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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released price indices for the consumer and producer sectors. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is computed using prices for a bundle of goods purchased by the typical consumer.
The March report showed that the cost of this bundle increased 0.9 percent over the previous year. The Producer Price Index (PPI) uses a bundle of goods and services which reflect prices received by producers of goods and services. The report showed that producer prices had decreased 0.1 percent over the previous 12 months. Currently, there is little evidence of significant inflation (or deflation) in overall consumer or producer prices.
Those with fixed incomes and creditors lose from an increase in inflation, while borrowers gain. Significant inflation or deflation can devastate an economy. In the hyperinflation of Hungary, 1945-1946, inflation grew to a rate of 207 percent per day with prices doubling every 15 hours. More recently, Zimbabwe (2007-2008) saw inflation grow to a daily rate of 98 percent, with prices doubling every 25 hours.
Since money has value because of its purchasing power, central banks and policymakers follow price indices closely. Currently, some analysts predict high inflation, some anticipate current conditions to continue, and some expect deflation.
Price indices are also used to convert nominal monetary values (prices, incomes, gross national product, etc.) to inflation adjusted (real) values. For example, if the value of output in an economy (GDP) increased 5 percent, we don't know whether the quantity of goods increased 5 percent, prices increased 5 percent, or the increase was combination of price and quantity changes.
Price indices allow us to separate price and quantity influences by converting GDP to Real GDP. Conversion to real monetary values is essential to correctly analyze past, present, and future economic conditions and remedies.
In the kingdom, we need to periodically evaluate the real value of our ministry. In appraising our ministry, the world's tools are insufficient. Human reasoning, wisdom, and evaluation are defective and of inadequate scope. Community standing and the accolades of our members, elders and even other pastors are perfunctory. The only reliable and valid method of determining the true value of our ministry is comparing it with the Word and by revelation.
In the book of Revelation, John received messages for seven churches; the church of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Although the messages gave detailed instructions for the mentioned churches, the message provides general applications for the today's church.
Have we abandoned the love we had at first (Revelation 2:4)?
Are we teaching and empowering our church to be faithful regardless of circumstances (Revelation 2:10)?
Do we allow heresies (Revelation 2:14-15)?
Do we allow immoral behavior (Revelation 2:20)?
Do we strengthen the things in our ministry which are dying (Revelation 3:2)?
Are we protecting what we have (Revelation 3:11)?
Are we lukewarm (Revelation 3:15-16)?
Each letter to the seven churches of revelation includes the statement "He who overcomes ..." The clause prefaces all of the blessings mentioned in the letters. A ministry with real value should be teaching and empowering people to overcome. Too often today's church neglects this important subject.
"You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4, MEV).
Each letter to the churches also has the phrase "let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." John begins the book of Revelation by saying, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day ..." (Revelation 1:10).
Perhaps we need to be more in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, listen to the Holy Spirit, and worry more about overcoming as we develop ministries of real value.
Dr. James R. Russell is professor of economics and chair of the Undergraduate College of Business at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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