Thursday, August 20, 2009

But Why?


Our grandkids are in town. 8 and 6. Precocious, energetic, beautiful, inquisitive. They have joined the two adorable ones we have close by for a few days.

Our oldest likes to play the "But why?" game.

Come to think of it, so do we.

Habakkuk was full of questions about God's dealings. Read with me...

Habakkuk 21 What's God going to say to my questions? I'm braced for the worst. I'll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon. I'll wait to see what God says, how he'll answer my complaint.
Full of Self, but Soul-Empty

2 -3And then God answered: "Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what's coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn't lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It's on its way. It will come right on time.
4"Look at that man, bloated by self-importance— full of himself but soul-empty. But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive.
5 -6"Note well: Money deceives. The arrogant rich don't last. They are more hungry for wealth than the grave is for cadavers. Like death, they always want more, but the 'more' they get is dead bodies. They are cemeteries filled with dead nations, graveyards filled with corpses. Don't give people like this a second thought. Soon the whole world will be taunting them:
6 -8"'Who do you think you are— getting rich by stealing and extortion? How long do you think you can get away with this?' Indeed, how long before your victims wake up, stand up and make you the victim? You've plundered nation after nation. Now you'll get a taste of your own medicine. All the survivors are out to plunder you, a payback for all your murders and massacres.
9 -11"Who do you think you are— recklessly grabbing and looting, Living it up, acting like king of the mountain, acting above it all, above trials and troubles? You've engineered the ruin of your own house. In ruining others you've ruined yourself. You've undermined your foundations, rotted out your own soul. The bricks of your house will speak up and accuse you. The woodwork will step forward with evidence.
12 -14"Who do you think you are— building a town by murder, a city with crime? Don't you know that God-of-the-Angel-Armies makes sure nothing comes of that but ashes, Makes sure the harder you work at that kind of thing, the less you are? Meanwhile the earth fills up with awareness of God's glory as the waters cover the sea.
15 -17"Who do you think you are— inviting your neighbors to your drunken parties, Giving them too much to drink, roping them into your sexual orgies? You thought you were having the time of your life. Wrong! It's a time of disgrace. All the time you were drinking, you were drinking from the cup of God's wrath. You'll wake up holding your throbbing head, hung over— hung over from Lebanon violence, Hung over from animal massacres, hung over from murder and mayhem, From multiple violations of place and people.
18 -19"What's the use of a carved god so skillfully carved by its sculptor? What good is a fancy cast god when all it tells is lies? What sense does it make to be a pious god-maker who makes gods that can't even talk? Who do you think you are— saying to a stick of wood, 'Wake up,' Or to a dumb stone, 'Get up'? Can they teach you anything about anything? There's nothing to them but surface. There's nothing on the inside.
20"But oh! God is in his holy Temple! Quiet everyone—a holy silence. Listen!"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Peasants are Revolting! No - Its the King Who's Revolting

It was during his reign that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the country. Jehoiakim became his puppet. But after three years he had had enough and revolted.

Babylon ruled the known world at the time. So what was the response to this little kingdom

Sunday, August 16, 2009

You can't lose buying Real Estate - Right?


We are toward the end of the biggest recession since the Great Depression. All the equity (in our area) that has built up since 2005 has evaporated. Prices of property have slid 22% in the last 26 months.

It used to be that you couldn't lose buying Real Estate. The last two years you pretty much couldn't win buying real estate. Our biggest local developer, Mike Mastro, owes $500,000,000 and has multiple banks suing him for unpaid payments, and the attorneys are probably going to take him into forced bankruptcy.

In the Bible story today is a real estate deal much worse than any of these. There wasn't a 22% loss. There was a 100% loss. And the buyer knew the end result before he bought the property! Where was his agent? Where were his attorneys?

6 -7Jeremiah said, "God's Message came to me like this: Prepare yourself! Hanamel, your uncle Shallum's son, is on his way to see you. He is going to say, 'Buy my field in Anathoth. You have the legal right to buy it.'
8"And sure enough, just as God had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me while I was in jail and said, 'Buy my field in Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin, for you have the legal right to keep it in the family. Buy it. Take it over.' "That did it. I knew it was God's Message.
9 -12"So I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel. I paid him seventeen silver shekels. I followed all the proper procedures: In the presence of witnesses I wrote out the bill of sale, sealed it, and weighed out the money on the scales. Then I took the deed of purchase—the sealed copy that contained the contract and its conditions and also the open copy—and gave them to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah. All this took place in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and the witnesses who had signed the deed, as the Jews who were at the jail that day looked on.
13 -15"Then, in front of all of them, I told Baruch, 'These are orders from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel: Take these documents—both the sealed and the open deeds—and put them for safekeeping in a pottery jar. For God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel, says, "Life is going to return to normal. Homes and fields and vineyards are again going to be bought in this country."'

Hope in the future. That is what gives appreciated value to real estate. Jerusalem was under seige. Jeremiah was telling the people they were going to be overrun. Their economy crushed. Their property taken over by the Babylonians.

But some day. Some day God was going to bring them back to the land and as they followed and worshipped Him and Him alone, God was going to bless the land and the people again.

The real estate deal? Cousin Hanamel got full price. All cash at closing.

And Jeremiah? He paid market price - in cash for the property. Within a few months the Babylonians took over and his property was worth ZERO!

Think about that next time you complain about the value of your house going down 22%!

Epilogue:
16 -19"And then, having handed over the legal documents to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to God, 'Dear God, my Master, you created earth and sky by your great power—by merely stretching out your arm! There is nothing you can't do. You're loyal in your steadfast love to thousands upon thousands—but you also make children live with the fallout from their parents' sins. Great and powerful God, named God-of-the-Angel-Armies, determined in purpose and relentless in following through, you see everything that men and women do and respond appropriately to the way they live, to the things they do.
20 -23"'You performed signs and wonders in the country of Egypt and continue to do so right into the present, right here in Israel and everywhere else, too. You've made a reputation for yourself that doesn't diminish. You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders—a powerful deliverance!—by merely stretching out your arm. You gave them this land and solemnly promised to their ancestors a bountiful and fertile land. But when they entered the land and took it over, they didn't listen to you. They didn't do what you commanded. They wouldn't listen to a thing you told them. And so you brought this disaster on them.
24 -25"'Oh, look at the siege ramps already set in place to take the city. Killing and starvation and disease are on our doorstep. The Babylonians are attacking! The Word you spoke is coming to pass—it's daily news! And yet you, God, the Master, even though it is certain that the city will be turned over to the Babylonians, also told me, Buy the field. Pay for it in cash. And make sure there are witnesses.'"
26 -30Then God's Message came again to Jeremiah: "Stay alert! I am God, the God of everything living. Is there anything I can't do? So listen to God's Message: No doubt about it, I'm handing this city over to the Babylonians and Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He'll take it. The attacking Chaldeans will break through and burn the city down: All those houses whose roofs were used as altars for offerings to Baal and the worship of who knows how many other gods provoked me. It isn't as if this were the first time they had provoked me. The people of Israel and Judah have been doing this for a long time—doing what I hate, making me angry by the way they live." God's Decree.