GUILTY AS CHARGED!June 22nd, 2011
This one’s a no-brainer, even if it was a hot, steamy afternoon. Twenty-year-old Sean Schmidt from Buffalo, New York, was racing down I-190 this week with a friend, when the open sunroof proved a temptation too strong. Suddenly standing up on the passenger seat, Sean pushed half his body through the opening into the glorious rushing air. And there he remained. Until a state trooper raced up behind him with cruiser lights flashing. Doomed, Sean crawled back into the car, grabbed a small bag of marijuana and tossed it out before being pulled over. Unfortunately for Sean the bag landed on the trooper’s cruiser. Guilty on both counts—not wearing a seat belt and possession of marijuana.
Let’s face it—sometimes our guilt is a no-brainer. The evidence is simply too obvious. “Guilty as charged—on all counts.” My conscience knows well that familiar verdict. No doubt yours does, too.
Which is why Calvary is such compelling good news for all of us sinners. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV). The charges were dropped while we were as guilty as Sean Schmidt! In fact, before we even pleaded guilty. “By His wonderful work in giving His life, [Jesus] restored the whole race of man to favor with God” (I SM 343). Two thousand years before we were born, Christ by his death restored the human race to favor with God—all charges dropped—it is the astounding truth of this God who “justifies the ungodly” (Romans 4:5).
And it is this truth we, who are ungodly and guilty, must receive here at the foot of the cross. “For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life . . . all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God” (Romans 5:10, 11 NLT). Can you believe it! For the likes of you and me and Sean Schmidt, that this is the best news of all is the greatest no-brainer of all, isn’t it?
So how much is $100 trillion?June 17th, 2011
So how much is $100 trillion? In an interview this week, Bill Gross, head of Pimco (an investment firm that, according to CNBC, “manages $1.2 trillion in assets and runs the largest bond fund in the world”), suggested that “the US is actually in worse financial shape than Greece and other debt-laden European countries” (www.cnbc.com/id/43378973/). While the media have focused on our national debt of $14.3 trillion, little is being said about entitlement monies guaranteed to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (close to another $50 trillion), or about the debts the government incurred bailing out the financial system after the 2008 and 2009 crisis. Pull all that together, Gross maintains, and the money the government owes is “nearly $100 trillion.” Even if his numbers, based on government figures and estimates, are on the high side—the truth of the matter is that $100 trillion (or any amount of debt close to it) is enough to sink the most robust of economies. And “robust” our economy is not! Just like Greece.
So perhaps Bob Rodriguez will get more air time this time around. A friend of mine, an executive in the insurance industry, sent me a piece CNN ran on Rodriguez last week (www.finance.fortune.cnn.com/2011/06/06/bob-rodriguez . . .). Here’s how it opens: “He’s the mutual fund manager with the best record in the past quarter-century, and he correctly predicted the last two stock market crashes. So why aren’t people listening when Bob Rodriguez says another calamity is looming?” Rodriguez is CEO of a $16 billion money management firm First Pacific Advisors. So accurate were his two previous crash predictions that Barron’s magazine called him a “prophet,” Wall Street Journal declared him one of the “doomsayers who got it right,” and MarketWatch labeled him one of the “four horsemen of the market.” CNN’s online piece goes on: “His new prophecy: If we don’t fix the budget—soon—the economy faces disaster. ‘I believe that within two to five years we’ll have a crisis of equal or greater magnitude of what we just went through’ he says. ‘And it will emanate from the federal level.’”
But why bother with the mounting financial warnings imbedded in our global headlines? Because we are an apocalyptic community of faith—and our mission is inextricably bound to the imminent return of Christ. The more serious the crisis earth is facing, the more earnest must become our witness to the Savior and our appeal to come to him while there is yet time. Wouldn’t it be the height of tragedy if the community assigned this mission were duped by the mirage of economic security?
No wonder the Apocalypse warns: “And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn . . . for no one buys their merchandise anymore: . . ‘The fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all. . . . For in one hour such great riches came to nothing’” (Revelation 18:11, 14, 17). Trillions of earth’s fortune gone overnight. That isn’t the prediction of Bill Gross or Bob Rodriguez. It is the warning of God to a generation on the eve of Christ’s return. “In one hour” our economic house of cards is prophesied to collapse.
$100 trillion? Chump change really, when your heart is set on eternity. Which, come to think of it, is the only safe haven left for our meager holdings here below. Isn’t it?