Archive for the ‘Christians in the Market-place’ Category

The new thing emerges – do you not perceive it?

April 10, 2020

For the past year I have been reflecting on this verse from Acts 16v25-26.

But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Suddenly there was such a great earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.

Immediately all the doors were unlocked and everyone’s chains came loose.

We are in the midst of earth-shaking events. The ways that we used to operate and the constraints that we have been used to have been cracked open. Many of the constraints of the way we think and operate have been broken, halted or at very least paused. Businesses and whole industries are going to emerge changed. The Coronavirus events – the sickness, the panic, the economic shutdown and isolation are forcing change in days that might have looked like taking years in other circumstances.  Many are beginning to speculate or estimate what the changes will look like.

Video conference calling has become the new normal. Working from home has become a standard mode of operation for many. Hiring and firing online is mainstream. Home delivery has become the only form of shopping for many. At the same time, many jobs cannot be done from home or suspended – like healthcare, rubbish collection or taking medicine to those who need it.

I’ve been anticipating this last sentence for many months:

Immediately all the doors were unlocked and everyone’s chains came loose.

I perceive that we are now in this moment. If we permit constructive thinking and the way we perceive the situation we can open our eyes to the new world.

In this account of Paul and Silas, the jailer was locked into the pre-earthquake perspective, and initially assumed that the shaking loose of his inmates would be disaster for him. In fact, Paul and Silas had not run away. They had already been free in their thinking before the earthquake. Their personal peace kept them from running. Instead they then brought the jailer and his whole household into a place of personal peace.

The new situation emerging is that literally billions of people are being propelled into new thinking. We can be sure that entrepreneurial people around the world are already starting to think about how things could develop. This will include churches, healthcare, education, scientific research, entertainment, sport, government mechanisms and community activities. The way in which the poor and dispossessed are helped can no longer be ‘trickle down’ or just charitable giving – the time for enabling and empowering is here. Many who were impoverished by the old constraints and power structures might now be facing fresh opportunities. Many who have small resources right now also need our help. The measure we use for those who are weak or challenged will be the measure used for us. As we sow we will reap.

Recognise that the chains are coming loose – and start to perceive the new! Help others to see the open door ahead!

Black Hole Economics

May 5, 2015

The following text was written by my friend Christopher Gibaud. I feel that it needs to be seen by as many people as possible:2015-01-19 12.32.10

We are in the fevered hysteria of the run up to the most uncertain election of our lifetimes.

As the politicians hurl their promises at us our experts seek to guide us through the economic confusion that most of us feel. Last week Robert Peston (1) analysed the potential for economic paralysis as a minority government tries to rule – investment hiatus in business, loss of confidence in markets, a destabilising fall in the pound, all leading to a big chill in economic activity. In last week’s Saturday Times the Economics Editor is bleak in his assessment of the next governments challenge:

“Make no mistake, a storm is brewing. The true state of Britain’s public finances is dire – far worse than suggested by the official figures….if the nation’s finances were subject to the same scrutiny as a company, the reported level of borrowing would almost double.” (2)

I have, for some time now, been asking myself a key question to which I have not been able to give an answer. The question is this: “How come there are so many conflicting views on the state of our economic health.” One day we are being told that we are well on the way to recovery, the next all is doom and gloom. The markets are behaving in unusual and volatile ways, economic and fiscal data confuse, central banks are working hard to restore liquidity and growth but the harder they try somehow the less they seem to achieve.

A few days ago I read a commentary on our global economic state that gave me an insight into why things are the way they are. John Mauldin is an economic analyst of our times with a global following and I receive his weekly letter (3). He advances the view that we are stuck in a liquidity trap, a situation where central banks are creating cheap and plentiful money, reducing interest rates to zero, but to far less effect than hoped for in stimulating economic growth. Why is this? Why is it the case that economic policies are not working? His point is that the liquidity trap we are in is particularly severe because it comes at the end of a debt super-cycle. Economists who study liquidity traps observe that the usual rules of economics appear not to apply in these conditions.

Mauldin has an intriguing way of describing our present economic situation. He takes us into the realm of physics, Einsteins Theory of General Relativity and the existence of Black Holes in our space/time continuum! He introduces us to the concept of Singularity, the point at which conditions become so extreme that normal rules cease to apply, outcomes become very uncertain. In Physics Singularity refers to the conditions in space where a large enough collapsing star will eventually become a Black Hole, an environment so dense that its own gravity will cause everything close to be sucked within.

Mauldin has developed a concept of Economic Singularity as a way of describing what is happening today in our global economy. An economic bubble of any type, but especially a debt bubble, is an emergent black hole in our economic environment. When it gets too big (at the end of a debt super cycle) it will, like the dying star in space, collapse in on itself and creates the black hole conditions which suck all our economic institutions within it. As it does so traditional economic modelling breaks down. Normal solutions can make things worse.

His contention is that we are now at the point where our financial markets are being sucked towards the black hole. Mathematical investment analysis (4) no longer makes sense in strategic planning. An example of this is the fact that 25% of European bonds now offer negative interest rates. As he says:

“How do your value equations work in an environment of negative yields? It becomes mathematically impossible for pensions and insurance companies to meet their goals, given their investment mandates, in a world of negative interest rates.” (5)

In Einstein’s Theory of Relativity the “event horizon” is that point at which the emergent black hole conditions become inevitable. It is “the point of no return.” Mauldin’s next observation is pretty chilling:

“I believe the world will soon find out that by holding interest rates down and allowing sovereign debts to accumulate past the point of rational expectation for being paid, in one country in Europe after another (Greece is just the first), central banks have pushed us past the event horizon, believing they have supernatural powers that will let the global economy escape the debt black hole that has been created by governments.” (6)

In debt super-cycle environments, central banking initiatives will increasingly fail to deliver results, even deliver the opposite of what is intended. They battle with two contradictory forces – expanding debt and contracting growth. Low rate interest policies increase the market’s appetite for risk. Businesses struggle to grow in such conditions, but growth can only come from business, not from central bank policies. Finally, there is always a limit to be reached for a country’s ability to borrow. It is delusional to say otherwise. The “bang” moment comes when the bond markets lose confidence in that country and its ability to repay. When that moment arrives the money runs out. Then we fall into the black hole, country by country, economic region by economic region, until the global economy itself is threatened.

Black Hole Economics is what happens when man, his appetites and his systems are unchecked and without boundaries. Too late we discover that, as we approach the point of no return, our previous understandings and methodologies no longer seem to work. The vortex opens before us. We need a system that protects us from ourselves, that prevents this crazy unchecked and uncontrollable slide towards chaos.

God knows our hearts. He created Jubilee to protect us from the consequences of foolishness and greed, to enable us to live generous lives of abundance. Jubilee eradicates Black Hole Economics.

 © Christopher Gibaud   April 2015

(1) Robert Peston, BBC News website, Business, 20th April 2015. “Why SNP matters to whole of UK.”

(2) Philip Aldrick, The Times, Saturday April 25th 2015. “We’ll need much more than an umbrella to shield us from the coming storm.”

(3) John Mauldin – Thoughts from the Frontline, April 20th 2015.

(4) Jubilee 8: Greed is Good – the Black-Scholes equation

(5) John Mauldin – Thoughts from the Frontline, April 20th 2015.

(6) John Mauldin – Thoughts from the Frontline, April 20th 2015.


Christopher Gibaud is a founder of the North West Christian Business Forum, a business network based in the North West of England, United Kingdom.


Shades of Grey

February 12, 2015

2015-02-07 17.11.51



The recent shootings in Paris and the various responses to the Charlie Ebdo campaign have highlighted that many people don’t know what to believe. It seems that our society has embraced so much relativistic thinking that we don’t know what is true anymore. In other words, we’ve accepted the idea that if something is true for you then you must live by that. The very notion of persuading anyone toward our beliefs has become anti-social! Recently I heard a programme on BBC Radio 4 talking about language change over time, and how in the past generation words relating to obligation and authority have become less popular. In the Bible Paul hints at this type of culture in his warning of mocking and rebellious attitudes in the last days. In all this, the Church has lost much of her confidence in the very concept of truth. The Church seems to be more fractured than ever when it comes to the matter of truth. One casualty is our collective confidence. We don’t really want to speak out on anything in case we cause offence. No-one is quite sure who should speak anyway. If any significant leader expresses an opinion on anything, the foaming seas of Facebook and Twitter will certainly bring out some destructive comments from within our own ranks!


However, there are growing areas of consensus: The desire for the church to express the love of God in a hurting world; The recognition that an important prophetic cry is to speak up for the poor and marginalised. Perhaps there is an emerging awareness that the core motivation of the Church must be to be like Jesus? Jesus was and is confident. He knows what he believes and he speaks out unafraid of being misunderstood and yet starts from love and compassion. When we search for absolutes in a confused world let’s take a lead from St Paul: “I know who I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have entrusted to him.” As we know Him, our confidence rises up!


This article appeared previously as an editorial for Harvest magazine, published by Together for the Harvest in Merseyside.

Ordinary People sense that something is wrong

July 17, 2014

A time to rebuild

A time to rebuild

Friends, it seems that we are living in a time of great madness – the generation who voted (or ignored) the abortion bill, now about to vote for (or ignore) the euthanasia bill. The painful irony of a generation who voted for death in the womb, voting for their own death. Maybe this is a picture of how we are behaving financially?

I am not here to present a programme for you to sign up to, a campaign asking you to give money, and I’m not asking that you agree with my analysis. I do believe that there is a crisis developing which will progress into a catastrophe and that God is offering hope. To draw from the hope He offers we must listen to Him.

The theme for this week is finance. What a theme! Hard on the heals of  a series of banking scandals. Even last week there was a story emerging of yet another ‘mis-selling’ allegation – one that will cost up to £22 billion. We have had the stories of the banks not lending, and yet interest rates are at all time lows. On top of all this the USA and UK have historically incredible national debt levels. The USA debt is now measured in tens of trillions. I can remember the incredulity across the media when it reached one trillion. On top of this are the committed expenditures – which make the existing debt look small. Many analysts are convinced that this is not repayable in a generation. It seems that we have borrowed exorbitantly from our children. This is intergenerational abuse.

Ordinary people sense that something is wrong. British people feel alienated, and this is not just to do with the European government – but in government itself. Democracy is now down to how a handful of marginal seats will vote. Without traditional values giving a framework of morality and ‘right and wrong’ people only vote for self interest, and what will be best for them and their family. What we really believe  has become blurred.

Jesus said your heart is where you put your money. There is a battle for our hearts and the heart of the nation. Are we going to resort to entertaining ourselves or pretend that it’s business as usual?

At a recent North West Christian Business Forum we had a time of prayer and waiting on God. One person brought a word which he believed was from God, and which resonated with a good number of those present. “Something is coming – for which you cannot prepare – only learn to listen to Me.”

At a time of national social crisis and confusion about values and priorities the prophet Micah spoke a word of hope. He described a coming turning point: “There is coming a time for re-building the walls, for extending your boundaries.” God is always truthful about the state of the people, and always offers hope and a way forward.

Saint Paul described the three key values of the Christian faith: “Faith, Hope and Love.”

In the business world we would do well to rebuild the walls and extend our boundaries by promoting these values in the more everyday business world terms: “Trust, Confidence and Compassion.”

John Manwell is Co-Founder of The Forum ( and Liverpool businessman

This talk was a contribution to a daily prayer event in Liverpool Cathedral as part of the International Festival for Business #IFB2014

Business – for a change

November 27, 2013

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He was described as “cheery, talkative, flamboyant and warm-hearted.”

He was the owner of the Gloucester Journal newspaper in the late 1700’s. Evidently sensitive to the needs in society all around him, his first concern were the poor in Gloucester Prison and particularly those who whose families could not provide for them. Raikes used his paper to make people aware of these needs and to appeal for help. This led to a concern for the children of poor families. He was horrified to see children running wild in the streets without education or real hope. Raikes realised that the prisons were full of people whose lives had been shaped by disadvantaged childhood. Many of the children in the street on a Sunday were working long hours for the other six days and earning pitiful wages. He realised that education was vital and started to fund and promote his idea of Sunday Schools.

As well as publicising the schools he funded much of the cost. His first school began with four women who were paid to teach from the Bible. Robert Raikes himself got involved in the work of the schools by encouraging the children, visiting them in their homes and giving rewards for good progress. Children were welcomed to the classes, whatever their state, and the schools quickly became known as “Raikes’ Ragged School”.

Raikes used his newspaper to make the schools known and the idea spread quickly with interest springing up across the country. Before long, Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, heard of the work and granted him an audience. She was so impressed that she encouraged others to follow his example.

By 1830 over a million children were involved in classes across the country which became the forerunner of the English school system. The evident benefit of these classes led to blossoming social enterprises such as sewing classes, sports clubs and societies for mutual improvement and excursions.

Robert Raikes’ desire to see change in disadvantaged peoples’ lives, began with the prison near his newspaper premises, and the children in the streets where he lived and worked. He engaged with the problem and used his influence and resources in a timely and innovative way. His passionate action fuelled a process that changed England and Great Britain.

Timely and innovative use of influence and wealth changed a nation.

Surely it is time for people of passion and faith to express their conviction and see change now? As a nation we have largely abandoned Christian values and dumbed down those who might speak up for integrity and healthy society. With the nation anxious about knife crime and drug culture, we have a new generation of ‘ragged children.’ The challenge is for people who have the faith, motivation and resources to personally get involved in the challenge.

John Manwell is one of the founders of the North West Christian Business Forum – there are now several hundred members across the North West of England.

Negative Interest

March 4, 2013


The Bank of England is considering negative interest rates. The UK’s credit rating has slipped. Surely this is further evidence that the banking system is broken and that the government has run out of levers to pull to stimulate the economy? The government has bailed out the banks, and now wants the banks to bail out the government! Maybe now is the time to start to think about the real issues and the real solution.

When Saint Paul wrote 2000 years ago about the triple qualities of ‘faith, hope and love’ he probably was not thinking about solutions to a triple dip recession, but maybe there is an application right now?

There is plenty of cash in the world economy. The problem is that those with the cash are hesitating about investing. It is all about confidence in where the economy is going, and confidence is based on trust, which is really faith. Those with faith are the ones who are investing and starting new ventures.

The world is increasingly filled with insecurity about the future. People and economic markets, whether investors or consumer spending are depressed about the outlook. Those with hope are able to operate with a different kind of liberty and sense of vision. Those with a Biblical framework for understanding the world can see their own place and purpose without anxiety. The people of hope can give others hope. In a world awash with hopelessness, the currency of the future is hope.

We can have great confidence (faith) for the days we are in, and sure-footed steps for the future (hope) but all of this can only be held together if we have authentic relationships. Investors want to know the people they are investing in. Workers want to be treated as people with families and friends. Businesses need to be part of communities. Much of this has been lost in our age of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ replacing community. Investors and workers have lost touch with each other. Families seem disconnected from the stockholders. The glue we need to help us stick together is love. When we have meaningful relationships, trust seems to develop and our thinking is guided with hope.

The principles of faith, hope and love are timeless, and truly are at the heart of what our society and economy needs. More than the cheap alternatives of political correctness, diversity and equality.

Paul gave us profound wisdom:

Three things remain: Faith , hope and love. The greatest of these is love.

It really is time for those with faith, hope and love to step forward. All three are required at the same time.