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"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up."

Arthur Koestler 

Tuesday
May172011

In The Name of Jesus?

Open Sesame, Abra Cadabra, Shazam, Alakazam, Presto Chango ... Jesus Christ.

What do all these names have in common? All have been used as magic words—words that are said to give their users power over the gods—or God! Power to force God to do the user’s will. Is this what is meant when we use the Biblical phrase—“In the name of Jesus”?

Noted medieval Catholic magician Henry Agrippa wrote that  “the proper names of things are very necessary in Magical Operations.” (The Philosophy of Natural Magic, University Books, Seacaucus, New Jersey, 1974, Page 212) Sir James Frazier in his book on ancient religions (The Golden Bough) wrote: “Thus it assumes that all personal beings, whether human or divine, are in the last resort subject to those impersonal forces ... by anyone who knows how to manipulate them by the appropriate ceremonies and spells.” (MacMillan Publishing, New York, 1978, page 59)

Do these concepts have anything in common with what Jesus said?: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do {it}.” (John 14:13-14) “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and {that} your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John 15:16)  “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give {it} you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24)

Is God your slave? Will He obey your every whim? Is that what these scriptures mean? Can you “name it and claim it”? Can someone come saying they are doing things “in the name of Jesus,” and yet not be converted? “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Matthew 24:5)

 So it is not coming saying the words “in the name of Jesus” alone that is really important. Instead these scriptures must mean something else.

The story is told of the women who went to church and “got saved.” She was a regular in attendance for weeks. Then, suddenly, she quit attending. The Pastor, concerned about her welfare, went to visit her. She told him that she did not believe in God anymore since she had prayed “in the name of Jesus” for a Cadillac, and did not get it!

How very much are we like that lady. How very much I am like that lady.  Some years ago I wanted to marry a particular young lady. Naturally I prayed about it often. I even thought about the verses we just read. I also thought about: “Ask and you shall receive!” and  “Shall a father give his child a stone when he wants bread?” So I thought that God would give me what I wanted. And yes, I even used the name of Jesus. (To make sure I covered all my bases I even sometimes used the Hebrew name Yahshua!) Can you guess what happened? That’s right, nothing! Why didn’t I get what I wanted?

Since the prayer I mentioned had not been answered, I thought and prayed some more on the same subject. Was what I wanted best for me? I knew it was not God’s will for my life. I had known all along that it was not God’s will, but I wanted it anyway! Finally, I decided to pray for what I knew was God’s will—even though it was the last thing in the world I wanted and the exact opposite of what I had been praying. I prayed that the young man I knew she wanted would marry her. Can you guess what happened?  Yes, and it happened quickly. 

Figure of Speech

If I told you that my project was “tied up in red tape,” immediately you would picture that the government paperwork was delaying me. However, someone from another country might picture someone strangling on red tape. Just as in the case of “red tape”, so “in the name” is also a figure of speech. They should not be taken literally. In English we also use “in the name of” in a similar way. If one of our Ambassadors goes to a foreign country “in the name of Barack Obama,” does he mumble “Barack Obama, Barack Obama” over and over again?

Just as an ambassador comes “with the authority of” our president, so do we when we pray to our Heavenly Father. We come in the authority of Jesus Christ, our elder brother. As His younger brother or sister we have the right to call upon him to intercede for us in heaven. Since He is our Elder Brother, we can rely on him to grant our request. But we must always remember that only He has perfect knowledge and knows what is best. If my daughter asks for a candy bar one hour before dinner, she won’t get it. God will not answer our prayers and give us something that is bad for us no matter how much we want it. Thinking that God is our slave is a part of the false doctrines taught by Babylon the Great. We need to leave these kind of false doctrines behind. 

So, is it wrong to pray “in the name of Jesus”? No, but when we do, remember that it is not the group of sounds that says “Jesus” that is important. Neither is the exact pronunciation important. Instead it is important that we should know who He was, who He is, and who we are in relation to Him. That is what gives the “name of Jesus” power. There is no magic involved in “the name of Jesus,” whether in English or Hebrew. But if we ask in His name great and wonderful things will happen!

Monday
May162011

Riptide

I was reading though Jim Powell’s April newsletter (current issue was free) and he made an interesting analogy about a riptide and investments. This same analogy applies to us leaving Babylon the Great. Wikipedia describes a riptide or rip current:

A rip current, commonly referred to by the misnomer rip tide, is a strong channel of water flowing seaward from near the shore, typically through the surf line. Typical flow is at 0.5 meters per second (1–2 feet per second), and can be as fast as 2.5 meters per second (8 feet per second).

I was caught in a riptide when I was in the 4th grade. It was a great time for me as we lived across the street from the Wind ‘n Sea Beach in La Jolla, California. I spent a lot of time at the beach.  I was swimming and suddenly realized I had a problem. No matter how hard I swam I was making no progress toward the shore. I did not know what to do but keep swimming toward shore. I got more and more tired and finally began to make some headway. Eventually I reached the shore exhausted. It was exactly the wrong thing to do, as Wikipedia tells:

A swimmer caught in a rip current should not attempt to swim back to shore directly against the rip. This risks exhaustion and drowning. A rip does not pull a swimmer under water; it carries the swimmer away from the shore in a narrow channel of water. The rip is like a treadmill which the swimmer needs to step off. The swimmer should remain calm and swim parallel to the shore until he or she is outside of the current.

In later years I was caught again, but this time I knew to swim along parallel to the shore. Once out of the riptide I was able to swim to shore. In the same way as swimming directly against a riptide can lead to death by drowning, if you fight directly against Babylon the Great it will crush you. A common interpretation of Revelation 18 is that Babylon is a religious symbol. Martin Luther for example, saw it as the Catholic Church, emphasizing the great Whore that rode the Beast. But it is much more than a religious symbol. It is the epitome of everything that is wrong with our world.  

Babylon the Great is too powerful to fight it directly. Instead you need to be subtle, do the equivalent of swimming parallel to the shore, do not fight it. Then gradually make your way back to the beach and safety.

For the next few posts I will discuss the various aspects of Babylon the Great and how it affects us—politically, economically, culturally, in entertainment, and yes, in religion. 

Saturday
May142011

Inflation

Inflation seems to be heating up, although not in any large way at this time. Food and energy are leading the way. The BLS gave its report for April:

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.4 percent in April on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 3.2 percent before seasonal adjustment.. ... The 12-month increases of major indexes continue to climb. The all items index rose 3.2 percent for the 12 months ending April 2011, the highest figure since October 2008. The energy index has now risen 19.0 percent over the last 12 months, with the gasoline index up 33.1 percent. The food index has risen 3.2 percent while the index for all items less food and energy has increased 1.3 percent; both figures represent increases over recent months.

(Thanks to Karl Denninger for the link) 

My guess is that inflation will be tamer in the next few months as oil prices are dropping and the dollar increasing. This is in spite of the traditional increase in gas for the summer driving season. Continued low interest rates will also tend to keep inflation lower. I do expect higher inflation, but not the catastrophe that some, like Peter Schiff, are predicting.  

I see a repetition of the 70’s, a decade of stagflation. Historically Nixon imposed wage/price controls on August 15, 1971 when the inflation rate was the “intolerable” rate of 4%--about what we have now. Like the proverbial frogs in water that are gradually brought to a boil who do not realize they are boiling to death, we do not perceive that 4% is very bad. It will get worse, but not until after Obama is reelected. What was horrible in 1971 is the “new normal.” If we are lucky, that is all the inflation we will get.

Here are three case studies to show the negative effects of inflation: A small business, a retired person, and a real estate investment. I am going to assume that inflation is 5%, and the tax rate is 50% (state and federal), with 20% rate for capital gains (state and federal).

Small Business

Let’s say we have a small business with $1 million in inventory. It pays its owner a market salary for the work he does. The business is making $50,000 a year. It has made more in the past but times are tough. At the end of this business year its inventory is now $1,050,000. As a result of the increase of inventory, because of the way inventory accounting works, the business will show an additional income of $50,000. For tax purposes the business income is $100,000. The tax bill (assuming that the business income is applied to the highest marginal rate) is $50,000. The bill paid to suppliers for the additional inventory is $50,000. So while the business seems to be making money, in fact it has a negative cash flow of $50,000 a year. Do you wonder why small business is not hiring?

Retired

The hypothetical retired person I am imagining here is not your typical baby boomer. This person actually saved money! Let’s assume that the interest rate they are receiving is 8% with that 5% inflation we are assuming. This is a very generous assumption as the current rate is not even 2% unless you take the risk of lending money out at a longer term, a very bad idea in this environment. This hypothetical person pays taxes of 4% on the 8% they receive. So their net after taxes is 4%. Since inflation is 5% they are losing money every year. 1% in fact. It is far worse for the retired person today who actually gets less for their money than the inflation rate, yet must still pay taxes on that money. In other words they are paying “income” taxes when they have no income after inflation is factored in.

Real Estate 

Our real estate investor invests in a parcel of land for $1 million. He keeps it ten years. He sells it for $1.5 million. He pays his tax of $100,000 and thinks he did well. But in fact with inflation at 5% for those ten years, he has $1.6 million in the property in terms of purchasing power. In order to break even after taxes the investor needs $1.75 million in the sales price after closing costs.

Mad as Hell?

Of course each of these people in these case studies are wealthy individuals deserving of a tax increase come 2013. (Sarcasm alert.) The super wealthy, of course, will not be affected as much, as they understand this and hedge their investments. It is the moderately wealthy, the suckers, who pay and pay. There are not enough of these people to generate real money, so the middle class is going to suffer as well. This is especially true if the entrepreneurial class stops investing and hiring the middle class to work for them.

But the real unforeseen effect of inflation is the false signals that are given to each of our people in these case studies. They think they are doing well, but in fact they are losing money. These false signals are distorting the economy and are the major source of our boom/bust history. Yes they will survive, but if they realize they are being had and that the system is stacked against them, then watch out as investment and savings plummet. If they realize that the system, Babylon the Great, has stacked the deck against them, the only rational thing to do is not play the game.

Friday
May132011

The Huckleberry Hound Theory of Government 

I was a member of the Huckleberry Hound Fan Club in the first grade—50 years ago. I do not remember how many box tops it cost. I got a membership card and a ring! I kept the membership card all the way to high school until it became too frayed to keep. Even back then it fit my sense of the absurd. 

Now my second grader is watching Boomerang Zoo on TV most mornings, so I caught an old episode of HH. Huck is the Purpil Pumpernickel. He could not spell worth a darn, the King said. Huck would rob from the rich, mostly the government, and give to the people, my kind of guy! Huck gave a speech like he was a politician running for office:

Huck:    I will build roads. 

Crowd: Yeah

Huck:    I will have free schools.

Crowd: Yeah! 

Huck:    I will have old age pensions.

Crowd: Yeah!!

Huck:    Of course we will have taxes.

Crowd: Boo!!!!!!

As the preacher said in Ecclesiastes 1: 

9 What has been will be again, 
   what has been done will be done again; 
   there is nothing new under the sun. 
10 Is there anything of which one can say, 
   “Look! This is something new”? 
It was here already, long ago; 
   it was here before our time.

Lord Maynard Keynes famously said that in the long run we are all dead. He was right of course, and he is dead. But we are alive and living with the consequences of his philosophy, the Huckleberry Hound Theory of Government. Even if a bar offers a “free” lunch, you will pay for it in the drinks you buy. We are like a drunk staggering to our next drink without the understanding that we are in trouble. We must think that government is magic, rainbows, and unicorns. Instead we need to understand that unless we cut the deficit, the market place will refuse to buy our bonds, and at that point the cuts will be made in an unorderly fashion. It is ironic that the writers of this cartoon understood the realities of government better than either political party will admit today. 

Tuesday
May102011

No Man Knows



 

I have found two interesting links related to Bible Prophecy. Both are about Harold Camping, who for the second time is predicting the return of Jesus and the rapture. His previous failure in the 1990’s has not discouraged him.

Liberty Magazine comments:

Jesus knew about this. He told his followers that no man knows the day or the hour of his Return, but that people would always be running around predicting it (Mark 13:32, Luke 21:8–9). The failed predictions, which seemed so snazzy before they failed, wouldn’t really be perceived as failures, because the failures wouldn’t be remembered, or considered interesting enough to be remembered. Watch out for predictions, he said. 

Naturally as a Libertarian magazine they approach this from other failed predictions, especially economic predictions. Stephen Cox makes an interesting point about why people keep getting fooled by this kind of error. The reason is that there are always fresh people to be deceived, or as P.T. Barnum famously DIDN’T say “There is a sucker born every minute.” I was fooled by this kind of thing in the 70’s so I am not likely to repeat. 

My friend and fellow blogger Pam Dewey commented on Camping in one of her blogs:

Essentially, Camping has convinced his supporters to see a large number of factors moving inexorably toward a target of the date of May 21 for the rapture, much as a “perfect storm” moves inexorably toward a tragic landfall. (perfect storm: …an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically… also used to describe a hypothetical hurricane that happens to hit at a region’s most vulnerable area, resulting in the worst possible damage by a hurricane of its magnitude.) According to Camping, there’s no denying it is coming precisely when he has predicted, and no holding it back. Once it has come and gone … and all True Christians (according to Camping’s standards) are gone… all that is left for those Left Behind to do, is to wait for the final Perfect Storm to destroy the world on October 21. 

 
I am always amazed by the fact that so many Christians do not believe what Jesus said on a number of topics. Cox mentioned that so many ignored what Jesus said about his return in his article. Here is Matthew’s version of it:

         24:36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the                    angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

The arrogance of someone thinking they know something that Jesus did not know is breath-taking. Whether he comes on May 21, or not, in truth it does not really matter, for our response should be the same. We should be ready. We should be in the world, yet not of the world. We need to be leaving Babylon the great, step by step.

Watch this space! As an internal note I do plan a podcast soon. This is, after all, the Prophecy Podcast!

 

I also wish to thank Pam Dewey for her help with this blog. Without her help and support this blog would not exist. Thanks Pam.