Bush’s Call for Reform Repeatedly Ignored

Despite what many would like for us to believe it looks like Bush has been trying to prevent the current mortgage crisis from the beginning of his admin.  Here is the story:

For many years the President and his Administration have not only warned of the systemic consequences of financial turmoil at a housing government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) but also put forward thoughtful plans to reduce the risk that either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac would encounter such difficulties.  President Bush publicly called for GSE reform 17 times in 2008 alone before Congress acted.  Unfortunately, these warnings went unheeded, as the President’s repeated attempts to reform the supervision of these entities were thwarted by the legislative maneuvering of those who emphatically denied there were problems.  

You can find a complete list HERE.

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The King of Comedy, Joe Biden

One of the big surprises of this political season has been the sideshow entertainment provided by Joe Biden.  There is so much material on Biden that I had a hard time deciding which gaffe to focus on.  So how about this one:

Vice presidential candidate Joe Biden says today’s leaders should take a lesson from the history books and follow fellow Democrat
“When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, ‘Look, here’s what happened,'” Barack Obama’s running recently told the “CBS Evening News.”

Except, Republican Herbert Hoover was in office when the stock market crashed in October 1929.

Biden would go on to say:

“Part of what being a leader does is to instill confidence, is to demonstrate what he or she knows what they are talking about and to communicating to people … this is how we can fix this,” Biden said.

I feel confident, dont you?

How to Endure Difficulties (pt. 5)

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

I. The Humble Purpose for Our Difficulties (vv. 7-12)      
a. to display the power of God
b. to reveal the life of Jesus

II. The Glorious Motivation for Endurance (vv. 13-18)

a. belief in future resurrection

b. belief in future transformation

The second belief that motivated Paul was his belief in future transformation.  We see this in vv. 16-18 where it says, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 

Again we see Paul’s endurance on display.  Despite all the afflictions that Paul had faced he had not lost heart.  This is amazing since his “outer man” was literally wasting away.  In other words, from a physical standpoint Paul was decaying.  Because of all that he had been through he was no doubt old beyond his years, and his life was not getting any easier.  He bore the scars of beatings.  He was imprisoned, shipwrecked, and left for dead.  From a physical stand point Paul was spent.  However, Paul didn’t look at things from a physical standpoint.  Paul understood that even though his physical body was breaking down, from a spiritual standpoint he was being built up. 

From the standpoint of his physical mortality Paul was breaking down.  His body was getting older.  He was not able to do the things that he had once done.  However, from the standpoint of his spiritual life Paul was being renewed everyday.  He was growing in wisdom through his trials.  He was gaining victory over sin.  He was growing closer to the Lord as he spent his life in service to the gospel.

Paul was able to look beyond the physical struggles that he faced to see the spiritual benefit that he was receiving.  We have a hard time looking at life in this way.  When we are tired, or sick, or our bodies just are not reacting the way that we want we often become discouraged.  In these times of discouragement we must remind ourselves that even though our bodies are falling apart we can still continue to grow closer to the Lord. 

Furthermore, it was no coincidence that Paul was physically wasting away and spiritually renewed day by day.  The Scriptures make it clear that the two are directly related.  James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  Romans 5:3-4 says, “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope….”  Thus, through our suffering God works in our life to make us more mature.  This is the process of progressive sanctification.  God works in our life through His Word, His Spirit, His Church, and our circumstances to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ.  Paul understood this process and he knew that God was using the difficulties in his life as a part of this transformation.  This is why he did not lose heart.   

In addition to the progressive transformation that was occurring in Paul’s life, Paul also understood that this progressive sanctification would eventually lead to his ultimate sanctification.  That is his glorification; when he would finally be completely transformed in the image of his Savior.  Paul makes this point in v. 17.  Literally this verse could be translated “this momentary lightness of affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”  You can see the irony in this statement; the lightness is preparing for us weight.  The word translated here as “lightness” (ἐλαφρὸν) means to have little weight, to be easy, or to be insignificant.  On the other hand the word translated “weight” (βάρος) refers to something extremely heavy or oppressive.  To Paul the difficulties of life were lightweight compared to the final transformation that lies ahead of us.    

By saying this Paul is not trying to demean or diminish our struggles.  In fact, if anyone knew just how difficult life could be it was Paul.  However, he viewed these difficulties with an eternal perspective.  He was able to speak of all that he had been through as if it were no problem because of this perspective.  He had a vision for God’s glory and his future that overshadowed any trial that he had ever faced.  He knew that in the resurrection to come he would receive a new body, and he would be with God forever.  If it meant that he had to endure through a few light difficulties to experience this overwhelming glory, then so be it.

If we could just instill this same vision for the future in our brains then we, like Paul, would be able to “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  The difficulties that we face are only for a time.  They are momentary and fleeting.  These difficulties will, in the near future, lead to eternal benefits.  This is what motivated Paul to endure in his gospel ministry, and it must be our motivation as well if we want to endure in our gospel ministry.       

 

Conclusion:

            Ultimately the Apostle Paul’s ministry had more of a lasting effect than anyone other than Christ himself.  This was because he endured through the difficulties and continued to faithfully proclaim the gospel message.  If we are going to be effective disciples of Christ then we too must endure through the difficulties of ministry.  This is a daunting task.  Maybe you’re a Sunday school teacher who just got a new boss at work and you are feeling the pressure to fudge on your preparation time to impress him.  Maybe after a long day of watching the kids the last thing that you want to do when your husband gets home is go to church and serve the body of Christ.  Or, maybe you are just too scared to face the repercussions of sharing the Gospel with unbelievers around you.  Whatever the difficulties may be, or whatever the ministry is we cannot allow ourselves to be distracted from ministering the gospel.  If the apostle Paul viewed prison, torture, and death as light weight how much lighter are the difficulties that we face?  

When life gets difficult we must remain faithful to our gospel ministry.  This is not easy, but by God’s grace it is possible.  Through the life and pen of the apostle Paul God has revealed to us the keys to endurance.  If we are going to endure the difficulties of Gospel ministry then we must understand that God’s power is revealed through our weakness, and we must be motivated by our future.  

How to Endure Difficulties (pt. 4)

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

I. The Humble Purpose for Our Difficulties (vv. 7-12)      
a. to display the power of God
b. to reveal the life of Jesus

II. The Glorious Motivation for Endurance (vv. 13-18)

a. belief in future resurrection

Now that we have seen the purpose behind the difficulties that we face in ministry Paul will reveal to us the proper motivation for endurance in Gospel ministry.  This proper motivation is found in vv. 13-18.  Here the apostle Paul reveals what kept him going in ministry, and if we will follow Paul’s example then it can keep us going as well. 

In v. 13 Paul writes, “But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak….”  From this we see that Paul continued to “speak” because he believed.  This speaking, of course, refers to the proclamation of the gospel.  He continued to preach because of his conviction in the message.   

To make this point Paul quoted from Psalm 116:10 saying that he has the same spirit of faith that the psalmist had.  In this context “spirit” (πνεῦμα) is not referring to the Holy Spirit but rather to the disposition, or character of Paul and the psalmist.  This means that Paul and the psalmist were two similar guys.  They both faced affliction.  We saw this of Paul in vv. 8-9, and in Psalm 116:3 the psalmist says that “The snares of death encompassed me….”  Yet, both of these men were able to endure this affliction.  Thus, both men exhibited an amazing endurance, and Psalm 116:10 reveals what motivated this endurance.  Both Paul and the psalmist were motivated to endure by a fervent belief in God.  This belief is what caused them to step out and proclaim the truth of God.  In fact, Paul’s belief was so motivating that he could not imagine not proclaiming it to all who would listen.  In 1 Corinthians 9:16 he said, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.”

Paul’s belief was rooted in all that God had done for him up to that point, however it also looked beyond what God had done in the past to what God would do in the future.  In face, in vv. 14-18 we see that this belief about the future focused specifically on two aspects of the future.

First, in vv. 14-15 we see that Paul was motivated by a belief in a future resurrection.  Paul writes, “Knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.” 

This theme of future resurrection was not only vital to Paul’s endurance, but it is also vital to the gospel itself.  Without the resurrection there would be no Gospel. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 Paul said to the Corinthians, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures….”  By the power of God Jesus was raised, and this resurrection proved that He is God, that His atonement was successful, and finally that we too will be raised up with Him.  This was the hope that Paul depended on to sustain him in the midst of great difficulties.  Paul was willing to be “given over to death” because he knew that by the same power that his Savior was resurrected he too would be resurrected.

What made this resurrection even sweeter was the fact that Paul would experience this resurrection with his Savior and with his fellow Christians.  Paul was eagerly anticipating the day when all of God’s people will be presented together before the throne of God, and he was even more eager to make sure that the Corinthians would be a part of this future resurrection.  In fact, Paul told the Corinthians that “all of this” was for their sake.  In other words, Paul endured in his gospel ministry because he believed in a future resurrection and he didn’t want the Corinthians to miss out on that resurrection. 

Paul knew that the grace of God through the gospel was extending to more and more people.  As a result of this there was more and more thanksgiving.  This thanksgiving would ultimately result in the glory of God.  This is what Paul has in mind in v. 15.  You can almost picture the scene from Revelation 7:9-10:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

Paul did not want the Corinthians, or anyone for that matter, missing out on this glorious future.  In 11:2 Paul would later say, “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.” 

Paul’s belief in a future resurrection motivated him to endure in his gospel ministry.  Paul understood that the difficulties he faced were insignificant in light of the eternal glory that he would experience.  He was never overwhelmed by the difficulties of this life because of the vision that he had for the future. 

As we face daunting trials, difficult people, and struggles with sin we too must hold on to this vision of future resurrection.  For if we believe as Paul believed, then we will be able to endure as Paul endured.

Economic Ups and Downs

Yesterday a lot of bad things happened in our economy.  But what we must remember is that our system still works, and this is just a part of the proccess.  As evidence of this fact check out this “not-so-bad” result of yesterday’s fall out in this story:

Oil prices plummeted Tuesday, falling briefly below $92 a barrel and reflecting market fears that the U.S. credit crisis which brought down brokerage giant Lehman Brothers will drag on global economic growth and restrain demand for crude.

OPEC’s production cut of 520,000 barrels a day earlier this month has failed to stem the decline. The 13-nation group said oil demand in the U.S. fell by 800,000 barrels a day last month due to the slow economy and high retail prices.

And in its monthly report, it said that overall less additional oil was needed on the market, noting that – although the world’s appetite for crude grew by an additional 900,000 barrels a day this year, that was 100,000 barrels less than what was estimated before the onset of the world’s economic malaise.

 Once all the dust settles from Ike we should see the benefits of this decrease in demand.  If this kind of decrease in demand can play a part in affecting prices like this then imagine how much domestic drilling would affect prices.

How to Endure Difficulties (pt. 3)

I apologize that it is taking me so long to get through this serious on endurance.  I have had sevearl other things come up that have sidetracked me, but today we will stay on topic.

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

I. The Humble Purpose for Our Difficulties (vv. 7-12)      
a. to display the power of God

b. to reveal the life of Jesus

In vv. 10-12 the apostle Paul takes all of the paradoxes that he listed in the previous verses and sums them up in one final paradox.  Paul sums it up by saying that he was “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”  

In this final paradox Paul explains more specifically how we reveal the power of God through the difficulties that we face. 

First, Paul says that he was “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus ….”  But what does this mean?  Well, the word that is translated here as “dying” is not the normal word that would be used to refer to death.  When Paul uses this word he does not have in mind the death of Jesus, but rather the events leading up to the death of Jesus.  One commentator put it this way, “Paul uses νέκρωσις in v. 10 to portray not a single event (the death of Jesus), but a prolonged process, the course of events leading up to Jesus’ death or the daily trials and hardships that befell Jesus as an itinerant preacher….[1]  This means that when Paul said that he was “carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus” he meant that he faced persecution, hardship, and difficulties just like Jesus did.  We saw this in vv. 8-9.  Additionally, it is not just Paul who faced these kinds of difficulties; the scriptures are clear that all ministers of the gospel will face these kinds of difficulties.  Jesus said in John 15:20 that “if they persecuted me they will also persecute you.”  In Luke 9:23 he said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” All followers of Jesus will encounter these afflictions in some way, but the apostle Paul in particular knew what it was to bear the afflictions of Christ.  He was able to bear this burden because he understood what the result would be. 

Paul tells us that through “carrying about in the body the dyiung of Jesus… the life of Jesus [was] manifested.”  The life that Paul speaks of is the life that belongs to Jesus.  This life represents the very essence of God’s power because even though Jesus was led to the cross and crucified he was raised to life by the Father.  It is through this life that spiritual life has been revealed to us.  By the sacrificial death and divine resurrection we can escape the deadly results of sin.  Really, Paul is simply using the phrase “life of Jesus” as short-hand for the gospel message he had been called to proclaim.  Thus, a major part of Paul’s gospel ministry centered on the difficulties that he was forced to endure.  Through these difficulties the gospel message was proclaimed.  By enduring, Paul was able to be a part of the glorious gospel ministry.  What is so ironic about this is what Paul emphasizes in v. 11. 

In v. 11 Paul again emphasizes his participation in gospel ministry, and this time makes it a point to emphasize that this participation occurred in “our mortal flesh.”  This last phrase, ἐν τῇ θνητῇ σαρκὶ, refers to the physical body, and it does so in such a way so as to highlight the weakness of mankind.  “Our mortal flesh” is that exact opposite of the “life of Jesus.”  It reminds us that we are transitory, finite, weak, feeble creatures, yet we are able to reveal the eternal life of Jesus.  Truly this is a testament to the power of God.  Only God could use such weak and feeble creatures to proclaim such a powerful truth.  If we were powerful beings who never had any troubles with anything it wouldn’t take the power of God to spread the gospel.  This is why we must face difficulties.  Our suffering and our weaknesses play such an intricate role in gospel ministry.  

Paul brings home his point in v. 12, where he reminded the Corinthians that “death works in us, but life in you.”  The false teachers had made the Corinthians doubt Paul’s ministry credibility because of the afflictions that had come upon him.  However, Paul is quick to point out that it was through these afflictions that the Corinthians had received the life of Jesus.  If Paul would have quit then the gospel would not have made it to Corinth (1:6).  But he did not quit.  He endured all of these afflictions so that the Corinthians could receive the gospel.  To use Paul’s words, death was at work in Paul, and because of this life was at work in the Corinthians.  This was the glorious result of all these difficulties!  

As we reflect on vv. 7-12 it is plain to see that there is a purpose for the difficulties that we face as we seek to serve the Lord.  That purpose is to demonstrate the power of God.  Specifically, our difficulties demonstrate the power of God by revealing the life of Jesus.  If we never face any difficulties or afflictions in our life then people might look to us and credit us with the power.  However, when the world sees God continually delivering us, providing for us, and comforting us it will become clear that the power belongs to Him not us.     Additionally, the message of the gospel will take center stage rather than our own abilities, gifts, or effectiveness.  Therefore, if we want to endure in gospel ministry and effectively spread the message of Jesus then we must accept the difficulties that we face and understand the humble purpose for those difficulties (I call it humble because it is not about us, it is about displaying the power of God through the life of Jesus to the world around us.) 


[1]Murray J. Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 345.