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Weathering the Economic Storm|
Q. I read your economic warnings 5 years ago. But, what are you saying now? I need to know what to tell the church I pastor. What should we be doing right now? How close are we to total collapse? (A concerned pastor. God bless you).
Thank you for writing to us with your caring questions. It's good to know there are pastors like you who have determined to become good stewards for the sake of their congregations.
A Sovereign God
Rule #1 -
We know that God is sovereign and that He reigns over all. As such everything that happens to us is "Father Filtered." We tell our Bible study students and our Rescue Mission residents that God is Providential…He provides and He directs. So historical events both past and present will all serve to His ultimate glory.
Rule #2 -
Never believe what we or anyone else tell you. Remember to always be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 who "examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so."
Rule #3 -
The primary duty of any Believer is 1) to Love God (i.e. to get to know Him by learning about Him) and 2) Love others (i.e. to put the welfare of others before ourselves). Both of these are critical while investigating the often discouraging and frightening events and trends of our time.
If by total collapse you mean the complete destruction of society and worldwide anarchy, then we do not ascribe to this scenario until just before Jesus returns. Certainly many sectors in our economy have collapsed. But, others are thriving.
Believers should be aware of what sectors are doing better than others and act accordingly. For example, we can teach our children valuable skills such as repairing cars or appliances, global commerce, acquiring a college education in order to teach secondary school, and other useful trades in the current climate.
Do we anticipate civil unrest in various parts of the world? Yes… Do we anticipate civil unrest in the USA as we have seen in Europe… Perhaps.
One of our biggest economic concerns is the deliberate efforts to collapse the Dollar. This means that the purchasing power of a dollar will be greatly reduced until cries for a dollar replacement or global currency will be adopted. This is already in the works as any astute follower of world news may read again and again.
Restrictions, Fees, Higher Prices
Will this disrupt governments? We believe, yes. When governments are threatened they pass more laws. So be ready for even more restrictions, fees, and higher prices in basics such as commodities and services. "Things" will be harder to obtain at affordable prices.
Study and Plan Ahead
Our number one recommendation is that God's people begin to study how things work in our new society and to plan accordingly. But, the last place we should look to for accurate information is the network news. For financial information two on-line sites we might recommend are Financial Sense.com and Dollar Collapse.com. Be discriminating in selecting those authors or speakers you might choose to follow.
Encourage One Another
As a Church Pastor you are in a terrific position to encourage your congregation to study their Scripture and then learn how to help each other during difficult times. Each congregant should study his/her strengths and weaknesses. We do not believe we can avoid difficult times. However, we can reduce our exposure and learn about Godly attitudes we must develop during times of stress. (See Hebrews 10:24-36, for example).
Events Occurring Since Article
Several of the items in our articles written 5 years ago have either occurred or are in the process of occurring. Here are just three:
Excesses in Real Estate - Since the article was written the Real Estate market has indeed suffered a major setback. Property values have dropped to 1999 levels in many markets resulting in millions of foreclosures and bankruptcies.
What are we doing? We are very cautiously looking at purchasing depressed real estate to live in or rent in the near future. We do not see this market recovering for at least 5-10 years. Our position is that real estate should not be purchased as an investment or speculation - only as a residence. Mortgages are nearly impossible to obtain. So we are also thinking about renting instead of buying. The rules of purchasing property have changed dramatically in the past two years. You must be fully informed of the new reality before considering purchasing.
Government Excesses - Our opinion is that, in general, neither party is really serious about the good of the common people…they have their own agenda. Government is out of control and will continue to seek new and inventive ways to separate citizens from their hard-earned money and savings.
Personal Debt - This is one of the most critical items with which we must deal. It is most difficult to cut back to a simple life style. But, we believe it is absolutely necessary.
Returning to the Simple Life
In the late 30s and early 40s my grandmother survived by raising chickens and rabbits, growing supplemental foods in flower beds, and renting out rooms to scientists who worked at a local aircraft factory. Many of us would do well to re examine the lifestyle of our grandparents in order to learn how to embrace a simple life once again. For example, we can:
- Start raised-bed gardening around homes and churches.
- Those able to do so may raise rabbits, chickens, geese or pygmy goats.
- Start a Joseph Storage room at church for needy members. Congregants can supply food goods, baby and sanitary supplies and clothing.
- We can start sign-up lists of church members or neighbors who can repair cars, washers and dryers, sew and repair clothing, shoes, fix plumbing, etc.
- Older investors may wish to consider exiting the stock market and bond funds altogether. We have had a good run since the low of 2009 due to a number of things including manipulation of prices and QE2. Some astute investors feel this is about to change. It wouldn't hurt to place funds into simple money market accounts for awhile.
- We can convert some of our savings into pre 1965 silver dimes, quarters and half-dollars (perhaps waiting for a correction first). These are called "junk silver" obtainable from local coin dealers. As our dollar is devalued silver may retain or rise in value (gold is too expensive for most people). But, expect gut-wrenching drops or corrections along the way.
- Try to obtain a 3-6 month supply of needed medications in advance. Just-in-time inventories may be depleted for any number of causes.
- Keep about 3-6 months of food, water and cash on hand. This partly follows the advice of our Homeland Security Dept. and makes good sense in today's disaster prone world.
- If there are doctors or nurses in a congregation perhaps they may be willing to barter goods for services as times become more difficult.
- Consider renting out rooms in a home for extra income and to help your neighbor. As more people become homeless many will work for food or will appreciate the lower cost of renting a room.
- Learn to shop at flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales. For example, I'll never forget the tricycle my grandfather brought home to me from a flea market. He painted it bright blue, oiled it and presented it to me in fine shape. I treasured it as much as any brand new bike from Wal-Mart! My grandmother furnished her home with lovely used furniture from local flea markets.
Our Biblical Guide
As you know, the Bible gives the best economic advice for living in tough times. We think one of the biggest mistakes congregations make is to ignore the plain teaching of God's Word. Small group Bible studies are absolutely necessary.
There is a mountain of good commentaries and resources from which Biblical Christians can glean. Furthermore, with today's technologies and modes of communication there is no excuse for not digging into the Word and becoming an informed Believer. Once a person becomes informed they can then set about making the personal decisions concerning their own safety and economic independence.
God Bless you and your congregation. Please let us know if we have answered your questions adequately. If you need additional information we would be honored to respond.
Bartholomew, Mel. 1981. Square foot gardening. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.
Food production systems for a backyard or small farm. 2009. (DVD). Rooster Crows Productions. www.backyardfoodproduction.com.
Robinson, Jerry. 2009. Bankruptcy of our nation. Green Forest, Arizona: New Leaf Press. www.ftmdaily.com.
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