Category Archives: Do

Introducing my new book, Know Be Do

Know Be Do

It’s been nearly three years since my last post on the Know Be Do blog. But I have been busy writing. I took a sabbatical from the blog to write my first book, which, “Surprise!”…is entitled Know Be Do: Turning the Christian Life Right Side Up. I spent about a year and a half researching and writing the book and another year and half getting it published (by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan). Now, I am pleased to announce that the book is published and is being released this month. You can find out more and purchase the book at my author website LarryAlanThompson.com. Also, I’ve written a companion Know Be Do Bible Study Resource booklet designed for small group or personal study. You’ll find more information about it at my website as well. I hope you’ll read my new book and consider doing the Bible study, perhaps leading your small group or church through the study. Thank you for following this Know Be Do blog. Look for future blog posts and connect with my social media feeds at LarryAlanThompson.com.

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Generation Gap

The nest emptied. I turned 50. And suddenly my mind was conflicted between two opposing self-perceptions: one, my life-long assumption that no one would ever be younger than me (read my post, “50 Trips Around the Sun”) and the other, a newly dawning reality that I was now unmistakably a member of the “older generation.” When the AARP sent me a membership card with my name stamped on it, there was no more denying it.

It wasn’t only my sagging body and sluggish mind that was telling me this, it was the sobering realization that my worldview was quite different from the “younger generation.”

I’d become an ol’ fogy.

In the 1960s, when I grew up, someone coined a term for this. They called it the “Generation Gap.” I’m a father of two married daughters in their 20s and a ministry marketer, so I had a vested interest in finding out all I could about what makes this younger generation tick, particularly when it comes to their Christian worldview. I desperately wanted to understand why and how the beliefs and values that I and many of my peers had held dear were not fully shared by the next generation.

So I subscribed to Relevant magazine. I read articles from critical thinkers. I had long conversations with three college ministers. I got two of the best books I could find on the subject and pored over them: You Lost Me by David Kinnaman and Already Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer. Most importantly, I talked to my two 20something daughters. I’ve distilled the result of all this research—as well as a careful self-examination—into this post. Below are my conclusions about how the Generation Gap, namely in the Christian arena, can be bridged.

GapBut before I go further, however, it will help if I define the generations and my designations for them. I’m familiar with the vast array of various names for generations, Boomers, Busters, Millennials, Generation Flux, Gen X, Y, and Z, and so on. But in this post, I’m viewing the generations very broadly, calling my generation, the Baby Boomers born 1946–64, the Concrete Generation. And I’m calling our kids’ generation, born 1982–2000, the Connect Generation. Concreters see the world in hard and fast terms, black and white. We’re a bit materialistic, and cling to things that are tried, true, and highly defined. We’re like a concrete slab. The Connect Generation grew up in the Internet age where change was the only constant. Connectors are connected to information and to people in ways that Concreters may never fully understand. So there you have it. How do you span the Generation Gap? I’d suggest building a bridge—concrete, of course. My daughters might suggest we Skype about it.

What My Generation Can Learn from the Younger Generation

1. Value relationships as much as ideas and ideals.

I’ll be the first to admit that many from my generation lost sight of the fundamental truth that God is all about relationships. Our whole purpose for being created was to share a relationship with God. And a need for relationships and community is built into our DNA at every level.

Concreters often see relationships as means to an end. But for Connectors, relationships are the end. People matter. And not just their little clique of friends. People all over the world are all part of a global community of which we’re all citizens. Furthermore, they see the sinner first, not the sin. Unlike Concreters, Connectors aren’t interested in managing people. They want to love them.

Here’s what my generation can learn from Connectors on this point:

  1. Value community.
  2. Be eager to extend grace.
  3. Don’t be so dogmatic that you win the argument and lose the friend.
  4. Love the outsider.
  5. Work in teams.
  6. Hand-craft disciples.

2. Put values into action.

Like a pair of TOMS or a Livestrong wristband, Connectors wear their cause on their sleeve—or shoe. And just like social media help keep information flowing between their relationships, social justice and social enterprise help keep rights and resources flowing from haves to have-nots.

Concreters have often been content to build their kingdoms in such a way that they can enjoy the benefits personally—and they often build a moat around the castle. Connectors are inclined to build kingdoms without walls or gates or moats. They won’t sit in their ivory towers and proclaim messages. They’re more apt to hit the road and be Jesus in skin to someone who would never swim the moat. They live like they actually believe this stuff. They see faith as a verb, not a noun.

3. Have high expectations and a radical passion for Christianity.

Connectors sniff out fakes quicker than they’ll roll their eyes at the mention of K-Love. They won’t hold their nose around spoiled Christianity just so they can keep up appearances. Authentic Christianity. That’s what they’re searching for. And it better be passionate and relevant. They won’t put up with boring church. Church that’s a spectator sport. Or preachers who know what they believe and are mad about it. They’ve had enough of preaching that makes the Good News sound like bad news. They want Christianity like it was—and still is in some places—when it was fresh, new, on the Gospel frontiers.

There are a lot of reasons why Connectors who were brought up in church are turning their back on faith in droves, but I think Kyle Idleman in his book Not a Fan (p. 83) puts his finger on it with this quote from the father of a Prodigal Daughter: “We raised her in Church, but we didn’t raise her in Christ.” As Kyle puts it, “We taught her to be a fan of Jesus—instead of a follower of Jesus.”

This quote from Emma Smith, a student in Lexington, Kentucky (You Lost Me, Kinnaman, p. 232), sums up what the next generation is looking for in the authentic Christian:

“I want you to be someone I want to grow up to be like. I want you to step up and live by the Bible’s standards. I want you to be inexplicably generous, unbelievably faithful, and radically committed. I want you to be a noticeably better person than my humanist teacher, than my atheist doctor, than my Hindu next-door neighbor. I want you to sell all you have and give it to the poor. I want you to not worry about your health like you’re afraid of dying. I want you to live like you actually believe in the God you preach about. I don’t want you to be like me; I want you to be like Jesus. That’s when I’ll start listening.”

What the Younger Generation Can Learn from My Generation

1. Believe in an absolute and accurate authority.

Connectors put an extremely high value on empirical knowledge. So when it comes to spiritual matters, they often have a hard time making a “willing suspension of disbelief,” as Coleridge put it, in God and the supernatural realm. But God is an exceedingly creative God, and the essence of creativity is “unlearning.” Today’s generation has to unlearn the notion that scientific knowledge has no limitations.  As Aristotle said, “That which is probable and impossible is better than that which is possible and improbable.” Take creation, for example. If God exists and wrote the Bible, then the literal Genesis account is probable and impossible. (Yet with God, all things are possible.) Evolution, on the other hand, is possible, but improbable.

Discovering the truth is ultimately a matter of settling the question of authority. It all comes back to one solitary question: Did God write the Bible? If yes, then It’s the absolute, inerrant, and accurate authority. If no, then stop wasting time playing church and live totally for self. Either He wrote it, or He didn’t.

An epiphany moment for me in understanding the younger generation came during a sermon preached by my church’s student pastor, Casey McCall. He said, “It’s hip today to doubt. Assurance is not cool. It’s considered arrogant, not authentic. Doubt is what’s thought to be authentic, genuine.” Today’s generation has experienced an unprecedented amount of change, even in their short lifetimes. Human knowledge is doubling every few years, soon perhaps, every few months. Millions of widely varying opinions are only a click away. And we expect young people to believe that a book filled with “far-fetched” stories written several millennia ago is without error and absolutely authoritative? Connectors have their doubts.

Although I believe I could do it, it’s beyond the scope of this post to give an airtight apologetic about the Bible’s historical, scientific, and theological inerrancy—those resources are out there for truth-seekers. I’ve done a good deal of apologetics work, and I’ve never come across an alleged discrepancy yet that didn’t have a satisfactory answer if you’ll look for it. My main point here is that Connectors need to think through the ramifications of evaluating the Bible through the judgment bar of human reason and modern experience. I’ve already written several blogs that touch on this issue, and make the point that:

  • Science and empirical knowledge have limits. If you want to see further, you must use another sense: faith. See “Did God create man or did man make god?
  • There’s a divine tension between God’s Revelation and Man’s Senses
  • If you truly seek God and wisdom, start at the beginning: Genesis. Once you can begin to grasp, “In the beginning, God…” everything else is quite believable. God. Infinite, eternal, mind-blowing God! If you believe in God, Who is both good and great, how can you doubt anything He says—no matter how much it seems to violate our human reason and modern experience? Why would Someone Who so desperately wants to spend forever with us reveal Himself by writing a book full of misleading stories that never happened? And how arrogant to think that we are the generation that finally found Him out.

It brings to mind a favorite quote (author unknown): “God must be very great to have created a world which carries so many arguments against His existence.” And another by Madeleine L’Engle: “I have point of view. You have a point of view. But God has a view.”

Connectors are on a search for the genuine, the authentic, the truth. Believing that Truth actually exists and that we’ve found it is not arrogance or folly. To the contrary, believing the oldest lie in the book, “Did God really say…” (Genesis 3:1), is neither modern, nor hip, nor genuine, nor cool. So don’t swallow it. Connectors, one thing I think you need to learn is that there’s a world of difference between knowledge and wisdom. Discover the difference, learn to listen to the Lord, and to truly know God. You won’t have any trouble believing the Bible after that.

2. Social action and justice without disciple-making is pointless.

As I mentioned above, my generation has much to learn about the value of relationships and putting faith into action with the type of compassion that Jesus demonstrated. But my observation has been that much of the social action and compassion ministries today are long on relief and short on redemption. We’re giving the cup of cold water, but are we giving it “in His name”? Are we leading people to Christ, or just making the world a better place to go to hell from? Are we throwing out the lifeline, or just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? We’ve got to connect the dots for people in no uncertain way in order to clearly communicate that we care for people’s physical needs because we care even more about their spiritual needs. Jesus healed the sick and fed the hungry. Then He led them out of even greater oppression and spiritual darkness. When it comes to social action and disciple-making, it’s a “both-and,” not an “either-or.”

3. End cynicism about the church.

Suppose someone came up to me and said, “You know, I really like you, but I can’t stand being around Tina.” (First of all, it’s much more likely for someone to say the opposite, but I digress…) I’m not likely to warm up to someone like that who thinks they can pal around with me but hold my bride in contempt. How much more so does God resist one who says, “God, I like. It’s those Christians down at the church I can’t stand.” The fact is those vile, hypocritical, judgmental, worldly, lukewarm sinners down at the church are His bride. All He sees is the spotless, snow-white wedding gown purchased by the perfect blood of His Son.

God has the right to do all the disciplining of His unruly children He wants, but He doesn’t need us doing His job. Connectors need to see that the church is still—and always will be—God’s chosen community for Christians to grow and multiply. No, you won’t find a perfect church. And if you do, don’t join it; you’ll be sure to mess it up. But we need one another. We need community, not cynicism. Connectors seem to understand community, but they remain suspicious of it in the church.

Others go to the opposite extreme. They make the church all about people and relationships and ignore the importance of orthodox doctrine and truth. People pick a church for all the wrong reasons, because it’s the hip place to be, where all the cool kids are. But if the pure truth of the Word is not preached consistently and convictionally, then it’s not really a church; it’s a civic club. Connectors seem to err on the side of relationships. Concreters might err on the side of doctrine. May today’s generation find the right balance between uncompromising truth and committed discipleship.

In Conclusion

Both generations need to be humble and teachable. Both can learn from the other. And one other thing that both generations need to avoid, Concreters in particular, is what Drew Dyck (You Lost Me, Kinnaman, p. 225) calls “proxy wars.” “It’s tempting to vent irritation over a young doubter’s party lifestyle or political views,” Dyck points out. “But these are bad hills to die on. Avoid getting sucked into debates about peripheral issues….Save your most impassioned word to talk about the Gospel.” How true. Concreters may harp on lifestyle issues like alcohol use, music, homosexuality, and other side issues. Connectors might be quick to throw out the baby with the bath water when they smell hypocritical church members, Fox News politics, or compassionless Christians. But both generations need to keep the main thing the main thing and major on the majors.

I’ve been on the trail as a Christian for more than 30 years now. When I come face-to-face with how little progress I’ve made sometimes, I realize I have little right to try and straighten out the next generation. But I do want to stay connected to them. And since my feet are pretty much firmly set in concrete on a lot of issues, that means I really have to stretch sometimes to bridge the generation gap. And sometimes I just can’t get there. Likewise, I realize that today’s generation often feels like trying to connect with my generation is about as frustrating as watching YouTube on a dial-up connection. (I’ll bet there are 18-year-olds who don’t even know what that is.) Thankfully, we have a timeless God who is limited by neither time nor space, Who Himself filled the void between man and God. And if He can fill that gap, filling the gap between Concreters and Connectors is no problem at all.

Bibliography

Five Myths about Young Adult Church Dropouts, Barna Group, November 16, 2011

Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church, Barna Group, September 28, 2011

Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church, Kenda Creasy Dean (Oxford University Press), 2010.

Already Gone, Ken Ham and Britt Beemer (Master Books), 2009.

You Lost Me, David Kinnaman (Baker Books), 2011.

The Road Ahead: Challenges Gospel Ministers Can Expect, Al Mohler, Southern Seminary Magazine, Spring 2012, pp. 28-30.

50 Ideas That Changed Everything, Relevant Magazine, March-April 2011, pp. 88-109.

The Generation of Contrast, Relevant Magazine, September-October 2011, pp. 80-87.

An Open Letter to This Generation, Relevant Magazine, March-April 2011, pp. 52-55.

The Vanishing Church Body, Relevant Magazine, March-April 2011, pp. 82-87.

Lost in Transition, Christian Smith (Oxford University Press), 2011.

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50 Trips Around the Sun

Celebrating my first trip around the sun

Today, I complete my 50th trip around the sun. The Big 5-0. The half century mark. 50 years old. Or, as people like to say when they’re old, 50 years young.

I’m not lying when I say it really isn’t bothering me. Other ages have given me pause. 19 (my last teenage year). 30 (the end of being young). 40 (the beginning of being old). These all hit me a little harder. 50? Not that much different than 40something. In fact, 50 is the new 40, they say. And while I’m surely playing on the back 9 now, statistically, I still have a few years left. I tried out three of those “life expectancy calculators” and got the following results: 88 years, 82 years, 93 years (average: 87.7). (Interestingly, the lowest estimate was provided by the U.S. government’s Social Security site. Wishful thinking, on their part, I suppose. Not like there will be anything left when I get there anyway.) I guess I’m fairly healthy, but 93? I think the survey forgot to ask about my weakness for fried catfish (or anything deep fried), Meat Lover’s pizza with extra cheese (or anything smothered in cheese), and Graeter’s Peanut Butter Blitz ice cream.

If I had to reflect how the Big 5-0 is making me feel, however, three thoughts come to mind:

1. No one was ever supposed to be younger than me.

I was born the youngest of four children to a mother and father who were second to the youngest in their families. I was always the baby of my family—a big baby, my wife likes to say. So my brothers, sister, and virtually all my cousins, etc. we’re older than me. Growing up, the kids in my neighborhood were older than me. Many of my friends at church and school were older than me. I got married at 20 and had a baby sitter for our first anniversary, so most of our life-stage peers were older than us. When I got my first real job, I was the youngest at my ad agency. It seemed like everything I did, I was the kid in the room.

Because it often seemed like I was hitting milestones before others my age, I felt like I was ahead of the game. There were no 27-year-old Mark Zuckerbergs who had accomplished more at their tender young age than I have at twice their age or ever will. Now, on a regular basis, I discover 20somethings and 30somethings who have built businesses or churches with large staffs, making significant impact in the Kingdom of God. And while I can genuinely say that I rejoice in the Lord over that, I can’t help but wonder if I haven’t set my sights too low. And now the clock is ticking—faster and faster. Yeah, I’ve heard the inspiring stories of people who accomplished great things beginning in their 50s, 60s, and beyond. But I’ve also read the news about how a younger workforce with more up-to-date skills, willing to work at lower salaries, is replacing workers my age. It’s not something I fret over a lot. Yet. But if the world keeps changing at the same pace that it has over the past 10-20 years—or likely, even faster—will I be able to keep up?

In my quest to stay relevant, perhaps my new mantra should be: No one will ever be older than me.

2. I’m seriously concerned that I will outlive my savings.

My father retired from the federal government with a lifetime pension, which, after he died, was passed on to my Mother. Social Security was also there for them. That was pretty much the norm for the Greatest Generation. I’ve got nothing like that. I sincerely believe that Social Security will be bankrupt or minimized to a paltry stipend by the time I reach 62 or 65 or whatever age they increase it to by then. (Read my full prediction of the bleak financial future of the United States here.) And what I get in retirement will be exactly what I myself put in. Correction: minus what my mutual funds lose in the stock market. I fully expect to work until the day I can no longer physically put my arms though my blue Walmart greeter’s vest.

Not that retirement is a big goal for me. Honestly. I don’t see the concept of retirement in the Bible. I want to work until I’m unable to do so. Work is a gift from God. (Ecclesiastes 3:13, 5:18-19) (Read Your Work Matters to God by Doug Sherman and William Hendricks for an outstanding treatment of this.) And I would love it if I could work till the day I die. It would be great, however, if I didn’t have to earn a living while I was working. I’d love to be financially free to volunteer for ministry projects and missions. That’s my ultimate dream and prayer. But what if I’m unemployable—for health or other reasons—and I run out of money before I run out of years? I’ve got no lifetime pension. Probably no government assistance. And there will likely be a whole bunch of us Boomers in the same sinking ship. I’d rather die than be a burden to my children, although they will probably scold me for saying so. But at age 50 now, I’ve got to get serious about saving for the future and staying healthy enough to work as as long as I can.

3. Old age is a trade-off.

If you’re still reading, you might think I have a pretty pessimistic outlook on my remaining 32 years (if the Social Security Administration has their way). But as I always say to family members who tend to be optimists or idealists, I’m neither pessimist nor optimist. I’m a realist. And the realty of beginning my sixth decade is that it’s a trade off.

I noticed beginning in my late 40s that the ol’ bean wasn’t whirring at the same MHz as it once was—like an old computer that needs to be defragged. But I’d like to think that what I’ve lost in mental quickness, I’ve made up for with wisdom and clarity of thought. I’m not the sage that I should be at this age, but usually I can arrive at the correct conclusion, though traveling more slowly; I’m taking a more direct route.

Likewise, the eyes and the back and the knees are weaker. But while the eye can’t see as sharply, it beholds more clearly. While the joints may not be as spry, the body better cherishes life at its new, slower pace. And while the dreams may not be as lofty, the gratitude for what’s been enjoyed lifts the spirits far beyond mere anticipation.

I didn’t want this post to be a retrospective of the past 50 years. Although there’s certainly so much I could say about how God has blessed me with a “Leave It to Beaver” childhood, salvation at age 19, 30 wonderful years with my beautiful, godly wife, two amazing daughters and two sons-in-love, a fulfilling career and ministry, and now “My Old Kentucky Home” back in my beloved Lexington, home of the 8-time, 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Champions. But this blog is about looking ahead. And I take utmost hope in the future. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'” (Jeremiah 29:11).

My grandmother lived to be almost 100, and I have an aunt who is 102. I may be at halftime in life. Or the final buzzer may be ready to sound. And as I buckle in to begin my 51st trip around the sun, one thing I can say with certainty is that I’m a lot less certain about a lot of things than I once was. Absolutely, I’ve got regrets. I regret every sin I ever committed. And the failures are still much more numerous than I would have thought, having been on the Christian trail for more than 30 years. But if you’ll forgive the cliche, I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future. He is my Security. And where I’m headed, “time” won’t be measured anymore. And the life expectancy will be everlasting. “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). Eternity. What a mind-blowing concept!

Yes, old age—make that life itself—is a trade off. And when it’s over, each of us will trade in our old body and our old life for something new. Make sure it’s New Life—with a retirement plan that is truly out of this world. And unlimited trips to the Son.

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The Year of the Fire Dragon

The Year of the Fire Dragon

Tomorrow, our official language becomes Chinese.

February 10, 2043. That’s our new Fourth of July. The birthday of our new nation: The People’s Republic of American China (PRAC). But it’s no Independence Day. To the contrary, our new national birthday is the final step in a long march toward dependence.

Today is the last day of the United States of America.

Nearly 267 years old. It was a good run. Most say, the greatest nation that ever existed. Historians divide our history into three trimesters: The Developmental Years (1776-1865), The Dominant Years (1866-1959), and the Decaying Years (1960-2043).

We survived a revolution that freed us from our Mother County. A bitter Civil War and unending civil rights struggle. Two World Wars and a dozen or so other conflicts. A major Depression and several recessions. What we couldn’t survive was “prosperity.”

The beginning of the end began around the turn of the 21st century. The United States had just emerged from a period of unprecedented prosperity that saw houses, cars, and paychecks get super-sized. Nothing wrong with that, if you’re looking ahead. But like a college student burning through a trust fund with no thought of tomorrow, the nation and her government spent money like it was growing on trees. In a way, it was. When the government needed more money, it just printed it. Suddenly, America found itself in the middle of a perfect economic storm, caught between three inevitable, overwhelming forces.

First, Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) were beginning to get to the ages when they needed increasing amounts of expensive health care and assisted-living facilities. But they couldn’t pay their own way. Few had adequate retirement plans, and in 2025, Social Security and eventually Medicare began phasing out. Like all the popular government entitlement programs, it just wasn’t sustainable. When Social Security began in 1935 the contributions of 17 workers paid for the benefits of one retiree. By 2035, the 100th anniversary of Social Security, the ratio was 2 workers per beneficiary. In 2025, the laws were changed so that only those born before 2010 and only those age 75 or older would receive benefits. Benefits were gradually getting phased out. At the same time, people were living much longer, only exacerbating the problem of caring for and paying for the expensive final years of life. These older Americans were long outliving their savings. They had no affordable places to live. Enormous high-rise, government housing was built to house these millions of aging Americans who couldn’t afford food, housing, or health care. Health care rationing was only the beginning. Then, the euthanasia debate came to the forefront, eclipsing even the abortion debate as the nation’s most divisive  moral and ethical issue. The public sought to lower expenses by clipping both ends off the life cycle. Even after-birth abortion was fought for, and although defeated legally, became common on the black market.

The second force in this perfect storm was the government’s deficit spending and mounting debt. Despite tax rates that approached 50% even for middle class Americans, the government’s insatiable appetite for vote-producing entitlement programs never seem to be satiated. Every facet of living seemed to become a right which the government was obligated to provide. It began innocently enough with public education in the 20th century. But then it expanded to food. Then to housing. Then to higher education. Then to transportation. Then to health care. Then to communication. By 2020, the United States had become for all intents and purposes a socialist democracy that functioned on the basis of legalized vote buying—government services bartered for votes. Every election was a spending contest. The few who shouldered the bulk of the financial burden of the government were in the minority. The entitlement seekers were the dominant voting bloc and ruled by majority. Government spending went way beyond the public’s means to pay for it. The government’s plans were simply not sustainable. The tax and spend habit became a debilitating addiction. The bottom line was that deficit spending continued to grow and grow beyond any hope of ever paying it back. The government’s response of printing more money caused inflation to grow unmanageable—to double-digit rates. This only compounded the debt problem. And the lion’s share of the debt was financed by, you guessed it, China. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The third and final factor in the perfect storm was progressive pricing. No one had really heard of progressive pricing until 2021 when General Motors sued the United States Treasury Department for the right to price its vehicles progressively. Supported by a lobbying group formed by former Presidents Bill Clinton, Barak Obama, and Hilary Clinton called “Equality:America,” GM argued that since the Federal government had the right to provide services funded by a progressive pricing system, that is, payment in proportion to income, then they as a private company also had this same right. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. GM’s lawyers compellingly argued that the government’s taxation system was extremely progressive. High income family paid thousands of times more for the same government services—from national defense to highway systems—as low income families. Progressive pricing structures were also well established for government housing, food, education, transportation, and more. The Supreme Court decided that yes, companies could set prices based on the customer’s income. Every consumer was annually issued a PCPI (Personal Consumer Price Index) number from 0 to 200. A PCPI of 100 meant that you paid the average or “rack” price. For PCPIs of 101-200, you paid a premium price extrapolated from your index factor, and from 0-99 you paid a regressively discounted price. A high income family might pay $100,000 for a new Buick. A low income family might pay $2,000 for the same car. Companies loved it, because it meant that their markets expanded exponentially. Now virtually every individual was in the market for virtually any product or service, no matter how luxurious. Needless to say, lower-income individuals loved it, too. High income individuals despised the system because it meant they had to subsidize the other half’s purchases. Now, they not only paid for more than their share of the government’s expenses, but every purchase they made was effectively “taxed” and their wealth redistributed. Some wealthy voters even started a movement that would require one to multiply—or divide—one’s vote by their PCPI. Why shouldn’t someone who contributes more to the government have a larger say in who runs the government, they argued. That might have leveled the political playing field for the rich minority. But the Supreme Court struck it down. A few companies resisted progressive pricing on principle, but they didn’t last long under the new market paradigm. The game was changed forever. The situation reminded me of a quote by Adrian Rogers, a famous preacher in the late 20th century. My grandfather used to quote it:

“Friend, you cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom.  And what one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government can’t give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody. And when half of the people get the idea they don’t have to work because the other half’s going to take care of them, and when the other half get the idea it does no good to work because somebody’s going to get what I work for. That, dear friend, is about the end of any nation.”

Yes, it was about the end of our nation.

An aging population unable to pay their own way. High taxes, debt, and deficit spending that suffocated the economy. And progressive pricing that demotivated workers and crippled productivity. America’s economy was in shambles.

Socially, the United States were anything but united. Class warfare was dividing the nation like the great Civil War. And generational warfare was at an all-time high, as Gen Z blamed the Baby Boomers and Busters for saddling them with government debt incurred by the previous generation’s wild spending. The middle class dwindled to 19th century levels as the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” widened.

Now back to China. In the 2020s, the Asian bloc began to make revolutionary strides toward alternative energy. Fossil fuels had become outrageously expensive, making it financially feasible to invest in alternative fuel research and development. China and Japan led the way. Now instead of a dependency on foreign oil, the United States was dependent on foreign technology. America’s international trade deficit continued to careen out of balance while at the same time, China was using this cash to buy up more U.S. debt. By 2040, they owned 55% of America’s debt. We owed China alone more than $12 quadrillion. We were getting squeezed on both sides. Our dependency on China was becoming more and more of a dangerous liability. Government leaders on both sides were cordial, like any client-vendor relationship. But as the balance of power continued to tip in China’s favor, it was obvious they had the upper hand.

Then came what became known as Red Friday. A number of European nations were basically in the same boat as we were with regard to dependence on China. On October 17, 2041, international stock markets lost nearly half their value. China announced that it was calling in trillions in loans, effectively bankrupting three European nations. The next day, Friday, October 18, the U.S. stock market lost nearly 37% of its value in one day on fears that China would do the same to us. On October 21, China announced that it was calling in a major portion of its loans to the U.S. government. The house of cards began to crumble. China issued a moratorium on future lending to the U.S. Ultimatums were issued. Hostilities grew. Threats made. Rumors of a Chinese invasion in Los Angeles swirled around. The Chinese military force was massive, bolstered by its strong economy. The U.S. forces were anemic by comparison. No one wanted a Chinese invasion. It was a war we knew we didn’t have the resources to win. Diplomatic negotiations began. And a number of solutions were offered, including even selling U.S. lands to China. Americans were against this, of course, but we had few options. Our credit rating had dropped dramatically, and the Chinese were demanding to be paid before our nation went completely bankrupt. Finally, tensions came to a head, negotiations broke off, and China struck. A nuclear missile was targeted at San Diego, California. Pearl Harbor was put on high alert. Another missile struck Seattle. Hundreds of thousands of Americans perished. World War III had begun.

The War was relatively short-lived by World War standards. Only 14 months. China held all the cards. The energy. The technology. The weaponry. The financing. And the most powerful allies. An unconditional Instrument of Surrender was signed by the President of the United States on January 7, 2043. A transition plan was quickly implemented, and it was determined that the official birthday of the new Chinese nation—the People’s Republic of American China—would be the first day of the traditional Chinese New Year: February 10, 2043. The Year of the Fire Dragon.

267 years. It was a good run. Some people say the downfall of America was economic. Some say it was class and generational warfare. Some say it was military weakness. Me? I say the economic and social decay was just a symptom of the terminal theological and moral disease that afflicted America for its last 80 years. Pure and simple, we forget who brought us to the dance. God. America was founded as “one nation under God” (removed from the Pledge of Allegiance in 2026). But we became more and more secular. By 2025, Atheism had surpassed Christianity as the number one belief system. How could we expect God to bless a nation that kills its unborn, its elderly, and laughs at the “antique” ideas of the Bible? If God doesn’t exist, sure…vote for whoever pads your pocketbook. But if God lives, then don’t expect Him to bless a disobedient nation. Expect Him to do what He did in the Old Testament to His disobedient children—Israel. He used other nations—even ungodly nations—to discipline and bring judgment upon them. Yet in reality, the Fiery Dragon that slayed us came from within.

Yet even His wrath has as its objective love and mercy—the way a loving father disciplines his child to prevent further self-destruction. That’s what God did to America. If only we would have paid attention to His warning, maybe we would still be saluting the stars and stripes—and be free to worship.

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

Tomorrow, speaking English becomes a crime. Practicing Christianity becomes a crime. The Year of the Fire Dragon begins. But in spite of the persecution—maybe even because of it—there’s always hope. And prayer. And if history is any indication, we just might be on the verge of revival.

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The Year of Purpose

I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.

—Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I’ve had this quote on my bulletin board since high school. It captures why I love writing, why I feel the need to write, and why I started this blog.

Going back to my teenage years, I’ve written a theme for most every year of my life. Sometimes in advance. Sometimes retrospectively. I think it’s important to slow down and reflect on life. And writing helps me do this.

2011 is The Year of Purpose for me. I’m trying to focus on making sure that every activity I spend time on is fulfilling the purpose for my life. It’s a lofty goal. And one of which I often fall short.

I often start my Year on my birthday, rather than on New Year’s Day. After all, that’s when I started. Recently, I turned one year shy of a half century. And about six years short of getting free Senior Coffee at McDonald’s. I can hardly believe what an old geezer I’ve become. But that only underscores the importance of making sure we squeeze every drop of life out of each passing year.

In looking back through some old prayer journals, I ran across a couple of entries I thought bore sharing. The first is a quadrant chart. I tend to think visually, and I’m fond of these charts that help me to see life at a glance.

I went through my typical week and made a list of all the activities in which I spend my time. I use the term “spend” very deliberately. Because that’s exactly what we do. Each day we get 1,440 minutes deposited in our life account. (Of course, no one is promised a single minute from now, but you know what I mean.) We make choices throughout the day as to how we spend them. Periodically in our life, we make major decisions in our life that pre-decide many of those choices. For example, when you accept a position of employment, you pre-decide how you will spend many of those minutes. When you get married, or have children, or become a Kentucky basketball fan, many of those choices are now virtually made for you. So I believe it’s important to periodically take inventory of those choices—the major ones and the minor, discretionary ones—to make sure you’re not spending your time without purpose.

In the chart below, there are two axes:

  • Horizontally, a continuum of Enjoyment
  • Vertically, a continuum of Fulfillment, as in fulfillment of my life purpose

Of course, you need to know what your purpose is, and that’s a whole ‘nother blog—or two. But in truth, we all have the same basic purpose—and it’s not about you. It’s all about God. Our purpose is to bring Him glory. In the words of the Westminster Catechism: “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” Or as I’m learning in John Piper’s excellent book Desiring God, “to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” Subtle change. Profound difference.

So you might say the vertical axis is “Glorifying God” and the horizontal axis is “by enjoying Him.”

I encourage you to make your own chart and plot your own points. The object of life is to live as much as possible in Quadrant #1. Second best is Quadrant #2. Try to stay out of #3 and #4.

Sometimes, nay, often, it’s the attitude that needs adjustment, not the activity. But we need to strive to make sure that we’re living in Quadrant #1 most of our life. If not, make some adjustments—in your attitude and/or your activities. When making your chart, be honest, as I have tried to do. This is not an exercise in how things should be, but how they truly are.


I mentioned I had a second entry from my prayer journal that I would like to share it as well. Again, I encourage you to make your own list like the one below. Reflect. Repent. Restore. Renew.

If I was 90 looking back at my life, here’s what I wish I’d done:

  1. Memorized more Scripture.
  2. Taken advantage of more opportunities to witness and cared less about what people would think.
  3. Had more people over for dinner.
  4. Watched less TV; read more books.
  5. Taken an interest in other people more.
  6. Prayed more.
  7. Learned more about God from the Bible.
  8. Slowed down more to reflect on life.
  9. Been more positive. Seen the good in things.
  10. Passed along more compliments.
  11. Smiled more.
  12. Created more art (photography, paintings, etc.)
  13. Written more out of enjoyment.
  14. Started more family traditions.
  15. Showed my love for Tina more. (These are in no particular order!)
  16. Made my quiet time/devotions more intense.
  17. Been more intentional about witnessing to old friends, neighbors.

I’ve never understood or really believed people who say they have no regrets. I guess they mean that everything worked out for the good—even when if it started out bad. God often does that (click here for an example). But I can’t say I have no regrets. I regret every wasted minute that I didn’t bring glory to God by enjoying Him more. And there have been far too many of those minutes. May this little reminder help each of us to have more reflection and fewer regrets. If it happens, it won’t be by accident. It will very intentionally be on purpose.

P.S. Wondering what the photo of the airplane at the top of this post has to do with anything? If you want to know your specific purpose in life, while you’re glorifying God, discover what kind of airplane you are. If you’re wide and heavy, you’re probably made to carry cargo. If you’re fast and nimble, you’re probably a fighter jet. If you’re full of seats, you’re probably a passenger plane. There are all kinds of different planes. One-seaters. Two-seaters. Lear jets. Gliders. The Concorde. Everyone is unique. Don’t try to carry cargo if you’re small and fast. And don’t try to fight battles, if you’re broad and large. Don’t try to fulfill a purpose you’re weren’t designed to do. It’s not that difficult. Look how God designed you, aim high, and then soar.

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Top Ten Books, Selected Personally for Me

My two daughters both have many amazing endearments, and this post focuses on one of the most remarkable qualities of my first daughter, Ginger.

Ginger is the most voracious reader that I know. She ravenously consumes 30-40 books per year. That may not sound like a huge number until you realize that’s a book every 10 days. I probably don’t average 10 books a year. She’s been reading at that pace since she was a teen, so she’s read hundreds and hundreds of books. She was the first person I knew who bought a Kindle, and she’s now on her second one. She once organized my home library by the Dewey Decimal system. So she knows her way around the library. The best part is she reads good books. Not romance novels. Not books with lots of pictures. She puts a lot of research and thought into the books she chooses to invest her time in, and so her opinions on books carry weight. (By the way, catch her blog about the finer things of life in The South, www.sweeticedtea.net. And her husband Matt is an officer in the Navy. Had to brag a little!)

A few months ago, I asked her if she would put together a list of 10 books that she would suggest to me personally. Not her top 10 favorites. Not her 10 critically best reads. But 10 books just for me. On Christmas Day, she presented me with this list, complete with annotations and a copy of one of the books, Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer. What a delightful and personal gift. Personal because it flows out of her heart. And personal because it is custom-tailored to fit my heart.

I believe her list and commentary bear sharing. So below is the complete text of her letter to me, list, and annotations. My New Year’s resolution is to read all 10 (can’t keep up with her 30-40!). You might want to join me. Good reading!…

Ten Book Suggestions from Ginger to Daddy

Upon a visit to Kentucky this past fall of 2010, you mentioned during a lovely Daddy-daughter date that you’d like for me to make you a list sometime of the top books I’ve read that you would enjoy.

I immediately started jotting notes of titles that came to mind. It was such a treasure to constantly be thinking of not just some of my favorite books, but some of my favorites that you might enjoy.

You should have known it was dangerous to ask an obsessive list maker to make you a list, let alone of books, one of my favorite, inexhaustible topics in the whole wide world.

So, this is my “final cut.” It wasn’t that hard actually. And most people that know me have probably heard me mention a few of these titles more than once. However, others are quite specific to you, that I may never mention to the average acquaintance (for instance, Anne of Green Gables is possibly one of my favorite, life-altering books, but I don’t think I’ll recommend it to you).

Even when you mentioned making the list, I had plans to gift this particular book to you, simply because I had read it a while back, and thought you might enjoy it, so it presented the perfect excuse to include it on the list, and include the list with the book.

So here is my list of the Top Ten Books You Might Enjoy, along with a short commentary from me on each as to what it’s meant to me and why I think you might enjoy it.

  • Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer
  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  • Desiring God by John Piper
  • Into Thin Air by John Krakauer
  • Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken
  • Telling the Truth: The Gospel As Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale by Frederick Buechner
  • The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  • The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
  • The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldredge

Annotations

Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer – Union University opened a world to me that I will always appreciate. I had long been a reader, but we were encouraged to read scholarly books, that also had a biblical worldview. I joined a book club and read my very first Schaeffer.

I know you appreciate art, but have a balanced approach to it that many “creative” types can’t always grasp. Though it’s been a few years since I’ve read this one, the main message I remember from a very wise Schaeffer is that “art is a tool, rather than an idol.” It is sort of a two-fold challenge for those who are artistically minded to remain within the free confines of the church, and for the church to realize the freedom we have in Christ, and accept, redemptively, “artists.” I think if many more of us would be willing to do this today, we might have a few more Whitmires in the Christian world, instead of producing wonderful, but secular and godless plays on Broadway. And as Christians, we should be among the most creative, rather than shy away from expressions of the image of the Creator in us.

Another excellent book on a similar topic, exploring some of the cloying nature of Christian art (read: Thomas Kinkade and “Footprints in the Sand”) is Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle.

——-

The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard – The Divine Conspiracy is one of those books I wish I could read once per year (though it’s not a short tome). It’s a topic by topic theological study, putting some of our most basic beliefs simply and provokingly.

——-

Into Thin Air by John Krakauer – This is one of my favorite books I’ve read in a long time. I started it one day, having just moved to Monterey, and didn’t put it down until I finished it about 24 hours later. I will admit, this is certainly an “R” rated book, so proceed according to your own convictions. There is some shocking language, and harsh medical realities, but in my conscience, I can justify based on the grave reality of the mountain, literal and philosophically, they were up against.

The true story is a journalist’s perspective of the Mt. Everest disaster of 1996, the deadliest in Everest history. More died in one single day, due to a comedy of errors, weather, and other factors, than have before or since. It’s a riveting true story that reads like fiction. Homebody that I am, this mountaineering book captivated my attention, and I’ve been fascinated by Everest ever since (reading, that is… no desire to climb anything but a flight of stairs at the mall).

——-

The Chosen by Chaim Potok – This is a beautiful story of friendship of two boys – one Hasidic Jew, and one modern Orthodox – who become dear friends. It reminds me a little of The Wonder Years.

——-

Desiring God by John Piper – I must admit I didn’t particularly like this book. It took me ages to get through (though the beginning is quick and entertaining enough). I think it’s because I don’t particularly feel comfortable with the message. The subtitle is “Meditations of a Christian Hedonist.” But one particular anecdote sticks out. He describes our joy in God as likened to his relationship with his wife. He knows that on their anniversary, he ought to show up with flowers and a card and such, but he also wants to. He knows she’d far rather receive flowers and a love poem if they come from his desire, rather than his duty. I don’t love the word “hedonist.” I tend to feel much more comfortable living from the law than from grace (and I think you and I sometimes have that in common), but it’s one of the more impactful books I’ve read in my life, and Piper’s words often stick in my mind, so I guess it’s an important and lasting work.

——-

Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken – Another true story that reads like fiction. Sheldon Vanauken was a humanistic atheist, who met and married his wife, Jean early in life, when they fall in love and create a “shining barrier” against anything that might separate them – even children. They lead an idyllic life in the late 1930’s through early 1950’s, traveling the world on their boat, hosting friends, reading the great literature. Until Jean (who he affectionately calls “Davy”), begins to think about Christianity, due in part to reading the works of C.S. Lewis. They begin a correspondence with Lewis, and are eventually converted to Christianity. The story of their life and travels, process of them coming to Christ, and subsequent life is full of charm, joy, tragedy, and everything else you could want in a story.

——-

The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldredge – John Eldredge is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read all of his books multiple times. The Way of the Wild at Heart is one of his best. I read it during a pivotal time, having just been married, experiencing a slight life shift as my parents moved from our home of 10 years to a different place, and enduring the pains of a “breakup” of one of my first loves — Bellevue Baptist Church. As the Biblical model suggests, I often looked to three men in my life – my new husband, my father, and a pastor – for guidance, and was fascinated to see each of these men in three of the various stages Eldredge describes. I’m certain the stages aren’t always so clear in each man’s life, but it was a moment in time where there were clear pictures of each. Just a wonderful look into one aspect of God’s kingdom design through male leadership.

Deserving a special mention as well among his titles are Epic, Desire, and Walking with God.

——-

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller – Another book I could barely put down over a weekend. I enjoy Don Miller, because he is funny. He has a way of poking a little fun at our church culture that will make you laugh and think.

You’ve most likely heard of his most famous recent bestseller, Blue Like Jazz, which is excellent, but this is my favorite of his so far. A movie producer was interested, after having read Blue Like Jazz, in making his life into a movie, but upon sitting down to write the screenplay, he realized his life really wasn’t movie worth. He sets out to make it so.

——-

A Separate Peace by John Knowles – This was a high school reading assignment, but I’ve never forgotten it. The character’s lives at boarding school are a bit reminiscent of Dead Poet’s Society. As you may have noticed from more than one of my suggested titles here, it has my favorite themes of friendship and war, and who doesn’t love a good coming of age novel?

——-

Telling the Truth: The Gospel As Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale by Frederick Buechner – This was certainly my hardest choice. Frederick Buechner has steadily become my favorite author in the past years, so I’ve been systematically reading through his 36 books (to date), and while I’m sure there are many great titles to come that I haven’t made it to yet, my favorite so far has been Telling the Truth.

I suppose it’s rooted somewhere in being read too often as a child, and growing up loving stories, but I do love the concept that all stories point to the Original Story. It’s difficult to describe Frederick Buechner’s style, much less The word that comes to mind is simple. I will warn that there has been a sentence or two in his writings that has given me pause theologically. He is more of a questioner than a theologian, to be sure. But I appreciate his fresh approach at things, and as a recovering legalist, am constantly challenged by his causing me to look at my religious habits in light of a relationship.

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My Political Manifesto

Get ready because you’re about to witness a person commit political suicide. Not that I would ever run for office, nor would I ever be electable given that my “radical” Biblical-worldview convictions are no big secret. But even if I ever were to find myself being one of only two remaining humans on earth, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t win an election after this post.

Rand Paul had his Aqua Buddha. I have “My Political Manifesto.” Ready…here it is:

I believe in Small Government.

I’m not talking Tea Party small. I’m talking microscopic small. Electron-microscope small.

But that’s just the beginning. I also believe in Big Church and Big Family.

I’m not necessarily talking about size, as in, number of members. But big in influence and function.

You see, I believe God ordained three earthly institutions:

1.     Family

2.     Church

3.     Government

He assigned functions for each of these and specific roles for individual members of each one. I would like to use this post to explain what I believe He intended Government to be. It’s far from what has evolved in the 21st century United States.

Although I’ve held these beliefs for years, the impetus for me doing this now is the recent election and an online conversation I had with a Lexington Herald-Leader (the Horrid Misleader) reader with the username “Smilinrick.” The story that we were commenting on was about how the Lexington government faced a $7.2 million dollar budget shortfall due to health care insurance cost increases. I mentioned that my private health insurance will increase 28% in 2011, thanks to Obamanation and the Dem’s health care “reform,” or “deform,” as I like to call it. The reason: Socialism. I’m subsidizing people who won’t work and make other bad decisions.

“Smilinrick” replied to my comment:

“Mr. Thompson, i (sic) know from previous post you are a religous (sic) person and just wanted to ask a question. When churches take up collections of money, clothes, etc. and use those to help people less fortunate, isn’t that a little socialistic? I mean, curches (sic) help feed the homeless, give clothes to the needy etc. Sounds kind of hypocritical to help those but refuse to help others.”

My response:

“I believe that God ordained the church to be the only social assistance institution. I could give more to my church if the government wasn’t in my pocket all the time. Government’s primary role should be to defend and protect (to be “the sword”-Romans 13:4), not to redistribute money and reinforce poor work ethic through socialistic programs. I’m not against mercy and charity. I’m against Government being the institution that administrates it.”

The character count limit of that online forum prevents me from giving a more complete summary of my views on Government, so that brings me back to this post.

God is not against Government. To the contrary, He established and empowers it, even calls it His agent (Romans 13). His Son Jesus taught us to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s” (Luke 20: 25), even providing a tax payment through the mouth of a fish (Matthew 17:27). Government is good—when operating within the parameters He designed.

The problem in America is that Government is encroaching on territory that God intended the Family and the Church to tend to. That’s an indictment on the Family and the Church, no doubt, but that’s a “whole ‘nother subject” and a post for another day.

Today, I’m talking about Government. Let’s look at the issues under two headings:

  • Two things that Government is supposed to be doing
  • Two things that Government is not supposed to be doing

Two things that Government is supposed to be doing

Government’s primary function is to restrain evil. That involves defense and security—“bearing the sword,” as Paul puts it in Romans 13:4—which involves the military and law enforcement. It also involves the judicial and justice department—“bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4).

National defense and justice

For national defense and security, I give Government in America an “A.” They are doing a pretty good job keeping Americans and even much of the world safe in a world of terrorism and greed. We owe it to the brave men and women who serve as our military, law enforcement, firefighters, and others, men like my son-in-law, Matt Horton, who serves in the U.S. Navy.

In the area of justice, I give the judicial system a “D.” They are not doing their part in restraining evil. The Supreme Court has legalized abortion—an atrocity that surpasses even slavery in its violation of human rights. And the courts have assisted as wicked people have destroyed the Family by normalizing sodomy and legitimizing divorce. They have also done a poor job of “bringing punishment on the wrongdoer.” The Bible definitely teaches capital punishment (Exodus 21:12; Numbers 35; Romans 13:4, to name a few), yet fewer and fewer cases ever get that far. Capital punishment is not murder. It is simply self-defense on a societal level.

Stewardship of common property

Government’s other main function is stewardship of common property. The Bible is full of examples of how God blessed men involved in public service as they rebuilt city walls (Nehemiah) or built city infrastructures. Government should be in the business of building common roads, sewer systems, and other infrastructure that we share. I think this principle can be extended to intellectual property as well, such as establishing trademarks and copyrights and establishing manufacturing standards and regulating radio waves and specs for other common property (real and intellectual)—stuff like making sure that you can plug in your TV in Kentucky or in Oregon, and it works. In this area, I also give America an “A.”

Two things that Government is not supposed to be doing

Government in the United States has assumed responsibilities that it was never ordained by God to do.

Welfare

God never intended Government to the steward of welfare (welfare payments, food stamps, unemployment, and yes, health care, to name a few). That’s the job of the Family and the Church. The church is commanded to care for widows and orphans (James 1:27), and families are commanded to take care of their members (1 Timothy 5:8). Admittedly, both the Family and the Church have major shortcomings in this area. But what is the cause, and which is the effect? Have selfish families and churches abdicated their responsibilities, requiring the Government to fill the gap? Or are families and churches not able to help because their members are strapped by high tax rates caused by Government welfare programs? Now the Government is threatening to eliminate tax deductions for charitable giving and to ax tax exempt status for churches. In my estimation, Government overstepping the boundaries of social welfare is the root of many of America’s problems, such as:

1.     Welfare abuse—welfare could be much more efficiently and effectively distributed by the Family and the Church than by bureaucrats. Churches and families could much better implement the Biblical principle of 2Thessalonians 3:10: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”

2.     Negative reinforcement—governmental assistance encourages individuals to stay dependent on the Government rather than be independent.

Education

Yes, this really makes me a radical, but I don’t believe that God intended for Government to be in the education business (public schools, state universities). Again, I believe that is the responsibility of the Family and the Church. Again, an argument can be made that families and churches have failed in that responsibility, and forced the state to step in. But this Manifesto is a declaration of how things should be, a goal to work towards, not a pragmatic compromise. One good decision fosters another good decision, and one bad decision fosters another bad decision. So let’s make a series of good decisions, and see how God will bless it.

Generational Embezzlement

Because Government is doing things it shouldn’t, Government spending and taxes are out of control.  That is currently resulting in deficit spending. The Church and the Family must live on a balanced budget. The Government thinks they don’t have to. I believe this is one of the great crimes of our present Government, and Obamanation and the Dems have made matters much worse. Deficit spending is the equivalent of GENERATIONAL EMBEZZLEMENT. My grandchildren will be handicapped with crippling debt and/or suffocating inflation, and I don’t want to be party to it. The current situation reminds me of a commercial that aired back in the 1980s. It is still appropriate today:

America’s excessive tax and spend policies have created an environment that does not foster economic growth and does not invite God’s blessings. The opposite is true, and our current recession is the result that proves the truth of this now famous quote from Pastor Adrian Rogers:

“Friend, you cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom.  And what one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The Government can’t give to anybody anything that the Government does not first take from somebody. And when half of the people get the idea they don’t have to work because the other half’s going to take care of them, and when the other half get the idea it does no good to work because somebody’s going to get what I work for. That, dear friend, is about the end of any nation.”

Here’s the actual recording of Dr. Rogers stating this amazing quote.

America has much going for it, but is headed in the wrong direction. But here is what you may be surprised to see me say: Most of the problems in America are not ultimately the fault of the Government. The Family and the Church have failed to step up and take on the responsibilities that God has ordained for them. In order for America to be great, its families and churches must be what God intended them to be and do what God intended them to do. Then the Government can be free to do what it should do. And America can be the nation God wants it to be. In the meantime, Government has its work cut out for it, and needs new leadership—leaders who will lead from a Biblical worldview.

I want to make one more point about the so-called “separation of church and state.” Everyone knows that is not in the Constitution, and the principle has been perverted by liberals and the ACLU. What is in the Constitution is freedom of religion—not  freedom from religion. Our founding fathers never intended to keep God out of Government, but to keep Government out of interfering with our free worship of God.

Timing

Needless to say, my vision of an America in which the Family and the Church do an outstanding job of taking care of welfare and education is not merely one election away. It’s taken us 100 years to get into this mess. It might take 100 years to get out. The welfare and education systems are well entrenched in American society. And we have several generations of people who have paid into programs like Social Security and are rightly expecting to get something back out. As idealistic as my vision is, I’m realistic enough to know that some changes need to be phased in gradually, like welfare (for example, everyone born after 1995 should be exempt from Social Security and benefits end altogether in 2070)  and education (school choice and vouchers would be a good start).

Other problems could be tackled right away. In terms of practical issues, if I had to prioritize America’s most pressing problems, this would be my list:

1.       Need a Constitution Amendment ending abortion.

2.      Need faith-based initiatives and Family-Church-Government cooperation to address the breakdown of the family caused by:

a.        Divorce

b.       Normalization of sodomy

c.        Absence of male spiritual leadership

3.       Need a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment.

Imagine a world in which the Family functioned as God intended, the Church functioned and was funded as God intended, and Government did not overstep its bounds and hamper churches and families. Yes, it’s idealistic and would require more of a theocracy than a democracy. Yes, it’s possible, but not likely to every happen. So in the meantime, my prayer is that God will ordain Government leaders who will have the wisdom and courage to tackle these problems and keep God in the center of it all. And may our families and churches rise to the occasion and take responsibility for what God has ordained. May God bless America—our Families, our Churches, our Government—a three-fold cord that is not easily broken.

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