Going Nowhere Fast
A new type of Christian is beginning to emerge. They are prophetic and devoted to an uncommon depth of knowledge and understanding. They are not unique in history, but because there could be so many, they are. They are also practical and want to apply their revelation and understanding to the times. These prophetic thinkers, who are also hard-working builders, are cause for great hope. We are obviously getting close to when the gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world, as the Lord said it must be before the end of this age can come (see Matthew 24:14).
A generation must arise that will prepare the way for the Lord by building the highway described in Isaiah 40. This highway is God’s higher-way. These will be like Daniel and his friends, about whom it was said, “And as for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams” (Daniel 1:17). Such a generation must arise to fulfill the Great Commission, which is making disciples, not just converts, nations, or individuals.
The Lord called for us to renew our minds for a reason—He want s to use them. A basic difference between the major and minor prophets in Scripture is the breadth of their knowledge and depth of their understanding. The great prophetic voices of each age likewise had a vast and deep knowledge of their times, and then God would add to them “all kinds of visions and dreams.” Just as the Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God, Spirit-filled people will not be shallow.
As one begins to perceive God and His kingdom, anything in this world will seem boring. However, we must know the times to be a light in them. Economics sound boring to many, but i t i s one area of knowledge that can help us to understand the times possibly better than any other. It can be interesting because it is the study of basic human interchange and can reveal more about the spiritual state of a people than anything else. We must understand our present world economy if we are going to understand the world in our time. This is why the mark of the beast is an economic mark, which will determine if we can buy, sell, or trade—this will be one of the most basic revelations of human nature and who we really worship.
The present economic crisis is laying bare some of the foundations of nations and cultures that can give us insight into our world in a way that could take many years of study in normal times. What I am about to share is a brief, easy lesson on spiritual economics. For this I will use the paradigm of the “Three Critical Questions,” which should be asked in every crisis:
What is happening?
What is not happening?
3) What can we do about it?
What Is Happening?
Let’s begin with the good first. The recent inauguration of President Obama was an inspiring reminder of the unity that we share as Americans. It was a statement to the world of the remarkable revolution that America continues to be. Martin Luther King, Jr. prophesied in 1968 that it would take forty years for America to elect its first black President, and forty years later America did. This is a major victory for America that has given hope to much of the world. The ultimate enemy of racism has not been eradicated from America, but this is a major victory, and it is worthy of celebrating.
We see in Revelation 12 that when Satan is cast out of his high place, he responds with great wrath to those who dwell on the earth. We can expect the devil to try and strike back hard in this area, and he will seek to do something to stir racial division and hatred in America. However, we are told that if we resist the devil he will flee (see James 4:7), and he is on the run right now. We must continue to press the victory until it is complete. This is a great spiritual opportunity in America.
The world also stood in awe on Inauguration Day at how smoothly and graciously power was passed between leaders in the most powerful nation on earth, and even more so between those of opposing political parties. In spite of all the problems we are facing, there are great reasons for hope in America and her future. She continues to be one of the most interesting, creative, and noble nations in history.
What is it about America that enables her to stay so flexible and keep renewing herself as she does? It is the result of the principles America was founded on and has remarkably remained faithful to. These principles have strength, but they also have flexibility, enabling such a huge and powerful nation to be remarkably nimble. The word university came from the words unity and diversity. America is like a university of the nations, made up of all nations and drawing from the strength of them all.
When Two Become One
It is interesting that when Bush was elected he began moving to the left, and when Obama was elected he began moving to the right. This is about more than finding the center. In chemistry, when you mix two substances with opposing characteristics, there will likely be an explosion, fire, or some form of violent reaction, and then a different substance emerges with different properties than either of the two original chemicals. This seems to happen with almost every election. It does not matter which party they come from—they become something else. That is a good thing.
Something new can be born when opposites clash, but to preserve the new thing we must have a vessel that can contain the violence of the clash. America has proven to be a strong vessel because of giving birth to many new social elements. This makes it one of the most dynamic and exciting places in the world and in history to live. America is fraught with potential for new ideas, creations, and movements, and continues to produce them.
The Strength of Weakness
I am a political, social, and economic conservative, but I realize that an eagle does need both the left and right wings to fly. I also recognize that the eagle is much more than either wing. So is America. Though I am a conservative, I have a high regard for some of the ultimate goals and values of liberals, such as overcoming poverty, making quality healthcare and education available for all, preserving the environment, and so on. In fact, most conservatives share these goals, but their disagreement with liberals is not about what should be done as much as how to do it. Our government continues to prove that it cannot manage well. If we need more proof of this, what happened to the first 350 billion in TARP bailout funds should be plenty of proof.
A car can have 300 horsepower and be exerting every bit of it, but still not be going anywhere if it is stuck in the sand. That is a good picture of our U.S. economy right now. While it is stuck, the government put the pedal to the metal by throwing 350 billion dollars at it in one month, and it still did not move. Why? The answer is simple—the answer to our present problems is not what the money was actually spent on. In fact, it is likely that not one penny of it hit the intended target.
The U.S. Government is about to pour much more money into what will not work. It is putting more gas in the tank to help the car get out of the ditch, but fuel is not the problem—we need to put something under the tires so it can get traction. Some are now trying to use the sub-prime credit and banking crisis to try and make radical changes to the engine, but the engine was running fine—we just need to get out of the ditch and back on solid ground.
In this case, the problem was not with the car but where it was driven. It got off track, so why are we trying to fix the car instead of getting it back on the road? The basic economic engine of the U.S. is very strong and resilient. It can come back quickly and be stronger than ever. We should not buy the story that this will take years, but it likely will take years because of the way the problems are being addressed.
I have become convinced that no one in Washington really understands the economy or business. If there are some who do, they do not have a voice, and those who are speaking and making decisions are seriously out of touch with what is really happening. If the first 350 billion in TARP money was used for what they told the American people it would be used for—to buy up the toxic debt to get it off of bank balance sheets so they would be free to start lending again, we would likely be humming along again by now. Instead, we have an even bigger hole because the money was just thrown to banks and financial institutions without restraint or guidelines about how it was to be used. This is no small failure of our government.
Of course, the whole economy would be much healthier if it would transition to an asset-based economy rather than a credit-based one, but that cannot be done quickly without causing even more devastating problems. What we are experiencing now will likely push us toward this healthier way of doing business, but to try to do it all at once could cause the biggest economic disaster in history. However, it seems the government is trying to force this on the economy instead of addressing the real bottleneck— the credit market.
The U.S. economy is still correctible, but it does not look like it is going to be corrected any time soon. Instead of holding those accountable who misused our money, Timothy Geithner, one of the main people responsible for the TARP plan and its implementation that went awry, got promoted to Secretary of the Treasury, which is considered the second most powerful office in the government and the most crucial office for getting us out of the present crisis. This is a most remarkable development with potentially sobering consequences. We are getting deeper into possibly the most serious economic disaster in our history.
I know this sounds like negativism to many, but I would not be a watchman if I did not sound the alarm or a shepherd if I did not warn those whom I have been given to watch over. We must be straightforward about what is actually happening if we are going to be prepared for what is coming. Even so, though we seem headed for even deeper problems and for longer than may have been necessary, we will come through it. This ship of state may take on much water and list for a time, but we will make it to port and get repaired.
If we live by faith, even though we are heading for a rough time economically, as is the case in almost every crisis, it is a time of unprecedented potential and possibility. Those who have been building their lives on the right foundation will be in position to prosper. This is not so we can take advantage of the situation or people, but so we can be a light in our time.
I was taught as an aircraft pilot that when you get into a storm, you should hold your course because going straight is the fastest way out of it. The worst thing to do is to panic and make erratic turns. The storm can put all of the stress on a plane that it can handle, but if you turn while in such turbulence, it is easy to overstress the airframe—not a good thing to do! The same is true with a ship. Those piloting the ship of state are obviously going to be on an erratic course for a time as they continue to take potshots at what to do. As it came out rather shockingly during the confirmation hearings for the new Treasury Secretary, those who developed the TARP plan and were in charge of implementing it, panicked. If this had just been the biggest bait-and-switch scheme in history, it would be more comforting. Panic at the top is more than disconcerting.
We can have the best form of government in the world but still have bad government if we do not have good people in it. The people in Congress who are probably the most responsible for the entire crisis we are in are Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd. They both continue to wield power and dictate policy. Their motives for pressuring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make loans to people who were not creditworthy was a noble attempt to help them own their own homes. I am thankful to have a government that cares so much about its people, especially the poor, but this was managed the way government manages things—with a lack of understanding even basic management principles. This noble attempt to help the poor will end up hurting the poor and just about everyone else.
God has many people in America, and they have a destiny.
We have a crisis in leadership. We are not only in desperate need of competent leadership in government, but there is a huge accountability gap, and it is growing. The American people are beginning to feel like passengers on a plane with a crew that does not know how to fly the plane but keeps promising a great flight and smooth landing. If my trust was not in God and my hope in His kingdom, I would be desperately looking for a parachute! Many in business are doing just that—looking for other places to do business. Even one of the largest banks in the nation was chastised for taking billions of TARP money and investing it in a bank in China.
Don’t bail out yet. The Lord is going to get us through. Why? Because His people are on the plane. Planes were a sign for the Bush Administration on 9/11, and for the Obama Administration, when the US Airways jet ditched in the Hudson not far from the World Trade Center. It was called a miracle that everyone got out alive, and it was, just as it was in Paul’s shipwreck in Acts 27. When the angel of the Lord stood by Paul, he promised Paul all who were with him would be saved. Paul had a destiny and could not be lost, so those with him were saved because they happened to be with Paul.
God has many people in America, and they have a destiny. The whole nation will be spared for their sakes. We may have an emergency landing, but we are going to get out of this.
What Is Not Happening?
What is not happening is that we are not going to get the traction to get out of the hole we are in with the present stimulus package. There may be some movement for a short term simply because we cannot throw another trillion dollars into the economy without some response, regardless of how poorly it is managed. Some will be fooled by the seeming response of the economy. Others will be fooled into thinking the problems are over when the market rises a couple of hundred points on a day or there are a few winning days together in a row. The stock market is likely to oscillate up and down for a long time. We should not be overly encouraged by up trends or discouraged by down ones. Until the fundamental problems of the economy are corrected, we will be in this rut.
A popular soundbite being played a lot now is President Reagan who said that government is not the answer, but the problem. This is still true, and the one who saves the economy will do it by making Reaganomics popular again. Reagan entered office with a crisis in the economy even worse in some ways than what Obama is now facing, and he did a homerun around government for his economic stimulus—he cut taxes. He did this because he knew that if the money passed through government, only a fraction of it would actually make it to the real goal of stimulating the economy. It worked better than anyone expected, and it is the answer for what we are now facing.
Everyone knows that the key to stimulating the economy is to create jobs. The cost estimate for each job created under the Democratic stimulus plan is $270,000 each! That is correct— two-hundred-seventy-thousand dollars each. That is the math—those are their numbers. It is hard to believe that Congress could propose such a plan, but they did. It really should not shock us because that is the way government is run now. We have government agencies that for every ten dollars they are given, only one dollar will reach the need or purpose for which the agency exists. We have come to expect this from government, which is why Reagan refused to try to stimulate the economy by going through the government.
With good basic management principles, our government should be a fraction of its present size and producing many times what it does in services. No company would last long if managed as poorly as our government is. We are the stockholders in our government, and we must demand better performance from those we trust to manage it. If we don’t, we should fire them by voting them out. In a democracy, the people are the ultimate authority, and we do have a responsibility here.
For every job the government creates, the private sector could create at least ten and probably more than double that amount because the private sector would make money on the jobs, not just spend it. Small business creates 70 to 80 percent of all new jobs, so why aren’t we giving them the stimulus instead of the government?
Death by Paper Cuts
When the Congress sent Reagan a budget that was eighteen hundred pages, it sat on his desk so high that you could barely see him standing behind it. He sent it back and told them he would not sign something he could not read. We should start doing this with every contract given to us that we cannot read. I do it, and people come back with contracts a fraction of the size they were. This also brings up another interesting question—why don’t environmentalists go after government waste? How many millions of trees does it take to make the paper for their unnecessary and counterproductive paperwork?
Waste is immoral. If the U.S. government was properly managed, we could eradicate poverty in much of the world with what we save. Tort reform could cure the healthcare crisis, cutting healthcare costs by one-third or more immediately. Even so, we are probably not going to get a Congress full of lawyers to go for that. Our economy is stuck in the mud while powerful new economies are catching fire around the world, such as India and China. Consider this: Each of these nations is producing eight times the number of engineers and architects that we are, and we are producing eight times more lawyers than they are. We already have many times more lawyers per capita than any other nation in the world.
Tort reform alone would quickly fire the U.S. economy faster than probably any stimulus plan. It would not cost trillions, but it would save trillions. A large percentage of just about everything we buy now is going for liability insurance for that product, and tort reform could cut costs on just about everything we buy by up to 30 percent. Putting that back into the hands of Americans would be sure to stimulate the economy as well as make our products far more competitive in the world market. It would restore peace of mind that would likely result in much greater creativity.
President Reagan’s bold and unprecedented plan worked. It worked so well that the powerful and accelerating U.S. economy broke the back of the Soviet economy that had been trying to keep up, ultimately causing the fall of Communism.
At one time, I was a successful business owner, taking a one-man air charter service and making it into one of the busiest in the nation in just three years. I learned the value of government and banks and how they could help a business. I also learned how they could hurt business. Since that time, the hurt business factor has grown, and the help has been shrinking. Those who have been successful have often done this in spite of government, not with its help. It should not be that way.
The problem is not the bureaucrats. Most that I have worked with were impressive in their devotion to doing what is right, helping citizens and businesses, not hurting them. However, the system had them strapped and evolved into a burden too heavy to carry. Most bureaucrats seem to genuinely want to do a good job and are true public servants. I consider any a hero who can accomplish anything in the present system.
Even when I was the most successful in business and had crossed the line financially into what the government had designated “the super wealthy,” almost every day I would wonder if it was worth it because of the unnecessary red tape from the government and their interference. If that yoke was removed, it would free both government and business to be many times as efficient and effective as they are now. However tight, many in government are calling for an even heavier yoke of regulation because there were aspects of the sub-prime crisis that needed more oversight and regulation. However, the overkill from what is already being proposed could kill the whole body in the weakened state it is in now.
Socialism does not work, and it has been proven over and over. One definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing but expect different results. Why do we keep falling back to socialism when it is proven to sap the wealth and initiative of any nation that does? This was proven by the first English colony in America, Jamestown. For the first two years, the colony had a common garden that everyone was supposed to work and to get their food from. Half of the colony starved to death each of the first two years. The third year every family was given their own plot of ground and could only eat what they grew. No one ever starved again in that colony.
The idealistic think that everyone should work even harder for the common good, but the truth is, that even though almost everyone will agree with this philosophically, only a fraction of the people will actually do it. Without an incentive that is either self-preservation or prosperity, people simply will not work. That should not be the main motivation for Christians, but we are foolish if we think anyone but a mature Christian will respond to anything else. We are also foolish if we expect the economies of this present world to work on Christian principles. In fact, only a tiny percentage of Christians now live by Christian principles. Civil government cannot be built on the way we want people to be, but it must be built on the way they are.
It is obvious that our government does not understand basic economic principles. We need lawyers in the modern world. They are essential for justice, but I have never met a lawyer who I thought actually understood business, and I have never met one who didn’t think he did. A legalistic mentality is becoming an increasingly deadly chokehold on business and enterprise. Legalism proposes a new rule or law for every problem, rather than simply leading or managing through it. These laws stack up and are never removed from the books, even when they have been archaic for decades or longer. They become an ever-increasing burden and are choking our nation now.
An Unlikely Hero?
If it were not for indications that Obama is open-minded, flexible, and has an uncommon boldness, I would be expecting the U.S. economy, and indeed the world economy, to end up in a catastrophic collapse. There are some indications that Obama can see much more than one would expect from his background and experience. He also has the boldness to act on what he sees, even if others do not see it. His continuous theme on Inauguration Day was that it is not what the government can do, but what the American people can do. That is a critical truth we must understand. The government is not the answer and is not going to get us out of this mess—but we can. If he comes down on the side of freeing the people and business, we will come out much faster, and he will be the hero. If he doesn’t, it will be a long time before we emerge from the mess we are in now, but we will, and whoever embraces Reaganomics will be the hero.
Personal initiative can get us out of the present crisis. Obama said that he was not interested in big or small government, but one that works, and the parts that do not work need to go. If he follows through with this, he actually could bring accountability back to government so that it can be managed well. Government does not have to be as inefficient and counterproductive as it is right now. It can and should be run and managed as well as any business.
The Obama Administration has great potential for good or bad. Could we go through eight years in the kind of mire the country did under Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR)? Yes. The parallels are striking. FDR’s economic plan was a failure, and regardless of the spin many historians have put on it, it is what caused the Great Depression. Under FDR, unemployment rose 50 percent, and the nation was getting mired deeper and deeper in the Depression until World War II got us out.
However, FDR had the kind of charisma that could make you feel better about doing worse. He imparted hope, which is important, but it was not backed by substance. Most Americans vote on their emotions more than a depth of understanding. Even if they no longer believe in the media, they tend to believe its spin, and we could very well be headed for a tragic déjà vu. It is right to hope for the best, but if we are wise, we will be preparing for the worst, because that is presently the direction we are headed.
What Can We Do About It?
Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.” A king today can be anything from a President to a corporate executive. We must pray for our leaders as we are commanded. God can change them and our situation if we will.
Poverty is a curse in Scripture, and prosperity is a blessing. Immature or corrupt leadership is a curse in Scripture, and good leaders are a blessing from God. In Scripture, we see that a curse cannot alight where there is no cause. If our nation is now under a curse, we must ask why. If a curse has been released against our nation, and it has found a place to alight, we can repent and have it removed.
If we have brought a curse upon our nation, it is likely that the church is responsible, because judgment begins with His household. In a Fox News report, giving to churches was down 50 percent since this crisis began. Overall, the church is being affected by what is happening more than possibly any other entity. We may already have a record number of church foreclosures. We can change the direction we are headed, but there must be change.
From a manager ’ s perspective, most churches, ministries, and charities are run at least as poorly as the government. Some of the most popular Scriptures of the last two decades have been about how the wealth of the wicked will be given to the righteous, but I don’t think many understand just who the wicked and the righteous are. It has been estimated that between one-third and one-half of the teachings about righteousness in Scripture have to do with stewardship.
It was a wonderful thing when one of the wealthiest men in the world, Bill Gates, decided to give his billions away to charity. Then Warren Buffet, another one of the wealthiest men in the world, decided to do the same thing. However, the only one Buffet could find whom he could trust his money to and manage it well was Bill Gates! If the church was managing the resources entrusted to us like we should be, the first place either of these men should have considered donating their fortunes to, knowing that it would make a difference, would have been the church. We can be sure the church was probably on or near the bottom of their list of who to give to.
To develop this one issue as it deserves would take much more room than we have in this Bulletin, but I want to address something that can have an even bigger and more immediate impact on the church and the nation.
Removing a Curse
I had a dream more than two years ago in which I was told that if we would honor our fathers, the Lord would send revival to America within six months. I was told that the reason why He linked honoring the fathers to releasing revival in America was because it was by dishonoring fathers and fatherhood that one of the biggest gates of hell was opened into our nation. We are told in Malachi 4:5-4:
“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.
“And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.”
I discussed this with Paul Keith Davis, and we decided to co-host an “Honoring the Fathers Conference.” Almost immediately, the Lakeland Outpouring broke out and then we experienced the greatest move of the Holy Spirit in the history of our ministry at MorningStar. We held services six nights a week for five months and experienced more miracles in any week than we had in any previous year. However, restoring honor to fathers will take more than a single conference. I consider what broke out at Lakeland and with us as a token from the Lord that His promise of revival was real.
We call those who formed our nation the “founding fathers,” but there are other kinds of fathers. The command to honor our fathers and mothers says nothing about how good they are but just that they are fathers or mothers. All of our leaders are fathers in a sense and deserving of honor.
Former President Bush came to office in the midst of a serious economic downturn. Then he was faced with one of the worst and most confusing crises in our nation’s history—the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11. These attacks were the most devastating blow to both our nation’s basic sense of security and the economy that we may have suffered since the Civil War. President Bush navigated through both of these crises so that we now have a sense of security, and we did not suffer another terrorist attack under his watch—a remarkable accomplishment. As that became his number-one goal after 9/11, he deserves to be honored with one huge “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.”
At the same time, President Bush engineered a stunning restoration of our economy and a time of prosperity after we had suffered such unprecedented problems. His administration ended with the sub-prime crisis and does deserve some responsibility for it—but not as much as Congress does. Congress pressured the banks and mortgage companies to make loans to sub-prime customers, which was the root of the economic crisis. Congress is also responsible for the agencies that let this happen.
Under President Bush, the war in Iraq was run possibly more brilliantly than any war in our history, including the Gulf War that was also run well during his father’s administration. The rebuilding of Iraq was not managed well for a long time, but in the last year of his administration, it did get serious traction, and Iraq is now on its way to becoming one of the more stable and prosperous nations in the region.
Under President Bush, government spending also grew seemingly without restraint. President Ford vetoed as many bills in his two short years as President Bush did in eight years. Maybe he did not feel that he could restrain congressional spending without jeopardizing funding for the war in Iraq, but this huge and growing deficit is a major factor in our present economic crisis, and we cannot cover that up. Even so, President Bush had some amazing accomplishments, and he deserves much honor for his service.
We should also acknowledge that under President Clinton not only was the budget balanced, but, when he left office, there was a growing surplus. Even if the Republican Congress of the time, and their “Contract for America,” had much to do with this, President Clinton is due some of the credit as well.
President Bush did record the highest approval rating of any President, which he received soon after 9/11 because he provided an extraordinary leadership through that time. Then he suffered the all-time lowest, as our mentality as a nation became a “what have you done for me lately?” attitude. Even so, at his lowest, Bush was only three points lower than Carter and a little below Clinton and others at their lowest. Again, we should also consider that Bush at his lowest approval rating was still far above the approval rating for this last Congress.
If we are, God forbid, hit with another major terrorist attack, many will pine for President Bush, and then they will remember the good that he did for us. We would do well to honor him for this before we get hit again. It is essential that we honor our Presidents as a nation if it is to go well for us. We are commanded in Ephesians 6:2-3, “Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.”
If we expect to last long and for it to go well with us, we must honor our fathers and mothers. This does not mean that we have to agree with them on everything or that we cannot boldly disagree with them and even challenge them, which we have a responsibility to do in a democracy, but we must do it respectfully. President Bush was dishonored continually in many ways, and this must be repented of. He must be honored if we want it to go well for us.
King David was able to establish a throne, or seat of authority, that would last forever. He is one of the greatest examples of godly leadership in Scripture. One obvious reason he was entrusted with such authority was because of his great respect for authority. He honored those that the Lord had anointed. When King Saul went insane and was unjustly seeking to kill David, he treated Saul with such respect and honor that his heart smote him for just cutting off the edge of his robe!
The one Scripture that warns against touching God’s anointed is often used by leaders who have gone awry to protect themselves, but it is still a valid warning. Having the presumption to wrongly touch God’s anointed brings terrible consequences. The Scriptures are also clear how we are to treat those who are in authority, as stated in Romans 13:1-2:
Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.
Many are rightly grieved by the way President Bush has been so disrespected. We should also be grieved by the way President Clinton was treated with such disrespect. This cycle of disrespecting our leaders must be stopped, or we are going to pay a terrible price for it. Now that a liberal President and Congress are in firm control of the federal government, conservatives can take the high ground to do this. Even if some of their policies seem to be as insane as Saul became, we can challenge and even confront them without being disrespectful. That is more than just saying, “With due respect,” before spouting off disrespectfully. It is a heart attitude toward authority because of a deep, true, and holy fear of God that would keep us from wrongly touching His anointed.
As we see in Scripture, the Lord does at times allow unrighteous leaders to take authority for the sake of judgment. If we do have unrighteous leaders, we should first consider our own unrighteousness that is causing God to bring judgment on us. We can also see in Scripture how, with repentance and humility on the part of His people, God can then use even unrighteous leaders to set His people free, bless, and protect them. It is because of our respect for God that we must respect our leaders.
Know them that labor among you (see I Thessalonians 5:12 ASV).
Of course, that is the biblical exhortation to know those who are in ministry with us, but I think it applies to a democratic government, too. Even so, we all see in part, know in part, and prophesy in part, and therefore I do not claim to have the whole picture. I also do not consider myself able to read anyone else’s mind or heart, but because I am constantly asked what my perspective is on President Obama, and also now on Treasury Secretary Geithner, I will answer these questions.
Much of Obama’s campaign was built on attacking the Bush Administration and its policies. That is fair game in politics, but I do not recall him ever attacking Bush personally or making charges against Bush’s character. In fact, it seemed on Inauguration Day that the two have a genuine affection for one another. In one news conference, when some were trying to tack the blame for the sub-prime crisis on Bush, Obama said that Congress was just as responsible, and since there was plenty of blame to go around, he was not going to go there. I was impressed.
Certainly everyone is affected by their history and experience, but there are several ways they can be affected. They can become bitter or better. I think President Obama is getting better. After the social issues, I was most concerned about his leadership potential, knowing how hard it is to understand the pressures of being a chief executive until you have been one. Measuring his leadership skills with how he ran his campaign and how he has prepared his administration to govern was impressive. Whether he is leading us where we want to go is another matter, but based on ability, he is a leader.
Geithner’s recent actions leave me concerned. His confirmation hearings did not encourage me very much. Knowing we see in part, and knowing that Obama and Congress may know a whole lot that the public does not know, I want to think the best, but it is hard. Bankers and banking seem to be dominating the economic radar screen, and they are in the biggest crisis now, but that does not make me want to think that a banker should be heading our economy. Bankers got us into this mess, and I do not think they are going to get us out of it.
I have met with and dealt with some of the most brilliant bankers of our times, and I have a great respect for them. Like lawyers, they are essential to the modern world. Like lawyers, I have never met a banker who did not think that he really understood business, and I have also never met a banker who I thought really understood business. There is much more to understanding business than being able to read a balance sheet or profit and loss statement. Bankers are very helpful and necessary in their place, but when they get out of their place, they can cause serious problems. If bankers really understood business, they would not be in banking, counting other people’s winnings—they would be in business.
Obama was a lawyer, and Geithner grew up in the Treasury Department as a bureaucrat, and then served a while in the Federal Reserve. So we have a lawyer and a bureaucrat/banker at the top of the economy in America. It is scary, but I still have hope. Why?
When someone is converted, he or she is stronger than someone who just grew up in the faith. That is why the Apostle Paul, “the Pharisee of Pharisees,” certainly one of the most legalistic men of his times, became the greatest prophet of grace when he was converted. The one who had been so bound by the law that he persecuted the truth was the most humble when he saw the light. The most basic characteristic of humility is being teachable. We will not make it out of what we are in without God’s grace, and He gives His grace to the humble. After the revelations of Geithner’s own tax problems and the fact that he so mismanaged the first 350 billion in TARP money, it should help him to be more humble. That is my hope. Without that hope, I would be preparing for the worst.
We have a Congress that may be out of touch with reality, and because it is from the President’s party, it is certainly a concern, but a crisis gives leaders the flexibility to even go against their political base to deal with it. There may be a wider open door for Obama to embrace what has to be done in this emergency than a Republican President would have. Obama could have the boldness to do what is right rather than what his party pressures him to do.
Of course, it was grieving that Obama issued an executive order lifting the ban on using federal funds to pay for abortions overseas. With the present crisis in the economy, and the plan to spend trillions on economic stimulus, it does not make sense that one of his first acts was to remove the restraint so federal money could now be spent on abortions overseas. Many conservatives who were warming up to him were very discouraged by that, and many have taken this as evidence that he is a deeply evil person. I do not believe Obama is an evil person with evil intent. There can be a big difference between someone who is a deceiver and one who is deceived. I am personally convinced Obama is in the latter camp, not the former.
Even so, it is hard to understand how someone who has the beautiful family Obama has and who is obviously a great father and husband, could believe some of the things he believes. However, liberals see a similar disconnect with pro-lifers who are for the death penalty or who commit acts of violence against abortionists. People who are deceived do not know it, or they would not be deceived.
Obama seems to be one who is willing to learn and change. It was apparent that he was being educated throughout his campaign, which caused him to look, at times, like one who flip-flops with the political winds. However, I think the education he received makes him flexible enough to change as he now learns. That is a good characteristic for what he is facing. I also think the conservative causes would be much better served by allowing him the flexibility to change and not using it against him to try to tag him as a flip-flopper.
It seems that Obama’s Presidential hero is Lincoln, a Republican, and he indicated during the campaign that he admired Ronald Reagan. We could be encouraged or discouraged with many things concerning him. I choose to be encouraged and have faith whenever possible. Obama is saddled with over five hundred campaign promises, which is more than twice as many as anyone else in recent history, and he will be tracked on these. I know this could be used against him politically, but for the sake of the country and getting out of this present crisis, I am for giving him a pass on these. He is under more pressure right now than probably anyone else on the planet. He needs our prayers, and we are commanded to pray for him, not prey on him.
The Higher Way
William Wilberforce is one of the most remarkable political leaders of all time. He brought an end to slavery in the United Kingdom without a civil war. Most consider him to have done this by getting the laws passed to outlaw slavery, but those laws would never have been passed if he had not changed the moral bearings of the empire—a much more amazing feat.
When Wilberforce became a Member of Parliament, the moral stature of the British Empire was at one of its lowest points of all time and far lower than the United States is at this time. More than 25 percent of the women in London were prostitutes, and alcoholism and other forms of moral depravity were at their all-time worst. Wilberforce said he sought to make morality more fashionable than immorality had been. In two decades, he accomplished this to such a degree that the period after his life, the Victorian era, is known for its “Victorian morals.” Think about it—in twenty years, he changed the moral stature of a nation from one of the most debased to one of the highest ever achieved in a nation—and it lasted for a very long time after him.
Of course, there were factors other than Wilberforce, such as the great revivals sparked by Wesley and Whitefield, but the morality did not follow the laws—the laws followed the morality. Now that we have a pro-abortion President, Congress, and very likely judges throughout the land, we are forced to go straight to the people with the truth. That is a healthy thing. Our calling to be the light of the world is not about legislating, but shining the light into the darkness. This does not mean that we want to forget the laws and be a part of the political process, but to put them first would be like trying to clean a fish before it is caught.
I have never met anyone who was educated on what is actually done during an abortion that did not become a pro-lifer. If we put our resources toward educating the public about what actually takes place, it probably would not be long before almost anyone would be ashamed to be considered pro-abortion, and the laws would be easy to pass but probably unnecessary.
The same is true with issues like the same-sex marriage laws. These issues or laws are about much more than letting homosexuals marry, they are about other basic freedoms that Americans would lose if this became law. Very liberal people who have come to understand the underlying issues have changed their minds and have taken a stand against same-sex marriage—even many homosexuals have said they were against it after they understood. Again, it is a matter of education, which is illumination. Our calling is to be the light of the world.
In all issues we need to take our stand in a way that is not against people, but for the truth and for preserving our basic freedoms of speech and religion. Being prophetic is about much more than having supernatural experiences or predicting the future accurately—it is about being a preacher of righteousness with an anointing that causes people to repent of their sins. Some of these may preach like John the Baptist, and some may do it with patience and unrelenting devotion like Wilberforce. Such are being raised up in our midst right now, which should give us great hope for the future—a hope that will be an anchor for our souls and will never disappoint us.
This Bulletin was written partly as a result of the huge response I received from previous Bulletins in which I have addressed such matters, and the number of requests I received to address these issues specifically. It is very encouraging to me that so many Christians are interested in this, and the numbers are obviously growing. The other reason is because I have felt a burden from the Lord on these issues, so much so that I could get no relief until I wrote this. One thing I am sure of—the Lord loves America and wants to help us. If we turn to Him, our future will be brighter than our past.
There is much more that we must address which will continue in a follow-up Bulletin that I think could contain some of the most practical and important revelations I have been given to share in a long time