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The Seductive Smile of Socialism (2)

October 2nd, 2009 No comments

As I shared in the last blog, before a people can be seduced by a lie, they must first be convinced that things are really horrific. Change is needed and it is needed last week! In other words, things are so bad we need to act immediately or some greater tragedy will befall us!

Then an alternative is put forward. The current alternative of choice is socialism. For some reason, our liberal elite are infatuated with European politics. Much of what they offer as solutions to our “crisis” are modeled after what is presently in place in the European Union. Wisdom would suggest we compare the lifestyles of Americans with those of our European counterparts to see who is better off economically.

I came across an amazing study by two economists who have done just that. 

Economists Fredrik Bergstrom and Robert Gidehag point out that if the 15 Western European nations in the European Union together became a U.S. state, it would rank ahead of only four other states in terms of per capita GDP—only slightly ahead of Arkansas but far behind states like Connecticut and Delaware. France and Finland, for instance, both rank below Alabama and Oklahoma. Tiny Luxembourg is the only EU nation that can compete with most U.S. states.

This means that living standards are much higher in the United States, with poor Americans by some measures better off materially than average Europeans. Poor U.S. households, for instance, have more square feet in their dwelling places (1,228, or 438.6 per person) than the average Western European household (976.5, or 395.7 per person).

By European standards, poor U.S. households also have astonishingly high rates of home ownership (45.9 percent), car ownership (72.8 percent), cable or satellite TV hookups (62.6 percent), VCR or DVD player ownership (78 percent), and microwave ownership (73.3 percent). In 1999, only 42 percent of Germans (overall, not just poor Germans) had a VCR and only 31 percent of all Danes had a microwave (see chart).

Money and possessions of themselves don’t bring happiness, of course, and prosperity can bring its own set of problems. But if the discussion is about material well-being, the United States is difficult to match.

“Most Americans have a standard of living which the majority of Europeans will never come anywhere near,” Messrs. Bergstrom and Gidehag write. “The really prosperous American regions have nearly twice the affluence of Europe.”

Why in the world would we want to pattern our economy after nations far less prosperous?

Our problem is not a lack of resources or opportunity. We have lost our purpose and direction. We have turned our hearts from the One we were made to enjoy. All the material blessing in the world eventually leads to boredom and dissatisfaction when you lose your vision to serve the Lord and others.

 

The Seductive Smile of Socialism

September 30th, 2009 No comments

On Sunday, September 27, I was proud to take part in the second annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday. My sermon was entitled, The Seductive Smile of Socialism (You can listen to this message in its entirety at www.lstones.org under “podcasts”).

Using Proverbs 5:3-6 and 7:21-27 as my foundational texts, I compared the alluring ways of a perverse woman with seductive nature of socialism. Solomon warned:

The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet,
   her soft words are oh so smooth.

From this text, I highlighted several key points. I’ll discuss each over the next several blogs.

But it won’t be long before she’s gravel in your mouth,
   a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart.

Point #1: Like a seductress, socialism must first create and prey upon an atmosphere of discontent and dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs.

Have you noticed how everything in America is in a “crisis” situation according to this administration. “We are on the verge of a depression,’ they say, ‘ so let us spend over a trillion dollars to bail us out before everything crashes.” “We have a serious health care crisis,’ they warn, ’so we have to nationalize health care and spend another trillion dollars right now,” even before anyone has had time to actually read the bill!  

When you listen to the evening news it’s a constant barrage of bad news and pessimistic prognostications. Gloom, doom and the hope of the almighty federal government riding over the hill to save us…if, and only if, we act NOW!

 This is all part of the seductive spirit of socialism. You see, unless you and I are feeling frustrated, cheated, and entitled to more (and depressed about how bad off we think we are) we’ll never allow the government to grab more and more of our freedom. Think about it. Every government power grab is set up by creating fear and dissatisfaction in the hearts of the people. We literally hand over our liberty for the false promise of security.

But how destitute are we? Compared with the rest of the world, are we really that bad off? In the next blog I’ll share some rather amazing stats comparing the prosperity of America with that of our socialistic neighbors across the pond. You’ll be shocked with what is revealed! Stay tuned.

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The Sin of Socialism (2) – Understanding Jurisdictional Authority

September 18th, 2009 No comments

In Matthew 22:15-21, Jesus introduces us to a principle that has served as the very foundation of American government since its beginning; namely, the principle of jurisdictional authority. Let’s go to the account:

Then the Pharisees met together to plot how to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. 16 They sent some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to meet with him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You teach the way of God truthfully. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. 17 Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

Jesus is presented with a dilemma designed to trap him into a no-win situation. If he tells them not to pay taxes, he’s now in trouble with Caesar and the Roman government.If he instructs them to pay taxes, he would lose the respect of the common person who hated the cruel and oppressive Roman government. What will he do?

 Jesus asked for a coin. He was handed a Roman denarius, the only coin accepted for payment of the annual poll tax. On the one side was the Emperor Tiberius. Around his likeness were the words Tiberius Caesar Augustus, son of the divine Augustus. Jesus takes a look and says, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and render to God the things that are God’s.”

Because Caesar had legitimate authority over the State, Jesus instructed them to pay the required taxes. But Jesus added a phrase that was totally radical and confrontational. He said, “Give to God what is God’s.”

You see, on the reverse side of the coin  was the image of Tiberius’s mother represented blasphemously as the “goddess of peace” along with the words “highest priest.” At this point, the State had exceeded its jurisdictional authority. While government is to be honored and respected as an institution created and ordained by God for the common good, it must never be worshipped. It must never take the place of God or try to seditiously undermine His ultimate authority.

 Caesar had stepped into the place where he thought he was both Emperor and Lord. Jesus put him in his rightful place. This is the true understanding of the separation of Church and State. It does not mean, as the common perversion goes today, that Christianity must be removed from the public square. In the pagan world, the Church and the State were often the same. Jesus was saying something totally revolutionary – the State is not Almighty. The State is not God. The authority of the State is limited. And the State must stay within its God ordained sphere of authority lest it forfeit its power.

When the government sets itself as ‘god” in the eyes of the citizens, promising to solve all their problems, promising to protect them from all their enemies, and promising prosperity for all, it takes the place that only God was meant to fill. We must worship Him alone. He is our Source, not Washington. When government fails to honor the jurisdictional limits which God has established, it becomes a counterfeit god and an idol in the hearts of the people.