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July 21st, 22nd- Banca Rupta

“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves.” (Matthew 21:12)

 

The word bankrupt has an interesting origin. It goes back to the ancient practice of exchanging money. Charles Earle Funk, in his book Thereby Hangs A Tale, shares the story:

 

bankrupt

From time immemorial there have been money-changers. These were men who, for a premium, calculated the value of currency received by a merchant dealing with foreign countries and exchanged it for domestic money.

 

Their business was conducted in some public place, such as the market place in Athens, the forum in Rome, or the temple in Jerusalem. There they set up a small table or bench for the convenience of their customers. In later times, as in the cities of Florence and Venice, which were the chief trading centers of the Middle Ages, such a table or bench had the name banca, the source of 'bank,' for these money-changers corresponded in some degree with our modern bankers.

 

Although the principal occupation was changing money, these men sometimes took money from wealthy patrons which, with their own, they lent to others at a profit—a rate of interest that would be considered usury now. But there was always a risk involved in such a loan—the borrower might lose his life, his goods, and his ship through some disaster. A succession of such misfortunes could cause the failure of the banker, unable to repay his own creditors. The laws of ancient Rome, though perhaps never exercised, permitted creditors actually to divide the body of the debtor into parts proportionate to their claims. However, the penalty was less severe in the Middle Ages. The creditors of such a banker or his fellows in the market place merely broke up his table or bench, thus showing that he was no longer in business. This, in Florence, was designated banca rotta, broken bench. Italian bankers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries carried this expression of business failure into England, but the Italian rotta gradually gave way to the Latin word for broken—ruptus—and banca rotta, altered to banca rupta, became corrupted to our present term, bankrupt.”

 

I share this story because money, and especially the lack there of, is a big deal. I've heard it said that most fights in marriage are regarding money, and I can believe it. And while inflation and recessions and job losses are out of control, some parts of our money management are not.

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July 18th- Button Pushers

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7)

 

I was, for a short time, a private teacher for an affluent family. My job was to teach algebra and physics. My student was a good kid, but as can often come with great wealth, he was also entitled.Physics

When I took the job I was told that there was one rule: no homework—ever! Immediately I knew this would be a problem. Teaching algebra and physics without homework is like becoming an Olympic diver without a swimming pool. But being the foolish optimist that I am, I agreed to work around the limits.

 

To say that he struggled with the material would be an understatement. Yet, the number one problem was that he couldn't retain anything from one lesson to the next. I would find myself going over and over the same things day after day.

 

Things finally came to a head at the mid-point of the school year. He took a test, which I had watered-down considerably, and bombed it. Sadly, I had given him problems exactly like the ones we reviewed the two previous days. However, since he never had to do any homework, he didn't retain it. When he failed the test, he was very upset. Then, as I'd seen him do with another teacher, he went in the other room and called his mom on the phone to complain that the test wasn't fair.

On my way home, I got a call from his mom. I was glad she called, for I wanted to tell her the truth about this “no homework” rule. What I wasn't prepared for was when she opened the conversation with “My son never fails tests. If he failed, it was because you weren't teaching him the material.” Uh, it could be that, or it could be that your son isn't required to do any work?

 

The mom loved her son, but unfortunately, she loved him by the wrong definition. To her, love meant that she should rescue her boy from the consequences of his own behavior. He shouldn't have to change, other people should. It is a recipe for disaster, for her boy was going to become a man who believed that the rules of life didn't apply to him. Her boy was going to become a man who didn't live in reality.

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July 4th- Knowing Jesus

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15)

 

Lately, I've become increasingly convinced that it all comes down to knowing Jesus. “Duh,” you say. I understand, as a Christian that seems like a no-brainer. Yet, I'm also convinced that I don't know Jesus nearly as well as I'd like to think.

 

Arthur Burns

If I knew Jesus better, I believe that I would be more content, have greater character, and be less fearful. I know Jesus in a casual relationship kind of way. But, do I know Jesus in a depend on Him every moment kind of way?

 

There is a great story that Os Guinness tells. It hits on exactly how I'm feeling.

 

“Arthur F. Burns, the chairman of the United States Federal Reserve System and ambassador to West Germany, was a man of considerable gravity. Medium in height, distinguished, with wavy silver hair and his signature pipe, he was economic counselor to numerous presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan.

 

When he spoke, his opinion carried weight and Washington listened.

Arthur Burns was also Jewish, so when he began attending an informal White House group for prayer and fellowship in the 1970s, he was accorded special respect. No one in fact knew quite how to involve him in the group, and week after week when different people took turns to end the meeting in prayer, Burns was passed by—out of a mixture of respect and reticence.

 

One week, however, the group was led by a newcomer who did not know the unusual status Burns occupied. As the meeting ended, the newcomer turned to Arthur Burns and asked him to close the time with a prayer. Some of the old-timers glanced at each other in surprise and wondered what would happen.

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July 15th- The Land Of My Sojourn

“Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” (1 Peter 1:17)

 

I've lived here for two year and never noticed it before.

 

My office is in the heart of downtown Delaware, Ohio, and this morning I had to drop something off at the city's administrative building. As I walked the four blocks from my office to the city building, I was lost in oblivion. Half-praying, half-thinking, I was going over and over the challenges and responsibilities that seem to consume my life.

Mail Pouch

 

While I walked, I saw the familiar sights of the city. I went past the big church, by the failed restaurant, and across the bustling main street. And although the surroundings briefly got my attention, I soon returned to my worries.

Just outside the administrative building a police man was giving a speeding ticket. The blue and red flashing lights caught my eye for just a moment, but I quickly lost interest. Having arrived, I pulled open the door and walked inside. I knew my way through the building and efficently conducted my business.

 

When I returned to the street, those familiar thoughts continued to dominate. Soon, I stood at the main intersection waiting for the signal to cross the street. That is when I noticed it. As I watched for the walk sign, I stood facing the familiar coffee shop on the adjacent corner. Above the coffee shop was an old faded sign for the local bookshop. I'd seen that sign hundreds of times, but today, in the bright summer daylight, I noticed another sign next to it, so worn and faded as to be hardly distinguishable.

 

And what a famous sign it was. There, in the heart of the city, upon the side of that building I had passed a thousand times, was a sign for Mail Pouch Tobacco. If you have ever driven through the farmland of the midwest, you know Mail Pouch Tobacco. It was the company that, fifty plus years ago, had thrown up advertising on seemingly every barn from Tennessee to the Great Lakes.

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July 8th- Your New Name

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17)

 

I promise you that this is absolutely true.

 

In high school, I knew a guy named Danny Christmas. One day, as we sat talking in art class, I found out he had a sister. “What's her name,” I asked. “Mary,” he replied.stone

 

Oh no. Do you see it? Mary Christmas. I bet she was extremely anxious to get married. (Do you take Mary Christmas to be your lawfully wedded wife?)

If that isn't bad enough, Bruce Felton and Mark Fowler tell of another unusual name.

 

“Boxing buff Brian Brown, of Wolverhampton, Great Britain, named his daughter, born in 1974, after all twenty-five world heavyweight champions. Brown told newspaper reporters that he planned to take the child—Maria Sullivan Corbett Fitzsimmons Jeffries Hart Burns Johnson Willard Dempsey Tunney Schmeling Sharkey Carnera Baer Braddock Louis Charles Walcott Marciano Patterson Johanssen Liston Clay Frazier Forman Brown—to see her first professional boxing match “when she is three or four months old, so that she can soak up the atmosphere.” That would prepare her, he said, for a career in “promotion or management or something similar.” Brown explained that he had been hoping for a boy.”

 

Learning to write her name in Kindergarten must have been a real challenge. But, perhaps, another little girl who Felton and Fowler describe, was at somewhat of an advantage on the first day of school—at least when it came to the alphabet.

 

“At her christening in 1883, Arthur Pepper named his daughter Anna Bertha Cecilia Diana Emily Fanny Gertrude Hypatia Inez Jane Kate Louisa Maud Nora Ophelia Quince Rebecca Sarah Teresa Ulysses Venus Winifred Xenophon Yetty Zeus Pepper—one name for every letter in the alphabet with P for Pepper displaced to the end.”

 

Is it just me, or does anyone else wonder where the mothers were in the midst of all this?

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