Economics and fear

I’ve been observing, as many of you have, the recent economic crisis in America. What is happening will be remembered in American economic history. Our children’s children will surely read about the stock markets of 2008. I don’t claim to understand everything that is going on, it is a complicated situation with multiple factors, causes, and claims.

I do understand one thing that is driving the economy into a recession and that is fear. I find it ironic that this machine that we call the “American economy” can be shaken by fear, mistrust, and lack of faith in the system. This means that the money out there, isn’t really money at all but simply numbers and human faith. And if I believe in you and you believe in me then everything works smoothly. The book “The Emperors New Clothes” comes to mind. I can honestly tell you, as a husband and father of 2, that I have had to battle real fear in my heart due to the recent economic circumstances.

During the Presidential Nominee debate last Tuesday, questions were directed by American citizens to the nominees. As I observed the questions, and sensed their frustration, the message that became clear was, “How are you [McCain or Obama] going to protect my money?” Do I blame them? Have hundreds of thousands of my dollars been instantly liquidated? No. But I have sense that if America votes according to fear of loss we will be further down a slippery slope in 2 years. Why? Because it’s this exact fear that is crippling the system. How can we expect the cause to save the effect?

For wisdom is a defense, even as money is a defense; but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom preserveth the life of him that hath it. Ecc 7:12

I want to pose a question to all of us: “Will America’s morality be sacrificed if her bank accounts are?”

The Olive Reckoning

Okay so I’ve just finished my olive search, find, and tasting. Come to find out, the grocery store up the road has an impressive selection of Mediterranean cuisine. Okay, cuisine might be an overstatement, mostly it was just an olive bar with some red peppers, tomatoes, and something that should be illegal called Bocconini.

The results are as follows:

Garlic Stuffed- This was a large green olive stuffed with garlic (duh), grown in the northern regiImage and video hosting by TinyPicon of Greece. It had a very firm texture. After tasting, I was immediately greeted with an ocean wave of salt. I’m sure if a cow ate one of these olives it would immediately turn into beef jerky.  While the smell reminded me of the concentrated scent of every YMCA locker room in the Northwest, it didn’t taste as half as bad. Rating: 2 olives out of 5.

Stuffed Green Mamouth- ah yes, the love of the martini…lover. Think of the speared olive resting in the delicate martini glass of a James Bond girl. A large green olive with a sweet, meaty, pimento (red thingy that pokes out). I’ve decided that from now I will call the pimento the “Olive prairie dog”, because most people don’t know what pimento means. It was pretty much the same as the garlic olive; salty, green, big, and terrible. I wouldn’t recommend eating this olive before or during a first date. Rating: 2 olives out of 5.

Calabrese Style- a spicy styled olive, its heat derived from a chili marinade. This one had a “pit” in it. Now, I’d like to talk to the Senior Marketing Manager of Olives Worldwide and tell him that they shouldn’t have named the “seed” a “pit”. A pit, in my mind, is a trap that is deep and dark; a pit is something to apply deodorant to; a pit is not something I want to encounter while tasting food. This olive was like biting into a block of salt only to find an acorn in the middle. If the goal of this olive was to hide the spicy flavor with a metric ton of sodium, they were spot on. Rating: 1 olive out of 5

Kalamata – I saved the Kalamata for last because the first three were all green in color; which in my mind, olives should look like. However, the Kalamata is deep purple, which in my mind, olives shouldn’t look like. It had a much softer texture than the previous, and the taste was surprisingly the best of the 4 varieties I tried. Rating: 3 olives out of 5

My overall conclusion is that I can’t imagine where these odd flavors would fit into my diet and somehow add to the enjoyment of my food consumption. I’ll leave the olives to cultured folk for now.

Talk of Olives, Talk of Trees

I love Romans. But first,

Olive Update:I still have yet to commandeer a fine olive with which to enlighten my ignoble thoughts of this fruit. Sorry olive lovers.

Olives in Jesus’ day were a valuable commodity. They were used to make oil, medicine, and just plain eatin’.  An olive tree could take up to 15 years to produce fruit, and therefore, much thought went into the growing and cultivation of such trees. This tree is the zenith of plant longevity, some being dated as old as 1,500 years! From what I gather, our Middle Eastern friends are among top olive masters in the world.  I guess that’s not an odd thing, I mean, in Aladdin, there’s all sorts of dates, figs, and pistachios being sold in Agraba. Why not throw in some salty olives to munch on while you traverse the city?

When Paul talks about Israel and her ultimate destiny of salvation in Romans 11, he uses a metaphor drawn from this common tree of the day. He tells of some of the branches (the Jews) being broken off because of their unbelief and that we (Gentiles), being a wild olive tree (some wilder than others- ha), have been grafted in becoming partakers of the “root and fatness.”  Just say this phrase aloud to yourself, “I am a partaker of the root and fatness.” If it doesn’t make you laugh, go drink a bunch of coffee and try it again.

Paul calls Gentiles the “wild olive tree.” Some sources say that wild olive trees do not bear fruit. Which would make sense if you think of the majority of Old Testament Gentiles in the spiritual sense of bearing fruit. Mostly, they received a revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Rom 2:5). Of all the revelation to receive, this is one I’d rather be watching than experiencing. Other (more reliable) sources claim that wild olive trees bear fruit but it is much smaller than a cultivated tree. A man who grows olive trees in Tuscany Italy tells of his olive tree in which he actually grafted wild olive branches into a cultivated one. The result? An olive tree with branches that have smaller leaves and fruit.

I love this. Why? Because even though it is one tree, there are still branches that bear distinct fruit. We are one body in Christ, yet constitute separate parts that make up its whole. As we have been grafted into the root and fatness of the olive tree, we as Gentiles of various nations retain a calling before the Lord that is unique and valid.

More importantly, the natural branches of the olive tree do not change in their nature, value, or distinction. The Jewish people still retain their calling and gifts that were given by Lord. Not just calling and gifts, but the are a piece in the irrevocable, eternal plan, that was hidden in the heart of God from eternity past. One might become haughty and think himself a better branch than he who was broken off. Yet, the Lord is faithful to correct this unbridled arrogance and strengthen us in warning, “Do not be haughty, but fear.” The sting of the rod on our hind parts quickly subsides and, by the grace of God, something wise and prudent is implanted into our spirits – God has a future plan for the whole nation of Israel.  Therefore, let us join with Paul’s desire for all Israel to be saved; let us join with the Man Jesus who makes intercession for ones as these.  Let all of Israel be saved.

Some food for eternal damnation thought…

I’ve been throwing around some passages that I came across and I wanted some feedback.

Heaven and earth will be joined together in Christ (Eph. 1:10). But not just heaven as in the place of eternal bliss in the presence of God’s power, but the supernatural realm and the natural realm. There is more to the supernatural realm than angels and light; there is Sheol, demons, Satan etc. Simply put, the veil that is between the realm of the supernatural and the natural will be progressively lifted until there isn’t distinction (I am not suggesting that Christ and the redeemed will be one with darkness). I think that this process begins at the Great Tribulation not at the Second Coming.

..he [Satan] was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Rev. 12:9 (cf Dan 12:1)

Here both Satan and his demons are cast out of the second heaven. Now, I don’t necessarily think that the veil is rent and suddenly everyone can see demons and Satan, but I think it’s the first step in the deterioration of the supernatural and natural veil. I believe they leave heaven because they are invited to by humans through their demonic worship (see Rev. 9:20, 13:4). Whether humans can see demons or demons possess unbelievers and idols, or a little of both I’m not fully sure. But certainly something unprecedented is taking place when:

…[no] place was found for them in heaven any longer. Rev. 12:8

Okay so, back to my original point: the supernatural and natural realm will be joined together. Have you ever thought of where the Lake of fire actually is during the millennium and then in eternity? If the 2 become 1 (supernatural and natural) where does that put the darker side of the supernatural? Let’s look at what the Lord says about those who go there…

And a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If anyone does homage to the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His anger. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who do homage to the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. Rev 14:9-11

John sees that the sign of their torment (smoke) ascends forever and ever before the holy angels and the Lamb. Jesus will see, with his eyes, the torment of His enemies for eternity. But not just Jesus and the angels will be reminded, but the nations of the earth will be reminded of the price of rebellion.

And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. Isa 66:23-24

Jesus quotes Is 66:24 in Mark 9:44, 46, & 48 in relation to the place that souls go after going to Sheol. Implying that the torment of hell is temporary while the torment of the Lake of Fire will be eternal.

Where is it geographically that the nations traverse to come up to Jerusalem to worship before the King of Kings? I think its on the Is. 35:8 and Is. 19:23 highway (see also Zech. 14:16-21). But what nation do they pass?

For My sword is drenched in the heavens. Behold, it shall come down upon Edom, and upon the people of My curse, for judgment. The sword of Jehovah is filled with blood; it is made fat with fatness, with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams; for Jehovah has a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Edom. And the oryx shall come down with them, and the young bulls with the mighty; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of Jehovah’s vengeance, the year of retribution for the strife against Zion…

…hmm…sounds like Isaiah 63:1-6…

…and its streams shall be turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone, and its land shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night or day; its smoke shall ascend forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; no one shall pass through it forever and forever.
Isa 34:5-10

Edom, Bozrah (and Habakkuk adds Teman), are all in modern day Jordan, which is to the south of Israel. Jesus will sit in Jerusalem and be able to see the Lake of Fire where the Antichrist and the False prophet are (Rev. 19:20) for a thousand years before they are joined by all demons, Death, Hades, unbelievers, and Satan for eternity. And the kicker verse:

I have loved you, says Jehovah. Yet you say, In what way have You loved us? Was not Esau
(Edom – Gen 25:30) the brother to Jacob? says Jehovah; yet I loved Jacob, and I have hated Esau and have made his mountains and his inheritance a desolation for the jackals of the wilderness. Whereas Edom says, We are beaten down, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus says Jehovah of Hosts: They shall build, but I will tear down. And they shall call them the region of wickedness, and the people with whom Jehovah has indignation forever. And your eyes shall see, and you shall say, Jehovah will be magnified beyond the border of Israel. Mal 1:2-5

The Lake of Fire in Edom will serve as a reminder to the nations of the justice of God and His perfect rule while also reminding mankind of the price of rebellion. Some will inevitably ignore this reminder when they are deceived and gather against Jerusalem in Revelation 20:7-10 after the millennium.

see also: Jer 49:13-18

What do you think?


REAL olives

I am becoming enchanted by an odd fruit that I do not frequently enjoy – the olive. Now, I’m sure any olive connoisseur would happily tell me I’ve never had a real olive. I’m sure I haven’t. Mine come from ALDI, they’re dyed black, and have a not so subtle metallic flavor. I’m sure I haven’t had a real apple, or a real cup of coffee, or real possum stew either. My goal for this week is to eat a real olive without having to leave the country. Any help as to where I could procure such a novelty would be much appreciated.

VP debate 08 – Palin vs Biden

I didn’t get to watch the entire debate last night but I caught a little bit. It was mostly on tax cuts and the “he said, she said” stuff; which, when it comes to taxes, I find a bore. Although I see the importance of our economy my value system isn’t going to be readily tempeted by a bait of greed. Putting an extra $200 in my pocket at the end of the year isn’t nearly as import as whether or not my children will be taught in school to tolerate or practice homosexuality, overlook child murder, or have to use a gender neutral bathroom with those who are undecided.

cnn.com

Something else caught my attention in the next series of questions after the “Boston Tea Party” questions (from the transcripts at CNN.com).

IFILL: Governor, would you support expanding [the granting of same-sex benefits to couples] beyond Alaska to the rest of the nation?

PALIN: Well, not if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. And unfortunately that’s sometimes where those steps lead.

But I also want to clarify, if there’s any kind of suggestion at all from my answer that I would be anything but tolerant of adults in America choosing their partners, choosing relationships that they deem best for themselves, you know, I am tolerant and I have a very diverse family and group of friends and even within that group you would see some who may not agree with me on this issue, some very dear friends who don’t agree with me on this issue.

But in that tolerance also, no one would ever propose, not in a McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties.

But I will tell Americans straight up that I don’t support defining marriage as anything but between one man and one woman, and I think through nuances we can go round and round about what that actually means.

But I’m being as straight up with Americans as I can in my non- support for anything but a traditional definition of marriage.

Palin’s answer brought up some difficult questions in my own heart. I was not surprised by her response, and frankly, I don’t know what I’d say with so much on the line. I’ve never had to carry the weight of a nation, I’ve never had to stand in front of millions of Americans and answer questions concerning my moral convictions. Simply, I began to re-think my convictions.  What would I have said? Are those who are “tolerant” as guilty as the transgressor? Clearly Palin defined her ultimate conviction, “But I will tell Americans straight up that I don’t support defining marriage as anything but between one man and one woman.”

What do you think?

Communication and communion

I wouldn’t say that I am experienced. I wouldn’t boast that I have it all together. If I’ve learned anything right, it’s only from doing so many things wrong. Think of yourself 3 years ago. What is the image of the person that comes to your mind? For me, it’s of someone who is sincere in hunger for the Lord and has a desire to have a deep relationship with his wife; join that with a man who seems a little skiddish, maybe naive, and defintely full of ideals that had not yet been tested by time or experience. Three years from now, looking back, I wonder what my thoughts will be of this time now, as I write this.

Relationship with my wife ove the last 3 years of our marriage has been something of what I’d call a nonexchangeable revelation. To go from self sufficient, self reliant, and self absorbed, to poor, dependent, and still self absorbed (haha) has been quite a shock to my 23 year old experience. Entering marriage is like a frozen heart encountering a sudden flame. The heart feels excited by the warmth, but then begins to realize that it cannot turn off (or down) the burner.

As I introspectively analyzed our relationship last night while brushing my teeth, I was determined to find the most important thing in relationship. I thought about love.  Some might say love. But I’ve found that love is different than our society has portrayed. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love chooses meekness. Love is not found in sitcoms. After enjoying the refreshment that came from my Crest toothpaste jazzed with Scope, I came to the conclusion that the most important thing in any relationship is communication. Without communication I do not know my wife and she does not know me. Not just communication on deep heart issues (because mine can be few and far between); communication in all things.

Suddenly my scope (not my toothpaste, my internal view) widened, or maybe focused, on my life in the Lord. He is the Bridegroom and we are the Bride. Therefore, the most important aspect to building and maintaining our relationship with Him is communication. Unbroken, daily, hourly communication. They call this communion in the mystical circles. But it is not mystical at all, nor impractical. In fact, it is necessary for relational strengthening and depth. Communion with the Lord  can be thought of as communication with the Lord. Talking…it’s called prayer. Prayer is the most important thing in our relationship with the Lord. There is nothing that can replicate it or replace it. I cannot simply serve my wife instead of talking to her. I cannot simply mow the law instead of telling her I love her. There is nothing that grows a relationship like communication, and there is nothing that can destroy one like silence.