What a Devil Art Thou, Poverty!

Last week one of the DOVE Canada pastors, Lynn Ironside, led a prayer and intercession team to the nation of Columbia. It is a country that is filled with abject poverty and this was one of the issues the prayer team was led to address in prayer. Here is Lynn’s post in which she quotes Walt Whitman on poverty…

“I do not know how to express what I experienced today as we took a gondola up to the top of the mountain in Medellin. Perhaps Walt Whitman’s quote is worth sharing … “What a devil art thou, Poverty! How many desires – how many aspirations after goodness and truth – how many noble thoughts, loving wishes toward our fellows, beautiful imaginings thou hast crushed under thy heel, without remorse or pause!”

And so today we did what may, to some seem trivial when you consider the desperate need, but which I believe to be of great worth – we prayed for the poor of Medellin. Thankfully there has been some improvements in these remote communities on the hillsides overlooking the city but there is still so much to be done. If you would – please join us in praying that Colombia would rise up and take a stand to end the horrors of children being sold or lured into the sex trade.” 

Columbia is a Catholic nation so why is it so poor? The answer is found in what has been taught by the Catholic Church. I noticed many years ago on my many trips to Brazil that these nations with catholic influence had no middle class. It was only the rich and the poor. How did this happen? In a recent conversation with a South American immigrant who is now a pastor in Florida, I ask him why? His answer confirmed my suspicion.

Quite simply the Catholic Church taught that it was more spiritual to be poor. So the Catholics stayed poor. In his book Find Your Promised Land, Korean businessman Israel Kim targets this incorrect thinking taught by the Catholic Church.

One of the lies taught about resources is that holy people should be poor. This concept of poverty and piety was developed during the Dark Ages by monastic orders of Catholic monks who were reacting to the audacious wealth, greed and corruption of the Roman Church. In those circumstances it may have seemed right, but in truth it is a curse that has kept many talented and anointed people from fulfilling their God-given destiny. The idea that poverty is a sign of humility and devotion to the Lord is simply false. If it were true the poor within the “10-40 Window” would have no need for evangelization.

Many Christians will say God is good, but because they have always struggled financially, they have developed a mindset that God is stingy and is holding back blessings. There are two sides of this coin. We must be convinced that poverty and lack is a curse and we must be convinced that God is a loving, abundant provider.

 

Source

Kim, Israel. Find your promised land : getting through your wilderness, (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 2009).

 

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Caring For The Needy

The Biblical principles of capitalism must be blended with social values to present a thorough safeguard from greed and other excesses prevalent in capitalism. Jesus spoke clearly of the need to care for the less fortunate. Right after the parable of the talents, which teaches capitalistic concepts, Jesus described the end of time when the sheep will be separated from the goats according to judgment based on how well we care for the needy. Let’s read it.

 The King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me…to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Matt. 25:34-36,40

We find a similar theme in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke16: 19-31). The rich man who smugly lived a life of luxury without helping the poor, is compared to Lazarus, who was longing to eat the crumbs off his table. After the two died the rich man was sent to a place of torment and Lazarus to a place of blessings. Clearly Jesus was teaching that we should use what we have to help others. Jesus also modeled this as well by directing his ministry to the needy. Harold Eberle states it like this:

Jesus associated with the downtrodden and lowly. He revealed the heart of God and established a pattern by which all Christians should live. It is also important to note the blessings associated with helping the poor. Not only in the next life, but God has promised to bless in this life those who care for the needy.

That is practical. That is Biblical. That is Christian.

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No More Living for the Week-end

As we previously discussed, in the Old Testament God helped to break the tribal, cyclical Hebrew thinking by having Moses develop a written linear record of their history. Very few other cultures had any written record at this time. From this record the people could see the progression and growth of their society and themselves as individuals. To build on this God gave them promises for their future. He promised His Kingdom would take over the entire earth and last forever.

As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces…But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. And in the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.           Dan. 2:34-35, 44

Thus God’s people developed a consciousness of their past and future. They thought of time as linear with the world moving forward. They were able to plan for the future. Living for the moment or the week-end was no longer a viable option. This affected every area of their lives, including their finances. They made long term decisions because they could depend on His promises. They learned the value of an inheritance to future generations in many different ways. They learned the value of being frugal and saving for the future.

Jesus taught this same theme in the New Testament in His parables. He reaffirmed the Jewish concept of linear time and progress. He taught this about His kingdom in the parable of the mustard seed and the yeast. He told us that his kingdom was like the mustard seed that would grow anywhere—that it was like yeast that takes over the entire loaf of bread—that His kingdom would grow and grow and take over the entire world (Matt. 13, Luke 13). He also taught us in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6) that His kingdom would come and that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. We are taught that the future is secure and that we can invest and build His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Let’s do it.

Source:

Economics 101- What is God’s plan?; Dr. Art Mathias; Wellspring Ministries, 2016

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To Prosper…Work Hard and be Honest

It seems so simple. How can something so simple be so profound, and so ignored? In the Monday edition of the Wall Street Journal appeared an article entitled – Bring Back the Work Ethic. It is an interview with Bob Funk, who is CEO and founder of Express Employment Professionals, one of the nation’s largest job agencies. Since he started the firm in 1983, he has helped 6.5 million people find jobs. So he is a bit of an expert.

“So many people do not realize how important the soft skills are to unlocking job opportunity,” he says. He shares a small brochure his company puts out summarizing a recent survey of employers. In order, the survey found the top five traits employers look for are as follows:

  • Attitude
  • Work ethic/integrity
  • Communication
  • Culture fit (teamwork)
  • Critical thinking

Four out of the top five have to do with character, godly character. Only critical thinking would be considered outside this area. Drugs are a huge character problem today as well, with many would-be employees putting themselves out of the running when they fail drug tests. Some are happy pot is legalized in various US states, but they don’t realize how it affects their ability to get a job. In the US, a certified truck driver can start at $55,000 to $60,000 a year, for example, but no one’s going to hire you if you do drugs.

If all this sounds old-fashioned, it is—and Mr. Funk isn’t ashamed of it. Where does Mr. Funk get these radical ideas? They are from the Bible. He is a Christian with a degree in theology among his various degrees. So in Matthew 7:12 when Jesus said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you”, I guess we could say that means, “work for others as you would have others work for you.”

So many people, Funk says, are unfamiliar with the fundamentals of work, from knowing how to dress and showing up on time to taking direction from a boss. At a time when employers are complaining they can’t find the people they need, Mr. Funk says being honest and having the right attitude will help you stand out from the pack.

Nor does Mr. Funk look down his nose at so-called McJobs: “Those low-paying, entry-level jobs,” he says, “are good training for the soft skills you need for upward mobility.” It is far better than falling into the socialist trap in which people end up losing their appetite for work because they become too comfortable with government benefits meant to be temporary.

Mr. Funk generally starts people out as temporary employees, but points out that 62% of the “temporary” workers he places end up being hired to stay on full-time. “Try before you buy,” he calls it—and says that goes for the worker too! “It’s the greatest feeling in the world to help someone who wants to work find a good job,” he says. “I’ve helped a lot of people find jobs in my life,” he says. “And I’ve learned that if you are honest, have a strong work ethic, and stay off drugs, there’s a great future for you out there.”

Source:

McGurn W. Sept. 4, 2017, Bring Back the Work Ethic- ‘There’s a person for every job and a job for every person,’ says Bob Funk., wsj.com

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Is God a Socialist in the New Testament?

We know the first Christians were, of course, Jews. So they held the values we have discussed founded in the Jewish culture that are more capitalistic in nature. In the New Testament we also see these values reflected.

In Acts we read how the new believers living in Jerusalem sold their possessions and then gave the proceeds to help other believers. Based on this account, some people have said that we should all sell everything we own and have everything in common. Some even say that God is a socialist in the New Testament. A closer reading of this passage shows us something different. The early believers did sell their possessions:

and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Acts 2:45

It says that they “began” selling…so apparently they did not sell everything. If they would have sold all their houses, they could have not met from house to house as the next verse says:

Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread [a]from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and [c]sincerity of heart, Acts 2:46

These early believers had a high degree of love and a social value, which motivated them to care for each other. What we see is their love for God and each other was a higher value than the accumulation of material goods. But we must note that these early believers were still living the Old Testament taught principles of accumulating wealth, including houses for themselves, and possibly extra houses to sell. It would appear they were financially prosperous enough to sell properties, use the proceeds however they wanted and not go hungry.

Now I want to quote directly from Harold Eberle. “It is important to understand the historical setting in which those first century believers were living. During those first few years many Christians were driven out of Jerusalem due to tremendous persecution. Worse yet, Jerusalem was completely destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, so all of the believers were going to lose their properties anyway. A modern capitalist will point out that God inspired those Christians to sell these homes right before the market collapsed (or they would have lost them anyway – BS note).

The fact that the early Christians sold their possessions does not tell us they were socialists. To the contrary, they were capitalists motivated by love and led by the Spirit of God.”

Source

Compassionate Capitalism – A Judeo-Christian Value by Harold Eberle, 2010, Worldcast Publishing. Pg. 35-36

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The Biblical Principles of Capitalism Must be Blended with Social Values

As we reviewed the Old Testament teaching in previous blogs, we find that God mentored the Hebrew people to be prosperous. As Christians today we value this heritage given to them and we can claim it as our own. The Hebrews were mentored by God to have a prosperous way of thinking or I would say a prosperous soul; and this way of thinking developed the principles of capitalism, although they had to be blended with social values.

In the way of review, according to Harold Eberle’s book Compassionate Capitalism – A Judeo Christian Value, all of the following were included:

  • The belief in One God
  • Sense of identity of being created in God’s image
  • Personal responsibility to manage themselves and the earth
  • Individual Freedom
  • Ownership of land and personal property
  • The Fear of God
  • Resting one day a week
  • Strong family relationships
  • Enjoying the fruit of one’s labor
  • Giving tithes and offerings
  • Care for the orphans, widows and the poor
  • Making and keeping covenants (agreements)
  • Time is linear, society is advancing
  • Planning for the future.
  • Leaving an inheritance for your descendants
  • Frugality and saving
  • Different people get different rewards depending on their effort and wisdom
  • Developing a sense of capital separate from themselves

As Harold Eberle says, “Jewish culture was filled with thoughts of submitting to God by giving tithes and offerings, along with caring for one’s family and compassion for the poor. There was an expectation that people could not live selfishly accumulating wealth with no regard for the people around them. They were allowed and expected to prosper according to their own labors, but they had to be a contributing member of their own community.”

This builds a platform to study what the New Testament says about economics and finance.

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A Shortage of Sand in the Sahara?

Economist Milton Friedman once said that, if you put the government in charge of the Sahara desert, there will eventually be a shortage of sand. No wonder that, after 14 years of socialist government, Venezuela — the country with the world’s largest oil reserves — is currently importing gasoline. This fact highlights Venezuela’s painful descent into chaos, as the economy crumbles and the nation’s social fabric unravels. There is even talk now of a civil war.

Venezuela is a prime example the failure of the socialist model, between 1999, when Hugo Chavez took over as President, and 2016, average per capita income in Venezuela rose by 2 percent. In the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean, it rose by 41 percent over this same period.

The Venezuela government reacted to skyrocketing inflation by following the typical socialist script: it imposed price controls and has been raiding businesses it accuses of hoarding. As a result, there are widespread shortages of food and medicines. Under control of its socialist government, Venezuela currently has an infant mortality rate well above that of war-torn Syria. Mothers in childbirth die of infection or minor labor complications because doctors lack antibiotics or even soap to clean surgical tools and operating tables.

For another example consider Robert Mugabe, Chavez’s erstwhile friend and the President of Zimbabwe, who has been in charge of his unfortunate country since 1980. Since then, Africa’s income per person rose by 48 percent. In Zimbabwe, a socialist dictatorship, it has declined by 25 percent.

The great achievements of society have not come from government bureaus. Einstein did not construct his theory under the order of a government leader. Henry Ford did not revolutionize the automobile industry that way. The only cases where the masses have escaped poverty is where they have embraced capitalism and largely free trade. Where are the masses the worst off? Where capitalism is not practiced! The record of history is crystal clear. There is no alternative way to lift people out of poverty. It is the productive activities that are released by a free enterprise system.

Upcoming….more Bible teaching on economics, why it takes VW twice as many workers to build a car as Toyota, and a look at the Scandinavian socialist countries.

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