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All About Changes

We were hosting friends recently when the husband in the family remarked how getting older seems to be all about changes – people you love pass away, you and your friends age, your children grow up, and you discover there are things you used to do that you just can’t do anymore. His statement got me thinking—no wonder older folks get discouraged at times. There will always be changes in life, that’s true; but it shouldn’t be that all of them are only negative!

People we love may have gone on before us, but there are others still here we can strive to love better. Our children do grow up, but we can learn to delight in them as adults as well. Then, too, there is the opportunity of growing the family a different way—through marriages and grandbabies. We may have to slow down, but God still has a purpose for our lives; we just need to ask Him to help us find it. There may be things we can’t do anymore, but each day should still bring new experiences—a call, a letter, a new book or article to read or something new to think about, a visit, a plant or animal to tend, a song to hear or to learn, a project to continue, some work only we can do. Health challenges may multiply, but help and comfort from those nearby should abound as well.

Those of us who are younger have a responsibility to family and friends (and any others God brings to our attention) who are now older and who may be feeling forgotten or overwhelmed. What if we took it upon ourselves as a serious duty to make sure the elderly in our circle have more positive than negative experiences? What if we tried to ensure that they continually have something to look forward to? This would mean committing to writing the letters, making the calls, planning the activities, hosting the meals (or delivering them), cheerfully listening to the same stories, pitching in with whatever they have that needs doing, inviting them along on outings or bringing them into our homes, and coming alongside in prayer.

It’s not so much to ask when you think about it. It’s only what we would want someone else to do for us someday. Take time to talk together as a family about the older men and women God has placed in your life. Seek what He would have you to do to that might make their lives richer, fuller, more meaningful, and happier – more like waiting for the call on the cool and pleasant riverbanks of Beulah and less like trudging through the miry Slough of Despond. And don’t be surprised when in seeking to uplift others, you find yourselves encouraged as well.

For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.
Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.
Psalm 71:5,9

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* Note: The picture book Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco could serve as a good introduction to this topic for children.

Tis the Season for Shoebox Packing!


“God’s Box” Photo copyright (c) 2021 V.P.B.
An excellent hands-on outreach project that you can do with your children this time of year is packing a shoebox together for Operation Christmas Child.  Each shoebox you pack and drop off with OCC will be given out with the Gospel, impacting not only the child who receives it but also potentially reaching that child’s family and community with the good news of Jesus Christ as well.

If you’ve never packed a shoebox before, here’s a brief “how-to.” 

  1. Find a standard-size adult shoebox and wrap it if you like – cover must be wrapped separately from the box so items inside can be inspected.  (You can also use pre-printed boxes from Samaritan’s Purse or plastic shoeboxes from the store.) 
  2. Choose a “wow item” to go in the box – something a child would be excited to receive such as a doll for a little girl or a soccer ball and hand pump for a little boy or a stuffed animal for either. 
  3. Fill the rest of the box with smaller items – hygiene items like toothbrush, deodorant, soap and washcloth or school supplies like pencils and a sharpener, crayons, scissors, and a calculator.  You can also put in additional toys – maybe a jump rope, flashlight, little cars, games, etc.  If you enjoy handcrafting items, get creative and make something special!  Clothing items can be great to include, too, such as tee-shirts, socks, flip-flops, or underwear. 
  4. Remember not to put anything in the box that’s not allowed by OCC.  For example:  war items, liquids, toothpaste, medicines, or candy.  You can find a list of prohibited items on the OCC website along with examples of many, many more things that you are allowed to include.
  5. Write a personal letter to the child and consider enclosing a photo of your family.  Attach a label to the outside of the box, indicating the age and gender of the child to receive the gift.  You can print a label from this page.
  6. Take the shoebox along with a donation of $9.00 (covers shipping the box across the world) to a local church during collection week.  If you need help finding a church that’s collecting shoeboxes for OCC, check here.  Last but not least — don’t forget to pray for the child who will receive the box you and your family put together!

That’s it!  It’s very simple but incredibly rewarding, and I love that each box is a reflection of the child or family who packed it.  It’s an opportunity to reach across time and space and touch the life of a child you would likely never have met in person.  After collection week, your box will be delivered to a processing center here in the States to be checked over and then it’s on its way to one of over a hundred different countries in the world for distribution.  Shoeboxes are handed out by volunteers in local churches overseas, and in many countries, children receiving a shoebox also have the opportunity to enroll in The Greatest Journey, a twelve-week Christian discipleship course.

If you’re concerned about the amount it will cost to pack a box or multiple boxes all at once, try spreading the project out through the year.  Purchase a couple items each month rather than trying to buy them all at one time.  Look for sale items and be aware of “extras” that might come through your hands.  When we ordered socks recently for our daughters, we ended up with packages that were a substitution for our original choice, but the substituted packs included bonus pairs!  Things like that can go in a shoebox at no cost at all.   Also recently, a lady at our church put some items on a table at the back for anyone to take that could use them.  After I made sure others had had a chance to look over things, I picked out a brand-new, small piece of pretty wall art that was left behind.  It  will be the start to a shoebox for a teen girl next year!  And one of my girls found a child’s sweatshirt (also new) among the items, which she’ll use to start filling a shoebox of her own.    

Here’s a testimony that I recently submitted to Samaritan’s Purse when they reached out to local project leaders for feedback:

Because we do encourage others to pack shoeboxes, we wanted to make sure it was something someone could do even if they didn’t have much money.  So, we prayed at the beginning of the year* for God to pack a box for us to show us that it could be done for literally nothing.  We even prayed for the $9.00 to ship it.  Then we waited — God answered our prayer in the affirmative!  We now have a big shoebox entirely full of brand-new things that God sent in over the next few months, from little things like stationery and pens right up to and including a heavy, colorful blanket for a wow item! 

We had no idea how God would send us a wow item for free, but we knew that God can do anything!  Only a few weeks after our prayer, my husband received an offer at his workplace for us to pick a free Christmas present on a special website.  We both looked at one another and smiled —  we knew who the present was really for.  We had so much fun looking through the list of items and choosing that blanket for a child we will never meet this side of Heaven.  And when some unexpected dollars came in, we set it aside until we had the nine dollars we had prayed for. 

We call it “God’s box,” and we know that He has a special child in mind to receive it.  We have a small family business that does a newsletter each month, and we’re writing about “God’s box” this month to encourage those who think they can’t afford to pack a shoebox that if it’s in their heart to share the Gospel with a child, God can make a way.  It was also a faith booster for our own children to see how God put that box together.  We love the shoebox program precisely because it allows us to be the hands and feet of Christ in spreading the Gospel to other nations.  Thank you for allowing us to be involved.

If you’re reading this and you’ve never packed a shoebox before, consider packing one this year and blessing a child with the opportunity to learn about the “reason for the season” – JESUS.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights . . .              James 1:17a

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* Timeline note:  I should have been more clear here when I wrote this testimony – “the beginning of the year” was actually right after collection week happened last year, so this refers to the starting over of the “shoebox year,” not the calendar year – thus the reference only a short time later to Christmas.

What Makes a Home a Haven?

Our family was talking one morning during devotions about what makes a home a haven, what family members can do to create a sanctuary for themselves set apart from the craziness of the world.  Here are some of the things that we’ve found important over the years:

  1. Stability – parents dedicated to one another, forsaking all others.
  2. Focus on the Word – daily personal reading by each family member and time all together reading, memorizing and rehearsing, discussing, and learning to apply its principles.
  3. An atmosphere of love, acceptance, respect for one another, encouragement – never acceptance of sin, but acceptance of each family member as a work in progress because we are all sinners in need of God’s grace and the refining work of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Strong dikes – absence of television and worldly influences (secular films, books, and magazines, ungodly friends, unfiltered/unsupervised use of internet and social media, etc.), the building of a breakwater to keep the cares of the world from streaming in continually.
  5. Good things to think on – excellent books, articles, messages; music and art which glorify God.
  6. Togetherness – daily meals around the table, attending worship together, home educating (including read-alouds and conversation), being involved in family projects.
  7. Outreach – a united purpose of sharing the Lord’s light in one’s community and beyond
  8. Hospitality – the extension of temporary shelter to others (whether for a meal and fellowship or for longer), inspiring them to recreate the same for their own families and friends.
  9. A schedule – a daily pattern of consistency and steadiness (not rigidity), knowing what is expected when.
  10.  Trust – knowledge that your words are safe, loyalty among family members.
  11. Orderliness and simplicity – a constant battle for the modern American family but something to strive for!
  12. Prayer – at any time and at all times, individually and hand in hand.
  13. JOY – smiles, kind words, hugs, times of laughter—serving the Lord and one another cheerfully.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”  Psalm 133:1

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Room in My Heart for You

Take Time to Be Holy
by William D. Longstaff

Take time to be holy,
Speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always
And feed on His Word.
Make friends with God’s children,
Help those who are weak;
Forgetting in nothing
His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy,
The world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret
With Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus,
Like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct
His likeness shall see.

The distractions of life are many and demanding.  There is always something ready and eager to grab our attention and carry our minds away on endless wings of hurry.  All too often we find ourselves running around like madmen, trying in a vain to get the next thing crossed off our to-do lists. 

But as always, God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are wiser than ours.  He says to us, “Be still.  Be still!” (see Psalm 46:10). What an almost antiquated idea that seems in our society these days!  And yet, the Psalmist confirms it again when he says, Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.”  (Psalm 4:4)

So look up to Heaven, and be still!  Yes, it is true that this blessed, “old-fashioned” idea is still more than relevant and achievable today – even in the midst of this crazy, media-driven, get-to-the-next-thing society.  The world isn’t going to slow down to accommodate our efforts; but nonetheless, it is time.  It is time to make time for God.

Besides, when the all noise and bustle fades away and nothing at all is left of this frenzied, sinful world, HE IS and forever shall be!  So find your time; find your spot, and stop.  Simply stop and say, “Lord, this is my time for YOU – only You. There is room in my heart and my busy schedule for You.”

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Paying Too Much for Your Coffee?

With a brilliant sunset fading behind him, Tom pulled off the road and into an unfamiliar fast-food restaurant to grab a quick cup of coffee on the way home.  The parking lot was full, and from all appearances it had the look of a new establishment.  Tom headed for the nearest door, thankful he had found a place so near the interstate exit where he could take a quick break and shake himself fully awake before needing to make the rest of the drive.  

He walked directly to the counter to order.  “A small coffee, please.  To go.” 

“No problem.  That’ll be $37.50, please.”

Tom looked incredulously at the young cashier.  Surely he had heard wrong.  He knew he’d been getting drowsy.  “I’m sorry.  Could you repeat that?  I only ordered a small coffee, and I thought sure you said $37.50.”

“Yes, sir.  That’s correct.  $37.50.”

Stunned and thinking he’d walked into a more upscale establishment than he’d realized, he made his apologies, cancelled his order, and stepped to the side to collect himself.  While standing there, the man behind him in line ordered four burgers, four drinks, and four large fries.  Tom hung around a little longer than necessary just out of curiosity, wondering how much all that could possibly cost.  Expecting to hear a total in the hundreds, Tom was surprised to hear the cashier pleasantly say, “That’ll be $24.00, please.”

At that point, Tom could no longer contain himself and asked to speak to a supervisor.  After a brief wait, he was able to express his concerns to the shift manager.  “Thank you so much for coming over.  I’m confused about the pricing, and I think there must have been some kind of error.  This young man said my cup of coffee was going to be $37.50, and yet the man behind me in line got four full meals for only $24.00.”

“Yes, sir.  We base our pricing not on what you order but on the value of the car you drive.  Your order is then charged using a mill rate of 1.”

Tom looked at the man in disbelief and began to lean more heavily on the counter.  “I don’t understand.”

The shift manager looked sympathetically at Tom.  It was a question he heard occasionally, and he patiently began his standard explanation.  “The mill rate is just the number of dollars we charge per $1,000 that your vehicle is worth.  So, our mill rate of 1 would be the same as 0.1% of a car’s value.  Your cashier looked out and estimated your car’s value at $37,500.  So, 0.1% of that is $37.50.  The other gentleman’s car was estimated at $24,000, so he paid $24.00 for his order.  Simple enough?”

Tom’s head began to whirl, myriad thoughts struggling for preeminence.  The first one to rise to the top was Tom’s pride, unfortunately.  He blurted, “Well, that cashier was wrong!  I paid $50,000 for my car, after adding all the upgrades and special detailing.”

“Oh, thank you for telling us!  That’ll be $50.00 for your coffee now.  And I’ll make a note in our records so we don’t make the same mistake in the future.”

Realizing his error and watching the other customer happily eating with his family at a nearby table, Tom turned and scanned the rest of the room.  After clearing his throat rather too loudly, he posed the question, “Is there anyone who finds this pricing fair?”  A roomful of hands shot quickly into the air.

The manager looked pityingly at poor Tom.  He offered, “With your $50.00, you can get as much food as you want.  Your payment lets you freely partake of our offerings.”

Tom wasn’t hungry.  He wasn’t even particularly thirsty anymore, nor was he drowsy any longer.  Just embarrassed.  And humbled.  “No, thanks, I don’t need any food, but I’ve taken a lot of your time and disrupted your business.  I’ll take the coffee.  Here’s the $50.00.”

Defeated, Tom shuffled over to the counter to grab a napkin, a sugar packet, and a coffee stirrer.

“Sir, those will add another $5.50.”

Tom reflexively dropped them back where he got them and turned to face the manager.  “What?”

“Yes, sir.  Only the meals and drinks are included.  Napkins, condiments, and plasticware are extras, so they have an additional charge.”

What kind of oddball world is this?  Tom thought.  Not finding the words to say and having already cost himself an extra $12.50 by bragging about his car, he closed his eyes tight and bit his tongue to keep from saying too much too soon.

And when he did, the pain in his tongue was enough to bring Tom back to his senses.   He opened his eyes to see the morning sun streaming through his bedroom window.  He smiled, sighed contentedly, and thought, I’m glad that was only a bad dream!

But was it only a bad dream?  Unfortunately, no, for such is the reality of the property tax in modern America.  It is assessed to property owners based on the value of their land and any buildings on it.  The rate is assigned in mills, which is a number of dollars charged per thousand dollars of property value.  Much like Tom’s $50.00 coffee charge, the property tax has no relevance whatsoever to the amount of services a landowner desires or receives.* 

Even scarier than Tom’s dream, if a landowner cannot (or does not) pay his taxes for three years, the municipality can confiscate his land without any remuneration and sell it to someone else who will pay the taxes on it.  But who owns the land?  Who owns the buildings on the land?  Who may have even built those buildings with funds scrupulously saved for years?  And who pays to maintain them?  The landowner.

Yet what was Karl Marx’s first plank of the Communist Manifesto?  “Abolition of private property in land and application of all rents of land to public purpose.”  If the city or town can seize your property for non-payment of property taxes—forcing you to pay for services you may not use and you may even find morally objectionable—then who really controls the land?  The town.  The landowner simply pays for the privilege of keeping it.

As well, the property tax is progressive.  That is, more is charged to those perceived to have more to spare, even if they get no more benefits or services (and often fewer ones) than those who pay less.  The scheme mirrors the “heavy progressive or graduated income tax” that Marx proposed in his second plank.  Both property and income taxes are based on the idea of class warfare, which is itself based on jealousy.  As a people, our natural desires have been cultivated to want things and to want others who have “more” to pay for them.  It is what R. J. Rushdoony referred to as “larceny in the heart.”  What we would hesitate to take from others’ pockets ourselves, we are more than happy to have the government reach in and take for us.  It is why democracy has sometimes been referred to as two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner, and it is why our Founders instead established a republic for us—most distinctly not a democracy.  They understood human nature, and they established a government with limited powers and with protections for the rights of the individual.

What is fair in taxation?  It depends on whose definition is used.  The Marxist train of thought is for those with more means to foot the bill, because they can handle it.  Or because they’re thought to have gained their wealth unfairly.  Or because they’ve supposedly persecuted the poor.  Or any of a host of other excuses to pit the people of one economic stratum against another.  What that leaves, however, is a society in which many pay little and few pay much, while each has the same size vote  . . . basically allowing the many to decide how to divide the spoils from the few.

I would propose that we eliminate the property tax entirely, not jeopardizing the land of property owners or the inheritance of their children.  Instead, we should reduce town expenditures to only those services absolutely necessary for all, then divide the bill evenly across the number of households.  That would cover the basic services from which all benefit (such as road maintenance, trash disposal, fire and ambulance services), and all town residents would have an equal incentive to keep those expenses low.  Any additional services are then optional (such as schools, parks, libraries, etc.) and could be supported by those who choose to benefit from them.**

Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:
For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.
Proverbs 23:10-11


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* For example, in our town last year, 72% of the property tax went to support the public school, meaning that those without children in the public schools received precisely zero benefit from nearly three-quarters of their property tax bill.  That’s a terrible deal.  What else would you choose to pay for, knowing that you’d only receive one quarter of the benefits for the cost?

**  There are already extra charges for some things, like getting a birth or marriage certificate from the town office or having a clerk process yearly vehicle registrations even though we already pay for the town office facility and staffing through the property tax.  Reminiscent of Tom’s napkin, sugar packet, and coffee stirrer, isn’t it? 

Lost Hours and Missed Opportunities

Claude Renoir, Peintre by Renoir, 1907 Two Young Girls at the Piano by Renoir, 1892

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”  Ecclesiastes 9:10

I was reviewing some of Renoir’s images yesterday in connection with a project when I happened upon Claude Renoir, Peintre after having just been regarding Two Young Girls at the Piano.  Immediately I was struck by the fact that these children were happily pursuing cultural activities without the use of electronic devices, screens, or pre-programmed content.  I am blessed to live in a home with creative children like these. 

On any given day, their father and I may hear strains of piano, violin, harp, or mandolin wafting from various rooms.  Or we may walk by a table to see busy heads bent over colored pencils, watercolor sets, sketch books, craft supplies, and blank cards.   Or we may be drawn to the kitchen by the odor of delicious cooking experiments such as new breads, casseroles, and candies underway.  Or we may step out to the car only to find that the walkway has been neatly lined with small rocks, the front lawn is decorated with a village comprised of scrap lumber and acorns, and there are new seedlings growing in the small flower bed.  Or, upon returning to the house, we may find a child or young adult settled into the corner of a couch reading a good book or scribbling song lyrics, poems, journal entries, or short stories in an open notebook—dictionary, thesaurus, and concordance close at hand. 

Are our children unusual?  Maybe by today’s standards.  But in Renoir’s day, children were expected to be accomplished.  They learned languages, painted pictures, filled nature journals, played instruments, cared for animals, knit scarves, built scientific models, conducted experiments, harvested crops, wrote letters, and learned a thousand different hands-on skills because they were in training to become adults who were expected to preserve all that was good and worthy in civilization and pass it on to their own children, who would learn to do the same.  

It is not that our children never use a computer or other electronic device, because they do – especially those who are now grown.  But the younger our children were, the less time we allowed them to spend in front of a screen (and when we did make allowance for it, the screen time was largely limited to productive time – learning to type or use an image editing program, for example, as opposed to watching hours of cartoons).  If we can teach the next generation to produce rather than to consume, to think rather than to be amused, to create rather than to mimic their peers, and to give rather than to take, we will have equipped them to thrive in whatever work and outreach God has for them to do.

If your children are still living under your roof, you have a tremendous opportunity (not to mention duty) to encourage them to grow their minds and their abilities for the Lord’s service—now and in the future.  If they are among the many children spending too much time playing computer games, streaming movies, or following social media, do all in your power to redirect their attention now while there’s still time to save them a lifetime of lost hours and missed opportunities.  Introduce them to the wide world God made and the multitude of interests they can pursue in it.  Read books together, plant a garden, visit a museum, find a widow who needs a friend, take a walk together, purchase a gently used instrument and encourage your child to play around with it, set aside a place for mess making with paints, clay, and building blocks, listen to some beautiful music, put out birdseed and keep track of any little visitors, bake a meal and invite friends to share it, or start some new family endeavor together. 

Above all, teach your children to approach each new day with this thought, “This is the day that the Lord hath made—what does He want me to do with it?”

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Why Janet Couldn’t Buy Oranges

Janet stood in front of the display of oranges in the grocery store, two preschoolers at her side and her youngest child contentedly sitting in the cart.  As she mentally juggled her grocery list to try to get the highest priority items to fit within her family’s budget, she lamented what had happened to prices in the past few months.  Orange prices had been so low last year that her family had even started buying extras to enjoy their own fresh-squeezed juice.  Her husband and children had loved it.  And now here she was only a year later, deciding whether she could justify purchasing even a few oranges for breakfast.

As Janet considered what might have caused this, she remembered reading that favorable weather last year had brought a bumper orange crop to the southern United States, flooding the markets with oranges.  And as the supply increased, the prices decreased.  But this year late frosts had decimated the orange crop to the point that stores had had trouble stocking their shelves, and prices had gone through the roof.  Janet sighed and passed by the oranges, instead heading for the freezer section where she hoped frozen juices left over from last year’s crop might not have seen the same price jump yet.

Janet’s observations were simply confirming the law of supply and demand.  As any desired item becomes scarce, its price goes up because there is more competition to get those few items.  And when there is a surplus of an item, compared with the number of people desiring it, its price goes down. 

Could it be that there’s a similar effect when the government increases the money supply?  Yes!  As more dollars are created (whether printed on paper or fictionalized digitally), they flood the market, and the value of each individual dollar decreases.  And it’s not just the new dollars, but all dollars become devalued.  Just like the bumper crop of oranges.  Just like the Continentals that were printed during the Revolutionary War.  And just like German marks after World War I when that country printed massive amounts of money to pay its post-war reparations. 

Imagine life in Germany over the course of only three years.  In January of 1921, it took 215 marks to equal one British pound.  Only one year later in January 1922, it took 790.  The next January it took 32,000 marks.  And in January 1924, the count was 19 billion marks to equal one British pound.1  Year by year German citizens watched prices rise astronomically and saw their meager savings disappear, regardless of how much they started with.2  It all became wheelbarrow money.

But that was a long time ago, you might think.  They were without computers and calculators and high-tech communications.  Surely it couldn’t happen in our modern economy in the twenty-first century. 

For a more recent example, consider the past few decades in Venezuela.  From 1985 to 2013, inflation in Venezuela ranged from a low of 11.4% to a high of 99.9% and averaged 33.3%.  Those numbers are concerning enough, but in the following years—almost one hundred years after Germany’s hyperinflation— it grew even worse:  62% (2014); 121% (2015); 255% (2016); 438% (2017); 65,374% (2018); 19,906% (2019); and finally an estimated 6,500% (2020).3 

Since those numbers are hard to ponder; let’s bring it to a concrete example.  Back in 1985 one Venezuelan bolivar was roughly equal to $133 US.4  Let’s say that was the amount of groceries for one family for two weeks.  Ten years later in 1995, following Venezuela’s yearly inflation rates, that same amount of groceries would have required $4,020.  By 2005 the cost would have been $59,881.  By 2013 when inflation began to take off, those same groceries would have cost $368,298.  And by 2020, two weeks’ groceries would have cost over $218 trillion.5  Any savings of money from earlier decades would have been long-since wiped out . . . regardless of how much the family had to begin with.

So what does it mean that the U.S. government is giving out trillions of dollars of new money in Covid relief?  And that in 2020 we saw the largest increase (26%) in the money supply in U.S. history?6  It means every dollar in your wallet, in your bank account, and in your retirement fund is suddenly worth less.  Not worthless . . . yet.  But worth less than it was previously.  Because the supply of dollars has been inflated, and the law of supply and demand still holds true.

Who benefits most from this “relief”?  Those with no saving and no assets (because even having something that is devalued is better than having nothing).  For those with some resources—including homes, vehicles, savings and investment accounts, or business equipment—careful years of toil, planning, and saving were just devalued.  And every time additional money is printed, it further devalues them.  That’s why even average inflation is said to cut the value of money in half every twenty years.7  This hidden tax known as inflation is planned and executed by the government and its agents (like the Federal Reserve).8  Compared to tax-and-spend programs, inflation is a slightly subtler means of transferring wealth from the “haves” to the “have nots” or (in the words of Karl Marx) from the “bourgeoisie” to the “proletariat.”  In the end both are redistributive . . . and both serve the same goals.

What does this mean for Janet’s family?  When Janet and her children passed by the fresh oranges and moved on to find frozen juice concentrates, they were able to exercise a choice in how to spend their family’s hard-earned dollars.  They could look for other items where the supply was closer to the demand—or maybe in some cases where the supply exceeded the demand—thus yielding lower food costs for their family.  However when the dollars themselves are what has flooded the market, it affects all buying and selling, not just an item here or there.  Not just oranges.  Not just Janet’s family. 

Frankly, such policies are not enacted by a just government.  Money-printing (and its resultant inflation) is a seductive means of creating an impoverished, dependent, and easily manipulated people, all while convincing them that life is good because they have more money in their pockets.  More paper, yes.  More value, no.

A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.
Proverbs 11:1

Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.
Proverbs 20:10

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Notes:

1. Harold Marcuse, “Historical Dollar-to-Marks Currency Conversion Page” http://marcuse.faculty.history.ucsb.edu/projects/currency.htm

2. Wikipedia.org, “Hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic:  Causes” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperinflation_in_the_Weimar_Republic#Causes

3. Statista.com, “Venezuela: Inflation rate from 1985 to 2022”  https://www.statista.com/statistics/371895/inflation-rate-in-venezuela/

Please note that while these percentages may look like costs peaked in 2018, instead it was the inflation rate that peaked.  Costs were still increasing.  The cost of goods in 2019 was roughly 200 times those of 2018, and in 2020 they were estimated to be 66 times those of 2019.  So while the rate of growth had slowed, even those lesser amounts of growth were enormous.

4. FxTop.com, “Historical Currency Converter with official exchange rates from 1953”  https://fxtop.com/en/historical-currency-converter.php?A=1&C1=VEB&C2=USD&DD=01&MM=01&YYYY=1985&B=1&P=&I=1&btnOK=Go%21

5. Computed by author with inflation rates from https://www.statista.com/statistics/371895/inflation-rate-in-venezuela/

6. Jose Karlo Mari Tottoc, “Money Supply Is Up 26%, Inflation Coming? Cathie Wood’s Bitcoin Comments and Stock Picks” https://finance.yahoo.com/news/money-supply-26-inflation-coming-043054524.html

7. Tim McMahon,“Long Term U.S. Inflation”  https://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Rate/Long_Term_Inflation.asp

8. Joshua Hendrickson, “The Fed Changed Approach to Inflation.  Will It Change Its Policies?”  https://www.nationalreview.com/2021/01/average-inflation-targeting-and-this-pesky-thing-called-implementation/

It’s Not Mine to Keep

What do you do when the government drops money into your bank account uninvited? If you’re like me, you become exasperated by the fact that lawmakers in Washington D.C. thought they had the right to meddle with your bank account at all. Then you set about looking for the quickest way to send it back. Because whether it comes from a Republican, a Democrat, or any other stripe of politician, it isn’t theirs to give, and it isn’t mine to keep.

I know almost everybody else in America is keeping “theirs.” I also know it doesn’t seem like it could possibly make a difference to send it back. But it lets me sleep at night. And it’s not so much about one person being able to make a significant fiscal difference as it is about one person being able to take a stand for what is right, to set an example and hope that others will care enough about their liberty, their posterity, and their republic to follow suit.

We the people have to remember that the government doesn’t actually own a benevolence fund.* In order for bureaucrats to give money away, they either have to take it from somebody else or print some more (which, in effect, takes from everybody anyway because it devalues the dollars we’re currently holding). We also need to remember that our help comes from the Lord — not from Uncle Sam. God can bless us more than the government ever could; and He won’t steal from our neighbor to do it. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and His ability to prosper His people extends even beyond the wallet, beyond the temporal into such intangibles as health, peace, opportunity, and favor.

I’m going to put the body of our two letters to the President below, not for pride’s sake, but for precept’s sake. The New Testament instructs us, “If you can be free, be free.” (I Cor. 7:21) Don’t sell yourselves, your children, and your grandchildren into slavery. If you know of an area in your life where you are depending on government rather than God, ask Him to lead you out of bondage and into freedom. Then show your broken shackles to your neighbor and lead him directly to the feet of the Master that can break his chains as well.

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p.s. Lately there has been an increase in talk of “basic income payments” which could be deposited monthly in the bank accounts of all eligible Americans. The same principle applies to basic income payments or to monthly stipends as to one-off stimulus payments: “Be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1) The money may look “free” on the surface, but once you have become dependent upon it, you can be sure any continuation of your benefit will come with strings.

p.p.s. A further update to this article follows:

* See Davy Crockett’s “It’s Not Yours to Give” speech at fee.org.

What if that talent were used for God?


Frames from an early animated film, Felix the Cat.

We don’t watch movies very often for two reasons – firstly, we want to be good stewards of the time God has given us to use for Him, and secondly, it is difficult to find excellent material that we are comfortable sharing with our children. But about a week ago, we decided to rent an animated film made a couple decades ago and watch it with our adult children who are still at home. The film was a relatively harmless diversion (especially considering that the children we watched it with are grown) even if it wasn’t particularly edifying, but I had only one thought when I lay down to bed after viewing it: What if the talent that went into writing, animating, and producing that film had been used for God?

God has given each person on earth specific abilities and talents. Even those who don’t know Him or recognize Him as Lord and Savior have been blessed with giftings in music, writing, film, art, construction, farming, medicine, technology, and so on. Imagine the world we would live in if all those abilities were being employed for His glory!

While the unsaved are unlikely to use their giftings expressly to honor God, those of us who are Christians shoulder a weighty responsibility to use our health, our finances, our talents, our time, our very lives for Him. In I Timothy 4 Paul reminded Timothy, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee.” It is possible to bury our talents, to allow the good things to push out room for the best things, to use our giftings in ways that please ourselves rather than our Creator.

As we begin this new year, let’s take a few moments to reflect on the special talents God has given to us as individuals. Are we using them for Him? Are there gifts that we’ve neglected? Are there things we are doing to please ourselves that are using up our energy to work for the Lord? Let’s ask God for the wisdom to pursue the endeavors He would have us pursue and let’s purpose to improve and exercise our gifts so that He may be glorified and we may experience growth.

A special note to wives, mothers, and grandmothers: Please remember that home-making (and all that goes into it) is itself a gift — a beautiful gift that God wants to use to sanctify you and to bless your family and others. The home is a much-neglected place of ministry. Any interests and abilities that He has given you as an individual can be woven into the fabric of family life, hospitality, outreach, and entrepreneurship over the years. Satan may tempt you to look at what other women are doing to try to make you feel like you are not doing “enough” or that your gifts are being “wasted” in the home, but if you are being a faithful wife, training your children to love the Lord with all their hearts, reaching out to your brethren and the community, and setting an example for the younger women and coming alongside them, you are being a nation builder. Bless you, faithful wife. Bless you, sacrificing mother. Bless you, praying grandmother. May God be pleased to raise up many more like you in the years to come!

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* Because the term “nation builder” can have various shades of meaning, I should clarify that I am using it as I first heard it used by Nancy Campbell of Above Rubies magazine. A strong nation begins with strong homes, churches, and communities. As wives, mothers, and grandmothers, we have the opportunity to build each of these up or to tear them down. (See Proverbs 14:1, Romans 12:4-18, James 2:8.)