Thoughts and Observations of a Minister

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You will find some of my favorite things, and some of my innermost thoughts.

Poems, quotes, music, preaching, and a few funny things.
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Monday, February 25, 2008

Discouraged, WHY????

Psalm 34:19
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Isaiah 43:2
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.
Romans 5:3-4
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
2 Corinthians 4:17
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
Isaiah 30:21
Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.
Psalm 37:23-24
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand.
Psalm 4:7
You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
Matthew 28:20
Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.
Romans 8:31
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Psalm 43:5
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
Zechariah 4:6
So he answered and said to me: "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’says the LORD of hosts."
Mark 9:23
Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."
Deuteronomy 29:9
Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.
1 John 5:14-15
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
1 Corinthians 3:16
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
John 14:16-17
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 16:33
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
Hebrews 2:18
For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
Psalm 20:1-2
May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble; may the name of the God of Jacob defend you; May He send you help from the sanctuary, and strengthen you out of Zion.
Psalm 103:8-10
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.
Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
John 15:5
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Hebrews 4:16
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Psalm 33:13-14
The LORD looks from heaven; he sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth.
Psalm 103:19
The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.
Ephesians 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.
Psalm 62:5
My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.
Luke 1:37
For with God nothing will be impossible.
Psalm 61:2-4
From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ways To Reduce Stress

Never borrow worry from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice.
1. Pray
2. Go to bed on time.
3. Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.
4. Say No to projects that won't fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.
5. Delegate tasks to capable others.
6. Simplify and unclutter your life.
7. Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)
8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.
9. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don't lump the hard things all together.
10. Take one day at a time.
11. Separate worries from concerns . If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety . If you can't do any thing about a situation, forget it.
12. Live within your budget; don't use credit cards for ordinary purchases.
13. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.
14. K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.
15. Do something for the Kid in You everyday.
16. Carry a Bible with you to read while waiting in line.
17. Get enough rest.
18. Eat right.
19 Get organized so everything has its place.
20. Listen to a tape while driving that can help improve your quality of life.
21. Write down thoughts and inspirations.
22. Every day, find time to be alone.
23. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don't wait until it's time to go to bed to try and pray.
24. Make friends with Godly people.
25. Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand.
26. Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good, "Thank you Jesus."
27. Laugh.
28. Laugh some more!
29. Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.
30. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can).
31. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).
32. Sit on your ego.
33 Talk less; listen more.
34. Slow down.
35. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.
36 . Every night before bed, think of one thing you're grateful for that you've never been grateful for before. GOD HAS A WAY OF TURNING THINGS AROUND FOR YOU.
"If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Kingdom of God

John the Baptist came preaching, as recorded in Matthew 23:2. Repent ye, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.
The scripture then reports in Mark 1:14-15. Now after that John was put in prison Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye; and believe the gospel. John and Jesus spoke very clearly about the kingdom of God.
The term kingdom is used throughout the New Testament, and is refereed to more than one hundred times. The term born again, sanctification, and kingdom have all been used to divide Gods people, but all of these terms, if understood, will bring unity to all believers.
There never has been any argument about the preaching, or message of John the Baptist referring to Jesus Christ. Jesus is the messiah. He is the king of kings. When the angle in Luke 1:33 said, He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. All Christians agree Jesus is king of the everlasting kingdom. The controversy has always been that man has tried to make this kingdom of God an earthly kingdom. Jesus spoke very plain on this subject, in Luke 17:20-21. And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said. The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. Neither shall they say, lo here, or lo there, for, behold the kingdom of God is within you. The kingdom is not a worldly kingdom, but a spiritual kingdom headed by Christ, and made up of born again believers. Jesus even cleared up for us when the kingdom would be setup. In Matthew 16:28 Jesus said. Verily I say unto you, there is some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the son of man coming in his kingdom. In Luke 21:32. Jesus said verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away, till ALL be fulfilled. The point that Jesus made here is so clear that it leaves no room for any other interpretation than the obvious. The only point that might be challenged is how long a generation is, but I am sure that in our wildest imagination a generation could not reach two thousand years. The number we would probably come up with would be more like forty years. The number of years the children of Israel were in the wilderness. Then Jesus sad some shall not even taste death, till they see the son of man in his kingdom.
The words that Jesus spoke while hanging on the cross was, it is finished, but some may question, if it was finished or not. Jesus being the messiah had fulfilled all the prophesies. Jesus stated this in Luke8:31. Then he took unto him the twelve and said unto them, Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the son of man shall be accomplished. Jesus was the word that was made flesh. The New Testament is a testimony of his life, and teachings. The cross was the final defeat for Satan, and when Jesus said it was finished, it was over the scriptures had been fulfilled. If we can see what it is to be born again, and sanctified unto God, it will not be hard to understand what Jesus was talking about in Luke 11:20. The kingdom of God is upon you.
Jesus had finished his work. Pilot had asked Jesus art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus answered thou sayest. He is defiantly the king, but a king without a kingdom is no king at all. The kingdom of God is here now, it is within the heart of every believer, and has been sense Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament. John speaking through the spirit in Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom. John knew he was in the kingdom at that time, he also knew the Christians he was addressing were also in the kingdom. Luke 18:29-30 . And he said to them, verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or parent, or brother, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of Gods sake, who shall no receive many times more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting. Notice the phrase in this present time. Jesus is speaking of the kingdom being already in existence and the believers being part of it then, and there. Jesus speaking again in Luke 12:31 But rather seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not little flock; for it is your fathers good pleasure to give you the kingdom. We are not to be waiting on the kingdom of God, we are to be seeking it, and it is the father’s good pleasure to give it to you. Still there are some who do not believe that Jesus fulfilled all the prophesy as he said he did. They believe that Daniels seventh week must be fulfilled at some later date, and Jesus must return to do that. I chose to take the word of Jesus rather than that of man on this subject. The problem is if Jesus did not fulfill the prophesy, then he wasn’t the messiah, and it really wasn’t finished when Jesus said it was finished.
How then do we deal with the woman in Revelation chapter twelve, where she is with child, and cried travailing in birth, and pain to be delivered? Then in verse five the scripture says she brought forth a man child who was to rule all nations, and her child was caught up to God, and to his throne. There cannot be any doubt that this is talking about Jesus Christ. Then we read in verse ten, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brothern is cast down. Salvation, strength, and the kingdom is come, now notice how all three are used together.
The word travail, or tribulation coming before the kingdom, that is scriptural. Let us take some time and explore this. The whole creation groaning together from the time John the Baptist started his ministry until the time Jesus completed his ministry. The bible even tells us that when Jesus died the graves opened, and the sun turned black. The spiritual warfare had to be beyond description. The day heaven, and hell meet. Jesus was victorious. Man could live again not under the law of discipline, but in the kingdom of God. If you need to fit in the seven years, I believe this is a very good place to do that. The 3 ½ years of Johns ministry and 3 ½ years of Jesus ministry.
Another word we hear is millennium. The word millennium means a thousand. Some theologians use it to refer to a period of time for an earthly kingdom. Jesus answered this himself and so did the angle of God, and every Christian knows in his heart, that there is no end to the kingdom of God, not in a thousand years, or ten thousand years. The kingdom of God cannot be put in a box.
The question then comes up about Revelation 20:2. He laid hold on the dragon that old serpent which is the devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit; and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should not deceive the nations any more.
This verse means what it says Satan cannot deceive the nations, because the kingdom of God cannot be deceived. Satan lost his power over this world when Jesus defeated him on the cross, and if this did not happen at the cross than what did happen to Satan at the cross? Does he have the same power he did before, or are his movements limited, and where are they limited? We might say he has been chained. Satan is not only limited, but totally powerless over the kingdom of God. Remember Jesus told Peter I give you the keys to the kingdom, whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.We have a exit, when we are born again, we exit the worlds authority and enter the kingdom of gods athrority.
The next word is Armageddon as referred to in Revelation 16:6 angle poured out his vial upon the Euphrates, and three unclean spirits like frogs came out of the dragon’s mouth; they are the spirits of the devil. These go forth to the kings of the earth to gather them together to battle. This is taught by some to take place at the end of the tribulation. Now it is the belief that the church will be in heaven at this time. Then what is to take place is that, Jesus is to lead an army consisting of the Christians in heaven, and these dear saints will come out of heaven, and fight earthly men, and kill then. The slighter will be so bad that the blood will run as high as the bridle on the horses. If I believed in soul sleep I would have an easier time trying to understand this line of thinking, but I do not believe in soul sleep.
Paul tells us to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. When our body dies, we go directly to heaven to be with the Lord, and he will wipe away every tear. In John chapter fourteen Jesus says let not your heart be troubled you believe in God believe also in me. In my father house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also. Heaven is a place. We go directly there. We do not pass through purgatory, or limbo. The reference to Jesus coming to take us to heaven is referring to our physical death.
Then after we are in heaven, having communion with the saints, listening to the angelic choir sing. Then we are to take up a sword, and fight a battle that Jesus has already won. I think not.
The New Jerusalem as spoken of in Revelation 21:10 The angle carried me away in the spirit to a great high mountain and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. We need to remember that John saw this city, and the angle made no mention of it being an illusion. Then in the sixteenth verse it tells us the length, breath, and height, all fifteen hundred miles each. The scripture tells us in the book of Galatians 4:25-26. For this is Agar in Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children, but Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. Notice verse twenty six Paul says the Jerusalem which is above, that is in the present tense, and the same verse says which is the mother of us all, again in the present tense. The New Jerusalem is already in place, and has been throughout the kingdom age. Christians may be in this natural world, but we are not of this world.
We have a real King, Jesus Christ, who presides over a real Kingdom, of which we are citizens of now.
That kingdom is in our hearts, and it gives us victory over the world. Jesus told us how to live in the kingdom, and though we are in the world, we are not to be part of it. We have different values, we have different goals, we are empowered by him, and protected by him. Jesus is a real king, he rules now. Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord I will repay.
Our king has everything under control.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The White Devil, The Evil of Unbelief 1678

This doctrine of coming to Jesus Christ for life, informs us of the evil of UNBELIEF; that wicked thing which is the only or chief hindrance to the coming sinner. Doth the text say, "Come"? Doth it say, "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out"?
Then what an evil is that, that keepeth sinners from coming to Jesus Christ? And that evil is unbelief: for by faith we come; by unbelief we keep away. Therefore it is that by which a soul is said to depart from God: because it was that which at first caused the world to go off from him, and that also, that keeps them from him to this day. And it doth it the more easily, because it doth it with a wile.
This sin may be called THE WHITE DEVIL. For it ofttimes, in its mischievous doing in the soul, shows as if it were an angel of light: yea, it acteth like a counsellor of heaven. Therefore, a little to discourse of this evil disease, I observe:
1. It is that sin, above all others, that hath some show of reason in its attempts. For it keeps the soul from Christ, by pretending its present unfitness and unpreparedness: as want of more sense of sin, want of more repentance, want of more humility, want of a more broken heart.
2. It is the sin that most suiteth with the conscience. The conscience of the coming sinner tells him, that he hath nothing good! that he stands inditable for ten thousand talents; that he is a very ignorant, blind and hard-hearted sinner, unworthy to be once taken notice of by Jesus Christ; and will you (says unbelief) in such a case as you are now, presume to come to Jesus Christ?
3. It is the sin that most suiteth with our sense of feeling. The coming sinner feels the workings of sin, of all manner of sin and wretchedness in his flesh; he also feels the wrath and judgment of God due to sin and ofttimes staggers under it. Now, (says unbelief) you may see you have no grace; for that which works in you is corruption. You may also perceive that God doth not love you, because the sense of his wrath abides upon you. Therefore, how can you bear the face to come to Jesus Christ?
4. It is that sin above all others that most suiteth the wisdom of our flesh. The wisdom of our flesh thinks it prudence to question awhile, to stand back awhile, to hearken to both sides awhile, and not to be rash, sudden, or unadvised, in too bold a presuming upon Christ. And this wisdom unbelief falls in with.
5. It is the sin above all others, that continually is whispering in the ear the soul, with mistrusts of the faithfulness of God, in keeping promise to them that come to Jesus Christ for life. It also suggests mistrusts about Christ's willingness to receive it, and save it. And no sin can do this so artfully as unbelief.
6. It is also that sin which is always at hand to enter an objection against this or that promise, that by the Spirit of God is brought to our heart to comfort us. And if the poor coming sinner is not aware of it, it will by some exaction, slight, trick, or cavil, quickly wrest from him the promise again, and he shall have but little benefit of it.
7. It is that above all other sins, that weakens our prayers, our faith, our love, our diligence, our hope and expectations. It even taketh the heart away from God in duty.
8. Lastly, this sin, as I have said, even now, appears in the soul with so many sweet pretences to greater safety and security, that it is, as it were, counsel sent from heaven; bidding the soul be wise, wary, considerate, well-advised, and to take heed of too rash a venture upon believing. "Be sure, first, that God loves you; take hold of no promise until you are forced by God unto it; neither be sure of your salvation; doubt it still, though the testimony of the Lord has often been confirmed in you.
Live not by faith, but by sense; and when you can neither see nor feel, then fear and mistrust, then doubt and question all." This is the devilish counsel of unbelief, which is so covered over with specious pretences, that the wisest Christian can hardly shake off these reasonings.
But to be brief, let me here give the Christian reader a more particular description of the qualities of unbelief, by opposing faith unto it, in these particulars.
Faith believeth the word of God, but unbelief questioneth the certainty of it (Psa 116:24). Faith believeth the word, because it is true; but unbelief doubteth thereof, because it is true (1 Tim 4:3; John 8:45). Faith sees more in a promise of God to help, than in all other things to hinder; but unbelief, notwithstanding God's promise saith, 'How can these things be?'(Rom 4:19-21; 2 Kings 7:2; John 3:11,12). Faith will make thee see love in the heart of Christ, when with his mouth he gives reproofs; but unbelief will imagine wrath in his heart, when with his mouth and word he saith he loves us (Matt 15:22-29; 25:24).
Faith will help the soul to wait, though God defers to give; but unbelief will take offence and throw up all, if God makes any tarrying (Psa 25:5; Isa 8:17; 2 Kings 6:33). Faith will give comfort in the midst of fears; but unbelief causeth fears in the midst of comforts (2 Chron 20:20,21; Matt 8:26; Luke 24:25).
Faith will suck sweetness out of God's rod; but unbelief can find no comfort in his greatest mercies (Psa 23; Num 12). Faith maketh great burdens light; but unbelief maketh light ones intolerably heavy (Mal 1:12,13). Faith helpeth us when we are down; but unbelief throws us down when we are up (Micah 7:8-10; Heb 4: 11). Faith bringeth us near to God when we are far from him; but unbelief puts us far from God when we are near to him (Heb 10:22; 3:12,13).
Where faith reigns, it declareth us to be the friends of God; but where unbelief reigns, it declareth us to be his enemies (Heb 3:18; Rev 21:8). Faith putteth a man under grace; but unbelief holdeth him under wrath (Rom 3:24-26; Eph 2:8; John 3:36; 1 John 5: 10; Heb 3:17; Mark 16:16; John 8:24). Faith purifieth the heart; but unbelief keepeth it polluted and impure (Acts 15:9; Titus 1:15,16). By faith the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us; but unbelief shuts us up under the law to perish (Rom 4:23,24; 11:32; Gal 3:23).
Faith maketh our work acceptable to God through Christ; but whatsoever is of unbelief is sin. For without faith it is impossible to please him (Heb 11:4; Rom 14:23; Heb 11:6). Faith giveth us peace and comforteth our souls; but unbelief worketh trouble and tossings, like the restless waves of the sea (Rom 5:1; James 1:6).
Faith maketh us see preciousness in Christ, but unbelief sees no form, beauty, or comeliness in him (1 Pet 2; Isa 53:1-3). By faith we have our life in Christ's fulness; but by unbelief we starve and pine away (Gal 2:20). Faith gives us the victory over the law, sin, death, the devil, and all evils: but unbelief lays us obnoxious to them all (1 John 5:4; Luke 12:46).
Faith will show us more excellency in things not seen, than in them that are; but unbelief sees more in things that are, than in things that will be hereafter (2 Cor 4:18; Heb 11:24-27; 1 Cor 15:32).
Faith makes the ways of God pleasant and admirable; but unbelief makes them heavy and hard (Gal 4:6; 2 Cor 12: 1O,11; John 6:60; Psa 2:3).
By faith Abraham, Isaac and Jacob possessed the land of promise; but because of unbelief, neither Aaron, nor Moses, nor Miriam could get thither (Heb 11:9; 3:19). By faith the children of Israel passed through the Red sea; but by unbelief the generality of them perished in the wilderness (Heb 11:29; Jude 5). By faith Gideon did more with three hundred men, and a few empty pitchers, than all the twelve tribes could do, because they believed not God (Judges 7:16-22; Num 14:11,14). By faith Peter walked on the water; but by unbelief he began to sink (Matt 14:22-33).
Thus might many more be added, which for brevity's sake, I omit; beseeching every one that thinketh he hath a soul to save, or be damned, to take heed of unbelief; lest seeing there is a promise left us of entering into his rest, any of us by unbelief should indeed come short of it.
By John Bunyan

Visit a Church

I have had the privilege of traveling the world, I have stood on mountain tops, shorelines, and beautiful valleys. I have seen the Eiffel tower, leaning tower, and the twin towers in New York before and after 911. I have never seen anything more beautiful than the church. There is a warmth, that I have felt in every church I visited, no matter what country, or when it was built, or what Christian group built it.
There is always a feeling of being at home, being safe, being among friends.
No matter where you go this year on vacation, visit a church, new, old, Sunday or Monday, and check out what I have posted. I think you will find the same thing I found.
Gods presents.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Robert Shapiro on Naked Short Selling

To: Securities Exchange Commission Rules CommitteeSubject: File No. S7-23-03: Comments on the "Proposed Rule: Short Sales," 17 CFR 240 and 242, Release No. 34-48709From: Robert J. ShapiroDate: December 24, 2003
I am Robert J. Shapiro, chairman of Sonecon, LLC, an economic advisory and investment firm in Washington, D.C. I am also a Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution and Counselor to the U.S. Conference Board. From1998 to 2001, I was Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs. Previous to that, I was Vice President and co-founder of the Progressive Policy Institute and principal economic advisor to Governor Bill Clinton in his 1991-1992 presidential campaign. I hold a Ph.D. from Harvard University.
I commend the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) for, at long last, addressing the issue of abuses in short sales. No one questions that the legitimate use of short sales often promotes the efficiency and stability of our capital markets. Short sales alert investors to other investors' judgments that certain firms are over-valued; short sales also enable market makers, as necessary, to provide liquidity and offset temporary imbalances in the supply and demand for particular stocks. These legitimate and positive uses of short sales depend on two particular features of the transaction - namely, that the short sale is covered as required by SEC regulation, and not undertaken to manipulate a stock's price. Without these features, the use of uncovered or "naked" shorts to manipulate the price of targeted shares can present a significant threat to investors. When carried out on a large and widespread scale, naked shorts threaten the basic integrity of equity markets. In my judgment, the Commission's proposals would not materially reduce these threats.
Concern about the illegitimate use of short sales is as old as the SEC itself. The Commission writes that "Congress, in 1934, directed the Commission to 'purge the market' of short selling abuses, and in response, the Commission adopted restrictions that have remained essentially unchanged for over 60 years."1 It has been evident for some time that the regulations adopted in 1938, principally Rule 10a-1 restricting short selling in a stock while its price is falling, have not stemmed illegitimate short-selling. This failure suggests systemic problems with the short sale system that have eroded the basic integrity of the equity markets, including: 1) broker-dealers and investment firms apparently participating in the creation of significant numbers of sham short sales to artificially drive down the price of targeted firms, 2) apparently lax and faulty arrangements at the industry-owned Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC) and its National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC) subsidiary that have allowed millions of uncovered shorts to persist in the system; and 3) the apparent incapacity or unwillingness of the SEC to enforce existing short sale regulation by investment companies, the DTCC and the NSCC.
The SEC has definitively acknowledged the inadequacy of current regulation by proposing to replace Rules 10a-1, 10a-2 and 3b-3 with new Regulation SHO. Moreover, the Commission also now acknowledges that one reason for the proposed change is the failure of existing arrangements to prevent naked short selling on a large scale, signified by extended failures to deliver shares on a sufficient scale to affect the price of individual equities:
"(A)t times, the amount of fails to deliver may be greater than the total public float. In effect, the naked short seller unilaterally converts a securities contract (which should settle in three days after the trade date) into an undated futures-type contract, which the buyer might not have agreed to or that would have been priced differently."2
When the number of uncovered short sales in a stock exceeds its public float-or even the total number of shares issued or outstanding--the only plausible explanation is a concerted and illegal effort by short sellers to flood the marketplace with counterfeit or fictitious shares, in order to artificially drive down the stock's price and increase the value of the shorts. Massive naked short sales turn the equity market into a form of monopoly pricing for the firms that fall victim to such sales, in which the short seller sets the price at a level guaranteed to provide a quasi-monopoly return. These actions, in effect, destroy the integrity of the market system for firms targeted by naked short sellers and create a direct transfer of wealth from existing shareholders to the illegal short sellers. The firms targeted for such manipulation are generally smaller, younger public firms - the type of company which has generated many of the technological and organizational innovations that have contributed so much to the increases in business investment and productivity of recent years. As relatively small and young companies with much fewer shares in their public floats than their older and larger counterparts, their individual decline or destruction also generally attracts little public attention.
These illegal short sellers cannot achieve pricing power over a firm by themselves, since it involves creating hundreds of thousands or even millions of phantom or non-existent shares in direct breach of numerous regulations and laws. This undertaking requires the collaboration of broker-dealers who will carry out short sales without transferring actual shares, and the tacit countenance of the market organizations and regulatory bodies charged with clearing and settling those short sales. The fact that naked short sales occur on this scale, therefore, points to serious problems involving compliance with short sale regulation at the investment firms conducting these transactions for their customers. It also points to troubling problems involving the enforcement of these rules at the NSCC, where these transactions are supposed to be cleared and settled in accordance with the rules, at the NSCC's corporate parent, the DTCC, and at the SEC offices entrusted with overseeing the DTCC, the NSCC and investment firms.
The DTCC describes its responsibilities in this area in very unambiguous terms:
It is the job of [the DTCC and NSCC] to provide an efficient and safe way for the buyer and seller to exchange securities and money, thus 'clearing and settling' the transactions. … NSCC steps into the middle of a trade, becomes a contra-party to both firms and guarantees completion of the transaction. This guarantee assures all members that NSCC will complete trades on the original terms."3
The DTCC and NSCC further guarantee that all trades, including short sales, are promptly cleared and settled-since 1995, within three business days:
NSCC guarantees and settles transactions between market professionals during this time period [three business days] to ensure sellers are paid and buyers receive their securities in a manner that reduces risk, cost and post-trade uncertainties. … NSCC guarantees that a trade will be completed once it enters our system as compared, which means all trade details from the buyer and seller match up."4
Despite these intentions, there is considerable evidence that market manipulation through the use of naked short sales has been much more common than almost anyone has suspected, and certainly more widespread than most investors believe. I have studied one form of illegitimate short selling, based on the use of a convertible warrant guaranteeing the investor the right to convert his investment into shares at the lowest public share price over some look-back period, minus a substantial discount. The use of this financial instrument, commonly called "death spiral financing," was widespread in the 1990s and the recent turn of the century, and created strong incentives for large-scale naked short sales focused on small and medium-size public companies. This particular instrument creates conditions under which an investor can profit by short-selling the firm in which he is otherwise invested: If the investor can drive down the firm's share price through short sales, he profits from his shorts while his convertible warrant protects the value of his original investment, regardless of how much the stock declines. The investor also can use his warrants to produce the shares he needs to eventually close his short positions.
The appeal of the death-spiral instrument to a short seller intent on driving down a firm's share price is clear: It eliminates economic risk, since the warrant guarantees the delivery of shares equal to the investment plus a large premium, regardless of the stock's price. However, a short seller without such a warrant can also virtually eliminate his financial risk by undertaking short sales on a scale sufficient to drive down the stock's price. Normally, a legitimate short seller increases his exposure by expanding his short position. For a short seller operating on a sufficient scale to affect the stock price, however, the more extensively he shorts a stock, the greater his prospects of profiting and the greater his profits will likely be.
The more the share price falls, the greater the short-seller's return; and the greater the percentage of tradable shares that the shorts account for, the greater the price decline. The only difficulty facing a short seller intent on manipulating a stock's price is securing enough shares to cover such large-scale short sales. The typical solution is the large-scale naked short sales that the Commission has found--in some cases greater than the total number of tradable, outstanding or issued shares in the firm being shorted. As the Commission notes,
[N]aked short sellers enjoy greater leverage than if they were required to borrow securities and deliver within a reasonable period, and they may use this additional leverage to engage in trading activities that deliberately depress the price of a security."
My own research has found, thus far, that a sample of more than 200 companies that appear to have been victimized by this new form of "bear raid" posted a combined market loss of more than $105 billion. Others also have found substantial evidence of the ill effects of naked short sales. Two European economists, Professors Pierre Hillion and Theo Vermaelen, tracked 467 issues of floating-price "death spiral" convertible warrants by 261 U.S. firms from December 1994 to July 1998.5 They found that despite the strong bull market of that period, the shares of 85 percent of those firms fell by an average of 34 percent in the year following the issue of the convertible instrument. Nor were these declines consistent with comparable firms that had not undertaken this financing: The year before issuing these warrants, firms using this form of finance under-performed various market indices by 5 to 11 percent; a year after issuing the warrants, the same firms under-performed the same indices by 40 to 54 percent.
Considering massive naked short sales undertaken either with or without a floating-price convertible warrant, we believe that this type of stock manipulation has occurred in many hundreds and perhaps thousands of cases over the last decade.
Illicit short sales on such a scale or anything approaching it point to grave inadequacies in the current regulatory regime. In principal, it should be simple to identify short selling of the extent required to manipulate a stock's price. The stock exchanges track the short interest in every issue and can easily identify stocks with sufficient short-sale activity to raise questions of manipulation. It also should be simple to prevent the extended use of naked short sales, since an investor's broker-dealer will know of any failure to deliver the shares being shorted, the information systems within investment firms track such failures to deliver, and the NSCC is charged with monitoring the failures to deliver reported by investment firms.
The large-scale naked short-sales now acknowledged by the SEC and confirmed by research require broker dealers willing to look the other way as their customers carry out their short sale strategy, with some of these broker dealers perhaps relying on a customer's convertible warrant to guarantee that the shorts will be closed eventually. The success of these large-scale naked short sale strategies also depends on a persistent failure by the supervisors and employers of these broker dealers to question or investigate massive short sales transacted through their firms and followed, time after time, by the effective destruction of the targeted companies. The strategy's success further depends on NSCC staff willing to overlook thousands of instances in which large numbers of shares are not delivered for an extended period or on their supervisors' ignoring such reports.
Finally, these manipulations can occur only in a lax enforcement environment. The record shows that the SEC has not disciplined a single broker-dealer, a single investment firm, a single staff or official of the NSCC or DTCC in connection with the massive illegal activities which the Commission acknowledges have occurred.
The rules governing short sales must be tightened and, just as important, the new rules must be strictly enforced. I do not believe, however, that the SEC's proposals in their current form will have an appreciable effect deterring these abuses.
The proposed reforms of the "tick test" will do little to curb the serious abuses in short selling. The Commission writes that a strict "tick test" can prevent,
" … short selling at successively lower prices, thus eliminating short selling as a tool for driving the market down" [and prevent] "short sellers from accelerating a declining market by exhausting all remaining bids at one price level, causing successively lower prices to be established by long sellers."6
This analysis gravely underestimates the ability of sophisticated manipulators to drive down a stock price while technically complying with the tick test. A technically-sophisticated short-selling operation, for example, can carry out a trading strategy that creates or includes brief up-ticks of one-penny, as required under the new test. Whether a manipulated stock's pattern of price decline is smooth or punctuated by plateaus and penny increases on the long way down does not alter the manipulation. In addition, the new bid test, like the current one, would apply only to exchange-listed and NASDAQ NMS securities, and not to NASDAQ small cap, Over the Counter Bulletin Board, and Pink Sheet securities-the equities that are most vulnerable to such manipulation.7 Finally, the proposal to reform the tick test addresses the timing of short sales relative to the price set by immediately-previous short or long sales, but not the core issue of naked short sales.
The Commission considers another approach in the proposed Rule 203. The new rule would authorize the NASD to bar a broker-dealer from executing short sales in a particular security for 90 days for either his own account or the account of a customer who had failed to deliver 10,000 or more shares of that security sold short, within two days of its settlement date. In addition, the clearing agency for the failed delivery could deny the customer who had failed to deliver the benefit of mark-to-market on his short sales, which would freeze his collateral.
The 90-day bar in Rule 203, as currently written, will not "protect buyers of securities by substantially curtailing naked short selling" as the Commission hopes, because it would inhibit only those illegal short sellers working with only one broker dealer and working alone. Under the new rule, an investor caught using naked shorts to drive down the price of stock could find another accommodating broker-dealer or an associate could carry on the scheme the original broker dealer. I urge the Commission to revise the proposed rule to ensure its effective application under such circumstances.
The Commission's proposal to authorize the clearing agency for a failed delivery to deny a customer the benefit of marking to market on his short sales has more potential for curbing short-sale abuses, since it could freeze the profits of naked short sellers. By itself, however, the rule is insufficient: Based on the SEC's findings as well as independent research, we cannot assume that broker dealers or clearing agents always will follow the rules when they can profit from bending or breaking them. As the Commission writes regarding market makers,
"… [W]e believe that extended failures to deliver appear characteristic of an investment or trading strategy, rather than being related to market making. We believe it is questionable whether a market maker carrying a short position in a heavily shorted security for an extended period of time is in fact engaged in providing liquidity for customers, or rather is engaged in a speculative trading strategy."
I urge the Commission to improve the proposal by making the sanctions mandatory: In every case of an extended failure to deliver shares, the collateral will be frozen until the shares are delivered. If the shares are not delivered within five business days-almost twice the length of the normal clearance and settlement procedure-the investment firm should be compelled to use the collateral to buy-in the position and liquidate the short sale. Finally, the NSCC should publish the names of individuals who fail to cover substantial short positions in five days, and investment firms should be prohibited from conducting any transactions for 90 days for those individuals or the firms which employ them.
I also urge the Commission to heed the concerns about market makers noted above and develop rigorous criteria for distinguishing genuine markets makers from those claiming the role in order to escape regulation and, among genuine market makers, distinguish clearly those activities which fall under such market making and those which do not. In any case in which short sales are conducted under a cover of genuine market making for which they do not qualify, as in the example noted above by the Commission, the sanctions we propose for everyone else should apply to the so-called market maker.
Even such strict rules cannot guarantee compliance. Current regulations require that any uncovered short be covered within 10 days of settlement; but the NASD, DTCC, NSCC and SEC have failed to penalize their myriad violations. Nor would the new rules affect the abuses associated with death-spiral financing, since that instrument provides a short-selling manipulator with the shares to eventually cover his massive naked shorts. In all these matters, the NASD, DTCC, NSCC and SEC have not shown the commitment required to enforce rules which ultimately guarantee the integrity of the capital markets.
In this context, the Commission's proposal to suspend the tick test for two years for specified liquid securities could send a dangerous message to market participants.8 The tick test, as noted above, is not always effective in preventing short sale abuse; but its suspension in an environment of lax oversight of failures to deliver could substantially increase such abuses. I am particularly concerned with the Commission's comment that the purpose of this pilot program is to "assess whether short sale regulation should be removed, in part or in whole, for actively traded securities."9 I concur that strict regulation of short sales would "especially help smaller issues, whose securities may be more susceptible to the effects of naked short selling … and would promote capital efficiency in smaller, thinly capitalized securities that are more susceptible to manipulation."10 That does not mean, however, that larger issues are always invulnerable. Manipulating their shares would require greater resources and more cooperation from broker dealers and clearinghouse agents, but such efforts could certainly flourish if short sale regulation were removed.
Finally, the Commission has asked for comments on whether the proposed amendments will promote efficiency, competition and capital formation, as required under section 3(f) of Exchange Act. To respond, we must be clear about how short sale abuses impair economic goods. As noted earlier, manipulative short selling, in effect, introduces a form of monopoly pricing that undermines the efficiency of capital markets. The public perception that equity markets are vulnerable to such abuses and that the appropriate agencies are unwilling or unable to crack down, could sharply reduce public confidence in those markets. In turn, declining public confidence can materially damage market efficiency by reducing liquidity in many issues, ultimately reducing capital formation and impairing competition by inhibiting business creation and expansion.
In my judgment, the proposed regulations would not significantly reduce short sale abuses. To have a genuine impact on the efficiency and competitiveness of the equity markets, the regulations should provide much stronger disincentives for naked short sales. The integrity of the capital markets demands much stricter regulation than those currently proposed, much greater industry compliance than has occurred of late, and much tighter enforcement than has been seen thus far.
Robert J. ShapiroDecember 24, 2003

Friday, February 15, 2008

Under Attack

Have you ever felt under attack? I am sure most of us have. How do we handle it, what do we do.
First find a safe place, Just like a football team sometimes needs to take a time out. Step back away from the battle, reassess what is happening. Many times when attack comes, it is because we have allowed ourselves to be lured into enemy territory. There are several ways to win a battle. Eisenhower said a army moves on its stomach, meaning if the food line is cut, the army will die. There are many things that can be done without direct confrontation.
The first thing we would need to know is why the attack, what is the motive. If motive can be established, than a plan can be developed. There are some attacks that are just evil, I have found when my character is under attack, I just need to remain quiet, the lord will take care of that, it is amazing how many times that a difference of opinion will result in character assassination. The personal attacks we have no need to worry about, we should spend more time in prayer for the one who mounted that attack, as the lord has said vengeance is mine I will repay, and his repayments are swift and sure.
Stick to the issue at hand, allow all venues to be searched. Flood everything with prayer, and you will find when your sling is empty, your arrow is shot in a venture, or your back is turned, God himself will deliver the blow, the one that will end in total victory.
It always amazes me how many people underestimate the power of our all mighty God.
Both those who attack, and those who are to rely on him, too many times underestimate his power.
There is a time when we are required to defend our position, but remember God himself will defend us.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sinners in the hands of an Angry GOD

A Sermon Preached at Enfield, July 8th 1741at a time of great Awakenings, and attended with remarkable Impressions on many of the Hearers.
By Jonathan Edwards, A.M.Pastor of the Church of Christ in Northampton.
Their foot shall slide in due time.Deuteronomy 32:35
In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, who were God's visible people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all God's wonderful works towards them, remained (as verse 28) void of counsel, having no understanding in them. Under all the cultivations of heaven, they brought forth bitter and poisonous fruit; as in the two verses next preceding the text. — The expression I have chosen for my text, their foot shall slide in due time, seems to imply the following things, relating to the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Israelites were exposed.
1. That they were always exposed to destruction; as one that stands or walks in slippery places is always exposed to fall. This is implied in the manner of their destruction coming upon them, being represented by their foot sliding. The same is expressed, Psalm 72:18. "Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction."
2. It implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall, he cannot foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next; and when he does fall, he falls at once without warning: Which is also expressed in Psalm 73:18,19. "Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction: How are they brought into desolation as in a moment!"
3. Another thing implied is, that they are liable to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another; as he that stands or walks on slippery ground needs nothing but his own weight to throw him down.
4. That the reason why they are not fallen already and do not fall now is only that God's appointed time is not come. For it is said, that when that due time, or appointed time comes, their foot shall slide. Then they shall be left to fall, as they are inclined by their own weight. God will not hold them up in these slippery places any longer, but will let them go; and then, at that very instant, they shall fall into destruction; as he that stands on such slippery declining ground, on the edge of a pit, he cannot stand alone, when he is let go he immediately falls and is lost.
The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this. — "There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God." — By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God's mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment. — The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.
1. There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. — He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, who has found means to fortify himself, and has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers. But it is not so with God. There is no fortress that is any defence from the power of God. Though hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God's enemies combine and associate themselves, they are easily broken in pieces. They are as great heaps of light chaff before the whirlwind; or large quantities of dry stubble before devouring flames. We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down?
2. They deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God's using his power at any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary, justice calls aloud for an infinite punishment of their sins. Divine justice says of the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom, "Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?" Luke 13:7. The sword of divine justice is every moment brandished over their heads, and it is nothing but the hand of arbitrary mercy, and God's mere will, that holds it back.
3. They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell. They do not only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but the sentence of the law of God, that eternal and immutable rule of righteousness that God has fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them, and stands against them; so that they are bound over already to hell. John 3:18. "He that believeth not is condemned already." So that every unconverted man properly belongs to hell; that is his place; from thence he is, John 8:23. "Ye are from beneath:" And thither he is bound; it is the place that justice, and God's word, and the sentence of his unchangeable law assign to him.
4. They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.
So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.
5. The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The scripture represents them as his goods, Luke 11:12. The devils watch them; they are ever by them at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back. If God should withdraw his hand, by which they are restrained, they would in one moment fly upon their poor souls. The old serpent is gaping for them; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should permit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and lost.
6. There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God's restraints. There is laid in the very nature of carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell. There are those corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell fire. These principles are active and powerful, exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the restraining hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they would flame out after the same manner as the same corruptions, the same enmity does in the hearts of damned souls, and would beget the same torments as they do in them. The souls of the wicked are in scripture compared to the troubled sea, Isa. 57:20. For the present, God restrains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further;" but if God should withdraw that restraining power, it would soon carry all before it. Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it is like fire pent up by God's restraints, whereas if it were let loose, it would set on fire the course of nature; and as the heart is now a sink of sin, so if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul into fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone.
7. It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand. It is no security to a natural man, that he is now in health, and that he does not see which way he should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no visible danger in any respect in his circumstances. The manifold and continual experience of the world in all ages, shows this is no evidence, that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step will not be into another world. The unseen, unthought-of ways and means of persons going suddenly out of the world are innumerable and inconceivable. Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noon-day; the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending them to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear, that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any moment. All the means that there are of sinners going out of the world, are so in God's hands, and so universally and absolutely subject to his power and determination, that it does not depend at all the less on the mere will of God, whether sinners shall at any moment go to hell, than if means were never made use of, or at all concerned in the case.
8. Natural men's prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment. To this, divine providence and universal experience do also bear testimony. There is this clear evidence that men's own wisdom is no security to them from death; that if it were otherwise we should see some difference between the wise and politic men of the world, and others, with regard to their liableness to early and unexpected death: but how is it in fact? Eccles. 2:16. "How dieth the wise man? even as the fool."
9. All wicked men's pains and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail. They hear indeed that there are but few saved, and that the greater part of men that have died heretofore are gone to hell; but each one imagines that he lays out matters better for his own escape than others have done. He does not intend to come to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take effectual care, and to order matters so for himself as not to fail.
But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow. The greater part of those who heretofore have lived under the same means of grace, and are now dead, are undoubtedly gone to hell; and it was not because they were not as wise as those who are now alive: it was not because they did not lay out matters as well for themselves to secure their own escape. If we could speak with them, and inquire of them, one by one, whether they expected, when alive, and when they used to hear about hell, ever to be the subjects of misery: we doubtless, should hear one and another reply, "No, I never intended to come here: I had laid out matters otherwise in my mind; I thought I should contrive well for myself — I thought my scheme good. I intended to take effectual care; but it came upon me unexpected; I did not look for it at that time, and in that manner; it came as a thief — Death outwitted me: God's wrath was too quick for me. Oh, my cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing myself with vain dreams of what I would do hereafter; and when I was saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction came upon me."
10. God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. But surely they have no interest in the promises of the covenant of grace who are not the children of the covenant, who do not believe in any of the promises, and have no interest in the Mediator of the covenant.
So that, whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises made to natural men's earnest seeking and knocking, it is plain and manifest, that whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction.
So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of; all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God.
Application
The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ. — That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell's wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of; there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.
You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but do not see the hand of God in it; but look at other things, as the good state of your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the means you use for your own preservation. But indeed these things are nothing; if God should withdraw his hand, they would avail no more to keep you from falling, than the thin air to hold up a person that is suspended in it.
Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider's web would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God's enemies. God's creatures are good, and were made for men to serve God with, and do not willingly subserve to any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so directly contrary to their nature and end. And the world would spew you out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope. There are the black clouds of God's wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff on the summer threshing floor.
The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God's vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.
The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. Thus all you that never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all you that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether unexperienced light and life, are in the hands of an angry God. However you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and closets, and in the house of God, it is nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction. However unconvinced you may now be of the truth of what you hear, by and by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone from being in the like circumstances with you, see that it was so with them; for destruction came suddenly upon most of them; when they expected nothing of it, and while they were saying, Peace and safety: now they see, that those things on which they depended for peace and safety, were nothing but thin air and empty shadows.
The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you were suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.
O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. — And consider here more particularly,
1. Whose wrath it is: it is the wrath of the infinite God. If it were only the wrath of man, though it were of the most potent prince, it would be comparatively little to be regarded. The wrath of kings is very much dreaded, especially of absolute monarchs, who have the possessions and lives of their subjects wholly in their power, to be disposed of at their mere will. Prov. 20:2. "The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: Whoso provoketh him to anger, sinneth against his own soul." The subject that very much enrages an arbitrary prince, is liable to suffer the most extreme torments that human art can invent, or human power can inflict. But the greatest earthly potentates in their greatest majesty and strength, and when clothed in their greatest terrors, are but feeble, despicable worms of the dust, in comparison of the great and almighty Creator and King of heaven and earth. It is but little that they can do, when most enraged, and when they have exerted the utmost of their fury. All the kings of the earth, before God, are as grasshoppers; they are nothing, and less than nothing: both their love and their hatred is to be despised. The wrath of the great King of kings, is as much more terrible than theirs, as his majesty is greater. Luke 12:4,5. "And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that, have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell: yea, I say unto you, Fear him."
2. It is the fierceness of his wrath that you are exposed to. We often read of the fury of God; as in Isa. 59:18. "According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay fury to his adversaries." So Isa. 66:15. "For behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire." And in many other places. So, Rev. 19:15, we read of "the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God." The words are exceeding terrible. If it had only been said, "the wrath of God," the words would have implied that which is infinitely dreadful: but it is "the fierceness and wrath of God." The fury of God! the fierceness of Jehovah! Oh, how dreadful that must be! Who can utter or conceive what such expressions carry in them! But it is also "the fierceness and wrath of almighty God." As though there would be a very great manifestation of his almighty power in what the fierceness of his wrath should inflict, as though omnipotence should be as it were enraged, and exerted, as men are wont to exert their strength in the fierceness of their wrath. Oh! then, what will be the consequence! What will become of the poor worms that shall suffer it! Whose hands can be strong? And whose heart can endure? To what a dreadful, inexpressible, inconceivable depth of misery must the poor creature be sunk who shall be the subject of this!
Consider this, you that are here present, that yet remain in an unregenerate state. That God will execute the fierceness of his anger, implies, that he will inflict wrath without any pity. When God beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment to be so vastly disproportioned to your strength, and sees how your poor soul is crushed, and sinks down, as it were, into an infinite gloom; he will have no compassion upon you, he will not forbear the executions of his wrath, or in the least lighten his hand; there shall be no moderation or mercy, nor will God then at all stay his rough wind; he will have no regard to your welfare, nor be at all careful lest you should suffer too much in any other sense, than only that you shall not suffer beyond what strict justice requires. Nothing shall be withheld, because it is so hard for you to bear. Ezek. 8:18. "Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet I will not hear them." Now God stands ready to pity you; this is a day of mercy; you may cry now with some encouragement of obtaining mercy. But when once the day of mercy is past, your most lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be wholly lost and thrown away of God, as to any regard to your welfare. God will have no other use to put you to, but to suffer misery; you shall be continued in being to no other end; for you will be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction; and there will be no other use of this vessel, but to be filled full of wrath. God will be so far from pitying you when you cry to him, that it is said he will only "laugh and mock," Prov. 1:25,26,&c.
How awful are those words, Isa. 63:3, which are the words of the great God. "I will tread them in mine anger, and will trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment." It is perhaps impossible to conceive of words that carry in them greater manifestations of these three things, viz. contempt, and hatred, and fierceness of indignation. If you cry to God to pity you, he will be so far from pitying you in your doleful case, or showing you the least regard or favour, that instead of that, he will only tread you under foot. And though he will know that you cannot bear the weight of omnipotence treading upon you, yet he will not regard that, but he will crush you under his feet without mercy; he will crush out your blood, and make it fly, and it shall be sprinkled on his garments, so as to stain all his raiment. He will not only hate you, but he will have you in the utmost contempt: no place shall be thought fit for you, but under his feet to be trodden down as the mire of the streets.
3. The misery you are exposed to is that which God will inflict to that end, that he might show what that wrath of Jehovah is. God hath had it on his heart to show to angels and men, both how excellent his love is, and also how terrible his wrath is. Sometimes earthly kings have a mind to show how terrible their wrath is, by the extreme punishments they would execute on those that would provoke them. Nebuchadnezzar, that mighty and haughty monarch of the Chaldean empire, was willing to show his wrath when enraged with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; and accordingly gave orders that the burning fiery furnace should be heated seven times hotter than it was before; doubtless, it was raised to the utmost degree of fierceness that human art could raise it. But the great God is also willing to show his wrath, and magnify his awful majesty and mighty power in the extreme sufferings of his enemies. Rom. 9:22. "What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?" And seeing this is his design, and what he has determined, even to show how terrible the unrestrained wrath, the fury and fierceness of Jehovah is, he will do it to effect. There will be something accomplished and brought to pass that will be dreadful with a witness. When the great and angry God hath risen up and executed his awful vengeance on the poor sinner, and the wretch is actually suffering the infinite weight and power of his indignation, then will God call upon the whole universe to behold that awful majesty and mighty power that is to be seen in it. Isa. 33:12-14. "And the people shall be as the burnings of lime, as thorns cut up shall they be burnt in the fire. Hear ye that are far off, what I have done; and ye that are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites," &c.
Thus it will be with you that are in an unconverted state, if you continue in it; the infinite might, and majesty, and terribleness of the omnipotent God shall be magnified upon you, in the ineffable strength of your torments. You shall be tormented in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and when you shall be in this state of suffering, the glorious inhabitants of heaven shall go forth and look on the awful spectacle, that they may see what the wrath and fierceness of the Almighty is; and when they have seen it, they will fall down and adore that great power and majesty. Isa. 66:23,24. "And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."
4. It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long for ever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable: For "who knows the power of God's anger?"
How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in the danger of this great wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be. Oh that you would consider it, whether you be young or old! There is reason to think, that there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We know not who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have. It may be they are now at ease, and hear all these things without much disturbance, and are now flattering themselves that they are not the persons, promising themselves that they shall escape. If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation, that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing would it be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him! But, alas! instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell? And it would be a wonder, if some that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, even before this year is out. And it would be no wonder if some persons, that now sit here, in some seats of this meeting-house, in health, quiet and secure, should be there before tomorrow morning. Those of you that finally continue in a natural condition, that shall keep out of hell longest will be there in a little time! your damnation does not slumber; it will come swiftly, and, in all probability, very suddenly upon many of you. You have reason to wonder that you are not already in hell. It is doubtless the case of some whom you have seen and known, that never deserved hell more than you, and that heretofore appeared as likely to have been now alive as you. Their case is past all hope; they are crying in extreme misery and perfect despair; but here you are in the land of the living and in the house of God, and have an opportunity to obtain salvation. What would not those poor damned hopeless souls give for one day's opportunity such as you now enjoy!
And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are not your souls as precious as the souls of the people at Suffield, where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?
Are there not many here who have lived long in the world, and are not to this day born again? and so are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and have done nothing ever since they have lived, but treasure up wrath against the day of wrath? Oh, sirs, your case, in an especial manner, is extremely dangerous. Your guilt and hardness of heart is extremely great. Do you not see how generally persons of your years are passed over and left, in the present remarkable and wonderful dispensation of God's mercy? You had need to consider yourselves, and awake thoroughly out of sleep. You cannot bear the fierceness and wrath of the infinite God. — And you, young men, and young women, will you neglect this precious season which you now enjoy, when so many others of your age are renouncing all youthful vanities, and flocking to Christ? You especially have now an extraordinary opportunity; but if you neglect it, it will soon be with you as with those persons who spent all the precious days of youth in sin, and are now come to such a dreadful pass in blindness and hardness. — And you, children, who are unconverted, do not you know that you are going down to hell, to bear the dreadful wrath of that God, who is now angry with you every day and every night? Will you be content to be the children of the devil, when so many other children in the land are converted, and are become the holy and happy children of the King of kings?
And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now hearken to the loud calls of God's word and providence. This acceptable year of the Lord, a day of such great favour to some, will doubtless be a day of as remarkable vengeance to others. Men's hearts harden, and their guilt increases apace at such a day as this, if they neglect their souls; and never was there so great danger of such persons being given up to hardness of heart and blindness of mind. God seems now to be hastily gathering in his elect in all parts of the land; and probably the greater part of adult persons that ever shall be saved, will be brought in now in a little time, and that it will be as it was on the great out-pouring of the Spirit upon the Jews in the apostles' days; the election will obtain, and the rest will be blinded. If this should be the case with you, you will eternally curse this day, and will curse the day that ever you was born, to see such a season of the pouring out of God's Spirit, and will wish that you had died and gone to hell before you had seen it. Now undoubtedly it is, as it was in the days of John the Baptist, the axe is in an extraordinary manner laid at the root of the trees, that every tree which brings not forth good fruit, may be hewn down and cast into the fire.
Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation. Let every one fly out of Sodom: "Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed."
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Finding Perfection in Church

I know alot of people want nothing to do with Church because they see imperfection, and inconsistency, in the people that go to Church.
I have been in the ministry for over 30 years, and for the most part, Christians are imperfect, and too many times inconsistent.
I think we many times focus on the wrong thing when looking for perfection.
If we focus on Jesus and the Bible then and only then will we find what we are looking for.
To have an effective church, our heart and mind needs to focus on that which is perfect.
A preacher I had as a young kid would say, the Church is not a rest home for the saints, but a hospital for sinners. I think he had it right.
The hospital is for the sick, but we never judge the hospital by the sick, we judge it by the medical attention we receive when we go there or when a family member goes there.
If we focused on the sick people we would never go to a Hospital.
There is a group called weight watcher, have you ever been to a meeting at weight watcher? You will find that most of the people are heavy, now using the same analogy why would anyone go there to loose weight when everyone is heavy.
Most help groups are recognized by what they can do to help, and are not judged by those who attend.
What if I told you that Church was made up of people knowing they need help, knowing they are not perfect, but they want to do better, and want to learn how to have a better and more fulfilling life. I will tell you this after being in Church all of my life, that is exactly what it is.
Look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Prayer

Can prayer really change things.
There have been many books written about prayer.
The attitude, the structure, the content. How to get God to answer prayer.
There have even been best sellers, about positive prayer, and financial results.
Prayer is no big secret, it is communicating with God himself.
Communicating with the creature, the alpha and omega of life.
There is no secret to prayer.
Most people do not receive answered prayer, because they do not ask.
The Bible is clear, you have not because you ask not.
If you are in Christ you are a new creature, you life belongs to him.
Prayer is communicating with him, the Bible say we ask amiss, meaning we are asking God to do something against his nature to help our selfishness.
Trusting God is recognizing his as our Lord, allowing him to decide what is needed in our lives,
it is not complaining that God does not answer, it is being satisfied with what God does answer.
Prayer is simple, make sure you are totally committed to him.
Make sure your prayer is not selfish, that does not mean you can not pray for yourself, we all need strength, some need healing, all to help with his plan in our lives.
Then just ask him, and allow him to answer, and accept the answer God gives, after all he is God.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Logical Thinking

How to think logically. Have you ever heard someone say; that just does not compute, or that makes not since. They are saying the point you are making is no supported with facts, or the facts do not support your argument.
Logical thinking is thinking with facts. Logical thinking takes work. It takes study.
Most people today are only taught to think in a box, they are given facts, shown how to connect the facts. That is being a good student, but thinking beyond the box, and expanding, takes logical thinking. Once you have all the facts, and you connect all the dots, you will then be able to see what is missing, you can then bring in a new idea, and support that idea with facts and work beyond the teacher student mode of learning.
Logical thinking is gifted to some people, it just seem that all the tumblers just fall into place, you can give them information and they can assimilate it as fast as they receive it. Most people are not that way, they will need to make a list, look at the list, study the list, look for the weaknesses in that list, and then make a calculated decision, with the information they have. Logical thinking includes all of the know information, and it also eliminates all information not pertaining or supporting the decision being made.
If you think logically, you will be able to take a stand, That stand will be supported with facts, and clear thinking. That stand will make you a leader. Leaders are hard to find. When you find one follow them, they see things you may miss, and assimilate a situation with due causation.
That will protect you, and encourage you, it will add light to your path.
The Bible say study to show yourself approved a workman that needs not to be ashamed. God is saying, study, and know what you are talking about, dig deep, connect the dots.
We sure could use logical thinkers, in every aspect of life as we know it.
May God help you to be one.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Just A question

Would you take swimming lessons from someone that could not swim?
Would you take flight training from someone that was not a pilot?
The answer to both should be NO
The why take Bible study lessons, or allow doubt to be cast on the Bible,
from someone that does not believe the Bible.
A minister, or Bible professor that does not believe the Bible, can not teach it.
If there is one part they do not believe, how can you be sure about the part they say they believe.
Every false Bible teacher wants to be the final authority, but the Bible is the final authority, and it can not be taught without the teacher or preacher, stepping behind the Bible, and allowing it to speak through them.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

SEC Chairman Cox

SEC Chairman Cox Announces Creation of New Office, Appointment of Leaders, to Expedite Distribution of Billions to Injured Investors
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE2008-12
Washington, D.C., Feb. 5, 2008 — Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox today announced the appointments of the top two leaders of the agency's newly created Office of Collections and Distributions.
Richard J. D'Anna, an experienced manager in the financial services industry, has joined the SEC as the first-ever director of the new office. Mr. D'Anna will use his considerable private sector experience in tracking and managing financial assets to expedite the distribution of more than $5 billion in SEC recoveries to injured investors.
At the same time, Lynn M. Powalski will become Deputy Director of the Office of Collections and Distributions. Ms. Powalski has been an Assistant Director and Assistant Chief Litigation Counsel for Collections and Distributions within the SEC's Division of Enforcement.
"The Commission's strong commitment to recovering money from wrongdoers and returning it to investors is amply demonstrated by the more than $2 billion we distributed last year," said Chairman Cox. "In 2008, we can do more. Dick and Lynn bring exactly the right skill-sets to their new positions, and they will make an excellent team to lead the SEC's efforts to get money back to defrauded investors as quickly and efficiently as possible."
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act passed by Congress in 2002 for the first time gave the SEC authority to distribute financial penalties paid by securities law violators directly to injured investors. Using this authority, the SEC already has distributed more than $3.5 billion. The new office is intended to further expedite the return of more than $5 billion in so-called Fair Funds to harmed investors, while cutting red tape and the costs of the distributions.
Mr. D'Anna said, "I am very excited to join the SEC in this capacity and look forward to working with the professional staff there to accomplish the important goals the Chairman has provided. I have every confidence we will be successful."
Ms. Powalski said, "I look forward to this new opportunity and to working with the Office's exceptional staff. We expect to build on the Commission's continued success in depriving securities law violators of illegally obtained funds and ensuring that the funds collected are returned to harmed investors as quickly as possible."
Prior to joining the SEC staff, Mr. D'Anna was Senior Vice President at 1st Bridgehouse Securities and a Senior Vice President and Consultant at FITS, Inc., operating from his base in Baltimore, Md. He was previously the Senior Operations Officer at Fiserv Securities in Philadelphia from 2004 to 2005, and served as Managing Director of Correspondent Clearing, Custody Operations, and Prime Brokerage Services at Deutsche Bank/Alex Brown in Baltimore from 1996 to 2002. Mr. D'Anna graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968 and served on active duty in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War as a Gunnery/Ordnance Officer. He later earned his MBA in Finance at New York University.
Ms. Powalski has worked in the SEC's Division of Enforcement since 2001. Her previous experience includes serving as a counsel in the Legal Division of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria Division). Ms. Powalski earned her B.A. in Political Science at William Smith College in Geneva, N.Y., and her J.D. from the Washington College of Law at The American University in Washington, D.C.