Worth Reading - 7/17

1. The New York City taxi industry is under pressure because of the rise of Uber, an online app that enables ridesharing at a lower cost than taxis. This article analyzes some of the ways the disruption is impacting the taxi medallion owners and their creditors:

Cabbies aren’t the only ones feeling the heat from Uber Technologies Inc.’s incursion into New York City. Their lenders are, too.

Taxi companies typically borrow against the value of medallions — licenses to carry passengers — and then refinance the loans before they come due. Citigroup Inc. is trying to foreclose on 89 medallions, New York Community Bancorp Inc. put its taxi-loan portfolio up for sale, and credit unions with a combined $2.5 billion in medallion loans are suing the city for failing to stop Uber from stealing customers. Amid the turmoil, the value of a medallion has sunk to $770,000 from $1.1 million in 2013, according to data from the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission.

“It’s very hard to find new financing for the medallions,” said Alexander Twerdahl, an analyst with Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP in New York. “As the banks are pulling back from the industry, I think they’re only hurting themselves. And they’re hurting the industry more.”

Competition from New York’s 26,000 Uber drivers has driven down meter revenue for the city’s 13,600 medallion holders and their 50,000 operators. The breakdown of the $15 billion New York City taxi industry that began with Uber’s arrival four years ago continues with lenders pulling their support.

“This is not hyperbole,” said Todd Higgins, a co-founder of Crosby & Higgins LLP who’s representing the credit unions. “The numbers very clearly show that the medallion market has seized and that the industry is already collapsing.”

2. Bethany Jenkins from TGC is beginning a four part series on Esther and its application to Christians living as sojourners in a strange culture:

The Esther story is one of the most realistic biblical accounts of God’s providence precisely because God seems absent. It shows us how the unseen God often works through human history—“not by his miraculous intervention,” Karen Jobes observes, “but through completely ordinary events.”

In Esther, a string of “coincidences” occur in order for the Jews to be saved—a drunken and boastful king, a self-respecting queen, a beauty pageant, a sensuous girl, an overheard plot, and a timely insomnia. God even uses morally questionable decisions to work all things together for the good of his people.

And through these inscrutable and seemingly insignificant means, he advances his purposes. In the Esther story, God cares less about appearances and more about his sovereignty.
The rifle shots rang out across Arlington National Cemetery, but is wasn’t until the bugle sounded the twenty-four notes of taps that I felt a strange combination of joy and sadness flood over me.

Joy came in the knowledge that my father, who we were honoring, was now one of the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) waiting for me to faithfully finish the race.

Sorrow came in the knowledge that I will not be able to see my father again until Jesus returns or takes me home, whichever comes first.

These mixed emotions surrounding death aren’t abnormal. Many people have felt this way when a loved one passes.

The main thing we all feel is a deep conviction that this is not the way things are supposed to be.
It was the first of March, 1985. I remember where I was sitting when it happened.

I was pastor of a church in the western suburbs of Chicago. A guest preacher was speaking at a series of meetings at our church. He was teaching on the prayers of the apostle Paul found in his New Testament letters, and encouraging us to pray these inspired prayers as our own.

Then, at one point he held up his Bible said, “Folks, when you pray, use the prayer book.”

In that moment I suddenly realized, “The entire Bible is a prayer book. We can pray not only the prayers of Paul in Ephesians, we can pray everything in the Book of Ephesians.”

So I started praying each day through one of the passages in my daily Bible reading. Soon I was reading in the Psalms and found it easy to make the words of the psalmist my own prayers.