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Investing Wisely and Morally

Investing Wisely and Morally

There are really only a few things you can do with your money.

You can spend it.  You can save it.  You can give it away. You could throw it away on the lottery, but that would come under foolish ways to spend.  Finally, you can invest it.

The last – investing – can greatly affect how much we all spend, save or give away.

In David McCullough’s biography of the Wright Brothers, who built and flew the first airplane in 1903, the author relates that Orville and Wilbur became rich from their remarkable invention.  Instead of becoming avaricious or prideful, they tried to model stewardship taught to them by their father, Bishop Milton Wright.

Orville liked to say they were “well-to-do” rather than “wealthy,” and often quoted his father: “All the money anyone needs is just enough to prevent one from being a burden to others.”[1]

That’s fine as far as it goes.  But wouldn’t it be even better to have more than enough for one’s own needs in order to have enough to be a blessing to others?  The bishop would no doubt agree, and was just warning against greed.

Complacency Is not a Virtue

Jesus Himself cautioned against the folly of being content to sit on cash or any bounty from God without putting it to good use.

In the Parable of the Talents (a form of money in Jesus’s time) He praises two servants who invest their master’s money and reap dividends, but sharply rebukes a third servant who merely hid the money he was given and so there was no increase.

In Matthew 25: 25, the third servant desperately tries to explain: “And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’

26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.

29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.’”

While reassuring us of providence (And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19), the Bible gives ample advice about managing our wealth.

The Book of Proverbs comes down hard on laziness.

Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest.” (Proverbs 6: 6-8)

Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field; And afterward build your house.” (Proverbs 24:27)

Financially speaking, this means making wise investments with our time and money before spending what we have on non-essentials.

Teaching them Young

It’s almost never too early to teach children to truly value money and understand that there are ways to save it, increase it and not spend it foolishly.

Children can be given jobs or allowance and asked to place the proceeds into four jars – one for tithing, one for saving, one for investing and one for spending.  They can set a goal to buy something they want, and learn about budgeting while they see progress toward their goal as the jars fill.

Ambitious older kids can operate lemonade stands or sell cookies that they paid for themselves so they can learn profit and loss.  For older children, purchase of a share or two of stock that they can check regularly helps them understand the power of investing but also its risks. For teens, opening a checking account and obtaining a card with a tight credit limit can teach money management.

An Eternal Perspective

The whole idea of investing is to increase our money.  But it can also be a way to impact the marketplace with our values, and our place in eternity.

Many well-known corporations and stock funds profit from people’s propensity for sin.  They trade in pornography, abortion, gambling, anti-family entertainment, tobacco and alcohol, immoral lifestyles, and some even aid and abet human oppression, human trafficking, slave labor, terrorism and Christian persecution.  Others are characterized by greedy management that treats its employees and even its stockholders badly.

You don’t have to be a Christian to want to invest your money in companies that make the world a better place.  But Christians and Jews have the added insight through the Scriptures that all of our money belongs to God, not just the amount we tithe.  So, it’s not unreasonable to take responsibility for how our money is used in the marketplace, including investing.

Until fairly recently, Christians did not have a way to differentiate investments or choose financial advisors who would avoid profiting from companies that promote moral corruption.

The Rise of BRI

Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) began in 1992 when pro-life activist and financial expert Art Ally sought to assist churches in providing Biblically sound retirement resources for pastors.

Two years later, in April 1994, Art founded Timothy Plan, named after two verses in I Timothy that Art’s wife Bonnie thought best defined the fund’s purpose:

5:8:  But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

22:  Do not lay hands suddenly on anyone, and do not partake of other men’s sins.  Keep yourself pure.

Biblically Responsible Investing means putting money into stocks or mutual funds that do not profit from promoting or peddling sin.

In addition to the Timothy Plan, there are a variety of other BRI-centered investing firms.  More information can be found at the Christian Investment Forum.[2]

Nearly $16 trillion is invested in mutual funds.[3]  About 68 percent of that is held by Christians, as well as 41 percent of all money invested in securities.[4]

Imagine the impact on society if more people conscientiously put their money where their values are.

[1] Quoted in David McCullough, “The Wright Brothers” (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015), p. 259.
[2] Christian Investment Forum website, About Us, at: https://christianinvestmentforum.org/about-us/members/
[3] 2015 Investment Company Fact Book, 55th Edition, Investment Company Institute, Washington, D.C. (www.ici.org)
[4] 2014 Religious Landscape Study, conducted June 4-Sept. 30, 2014. Pew Research Center (www.pewforum.org).

Robert Knight

 

Robert Knight is an author and Communications Advisor for Timothy Partners.  Some of this material was drawn from a curriculum from the Timothy Plan for family economics called “Stewardship:  God’s Plan for Financial Success.”

Written by Timothy Plan founder Art Ally, the 112-page workbook, which, along with brief video segments of a couple discussing their income and giving, offers a Gods-eye view of money, investing, giving and cultural impact.  Learn more at timothyplan.com.

 

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In our modern world, it’s all too easy to fall into debt and then further into debt.

We’re bombarded daily by advertising that makes us want more of whatever it is they’re selling. The world tells us to “go for the gusto” regardless of affordability, because, well, we’re entitled to it.

The lure of debt is an ages-old problem.  William Shakespeare and Benjamin Franklin had some acute observations about it:

“Neither a borrower, nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend. And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry,” says the king’s loquacious but perceptive chief counselor, Polonius, in “Hamlet.”

Benjamin Franklin reminds those tempted to go into debt that, “Creditors have better memories than debtors.”

The Bible is full of warnings about living beyond one’s means. Proverbs 22:7 informs us that “the borrower is slave to the lender.”

In Romans 13:8, Paul admonishes, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

Living Beyond Our Means

If we do find it necessary to borrow, we need a plan to pay it back sooner than the period of the loan.  Otherwise, we wind up paying far more than the original price.  The most striking example of this is the National Debt of the United States.

The USDebtclock.org, which tracks our rising debt at dizzying speed, was introduced on Feb. 20, 1989 by New York real estate magnate Seymour Durst.  The clock began by reporting a national debt of “only” $2.7 trillion.

By 1991, it was ticking up at $13,000 per second. In fact, it “began accumulating so fast that the last seven digits became totally illegible,” Time magazine reported.

The clock actually broke down in 1998 because its computers couldn’t handle the total of $5.5 trillion.  In 2008, a digit was added because the debt had grown to $10 trillion.  Over the next eight years, the nation’s debt grew to more than $20 trillion and today it is past $21.6 trillion.

Why is this important?  Because the government is living beyond its means, and we’re all paying interest on the debt, which compounds, creating more debt.  The debt for each individual taxpayer as of October 2018 now exceeds $216,000 and the total debt per family is upwards of $850,000.  Who will pay for all of this? Our children and grandchildren.

The Bible tells us that piling up debt on the next generations is a dereliction of duty.  In 2 Corinthians 12:14, the apostle Paul states: “For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.”  This doesn’t mean that children cannot assist their elders, especially as people live longer than ever.  It means that parents should provide for their children and not saddle them with debt.

The Lure of the Card

Personal credit card debt is out of control for many people.

The average American has a credit card balance of $6,375, up nearly 3 percent from last year, according an annual Experian study on the state of credit and debt in America,[1] as reported by CNBC.  Total credit card debt surpassed $1 trillion in 2017, according to the Federal Reserve.

“About one-third of America’s 44 million student loan debtors say they were late paying that bill at least once last year,” CNBC states. “And years of aggressive auto lending, particularly targeting subprime buyers, have led to a dramatic increase in delinquencies and repossessions.”

God’s Economy v. the World’s

Problems with debt begin in the human heart, Scripture informs us.

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed,” Jesus told a crowd. “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15 NIV)

Author Randy Alcorn notes that wanting more material goods can mire us in a lifestyle that contrasts with a forward-looking, eternal outlook in which trusting God and giving back to Him is more important.  In God’s economy, giving is the coin of the realm, not getting.

Debt keeps us from giving our best to our Creator.

“How can we be fully free to serve God when we’re indebted to human creditors?” Timothy Plan founder Art Ally asks in his course “Stewardship: God’s Plan for Financial Success.”

Instead of striving for ever more worldly acquisitions, we benefit much more from following the advice of Jesus, who said, “But seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)

It comes down to trusting God to provide rather than chasing the empty promises of the world.

Parents and grandparents need to take this to heart and teach children about the use and misuse of money – especially the temptations and dangers of indebtedness.

[1] Jessica Dickler, “Credit card debt hits a record high. It’s time to make a payoff plan,” CNBC, January 23, 2018, at: “https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/23/credit-card-debt-hits-record-high.html.

 

Robert Knight

 

Robert Knight is an author and Communications Advisor for Timothy Partners.  Some of this material was drawn from a curriculum from the Timothy Plan for family economics called “Stewardship:  God’s Plan for Financial Success.”

Written by Timothy Plan founder Art Ally, the 112-page workbook, which, along with brief video segments of a couple discussing their income and giving, offers a Gods-eye view of money, investing, giving and cultural impact.  Learn more at timothyplan.com.

 

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For more great articles about teaching your children how to manage their money and more homeschooling information be sure to check out the Teach Them Diligently Blog.

 

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The Power of Giving

Give Until It Hurts

“Give until it hurts” might describe most of us if we think of giving as an obligation instead of a privilege.

The secret to effective giving is understanding ownership.  If we think that everything we have is ours, and that anything we give is evidence of our magnificent generosity, then we tend to be stingy as we pat ourselves on the back.  That’s human nature.

On the other hand, giving can be joyful when we recognize that God owns everything and that we are stewards of his bounty.

“Indeed, heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it,” states Deuteronomy 10:14.

Likewise, Psalm 89:11 proclaims: “The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all its fullness, You have founded them.”

The Bible contains many other verses along these lines, including the famous phrasing in Psalm 50:10 about the Lord owning “the cattle on a thousand hills.”

The Meaning of Stewardship

So where does this leave us? In a very good place. We are highly privileged stewards of God’s mighty creation and everything that comes from it, including the products of our own time and labor.

As stewards, we work best with an attitude of gratitude.  Knowing that we cannot accomplish anything without God’s help tempers our tendency to cry, “It’s mine!” which begins as soon as we can speak our first words.

One of the most important lessons to convey to children is the power of generosity.  Forced sharing is not enough; they need to feel the joy that comes from giving to others.  The same goes for giving back to God.  None of this comes easily, given our tendency to cling to “what’s ours.”  Praise for acts of generosity can go a long way to reinforce the notion that it really is better to give than to receive.

Some Revealing Statistics

According to nonprofitsource.com, Christians give 2.5% of income, which is less than during the Great Depression, when giving was 3.3%.[1]

Here are some other interesting stats:

  • Only 3 to 5% of Americans who give to their local church do so through regular tithing.
  • When surveyed, 17% of Americans state that they regularly tithe.
  • For families making $75k+, 1% of them gave at least 10% in tithing.
  • The average giving by adults who attend U.S. Protestant churches is about $17 a week.
  • 37% of regular church attendees and Evangelicals don’t give money to church.[2]

One study showed that American households with incomes under $10,000 gave 2.3% of their income to religious organizations, whereas those earning more than $70,000 gave religious organizations 1.2%.[3]

The more we earn, it seems, the more we take credit.  But God wants us to give, and give generously.

Exodus 23:15 states: “No one is to appear before me empty handed.”

Although the Bible is clear about the value of tithing, that is, giving 10 percent of one’s income, it’s just the beginning.

“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:30)

As Biblically Responsible Investing pioneer Art Ally writes, “Tithing begins as a duty, but can become a delight, leading to joyful voluntary giving.”[4]

In Proverbs 3:9, we’re told to “honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first-fruits of all your crops.”

Giving beyond that is encouraged: “All…who were willing brought to the Lord freewill offerings” above and beyond the first fruits.

God Gives Back, but Beware the ‘Prosperity Gospel’

Often, we hear about people who thought they could not afford to tithe, given their financial situation, and how, after beginning to tithe, their financial picture brightened.

Some people find that the more they give, the more they get back.  R.G. LeTourneau, who made a fortune by inventing earth-moving machines, eventually was giving 90 percent of his income.  As he put it, “I shovel out the money, and God shovels it back. But God has a bigger shovel.”[5]

God honors our sacrifices, and not always in the ways we expect.  It’s a mistake to think that if we give a certain amount, we will get back a certain amount, with heavenly interest.  Even though that often happens, we must avoid the cold, transactional formula best known as the “prosperity gospel,” which boils down to giving more so we can be richer ourselves.

There is nothing particularly Godly about being rich or poor. When Jesus blesses whose who are “poor in spirit,” He means that those people know they depend wholly on God and are not fooled by the materialism sold to us by this world.  They don’t think better of themselves than they should.

There is one major advantage, however, to having more money beyond the amount necessary to meet our needs; we can give more to help the poor, advance the Kingdom and make this a better world.

[1] Nonprofitsource.com, at: https://nonprofitssource.com/online-giving-statistics/
[2] Ibid.
[3] Cited in “Christianity Today,” December 5, 2008, and in Art Ally, “Stewardship: God’s Plan for Financial Success,” (Maitland, Florida: Timothy Partners, Inc., 2017), p. 83.
[4] Ibid, p. 78.
[5] Ibid, p. 85.

Robert Knight

 

Robert Knight is an author and Communications Advisor for Timothy Partners.  Some of this material was drawn from a curriculum from the Timothy Plan for family economics called “Stewardship:  God’s Plan for Financial Success.”

Written by Timothy Plan founder Art Ally, the 112-page workbook, which, along with brief video segments of a couple discussing their income and giving, offers a Gods-eye view of money, investing, giving and cultural impact.  Learn more at timothyplan.com.

 

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For more great articles about teaching your children how to manage their money and more homeschooling information be sure to check out the Teach Them Diligently Blog.

 

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Read our Blog, join TTD365, follow on Facebook and Instagram, and sign up to attend one of our homeschool events!

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Earlier this month, South Carolina was hit hard with heavy rains and flooding. In the aftermath of that tragedy, Teach Them Diligently teamed with the South Carolina Home Educators Association to try to bring relief to the homeschool families who had been affected. David and I asked Teach Them Diligently families and vendors from across the country if they would help these families by sending curriculum to help replace what they had lost in the flooding.

The response was completely overwhelming!

Boxes and boxes of curriculum and resources started arriving, and our dining room was quickly beginning to look like our vendor hall as it is being Gridset up. Even more boxes came, and the first load that went from our house to the SCHEA storage and distribution facility in Columbia was a van load so tightly packed and heavy that it made the van almost scrape the road.

And then MORE boxes came!

A homeschool group from the Charlotte area not only gathered a ton of great curriculum, but they even drove it about 2 hours to my house one rainy morning, and that same morning I received a call about more boxes being delivered.  I am planning to take another trip to Columbia later this week or early next week to take more resources down to those families.

In case you are interested, we had boxes come in from NC, SC, CO, TN, MI, GA, OH, AL, AR, VA, SD, CT, WI, DE, NY, and even Canada– and that is not counting the boxes we have yet to pick up from the post office! In addition to some phenomenal curriculum, we got everything from crayons and chalk, to soap and shampoo, to boxes of family-friendly movies and vouchers for online math games. God is abundantly good!

Your generosity and care for other homeschool families was truly overwhelming both to our family and to our state association. I was not surprised at all, though, for you have proven over and again that your families are engaged in the mission of meeting needs and showing Jesus’ love to those around you.

Led By A 5th Grader, Another SC Family Is Meeting Needs In Their Community

(The following account is posted with permission from the mother.)

Homeless DonationsA few weeks ago, my 10 year old daughter,  had to write a persuasive business letter for her 5th grade English class. After taking a trip to San Francisco, her eyes were opened to the homeless. She was moved to write a letter to Walmart to see if they could help donate socks “since winter is coming and they will be very cold”. I wasn’t planning to send it so I just pulled out my phone and gave her the first Walmart address that showed up. It wasn’t the closest one to our house, but I just needed to show her how to write a business letter. She finished the letter and wanted to mail it. I was going to give her the nearest address, but she said she already memorized the other address. We mailed it off. A few weeks later I received a call from Walmart asking me to come pick up a donation that they had for Ellie. When we were leaving to get it she asked to bring the big van. I laughed and said the smaller van would be fine since it would not be much. Her child like faith caused her to imagine a huge amount of items. On our way we prayed that God would exceed our expectations. I told her that she should expect a few cans of beans and a couple of socks. We waited for about 30 min to speak with the assistant manager. I was beginning to feel like this was a waste of time. The manager said she would return with our donations. She came back with a flatbed that had 8 large boxes on it. She said that her store had a very giving manager. Now, I know why God had me write down the wrong address. I just stood there and cried. I should have brought the big van. They barely fit in my minivan. God is so good. I am ashamed that I underestimated what God could do through my child’s letter. I was told that if I brought a truck next week she would have a whole lot more. We cried all the way home. After going through all the items, we called different shelters to find out their needs. I divided everything into boxes and delivered them. There is such a need I am asking for God to continue to provide as we are currently out of items and the need is so great. God can use homeschooling to meet needs in the community. Thank you BJU Press for your curriculum.

It is never too early to teach your children to make a difference in the lives of those around them! One great way your family can make a difference this year is by participating in the Operation Christmas Child’s Shoebox initiative. It is an easy way for children of all ages to reach out to others around the world and show the love of Jesus to them!  Get more information Thursday afternoon, October 29th at 3 pm during a Twitter party we are hosting with them. Get full details on that party by clicking here.  Also, if you would like more information about the child gathering supplies for the homeless shelters here in South Carolina, send me an email, and I will give you more details.

Just imagine how many lives we could all impact together if each Teach Them Diligently Family packed just one shoebox, sponsored just one child, or looked out for just 1 need they could meet! The ripples would be felt all over the world!

Please leave a comment below with some of the ways your family has made a difference in your community. I would love to start sharing more ideas with our families.

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Proverbs for Preschoolers: Worry: Blessings

Sacrificial Giving

Explaining the difference between giving extra “stuff” away and giving it “all” away is hard. Especially when your sweet 3 year old is looking at you like you’ve lost your last marble when you say it’s time to clean out their toys and give some to the less fortunate. Let’s begin to cultivate a culture of giving for our families from a tender age.

Proverbs 11:24 (NIV)- “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.”

Bible Story about Giving

God tells us much about wealth. This lesson on giving comes from Mark 12:41-44. Read the story from your favorite Bible version.

The widow gives her last two coins while the wealthy give what they want to. Jesus says the widow gave more than anyone else. She gave all she had. Discuss with your preschooler why it is so important to give all we have back to God.

Teaching giving to preschoolers

10 Ways to Teach Giving to Preschoolers

  • Have your child go through old toys and pick out a few to give to a shelter or church.
  • Start a fund/toy collecting box for Operation Christmas Child boxes.
  • Make cookies and deliver them to elderly neighbors and spend some time with them. Teach your children that giving is not limited to stuff or money.
  • Help your child make “God loves you” love notes to leave for people when you are out running errands. Place them on top of cans at the grocery store, tuck them into a card slot at Target, sticky note one on the bathroom mirror at a restaurant.
  • Prompt your child to share their snack with a sibling, friend, or stranger who might need a snack.
  • 6. Pick up 5-10 balloons with money from your “love on people” fund, write “You are loved” on them with a big sharpie, and hand them out to random people or drop some off for a family that needs encouragement.
  • Help your child understand giving by teaching them about tithing and having a separate little bank for their tithing money and spending money. Talk to them about different special offering your church takes throughout the year and let them choose if they want to give to a specific one.
  • Encourage your child to come up with ways to give. A free lemonade stand, picking extra blankets out to give to homeless shelters, collecting stuffed animals to donate to children’s hospitals, making something special, buying an ice cream for their sibling, etc. Challenge them to think of ways they can give from the blessings they have.
  •  Help them become aware. Ask questions to help point their attention toward ways they can be helpers and givers. Perhaps they can give time by helping pick up pine cones from an elderly neighbors yard to make their yard work easier. Maybe they have a toy they just don’t use and can be shown someone who needs a toy. Help train their little eyes to see needs and encourage their little hearts to begin to fill those needs.
  • Be an example. If you don’t give of your money, your time, your energy, your love, then how will they even know why it matters much less how to give?  Be prepared for lots of patience building exercises, but the reward is worth it!

 

Lara Molettiere Laras Place and a Cup of Grace

 

I’m Lara, a sinner saved by grace, wife and help-meet to my best friend, John, and homeschooling mama to two bouncing (literally) boys, Teddy and Frederick. Hot tea, good conversations and dark chocolate are some of my favorite things. Grab your favorite mug and join us on our adventures at Lara’s Place and a Cup of Grace!

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About David and Leslie Nunnery

Leslie Nunnery and her husband David founded Teach Them Diligently, the nation’s premier source for gospel-centered homeschool events. With seven years of homeschooling experience from preschool-high school and a passion to encourage and equip homeschool families, this mom of 4 shares her know-how and insights weekly through Teach Them Diligently media and on TeachThemDiligently365.com.

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