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The Redistribution of Wealth Trust: From Stocks to the Lord's Name

As I write this I am looking at the stock market reports on the news. It dropped another 300+ points Friday. It would seem that the rest of the world is suffering as well. This is not good news for all of us. We depend on wealth, commerce, and the economy to serve as God’s conduit of provision and stability. Even in ministry, we are dependent upon the success of our constituency to provide for stabilization. We all turn upon economic news.

Turbulent times and uncertainty cause us to rethink a lot of things. . . . theological things. These are things that we did not expect or desire, but, in God’s providence, we do our best to follow his guidance. We look for his direction in times of uncertainty. It is during these times that we often find our attendance to God’s will has wavered, staggered, and strayed off course. Upon realization, we have to decide a some things by asking a couple of key questions: 1) In whom do we trust? and 2) Who or what are we following?

The Bible speaks to us during such times. Often, its exhortation cuts like a knife.

Proverbs 18:11 tells us that “A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his imagination.”

The word “imagination” here is not positive. It describes a result of a worldview that has strayed off course. In our own imagination, we often get sidetracked, thinking that wealth, stock markets, 401ks, savings accounts, and the like are the provider of our protection and stability. Looking at this “high wall” we think that we are secure from threats and hardships. We believe this wall provides for our “strong city,” securing all our assets, plans, and hopes. After all, it is a “high” wall, isn’t it?.

It is under this imagined protection that we turn off course. With our supposed securities intact, we then give our left over allegiance to the Lord. But it is at this time that we find we have broken the first commandment—“You shall not have any other gods before me.” Sure, many of us don’t have golden idols on our mantle and we don’t literally bow before the alter of another God, but, nevertheless, we have become polytheists. No, strike that. We have become “henotheists.” While polytheism is a worldview that worships many gods, henotheism has one main God with many other smaller gods that often come before the main God depending on the need. As Christians, we can worship Jesus, but have a stronger allegiance to these lesser gods—the “wall” of wealth and the supposed protection it provides.

The next proverb is very important. Proverbs 18:12 says “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.”

In order to have honor, we must be humbled. What is the price for humility? It if was bottled up at Walmart, how much would you pay? Would you take out a loan to purchase it? Would you deplete your 401k? Would you invest in such an item? We should. In fact, as Christians we should be willing to give everything we have for such an item. Humility cancels pride. In our imagined “strong city” we become haughty. Another translation says “proud.” The LXX uses the Greek work hupsoutai, which means “to life up, raise high, or exalt.” We exalt in our situation. We need to be humbled. For some of us, the problems with the stock market could be God’s way of humbling us. Yes, the price is great, but the result, if you allow it to do its work, is greater wealth than anything the world’s economic adventures could possibly provide.

It is only in this humbled state that we can return to a previous verse in Proverbs that I intentionally failed to mention. We have already seen verses 11 and 12, now lets turn back and take a look at verse 10.

Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”

Here we are introduced to the true strong tower—the name of the Lord. Our imagined city will crumble and fall, but the Lord’s name gives us true protection and true wealth. The Lord tells us through the Psalmist, “Every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine” (Psalm 50:10-11). If you will allow me some liberty here, let me pin this on our calendar: “Every dime you have in the bank is mine and your retirement as well. I know all about the stock markets for I control every move they make.”

If you are like me, you see what is going on and you don’t feel safe. You fear for your future. You begin to find that another god has been running a black market of hope in your heart, promising safety that it does not have the ability to provide. It is only in the Lord’s name, in his purpose and direction, that we can find true safety in times of turbulence. He owns it all and he knows how to use it to direct our lives to true wealth in his name.

May we turn our eyes to him with great excitement during this time of redistribution of wealth trust.

No Responses to “The Redistribution of Wealth Trust: From Stocks to the Lord's Name”

  1. Guilty as charged. A timely, thoughtful and helpful article, Michael. Thanks as always for your efforts here.

  2. Thank-you for this positive antidote to anxious thoughts. This current uncertainty will undoubtedly give Christians opportunities to share why we don’t have to fear…. opportunities to tell of our security in Jesus. My husband has already had this talk with our financial advisor, who’s life is completely falling apart… because of the economy, his job and his marriage.

    Lord, help us to be bold.

  3. Thanks Michael for your remarks. If I might add a few of my own. I/m thinking in global terms.

    1. If America were to become a third world country today, the price of oil would plummet to $15.00 a barrel. Other third world nations would never survive.

    2. It depends on the interpretation of the woman on the beast in Rev 17 and 18, but just this senerio is in store at a global level. This may be, just like the one in the great depression, simply a precursor, but it will eventually occur.

    3. Stocks normally readjust their REAL value about every ten years or so. They were over valued and are simply readjusting. OUCH!

    4. Psalm 46

    Vladimir

  4. Michael,
    Thank you for the post. As a person who is retired and whose income is solely based on investments, you are totally correct. I must keep my focus totally on God and be a good steward of what He has given me. I must trust in Him fully knowing it is up to Him as to whether I get to keep it or not. Am I anxious? You bet for I am only human but Psalms 16.

  5. 2 weeks ago I finished up a 3 month contract that stretched 8 months. I have had many prospective jobs and contracts present themselves the last few weeks, so the opportunities seem to be plentiful. Yet, even the ones that I have interviewed for that seemed like a sure thing, just dropped off. No rhyme or reason, this happens very often.

    As a senior art director who has 10 years experience in the online media world, I have a lot to offer and a portfolio to boot. It must be said here, that I am not boasting—so stay with me a sec.

    Through much pang and anxiety, I worked very hard to make my financial future a promising one. And yet, here I am, 2 weeks out with no work in sight. All my clever plans and even an influx of promising opportunities have not given me and my family security.

    This is actually about the 8th or 9th time we have gone through this as a family. Each time is different as we have matured in the word of god. And each time we are forced to examine ourselves and where our trust lies.

    This time my wife and I both are together in perspective. The last couple of times it was much more easy for me than my wife to trust God. But this last couple of weeks my wife for the first time has truly had a spirit of peace. Which totally encourages me!
    If your married then you understand what it is like for yourself to be at peace and yet your spouse not be. It is a very trying time. Because your spouse’s angst can cause you to become nervous.

    So as I’m writing this I consider the verses in the good book that speak on this issue. Oh, how they give substance to our faith! How we begin to see and feel as we ought! I praise God for these times, because my true desire is to know him more. Blessed by the name of the Lord!

  6. Thanks, Michael, for something strong to chew on!
    I remember the verses in Luke 12:18, and what I get from it is: don’t build a life of self-indulgence and luxury just because you have the financial means to do so. And frankly, you never really know how long you have it to use!
    A man came to the pearly gates once with a loaded suitcase (not really, just a parable), and began to argue with St. Peter: he wanted to bring his earthly treasure with him. St. Peter asked the man to open the suitcase, which he did, showing him all of the gold he had amassed in his lifetime. To which St. Peter replied, “What! You brought pavement??”
    So, in a Heavenly perspective, if the mere value to us of money is in question, how much more its ability to provide security?

  7. Great post Michael. You know what? In the last 2yrs or so I have read and prayed over the verses you mentioned many , many times and not once have they come to my mind the last few weeks that our economic situation has been in such an uproar. That is very convicting to me. Lord, please show me what is apparentley blocking your holy spirit from bringing these things to my mind when I need them the most. But , then again I guess You just did.

  8. Another note.

    Just in this year alone Russia has lost about 70% of its incredible gains over the past 18 years within the private sector. The extremly wealthy oligarths are now scampering. This new found wealth, arising from the ashes of a fallen post Soviet society into one of the wealthiest societies on earth, but initially filled with corruption and chaos, where prostitution, the Russian mafia, trafficking, bootlegged vodka and drugs ruled including the arbitrary taking of human life.

    At one point inthis stage of readjustment there were about 4 million Russians who were homeless, sleeping in underground subways to escape the bitter cold above. The Orthodox Church, in fact, open their doors to permit the homeless to find shelter and hopelfully solace there during this transition.

    Russia, whose national debt was only about 70 billion dollars in contrast to the US debt which is in the trillions, now finds itself troubled – deeply troubled – again.

    Vladimir

  9. BTW, U.S. losses are estimated in the trillions within the private sector alone.

    The stories I could tell you!

    Vladimir

  10. Hi Michael

    This is really good stuff

    I read your quote yesterday afternoon and later on in the day I came across this excerpt in a book that I am currently reading.

    To put the quote in context, the author was taking part in a discussion carefully critiquing some of the “end time” eschatological doctrines prevalent in the church today. He was outlining his personal view that each Christian community of believers has its own “Babylon” ie the dominant, prevailing culture in which it finds itself located and from which it seeks to minister and share the gospel. Basing hos thoughsts on some verses from Revelation Chapters 18 and 19, the author then wrote these words which really resonated with me, following having also read your post earlier in the afternoon.

    “A society whose “merchants of the earth” profit from exploting their markets is doomed to collapse. In this sense the prophecy of Scripture is dead accurate; if Babylon does not repent continuing instead its consumeristic and consumptive ways, its downfall is inevitable.

    Wheen their system collapses, business and commercial leaders whose lucrative trading sustained Babylon will weep because all of their financial investments will have disappeared. As they watch their systems go up in smoke, they will weep…for the economic consequences of the disaster. ” As I read this last line I recalled some of the recent media pictures of stock traders around the world with their head in their hands, some even in tears!)

    There is something however that continues to concern me somewhat. In no way do I wish to see the downturn continue, or suffering intensify asa result of recent economic activity worldwide, but as I watch the stock markets began to climb yesterday and again today, a more celebratory mood began to take hold, almost as if, “we are beginning to cloimb out of the woods and it will soon be “businesss as usual”

    Whilst understanding their relief as the markets began to recover, as Michael so rightly points out this is an opportunity to stop and take stock, a truly God-given time for serious reflection and for facing some painful home truths and acting/reacting accordingly.. If “business as usual” returns to the financial markets without any sense of serious reflection having taken place, or changes in economic action following on from such reflection, we may find ourselves in a repeat of the situation a lot sooner than we think, and next time the consequences could be even worse, if that were possible.

    One of my favourite Christian artists is a UK poet by the name of Steve Turner. My favourite piece of work is a brilliantly succinct three line poem which goes

    “History repeats itself.

    It has to…

    No one ever listens”

    ..and Michael, on a lighter note, I am sorry but I just couldn’t resist this. Firslty, please let me put my cards on the table. Normally Pat Robertson and his ilk normally send me running, sprinting even, for the hills to take cover. They have a knack of making atheism seem attractive. But I couldn’ resist clicking onto the link you posted in January 2008, where you critiqued Pat Robertson’s predictions for 2008. However, in January, when Pat Robertson made his claim, maybe it was one of the times when he “got it right” and heard God clearly, although I have this horrible mental; image of a gloating Pat Robertson with a smug “I told you so” smirk on his face!

    “In what is becoming a rather embarrassing annual occurrence, Pat Robertson makes his prediction for 2008. It would seem that the Lord has informed him of an immanent stock market crash that is scheduled for this year.”

    It looks as though he got the first part of his prophecy fairly spot on! However, I would contend that it would not take a genius to work out that serious recession was a-comin’. Not that I would claim to be either a genius or prophet but for a number of months now, in discussion with my friends I have been saying to them that I thought a big recession/bust was on its way fairly soon.

    “According to Robertson, he receives these revelations from the Lord as the Lord speaks to him during prayer.”

    Although, unlike Pat Roberson, my musings were based more on a considered observation of the economic climate/economic behaviour rather than me enjoying a personal hotline to God Himself!

    “As well, because of the crash, inhe chaos, many people will seek the Lord. “We will see the presence of angels and we will see an intensification of miracles around the world.”

    Hmmm…as for part 2, time will tell but I am not as optimistic as Pat. My guess is that once the dust settles a bit eople will carry almost as if nothing had happened.

    Maybe we should pray for more discernment so that we can be equipped to take a few of the prophecies of the likes of Pat Robertson more seriously, whilst disregarding some of the more wackier utterances. For me the tendency is to dismiss everything because of some of the oddball/wacky nature of it but this may be too dangerous, reckless and disrespectful a tendency on my behalf.

  11. Obama’s first, second, and third priority is to get elected. If that means pandering to large numbers of unemployed, under employed, those on welfare, illegal aliens, and malcontents, he’ll be happy to throw them a few crumbs as a way to get their votes. He will also turn democracy and capitalism on it’s head, and villainize the affluent and successful in our society, in order to rally the masses behind him. With evangelical zeal Obama will convince his followers to replace reason with hope and belief … to blindly follow him … never challenge him … and embrace his words as gospel. In the real, and unforgiving world of economics however, when you immediately gratify everyone by feasting on the goose that lays the golden eggs, the economy looses it’s ability to continue generating growth and wealth. Obama is promising everyone a piece of the pie, whether they helped bake it, or not … but, only in a socialistic, or communist state do the non-contributors demand to share equally in the property that belongs to others. Immediate gratification is like a drug to the malcontents, but in the big picture, every farmer knows that you never eat your seed crop. If Obama gets elected, America will turn into a third world country, with massive government welfare programs, unable to generate jobs for it’s citizens, and unable to compete in the global markets. Keep America safe, free and strong … elect McCain/Palin on November 4th.

  12. Howard

    Hhhmm…you werrn’t paid for that paid party political broadcast on behalf of the Republican party were you?

    I was very amused to read the write up of Sarah Palin’s attempt at connecting with her critics by her somewhat bizarre appearance on Saturday Night Live. Surely a prospective leader of the most important nation on earth would have far more sense and intelligence than to appear on a programme whose raisond’etre is to satirically lampoon key political figures/celebrities. What is even more worrying is that she thought she had, pit-bull style, what it took to face them down and come out a winner, only to end up looking pretty ludicrous. Is that the kind of judgment expected from a possible President should John McCain not be able to serve out his term. Her performance in some of the face-to-face interviews were also none too impressive by most accounts.

    Apparently, according to the BBC website, John McCain himself was suddenly thrown into a wild panic recently when his autocue failed during one of his campaign speeches and by all accounts his stumbling attempts to rectify the situation were nothing short of embarrassing. Hardly smacks of competence all round does it, but when has that ever been a major factor?

    And I don’t know how, as a Christian you can remain conspicuously silent about some of the pretty nasty accusatory stuff being yelled by some of Republicans at some of the McCain campaign meetings. I would have far more respect if you would come out and say that you want a McCain/Palin victory but deplore some of the tactics that are being used, but I guess that it is a bit too much to expect.

    “Keep America safe, free and strong … elect McCain/Palin on November 4th.”

    One thing you guys need to keep in mind when you go to the polls. This vote does not just affect you and is not just about you, it affects the rest of us across the world (yes..we do exist!). And as for keeping America strong, the current Republican administration hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory in that department of late!

    I also find you views on the poor/have nots to be pretty depressing. Where is the compassion, the empathy, the desire to see them escape from the povery trap? Totrally absent it would appear.. It sounds to me as though you pretty much want those who have a fairly large slice of the pay to gorge themselves on the pastry even more and the rest…well who cares!!

    I am pretty much of a realist however, and there is a pessimistic streak in me which that thinks the polls might swing over the next 2 weeks and John McCain might pull it off. And if all else fails..there’s always the Florida vote to fall back on!

  13. In a recent nationwide poll the gap had closed to 44% to 43%.

    The something for nothing mentality, the shallow youth, the black class (21% of America’s entire population and third among ethnic minorities), all see Obama as a savior of sorts. He promises them a piece of the pie, and they hop with glee, but don’t know how much or where it will come from.

    Socialism is not the answer, and Islam is antichristian.

    There must be the wealthy to create jobs for others in a free society. Otherwise, the government creates jobs and sets the minimum wages ($6.15 per hour)!

    Vladimir

  14. “There must be the wealthy to create jobs for others in a free society. Otherwise, the government creates jobs and sets the minimum wages ($6.15 per hour)!”

    “There must be the wealthy to create jobs for others in a free society. Otherwise, the government creates jobs and sets the minimum wages ($6.15 per hour)!”

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Vladimir The problem I have is in your derision of the minimum wage, If those who create the wealth could be relied on to willingly and voluntarily provide a decent and realistic living wage maybe the government would not have to intervene! The reason they don’t do that is it would affect the rather higher wage that they want to take home for themselves. Also $6.15 isn’t exactly exortionate…it’s well below the minimum wage here in the UK!

    And don’t you think it is about time that we thought about the possibility of intoduucing a maximm wage? Here in the UK and I am sure it is the same in the USA and elsewhere, the ordinary people are infuriated at the vast salaries and obscene bonuses some of these wealth creators are allowed to award themselves as a reward, laughing in the faces of those who are losing their homes, their livelihoods etc. Could you imagine the screams of indignation if some of our top earners faced caps on their salaries. You would be able to hear the dummies being thrown out of the prams for miles around!

    What we really need, and what it would be nice to hear others advocating is for the emergence of the philanthropic millionaires/entrepeneurs who plough the profits wholeheartedly back into the business, into health benefits/pension benefits schemes for workers etc.

    These of all people have been the victims of rampant unfettered capitalism because they have disappeared virtually without trace to be replaced by a generation of graspers rather than givers. And I don’t actually believe socialism is the answer, but a mixed economy is far preferable…let’s face it even George W Bush has begun to realise that…and there are banks and whole countries who are only too grateful for renationalisation of their assets at present.

    Clearly if you are as happy with capitalism as you seem, you are surely totally against the rescue packages that are designed to save yours and other nations from economic ruin!

  15. Just one other thing…and this is something I have detected from several contributiors which really irks me…

    Why is it so wholeheartedly begrudged amongst certain Americans for others to have a “part” of the pie?

    Is that a truly Chirstian motive that you are proud of?…Is it right to want to tightly keep hold of the pie for yourself and not let anyone else have any? Do you not think it is right to try bring our kids up to share and not be selfish, yet think it is perfectly OK display a wholly different attitude ourselves? I just don’t get it!

  16. The world at large clamours after material things to the exclusion of the truly valuable, so there must be constraints.
    So, a “minimum wage” is not a living wage: it is just the least you can legally pay someone – but many employers do just that: they pay their workers the absolute legal minimum, and not what is fair or expedient.
    As for political theory, we always have moved towards centralization and socialization of finance, education, health care, and religion; Al Gore even got on the Gaia bandwagon with a quote elevating the earth and its worship as the “New Global Religion”!

  17. “So, a “minimum wage” is not a living wage: it is just the least you can legally pay someone – but many employers do just that: they pay their workers the absolute legal minimum, and not what is fair or expedient.”

    Well said C Barton

    Thai is why I find it so frustrated and bemused with those people who rail vehemently against imposing a minimum wage almost as if it is a social crime.

    As you say, it is not as if the government is imposing a fair wage, just an attempt to make it more bearable without enraging those who are against its implementation.

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