• Warren

Stories for these economic times to provoke and inspire

Friday morning Christmas 2006.

Breakfast at a beautiful market restaurant, 10 friends meeting together in the midst of the hustle and bustle of business life, having a December pause.  One of the group feels a strong urge to ask his wealthy friend on his right a very serious question in the midst of the levity.  “Who do you love the most, your money or Jesus?”

The friend laughed nervously and then spontaneously, and in retrospect honestly said “my money”.  There was mild embarrassment, some afterthought and then everyone enjoyed the full English breakfast and disappeared into the cold morning air.

Fast forward, July 2007.

The friend who’d asked the question has a strong and profound dream about the wealthy young man in which he is raising his hand over this lovely man, interceding and praying dramatically that something bad will not overtake him.  He awakens and as a discerner between pizza dreams and God-inspired dreams knows that this one was for real.  In obedience he picks up the phone to his friend who’s driving his Porsche along the back streets of a European capital and explains “I had a dream last night”.  His friend listens and then says that a shiver ran down his spine as others had conveyed similar messages in previous weeks.  What was God saying?  “Wake up my son, let your divided heart and loyalties be healed, seek only me and my Kingdom or calamity will befall you.”

Fast forward two weeks.

A call – “How are you my friend?”.  An anxious, disturbed and confused voice replies “Terrible.  I’ve been trading on the markets as I’ve been doing for a long time, but now something has happened. I’ve just lost an amazing amount of money.”  “How much, do you mind me asking?”  “I’m embarrassed to say”  “I think it’s probably important that you do say” “5 million US dollars”  “What?” the enquirer exclaims, for a brief moment filled with sadness at the thought of the sheer waste of such a huge amount of money, particularly when God had been speaking so clearly.  A momentary thought, what could have been done with that money?  And then comfort – “Be sure that something has begun and if God has been speaking to you so clearly, if he has his hand against you then turn away from trading so speculatively and seek him with all that’s within you. You know my friend, you’ve had prayer to say that you were a Joseph.  There is a weight of responsibility when we acknowledge that such a prophetic word could be true.”   “I need to think about it, I need to pray, I don’t know what to do” he responds.

Two weeks pass…

… and what we now know is that at that point the credit crunch, as it’s come to be known, had begun and dislocations in the market had begun to accelerate.  The enquiring friend would call almost every two-three weeks.  The despair increased, the tensions as a result in our friend’s family life mounted and a darkness descended, and almost every three weeks another $1 million had been lost.

November 2007

The two friends get together for a long weekend in a snowy climate.  Agitation is observed, disquiet, but a desire to know what God is saying.  On the Monday the doors are closed and agreement is made to switch off all the trading screens and to pray and listen in silence until God speaks. God begins to open up our trading friend’s past and leads, as he so desires to, with words, pictures and promptings to unfold a root.  The picture, a dearly loved father now passed away, a hero but a hard man.  A picture as a child with a friend in a room and Dad hovering above. “Son, recite the months of the year and if you get it wrong this bag of sweets is going to be given to your friend.” “January, February, March, April ….”, the little boy clams up, unable to remember what comes next, and the sweets are handed to his friend. Humiliation descends and with many other such occurrences a root of inadequacy begins to grow in the soul of this boy, who will one day become a trader and investor.  This inadequacy permeates large parts of life – “I’m not good enough, I need more, nothing is enough” and yet God, in his mercy, has not only warned but has revealed, he has brought a good friend who is listening alongside, and other friends too who are speaking the same message.

Eventually, apart from property assets, the trading assets disappear and God in his grace and mercy, in his chastening and disciplining, continues to grab the attention of his beloved son in the place of greatest bondage.  The blindness seems almost impenetrable but slowly a realisation comes, like the rich young ruler who asked Jesus “What do I need to do to enter heaven?” The bespoke answer comes with no dogma attached “For you, sell everything and give to the poor”.  For our friend in the snowy climes what is God still saying?

As I reflect on this true story I continue to be shocked and amazed at the sincere and awesome desire of our Maker, with his precision timing, to awaken his sleeping sons into a life so potent and full of promise but at the same time knowing that like the Laodiceans there can be no divided loyalties between Mammon and the Lordship of Christ.  There can only be one master.  In my heart when I reflect on this story it’s like the pearl of great price.  We’ve reached a time in history when compromise and idols and contenders for our affections will either be swept aside or those who are unable to escape the allure of the seducing spirits of our time could well be the foolish virgins who knock without response at the door of the Master.

Footnote – February 2009

Our friend, after much pain, much prayer has lifted out of his cloud, repented, recognised his own overcoming of fear and is now moving ahead rapidly. A new sense of zeal for business is returning, new creativity, but this seems different.  He seems more excited about the souls he meets and shares with in business, and the potential for righteous Kingdom building trade, and most importantly, what God might now be able to do with a heart and soul fully after his ways.  “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.   (Matthew 6:33)

Second story

A wonderful, prayerful, capable South African, a warm family man who loves to engage in things Christian with many Christian friends.  Loud, occasionally opinionated but earthy and real.  And yet, on a journey over five years a scenario unfolded which plagues many Christians today, one of dual thinking when it comes to things that are most precious.  Could it be that where behaviours and actions are hidden, where transparency is foiled the enemy gets a foothold?

A company is formed at the time when tec and biotec companies were springing up like vegetables in an allotment.  A new concept, professional people, a share price launched, prospectuses sent and suddenly the followers of Jesus are now fully engaged in the ways of Babylon, enticing new investors into an ever increasing share price.  Investors, greedy for more and not wishing to miss out on an escalating price buy in to an ever increasing share. Friends at the beginning now show strains in their relationships as the environment changes, the turnover doesn’t materialise, the operations aren’t as strong as imagined and the profits seem elusive.  Suddenly reputations are on the line, accusations begin to fly, the world is watching.  There is a mixture of integrity and hidden things.  Some risk more, some risk less, but one – our South African friend – puts much on the line to risk and hope that this venture can be salvaged.

But show me please the place in Scripture where there is permission for speculation, permission for those who confess Christ, who claim to be yielded to his Spirit to engage in the ways of the world.  Did the Father not say that friendship with the world is enmity towards him?  The venture begins to implode, people run for cover.  Claims, counter-claims and our dear brother, somewhat isolated and alone, having fallen from great heights financially sits alone and examines his life assurance policy to see if there is a suicide clause.  Yes, there is and that clause saves his life, for had it not been there possibly he may have taken his own life to leave something for his family.

Is it not true that the enemy of our souls comes to rob, steal and destroy, and the God of the universe, our personal awesome God comes to give life in all its abundance?  Our friend from South Africa is being rebuilt by God, strengthened by his experience, deepening in his walk.

Who are the wealthy?  A mist, a vapour, here now and then gone.  Is not life more than this?  Are not our treasures built in heaven?  Does God love the wealthy and poor alike?  Yes!  But is it harder for the rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven?  Yes.  We are living in arguably the most momentous times, certainly that the financial world has ever known, and undoubtedly the peaks and troughs and troubles will accelerate from here on in.  Those in power know in part already.  Those who listen to the real wisdom to be found in Christ in the pages of his Word have some knowledge of what is to come. There is little time.  There is a great need for believers to believe and for the Kingdom to be sought with every ounce of strength and to move no longer sub-culturally, but counter-culturally, in everything which relates to the world’s understanding of wealth.

This is a wake up call!  Pray for all those whom you perceive as having divided loyalties and urge, pray, petition and intercede that they may follow the Lord’s leading at this time.

Paul http://www.acalltobusiness.co.uk/

#economictimes #economy #Laodiceans #mammon

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