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CEO, SPECTRUM FINANCIAL, INC. a registered investment advisory firm, Virginia Beach, VA
Has invested millions of assets since 1987
CAN A CHRISTIAN HAVE WEALTH?
Ralph was raised in an upper middle class Baptist home, and money was never really discussed much. It later occurred to him that perhaps his parents had a poverty complex left over from the Depression years.
As a family, they were never able to buy anything unless it was on sale. They waited in lines for the after-Christmas sales. They never threw anything away, and giving to a beggar was totally out of the question.
His grandfather was an active investor during the Depression, and later Ralph found out his grandfather considered suicide when the stock market crashed in the '20s.
In college, Ralph subscribed to the Wall Street Journal and was always on the lookout to get rich. After graduation, he tried investing in stocks, bonds, gold, diamonds, etc. He asked himself, "Can a Christian have wealth?"
Ralph says October 19, 1987, known as “Black Monday,” was one of the low points of his life. It wasn’t that he lost his money or his clients’ money (which was the largest one-day decline in the stock market in history). It was the loss of control and the fear. “My attitude was ruled by the whims of the market,” says Ralph. Even when he made money and it was a good day, Ralph was still upset and unreasonable with everyone. The stock market crash confirmed a decision to quit the money management business for good.
Even though he was only 40 years old, Ralph decided to retire since he had made enough money to do so. “I loved money,” admits Ralph. “As long as I could remember, I had always wanted to have money. And that was they way my life had turned out.”
After the crash, Ralph went on a retreat to get new direction. On the retreat, Ralph had a conversation with God and discovered that the money he was making and investing was actually God’s all along. He also discovered that the difference between a deal with the devil and a deal with God is that the devil is a taker and God is a Giver. After giving God complete control over his business, it began to prosper and Ralph saw assets double every nine months. With God as the Owner, the cash flowed.
THE WEALTH CONUNDRUM
Ralph says there are two types of actions with regard to money: making it and giving it away. While they may seem totally opposite to each other, Ralph says when examined more closely, they are quite similar. Most of us go through life making money and spending it on ourselves or saving it. Ralph says Jesus had a broader view of wealth than money accumulation. “He was talking about investing everything you have to get the greatest return,” says Ralph. “It means investing your life and whatever you have in people.”
Several years ago, Ralph bought a Twin Turbo Porsche. One Sunday at church during a fund raising campaign for their new church building, Ralph felt God asked him to not just give money but also to sacrifice. He felt the Lord tell him to give up his top prize possession: the Porsche. So Ralph sold it and donated the funds to the church. “I think of all my possessions in the ‘on loan’ category,” says Ralph. “If I think of money as something belonging to God that He has given to me to manage, it retains its proper perspective in my life. It’s His money with my name on the account.”
Over the years, Ralph says he has learned not to make it a sole object in life to accumulate great wealth. However, he has discovered some wealth-building principles that work even for those not ready to begin a lifestyle of giving.
Ralph graduated from Regent University’s Biblical Studies masters program. One of his courses was “The Life and Teachings of Christ.” In the class, Ralph had to write a term paper on Jesus’ teachings and decided to write one based upon what Jesus taught on money, which has become his life message.
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