Saturday, August 29, 2009

The “Salt and Light” Argument (Part 2 – When To Let Your Kids Go)

For some reason, this subject has been heavy on my heart lately. I have prayed daily for wisdom about whether or not to write about it – and for God to reveal His truth to me on the topic. I have many dear friends who may simply disagree with the amount of protection that I give to my own children. The answer to the question “When should I let my kids go out into the world?” is not the same for every child or family. There is no easy formula. But for those who have children and who want to see them glorify God in their lives when they leave the nest, let me just say this – this is one thing that you don’t want to get wrong.

I plan to cover this topic in three segments:

1) The Big Test
2) The “Salt and Light” Argument
3) The Danger of Not Letting Them Go

Whether you agree or not – I encourage comments. I especially encourage other viewpoints when they are accompanied by scripture. Believe me when I say that this was written under prayerful circumstances, and with no accusing finger pointed at anyone. Really.
When I consider whether or not to let my children participate in an event or situation (one where they have interaction with something other than pure Christian influences), the number-one viewpoint I get from others is that God calls us to be “salt and light”. Excerpts from Matthew 5:13-16 tell us:
“You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.”
It is clear that God calls us to go into the world to season and shine. The danger of avoiding that altogether will be discussed in Part 3 of this series. I find no scriptures that say we should get all of the Christians together in one place and leave the world to its lost state – in fact, that would be unscriptural. We should not abandon the lost.

My point is that we need to be concerned about WHEN we send our children into the world on a regular basis.

Few would say their two-year-old is ready and equipped to be a light to a world dominated by Satan. Likewise, a thirty-five-year-old ought to have matured to fill that role. So, somewhere between two and thirty-five is the right time to release our children to be salt and light. Is that age six, twelve or twenty? The answer is not the same for every child or family. And please don’t misunderstand me – there are times when a six-year-old can have a profound influence through Christ on another individual. What I’m talking about is discerning the time to release our children to daily interaction and immersion in a corrupted culture. Should we free them to nearly any situation at a young age, no matter what, trusting that they will continue to shine, undamaged by the world? Is that what “salt and light” means?

The danger is revealed back in Matthew 5. In the latter part of verse 13, it says,
“But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”
The warning from Jesus that I perceive in this verse is that it is possible for salt to “lose its saltiness”, that is, for a Christian to lose the spark and guidance that he or she obtained from God at one time. From Part 1 of this series – either our children will change the world, or the world will change them. Other verses bear this out:
“If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.” – 2 Peter 2:20

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” – Matthew 24:12

“Yet I hold this against you. You have forsaken your first love.”
– Revelation 2:4
Again, it’s clear that there is a danger of slipping backward in the wrong circumstances. And what are those circumstances? The Thompson Chain Reference Bible lists seven different reasons that a person could “backslide”, to use an old-school word (Chain Index topic #994, for those who would like to do further study), and they are these:
· Absence of spiritual leaders
· Evil associations
· Worldly success
· Shallowness
· Emptiness of life
· Lack of spiritual insight
· Love of the world
These considerations need to be taken into account when we choose our own activities, and certainly when we make parenting decisions about our children. Wise parenting means we should think on these things whenever we “send our kids out” – whether it is to activities with large time commitments like school or camp, or even to smaller situations like a youth function or a sleepover at a friend’s house.

The answer is not black and white, and again, it’s not the same for every child. Jesus was found in the temple “listening and asking questions” of the religious leaders when he was twelve years old (Luke 2:46) – a great start. It was not until he was baptized, had been tempted directly by Satan, and had turned thirty that he began his ministry (wouldn’t you love to know for certain what he did with his time before this?). Luke 4:14 says that he returned from the temptation in the desert “in the power of the Spirit”. Could he have started his ministry earlier than age thirty? I wouldn’t limit Jesus’ ability in any way. But it seems important to me that God (and his father and mother) chose this path of learning and progressive exposure before he immersed himself in a depraved culture in order to save it. He had unwavering strength to complete the task by the time he was thirty-three.

Yes, we are called to be salt and light. And there are times when our children will be thrust into that role. But we must take care when and how they are placed into that position. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” I focus on the words “train” and “old” in that passage. It is a parent’s direct responsibility to be sure that their child is trained and ready. And a parent should pray for wisdom to know WHEN that time should be. Satan is doing everything he can to dilute our precious “salt” and have it be “trampled by men”. With God’s grace, and with vigilant parents, we will together see him fail and our children become victorious.

One final thought, again from Matthew 5. What does it mean to be a “city on a hill”? Why did Jesus use that image? I need to think on that one.

Next: The Danger of Not Letting Them Go

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Big Test (Part 1 – When To Let Your Kids Go)

For some reason, this subject has been heavy on my heart lately. I have prayed daily for wisdom about whether or not to write about it – and for God to reveal His truth to me on the topic. I have many dear friends who may simply disagree with the amount of protection that I give to my own children. The answer to the question “When should I let my kids go out into the world?” is not the same for every child or family. There is no easy formula. But for those who have children and who want to see them glorify God in their lives when they leave the nest, let me just say this – this is one thing that you don’t want to get wrong.

I plan to cover this topic in three segments:

1) The Big Test
2) The “Salt and Light” Argument
3) The Danger of Not Letting Them Go

Whether you agree or not – I encourage comments. I especially encourage other viewpoints when they are accompanied by scripture. Believe me when I say that this was written under prayerful circumstances, and with no accusing finger pointed at anyone. Really.
Imagine for a moment this scenario. Your child, along with every other child in your neighborhood, must prepare for, and one day take, a written test administered by the local school district. The ground rules are pretty simple. They go like this: 1) the questions are not a slam-dunk – they require real knowledge and preparation about a known topic, 2) your child may take the test any time between the ages of six and twenty-one, 3) they have only one opportunity to take the test – no re-tests are allowed, and 4) the test is truly “pass-fail” – that is, if they pass, your child will be allowed to live, and if they fail, the school district will execute your child.

How much preparation would you insist on before you let your child go take the test?

I’m sure that most parents would insist on their child’s attention to the subject matter, and would enforce a great deal of preparation time. I think most parents would worry enough about the consequences that they would establish a study routine that would guarantee success. Many parents would take over the training personally, just to leave no doubt that their child is ready for the Big Test. No one would simply look at the test casually, and send them off one day saying, “I think they’re probably ready.”

My analogy is not perfect, but I believe it is very much like the multiple decisions we must make as parents to give up precious hours and oversight of our children– to public school, sports, and even to church youth group. When they are not under the care and attention of me and my wife, bad things can happen. Minds can be changed. Respect and allegiance may shift. Our children may see things that they will not be able to get out of their minds – things that may never leave their thoughts, even into adulthood. Yes, some of these things can happen at home, too, but I firmly believe that my wife and I stand a better chance of providing the proper oversight to my own children than any other people on the planet.

Things are different today than they were for most of the last five thousand years. “Progress” which we now take for granted, like cars and buses and the ability to move about and gather into large groups many times a week have changed the face of the family – and I think eroded the importance of the parents in a child’s life. The practice of stratifying children into age groups at churches, through youth ministry, is fairly recent. Public schools in the United States have only been in existence for the last 150 years. Before this, families would learn together, often huddled around a Bible or a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress. There were no youth group activities or PTA meetings in Bible times.

Most of our friends are aware that we homeschool our children. We don’t do this to provide them with a superior education (though I think that is indeed a benefit). We do it for this reason: a study conducted by the National Home Education Research Institute and presented by Pastor Voddie Baucham shows that 70-88% of professing Christian teens fall away from their faith at the end of their freshman year in college. Yet, only 6% of homeschooled, professing Christian teens fall away in that time frame. Consider those statistics again…there is at least a seven out of ten chance that a publicly-schooled child will reject God after their first year of college. Less than one out of ten will do so if they are homeschooled.

This study may be tough for some to accept, especially when so few of us believe that such a result could possibly occur in our own family. And we should understand very clearly, the study does not explicitly prove that schooling is the only factor that determines a child’s grasp on God’s grace. It stands to reason that a homeschooled child will have more parental involvement in his or her life, and this is a big contributor to the Christian walk. I believe further study would conclude that public-schooled children who enjoy a devoted father and mother, and a family who prays and worships together regularly will improve on the 70-88% odds greatly. But once again, any study that concludes with such a diverse result – 70-88% versus 6% - is either flawed, or else it has uncovered a fundamental issue to be considered.

Either our children will change the world, or the world will change them. It’s a rare situation where two opposing views are thrown together for hours a day without at least one side’s viewpoint being changed. These are hard words to read. They were hard words to write. But in the end, isn’t the goal of every Christian parent to ready their children…for the Big Test?

Next: The "Salt and Light" Argument

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Radical Environmentalism – Is Global Warming A Bad Thing? (Part 8)

I’ve written before that the claim that the earth is warming is dubious at best. Much scientific evidence is suddenly emerging that shows that the reverse may actually be true.

In an unusual step for me, though, I’m going to assume for the moment that the earth is really warming, and that man may be the biggest contributor (more than sunspot changes, El Niño, and other phenomena). Here I go – flipping on the big global warming switch. The next question I would ask is this – if the average temperature of the globe went up a degree or two, would it be a good thing or a bad thing?

Arguments have been made that the shift will cause enough melting of the polar ice caps to bring about a global sea level rise that would affect us negatively. Al Gore, in his movie An Inconvenient Truth, did a masterful job of scaring everyone with this very scenario.

But some evidence given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows something different. See The DOA conducted a study in which they grew grain sorghum and soybeans in an artificial environment with twice the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere today (the study claims that at current CO2 rate increases, we will double the current amount in the next century). Their expectation was that yield would drop by as much as ten percent.

Instead, the increased CO2 levels caused the plant leaves to grow larger. Without using any additional fertilizer to help the plants, the soybean production was increased by thirty five percent! Sorghum yields from plants placed in the high CO2 environment were up eighteen percent.

My point : the global warming scare is just that, a scare put on by people who know that they can fool some of the people all of the time. Many people operate under the incorrect thinking that any change from the current standard must carry bad consequences along with it. Their deep-seated thinking is that the world is operating under ideal circumstances right now – that any deviation, whether it be hotter or colder temperatures, or more or less CO2 in the atmosphere - must bring negative results to mankind.

The study cited above shows that food shortages could be made much better by increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Put more succinctly, world hunger could be solved by increasing our carbon footprint. At what cost, you ask? Would we melt polar ice caps and cause the oceans to rise by two feet? Maybe – though this is still speculative. Would curing world hunger be worth it? The tradeoff between rising oceans and more crop production would need to be weighed – if human-caused global warming is even a fact (it’s still highly speculative). The purpose of this whole analogy is to demonstrate that we do not necessarily live in a perfect world right now, where everything is working at optimum efficiency. When changes happen, some things will get better and some will get worse. Where is the ideal point that we should live?

Okay – having made the point, can I flip off my global warming switch now? And go back to believing that mankind has very little to do with the temperature of the globe?
Next in this series.......
Back to Part 1 of this series...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What’s The Worst Thing That Could Happen To Our Country?

Those of us who have grown up in the United States have experienced a time in history like no other. Tremendous prosperity, a large measure of freedom, and incredible technological advances have graced our nation throughout its history. We live in a time where we can drive 50 miles each way to work, in under an hour, in the comfort of our car heater or air conditioner, listening to classic books on compact disk that we can pick up, free of charge, from our local library, enjoying paved roads and highways designed for both comfort and safety. For less than $150, I carry around a device, barely bigger than a credit card, which contains nearly every music album that I listened to in college. I can take pictures of my kids at their church play, and post them on the web, for free, for all to see that same afternoon. Our lifestyle and the freedom we enjoy in this country is unsurpassed.

So what’s the worst thing that can happen to our country? Is it economic failure? Politics, cable news, and water cooler discussion seem to focus on the state of our nation’s economy. We see a lot of people paying attention to their stock portfolios and the recent jobs report. Loss of our economic leadership and wealth could be viewed by some as the most terrible thing which could happen to the United States. Could China be the next economic world power?

Is it the threat of war with another country? Is it the possibility of losing both a war and our country’s role as an international leader on the global stage? Many people have intense moral opposition to one nation asserting influence over another sovereign nation, especially when it comes to firing weapons at each other. If Russia became a superpower once again and won a war with the United States, would that be the worst thing that could happen to us?

Is it the breakdown of an educational system that no longer produces the world’s brightest students - one where 27% of graduating high school students are rated “Below Basic” on standardized reading level assessment tests (Center for Public Education study here)? Have we failed our children and doomed our nation to a second-class future? Is that the worst thing that can happen to the United States?

No, I think the worst thing that could happen to our nation is the loss of God’s blessing. It is my opinion that for the last 250 years, God has given the United States special favor because our nation was founded first on His principles, and by men who were not afraid to mention His name in their speeches and writings. Witness the following:

“Whoever will introduce into public affairs the principles of Christianity will change the face of the world.” – Benjamin Franklin

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.” – Patrick Henry

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” – James Madison, fourth President of the United States

“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: that it tied together in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” – John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States

“God has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers” – John Jay, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

I believe that it was these men, and their unwavering grasp that God and politics do mix well together that has enabled us to enjoy a special, divine blessing for over two centuries. This is not the first example of God showering a nation with special attention and success. Like Israel of old, God has blessed the United States with wealth, freedom, and a leadership role.

But now, we have elected a president who openly says that we are no longer a Christian nation, intimating that other gods are acceptable. We elect leaders who have demonstrated poor ethical choices, who are perverted, or who have no regard for God the Creator. I ask you – when you read the words of the founding fathers above, do you see the difference between then and now?

Above all, we now live in a nation where it is acceptable to kill our unborn children. In fact, our government is now considering taxing the practice of abortion. Our leaders have become so twisted that they strive to collect money – legally – on infanticide. I know this one thing – the founders of our nation would have been horrified at what we have become. It is certain that God is profaned as we promote this practice (Leviticus 18:21).

Has God already removed our blessing? Perhaps. When you look at the recent economic and moral record of our nation, does it seem inconceivable that He would take away this blessing that we have enjoyed for so long? I find it is no coincidence that our struggles – economic, educational, and moral – correspond with the time frame when Roe vs. Wade was handed down by the Supreme Court in 1973. To be sure, the 1960’s put us on a downhill slide preceding that time.

It is not too late to rescue our nation from a godless, blessing-deprived existence. I believe it is time for revival and revolution. It is time for men and women who are devoted to God to stand up and say “Enough!” It is time to cast out the current leaders in our Capitol and state houses – all of them - who refuse to acknowledge the sovereignty of God– and start over. It is time to unabashedly insist on laws which honor God’s purpose. It is time to stop ignoring our children under the assumption that school and church youth group are enough to mold them into the next generation of godly leaders, and spend time in deep family conversation and prayer with them. It is time to believe and act toward the reversal of Roe vs. Wade. It is time to be on our knees in prayer for the eternal salvation of this world.
Who will join with me?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Euthanasia for Clunkers

You won’t believe what an auto dealer has to do to get a government rebate for a “clunker” these days.

The government-sponsored “Cash for Clunkers” has received a lot of attention recently – most notably in its sudden lack of funding and the worry of auto dealers, who fear that they may not be properly reimbursed for the huge discounts that they are offering. So, how does the program work?

First, you must check if your car is on the clunker “list”. The government provides a website where the user inputs their car data and a determination is made based primarily on the fuel rating (miles-per-gallon) of the car. I entered in the information for my shiny, almost-new 2005 mini-van and found that it missed the mark by only 1 MPG! It’s five years old and it’s only 1 MPG from being a clunker! And can you believe that a 2004 Mazda RX-8 is on the list for the trade-in! If you find that your car is eligible for the program, you will be able to receive a $3500-$4500 rebate on the purchase of a new car (used cars are not eligible). And what is the purpose of the overall program? The government is trying to 1) stimulate the economy by encouraging the purchase of a new car, and 2) “help the environment” by getting a high-emission car off the road. By my thinking, the benefit of this program is dubious on both counts.

First, the rebate will encourage many people to purchase a new car – and some of these people will not be able to afford it in the near-term. Just as the government-sponsored, low-interest housing loans tantalized people with bigger houses beyond their means, many will be attracted to the idea of having a new car in their garage, regardless of the payment book that follows. So for the lure of a few-thousand dollar discount, they will get themselves into a $500-$600 monthly payment that they can’t afford. And a year from now, they may default on the loan. Let’s face it – the discount only amounts to about ten percent of a new car purchase, so it will turn a $600 monthly payment into a $540 monthly payment. And the government is still encouraging banks to loan money to higher-risk clients. Like the housing cycle, the race to have more than we can afford begins again - only we call it the CARS program this time around.

Second, the amount of emissions that will be reduced by the program is miniscule. The program was seeded with $1 billion of funding. At an average rebate of $4,000, that amounts to the trade-in of about 250,000 cars. At last estimate, there were 250 million registered automobiles in the United States (according to the 2006 Department of Transportation studies). So this program will effectively trade out 0.1% of the “higher-emission” vehicles on the road for “lower-emission” vehicles. The billion dollars means that every taxpayer in the U.S. contributed an average of $10 to the program. Was it worth it? (Note: After this was written, Congress was on its way to approving another $2 billion for the program - so say good-bye to another $20 per taxpayer in your household.) It angers me that my hard-earned salary becomes tax dollars, which then get “re-distributed” to someone else so that they can buy a new car.

But the most insane thing about the program is the exercise that must be performed to “kill” one of these clunkers. In order to get their money from the government, and in an effort to assure that a high-emissions vehicle never sees the road again, a dealer must ruin the engine of the trade-in vehicle. The dealer must pour sodium silicate into the engine oil, start the car, and wait a few minutes until the oil turns to glass, seizing the engine, and ruining it for all time (video here). The technical description goes like this:

“Sodium silicate. Pour 2 quarts in a car's engine. Hold it at 2000 rpm. And in about 5 minutes, it's lethal injection to a motor vehicle.”
Put simply, the car gets euthanized. In exchange for taking a so-called “environmentally dangerous car” off of the road, this has the side-effect of harming the engine salvage and auto repair businesses. And it may also keep a nice, cheap, used vehicle out of the hands of someone who cannot afford to purchase a new car. Will the day come when the government makes it impossible to purchase a used vehicle for my sixteen-year-old? Will I be forced to pay an exorbitant price for a new vehicle only? In ten more years, will these same new cars suddenly be considered to be environment-threatening clunkers, and the process start over again?

Lastly, I can’t help but note the possible analogy between the “Cash for Clunkers” program and healthcare for our elderly under any new government program. President Obama has hinted that he favors the cessation of funding of extraordinary measures to save an elderly person. The proposed healthcare bill itself contains such a clause, right now (read pp. 425-429 here – thanks to Jim Perkins for finding this). This smacks of euthanasia for our senior citizens. Will we see a “Cash for Clunkers” program for our gray-haired folk in the near future? Or am I being “un-American” by mentioning that?
From the government website, citing reasons why Americans should participate in the program – “Reduce greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning gasoline and diesel contributes to global climate change. You can do your part to reduce climate change by reducing your carbon footprint.” It’s clear that the government has bought into the lie that gasoline-powered vehicles contribute significantly to climate change. And did you notice that they called it “climate change” instead of “global warming”?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Should We Be Motivated By The Threat of Hell?

I grew up in the South, during a time when “hellfire and damnation” preaching was acceptable, and even popular. I distinctly recall the cadence and raised voices of preachers who would bring a message about the consequences for those who fall on the wrong side of the final judgment. And I remember the “altar calls” that were made, pleading with people to come forward, repent and be baptized – “now, before it’s too late”.

Men and women would come up the aisles, sobbing and repentant. In their brokenness, they would give their life to Christ, and pledge to change their ways. Without a doubt, much of their motivation to make such a promise was to avoid the consequences of hell and eternal damnation.

People don’t preach like this anymore. We preach about grace and the positive side of salvation. Motivation is typically given as the promise of a better and perfect life in heaven. This is not a bad thing by itself, but it is certainly a different incentive than one which strives to avoid the threat of hell.

We live in a society where telling someone that they run the risk of going to hell is frowned upon. Rather than risk being labeled as judgmental, we are trained to avoid such absolutes. After all, the argument goes, God’s grace is bigger than we can imagine. And it’s not our place to make such a judgment.

That may be true, but the Bible also makes it clear that certain behavior or actions will plainly have the consequence of hell. Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.” And in 2 Peter 3:7, Peter talks of wicked men’s fate, by saying “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” These men were not afraid to raise the issue of hellfire and damnation.

I love to read the sermons of Jonathan Edwards, a Puritan preacher who lived in America prior to the Revolutionary War. In 1741, in Enfield, CT, Edwards spoke these words in a sermon – “Let everyone that is out of Christ now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation. Let everyone fly out of Sodom: ‘Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed.’”

We can be motivated to live the Christian life in two ways. We can have the motivation where we long for heaven and strive to think on positive things like grace, peace, and truth. But we can also be motivated by the fear of condemnation to an everlasting hell. For me, pondering an eternity without hope, without peace, and without God is extremely moving.

Is it wrong to be motivated by the threat of hell? I don’t think so. A healthy viewpoint is to see both heaven and hell’s consequences. The sentence of hell will also motivate us to share our faith with others, perhaps even more than the promise of heaven. For example, if you pass a stranger on the street, you will likely warn them of an open manhole just in front of them – but you might not be as inclined to share with a stranger that there are free theater tickets being given away up the street. We tend to speak more boldly when danger is present.

Personally, I would welcome a few more “hellfire and damnation” sermons. I recall the passion that they aroused in me, even as a young child. Nothing was going to keep me from the glory and beauty of heaven…and away from the eternal separation from God that is hell itself.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Radical Environmentalism – Is The Globe Warming, Or Isn’t It? (Part 7)

I’ve asked the question many times in this series of articles – does our society want to find the real truth about global warming, or are they more interested in pursuing the global warming agenda for some other reason?

We may be getting closer to that answer. Recently, Dr. Alan Carlin, a 35-year veteran of the Environmental Protection Agency, wrote a 98-page report calling into question whether or not the science being used to prop up the Climate Change Act is valid. Specifically, his report points out that, 1) global temperature trends have been on the downward side over the last eleven years, 2) scientists are not convinced that storms will actually worsen if global warming were true, and 3) that the theory behind Greenland’s melting ice pack has now been called into question.

All of these are good points, and they should be studied and better understood before we spend billions of dollars on carbon dioxide mitigation programs and potentially throw thousands or even millions of industrial jobs to the wind.

Wouldn’t it be sad and ironic if fifty years from now, after crippling our economy and giving up our global leadership in manufacturing to China, that we were to gain hard proof that manmade CO2 emissions have absolutely no effect on global temperature – that, in fact, something we can’t control, such as sunspots, causes the global temperature to rise and fall over a 400-year period? Now, wouldn’t that just make a few people upset?

What I have been pointing out is that we need to be concerned over what the truth is in regards to global warming. However, this is not what the current executive administration in our country cares about. Because, shortly after the release of his report, Dr. Carlin was asked by his EPA bosses to cease all activities related to climate change. Instead, he was reassigned to a project to update a grants database. There are also some very revealing memos to him from his boss that indicate pressure from on high to suppress his report.

So why would anyone want to stifle this report if it had some chance of avoiding future embarrassment – that is, avoiding job losses, economic disaster, and the discovery that manmade global warming is a falsehood? I can think of two very powerful reasons – 1) money, and 2) the loss of God in our culture (yes, really).

Money is the most obvious answer – most human decisions can be tracked to its pursuit. By creating the Climate Change Act, the government intends to generate revenue by literally selling us the air that we breathe. Instituting a cap-and-trade policy on CO2 emissions created by power plants and other major producers will result in the regulation of a large component of our breathing air. This regulation will result in an indirect tax on everything which requires energy to be produced – cars, gasoline, food, clothing, manufactured goods, etc. Corporations will have to raise prices to pay for the tax on their emissions. The government will collect that tax and proceed to use it far less efficiently than if they had let us keep the money. Economic disaster will result (while China will continue to ignore the environmentalist agenda, keep up its manufacturing investment, continue polluting, and eventually take over the global economy).

But even more importantly, I believe that the environmental movement and its worship of the earth and things created is simply a substitute…..for God. In a culture that largely ignores or denies God, the human spirit searches for something to put its efforts into – something that seems greater and more lasting than everyday material possessions. Hence, we see groups like PETA and Greenpeace appealing to the masses with a message of animal rights and earth worship. Almost invariably, these groups are led by individuals who deny the existence of God, having replaced Him with things that he created. Paul predicted this in Romans 1:25 – “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen.”

Aren’t we really, fundamentally, and ultimately interested in the truth?

More information on Dr. Carlin and his report at The Heritage Foundation, FoxNews, and here is a link to his 98-page report, if you are interested. Please let me know if you find anything I’ve missed.
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Back to Part 1 of this series...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Healthcare at the Department of Motor Vehicles?

Two weeks ago, my eleven-year-old son nearly died. Truly. One evening, he suddenly had an extreme allergic reaction and was well on his way into anaphylactic shock when we rushed him to the nearby hospital. As my wife drove him to the emergency room, his windpipe was closing, his entire body was covered in hives, and panic was beginning to show in his eyes. If this had happened one or two hundred years ago, I think we would have lost him. The very thought makes my heart ache.

Fortunately, we have a hospital only five miles away. And when he arrived at the emergency room desk, they took one look at him and immediately escorted him to a room where he received treatment. Three minutes didn’t elapse between his entry into the lobby and action to make him better. He left the hospital a couple of hours later almost back to normal. When he arrived at the hospital, there was no fuss over insurance or how much money we had with us – they just did the right thing and treated him correctly and instantly, no questions asked.

So I ask – what is so wrong with our healthcare system that we feel the need to involve the federal government into its operation?

Only three weeks ago, my family entered another lobby where we had a need to get help from the workers there, but we had an entirely different experience. Upon entering, we were told to take a little paper number from a dispenser and wait for the next available employee – even though we were the only people in the place. We sat in a chair – staring at the three workers behind counters in the room – and waited patiently until one of them advanced the number on the board and called us over. Things immediately began to go wrong, as this person informed us of some differing rules about our need – different than what we had read on their website, and different than the instructions I had been given by one of their employees at an earlier visit. The upshot was that our cost was going to be an extra (and unanticipated) $350.

As we moved to the second employee for processing, our frustration was visible. She had to know what the problem was, because she was sitting only ten feet away from the first worker. But she went about her scripted business, a little slowly, until she got to the part where the $350 issue lay. And she informed us that our original understanding was correct – in complete contrast to what the first person had said. I asked some pointed questions – the two employees shared a look – but no explanation of their disagreement was made. After signing some more paperwork, we were told to go back and wait for the third and final employee to call us forward.

So we went back to our chairs, clutching our little paper number, and watched the third employee rustle some papers behind the counter, walk around a bit, and then go sit behind a computer screen for a while. By this time, there were two or three of us in the lobby, looking at our little paper slips, and waiting for this gentleman to call us forward. When he finally did, I leaned over to all three of my children and said, “Take a lesson from this. It’s what happens when the government is put in charge of something.” Because - you may have already guessed – we were at the State Department of Motor Vehicles.

I tell these two stories for a very specific reason. When the government gets involved in something, it invariably introduces waste and inefficiency. The employees behind the counter at the DMV have very little incentive to please us or make our experience pleasant. There are no competing offices in the state to get your driver’s license – they are a monopoly. In contrast, the hospital is a for-profit enterprise. I have choices about where to take my son when he has a reaction, as there are two other hospitals within ten miles of my house, as well as numerous urgent care clinics. For some reason, when the profit motive is taken away, people tend to get lazy.

Our society seems to forget this fact sometimes. Congress is now involving itself in the regulation of executive bonuses at financial institutions and publicly traded companies, because some of these awards seem “unfair”. The government-sponsored “cash for clunkers” program ran out of money after only one week, because the feds grossly underestimated the popularity of a plan that uses taxpayer money to get people into new cars that many likely cannot afford (it’s like the housing bubble all over again – I wonder how many of these auto loans will go into default a year from now). And the car dealers in this same program are worried that they will not get the promised reimbursement from the government because the federal websites keep crashing. And you should see some of the ridiculous things that auto dealers must do to “kill” the clunkers that they receive (and essentially torpedo the used car and salvage markets at the same time).

Bottom line, I don’t want the day to arrive when I am clutching a little paper number in my hand while sitting in the lobby of a government-sponsored health care clinic, awaiting a decision and a doctor to treat my son, while he slowly chokes to death in my arms. Do you think that can’t happen? Just try asking for something quick or out-of-the-ordinary at your local government-operated Department of Motor Vehicles.