Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I love this time of year in spite of all the rabid consumerism (which I get caught up in too) and the endless silly arguments about whether this should be a non-religious holiday to celebrate winter, or whatever anyone wants to celebrate other than the birth of Christ. I'm actually not sure why anyone would want to celebrate winter as I hate cold weather and snow, unless I'm sledding or skiing (which I've actually never done, but it sounds like fun).

No, I love this time of year because I'm reminded again that God sent His son into this world to live among us, teach us a better way to live, and to eventually die on a cross in our place for the sins we committed in rejecting Him in the first place. I think Bill Mallonee said it as well as can be said in his song "On to Bethlehem":

"God wrapped Himself in human skin for those who want to touch and God let them drive the nails in for those of us who know way too much."

We had made our decision back in the Garden that we thought we knew better than God and before anyone thinks they would have made a different decision examine the decisions you have made in your own life. I likely would have given in a lot quicker than Adam and Eve did. But even in light of this rejection, in fact because of it, God continued to pursue us to the point of becoming a man and dying on a cross. That still blows me away.

So as we celebrate Christmas by opening presents, visiting with friends & family, and eating way more than we should, I hope you take the time to read the Christmas story and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

Merry Christmas and God Bless.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Some thoughts on the economy

I was saddened to hear the other day that the steel mill in the town I grew up in was being "temporarily" idled due to the current economic conditions. I grew up in Granite City, IL, a small steel town in southern Illinois. When I was a kid, a very large number of people in Granite City, a town with a population of only about 30,000, were employed by the steel mill. My grandfather worked as an electrician at the plant for over 40 years and his father, my great grandfather, had also worked there his entire career. While the plant has been scaled back in recent years, it still employed a lot of people in town and provided significant tax revenue to the city. The impact of this shutdown will have a devastating impact on a city already in decline.

This just brings how bad this economy really is close to home for me. While I don't think things will get anywhere near as bad as they were in the Depression, I don't see any signs of improvement in the near future. I've never been much of an alarmist, but the unemployment numbers released by the Labor Department on Friday were scary, now approaching 7%. As I hear from more and more of my friends and family that have been laid off, I am very grateful to have a job.

Unfortunately, the people in the government that helped get us into this mess are the ones that are still in power. While they are all promising to fix things, the only thing I see them doing is handing out more money to the other people who helped get us into this mess by making poor business decisions, the large corporations and their executives. And just exactly where is the government getting the money to do this? Well, there are only 3 sources: raising taxes, borrowing form foreign countries, or printing more money. Raising taxes only further hurts the American people by taking money out of their pockets and hurts small business by increasing their costs, which gets passed along to consumers. Borrowing from foreign nations only further increases our national debt, which our children will eventually have to pay back. And printing more money further devalues the dollar, causing inflation.

While there is not much we can do as individuals to improve the economy, I would encourage all of us that are able to lend a helping hand where we can. Even if it's just in small ways, it can make a big difference in someones life. As we approach the Christmas season, let us not get too focused on all the busyness of the holidays, but instead let us focus on what we can do for others. God gave us the most incredible gift ever given when He gave his son. I pray that we would reflect that gift as we give to others.

God Bless.