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Guest authors provide news and commentary.
Posted 12/13/13 at 11:00 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices
By Philipp Bagus
A paper currency system contains the seeds of its own destruction. The temptation for the monopolist money producer to increase the money supply is almost irresistible. In such a system with a constantly increasing money supply and, as a consequence, constantly increasing prices, it does not make much sense to save in cash to purchase assets later. A better strategy, given this senario, is to go into debt to purchase assets and pay back the debts later with a devalued currency. Moreover, it makes sense to purchase assets that can later be pledged as collateral to obtain further bank loans. A paper money system leads to excessive debt.
This is especially true of players that can expect that they will be bailed out with newly produced money such as big businesses, banks, and the government.
We are now in a situation that looks like a dead end for the paper money system. After the last cycle, governments have bailed out malinvestments in the private sector and boosted their public welfare spending. Deficits and debts skyrocketed. Central banks printed money to buy public debts (or accept them as collateral in loans to the banking system) in unprecedented amounts. Interest rates were cut close to zero. Deficits remain large. No substantial real growth is in sight. At the same time banking systems and other financial players sit on large piles of public debt. A public default would immediately trigger the bankruptcy of the banking sector. Raising interest rates to more realistic levels or selling the assets purchased by the central bank would put into jeopardy the solvency of the banking sector, highly indebted companies, and the government. It looks like even the slowing down of money printing (now called “QE tapering”) could trigger a bankruptcy spiral. A drastic reduction of government spending and deficits does not seem very likely either, given the incentives for politicians in democracies. FULL POST
Posted 12/12/13 at 11:41 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices
By Stephen Altrogge
Sometimes I think my heart is two times too small.
Don’t get me wrong, I really do like Christmas. I like getting together with my family to open presents and sit around the tree and watch reruns of Seinfeld and The Andy Griffith Show. I’m happy when it snows on Christmas. I like seeing tastefully decorated houses. Heck, I even like some Christmas music (don’t get me started on “Mary Did You Know?”).
But Christmas often brings out the gloomy side of me as well. I’m reminded of one of my favorite families who, because of cancer, no longer has a dad around the house. I’m reminded of some of my favorite people who, after many years of patiently waiting, are still single. I’m reminded of my sister, who has been dealing with migraine headaches for years without much relief. I’m reminded of my own ongoing battles with intense physical anxiety.
After the tree is down and the wrapping paper put away and the music silenced and the egg nog polished off, all the problems still remain. I think one of the reasons we cling so tightly to Christmas is that it helps us forget about our problems for awhile. For a few, brief days, everything seems as it should be. We long for a white Christmas because the snow covers up all the mud and muck. FULL POST
Posted 12/12/13 at 11:17 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices
By Joe McKeever
“So amid the conflict, whether great or small, do not be discouraged God is over all…”
It’s a conflict, storm, nightmare, or maybe just a small flareup. To anyone else, it might be nothing, but to you it is serious business. Anything could happen, and you want to be very careful and to handle this well. See if any of this helps….
Someone came up to me Tuesday evening at the conclusion of my fifth and final Christmas dinner/banquet where I had tried to draw everyone present and deliver a message on living by faith.
“You have no idea how appropriate your message was for us tonight. It was sent from God.”
That’s what keeps preachers going. It’s better than any tonic.
How does that line go? Everyone is either just coming out of a battle, in the middle of a battle, or about to go into one. FULL POST
Posted 12/11/13 at 11:50 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices
By David Murray
Most people think that sinning is the best way to happiness. Otherwise, why would so many spend their days figuring out how to sin bigger and better?
However, sin is the greatest enemy to our happiness, as the Puritan Ralph Venning convincingly demonstrated many years ago. His teaching is summarized below, but his aim in it all was to show that sin is directly “against man’s good, both present and future, here in time and hereafter to eternity, in this life and world which now is and in that to come. It is against all and every good of man, and against the good of all and every man.”
1. It is against God and therefore against ourselves. Sin is our enemy because it is against God, and separates us from God, who is our greatest good and joy. FULL POST
Posted 12/10/13 at 5:34 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices
By Joe McKeever
I sat in the congregation listening to the Christmas sermon. Something was missing and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
The minister selected one aspect of the Christmas story and read the text, then brought his sermon from it. His points were properly related to the text and no doubt most people in the worship center felt satisfied that they had been spiritually fed. It was only later that something occurred to me, what was the missing ingredient in that morning’s service.
The worship leader and musicians and the pastor all drew our attention back to that night in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago, and they did a fair job of opening the text, explaining its message, and praising the Lord. But they omitted one major element as far as I could tell. FULL POST
Posted 12/10/13 at 4:55 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices
By David Murray
Many moons ago I used to enjoy Crimewatch, a TV program that specialized in using Identikit software to produce composite pictures of criminals based on various eyewitness accounts. It was fascinating to watch the picture put together on screen; first the hair, then the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the ears, and so on. With the reach and leverage of a TV program, the criminals were often rapidly identified and the following week the real picture was placed beside the composite, usually revealing remarkable similarity.
So, what if we put together a composite of the perfect pastor; what would he look like? Here’s a composite of the best bits of the best pastors I’ve known.
Mind: He is educated in the Scriptures, the historic Confessions, and contemporary issues. He’s not only educated, though, he’s also wise and remains teachable; quite a rare combination. FULL POST
Posted 12/9/13 at 12:12 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices
By Joe McKeever
“On the first day of the week, let every one of you….” (I Corinthians 16:2)
A heavy snowfall had paralyzed the city. By church time only the janitor and the preacher had shown up. As they stood there, trying to decide what to do, the pastor said, “People today just aren’t as dedicated as they should be.” The janitor said, “No sir, and we wouldn’t be here either if they didn’t pay us!”
Today, the second Sunday of December, I’m at the halfway point of five banquets in a six-day period.
Thursday night, it was the “President’s Christmas Dinner” at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.” I wasn’t the speaker or anything, but they set me up a table and I sketched a lot of people. Then, the next night, after driving nearly 400 miles, I did the annual “pastors and wives Christmas banquet” for two associations around Minden, Louisiana where my buddy Randy Hales is the director of missions. I sketched nonstop for a couple of hours and did my stories for 30 minutes and drew some more, then drove over two hours back to Vicksburg, Mississippi where I’d reserved a room. Came home Saturday. Then, that night, I did the “Christmas family dinner” a few blocks from my house for Grace Community Bible Church, drawing everyone and sharing my stories. FULL POST
Posted 12/6/13 at 6:01 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices
By David Murray
Psychologist Daniel Goleman describes our seemingly hedonistic age as “The age of melancholy” and blames the pervasive sadness on technology. He is quoted in this New Scientist article by Amichai-Hamburger (seriously!) which shares Goleman’s view of technological oppression and and proposes the solution of self-determination theory(SDT). SDT "identifies three vital elements of healthy personal development and functioning which can be used to calibrate our relationship with technology."
The first is autonomy – the feeling that our activities are self-chosen and self-endorsed. When we feel in control, we are able to organise our priorities and place effective boundaries around them. FULL POST
Posted 12/6/13 at 4:01 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices
By Phillip Jensen
‘Outsourcing’ is an ‘in’ word. It used to be only a business word but now is spreading into life itself. Today people are outsourcing their life.
For some time the business world has used the term to talk of buying goods and services from outside suppliers. Rather than using in-house employees to undertake all the tasks of the business, the company will turn to external suppliers and ’outsource’ the work. This enables the business to concentrate on the core activities and allow experts to provide assistance in areas that are marginal to the business. The classic outsourcing is Information Technology. Many businesses do not have the expertise to set up and maintain their own Information Technology, so they subcontract this work out to experts.
While it is fashionable to speak of outsourcing, there's nothing new in it - nor is it an evil that must be resisted. The whole of society is built upon outsourcing. Without outsourcing, people have to live in a subsistence economy, where each citizen grows their own food, builds their own house, makes their own clothes and provides everything for himself or herself. As soon as we move to any division of labour we have started the process of outsourcing. From the division of domestic duties, to the selling of goods with neighbours, to the trade between businesses, society is built on outsourcing. FULL POST
Posted 12/6/13 at 1:33 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices
By Joe McKeever
“That is one of the reasons I believe in Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed.”– C. S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity”
Nothing about the Christian faith is as we might have expected. Get into the business of a virgin birth, a sinless life, a vicarious death, and a resurrection, and have it happen to a Jew in First Century Roman-dominated Judea and all bets are off.
Consider just the unexpectedness of the Christmas event itself, the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
1) Matthew 1
–The lineage of Jesus contains an interesting lineup of characters, including several women of questionable character: Tamar who seduced her father-in-law, Rahab the prostitute of Jericho, Ruth who was the subject of gossip in Bethlehem, Bathsheba who was the “other woman” of David’s fall from grace, and of course, Mary herself, the target of malicious gossips throughout Nazareth. FULL POST