Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Bible and Economics

Biblical Economics: In the constant struggle between competing economic policies, namely capitalism and socialism and their various relatives, one wonders how did God lead the Israelites? It appears that capitalism, rather than being a form of economics, is simply freedom. While that may seem simplistic to some, in essence what does one have where people can own things and share what they want without coercion or violence? One has at least a form of capitalism. People are free to raise their own resources, save them, spend them, fritter them away, or give them away. They are free to pay the wages of others to motivate them to help them be successful in their own business ventures. Workers are free to say no to a wage, or to agree.

Of course economics is much more involved than this but at its essence isn't freedom what God wanted His people to have and isn't that what this country was founded on?

Freedom from coercion and oppression

A. The exchange of goods should be free of oppression, coercion, or violence. - Free enterprise.

Lev 25:14 And if you sell anything to your neighbor, or buy from your neighbor's hand, you shall not oppress one another.

B. Poor should not be favored or oppressed in justice.

Exo 23:3 And you should not favor a poor man in his cause.

Exo 23:6 You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor

C. Poor should be provided for but they should work if possible.

Lev 19:10 you shall not gather the leavings of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor …. I am Jehovah your God.

Ignoring the poor is a sin.

Amo 5:12 For I know your many transgressions and your many sins. They afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate.

D. Justice should be blind to economics; Mercy should recognize need.

Lev 19:15 You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty.

Pro 19:17 He who has pity on the poor lends to Jehovah (Pro 14:31)

E. Sometimes the poor are poor because of their own sins.

Pro 14:23 In all labor there is gain, but the talk of the lips tends only to poverty.

Pro 21:17 He who loves pleasure shall be poor; he who loves wine and oil shall not be rich.

F. Some people champion the poor out of their own greed.

Joh 12:5 Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor? 6 He said this, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief and held the moneybag …

G. Work is good; it is how God expects you to provide for yourself. People should enjoy the fruits of their own labor.

Ecc 3:13every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God. (Ecc 2:24)

Eph 4:28 Let him who stole steal no more, but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, so that he may have something to give to him who needs.

1Th 4:11 and that you try earnestly … do your own business, and work with your own hands, …, 12 so that you may walk becomingly toward those outside, and that you may lack nothing.

2 Th 3:10 when we were with you, we commanded you this, that if anyone would not work, neither should he eat.

H. Both wealth and poverty has its problems.

Pro 30:8 … give me neither poverty nor riches; tear for me my portion of bread, 9. lest I be full and deceive, and say, Who is Jehovah? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and violate the name of my God.

New Testament:

A. Early Church shared without coercion, motivated by love.

Act 4:32 And the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul. And not one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own. But they had all things common. 33 And the apostles gave witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power. And great grace was on them all. 34 For neither was anyone needy among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 3 and they laid them down at the apostles' feet. And distribution was made to every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who was surnamed Barnabas by the apostles which is, being translated, The son of consolation), a Levite, a Cypriot by race, 37 a field being his, selling it, he bore the proceeds and placed them at the apostles' feet.

The death of Annanias ans Sapphira was not related to holding back but to lying about it.

Act 5:1 And a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the price, his wife also knowing, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart for you to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own authority? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God.

B. Believers are free to use money as they see fit.

Rom 15:26 For it has pleased those of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints in Jerusalem.

Jas 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their afflictions, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

C. Believers are expected take care of their own families. It is not up to the church (a social structure) to provide when family members could do so.

1Ti 5:16 If any believing man or believing woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be charged, so that it may relieve those who are widows indeed.

D. The employer has complete charge over his own money.
E. Employers and employees are free to contract with each other for wages.
F. What the worker deems as fair for himself is all that should concern him. The Employee is free to handle his money however he chooses.

Mat 20:1 For the kingdom of Heaven is like a man, a housemaster, who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. 2 And when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace. 4 And he said to them, You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you. And they went. 5 And he went out about the sixth and ninth hour and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, Why do you stand here all day idle?
7 They said to him, Because no one has hired us. He said to them, You also go into the vineyard, and you shall receive whatever is right.
8 So when evening had come, the lord of the vineyard said to his steward, Call the laborers and pay them their wage, beginning from the last to the first. 9 And when they who were hired about the eleventh hour came, they each one received a denarius. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would received more; and they also each one received a denarius. 11 And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, 12 saying, These last have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and heat of the day. 13 But he answered one of them and said, Friend, I do you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take yours, and go; I will give to this last one the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I want with my own? Is your eye evil because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last, for many are called, but few are chosen.

Simply because all of the laborers decided to acquire more of the vineyard owners wealth by force of their numbers does not make it right. It is stealing even if it is done by popular vote.


Friday, June 13, 2008

New York Revival

What a Revival in New York! From the moment Pastor Proctor picked me up at the airport, and also a picked a soldier who need a ride to Fort Drum, I knew it would be a great week. I was honored to share a back seat with one of America's finest for an hour and a half during which time he was invited to church by the pastor and his wife, and I was able to share my own testimony with him. On Sunday Morning the Lord began doing a work in people's hearts including repentance and recognizing a need for greater unity and love in the church. The turnouts were good each meeting with what seemed to be a "record" attendance Wednesday night of over 70 folks. They were a gracious group whose potluck dinners were "pert near" as good as Southern Potluck!
On Monday a church member and I made a visit to a lady's home where she was obviously thinking about her eternal state and she prayed to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Hallelujah!

Whats In A Name?

Most Outrageous Name Changes
Author(s): Stephanie Paul

There are numerous reasons why one might change their name; a recent marriage, a business need for a more eloquent-sounding name, or just because one needs a change. But, what goes into a name change? Why did Sean "Puffy" Combs go from Sean, to Puff Daddy, to Puffy, to P. Diddy, and to possibly now just "Diddy?" And, what is the process that one goes through for this new identity?

What's In A Name?

Changing a name involves legal proceedings that include working with an attorney in order to file name change forms with the courts, publishing name change announcements in the local newspapers, and paying any filing fees. While this may sound labor-intensive to some, many people have taken the appropriate steps to change their name to something that fits their personality. In no particular order below are ten men and women who have changed their names to everything from their favorite cartoon character to their favorite web site, and everything in between:

1. Jason Burrows = Megatron

Seattle man Jason Michael Burrows changed his name last year to a character of the famous cartoon-turned move, Transformers. Mr. Burrows is now known as "Jason Megatron Burrows," named after the popular machine hero that's "more than meets the eye." Why did Mr. Megatron decide on the name change? Read ahead to our second name changer to see why.

2. From National Guardsman to Optimus Prime

A few years before Megatron Burrows, a member of Ohio's 5694th National Guard Unit in Mansfield legally changed his name from Scott Nall to the Transformers other famous character, the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime. Mr. Prime legally changed his name to his childhood hero on his 30th birthday and has since then been known to all as the Transformers' character.

3. Dan Miller Becomes "The Dan Miller Experience"

A 24-year-old performer with the birth name of Dan Michael Miller II changed his name to "The" Dan Miller Experience.

4. Karin Robertson, Vegan, Honors Web site

Karin Robertson, a 23-year-old vegan from Norfolk, Virginia, took her love of vegetarianism to the courts when she petitioned to change her name to "" Although she has since had some trouble with airport security, enjoys being named after the "number one web site for vegetarian information" and has said, "what could be better?"

5. Keeping it Simple � Andrew Is Now "They"

Andrew Wilson simplified his life a few years back when he changed his name to "They." Wanting to take legal responsibility for the pronoun, They decided to legally change his name in 2004 and has no intention of changing back to Andrew, even if the terms "They did this" or "They did that" now consistently refer to him.

6. Football Fanatic? Bears Fan Changes Name to Colts Quarterback

After losing a bet during last year's Super Bowl, die-hard Chicago Bears fan Scott Wiese had to do the unthinkable; he legally adopted the name of the Bears Super Bowl rival's quarterback, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. A result of "Peyton's" bet that the Bears would beat the Colts in last year's Super Bowl, Mr. Wiese kept his promise and, with a little help from the Macon County Courts Facility, became the legal identity of the Indianapolis quarterback. The final score that "Peyton" will probably never forget will be Colts 29, Bears 17.

7. U.S. Trucker Now "Bubba"

With no ties to his original name, trucker Justin Brady decided to legally change his name to Ynot Bubba. Stating that he no longer had a relationship with his adoptive family, Mr. Bubba petitioned a judge for the official name change. If the judge would've denied his claim, Ynot's second choice would've been "More Chek."

8. Jose Luis Becomes Known Around the World

New York native Jose Luis Espinal changed his name to probably one of the most well-known names in the world � Jesus Christ. Mr. Christ received permission from Manhattan judge Diane Lebedeff and is now known as Jesus. When making her decision, Judge Lebedeff cited a 2001 case in Utah when a man legally changed his name to "Santa Claus." But, Mr. Christ hasn't mentioned if he will be celebrating his birthday on December 25th.

9. Changing a Name in the Other Direction

Although everyone on this list has changed their name to something a bit out of the ordinary, a Vietnam teen received the right to legally change his name from Mai Phat Sau Nghin Ruoi, which translates to "Fined Six Thousand and Five Hundred." Named after the fine his father had to pay for having a fifth child, Fined Six Thousand and Five Hundred's dad finally agreed to help him change his name to something more traditional after his son continued to be teased in school. Fined Six Thousand and Five Hundred's new name is Mai Hoang Long, which translates to Golden Dragon.

10. The One That Wouldn't Be

Although this name change was not to be, it was still outrageous enough to be the tenth on this list. Wisconsin woman Caren Ann Burke had requested last year that a judge allow her to change her last name to the infamous "bin Laden." Ms. Burke failed to show up for the name change hearing, making Caren Ann bin Laden only a memory.

Have An Idea For A Name Change?

Changing a name takes a few legal steps, but there are some stipulations. You cannot change your name if you intend to commit a crime; if it can be proven that you are changing your name to avoid getting sued or to get out of bankruptcy, for example, your claim will be denied. You also cannot choose a name that interferes with the rights of others � that is, you cannot change your name to a celebrity in order to take advantage of their name. Finally, names with numerals or symbols are illegal, so don't even try it!

Great Crown ya Got There

1Co 15:58 So that, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Heb 6:10
For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name...
1Pe 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you shall receive a never-fading crown of glory.

Aren't those great promises? God sees and knows all the things we do for Him. He will bless our efforts so that they are not in vain. He will not forget what we have done but reward our efforts with a crown. So when we get to glory we will have this crown to show everyone else how wonderful we are. Or better yet, and much more modest, we'll be able to point out our children and grandchildren and say, "Now Thats some kinda crown ain't it? Thats my boy!" Or what if we get lots of crowns for all the great things we have done, surely the Lord will provide folks who only have one crown to help us carry them all. Right?
As I was talking with folks this week, one asked if there wasn't something we were going to do with these crowns, like lay them at the Lord's feet. Well, thats definitely the example that the 24 Elders are giving us.
Rev 4:9 says, "And whenever the living creatures gave glory and honor and thanks to Him who sat on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fell down before the One sitting on the throne. And they worshiped Him who lives for ever and ever, and threw their crowns before the throne..."
I'm not sure what we will do with ours. But I suspect that since they belong to Jesus, we'll give them back to Him. After all, what do they represent but the good work that He has done in us? Is there anything I can do in the Kingdom that wasn't given to me first? The ability to serve the Lord is a great thing, but its a gift from God. When we look around at the church family that we have, they, too, are a gift from God. Each and every one of them. Even the one you've been avoiding lately. Ha! Caught ya didn't I! Hey I've been there. I know what its like, to turn the other way when you see old "So-n-so" coming out of a class room. And then that same old "So-n-so" comes to see you in the hospital, and prays for you, and suddenly they aren't so hard to deal with.
Hey, I got an idea! Next time somebody says something to you that hurts your feelings, or acts indifferently, or even is a bit rude, close your eyes and imagine them standing over your bedside at the hospital praying for you. Or bringing you a casserole when you're home recuperating. Or sending you a card to let you know you're on their prayer list. Because there is a real good possibility that that's exactly what they would do. How do I know that? This church is filled with them. You're probably one of them if you're reading this.
Eph 4:32 Be ye kind, one to another. Tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's Sake has forgiven you!
There are over 40 different New Testament verses where we are told how to treat "one another." Look them up! And then lets get on with the business of "One anothering."
Bro. Clark

Always Give an Answer

1Pe 3:15 "...but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer, to every man that asks you, a reason for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and respect."
This is an interesting verse. It usually is applied to the idea of witnessing for one's faith: giving an answer for the hope that lies within. But I think its application is wider than that. Yes, it's a challenge to witness. But it also challenges us to have an answer. When someone asks you something, replying "I don't know" is an answer, but its not an answer that necessarily helps. fF somebody says, "How can I get to heaven?" or, "why do you believe in Jesus?" We really ought to have an answer better than "I don't know." That's where discipleship comes in. Are you pursuing God through knowing His word? That's what a disciple does. Peter also wrote, "As newborn babes [desire milk, you should] desire the the milk of the word, that you might grow..."
So what if they ask, "Don't good works count for anything?" or, "Why do you guys dunk people?" or, "Are you anti-homosexual?" What are you going to say?
Do you have a biblical answer for those questions? Do you want to have one? And then there's another equally important question. Can you answer these folks with gentleness, meekness, respect for them, and in the fear of God?
Recently I read an article by a pastor (Brian McLaren) who said how he hated to answer questions about homosexuality. He said we should have a moratorium on making decisive statements on that subject for 5 years while we talk and listen to each other. This person was showing great meekness and respect for others. But, what about respecting God? What about having an answer for anyone that asks. God has already spoken on this subject and thousands of others. Acting like we have to get our answers from humanity when God has already spoken, is not sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
I once preached a pro-life sermon in which I spelled out pretty clearly that abortion was a sin. Later that day a young lady in the church told me that she had had an abortion years ago. This was a wonderful young woman. A great wife, and mother of two darling little girls. She was funny, sweet, supportive of me as her pastor, but there was also a deep scar in her life. I did not regret my sermon or my stance. I did comfort her from the "hope that lies within me," that Jesus can forgive anything we have done, He loves us with an everlasting love, and He already paid the price for her decision 2000 years ago on the cross.
Are you ready to give an answer, to anyone who asks, out of the hope within you, with gentleness, respect and the fear of God? Remember what Paul told Timothy, "Study, to show yourselves approved unto God."

Top ten Lies

Leonard Sweet, in his Soul Cafe newsletter, included this list of "Top 10 Liars' Lies":
  1. We'll stay only five minutes.
  2. This will be a short meeting.
  3. I'll be in and out of Wal-Mart in a jiffy.
  4. The check is in the mail.
  5. I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you.
  6. This hurts me more than it hurts you.
  7. Your money will be cheerfully refunded.
  8. We service what we sell.
  9. Your table will be ready in just a minute.
  10. And the number 1 lie people tell: I'll start exercising (tithing, dieting, forgiving, praying, reading the bible … ) TOMORROW!
Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 4.

To my church family

To my church family,
You make my calling an even greater joy, as I see people serving without arm-twisting, people giving without a guilt trip, and people helping with out asking anything in return. And on top of all that you are so gracious to Marney and I. Your generous gifts to us both in October during pastor appreciation month, and here at Christmas are just amazing. We are abundantly blessed. There is no way I can know everything that is going on around here, but I know God is doing some great things in people's lives. I see it in the concerned voices, the offers of help, and the questions about what God is expecting of us. Those are signs of maturity. The mature person asks what can I do for my Lord, not what can He do for me.
I'm spending a lot of time with my grandchildren this week. I'm writing this from Glorieta, New Mexico, where its about 25 degrees, the lake is frozen over, there's ice and snow everywhere, and my five year old grandson, James, is loving it! The two little ones, Peter and Silas, can't understand why its so cold outside, but we're all having a good time together. We're here in large part due to your generosity. Thank you, thank you, thank you! From the bottom of our hearts. And its our prayer that these holidays have been a blessing to you as well! God Bless and Happy New Year, Bro. Clark

Wacky Tobacky and other laws

And now for something completely different...

The Wackiest Laws Still on the Books Part II
Author(s): Sherry Ciurczak
If you're planning to visit Alabama any time soon, make sure you don't challenge a bear to a wrestling match. It could land you in jail since bear wrestling is a Class B felony in the Yellowhammer State. And if you're thinking of dressing as a nun to go trick-or-treating in Mobile, think again. Impersonating a nun or other member of the clergy is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $500.

These are just two examples of the many wacky statutes on the books, not just in Alabama but in states across the nation. Here are a few more that might make you wonder what lawmakers were thinking:

  • It's illegal to collect rags or paper in Indianapolis on Sundays. Don't go rag or paper collecting on legal holidays either, or you could be subject to a fine. However, it's generally okay to collect rags and paper after 7:30 a.m. and before 5:30.
  • Don't skip your Saturday night bath in Barre, Vermont. There is a law on the books requiring all residents to bathe every Saturday night. Washing on other days of the week is apparently optional and left to the discretion of the residents.
  • When attacked by a bird, you can throw a rock at it in Indianapolis. However, it is illegal to throw stones at birds if you're not acting in self-defense.
  • Michigan will pay you to throw rocks at birds. But only if you kill them, and only if they're starlings or crows. The state pays three cents for each starling killed and ten cents per crow.
  • Florida forbids the tethering of pregnant pigs. It is also illegal to confine an expecting sow to a cage, crate or other enclosure that prevents the pig from turning around freely.
  • You can't sell your eyes in Texas. "The Eyes of Texas" is the official song of the University of Texas, and they are apparently not for sale. Nor are any other bodily organs, under penalty of law.
  • Pinball is not for children in South Carolina. For some reason, you have to be at least 18 to play pinball in the Palmetto State.
  • In Belvedere, California, dogs must not appear in public without their masters on a leash. The city council probably intended to make sure the canines rather than the humans were leashed.
  • If you have political ambitions in Tennessee, don't participate in a duel. The state prohibits people who have been in a duel from holding public office.
  • Only genuine smack-downs are permitted in Louisiana. State law prohibits the exhibition of fake wrestling matches.

This is only a sampling of the many crazy laws still on the books in states across the US. In addition to avoiding breaking obvious laws like posted speed limits in your town, you should also take care to avoid whaling in Oklahoma or selling blue ducklings in Kentucky. Remember, ignorance of the law is no excuse!

Fork in the road

Dr. Seamands tells of a Muslim who became a Christian in Africa. "Some of his friends asked him, 'Why have you become a Christian?' He answered, 'Well, its like this. Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions, and you didn't know which way to go, and there at the fork in the road were two men, one dead and one alive--which one would you ask which way to go?'"

Isn’t that the BIG difference between Christianity and every other religion? Their key figure is dead, ours lives forever. They emphasize works, all we can depend on is grace. Their god is a demanding tyrant, Ours is a loving Father, Son, and Spirit.

As special as Christmas is in demonstrating the Love of God in the sending of His Son, The Resurrection season shows both His love and His victory. He has already won the war over sin, death, and Hell so that He can offer us Life, Grace, and Eternity in His presence. So when you come to a fork in the road and one man is dead and the other alive, who are you going to ask for directions?

Charles Francis Adams, the 19th century diplomat, kept a diary. One day he entered: "Went fishing with my son today--a day wasted." His son, Brook Adams, also kept a diary. On that same day, Brook wrote: "Went fishing with my father--the most wonderful day of my life!" The father thought he was wasting his time while fishing with his son, but his son saw it as an investment of time. The only way to tell the difference between wasting and investing is to know you’re investing for.

My own Father-in-law was in a conversation with a man who was going on and on about his financial investments. Finally he let up and asked Papa what he invested in. His answer was short and sweet. “I invest in my kids.”

This is a month to remember and honor our fathers, but it’s also a good time to remind fathers what they are there for; not just to put food on the table and gas in the car. We’re here to Model, Mix, and Magnify. Model what a godly man looks like. Mix with our wife and children, spend time with them. And magnify their successes; praise them when they accomplish something and downplay their failures. Help our kids learn from mistakes and then move on.

And remember, your father didn’t get a book on how to parent when you were born either. He was a clueless as you were. So cut him some slack and give him some honor this month on Father’s Day. Bro. Clark

fathers day

Charles Francis Adams, the 19th century diplomat, kept a diary. One day he entered: "Went fishing with my son today--a day wasted." His son, Brook Adams, also kept a diary. On that same day, Brook wrote: "Went fishing with my father--the most wonderful day of my life!" The father thought he was wasting his time while fishing with his son, but his son saw it as an investment of time. The only way to tell the difference between wasting and investing is to know you’re investing for.

My own Father-in-law was in a conversation with a man who was going on and on about his financial investments. Finally he let up and asked Papa what he invested in. His answer was short and sweet. “I invest in my kids.”

This is a month to remember and honor our fathers, but it’s also a good time to remind fathers what they are there for; not just to put food on the table and gas in the car. We’re here to Model, Mix, and Magnify. Model what a godly man looks like. Mix with our wife and children, spend time with them. And magnify their successes; praise them when they accomplish something and downplay their failures. Help our kids learn from mistakes and then move on.

And remember, your father didn’t get a book on how to parent when you were born either. He was a clueless as you were. So cut him some slack and give him some honor this month on Father’s Day. Bro. Clark