Category Archives: Spirituality & Money Gate

China consumer inflation rises to 1.5% in April: govt

People buy vegetables at a booth in a outdoor market in Beijing on April 10, 2015Consumer inflation in China rose to 1.5 percent in April, authorities said Saturday, potentially easing concerns over deflation in the world's second-largest economy but below market forecasts. The rise in the consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) was the highest since December, and a slight increase on March's 1.4 percent. Moderate inflation can be a boon to consumption as it encourages consumers to buy before prices go up, while falling prices encourage shoppers to delay purchases and companies to put off investment, both of which can hurt growth. Concerns about the risk of deflation in China have been on the rise especially after January's slump in consumer inflation to 0.8 percent, the lowest since November 2009.


Court Ruling Clears Path for AT&T Merger Review

A federal judge threw out the Federal Communications Commission’s request that major TV programmers make their contracts available to third parties for comment, lifting a hurdle that has delayed regulatory review of AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV. All images and written content is property of the listed RSS FEED if you would like more on this story and images please click the listed feed. http://www.wsj.com/xml/rss/3_7014.xml

500 days out, Rio risks Olympics cost surge as building lags

(Adds comment from City Hall) By Stephen Eisenhammer RIO DE JANEIRO, May 8 (Reuters) – With less than 500 days until Rio de Janeiro hosts the Olympic Games, construction of several venues has not started and some major contracts have not even been tendered, setting the stage for a last-minute rush that will likely drive up costs. Rio 2016 may, though, end up being one of global sport’s closest calls yet, resulting in a race against time that would inevitably inflate the current 40-billion-real ($13.2 billion) price tag and add to the burden on Brazil’s struggling economy. At around this stage in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics, almost 80 percent of venues and infrastructure had been completed. In Rio, only about 10 percent of 56 Olympic construction, overlay and energy projects have been finished.

God Is Bigger Than My Cancer

God Is Bigger Than My Cancer

“There’s no doubt about the diagnosis,” the doctor said. Incurable cancer. A fatal disease. I had just celebrated my tenth anniversary with my wife, and we were busy raising our children, aged 1 and 3.

The next week, as I prepared for chemotherapy, my wife smiled and handed me a handmade card, colored bright with crayons and signed by a fifteen-year-old girl with Down syndrome in our congregation. My tears flowed as I read the top:

“Get well soon! Jesus loves you! God is bigger than cancer!”

My tears were a mingling of grief and joy. Yes, God is bigger than cancer, and bigger than my cancer! The girl in my church wasn’t denying that the path of my future seemed to be narrowing, hidden beneath the fog of a diagnosis. But she testified that God is greater: the God made known in Jesus Christ shows us that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

In my tears, I relished the fact that in the body of Christ theological truths are not a commodity trafficked and controlled by theology professors like myself. God is bigger than cancer, period.

Does God Owe Me 80 Years?

As I learned more details about my diagnosis, I realized that overnight my expected lifespan had been chopped by decades. This news reinforced my gratitude for each breath and the gift of every moment — the opportunity to hug my children, to cherish my wife, to labor in my vocation for God’s glory.

Cancer changes your perception of life. Each day comes to us as a gift from the gracious hand of God — whether it is the last day of a short life or the first day of a long and healthy life. But living into the reality that each day is a gift also involves coming to recognize a stark, biblical truth that is deeply countercultural: God is not our debtor.

Surely God is not capricious or untrustworthy. God has disclosed himself as gracious in his dealings with creation, with Israel, and most fully, in Jesus Christ. The Triune God binds himself to covenant promises that include, envelop, and hold us in a communion that sin and death cannot break. God is faithful to these promises, fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

But this does not mean life is “fair,” or that we are shielded from all of the present consequences of sin and death. God is not our debtor. He does not “owe” us a certain number of requisite years of life.

Christ promised to never leave us as orphans (John 14:18) — but Christ never promised us the American dream, a comfortable retirement, or that we will soak in all the expected blessings of what we think is “normal” life. Each day is a gift. Each year is a gift. Each decade, for each of us, is a gift that comes gratuitously from God’s hand, not from our entitlement to live a “normal” life or life span. The “abundant life” that Christ offers is not measured by the length of this life (John 10:10).

Groaning Before the Lord

Yet, even if God does not “owe” me a particular lifespan, the stinging questions are unavoidable: Why would God take away my children’s father in the middle of their childhood?

I have watched others die. I knew a cancer patient whose family prayed and prayed for healing. But his healing didn’t come — and death came before anyone expected. His path of suffering seemed senseless. Was that the path I was destined to walk?

Moreover, for years my wife and I prayed for children. And our prayers had been answered. But to what end? Was God toying with us? I join the Psalmist in lament: “He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days. ‘O my God,’ I say, ‘take me not away in the midst of my days — you whose years endure throughout all generations!’” (Psalm 102:23–24).

Through the Psalms, God gave me a means to bring my anger and confusion into his presence. Again and again, in communal and personal prayer, I began to see how my suffering is part of a much larger drama — for God is bigger than cancer.

Hoping Enough to Lament

I was not given a magical answer as to why God allowed my cancer to hit me. I still don’t know what the future holds. But the Psalms have paved a path for me to rest in the hands of the Almighty, delighting in his work, even when it is a strange work, a hard work on the road of suffering.

In the moments of darkest anguish, the psalmist shows us that God accepts our rawest laments: “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people” (Psalm 22:6). Do we feel alienated, angry, and confused? The psalmist has been there, too. And the depth of our anguish has been exhausted in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who joined with the psalmist in lament: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1).

But even in the darkness the Psalms are shot through with hope because God’s covenant promises are ever at the center. While some Psalms are songs of exuberant praise, jumping up and down in exaltation that God is truly the God he promises to be, many other Psalms, like the one Jesus prays on the cross, are Psalms of lament. Yet, even the darkness of this anguished cry of lament points to God’s promise: “My God, my God.” Even when he feels abandoned, the psalmist brings his burden before the Almighty. “Why have you forsaken me?” Only those who know they belong to God can press this question to God. God promises that he will not abandon or forsake his people (Psalm 94:14). Thus, it is an act of trust and hope to lament — to remind God of this promise when things seem desolate, when God’s promise seems to ring hollow.

In this way, lament is not just “venting” toward God, dumping our emotions upon him. It is bringing our confusion, anger, and even protest before the Almighty, allowing the Spirit to reshape our lives and affections into Christ’s image, and all in the security of God-centered hope.

A Joy Bigger than Cancer

At the center of God’s revelation is not a secret about how to live a lengthy, self-sufficient and secure life. We’ve been united to Christ by the Spirit follow the way of the crucified Lord. On this path, we do not seek out suffering for its own sake; but we do expect for the God of Jesus Christ to be active in the most unlikely places: on the path of suffering, on a path hidden from the light of worldly glory. We are a people who take up our crosses to follow Christ.

And this is not a joyless path.

Instead, when we follow the path of prayer with the psalmist, we shed tears of joy and celebration as well as tears of lament. Lamenting and hoping in God with the psalmist is a practice that runs counter to our consumer culture. Rather than soaking in self-satisfaction or self-pity, in these seasons of sorrow we find our affections reshaped by God — we delight in what delights God, we grieve over what grieves him. It is a joy that is bigger than cancer.

The Psalms are doing this for me, fixing my eyes upon God’s promises and God’s mighty acts — in the past, and in the incredible blessings of life and breath in each moment I have now. Indeed, even though we join the Spirit in grieving at the corruption of God’s creation through tragedies like cancer, we can hope that since our Lord is the crucified and risen one who broke the power of death, he can work even in the midst of what seems to be senseless suffering in our lives.

For now, joy and lament go together in our lives. For as we cry to God “out of the depths,” we also trust that “with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption” (Psalm 130:7)

And as we walk Christ’s cross-shaped path, we will continue to groan with the Spirit until Christ’s returns (Romans 8:23). We groan and we also rejoice with the psalmists in God’s faithful love. For God is bigger than cancer.


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Jobs report saves Dow, S&P 500 from losses

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on May 8, 2015The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the week up 167.05 points (0.93 percent) at 18,191.11, while the broad-based S&P 500 advanced 7.81 (0.37 percent) to 2,116.10, less than two points below a record. Stocks also sold off after US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen characterized US stock market valuations as "quite high" and said they pose "potential dangers" to financial stability. Analysts said Yellen's comments suggested the Fed is eager to raise ultra-low interest rates despite some disappointing economic data. David Levy, portfolio manager at Kenjol Capital Management, said the jobs figure came in at a "sweet spot" for Wall Street because it suggested the economy had turned a corner after a weak first quarter.


Canada and Philippines to launch free-trade talks

Philippine President Benigno Aquino (R) shake hands with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on an official visit to Manila, on November 10, 2012Canada and the Philippines announced they will begin discussions over increasing commerce between the two nations by lowering trade barriers, officials from the two governments said Friday in Ottawa. The negotiations are part of a push by Canada to develop bilateral economic agreements in Asia as progress has slowed on the twelve-country North American-Asia Pacific trade accord, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Canada's trade minister will travel to Manila by the end of the month to start negotiations on the free trade agreement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said. "We look forward to sharing with the prime minister the prospects of growth in the Philippines, particularly in the public-private partner infrastructure programs where Canadian investors may wish to capitalize," the Philippine's president Benigno Aquino said, describing the talks as "exploratory discussions." Current trade between the Philippines and Canada amounts to about Can$2 billion ($1.65 billion), Harper said.