of their firm not having a robust lineup of biblically responsible investing offerings. And sometimes the advisor may have the investments available for his or her use, but lack experience in managing a quality BRI portfolio that rivals or exceeds the results one would expect from a worthwhile investment.

Thankfully, there are a growing number of biblically responsible investing options becoming available to Christian financial advisors at firms across the nation. And there is also a growing knowledge bank of best practices, training, screening technology and other professional resources becoming available to equip Christian financial advisors to become proficient in providing biblically responsible investing services.

The largest multi-firm, nationwide membership network of Christian financial advisors dedicated specifically to advancing the BRI movement is Christian Wealth Management. Full disclosure, I am also the founder and CEO of Christian Wealth Management, so I might be a little biased in saying that www.ChristianWealthManagement.com could be a great place to start for investors looking to find a Christian financial advisor to provide them with sophisticated guidance from a biblical perspective. I recommend you visit the site and judge for yourself.

All For God’s Glory

There are many important considerations when choosing a financial advisor, and for Christian investors there are additional qualities in the areas of godly character, fear of the Lord, God-glorifying excellence and biblically responsible investing which must be examined. Find a Christian financial advisor who displays all of these traits, and you have found an advisor who is worth listening to.

Scripture compels us to live our entire lives for the glory of God, and the management of our finances (which ultimately belong to God) is no exception. Don’t settle for anything less.

Blessings,

-R


 
 
 

 

Did god really say

Did God Really Say?

Oldest Trick In The Book

Literally the oldest trick in the book. “Did God really say?” continues to be a favorite tool of the enemy as he “prowls around, like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

We first see this snare set in the Garden of Eden, way back in Genesis 3:1, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

And you know the rest of the story. How easily we are swayed to doubt God’s word!

Whispering Seeds Of Doubt

Adam and Eve walked side by side with God in the cool of the Garden. As yet unstained by sin, they spoke face to face with Him and heard his voice. They stood with Him as He pointed out all the blessings He had created for them, all the trees and plants that were good for food, and the one tree out of all the rest that they were to avoid. Just this one tree. One. Tree.

But along comes the serpent, hissing in their ear seeds of doubt, “Did God really say?” And instantly our first parents choose to believe the lie. To believe the creature instead of the Creator. To doubt the goodness of God’s commands, and indeed even to doubt the goodness of God Himself!

And we do the same thing today.

Old Trick, New Garden

The serpent is still whispering, “Did God really say?”, and if we listen to him, “as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Did God really say that I cannot serve both God and money?

Did God really say He commands me to forgive all who wrong me?

Did God really say not to sin in my anger?

Did God really say to do everything for His glory?

Did God really say all my money is really His money?

Did God really say not to invest in immoral industries like abortion and pornography?

Did God really say that He demands holiness in my relationships, finances, investments, work, thoughts and every other area of life?

Perfect Word

Dear beloved, hear me! The answer is “Yes, God really did say!” Go to His perfect word and soak your sin stained mind in the truth of God! Let it wash over you, cleansing away the serpent filth and reminding you of the truth, goodness and majesty of God! His commands are life and blessing, protection for your soul!

“The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold…” (Psalm 19:7-10)

Do you believe this?

Trust in His goodness. Silence the snake. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.


 

 

Inspire team on NYSE bell podium

Ringing The NYSE Closing Bell: One Year Later

Days are long and years are short. It was one year ago today, April 20th, that I pushed the big red button at 4pm Eastern and rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange, surrounded by my amazingly talented team at Inspire Investing and our amazingly beautiful wives. It was an experience like no other.

Not only did we ring the closing bell in front of over 100 million viewers worldwide to signal the end of the trading day, but we also rang in a new season for our growing company and the biblically responsible investing (BRI) movement around the globe.

Miraculous Milestones

The days have been long since the clanging of that bell sparked global interest in Inspire’s low cost, index based biblically responsible investing solutions. Our team has been fairly inundated with investor demand from both the retail markets and institutional markets from countries all across the world. We have added new talent to our phenomenal team, attracted capital to fuel our growth and made headlines in hundreds of media outlets around the globe.

But the year has also been short. So much has happened, there have been so many meaningful milestones, and yet it feels like just yesterday when we were standing on that platform above the heart of the world’s financial system, praising God for all to see. Below are just some of the miracles, big and small, that God has blessed us with since we rang the closing bell of the NYSE:

  • Grown assets under management (AUM) to nearly $200 million
  • “Best New ESG ETF – 2017” Award finalists
  • “Best New ETF Issuer – 2017” Award finalists
  • Launched new biblically responsible investing products
  • Earned a place in the portfolios of multi-billion dollar asset management firms
  • Hired several new members to our team of rock-stars
  • Attracted private capital to accelerate growth
  • Featured on FOX News, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, Bloomberg and other major global media
  • Rang the NYSE closing bell a second time on January 30th, 2018

And even better than that is the impact that God has allowed us to create:

  • Drilled a clean water well for the entire village of Birendranagar in Nepal
  • Provided relief for hundreds of Syrian refugee families
  • Helped mothers choose life for their unborn babies
  • Gave emergency relief to Hurricane Harvey victims
  • Influenced numerous large corporations to stop supporting unbiblical issues, such as abortion and LGBT activism
  • Helped countless investors align their investments to support biblical values

Only The Beginning

These lists could go on to mention the dozens of encouraging emails we have received from investors all over the world, thanking us for giving them the ability to invest for God’s glory, the numerous “transformation stories” of people’s lives changed through their interaction with our company, financial advisors who have transitioned their entire practice to align with biblically responsible investing, and many more.

We could not have accomplished any of this on our own strength; God has been so gracious to us! We are so thankful for His grace and for the overwhelming support and encouragement from our raving fans around the globe who are cheering us on and inspiring transformation for God’s glory throughout the world by investing with their values.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. We have only just begun.

Blessings,

-R


 
 

 

biblical proof for stewardship

5 Bible Verses For Christian Investors

Investing Biblically

Did you consult the Bible before you bought into your investment portfolio?

That may seem like a strange question, but the Bible has a lot to say to Christians about how to manage investments  with both financial and moral implications.

Thankfully, in recent years there has been a resurgence of attention paid to the importance of applying the Bible’s commands and wisdom to our personal investment decisions. There has also been a corresponding proliferation of biblically responsible investing products and services that help make it possible for Christian investors to put that biblical teaching into practice with their portfolios.

Following are five Bible verses that every Christian investor should take to heart as they seek to be wise stewards of the money God has placed in their hands.

Investing For The Glory Of God

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

When you ate your oatmeal this morning, did you realize it was intended to be an act of worship? This verse says plain as day that our purpose for investing, and everything else in life, should be to glorify God.

This may seem like stating the obvious to some, but it is important because this verse is commanding us to intentionally pursue God’s glory in every investment decision we make. And God’s glory goes far beyond the financial aspect of investing and also includes issues of morality and ethics. To invest for God’s glory means that we must consider more than just our financial returns when making an investment.

If we can eat and drink to the glory of God, certainly we can and should invest God’s money for God’s glory.

God -vs- Milton Friedman

“Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.” (Proverbs 16:8)

This verse could not possibly be more subversively counter-cultural. It flies in the face of all that Wall Street stands for. It contradicts the foundational economic theses of some of the world’s foremost financial experts, who boldly proclaim that maximizing profits is the first and only duty of business and investing. (I’m looking at you, Milton Friedman).

And the influence of this worldly perspective on wealth has also infected the Church, resulting in many Christian financial experts regurgitating Wall Street’s profit-at-all-cost stump speech. Sometimes these Christian voices even attempt (unsuccessfully) to validate that viewpoint with scripture.

Often they point to the Parable Of The Talents in Matthew 25 to make the claim that God rewards those most who make the most money. But that parable is not making that claim at all, and even if it was, it does not follow that the Master in that parable does not care about how his servants made his money grow.

What the parable teaches is that God expects us to use everything that He has given us in accordance with His expectations, His values and His will. Newsflash: God doesn’t need more money. He certainly could care less about how much money we make “for him” in this life. US Dollars don’t spend in Heaven.

Proverbs 16:8 makes it clear that God cares more about how we make money rather than how much money we make. Indeed, God proclaims it is better to produce a lower return on investment in a righteous manner than high-flying profits unjustly. There is nothing wrong with earning high investment returns, but they must never come at the expense of holiness and certainly cannot be our primary directive.

Therefore, it is a biblical imperative that Christian investors consider the moral implications of their investments. Are you earning money from abortion, pornography, human trafficking or other unjust industries? We cannot ignore these issues if we are to be true to God’s word.

Indecent Investment Exposure

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

Here is another, more direct command to Christians to not only avoid participation in immorality, but also to expose it for what it really is. We need to call a spade a spade, or in this case, call an immoral investment an immoral investment.

Enlarging your investment account by investing in the “unfruitful works of darkness” is not an option for Christian investors. This is not an issue that the Bible allows us room for personal convictions. It is commanded. Instructed. Required.

Let me also say that there is grace here, too. Some investors are new to this concept of screening their investments based on biblical morality and as such are profiting from activities that would make them shudder. Praise God that He is gracious and willing to forgive our trespasses, including those made in ignorance! Lord knows that I am need of that grace on a daily basis!

Not In My House

“You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the Lord your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 23:18)

Here we get a strong taste of the Lord’s disdain for the wages of immorality. “Abomination” is not a word to be tossed around lightly, and the Bible reserves that word for only the most, well, abominable activities.

It should be well noted by all Christian investors that the Lord does not simply have a passing distaste for the profits from sinful business activity, He abominates them. So much so that God even forbids the money earned from sin to be brought into the house of the Lord and given as an offering. This is no small issue in our Lord’s eyes.

I have heard some Christian commentators attempt to make the case that a Christian investor can justify investing in the stock of companies which earn profits from immoral activities as long as the investor donates their portion of the profits generously to ministry, like some sort of spiritual money laundering scheme. Indeed, this same thought passed through my mind some years ago when I first was presented with the unsettling truth that I was invested in and recommending investments in companies with serious moral issues.

This scripture soundly rejects that notion altogether. The ends do not justify the means in God’s economy.

Joyful Reward

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21)

Now back to Matthew 25. For all of the clear instruction to avoid profiting from and participating in works of immorality, there is also a great reward for those who have been faithful in stewarding what God has placed in their hands. And as mentioned earlier, faithfulness to God is not measured in financial currency, but by the measure of God’s glory.

There will be great joy for you when you stand before the Lord having faithfully honored Him in your life, by His grace and the Holy Spirit’s power. Our labor to honor God is not done from a spirit of fear of punishment, but from a longing to glorify our Lord and receive the “well done” as an eager child from a loving father.

“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:17-19)

Honor the Lord with all that He has given you. Glorify Him to the utmost in every word, deed and investment. Joyfully submit your portfolio to the lordship of Christ, for it all belongs to Him after all. Eagerly look forward and strive to “enter into the joy of your Master”, by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God in your life.

Blessings,

-R