Friday, May 19, 2017

Russian Connections

I try to take the high ground when it comes to politics. I know everyone is passionate about their views and I try to respect the sharing of ideas and exploring alternative solutions. I seek out scripture for my stands politically because I want to support the things God supports and stand against the things He stands against. I realize that more important than politics is a person's relationship to Christ-their only hope of Heaven and the great reconciler of all times. 

Here are the things I see from scripture that should be important to us:
  • Sanctity of life (don't murder, protect the unborn, respect for handicapped, honor for our elders)
  • Truth trumps opinion (Jesus said I am the truth and the life. We should be careful that our views are based in fact and not merely speculation)
  • Honoring of Marriage (unity of man and woman ordained by God, sexual purity in and outside of marriage, respect for men as the head of the household and women as the chief counsel for men, women to raise children to respect God, men to protect and provide for their homes just as God cares and protects us). 
  • Respect for diversity (realization that everyone is made uniquely by God and they have sets of strengths and differences that should be honored and not molded)
  • Respect for authority (recognizing that God has ordained the authorities over us as He is Sovereign and that our authorities are responsible to God to uphold order and laws for the good of society)
  • Respect and care for planet (God set man over the planet to care for it and to rule the animals. We should never mistreat the environment or the animals but they are subject to us). 
Related to this Russian probe that seems to go on endlessly through news cycles it seems to get at the heart of the division in our nation. I want to know truth and I know I don't have all knowledge of the matter, but God does. So what do we really know?

During the election, Wikileaks released some very damaging emails uncovering some devastating news about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. The source of these leaks was tied to hackers that were sourced in Russia. We have known that Russia is the country of origin from a number of viruses and hacks so the source is not that surprising. 

Because the release of information was exposed damaging truths about one party in particular, speculation ran rampant about who ordered the hacks and how "if" the Republican candidate were to arrange for a third party nation to bring down their opponent it would be collusion and delegitimize that Republican candidate. It was speculation without all the facts and designed to create doubt in the minds of Americans about their elected president.  Until there are facts to support these claims, I think this violates God's principle of respect for authority. If there is evidence of wrongdoing, I believe the truth principle would dictate that evidence be exposed so that truth can be known. 

Logic tells me that it doesn't make sense for Putin to be in cahoots with Trump. The candidate Putin should have wanted to win would have been Hillary. Her stand related to defense of American interests was much weaker than Trump she would have been the easier force for a foreign nation to overcome. As Putin, I would want to see a weak America and not a strong one.

I am offended by much of the news we see today. Just look at the headlines in the paper and the tag lines on social media. They are not based in fact, but designed to stir emotion. Most interviews posted on the internet come with lines like see this interviewer "utterly destroy, devastate, crush" their guest. Even the news anchors that should stick to fact and keep opinions to themselves are engaging in story telling and opinions- usually to put down anyone who doesn't believe as they do (violating the diversity principle and adding to the division of our nation). 

No matter who would have won the election, the winner would have been disliked. The media generally leaning left would have portrayed the Democratic winner much more favorably but the nation who voted Republican would still have been in doubt. 

Here's the deal. No one need get offended with another view. We should seek out fact and not depend on just opinion to guide us. We should seek to ensure that any elected leader is able to do his/her job effectively and if they are not operating in their nation's interest we should hold them accountable. God is Sovereign and He sees it all. We can still depend on Him while we are here on this planet and trust in Him for our eternal security. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Nation Divided

Let's face it; our nation is more divided than ever.  Races divided claim that each side is bigoted and exercising special privilege.  We hear sexism rants particularly from women who believe their path up the corporate ladder is thwarted by men who receive undue favor.  Men treat women and speak of women in demeaning ways.  Police are opposed in the neighborhoods and it is considered OK to resist arrest and expect no consequences.  Politics divide people all types of ways; guns, schools, right to life, same sex marriage, transgender identity, public programs and more.  The distance between us grows and grows.  But God divides our nation based on only one distinction; are you redeemed or not?

We have a lot more in common than we care to admit.  While God made each one of us unique and equipped us with a mind and special abilities to be used to benefit ourselves, our community and to glorify Him, we also have a sin nature that joins us together.  We all have within us the seeds of sin that can and do manifest themselves.  No matter how hard we try, we cannot shake this demon nature of ours and for that reason God sent the world a Savior named Jesus Christ.

When we look at our divisions, we more often than not are holding ourselves above another viewpoint claiming superior intellect and moral rightness.  Many of the divisions aren't issues for God at all.  God made all races and his son died for everyone who will accept the free gift of salvation.  God made the sexes man and woman each with their own characteristics and designed to work together functioning in marriage as one unit.  God formed the child in its mothers womb and loves that child even before it breathes its first breath.  It is only God who can claim moral rightness, our place is to fall in line with His declarations or stand against them.

We all like to believe that we are worthy of God, but in fact the Bible tells us that each of us has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  It tells us if we have sinned even just once we have made ourselves a reproach to God and unable to redeem ourselves no matter how much good we may do moving forward.  We are all deplorable sinners without any hope at all - until Jesus paid the price for our sin, we were all doomed to eternity away from God.  Now that Jesus has bridged the gap between men and God we do have a great hope for our nation.  We can all enjoy fellowship with God and have His Spirit reside in us if we will but admit our sin and agree with God that we have offended His laws, His plans and His purposes.  We can acknowledge that the only one who was perfect before God was Jesus alone and believe that His death and resurrection are sufficient to pay the price for our failures.  We can ask God to come inside us and clean house; chipping away at our character flaws and replacing our own nature with His.  Then we can receive that redemption promised.

With our nation divided it is clear more than ever that we need Jesus.  Some very passionate people hold views that are against God and may be standing on the edge of eternity without any hope.  Now more than ever the redeemed need to extend a hand of fellowship to those who are unsaved and offer them both friendship and encouragement.  There is a choice still to be made even though the president is selected - that choice is who will be King of your life?  Will we drift through life seeking our own will and pleasures or will we seek God's will and find eternal joy?  Our nation is divided, but we can be united once again; but only in Christ will we find true unity.

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Who will be President

This election is historical. I don't believe we have ever encountered two more controversial candidates running for public office. More time is spent evaluating why the "other" candidate is unqualified rather than highlighting the merits of the preferred candidate. Perhaps it is because we have a hard time identifying any particular merits. Yet each has won the primaries for their convention and each have a base of people to whom they speak. Unfortunately, they both speak to a fringe of society that does not reflect the desires of the masses. Is it any wonder that the masses would rather not vote to endorse either candidate. What does that mean? The fringe will potentially determine the outcome of the election; but really do we grant them that much power?

Trump is a reflection of American disillusionment with Washington status quo. Americans have come to expect that power and corruption are so intertwined that any politician is corrupt by virtue of association. Both Trump and Sanders campaigned on their "outsider" status, suggesting that real change can only be brought about in Washington by electing someone who is not part of the political machine. I believe this is one of the reasons he has gained the nomination. Before we go too far, please let's remember eight years ago when candidate Obama basically ran on the same talking points. His "Hope and Change" message spoke to the populous  who elected him. 

Trump, much like President Obama, is divisive in his rhetoric. By calling out one side against another. Suggesting that there are demons among us (usually anyone who does not agree with them) both Trump and Obama have exacerbated tensions in our country rather than uniting people together under a common vision. Trump is the republican version of Obama in his demeanor. While republicans shout that to elect Hillary is to get another term of Obama; they should also look at their own candidate as well. 

While Trump is running on an anti-Washington stand, I contend that anti-Washington sentiments will continue to grow as more and more Americans are tied to government programs for their standard of living. When Americans are not directly seeing the impact of Washington's choices there is less to lose personally. As we depend on Washington to dole out the benefits we have come to deem "rights", the public will continue to be disillusioned with the leadership in Washington no matter which party is in power. 

Democrats,on the other hand create a message of victimization. Race, women's equality, right to abortions, immigration, ex-offenders, poverty. Virtually any disadvantaged category of people is encouraged to believe they have been victimized by the "system" and they have a need for government intervention. The "system" as defined by the left are those corporations who profiteer off the hardships of the downcast and the bigoted people of privilege who defend them. These corporate forces are deemed to keep the underclass cast down; unable to gain access to any opportunity. 

Just a side not about BLM since they have been vocal recently and speak to the disenfranchised. The Black Lives Matter people are more against corruption of people in authority than they are about gaining respect for the black population. If they really believed that black lives should be esteemed, they would boycott the millions of abortions that take the lives of black babies and the horrific crimes that are committed in neighborhoods that are largely black. They would mourn the absence of black fathers in the homes inspiring their children to take advantage of the opportunities they have to get a good education and to become someone that their own children can look up to. BLM has made police and whites their enemy, perhaps embracing the vicitimization message spewed by the left. They don't seem to believe they can with perseverance and determination make a better life for themselves. As long as they see themselves as victims they never will. 

The left believes in government intervention to provide for those who struggle and are disadvantaged.  Charity is deemed prejudicial and ineffective in delivering community responses. In effect, by forcing charity upon the citizens, they send a message that Americans are not generous enough to invest in solutions for struggling people of their locality and that the solutions offered would not be broadly applied to every struggling person. Let's add new taxes and create programs that don't look to provide long term benefit, but merely band-aid a cancer. 

Food assistance, publicly funded housing, and financial assistance have all grown in recent years. Such assistance  should be temporary solutions with the goal of employment solving the need, but those receiving benefits are more often long term beneficiaries. This leaves new applicants wondering why they should sacrifice time with children and pay for their care in order to have a low wage job that doesn't get them ahead. Their standard of living can be just as good under government charity. Yet even that standard of living is not anything Americans should aspire to. We are a nation built on perseverance and hard work. Our dream was to make a better life for the generations to follow. Perhaps we are abandoning what has made our nation so great. 

Right leaners would say that even if you don't like the Presidential nominee, you must vote because of the potential for the multiple Supreme Court nominations that will likely take place under this administration. Unfortunately, there is a cultural shift that no court can ever change. Our nation has called evil good and good evil. No court can change the heart of a nation.  Only as individuals see their son and return to God will our land be healed. 

What does the Bible say about times like this?

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Consider some biblical principles we can use for this election. 

God puts leaders in place
Romans 13:1 (NKJV) For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

Think of this. The President of Mexico, the Shah of Iran, the rulers of every country are appointed by God and serve His purposes. Both the benevolent and the wicked rulers are used in God's plan; even those who hold themselves against God. God determines the ruler and no election can stand against His appointment. If the next President is wicked, that President can still be used by God - and will be accountable to God for what they did with their power. 

God can replace leaders at his discretion. 

Consider the story of Saul who failed to obey God's commands. He was selected by God to be the first king of Israel and then dethroned by God when he went his own way. 1 Samuel 15:26. In our own country, God is able to raise the leader up and to take them down. With or without an election. 

Even misguided and evil leaders can be used for God's purposes

Consider Pharaoh of Egypt in Moses' time. Pharaoh set himself against God and refused to release the Israelites from bondage though plague after plague depleted the land and resulted in devastation and death to the people. God used Pharaoh's hard heart to display His glory so that no one would be in doubt that God was real and He was the force behind His people Israel.  Though hardship and tragedy may befall the people, it is God who judges the nation. Rulers are but a tool in God's hand. 

The people should honor their leaders and pray for their good. 

I Timothy 2:1-4 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

A great model for this was Daniel who prayed for the Kings who held Israel in captivity. He prayed for their long life and for their welfare. God heard the prayers of Daniel and displayed His power not only to Daniel but also to the Kings he served. 

Before we criticize our President or even our leaders in congress, can we truly say we have prayed for God to grant them wisdom know right and courage to do it?  Have we prayed for their salvation and their walk with the Lord to be strengthened?  We as a nation have a command to carry out and our leaders cannot govern effectively without God's intervention so we must be in prayer for them. We need to develop in our own relationship that we can go to God and know that He hears our prayers. Far too many do not pray because we have distanced ourselves from God and gone our own way. 

Until we see our own need of God's intervention in our lives we cannot effectively be governed by a mere mortal.  Until Jesus himself is President of our hearts, our nation is doomed to God's judgement.  We as a nation have lost our way. We have called wrong right and we have abandoned our first love of the Lord. Only when we get ourselves right will we see the elected authorities reflect godly character. 

While the current climate is one of our own making because we have as a nation turned away from God and excused and sometimes embraced sin, God has a bigger plan that is far greater than any one nation's power. He allows societies to go their own way and reap the consequences of their sins. Yet, He still stands firm in his offer of salvation and redemption to anyone who will embrace it. He still has yet to return for Hos people and establish His Kingdom. If we will but open God's word we can see the signs God foretold ages ago.

 If there was ever a time we need to pray for strength to stand firm and for our loved ones to be saved it is now. Time is short and the real King is coming. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Why I Admire Josh Duggar

The media buzz around the Duggar family is disconcerting.  Here 5 young women have to relive the scandal that brought distress years ago all over again. I wouldn't write this if I thought the points had been covered by the commentators, but I think something is missing from their discussion. Josh Duggar by all accounts did some amazing things for a young man in response to his wrongdoing as a teen. I admire the character he displayed even as he made wrong choices. 

One of the things I admire most is Josh's confession. Few of us would turn ourselves in for crimes we have committed.  But by his parents' account Josh confessed his wrong doing. He also confessed it to his fiancĂ© as well before marriage. It takes remarkable strength of character to verbalize your wrongdoings. Our natural tendency is to cover up our offenses and never properly deal with them. 

 As I think back of all the boys I have known in my past, all of them had an interest in female body as teens. Many of them I know are guilty of "copping a feel" or at least peering at girls who may have a wardrobe malfunction or wear clothes a little too tight or a little too loose. None of my network of family, friends and acquaintances would have run to admit what they had done. 

If Josh Duggar had said nothing, the acts might never have been known since the victims apparently we're all unaware. Yet, Josh's integrity resulted in consequences. You and I are also faced each day with the choice to tell the whole truth even if it may have consequences. If we fully disclose every source of income on our taxes or only take what is rightfully ours, we might have consequences we don't care to consider. If we are people of absolute integrity we will not compromise the truth.  Every act of deception has within it the power to do harm to another individual or group.  By the accounts of Josh's parents he did not compromise or try to deceive. 

Even as the scandal broke he confessed it was true to the world. How many of us would be willing to have our failures publicly exposed. How many of us would make excuses or twist the story in our favor. Josh did none of that, even though it cost his reputation and his livelihood. He was a man of character and admitted his failure. 1 John 1:9 (HCSB). If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When Josh confessed to police he faced the judgment of our legal system and had the scrutiny of Social Services, police and the community placed on him. 

Josh paid for his own counseling to demonstrate to the victims that he was sincere in his repentance. Few criminals would pay the cost to assure their victims that there was no need for fear. 

Josh knows how much one decision can change the course of your life. His wrong decisions have cost him in terms of his reputation.   We too are faced with the same problem. One act of sin in our lives is worthy of judgment. Scripture tells us that the act of sin is a reflection of the sinful character we inherited from Adam and have to battle all the days of our lives. Even one act is deserving of eternal damnation and we can never get away from this dreadful condition we are in apart from having the righteousness of Jesus Christ applied to our hearts. Those that stand in condemnation of Josh's sin also have this inner sinful nature that must be addressed either through their own confession of sin and receiving of redemption or must allow God himself to address that sin when He judges their lives. I can be more forgiving of Josh Duggar because I know what a big sinner I am. It doesn't mean we disregard sin; it means we address it with the goal of restoration. 

Josh Duggar knows the power of that one right choice of making Jesus his Lord. His faith doesn't undo the wrongs of the past, but though he is completely guilty, he has the hope of eternity in Heaven because though his choice left him bankrupt, Jesus took the penalty of eternity in Hell he would have suffered. He is certainly being oppressed I the kangaroo courts of public opinion, but he can have peace even in the midst of this storm because of his adoption into the family of God. 

I think of how much Josh's story is like that of the Apostle Paul. He had oppressed Christians and even murdered them, but had a moment of conversions that changed the course of his life. His reputation followed him forever, but his new zeal for the Lord would establish a new reputation for him; a reputation God Hself built in his life. 

I have been encouraged by the character of the Duggar family. There may be aspects of their story that if told would disappoint me, after all  they are human and they are sinners. But I have been encouraged by their testimony to stand firm in my faith and to not let the world influence my choices but look to God to supply all my needs. 

I have mixed feelings about the continuance of the television show. As a Christian, I would like to see how dealing with this situation causes them to trust God more and to find Him faithful as they do. They will do that whether it is recorded or not. God's record is complete and it is their standing before Him that matters. 

I pray for Josh, Anna (yet another victim of this media frenzy) and their family. I pray that as God opens this new chapter of their lives that they may have God's peace and a new sense of purpose in this new circumstance. 

I pray for the victims of the acts that were committed. The victim list that grows each day as the media stories continue, not through Josh's continued acts of aggression but through the exposure, others have to endure greater disruption to their lives. 

I pray for those who have such hate and disdain for the Duggars that they may come to the end of themselves and find that God offers them the same offer of forgiveness that Josh received. They too can be rid of their anger and judgement as they realize they are on the receiving end of God's grace. 

This blog was written before the Ashley Madison scandal came out and I do not condone Josh's choices, I believe he can turn things around for himself. The public wants to paint this man as evil, but in fact he made choices not unlike others. We are so quick to throw stones particularly at public figures who have publicly stated they are people of faith.  We see adultery in biblical passages even from men after God's own heart. This was a sin against God, against his wife and ultimately against himself. I am glad to hear that he is getting counsel. 

After all this sad news, the one I admire most is Anna, Josh's wife for standing firm through the fire of enduring public humiliation resulting from Josh's sin. 

If all the people who had affairs in this nation would humble themselves before God and seek forgiveness from God and their spouse, I believe we would find redemption and new purpose for our lives. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Medicaid and Veterans Aid and Attendance

Recently I sat in on a continuing education training for my certification as a financial planner. The speaker unpacked strategies to get clients qualified for benefits like Veteran Aid and Attendance and Medicaid. Often assets and income are considered in qualifying for benefits and many benefits require that you have a degradation of capacity for self care. 

The speaker outlined what the eligibility parameters were, but then suggested ways to "repackage" the financial or medical condition so that their claim would be considered favorably. Nothing presented was not illegal. For instance, if family members are providing care to allow an unwell individual to remain in the home, it is acceptable if these family members get paid for services thus reducing the discretionary income considered when being evaluated for benefits. In fact even if the in well individual has no money to pay that family member, they can direct money their way and then have the family member use that funding to pay the utilities etc. a completely legal way to recharacterize living expenses to look like care giving expenses. 

People who are anticipating needing to  access Medicaid and similar benefits know that the value of their assets are considered and that there are rules in place to look back up to five years on any gifting done to move assets from their management to someone else.  By transferring assets they can make sure that they and their families have the benefits of the wealth while also tapping the resources of the taxpayers. 

I left the presentation impressed by the creativity of the speaker and my collegues actively practicing commented that the training gave them good strategies they could use. I am ashamed to admit that it took me about five minutes to reconsider the morality of the recommendations. 

Our Medicaid and Aid and Attendance for our veterans were programs designed to benefit older people who may have become disadvantaged. We Americans don't like to see people suffer and recognized that we do have a reaponsibility to care for our neighbor. Americans are incredibly paternalistic and the social programs that have been developed reflect those core values. 

As Christians we have an even higher authority and the principle to apply is that of honesty and integrity.  Our God calls us to be responsible stewards and that includes not taking money that is not rightfully ours. The programs were organized to assure the public that those who are able to pay for services pay their way and those who are unable get assistance to maintain essential needs. 

Exodus 20:15 tells us that we should not steal and Exodus 20:17 says that we should not covet what belongs to someone else. When we redirect assets and income to qualify for public benefits like this we are disobeying God's commands and we are effectively communication a message that we should not only be entitled to our resources but also someone else's. One of the deceptions prevalent is that legal benefits available whether it is public benefits, bankruptcy, or debt settlement don't harm anyone. In fact we are taking money from other people to have greater benefits for ourselves. These practices of using the system are the reason that our legal system and regulations have become increasingly complex. Every time  new legal strategies are embraced, new laws have to be erected to plug the hole in the program to keep the integrity in place. 

As people bearing the name of Christ, our mission should be for absolute honesty and integrity. We have to account to our Lord for our choices here. I pray you will choose the high road. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Abandonment of Marriage

Recently, our local news station posted an article on the reason that marriages no longer work. I will post the link for you to read for yourself, but the primary reasons given were related to intimacy and finances. People just don't connect with each other on a deeply personal basis; technology has changed the dynamic of our interactions. Financially, the cost of education has crippled many financially and they cannot make enough to support a family and pay their debts. 

I would like to address the intimacy part first. Marriage is organized for intimacy. I believe it is the closest thing we will ever come to knowing the love of God. Two imperfect people, different in so many ways are drawn together for life. A three cord strand not easily broken, we cling together through the trials and hardships of life. In marriage we have a companion to experience life with us and support us through the deep valleys and rejoice with us on the mountain-tops. 

I admit when I married, I was so naive. I had no idea what commitment I was making. I couldn't know. I was drawn to my husband by a deeper personal connection. He could seem to understand my drives, my goals in life, he accepted me warts and all. I was drawn to his creativity, loyalty and passion. No matter what he faced he would work at it until he saw solution. No problem unsolved. We had a connection and we acted on it. 

Marriage is important in God's eyes. In the Bible it is regarded in highest esteem and violations of that covenant are met with harsh judgement. It is the one relationship where you are completely exposed and vulnerable yet loved. I don't think the relationship can be duplicated without the marriage covenant because the partners have no commitment to remain together. When storms of life or bad behavior cause one partner to question the wisdom of staying together there is no obligation to stay. There is no sense of unconditional love that bears all things believes all things; the true love all of us crave. Without marriage we give up hoping for that kind of love. 

We now have more than 1/2 of our children being born in families of unmarried couples. These children often do not have a father present in their lives and do not know the security of having mom at home when they arrive home from school or the joy of going to a ballgame, fishing or hunting with dad. The one factor that seems to contribute to poverty the most is single parenthood. If people think they can't afford to be married, imagine the costs of single living. Far too many couples leave their marriages for financial reasons all to find themselves worse off after divorce. 

Security is greatest when there are two parents present. Even if there are no children, the cost of living separately is greater. The true condition that causes marriages to fail or never happen in the first place is that we are selfish by nature. We like things our way and we stubbornly refuse to accommodate someone else. God ordained marriage that we would learn how to really love. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to save a sinner like me. God has not required that level of sacrifice on my part, but he does allow conflict and hardship to whittle away at my hardness so that I can become more like my Lord. 

The greatest achievements do not come without commitment and sacrifice. If we choose to abandon these qualities and avoid marriage, we choose to settle for a life of little impact. A life of mediocrity. 

Just a final thought. At the very time when heterosexual young adults are abandoning marriage, homosexual couples are desperately fighting for their right to unite and legitimize their relationships. This unionizing of gay couples will further degrade the covenant of marriage. Marriage is a holy covenant made before God. To ask God to bless what He has clearly spoken against is blasphemy. God will be the one to judge our nation of we deface the marriage covenant. This month our courts will determine whether we will nationalize same sex marriages and force recognition of legitimacy in every state.  If marriage doesn't work, why bother with such dramatic actions?  

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Minimum Wage Increases: do they help?

Today across the nation minimum wage increases from $6.55 to $7.25. Before taxes that can add another $28 per week into your paycheck of low income families or about $1,450 per year. That is a nice 10% increase in their wages.

As a Christian, I believe that it is the obligation of the Christian community to care for their poor and widows. The Bible gives us many examples of ways the poor were to be cared for in both the Old Testament and the New. There were commands to leave some of the harvest on the ground for the poor to glean. There was the practice of releasing the poor from their debts every 7 years and the year of Jubilee where their possessions were restored every 50 years.

As a budget coach and a volunteer with Crown Financial Ministries, I have great compassion for the financial struggles. I believe the challenges are greater now than they were even several years ago. More and more constraints to the budget degrade the American lifestyle and even force families into financial instability.

Studies show that families need hourly wages of $12 - $16 per hour (depending on the number in your family and where you live) just to live independently. In my ministry work and now in my profession, my goal is to help families get the education and skills they need to sustain them. As God's people we should invest our efforts in pleasing Him by using our skills and our wealth wisely I hope to encourage families to do just that. I recognize that there are circumstances in which individuals are not able to overcome their poverty and that is where the church needs to be much more active than it has been. That will be a topic for another blog.

Raising minimum wage has some significant negative consequences that dramatically affect the welfare of the low income worker:

  1. Employers pass their increased costs on as increased prices for product. Let's say you work for a retailer that pays minimum wage. They sell low cost products to families like you. Since minimum wage is increased 10%, the employer needs to pass on that cost increase to its customers. This has a compounding effect as the product they purchase from wholesalers is also now increased because their employees got an increase in salary. The wholesalers also had to pay more for their product because the manufacturers had an increase. The manufacturers had to pay more for their parts because their suppliers had an increase. You can see that the increases grow. 
  2. Cost increases do not stop at the minimum wage worker: The employer must consider the performance and seniority increases that other workers have received over time as well in order to maintain an incentive to employees to strive to move up the wage scale through hard work and diligence. If you were making $7.25 because of your hard work prior to the increase, is it fair to now bring all employees up to your wage scale and not keep your incentive in place? The employer must give wage increases across the wage scale to keep the incentives in place so their costs don't just increase for the minimum wage workers but for all costs.
  3. New incentives exist to use foreign inputs: If all the manufacturers have a 10% increase in the cost of materials and their wages increased by 10%, they need to sell their products now for even more than 10% perhaps up to 20% more. As a wholesaler who has to pay for this increase, I am now incentivized to look to a less costly product to fill that need. Where can I look? Overseas. Because we are more and more a global economy, foreign products are more easily exchanged for those that were American made. That means the supply inputs and the manufacturing work goes to foreign workers and more Americans are out of work; Americans who used to work for low wages now find they are unable to find work at any price.
  4. Quality of products are degraded: In order to remain competitive, your retailer may be forced to purchase lesser quality products in order to keep business. That means that the things you purchase every day now may have less value but they cost the same. Everyone's quality of life becomes degraded as a result. Quality products are less affordable, so merchants who sell higher quality products may have to either choose to degrade their inventory or close their doors.
  5. Products purchased by low income workers are more expensive: The low income worker may find that they are not any better off than they were in the first place because they need to now pay more for their burger, groceries, household goods, services, and utilities. If they received a 10% increase, but the cost of products go up in price by 10% they are actually worse off, because of the taxes that are paid on top of the purchase are greater and further reduce the amount of money in the low income worker's pocket.
Raising minimum wage is meant to help the low income worker, but it cannot serve it's purpose. The working poor are not helped by minimum wage increases. The only way they are helped is to improve their education and skills so they can qualify for higher paying positions. Minimum wage should be a beginning point for a wage earner not the level at which they exist long term. The American dream of opportunity for all people was based on that concept.

I believe that Christians need to become more involved in the lives of the poor and the struggling widows. We need to support them in their time of need and help them to get more opportunity. Churches can develop better outreach in their neighborhoods if they are extending the love of Christ in practical ways that the unbelieving community around them can see. Consider how you can put Christ's love in action today. If you want to find out how your church can become more involved reaching the needs of your members and beginning an outreach to the community, feel free to contact me at