Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ECONOMIC REMEDIES GUARANTEED TO WORK. To implement remedies, go to "Prayer" at top of blog.

By Kurt Koppetsch, Publisher
Shepherd News Trust, Inc.
http://www.shepherdnewstrust.com/



The economy is an integral part of God's domain. And economics is God's way of managing it. The spiritual treatment of the economy and economics, therefore, is essential for a clearer understanding about our involvement and is also critically important for the survival of humanity as spiritual beings in the image of God. The leitmotiv in this writing about the economy and economics is the spiritual connection.



The economy and economics is not a free-for-all the way greedy people in the secular world would like to have it. The economy and economics are of God, and God is in control. God has definite expectations of people. He expects top performance according to his will and purpose. Indeed, there are obligations in economics, similar to other obligations that we experience in our relationship with God.



Economics is stewardship of God's wealth to a predestined end. God provides the means, and he defines the outcome. The means is the economy, and the predestined end is quality of life. Our performance, therefore, will determine our destinies. Ultimately we will be asked to give full account of our use of time, talents and resources.



In this understanding, trust and faithfulness are words of spiritual importance. As citizens of the world we compliment these spiritual components with civility, honor and respect; our behavior then identifies us as decent human beings in the secular world. As practitioners of the Golden Rule, therefore, we look to our partners in economic matters to have integrity, ethics, respect, honor and commitments that are similar to what they expect of us.



America's current economic difficulties are self-inflicted by a service economy that had its start in the early 1970s.



Low-paying service jobs make it difficult for American families to make ends meet. Two incomes are now essential to support a family. Often parents are forced to work two jobs. The constant loss of manufacturing jobs is wiping out any hope in the future for decent wages with associated benefits.



Whereas manufacturing jobs have a ripple effect on the economy of nations, a lopsided service economy consumes the wealth of nations. A service economy does not contribute to the building of highways, bridges and schools. A service economy offers little support to pay for police and fire protections. And deficit spending in a service economy squanders the future of children.



Compounding the problems of the flimsy service economy is the lack of hope for a better future. Job security has become a foreign concept, but families need a dependable income to prepare their children for the future.



America's economic situation has taken a turn for the worse. Huge corporations continue to wipe out the local manufacturing base that once provided reliable income for many families. In its place we now find these same large corporations peddling foreign-made goods at high profits. They charge the consumer whatever the traffic will bear. In this modern dilemma, trade deficits and foreign investments threaten the future freedom of American children.



The well-being of individuals and families is at the mercy of corporate peddlers of foreign-made merchandise. The citizens of the once most prosperous nation in the world are now trapped in a silly numbers game played by financial manipulators. Financial gurus in control of huge corporations are mercenaries without mercy. Their sole compassion is money. "Paper barons" have replaced the visionary entrepreneur-managers.



"Paper barons" now run huge enterprises in insidiously hidden ways to make high profits for themselves at the expense of consumers. For example, while the contents of food packages are getting smaller, frequent increases in the price of these smaller-sized goods are quite common. While the weekly income of working families diminishes or remains flat, the salaries of "paper barons" are increasing at immoral rates.



The world revolves around economics. Therefore, we rightfully ask: "What is good economics? This is the key economic question for the modern world, as good economics is the criterion for quality of life. Good economics is our statement of faithful stewardship.



A good economy respects the life, liberty and happiness of each individual in his or her search for the way of God. Good economics recognizes that all resources on Earth belong to God, and we are but stewards of his creation. We honor God as supreme reality. And we love him for what he is, and for what he is doing for us in our short pilgrimage on Earth. Good economics is synonymous with a prosperous life on Earth.



Political meddling in economic matters is just a license for greedy people to do as they please. In these aberrations of God's way, the rich get richer, and the poor are being pushed into the bottomless pit. The children of America must pay in the future for the folly in leadership now.



Unscrupulous operators, in America and throughout the world, manipulate supply and demand to their advantage. We see this especially in Third-World nations that depend on goods and services from their more highly developed neighbors. For the residents of Third-World countries, like those in Africa, economic fairness is a matter of life or death. We see death from starvation in many African countries where opportunists have unfairly exploited a nation's natural resources without fair compensation. On top of this evil are power-hungry tyrannical rulers in underdeveloped nations who are in collusion with ruthless global conglomerates and their political cohorts to fill their own pockets.



Huge corporations have created woes for innocent people as never before. To correct this great evil of huge corporations taking advantage of poor people in the modern world, God is encouraging each person to become self-sufficient. And, by the grace of God, "individual economies" will take root and grow.



In this new approach to economics, pioneers--inventors and innovators--are driving forces. God will help each person in sundry ways to nurture individually owned enterprises, while economies of scale are doomed to failure as a direct result of uncontrollable size. Though the evil may always try to gain the upper hand in controlling the lives of people through large-scale economic oppression, God as the champion of ethics, justice and faith will bless individual entrepreneurs who operate their business according to the Golden Rule.



Some of the tactics of ruthless governments and large scale corporations are not always obvious. The unsuspecting minds of trusting citizens are too innocent, and a gentle citizenry may not immediately come to grips with the antics of economic greed by politicians and their financial backers. Even though we feel the pain of injustice and inequality in the distribution of the national wealth, often they are so overwhelming that we seem helpless and give up. Economic evildoers and their lobbyists seem more powerful than all the citizens of many nations combined.



God expects us to clip the wings of powerful "paper barons" in the community, the nation and the world. God sees our needs, and he wants us to bring about change and correct an evil situation. The masses of American consumers have greater power than all the powers of "paper barons" in the world combined.



About global economics. In the modern concept of global economics, a few select nations control the rest of the world as a matter of greed. Global economics is colonization in disguise. The "paper barons" of international conglomerates and ruthless politicians may temporarily fool the public with their business glamour. In the Era of Faith, God is not interested in business glamour, but God expects our trust and faith through the spiritual connection with God in our consumption of his wealth on Earth.



More than in any other human discipline in the world, economics is full of wolves in sheep's clothing. Christ has warned us about greedy people whose modus operandi is the promotion of falsehoods through misleading statements or selfish business practices. Peers in commerce, industry and financial institutions have coined the phrase "hockey stick cowboys" to identify co-workers whose ambition is rise to power through the promotion of falsehoods. Hockey stick cowboys are ruthless "paper barons." They talk fast. They talk smooth. They want full control of the global economy.



"Hockey stick cowboys" force themselves onto center stage by criticizing conservative management as not aggressive enough for growth. Their growth charts always start out flat to criticize past performance. But once they are in charge, their hockey stick theories of growth opportunities turn into projections, and the exponential growth opportunities that a hockey stick implies never materialize. Hockey stick cowboys take advantage of style without substance. Style without substance has ruined many established businesses, and the employees of defunct enterprises suffer the consequences of folly in leadership when the business fails.



The evil in economics is commonly the fruit of indifferent business leaders, whose prime qualification for dealing with God's wealth is not rooted in the wisdom of God but is based on a piece of paper that bestows on them the secular title of master in business administration. "Paper barons" arrogantly believe that a master's degree from a business school entitles them to rule over God's wealth.



God says: "Wisdom comes with experience. Wisdom is not book knowledge. Wise business leaders are entrepreneurs with vision. They build on their vision, and they know how to correct evil situations. They maintain what they built. On the other hand, book-smart business leaders tear things down. And they flee the scene to pursue other opportunities when chaos confronts them."



Whereas "paper barons" fight for their power, God honors his inspired stewards with dignity and respect, and common people also honor and respect faithful stewards as they have demonstrated responsible leadership in commerce and industry for the well being of all.



The global economy is the supply engine for food and medicine in underdeveloped countries. The pressure is now on inspired leaders in successful economies to be compassionate and attend to the needs of starving and sick people. Any failure to meet the physical needs of suffering people spells disaster for the global economy--and the global supply engine will sputter or may even explode.



People who live according to worldly standards will want to push spiritual involvement aside. So we hear the scornful, though seemingly logical question: "What does the spirit have to do with the price of bananas?"



But as quickly as green bananas ripen and spoil, so will the short human pilgrimage on Earth come to a sudden end.



This sad result will come about because people have failed to realize their spiritual identity. They have failed to recognize God's purpose for their lives. What must we do? This question implies desperation. Seekers of truth will have their answer in the spiritual connection with God.



If as responsible citizens we fail to speak up and defend what is right, we are guilty of contributing to the tensions of others. For instance, this is the case when economic hardship is caused by deficit spending. We are involved and responsible when we approve the action of government to pay for any programs that may benefit us now but whose debentures have dire consequences on the livelihood of future generations.



We rob our children of their potential in the future by tapping this potential to pay our commitments. We are guilty of dragging future generations, not at all connected with our difficulties, into our predicaments.



It is known that deficit spending transfers purchasing power to higher income groups and those who cannot afford to buy bonds must pay the taxes for retiring a debt issue.



God looks with compassion at modern America, and he suffers with the victims of economic abuse. With scorn he addresses the arrogant and seemingly invincible "paper barons" and impulsive politicians: "You have become too big for your breeches. All the world's resources are mine. Your greedy appetite and lust for power are wasting what belongs to me and all my people."



And God continues: "I have made America the bastion of free enterprise. You have eliminated your competitors by swallowing them up one by one, not with your own money but at the expense of my people. You have borrowed money and then passed on the cost of your insatiable growth to the consumers. They carry the burden of your grandiose scheme through higher costs of the market basket or smaller food packages. In your grandiose plots you start new ventures with borrowed money and then fold them up when things do not work out. Who do you think is absorbing the loss? Surely it is not your financial backers. They are even greedier than you are. They are in business to make money no matter what. And look at your accounting schemes. Suddenly you play the fool, claiming that you do not know what is happening. You know how to give yourselves huge salaries, bonuses and generous pensions. My people must pay for them by your denying jobs, health coverage and pensions for my hard-working people."



God's voice now thunders: "By what rules do you gamble the hard-earned savings of my working people in 401(k) plans? Who decides that you have the right to declare a stock under value or encourage companies to dilute the number of shares? Who do you think is picking up the tab when your schemes fail? Unscrupulous institutional managers of the public trust are great evils in modern times. A lot of money is changing hands without control and without consideration of the needs of the owner."



God says: "You pay obnoxiously high salaries in professional sports. Whose money is it that you are wasting? You recover every penny through advertisements of the products my people must buy in order to live. But it is my people who must swallow with each spoon of food the bitterness of your schemes. I, the Lord, have spoken."



Subtle changes gradually appeared on the horizon. "Efficiency experts" entered the scene. There were shifts away from the personal relationship workers enjoyed with entrepreneurs. Professional managers appeared to run the business on a new and impersonal platform. The new focus was on the bottom line. Ethics was put into the back seat, and the once-vital work ethic slowly faded into oblivion. The 1960s saw the beginning of the end of manufacturing in America.



This shift broke the backbone of the American economy. Cheap labor overseas overpowered the American workforce with the approval of management. The American workforce in textiles, shoes and eventually high technology was hung out to dry by its business leadership. Besides the loss of jobs, America is losing all rights to genuine American technology. Business leaders claim to need the technology transfer to manufacture their products overseas. God is troubled.



God says: "My wealth in America belongs to the American people. It is my gift to them." God admonishes America's leadership--business leaders and politicians alike--concerning job losses: "When you scorn the American workforce as an expense that is prohibitive, you are attacking the foundation of the American dream that I put in place for a bright future of job stability and family income. You are attacking me when you take work away from my people. Your cheap labor tactics are now the cause of many social ills in America. Your greedy appetite is placing the American family in jeopardy. Your greed is a monster that gnaws at the hopes and dreams of my people. And that is not all. You now sell in America for dollars what you have manufactured offshore for cents. Your exploitation of cheap labor markets is slavery. Your greed is responsible for hatred and wars because exploited people feel the injustice done to them. You are fools if you think that I will let you get away with it. Beware of your greed. Greed is a killer. I will not stop your greed, for eventually your own greed will destroy you in due time. Repent therefore. I, the Lord, have spoken."







Copyright (C) 2003 by Kurt Koppetsch/Shepherd News Trust. All rights reserved. Excerpt from the book "Era of Faith" by Kurt Koppetsch and published by Shepherd News Trust, Inc.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

HOPE: The story of eternal life

By Kurt Koppetsch, Publisher
Shepherd News Trust, Inc.

A world without hope is hell on Earth and the future is contentious and grim.

Hope is divine medicine against insidious stress, as human stress is an acute spiritual problem. Hope laughs at stress, and stress flees the scene. God is laughing with us, for hope is of God, and so is laughter.

Young people need hope to spiritually mature in faith for quality of life--predicated by spiritual wholeness, health, food, shelter and freedom from stress. Hope also is a necessary spiritual diet for inner peace. Hope and peace are means of grace for making life spiritually whole. The spiritual application of hope is prayer and listening to the Word of God, as God is telling us over and over again, saying, "I love you!" It is my hope that this message of hope will inspire every reader to see how God may be working in our lives in the modern Era of Faith.

I believe that we are spiritual in character but secular by makeup. God created us whole beings for the purpose of serving him and people. God supports us in every task that brings glory to his name as we help family, friend and neighbor improve their quality of life; our service to God and people are relationships. I further believe that respect, trust and hope define the commonality of human beings.

I experienced trustworthy hope when my family and I were refugees at the end of World War II in 1945 and running for our lives. God showered us with hope when we were facing death in the ravages of war. I further experienced his gift of hope as a cancer survivor--God stood by me during my prostate surgery and two subsequent skin cancer operations. I know for certain that he continues to bless me with hope in every hardship.

I am writing this blog about the story of eternal life to encourage young people to nurture hope and the spiritual connection as their blessings from God, as hope is a continuing process of change for improving quality of life. These changes are From/to transformations, from chaos to harmony and from stress to inner peace. God saved me and now I pray for like blessings of inner peace for all people, especially for our young people who must battle life's tough choices. I experienced the God of grace and hope as true love, may they experience the same.

And he continues to bless me with his presence in my trials, as he did when I was a young boy on September 1, 1935--my fourth birthday--the infamous day that started World War II. And I now encourage all young people who face fear, stress, terror and uncertainties because of the conflicts in today's consuming world to learn all about hope. My testimony to the Word of God about hope in disaster and tragedy for a new beginning in the ERA OF FAITH is Gospel truth.

Spiritual Hope

Spiritual hope is an ongoing process of happenings and the wonders are always new. I learned that trustworthy hope is the soul's reward in the spiritual connection with God; therefore, sharing our life with him is indeed an exciting experience. Once a hope is fulfilled, God keeps reminding us over and over again, saying, "I love you." Consequently, new avenues of hope open up and wait to be explored. We rely on his promise and together we look forward to the spiritual wonders of the good and beautiful. Simply put, trustworthy hope--spiritual hope--makes us children of God.

Hope, indeed, brings out the child in us in all manner of adverse conditions. God lets our imagination run wild and vision and dreams are abundant. God is telling us that we can be what we want to be. Visions and dreams are his ways to enliven future prospects with the eyes of our soul; and hope is always there to make sure that these dreams and visions come true.

Whereas hopelessness is a muddy path of ruin, trustworthy hope is God's way for spiritual wholeness and abundant life.

Furthermore, trustworthy hope facilitates spiritual solutions to the world's physical ills. God leads us to his rainbow bridge of grace, and he invites us to go across into the future for a glimpse of Heaven. God walks with us and together we watch worldly troubles vanish. We now have the opportunity to improve the quality of life for friend and neighbor.

Biblical stories inspire us with faith to be bold in the hope that God provides. In every instance, he is speaking and assuring us "I love you" and things happen. Stories in conventional literature do not have similar inspirational value.

Secular Hope

Equally important but less dramatic is secular hope; but there are problems. We find legions of experts--academic, ecclesiastical, political, independent thinkers, unbelievers, doubters and skeptics--who are promoting mountains of theories about hope. Unfortunately, the majority of these proposals on secular hope are unfounded; they are full of controversy, small talk and empty promises. Such environment is not conducive for relief to innocent victims of terminating circumstances who desperately long for help from the burden of oppressive stress, anxiety, pain and even death. In their desperation, despairing souls will call for legislated remedies to social ills; but legislators, politicians and greedy leaders in the community are not always there to lend a helping hand or, very often, they get mired in political bickering and partisan politics. This makes secular hope the crisis in modern life.

Compounding the issue further are selfish passions, the outcomes of which are keyed to aspirations in search of human greatness. Individuals aspire for themselves the benefits of respect, recognition, honor and success. But such egocentric wishes are boorish endeavors whose sole objective is success at any cost. Individuals possessed by greed and lust for power will ultimately resort to extremes in behavior to have their dreams come true; for example, Cain killed Abel. The negative side of secular hope continues to be widespread: Politicians, economic and financial opportunists will manipulate the world's resources and use falsehood, cheap rhetoric and wicked party politics to seize control without considerations to solving social problems for the common good.

My challenge to activists of secular hope is to restore what has been squandered and lost and start building a new hopeful environment for future generations using integrity, ethics and justice.

Future glory

Future glory is the eternal life of souls as life in union with God in Heaven. We have lived the spiritual hope on Earth, and now we are prepared to cross the rainbow bridge of grace where God will welcome home his faithful pilgrims after their pilgrimage on Earth of 70 years, more or less. We have labored in faith and our Father in Heaven welcomes us home with open arms according to divine promise. But the laborers of secular hope are destined to wait at God's judgment seat for their final destination. When all is said and done, eternal life is peace. Saints will live the joy of God's glory where timeless relationships are praises of thanksgiving to God for letting us share his life. God has won the victory for the saints who are in Heaven; but those still remaining in the world must continue the struggles and strive to make it a better place for future generations.

Copyright (C) 2010 by Kurt Koppetsch/Shepherd News Trust, Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I.D. CRISIS--Series 10 of 20--Government

Author: Kurt Koppetsch, Publisher, Shepherd News Trust

PURPOSE:
This blog is designed to examine the performance of Congress, the Executive Branch and the Judiciary in light of the Constitution of the United States. The "government by the people for the people" is charged to serve the present and future generations in a just and compassionate manner. Furthermore, government shares with all Americans the monumental task of defending freedom and justice as spelled out in the Constitution of the United States of America. Additionally, the leitmotiv in this blog is the spiritual connection as a timeless relationship of trust with the living God.

GOAL:
The goal of the Shepherd Blog is to help people secure quality of life as prefaced by truth, justice, peace, health, shelter, economic independence and by resolving human stress as the acute spiritual problem that overwhelms people and nations.

BACKGROUND:
The book I.D. Crisis by Kurt Koppetsch deals with the spiritual, intellectual, and social conflict in modern times. Confusion about the past and uncertainties in the present prevent us from knowing our true nature. As a direct consequence of such confusion, visions of the future are clouded. Some of the diversions that prevent us from realizing our true identity as children of God are philosophies, politics, economics and falsehood such as religious cults. The solution is remembering that human beings are dependent creatures of God.

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE:
Each series of the book I.D. Crisis will conclude with the poem "Rays of Hope and Freedom" to assure readers that God cares about our lives and we are his children of hope. Hope is the From/to process at work in the modern Era of Faith repairing life and circumstance. Hope is making the impossible come true.

GOVERNMENT

1. The role of Government

"And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to entrap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, 'Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?' But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, 'Why put me to the test? Bring me a coin, and let me look at it.' And they brought one. And he said to them, 'Whose likeness and inscription is this?' They said to him, 'Caesar's.' Jesus said to them, 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.' " (Mark 12:13-17)

And Jesus plainly told Pilate: "My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world .... For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice." (John 18:36,37)

Government is an institution of the world. It exists by authority of the people it represents. Its function is to preside over the affairs of society so that order is maintained through a system of law and justice. Government further administers the responsibility of the people and provides for public welfare for those in need.

The laws that government rules by are commonly derived by from experience of problem situations. These are mostly written to correct the shortcomings in social behavior. The intent of these laws is to project a better life for the future.

Laws are designed to give all people in a democratic society equal opportunity in the sharing of rights and obligations. Whereas the world depends on physical strength to make its system work, God's Commandments override human wisdom (Exodus 19-24).

For example, God's rescue of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt has prompted Covenant and Law. Because of people's failure to live by God's standards, God intervened again. And the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are now part of humanity's history. Through them we also now have the model of the godly life before us. And the teaching about how believers are restored for sharing life with each other in God's presence (Romans 5:1-11) is God's message in the Gospel.

Through this knowledge of divine expectations and similar appreciation of civil laws, people within a given society can then adjust their behavior. An orderly people conforms to accepted norms and standards.

Enlightened government envisions a better way of life through the laws that it dictates. Its laws establish rules for relationships. They appropriate resources wisely. And they look protectively after the people, environment, and material blessings.

On the other hand, a bad government reacts to the matters at hand irrationally. Its laws reflect panic and confusion. In the following chaos, the most severe laws are selected as the instrument to rule people in tyranny. Confusion and chaos are the breeding grounds for conversions from democracy to autocracy.

A beneficent government knows how to maintain order through its laws by enforcing them justly. It recognizes the value of justice as a mechanism for controlling human behavior. Any enlightened society then becomes a dynamic force that establishes its own sphere of influence so that other societies will want to follow its model. When this happens, its status increases and the security of its people is strengthened.

The ideal rule by government has yet to be demonstrated in the world. Daily struggles toward this goal make up the crucial difference between "should" and what is. Even the most advanced democratic state--where citizens enjoy freedom of expression and find appreciation for excellence--look at utopia as a far-out concept.

Nevertheless, good government should strive to provide order through justice according to laws that are an agglomeration of the best available knowledge. These must be considerate and protective of the future. Good laws should incorporate all experiences of human behavior to prevent undesirable repercussions.

The complement of good laws and good government is necessary for the future and growth of any society This comes about when laws are evolutionary. Stability and progress provide the foundation for closing the gap between what is ideal and current fact--progress transforms the "should" in government action to the reality of daily life.

Built into the laws, and standing behind the enforcing government, is the authority of the people. Government and law are inseparable. One is the other's disciplined complement. Both should be established for the sole purpose of serving the people. The definite function of government is to maintain order by providing justly for all people.

2. Public Trust and Definition of Purpose

Law, order, and justice are the prime functions of any government.

A government's strength rests in the pertinence of the laws to the problems at hand. As the responsible authority to provide order through justice, government must stay dynamic by virtue of evolution in its systems of laws.

But as society progresses to new norms of behavior and updates its laws, government must act to protect the fundamental rights that are basic to ensuring human dignity. Because these are God-given rights, any government that recognizes the authority of God as the fundamental responsibility of its people is ruling according to wisdom and will be blessed with power.

Inasmuch as people have the responsibility to submit themselves totally to the authority of God, government has no right to dictate to its people anything that will affect, or can influence, spiritual performance or eternal destiny. The Kingdom of God and human organizations in the world are two separate entities. They are not only separate, but they are diametrically opposed to each other. The spirit indeed has superiority over the flesh. And the immortal prevails over the mortal.

Law, order, and justice, as incorporated in government, are to the world what the grace of God is to the Kingdom of heaven. As an institution of the world, government is the instrument of people. The people are responsible for government. And the government is accountable to the people, for it has received their authority as a matter of public trust.

Because government is a dominant force in contemporary life, it will benefit everyone to study its role and our involvement in it. We soon will discover that common to both people and nations is self-preservation. Modern man is not exempt from basic animal instincts. And neither has humanity suffered throughout the ages from a shortage of greed and lust for power.

In writing to the Church at Rome, Saint Paul gives a cursory review of a Christian's duties toward state authorities (Romans 13).

Paul speaks about personal behavior in any orderly society. He deliberately avoids fixing a burden of proof--with regard to responsibility and accountability--on those who govern. Saint Paul points to the performance of people.

Paul discusses a Christian's involvement in government in terms of the consequences of good and evil behavior. But our compliance to his warning that we must "show respect and honor" toward those who govern suddenly shifts responsibility and accountability from a believer's role to a servant's status.

Saint Paul writes: "Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment, for rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore, one must be subject, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience." (Romans 13:2-5)

Honor and respect extended by God's chosen people according to divine decree has suddenly turned into the "double-edged sword" over those in authority. What is freely given must be responsibly administered.

God complied with the wishes of Israel for a king (1 Samuel 8:22). Does this mean that God did not care any more? Far from it. God tolerates coexistence of good and bad people. But at the end of time all people must stand before God in judgment. Christ's parable about the Kingdom of Heaven exemplifies this point (Matthew 13:47-50)

Saul was an expert in the ways of the world. He knew what pleased people. For the sake of popularity, he sacrificed spiritual integrity and the authority of God's prophet (1 Samuel 13:7b-14). Saul's roller coaster performance met God's judgment as he and his sons died on Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 31:1-6).

By the example of Saul, we are again shown that God's interest is not embodied in the charisma of people, but in faithfulness and obedience to his will and purpose: "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king." (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

The strength of any nation is the wisdom of its people. Governments are not made by wishful thinking or meaningless rhetoric. Never-ending promises seldom see the light of day.

People must learn to protect themselves from political theatrics and not become gullible to such trickery. We have been blessed with the truth about God through the Holy Spirit living in us for the purpose of doing the will of God. How, then, can we be faithful and obedient to God when we allow ourselves to be swayed by human nature? We must control human nature and not make it our master. For this very reason we have received newness of life in the Spirit to properly use the power of God.

The power of God is made available to us by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Christ said that the Holy Spirit "will take what is mine and declare it to you." (John 16:14) The authority that we yield at the ballot box to elect our government is a definite part of this God-given power.

Our responsibility, then, definitely is to God. We are in no way accountable to man for something we have received from God. The right definition of authority in government then is authority by the people. When all realize this obligation, then government works on behalf of the people, doing exactly what they dictate.

3. Our Burden of Responsibility

Whenever people neglect their God-given responsibility, they similarly abdicate their authority to govern themselves. This change can take place through action or inaction at the ballot box, and the function of government can become changed from service to rule.

Our responsibility in the election process is just one part of our overall obligation as children of God. There are many lessons in the Bible to show how Israel's survival depended on loyalty to God, while disloyalty always led to disaster. The stories of Judges show the disaster that came when God's people turned away from him.

Let us review the instructions to the Israelites concerning the type of life God expected them to lead in the Promised Land: "Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither you go, lest it become a snare in the midst of you. You shall tear down their altars, and break their pillars, and cut down their Ashe'rim (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they play the harlot after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and one invites you, you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters play the harlot after their god and make your sons play the harlot after their gods." (Exodus 34:12-16)

But the people did not take their burden of responsibility seriously, and the beginning of disaster shows Israel's indictment. The angel of the LORD went from Gilgal to Bochim and said to the Israelites: "I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you into the land which I swore to give to your fathers. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.' But you have not obeyed my command." (Judges 2:1-2)

National disaster came upon the Israelites when they stopped worshipping God after the death of Joshua and began to serve local pagan gods. "So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them; and he sold them into the power of their enemies round about, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies." (Judges 2:14)

And the continuous story shows that Israel forgot God again and again. But in the same accounts we also read how the Israelites cried out to God and on every occasion "he sent a man who freed them." The writing in Judges gives valiant account about Othniel, Ehud, Deborah and Barak, and some more popular heroes like Gideon and Samson.

But the book of Judges also contains the dedicated efforts of eleven tribes and their fight against evil. The nation rightfully assumed the sexual abuse and murder of the Levite's wife as a national problem when they set out to rid the land of this evil and purified the faith. Commitment to God overshadowed their sorrow of having totally destroyed the tribe of Benjamin--save for 600 men--and it guided them in making provision so that the Benjaminites would not become extinct (Judges 19-21).

Today's Christians also know of their responsibility to God because of Christ's teaching, but we have an additional obligation to society because our freedom is based on a system of law which all people must uphold and support in order to benefit from this freedom.

The point that must be raised is whether individuals in a free society of God-fearing people have the right to abdicate their responsibility and give away their authority. As God-fearing people, do we have a right to deprive government leadership of best available talent and elect as leaders people who have many shortcomings? Let there not be any doubt, the burden and the responsibility is ours.

We have looked at the method by which government operates as a matter of public trust. Its nature is definitely a reflection of the character of its people. If the government looks sick, then the people surely require healing.

But we are too quick to explain our shortcoming by claiming that we were misled by false promises. Thus, we help set our own trap and then complain when we fall into it. Because we live in the world, we are wise to the world. Surely, we are familiar with the old tricks of stealing from Peter to pay Paul. But this is exactly the essence behind smooth-talking rhetoric that contains promises without any substance. It is our duty, therefore, to clamp down on any irresponsible actions, those in word as well as those in deed. But we don't. We overlook them, simply because by chance we may benefit by them.

Freedom degenerates as people wrongly think that they can afford it because they enjoy prosperity. But was we allow this to happen, government will claim credit for accomplishments, while at the same time flexing its muscle to show the world that it is in full charge. It alone has the authority and the power to rule. And the people will face very convincing arguments that a particular government should continue because it has all the necessary expertise in dealing with the wealth and the power of its people.

It is during these times of false prosperity that the nation will sink to its lowest level because power becomes abused. The consequence is that the poor in the land lose all support. The prosperous do not care, as long as they are taken care of. They do not suffer, although they wish some of the burdens to be lighter. Additionally, there is then no concern for future generations. Selfishness only strives to satisfy immediate demands.

Let us now clear up one of the greatest misconceptions since free society has been ruling itself. This is the notion that government is power and wealth. This is absolutely not true.

Government does not create power and wealth. If anything, it dilutes it.

Power and wealth are the resources of people. But because government is very arrogant, it wants to claim credit during times of prosperity. It readily reacts to praise. And it even more quickly responds when it comes to denying any responsibility for bad times. So we see politicians reacting whenever the floodlights are on problems.

Especially is this the case when these problems were created by the very acts of government and for which those in ruling authority should stand up as being responsible. It is easier to take credit than to accept blame. And the ruling body that once pretended to be so powerful now manufactures whimsical excuses as explanations why certain things happen the way they do.

Government is strong by virtue of the strength of the nation. But the strength of government is not at all a reason for its existence. Power and strength are only useful when wisdom to use them rightfully is present. It is a true saying that wisdom is power and knows how to handle it--but power without wisdom can bring about oppression and tyranny.

The public trust as the authority that people give their elected representatives should be a matter of wisdom and should not be acquired on the basis of cheap rhetoric and empty promises. The authority that rules under the umbrella of wisdom rules also in humility. Wisdom and humility should be partners! Only when they are does representative government provide service that is beneficial to its people.

There is nothing magical about this. This is exactly the objective for electing the government in the first place: To serve its people!

It must not be otherwise. Election to public office is an honor to serve all people justly in the confidence of humility, thus not taking anything for granted in return. Election to public office is an honor that costs dearly. It carries the burden to serve wisely, for the decisions of government have far-reaching consequences into the future.

The government must protect all its people. Through its system of laws it provides order as it justly administers the behavior of people. But a government's responsibility does not extend outside its own society.

Neither does government have any authority to regulate, by law or suggestion, the important relationship of God and man. Government rules in the world. But God, as the Creator of heaven and earth, is ruler of all. All matter concerning the spirit come under the authority given to Christ. Our resurrected Lord clearly assumed all responsibility on behalf of believers: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Matthew 28:18) was Christ's confirmation to instill hope in apostles and disciples. And Christ substantiated the words of hope with the promise to guide our lives: "I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Matthew 28:20)


RAYS OF HOPE AND FREEDOM

My life was in chaos.
Darkness clouded my senses.
My heart trembled in fear.

I prayed to God:
"Father, help me!"
And God transformed my life.

The world is still the same.
But I am now secure.
Christ is my Savior!

His love fills my heart,
His faith is my faith.
Rays of hope now light up my soul.

Rays of hope and freedom
Show me the way to God,
And where Christ lives I too will live.

Copyright (C) 2009 by Kurt Koppetsch/Shepherd News Trust. All rights reserved.

(Excerpts from the books I.D. Crisis and Era of Faith by Kurt Koppetsch, published by Shepherd News Trust, Inc.--www.shepherdnewstrust.com