Monday, July 04, 2022

Lies

I am constantly amazed at how easily people, both republicans and democrats, both christians and non-christians, can be persuaded to believe lies. In an important article called A Truth Discovered to Late, Eamon McKinney explains,

The Western world is in a terminal decline, morally, economically and socially. Many reasons can be offered for this, but it is doubtful that propaganda will be one of them. The West has been living under such a relentless stream of lies that it can no longer discern fact from fiction. The purpose of propaganda is to convince that it is not propaganda. Specific propaganda, small lies, can be identified, but there is an “ambient” propaganda that permeates every atmosphere where people exist, it is insidious, less obvious and more dangerous. Dangerous because it directs people to the small lies, to obscure the big ones.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Inflation

Economists tend to worry about spiralling inflation when wages and prices ratchet up against each other, but even when this does not happen, a serious one-off inflation is just as insidious.

In most Western countries, consumer prices have increased by close to 10 percent over the last year. This makes us all worse off because we can't buy as much with the same amount of money as last year.

Economists usually focus on the annual increase in the CPI, but we need to be careful about that because even if price inflation slows next year to 2-3 percent, the effect of the 10 percent inflation we experienced this year does not go away. The recent increase in prices will be there forever (unless prices fall dramatically, which rarely happens), so we will continue to be close to 10 percent worst off than before, unless we can earn or negotiate a compensating increase in our income.

To understand the real effect of price inflation, we need to look at the change in the CPI over several years. The New Zealand measure of consumer price inflation has increased by more than 50 percent. This cumulative increase has slowly, but severely, eaten away at the value of fixed incomes.

More in God's Economy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Interest Rates and Debt

The US Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to control inflation. This creates a problem for the US government, which needs to borrow about a trillion dollars every year to cover its budget deficit. Since the US has begun freezing the reserves of its enemies, selling this debt to the Chinese and Saudi Arabia is getting harder. The only alternative is to sell this debt to the Federal Reserve, but as part of their efforts to reduce inflation, they are reducing their asset purchases.

The US currently has debt worth more than $30 trillion, so higher interest rates will be painful. If interest rates increase to the level of the inflation rate, the annual interest bill would be more than $3 trillion dollars. This is more than the government collects in income tax. I presume that the only option is to kick the can down the road by borrowing more to pay the interest.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Inflation

J.W. Mason is an Associate Professor of Economics at City University of New York. He has an interesting comment on the efforts of the US Federal Reserve to control in inflation by raising interest rates.

Today’s macroeconomic orthodoxy puts economic management in the hands of the central bank, which relies mainly on a single instrument, the overnight interest rate between banks. This arrangement is based on a certain model of the economy. In this model, the supply side—the productive capacity of a country’s labor and businesses—grows at a stable pace. Spending, meanwhile, may run ahead or fall behind, depending mainly on developments in the financial system. Asset bubbles may raise desired spending beyond what the economy is able to produce, as businesses take advantage of cheap financing and households of their paper wealth. Bank failures may cut off credit, pushing spending below potential.

If these assumptions hold, then it makes sense that the institution that sits at the apex of the financial system is also the one that manages macroeconomic imbalances like inflation or unemployment.

But the assumptions may not hold. Macroeconomic disturbances may come from the supply side rather than the demand side. Demand may fluctuate for reasons unrelated to finance. Supply and demand may not be independent of each other. Depressed demand can discourage capacity-boosting investment, while strong demand can encourage it.

In these cases, the Fed’s power over the financial system may not be enough to stabilize the economy. Efforts to offset supply disruptions by adjusting the flow of credit somewhere else may fail to address the underlying problems, or even make them worse.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Exchange Rates

In countries that allow free flows of capital and a floating exchange rate, interest rates and the exchange rate are tightly linked. If interest rates are relatively high, capital will flow into the country, which strengthens the exchange rates, making imports cheaper and exporting harder. When interest rates are low, the opposite happens.

In the past, many developing countries have kept their interest rates low, to weaken the value of their currency in order to strengthen their exporting sector.

In the current economic climate, most nations are worried about inflation. If their currency devalues, the cost of imported good and services will increase, feeding into rising prices. This is a problem when they are fighting inflation, so most nations are keeping their interest rates relatively high in order to keep their currency strong.

Of course, this policy is self-defeating if every nation does it.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Monetary Policy

Monetary policy is a powerful tool, but it is a very blunt instrument, so the central bankers who use it have almost no control over the direction it will hit. They have very little control of what sector of the economy it will it affect. This is a serious weakness with the tool.

Over the last decade, central banks have kept interest rates low to prevent the pandemic from doing too much harm to the world economy. Their policy may have helped, but most of the effect of this weak monetary policy fed into share markets and housing markets, producing serious house price inflation and booming equity prices. This mostly benefit people who are better off.

Now that inflation has become a problem, central bankers are tightening monetary policy by pushing up interest rates. The problem is that the tightening on the way down does not always go in the same direction as the loosening on the way up.

Tight money policy might bring down share prices and house prices causing pain for the relatively well off, but it might affect the productive economy far more than it did on the way up. In attempting to bring the inflation that they deliberately created back under control, central banks might do terrible harm to the productive capacity of the economy that the poorer people of the world depend on.

Central banks are serious about tightening money policy, but they done really know how it will feed through the economy and which sectors will be affected most.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Excess Deaths

Eugippius has an interesting article on the pattern of Covid deaths. The pattern he discovered is fascinating. I have always considered that “excess deaths” are the best statistical tool for measuring the impact of a pandemic.

In New Zealand, we have had only had one prolonged peak (earlier this year), due to the country being locked down from the rest of the world for a couple of years. It will be interesting to see if our experience is similar to other contries in the late-outbreak group, which only had one peak.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Evangelism

In my previous post, I asked about methods of evangelism that readers had confidence in. The most common response suggested building relationships with people. One reader said, “at least in our culture, people are longing for truthful relationships”.

I agree that this will work well in the modern world. However, relationships take time, so this is not a quick option.

I nearly said “relationship evangelism”, but I remembered a friend who hates that term. He said that if Christians are making friends with people just so they can share the gospel with them, it is not true friendship. Especially if they drop the friend if they have not received the gospel within an appropriate time.

We should make friends with unbelievers because they are children of God made in his image, not with any other agenda. If we are demonstrating the love of Jesus, we should be prepared to continue being a friend of the person, even if they never choose to follow Jesus. And if they do choose to follow him, we should continue the friendship, rather than neglecting them to pursue another victim. Friendship must be a way of life, not a method of evangelism.

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Evangelistic Methods

Turning the spiritual tide in New Zealand will require serious sharing of the gospel of Jesus. A revival of faith will need a catalyst of evangelism. However, I have to wonder if the church has the effective methods of evangelism that will be effective in the modern world.

Jesus used to main methods of evangelism.

  • Healing a sick person and preaching the good news with the crowd that gathered to watch.

  • Sending a pair of disciples into a village to share the good news with the people living there.

These methods see to have gone out of favour.

The methods of evangelism that used to be effective for the church no longer seem to work.

  • Large evangelistic rallies like those conducted by Billy Graham. It is hard to see this method being successful in the NZ culture.

  • Door-to-door evangelism used to be popular, but it is no longer used, because it is difficult to find people at home. Even travelling sales people have given up.

  • Having an altar call at the end of a sermon at church service still works, but it will only reach that segment of the population that is willing to go to a church meeting.

  • The Alpha Course works for some churches, but it only seems to be effective for some types of people.

  • Some pastors are pushing work-place evangelism, but this is not always practical, because managers or owners have control over what happens on their premises. People are not always free to talk about religion at the end.

This list does not inspire confidence for the future. What have I missed? If you have a method of evangelism that is effective for you in the modern world, please describe it in a comment below.

Saturday, June 04, 2022

Hit Harm and Run Tactic

We need to understand the tricks of the spiritual powers of evil. They like us to think that they mostly work by an evil spirit possessing a person and controlling them, but that tactic is relatively rare. The reality that there is a finite number of evil spirits. With the human population of the earth growing into the billions, possession of a single individual is an inefficient tactic. The spiritual powers of evil no longer have the numbers to allow a legion of spirits to control one man. Consequently, evil spirits engage far more with a Hit, Harm and Run tactic.

Imagine a young girl who is bullied and beaten by her father. Every time he strikes her, an evil spirit says to the girl, “You deserve this treatment because you are a bad person of no value to anyone.” We hear words clearly when we are fearful, so the words penetrate deeply into her memory. Once the evil spirit has said this half a dozen times, the words have stained her heart and gained a stronghold in her memory.

The evil spirit can then move onto harass another person, leaving its harm behind to keep on dragging her down. Every time she is abused by her father, the door to her memory that was opened by the trauma opens up and she hears the words again, even though the evil spirit is moved on.

When she has grown and escaped her father’s control, every time she faces distress or trauma, she still hears the lies of the evil spirit coming up from her memory. “You are no good. Bad stuff will happen to you because you deserve it. You are of no value”. She is scarred for life.

This is how the Hit, Harm, and Run tactic most commonly used by evil spirits works. They are the cause of the problem, but there is no point in casting the evil spirit out, because it left years ago. She needs the Holy Spirit to rip out the lies that have become part of who she is and replace them with the truth as God sees her.

The Hit, Harm and Run tactic also causes physical attacks. An evil spirit was able to attack a woman’s spine and leave her physically crippled. Jesus laid his hands on her to heal her rather than casting out the evil spirit because it had probably already gone when it had done enough harm to cripple her (Luke 13:11-13).

An evil spirit can attack a few cells in a person's body and set off a cancerous growth. The evil spirit does not need to continue attacking the person, because the cancer continues growing on its own accord. Casting out an evil spirit does not cure the cancer, because the evil spirit has already moved on. The person needs someone carrying the gift of healing to pray for their body to be restored.

Evil Spirits can just as easily attack a person's brain and destroy neural pathways that should be joined and those incorrectly join those that should be separated. These little twists often cause people to see the world and themselves in a negative light that destroys their relationships with others and causes them to harm themselves.

Again, casting out the evil spirit is pointless, because it moved on long ago. What the person needs is for the Holy Spirit or his angels to remove the junk that the evil spirit has left behind and restore the brain to working in the way that God designed it to function. We need to learn how to help him to do this work by prayer.

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Dry Bones

Ezekiel saw a valley full of dry bones (Ezek 37). After he prophesied, they were joined and raised to become a mighty army. Ezekiel’s vision is frequently quoted as a picture of the revival, but we often miss the key point.

When Ezekiel prophesied, the bones came together and tendons and flesh appeared. The bones were joined together and skin covered them. The breath of the Spirit could not come until the bones had to come together, bone to bone in a body. When Ezekiel prophesied again, the breath came into the bones and they stood up and became a mighty army.

A body is not built by throwing some bones in a basket. To become a mighty body empowered by the Spirit, the bones must be joined together. Each bone must be joined to at least two others by muscles and tendons. The correct bones must be joined in the right place. A body becomes dysfunctional and dry, if just one bone is missing, or is joined to the wrong bone.

Being Church Where We Live p.24.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Business Socialism

The predominant species of socialism these days is business socialism, and conservatives are strangely silent about it. In the last few decades, businesses have captured the political process and milked it fairly effectively. The biggest dole out to bludgers of taxpayer largess have gone to finance companies and participants in the banking system. They were the first to get into this game. These businesses have made huge mistakes over the last few decades, but they are protected from the consequences by a myriad of laws, regulations and hand-outs.

Now with the Covid crisis, many other businesses have become used to handouts from the government, especially those in the tourism industry.

If a person on the unemployment benefit does not turn up for a job interview, they get their benefit docked for several weeks. If a business fails, limited liability kicks in and assets in the family trust are protected.

The garden-variety socialism uses political power to shift resources towers the poor and weak. Business socialism using political influence to shift resources and legal privilege towards business.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Enemy of Freedom

In an article at First Things, Ross Douthart explains something that Christians need to understand in this season.

The question of the nature of freedom is, I believe, crucial to a proper understanding of Christianity’s decline, because secularism has always opposed Christianity in the name of freedom. In taking on the mantle of freedom, secularism has turned Christianity’s own claim of being a gospel of liberation against Christianity.
In late antiquity, Christianity was the cause of truth, justice, and freedom. The Christian gospel was defeating superstition, oppression, and vice.
Christian reform movements throughout the ages would recall the same -dynamic: seeing themselves as championing truth, justice, and freedom against superstition, oppression, and enthrallment.
The Protestant Reformation saw itself precisely as the cause of truth and freedom against ignorance, superstition, and oppression.
The Enlightenment began as a movement among believing Christians, but with time its more radical proponents came to see themselves as championing reason against Christian pretensions of revelation.
Now the script has flipped.
The spirit of Christian reform is turned against Christianity itself. Now Christianity is ignorance, superstition, and oppression, while secular reason is the cause of truth and liberation.
This change is the result of excessive use of salvation by law.

See Season Change.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Supermarkets

Inflation has taken off and people are feeling the pain of rising prices. The two places where they experience this pain the most are when they fill up their car with petrol and when they go to the supermarket to buy their groceries.

Here in New Zealand, two big supermarket chains dominate the market. One is a cooperative with most of its supermarkets being owner-operated (Foodstuffs) and the other is a subsidiary of an Australian chain. Critics have learned the word duopoly and are blaming the supermarket chains for rising prices. Some are claiming that the supermarkets are making excessive profits at the expense of their customers.

I am quite happy with the service that the supermarkets provide. I am amazed that all the things that I need for daily life are ready to purchase when I need them.

  • If I want to go to see a doctor, I have to make an appointment, often days in advance. The same is true if I want to have my car serviced. In contrast, I can go to a supermarket any time day or night and purchase what I want.

  • The supermarkets offer their customers an amazing array of choices. If I go into the breakfast cereal, there are a dozen different brands to choose from. And within each brand, there are numerous types and flavours of cereal available. The situation is the same for most of the products that I might want to buy. I am not limited to a few choices that someone decides would be good for me, but can choose which brand and type of product I want. Having all the choices available on display for customers to choose from is a real benefit, except for those who hate making decisions.

  • Looking at the food products that are available, I see products that have come from all over the world. I don’t have to organise the delivery of products from the other side of the world, because the supermarket has done the ordering and organised the delivery before I have even realised that I want the product.

  • Supermarkets make sure that the food and grocery products that people want are always available when they want them. Even when supply chain disruption occurs, most of the products that I want are available when I want them. We just take this for granted, but a huge amount of organisation goes on behind the scenes to make it happen.

    I remember a few days after the Christchurch earthquake when we had no water and electricity at our house. We went to a nearby supermarket and at the back found three big pallets of bottled water. We were delighted to get some drinking water, but I was amazed to see the amount of stock available at a time and wondered how it had got there when many of the transport links into the city were still disrupted. I presume that the supermarket chains had stocks of drinking water in their warehouses that they were able to bring out.

    New Zealand is a small island nation, a long way from everywhere, so most of the groceries that we buy have to be brought in by ship. Not only does this make them more expensive, but it makes the logistics more difficult to organize.

  • If I make an order online, the supermarket will gather up my groceries and have them available when I want to pick them up. Alternatively, I can get them delivered to my home if that is more convenient.

  • People can buy many of the food and grocery products from other more specialist providers, but it would take a huge amount of time and effort going around them all. Most people don’t have spare time for this, so being able to purchase everything needed at one site is a huge benefit.

  • Some commentators are suggesting that we need a state-owned grocery wholesale operation that all supermarkets could go to for their stock. I doubt that government bureaucrats with “no skin in the game” would ensure that the products we need are always available in the way that the same way as the supermarket chains do.

I don’t know if the supermarket owners are making excessive profits, but the following factors need to be taken into account before making a judgment.
  • Managing a supermarket/supermarket chain is an incredibly difficult task. Managers have to order goods from all over the nation and many other parts of the world and ensure that they are delivered when they are needed. They manage delivery chains across the nation. They have to ensure that their store is open seven days a week and most hours of the day, with staff there to serve customers when they choose to come. They have to ensure that the shelves are stocked at times when their customers won’t be inconvenienced.

  • I would not want to be the owner or manager of a supermarket. These people have to manage a large number of staff and organise logistics to keep food and groceries available when people want them. They have to respond quickly to changing consumer preferences and changes in the most efficient supplier.

  • Many of the products that supermarkets stock are perishable or have a short shelf life. If the supermarkets over-order, they can easily be left with unsaleable product that they have already paid for. Excessive losses can quickly cut into their profits.

  • The managers of supermarkets and their various departments tend to be recruited from inside the organisation. You don’t hear of them being recruited from the finance sector, because supermarket operation is a very specialised set of skills.

  • Not many supermarket owners get to be on the “rich list” so I presume that there are easier paths for people who really want to get wealthy.

  • I know that some supermarkets are not profitable. In our city, one shut down a few years ago, after being rebuilt just a few years earlier, because it ran at a loss. I presume that the owners lost a significant amount of money. Like all businesses, the profit of supermarkets will vary according to the site and level of competition faced.

  • Loyalty to supermarket brands tend to be quite weak. Most consumers have a choice between several supermarkets near where they live, so owners that are not on the top of their game can lose customers quickly.

  • I hope that supermarkets that I purchase from are making good profits because I want them to continue investing so that they are resilient for the future. I want them to be well organised if the disruptions to supply chains that the world is currently experiencing become worse.

  • Over the last decade, property developers and property speculators have made enormous profits without providing any service at all. These are the excessive profits that concern me far more, because they are unrighteous wealth. The owners of supermarkets might have made excessive profits, but they have had to work hard to get them. They will have to continue working even harder in an unsettled and inflationary climate to remain profitable.

The price inflation that people are currently experiencing is real and painful. The supermarkets are an easy target, but I am not sure that they are the main culprit.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Adjective

God’s people should be careful about adopting fashionable adjectives.

A number of years ago, “prophetic” was the trendy adjective, as in prophetic leadership conference, prophetic evangelism, etc.

Subsequently, “apostolic” became the trendy adjective, as in apostolic anything, eg apostolic reformation, apostolic church.

More recently, “kingdom” is the adjective that is being used everywhere, as in kingdom economics, kingdom government, kingdom etc.

We need to be careful that we do not devalue these words by just attaching them to any idea that we think is trendy.

"Kingdom" is not an adjective that can be applied to any church programme.

“Kingdom” is a noun. We need a vision of a different kingdom.

  • The Kingdom of God is a different government.
  • The Kingdom of God is a transformed society.
  • The Kingdom of God is a different way of living.
Using “kingdom” as an adjective attached to what the church does turns the Kingdom of God into a contentless concept.

In my book Government of God, I explain how the Kingdom of God can become something real.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Looking Back

Apostles exercise authority looking back.

Paul and his colleagues founded many churches by preaching the gospel in a new town, and then moving on to repeat the process once elders had emerged who could care for the new church.

The elders in each of these churches had a strong link with Paul. They were either his spiritual children or spiritual grandchildren. Therefore, they respect him and acknowledged his wisdom. They had been submitted to him when he was an elder and they were new Christians, so they would still respect him, although he had moved on and they have become elders.

The authority of an apostle comes out of relationships. Paul demonstrated this type of authority in his letters. He was able to give direction to the churches because he had a relationship with the people in them. He was the apostle who had established their church. He knew them well and they trusted him.

This authority is completely different from the worldly pyramid model. It does not depend on legal power or position. In contrast, the authority of a bishop comes with an appointment to a position in a legal organisation.

We should note that the Twelve Apostles of Jesus were not a select group, with a special role; they were just the first of many apostles who were sent out to start new churches.

Monday, May 09, 2022

Paul’s Demise

Paul was an amazingly successful apostle. He planted churches all over Asia Minor and Greece. He provided oversight of the churches he had established, looking backward to those who had developed relationships with him. He wrote numerous letters to these churches, which became the core of the New Testament, overshadowed only by the gospels.

Paul seemed to understand the full implications of the gospel better than anyone in the first generation of Christians and was able to communicate it effectively to both Jews and Gentiles. John is the only other who reached the same level of understanding.

Given his role in the early church and his skills in sharing the gospel and advancing the Kingdom of God, it seems odd that God allowed him to be taken out of play so early in his ministry. It appears that he was killed in Rome when he still had other missionary journeys to undertake. Why did God allow his most effective operator to be taken out?

I suspect that there was a real risk that people in the fledging church wanted to make Paul into an archbishop or mini-pope. Given his skills and knowledge of the gospel, many people would want him to become the leader and manager of their church. This is a role that Paul always resisted. He moved on quickly once a church was established and was always looking to move to fresh pastures where the gospel had not been heard. This ensured that there was plenty of space for new elders to rise up in his place in the churches he left behind. Paul's approach ensured the quick development of new leadership.

Paul was not interested in becoming a senior pastor of a megachurch. (Peter seemed to have been interested in being the senior pastor of the Jerusalem church, but he discovered that he had neither the personality nor the appetite for the role).

My guess is that the reason the Holy Spirit allowed Paul to be imprisoned was that his ministry had been so effective that he was in danger of becoming an archbishop or mini-pope. He had planted numerous churches. The believers in those churches look up to him as their leader. He was skilled at resolving theological disputes. If he had continued in his ministry as it was, he was in danger of being raised up to a place that God did not want him to be, and where he did not want to be.

An apostle must keep moving on, or they will be quickly be turned into a bishop, CEO, or Big Man, depending on the culture. Paul understood this well. He was an amazingly talented person, but the kept pressing on to new places, so the churches he established could not make him into the "leader" of a group of churches.

Once Paul was imprisoned, and eventually killed, the young church had to stand on their own feet and rely on the Holy Spirit. The numerous people who had travelled and worked with Paul had to step up and preach the gospel and share the truth. Others would have to take the gospel to Spain. That is how the Holy Spirit prefers to work. He prefers working through a multitude of ordinary people to relying on a few superstars.

This is something we should remember in this season when big-name leaders of megachurches are falling from grace.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Peter and Paul

A common idea amongst Christians is that Peter was the apostle to the Jews and Paul the apostle to the Gentiles. This idea is given some credibility by Pauls’s account in Galatians of his encounter with the men in Jerusalem who were esteemed as something by the people, although Paul was not particularly impressed. Paul notes that they recognised that Paul had been "entrusted to take the uncircumcised to the Gentiles, just as Peter has taken it to the circumcised".

He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles (Gal 2:8).
We should be careful about reading too much into this passage. Paul only says that the Holy Spirit was working within him and Peter when they were sent out as apostles, he to the Gentiles and Peter to the Jews. Anything more than this is a human construction. Paul does not call himself the Apostle to the Gentiles. He does not acknowledge that Peter was the Apostle to the Jews.

There are several problems with the idea that Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles and Peter was the apostle to the Jews.

  • This idea assumes that God works through a couple of big men, whereas the NT plan is for the Holy Spirit to work through thousands of people. The word apostle is used far more in the New Testament as a verb than a noun, although most English translations do not reflect this. For example, Luke 10:1 describes Jesus appointing “seventy-two others, and apostled them in pairs ahead of Him".

    The role of an apostle was not limited to an elite group. Jesus’ strategy was based on groups of people being sent out (apostled) to the world. He needs millions of apostles taking the gospel into the world to bring in the Kingdom of God.

  • Jesus had told his apostles clearly that they should start in Jerusalem and then go out into all the world (Acts 1:8; Mat 28:10). His apostles should go to the Jews first and then go to the Gentiles.

    Paul was never exclusively an apostle to the Gentiles. He followed Jesus’ instructions and in each new city went to the Jews first. Only when they rejected his approach did he go to the Gentiles.

    Peter’s approach was similar, although he was sometimes reluctant to go to the Gentiles. When the Holy Spirit tried to get Peter to go to the Gentiles in Caesarea (Acts 10) he dug in his toes, but he eventually went He never limited his ministry to just to the Jews.

Peter and Paul both operated as apostles, along with numerous others. They both operated amongst Jews and Gentiles. The idea that they had separate spheres of authority, one as the apostle to the Jews and the other as the apostle to the Gentiles is not true.

What is true is that in the beginning, many newer Christians hang around in Jerusalem where the Holy Spirit has been poured out and the Peter and John were based. They should have been taking the gospel back to the places that they had come from. God eventually sent persecution to get them moving in the way he needed.

See Governmental Apostles.

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Inflation (4) Different Situations

Rapid price increases can have two main causes.

  1. Monetary Policy
    Inflation of the money supply by a banking system supported by a central bank can create excessive demand for goods and services or assets. The most recent example is the massive growth in the money supply created by the US Federal Reserve and assisted by central banks around the world, which has caused a massive increase in the price of financial assets, especially share markets.

    In New Zealand, the monetary expansion has fed into a boom in house prices and rapid escalation of costs in the construction sector. Rapid growth in the number of houses being built has caused shortages of building materials and personnel shortages that have fed into a massive increase in prices.

    Tightening monetary policy is now taking the heat out of the property market (just as it is popping the share price bubble in the US) so we can expect inflation in the construction sector to ease, although residential dwellings will continue to be expensive.

  2. Economic Conditions
    Another cause of price increases is a change in economic conditions that brings a change in relative prices. Some prices rise fast, while others fall. In a free market, the prices of things that people want more of, or which have become scarce, tend to rise. The prices of things that people want less of tend to fall.

    The market rewards businesses that are producing things that people need more of by raising prices to increase their profitability. Businesses that are producing goods and services for which there is declining demand are punished by falling prices that eat into their profits. Some of the least viable of these businesses will actually fail. This process is how the market shifts productive capital to where it is needed most.

    We are currently facing a massive economic shift caused by war and the economic sanctions imposed by the United States. The result will be a shortage of basic food and energy that pushes up prices for these goods. Businesses and countries that produce energy products and grow grain are being rewarded with increasing prices which will increase their profitability. Countries that rely on imported energy and grain products are facing seriously price increases for essential goods that are needed throughout their economy.

    This big economic shift is making countries like New Zealand less well off. The mechanism by which this loss of prosperity is transmitted through the economy is a massive increase in prices. Oil-based products are used throughout the economy so increases in energy prices will push up the cost of everything that is produced, transported and consumed. Increased grain prices will push up the cost of many food products.

    The consequence of these changes is that our incomes will not go as far as they did in the past. Most people will all be worse off. Groups with economic power will try to get compensation for their lost prosperity by demanding an increase in income, but most will not have that privilege. Rises in the prices of food will affect everyone, but those who spend a large share of their income on food will experience the worst pain. People who are poor will be affected the most by increases in the price of food.

New Zealand is an agricultural country, but most of the food we produce is meat and milk for consumers who are well off. The prices of these products will hold up, but they will not compensate for the big increases in the price of imported grain-based foods and the increased cost of energy products.

The key role of central banks is to control price inflation., but their only policy tool is the interest rate, which they adjust to control the supply of money. This tool works for the first type of inflation listed above, although it does produce pain.

However, the tools of the central banks are totally ineffective against price increases that are caused by a serious economic shift like the war and sanctions that the world is currently experiencing. Adjusting targe interest rates cannot produce more oil or more grain.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Still in the Building?

Christian America has been stirred by the decision of the leaders of Vineyard Anaheim to secede from Vineyard USA. This decision was shocking because John Wimber was heavily involved in establishing Vineyard Anaheim, and many people see it as the mother of the Vineyard movement.

Geoff Holsclaw who is a professor at Northern Seminary and a pastor at Vineyard Grand Rapids asked and answered the following question.

Has Vineyard USA lost its “anointing”? Has God’s anointing passed to those of the Toronto Blessing, to the Kansas City Prophets, or to Bethel Redding, and The New Apostolic Reformation? (Yes, I have heard this privately...many times).
His full answer is here, but his conclusion is,
I’m certain the anointing of God’s Spirit has not left the building.
I value Geoff’s teaching, but I not sure that he is totally correct.

I decided to follow Jesus in 1974 when I studying at University (I was a late starter). After a year of seeking to follow him, I felt that I was not progressing quickly enough. I talked with a friend, and she suggested that I read the book of Acts, to see if I could discover what made the early Christians different from me. I followed her advice, and the answer to her question was obvious.

The difference was the presence of the fulness of the Holy Spirit. After claiming Luke 11:9-13, I was baptised in the Holy Spirit sitting in my bed one Saturday morning while my wife was at work. I was given a heavenly language, which has continued to refresh me until this day.

In the season that followed, we saw some amazing things. (This occurred during the Charismatic Renewal in New Zealand). The Holy Spirit seemed to be doing amazing things everywhere. This was real steak, not sizzle. People were not falling down (that did not come to until the Toronto Blessing took off twenty years later). People were being healed and delivered.

Sadly, a few years on, the activity of the Holy Spirit seemed to go into decline. Some people believe that they can almost mark the date this happened. We dealt with this decline by assuming that the Holy Spirit moves in seasons. We assumed that the season where the Holy Spirit was moving freely had come to an end, but another season of similar blessing would come again in the future.

Now, more than forty years later, I realise that we were fooling ourselves. The season of blessing did not end because the Holy Spirit lost interest or decided to pause things for a while.

I believe now that we were responsible for the end of our season of blessing. The season ended because we grieved the Holy Spirit. Looking back, I understand that we tried to take the blessing of the Holy Spirit and use it to renew the church. The problem was that the Holy Spirit was wanting to do something radically different. He wanted to transform the church to prepare it for the next season when he would establish the Kingdom of God on earth during a season of trouble on earth. We refused to heed his call to change because we believed that we could enjoy the blessing of the Spirit within the existing church structures.

The Holy Spirit cannot achieve his goals with a church that is led by big-name leaders and conducts its activities in buildings where the people of the world cannot see what he is doing. The Holy Spirit wants a church that is led by teams of elders with balanced giftings. He wants a church that is active in the places where people live. Until the church is willing to change in the way that the Holy Spirit is asking, we will continue to grieve him.

The Holy Spirit has not left the building, but it is not his happy place.