Friday, November 14, 2008

GSTV

Have you seen what's new on TV? It's the Gas Station Television Network. I pulled up to the local Wal-Mart station today ($2.02 a gallon by the way!), and was met by a television screen mounted on the pump. A woman was giving me the Orlando weather report, then it was on to some news and a couple of commercials.

I thought, That's exactly what I need: more information -- all the time!

A little hint of what's ahead, 1984-style? Will there be nowhere to go to get away from noise and flashing images?!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What's wrong with higher taxes and socialized medicine?

Someone asked me why I believe high taxation and socialized medicine are contrary to a Biblical worldview. I am not an expert on such things, but here's how I replied to her. Feel free to sharpen my thinking where it needs improvement:

The Bible commands us to pay our taxes (Romans 13:7). But government should not levy a tax rate that effectively cuts God out of the picture. As tax rates rise, people have less and less money to save, invest, spend wisely, and give - things the Scripture commands us to do. Higher taxes limit freedom of choice (e.g., choosing a school or college for our children to attend) and undercut personal responsibility. In effect the state takes over the roles that the individual, the family, the church, and the community are supposed to have.

As a Christian I'm particularly concerned about what happens to the cause of church advancement and world missions when people stop tithing because they can't afford to give. The state usurps the place of God by taking more and more of the money that rightly belongs to Him. It also creates a culture of entitlement in which people grow up thinking the government is supposed to solve the problems that God wants the individual, the family, the community, and the church to solve.

The reason I object to socialized medicine is neither that it is much more inefficient than our present system (see the Canadians coming to the U.S. for healthcare); nor that we don't have to change our present system in order for the poor to get healthcare (they can get it now). The main reason is that it's just another form of entitlement program, teaching people they can rely on the federal government to do for them what they can and ought to do for themselves and what the church ought to do for the needy.

Also, socialized medicine kicks the legs out of charity. Why should I sacrifice my money to help organizations like the Red Cross or St. Jude Children's Hospital when the government will mandate healthcare through taxation? Enforced charity is no charity at all. Socialized medicine parades as compassion when really it kills compassion. It takes responsibility away from me and vests it in the federal government. Generations later, virtue and sacrifice will have virtually disappeared from our culture.

The role of government is, in the Bible, limited in scope. It is to administer justice, keep the peace, and protect the citizenry - what Romans 13:1-7 teaches as the "power of the sword." Socialized healthcare (like the other forms of socialism we've been seeing like government bailouts and takeovers) expands the role of government beyond that intended by God. The hardworking, entrepreneurial person gets penalized, while the lazy person gets rewarded - a violation of Scripture (e.g., Proverbs 10:4-5).

Here's a good article to read on the subject.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Lou

I write this post in honor of Lou, a deacon in my church. He died this past Wednesday at the age of 62, after a nearly 4-year battle with melanoma. Doctors gave him 6 months; God gave him 3 1/2 more. I'm glad, because it was during those "extra" 3 1/2 years that I got to know him.

Lou was one of the humblest people I've ever known. He was a brilliant engineer, earning the Outstanding Technical Achievement Award for career contributions to highway safety in 1996. He was the project manager for the design and construction of our church's worship center. His designs for safer roads were picked up by Chinese engineers who found Lou on the internet and came over to the US to meet him. His career spanned 36 years. Despite his accomplishments, he moved about quietly and selflessly.

Lou loved our church and her people well. As the deacon in charge of facility care, he gave generously of his time whenever we had a problem. "Call Lou," I would often say to our office staff when things went wrong. He would drop everything and come solve the problem. He was so proud when we dedicated our new worship center, and we were all proud of him. He was equally generous with his money, because he loved the King and his kingdom.

I will miss him very much. WE will miss him very much. Yet his life and labors will continue to shape generations of people to the glory of God.

Thank you, Lou.