What it Means to be Human. Part 1

Worldviews and Kingdom View

What it means to be human is important because it addresses the question of human nature: What makes us who we are? To understand the subject we must begin with our origin, value system, source of authority for the decisions we make, and how we relate to others.

If we do not start with a correct view of our beginning it will be impossible to know the truth about life because all worldviews are corrupted.

Imagine you have a disk in your computer with information on it describing how you were born, information about your parentage, and instructions on how to live in a way that pleases them. You know what is expected of you and the benefits provided by your parents. Then a tragic problem occurs as scratch marks are made on the disk. Some of the information cannot be understood. Attempts to fill in the gaps makes matters worse. Differing interpretations of the information on the disk results in different behaviors.

For Christians, the Biblical view is more than a worldview. It is a Kingdom View. A worldview is based on a philosophy. A Kingdom view is based on a personal experience with our creator God. A Kingdom View is far more extensive than a worldview. God’s creation is more than our planet Earth and humankind. A worldview standard of morality is derived from the philosophy to which the person adheres. A Kingdom view standard of morality originates and has its authority in the Bible, the Word of God.

With the Psalmist we ask, “What is man that you take thought of him?”  (Psa. 8:4 NASB). The answer begins with Genesis 1.

COMING NEXT.  PART TWO. Made in the Image of GOD.

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Investment Objectives and Possibilities

  Investing 101

What do I want to accomplish and what is the possibility of success?

OBJECTIVES: Answers the question, “What do I want as a result of investing”?

  1. I want my investment money to be safe, and/or
  2. I want my investment money to grow.

How do you reconcile the two objectives?

Begin by asking: Do I know which investment markets will gain (or lose) value tomorrow? Next Month? By the end of the year? The coming twelve months?

The answer to these questions provides information about what to buy and sell. In which order. And, when.

SO, there you have it.  The formula for investment success beyond imagination.   Now I will tell you who has perfect investment insight.   The name is….No One.

POSSIBILITIES: From best to worst what can happen to my money?

When it comes to the investment, financial, economic future there are four possibilities.  In non-technical terms they are:

  1. Utopia
  2. Muddling Through.
  3. Near Destruction.
  4. Depression

Let’s look briefly at each possibility.

  1. UTOPIA.  Demonstrated by continuing increases in stock and bond market values. Reasonable interest rates providing a live able income. Small but stable cost of living. Bipartisan political decisions. Limited international tensions. Negligible risk to loss of investment principal.

Emotional attitude: “What me worry?”

How to Invest: Blindfolded, throw darts at the stocks section of a newspaper and put your money on whatever sticks. If you don’t trust your throwing, have a monkey do it for you. (I am not volunteering).

  1. MUDDLING THROUGH. Demonstrated by Stock values varying greatly among asset classes. Economic uncertainties accentuated by changing calculations of formulas, divergent views by respected authorities, and political partisanship. Interest rates slowly increasing (unless economic data indicates growing weakness, but perhaps not, let’s see what happens tomorrow). High debt levels personally, in some states, and nationally. Business valuations and profits vary from OK to doing very well. Taxes, taxes, taxes, will be reduced and simplified (when we can arrive at a political agreement.) Take your choice of being optimistic or pessimistic about the future.

Emotional attitude: Confused, hoping for the best but not confident.

How to Invest: The dilemma is managed, but not resolved, by using asset allocation.  The broad designation of assets are stocks, bonds, and cash.  Each asset area is comprised of smaller designations.  Stocks may be viewed as large, small, and microcap in size. They may also be companies owned in the USA or foreign countries. They may be recently available for investment by investors or have been around for generations. Their objective may be to grow as rapidly as possible or to share profits with investors as dividend distributions. Bonds exist in similar focused areas. Even Cash is not as simple as might be thought.

  1. NEAR DESTRUCTION. Demonstrated by prices of stocks declining sharply, losing forty percent and more in value. Some types of bonds also lose significantly. Growth, small company, and new or highly speculative stocks lose the most. Investors relying on withdrawals to fund retirement or credit payments to banks for housing or automobiles purchases risk compromising future plans.

Price declines of ten to twenty percent commonly occur each four or five years. These declines are a nuisance but generally recover in a short time. The destructive declines are such as occurred in 2000 to 2004 and 2007 to 2009.

OBSERVATION: Follow this line of information. The Gross Domestic Product is the value of all goods and services produced in the USA. The Wilshire 5000 is an index of 5000 USA traded stocks (the total stock market). From the mid-1970’s to mid-1990’s the value ratio was between 40% to 60%. The ratio in 1999 had risen to 135%. The stock market began declining beginning in 2000. By 2004 the ratio was 70%.  The markets began to rise again. By 2007 the ratio was at 105%. The market began to decline. By 2009 the ratio was at 60%. Stock markets bottomed and we are still experiencing the rise.  So what?  The ratio is now at 120%.

Does this mean we are due for another bone chilling, life altering loss of 40%- 60%? Based upon this one method of evaluation the answer indicates a strong possibility of it happening.  The unknown is the question of when.  Does anyone believe a loss of this magnitude will never happen again?

Emotional attitude.  Difficulty in deciding what is your primary investment objective.  Safety or Growth?  Be cautious.

How to Invest. Focus on large, well established dividend paying companies.  Stocks will lose value but the expectation is it will be less than usual DJIA and S&P 500 index market averages. In a 40%-50% general market decline it may be expected these accounts may lose 20%-25% in value. To reduce the possibility of this much decline the percentage invested in stocks needs to be reduced and additional money moved to bonds and cash.

  1. Depression.  What do the dates 1807-1814; 1837-1844; 1873-1879; 1893-1898; and 1929-1941 have in common? They are dates of past economic depressions in the US. From September 1929 to July 1932 the DJIA fell 89%. Recovery took until 1941. This most recent decline ended 76 years ago. The average time between other depressions was 25-30 years.  Looks like we have solved the depression problem.  Have we?  Or, have we managed to avoid the inevitable for this long?

Emotional Attitude. Depression. Shock. Disbelief. Anger. Misplaced Blame.

How to Invest. Must be done prior to an occurrence. No one investment allocation or strategy can guarantee total protection.  Remember not everyone went broke in the 1929 -1932 time. The objective is to lose less in relation to everyone else.  Consider a combination of large dividend paying stocks, bonds, cash, gold and real estate.

The Decision Point.

The choice is yours. Do you focus on growth and expect utopia?  Or do you moderate expectations and invest for muddling through? Will it be more “sleep well at night” comfortable to protect principal by being even more conservative?  Do you look at all the international and national turmoil and question how much longer we can survive?

Care to answer and tell share your thoughts?

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Comparing Political Climates

In 1776, a group of leaders, from colonies in the new world to become known as “America”, met to discuss relationships with the mother country England. The leaders were not Americans but Englishmen.

The subject discussed was the drafting of a Declaration of Independence, dissolving the political ties that bound them to Great Britain. To some this was an act of treason. It would mean armed conflict with the most powerful nation of the time. Even within the colonies there was disagreement with the need to take such action.

The initial decision was made: No declaration would be issued unless there was unanimous agreement by all colonies. This one decision should have been enough to doom the effort. How could Massachusetts agree to terms put forth by Georgia. The New York delegation could not agree among themselves.

We know the result. Each representative and colony reconciled their issues for the benefit of the greater good. In signing the Declaration of Independence they pledged their lives and sacred honor.

Eleven years later, in 1787, our independence was won. The signers and other patriots experienced death, loss of financial fortunes, and  separation from loved ones who stayed loyal to Britain.

FAST FORWARD 233 YEARS.

Sept. 17, 2009. A bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives, the “Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009”. The act was passed Oct. 8, 2009 and sent to the US Senate for approval. The Senate passed the bill, now known as “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” on Dec. 24, 2009.  The vote to approve was with 60 votes by Democratic senators and 39 votes to disapprove, all by Republicans.

The House then agreed and on Mar. 21, 2010 by a vote of 219 to 212 approved the bill. The votes against came from 178 Republicans and 34 Democrats.

President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on Mar. 23, 2010.

SEVEN YEARS LATER.

May 4, 2017. As a response to the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” the US House of Representatives approved the “American Health Care Act” by a vote of 217 to 213.  20 Republicans voted against the bill. No Democrats voted in favor.

On July 17, 2017, the renamed “Better Care Reconciliation Act” was pulled from consideration by the US Senate. The bill could not have been passed. All Democrats and 4 Republicans were expected to vote against it.

CONSIDER THIS!!!

The healthcare debate is not alone in demonstrating the inability of our elected officials to work together on important issues. Nor is it new, although it seems to be more difficult today than in the past.

Is it fair to compare representatives today to their colonial counterparts?   Even if we do not expect decisions to be made only when there is 100% concurrence, is it too much to expect that votes will be more than along party lines?

To what extent are representatives required to follow the wishes of their party leadership? Is there fear of reprisal such as loss of committee positions or being denied campaign funds in future elections?  How is it that not one Republican and not one Democrat senator voted in favor of the other party’s health care plan? To whom are representatives beholden, the country, their constituents or party leaders?

Our founding representatives gave their lives, property, honor and future to realize freedom and a representative form of government. Are we electing people today who are as committed to maintaining freedoms as defined in the Declaration of Independence and codified in the US Constitution?  How recently have you read each document?

      MORRIS.

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Who Is This Morris Vickers?

          Greetings.

I believe in reading varied subject matter, doing independent thinking, and sharing ideas with others.  Now you know why I created this blog.

I am a retired minister with more than 40 years experience. I also own a registered investment management company incorporated more than 30 years ago.  My life challenges and experiences are wide ranging.

I help people in the here and now and in preparation for the here-after.

My formal educational diplomas, certifications and degrees are in Biblical theology and practical church leadership; investment management, research, strategies, and services; psychology, sociology, and counseling.

Friends have said I think rationally, sequentially and in detail.  I also have a well developed sense of humor.  My wife, Twyla, will tell you I sometimes drive her nuts with my clownish foolishness.

So, what you read is who I am.  You have been warned.  Proceed at your own risk of (hopefully) at times being stimulated, informed, and amused.

Morris

One other thing:   Nothing in this blog is intended as investment advice.  Do not make financial and/or investment decisions based on what you read.  The content on this web sight is for educational and entertainment purposes, not individual or group investment recommendations.

The Cardinal

Several years ago, early in the morning, I was awakened by a strange sound coming from the backyard. At first I thought the tapping sound was being made by someone driving a nail into a board. But I decided that was not the right sound. Perhaps it is someone tampering with the garage door. No, not the right sound. Several other possibilities crossed my mind before I gave up and left my warm bed.

Looking out the window I saw a cardinal perched on the bracket holding the outside mirror of Twyla’s car. The bird would look at his features in the mirror, fluff and preen, and then as if giving kisses, tap his beak against the mirror. The behavior was narcissistic and neurotic. This ritual occurred each morning for several days. To put a stop to the antics I finally placed a paper sack over the mirror. The cardinal, deprived of his platform, ceased the morning ritual amidst much fluttering and began frequenting some other, more hospitable perch.

I thought of this as it relates to human nature.

(1) People who think more highly of themselves and their interests can be a nuisance to others. If they would only be egotistical in silence it would be a help but they won’t so it isn’t.

(2) People who think too highly of themselves use and abuse what belongs to others.  The review mirror maintained scratches that decreased the effectiveness of it’s legitimate use.

(3) People who think too highly of themselves get upset when deprived of their forum. If you can’t put a sack over the bird, and must instead put it over his platform, expect ruffled feather anyway.

This provides me a checklist.  If my behavior annoys other people is it because of my vanity and the way I parade it?  How sensitive am I to the feelings and belongings of others?  When I am upset about something what is it that is really bothering me?

Answers to these questions may mean the primary reason I am flustered and anxious is because of my ego, not something in others. My attitude in this area is important because as the Apostle James reminds us “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble”. (Epistle of James 4:6)  

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