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12/27/2008

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This is a great post and extremely relevant to us in the midst of this economic hardship we're in. I think you bring up some great points. While perseverance of character is certainly one aspect of Nehemiah 5 it isn't the only one. God isn't only content with motives of the heart but is also concerned with the actions of our flesh.

I disagree with your suggestion that the "issue isn't money, or lack thereof". The fact that money belongs to God and is a resource that He entrusts us with to be used to further the kingdom is completely left out! We as followers of Christ are commanded to be good stewards in our financial dealings and much more we are to be stewards of one another. Just as some Hebrews were charging interest (usury) so we too as Christians have willingly enslaved ourselves and others to our real estate assets.

The economy of the Bluffton and Hilton Head island area generally are fundamentally linked to realty and the amassing of huge debt via mortgages. It is very discouraging that within our own congregation at LCC there exists Christian men and women who participate in the enslavement of fellow believers (ignorantly or negligently so) as lenders, mortgage brokers, and real estate agents. Many of these individuals sell products to their fellow believers in Christ thereby placing them in a financial bondage to the world while making a commission from the transaction. While many more have taken the advice of others to pay a premium they simply can not afford for housing in the form of 30 year debt obligations aka: mortgages. This is wrong and must be condemned. Clearly there is a place for proper debt leveraging but this is clearly not the case for the majority of home buyers in our area. I know of at least two LCC members who made a considerable amount of money from the sale of Sub-Prime, ALT-A, and Option ARM mortgages without a care in the world.

A few years ago when LCC decided it was time for a "permanent" residence/building of our own we decided to do it debt free. In fact I can remember quite a few Sundays where Jeff would say something to the effect of "If God wants us to have our own building then he'll be sure to provide the means". Yet, this kind of thinking was never applied to individuals. I always found it troubling that the same message wasn't preached to the individual believers. Why was it that what was true of the sum of all the individuals not true of all of us individually? I realize this would not have been a popular message to preach but in light of the bursting of our economic bubble, the scarcity of credit, and the mortgage/CDO meltdown it turns out that many of our fellow believers in Christ are writing in financial agony.

As Nehemiah 5:9-10 says:

9 So I continued, "What you are doing is not right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? 10 I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let the exacting of usury stop!

In answer to your questions regarding Economic hard times I believe it is time for the followers of Christ to humble ourselves before God, and start living our lives as he has commanded us throughout scripture. That we stop depending on the world and its views of economic and financial security and lean completely on our Heavenly Father.

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