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Financial Crisis

“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.”

    – Luke 21:20-21

Last week we looked at the third of three case studies in prepping from the Old Testament, Joseph, Prime Minister of Egypt. The other two case studies were the accounts of Noah and the end of the world as he knew it and Lot’s narrow escape from Sodom. This week, I’d like to turn our attention to the New Testament and in particular to the teaching of Jesus himself that relate to the subject of prepping.

But before turning to Jesus’ teachings on prepping, it’s worth taking a little time to review the events in the financial markets last week. The general title for this series The Ongoing Financial Crisis of 2008, because it is the contention of this author that the crisis which manifested itself that year, sometimes referred to as the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), has never gone away. Rather, the symptoms only were treated by massive money printing by the world’s leading central banks and other financial fakery, a great deal of which probably is still kept under wraps by the powers that shouldn’t be.

The first event from last week I’d like to look at was the New York Fed’s (The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the most prominent of the Fed’s regional banks) bailing out the overnight Repo market to the tune of $53 billion late Tuesday night, early Wednesday morning, September 17th and 18th. Now you may be asking, “So just what is the overnight Repo and why should I even care?” Good questions.

Investopedia defines a Repurchase Agreement (Repo) as, “a form of short-term borrowing for dealers in government securities. In the case of a repo, a dealer sells government securities to investors, usually on an overnight basis, and buys them back the following day…Repos are typically used to raise short-term capital…Classified as a money-market instrument, a repurchase agreement functions in effect as a short-term, collateral-backed, interest-bearing loan. The buyer acts as a short-term lender, while the seller acts as a short-term borrower. The securities being sold are the collateral.”

For most of us, the repo market is a fairly obscure corner of the financial system, something that runs in the background. But what happened overnight while most of us slept was a sudden spike in the repo interest rate, which the week before had been 2.29%, but shot up to 10% before the Fed stepped in. As CNN reported, this was the first time the fed had to bail out the overnight repo market since late 2008, which just happened to be the height of the financial crisis.

The Fed conducted further bailouts on Wednesday night and Thursday night.

Finally, on Friday the Fed announced that it would conduct daily repurchasing operations through October 10.

One big takeaway from operation repo is that market forces want to take interest rates higher, which is exactly the opposite of what the Fed wants to have happen.

Which brings me to the second event of note in the financial markets last week, the Fed’s announcement that it was lowing interest rates by 0.25%. This is the second such announcement in the past two months, the previous one coming at the end of July.

Many mainstream commentators are confused by the Fed’s decision to lower interest rates. The reason is that lowing interest rates is something central banks do when the economy is struggling, but the official line is that the American economy is doing great and has never been better. Why is this?

Think of interest rates as the price of money. If the economy is doing well, this means businesses are borrowing to expand their facilities to keep up with demand, consumers and taking out car and home loans. And what happens when demand for a thing increases? All other things equal, the price goes up. With respect to demand for loans, this means that interest rates go up.

The opposite is the case when the economy is doing poorly. There is little demand from businesses to expand, so there is little demand for business loans. Consumers don’t have the income to support car an home loans, so they too are unable to take on debt to fund these purchases. When demand for money decreases, its price, that is to say the interest rate, tends to drop.

This is where the confusion comes in. Donald Trump is out there telling the whole world that the American economy is doing great, while at the same time forcefully arguing for lower interest rates. The Fed’s decision to lower rates strongly suggests that the economy is not doing as well as the Trump administration would like you to believe. Taken together with the Fed’s needing to bail out the repo market, lower interest rates are another data point suggesting an oncoming recession.

A third item of note from last week was the return of talk about a not too far off return to Quantitative Easing (QE) from none other than Fed Chairman Jay Powell. In plain English, QE is simply massive money printing (aka counterfeiting) by central banks to buy assets no one else wants to keep interest rates under control. First employed during as an emergency during the 2008 crisis, QE is now being seriously discussed in public. Question: If the economy really is as great as the powers that shouldn’t be want us to believe, why is the Fed talking about bringing back QE?

In the opinion of this writer, the three items mentioned above – the Fed’s bailout of the repo market, it’s decision to lower interest rates, and talk about QE – strongly suggest the Fed is worried about major problems in the financial system, perhaps even a financial crisis, just around the corner and strongly suggest what the Fed will do to combat those problems: print money.

So, what are Christians to make of all this? The most logical conclusion is that we are, in fact, facing a major financial storm and we need to rig for heavy weather. That is to say, we need to get prepared and to stay prepared. All which brings us back to where we started, the teachings of Christ on the subject of prepping.

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prayer

It’s how in the course of looking for one thing you find something else.

In my case, I was doing a little research tonight on the Democratic Socialists of America. Maybe you’ve hear of them, you know, the hipster lefty organization that boasts rock star socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) as a member?

At any rate, while looking for something on AOC, I found instead this piece titled “Prayer is Not a Weapon” by Colleen Shaddox, whose author bio-describes her as “a Roman Catholic writer and activist who concentrates on poverty, immigration and mass criminalization.” She has some journalistic clout too, for the bio goes on to say that her work’s appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications.

From her article, it appears that Shaddox was triggered by Vice President Mike Pence’s call to prayer at the start of a recent meeting with Congressional leaders. His insistence on prayer, says Shaddox, “is offensive for myriad reasons.” One such reason, Shaddox mistakenly notes, is that government’s founding document, by which she means the Constitution, “forbids the mingling of church and state.” Of course, the Constitution does no such thing, rather, the First Amendment merely prevents the federal government from establishing a state church funded by taxpayer dollars such as the Church of England in the UK.

Shaddox continues her diatribe, calling Pence’s instance on prayer “an obscenity.” This is remarkable, considering the New York Times article to which Shaddox links explains that the prayer given at the Vice President’s request was delivered by Mitch McConnell’s chief of staff, who “asked God ‘to bring us together’ when negotiators met” to resolve the ongoing government shutdown. O, the horror of it all! And here I thought all along that liberals were all about being uniters not dividers.

At any rate, back to the idea that prayer is not a weapon. This seems a bit strange to me. After all, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God.” In Ephesians, he was more pointed as to just what those weapons were and closes out his exhortation to the Christian soldier with a call to prayer. Further, the imprecatory Psalms of the Old Testament call God to take vengeance on the psalmists’ and on God’s enemies.

If Shaddox can’t handle Pence’s prayer for unity, what would she do with David’s words, “Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against you”? Such weaponized prayer surely would cause her an epic meltdown.

If Colleen Shaddox actually believed the Bible, which she doesn’t, she’d know very well that prayer is indeed an indispensable weapon for any Christian seeking to fight the good fight of faith, including Christians whose job it is to run the government.

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Escape of Lot from Sodom

Escape of Lot from Sodom by Mattheus Merian (1593-1650)

From time to time I’ve written in this space about the collapse of Western Civilization that we so going on around us all on a daily basis. And in this author’s opinion, there is perhaps no better illustration of this collapse than the rise of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender (LGBT) movement over the last several decades.

I make this observation as a Christian, and those who do not believe the Bible may be tempted to dismiss my view as personal bias. But interestingly enough, at least one prominent lesbian scholar is in agreement with this view. As this 2015 article from cnsnews.com notes, “Best-selling feminist author, social critic and self-described “transgender being” Camille Paglia said in an interview last month that the rise of transgenderism in the West is a symptom of decadence and cultural collapse.”

Paglia is quoted in the article saying, “Nothing…better defines the decadence of the West to the jihadists than our toleration of open homosexuality and this transgender mania now.”

The article continues, “Paglia went on to talk about her book Sexual Personae and how the emergence of transgenderism signifies the end of Western culture. ‘Now I am concerned about this…In fact, my study of history in Sexual Personae, I’m always talking about the late phases of culture.’

‘I was always drawn to late or decadent phases of culture. Oscar Wile is one of the great exponents of that in the late 19th century. He’s one of my strongest influences from my earliest years. An I found in my study that history is cyclic, and everywhere in the world you find this pattern in ancient times: that as a culture begins to decline, you have an efflorescence of transgender phenomena. That is a symptom of cultural collapse.’

‘So rather than people singing the praises of humanitarian liberalism that allows all of these transgender possibilities to appear and to be encouraged, I would be concerned about how Western culture is defining itself to the world.’ ”

These are good comments by Paglia.  In fact, what this feminist lesbian has to say about homosexuality and transgender mania is, quite remarkably, much closer to the mind of Christ, and far more interesting, than what falls from the lips of many supposed ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ when they speak on these subjects.

The wide-spread acceptance of homosexuality and other deviant behaviors in the West is a flashing red warning signal that our civilization is in deep trouble. It’s so obvious that even a feminist lesbian scholar is able to see the problem. But for all that, there are many who name the name of Christ who are either unable or unwilling to grasp this simple and obvious truth.

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John Robbins“Many people in relatively orthodox churches are confused about sanctification,” wrote John Robbins in the forward to Gordon Clark’s book Sanctification.

And not only is there a great deal of confusion about sanctification, but the errors people make on this doctrine place them in two broad categories: mystics and workers.

Mystics, as Robbins points out, are those who say of sanctification, “Let go and let God.” They tend to be Charismatics. On the other hand, the workers think that justification is by grace but sanctification is by works. Such persons tend to be Reformed.

Neither of these approaches to sanctification is Biblical.

Before talking about what sanctification is, Robbins notes that salvation, “from start to finish, from election to glorification, from eternity to eternity, is all of grace.”

Robbins notes that justification – God’s declaring us legally righteous and pardoning all our sins – is by grace alone, through faith alone apart from any works. Further, justification is wholly outside us. It is a work that God has done for us by imputing – to impute means to ascribe or to reckon – Christ’s perfect righteousness to us. Justification is not a work done in us.

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John RobbinsThe following sermon was preached by John Robbins at Reformation Chapel in Unicoi Tennessee. Last week I featured part one of this sermon.  Today, I present part two. To read part one, please click here. The transcription is my own.

– Steve Matthews

Well, Luke continues in verse five,

Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how he spoke to you while he was still in Galilee.’

Well, these women are terrified. These men suddenly appear, and the women are terrified. Luke says they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth. And the angels speak to them and say, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

This reminds you of the opening chapter of Acts, where Luke is telling about the apostles watching Jesus being assumed into heaven. And two men again appear, maybe the same two angels, and speak to the apostles, and they say, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here staring up into heaven?” They ask them a question again. And here the angels ask the women, “Why do you seek the living among the dead. And then they tell them, “He is not here, but is risen. Remember how he spoke to you.” And this makes it clear about the important of words. See, we’re told in the first chapter of John that the Word preceded the visible creation, that everything that was created was preceded by the Word. The Word comes first, the Logos comes first. And many people get everything backwards, they think events, or history, or creation come first, rather than the Word.

But notice here no one witnesses the resurrection event. And what the women receive are words from the angels. They’re told specifically, “He is not here. He is risen. He is living. He’s not among the dead.” And then the angels remind them of Jesus’ own words that he spoke while he was still with him. Their faith rests on the testimony of Jesus and the testimony of the angels. The women did not see the resurrection event, but they received these words from Christ and from the angels.

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John Robbins

John W. Robbins

The following sermon was preached by John Robbins at Reformation Chapel in Unicoi Tennessee. Please click here to read part two.  The transcription is my own.

-Steve Matthews

And now Luke moves on in his narrative to the resurrection. Then he begins by saying it happened on the first day of the week. And there’s a Jewish idiom here, it’s the first of the Sabbaths. And it’s a phrase that appears in the Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1 and Luke 24:1, it’s called the first day of the Sabbaths or the first of the Sabbaths. From now on this will be the important day. This is what John calls the Lord’s Day. This is why we meet on Sunday and not on Saturday, because this has taken on the characteristics of the most important day of the week. This is the day that Jesus rises from the dead.

“Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning,” Luke says, “they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb brining the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.” Christ had dies on the sixth day of the week, on Friday, he was in paradise that day and the entire next day, and then early in the morning on the first day of the week he rises from the dead.

Luke says these women, and they’re named in the previous chapter, they go very early in the morning. John says in John 20 verse 1 that they leave when it is still dark, yet dark. And some people have, again, tried to make contradictions in the Bible by saying the various evangelists say well it was at dawn, and John says it was while it was still dark, and another Gospel says it was when the sun was rising. Well, these women had to travel. And they left when it was still dark and when they got there the sun had risen. And it’s very easy. If people would just think about what’s going on in these narratives, all these so-called contradictions and problems would disappear. The women can’t transport themselves like they do on Star Trek from one place to another instantaneously. It takes a while for them to travel, to get together, to pack up their spices and to arrive at the tomb. And so you would expect a variation between the time they leave to the time they arrive there. Which is what the four narratives say.

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For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.

Romans 1:20

John Robbins

If you’ve ever read a book or heard a lecture on Christian apologetics, there’s a good chance Romans 1:19-20 were brought up. Perhaps these verses were cited as proof that all men know God, so that no one could claim ignorance of God on judgment day. That, of course, is true. Responsibility is based on knowledge, and since God has revealed himself to all men, all men are accountable to him.

Bible commentators, as well as the authors of the Westminster Confession, have identified two ways in which God reveals himself to men: general revelation and special revelation.

Special revelation is identical with the 66 books of the Bible. The Scriptures are God’s written, propositional revelation, which principally teach us, “What man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man,” in the words of the Shorter Catechism.

But what about general revelation? Just what is it that is meant by this term? The most common answer is that general revelation is identical with nature. We are told that when men look to the heavens and see the stars, or cast their eyes upon the majestic mountains they behold God’s attributes and, to that extent, know him and are therefore rightfully held responsible by him, even if they have never so much as heard the name of Jesus Christ.

Here’s one example of this line of reasoning.

Paul stresses the reality and universality of divine revelation, which is perpetual (“since the creation,” v.20) and perspicuous (“clearly seen,” v.20). Divine invisibility, eternity, and power are all expressed in and through the created order…The invisible God is revealed through the visible medium of creation. This revelation is manifest; it is not obscured but clearly seen (New Geneva Study Bible).

The commentators manifestly argue that one can reason from visible creation to an invisible God, but does this really make sense? On one hand, such an argument is appealing to Christians. We believe in God and rightfully want others to share that belief. But simply because we like the conclusion of an argument does not mean that it is a good argument. This is the case even if the conclusion of argument – that there is an immortal, invisible all wise God who created and sustains the world – is true.

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