Janet Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve, surprised many by saying "I believe the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened ..."
No one knows if the Fed will actually raise interest rates, but certainly the odds of it occurring have increased. The stock markets fell as a result. Other than the statement by Dr. Yellen, economic reports were fairly balanced between negative and positive for the week.
GDP and corporate profits reports were negative. Real GDP growth for the second quarter was estimated at an annual rate of 1.1 percent. Although the report was in line with expectations, it confirmed a dismal rate of growth for the economy (especially when first quarter growth was an annualized 0.8 percent). Second quarter corporate profits fell at an annual rate of 2.1 percent. Stock market prices should reflect profits; but stock prices have been higher than is justified by profits for some time. Some speculate that the Fed has created a price bubble with its easy money policy. Time will tell.
Durable goods and new home sales reports were positive. July durable goods orders showed a monthly 4.4 percent increase. This compares to a pre-report estimate of 3.7 percent (Bloomberg Econoday) and a June decrease of -4.2 percent. July new home sales increased more than 70,000 units from the June report and the pre-report forecast.
Economic policy-makers face an array of choices in a complex, uncertain and volatile environment. Unemployment, inflation, economic growth and stability can often be conflicting objectives. Political goals may compete with economic goals. Monetary (Federal Reserve) policies may be at variance with fiscal (governmental) policies. Urban versus rural, domestic versus international and short-term versus long-term objectives will sometimes collide. In an attempt to cope with competing goals, economic policy makers usually attempt to take actions which balance competing interests.
As ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are called to make disciples of all nations. Specifically, we are called to equip the saints to serve and to build up the body of Christ. We are expected to do this until there is:
- Unity in the faith
- Unity in the knowledge of Jesus
- People have matured to the fullness of Christ
To the extent we are successful, our charges will be immune from deception. Their doctrine will be stable and secure regardless of the attempted influence of others.
"He gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service, and for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, into a complete man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so we may no longer be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men, by craftiness with deceitful scheming" (Eph. 4:11-14, MEV).
Our far-reaching mission necessitates that we teach the full gospel using the Word of God as our basis and the Spirit for guidance and empowerment. Today's culture has fragmented the body into too many churches which emphasize a particular doctrinal concept to the exclusion of others. Some supposedly Christian churches have even abandoned the Word. People are left without the sure knowledge of the complete gospel and are open to deception. Our churches need balanced teaching.
For example, we need to:
- Present Jesus as Savior and Lord
- Teach about heaven, but also mention hell
- Discuss trials, suffering and persecution and well as peace and joy
- Emphasize the blessings of obedience and consequences of sin (even for a believer)
- Address the mores of society when they conflict with the gospel, even if they are popular
- Preach confession and repentance in addition to forgiveness
- Teach about the abundant life, as well as patience and long-suffering.
Let us move from a gospel of popular topics to the complete gospel for which Jesus died. Our messages need to be complete and balanced. It is called the Good News for a reason.
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
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