Government Shutdown—For the World?

It’s not like we haven’t been here before. Those who can remember back to 1995 recall that the government was shut down in November that year by our perennial two-party squabble. The reason I remember is because I happened to be in Honolulu for a prayer conference, when the morning news announced that the U.S. government had entered a financial stoppage of sorts. But the world didn’t end. A major difference this time for this nation, and for the world beyond this nation, is that this government shut-down is days away from a major debt-ceiling debate in the same Congress that is now stalemated. If the two parties continue their refusal to compromise and the U.S. debt ceiling is not raised, the Treasury will theoretically be without funds (perhaps by October 17), forcing the U.S. government to begin defaulting on its ever-due debt payments to nations that have purchased portions of our national debt (China, Japan, et al). It all sounds terribly complicated, and the easiest way to deal with it is to simply dismiss it all as the game of political “chicken” or brinkmanship—but the truth is that the global economy is so jittery and unstable now that a major default from the world’s largest economy could eventually result in seismic economic tremors the world over. And what would happen next is the stuff of doomsayers. The mission of this Fourth Watch blog is to keep a prayerful watch on the unfolding events of this nation and planet. Why? Because the quotation my blogger friend Herb Douglas cites at the end of every blog (“Red Alert”) is strikingly pertinent: “Those who place themselves under God’s control, to be led and guided by Him, will catch the steady trend of events ordained by Him to take place” (Review and Herald 8-5-1902). Which simply means that for those of us who seek to heed Jesus’ admonition—“When you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:31)—keeping a watchful, prayerful eye on local, national and global developments is the better part of prudence. How can an apocalyptic movement like this one afford to do anything else? But watching and praying are not enough. The compelling national and ecclesiastical needs of Japan (where I just spent two weeks), as well as the “steady trend” of unraveling developments in this nation, are a clarion call for the church to act. How? The political process hardly needs the church to dictate a solution to the government. The towering need of society here and abroad is, as Jesus prayed to the Father on the eve of His own death, “That they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). For that reason we’ve invited my friend David Asscherick to spend a few days on campus (October 18-26), seeking to connect with those who do not know God. Because if knowing Him is life’s greatest purpose, then helping others come to know Him is life’s greatest mission and greatest joy. So won’t you please help us help Him by extending an invitation to those who need Him now? Too much is at stake.

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