Why Is The Gospel Good News To The Poor ?

In first century Judaism era, the RICH were the Jewish high-priestly families who oppressed the lower clergy, landowners who abused the tenants and hired laborers, the merchants who controlled the economy, and those who aligned with the political authorities with much economic privileges.  The POOR were small landowners whose livelihood depended on the small harvest, tenant farmers, hired laborers, fishermen, carpenters, slaves and beggars. The poor were further oppressed by various tithes and exorbitant taxes.  We could classify the poor then as those who were economic poor and had low and insignificant social status.

Our Lord’s manifesto was to share the gospel to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Luke 4:18-19.

We can easily see why the gospel was Good News to the poor then.  Judaism preached salvation through works of the law in which the poor were so oppressed by the numerous religious laws, while the gospel preached salvation by faith alone in Christ Jesus.  All, rich and poor, would be brothers in the Kingdom of God and should take care of one another. There was no longer lowly or insignificant social status but the most prestigious and precious status of the sons and daughters of God the Almighty.

But to the rich then, it was not exactly Good News.  They would have to deny themselves and give up the hold of possessions. Luke 14:26,27,33.  Though it was difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, it was not impossible. Mark 10:25, 27.  The deceitfulness of wealth and the love of money only made it so much more difficult for the rich.  Matt 13:22.  The Scripture gave us two contrasting examples of two rich persons deliberating over their decision to follow Jesus. Luke 18:16-22; 19:1-10.  Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, responded with faith in Christ Jesus and make light of his possessions instantly, while the rich young ruler was reluctant to give up his possessions to follow Jesus.

Sadly in most of Christendom today, the decision to follow Jesus for the wealthy does not include deliberating over the cost of discipleship and making the resolve to accept the terms.  Luke 14:26,27,33.  The poor has little resistance to accept the discipleship terms because they do not have the social status and possessions in the first place to give up in order to follow Jesus.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Lamentations 3:22-23

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; 

His mercies never come to an end; 

They are new every morning; great is (thy) faithfulness.

Chorus :

Great is Thy faithfulness. (4x)

Make Me A Servant

(Singing a new melody with the wonderful lyrics of the above-mentioned song by Kelly Willard.)

E                    A           B                    E

Make me a servant humble and meek

                     A           B                      E

Lord, let me lift up those who are weak

   A           B                  G#m             C#m

May the prayer of my heart always be

  A                     B        E             E7

Make me a servant today (2X)

Pandemic Relief Ministry (2)

In August 2019 while attending a NGO staff conference in which I shared the gospel with the staff, I went to check out a ministry in Siem Reap.  The local pastor is now serving with a Korean missionary and has planted a local church some 30km from Siem Reap. 

In these latter days, we are told by our Lord to care for God’s people, especially the least of them. Matt 25:33-46.  By the grace and provision from our Lord,  JC’s Manifesto is thankful to be able to bring a little cheer to the brothers and sisters in this church through distributing some basic necessities to them.  All thanks and glory to our Lord Jesus.

Water Baptism Ministry

1 Cor 1:14-17

My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel…

Like St Paul, I had focused on evangelistic missions given by the Lord over the years.  Though I had planted or built up certain local churches overseas, the task of baptism was performed by the elders.  I did baptize two local dying elderly persons a decade ago. In the last three years where I served in a local congregation, I only baptized another 2 elderly persons.  Like St Paul, the Lord forbid that I should ever entertain the thought of ownership of the flock. It is human weakness for church members to identify and follow leaders like Paul or Apollos thereby causing a sectarian spirit in the church as seen in the example of the Corinthian church, or vice versa for the church elder or pastor to assume ownership of the church or to lord over the members as his subordinate followers whom he baptizes.

How Do We React To God’s Calamitous Judgment ?

The book of Habakkuk gave us the answer.   Habakkuk complained twice and the Lord answered him twice.  He complained initially on why God had allowed sin to be so rampant in Judah and did not act.  Later when God answered him that he would judge very soon and he complained again on why God would send the Chaldeans, a god-less people who was the epitome of all who opposed Him, to deliver the judgment of Judah.  God answered again that He would also judge the Chaldeans.

Despite all these judgments, God assured Habakkuk that the just would be justified and preserved by faith; and that He will be in complete control.

When Habakkuk caught a glimpse of God’s holiness,  his subsequent godly responses gave us a paradigm on how believers should respond when bad things happen to them.

An article by Irv Busenitz summarized the response well.

  1. Relate the matter to God.
  2. Recognize our own weakness.
  3. Review the greatness of God.
  4. Reaffirm our faith in God.
  5. Rest in the strength of God.

Habakkuk’s prayer in Hab 3 is the most appropriate response towards calamitous judgment such as the current pandemic.  One striking part of the prayer is that Habakkuk would still rejoice even if severe famine hit.

“I have heard all about you, Lord. I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy… PESTILENCE marches before him; PLAGUE follows close behind. When he stops, the earth shakes. When he looks, the nations tremble. He shatters the everlasting mountains and levels the eternal hills. He is the Eternal One!.. You marched across the land in anger and trampled the nations in your fury. You went out to rescue your chosen people, to save your anointed ones. You crushed the heads of the wicked and stripped their bones from head to toe.  Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord!  I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.”

The Rev 18 Judgment Of Babylon

How will our Lord judge Babylon by destroying all wealth in one hour as revealed in Rev 18:17 ?

I am convinced that Babylon is America and is represented by New York City.  It is the haunt of every unclean bird, animal and spirit.  Many nations grow rich because of her.  She leads the global alliance of governments (kings of the earth), global companies and all small and medium enterprises in the global supply chain (merchants) and the global shipping lines and ports cum financial centers (those who make their living by the sea) engaged in globalized trade.  Rev 18.  When God judges Babylon, these three groups allied with her will weep as described in Rev 18.

Since the 2008 Great Recession,  the major economies have intervened so much in the financial system and caused so much imbalance which I believe the damage is irreversible. 

The current lockdown in many nations as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic has disrupted the supply chain badly and the energy crisis is compounding the problem further.  Prior to the pandemic, the US was already staring at the collapse of the financial system and had to do QE to the tune of trillions of dollars.  The pandemic induced economic slowdown was the good excuse to do so because the other major economies would also face similar economic slowdown and would have done the same, and the dollar would be relatively unscathed. 

In 2020, the income of 50% of all American workers was USD 34,612 or less.  While the elites and their corporations are amassing so much wealth through manipulation of the financial system with all kinds of tools such as QE, repo, reverse repo, bond purchases and backstopping of all bonds.  The poor and rich divide could not have been greater at all times.  The current supply chain disruption and the energy crisis will cause the relative poor further pain through high inflation.  The financial collapse will happen sooner or later and chaos will erupt.  The elites have the most to lose if it happens.  So it is better for the elites to be prepared now through using political, financial and military tools to prevent the collapse and to control the relative dissenting poor.  We are actually seeing such preparation as the US and her allies continue to make use of digitization technologies to control the supply chain and pass discriminatory laws to exert total control over the population in the name of protecting public health.  (In contrast, China invests in the physical production of every link in the supply chain of products and energy.)

Charles Hugh Smith in his blog explained that the current exponential bull market run is caused by the Fed incentivizing the biggest gamblers that they will be bailed out, should they somehow lose, by offering them unlimited lines of credit and eliminate transparency in market pricing to mask their losses. This implicit guarantee that any bet on markets lofting higher will be a winning gamble rewards those making the riskiest bets. All the risks piling up as trillions of dollars are leveraged into ever larger can’t-lose bets have not evaporated, they’ve been transferred to the financial system. So when risk exceeds the carrying capacity of the system, it will be the system which implodes, not just punters’ riskiest, most highly leveraged bets.

Since the Lord has already foretold that He will judge Babylon by destroying all wealth in Rev 18:17,  it will happen.  Governments will not be able to control trigger events like an earthquake hitting a major financial city, or solar flare disrupting all transformers, or global coordinated cyber attack, etc.  How will our Lord destroy all wealth ?  Will it be a system implosion ? Wil it be a calamitious natural disaster ? How can we weather this event and even rejoice over His judgment ?  Rev 18:19. 

The Dollar Collapse Preparation

This is the summary of another article on preparation in anticipation of the US dollar collapse, Dollar Collapse Preparation Plan, by Mr Jim Rickards.  His free report can be found in https://dailyreckoning.com.

There are four scenarios that can usher in the collapse –  inflation, deflation, market collapse and financial warfare.

Inflation

In the scenario of inflation, it is simply the value of your money is diminishing.  Between 1977 to 1981, the US dollar lost half of its value in just five years.  The losers will be those who hold dollar deposit, insurance, retirement income, pensions, annuities and savings.  That is, any kind of fixed dollar amount is going to devalue in the event of inflation.  Presently with so much printing of money by the Federal Reserve and yet there seems to be very little inflation.  But it can come suddenly and we have to be ready for it.

Deflation

Deflation is the opposite of inflation.  Money actually worth more while other asset classes lose value. But governments hate deflation because the value of their debts goes up.  For people who borrow a lot from the bank to buy houses for example, and the value of the houses go down,  they will be caught with margin call from the bank.

Market Collapse

We had seen three such collapses in 1998, 2001 and 2008.  In 2008, people lost 50% of the value of their stocks and houses. And it came very quickly and almost out of nowhere.  Contagion can happen very quickly.  When the subprime loans were having problem, the US hedge funds were selling Japanese stocks to raise cash for margin call.  That is the kind of contagion which cause other stock markets to suffer as well.

Financial Warfare

Inflation, deflation and market collapse have happened before.  But financial warfare is new.   The British ever blockaded France during the Napoleonic wars to cut off French access to imported goods and war materials.  In the current environment, states can use stocks, bonds, commodities, derivatives and foreign exchange to fight other enemy states.  Financial warfare can also include cyber-warfare to hack computer systems. Today, we are so digitized that if these computer systems running the economy are hacked, everything can be brought to a halt.

Sidestepping The Crisis

In 1920, the Weimar Republic of Germany was the best example of a major industrialized economy that faced hyperinflation in history.  A load of bread, which used to cost one Reich mark, eventually cost 4 trillion marks.  Outrageous, isn’t it ?  One German guy, Hugo Stinnes, made a fortune instead and became the richest German then in 1922.  He had the right assets in energy and transportation.  If you have these hard assets such as factories,  you don’t get wiped out.   So how do we diversify ?  We can start with 10 to 20% of our investment portfolio in gold.  Gold is physical and not digital and cannot be wiped out unlike being in the digital accounts in banks.  Gold is a very good insurance policy. Gold should be kept in independent storage places and not in banks in case banks get closed down.  Keep some cash as part of the portfolio.  It is a good deflation hedge.  Gold and cash are hedges against inflation and deflation respectively.  Cash can also give us opportunity to buy important assets at the right price. We can keep money in the bank up to the insured limit only.  Investing in energy and transportation assets are great hedges against inflation. 

The Financial System Collapse Explained

What I am trying to do here is to summarize the main points made in the article “Rickards’ reaction : a model for predicting financial collapse” written by Mr Jim Rickards.  The free article can be found in www.dailyreckoning.com. In his model known as REACTION, there are five stages of collapse –  RE-pricing, ACceleration, Transmission, Irrationality and Oblivion.  It is a good explanation of what will happen in each of these stages. 

Stage 1 : Re-pricng

A market meltdown occurs with the rapid re-pricing of a particular instrument or asset class.  Take for an example in Tesla.  Presently it is so over-valued even though the company is losing billions of dollars and running on unpayable debt.  One day, if a prominent analyst can report that it is destroying value and heading towards bankruptcy and the stock will crash suddenly and dramatically.  Other triggers can be an election result or a criminal complaint.  Wishful expectation can outweigh reality at the moment but when reality takes over,  the asset will be re-priced. 

Stage 2 : Acceleration

Acceleration happens when a repricing overshoots the new reality and continues based on momentum and market dynamics.  The main causes are margin, leverage and stop losses.  Leverage are basically bets in markets.  An explicit leverage appears on the balance sheet in the form of bank loans, repurchase agreements or securities lending agreements.  An implicit leverage exists off balance sheet in the form of derivatives such as options, swaps or futures.  As a result, such leverage amplifies whatever non leverage gain or loss made in markets. To prevent such heavy losses, such bets made by funds can be automated to conduct selling.  And different levels of stop loss selling can be activated as a result as one level selling triggers another and spiraling downwards can happen as a result.  The most famous example was the Oct 1987 stock market crash known as “Black Monday”.  Dow fell 22.6%.  Much of the selling pressure came from automated “portfolio insurance” programs.

Stage 3 : Transmission

The next stage, transmission or commonly known as contagion, occurs when disruptions in one market spread to other markets which seem unrelated or uncorrelated with the initial market.  Take the example of the 2008 crisis.  The crisis was caused by subprime loans in the US.  Because the US hedge funds were unable to off-load the toxic mortgages,  they had to sell their holding of Japanese stocks to raise cash to meet margin calls on the mortgages.  Today, the markets are so densely connected and so contagion will affect all markets altogether.

Stage 4 : Irrationality

Investors know that at the end, only cash is money and all stocks and bonds are merely assets.  When contagion happens, investors may panic and want to convert all assets into money by selling all their assets.  Panic selling leads to more irrational panic selling sending prices spiraling downwards.  When everyone wanted their money back in previous crises such as in 2008, central banks printed money and made it available through asset purchases and swap lines.  The oblivion stage was avoided so far.

Stage 5 : Oblivion

In the next panic, IMF is likely to be relied on for liquidity.  If it still fails, the response will be to freeze all accounts at the banks and brokers. This stage is the oblivion stage or complete system collapse.  In 1933, all banks were closed in the US for 8 days.  Near collapses happened in 1987, 1994, 1998 and 2008.  Total collapse can happen with a number of catalysts such as social unrest, war, infrastructure failure or natural disaster.  More likely, there will be a combination of these events in which one collapse cascades into another and eventually cause a total collapse. As seen so far, the elites have the powerful political, financial and military tools at their disposal to truncate the near collapse. When total collapse happens, the elites have the most to lose.

(I believe God will judge this Babylonian system mentioned in Rev 18:17 by destroying all wealth in one hour through a combination of the above-mentioned catalysts – possibly a natural disaster such as a major earthquake devastating a major financial city or infrastructure failure caused by a solar flare, meteorite hit, or cyber or physical terrorist acts.)

Conclusion

If you prepare and the disruption does not reach total collapse stage, you are none the poorer.  But if you do not prepare and the total collapse comes,  you will suffer the consequences. Either the banks collapse or closed, you cannot lay hold of your money.  So the solution is to look at alternatives in which your money cannot be frozen.  Examples are silver and gold, and physical cash.

For further reading : https://gnseconomics.com/2020/02/10/the-stages-of-the-collapse/

Father Of The Fatherless

Psalms 68:4-5

D                        G                        A            D                               Bm

Sing praises to God’s name, extol His name forever and ever,

                 Em                          A                          D

Lift up a song to Him who rides through the deserts.

Chorus:

   G                        A    F#m                Bm

His name is the Lord, exult before Him.

  G                      A                  F#m                        Bm

Father of the fatherless, protector of the widows

    G                  A     D

Is God in His holy habitation.