Who Cares if its Not Real, It’s Still a Cool Quote!

I ran across this quote yesterday by a guy named Alexander Tytler.  I looked it up online to find the context and discovered that its validity is questioned.  Here’s the quote, and after I’ll explain the doubts:

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

  • From bondage to spiritual faith;
  • From spiritual faith to great courage;
  • From courage to liberty;
  • From liberty to abundance;
  • From abundance to complacency;
  • From complacency to apathy;
  • From apathy to dependence;
  • From dependence back into bondage.
It totally makes sense and here is the history.  Apparently it came to popularity after the 2000 election and is attributed to Alexander Tytler, who lived in the late 1700’s/early 1800’s.  From Wikipedia:
This passage actually comprises two quotations. The first paragraph being one and the second paragraph and list, commonly known as the “Tytler cycle”, or more anonymously as the “Fatal Sequence”, being the other. Both can be traced back to the 1950’s, and they began to appear together in the 1970’s. No original author can reliably be determined for either quotation.
Oh well, I thought it was a neat quote anyways, and it makes sense.  Either way, I think you can see where we would be on this scale…
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“So, do you REALLY trust Me?”

If someone walked up to me and asked if I trusted God with the details of my life, I would say absolutely.  Of course I believe that God takes care of the details of my life.  I teach about it all the time.  In fact, right now we’re going through a series on relationships and my talk generally circles around the concept of trusting God with your love life.  Do you trust God enough to hand your love life over to him?

There have been numerous times through my short life where I have been confronted with the test to trust God in the midst of the unknown and uncertain, and I can firmly say that through all of those times, God has proved Himself faithful over and over again.  Lately, Leah and I have been praying for a place to move into.  We want to have more kids in the future, but right now we’re out growing the one bedroom apartment with Micah.  We knew we had to have a lot of things work together in order for us to move, and it looks like those things are going to happen. Our prayer was that God would blow us away with something and make it obvious.

Then God brought about an amazing situation that may work.  I can’t share a lot of the details, but it has definitely blown us away, but there are some issues that need to be settled before we could say ‘yes’ to that situation.  And it always seems that you have a firm grasp on the situation and find it easy to trust God with the details, whether big or small.  And then God drops something big in your lap that you weren’t necessarily ‘planning on’.

That moment came to us last Tuesday night.  In the midst of watching the results for the election and seeing that there were going to be big changes for our country coming soon, we found out that big changes were also coming soon for our own family.  It was growing.  We found out that God had blessed us with the gift of another child.  That’s right, Leah’s pregnant again!  What a wonderful blessing, albeit unexpected at this point in the game, but a great blessing.

So, now I hear God saying “So, do you REALLY trust Me?”  All I am forced to say is “yes, but help my unbelief!”  I find myself with a similar mindset of the man who came to Christ with a child that was mute and had a spirit in him (Mark 9).  The man said, “if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  Jesus replied saying “If you can!  All things are possibe for one who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

So, yes, I believe that God is really in control of the details of my life.  I just need help in my unbelief.  I know that God will bring us through the situation in our life and that He will work everything out for His glory!

When Was the Last Time You Wept for Your Nation?

Lately, we’ve been going through the book of Lamentations in our high school group for Wednesday nights.  I know this isn’t a common choice, but it was voiced by the kids, and I thought it would be a good month or so.  For those of you who are familiar with the book of Lamentations, let me take a moment to set the scene.

The prophet Jeremiah was called to preach to the Southern Kingdom of Judah in a time where their hearts and allegiance was removed from the Lord.  The Norther Kingdom had already been hauled off by Assyria, who then grew more and more incapable of enforcing their empire.  Babylon comes up on the scene, and overtakes Assyria to become the big bully on the block.  They grow in power and seek to conquer the world.  Nebuchadnezzar leads a charge through the land of Israel, and they cry ‘uncle’ and are made a vassal state.  When Nebuchadnezzar finds more opposition than he was expecting in Egypt, he returns home for a year to reload.  During this time, Israel makes the tragic mistake of yielding allegiance to Egypt, which didn’t make Babylon happy.  Nebuchadnezzar comes back, sieges Jerusalem, eventually captures it, destroys the Temple, walls and gates, and hauls King Zedekiah off to Babylon.

During this time, Jeremiah is called to preach a call to repentance to his nation, but is told at the beginning that they won’t listen and he’ll find opposition everywhere.  God promises to deliver him, but its a pretty grim picture.  Jeremiah preaches his message and finds somewhat of an audience with Josiah before he is killed in battle, but nothing after that.  He was turned on by his people and false prophets decried him.  He was mocked, beaten, thrown in jail, left for dead, and accused of treason for telling Zedekiah to surrender to Babylon because God had raised them up to punish His people, Israel.

One would expect Jeremiah to react like Jonah.  To walk out of the city and wait for the wrath of God to consume it.  But that isn’t what happens.  There is a reason why Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet.  Listen to how deeply affected Jeremiah was by his people’s sin:

“My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out to the ground because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, because infants and babies faint in the streets of the city.” Lamentations 2:11

“My eyes will flow without ceasing without respite, until the Lord from Heaven looks down and sees; my eyes cause me grief at the fate of all the daughters of my city.”  Lamentations 3:49-51

“Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.”  Jeremiah 9:1

Jeremiah was personally afflicted by his people’s rejection of God’s words.  When he preached, it was not with the primary of condemnation, but with correction and restoration.  I pained Jeremiah to see his people move so far from arms of their covenant God.  It is also interesting to see how often he lumps himself in with Israel, not content to just take pot shots from a distance, but to share in the misery.

As I was preparing to preach through chapter 3, I realized a large shortcoming in my own heart.  I could use a lot of Jeremiah in me.  I have found that it is really easy to sit back, see the moral decay in our country, and say, “Wait until you see what’s comin’ at you.”  It’s been easy for me to watch the news and see people who promote wickedness like its admirable and think, “Wait until they come face to face with the righteousness of Jesus Christ.”  I realized that my heart isn’t broken over the moral depravity of my country.

And I don’t think I’m alone.  When Prop 8 passed here in California (Gay Marriage Ban), I was afraid for what the evangelical response would be.  I imagined Christians seeking to rub the victory in the face of a crushed segment of society.  I foresaw evangelicals coming off as snobs and elitists, being more proud over their temporary political victory, thinking they have dealt a blow to the “gay agenda”.  The problem with that thinking is that the victory is more preserving the institution of marriage than being ‘anti-gay’, and it ends up alienating and severely offending people in need of God’s grace and redemption.

What we need is less true believers sitting back, waiting for God to consume Sodom and Gomorrah, and more believers weeping for the people’s rejection of their Creator.  I realized I need more Jeremiah in my perspective and less Jonah.