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Durable goods are generally designed to last three or more years. Examples of consumer durable goods include appliances, televisions, automobiles, furniture, and tools. Durable goods for businesses include such things as machinery, industrial equipment, trucks, computing and communications equipment, television cameras, business furniture and even airplanes. Nondurable goods are used quickly and include such things as food, clothing, paper, and fuel.
The Census Bureau's durable goods report is an indicator of current and future economic activity. Strong durable goods orders are good for the economy and stock market, but predicts weakness in bonds. A weak report foretells the opposite. The full report provides information for manufacturing durable goods new orders, unfilled orders, inventories and shipments. It includes both consumer and business durable goods.
The February durable goods report showed that total new orders were up 1.7 % for the month (versus 2.3 % in January) and 5.0 % from the year ago total (versus -0.1 % in January). The yearly change in durable goods orders was strongest in communications equipment (8.5 %), defense capital goods (7.5 %), fabricated metal products (4.2 %), and machinery (2.6 %). The weakest industries in year ago durable goods orders were non-defense aircraft and parts (-22.0 %), computers and related products (-4.6 %), and defense aircraft and parts (-2.1 %).
New orders for capital goods were especially disappointing. Capital goods are goods which will be used to produce other goods and services and are usually part of durable goods. Examples include machinery, equipment, buildings, robots, tools and computers used to create other goods. Total capital goods orders increased 2.6 % for the month. But if we exclude defense and the often-volatile aircraft categories, new orders fell by 0.1 % for the month. Capital goods are the lifeblood of the economy. Business investment impacts productivity which influences future economic growth.
Most economies will produce non-durable and durable goods, and the class of durable goods called capital. Most will produce for consumers and businesses for both the civilian and military sectors. Healthy, growing, dynamic economies will produce more capital goods. Capital has the inherent capacity to cause multiplication.
In the Kingdom, we produce non-durable and durable fruit. A segment of our durable fruit could be likened to capital goods, in that it multiplies and creates additional fruit. All three types of fruit are a necessary part of the kingdom. But we should make a concerted effort to produce as much durable fruit which will also multiply. With focus, some of the nondurable fruit can be morphed into durable. With intentional efforts, fruit can multiply.
Nondurable Fruit. Nondurable fruit in the church includes positive experiences of visitors. These experiences can range from mercy ministries (caring for the poor or emergency assistance), friendliness of greeters and/or the congregation, a meaningful worship service or sermon, and miracles (healings, deliverances, salvations, and/or rededications). Obviously, salvations and many other experiences have an eternal significance. But unless intentional actions are taken by the church, the individual is likely to be unfruitful and may fall back into the habits and strongholds which they had initially.
Durable Fruit. Durable fruit, in the church, includes individuals that have reached some level of maturity in Christ, and are continuing to grow in their knowledge and experiences in the Word, the Lord, and the Holy Spirit. Although not perfect, they have learned to crucify the flesh and walk in the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is evident and they are beginning to exercise their Spiritual gifts.
With continued maturity, a portion of this durable fruit will begin to multiply. Nominal Christians and unbelievers will notice differences in their lives. People will want to be like them. Through their example and word, the Kingdom will begin to multiply. Their discipleship is proven. New disciples will be made. The Father will be glorified.
"My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples," (John 15:8).
No church program is perfect and fail-proof. But there are principles, which if followed, will increase the likelihood of nondurable fruit becoming durable and multiplying fruit. If an apple is discarded in the back yard, there is a chance that a seed from the apple will become an apple tree. But if seed from an apple is planted in good soil, cultivated, watered, nourished, and protected from weeds, insects and disease, one apple can produce many apple trees. Specific principles include:
Have a plan to follow-up. Purpose to follow-up with every individual that has a significant experience in your church. Targets could include visitors, plus any who received emergency assistance, salvation, rededicated their lives, or were healed. Variations in the plan should be based on the type of experience.
Teach the Word. Covering a few scriptures in sermons is insufficient. New believers need to be grounded in the word. All believers should regularly study the word, and go to the word for encouragement and guidance in addressing life's issues.
Emphasize Spirit empowerment. Believers should be equipped to walk in the fruit of the Spirit and operate in the gifts of the Spirit. Training on receiving guidance from the Spirit, praying for the sick, deliverance, and prophecy should be available to all.
Utilize every individual in Kingdom work. Every person, even new believers, should have fruit. The church needs everyone. Everyone needs to be working as it is a necessity for growth. Get everyone involved in ministry as soon as they are able.
"You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that the Father may give you whatever you ask Him in My name" (John 15:16).
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
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