Friday, September 26, 2008

Honesty – The Best Policy

The press has aggressively gone after Gov. Palin on her lack of international experience. Of course they don’t go after the other three candidates for their lack of such experience. After all, has McCain, Obama, or Biden ever negotiated with a foreign leader? Did the governors who became president have any foreign relations experience? I’m thinking of former governors Clinton, Bush, and Reagan. No, they didn’t. Yet the press insists on singularly pursuing Palin in the hopes of making her look like a fool. And they claim to be unbiased!

Nevertheless, because Palin hasn’t been up front and honest, she has looked like a fool in the few interviews she has done. When Katie Couric asked Palin about her foreign experience, I believe she should have responded something like this:

“Of course as any governor, I don’t have any foreign policy experience. As a matter of fact, most senators have had little or no foreign policy experience. However, I am getting up to speed quickly with respect to the key international issues of the day. If in the unlikely event I became president, I would surround myself with foreign policy experts. Next question.”

Wouldn’t that be refreshing? She would be answering honestly and saying what the public already knows but would like to hear from her. Because she and the McCain campaign haven’t been honest, they are losing ground.

On another topic, I am very disappointed with the response of some Republican congressmen with respect to this bail out package. They are letting ideology stand in the way of a necessary measure to save our economy from further damage. Of course it isn’t an ideal package. Of course there will be unintended consequences. Of course it is being rushed through and will have flaws. But what is the alternative?

We’ve had Washington Mutual fail, the largest bank failure in the history of the world. What will it take for our congresspeople to put aside ideology and partisan differences, and get the job done? If these Republicans don’t get on board, the GOP will lose even more seats in Congress.

By the way, the Democrats have been using this bail out for their own political gain. Reid and Schumer both made political hay out of this by telling the press that McCain’s presence was politically motivated and has done more harm than good. Shame on you!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New York is just too expensive

In the past week or so, I have learned of five families that are in the process of moving out of New York State (“NYS”) to a less expensive state. Within the past few months I have spoken with several people who don’t know how they will be able to remain in NYS when they retire.

The cost of living is very high in NYS, and to make matters worse, the tax burden is one of the highest in the nation. I don’t know where all that money goes, but it certainly doesn’t go to good roads and superior schools. The infrastructure is crumbling, and despite ridiculously high taxes, NYS doesn’t have the funds to rebuild! Where is all that tax money going!?!?

I believe it is a moral imperative for NYS (and all other governments) to take a hard look at where every dollar goes. States, counties and cities will have to get back to basics: spend the tax money only on what are the basic and necessary functions of government, and forget the rest. Government doesn’t have to fund the arts, pay for professional sports stadiums, and spend money on programs that aren’t the main job of government while we are being taxed to death, schools are failing, and the infrastructure is in dire need of repair.

As I understand it, NYS receives about 20% of its revenue from the financial industry, and some portion of that source will be going away for some time. Therefore, NYS must make some decisions that will cause special interests to complain loudly. We the electorate must hold our representatives in Albany accountable. Otherwise there will continue to be an intolerable burden on the poor, the middle class (as always) will be squeezed, and businesses will be driven out. A pretty bleak future faces us unless Albany gets its act together now!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Made in China

Why do Wal-Mart and other stores insist on selling low-cost, low-quality, and often dangerous products made in China? Let’s look at some key points in this regard:

1. Chinese-made products have been tainted, and have put people and pets at risk. Now there is a children’s milk product that has sickened 53,000 kids in China and killed several. Do you really ever again want to ingest something made in China?

2. Wal-Mart thinks they are doing their customers a favor by selling low-cost goods made in China. However, these products are of such poor quality that they often don’t last very long. Therefore, you still end up paying more money to replace them than you would have buying a quality Made in the USA product. Penny wise, pound foolish.

3. Buying imported products puts Americans out of work. Yes, we can buy something made in China for less, but then we have caused unemployment here. Many Americans are out of work or under-employed because of short-sighted American companies exporting jobs overseas.

We may pay more to buy American-made products, but then we will be able to afford it because more Americans will have higher-paying manufacturing jobs. Look for American-made products when you shop, and buy them instead. Send a message to stores and companies that you don’t want shabby and often dangerous Chinese-made junk in your house. And by all means, never buy a food or vitamin product with Chinese ingredients. The risk isn’t worth the cost savings (if there even is any).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pray for Our Nation

We are facing a critical time in our nation’s history. Decisions made now could significantly change our financial markets forever, and will assuredly have a long-term impact on our overall economy. Therefore, I urge you to pray for God’s guidance for Congress, Paulson, Bernacke, the President, and any other leaders involved in the proposed bail-out of our financial markets.

To do the right thing, whatever that may be, will take wisdom well beyond what any human being has, no matter how smart. That’s because the financial markets and the economy are so complex that even the experts differ on what should be done. We can’t read the future, and so the law of unintended consequences is always in play. In this case, the unintended consequences could possibly be catastrophic (rampant inflation, for example). Moreover, whatever happens in the U.S. will affect the financial markets and the economies all over the world.

Now is the time for the people of God to take action by prayer, confession, and repentance for our nation (see Nehemiah 1:4-7; Daniel 9:3-19; 2 Chronicles 7:14). Please pray for our nation multiple times every day until this crisis passes (which may be a while). Pray also for the election, that God will guide the people to vote for the candidate who will be most able to help this troubled nation.

Your may think the prayers of one person don’t matter, but they do. May God bless you during these uncertain times, and give you peace that surpasses all understanding. We know whom we have believed.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Christians and Jews

In an earlier post I mentioned the attacks and persecution that both Jews and Christians have suffered over the years, sometimes at the hands of each other. Notwithstanding our sorry history, Christians and Jews are natural allies. Christianity came out of Judaism, Jesus was a Jew, the first followers of Jesus were Jews, and much of our Bible is made up of the Hebrew Scriptures. Obviously there are significant differences in our theology, but we still follow the One True God, Jehovah, even if differently.

Let me give you an example of how the anti-Christian bigots in the media are trying to divide Christians and Jews. During the Republican National Convention, Rachel Maddow of NBC blurted out that the head of the Jews for Jesus organization David Bricker had said something unfavorable about the Jews while he was visiting Sarah Palin’s church in Alaska. Chris Matthews, the moderator of that panel discussion, was surprised at this bit of slander and rightfully asked her the source of this item. She said it was from Unfortunately she passed on this erroneous story without further verifying its accuracy, which is very unprofessional.

Later I read something from David Brickner in which he clearly refuted’s slanderous and inaccurate report. There are recordings of his talk to verify his account of what he said. This goes to show the anti-Christian bias of the media, and how they would like to stir up anti-Christian feelings on the part of Jewish people.

You should be aware that conservative Christians in general love the Jews and appreciate our Jewish spiritual roots. We feel we have been grafted into the Jewish spiritual tree (Romans 11). Most conservative Christians are pro-Israel, although certainly believe something must be done for the Palestinians. We believe that Israel has a right to exist in safety and security. We know that when partitioning of that region took place in 1948, a Palestinian-Arab homeland was established as the Kingdom of Jordan (which has a much larger land area than Israel) and Israel was set aside as a Jewish homeland. Yet the Arabs still want to drive the Jews out of their country and take over all of Israel.

The Religious Left, interestingly, is pro-Palestinian and generally less favorably inclined towards Israel. They would have Israel tear down its security wall, which is an unfortunate necessity given the ongoing terrorist attacks by militant Palestinians against innocent Israeli civilians. They don’t seem to care that Palestinians and other Islamic terrorist groups such as Hamas constantly lob rockets into Israeli towns, randomly killing Jews. For whatever reason, Jews are not politically correct but Palestinian terrorists are. What kind of twisted logic is that?

So I ask Jews not to believe the inaccurate reports on Christians you often find in the secular media. Christians, I ask you to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and pray for our nation as well. Christians and Jews, don’t let the enemies of God divide us.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Anti-Christian Bias Continues

The media, academia, the entertainment industry, and the Left in general are guided by the principle of “tolerance” or so they would have you believe. However, their “tolerance” is very selective. They “tolerate” only those who think like they do, and anybody outside of that mindset is ridiculed and denigrated.

These “tolerant” folks are especially vicious when it comes to conservative “right wing” Christians. Recently the Washington Post website ran a political cartoon by cartoonist Pat Oliphant that ridiculed Pentecostals under the assumption that Gov. Palin is one (which I don’t believe she is). If someone ran a similar cartoon ridiculing a politically correct group, they would be vilified by the self-righteous hypocrites on the Left. The hypocrisy of the Left is truly astounding. Anybody whom they even suspect of insulting an African-American is called a racist. Anybody who might say something negative against homosexual behavior is belittled as a homophobe. Anybody who leans to the Right is ignorant and easily led. Small town Americans cling to their guns and their religion.

We as Christians shouldn’t be surprised. God’s people have had to endure a lot worse throughout history. The Jews have been hated by the world for thousands of years because they are followers of the One True God. Unfortunately they have occasionally fallen victim to misguided Christians. Followers of Jesus Christ have endured persecution and hardship off and on during Christianity’s 2,000 year history. The 20th century was one of the worst. While there are many explanations why Muslims hate us, probably the major reason is that we in the West are considered Christian in their eyes.

Jesus told his disciples in John 16:33b: “In the world you face persecution.” Jesus also said to his disciples in John 15:18-19: “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world — therefore the world hates you.”

What, then, are we as Christians to do in the face of ridicule, bias, and abuse? First of all, we should pray for those who are against us, as Jesus said in Matthew 5:44: “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Second, understand that this is a spiritual battle, as the Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12: For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Third, don’t hesitate to tell others the Good News of Jesus Christ, as we read in 1 Peter 3:15a: Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tough Times Require a Strong Faith

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so much bad news in just a few weeks. It’s not personal news (thank God!), but national news: hurricanes, floods, bank failures, stock market declines of historical proportions, massive government bail-outs of companies, and even a train wreck in California. If you look at the nearly nine years since the turn of the 21st century, there have been many misfortunes: 9/11, war in two countries, the tsunami, Hurricane Katrina destroying most of a US city, significant company failures (Enron and others), bank failures, tornados, wildfires in the West, floods, skyrocketing energy costs, the attack on the USS Cole, and continued terrorist attacks around the world, to name a few of the more well-known ones.

What does all this mean? Are we now into the end times? It would seem so, since there are so many bad things happening within a short time span, especially natural disasters. Of course our focus is rather narrow, since we Americans are typically looking at things happening in our own country and then making generalizations. However, the world isn’t in very good shape either, and any economic downturn in the US will have ramifications around the world, and vice-versa.

With all this depressing bad news and indications that we haven’t yet hit bottom when it comes to economic hard times, what are we to do? There isn’t a lot we can do, except be prudent when it comes to spending money and making decisions. The main thing we should do is begin to turn back to God. We have pushed God out of the public square, and then we hope that God will continue to bless us as a nation. I don’t think that’s the way it works.

We have been pushed around too long by atheists and by sympathetic judges who totally misinterpret the Constitution. I believe in the Constitution as it was intended, not as it is now being deconstructed and misused. Regardless of what judges decree, we as individuals can still turn back to God, start going to church, and begin praying for our nation. Let’s start praying for revival, because only God can bring it about. With revival comes renewed faith, hope, and a better country. Without revival, we will probably continue to slide into becoming a second-rate country dependent on foreign countries for our welfare. Do we really want that?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Greed Is Good"

In the movie “Wall Street”, financial tycoon Gordon Gecko (played wonderfully by Michael Douglas) made a speech to shareholders in which he said, “Greed is good.” His point was that greed motivates the financial markets.

I would say that greed is not good, because unmitigated greed causes the kinds of problems we are seeing in the financial markets today, and what we saw with Enron, Worldcomm, and other failed companies earlier. Greed leads to taking bad risks, making bad decisions, doing unethical behavior, and other excesses that ultimately can hurt many people and even the nation.

What about Gordon Gecko’s point that greed fuels the financial markets? To that, I would reply that a desire for a reasonable return on an investment should be the motivating factor, not greed. Greed motives you to take unreasonable risks for a high reward, often with other people’s money.

When you have God in your life and you are trying to live according to biblical principles, then you will be less inclined to fall victim to greed. As a result, you will make better decisions, you will be ethical, and you will have a better life with less stress. God’s ways are always better than the world’s ways.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Economy’s Fundamentals Strong?

McCain, Bush and some others have stated that despite recent financial crises, the economy’s fundamentals are strong. I believe the economy’s fundamentals are no longer as strong as they used to be, and that’s why we are seeing one financial catastrophe after another. I believe we could be headed for some serious economic problems.

Why aren’t the fundamentals strong? Let me count the ways.

The mortgage crisis, which probably hasn’t hit bottom yet.

Huge credit card debt, which is probably the next bubble to burst.

Large foreign investments in this country, which make us vulnerable to economic collapse if these foreign investors begin to pull their funds out of the U.S.

Continuous large unfavorable balances of trade due to oil purchases and buying so many products made in China.

Enormous national debt, meaning large interest payments made by the federal government, made with funds that could have been spent in helping the economy. This also means the economy is facing repaying this debt at some point in the future.

Loss of much of our manufacturing base, and the continuous exporting of jobs overseas.

These are the reasons I don’t believe that the fundamentals of the economy are sound. We as a nation better start praying to God for help, because we certainly aren’t getting it from government, from business, or from anywhere else. Only God can spare us from economic calamity, if only we as a nation return to the God of our founding fathers. They put their trust in God and against all odds defeated the superpower of that age to become an independent nation. Lincoln put his trust in God and held the union together. Franklin Roosevelt prayed publicly over the radio on D-Day for success, and it was granted by the Almighty.

I just hope it isn’t too late for us.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Remembering 9/11

This past week we commemorated the seventh anniversary of the attack on the United States by Islamic terrorists on 9/11/2001. Whether we like it or not, there is a significant spiritual dimension to this struggle between Islamic fundamentalism and the West. Those who don’t have a biblically-informed worldview look at the struggle as a clash of cultures. On a superficial level, it is a clash of cultures, but it goes much deeper. To the Muslims, it is God’s people against the infidels, which makes this a “holy war” to them.

We ignore this aspect at our peril, because if we continue to move God to the margins of our society and don’t honor him, then I believe we are in trouble. If God allowed his chosen people to fall to the Babylonians because they abandoned him, I wonder what will happen to us, who have been so blessed by God. As individuals and as a nation, we must believe and do what Psalm 20:6-7 tells us:

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. NIV

When you have a worldview informed by the Spirit, it puts world events into a totally different perspective.