How would you like to begin the new school year with a loan this big?August 27th, 2009
How would you like to begin the new school year with a loan this big? If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with your higher education expenses right now, you might find a small measure of comfort in meeting somebody who owes a bit more than you do—the United States. Today’s headline was an eye-catcher: “U.S. is facing tidal wave of red ink.” And underneath it followed these words: “In a chilling forecast, the White House is predicting a 10-year federal deficit of $9 trillion—more than the sum of all previous deficits since America’s founding. And it says by the next decade’s end the national debt will equal three-quarters of the entire U.S. economy” (South Bend Tribune 8-26-09). I’m not very good with big numbers, but does 9,000 billions of dollars strike you as a bit excessive? And what kind of monthly payment plan do you suppose they’ll need in order to make up that staggering deficit and pay off the resultant debt? “Tidal wave” seems an appropriate metaphor, doesn’t it?
But never mind the government right now. Think kingdom instead. For once upon a faraway time in a faraway kingdom, the God who still rules it made a promise that, while it wouldn’t solve our national deficit or debt, is the solution to your own new year worries. Tapping into the latent fears of us all, he spoke this quiet but profound reassurance when he was here among us: “‘Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows’” (Matthew 10:29-31 NLT). Did you catch that? “Don’t be afraid—you are more valuable to him.” More valuable than a flock of sparrows, more valuable than the tidal wave deficit and debt of this nation, or of all the world—truth be known (and it is), you and I are more valuable to him than even his own life. Just look at the cross!
So if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed (or even underwhelmed) just hours into the new university year, cheer up and take heart. There is Someone in “The Temple” who will take care of you. In the words of that old gospel song—“I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free—for His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”
With forty-one candidates for president,August 20th, 2009
With forty-one candidates for president, Thursday’s election in Afghanistan certainly won’t be remembered as offering too little choice for the people of that war-torn nation. Although with the Taliban’s dark threat to kill poll workers and voters alike who show up for this national exercise in fledgling democracy, the choice for many may simply have been between life and death.
At the risk of oversimplifying the issues and demonizing the opposition, the parallels between the Afghan crisis and the intergalactic civil war that grips our own universe are striking. If the ancient Scriptures are to be believed, the divine Sovereign of the universe has risked the very existence of his government by granting to all citizens in his cosmic domain the inalienable right to choose whom they would have as Leader. Because of that guaranteed freedom, an angelic being long ago chose to reject the authority of the ruling God and rebel against his administration, thus igniting an internecine conflict that has now been isolated to this single planet in the galaxy and universe.
And on this planet that you and I call home leaflets from the sky have been announcing the final election of Leader for the citizens of earth. Although in our case, there are no forty-one candidates—there are only two: the apocalyptic dragon and the apocalyptic Lamb. And as surely as it was in Afghanistan, so for this election it has become the choice between life and death. But because it is still a choice for this planet’s inhabitants, the opposition’s guerilla warfare is an overt and obvious attempt to dissuade us all from voting at all—which would leave us plunged in the bloody status quo of this planet in rebellion.
Even a university campus like our own becomes a battleground for voter loyalty and citizen allegiance. None of us is accidentally thrust into this final election. The small choices of our day and night existences accumulate to become our final vote. “‘Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. . . . But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD’” (Joshua 24:15).
Because this election is so critical and because the final vote is potentially imminent for you and me, we plunge next week into a new exploration, “The Temple.” What is it that is transpiring in the throne room of the universe—even as we write and read these words—that carries eternal consequences for us here below? The unfolding events in the war room of the divine Candidate surely are consequential for the choice you and I must finally and fully make. Come to “The Temple” here at this website and at Pioneer Memorial Church Saturday mornings beginning next week. An educated electorate is liberty’s greatest hope.
Before we consider “Cash for Clunkers,” the government’s latest stimulus project,August 13th, 2009
Before we consider “Cash for Clunkers,” the government’s latest stimulus project, I’d like to thank our guest bloggers and preachers who allowed me to spend the last six weeks finishing a devotional book manuscript and marrying our son Kirk to our new daughter-in-law Chelsea. But of course, the preachers weren’t “guests” at all, but rather key leaders and pastors on our senior leadership team here at Pioneer. Without their passion for Christ and ministry, we wouldn’t be the Pioneer we are. So, thank you!
Karen says that when it comes to the passage of time, I’m no optimist. It didn’t help that when May came I began announcing that the summer was essentially over. But I couldn’t help it, and turns out it was true! Anybody know where this summer sped? The school bells start clanging bright and early Monday morning—and a brand new adventure is launched. And that goes for Pioneer, too. In two weeks we begin what I’m praying will be a life-changing journey into “The Temple,” our new fall pulpit series that begins August 27. I hope you can share the voyage on Saturday mornings at Pioneer or 24/7 at www.pmchurch.tv.
So are you considering the government’s three billion dollar “cash for clunkers” offer? Perhaps you’re already one of the happy new-car drivers who traded in that old gas-guzzling clunker for a $4,500 (or $3,500) subsidy toward the purchase of a brand new economical upgrade. I’m not here to critique the CARS (car allowance rebate system) program. Americans jumped at the offer—and the first billion dollars was gone in less than a week. And besides, getting a half million wheezing, polluting, gas-slurping vehicles off America’s roads—what’s not to like?
But may I remind you that God beat the government to the punch and long ago launched the most successful “cash for clunkers” program in the history of the universe? Three billion dollars? Much more! God emptied the treasury of heaven at Calvary in order to make this declaration: “Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And to [the sinner with the filthy garments] He said, ‘See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes’” (Zechariah 3:4). God’s great gazillion dollar exchange offer—all the Bank of Heaven’s fortunes in exchange for my polluted and polluting, guilt-ridden, death-trap clunker of a life. There’s only one hitch—you have to act upon the offer. That’s the way it is with trade-ins. “O God, I desperately need to trade-in my moral bankruptcy for your priceless gift of Jesus’ perfect salvation.” Pray that prayer and you exchange the junk heap of history for an eternity with him. And what could be a greater stimulus than that?