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Fish in a Barrel are Easy Targets(No wonder the poor will be with us always!)

How many times have I told you, ‘You are a stubborn race’?  How much patience have I born thus far; and how much more will I bear?  No one knows the time and place of My return, only My Father in Heaven.  Why do you ‘play with fire’, as you yourself say?  Will you be here tomorrow?  Will you even be living a minute from now?  Time is Mine.  It answers to Me.  And I am Forever.  You do not command or control it; though you spend a great deal of it in trying to manage it; thereby wasting it. 

In the same way, you spend a lot of time and money in managing your money.  You read the ‘financials’, seek out financial advisors, interface and hire stock brokers and seek out competent and competitive financial institutions at great cost in time spent and money spent.  And when you’re dissatisfied with the ‘net’ results…too slow or not enough you spend money and time on bingo and lotteries under the guise of charity in your attempts to build kingdoms of coins that you did not earn. 

You even spend what you do not have because you ‘need it right away’ (because of your mismanagement of time and money earlier on).  So much time is spent on just thinking about time and money and how you can get ‘something for nothing’.  There is so much disproportionate spending.  You ‘charge’ but are not ‘in charge’ for time and money have mastered you.  They have played their ‘master card’.  They now ‘own’ you, so to speak; and they now curse you with entrapment by your own greed and lust for ‘more than you need’.  Now who or what is managing who?  Truly, the master has become the slave.

The expression ‘everything in its time’ is only an expression to you as you continue to prioritize ‘speed’ over care.  You are driven by ‘prices’ and ‘profit’ and ‘quick returns’ because for you, ‘time is money’ has become an acceptable standard of living.  Countries with the highest standard of living are those that excel in twisting time and money to their advantage.  Basically it’s ‘Acquire as much money as you can in as little time possible!’

It is a mantra that grabs for itself and gives nothing to others.  In fact, it is at the expense of the time, money and condition of others that those who believe they have power over time and money infest the alleys of the poor with their dictatorships – not to destroy poverty, but to obliterate any sign of life, humanity and dignity within this suffering domain by squeezing out of its citizens the margins of profit earned by their sweat, their tears and yes, their blood.  Haven’t we seen this brought to life in our HD (high definition) lives formatted at the expense of the ‘lo- lifes’ we have created in third world neighbourhoods of the world?

So not only can we be stubborn – too slow to want to understand or change; yet at the same time, too quick in our impatient entitlement to take and take and take and then even quicker to justify our means.  ‘I worked hard for this, so I deserve it all!’  ‘If they want what I have, let them go out and earn it like I did.’  Not that these statements are entirely without truth.  No, there is always ‘some truth’ in every lie.  The devil is not stupid in that sense.  He knows a ‘touch of truth’ will give us an ‘angle’ or a ‘hook’ on which to hang our justifications.  Wow, it sounds like this master angler (of deception) really knows how to catch fish and we are his suckers!
We are so preoccupied with money and with time.  A number of years ago I was visiting a friend and on her wall she had a plaque that read, ‘Why is there always so much month left at the end of the money?’  I was in my twenty’s and laughed.  Throughout the ensuing years however, I recognized the truth behind the quip.  We are obsessed with these little ‘gods’.  There never seems to be enough of either.  Both are venerated but in short supply.  So as with any precarious ‘gift’ there have always been opportunists ready to capitalize on the shortage, seeking their prey, those who are desperate for more time or more money for the price of one is often the other.
Even the rich feel desperate about money.  They don’t want to lose what they have and they want more.  That’s how financial gurus came to be; that’s how stock brokers, financial institutions came to be; that’s how financial reports became the ‘bible’ for many.  Believe it or not, someone even wrote a book called, ‘The 10 Commandments of Money’ which teaches those with money to ‘position themselves for success down the road as a solid perspective for anyone who is planning for a brighter future.’  But who knows the future?  And how do you know you are guaranteed tomorrow never mind a ‘guaranteed income’?

The book is divided into ten chapters, each of which focuses on one of the ‘ten commandments of financial success’ which forces ‘you’ (if you’re one of the lucky ones who has money) to seriously re-evaluate your entire ‘relationship with money’.  It even calls marriage a ‘business partnership’.  Has money become man’s (woman’s) best friend?  No wonder we feel so alone and disenfranchised (alienate) with our fellow man and woman.  Money has turned us into an alien-nation.  Is this why we’re so obsessed with zombies etc.?

But in the Bible we are told, ‘Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.’  Because you can’t take it with you!  No one (not the poor or the rich) has to worry about tomorrow for we have been given the assurance that, ‘The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein…’  There is more than plenty for everyone.  God has taken care of all our needs.  So there is no need to worry.

Well so much for the ‘cautious’ rich.  Now what about the ‘desperate’ poor?  What do the desperate poor do to get money (within the laws of society)?  In recognition that ‘We will always have the poor among us!’ there are those who are lining up to ‘profit’ by the woes of others. 
We refer to those ready to seize the moment to their own advantage as ‘opportunists’.  One guise of the opportunist is the ‘loan shark’ seen as a low-down scoundrel getting fat on the woes and misfortunes of others.  We recognize the shark as the greatest eating machine in the world, awesome and unmatched in its ability as a predator, so efficient in the kill and the consumption of those who are ‘small’ in comparison and presumably too slow and too weak to escape its jaws. 

But sharks generally eat only when they are hungry and in this way they are superior to the loan shark who is never satiated and always on the hunt for more victims.  It is the loan shark who has given sharks a bad name, and not the other way around.  Loan sharks charged exorbitant interest rates and often black-mailed or threatened the borrower into repayment.

So by the middle of the 20th century a law was enacted to protect consumers (the poor) from loan sharks and unfair interest charges and late fees.  Interest rates on small loans ($300 or less) were capped at 3.5% a month (42% a year).  This worked at first in controlling loan-sharking but as small loans started becoming more socially acceptable, licensed, legalized payday advance businesses as well as banks and other larger institutions started offering them as well.  Would these institutions (government approved) be kinder to those in need?

No.  Apparently even legal businesses do not want to give up easy prey and so they too, are often described as loan sharks by their critics due to their own high interest rates that entrap poor debtors.  For only the truly desperate would go for a payday loan and for this reason those with the greatest need are again the most at risk of being abused.
A 2001 comparison of short-term lending rates charged by an organized crime syndicate in Illinois and payday lenders in California revealed that the interest rate charged for a payday loan could be considerably higher than the interest rate of a similar loan made by the organized crime syndicate.  Talk about ‘legalized crime’!

Of the jurisdictions (and there doesn’t seem to be a metropolis that doesn’t have these institutions) that allow them, many carry a $15 charge on a $100 2-week payday loan, making the annual percentage rate 3686%

How do banks do with regard to payday loans?  Are they the friend of the desperately poor borrower?  If you think interest rates on credit cards are too high, think again.  Hundreds – probably thousands – of people in Ottawa alone are paying close to 550% in annual interest to get a loan.  And that’s before compounding and any late-payment fees.

Outrageous and surely illegal, you might think. But you would be half wrong. It is outrageous but it is not illegal. Don’t believe it? Then you are not among those who patronize businesses that offer “payday loans.”  Several years ago, the federal government enacted changes to the Criminal Code to permit payday loans if provinces regulated them. Ontario’s Liberal government passed legislation limiting the cost of borrowing to $21 per $100 per two-week period. The law took effect in December 2009.

Not surprisingly, many payday lenders now charge the maximum permitted interest. (Well, why wouldn’t they?)  It is not known how or why the government of a former Canadian premier decided that an annual interest rate of 546% was the appropriate level.  In contrast, pawnbrokers in Canada are restricted to charging a maximum of 60% in annual interest.

Why anyone would take out a loan at 546% annual interest – or, as the lenders express it, 21% for 14 days?

Again, these consumers are desperate and do not have access to other sources of conventional credit such as credit cards, lines of credit or overdrafts; and many of them do not fully appreciate the actual rate of interest.  They are sitting ducks because their need is great and they don’t understand the terms of ‘legalized theft’.  No wonder we refer to lenders as ‘sharks’ and poor clients as ‘suckers’.  Their great need makes them lambs easily led to the slaughter. 

But these ‘desperate’ poor are a small group, right – especially in a rich country like Canada?  Wrong.  It is estimated that more than three-quarters of a million Canadians regularly or occasionally use payday loans.  But for the vast majority of payday loan customers, the obscenely high interest rates that are out of line with other forms of credit remain a fact of life. Does that mean our government and its laws are not looking out for us?  It seems there are no safeguards to be found within the laws, books or institutions of man.

What does the Book say about borrowing and lending?  Everywhere that debt is mentioned, it is discussed in a negative light.
Do you remember what the Book said about widows and orphans?
The Lord is fair and does not show partiality.  He is not prejudiced against the poor; when someone prays who has been wronged, the Lord listens.  When orphans and widows pour out their prayers, he does not ignore them. The tears running down a widow's cheek cry out in accusation against the one who has caused her distress.
The Lord may not show partiality but there is a penalty for those who are using or abusing the poor – even if their distress is augmented by our lack of interest or concern for their welfare when we have the ability and the means to help.  Our own actions will scream judgment against us, not God.
He will completely wipe out the merciless and the arrogant, and will destroy the authority of the wicked.  He will give each of us what our thoughts and actions deserve. Because of the Lord's mercy, his people will be happy when he has judged their case.  In times of trouble his mercy is as welcome as rain after a long drought.
And principles without ‘heart’ are useless as well.  Without the movement of the heart, actions are empty and hollow.  Remember what was said about love in the Book.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal…   If I give away all I have…but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way…
God advises strongly against indebtedness because it will make one a servant to someone other than God.  The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.  When you borrow, you become a servant to a bank, a business, a family member, even a friend – whoever you borrowed from. When you borrowed, they put conditions on the loan – what you can do and what you can’t do. This makes you a servant to them. We are to be servants to God and to Him alone.  That’s why God counsels us to avoid debt.
What about borrowing?  How are the poor to live if they don’t have enough?  Don’t they have to borrow to survive?  And am I my brother’s (sister’s) keeper?  God’s answer is loud and clear.
If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit.

And this refers to your sisters (widows) and orphans as well since we are all equal in God’s eyes at least.  Notice also that God says ‘as though he were a stranger and a sojourner’

In other words, those you don’t know at all and those you have most cause to mistrust, these are the ones I expect you to invite in and share everything you have (for free). Their total assets lie in their hearts of love and not in what they may repay you.  In your mutual love for one another, they will never become your liability nor will you ever lose your investment of love (or your shirt) if you give with love.  

For the investment of love into the heart of another has surpassed their greatest expectations by the love interest you have shown them and it shall have a return of one hundredfold - not only for you but for the many others you have inspired to love ‘as you have loved’…with your whole heart and not just a piece of your heart. 

We know we cannot do this for the reward or interest, or for payback for He has told us, If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him for you may not profit from those who are already suffering by adding on a ‘user fee’ to the original burden.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.

In the same way that God canceled our debt of sin, He reminds us to forgive and forget as He does, and that includes money debts.  In the Book we are told that we must cancel debts at the end of every seven years and not to require payment for the debt ‘because the Lord's time for canceling debts has been proclaimed.’

I have told you before I will completely wipe out the merciless and the arrogant, and will destroy the authority of the wicked. You will have earned your just reward:  what your thoughts and your actions deserve.  My poor and afflicted may take comfort in knowing that because of My Mercy, My people will be happy when I have judged their case.  I repeat, ‘In times of trouble My Mercy is as welcome as rain after a long drought

Why do you make them wait?  Why not become the moisture to their parched lips now?  Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be My sons

Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.

Give a teaspoon, get a teaspoon.  Give without limit, receive without limit.  So don’t be cheap!  Neither do it for the reward for your Father in Heaven knows everything.  I repeat for you now, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you do for Me.’   And it is now I, Who have made them ‘least’; it is you who have labeled them so foolishly according to your stock exchange of money. 

Blessed are the poor in spirit (because of your greed and selfishness), for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.  I will take care of My sheep.  The howls and ravings of the wolves will not disturb My Peace in those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; for they will be satisfied by I, their Master.  They recognize Me and I recognize them. I know all hearts…the good deeds of one and the bad deeds or omissions of good in the other. 

And I know those who do not know Me (yet).  I have been patient with you, but this does not mean I approve of your wolf-like actions.  What I offer one, I offer all of you, and that is the Gift of My Spirit.  My Spirit is ready to guide you and instruct you in the Truth so that you may be aware of what is really going on.  Stop relying on your own thinking. 

When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the Truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.  He is always ready to help us, always ready to help us discern the Truth in all matters; for everything that affects us, matters to Him for He loves us. 

Just when we’ve figured things out:  rich = bad and poor = good the Spirit reminds us that no one may be sure of his or her own goodness while despising everybody else.

Once there were two men who went up to the Temple to pray:  one was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood apart by himself, and prayed, ‘I thank You, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank You that I am not like that tax collector over there.  I fast two days a week, and I give You one tenth of all my income.’

But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, ‘God, have pity on me, a sinner!’

I tell you, the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great.

The best way not to have to borrow is to follow God’s Law totally.  Follow God and His Commandments and your need for borrowing will be minimized, if not eliminated.

Neither are the poor off the hook.  They cannot expect others to pay for their existence.  They must earn a living like anyone else.  Even those who have served time (jail) are expected to earn a living and care for their dependents if they are able.  For the Spirit has said, Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 

You are all (rich, poor, religious, non-religious) called upon to share with the ‘least of you’ until he or she has been enabled by love.  And you owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled My Law.

Rich and poor alike can depend on God’s fairness and count on His Mercy, Help and Bounty for He loves us so much that, Before they call, I will answer; while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

Remember you are all equal in My Eyes, equal partakers and share-holders in all I have created with you (all of you) in Mind.

Be not accomplices of satan, who by any means would thrive in the destruction of souls.  Do not replace the richness of the earth I give you with the dust of poverty.  My mass of people (My poor) are being sacrificed at a ‘high’ rate by your interest – not for them, but for money and for gain.  Do not remove the bread and wine I have placed upon My Altar of Love for you to share and replace them with the burnt offerings you have made of My poor; and then pretend to honour Me with tithes. 

The altar of My Heart requires Love only.  Everything flows freely from Love like milk and honey which I promised to a past generation.  But their hearts were hard and they remained stubborn.   Will you miss My Mark of Love, consumed by your own passions and greed and then call them ‘fair trade’ when you richly profit?  Remove not the bread from anyone’s table.  Remember, I have placed it there to join them to My Love.  And do not tear asunder what I have joined for it is better to tie a millstone around your neck and jump in the deepest ocean than to hurt a child.  And you are ‘all My children’ (not just a soap opera to be turned ‘off’ when your ‘interest’ is low). 

I will clean and scrub you to become again what I fore-cast…in creating Heaven upon Earth.  As clean and shiny as a penny?  No, as the luminous angels of light and love you were all created to be by I your heavenly Father.

 

Your Father-Who-knows-best

 

 

 

 

 

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