I increased my positions in coal stocks this morning. Readers who have signed up for free email alerts got a notice earlier today regarding those trades. I'm actually okay with that part of the decision because I have confidence in how God has led me. What really bothers me though, according to my own understanding, is selling MDR to do it. Here is a copy of the email which went out this morning:
I sold out of my position in McDermott International (MDR). I divided the money 3 ways between ACI, BTU, and CLD. This move is based on faith and applying scriptural principles. I am doing my best to lean not on my own understanding, to be strong and courageous, and to simply trust in the Lord.
As you may recall, I mentioned in my last post that MDR was my "favorite" oil and gas related stock. That company has announced new contract after new contract during the downturn in oil and gas. It's been quite amazing. I think the stock is highly undervalued. I also believe, according to my faith that all of the offshore oil and gas stocks I had invested in, including MDR, are going to survive and thrive. But, I guess this comes down to a good, better, best type of scenario.
I don't understand or claim to know what is going to happen in the coal industry. I just know, like everyone else, that according to human eyes, the situation looks completely hopeless for stocks like ACI and BTU. But, I honestly believe that God has directed me clearly over the last 16-17 months to buy coal stocks. Obviously, my faith has been tested in regard to that and pretty much every other direction I believe God has given me. But according to the riches of his grace, he has still provided me with faith, trust, and peace. Today, he has provided me with courage. It looks completely crazy to sell a stock like MDR (which appears to my eyes as though it will almost certainly bring blessings to anyone who buys or holds it today) and rotate that money into coal. But God's direction to me on coal has been several orders of magnitude higher than on offshore oil and gas. It was very clear on both. I guess it has just been so many more times on coal. Almost like he was having to drill it into me because I was having trouble (or he knew I would have trouble) believing that he was actually leading me that way.
Well, I know this all sounds totally crazy according to human wisdom, but human wisdom went out the window a long time ago anyway. Believe it or not, I asked God at some point over the last year whether or not I was crazy, and should I be doing things more like everyone else? He lovingly assured me that I should not. He assured me that I should just keep right on being different... weird... crazy even... for him. I can assure you, at times, I am scratching my head on all of this as much as you all are. But I know the God I serve and I know what his word says. All I can say at this point is, may God be glorified through the faith of his servant!
MDR also has a strong balance sheet and really almost no bankruptcy risk (according to human understanding). That's in stark contrast to many of the stocks in the portfolio. So again, this was kind of a difficult move to make. The only other thing I really want to add at this point is that it just seemed weird to me that God had given me so much more in terms of direction to coal stocks, yet I had allocated a relatively small amount toward them (relative to offshore oil and gas stocks). I saw a chance this morning to correct that to some degree. As for God's word, I want to leave you all with some passages. I have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, the living God. He speaks to me through his word constantly. He has spoken to me so many times over the last 3+ years. But, these two passages are particularly relevant and important for what's happening right now. So, I thought it made sense to share them. I pray that blessings will be the result! Enjoy!
This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” - Jeremiah 17:5-8, NIV
Isaiah 44-45 English Standard Version (ESV)
Israel the Lord's Chosen
44 “But now hear, O Jacob my servant,
Israel whom I have chosen!
2 Thus says the Lord who made you,
who formed you from the womb and will help you:
Fear not, O Jacob my servant,
Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
4 They shall spring up among the grass
like willows by flowing streams.
5 This one will say, ‘I am the Lord's,’
another will call on the name of Jacob,
and another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord's,’
and name himself by the name of Israel.”
Besides Me There Is No God
6 Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
“I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god.
7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it.
Let him declare and set it before me,
since I appointed an ancient people.
Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.
8 Fear not, nor be afraid;
have I not told you from of old and declared it?
And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
There is no Rock; I know not any.”
The Folly of Idolatry
9 All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. 10 Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? 11 Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.
12 The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. 13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. 14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”
18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
The Lord Redeems Israel
21 Remember these things, O Jacob,
and Israel, for you are my servant;
I formed you; you are my servant;
O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.
22 I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud
and your sins like mist;
return to me, for I have redeemed you.
23 Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it;
shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains,
O forest, and every tree in it!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
and will be glorified in Israel.
24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself,
25 who frustrates the signs of liars
and makes fools of diviners,
who turns wise men back
and makes their knowledge foolish,
26 who confirms the word of his servant
and fulfills the counsel of his messengers,
who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited,’
and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built,
and I will raise up their ruins’;
27 who says to the deep, ‘Be dry;
I will dry up your rivers’;
28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,
and he shall fulfill all my purpose’;
saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’
and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’”
Cyrus, God's Instrument
45 Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,
whose right hand I have grasped,
to subdue nations before him
and to loose the belts of kings,
to open doors before him
that gates may not be closed:
2 “I will go before you
and level the exalted places,
I will break in pieces the doors of bronze
and cut through the bars of iron,
3 I will give you the treasures of darkness
and the hoards in secret places,
that you may know that it is I, the Lord,
the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
4 For the sake of my servant Jacob,
and Israel my chosen,
I call you by your name,
I name you, though you do not know me.
5 I am the Lord, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know me,
6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
7 I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things.
8 “Shower, O heavens, from above,
and let the clouds rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit;
let the earth cause them both to sprout;
I the Lord have created it.
9 “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
10 Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’”
11 Thus says the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him:
“Ask me of things to come;
will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?
12 I made the earth
and created man on it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host.
13 I have stirred him up in righteousness,
and I will make all his ways level;
he shall build my city
and set my exiles free,
not for price or reward,”
says the Lord of hosts.
The Lord, the Only Savior
14 Thus says the Lord:
“The wealth of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush,
and the Sabeans, men of stature,
shall come over to you and be yours;
they shall follow you;
they shall come over in chains and bow down to you.
They will plead with you, saying:
‘Surely God is in you, and there is no other,
no god besides him.’”
15 Truly, you are a God who hides himself,
O God of Israel, the Savior.
16 All of them are put to shame and confounded;
the makers of idols go in confusion together.
17 But Israel is saved by the Lord
with everlasting salvation;
you shall not be put to shame or confounded
to all eternity.
18 For thus says the Lord,
who created the heavens
(he is God!),
who formed the earth and made it
(he established it;
he did not create it empty,
he formed it to be inhabited!):
“I am the Lord, and there is no other.
19 I did not speak in secret,
in a land of darkness;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob,
‘Seek me in vain.’
I the Lord speak the truth;
I declare what is right.
20 “Assemble yourselves and come;
draw near together,
you survivors of the nations!
They have no knowledge
who carry about their wooden idols,
and keep on praying to a god
that cannot save.
21 Declare and present your case;
let them take counsel together!
Who told this long ago?
Who declared it of old?
Was it not I, the Lord?
And there is no other god besides me,
a righteous God and a Savior;
there is none besides me.
22 “Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
23 By myself I have sworn;
from my mouth has gone out in righteousness
a word that shall not return:
‘To me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear allegiance.’
24 “Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me,
are righteousness and strength;
to him shall come and be ashamed
all who were incensed against him.
25 In the Lord all the offspring of Israel
shall be justified and shall glory.”