Raising Up A Standard

Tips to Surviving Troubled Economic Times by Jonas Clark

Will our economy recover? What can we expect in the days ahead? Will we see massive layoffs, sky high interest rates, thousands more losing their homes and savings? Is there anything the body of Christ can do to prepare?

During trying times we need ideas that might help people order their lives and get through tuff economic times. As Christians we can draw on the wisdom of God and from each other (James 1:5). I believe that Christ put a unique and particular gift in everyone. That gift is what you love. It is your passion and your source of wealth creation. To help us in this essay it’s important to understand that the gift in you is your “means of production.” When I talk about the gift in you we are not referring to the Holy Spirit or the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are talking about your particular gift from God. Paul wrote, “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper (particular) gift of God, one after this manner and another after that” (1 Corinthians 7:7). He wasn’t saying he wished that all men were apostles. He was saying he wished that all men understood that God had gifted them with a particular gift just waiting to be activated and empowered.

Your particular gift is your source of revenue and your source of wealth creation. That gift will help you produce even during economic crisis. This revelation has its roots in this Scripture. “But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8:18). Notice the words “power to get.” Again, that getting ability is found in your “means of production,” the gift of God within. French author Michel de Montaigne said it well, “We should reserve a storehouse for ourselves, altogether ours, and wholly free, wherein we may hoard up and establish our true liberty.” This quote prompts the thinking believer to discover the location of that storehouse. I believe the source of abundance is found within the born again spirit.

In a troubled economic world competition increases for available jobs. In some places the competition is minor and in other places fierce. Those that are not achievers and producers are fired and those remaining compete daily with others to keep their jobs. If you are good at what you do then you have a competitive advantage. If you are not good at what you do then your job is in jeopardy. Christians should be good, extremely good, at what they do. Any thing less that excellence does not represent our Christ.

For most of us our jobs are our main source of income. This is why I have continued to remind you to protect your job from the coming economic hurricane. Come to work early and leave late, for example, and go the extra mile. Your boss will notice. Do everything you can to make that company successful. Use the grace of God on your life to be productive and produce increase. Paul taught those in his flagship church at Ephesus about the gift of grace. Grace is the ability to do what natural strength cannot. Grace always produces and leads to increase. Paul taught “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Ephesians 4:7).

When you understand the source of your wealth is the gift of God within then you can feed that gift through education. Education leads to knowledge, knowledge to discovery and discovery to wisdom. As your knowledge increases in that area of passion your next move is to add tools that empower your gift to produce more.

As Christians we understand God’s expectation of us: to multiply, produce, increase, subdue and take dominion (Genesis 1:28). This simple truth brings us to the knowledge of possessing the land. To understand how to possess is key to victory during economic recessions. I wrote about this ability to produce in my book “Kingdom Living.” In this book I don’t pull any punches on how to get through bad economic times by explaining God’s expectation of you.

Let’s take a look at some things you can do too. By all means the best use of money, green ink on white paper, is investment in your education. Money is only an exchange means for items of real wealth, tangible and intangible goods. Education empowers you with knowledge, your means of production.

In any economy you can focus on consumption or production. All increase in your life requires a greater focus on production than consumption. Our American society runs on debt. It is consumption focused. This is why you keep seeing them provide “stimulus packages.” They are trying to get our economy spending again, buying through debt expansion.

When a nation is out of balance on their focus, more on consumption than production, for example, then debt is the end result. Debt is the food of the beast of Mammon. Christ warned us of Mammon as an economic god. Debt leads to slavery. Christ wants us free. To feed that beast of Mammon a continual slavery to consumerism is necessary. When you understand this you can see the motivation of our federal government, bankers, Wall Street and Madison Avenue marketers to get you into more debt. Without debt these brokers of slavery have no power. To break free from their grips you must see the dangers of debt, unchecked consumption, and focus your gift on producing real tangible goods, not paper monies. Paper is not real wealth! Paper money is a promise by a government of value. John Pugsley wrote an interesting book, “The Alpha Strategy.” The book deals with various self-defense financial plans and strategies to avoid depreciating paper monies. He gives this advice, “Invest your surplus wealth in real tangible and intangible goods and store these goods until you are ready to consume them, or until it is convenient to trade them for goods you want to consume. Goods to be saved will include the knowledge and skills of his trade, the tools, supplies and inventory for his business, the regular consumer products he uses in his everyday life, and the raw materials and finished products that he can store for later trade with others.”

As already said the best investment is in your God given gift, what you love, through education. By educating yourself that gives you a competitive advantage over competition for your job or industry. Start today. Education is something that nobody can take away from you. Those of you that took the “Jumpstart to Significance” course remember the one hour a day study habit focused on what you love gives you a competitive advantage and leads toward economic freedom. Christ wants His people free. Freedom includes economic freedom.

The next best means of investment is in the tools needed in the means of production. For example, you can buy a sewing machine to make shirts or you can buy shirts. Tools empower you to increase. They give you the ability to produce more. You can also learn a second or even a third skill. As Christians we understand the power of sowing. As we sow we also reap.

Every additional skill is a potential source of revenue for you. When you consider additional skills stay close to your original gift. One marketer made some sense to me when suggesting that companies should not drift to far away from their core product. If you are in the boating industry, for example, you should stick with a product or skill that complements that industry.

The banking crisis hit Iceland hard. (Here is a report from 2008 but is still applicable information for us now.) Without the wisdom of God our nation will face a serious breakdown. Here is a report of Iceland’s condition from a blogger on kitcom.com. This kind of information helps us believe for the best and prepare for the worst.

I’ve not written anything about the situation in Iceland for just over a week now. Here is the latest from my perspective as an Icelander.

The Central Bank lowered interest rates last week from 15.5% to 12%. However, because of agreement with the IMF before the weekend, interest rates were raised to 18% today. This means companies and individuals, that are already struggling to pay loans, will suffer even more. No new loans at all from anywhere.

The IMF agreement last week gave us $2.1 billion to prop up our currency. This is not enough and we're seeking an extra $4 billion from other countries, the Fed, ECB and Scandinavian CB's.

It is estimated that economic contraction will be around 10%. (So far USA contraction was around .03%)

It is estimated that 20% of companies will not be able to pay payroll this month. I have a feeling a lot of companies are just “ghost” companies, people still working, but the company is essentially bankrupt.

Massive layoffs in the construction industry and the banking sector of course.

Inflation roared to 15.5% this month, and is expected to rise.

Our currency is still worthless and still not traded overseas. Although there was a news today that hinted there was some trade with the ISK, where it was less than half the value that our CB claims.

I must note that there are no shortages (yet) of food, fuel and medicine, or much else I've noticed. But if current situation continues then we could see some shortages, but not of necessities. However, because of rationing of foreign currency other importers are not able to import new supply of e.g. clothes, industry material etc. I expect many companies not being able to continue their operations because of import restrictions.

The sovereign state has not yet defaulted on any loans, despite statements in the foreign media. It requires a lot of help to get back on its feet, and seems to be getting it soon.

A lot of families are "stuck" in their homes, cannot sell, cannot move, and cannot buy. The mortgage debt is around 10-40% higher then the value of their homes. Home value is expected to drop significantly in the coming months.

The government owns all the banks, and indirectly owns all the media, and all the debt of the people. With taxes and debt payment the people are in a state of servitude to the government. Not many realize this.

Some conspiracy theories are on the Icelandic forums that the government is censoring the media, directing them to mitigate the news. They own all the media after all!

Many are considering strategies out of this, e.g. husband and wife divorcing and allowing one of them to default on the debt and go bankrupt, while the other one keeps a clean slate. Some are thinking about fleeing to another country.

The government has been able to offer a temporary freeze on payments on mortgages, 4-6 months. The depression is expected to last at least 1 year, maybe 2 years.

There are some protests, but they seem to be minor. There is general calm, but still anxiety, frustration, over the situation. I expect things to get a lot worse when people lose their jobs and have nothing better to do than to protest. (This changed on Saturday with massive protest.)

I think the coming Friday/Monday is the big reveal moment, e.g. who pays the payroll and who doesn't. Just then we'll realize how serious the situation is. I expect thousands to lose their jobs.

This man on the street report is alarming. He ends his observation by asking, “How does once a free-market capitalist system, with the highest standard of living in the world, the most freedom of the press in the world, the happiest people in the world and least corrupt people in the world turn into a Orwellian fantasy almost overnight?”

The possibility of an economic hurricane for the United States is significant and cannot be ignored by responsible Christians. Leaders around our nation need to take heed to the possibilities of massive job losses. (As of this post these words were a prophetic understatement. We now have massive unemployment, millions of homes in foreclosure and out of control government debt accumulation that will never be repaid.) Our world, your world has changed! Some job loss projections for our nation are as high as 10 million. We know that God has not given us a spirit of fear. As believers therefore we are men and women of faith, prayer and action. Action is a leadership trait. Some ideas to prepare in advance are to compile a list of all city services, start a food bank, assign someone as a job services coordinator, offer child care services by screened volunteers, provide personal coaching and care groups, and an economic tips forum by using the Internet. During times of crisis people turn to God and look for leadership. As a believer in Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, you can provide a measure of that leadership.

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