The government has been talking about fiscal responses and solutions to the nightmare the coronavirus pandemic is wreaking in our nation and world. Those responses include multi-trillion dollar price tags. Given the panic and hysteria that we see from across this nation, does anyone really know whether such responses will help, or just postpone the inevitable collapse of an economy that has been propped up, for too many decades, by destructive credit policies? Is it possible that the coronavirus is simply the proverbially, “straw that finally broke the camel’s back?”
A couple of weeks ago, in a knee-jerk response, the current administration offered a $1 trillion “mini solution” and the markets tanked as it was being announced. Then, a week ago, the President suggested the idea of stimulus checks of $1,000 to every American, with a price tag of approximately $1 trillion dollars. But Trump had no more gotten that idea out of his mouth, when others were suggesting that wasn’t enough. Now, that “measly” trillion dollars has ballooned to $3-4 trillion and the individual stimulus checks are several thousand dollars for most citizens. And if I were a betting man, I’d wager we still haven’t seen the upward limit of the free money that is going to be printed up and distributed to a populace in need.
There is no doubt that our families, neighbors and citizens are in need. Consider that 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and millions of our neighbors have now lost their jobs for an indefinite period of time because of the closure of their employers by our government. The ability for these unemployed families to even pay for toilet paper (if it were available), but more importantly bread, eggs and milk, is not just limited, but unlikely.
▪️Is Government Liable?
So, if the government, in its estimation, believes that shutting down businesses is the best course of action to protect lives, then it seems that government is liable for making the affected workers (and perhaps businesses) whole. Without debating the decision itself, I believe under any other circumstances, this would likely be the conclusion of any court were it to be adjudicated in front of a judge.
There has never been a scenario like this in our history, of which I’m aware. But the bigger issue is this. Even if the government is liable to the individuals it is harming by its efforts to protect lives, how does our government cover its liability? In an ordinary situation between two parties, if one party harms another, the offending party must make the offended party whole, OUT OF ITS OWN RESOUCES.
In this case, the government is the offending party (in an effort to save lives, which I happen to agree with). The unemployed citizens are the offended party. So what are the government’s resources? Resources equal assets. But one cannot ignore liabilities when discussing resources. In the case of our nation, not only do we have a current national debt of $23,000,000,000,000 (that’s trillion), but we have additional unfunded liabilities for things like Medicare, Medicaid, and such, that total over $150 Trillion in debt. We don’t have the ability to pay the $23 trillion in current debt, so do you think we can pay the $150 trillion that is coming due in the upcoming years?
So where are the trillions going to come from to cover these stimulus checks and bailouts that are forthcoming? Yes, I’ve read that some of the amounts extended by the Feds will be in the form of loans, but that begs the question. Where do all the trillions of dollars come from? The answer is they will come from the same unsound credit policies as the Feds have used for years to cover their previous trillion dollar deficits.
▪️Your Rich Uncle
Consider this though. If you were living lavishly for decades off of a credit card that had an unlimited credit line from your rich uncle, and your uncle finally stepped up and said, “No More!” what would that do to your lifestyle? Particularly, what would you do when the uncle demanded you pay the credit card balance, when you had no ability to do so? Can you say BANKRUPTCY?
In this case, the “rich uncle” for America has been the exceptional privilege America has profited off of as the world’s reserve currency. Other nations and investors have extended credit to us for decades because we were perceived to be a better risk than any other option out there. But more and more, our stellar credit status has been dropping. And again, if I were a betting man, I would wager that this vast Ponzi scheme that our Federal government has been engaged in for years, with the help of both political parties, is about to come to an end.
Am I a doomsday prophet? No. I’ve been writing about this coming collapse for years. And it’s not because I have the mental wherewithal to figure it all out, but rather because there are people much smarter than me who have been warning of this for decades as well. But no one is listening.
▪️Where is the Hope?
But you may ask, “so if there’s no fiscal solution, where is the Hope?”
Well, while I don’t believe there is a permanent solution to the fiscal nightmare we are now living through, I do believe there is Hope for each of us individually. But it will require each of us to think outside the box; to consider options we haven’t considered before; to prepare for what could happen. And if, by some providential move, we are granted another brief period of reprieve from the inevitable coming economic collapse, we should not be lulled into believing that our genius leaders have saved the day. When a doctor causes a fatal wound, but he then puts a bandage on the hemorrhaging gash he caused, you wouldn’t then sit back and start enjoying your “bon-bons” believing that the negligent doctor saved the day, would you? You also wouldn’t congratulate the doctor on a job well done.
▪️What to do?
So what should you and I do? In a minute I’ll share what my first step would be. But here are a few suggestions:
I would prioritize the welfare of my family and loved ones, and then my neighbors, if possible. If you could rewind your life 30-45 days, knowing what you know now, what would you have done then to prepare for where we are today? Likewise, if you took a few minutes to consider where things might be in 30-90 days, if things not only don’t get better, but rather they get exponentially worse, what would you wish then that you would have done today?
In other words “Prepare.” The old “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” should guide your steps.
Nearly a decade ago a group of my friends and I began meeting over the course of a year or so to “Prep” for the possibility of an economic collapse. We put together checklists and discussed steps we should all take in the event that something like we are seeing actually occurred. At the time many would have suggested we were alarmists or worse. But those meetings were extremely helpful in preparing us for what did finally occur these last few weeks. (See the three hyperlinks above for the documents we prepared then.)
Now I don’t share this to suggest that all the items on my checklists in 2011 and 2012 were addressed. I wish I had some more toilet paper perhaps! But the “ounce of prevention” philosophy is one I can encourage you to consider as well. If you’re stuck at home, you now have time to consider what you would do for your family to prepare for what could occur in the future.
Our nation’s fiscal situation has not improved in the last 8 years. In fact, it has gotten exponentially worse. And that was before another several trillion dollars is being borrowed, printed, or created out of thin air, by the big spenders in Washington. So, if the coronavirus is in fact the straw that’s finally exposing our fiscal foolishness as a nation, what could that next straw be? I don’t know. But I also don’t want to be unprepared.
▪️Our Ultimate Hope
So I mentioned I’d share what my first step would be and here it is. I would turn my heart and mind to God during this dire crisis. The greatest threat to you and me today isn’t the COVID-19 virus. Rather, it’s the universal virus that we all share, one that entices us to replace God our Creator, with our own false gods. The gods of wealth, sports, entertainment, politics, pleasure, career, business, travel, or whatever else might be in the forefront of your life and mine. It’s a universal temptation to elevate something temporal, that does not satisfy, in place of the One who is eternal, and completely satisfies.
God is speaking through this crisis. In fact, I would suggest this is God’s crisis. Throughout the Bible we see that it is God that brings both “calamity and good” and “He controls the course of world events.” He does so to get our attention, to disrupt our lives, in order to turn our hearts back to Him. We are a proud people and an even prouder nation. But God resists the proud and even humiliates them. But He also elevates the humble. Could there be any greater example of God humiliating a proud nation and even world than what is happening now as all those “gods” we worshipped are crumbling before us?
So, if there is one silver lining in all this, it is that we all have time to turn back to Him. We have time to open His Word. We have time to fall on our knees. And as we do, we will begin to hear what it is God is speaking to us individually, so that we can repent and turn to Him. As we do, we will find the Hope and Encouragement that is so desperately needed “for such a time as this.”
💡“God controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.” Daniel 2:21
💡“Who can command things to happen without the Lord’s permission? Does not the Most High send both calamity and good? Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins? Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord.” Lamentations 3:37-40
The election season is over. For some voters, going to the polls was merely a civic duty. For others voting was a matter of stewardship, understanding that God gives us this American privilege, and we will be held accountable for every vote we cast.
But my real focus of this article is not on voters, but rather it’s a message to the newly elected (or re-elected) officials.
God has given me the opportunity (and sobering responsibility) to meet and get to know dozens of politicians, from councilmen to several Presidential candidates. While I’m no longer active in political endeavors, many of these friends or acquaintances were elected to office this last cycle. These offices range from school board members to US Senators, and many offices in between.
So with this as a backdrop, the following verse jumped out at me this week from the book of Daniel:
“For this has been decreed by the messengers; it is commanded by the holy ones, so that everyone may know that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world. He gives them to anyone he chooses— even to the lowliest of people.” Daniel 4:17
The Instruction Manual
The book of Daniel is the instruction manual on how Christians in government should behave. Daniel also illustrates to believers how we should respond to government, particularly adversarial ones.
As we read this manual, for guidance both in civics and governance, it’s important to understand that the government officials we are introduced to in Daniel are both followers of (the one true) God, as well as pagans (followers of someone or something other than the one true God). In addition to Daniel, there are many other books and passages in the Bible that offer insights into God’s view of government officials, and their role in serving Him.
God Elevates Both Believers and Unbelievers to Government
This is the first principle that each recently elected government official should understand. Regardless of whether you believe in and follow God, or not, it is God that has given you the victory you are celebrating. It’s not the voters. It’s Him. Sure, the voters all cast a vote, some for you and some against you.
But ascribing your victory to voters is akin to thanking a courier who hands you the keys to your new car, that your rich uncle just bought for you. Your uncle deserves the acknowledgement and thanks, not the courier.
God “gives them (kingdoms) to anyone he chooses — even to the lowliest of people” affirms this principle. So whether you were elected the county dog catcher, or the President of the United States, God has lent you the office to test your stewardship. That’s not only an awesome opportunity, but it’s more importantly a sobering responsibility. You will be held accountable, not merely by the voters, but more importantly by God Almighty.
God is Testing Your Humility (or Pride)
In Daniel, we read about the story of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon and a powerful ruler of his day. But with that power, we also see a man who grew very proud. We read in Daniel 4:30 these words:
“As he looked out across the city, he said, ‘Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power, I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.’” (Daniel 4:30)
If ever there was a man who embodied the spirit of the “self-made” man, King Nebuchadnezzar was that man. Note how his power led to pride. (And we’ll find out in our next principle, what the king’s pride led to.)
It’s a very difficult task to resist the temptation of pride. Power and pride seem to go hand and hand. So as someone is elevated to a position of power, who was a “no one” or perhaps a “lesser one” before his election, it’s so easy to become prideful in that new found position. A politician can easily look at himself as important. As special. As above others. As privileged. As deserving.
But all those attitudes are not only false, they are Pride whispering lies to us. It’s incumbent on you as an elected official to resist such temptations, and rebuke those attitudes. But if you fail this test, you will soon experience the warning from Proverbs 16:18 where we’re told:
“Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.”
How many politicians do you know that seem to struggle with pride? If we’re all honest though, this is a sin many of us have succumbed to in our own lives. So Mr/Ms Politician, resist this huge temptation that comes to all of us, but particularly those with power. If you don’t, you may find yourself experiencing the next principle.
Pride Leads to Bad Stuff
I suppose I could have been more “sophisticated” in describing this principle, but “bad stuff” really is the result of Pride in the life of an elected official. The prophet Daniel, who was also a high government official in King Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom, warned the King of what would occur if he took credit for “his” achievements versus ascribing any success to God. Note Daniel’s warning:
“You will be driven from human society, and you will live in the fields with the wild animals. You will eat grass like a cow, and you will be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses… King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.” (Daniel 4:25, 27)
Sadly though, this is what occurred when Nebuchadnezzar refused to heed God’s warning, spoken through Daniel:
“…A voice called down from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, this message is for you! You are no longer ruler of this kingdom. You will be driven from human society. You will live in the fields with the wild animals, and you will eat grass like a cow. Seven periods of time will pass while you live this way, until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.’” (Daniel 4:31-32)
What a great fall King Nebuchadnezzar experienced! From the height of world power, to the lowliness of an animal — simply because he allowed the spirit of pride to rule in his life.
It’s uncanny, but should not be surprising, that 600 years later, Jesus, the Son of the Voice from heaven who spoke to Nebuchadnezzar, reminded us again of the repercussions of pride in our lives:
“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
So be sure of this elected official. Pride will tempt you, but you can resist it in your live, and as you do, and take the less travelled path of humility, God will exalt you, according to Jesus, God’s Son.
Nebuchadnezzar’s own life is a reflection of this reality for when the king finally humbled himself and acknowledged the One who had exalted him to begin with, this is what the king had to say:
“After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever. His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal. When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before. “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.” (Daniel 4:34, 36-37)
We’ve all heard of the “servant leadership” principle. It’s a teaching that’s hip these days, and often promoted in corporate entities. But long before motivational coaches latched onto this truth, Jesus had this to say about the role servant leadership should play in all of our lives, including elected officials:
“But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.” (Matthew 20:25-27)
Having been around elected officials for many, many years now, I have seen a spirit that is often anything but “servant leadership.” The head tables, the honored seats, and the best of everything is always reserved for politicians. And yet, the elite status most politicians enjoy is entirely at odds with their self-assigned title of “servants of the people.”
So if you were just elected and want to be different and break the political mold, what if you were to truly embrace the idea of “servant leadership” in your elected role? Perhaps one antidote against the pride that will lead to destruction and fall, is to simply commit oneself to truly being a servant in practice versus simply in words.
There are at least two reasons to do so. The first is because Jesus modeled such leadership and what better person to pattern our lives after than the Son of God? But there is another reason, and it has to do with future rewards:
“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16)
God’s Elevating of An Individual Does NOT Suggest He Endorses That Individual
We often misunderstand God’s actions and choices, assuming that because He places certain individuals in positions of authority, that God must then endorse such an individual. This fallacy has been a huge stumbling block for Christians, particularly over the last couple years. But this could not be further from the truth, as taught throughout Scripture.
God elevates individuals to positions of authority for several reasons including 1) to achieve God’s greater Plan, 2) to test that individual, 3) to punish, test, or refine those who are under the ruler’s authority, or some other purposes. We cannot always be certain of God’s reasons, but we can know this:
“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
We also know that at times God will even elevate evil or immoral rulers to achieve His greater Plan. But when that Plan is achieved, God will discard the ruler, when he does not turn to God and acknowledge His sovereignty. The examples of the numerous kings of Judah and Israel in the Old Testament are an affirmation of this principle, as God used both good and evil kings to continue to advance His objectives. But as soon as God finished with an immoral ruler, God always discarded him.
So the lesson any elected official should learn from this truth, is that God’s selection of you for the office you now hold, is not necessarily an endorsement of you, your political solutions, ambitions, or even your character. Rather, He has placed you there for His purposes. So it’s incumbent on every elected official to ask these questions:
“Why did God elevate me? What does He want to achieve through me? How can I best serve God in this capacity? Am I ready to give account to Him for my actions in my current position?”
All these questions require one particular attitude which we referenced earlier: Humility.
In closing, I trust as you assume the new office or term, which you have been given for a brief moment, that you will ponder these truths from God’s Word. I trust you will acknowledge Whom it is that elevated you, that you will remain humble, that you will truly model servant leadership, and that you will never assume that God endorses all you do, simply because He has granted you this position of authority.
Remember what Jesus said to Pilate when He, as the Son of God, stood before the government official who had been lent the power of life or death:
“Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above.” (John 19:11)
So if your authority is given to you by God Himself, then this should be your response:
“What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?” (1 Corinthians 4:7)
Blessings to you as you move into what has often been portrayed as “The Swamp.” But in reality, it may be your greatest opportunity and responsibility to:
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
(If you know an elected official, and agree with this message, would you forward this to him/her?)
The O’Reilly Factor and FoxNews. Over the last two decades, these two entities became household names for literally millions of Americans. Holding the top spot in the prime time cable ratings is something most TV personalities would aspire for and, if achieved, would no doubt boast of. Bill O’Reilly was no exception. The fact is, Bill was never shy to remind his viewers of his unparalleled success.
Over the years I have watched my share of the O’Reilly Factor. And while I have agreed more often than not with many of the positions Bill would take, I found myself regularly perturbed with the man. There is something about watching someone spout off braggadociously, night after night, that can turn a person from a follower to a critic.
More than once during the last decade I’ve thought of Proverbs 16:18 when listening to O’Reilly pontificate about his infallible views on nearly any subject under the sun. That verse asserts:
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
It’s likely that we all struggle with that five letter word: Pride. And perhaps the more successful one becomes, and the more he or she is in the public eye, the greater the temptation is to think highly of oneself.
I’ve often heard the expression “a self-made man” used of those who achieve some level of success. But I’ve always been deeply troubled by such a view. If one affirms God and His sovereign role in our world and lives, then I would suggest it is pride-gone-wild to assert one is a self-made anything. True, we play a part in our future, with every choice we make. But I believe it is dangerously wrong to buy into the notion that we are the reason for our success.
The truth is there is a greater Power at work. I liken it to a farmer who sows his fields. Sure, he planted the seed, but God gives the rains, sun and the ultimate increase. And even further, God gives the farmer the resources, health and strength to even plant the seed.
Likewise, in our lives, we can plant seeds of success by the choices we make. But it is ultimately God who honors those choices. Only God can bless us with successes beyond our wildest dreams. But when those dreams come to fruition, here are some questions that, depending on our answer, will determine whether pride has entered into our lives.
What do we think? How do we act? What do we say to others? Whom do we thank? Is it ourselves or God?
Deuteronomy 8:18 answers the last question with this affirmation:
“Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful…”
So as I think about Bill O’Reilly’s fall from the pinnacle of success to the depths of shame, I am saddened to see such a loss. Whether Bill is guilty or not of the charges leveled against him is beyond the scope of this article. But Bill’s arrogance and pompous attitude loom large for anyone willing to see them. And sadly, I believe they drove the reason for his fall.
More important than Bill’s fall though, is this. His failures force me to look in the mirror and test my motives, my attitudes, and my beliefs.
Is there Pride in my life? Do I possess a haughty spirit? If so, then there is a fall and destruction in my future.
What about you? Have you considered these questions? If not, I would challenge you to do that same.
At the end of the day, all that is good in our lives and all that we might accomplish or accumulate is only by God’s abundant blessings. Any explanation beyond that should cause us to seriously consider Proverbs 16:18… before it’s too late.
One final thought. As Bill O’Reilly falls, Tucker Carlson rises, being offered Bill’s former prime-time slot at 8pm. It’s noteworthy to mention that Tucker Carlson is moving from his short stint at 9pm, after replacing Megyn Kelly, to the 8pm hour, the top slot in prime-time. Will Tucker though, learn from Bill O’Reilly’s mistakes and resist the temptation to credit himself for his sudden success? Time will tell. And let’s hope humility reigns.