The WEekly Word

A Blog of Encouragement from our Pastors

weekly word – 5/19/22

Mutual Funds and Vice Stocks


As a boy, when my family wanted to watch a new movie, my dad would go to the local video rental store. But there was always an area I couldn't go, the "adult" video section. It was blocked off by a curtain of shame. That curtain made sure that no one had to see all the depraved video covers unless they wanted to go in. 


Sometimes society naturally protects us from sin. 


But in the investing world, there is no curtain of shame.


Let's say you inherited five million dollars today. You go to your financial advisor, Pete. You tell Pete the good news. After giving you a high-five, he advises you to invest in some mutual funds. "They're a safe place for your money," he tells you. 


He introduces you to one the oldest, largest, and most widely held funds of all time, the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (ticker: VTSAX). He explains that this fund will buy you a small part of 4,124 different businesses, all of which are well-run and will likely do well over the next ten years.


As he explains, he hands you a packet of information about the fund, called a prospectus. Out of curiosity, you look through all the thousands of companies in that fund. 


Looking through it, you realize something shocking: if you buy VTSAX, you would become part owner of a gambling company (stock ticker: LVS), a chain of adult nightclubs (RICK), and Playboy magazine (PLBY)! How did this happen? You thought your advisor Pete was a trustworthy guy! How could he advise you to be unequally yoked with these depraved institutions?

The problem isn't Pete. Pete's job is to make you money. The larger company he works for makes financial products and Pete has to offer them to his customers.


Reputable financial institutions like Charles Schwab, Vanguard, and Edward Jones don't operate like my dad's old video rental store did. There is no curtain of shame in mutual funds. Today's financial advisors channel customers' money into "adult" investments indiscriminately. They are called "vice stocks". This provides an easy way for Christians to unknowingly own and profit from the business of depravity. 


But they don't tell you that directly. They lump these companies into groups with harmless names. Online pornography counts as "tech" stocks. Abortion companies are labelled as "pharmaceutical" or "healthcare" stocks.  Gambling companies are rebranded as "hospitality" stocks.


How can Christians avoid partnering in these kinds of companies?


When we invest, the first question we should ask is, "Whose money is it?" It's God's. So He, must determine the criteria for how to invest it. These are His criteria:


1. Don't profit by sinning. "Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death." (Proverbs 10:2) 


Sin is everywhere, but not every company is a Playboy, a strip club, or a casino. Some companies produce essential goods and services that we depend on, like farms, grocery stores, and construction companies. Not every company is Christian. No secular company is perfect. But there are thousands of non-Christian, imperfect, secular companies that perform functions that are harmonious with God's design. They do a good job of providing the goods and services that people need.


2. Don't profit from oppression."He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself or who gives to the rich will only come to lack." (Proverbs 22:16; see also Prov 14:31) 


Some very successful companies depend on the Chinese government's subjugation of millions of Uyghurs to perform forced labor  (https://tinyurl.com/yn2u9rhn). Other companies, at great cost to their bottom line, have done their due diligence to avoid this. When you buy stock, you are an owner. If you own a business that oppresses people, you are encouraging that oppression whether you know it or not. To take God's money and invest it in oppression dishonors him. Better to leave it in a safe until you find a decent alternative!


3. Don't be greedy to make a quick buck. "So are the paths of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its possessors." (Proverbs 1:19) 


Don't give in to the temptation to ignore God's criteria. Why sacrifice your integrity for a higher return on investment? God rewards those who manage their money according to His word. God also punishes those who invest solely based on greed.


4. Pay attention to how you invest. "Be fully aware of the condition of your flock, and pay close attention to your herds. Wealth is not forever. Nor does a crown last from one generation to the next." (Proverbs 27:23-24) 


The common factor is that God expects us to actively, not passively, steward His money. He entrusted His flock and herds to you, not to your financial advisor or the Vanguard Group. Because He entrusted His resources to you, He holds you individually responsible for how you manage it. Christians must not be passive in areas of life where God expects them to be responsible.


Now some Christians have the time and ability to investigate their investments using this criteria, weeding out funds containing companies based on sin. Unfortunately, many Christians have work-related retirement funds with limited options. If this is the case, some will have to choose between bad and worse funds. 


Other Christians would benefit from companies such as The Timothy Plan. This company creates mutual funds that filter out companies who qualify as "vice stocks". If you are interested, you can learn more about them at www.timothyplan.com. No mutual fund can promise that your investments make 10% gains every year; but these funds can help you stay away from owning a business centered on depravity. 


A word of caution: most financial advisors aren't discerning about vice stocks in the mutual funds they recommend. Sadly, I have known several Christian financial advisors who simply don't care about this. They provide no curtain of shame to their Christian customers to guard them from vice stocks.


One day, each of us will give an account to God about how we managed His resources on earth. Each Christian has a conscience being informed by His word and being sanctified by His Spirit to interpret and apply His word. Let's make sure our investments honor His will.


Pastor David


PREVIOUS ARTICLES


  5/12/22 – Make A Joyful Noise – Bryan

  5/05/22 – A Romans 12 Christian | Part 2 – Ed

  4/28/22 – Biblical Church Membership – David

  4/21/22 – What Does Love mean? – Bryan

  4/14/21 – Identifying & Resisting Satan's Attack | Part 5/5 - David

  4/07/22 – Romans 12 – Ed

  3/31/22 – Keep Sin from Harboring in our Hearts – Bryan

  3/24/22 – Identifying & Resisting Satan's Attack | Part 4/5 – David

  3/17/22 – Punishment or Training? – Ed

  3/10/22 – Maintain the Unity in the Body – Bryan

  3/03/22 – Identifying & Resisting Satan’s Attack | Part 3/5 – David

  2/24/22 – Are You a Good Listener? – Ed

  2/17/22 – Biblical Love – Bryan

  2/10/22 – Identifying & Resisting Satan's Attack | Part 2/5 – David

  2/03/22 – Is It Really Alright? – Ed

  1/27/22 – The Faithfulness of Joseph – Bryan

  1/20/22 – Identifying & Resisting Satan's Attack | Part 1/5 – David

  1/13/22 – "The Stranger" – Ed

  1/06/22 – What Are We To Do? – Bryan

12/30/21 – A Biblical View of the Conscience – David

12/23/21 – "Tis the Season" – Ed

12/16/21 – Every Little Detail – Bryan

12/09/21 – The Gospel and Christmas – David

12/02/21 – God is good, all the time! – Ed

11/25/21 – Thankful for Everything! – Bryan

11/18/21 – How I Began to Take Solid Food – David

11/11/21 – Does God Talk to Us Today? – Ed

11/04/21 – What Happened...and What Will Happen? – Bryan

10/28/21 – Pray to Share Your Faith – David

10/21/21 – The Way We Preach – David

10/14/21 – Justification and Sanctification – Bryan

10/07/21 – The Fix for Spiritual Laziness – David

  9/30/21 – Falling Away is Falling Away from Jesus – David

  9/23/21 – Beyond Sovereign .- Bryan

  9/16/21 – Why We Need Hebrews – David

  9/09/21 – Glory and Honor – David

  9/02/21 – Consider the Source. Compare to THE SOURCE – Bryan

  8/26/21 – Heroic Lies – David

  8/19/21 – Pray for the Afghan Christians – David

  8/12/21 – Now is the Time! – Bryan

  8/05/21 – For Three Crimes, Even Four – David

  7/29/21 – So What Are Husbands Supposed To Do? – David

  7/22/21 – From Foes to Fellow Saints - Bryan

  7/15/21 – Sharing the Gospel with an Atheist Israeli Jew – David

  7/08/21 – When You're Afraid of Sharing the Gospel – David

  7/01/21 – Farewell Dear Friends - Bryan

  6/24/21 – Examples to the Flock – David

  6/17/21 – Biblical Joy 301: How to Lose Joy, Pt 3 – David

  6/10/21 – It Is Well with My Soul – Bryan

  6/03/21 – Biblical Joy 301: How to Lose Joy, Pt 2 – David

  5/27/21 – Biblical Joy 301: How to Lose Joy, Pt 1 – David

  5/20/21 – What Does Biblical Giving Look Like? – Bryan

  5/13/21 – Biblical Joy 201

  5/06/21 – Biblical Joy 101

  4/29/21 – Perspective & Attitude

  4/22/21 – Jesus' Most Offensive Teaching

  4/15/21 – The In-Between Times

  4/08/21 – Spiritual Readiness

  4/01/21 – When in Doubt, Read the Directions

  3/25/21 – Four Major OT Archeological Findings

  3/18/21 – God's Timing and Faithfulness

  3/11/21 – The Pepsi Challenge between You and Jesus  

  3/04/21 – LORD of Lords

  2/25/21 – Numbers 20:6

  2/18/21 – Lessons from the Disqualified

  2/11/21 – How to Study a Familiar Bible Verse  

  2/04/21 – Phase 2 is here! Do you know what that means?

  1/28/21 – Love God Carefully

  1/21/21 – One of the Answers is Right Here

  1/14/21 – Encouraging

  1/07/21 – The New Religion

12/31/20 – Our Blessed Hope

12/24/20 – One Thing Remains

12/17/20 – Do You Aspire to the Office of Overseer?

12/10/20 – Psalms - A Political Guide for God's People

12/03/20 – Getting Tired of Manna?

11/26/20 – Advice on Loving Better

11/19/20 – Styles of Idolatry: BC, AD, and Today

11/12/20 – Fight or Flight?

11/05/20 – Take it to the The Lord in Prayer

10/29/20 – The Anathema Council

10/22/20 – Church History

10/15/20 – Growing In Our Faith

10/08/20 – Finding Jesus

10/01/20 – Godly Division

  9/24/20 – Nothing Beyond What Is Written

  9/17/20 – Stay the Course Continued

  9/10/20 – “What did you say? I wasn’t listening.”

  9/03/20 – How to Assess Your Relationship with God

  8/27/20 – All The More

  8/20/20 – Serving With the Right Heart & Attitude

  8/13/20 – Acts 2:42

  8/06/20 – The Gospel

  7/30/20 – How Firm a Foundation

  7/23/20 – 1 Peter 5

  7/16/20 – We Came, We Saw, We Sharpened

  7/09/20 – Stir Up One Another

  7/02/20 – Don't Be Afraid to Be Courageous

  6/25/20 – The Gentle Correction That Changed Me

  6/18/20 – Witnessing Like and For Christ

  6/11/20 – Surrender

  6/04/20 – Resistance, Riots and Romans

  5/28/20  – Ambassador is Not a Part-Time Job

  5/21/20 – The Church is Not a Building

  5/14/20 – Proclaim Jesus at the Grocery Store

  5/07/20 – Stay the Course

  4/30/20 – It's the Little Things

  4/23/20 – Living With Certainty & Purpose in Uncertain Times

  4/16/20 – Binge-Praying

  4/09/20 – An Opportunity to Grow

  4/02/20 – Choose Joy!

  3/26/20 – Care, Love, Trust, Rejoice, Remain

  3/19/20 – Hello WestHill Church Family

weekly word – 5/12/22

Make a Joyful Noise


For almost two thousand years, Christians have used music as a way to worship God. We do this corporately every Sunday as part of our worship service. Most Sundays find us in good spirits with joyous hearts in a comfortable setting. The apostle Paul instructed believers to “address one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”, Ephesians 5:19-20. 


Paul didn’t establish conditions on when it was appropriate or best suited to do this. In fact, Paul demonstrated this in his own life during some of the most difficult and trying times in his life.


In the book of Acts, chapter 16, we find Paul and Silas meeting a slave girl in Philippi who had a spirit of divination. She brought her owners much wealth through her fortune-telling. She followed Paul and Silas, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation!” We’re told that she did this for many days. It eventually annoyed Paul who finally turned to her and said to the spirit that had possessed her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” The spirit in fact left her that very hour. This obviously upset her owners who had just lost the source of their great income. They seized Paul and Silas and had them arrested. They also stirred up the crowd who joined in attacking them. The magistrates tore the garments off from them and gave orders to beat them with rods. After inflicting many blows to them, they threw them in prison.


What would be our reaction after being wrongfully arrested, beaten, and thrown in jail? Here’s Paul and Silas’ response. “At about midnight they were praying and singing hymns to God.” We’re not told what hymn they were singing, but they were worshipping and praising God in the worst of circumstances. We need to remember that it is usually through these hardships that we learn the greatest lessons about God’s faithfulness and our faith as it is tested. 1 Peter 4:12 says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” In other words, expect it! Then he continues with, “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”


Hardship and trials usually come at the most “inconvenient” time for us but planned at the precise time God chose. My hope and desire are that I remember to praise God at the onset of these trials and remember that He has a lesson in them for me. If you do some research on the old hymns, you will discover that many of them were penned during the most difficult and trying times of their composers, and often times right after a tragedy struck. A good time to sing and worship God is during all of our circumstances, and at all times! Praise God for His faithfulness and everlasting lovingkindness!


Pastor Bryan