Cliff diving — 12 things you can do to avoid jumping off when things get ugly

This... is... the economy!

Numbers 13-14
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This... is... the economy!

This… is… the economy!

The fiscal cliff.

Ahhhhh!

It’s all the rage right now.  The news won’t shut up about it, and our Congress can’t seem to agree on anything about it.  As expected, everyone is terrified.

The news recently reported that milk could reach $7.00 a gallon.  That’s more than four times the price I remember when I moved out of my parent’s place seven years ago.

I guess I’ll be sticking with oatmeal for breakfast for a while.

How are we supposed to respond to this?  Some of us are in no position to deal with significant financial burdens, and anxiety isn’t exactly therapeutic.

The Bible has a clear-cut answer answer to the problem of prospective fears: don’t worry.  But sometimes it’s not that easy. And if you’re a guy, you need to have a plan of attack, some method to cope so you don’t HAVE to worry about it.  Some teachers will say that we have to “expect” things and “speak over” our troubles, but having positive thoughts and rearranging our words don’t magically create revamped situations.

1) Assess. There’s nothing wrong with looking ahead.  I didn’t buy a brand new guitar amp because I don’t have the money. Similarly, Israel doesn’t charge into the new land to “claim it” without looking at what they’re up against. It’s important to see what it’s going to cost and make preparations.

2) Contradict the trend. What IS the trend?  Fear.  It’s incredible what people do in response to what may come.  Caleb decides it’s still a good idea to proceed because he knows it’s going to be alright.  Do you know that as well?

3) Avoid inflation. American currency is looking a lot like the StayPuft Marshmallow, but exaggerating the problem doesn’t make it any better.  Evade slippery slope arguments and stay the course.

4) Humble yourself. Especially if problems increase manifold, our position should remain the same: He is God, and we are not.

5) Ignore the threats. Having a joyful disposition can incite jealousy in the form of ire. Don’t mistake “joy” with blissful ignorance (see #1) — the reality of difficult times may exist, but succumbing to the pressure of cynicism or despair only gives our critics (and the devil himself) more space to work.

6) Pray. Consulting God on the matter is not just smart, but necessary.  When the future seems like a handful, seek the One who holds the future in His hands.

7) Recognize the Lord’s renown. Israel’s enemies already know the Lord has their backs. Likewise, no modern government or economy is capable of trumping the momentum of our God — why should we begin to fear?

8) Hang on the Lord’s strength. The strong arm of the Lord is illustrated throughout the entire Bible.  The mass of believers worldwide can vouch for His power within.

9) Hang on the Lord’s justice. The Lord is indeed gracious, but He is also just.  This goes for the circumstances at hand as well as your own conduct.

10) Love the Lord wholeheartedly. A partial commitment will reap partial results. Imagine “kind of” loving your spouse, or “kind of” committing to your job — they won’t last very long.  This is the defining difference between Caleb/Joshua and the rest of the scouts.  What will distinguish you from others in a strenuous environment?

11) Keep a good rep. It doesn’t do much good for God’s reputation if your behavior spoils it.  While a slip-up is expected, a consistent lifestyle of holiness demonstrates your devotion and faith — and if people don’t notice a difference, it might be smart to check yourself.

12) Keep it up. Even after a clear message from God, a plague, and some props from God for Joshua and Caleb, some of the Israelites decide to go “claim” the land they are no longer promised, with disastrous results.  If we say we’re for God, act like it.

I have no idea what Congress is going to agree on, or if they will do anything at all. Everything might turn out alright.  Or things could go badly. But that’s not my job to decide — my preoccupation is to maintain the course, to run the race and keep on going.  It’s likely that the vast majority of us will wake up on January 1st, 2013 with some food in our fridge, with some money in our pockets.  What you do next is really up to you.

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