Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Debt’ Category

Well, I am about to break the one steadfast rule I’ve had on this blog since the beginning.  I don’t ask for money.  I fund this ministry/website out of my own pocket and try to avoid arguments that I am selling out or support tithing because tithes support me.  But I am in a quandary.  Not one that affects the site – yet – but one that affects me personally.

As my loyal readers know, I was in the middle of a messy divorce a little while back that cost me the rental property my ex and I operated because she refused to pay the mortgage or give me the rental income to do so.  Now the  final property-related nail is coming as a result of her bankruptcy and foolishness.  I am about to be foreclosed on by my bank for the house that I am currently living in.  Now, I did my best to pay the mortgage, but unfortunately, circumstances got the better of me.  Over the last 2 years, I’ve lost a number of my sources of income as the economy kept sliding and government and tourism-related industries kept cutting back.

Despite being willing to do just about anything and humbling myself, applying for literally hundreds of jobs, I am still jobless, my income is steadily decreasing and I am barely making ends meet.  Unfortunately, the mortgage was one of those things that just didn’t get taken care of in a timely basis and now the bank has called their note due.

When I was first served, I went through my affirmative defenses – one of which being that my ex-wife signed a quit claim deed, divesting herself of this house.  To date, the bank has still not recognized it and her name appears prominently on the foreclosure papers, myself, who continued to pay the mortgage long after she stopped, is relegated to a secondary defendant.  My biggest defense was that the bank had refused to accept and properly credit some of my payments, holding the money, as a bank employee explained to me, “in limbo.”  The banks lawyers have responded to that claim and offered me two options, after adjusting for the money that was never credited ($500+, not counting the interest and fees that they didn’t credit me for).

My two options are this: pay approx. $212,000 to pay off the loan, or approx. $40,000 to cover the missed payments, interest, lawyer’s fees, etc. etc.)  And I have until 5pm on April 1st to deliver that payment to their offices in Fort Lauderdale.  Considering that I have just enough to cover my electric bill this month and am eating courtesy of Food Stamps, that is far outside my reach.

Praying for a miracle, it came to me that I might ask if people would be willing to help me out.  $40K is not really that much, in the big picture and even small donations would help whittle this down.  I am not sure if this insight came from the Lord or not.  I was praying when it occurred to me, but my only experiences with hearing God were both forgiveness-oriented, so I can’t really tell.  Usually, I get insights from the Holy Spirit where I suddenly understand or realize some deeper truth or concept and I don’t want to misrepresent my Lord.

I have committed that any money I receive from this will be paid back to the donor/patron, unless they specifically state for me not to, in which case, I will pay to help out others needs on their behalf.

Also, I would prefer to do something rather than just take donations.  As I said, every little bit helps and I do have some skills that I can apply that are of value.

I sell books, CD’s, DVD’s and toys on Amazon – my site is Books From A Rose and I have between 2400 and 2500 items currently up for sale.  If you’re looking for something, please take a moment and see if I have it.  If I don’t, I would also recommend some friends of mine that helped me get started in this enterprise, Pursel Books.  They sell a quite a number of items on Amazon and eBay and may very well have what you need.

I am a writer.  I spent almost 20 years in the local TV business, writing news, commercials and promotional spots.  You can see some of my TV work at www.YouTube.com/user/lonerangerone. I also have written some plays over the years and am currently working on a couple of screenplays.  I have done reviews for Title Trakk, and I was the Senior Editor for Television for Infuze Magazine, before we were closed down, working with novelist Robin Parrish and music producer & novelist Matt Bronlewee.  I used to write songs back in the day – one was even performed as part of my church’s worship service.

I shoot, produce and edit video.  Okay, I am an okay video shooter… Great if I have a tripod.  I am a great editor, though.  Having learned from some of the best and learned how things were done, “back in the day…” I can find a way to make just about any video look the way you envision.  I have shot VHS and BETA, DV, HD-DV, and 8mm.  I have edited on everything from AVID Media Composer (my favorite) to Media 100, Pinnacle VideoCube, Apple Final Cut, Speed Razor, Boris FX, New Tek Video Toaster, Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere.  When I worked for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, I also did Forensic Video Processing and was a member of Law Enforcement Video Association (LEVA).

I design, build and maintain websites.  While I am still exploring much of this field and I cannot do killer Flash opens and whatnot, I am pretty decent and very affordable.  I use Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Fireworks.  My work is available at www.StarlightstudioProductions.com, www.FASN.net, www.MartyWisher.com, www.UFTAFlorida.com, www.FamilyofGod.us, and this site, www.FinancialFreedomThroughFaith.org.  I am familiar with WordPress themes, editing them and promoting them.

I am a pretty good actor and I am a partner with the production company Starlight Productions, we do celebrity impersonations, character work and Murder Mysteries.  We just finished our first feature length film, “Light.”  I am also the sitting President of United Film & Television Artists (UFTA) a non-profit that helps filmmakers and actors with support and promoting our area as a film location.

My other company, 13/30 Productions, does media and business promotion.  We provide newsletters, websites, press releases, social media marketing, etc., all to help small businesses get the word out about their product or service to their potential customers.  I try to apply all of my skills as a designer, writer, promoter and video producer to help my clients get their message out at an affordable price.  If you need a little more Internet-based solution, my girlfriend runs Small Business Development Group, specializing in Affordable Internet Marketing Solutions and Search Engine Optimization.

I am a pretty good speaker.  I used to teach when I worked in Financial Services and I gave a few lectures/presentations on Financial Freedom for Christians.  I have written and given a few sermons that I thought were pretty good.  They are posted on this site: What Would Luther Say?, The Waiting is the Easy Part, and eternal sunshine for the Transformed mind.

I have not given up on my vision for a financial non-profit company that would help people in the same need I am in.  That will come to pass one day.  That was from God and it is often those he humbles that have the strongest commitments.

If there’s any way I can help you or work I can do for you, please let me know.  I am a hard worker and willing to do what it takes.  I serve God and when I can man, and I do my very best.

I will update everyone when I return from Fort Lauderdale on April 1st.

If you feel led to make me an interest free loan or invest in one of my talents, you can contact me at lonerangerone@gmail.com.  If you feel like helping out the old fashioned way, my mailing address appears below also.  If you do not feel led, that’s really okay, I just ask that you pray for me, regardless.    Thank you in advance, and may God bless you richly.

Paul A. Rose, Jr.


Mailing Address:

Paul A. Rose, Jr.

PO Box 151443

Cape Coral, FL 33915

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

An interesting perspective from a businessman in Maryland.  Of course, his opinions, as expressed, are his own, but there is a reason I chose to reprint this here (originally posted with permission at RedPill):

April 9, 2009

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington , DC 20500

Mr. Obama:

I have had it with you and your administration, sir. Your conduct on your recent trip overseas has convinced me that you are not an adequate representative of the United States of America collectively or of me personally.

You are so obsessed with appeasing the Europeans and the Muslim world that you have abdicated the responsibilities of the President of the United States of America.

You are responsible to the citizens of the United States. You are not responsible to the peoples of any other country on earth. I personally resent that you go around the world apologizing for the United States and telling Europeans that we are arrogant and do not care about their status in the world. Sir, what do you think the First World War and the Second World War were all about if not the consideration of the peoples of Europe? Are you brain dead? What do you think the Marshall Plan was all about?
Do you not know or understand the history of the 20th century?

Where do you get off telling a Muslim country that the United States does not consider itself a Christian country? Have you not read the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States? This country was founded on Judeo-Christian ethics, and the principles governing this country, at least until you came along, come directly from this heritage. Do you not understand this?

Your bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia is an affront to all Americans. Our President does not bow down to anyone, let alone the king of Saudi Arabia. You don’t show Great Britain, our best and one of our oldest allies, the respect they deserve yet you bow down to the king of Saudi Arabia. How dare you, sir! How dare you!

You can’t find the time to visit the graves of our greatest generation because you don’t want to offend the Germans but make time to visit a mosque in Turkey. You offended our dead and every veteran when you give the Germans more respect than the people who saved the German people from themselves. What’s the matter with you?

I am convinced that you and the members of your administration have the historical and intellectual depth of a mud puddle and should be ashamed of yourselves, all of you. You are so self-righteously offended by the big bankers and the American automobile manufacturers yet do nothing about the real thieves in this situation, Mr. Dodd, Mr. Frank, Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelic, the Fannie Mae bonuses, and the Freddie Mac bonuses. What do you intend to do about them? Anything? I seriously doubt it.

What about the U.S. House members passing out $9.1 million in bonuses to their staff members — on top of the $2.5 million in automatic pay raises that lawmakers gave themselves? I understand the average House aide got a 17% bonus. I took a 5% cut in my pay to save jobs with my employer.

You haven’t said anything about that. Who authorized that? I surely didn’t! Executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be receiving $210 million in bonuses over an eighteen-month period, that’s $45 million more than the AIG bonuses. In fact, Fannie and Freddie executives have already been awarded $51 million — not a bad take. Who authorized that and why haven’t you expressed your outrage at this group who are largely responsible for the economic mess we have right now.

I resent that you take me and my fellow citizens as brain-dead and not caring about what you idiots do. We are watching what you are doing and we are getting increasingly fed up with all of you. I also want you to know that I personally find just about everything you do and say to be offensive to every one of my sensibilities. I promise you that I will work tirelessly to see that you do not get a chance to spend two terms destroying my beautiful country.

Sincerely,
Franklin T. Bell, CFM, RPA, FMA
7239 Swan Point Way
Columbia, MD 21045

Read Full Post »

While I’m never really one for government regulation (yes, I’m a Reagan conservative), I have to praise the President for his recent legislation forcing more transparency from the credit card companies.

I want to be clear about this:  Credit card companies provide a valuable service; we don’t begrudge them turning a profit.  We just want to make sure that they do so while upholding basic standards of fairness, transparency, and accountability.  Just as we demand credit card users to act responsibly, we demand that credit card companies act responsibly, too.  And that’s not too much to ask.

obama_sc_04_01_2007-731285And that’s why, because of this new law, statements will be required to tell credit card holders how long it will take to pay off a balance and what it will cost in interest if they only make the minimum monthly payments.  We also put a stop to retroactive rate hikes that appear on a bill suddenly with no rhyme or reason.

Every card company will have to post its credit card agreements online, and we’ll monitor those agreements to see if new protections are needed.  Consumers will have more time to understand their statements as well:  Companies will have to mail them 21 days before payment is due, not 14.  And this law ends the practice of shifting payment dates.

Lastly, among many other provisions, there will be no more sudden charges — changes to terms and conditions.  We require at least 45 days notice if the credit card company is going to change terms and conditions.”

I would disagree with some of what President Obama said.  For starters, I think his ongoing domestic policy proves that he doesn’t “…demand credit card users to act responsibly,” and I am afraid to praise too liberally (pun intended) this new policy, as I am sure that there are some provisions that are not necessarily for the benefit of consumers.

Further, if you’re going to force some regulation, I would have liked to see a strengthening/tightening of the bankruptcy rules again.  Obviously, the most recent changes didn’t help as bankruptcies were on the rise even before we got into this time of “economic challenge.”

And I’m still waiting to see someone in Washington or the media start looking at our economic futures positively – there is a future, things will get better, but only if we stop wallowing and start telling people they can have hope – REAL hope.

Well, at least he’s not using the regulation as leverage to take over Mastercard, Visa & American Express… At least not YET.

Read Full Post »

Our friend Phil Cooke has just published an article on his site entitled, “How Confidence Can Change Everything in this Economy.”  He points out what economist Ben Stein (yes, he is much more than the teacher from Ferris Bueller) has said that many in our media and government seem to want to forget, that our financial system isn’t built on printing money or regulation, it’s built on confidence.

It’s a perception issue. When investors feel confidence in the market, it soars.

Of all people, Christians should be the most confident, because even in the worst circumstances, our hope isn’t in money.

Take a moment to check out Phil’s article here, then become an example of encouragement and TRUE hope in this time of economic distress.

Read Full Post »

Carl Emerson, over at Freedom Analysis, posted an extremely insightful article on the “stimulus” debate that I wanted to share with my readers.  Regardless of your political leanings, this is something you need to consider…

The Kool-Aid is flowing in Washington, D.C.

Sadly, lawmakers are actually batting around the notion of passing what is currently being estimated as an $800 Billion “stimulus” package.

First let me say that if we actually had $800 Billion “in the bank,” as it were, my opinion on this might be different. But the fact of the matter is that we are talking about borrowing this money… on top of all of the money we’ve already borrowed.

And before you write off my opinion as somehow “partisan” or otherwise neatly in support of one “side” or the other in this debate, let me hit you with a bit of common sense:

You can’t borrow your way out of debt.

This is a lesson learned the hard way. I’ve tried it. Let me tell you… it simply doesn’t work.

A National Addiction

We — as a nation — are addicted to debt. And so far we — as a nation — have not felt the sting of it. Sure… many families have learned that excessive borrowing against an asset which varies in value can land you in foreclosure.  That stings.  But as a nation, we’ve not yet faced the painful consequences of all the borrowing that we have done.

This is precisely why we continue to debate this bill as though it were actually a plausible solution.

Once you realize that you have a harmful addiction, you must do any and everything in your power to end the addiction. No matter how painful it may seem (or actually be).

But we — as a nation — have decided that more of our destructive vice is preferable to detox.

The fact is that it used to be a shame to “mortgage the farm.” It meant that you had managed things poorly. It meant that you had not planned well enough for the future. It meant that you weren’t planning well enough for your heirs.

Granted, in an agricultural enterprise, there are years (and sometimes series of years) where drought or other conditions affect the crops and things go badly. But everyone knows this and it’s all the more reason why shrewd farmers plan for it by storing things up.

But our pattern of handing off responsibility every few years and electing leaders — at the national or state level, in all branches of government — who are more concerned about short-term results, their approval ratings and their “legacies” than they are about the real impact of their decisions has made it all too easy to dig ourselves deeper and deeper into this devastating hole.

And whether it’s been done ignorantly or with complicity, we the people have enslaved ourselves through the actions of these leaders.

It’s been done by Republicans and Democrats alike. It’s been done by Independents and others. It’s all too easy to simply borrow more than it is to address the real issues. And as anyone who treated their home equity like an ATM machine during the real estate boom years can tell you, it’s all fine and good until you can’t borrow anymore.

And then the pain of dealing with the real issues is far greater because of the multiplied impact of the debt.

As the ancient proverb says:

The borrower is servant to the lender.

We have enslaved ourselves. And most of us don’t even know it yet. We’ll realize it one day when we wake up with the sting and the scars of the whip extracting its “pound of flesh.” And we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.

Read Full Post »

This morning, I am reposting an interesting e-mail I received from Pastor Andy at Irving Bible Church, outside of Dallas, Texas.  Please enjoy his thoughts on character & taxes:

Andy McQuitty

Pastor Andy McQuitty

My Dear Friends,

I’ve been watching with fascination the machinations of several nominees to our new administration’s cabinet in taking a run at confirmation while gamely dragging the boat anchor of unpaid personal income taxes.

Yesterday Tom Daschle, former senate majority and minority leader, withdrew his nomination as health secretary after revelations of unpaid back taxes ($140,000). This is the same man who said in a 1998 debate: “Make no mistake. Tax cheaters cheat us all, and the [Internal Revenue Service] should enforce our laws to the letter.”

This move comes after the resignation of Nancy Killefer, President Obama’s choice to fill a new job of chief performance officer, also over tax arrears. And THAT move comes a few days after Tim Geithner, his Treasury secretary, was confirmed in his job (which ironically includes oversight of the IRS!) in spite of strong opposition after he disclosed that he had cleared more than $40,000 in back taxes.

It’s annoying to me that people who wanted to be part of an administration committed to raising my taxes are evidently none too keen on paying their own. But my subject in this little screed today is not abject hypocrisy, so I shall move on.

What fascinates me about these folks is that, having been informed that they were being considered for high office, they did actually pay their taxes and got their houses in order—and thought that this Johnny-come-lately action made their prior cheating OK. It’s like a bank robber who gets nabbed during the getaway, gives the money back to the bank president and asks, “Hey now that we’re all square, I’d like to put in my application for that open teller position…”

It would seem that the words “integrity” and “character” in our day have taken on a whole new low in definition. It’s no longer “do right ‘till the stars fall”, but do what you want ‘till you get caught, then do right if you have to (and then maybe you’ll still get what you want).” Perhaps this is just one of the thorns in the side of our fallen human race—the default mode of constructing a righteous façade to conceal the unseemly reality, and then in time, coming to believe the facade instead of the reality.

This weekend IBC is considering what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus. Now there’s a subject that has to include the Christian’s proclivity to pretence. Yes, I believe that the same self-justifying rationale of “I’ll do the right thing if I have to” afflicts the Body of Christ as well as the Body Politic.  So does the hypocrisy thing. I know it afflicts me. I admit it: your pastor is never all that he seems, even to himself! (What did you expect? I’ve been working on my facade for about 40 years now…)

Nevertheless, Jesus’ gracious invitation comes to me and to you and to all His followers to, well, follow Him. Do what He does, be what He is. It’s not so much about how we look, but who we’re becoming. The comforting thing is that though none of us has arrived, our Lord is always thrilled that we’ve embarked on the journey of matching an attractive and honorable “what we appear to be” with a sincere and authentic “what we truly are”.

Oh, that reminds me to recap our “Here We Stand” message last weekend in case you missed it. It’s about what IBC believes with regard to finding relationship in the Body of Christ. . . . At IBC we believe that all Christ followers are called to build missional community by cultivating relationships with other believers. In this community we learn to know and love God, each other, and the world more deeply and accomplish our task of building Christ’s Kingdom more effectively. Claiming our place in significant relationships in the Body of Christ and using our gifts to build others up in that Body of Christ is not an optional activity for those who happen to choose it, but a command (John 13.34) and corporate calling from our Lord that we are individually responsible to fulfill.

Blessings all, I’m going to leave now and start preparing my tax return early this year,

Pastor Andy

<><

Read Full Post »

Once again, I had the opportunity to offer the sermon for the Sunday after Christmas, since our regular pastor is visiting his family in West Virginia.  So what follows is the essential make-up of what I spoke on, Sunday, December 28th.

There’s an old church joke you may have heard before, I’d like to share with you:

There was an economist who was reading 2 Peter 3:8-9 and was quite amazed by it and decided to ask God about it.

He prayed, “Lord, is it true that a thousand years are just like one minute to you?”

The Lord replied, “Yes.”

The economist said, “Well then a million dollars to us must be like one penny to you.”

The Lord replied again, “Well, yes.”

Thinking he had the perfect plan, the economist then asked, “Lord, can I have a penny?”

To which the Lord replied, “Absolutely.  Just give Me a minute.”

How often do we find ourselves in this economist’s position, praying for what we think we need and struggling when God’s response appears to be, “Wait”

The Gospel passage for this week that churches across the country are teaching from is Luke 2:21-40, often known as Simeon’s Song.  If you could turn in your Bibles to that passage, and if you don’t have a Bible with you, there are some under most of the chairs.  Luke is the third Gospel, in the New Testament.  Just a few days ago, we covered most of the first two chapters during Christmas Eve services…

Luke writes, “On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.   When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

25Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29″Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
30For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”

33The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

39When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.”

This entire reading is about waiting.  Jesus waits a week to be circumcised, Mary waits 33 days from the circumcision to be purified and reenter the temple, according to the Levitical law.  Anna had been worshipping at the Temple for probably more than 60 years, waiting for something.  Simeon had been waiting for many years, for he had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Christ.  Now, we don’t know how old he was at the time, although there is a traditional Eastern Orthodox story that would place his age at somewhere around 200+ years at the time he met the Holy Family at the Temple in Jerusalem.  Imagine waiting for almost two centuries for a promise to be fulfilled.  But not only that, it says that Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel.

It’s probably not news to you that we as Americans, hate to wait.  We buy microwave dinners, TiVo our favorite shows to watch them commercial-free and logon to the Internet to get our news, rather than waiting for the paper or even the 6 o’clock news.  Yet, we just finished a time of waiting – the season of Advent, a time of waiting and anticipation of the birth of Jesus.  It may surprise you to learn this, but Advent isn’t just a time that commemorates the waiting for Jesus’s birth – it is also the time for anticipating and the celebration of waiting for His eventual return.

So even here in Florida, we’ve been looking forward to Christmas for at least 4 weeks.  Of course, the stores, in a desperate quest for more of our dollars, have been waiting for Christmas since Halloween.  Which just proves that they don’t watch their own sales figures – which show that the last two weekends prior to Christmas are the busiest shopping days of the year.  In fact, Black Friday traditionally ranks as the 8th busiest shopping day of the year, despite all the ads in the Thanksgiving papers.

The season of Christmas, which for the church started on Wednesday night and continues through the next couple of weeks, is about celebrating that the Lord has fulfilled his promise.  It’s reminding us that the waiting is worth it – the promise will be fulfilled in His time, and we will be even better for having waited for it.  I have often thought that when Jesus said in John 14 that he was going to prepare a place for us, he also meant that he was going to prepare us for that place.

Waiting is hard, but it is essential to the Christian walk, which is why some find it so hard to follow Christ, and others preach shortcuts to God’s blessings and peace.  In his book, Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent, Ben Peterson writes, “What God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for.”

So if we find ourselves waiting, we have to ask, what is God trying to teach me in this place, at the same time realizing that we may not divine the answer or even realize it in hindsight when the waiting we are doing has past.

The second thing this passage teaches is about Reconciliation.  The act of Mary’s being cleansed by the sacrifice is the act of reconciling her body to once again be able to worship God in the Temple.  The consecration of Jesus as the first born is part of God’s reconciliation for the sins of Cain and Adam, both “first” born.

In verse 25, it mentions that Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel.  Seven hundred years prior to this instant, Isaiah had prophesied that one would come to reconcile not only the nation of Israel, but also the Gentiles – a portion of the prophecy many in the Temple at the time of Simeon discounted or disbelieved.  Yet Simeon proves he knows his Isaiah – part of his song directly references two passages in Isaiah,

“I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, (Isaiah 42:6)

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)

And now Simeon knows he can die in peace, dismissed from his service to God.  Even his death, when it comes, will be a sign of hope.

What’s more, the prophetess Anna also proclaims to all that were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem, that the child was to fulfill that prophecy.  Unfortunately, I’m sure many of them misunderstood what form the redemption of Israel would take, just as they would 33 years later.

In just a few days, we’ll be celebrating a new year.  2008, for good or bad, will be over and 2009 will begin.  The new year is often a time of change, a time when people have their hopes raised and the future seems somehow brighter, regardless of what may actually happen.  And this year, for many seems like an even bigger and brighter new beginning.

Just three weeks from now, we will be inaugurating a brand new president.  President-elect Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of change, that, whether you agree with him or not, resonated with a large portion of the American population.  A population tired of housing slumps, foreclosures, bankruptcies, economic bail-outs and rising unemployment rates.

Obama promises to eliminate all of those worries in a sweeping, expensive ‘New Deal’ style package that could be the most dramatic start to a presidency since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first hundred days in office.  Barack Obama is promising a redemption of the United States, a return to its greatness.  Will Obama truly bring about a change like many hope?  I don’t know, although if history is any reflection, then the answer is probably no.

But regardless of the success of our new president, we have to ask ourselves, where does our hope lie?  Does it lie in politicians and presidents?  Does it lie in money or possessions?  Does it lie in relationships – families, friendships?

Humans have a tendency to look in the wrong places to find their answers – or to forget what sustained them when they had no answers.

When God led the people of Israel out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership, he set them free from a life of slavery, building temples to other people’s gods.  He brought them, eventually, to the Promised Land – or at least their descendants.  Yet, just a few generations later, in an eerie reflection of their slavery in Egypt, Solomon, the son of David, is using slave labor to build the Temple of the Lord, among other things.  After the dedication of the Temple, God comes again to Solomon to warn him what will happen if the Israelites forget their deliverer and turn to serve other gods.  Solomon promises to obey, but halfway through his reign, he has gotten comfortable, disobedient and forgets who gave him the power he wields, prompting God to punish his descendants and once again tear the Israelites from their home, this time culminating with the destruction of the temple, losing the Ark of the Covenant, and more.

In his latest book, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, Rob Bell points out,

“That’s always the danger, isn’t it?  That we’ll be broken, our empires will collapse, we’ll cry out for help, and when that help comes, when we get back on our feet, when there’s money in our account again, and things are back to how they were, the danger is, once we get it back – whatever ‘it’ is – we’ll forget what just happened.”

We’ll forget that Jesus is the one who saves us, who gives us hope, even in the darkest times, even in the deepest recessions.  I don’t have any figures to back this up, but it looks like church attendance is up across the nation over the past few months.  Not just Christmas Eve, but every Sunday, as people search for answers to the problems in their lives.  The question is, once they have some answers, once they are back on their feet, once their investments start performing again, will they continue to serve God, or will they forget where their hope came from in light of their new-found blessings?  And are we any better?

Our church body, small as it may seem, sponsored two families for Thanksgiving and two more families for Christmas.  In this time of struggling economy, we looked at our blessings, even the small ones, and chose to give, in some cases sacrificially, some of that back to members of our community that were struggling even more than we were.

The challenge is, when things turn around – when we do see better days – and we will see better days – history has taught us that – the United States still holds 90% of the world’s wealth, not to mention other benefits that the rest of the world can’t even imagine – when the waiting is over and the promise comes true, will we still be focused on the One who gives us hope?  Will we remember who He is and what He has called us to do?  Or will we be more like the Israelites, turning our back on the One who saved us and sustained us.

My prayer for you is that you patiently and prayerfully endure the waiting, while seeking to learn and grow, so that when the promise is fulfilled, you remember He who gave you all things, even the very ability to work and earn money.  Reconciliation that leads to hope.  Amen.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »