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The coming economic catastrophe

March 1, 2011 Leave a comment

This subject is a bit unusual for this blog, but it is important enough that we should spend time on it. I watch the national scene closely, and I believe that America is headed for a major economic catastrophe, unless somehow we radically switch course.

One of the main themes of the recent past election was the economy. The Taxed Enough Already movement, despite being bitterly derided by the Democratic party and their allies in public sector unions and the media, proved to be an authentic people’s movement that provided the electoral energy for the Republicans to win back an historic number of seats in Congress and to give a stinging rebuke to the Obama agenda.

Since then, our domestic headlines have mostly revolved around the worsening balance sheet of the federal and many state governments. The new congressional leadership is carrying the torch for balancing the budget by controlling out of control spending, such as earmarks and entitlements, and by reining in unfunded mandates, such as social security, medicare and Medicaid, all of which are rapidly driving us into insolvency. But vested interests, which are the ones who led the way to our current predicament, do not want their lucrative apple cart upset, and are resisting tooth and nail.

What does this have to do with “Following Christ”, you may ask. Consider this. Jesus very practically warned His followers to flee Jerusalem when they saw approaching armies. Those who kept His words in mind were able to escape slaughter or capture a few decades later, when the Roman general Titus besieged, and then leveled, the city.

Just a few years after the Resurrection, the prophet Agabus from Judea predicted that a huge famine would sweep the lands under Rome’s control. The church heeded his warning and took immediate steps to strengthen that part of the church that was under the most duress at the time, which was the church in Jerusalem itself, which, being at the epicenter of Judaism, was being persecuted and plundered (see Hebrews 10.32-36).

But even more important than any one relief effort was that in reaching out to the hurting saints an ongoing mentality was birthed, whereby the local church began to think globally of the wellbeing of her sister churches. The famine Agabus predicted came during the reign of Claudius, and we can well assume that the churches continued to aid each other during that time. This not only helped the family of believers, it was a tremendous witness to those on the outside that were hurting, as international relief efforts were unheard of back then. This undoubtedly became one reason the Romans would later say of the Christians during the persecutions, “how they love one another”.

Accordingly, I want Christians to be aware of what is going on, so that they can understand what’s driving the news, consider what may be coming, and:

  • take steps to protect themselves
  • pray so that the nation can perhaps avoid catastrophe or lessen its impact
  • position themselves to strengthen the Kingdom should the calamity strike and Christians be in need
  • position themselves to extend the Kingdom by ministering Christ’s love to outsiders in need.

So I’m going to embed a video here that I think says a lot. But before I do, let me issue some qualifiers.

  • I do not endorse everything this video says.
  • I believe there are some good politicians, who understand the real challenges our nation faces, and who are doing there best, against very powerful forces, including in their own party, to combat the problem.
  • I do not believe that both major political parties are the same.
  • I do not believe everything Ron Paul advocates. Specifically, I do not believe it is responsible, or even possible, for us to disengage from the world to the degree that he would like.
  • I know little about the group producing this video, the National Inflation Association, and therefore cannot endorse them. They seem to be a commercial outfit, but this video seems to be a clean educational effort. I have no connection to them, and neither do I benefit from this in any material way.

Most importantly, I believe that the solution to our problem is not primarily economic, it is spiritual. The video ends up calling us back to an economy rooted in quality interactions. Well and fine, but that is not going to happen unless we turn this nation around spiritually. I know that the two realms – the spiritual and the practical – very often must work together. But still I want to make clear that I am not advocating a strictly secular solution to a problem that is, at root, spiritual.

Regarding the spiritual, recall that great promise God has issued to us:

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. -2Chr 7:14

The spiritual side must lead. Nonetheless, I will emphasize that I do agree with the lion’s share of the content shown here, and I believe it is critical information that every American, every citizen of the West, and every Christian should become familiar with.

This video asks for almost an hour of your time. I believe you will be benefited to give it a viewing.

Be blessed,

Paul

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Politics and godliness

February 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Since the mid-1980s I’ve counted myself as a conservative. I spent time on the abortion barricades and in the public square, advocating for morality and for America’s return to her Constitutional roots, as the only basis on which we can survive in any recognizable or good form.

America’s founders based our government upon the unique paradoxical biblical revelation of the nature of man. Man is made in the image of God. As such, he deserves dignity, freedom, and human and civil rights.

But the Bible also holds that man is fallen, a sinner that cannot be trusted. Therefore we must have government. And because fallen man is also the one who runs the government, that government must be strictly limited.

There’s a tension between those truths, and the best solution we can come with is a dynamic equilibrium that balances them successfully. It never will be perfect, but if we keep working to maintain the center, we can survive and preserve the freedoms we have gained.

The problem is that for several decades now, the nation has been increasingly run by humanistic elites whose purpose, stated or not, is to erode the biblical foundations of our republic. They have systematically stripped the culture of as many references to God as they could. Prayer and morality left the school, and condoms filled the vacuum. How could it have been otherwise?

It’s heartening then to note that the nation of late continues in a tilt toward conservatism. Fully 40% of the population so self-identify, more than even the 33% who claim the middle, leaving liberals with less than a quarter of the count. This is a stunning reversal at the grassroots, even if we don’t see much reflection of it yet in the halls of power.

We need to keep working, with both prayer and action, to win America back. The situation is dire, but with God’s help we will succeed.

But while I continue to hold conservative political values, at the same time two important truths have been impressed on me lately, as I watch the pace of cultural decline accelerate.

First, conservativism and godliness often overlap, especially at this critical time, but essentially they are distinct entities. This was strongly impressed on me recently when a story about the detrimental effect of pornography on men’s ability to bond qualitatively to women was posted to a conservative blog I frequent. Very predictably, I’m sorry to say, the reaction from the crowd there was a bunch of snide jeering and a celebration of the joys of porn. These were conservatives.

Because of the attack on moral values, coupled with the unrestrained Internet, America and the world is awash with an unprecedented amount of pornography. And we are suffering for it. While in some ways they have obtained freedom, women are now openly objectified as never before, and often by their own choices have become their own worst enemies. The values that used to protect them – morality, fidelity and monogamy – are in short supply indeed. And women, in competition for attention, have largely allowed themselves to be degraded to the level of the culture’s expectations. They are the worse for it.

It is short-sighted that many conservatives have an implicit belief that the morality they labor for in foreign and domestic policy can long endure if personal morality is jettisoned. They ought to give Washington’s farewell address a good read, in which he warned the nation that it could not long stand if it abandoned the “twin pillars” of democracy – morality and religion.

Jesus said that judgment will take place in this manner: two will be working in a field, and one will be taken; two will be grinding at the wheel, and one will be taken. Let me apply that to our current day. Two will hold conservative political values, and only one will be pleasing to God.

It’s a good thing to labor to restore the nation to its roots. But it’s not a good enough thing. It’s a terrible thing to work conservatively in the external political sphere but not attend to restoring one’s own spiritual roots.

The other issue that I think needs reassessment is conservatism’s claim to exclusive correctness. In that same farewell address, Washington also warned against involvement with other nations. That is no longer possible, and indeed it never was. It was only shortly after Washington left the scene that the Barbary Pirates – read: Muslims – began to severely harass American ships. If we were going to have any commerce with the world at all, it quickly became necessary to deal with international problems.

With increased information flow, the world is getting smaller. If nothing else, the latest Muslim incursion, on 9/11, proved that we simply cannot shut out the world.

And I’ll go one further. We are not meant to shut out the world entirely. America was blessed with resources and governance not merely for her own freedom and prosperity, but that she could bring them to others. More precisely, America, founded on Christian principles, is meant to be a Gospel light to the nations. We cannot do that by hiding our light under a bushel.

Strict isolationism will not work. God’s love and grace has been shed abroad in our hearts liberally, not conservatively, and that’s how we need to spread it to others. In this regard, the motivations of liberals are many times correct. Their mistake is their inordinate faith in the state, which becomes a substitute for the church and the individual as the means of dispensing that grace. Jesus warned, call no man ‘father’, but we have forgotten.

The point of this article is this: we should acknowledge civic virtues, and we should work to bring America back to her roots, but we need to do it all, first and foremost, for the glory of God. When we do that, we not only have the chance of earthly achievements, we have the certainty of heavenly rewards.

An added note on porn:

Those who embrace pornography are squandering their affections. They are building walls around themselves that make real intimacy with their wives impossible. They are sowing seeds of cynicism, resentment and alienation, and one cannot do that without consequences.

In this regard, a good woman is like anything else: what you put into her, you will get out of her, and more. What better is there to invest in but your family? Or for that matter, God?

If you make a commitment to avoid porn, you can get to a place where you recognize when women are using their appearance as a substitute for good character. Trust me on this, you will be avoiding a world of pain if you do so. The benefits of devoting yourself to your wife, and the detriments of squandering your affections, are both so great that the difficulty of disciplining yourself morally are well worth it.

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