This week Todd investigates the United States economic predicament as we continue the "Declaration" series. As our country persist to make unwise decisions financially, the church must step up and play it's part in changing the course by staying informed about the country's financial situation, getting involved in public policy, and, most importantly, by setting an example. The Church must be wise stewards of their finances, setting an example for a watching world while seeking to come alongside those in need, while looking for our ultimate hope, not in financial security, but in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Scripture References: Matthew 24 , Ecclesiastes 8 , Matthew 6 , Ezekiel 33

Todd Wagner

About Todd Wagner

In 1999, a group of friends and I desired to be the same awe-inspiring community that we saw in the Scriptures and to connect God's people with opportunities to know... Read more

Message Transcript
Yes, I do! I believe what he said, and we are here to declare to you what he has proclaimed, that you can find life, liberty, and the right and correct way to pursue happiness only by knowing God, his will, and way. God's desire is that it would go well with you and you would experience success and prosperity. That doesn't mean you won't get cancer and you'll always get rich. It means you will not be adding to the pain that is already in this world because of sin and rebellion against God. God calls and invites you to reconcile with him through his Son Jesus Christ who has given his life for you and made provision that you and I in our sinfulness can be reconciled to him by faith, and having come back into relationship with him, we are no longer left to our own darkened understanding without God and without hope in this world. We are free to no longer live in a way that seems right to man but, in the end, it is the way of death, but we are free to trust in him because we know he is good. Depending not on our own understanding but in all of our ways acknowledging him, that he might make our paths straight, God wants it to go well with you, but you must listen to him. This is a series where I am declaring to you the counsel of God, and it is our job as his "declarationers" he has left here to proclaim his excellencies as people who have been called out of darkness into his marvelous light to bring hope to the world, help them understand the way that is true and right and leads to life, so we have spent some time here these last weeks talking about where life can only be found, where true liberty is found, that we are not free to do what we want to do whenever we want to do it. True freedom is the freedom to live in a way that leads to glory and does not lead to death. It's not fleeting freedom but freedom indeed. We talked last week specifically about how, if we want to pursue a life that will lead to blessing, we cannot trifle with the institutions God has put in place for our well-being. We talked about family. When you start to redefine family or you start to abdicate your role in family as a mother or a father, there is no such thing as parenting. There is mothering and there is fathering, and God designed that you would do that together, and when you don't, there are incredible consequences in your own heart, in the heart and the future of your children, and in the land in which you live, and if you are serious about seeking the welfare of the land in which you live, you will not jack with marriage as God defined it. I'm going to tie that in a little bit where we're going to go today in terms of how it is jacking with the land we're in today, not just in our own personal hearts and personal well-being but also how we will continue to prosper as a people. When you ask one institution to do what God ordained another institution to do (when you ask government to be a nanny state) it will not go well with you, and we're going to take a look at that this morning as we talk about economy. House law is literally what it means. Let me pray. Father, would you just use this time to call us out of darkness into light, to embolden your declarationers, and to pluck some people who are here who think your Word is irrelevant to them out of that morass of misunderstanding and into clarity so they would seek you and follow you? Would you take away distractions right now? Would you help us hear your Word? Would you show us from modern-day observation the brilliance of the truth of the kindness that is revealed for all who believe who will humble themselves before you, do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with you? Would you teach us now? Amen. I have every week started by going back and saying, if we're just going through an exercise here to sharpen our intellect and expose us to information, it's not going to do much good for us, so I'm not going to review right now the need for you to pray, purify, and proclaim, for you to personally save yourself by accepting the gospel, and by sharing that gospel and speaking the truth and standing firm or by evaluating your own marriage and by engaging with your culture in the way. Just know, if we don't do that, we are not effectual doers but forgetful hearers that will not bring blessing to our lives and we'll find ourselves wanting before God. God does call us to speak up. He says, "When you do speak up, they may not like you. They may treat you the way they've always treated prophets. They may dismiss you. They may mock you. They may even physically want to harm you. They may silence you and jail you, but that's okay. You go there singing, and you start a prison ministry, and you have great hope. Just do your job, prophet." In fact, in Ezekiel, chapter 33, what God says is that his prophets were always watchmen, and he wants watchmen to be on the wall. When they see trouble coming, it's their job to speak up. If a watchman doesn't speak up and the enemy comes storming upon the city and people die because the watchman didn't do his job, God says he will hold the blood of the people in that city as a transgression against the watchman. But if the watchman does his job and he declares what he should, and the people scoff at him and mock him and say, "No, no, no! There's no trouble coming," and then that judgment befalls them, he says, "I will honor you, and their blood will be on their own hands." We, as declarationers, are watchmen. Specifically, Ezekiel 33 says right there in verse 7… He's talking to Ezekiel. His nation he was to seek the welfare of was Israel. Ours where we are today is right here in America. He says, **"Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me."** Gang, that's what I'm doing in this series. I'm calling the church back to its job as a declarationer. What we have in America today is not a marriage problem, an economic problem, an immigration problem, or a political problem. We have a spiritual problem, and when you have a spiritual problem you have to look at that which is supposed to be the source of spiritual encouragement and life to a people. It is us. The greatest evil in America today is the silent, feckless, rebellious, liberalized, non God-fearing church. Gang, we have to get busy. What I'm going to do is equip you with information that will allow you to engage people in a winsome way with love so our nation might have a chance. When salt doesn't do its job, why are we surprised when there is decay? When that which is to be light is not being bright, why are we surprised there is darkness? Here we go, family of God. People of God, let's do our jobs. God says in Jeremiah, chapter 1, that we should speak, arise up, and go, and he says, "If you are dismayed at the people and their response to you, I don't really care, because if you don't dismay them, I will dismay you." Do your job. Be evangelists, speakers, and messengers from God, not casting our opinion, not sharing the best ideas of men, but having an understanding of God's will and way and sharing it with others. Deuteronomy 30 captures what God wants us to do. It's exactly what Moses did. He said, **"…I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it."** That was the message of Moses, and it's our message today. We are to seek the welfare of the city we are in because in its welfare is our welfare. Gang, let me just tell you something. You live in a world that is not run according to God's will and way, so there is going to be consequence in this land. We're already seeing it. You live in a world that is not filled with God's will and way, so there is consequence. There is disease. There is death. There is despair. There is treachery. There is tyranny, but what God says is, "You live with hope even in the midst of that. You sing when everybody else is filled with fear so the world would say, 'What is the source of your song?'" We can tell them, "We know why there's chaos. Because the world is not operating in the way God wanted it to. It's running in rebellion against him." You can call them to the hope and the provision that is available through the gospel, but what God doesn't want us to do is to add to the chaos and the pain. Let me say again, God's desire is that we would be free. He does not want us in any way to experience tyranny, despair, and chaos. Sin always leads to tyranny. It takes away freedom. You are no longer free to operate as you want when you are a slave to flesh, sin, and death, and you will reap destruction when you sow to the flesh. God is trying to spare us. Now, let me just very quickly tie in what I said last week to where I'm going this week. I talked about family, and I talked about how, when you redefine it or trifle with it, it has tremendous effects sociologically, and I really explained what happens to individual children and individual family units, but let me tell you what happens when individual children and family units are dysfunctional. It leads to a dysfunctional society, and when God's system for caring for children and stabilizing society… In other words, there should not have to be a Department of Health, Education, and Welfare outside of the family. That was God's original department of health, education, and welfare, but when the family doesn't do its job, when the family doesn't care for the sick and the indigent, then you need somebody else to step in and perform its role, and it will not be as fit to do it, and it will not go well with you. Our president made it a point, as a part of the focus of his second term in office to make upward economic mobility and inequality between different groups and their earning capabilities, to eradicate that, and he wanted to increase economic mobility across all of the classes. Here's the problem. The _Washington Post_ reported, "Despite all of the programs that have been tried and been instituted recently by our government, children growing up in America today are just as likely to climb…" In other words, there has been no improvement, despite all of the government efforts, to have kids increase their economic status. They don't climb any more than children 50 years ago. In fact, in many ways it's worse, and the reason it's worse, they say, is because the strongest impediment to upward mobility for children, according to all sociological data reported by the _Washington Post_, is family structure. It says the fraction of children living in single-parent households is the strongest correlate of upward income mobility. That's why I said it's impossible to be a great dad and abandon your children, to not be present with your biological children, loving their mom, creating security, educating them in righteousness, dignity, hard work, integrity, and self-sacrifice. Obama, when he spoke about this, himself said this. He goes, "Listen. We all know the statistics." In other words, he said, "Everybody now has just kind of ingested these. We know they're true. Unfortunately, we're not doing much about it." Watch this. He said, "We know the statistics, that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school, 20 times more likely to end up in prison, and they are more likely to have behavioral problems or run away from home or become teenage parents themselves. As a result of all of this, the foundation of our community is going to be weaker because of it." He goes on with others to make the case that it turns into a cultural collapse. When child poverty rises, crime rises, social mobility decreases, welfare is expanding, which bankrupts so many states, and our own economy goes up. Our government acknowledges, when you tinker with God's institution, it's not going to go well with you. Yet, what do we do? We redefine family, we make escaping the family unit easy, we dumb down the institution of marriage, and we redefine those who make it up, and it will not go well with us if we do that. When government replaces the family, it is not going to be able to transmit what God intended to be transmitted. It is the family's job to educate. It is the family's job to provide. It is the family's job to care. Government exists to provide peace and tranquility for the land, to prosecute evil, and to protect good so we might live and work hard in the land and that it might go well with us, and when you ask government to be Mama or Daddy, it will not go well with you. That is why, don't you ever buy the lie that anybody knows better what to do for your children than you, if you are informed by God's Word. You don't let teachers, school administrators, or legislators tell you, "There's a better way for your kids. Here is some intellectual stuff they need. Here is some sexual training they need." You make sure you, as a parent, train and educate your kids in God's will and way and not some Common-Core instruction that isn't consistent with his Word. Let me say this to you. We live in a land, gang, where our national motto is still, "In God We Trust," but it is not our national manner, so you cannot be asleep. We must be on the alert. Gang, here we go. What we're going to do is take a look at this issue of the economy and what is going on. I don't want to sit here and just work up your fear or work up your own personal concern about what's happening in our economy. I do, however, want to do a good job of letting you know when you trifle with God's revealed will and way, it's not going to go well with you, so you can do your job as his prophet. Is that clear what our goal is? The word _economy_ is made up of two words. One word, _oikos_, means house, and the other one, _namas_, means law. Even in Deuteronomy we get that (_duet_ and _namas_). That's why Deuteronomy is the second telling of the law. Economy is the way we get it. It is basically house law. It's how you run your house and how you live your life. It is stewardship, and what God tells you is there's a certain way you ought to steward your life and how you ought to run your house. You ought to work. You ought to pay those who work because they're worthy of their wage. You ought to live frugally, and if you have more than you need and there is somebody who has a need, then their need meets your need to do something with the more that you have and you give it to them so in all things God might be glorified. God would tell you the stomach should work for you. "If you're lazy and irresponsible and, therefore, you don't have provision, I'm going to make you hungry. That pain you're experiencing ought to motivate you out of irresponsible living and moral laxity." Anybody who comes along and says, "I'm going to give to you and provide for you even though you don't want to work," is an enabling mother, and that will not make for a strong and prosperous land. Whether it's a nanny mama, a nanny state, or a nanny biological mother, if you don't let your child lovingly experience the consequence of their laziness and their rebellion and their mocking the rule of you will reap what you sow, then you are setting up your nation or your son or your daughter for a great deal of pain. What has our government been doing lately? Well, pretty much the same thing many Americans are doing, and that is living irresponsibly. I just want to start by saying this to you. It is a fact that living by credit card works wonderfully. You don't have to do anything. You can go. You can buy food. You can buy clothing, big-screen TVs, and you can live high on the hog for a good couple of billing cycles. It works great for two or three months, and then it works, all of a sudden, horribly. You go, "You know what? I wish I would have thought out a little bit further ahead than just a two- or three-month cycle." God doesn't say he wants it to go well for you for a season. He just says, "I want it to go well for you." What we have is a nation that in its arrogance is mocking the rule, the law of God. Let me show you what I mean. The way we are running our national house right now is immoral, and I want to tell you we don't really have an economic problem, just like we don't have a marital problem. We have a spiritual problem, so the solution to what I'm going to talk about today is spiritual transformation, repentance, and humility before God. America has gotten away with what it has done for a long time, and therefore, because the sentence against an evil deed is not being executed quickly, the hearts of Americans among them are given fully to do evil. Does that sound familiar? It's a verse I promised I would quote to you every week from Ecclesiastes, chapter 8, verse 11. The wisest man who ever lived said, "This is why we have what we have. Because people are sowing to the flesh, sowing to the way of man, and they haven't yet got the harvest of it, so they think what they sow doesn't matter, but do not be deceived. God is not mocked. It is coming." Now, I want to just inject right here before I start, because I know what people are going to say. "Oh, here we go! Here is the doomsday! Here is the guy saying the American dollar is eventually going to be worthless. Here is the guy saying America is going to go the way of Rome. How long have they been saying that?" Matthew 24 talks about this mindset. It's Jesus, and he's talking about ultimate judgment. Jesus here is talking about what happens when men scoff at the very existence of God and the fact that there is a house law they will be held culpable to. He says, "My returning in and of itself is going to be at a time and an hour that nobody knows." I don't know (I'm going to say right off) for sure when the hour is coming. If you want to ask me, I think it's very close, and I'll show you why. I'm not talking about the hour of Christ coming back. I hope that comes very soon. We're taught to pray, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus." I know the reason the Lord Jesus hasn't come yet is because he desires that none should perish but all should come to repentance, so I beg of you, if you're here today, to hear about the goodness and kindness of God, that life can be found in him, there is true liberty and freedom, and he wants it to go well with you. Would you come to know him through Christ who gave himself for you as an expression of what God is like (holy, absolutely judges sin but is willing to take that for you, if you'll just acknowledge your need for a Savior)? Jesus says this about his own returning. Watch this. **"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah."** You ask yourself, "What were the days of Noah like?" Well, Noah believed in the Word of God. Noah believed there was a house rule. If you disobeyed God, in micro ways and in macro ways, eventually it will not go well for you, so Noah took the rest of God. That's what the name _Noah_ meant. God used Noah to create a place of rest, a provision that was built by God that you could get on that would escape the coming flood. Can you think of another one who said, "Come to me, and you'll have rest," and on an instrument of wood, God lifted him up and all who come to him are saved? Yes, I can. His name is Jesus. That's why he said, **"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."** But what do people do? They mock at Jesus. What did they do during the days of Noah? They went, "Hey, Noah! How's the ark coming? Where is that flood you're talking about?" What's so interesting, if you go back and look at Genesis 6 even, in fact, is did you guys know just the entire atmospheric system we lived in at the time, there was a very good case made it was just a heavy dew in the morning and a heavy dew in the evening? There was never even such a thing as rain in the prediluvian period. It was just a heavy mist that watered the earth, so when Noah talked about a flood… "What's a flood?" "A flood is what happens when it rains a lot." "Well, what's rain?" That's a tough job to sell that deal right there if you're Noah. Noah said, "Come," but what happened? It says that in those days, they were eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage right up until the day Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand, the Scripture says, until the flood came and took them all away. I'm going to tell you today you're going to look at some stuff and people are going to scoff at what I say, and you might even be among them, and you're going to eat and drink and marry and give in marriage and throw your little Super Bowl parties and go to Lower Greenville and hang out and continue to live life the way you do until, all of a sudden, the chickens come to roost. Mark my word. I think we're closer than ever in our country. Here's the evidence. There is a certain law you cannot mock. The US government in 2013 basically did this. It spent $3.45 trillion. Whenever you hear a number like a trillion, you're like, "What in the world is a trillion?" Let me just walk it to you this way. A trillion is if you took a $100 bill and laid a series of $100 bills to cover a football field front to back all of the way, and then you stacked $100 on top of all of the $100 it took to cover that football field, it would have to get 10 feet high of stacked $100 bills all the way across the football field just to get to $1 trillion. Another way to look at this is, if you had $1 trillion and you started spending $1 million dollars a day from the day Christ was born until now, you would still have 700 more years to spend $1 million a day before you got to a trillion. Another way to think of a trillion is if you would go ahead and count one number per second… Let's think about that, because you could actually count to 10 faster than 10 seconds, but when you got up in the higher numbers, you couldn't even count to a trillion because by the time you get to a place where you say 52,375,466,119 that takes more than a second to say that because of the polysyllabic numbers you're going to get into, but let's assume you could count one number a second. It would take you 16 minutes to get to 1,000. If you counted one number a second, it would take you eleven and a half days to get to a million. Why? A million is a thousand thousands. That's a million. What's a billion? A billion is a thousand millions. If it takes eleven and a half days to get to a million, how long would it take to get to a billion? The answer is 31 years, 251 days, seven hours, and 46 minutes. That's to get to a billion. To get to a trillion which is a thousand billions… Is that right? Or is it a million billions? I don't know. It's a bunch! I just lost my brain for a second. Let me just tell you this. Counting one number a second, it would take you 31,688 years to count to a trillion. That's how big that number is. Just because of the exponential effect of large numbers it goes from 16 minutes to get to 1,000 to 11 days to get to a million to 31,000 years to get to a trillion. Our government last year spent $3.45 trillion in expenses. You go, "Well, we have a lot of people here, Todd, and a lot going on here." Great! Here's the problem. We only took in revenue of $2.77 trillion which means we had a deficit of $680 billion. You might go, "Okay. $680 is kind of crazy. If I owe $10 but I make $100 a year, owing $10 isn't that big of a deal, so maybe, Todd, we just make a lot of money, so $680 billion might not be that big of a thing." Here's the problem. While we were doing that, we already had $16 trillion in debt. What is debt? Debit is the accumulation of deficits over a series of years and decades, and for five decades we have been accumulating deficits to equal our debt now in 2014 of $17 trillion. You go, "What's the big problem?" Let me just show that to you and see how this would work out if you were just dealing with your own little family. To equate this for a family, it would be like if you made $28,000 ($27,700) and you spent $34,500 every year. This is what the US government is doing if you broke it down to individual families in America. That means you're running a deficit of $6,800 a year. You go, "Okay, but that's really pretty high leverage and a pretty bad practice, but it's just for a year, and we make almost $30,000, so maybe if we get really aggressive in the next year and we discipline ourselves and pull back, we can kind of get out of that." I wouldn't recommend it, but maybe you could. The problem is the family that is doing that already has…watch this…$179,000 in familial debt because they didn't just incur $6,800 in debt last year. They had been doing this for decades. Gang, look at that family. How is that family going to ever get out of that? Here's the problem, too. People go, "I don't know how they're ever going to get out of it. Didn't you just tell me it took them decades to get where they got $180,000 in debt? I guess there's really not that big of a problem because it's not smart, it doesn't look good, they may get a lot of calls, and have to change their phone number a lot, but it's working. They're keeping up with the Jones' and still going to Disneyland and still getting all of the pizza by eating out whenever they want. They still have their DirecTV, so it must not be all bad." The problem is they don't let your individual family live like that for very long. You're evicted from your house. Your credit cards get cut off. You can't keep accumulating debt like that, and you are in a real problem, but that's not what has happened to America, so Americans are kind of like, "Well, America has gotten away with it for a long while, so I guess we're going to keep getting away with it. It does sound a little bit overwhelming. By the way, Todd, even if we thought it was a problem, what are we supposed to do? We owe $180,000 and we only make $30,000 a year. That means if we did nothing but work for six years and didn't spend any money on food or shelter and gave everything we earned for the next six years, all we'd do is be back at 0, and I have to eat. I have to sleep. I have to pay rent, so what am I doing? This is hopeless. I may as well keep doing it until I can do it no longer and they just come and get me and take me away to the funny farm where life is good all of the time." It's what America is doing. Just kick the can down the road. By the way, when you hear them talking about reducing the deficit in our country by billions of dollars, understand this. They're not talking about reducing the debt. What they're doing when they say, "We're going to reduce the deficit," would be like… Let me just take you back to this one family slide where it says they make $27,700 but they're spending $34,000. It would be like we'd go, "Let's just spend next year $33,000. We're going to reduce the deficit because now we're only going to spend $33,000." The problem in doing that is they're still overspending by $5,000. Do you see what our government is doing? All of this arguing is not to balance the budget; it's just to reduce the deficit which means the debt won't grow quite as fast this year, but…_but_…because of compounding interest and the exponential acceleration of huge numbers, let me tell you what's going on in 2014. First of all, here's the graph. If you take a look at what America has been doing over the last number of years, this is the very first chart that shows the deficit we've run over a course of time and the acceleration of our debt. There we go! We have revenue which has been growing at a pretty steady rate. Not really impressive, but there you have our debt, and on the left that's trillions. You'll see something happened right around there in 1980 or 1981, by the way, under one of our most beloved presidents from those who often attend church (Ronald Reagan, a Republican president). There was an increase in the deficit that started right there and it continued, you'll see, all the way up until around 2008. There was a real jump due to the tax-assisted relief program where we dealt with our sub-prime mortgage crisis by putting $800 or $900 billion in additional pressure on our deficit which led to an increase in our debt to where now we're at $17 trillion. You go, "Todd, those numbers are so big they don't even make any sense, and it has been working for 50 years." By the way, here's that chart that showed the US federal budget 40-year history. This one shows from 1972 to 2012 (this is very important, because I want you to see what is happening up here) there is a cycle that goes about every seven years. You see, we've run a deficit for all but four years. That was during the Clinton administration. He had a Republican Congress with Newt Gingrich, a conflict with America, with Bill Clinton as our president, and for four years we ran a surplus. By the way, we didn't pay down our debt. We just didn't increase our debt during those years, so all we have basically is this, but I want you to see this. Watch this. If you just observe this chart for a while, starting in 1972, what you see is we got a little aggressive. We go, "We'd better not do this," so we'd pull back. Then, we'd get a little more aggressive and we'd pull back. We don't pull back quite as much. Then, the wave continues, so when you get to 1992, you see us go down a little bit further. Then, it goes back up. Then, we have a little bit of a surplus. Then, we go, "Let's get a little bit more aggressive." Then, all of a sudden, you look at what happened in 2008. Do you see how deep we went? Now, we're going to go back up. What do you see happening there? What's next? If you continued that chart, what do you think is next? I think what's next is going to make 1930 look like a picnic. If something doesn't happen where we go, "We just can't keep kicking the can down the road," we are going to look a stark reality dead in the face. That's why you have gentlemen like Erskine Bowles, who is the former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, saying, "We are now facing the most predictable economic crisis in history." To use biblical words, we are more deserving of getting our rear-end put in its right place because we are ignoring basic immutable laws than any other nation in the history of nations. The Scripture says in Proverbs 22:3, **"The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive** [proceed and inherit folly] **."** If we are the wise among us, somebody has to be raising their hand. We have to ask forgiveness if we haven't raised our hands sooner. This is a moral problem, and the reason the church, frankly, hasn't done more is that we are benefiting from it individually. Because we're just going to leverage up ourselves and get our dream home ourselves, and our currency still works even though the rest of the world is looking at us going, "You know what? We're not going to let you play this game for long," and the second the world has the chance to call us into account, you can be sure they're eager and ready to do it. President Roosevelt said this. Franklin Roosevelt, who started the New Deal, where he basically came alongside and said that he wanted the government to bring assistance to people instead of family and community and the church, which is what God ordained, said, "The government, like any family, can for a year spend a little more than it earns, but you and I know a continuation of that habit will mean the poorhouse." The Scripture says the borrower is the lender's slave, but let me just tell you what debt is. It coming to bear is like cancer. Cancer was in me, and I didn't know it. All of a sudden, one day I found out cancer was in me, and it just changes everything. What I would share with you is that there is a cancer. In fact, that is what Erskine Bowles said. He said, "Debt is like cancer. It's going to destroy us. It's already here. We can see it. All the tests show it's here. We cannot go on surviving as a nation for very long." This is Erskine Bowles. "Maybe three, four, or five more years. I think we have a very small chance to be successful if we deal with it right now." Gang, if you go up to Niagara Falls… A friend was there not long ago. He said, "When you get on the Niagara River and you're floating down, it's beautiful and it's fun. There are great currents. They're going to put a sign up there that says, 'You are approaching the point of no return.' If you go a little bit further down the river, it says, 'You are approaching (you're a little closer than you were) the point of no return.' Eventually, there's a sign that says, 'This is the point of no return.' Because of the gravitational pull of the current, you can't get out, and you're gone. No matter what you do or what kind of swimmer you are, it's just too late." Everybody is saying, "If we're not already at the point of no return, you are so stinking close." By the way, do you know the Coast Guard won't let you within 2.5 miles of the falls when you're on the Niagara River? When you look at the charts and the information I'm showing you that's out there, you just kind of go, "Who do we think we are that this isn't going to affect us?" I read excerpts from a book this week. It's called _This Time is Different_. It takes eight centuries of world economic systems and studies them. It was done by an economist from Harvard and an economist from the University of Virginia. What they basically say is anytime you hear somebody say, "This time is different," you can be sure you're in real trouble and maybe past the point of no return. That is exactly what you heard our federal reserve chairman say, our secretary of treasury saying. "We think we can tinker with the system and this time it's different." Let me read you just a few quotes from this book. "More money has been lost because of four words than anybody has ever lost from the point of a gun. Those four words are, 'This time is different.' The this-time-is-different syndrome is rooted in the firmly held belief that financial crisis are things that happen to other people in other countries at other times." It can't happen to us. We're America. We're not Zimbabwe. No, but we are Rome, and we shouldn't think this time is different. They wrote, "A highly leveraged economy can unwittingly be sitting with its back on the edge of a cliff for many years before chance and circumstance provoke a crisis of confidence that pushes it off." All I'm telling you, gang, is this time is not different, and if we think it's going to be, then woe be to us! It is a time for us to be called to action and to do something about it. I want to read to you this excerpt from Richard Fisher who is the chairman of the Dallas federal reserve. This is a speech he gave in California in 2008. Listen to this. "We know from centuries of evidence and countless economies from ancient Rome to today's Zimbabwe that running the printing press to pay off today's bills leads to much worse problems later on. The inflation that results from the flow of money in the economy turns out to be far worse than the fiscal pain this country has hoped to avoid." In other words, you can't keep kicking it down the road. You can't just flood the economy with money. You can't do quantitative easing. It's not going to ease. It's going to make it worse. Sooner or later you have to face up to the lack of morality and the way you've been conducting your house and get your house in order. Quickly, let me show you a few other slides here. It took us 233 years to accumulate $10 trillion in debt. In other words, let me show you this one slide. It took us 233 years, from 1776 to 2009, to get to $10 trillion in debt, but what's going to happen now is in the next eight years it's going to double. You go, "How could that happen?" The answer can be found in what Albert Einstein called the most powerful force in the universe: _compounding interest_. Let me show you this first chart that's green. This is the exponential growth of compounding interest. This is very important. I want you to listen. This is why, when you're in your 20s and financial advisors come to you and go, "If you'll give me $2,000 a year and we can get a basic 10 percent return, in 45 years you'll be worth over $1.5 million, but you have to trust me because it's not going to look like it. In fact, for the first 20 years, you're not going to have that much money. It's going to take you almost 35 years just to get to half a million, but from 35 to 45 it's going to jump up a million if you'll just stick with the program." That works in an inverse way. This is why you find people doing this all of the time. "How did I get here? My wife and I are 20 years into this thing. We think it's because the kids went off to college." Do you know what happened? The compounding interest of your neglect, of your selfishness, of your moodiness, of your lack of godly leadership… All of a sudden, that deficit you've been running every year with exponential compounding interest of your godlessness… All of a sudden… _Boom!_ She goes, "This has been miserable." You go, "Miserable? What do you mean? I thought we've been doing fine." "No. It has just been a little bit by a little bit building, building, building, and I am so gone." This is how you get people who say this to me all of the time. "I don't even know how I got here. I just drank a little bit. I just started dabbling in it a little bit. I just started messing around physically a little bit. I started dabbling with porn. How did I get here to where I would be dealing with prostitutes and strippers? How did I get here to where I would be having an affair? How did I get here to where I would be a rapist? How did I get here to where I would be a child pornographer?" It's the compounding interest of sin. The deceitfulness of sin is that you think you can control it and you don't think it's going to come back and ultimately rule over you and make you pay severely because the sentence against it has not been executed quickly. I want to show you very quickly, and this is just to give you some more data, that all we see is the tip of the iceberg when we talk about our national debt. It's $17.9 trillion. The truth is we have future commitments, what are called _unfunded liabilities_, which are military pension programs, government pension programs, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, that over the next 40 to 60 years we have, and they argue about this number, anywhere from $60 to $100 trillion in commitments coming on top of what we already have, and we have no way to pay for that. You extrapolate that out into future tax dollars for you and me… In other words, the system is already bankrupt and they all know it and they don't know what to do and they just hope it happens on somebody else's problem. Let me show you another way this is all tied together. When you mock God's rule that all life is valuable and what you do is take future workers out of the work force who are supposed to be funding the future Social Security program… When you look at Social Security investors, when it was instituted in 1930, there were 35 workers for every one benefactor, but when you get all the way to where we are in 2014, now we're down to three people putting money in for every one person who is supposed to take money out, and they can't take enough money from you to care for that one person. It's bankrupt. By the way, you go, "What happened in the work force? Why do we have so many old people and no young workers?" How about if I told you there was something that has been happening for the last 50 years where we took 60 million potential workers out of our force? What's happening is it's all coming back. One last thing we're doing is we're adjusting our monetary base. It's a little bit of what the chairman federal reserve in Dallas, talks about when you flood a system with more money. When you add more money to the monetary base… Here's a chart. Watch this. This is an increase in monetary base. The monetary base is a combination of money that is currently in circulation. It's called the _money supply_. It is cash you and I have and cash you and I have put in banks. When you add to that the reserve that's created by our federal government, this becomes the monetary base, and there's an exponential increase in 2008 and 2009 where they created money (most of it electronic). They don't even have to print it anymore. They just go on a computer and go, "We're adding more money." You go, "Okay. Good! That's working. It kind of propped us up and made it work." It works until it doesn't work. Let me give you a modern-day example. I'm going to tell you I have in my hand actually enough money to take care of our national debt three times in my presence right here. I'll tell you what I mean. I'm holding in my hand a $50 trillion bill. I'm not kidding you. Here's a picture of it. It's a $50 trillion bill. This wasn't even the largest one that Zimbabwe printed. They made a $100 trillion bill. Why did they do that? When Zimbabwe became free and broke out of English colonialism in 1980 and changed from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, what it did was it had a $1 Zimbabwe bill that was worth at the time $1.47 in US money. But because of hyper-inflation, because of increased debt, by 2006 one $1 Zimbabwe bill was worth half of a cent for every US dollar because they just kept making money to pay their debts, to fund their ex-freedom fighters, and people finally went, "Your money is worthless, so you need to give us more of your money to equal one of our dollars." They ran four more currency issues, after that was worth one-half a cent, and it got to where there was a 231 million percent inflation rate in Zimbabwe. Then, they issued the $50 trillion bill and the $100 trillion bill. Guess how much the $100 trillion bill was worth in US dollars when they made it. It was worth $300 US dollars. Now, it's worth like 17 cents. It is worth more as a historical artifact than it is currency, and they don't even use it anymore. You go, "Todd, we're not Zimbabwe," but we are Rome, and what you're saying when you tell me, "We can do it and they couldn't," is, "This time is different." Okay. I have your attention. What do we do? What I'm going to tell you, again, is what we don't know is exactly how it's going to happen, how we're going to get pushed off this cliff we're on, and when it's going to happen, but we do know it's going to happen unless we change courses. We know it's coming, so this is a moral problem. What do you do with a moral problem? You repent. Moral problems need to be addressed spiritually. There needs to be spiritual transformation. We need to return to God's program and stop spending more than we're earning. That starts with you and me. Everybody asks when they come across this, and by the way, I'm going to say this right now. Next Sunday night, myself and a man who has become a dear friend who is a member of our body who has extensively studied this and who has written a great book on this topic who I pulled many of these slides from, he and I are going to spend our evening service. I can't do a service like we're currently doing and not do what we're going to do next Sunday. Don't miss next Sunday morning. I'm going to invite you to come back with me and Ethan next Sunday night, and we're going to spend our entire time in that time talking about what practically you can do to help you individually understand more of getting your arms around it. Let me give you some macro-application right now. The very first thing we need to do right now is not think, "How can I prepare financially?" Because in everything we always want to go, "How can I prepare spiritually?" The first thing you have to do is repent. If this looks like your life, you have to go, "I see, Todd. I didn't know that. I didn't know what I was doing was mocking God's fixed law," and repent. You have to get actively engaged, by the way, in installing men who don't mock God's definition of marriage, who don't mock God's definition of life, who don't mock God's definition of house rule, and you have to speak up and go, "We can't keep doing this," because it is your problem. I really do love what our fed chairman said as he addressed this. He said, "I mean, this is literally _your_ problem. The situation is _your_ creation, not the fed's. When you berate your representatives or senators or presidents for the mess we are in, you're really berating yourself. You elect them. You are the ones who let them get away with burdening your children and grandchildren rather than yourselves with a bill for your entitlement programs. This is your problem." So, electorate, we have to speak up. We have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We get this land and it's time for us to go, "We can't do it any longer," but here's the thing. We can't just make this a Washington problem. Washington… All it is is an exponential display of what we have been doing individually, so we have to be the church, and we have to do this. Matthew 6, verse 33: **"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."** The Scripture says, **"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."**"Don't worry about tomorrow…" doesn't mean don't work today. It doesn't mean don't live wisely today. That's what America is doing when we say, "It's not going to happen," or "We'll just deal with it when it happens because it's such a big mess we can't fix it." No. If you know what you're doing is wrong, now is the day of repentance. Don't wait until you're flat on your back to start to look up. That's what most people do. Get on your knees. Humble yourself. Acknowledge your sin. Take responsibility. Move toward austerity. Those of us who have been living wisely call people back to morality. Be gracious and kind and humble. It doesn't mean we do wealth distribution. It means we do truth distribution and we tell them, "The reason our lives don't look like yours is because by the grace of God we have ordered our lives according to that which will lead to liberty and not be a slave to debt." Be gracious and kind but do not compromise. When you talk to poor people, what they realize is they don't want more charity, because if you give them charity when their lives are given to laxity and inability to discipline themselves away from sustained ways of living that aren't going to lead to prosperity, they go, "We need transformative processes, and we need faith. We need family. We need community to work, and we need opportunities to work. That might mean you might need to educate us and deal with the educational injustice that's in so many of our communities." It's why I personally have a relationship with a young man who lives in one of those communities, and I personally am doing something about one life. I can't do something about every life, but I'm going and doing what I can to shepherd him, disciple him, educate him, encourage him, and call him out of this generational cycle of poverty that lacks faith, family, community, and a work ethic, and so ought you. 1._ You have to start be preparing yourself by anchoring your hope in Christ._ Let me give you a great verse out of Isaiah, chapter 8. This is when Isaiah said this to the people of Israel who were about to experience judgment, not an economic judgment but a literal, physical judgment of oppression with a conquering enemy. It equates here because there were prophets telling them, "Judgment is coming," and a lot of people were going, "It's just a conspiracy." You're going to hear this. You're going to hear people say, "Come on! It's crazy. It has always worked. It's going to work out." This is Isaiah 8:11-13. **"For thus the Lord spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, 'You are not to say, "It is a conspiracy!" In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread.'"** Let me ask you, if you're sitting out there this morning and you're more concerned about an American economic collapse than you are about rebelling against the house law of God, something is not right with you, and what you really need to do is repent of your god which is an American economic system that has allowed you to live at the level of comfort you've lived in without dealing with the God who calls you to live rightly with him which will comfort your soul. You need to prepare yourself by anchoring your hope in Christ. In Ecclesiastes, chapter 7, verse 14, it says, **"In the day of prosperity be happy, But in the day of adversity consider—God has made the one as well as the other…"** You don't know which one is coming, so in the day of prosperity what you ought to do is make sure you plan wisely for the future, you live generously, and you order yourself appropriately. America is not doing any of those things. Secondly, not only should you prepare yourself by anchoring your hope in Christ so no matter what happens your foundation is secure… 2._ You should prepare your neighbor by living your faith out before them._ In other words, you have to ask yourself, if that which leads to the mitigation of property are these four transformational things which sociologists will tell us (faith which leads to virtue which leads to hard work which leads to care which leads to consideration which leads to discipline and diligence) that is what leads to stopping generational poverty. How are you living your faith out? I mean, really living your faith out? How are you doing with your family? Disintegration of family is the number one predictor of future poverty along with a lack of education. How are you doing at loving and leading your family? Practice your faith. Lead and love your family. Live in community. Your first call is not to the church (this invisible thing out there). It's to those who know you have been living wisely, that crisis has come, and what we have set up here are lots of individuals who will care for you. If that community around you can't care for you and they know you've been living responsibly, then they're going to call on a larger community that will come alongside of them to care for you, but you know what we don't do? Have somebody walk up and go, "You need to help me because I've been living an irresponsible life. You have to make sure I stay in my house." We go, "No. You probably need to lose your house, but we invite you to come right now and connect with us and walk as a person of faith." Live in a way that shows your fear of God in the way you love and lead your family. Live in community and work. Work. It is never compassionate to give somebody help without work. I'll read you a quote on that in just a second, but here's what you have to do, gang. All of us… First Peter 2:12. I've read this every week. **"**** Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers…" **You're talking about what's going to happen if you violate the law of God.**"…they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation."** In other words, they should see us living the way they're going to want to live as soon as they realize that which they have trusted in and depended on has vaporized. They'll go, "You've been living that way. You've been telling us to live that way. Would you teach us now to live that way?" You have to prepare your neighbor by living out your faith before them. I want to just throw this in. I went and looked, by the way. We're a part of what is called a network of large churches in the state of Texas. There are 19 of them. The average debt churches are carrying of those 19 large churches is $5 million, and there are eight of us that don't have any debt at all. Watermark has never had debt, and there's a reason we've never taken on debt corporately. We've been trying to model for you individually how you should live. We haven't just said, "We want a bigger building. Let's get it. We'll pay for it later." We've waited. We've waited until God resourced us. God grew people in their hearts in order to give so we could build $100 million worth of facility with no debt, no approaching big donors, and no manipulating people, but if you take the 19 churches, the church itself in Texas (the large ones) have an average of $5 million debt. A good friend of mine in another state has led his church into $60 million in debt. Gang, that's a moral problem, and we're not living our faith out before people when we do that. We have to prepare our neighbors by sharing our faith and our hope with them, not just living it out before them but speaking to them. We have to advocate for them why family matters, why life matters, why economy and living frugal, disciplined lives matter, and we have to explain to them how a welfare system that gives what is called _toxic charity_… Because people will say charity is kindness, but I will tell you charity given without work and without responsibility is the kindest way to kill somebody. That's what it is. Let me read this. Thomas Jefferson said, "Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for [slavery, in effect]." Franklin Roosevelt said, "…continued dependence upon [government support] induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber." Here we are. Here we are, so you have to prepare your neighbors by speaking with them. I'll never forget when I was dealing with a guy who lived on the East Coast. He was sitting there going, "What do you want to do about welfare?" I said, "Well, I want to do what the Bible says. The Bible says that if a man doesn't work he shouldn't eat." I'm not talking about the people who are physically unable to work or the handicapped. I'm not talking about the old who are not able to work. I'm talking about people who won't work. The Bible says, "Let their stomach work for them." That's 2 Thessalonians 3. In the midst of that, what we have to do is provide for them work that works. One of the things we're going to do with our Faith at Work program that we're going to tell you more about next Sunday night is some of us in this room who have businesses need to use some of our prosperity to create more jobs that men and women who want to work can work at. That's the number one thing people in our world say when they're asked, "What do you want more than anything?" They say, "I want a good job." We know there are all kinds of folks who just want to sit there and collect a check, and we have to deal with that moral problem, and we have a responsibility to call them to repent and not have a nanny state that funds them and get the guys out of office who are going to do it, but when people want to go to work, we have to help them. Prepare your neighbors by sharing your faith and hope with them. 3._ Prepare to love your neighbor who is not living faithfully._ Here's what I want to tell you we have to do. We want to impart to them not just the gospel of God but our very lives as well. I close with this. Our job is to make sure we help people, and that means when they're ready to go to work we don't just say, "Good! Go find a job." We do what we can. We have relationships with the impoverished and the working poor. We love them. We help them get started when they are repentant people. We meet them where they are, and we create a system that will enable them to work their way out through faith, family, community, and personal responsibility. We don't just say, "Get yourself together and come see us." We go to them. I want to close with one illustration because it ought to just shake you to the quick. People ask me this all of the time. "Todd, what is Watermark going to do? Are we going to stockpile food when this crisis hits and folks come?" No. What I'm doing right now is equipping you so when the crisis comes we have Watermark installations (the church of Jesus Christ) spread out all over this city. You're ready to minister to your neighbors, you've been living holy lives before your neighbors, you're going to care for your neighbors, and you're going to love people and not shut down the door and load your AR-15 and shoot them. You're going to get out there and say, "I've been doing what I can to live wisely so I'm not in the place maybe you're in right now. I will share with you what is mine in a reasonable and right way. In the name of Jesus Christ, I meet you at your place of need." I had a guy who told me… It was Ethan Pope who wrote that book who we're going to meet next week. Ethan said he was having lunch with a friend, and he said to the friend, "I can't believe nobody is listening to this and doing anything about this." His friend said, "Well, I know somebody who is doing something about this." He said, "Just recently a friend of mine who is Mormon walked me through a regional food distribution center. The Mormon church understands the coming economic crisis, and they have been stockpiling food and supplies and resources so when the economic crisis hits, they're going to open these regional distribution centers and they're going to tell people, 'Come. Come. We'll share with you the hope that we have in our distorted doctrine and in our heretical interpretation of the Son of God, but we'll feed you." Where do you think people are going to go? What I want to say is our job is to be ready and our job is to care and be compassionate and not enable irresponsible living but to know the gospel, to share the gospel, and to love mercifully and to lead biblically just like Jesus would do and to care for people in the ditch and use our own economic strength if we've been wise. That means get wise. Deal financially with your issue because you're informed spiritually. Then love in the name of Jesus Christ and tell people their hope is not in a better economic future but in a better spiritual one when men do not mock the rule of God anymore. Until that day, may we be able to say to them, "Imitate me as I imitate Jesus Christ and let me love you in his name." Father, if there is somebody here this morning who does not know you, I pray they would deal with _that_ mockery and they would come to you and deal with their faithlessness, not their financial rebellion but their faith rebellion, and they would see you are a holy God who is not mocked and they would say, "Lord, I maybe have gotten away with this for a while because you say it's appointed for man to die once and after this comes judgment, but I come to you now before final judgment hits, and I say I'm worthy of being judged, I'm a sinner, and I need a Savior, and I believe his name is Jesus." I pray, Father, there would be somebody out there today who would come to you. For those of us who have come to you, I pray we would go out of here and be faithful doers, effectual doers and not forgetful hearers, and we'd begin to live out our faith appropriately and not leverage ourselves up and not live and enjoy the bullishness of the American economy and wait for it to crash, but we should be ahead of repentance, ordering ourselves wisely, and living frugally and not immorally, so we can say to others, "Because of that, we were ready. Let us share with you our abundance. Let us love you in the name of Jesus. Let us teach you his ways that it might go well with you." Would you use us in this way? In Christ's name, amen. Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.