There is a never-ending stream of information available to us on economies and financial markets in the U.S. and around the world. At this time of the year, much of the information focuses on best guesses about what the coming year will bring.
It has been an exciting week as we officially revealed our new name, logo, and website on Monday, October 29. The Orchard Foundation and The Alliance Development Fund are now Serving the Kingdom Together as Orchard Alliance. If you haven’t seen it already, you can click here to view our announcement video to learn more.
The Ten Commandments and the Bible make it obvious that the Lord places a great emphasis on putting important agreements in writing. The important agreements we put in writing include marriage licenses, loan agreements, business contracts, and more. But when it comes to writing our Last Will and Testament, we tend to put it off year after year.
I recently had the great pleasure of spending time in Puerto Rico. Rosilio Roman, assistant vice president for Church Ministries of The Alliance, joined me and an ADF colleague there. As some of you might know, ADF has made loans to a large number of churches in Puerto Rico for many years.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 went into a two-week slide after reaching all-time highs on January 26, 2018. Both stock indexes dropped by more than 10%, a margin that is typically considered a market correction. Analysts have been saying for quite some time that the market was due for a correction, so the drop was not a surprise when we consider the big picture. Even after the correction, the Dow was up 19% over the previous 12 months, and the S&P was up 12.5%.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, ADF uses investment advisors from both Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch. These advisors help us invest our required reserves, and they provide insights into what factors are driving the economy and financial markets. In a recent presentation, one of our advisors mentioned the challenges of expensive stocks and bonds (relative to rates and risks). He also talked about the upward pressures of inflation, which will contribute to rising interest rates.
Thank you for your faithful partnership in ADF’s ministry of "Building the Kingdom, Transforming Lives, One Investment at a Time." I have been reflecting on the Transforming Lives statement. Pastor and author John Piper once called transformation “a profound, blood-bought, Spirit-wrought change from the inside out.” I like this definition.
We have been hearing for a very long time that interest rates will be rising. As you know, rates are now on the move. The Fed Funds rate, which applies to funds that banks lend to and borrow from each other through the Federal Reserve, has been raised to a target level of 1%-1.25%.
In my last article, I included the following quote, which bears repeating: “The Church is God’s instrument to reach the lost. That’s why our energies and resources are poured into creating healthy, vibrant, communities of faith in the United States and around the world.” (The Alliance website, U.S. Ministries)
“The Church is God’s instrument to reach the lost. That’s why our energies and resources are poured into creating healthy, vibrant, communities of faith in the United States and around the world.” (The Alliance website, U.S. Ministries)
As a supporting ministry of The Alliance, ADF is fully committed to this endeavor.
Alliance District Superintendent David Linn recently wrote a piece that I really liked entitled, “Smart Farming.” He describes how the farmer must be smart and diligent in preparing the soil by cultivating and watering, but in the end has no idea how plants actually grow: “he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know.” (Mark 4:27, NASB) Linn applies this thought to church plants, and church and Kingdom growth.
My last article for Builders explored the idea of starting with the fact that God owns 100% of everything, and then determining what He wants us to do with what He has entrusted to us. This time, I’d like to propose a few ideas to guide our thinking as we work at discerning our individual responses.
I recently listened to a presentation by three CPAs, one was a former FBI agent and another who was also an attorney. The subject was elder fraud and financial abuse. Whether considering your own status or those of your loved ones, I thought a few key takeaways could be helpful to you.
In a book written by my coworker, Guy Burgo, entitled, Free to Give as God Intended, I recently read the following: “…the tendency of our human nature is to assume that if 10% belongs to God, the rest belongs to us. I think this line of thinking can really hinder generosity.” I had not considered this point before, at least not in this way, but I have to say I agree.
Most of us know that Medicare is the federal health insurance program primarily for people who are 65 or older and certain younger people with disabilities. There are several parts lettered A through D that cover everything from hospital and hospice care, to doctor services and prescription drugs. A great source of information and tools is located at www.medicare.gov.
You may recall a previous article of mine, “The Battle for God’s Resources.” I wrote about the spiritual battle surrounding the funding of Christian ministry and described how the battle strategy of limiting ministry resources not only means limited impact, but also limiting Christians’ growth in their wholehearted devotion to God.
Last year about this time, I wrote about the volatility that the financial markets were experiencing. While volatility waxes and wanes as part of financial market cycles, it can be very scary to observe and experience. As that volatility continues, it seems like a good time to reiterate some of what I said back then.
A friend of mine gave me a very good little book by Rick Dunham entitled, If God Will Provide, Why Do We Have to Ask for Money? Mr. Dunham covers some good basic ground on the biblical view of money, giving, and asking. These are important topics for those involved in Christian leadership and fundraising, but also for Christians in general. As a local church treasurer and financial ministry leader, these are topics I give particular consideration to.
As I approached a recent surgery and the testing that preceded it, I was asked numerous times if I had the documents listed below or would like information about them. I sheepishly had to admit that I knew about them but had yet to complete some of them. I needed to move quickly since the hospital likes to keep the medical forms in your record in case they are needed. (They destroy them once you are released.) In light of my experience, I thought it would be helpful to pass this information along to you.
In many of my recent writings, I have referred to the Kingdom Return on Investment (KROI) that you receive on your ADF investments. This is really an essential element of ADF’s ministry and makes ADF unique among investment and savings alternatives. It is your money working for you and the Kingdom.
Earlier this year, there was an article in CNNMoney by Richard Cordray, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As we approach this time of year when we reflect back on 2015 and look ahead to 2016, I thought it would be helpful to share with you a few thoughts from his article as well as some of my own.
A few short months ago, many of our Alliance family members met in Long Beach, California, for General Council. Hopefully, many of you were able to attend or participate through the excellent live-streaming option. In any case, if you haven’t seen President Stumbo’s presentation of the vision for the U.S. Alliance, or read the document from those sessions at Council, I strongly encourage you to do so. They may be found on The Alliance website here: http://www.cmalliance.org/events/2015/council
Demographics is “the science of vital and social statistics.” The demographics affecting Social Security are presenting some huge challenges to the program’s future health. Of course there are other factors, such as retirement age patterns, employment rates, inflation, and other economic and program-specific factors, but this “science lesson” will focus on some key demographic issues.
A recent CNN.com article reported on an extensive new study to predict the fate of five major faiths, along with folk religions and the religiously unaffiliated. Pew Research Center collected data from 234 countries and territories on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam. The study based its projections on the age of populations, fertility and mortality rates, as well as migration and conversion patterns.
Most of us have seen an amusing picture of the Earth or the Milky Way galaxy with an arrow pointing to a spot with the caption, “You are here.” It is obviously absurd and meaningless from the standpoint of useful location information like we get from the map at the mall or airport. Yet it not only reflects a great spiritual truth about God’s infinite nature and Kingdom (When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Psalm 8:3-4), it speaks to our being a part of things much greater than ourselves.