In the News

The Renewed Way Moved!

Posted on August 28, 2012. Filed under: In the News |

The bad news (especially for the readers who eagerly anticipate my next post) is that over the next week, I’ll be taking a few days to spend quality time with my family. As such, I won’t be blogging until after the Labor Day holiday.

The good news is that due to your support over the past year, I decided to upgrade The Renewed Way. The new page is (so much easier to remember). There’s new features so you can follow me on Twitter, like the Facebook page, check out what books I’m reading (and hopefully recommending), and more. Please take a second to subscribe to the new page (especially if you are following me on the WordPress blogroll – I can’t roll you over to the new page).

How do you think the blog could be improved? More posts? Less 90s pop references? Better pictures? What topics would you like to see covered?  You can provide this and any feedback through any of the social media outlets, email, or on the ‘Reader Comments‘ page. I’m also still tweaking the new page, so any feedback about it’s layout is greatly appreciated.

Don’t worry, so you still have some quality reading over Labor Day, here’s a link to last year’s post: Giving Labor Day Some Meaning.

Thank you all for your support over the past year. I hope everyone has a wonderful Labor Day and look forward to hitting the ground running on the new and improved (I hope) Renewed Way.

PS – If you commented on “Baptism: The Ace of Grace“, your comments came after the data transfer and are therefore not showing.  But I’d love to continue the dialog (or start a new conversation) on the new page if you’re willing!

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Olympic “Lawn Care”

Posted on August 4, 2012. Filed under: Culture, In the News, Relationships, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

What’s your favorite summer Olympic sport to watch? I’m pretty cliche enjoying gymnastics, swimming, and track. I know everyone says it, but what these people can do with their bodies is incredible. Obviously they’ve been given certain talents, but the dedication that they have to developing their skill is mind blowing. I just want to be able to consistently catch a frisbee.

This got me thinking about my lawn. Stick with me, this is going somewhere. The first thing I notice about a house is the lawn, which can tell you something about the tenant. For example, lawn gnomes usually indicate someone has an unhealthy fascination with Tolkien books. But if it’s freshly cut, edges are trim and clippings have been blown away, someone takes a lot of pride in their work. Like olympic athletes, a person who takes care of their lawn dedicates their time and energy for a higher purpose.

Ok, so not exactly the same thing. But both do require time and dedication to achieve the maximum desired outcome. In fact, almost everything in life is like this. Going to the best college requires dedication throughout high school.  Getting promoted means dedication in the workforce. Having a great marriage means dedication in your relationship.  In effect, you reap what you sow, whether its your garden or throwing a javelin.

The Bible says, “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit” (Galatians 6:7-8).

Decay and death? Isn’t that a bit too extreme? Not really when you think about it. Why do marriages end in divorce?  Why are so many of us carrying a few too many pounds? Why do we go through highs and lows in our walk with God? Because we allow it to happen.

Whether it’s relationships, our health or our careers, things falter and eventually ‘die’ because without willful thought, we’re always going to turn inward, seeking to gratify ourselves. We naturally neglect what we shouldn’t, letting life simply happen to us and to our relationships. Instead, we need to invest time and resources to that which matters most. Take time to pray. Have an uninterrupted conversation with your friend. Read a book on improving your marriage even if it’s going great. Practice hand-eye coordination with your toddler…

Craig Groeschel wrote, “When the grass is greener on the other side, it’s time to start watering your lawn.”  The next time you’re admiring an athlete’s skills, another couple’s intimacy or maybe just their lawn, ask yourself, “Am I sowing what I expect to reap? Is it time I water my lawn?”


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Holy Cow over a Holy Chicken

Posted on July 28, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Government, In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |


Chick-fil-A (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I never thought I’d write a post about Chi-fil-A. Probably because I didn’t think there was anything really to write about. Yes, I find their spicy chicken sandwich awesome. They do make the best cookies and cream milkshakes. And Chick-fil-a sauce can cure cancer. But if you wanted to know all that, you shouldn’t read about it in a blog, you should just go there and eat the food. Even if you’re gay.

That’s right, despite what you may or may not have heard, Chick-fil-A does serve homosexuals. Dan Cathy has not made it corporate policy to hate gays. Actually, I would say I eat at Chick-fil-A more than the average person (especially when I was pregnant) and I have never, ever been asked if I was in a heterosexual relationship or even if I was a Christian. That’s why it is very difficult for me to understand what in the world everyone was so upset about this week.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Dan Cathy, the President of Chick-fil-A, gave an interview to the Baptist Press in which he said he believed marriage should be between one man and one woman. In other words, a Christian man, while talking to a Christian outlet, said he believes in the Christian definition of marriage.

This is not news.

What is news is the lack of outrage that has followed. The mayors of Boston and Chicago both claimed Chick-fil-A had no place in their cities and various gay activist groups are using a lot of resources to ostracize the company in the public sphere.

In this story, there’s something that pretty much everyone can unite against. These governments are treating a private company differently because its president holds a certain religious opinion. Many activist groups are using aggressive and coercive behavior to force Chick-fil-A to change its stance – might one call this bullying? Yet the outrage is targeted at demonizing a man because he ‘hates’ gays, though the activists are the ones who want to treat him differently for having a dissenting opinion.

I fully support that private citizens have the right to boycott Chick-fil-A (just as they could boycott OPEC oil for slaughtering homosexuals in those countries), but shouldn’t we be more cautious before publicly blacklisting Dan Cathy or anyone else for holding beliefs that are different than our own? Shouldn’t a red flag go up when government is threatening any citizen for their religious beliefs? Isn’t that the Christian, or if you’re not one of those, American thing to do?

I still firmly believe that this problem like so many can be fixed with a little Chick-Fil-A sauce, which is why I’ll be supporting the company on August 1st. Not just because I agree with Dan Cathy (my readers already know how I feel about that topic), but because I also support the right for people to express their beliefs without coercive backlash from the most ‘tolerant’ in society. How about you?

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Instead of Occupying Wall Street, Occupy A Book

Posted on October 7, 2011. Filed under: Culture, Economics, Government, In the News, Money | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Day 3 Occupy Wall Street 2011 Shankbone 7

Image by david_shankbone via Flickr

Perhaps I’m missing something. I just can’t seem to understand what the Occupy Wall Street protest is all about. I’ve seen signs protesting global warming, genetically altered food, corporate greed, loans that leave people in ‘slavery’ (here’s a tip, don’t take out the loan), unfair wages, high healthcare costs, corporate cronyism and of course, social injustice. While there are a few odd-ball request, it seems like these groups are really just have a beef with “the rich” (see the “We are the 99%” signs). But this assumes a lot – namely that if the rich have, we don’t have, and if the rich are better off, the middle class and poor are worse off. You know what they say about assumptions…

“Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way” (Prov 19:2). Translated, acting on raw emotion without facts probably won’t end too well for anyone. That’s how Christ was crucified. So, are the middle class and poor doomed? Are we all just pawns in a corporate game? Should we bring out the guillotines?

The problem with looking at statistical data of the rich bracket and poor bracket from one year and comparing it to another, is that this assumes the people within those groups are the same, or it ignores what economists call “income mobility.” IRS and Census data shows that people in the bottom 20% of income earners in 1996 had their incomes increase 91% by 2005. At the same time, the top 1% of income earners or what we’d all consider the “very rich,” had their income decrease by 26% over the same period. The same US Treasury data also shows only 25% of those in the top 1% of income earners in 1996 were still there in 2005.

Another problem with the “rich are getting richer” argument is that it also ignores that the standard of living for everyone is going up, not down. For example, in 1971, only 1% of households had a microwave and only 43.3% had a color television. Compare that to 2005 when 91.2% of those living under the poverty line had a microwave and 97.4% had a color television. I’d argue that those commodities are also a lot nicer, smaller, and more efficient in 2005 than those produced in 1971 too. Wouldn’t you rather be poor in 2005 than middle class in 1971?

I remember one of my economics professors in college talking about wealth as a pizza. He argued that politicians usually refer to the pizza as a fixed size, but wealth doesn’t work that way. Capitalism, while not perfect, can make the pizza larger and increase the quality of the pizza at the same time. If someone asked if you want 1 piece of option A or 2 pieces from option B, you should ask how large the pizzas are before you answer.

So, why would so many people instantaneously say “2, that way you have less”? One, they are ignorant with too much time on their hands. Two, they are giving into one of our most basic of human desires: coveting. Doesn’t matter how good we have it if someone else has is better.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Deut 5:21). Isn’t most of this just nomadic Hebrew for “don’t covet your neighbor’s wealth”? It isn’t morally right, and really doesn’t make too much logical sense either.

(For those interested, Learn Liberty did a short on this very topic: here)

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In Justice?

Posted on October 1, 2011. Filed under: Government, In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Imam Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen October 2008, ta...

Image via Wikipedia

Well, it doesn’t take much for Washington to pat itself on the back, but every now and again it manages to do something right. But, I’m not sure that the most recent ‘success’ story from the Global War on Terror is just that.

On Friday, news spread that the CIA and Special Operation Forces killed al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki (and Samir Khan but, who is that?) in a joint drone and jet strike. Some are claiming al-Awlaki was more powerful than Osama Bin Laden, second only to Inspector Gadget’s Dr. Claw (honestly, who goes after a cute little girl and her puppy – jerk).

Supposedly, al-Awlaki inspired, recruited, and trained terrorists including three of the 9/11 attackers, the Fort Hood shooter, and the infamous Underwear Bomber. I say supposedly, not because I don’t think he was behind these plots, but because Anwar al-Awlaki was never in fact tried and found guilty of these crimes.

Now, anyone who knows me personally knows I’m not exactly a dove. So far, I haven’t heard a convincing argument as to why foreign/freedom fighters or whatever you want to call them should be tried in US courts. But al-Awlaki and Khan were different. Why? Because they were both US citizens and that comes with certain protections, namely the Constitution.

Article 3, section 3 of the Constitution reads, “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Check on that one. It continues, “No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.” Open court? Oops. The government can’t just put you on a “Capture or Kill” list arbitrarily or not. What about if someone renounces their citizenship? Well, in order to do that you have to go before a diplomatic or consular officer in a foreign state (that means in a US embassy guarded by armed Marines). So, there you have it. Al-Awlaki and Khan, both US citizens, executed for treason unconstitutionally. This might sit okay with some of you because these two were really bad, but if so, my question is – where is the line? What makes it okay for the government to act as prosecutor, judge, and jury in this case, but not others?

This one is tough for me. I want our government to be efficient, especially in executing (no pun intended) war. But I also don’t want the government to determine when it can and cannot suspend the Constitution.

The Founding Fathers got the whole trial by jury of your peers from the Bible. The Israelites appointed judges and officials to each tribe who oversaw disputes between persons (Deu 16:18-20). Witnesses were called and no man could be found guilty of a crime based off of one man’s testimony (Deu 19:15-20). However, in this case of the strike, it seems to me the government acted as judge and witness.

In Matthew, Christ calls us to settle disputes among ourselves, and only when this cannot be done, take it to the church (which acted as sorta State as well). If the person found guilty will not listen to the church, then we are to treat him as an outsider (Mat 18:15-19).

Perhaps we were to treat Khan and al-Awlaki as outsiders, meaning they should not get privileges US citizens do? Or, is that only after they have been “tried”? At what point, if ever, does the Constitution no longer apply? Who decides that point?

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The DVR Dilemmas

Posted on September 27, 2011. Filed under: Culture, Entertainment, In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Kicking Television

Image by dhammza / off via Flickr

It’s that time of year again. A time of year when your DVR proves it’s worth – tis the season for season premiers! Everyone has a show, or 10, that they have been waiting to start up again. For men, it’s football (yes, I realize women like it too, but only because men do).  For women, it’s most likely a romantic drama like “Grey’s Anatomy.”  But a recent message I heard had me thinking: just what does what we watch say about us?

Here was the message: things that capture our attention determine our direction in life. In turn, our direction, not our intention, determines our destination. Sounds obvious, but we all know people who are completely shocked they are in a pile of you-know-what after making a series of poor life choices. Most people are probably thinking “my finances”, “the mortgage,” “family” or other big-ticket items. But I think it’s also important to remember the little things, like television shows, which also capture our attention, especially for the youth.

Two years ago, my husband and I started watching “Glee,” a musical comedy featuring high school misfits. It is admittedly witty and entertaining. Then last year, as the show progressed (in every sense of the word), we started evaluating whether or not to turn it off. Both of us were hoping that the episode depicting 16-year-old cheerleaders making out was just a fluke. But as the weeks went by and the Christian students were depicted as crazies with blind faith while other characters falsely espoused that women are discriminately paid 75% than that of a man, we concluded it wasn’t just one instance. The writers had opinions they were pushing, and why not, it was their product. Though I enjoyed many of the over-the-top characters like Sue Sylvester, it needed to be turned off.

Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness” (Mat 6:22-23).

We take in what we see. There is even an entire industry dedicated to making sure we do (also known as advertising). Are we really so naive to believe that we only take the ‘good’ to heart?  Some women get an unrealistic idea about love from romance novels, movies, and television. Media, especially pornography, also provides men with a skewed perception of a woman’s sexuality (it’s a lot more complex than a man’s for those of you who haven’t figured it out).  These merely serve as examples.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to thepaths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil” Prov 4:23-27). It sounds like Solomon was warning that decisions in our lives need to be intentional and not just made based on what “feels good,” is “fun” or “entertains” us. Temptations, that means stuff we want to give into, are all around and have to be deliberately avoided in order to protect ourselves.

Do I miss “Glee” or other shows I’ve decided to live without? Eh, sometimes I click on itunes to see if they’ve covered any songs I like, but honestly it’s been freeing. Once I made the decision to turn off shows I didn’t think were constructive to my life, it opened up a lot of free time for other things like reading …or blogging!

I want to be clear, I’m not saying if you watch “Glee” or another questionable movie, show or any other form of entertainment you are going to hell. You just aren’t going to heaven. Just kidding! I also don’t think Christians are doomed to watch sermons all day. I just think we need to be careful about what we let into our lives, and our DVRs. (Sorry for picking on the Gleeks.)

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Remembering 9/11. Forgetting Afghanistan.

Posted on September 20, 2011. Filed under: Culture, Government, In the News | Tags: , , , , , , |


Image via Wikipedia

Last Monday marked the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. A few days later, Dakota Meyer became the latest recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions in a war that the US waged as a result of these attacks. Though we all remember 9/11, where we were and what we were doing, how many of us continue to remember Afghanistan?

Part of me was happy that I had actually known about Meyer’s actions before Obama presented him with the award. But I was also frustrated and disgusted that I hadn’t known about so many others’ actions. Worse, I couldn’t articulate what those actions were accomplishing, or what our endstate is for Afghanistan.

Why don’t most of us know more about Afghanistan? Is it because we think the issue is too complex? Because we don’t have time?  Because we don’t care? For me, I wanted to keep a very scary reality at arm’s length, an sorta irrational form of denial.

Ten years after 9/11, polls show that Afghanistan is not a top concern to Americans.  There are  ‘more pressing’ issues like the recession, gas prices, inflation, and a crumbling housing market to worry about. But if we are sending men and women to a remote dusty country, breaking up families for up to a year (and sadly, sometimes a lifetime) shouldn’t we care a little more?  Who can articulate in one sentence why the United States is still committing its forces there?  Or what the definition of victory is?

I consider myself a reasonably well-informed citizen, but I can’t answer these question anymore. I don’t even think our President (or the last one) can, despite the Ivy League sophism. This bothers me. Not as a Marine wife who is preparing for my husband’s deployment to the graveyard of empires. Not as a tax-payer who finances the war’s costs. Not even a dorky Risk player who could tell you it doesn’t matter how many men you have, you can’t control Asia. It bothers me as an American that sends men and women to go fight my battles for me. Perhaps its time that we, as a society, start becoming more informed.

The first step to gaining insight is to determine the source of our ignorance.  If you stroll through Proverbs, you will find that knowledge and wisdom are very closely connected with the concept of discipline. Proverbs 12:1 says, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge.” ”The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Prov 1:7).  Reading these verses is sobering.  The Bible says that discipline, not enough “free time” or interest in the topic at hand, is the key to knowledge.

If we as a country want to continue in Afghanistan, ordering young men and women to commit violence on our behalf, we owe it to them to provide a reason for that sacrifice.  Our mission should be defined, and our desired endstate achievable.

I know this post is somewhat of a Debby Downer, violating my commitment to try to keep things light. I’ll try to keep the depressing posts to a minimum. But I think the problem with September 11th is that politicians and frankly the American populous are intentionally keeping this topic too blithe and vague. We may continue to remember 9/11, but we’re forgetting Afghanistan by not knowing anything about this war. I pray we aren’t becoming the fools who despise discipline and knowledge.

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The King vs. the king, not to be confused with the King

Posted on August 24, 2011. Filed under: Culture, Government, In the News |

Elvis Presley meeting Richard Nixon. On Decemb...

Image via Wikipedia

All the 2012 election coverage got me thinking – do we put too much faith in Washington? Right, left, or libertarian, everyone is looking for DC to do something (or in the later case, not do something) to fix the country. But poll after poll says Americans don’t think so highly of politicians. So why do we spend so much time and energy ‘hoping’ something will ‘change’ in 2012?

People have been looking to the State to solve problems for a long time. Most people remember the Jews had a monarchy for a few hundred years (David was so great he got a star with an extra point). But what some forget is that before the Israelites established their monarchy, the system of governance was pretty loose. Moses gave them the Law, which provided judges and priests to oversee the 12 tribes and settle disputes amongst the people – local government at it’s finest. The point here is the Jews had no mortal king. Unlike other nations who believed the king was a god, the Israelites believed God was their king. But God knew this wasn’t going to last forever. He knew that, the people would throw out His system for a new one.

After a series of ineffective and corrupt judges, Israel demanded that Samuel anoint a king over them. Samuel wasn’t so hot on the idea and asked the Lord what to do. God responded, “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king…warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do” (1 Sam 8:7-9).  Samuel went on to list all the things the king would do: build an army, create a conscription, impress others for domestic services, create a military industrial complex, seize the best of their goods, and confiscate a tenth of their income while redistributing it to those loyal to the king (1 Sam 8:11-17). In short, enslave them (see “A Fair Look at Fair”). Remember, that tenth belonged God. God was telling the Jews the king was going to replace Him. The people didn’t believe Samuel and insisted that the king would “go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Sam 8:20). Surprise, surprise, God was right (more than 300 years earlier no less).

Sound familiar? Hand over our burdens to the ‘king’ so that he can deal with them and then we can go on about our happy life filled with milk and honey. Like the Israel thousands of years before us, we are still hoping the king will fight our battles for us. Why? Because also like Israel, we have rejected God as our king and have replaced Him… with government.

Government is involved in a lot: business, science, education, marriage, divorce, how to ‘care’ for each other, the poor, the elderly, orphans, how much water a toilet bowl flushes and the list expands daily. Interestingly enough, God gave us plan for each of the areas (ok maybe not the last one), but each of them placed the responsibility squarely on us.

Now, I’m not saying lets toss out the Constitution and install a bunch of tribal judges and Levite priests in 2012. It might make for some good commercials though…But I do wonder if as Christians if we really bought into the plans the Lord laid out for us, how different would our country look today? What if we really put our hope in the real King (and I don’t mean Elvis)?

So what do I think about November 2012? I think it is still fifteen months away. That’s a long time to be waiting on a politician who will probably not live up to expectations (or promises). I recommend we stop putting hope in Washington and put hope in something that doesn’t become corrupt, take a vacation, or spray tan. Look to a platform that yes, places a lot of responsibility on us as Christians, but it also reminds us the biggest debt has already been paid.  Unlike the Jews,we shouldn’t put faith in the wrong king.

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A Fair Look at ‘Fair’

Posted on August 8, 2011. Filed under: Culture, Economics, Government, In the News, Money | Tags: , , , , , , , |


Taxes (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

What is ‘fair’? As the deadline approaches for Democratic and Republican leaders to pick members to serve on the “Debt Super Committee” (no super heroes have been appointed yet, I checked), I’ve heard both parties toss this word around rather cavalierly. Democrats are calling for the ‘rich to pay their fair share’; after all they can afford to pay more. Republicans argue raising taxes on the rich would not be ‘fair’ in a recession. But what is ‘fair’?

Depending on your Bible’s translation, the word ‘fair’ occurs fairly often (somewhere around 200 times), so it’s clear God feels strongly about the concept of ‘fairness.’  I read through a few dozen of these verses looking for some insight on something that united all these verses.  In the prologue to Proverbs, Solomon claims his book is for (among other things) “acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair” (Prov 1:3). According to my spiffy Bible commentary, the Hebrew word for ‘fair’ here is ‘mesarim,’ which comes from the root word meaning ‘upright,’ ‘even,’ and emphasizes impartiality.

Impartial. This is what I found was the common theme in scripture’s description of fairness. Makes sense. We know that God is ‘fair’ in instituting His justice. He does not care if you are rich, poor, black, white or even if you’re from Jersey – there is no divine favoritism. We all fall short (Rom 2&3) and it is only through grace that we are saved. Yet, He calls on His people to be ‘fair’ to one another. Solomon’s prologue suggests this is going to involve discipline, that our sinful nature will distort His divine concept of justice. As Christians, we need to be aware of these impediments to fairness.

Who can argue that our tax structure is impartial? Though estimates vary for obvious reasons, some reports claim that tax evasion to overseas markets ‘costs’the IRS $100 billion annually. Don’t you wish you could evade the IRS? Those sneaky rich. But wait, the ‘poor’ don’t make out too shabby either. Currently, the top 10% of income earners pay 70% of all income taxes, while the bottom 50% pay less than 3%. Biblically, neither of these situations are fair. “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great” (Lev 19:15).  While most of us can recognize the injustice associated with those in power evading laws the rest of us must comply with, the soft spots in our hearts want to help the poor. But this structure is not impartial and therefore, not fair. Not to worry; God has a system for helping the poor, which I can discuss more later, but I don’t think this is what He had in mind…

On to the other major side of the tax revenue: corporate taxes. Funny how companies like General Electric contribute to so many campaigns and hire hundreds of lobbyist also legally avoid paying any corporate taxes. I don’t think the Lord would look favorably on this kind of behavior: “Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous” (Deut 16:19). In my opinion, a bribe is still a bribe, even if it is done publicly through campaign contributions. These contributions create a legal and tax structure based on favoritism where the State’s friends play by different rules than the rest of America’s businesses.

So, should the rich pay more, their ‘fair share’? It seems with the current tax code, the answer is yes and no. Yes, tax reform is needed to ensure all businesses are treated impartially, which means getting rid of tax exemptions for Big Oil and Big Corn alike.  But no, on the individual level it appears our concept of fair is skewed to ‘show partiality to the poor’ which is not Biblically fair.

Perhaps it’s time we look to a new way of collecting government revenue. Perhaps we need a Fair Tax, in every sense of the word. More on this later.

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The Debt Crisis

Posted on August 1, 2011. Filed under: Economics, Government, In the News, Money | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The national debt clock outside the IRS office...

Image via Wikipedia

Given the constant barrage of “debt crisis” coverage, I wondered if God had anything to say about national debt.  Solomon warned, “The borrower is slave to the lender,” (Prov 22:7) and “whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe” (Prov 11:15). Clearly, the Bible warns that debt is folly (as any Dave Ramsey follower could tell you). Obviously, God never said $14.3 trillion was okay but not $16.4 trillion. I didn’t see that one in Leviticus.  But God created a nation in every sense of the word, so surely there had to be something.

In chapter 15 of Deuteronomy, the Lord tells Israel how His new nation will keep its fiscal house in order: “you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.” What? Borrow from none? What about in case of emergency? What about all those wars for the Promised Land?  Unfunded social liabilities? Surely being God’s chosen people means you are entitled to healthcare, and when Moses lived to 120, that could get expensive. But, as with everything God commands, it comes with a reason: “You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you” (Deut 15:6). Apparently, debt at any level creates a system of rulers and slaves. It probably wouldn’t have been such a good idea if Israel borrowed from the Egyptians or the Philistines just as it probably isn’t such a good idea for us to borrow from the Chinese or any other nation. Indebting yourself to others means you have to play by the lender’s rules. Considering no other nation completely shares America’s values, we should not be too keen on being beholden to other nations.

But wait, various American lenders such as the Fed, public households, state and local governments own most of our debt. So, that’s probably okay right? It seems the Lord is saying not to borrow from other nations. If the borrower is slave to the lender, wouldn’t that mean the government is slave to the people?

Not quite. When debt becomes so large that it has to be paid out over an extended period of time, the people become slaves to the government.  Government can only raise money by confiscating it from the people. But the kicker is that government has created so much debt that it can’t be paid off by the current set of taxpayers; it will be paid by our kids and grandkids. Something told me the Lord probably wouldn’t approve of that.

Interestingly, God created a system of canceling debts every 7 years (also in Chapter 15 of Deuteronomy). Translated into contemporary vernacular, I take that to mean long-term debt is bad. While we might from time to time lend to one another, it is hard to maintain a healthy relationship with someone to whom you are indebted or with someone who owes you. God wants his people have a relationship based on love, not wondering when the brother-in-law is going to return that $1,000.

Maybe it is time for politicians to liberate this country from the influence of tyrannical governments and its children from overwhelming bureaucratic budgets. After all, good men leave an inheritance, not debt, for their children’s children (Prov 13:2).

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