Connected2Christ

Reviews, Giveaways, Recipes, Fiber Arts, and more...

In the Footsteps of Paul Experience The Journey That Changed The World By Ken Duncan

footstepsofpaul

In the Footsteps of Paul
Experience The Journey That Changed The World

By Ken Duncan

I had the opportunity to review this book and I must say I’ve taken quite a bit away from it in my own walk with God.  Some may say this is a great coffee table book (of which it is)  filled with majestic pictures taken by renowned photographer Ken Duncan.  It is an easy book just to pick up and flip through taking in the majestic artistic scenes from Paul’s journey in his life.

This books is what the title claims, it’s taking us in the footsteps of Paul as mush as it possibly can.  Filled with beautiful photos to give us a visual of what he saw, each picture is paired with mostly KJV scriptures, powerful quotes from well know pastors and christian leaders, geographical commentary, and notes of explanations of what was going on at the time.

I didn’t want to rush the read on this book, I read a little bit each day to reflect on what he must have been going through.  I think it’s great that I can see myself reading this to my children as they grow older and reflecting on it together.

I would say that this book is ideal  as a reference book if you are studying the life of Paul or any of his writings. This is a book that is a perfect gift for just about anyone. To learn more about The Footsteps of Paul book, visit Thomas Nelson Publishers.

In the Footsteps of Paul is available from Thomas Nelson Publishers for a suggested retail price of $24.99. Christian Book Distributors carries it for $17.99.

Continue Reading 1 Comment

Nana Star and Moon Man Review and Giveaway!

nana-star-logo

I recently was given the opportunity to review many of the products associated with Nana Star an award winning series of children books.  These books were written by two sisters, Elizabeth and Elena Sills  and the books were illustrated by their mother Linda Saker. I love when families works together in bringing together something that promotes positive virtues and character-building points and traits that are important for children.

The first book book, “Nana Star” tells the story of Nana Star whom is a little girl venturing out to bring a lost baby star back home.  I find the stories simple enough for young children to understand on their own but challenging enough as well to bring questions to the table.

The second book ” Nana Star and the Moon man” is the next in the series.  It picks up where the last book left off.  Nana is trying to get the little star back home but finds herself lost in the dark and this where the moon man comes in.  He encourages her to know he is there to guide and watch her along the way even if she can’t see him.
books-dolls_new
Each of the books comes with a companion CD witch features sing along songs along with the full story so your kids can listen anytime they want. The  stories that they’ve brought to life are quite simple keeping them geared toward 3-7 year olds.

I wanted to also mention that each book, includes a mistake in the text for young readers to find. When children send Nana Star a note correcting the mistake, they become special members of her Little Twinkles Club. Each member receives an autographed photo of the real Nana Star with a personalized message, as well as a certificate of membership.

I love the plush toys that came along with my books as they are incredibly lovable and hugable.  My daughter loves dragging the Moon man toy around the house with her throughout the day and she dances when I push the star on his stomach and music begins to play. It’s too cute.  The Nana Star rag doll is a wonderful companion for young girls. She’s pose able and soft so she can even become a sleeping companion for your child or even the next guest at her tea parties.

I’m all for companies that give back to the community and Nana Star does just that by giving  a portion of all book and merchandise sales directly to the Nana Star Foundation, which is dedicated to raising funds for terminally ill children and raising awareness of the crippling problems facing children that attend under-resourced, inner-city schools. The Nana Star books are distributed to hospitals and inner-city schools throughout the United States.

Nana Star products can be purchased from NanaStar.com and the books can also be found on Amazon.
Win it!

One of  my  readers will be able to win a Nana Star Book and the Nana Star Doll!

1. Leave a comment below and let me know who this woulds be for if you won! (if this is not followed, no entry will count)

For additional entries:

1. Subscribe to my blog – 1 entries
2. Blog about this giveaway with links back here and to Nana Star – 2 EXTRA
3. Subscribe to my blog by feed burner by e-mail- 1 extra
4. Favorite me on technorati and leave me your url 1 extra
5. Add me on twitter and retweet this, don’t forget to include @erinlowmaster so I know you tweeted. 2 EXTRA
6. Add my button to your site and leave me your link 2 EXTRA
7. Post this at a giveaway listing site and leave the link- 5 extra entries

Please leave separate comments for each additional entry, i.e.: if you blog about it leave 2 separate comments.

Giveaway – running till 05/22/09 and is open to the USA only. Winners will be notified shortly afterward by email. Please respond within 48 hours or you forfeit your prize to another participant

Continue Reading 56 Comments

Learning to Live Financially Free: Hard-Earned Wisdom for Saving Your Marriage & Your Money by Marybeth and Curt Whalen

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Learning to Live Financially Free: Hard-Earned Wisdom for Saving Your Marriage & Your Money

Kregel Publications (February 16, 2009)

ABOUT THE AUTHORs:

Marybeth Whalen is a speaker and contributing writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. The author of For the Write Reason, Marybeth has also written for Parent Life, Money Matters newsletter, The Old Schoolhouse, Hearts at Home magazine, and Homeschooling Today. She contributes regularly to the daily online devotions of Proverbs 31 Ministries. She and Curt are the parents of six children, which has taught them much about how to stretch a dollar.

Curt Whalen is a trained financial counselor through Crown Financial Concepts. He has years of experience helping couples establish budgets, solve financial problems, and learn to communicate more effectively. He has written articles for TEACH Magazine and Money Matters Newsletter and has contributed to books by authors Lysa TerKeurst and Melanie Chitwood.

Visit the authors’ website.

Product Details:

List Price: $11.69
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (February 16, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825441889
ISBN-13: 978-0825441882

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Finding Hope

Marybeth

Several years ago, my husband, Curt, and I traveled to Florida to visit my stepsister, Becky, and her husband, Chuck. Curt and I enjoyed a few days away from our kids and reconnected with family members we don’t get to see very often. One evening the four adults snuck away for a nice, leisurely dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s at Pleasure Island in Disney World. The environment was festive and fun, and all of our spirits were light as we sat around the table enjoying the sights, sounds, and delicious smells.

At one point during the conversation, we got on the subject of struggles we’d experienced in marriage. Curious as to the low points of other couples (we’ve certainly had our share!), I asked Becky and Chuck what their lowest point had been. Without even pondering, Becky blurted out, “When we didn’t have any money. Chuck had just taken a job with his dad and wasn’t making much as a starting salary. I can clearly remember one time when I went to the grocery store and my card was declined because it was maxed out. I’ll never forget having to leave my groceries behind. I felt like every eye in the store was watching me. That was the lowest point in the history of our marriage—and it took awhile for it to get better.”

Becky and Chuck’s financial situation did change. They became financially independent and now enjoy a lifestyle few people do. Yet as they sat at dinner that night—years after that difficult time—Becky could easily recall the humiliation of struggling with money. That period still haunted them and still counted as the roughest trouble they had ever faced—beyond the divorce of his parents, issues related to children, cross-country moves, and several health problems. Not having enough money and struggling to pay for basic needs had left an indelible mark on their marriage.

I never forgot that moment with Becky and Chuck. I think of it often, as it is a telling commentary on the power that financial issues can have in a marriage. Marriages break up every day over money. Mismanagement, miscommunication, and misunderstandings drive a wedge between husband and wife. Instead of getting in the ring and fighting for their finances together, many couples throw their hands up and walk away—from the problems, but also from each other. In a study done by Money magazine, 84 percent of those surveyed said that money causes tension in their marriage, and 13 percent said they fight about money several times a month.1 Another study cited that 37 percent of couples say that debt is the number one issue that will spark a fight. “Numerous studies have shown that money is the number one reason why couples argue—and many of the recently divorced say those battles were the main reason why they untied the knot.”2

Curt and I teetered on the edge of throwing in the towel on our marriage many times. We’ll tell our story throughout this book, and we’ll also share the lessons we learned during our time in the ring as we literally fought to get our finances under control. Our prayer is that this book will help other couples find the freedom that can result from living financially sound lives. The truth is, money is not an isolated issue within a marriage—it infiltrates every other area of the marriage. From the kitchen to the bedroom, money problems will follow you. Once you get a handle on this area of your marriage, you’ll find that other problems seem to evaporate into thin air. It’s been our experience that the stress of money problems adds an air of negativity to the marriage as a whole. Working together to eliminate those problems can breathe fresh hope and life into what seemed like a lifeless, hopeless situation.

If you’ve picked up this book, then chances are you need to make some changes in your finances. And you’re not alone. Our country as a whole is in a downward financial spiral that is picking up speed with each turn of the calendar page. “On average, today’s consumer has a total of 13 credit obligations on record at a credit bureau. These include credit cards (such as department store charge cards, gas cards, or bank cards) and installment loans (auto loans, mortgage loans, student loans, etc.). Of these thirteen credit obligations, nine are likely to be credit cards and four are likely to be installment loans.”3 “Revolving consumer debt, almost all from credit cards, now totals $957 billion, compared with $800 billion in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve. Average car loans are up, too, to $27,397, from $24,888 four years ago. Home mortgages total $10.5 trillion, compared with $7.8 trillion in 2004.”4

Our personal financial choices are now being reflected on a national level. As we write these words, our nation is experiencing one of the hardest economic challenges since the Great Depression. For decades we have lived beyond our means, using debt as a tool to obtain our wants. And now our house of cards is crumbling around us. We find ourselves with a national debt that has surpassed the ten-trillion-dollar mark, a banking system that is undergoing radical change, and billions of dollars of value that has been lost on Wall Street as the Dow plummets from over 14,000 down to lows we never thought possible. Economists have stopped asking if we’re going to be in a recession and started asking how bad and how long it will be.

The national climate of anxiety and uncertainty is also the climate of many homes.

A Commitment to Change

The reality of our poor financial choices hit Curt and I one night four years ago, a few days before Christmas. What should have been a time of festivities and celebrating became just another cause for stress. We didn’t know how we were going to afford the expensive presents on the kids’ lists. We didn’t want to tell them no, yet to buy gifts meant adding to our already overwhelming debt load. Because of our faith, we took God at His word when He said that nothing is impossible with Him (Luke 1:37). And yet, from where we sat, our situation looked impossible.

For years, we’d been trying to do something to change our financial picture, to no avail. We desperately wanted to stop using credit cards, yet financial emergencies always cropped up that drove us back to credit card purchases. We wanted to begin tithing and saving, yet there was never any money left over to do that. We wanted to begin chipping away at our debt, and yet we saw no way to do so. We felt trapped at every turn. We’d gotten ourselves into a financial mess. Never before that night had we felt more strongly about getting out of our mess.

As we sat in our parked car at a shopping center near our home. I watched as the other shoppers bustled past us, intent on their lists and last minute errands. I vaguely wondered how many of them were slipping deeper into debt as they charged purchases they couldn’t really afford. Meanwhile, Curt and I talked for over an hour, working through what it would take for us to change our spending habits and take steps toward achieving our dream of being debt free. Though neither of us realized it yet, that night was the beginning of a major change in our lives. We were embarking on a journey that would enable us to escape the bondage of debt and begin to enjoy financial freedom. It would be a journey of many years as we endeavored to live differently from the rest of the culture and swim against the current on money issues.

I’ve often wondered why that night was different than our many other conversations throughout our marriage that had begun, “What are we going to do about our money problems?” Although some of our past efforts had resulted in temporary changes, nothing we did ever stuck. We quickly slipped back into our old ways and debt always seemed to creep back in. Even if we closed a door, debt seemed to find a window. So what made this night—this conversation—different?

First, just a few days before, we’d learned we were expecting a baby. This news had prompted us to evaluate how we could become more financially stable as we prepared for this additional responsibility. In short, it was time to get serious. Second, this impending life change and the urgency we both felt resulted in a unity of purpose that we’d never had before. In the past, our convictions about getting out of debt and making hard changes were usually separate, with one person not as sold on the necessity of the plan. We had never been on board at the same time.

Finally, and most importantly, God met with us that night in the car, allowing Curt and me to feel the same conviction and urgency. God went before us and prepared our hearts, as He is faithful to do. We looked across that car at each other and decided that, not only could we do this, but that together we would do this. Whatever it took. In our ignorance we were actually excited about working together to slay this debt monster and change our financial picture. God created unity where once there had been anger and blaming.

Heart Attitudes

Since that night, I’ve learned that getting out of debt requires allowing several basic attitudes to take root in our hearts. Notice I did not say in our minds. The Bible points to the heart as the center—the very essence—of who we are. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” All of our thoughts and actions flow from our hearts. It’s funny how we seem to relate money to our heads and not our hearts. But we miss the mark when we do that. Without allowing these attitudes to take root in our hearts—at the very center of our being—our plan for debt reduction would have quickly fallen by the wayside as unexpected expenses and “opportunities” came our way. By presenting a united front in our battle with debt and allowing these attitudes to determine our actions, we’ve been able to stick with our plan. Though we’ll go into the specifics of our plan in other chapters, I first want to cover these four heart attitudes.

An Attitude of Commitment

Because we saw the necessity of reducing our debt and were committed in our hearts to doing that at all costs, we were not tossed about by the waves (Eph. 4:14) when real life hit. We set a goal and held each other accountable to reaching that goal. We are committed to God and to each other as a team. Our plan to become debt free was a long-range plan. In a world of fast food, microwaves, and instant access, it’s not easy to walk out every agonizing step in a long-range plan. We knew that results would be long in coming and that we had to fix our eyes on the goal, not the circumstances, and hang onto the Lord to get us through. We’ll spend all of chapter 4 talking about how to become a team.

An Attitude of Obedience

A key to obedience is recognizing God’s ownership of all things. We were both convinced that God would help us get out of debt if we were obedient to Him. This obedience required me especially to obey not only God, but my husband as well. Though submission is a dirty word in most circles, it was essential on our journey. I had to let my husband lead—even when I doubted his decision and even when he made mistakes. I couldn’t step out of the chain of command, and at first I had to continually confess this struggle to the Lord. The good news is, it got easier for me, and my husband became a natural leader for our family. The more power I handed over to him, the more I saw him grow. I am the direct beneficiary of the blessings of obedience. Through this journey, I’ve had many opportunities to show my husband my respect, trust, and honor as our provider and leader of our home.

An Attitude of Surrender

This period of getting out of debt hasn’t been all rosy, as we’ll relate later in this book. Obedience has required sacrifice. I’ve had to surrender my wants and reduce my expectations. I’ve had to learn to go without, to trust God to provide, and to lay down my desires. We’ve both had to make adjustments in our spending and truly “count the cost” of every spending decision. We’ve learned to surrender our desires in the name of honoring God’s plans for our family, trusting Him to continually bring about the best outcome possible—more than we can ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).

An Attitude of Prayer

As we’ve laid down our wants, we’ve had to go to God and cast all our anxiety on Him (1 Peter 5:7). He has shown Himself to be a great listener and comforter. We are learning to go to Him with our specific financial concerns and to give Him all the praise when He meets our needs in miraculous ways. Our time of financial readjustment has truly increased my prayer life as I’ve become more intimately acquainted with Jehovah-Jireh, my provider. I have learned what a detail-oriented, personal God He is. This experience has deepened my faith—a benefit I did not expect.

As we’ve walked through this time of going to God for everything we need, I’ve learned to trust in Him more completely. Though I’ll talk about this in more detail later, I want to share some things that happened just last summer that illustrate how God answers even what most would call silly, insignificant prayers. Know, though, that nothing we pray is silly and insignificant to God!

• In past summers, we’d gone to a farm and picked buckets of blueberries. But it was not cheap to buy the blueberries—and I knew that we didn’t need to spend the money. So I told the Lord about how I wanted blueberries. I didn’t really ask Him for blueberries, per se, I just told my Daddy how I was longing for some blueberries for making pancakes, muffins, cakes, and other dishes. Just a few days later, I was talking with a woman I barely knew, and she mentioned that she and her family would be going out of town for a few weeks. She said that she worried about their large blueberry bushes with no one to pick them—and would we like to come and help ourselves while they were gone? Would we! We were able to pick bags of blueberries—for free!

• My son needed a new bike to ride up to our neighborhood pool because his had been stolen. We simply did not have it in the budget to buy the new bike—and yet the mother’s heart in me broke every time I saw him walking up to the pool while all the other kids rode past him. I told God how much it hurt and asked Him to provide my son with a bike when I could not. Just a few days later I was at a children’s consignment store and there, for a very inexpensive price, was a bike that looked almost new and was the perfect size for my very tall son. Why was this bike at a children’s consignment store that day? Because God orchestrated it so that I would find it. At least that’s what I believe, and that’s why I praised Him that day for answering this mother’s prayer and taking care of yet another detail in my life.

• One day I was craving a good, old southern tomato sandwich, a staple of my summer diet. But we had no tomatoes. I was just about to get in the car and drive to a produce stand to buy the tomatoes when I felt God tell me not to go, but to wait for the tomatoes. What a strange response, I thought. But I obeyed, wondering what God was up to. Within the hour, my son ran in from the neighbor’s house with several large, juicy ripe tomatoes in his hands. “Mom,” he cried. “Miss Joyce had too many tomatoes and I told her you’d love to have some!” I didn’t miss that opportunity to let my son know how God had used him to answer his mom’s prayer.

• A new necklace was all the rage and caught my eye several times as I saw it on the necks of other women. Usually I’m not much of a jewelry person, but there was something different about this particular necklace. I even found one for a reasonable price at a little home jewelry show and had it in my hand to buy it when I felt God nudging me to put it back. “But it’s a great price,” I told God—as if He didn’t know that. Again, I felt Him telling me to put it back. I will provide, I heard Him say. The following month we were visiting my stepsister, Becky, in Florida and I noticed that she was wearing that same necklace. I told her how much I liked it. “Oh,” she replied. “Do you want one? Because I got one for a gift and certainly don’t need two!” And just like that, I was the proud owner of a necklace I really wanted. And I didn’t have to spend a dime.

These are a few just examples of the countless times that God has shown us that He hears our prayers, He cares about the details, and He will move on our behalf. Sometimes we just have to be patient. And sometimes we have to learn to take no for an answer. Because I’ve seen God provide in miraculous ways, I’ve learned that when He says no, there has to be a good reason. And I must accept his no and move on instead of brooding over it. This process has taught me much about holding the things of this earth lightly—and has drawn me closer to the Father’s heart in the process. Through it all, we’ve indeed found hope in what could have been seen as a hopeless situation.

Do you need to find hope for your finances? The God of hope (Rom. 15:13) is waiting to show you the way out of debt and into freedom.

Study

Read Genesis 6:5; Luke 2:19; and Hebrews 4:12. How do these verses relate our thought lives to the condition of our hearts?

Reflect, Discuss, Plan

1. Was it a different concept for you to think of money as being tied to your heart attitude instead of your thought life?

2. What heart attitude do you struggle with the most—commitment, obedience, surrender, or prayer? Is there a part of you that still wants to control the situation and is hesitant about involving your heart in the process?

3. In the car that night prior to Christmas, we took a big step toward getting out of debt, as we verbally committed to each other to do whatever it took to get out of debt. Has there been a time when you’ve taken this step with your spouse? Does there need to be?

4. Have money problems been the lowest point in your marriage? If so, why do you think that is?

Take Action

Are you facing a particular situation that feels hopeless? (A bill that’s due, large amounts of debt to pay off, a purchase that needs to be made but no money to make it, etc.) Write down Romans 15:13 and then spend time praying that verse aloud. If you’re working through this book with your spouse, pray together.

Continue Reading 1 Comment

First Wild Card Tours: The Blood of Lambs by Kamal Saleem

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Blood of Lambs

Howard Books (April 7, 2009)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kamal Saleem was born under another name into a large Sunni Muslim family in Lebanon. At age seven, he was recruited by the Muslim Brotherhood and immediately entered a Palestinian Liberation Organization terror training camp in Lebanon. After being involved in terror campaigns in Israel, Europe, Afghanistan, and Africa, and finally making radical Islam converts in the United States, Saleem renounced jihad and became an American citizen. He has appeared on CNN, CBS News, and Fox News programs, and has spoken on terrorism and radical Islam at Stanford University, the University of California, the Air Force Academy, and other institutions nationwide.

Collaborator Writer, Lynn Vincent: Lynn Vincent, a U.S. Navy veteran, is features editor at WORLD Magazine, a national news biweekly. She is the author or co-author of six books, including the New York Times bestseller, Same of Kind of Different as Me.

This true story of an ex-terrorist reveals the life and mindset of radical Muslims. Now a US citizen, Kamal heralds a wake-up call to America.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $23.99
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (April 7, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416577807
ISBN-13: 978-1416577805

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Beirut, Lebanon

1963

1
It was at my mother’s kitchen table, surrounded by the smells of herbed olive oils and pomegranates, that I first learned of jihad. Every day, my brothers and I gathered around the low table for madrassa, our lessons in Islam. I always tried to sit facing east, toward the window above the long marble sink where a huge tree with sweet white berries brushed against the window panes. Made of a warm, reddish wood, our table sat in the middle of the kitchen and was surrounded by tesats, small rugs that kept us off the cool tile. Mother sat at the head of the table and read to us from the Koran and also from the hadith, which records the wisdom and instruction of Allah’s prophet, Muhammad.

Mother’s Koran had a hard black cover etched ornately in gold and scarlet. Her grandfather had given the Book to her father, who had given it her. Even as a small boy I knew my mother and father were devout Sunni Muslims. So devout, in fact, that other Sunnis held themselves a little straighter in our family’s presence. My mother never went out without her hijab, only her coffee-colored eyes peering above the cloth that shielded her face, which no man outside our family had ever seen. My father, respected in our mosque, earned an honest living as a blacksmith. He had learned the trade from my grandfather, a slim Turk who wore a red fez, walked with a limp, and cherished thick, cinnamon-laced coffee.

Each day at madrassa, Mother pulled her treasured Koran from a soft bag made of ivory cloth and when she opened it, the breath of its frail, aging pages floated down the table. Mother would read to us about the glory of Islam, about the good Muslims, and about what the Jews did to us. As a four-year-old boy, my favorite parts were the stories of war.

I vividly remember the day in madrassa when we heard the story of a merciless bandit who went about robbing caravans and killing innocent travelers. “This bandit was an evil, evil man,” Mother said, spinning the tale as she sketched pictures of swords for us to color.

An evil bandit? She had my attention.

“One day, there was a great battle between the Jews and the sons of Islam,” she went on. “The bandit decided to join the fight for the cause of Allah. He charged in on a great, black horse, sweeping his heavy sword left and right, cutting down the infidel warriors.”

My eyes grew wider. I held my breath so as not to miss a word.

“The bandit fought bravely for Allah, killing several of the enemy until the sword of an infidel pierced the bandit’s heart. He tumbled from his horse and died on the battlefield.”

Disappointment deflated my chest. What good is a story like that?

I could hear children outside, shouting and playing. A breeze from the Mediterranean shimmered in the berry tree. Mother’s yaknah simmered on the stove — green beans snapped fresh, cooked with olive oil, tomato, onion, and garlic. She would serve it cool that evening with pita bread, fresh mint, and cucumbers. My stomach rumbled.

“After the bandit died,” Mother was saying in her storytelling voice, “his mother had a dream. In this dream, she saw her son sitting on the shore of an endless crystal river, surrounded by a multitude of women who were feeding him and tending to him.”

I turned back toward Mother. Maybe this story was not so bad after all.

“The bandit’s mother was an observant woman, obedient to her husband and to Allah and Muhammad,” my mother said. “This woman knew her son was a robber and a murderer. ‘How dare you be sitting here in paradise?’ she scolded him. ‘You don’t belong here. You belong in hell!’ But her son answered, ‘I died for the glory of Allah and when I woke up, He welcomed me into jannah.’ ”

Paradise.

My mother swept her eyes around the kitchen table. “So you see, my sons, even the most sinful man is able to redeem himself with one drop of an infidel’s blood.”

The Blood of Lambs © 2009 Arise Enterprises, LLC

Continue Reading No Comments

First Wild Card Tours: Go Back and Be Happy by Julie Papievis

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Go Back and Be Happy

Monarch Books (November 4, 2008)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

In Julie Papievis’ words:

Traumatic brain injury is the number one killer of persons under the age of 44. Every twenty one seconds, someone suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the United States. As a result, 5.3 million Americans are living with a disability from TBI. This non-discriminatory injury changes life in an instant.

On May 10, 1993 my life was changed forever because someone ran a red light. Featured on Lifetime’s “Beyond Chance”, CNN, Woman’s Day Magazine, and top ranked WB’s WGN News, my story is gaining national attention. After a life-threatening car accident, I suffered a severe brain stem injury and medically died, rating a “3”, the lowest number possible on the Glascow Coma Scale. According to medical experts, 96% of the people with such a severe injury either die or remain permanently comatose. The few who survive typically face a non-functional life. I completely beat the odds even though I remained in a coma for over a month.

Paralyzed and unconscious, I was transferred to the locked brain injury wing of a rehabilitation facility, where I awakened with vivid memories of my near death experience. During “death” I saw my grandmothers in heaven. They instructed me to “Go back and be happy” and assured me that my body would heal. Although medical experts said I would never walk again, or be able to take care of myself, I didn’t listen. I believed the words of my grandmothers.

Through extensive therapy, I relearned how to stand, walk, and swallow. However, I faced the daunting challenge of facing the able-bodied world as a disabled person. After overcoming paralysis and battling severe depression, I embraced my gift of recovery as a true miracle.

In 1999, I ran in a 5K race near Chicago on Mother’s Day! In February 2007, I completed my first triathlon. I have become an advocate for other survivors looking for hope and guidance. I work with the Brain Injury Association of Illinois, the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Illinois, and am a peer advisor to the Midwest Brain Injury Clubhouse. As a VIP member (voice for injury prevention) for the national program of ThinkFirst, I speak to students about injury prevention and safe driving. I volunteer at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in their Peer Support Program. I currently work part time as a community relations advisor for a top Chicago law firm.

I hope my story of faith and determination offers an inspirational and practical approach to dealing with sudden changes in life. Like an oyster, I transformed the unexpected “grit” in my life into a precious pearl.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Monarch Books (November 4, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825462762
ISBN-13: 978-0825462764

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

A Wrecked Life: May 10, 1993 at 6:55 p.m.

Pulling her short brown hair, Toni Rapach screamed over the blaring song on the car radio, “Honk your horn, TJ! Hurry! Honk your horn!”

The couple watched in disbelief as a large burgundy Oldsmobile Cutlass ran a red light and violently struck the driver’s side of a small, white Mazda sports car turning left out of a shopping mall in a Chicago suburb.

Toni jumped from her car and shouted “Somebody call 911!”

An older couple raced toward the accident scene. The wife shouted over to Toni, “We’re calling 911 right now on our cell phone, and my husband’s a doctor!” In 1993, a mobile phone was not a common item.

Toni burst into tears when she looked into the Mazda and saw an unconscious young woman with a mane of blonde hair. She watched helplessly as the woman’s head lay against the chest as if it was disconnected from her body. Toni turned around and shouted, “Please somebody help!” “This poor girl and her family,” she sobbed. “They will never be the same.”

The gathering crowd rushed to the crumpled car and tried to open the driver’s door which was streaked with burgundy paint from the Oldsmobile. The forceful impact left both axles broken on the Mazda. A man ran to the other side of the car and managed to climb into the tangled debris. As he reached behind to pick up the young woman’s head, the doctor instructed, “Don’t move her.”

“I’m an off-duty paramedic,” the man answered in a calm and confident manner. “I know what I’m doing.”

“Go ahead then. I’m here if you need anything.”

The off-duty paramedic happened to be a block away from the accident scene getting his tires fixed. He lifted the woman’s head from her chest and cleared the airway so oxygen could pass to the brain. At 6:57 p.m., just two minutes after the accident, firefighters and paramedics arrived in a whir of sirens and flashing lights. Realizing the severity of the accident, Lieutenant Jim Streu radioed in a call to the station, “Extrication equipment is needed at the scene. Send in the fire truck.”

Paramedics Greg Sauchuk and Randy Deicke leaped out of Ambulance 61. Racing to the scene with his first aid box, Greg said, “Oh, man. This is really bad.”

They faced a “Trauma Red” and time was a major concern. Two minutes of the “Golden Hour” had already ticked away. Comprehensive medical treatment within that golden hour was imperative to offer any hope. Opening the first aid box, Greg removed some medical instruments to assess the woman’s condition. He recognized his off-duty paramedic friend who was holding the woman’s neck from the back seat of the car. Chips of sparkling glass surrounded the Mazda like Mardi Gras beads. Reaching through the blown out window, Greg said, “Tom, how did you manage to even climb into this pretzel? Thanks for stabilizing her neck and clearing the airway.”

Greg checked the woman’s breathing and said, “Amazing. I feel a pulse. She doesn’t need CPR.”

Lifting the woman’s eyelids, Greg checked the pupils with a small flashlight. They didn’t react. “Pupils dilated and fixed,” Greg reported to Randy and then shouted, “Hey, Miss! Can you hear me?!”

The woman remained silent. With his large six foot three, 245 pound frame, Greg pressed his fist into the woman’s chest. She didn’t even flinch.

“Patient is unresponsive to pain with sternum rub,” Greg said. “She scores a 3.” Greg rated the woman on the Glasgow Coma Scale, a quick, practical and standardized system developed in 1975 for assessing the level of consciousness and predicting the ultimate outcome of a coma. A three was the lowest score out of a possible fifteen.

“I’ll check her vitals,” Randy said as he wrapped the vinyl cuff around the woman’s arm to check for blood pressure. He placed the stethoscope on the inner arm and pumped the rubber ball. No reading. He tried again. “I can’t even hear the blood flow,” Randy said and shook his head while placing his fingertips on the woman’s artery to check for a pulse. “Patient’s palpable blood pressure is only eighty. Not good. Looks like a traumatic brain injury. Probably brain stem. Elevated heart rate is 120. This is bad guys. She’s in shock. Possible internal damage. After this car door is off, let’s do a ‘scoop and run.’”

Within a minute, the fire truck arrived with the “jaws of life” equipment. Al Green, another paramedic was also on the truck along with firefighter, Tony Pascolla. Tony lifted the forty pound Hurst equipment and steadied the hydraulic spreader as he ripped open the car door from its hinges. “I’ll be done in two minutes,” Tony shouted over the loud noise.

The paramedics decided against calling a helicopter since time was essential. Due to the severity of injuries, they agreed to take the woman to a Level I Trauma Center instead of the nearest hospital. Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois was fourteen miles away. They knew that neurosurgeon, Dr. John Shea was her only hope. The ambulance left the scene at 7:12 p.m and arrived at 7:25 p.m. Randy, Greg and Al pulled the stretcher out of the ambulance and ran into the emergency entrance to hand the woman over to the trauma team. “She’s posturing!” Randy said. They watched as the woman started extending her arms and legs in primitive reflexes, a sign that her body could not regulate itself. She then urinated all of the water from her body, soaking the stretcher, and started agonal breathing, the last breaths taken before dying.

As Greg walked back with Randy and Al toward the ambulance, he glanced over his shoulders at the lifeless body being carted away by the trauma team. “Dear God,” he prayed. “Please help her through this. Just help her through this.” He climbed into the driver’s seat and left the hospital. He’d seen it before. He knew firsthand that traumatic brain injury is the number one killer of people forty-four years old and younger.

Continue Reading 2 Comments

First: Bankruptcy of Our Nation by Jerry Robinson

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Bankruptcy of Our Nation

New Leaf Publishing Group/New Leaf Press (March 18, 2009)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jerry Robinson is the president and founder of JRMI (Jerry Robinson Ministries International), a Christian ministry that “challenges believers to think and thinkers to believe.” This is accomplished through cutting-edge teaching on geopolitical, economic and cultural trends and how they relate to the Church. Jerry is a student of global economics, geopolitics and cultural trends.

He is the author of Bankruptcy of Our Nation, recently published by New Leaf Publishing Group, as well as the author of Classical Dispensationalism and its Eschatological foundations and The Mythic Roots of Iran’s Anti-Semitic Rhetoric. His website, jrmi.org, is internationally known with readers in 95 nations. His monthly emails are sent to subscribers in 36 countries. Jerry is a frequent guest on various national talk radio shows on topics ranging from global economics to Christian eschatology. His writings have appeared in serveral national magazines and newspapers. Jerry holds a degree in economics from the University of Tulsa.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Publishing Group/New Leaf Press (March 18, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 089221693X
ISBN-13: 978-0892216932

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Welcome to the End of an Empire

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

— George Orwell

“History is a vast early warning system.”

— Norman Cousins

In an era full of doomsayers and gloomsters, it was my sincere hope that my first major book release would be on, let’s say, a milder topic. Maybe even something light-hearted, such as a book on how to leash train a Rottweiler, or a beginner’s guide to French wines. Or even better yet, a pictorial tourist guide for Southern Europe.

But instead I have written the following tome on the decline of the American experiment and how mankind is about to enter the greatest financial crisis in world history. Depressing, huh? Well, yes. But to those who are familiar with economic history, it is simply the natural ebb and flow of competing interests. According to the laws of physics, an apple thrown upward into the air will be pulled downward by the invisible force of gravity. And while history does not necessarily subscribe to a set of laws, it does teach us great lessons. And these lessons can even be forceful at times. It is often said that while history may never truly repeat, it does at least rhyme. And unfortunately, in the case of the inevitable American economic decline, we have a wide array of historical precedents, which we will examine in later chapters.

But even more than the lessons of economic history (which we will examine more closely in chapter 3,) we have even greater evidence that the global influence exerted by America, both economically and politically, will decline considerably in the not too distant future. Our source: the Holy Bible. Despite what the Western-centric thinker may suggest, the ancient writings of the Christian Bible are clear. They confirm that the biblical prophecies concerning the “last days” are Israel-centric and Middle East-centric. They are anything but America-centric. God’s Word clearly states that the global stage will be firmly transferred to this volatile region just prior to the return of Christ.

As a believer and follower of Christ, it is my earnest belief that hope is never completely lost, because God’s sovereign plan of the ages will forever prevail — no matter how desperate things may appear. But as a believer, I have also learned that only a fool places his trust in man’s ability to rule man. If history is a guide to anything, it is a guide to the consistent knucklehead acts of mankind throughout the ages. Mankind’s predicament stems from the fact that man was not designed, nor was he ever meant, to rule himself. According to an orthodox view of the Christian faith, mankind has rejected the omnipotent rule of his Creator. Instead, man has opted for self-rule. This ancient act of rebellion explains the last 6,000 years of pain and suffering and, more recently, why the 20th century was the bloodiest century on record. (Ironically ,the 20th century has also been labeled the “American Century.”)

America represents the culmination of all that man has ever aspired to: wealth, fame, self-love, self-importance, and freedom to do whatever the heck he wants, (otherwise known as independence). But as men have engaged themselves in this “American experiment,” the inward corruption of mankind has bubbled to the surface. Unable to rid himself of his true sin nature, man attempts in vain to cloak his deficiencies. Unfortunately, America is following the same path as every economic empire before it. And lest we confuse ourselves, Western Christians must quickly grasp this point: America is not the light of the world. The sun shone before America was here and it will continue to shine long after our self-inflicted demise. So let us

not proceed in shock or surprise at the complex webs that America has weaved for itself. Its fall is historically identifiable, though unfortunate. And it is all but certain.

The Excesses of Empire

Over the last few decades, certain economic trends have pointed toward an eventual day of reckoning for the U.S. economy. For example, over the last several years the United States has outsourced the majority of its domestic manufacturing to foreign countries, opting instead to specialize in consumption. This specialization in consumption has meant that for the first time in the nation’s history, the personal savings rate of Americans has dipped below 0 percent. Today, the U.S. credit industry has trumped the manufacturing industry in total revenues. This as the consumer-crazed nation purchases everything in sight through the use of high-interest credit in an effort to feed the hungry credit beast that they have created. And this “buy now and pay later” mantra is not contained to, nor did it originate within, the consumer credit market. Evidence of it is found in government as politicians promise the unborn grandchildren’s money to pay for the luxuries of the grandparents.

It is demonstrated in the poor monetary policy decisions that have systematically devalued the empire’s choice of currency, the U.S. dollar. Today, thanks to our nation’s fiat currency system, it takes one dollar to purchase what five cents could purchase in 1945.

Evidence of this “buy now, pay later” attitude that threatens America is demonstrated in American foreign policy as modern wars are fought without an appeal to national sacrifice. Instead, foreigners fund America’s wars through massive capital inflows that serve to prop up U.S. consumption and conquest.

America has reaped what it has sown by creating an entitlement generation that expects perpetually low tax rates and interest rates. It also expects unrealistically high government entitlement spending and investment returns. This new entitlement generation considers the

concepts of sacrifice and saving as unnecessary relics worthy of the dustbin of history as modern Americans refuse to deny themselves any delight or delicacy. The American economy represents nothing less than a feeble house of cards completely vulnerable to the inevitable external forces that await every declining empire.

Many authors and commentators have highlighted the striking similarities between modern America and former empires such as Rome and Great Britain. Those who are not familiar with such comparisons would greatly benefit from researching this material as it will provide a much needed historical context to the impending American economic crisis. Therefore, I will avoid belaboring the historical and cultural comparisons here. I do not believe, however, that one must

understand the historical cycles to appreciate the fact the America is facing great economic jeopardy.

The painful truth expressed in this book is that the end of the American experiment will, more than likely, come sooner rather than later. The reason behind this looming decline is due to the fact that the United States of America is standing on the precipice of a self-imposed economic calamity. America’s ascendance into the heady realms of economic empire began in the post-World War II Bretton Woods era when it was the world’s greatest creditor nation. Today, just over 60 years later, America now stands as the greatest debtor nation in world history. Decades of financial excess, coupled with an entitlement mentality, has left America as financially bankrupt as it has become morally. America clearly represents a reluctant economic empire in decline. And like all empires that have gone before it, its days are numbered. The death of an empire can be quick and painless; however, that is rarely the case. Instead, empires tend to die slow, painful, and humiliating deaths and their demise is usually accompanied by at least two things: an overextension of the empire’s military and extreme economic overindulgence and depravity. America exhibits excesses in both of these categories.

U.S. Military Overextension

To confirm America’s overextended global military presence, one must look no farther than the more than 700 U.S. military bases located in over 120 nations. That means that America’s military is located in over half of the world’s nations. The American obsession with maintaining global hegemonic power through military force is justified in the name of protecting the important causes of freedom, democracy, and justice worldwide. Or as former President William

McKinley put it, “The American flag has not been planted in foreign soil to acquire more territory but for humanity’s sake.” However, acting as the ever-vigilant and ever-present global policeman requires an annual budget over $600 billion.1

• That is 10 times larger than China’s $65 billion annual military budget.

• 12 times larger than Russia’s $50 billion.

• 120 times larger than North Korea’s $5 billion

• 140 times larger than Iran’s $4.3 billion.

• And that’s around 5,000 times more than Afghanistan’s $122 million

In fact, funding the American military machine costs more than all of the rest of the world’s military’s expenses — combined. And while these exorbitant costs spent to maintain militaristic dominance is typical of an empire, it also clearly unsustainable.

U.S. Consumption Levels Require Foreign Creditors

The American empire’s economy has become grossly indebted to foreign creditors through a shameful lack of sound fiscal stewardship. The empire’s total current national debt stands at a colossal $9 trillion and is growing by the billions every single day. Foreign countries own

more pieces of America than ever before. Not only do foreigners own a large amount of America’s real wealth (real estate, corporations, etc.), they also hold vast amounts of our government bonds. The repercussions of this large foreign ownership of American interests will be discussed at length in upcoming chapters.

As this book will seek to demonstrate:

• American prosperity is denominated in a debt-based and debt-backed currency, the U.S. dollar. But this illusion of prosperity in America is hardly recognized or highlighted by the financial elite or the nation’s media.

• U.S. over-consumption, coupled with American military adventurism since the Vietnam era, has been financed by foreign creditors. With huge trade deficits and a growing national debt, indebtedness to foreign creditors leaves the United States in a highly vulnerable position.

• U.S. and global demand for energy resources are increasing at a rapid rate. Unfortunately, global energy production is not going to be able to keep pace with global demand. A growing depletion of cheap energy resources, coupled with a threatened petrodollar system, will more than likely force America into becoming militarily aggressive in future resource wars with other growing nations (i.e., China, India, etc.)

• American consumer debt has reached all-time highs. This year, more Americans will declare bankruptcy than will divorce, graduate from college, or get cancer; 43 percent of American

households spend more every month than they earn. Clearly, this lack of fiscal discipline must eventually end. Behind all of this lies a monetary system that is based upon debt. This book will explain in stark details how the monetary system of the United States of America is a debt-based system. In fact, money is debt. To understand this concept, we will examine the Federal Reserve system and the mind-blowing money creation process that they employ.

An Illusion of Prosperity

Despite these facts, the majority of America’s government’s institutions, along with their sidekick, the American media, exploit the lack of economic understanding of the masses. In the face of a weakening U.S. economy, those with the loudest voices and largest platforms within the empire have rushed to the nearest microphone urging Americans to continue their over-consumption. They gently assure Americans that the economy is “resilient” and “strong”

enough to weather any storm. As the Titanic coasted through the Atlantic that fateful night, no one believed that the mammoth ship would ever meet its demise on such a routine voyage. Nevertheless, as the Titanic began to sink, the majority of its passengers remained in disbelief. The horror of that fateful evening unfolded against the backdrop of big band music, dancing, and free-flowing cocktails. The music played until the very end. Likewise, everything is perpetually

peachy on the inside of a declining empire. But to believe that the current excesses of the American economic empire are eternally sustainable is about as wise as taking time to rearrange the furniture on the sinking Titanic.

It is understandable why some Americans would still feel optimistic about the nation’s economic future when one simply looks at the recent performance of the U.S. stock market. Over the last several years, the nominal returns on many domestic stocks have been extremely healthy. Since 2000, for example, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has provided the average investor a return on investment of around 36 percent. However, all of the returns reported to American

investors are calculated based upon the empire’s currency, the U.S. dollar. What the typical American investor does not realize is that the gains that he has made in his U.S. stock portfolio have actually been losses due to the declining purchasing power of the U.S. dollar. So in the past, when the average American examined their 401(k) plan statements, they may have seen a positive return on investment but, in all reality, their investments have lost value, internationally speaking, due to the declining dollar.

We can see more clearly how much the U.S. dollar has been devalued through a series of bad monetary policies by simply considering an example using the aforementioned Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Dow Jones, of course, is denominated in U.S. dollars and has increased 36 percent over the last seven years. But if we compare the Dow Jones to other prices besides the dollar for the last seven years, here is what we find:

• If the Dow Jones had been priced in Euros rather than dollars for the last seven years, the Dow would have been a losing investment. In fact, it would have lost 40 percent. Therefore, Europeans who have invested in the Dow Jones for the last seven years have not gained 36 percent, but rather, have lost 40 percent.

• If denominated in milk prices, the Dow Jones now buys 35 percent less milk than it did just seven short years ago

• If denominated in wheat or corn, the Dow now buys 40 percent less wheat and corn than it did seven years ago

• If denominated in gold, the Dow now buys 50 percent less gold than it did seven years ago

• If denominated in silver, the Dow now buys 55 percent less silver than it did seven years ago

• If denominated in oil, the Dow now buys 70 percent less oil than it did seven years ago

• If denominated in copper, the Dow now buys 80 percent less copper than it did seven years ago

• If denominated in uranium, the Dow now buys 90 percent less uranium than it did seven years ago

A sign that you are living at the end of an empire is that you think you are making money while instead you are losing money. The illusion created by the American economic empire has become

extremely deceptive to millions of hard-working Americans. It is a lot like driving a beautiful luxury car with a broken fuel gauge. When the gas tank nears the empty mark and you are running on fumes, you will receive little warning, but you sure do look great. Today, many Americans look rich on paper, but the purchasing power of their dollars is rapidly decreasing. A simple jaunt to any American grocery store will confirm this bit of data. Grocery prices, gas prices, oil prices, and commodity prices are all increasing at remarkable rates and testify to the economic uncertainty fueled by a declining dollar. The inflationary pressures hitting the U.S. consumer have been anything but subtle.

For example, in 2000:

• Gold was $273 per ounce

• Oil was $22 per barrel

• National gasoline prices averaged at $1.46

• The Euro was worth $.87 per dollar

• The Canadian Dollar was worth .68 per dollar

In 2008, just a few years later:

• Gold soared to well over $900 per ounce

• Oil broke through $140 per barrel

• National gasoline prices averaged nearly $4.00 per gallon

• The Euro reached $1.46 per dollar

• The Canadian dollar reached parity with the U.S. dollar.

Of course, in the face of such obvious inflation, the U.S. federal government has assured U.S. consumers that consumer prices are under control and are being “tightly monitored.” In fact, according to the Feds, the U.S. economy is strong and inflation is low. But the price of gold, oil, and gasoline do not lie. The purchasing power of the dollar is declining, and it has been for years. In the last 5 years alone, the U.S. dollar has lost 35 percent of its value against the Euro. Open any newspaper and you will find that your hard earned U.S. dollars are hitting all-time lows against other global currencies nearly every week.

Of course, average everyday consumers pay little attention to gyrations in the global currency markets. But they do understand that when the price of milk or bread goes up, they are able to buy less of it. So the price of gold is hitting all-time highs. Oil is hitting all-time highs, causing gasoline prices to rise. Food prices are rising. It appears that the price of everything is going up. However, the point is that prices are not rising as much as the purchasing power of the dollar is declining. Thus, the illusion of the dollar is simply that: a glorious illusion.

A “Global” War on Terror

In addition to economic illusions of prosperity, declining empires also tend to become rather ambitious in their military aims. The 21st century began with the largest terrorist attack on U.S. soil when occupied airplanes were used as missiles against the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon. In response, the Bush administration launched a global war on terror. Admittedly, hunting down those responsible for these egregious attacks upon thousands of Americans should

be a priority of the U.S. government. But upon closer examination, an even larger problem exists: war is expensive. And initiating and conducting a worldwide war on terrorism is terribly expensive, even for the richest nation in world history. This is why every previous war in this nation’s history has required some economic sacrifice on the part of its citizens. For example, in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt ended production of new

automobiles, new homes, and new appliances in an effort to free up American manufacturing and labor resources for military trucks and tanks needed for the war. Food and gasoline supplies were rationed as the country mobilized for an expensive war that nearly all agreed was necessary for the future peace of the nation. Additionally, the federal government promoted and sold war bonds to the general public to obtain the funding necessary to pay for the ongoing costs associated with war. Understanding that wars cost money, U.S. citizens from that “great generation” sacrificed many of life’s conveniences in order to prevent America from going into massive debt. Even in Vietnam, which was an American financial nightmare, a military draft ensured that sacrifice was exacted from American families.

In contrast, after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush encouraged Americans to go shopping and to take vacations. In our modern era, little economic sacrifice has been requested from American citizens. So while the bombs drop and the rockets fly, most Americans yawn and turn off the television. The nightly news brings reports of war and chaos that might as well be happening on a different planet. Ask yourself: Where is the economic sacrifice in this new massive worldwide war on terrorism? Which of our nation’s leaders are asking you to curb your consumption in an effort to fund our current global war? Oddly enough, in the midst of a costly global war, the nation’s taxes have been lowered while government spending has increased. The sheer absurdity of this should be obvious. But apparently it is not, as clearly witnessed by American citizens who have apparently bought the government’s line that “Americans can

have their cake and eat it too.” To tell the American voter anything to the contrary is too politically risky.

Since Americans are not being asked to fund the extravagant expenses of a global war with no end in sight, who then is footing the bill for America’s war on terrorism? The answer: Foreign countries, namely China and Japan. How are they funding the war, you might ask? Through their purchases of U.S. government debt, such as U.S. Treasury bonds. Since 2000, China and Japan have been rapidly increasing their holdings in U.S. debt instruments, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. In other words, China and Japan are financing America’s war on terrorism.

Emerging Nations as the New Global Consumers

Americans are “expert” consumers, and American consumption — until February 2005 — had been the highest in the world in nearly all categories. On February 16, 2005, a report was released by the Earth Policy Institute that confirmed what most of the world already knew: China is rapidly replacing the U.S. as the world’s largest consumer. The report stated that “among the five basic food, energy, and industrial commodities — grain and meat, oil and coal, and steel — consumption in China has already eclipsed that of the United States in all but oil.” China’s insatiable appetite for commodities is both obvious and frightening. The enormous nation has 1.3 billion people who all desperately desire the same luxuries that Americans now enjoy and they are willing to work hard to obtain them. Of course, one of the Welcome to the luxuries of a modern wealthy nation is automobiles. And automobile sales are increasing rapidly in China as the nation continues its industrial revolution — 21st century style. Therefore, the price of oil is

intricately linked to China’s emergence from an agrarian society to a highly developed nation. And while China trails the United States as the world’s second largest oil consumer, it is now the world’s fastest net importer of oil. China’s demand for oil is growing each year and government estimates have stated that by 2030, China’s demand for oil will eclipse U.S. demand for oil. In addition, China now boasts five of the world’s ten largest companies, including oil production giant PetroChina. In November 2007 it was announced that PetroChina had become the first company in history to be valued at over $1 trillion, thus, making PetroChina twice as valuable as the world’s previously largest company, American oil giant, ExxonMobil. China today is viewed by many as simply an economic bully. This may be true. But Americans do good to ask themselves: How long before China’s economic power turns into political power? In fact, what else is a superpower if not an economic powerhouse with tremendous political prowess. As the Earth Policy Institute report concludes: “China is no longer just a developing country. It is an emerging economic superpower, one that is writing economic history. If the last century was the American century, this one looks to be the Chinese century.” It is amazing when you think about it. America’s population of just over 300 million has consumed more than China’s 1.3 billion citizens for decades. This statistic alone displays America’s staggering wealth and our consumption-driven economy. And China is not an isolated case. India, and its 1.1 billion citizens, is experiencing its own economic revolution as many of its impoverished citizens successfully embrace the tenets of capitalism in an effort to increase their standard of living. Add to this other countries such as Brazil, Russia, and a host of other nations that are all emerging as major global economic players onto the world’s stage. They all come ready to compete for their share of the world’s limited resources. Clearly, insisting that American hegemony is sustainable is not only unreasonable, it is highly irresponsible.

The Life Cycle of Democracies

Consider how the Scottish historian Alexander Tyler documented the typical life cycle of a democracy: A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From

that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship.

Tyler continues with this amazing statement:

The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have 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 selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage.

Does this sequence sound familiar? Where does this dependence upon others to pay the bills place the fragile American experiment on this life cycle?

So let us summarize our conclusions thus far:

• The purchasing power of our U.S. dollar is declining in value

• The U.S. government continues to print more money

• We are engaged in an expensive and endless global war on terror

• We are obsessed with cutting taxes

• We are raising government spending to all-time highs

• We have requested little, if any, economic “sacrifice” on the part of our citizenry

• Our trade deficit and budgetary deficits are at all-time highs

• Our national debt is at an all-time high and growing exponentially

• We are completely dependent upon foreign nations to fund our over-consumption through the sale of our debts

As long as foreign countries purchase our massive debts, perhaps we can extend this madness. But what happens if foreign countries begin to decrease their funding of our debts? And what if America’s foreign creditors decide to diversify their currency holdings into other currencies? The truth is, the American public is living in massive monetary deception. The direction that the American economy is heading is extremely difficult to swallow. However, if our aim is truth, then we will willingly embrace the facts and take the necessary steps needed to shelter ourselves and our families. Undoubtedly, the only real way out of the mess that has been created will also be the hardest. A glimmer of hope remains that the difficult steps that need to be taken will be embraced, especially by Christians. But regardless of whether this happens or not, there is still hope for the informed citizen. The message of this book is one of great hope. But it is not a hope that the global economy will never awaken to the harsh realities awaiting it. God’s Word has clearly stated that man cannot rule man. Our failed attempts in this area continue to prove his point. Our hope is in knowing which direction the trends are taking us. It is in this knowledge that you will be able to protect and shelter whatever wealth you have already accumulated, and in addition profit from the greatest financial crisis that the world has ever witnessed. As you read the following chapters of this book, be of good cheer. Despite man’s best efforts, God is still in control. And with God, the end is only the beginning.

Endnotes

1. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/spending.htm.

Continue Reading 8 Comments

Customize It All

Connected2Christ.com Copyright © All Rights Reserved.
Powered by Warp Theme Framework