Monday, December 22, 2008

Gifts and Graces

You know how God just suddenly surprises you with an answer, long past when you were hoping for one and long after you have given up expectation that you will get an answer? I am going to share my answer. It might not make as much sense to others as it does to me, but it is still glorious to consider. The answer came unexpectedly while I was reading last night in my year long journey through J.I Packer's book, "A Quest for Godliness." He is summarizing John Owen's writings on spiritual gifts.

"Do we deplore that so little of the life of God appears in our souls? Is it our complaint that our gifts are so small? Use your gifts and graces, such as they are, to stir each other up to exercise, Owen is saying, and you will have more of both. Do we seek to grow in grace through the exercise of our gifts? When we speak to others of the things of God, do we seek to feed our own souls on the same truths? Equally, do we seek to increase our gifts through stirring up our hearts to seek God? When we speak of divine things to others, and lead them in prayer, do we seek to feel the reality of the things we speak of? Small gifts may have great usefulness when backed by honest, sincere feeling and unaffected holiness. Are we depressed about our Christian service, finding it largely barren and ourselves largely impotent? Let us go back to our God for wisdom to learn how his grace and gifts in us may help each other. Covet earnestly the best gifts--and with them a humble, loving heart. This is the way of growth and fruitfulness."

I am reminded from 1 Corinthians 12-14 that the greatest gift is love. That is what we should earnestly be desiring and coveting as a gift from God to exercise by His grace. I have long been convinced that to live the Christian life, especially the challenging lifestyle of a large home educating family, requires us to live by 2 commandments. Love God with all our heart, soul, and mind; and love our neighbors (the nearest ones being our spouses and children ) as we love ourselves. Love is the KEY and Grace is the need and answer.

God's gifts to us are to be used-by His grace-to equip the saints, build the body of Christ, and to encourage and comfort one another. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35) So my prayer is that God will teach me and my family "how his grace and gifts in us may help each other." When we learn this and practice this more faithfully, then we will be living a clearer and more powerful picture of Christ and His gospel than anything else we could ever do and we will see the growth and fruitfulness that we so desire.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Biblical Economics

The older children and I have been reading "Biblical Economics" by R.C. Sproul Jr. I cannot say we have been enjoying it because it is a little dry compared to the Uncle Eric books on economics by Richard J. Maybury. However, I thought it would be better to read about economics from a Christian perspective because Maybury mentions that he is libertarian. Maybury is right on about the mechanics of economics and free market but I never felt his solutions were accurate when it comes to how a Christian should deal with things. In fact in later books in Maybury's series, he actually explains how to capitalize on all the government influxes of capital. In my mind that makes two wrongs: the government printing money and infusing it into the economy and the individual profiting from it.

Thus you have my reasoning behind reading Sproul's book. We have not completed it, however this last week we read his chapter on inflation and the entire book is worth it if just for that chapter. I wish every Christian in the country could read just that chapter and get a clear, complete understanding of what inflation is and what it is not. So for my part I will give a little summary here and hopefully more people will dig into Sproul's book on how Biblical economic principles play out in the real world and what happens when we ignore God's Word in this area of life.

According to Sproul (and Maybury) what inflation is not: it is not the raising of prices by merchants. What inflation is clear and simple: the government printing more money to pay for its debts and programs. Sproul is very direct in calling this legalized counterfeiting. He gives some history on how we got to this horrific point in time with our economy disintegrating before our very eyes. (Warning: anyone who still thinks FDR was one of our greatest presidents will get a non-revisionist history lesson here.)

Sproul then goes on to explain what the Scriptures call unjust weights and measures. When the government devalues our currency more and more by printing more and more paper then it is dealing out unjust weights and measures. By printing more and more money our government steals from its own people, robs us of our productivity and labor (job losses), and outright disobeys the laws of God.

So who benefits from this system??? Number one the politicians. Sproul points out that a politician who wants to stay in office and is faced with an unbalanced budget---translated the government is spending more than it has---has two choices: he can commit political suicide by cutting back expenditures and raising taxes OR he can press the "on" button of the monetary printing presses. Guess which one our president elect will choose??? In fact last night I heard on the news that he has "big plans for building the infrastructure of our economy." Read that as he plans to print more money for more government programs. The result will be more companies closing, more jobs lost, more people unemployed and more unrest. Essentially the government is devouring all of its nation's wealth. One analyst projected that the bailouts will consume over half of our nation's production next year.

The problem: God is not mocked. As a man, a nation reaps what it sows. One thing is for certain: at some point an economy that is built on unjust weights and measures will come crashing down, it is merely a matter of time. The question is what kind of price will America pay for its disobedience? How much will Americans give up so they can have security, ease, and even food on the table?

Biblical economics will give you plenty of food for thought. One thing it reinforces for me is the huge importance of studying history, true history, not the garbage we were fed in public schools that has been rewritten for political agendas. We are seeing a repeat of so many historical scenes playing out before our eyes. For instance, in the Great Depression, the original crash of Wall Street was the first domino in what followed. Creditors to the Wall Street bankers and investors told those who had lost money that they would extend the credit and give them time to repay. The bankers and investors then turned around and demanded instant payment from their debtors and when the people couldn't pay they turned them off their farms, out of their homes, and closed their businesses so that the banks could recoup their own costs and protect themselves. Today our government is bailing out the bankers and speculators and they, in turn, are pulling the plugs on their financial support of factories and business, who in turn are closing their doors and putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work. Sounds like the parable of the wicked servant to me.

There is so much more I could say, but this is supposed to be a book review! So, if you want to understand more clearly what is going on and why, pick up Sproul's book. Ignorance is not bliss. God calls us to gain wisdom and understanding. The Psalmist said, "Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Sproul's book could be one way to apply our hearts unto wisdom if you are willing to do the hard work of wading through the dry parts.

---posted by Queen Lucy