Catching Up: Sober Thoughts

Catching Up: Sober Thoughts

In a way this feels like a long, long dry spell. I haven't had as much as usual to say on the blog for weeks now. It will pick up again. I thought it might do so a couple weeks ago, but I got involved in a flurry of emails with my authors and the publisher, getting the new edition of True Reason ready for the typesetter. Then when I thought I'd have some time last week, the PDF came back from proof-reading. That was after putting together a new talk for Truth for a New Generation in Charlotte a couple weeks ago; and now tomorrow I'm heading back that way for several days of meetings with Ratio Christi and for the National Conference on Christian Apologetics. I've got a couple other non-blog writing projects underway at the same time, too.

So it hasn't been dry; it's just been raining somewhere else, not here.

Just a couple of thoughts, then.

Chuck Smith

Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel passed away, for one thing. My wife and I attended a Calvary Chapel for a couple years in Big Bear Lake, California for a couple years in the early 1990s. There are two Calvary Chapels near here in Ohio that have been tremendously encouraging to me in my Ratio Christi work. Mostly I appreciate Pastor Chuck Smith's leadership decades ago in bringing young people to Christ without asking that they clean themselves up first. At least that's how I recall it: I was pretty young myself at the time. He will be greatly missed.


The Federal government is partially shut down. I avoid blogging on politics, but this situation is too big to evade. It's also strangely personal. The owner of one of my wife's favorite restaurants in historic Yorktown, VA, just a couple miles from where we used to live, was ordered not just to close down but to remove everything from the building. Something more than just cutting government costs is afoot here.

The key word, I think, is pain. I hate pain. I've had pain in my feet and/or shoulders almost daily for four or five years, and I don't like it. No one does. I have a bottle of Vicodin that was prescribed after my foot surgery a year and a half ago. It would take all the pain away. I've used exactly one of those pills in the past eighteen months. That kind of pain relief is the wrong idea. I've also done hours and hours and hours of physical therapy: more pain, but of the right kind. It gets to the root of the problem, and slowly but surely it's helping.

So even though I don't love pain I know it's necessary sometimes. I think we might be at one of those points in our national life. Continuing to grow our national debt is like taking Vicodin. Forcing restaurant owners to move out is the wrong kind of pain, though. It's a deflecting move, like hitting someone on the head so he doesn't notice his foot is sore.

The problem, in reality, is reality. There is a limit to how long we can spend more than we earn. It's a reality we can delay but not finally escape. There is a time of accounting to come. CBS News last night featured Head Start programs that were shuttered this week, and spoke ominously of how many children would be affected. How many children will be affected, though, when our government can no longer legislate goods and services into existence? Or is this week's effect the only one that matters?

And so the question I might have to face before long, and you might, too (if it hasn't hit you already), is this: what kind of pain are we prepared for? Do we have the community resources to pull together on this? Do we have the strength of faith it will take? Do we have confidence in God to bring us through?

Scriptures come to mind: Phil. 3:8-11, 1 Peter 4:12-19, and others; especially John 16:33.

We may be at the point of finding out what we are made of. Rather, we may be at the point of discovering who God really is in our lives. Believers throughout history and around the world (especially in the past week or two, in Africa and the Middle East) have known that God is good in the hard times. I wonder if we Americans are about to find out the same thing.


My discussion policy limits comments on politics. For this post I'm welcoming those comments provided that they are about the issues, not the political parties or personalities.


3 thoughts on “Catching Up: Sober Thoughts

  1. There is a limit to how long we can spend more than we earn.

    There sure is, and no country should perpetually run in deficit (Of course debt is another thing altogether – the US government has carried debt for most of the years since 1789, and it helps the world’s financial system go round. But it’s obviously a bit out of control).

    However just maybe the US could prioritise things like “defense” spending a little less and other things a bit more while still balancing the budget.

    Everyone on the right in the US (which seems to include most Christians) seems terrified of being labelled a socialist, but in every other Western country in the world, some form of universal health care is rarely debated. It’s regarded as a basic human right.

  2. I LOVE your analogy of growing our national debt is like taking Vicodin for pain…it doesn’t get to the root of the problem. And taking Vicodin long term not only doesn’t fix things, it brings on more complications. Hitting American’s in the head so we may not feel the pain in our foot is a terrible idea that will fail eventually.

    And YES the problem with reality IS reality! The government needs to put on its boots, buck up and do the hard work that most of the rest of its citizens have been doing. Spending in our means, taking care of our responsibilities, caring for our own. I have many, many friends in ministry…I would LOVE to support their work financially…but I can’t. I have to budget. It is worthy, noble work, but right now I can’t. We may want to help out many people, countries but there MUST be a season were we wait and not do it, until we are in a healthier place. What happens when the government doesn’t do it? Many times (I know not always) private organizations, churches etc. step in. In my view, this is where we need to go. There is more accountability and ownership in the vision and need.

    But then again, we are asking grown ups to act like grown ups. I believe too many people have been coddled and been lulled into a milk coma. Entitlement is not a Biblical theme. If we have not taught our kids, grand kids, and our culture virtue, honesty, hard work, teamwork, selflessness and other key Biblical values; how do we think things will go for our culture? There WILL be consequences. Or those nasty side effects from the Vicodin.

    The root of the problem is not budgets, plans, policy…it is worldview and the heart and soul of the citizens of our country. Until that is addressed we will just be drugging ourselves to cope.

    On a happier note. I live very close to Chuck Smiths church here in Southern California. Our kids went to school there for 6 years. The church supported us when we were with Wycliffe Bible Translators. God has used them and Pastor Chuck to greatly impact our culture. I am praying with his passing that the church will continue to seek His face and be the hands and feet of Jesus. There is going to be a BIG memorial and I am sure they will stream it Tom if you would like to watch it on the web. 🙂

    Blessings in all you do. Ratio Christi is SUCH a needed ministry in our culture. May the Lord continue to bless you (and your family) and the organization, protect you and make His face shine upon you. 🙂

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