March 18, 2008

Easter, A Tonic for An Ailing World

by Donald G. Mashburn

Easter will bring more sobering reflections than usual this spring. The hope and promise of life that Easter represents and Spring’s unfolding wonders of new life springing up from what was dead usually work as a tonic to lift our spirits.

But this year, that seasonal tonic brings sobering reflections on the horrors of war. Deranged suicide fanatics blow themselves up to kill innocent people, including children. Our service men and women serving in places called Afghanistan and Iraq continually face the threat of death or permanent maiming from improvised explosive devices planted along roadways that appear harmless.

Sober reflections on life as it is, and on what it might be in that unknown called the future, indeed would plunge any soul into the darkest depths of despair if we faced them with only our own knowledge, strength and abilities. Fortunately, we don’t have to do that, thanks to what happened some 2000 years ago at a place called Calvary.

Calvary, where the original Easter occurred. Where the greatest event in the history of mankind occurred. Where the Son of God suffered and died to redeem us, and changed forever the course of history and the way men should conduct their affairs with each other.

But even with that great Easter event, we still have partisan strife, efforts by political leftists to sow and fertilize the seeds of resentment against that symbol of all that’s wrong in their world: the administration headed by our president, George W. Bush.

The liberal media will eagerly assist in fertilizing the hate seedbed with their own contributions of journalistic slanting, and see to it that the public doesn’t entertain positive thoughts for very long.

The economy gets wobblier daily. And who knows when the next financial implosion will occur on Wall Street? It would be easy to sink into a blue funk deeper than the bottomless pit of red ink dug by our tax-and-spend Congress. But just in time, we realize Easter is coming, the tonic of tonics that lets us know that Spring has won its tug of war with Winter.

Spring lets us witness the miracle or the renewal of life. Easter reminds us of the miracle of that first Easter, and the Christ of Easter, the Giver of new life to those who know and believe in what Easter is all about.

You would think that, worldwide, people would welcome the redemption message of Easter. But you would be wrong. “Easter Break” for some is a time of orgiastic self-indulgence. These, and others, would be hard pressed to explain the true meaning of Easter – that Easter is the story of a perfect, sinless Savior, who suffered and died on the cross to pay our sin debt.

Worse than this neglect born of ignorance and unbelief, are the anti-Christian forces that want to tarnish the holiness of Easter. And have grown openly opposed to the Christ of the Cross, or even the mention of His name in public places.

These enemies of Christianity want to get the Christ of Easter out of the public consciousness. They flood us with propaganda that tries to reduce God to myth, Christ to a carnal man, and Believers to “right wing” religious fanatics. But God and Christ are realities that all must ultimately face when the Christ of Easter will judge the world.

The Easter Story is about a perfect, sinless Man dying on the cross to reconcile us to God, followed three days later by the earth-shaking event of that Man rising from the grave. This man, Jesus Christ, Son of God, could have avoided dying, and had the power to destroy all those who conspired to have Him crucified.

But the glory of Easter is that Jesus stayed on the cross. He chose to do His Father’s will, to pay our sin debt so that we might know, and through faith believe, that He is indeed the Son of God.

The secular media will reports on Easter egg hunts and televised parades. But notice how many in the media work to avoid mentioning Christ and His resurrection. They will mention only casually, if at all, the one fact that makes Easter the story of all history, and special for all mankind: On that first Easter morning, the tomb was empty!

When Believers sing, “Hallelujah, Christ arose!” their confidence is in the resurrected Christ, and His free gift: “The righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe” (Romans 3:22 NKJV)

Easter! A glorious time of hope and renewal. A tonic for every believer. And a tonic for an ailing world, if that world would only turn from its hatred, its killing of other humans, and its violence on innocent people, including children.

Easter is no time for the “winter willies” or “spring blues.” We shouldn’t look at only the traces of death left by winter, but also see the coming of new life. The new life that transcends any other, the life purchased for us by the Christ of Easter on the cross at Calvary.

It’s ours as a free gift, if we only get to know and accept that Man of Calvary into our hearts and lives as Savior and Lord.

Easter is a tonic for Christians, and the Christ of Easter is both the hope and healer of an ailing world.

PERSPECTIVE

Bernake's Proposal to Help Homeowners

by Donald G. Mashburn

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently called for lenders to help the mortgage foreclosure crisis by reducing the principal amount of mortgages subject to foreclosure. As expected, the mortgage industry was cool to the idea.

But Bernanke’s idea makes sense. The lenders helped build the shaky mountain of subprime mortgages, and they – along with their investors – are the ones that are already suffering the most from the rising wave of mortgage defaults. The wave threatens to become a tsunami, in the wake of the failure of mega investment banking firm Bear Stearns.

Sure, the lenders would prefer to sit with their hands out, hoping that somehow the mortgage payments will resume, or keep coming if they are current. But anyone with any knowledge of how “other real estate” can weigh down a bank’s financial statement, knows that if foreclosure occurs, the bank will be facing either a lower appraisal for a fire sale price, or a long wait for the market to get better, or both.

In today’s housing turmoil, the banks will be looking at seriously reduced housing values. And the major reason homeowners are walking away from their loans is that the appraised value of their homes, bought at inflated prices, is lower than their loans, and they don’t want to make payments on a principal that’s more than the house is worth.

So what sensible banker would not rather have the homeowner stay and continue making payments on a reduced principal, rather than take the house on a foreclosure and have to put it on the market and wait for his money?

The answer seems obvious. It makes more sense for both borrower and lender for the homeowner to stay in the home and pay off a reduced principle amount. The beneficial effects would include the avoidance of foreclosure, and a spreading out of the losses in proportion to the overblown loans made.

Of course, greedy bankers – and they do exist, if you can believe that – can whine out of both sides of their mouths, and many of them prefer to continue to cry for a government bailout rather than trying to help solve the problem they helped create.

For these greedy over-lenders, the main problem is that it’s hard to hold out their hands, palm up, and wring them at the same time.