Category Archives: Economy

Buyer’s Market

There is a positive element about the current economic calamity: It is a buyer’s market. The price of real estate is down, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is at a 12-year low, and Christ’s redemption is being given away freely.

Translation:

  • Buy real estate if you can. Jesse Duplantis says, “Buy land, God ain’t makin’ no more!” It’s demand has to go back up because it’s supply never will.
  • Buy stock: There’s a big reduction sale going on right now. You can buy more shares for less money! If this was at your favorite place to shop, you’d be having a field day!
  • If not “buy land”, then buy “C” (C being Christ). If you’ve never before considered the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, there is no better time than now. Invest in the kingdom––it’s free! And of all these, it is the biggest bargain with the biggest payoff.

I’ve heard my pastor say, “Until God is all you have, sometimes you don’t know He’s all you need.” Maybe you’re at that point. Maybe you don’t have the resources to buy land or purchase stock. Who knows when and if your resources will be replenished? Stop trusting in the resource and put your trust in the source.

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Shield of Faith in One Hand, a Pistol in the Other

beretta-9

I don’t know how some of you feel about guns but as for me, they scare me a bit. With the economy in the chaos that it is, the crime stats are rocketing. More compelling than the stats, though, are the local accounts of criminal activity that is mounting. A physician in the practice I work for losing hundreds of thousands of dollars to identity theft. A growing number of home invasions, break-ins, and car thefts in the surrounding neighborhoods (and I ain’t talking the ghetto here; this is in middle to upper class communities). The house of another physician I work with robbed at high noon while he was at church one Sunday; they busted through the front door. On a separate Sunday afternoon as I was walking through the parking lot into the grocery store across the street from my neighborhood, the local police nabbed some looters during their getaway attempt. Armed robberies in broad daylight in populated parts of town. That’s enough to make someone rethink things a bit.

I decided that its far better (and a little less scary) to look down the sights of my own firearm than down the barrel of someone else’s. We have purchased and been trained to use a Beretta 9mm Semi-Automatic. We didn’t buy it because we want to shoot somebody, we bought it because we don’t want to be shot (as I once heard someone say). My hope is that I’d never need to use it (which beats the alternative of hoping I had one to use if needed.) I figure if my canine don’t get ‘em first, I’ve got my nine as a back-up!

Some might say that I am questioning God’s protection over me. Not at all. I’ve got great faith in God’s protection over me, He promises it all through Psalms. Don’t confuse protection with exemption. He wouldn’t have to protect me if I wasn’t going to encounter danger. With great faith and under the Lord’s protection, David used a carnal weapon of the day to take down the Philistine intruder. He didn’t give David some kind of Benny Hinn anointing to “slay” the enemy and He won’t me either. Faith is only part of the equation, without corresponding action, faith is useless (James 2:14-26). Let’s be real: there are some battles for which the shield of faith is just not enough. Spiritually speaking, it will stop the flaming arrows of the evil one but physically speaking, will it stop the force of a speeding bullet?

MythBuster

I don’t have traditional cable (too cheap, I mean, fiscally prudent) but I was lucky enough to catch a few MythBusters episodes while on break at work. If you haven’t seen it, it’s where science meets entertainment. The hosts take urban legends (for example, is it possible for a human to catch a bullet with his teeth?) and either confirm or debunk the myth basically by destroying stuff. [GRUNT Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor-style]

I think reality can be a better measure of outcomes than reality TV. Take the following old adage for example:

“Money makes the world go around.”

Is it Myth or Fact?

No laboratory or studio needed here. The testing grounds for this myth is real life. It routinely has a way of wrecking things on its own (or at least the entities in life like greedy corporations and corrupt governments do). There hasn’t been many times in history when the dollar has taken a beating like it has the last several months.

  • Foreclosures up 81%
  • Layoffs up 55% (200,000 in January alone)
  • Unemployment up 2.7% to 7.6% (4.1 million more jobs lost in ‘08 than ‘07)
  • Burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft up
  • Real estate value down 15.3%
  • Dow is Down 37% (4700 points) since one year ago
  • Consumer spending down 8.9% Q4 2008 (worst since 1947)
  • Federal government over $10 trillion dollars in the hole
  • Fed $787 billion more down (pending the “stimulus” package)

There is no money left out there! Has the earth’s rotation slowed? Has the days gotten any longer? Has the world stopped?

myth-stamp

Bottom Line (no pun intended):
Money does NOT make the world go around.

March On!

People, Christians included, tend to have the logic to sort of lay low or back down when times are tough. For example, secular and Christian charities alike seem to be taking the biggest hit from the economic crisis that the world finds itself in. Non-profits, at least the Christian ones anyway, shouldn’t be suffering much. Isn’t a crisis a time for the Church to shine even brighter? If we are in the world but not of it, isn’t that a call to be different than the world? If Jesus is the difference in our lives, shouldn’t that be evident in our deeds especially in a trial? Let me put it another way: If we serve a God who saw a problem (sin separating us from Him) as an opportunity for action (redemption and reconciliation) despite great sacrifice (His son’s death), wouldn’t it not only make sense, but also honor God greatly, for us to do the same?

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed,” says the Apostle Paul. This is not a season for God’s people to back down; it’s an opportunity for us to rise up and advance the kingdom of our Most High God! If you’ve relaxed any area of your spiritual walk, consider doing like the Macedonian churches, giving “as much as you are able, and even beyond your ability” (2 Corinthians 8:2-3) regardless of the current hardship. God will not only sustain you but He will reward you for your faithfulness. March on good Christian soldiers!

Other scripture references for further study:

Hebrews 10:35-39

2 Corinthians 8:1-9

Hebrews 4:14-16

Deal or No Deal?

Wall Street and Main Street might well be Easy Street compared to the effect the current financial calamity has had on Skid Row (in keeping with the “street” theme––no disrespect intended). With little money to go around these days, perhaps the charitable organizations have been the biggest victims. Some companies have realized this as an opportunity, not just for generosity but for profitability too.

Saturday night, we went to Ruby Tuesday’s with some friends. At the end of dinner, the server solicited a donation to Second Harvest Food Bank through the purchase of a half-dozen cookies. I was familiar with the name of the organization from a story about the shrinking support of charities caused by the worlds economic mess. Earlier in the day, we drove through a shopping center parking lot that was hosting a media-sponsored food drive for Second Harvest. So as you can imagine, my heart was being softened for an organization that is apparently starving for resources. Upon further questioning though, it turns out that the cookies cost $8.99 with only 10% (or about $0.90) going to Second Harvest. WOW––what a lame way to be charitable.

Who would I really be feeding by buying those cookies? $1 to “feed” the hungry and the remaining $8 to feed six cookies to a “healthy” couple still full from a $40 meal. Something about that just didn’t seem right. We did make a donation to Second Harvest Food Bank but it wasn’t through buying cookies (I need a cookie like I need a hole in my head). Through another corporate donor, Harris Teeter (a grocery chain), we purchased two $5 gift cards that will go directly to Second Harvest to be used at their discretion. Here’s how it all adds up:

Option 1:
$40 meal + $10 cookies = $1 donation (or 2% of total cost)

Option 2:
$40 meal + $10 gift cards = $10 donation (or 20% of total cost)

Did we make a good deal? Yes, we made a very good deal! To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). God wants us to be good stewards of what he has entrusted to us. Remember the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, the man who made the most of what was given him was rewarded generously and the one who did nothing, neither spent it nor invested it, received nothing. Are you making good “deals” with what God has blessed you with?

Pocket Change

I used to have this favorite pair of jeans that had holes in the pockets. I didn’t realize it until I heard change hitting the floor and felt my keys working their way down my pant leg. Of course, it took a few times of wearing them before either remembering to pitch them or being burdened with picking loose change off the floor and misplacing my keys. Thankfully, I didn’t lose anything too valuable before changing my strategy, that is, I replaced those jeans with a different pair.

Well, maybe it’s time for a “pocket change” here in America too; maybe we have been trying to “wear the pants” in the house but unfortunately have been trying to wear them in the wrong house. Check out how timely the Lord’s 2,500 year-old words are for America and even the world as a whole:

5Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

7This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. 9“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. 10Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”

Haggai 1:5-11 (NIV)

(emphasis mine)

The Christian foundation on which this nation was built is continually being chipped away only to be replaced by a house of cards. We have seemingly gambled our values for valuables that “moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal.” Consequently, the world around us appears to be “going to hell in a hand-basket.”

What do you think–is this global recession more of a spiritual problem or an economic one? Whose house have you been building on a personal basis? What can we do corporately to switch the focus to building the right house here in America and abroad?

Gas Gauge

HOORAY! I just got gas for under $3 per gallon. Finally some reprieve at the pump! Now if we could just gas up the economy!