Monday, February 26, 2007

Pilgrim Heart and the Oscars

My buddy Andrew Baker blessed me by giving me the book "Pilgrim Heart" by Darryl Tippens. I finished it this weekend, and I hope all of you will pick it up to read. It should go on your shelf next to the books by Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and anybody else that writes about the spiritual disciplines. Every chapter in this book is good, but the chapter he does on the Lord's Supper is amazing! I hope Darryl keeps writing!


I watched some of the Oscars last night. Jan and I use to go to a lot of movies, but we don't seem to make the time to do so much anymore. I like to rent them from time to time. Last night I was hoping "Little Miss Sunshine" would win an Oscar or two. That is one movie we went to see, and both of us really loved it. There is one scene where the little girl tells Alan Arkin she doesn't want to be "a loser", and his response is worth the price of the movie. Go see it if you haven't.

Anyway, watching the Oscars got me to thinking about my favorite movie scenes from all time, and here are some of them. I know I will be leaving some out, but this is a good start.

# 5 The scene in "The Power of One' where Peekay leads the African prisoners in singing the "Southland Concerto". It's beautiful because several tribes are singing in their own tongue, but harmonizing with the other tribes. Also, the prisoners are singing words of defiance to the Warden and others in power........right to their face. The irony of that along with hearing the Xhosa, Zulu, and other tribes singing is unbelievable!

# 4 The scene in "Forrest Gump" where Forrest is visiting Jenny's grave. There are any number of scenes from this movie that blow me away, but this one takes the cake. No matter how many times I watch it, I tear up when I hear him pouring his heart out. This is my favorite movie of all time.

# 3 The scene in "The Lion King" where Rafiki the baboon is telling Simba he has to forget the past and go on and follow in the steps of his father, Mufasa. Rafiki convinces Simba that his father's spirit lives on in him, and he must accept the responsibility of his destined role. Sound familiar? :)

# 2 Ahhh.......the court room scene in "To Kill a Mockingbird". Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch is hard to beat. The folks that played Tom Robinson, Mayella Ewell, and Bob Ewell were awesome also. If you have never seen this movie, you should go rent it TODAY!!!! I still remembering seeing it for the first time when I was a little boy in the early 60's. It's never stopped impacting me.

# 1 You know it HAS to be something to do with Africa, right? :) It's the scene in "Out of Africa" where Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford) takes Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep) for a plane ride in his new bi-plane. The cinematography in that scene will just about take your breath away, and then when they add the music of John Barry.......well, I really don't have the words to describe it. I don't think there is a more beautiful piece of footage in existence.

Ok, there are five from me.........let's hear from you! I left a BUNCH on the table, so give em to me.


Dave Mathews brought us a lesson on Elijah yesterday at Downtown. Ask anybody that was there...........he was BRINGING IT!!!!!!!!!! I wish all of you could have heard it. Is your faith big enough to withstand a "Heavy Rain"? With God's help, it can be. Thanks Dave! You are a tremendous blessing to Downtown, just as are the other folks on the Ministry staff.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I won't tell you who, and I won't tell you where..........but not 5 minutes ago I got off the phone with a man whom I love very much that was telling me he had left the church of Christ he had been going to for 17 years. He had been a Shepherd there for 11 years before moving on to most recently serving on the ministry staff. This Godly man has spent his ENTIRE life in churches of Christ, and a product of one of "our" Christian schools. The phrase he said I will always remember is: "I just can't do it anymore". I knew what he meant, but he went on to explain that he just can't spend time focusing inward when there is a lost world out there that needs Christ. It seems my generation is at the vortex of this turmoil. For the most part, the folks in their 20's and early 30's seem to grasp very easily that their allegiance is not to this fellowship, but to the Lord. Therefore, they are leaving in droves. The generation older than me, for the most part, are satisified with staus quo. I know, I know.......there are exceptions to that, both in the younger group and the older ones. But for the most part, that leaves the 40's to 50's crowd caught in the tension of not wanting to bail, but also not wanting to remain status quo.

This guy went on to say that there are problems at the new fellowship he is a part of, because churches are made up of people. Where you have people, you have problems. But, he said it was so liberating to be a part of group of people who had moved on DECADES ago from the "crisis issues" many in our fellowship seem to be stuck on, and to be focused instead on impacting the world for Christ. God bless him and his wife as they continue their journey.


I have already read one editorial aimed at Richland Hills condeming them for going to the Saturday night worship service they are offering. Seems like I remember being taught when I was little that one of the reasons we aren't a denomination is because we are autonomous. I've grown to learn that means we are autonomous in theory, not practice.


"Identity crisis" is an expression being thrown around a lot. I can tell you the folks who AREN'T having a crisis.......the ones whose hope is built on nothing less than Jesus's blood and righteousness. They are quite confident their identity is in HIM. Wait.......why am I saying "they"................WE are quite confident our identity is in HIM!

I can't imagine having a more God glorifying identity.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What Would He Think Now

The quotes are from the first President of Harding.........J.N. Armstrong. They were given to me by a co-worker.

Jim Woodroof pointed out to me that at least once brother Armstrong was speaking in terms of what God had wanted, but the reality is that we have many times fallen WAY short of what God has wanted for us. For example, President Armstrong said "If there is one thing for which the church of the living God has stood for through all its history, it is the freedom of conscience of all its members." The church sadly has NOT ALWAYS stood for this freedom, hence the burnings of people at the stake. In fact, the same thing happens in 2007. No, not the extreme of burning people at the stake..........but you know as well as I do what happens when someone doesn't tout the company line. They get attacked personally, and for sure are "written up" in certain publications. They also get ostracized and are treated as persona non grata, or as we say in the south............"you ain't welcome in these parts". So yes, brother Armstrong was for sure talking about what God had HOPED FOR as far as how we treat each other, and not how we have actually done so.

As for GKB's, I don't think J. N. Armstrong would have been about the business of forcing his opinion on anybody. Even about not forcing opinions! :)

The thing that hit me about all of the great quotes was this...............if he were alive today saying (and trying to practice) these same things, what churches would invite him to come preach, and what lectureships would he be welcomed to do a key-note address or teach a class? We all will probably have different opinions on that, but I don't believe he would be welcome in a LOT of churches, nor certain lectureships. Is there a message for us to hear in all of that? Is it past time we stop and recalibrate to check and see if we really are about the things that the Father calls us to be about? If President Armstrong was respected and welcomed by most folks in our fellowship back then, what has happend in the years that have followed to where he WOULDN'T be respected or welcomed now? I feel like theses quotes are representative of thoughts and admonitions that our Lord and Savior communicated while He was on earth, so the deeper question might be "how many churches or lectureships would welcome JESUS if He were also alive today?" Now I've gone to meddling, huh? :)

I thank God that the history of our fellowship is full of people, men and women, like J. N. Armstrong. I just hope and pray we can have more people like him and them.

What's your take?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Interesting Quotes

I hope you will read these quotes and see if you can figure out who said them. I am not going to reveal who the person is until the next post.


To have a group of men tell us what the Bible means
in every instance and what all must teach and believe,
would be placing a human yoke upon the necks of us
all. It would be signing away our very birthright.
So long as men are made free to study God's book
independently, unfettered by ecclesiasticisms,priests,
popes, and preachers, there will be honest mistakes
in interpretations of the devout, the consecrated,
and the most godly of God's children. It has always
been so. And no church of our Lord has a right to
pass upon the scruples of the most humble and
untrained in God's house. "One man esteemeth one
day above another: another esteemeth every day alike.
Let each man be fully assured in his own mind...
Who art thou that judgest the servant of another?
To his own Lord he standeth or falleth."


If there is one thing for which the church of the living God has stood for through all its history, it is the freedom of conscience of all its members. No one has been free to bind on another's conscience that which the other man has not found to be the word of God. Every one too, unto the humblest of these children, has been encouraged to teach what he feels to be his duty from his own study of God's word, without intimidation. This has been our heritage.


It is right for each of us to present his honest convictions concerning any difference of teaching he may hold. Having done this, let us leave it with that, and not try to force our teaching upon each other. An effort to force always produces opposition, strife, bitterness, and finally division. What we need is to love one another and magnify our agreements.


The way to unity and good fellowship is not in deciding what is "essential" and what is "non-essential". This line cannot be fixed except by a dictator or a pope. God has not fixed it. To submit to a line here would be nothing less than submitting to human wisdom would be deadly, as I see it, in its reflection on the wisdom of God.


There is a great need to stress the importance of maintaining
freedom of speech in the kingdom of God. Intolerance is
dangerous to the future growth of the church. Most of us
have an aversion to anything except what we ourselves believe
and teach, and as a consequence, we are intolerant of the
teaching of anything that antagonizes our doctrine. All
progress of truth - all truth - has always depended on free
speech and progressive teachers who were not afraid to teach
their honest convictions, even though it cost life....It takes
no courage to teach the things one's audience already believes.


I am well aware of the fact that free speech has its dangers and that progressive and fearless teachers have given the world untold trouble. But are we ready to surrender free speech and to deny ourselves teachers who are not afraid? Even our deliverance from such a possibility must come through free speech and courageous teachers. If our great-great-grandchildren enjoy the truth we hold dear, it will be due to free speech and courageous teachers.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

One View of Our Current World

The following was written by a Lt. Col. who works at the Pentagon and also attends the Fairfax Church of Christ in Virginia. It was sent to me by my brother Bryan, who works for the FBI. Bryan also attended church at Fairfax when he was stationed in DC. Read it and give me your take on his perspectives.

What In The World Is Going On?
A Global Intelligence Briefing For CEOs

Herbert Meyer

Four Major Transformations

Currently, there are four major transformations that are shaping political, economic and world events. These transformations have profound implications for American business owners, our culture and our way of life.

1. The War in Iraq

There are three major monotheistic religions in the world: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. In the 16th century, Judaism and Christianity reconciled with the modern world. The rabbis, priests and scholars found a way to settle up and pave the way forward. Religion remained at the center of life, church and state became separate. Rule of law, idea of economic liberty, individual rights, human rights¾all these are defining points of modern Western civilization. These concepts started with the Greeks but didn’t take off until the 15th and 16th century when Judaism and Christianity found a way to reconcile with the modern world. When that happened, it unleashed the scientific revolution and the greatest outpouring of art, literature and music the world has ever known.

Islam, which developed in the 7th century, counts millions of Moslems around the world who are normal people. However, there is a radical streak within Islam. When the radicals are in charge, Islam attacks Western civilization. Islam first attacked Western civilization in the 7th century, and later in the 16th and 17th centuries. By 1683, the Moslems (Turks from the Ottoman Empire) were literally at the gates of Vienna. It was in Vienna that the climatic battle between Islam and Western civilization took place. The West won and went forward. Islam lost and went backward Interestingly, the date of that battle was September 11. Since them, Islam has not found a way to reconcile with the modern world.

Today, terrorism is the third attack on Western civilization by radical Islam. To deal with terrorism, the U.S. is doing two things. First, units of our armed forces are in 30 countries around the world hunting down terrorist groups and dealing with them. This gets very little publicity. Second we are taking military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. These are covered relentlessly by the media. People can argue about whether the war in Iraq is right or wrong. However, the underlying strategy behind the war is to use our military to remove the radicals from power and give the moderates a chance. Our hope is that, over time, the moderates will find a way to bring Islam forward into the 21st century. That’s what our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is all about.

The lesson of 9/11 is that we live in a world where a small number of people can kill a large number of people very quickly. They can use airplanes, bombs, anthrax, chemical weapons or dirty bombs. Even with a first-rate intelligence service (which the U.S. does not have), you can’t stop every attack. That means our tolerance “for political horseplay” has dropped to zero. No longer will we play games with terrorists or weapons of mass destructions.

Most of the instability and horseplay is coming from the Middle East. That’s why we have thought that if we could knock out the radicals and give the moderates a chance to hold power, they might find a way to reconcile Islam with the modern world. So when looking at Afghanistan or Iraq, it’s important to look for any signs that they are modernizing. For example, women being brought into the workforce and colleges in Afghanistan is good. The Iraqis stumbling toward a constitution is good. People can argue about what the U.S. is doing and how we’re doing it, but anything that suggests Islam is finding its way forward is good.

2. The Emergence of China

In the last 20 years, China has moved 250 million people from the farms and villages into the cities. Their plan is to move another 300 million in the next 20 years. When you put that many people into the cities, you have to find work for them. That’s why China is addicted to manufacturing; they have to put all the relocated people to work. When we decide to manufacture something in the U.S., it’s based on market needs and the opportunity to make a profit. In China, they make the decision because they want the jobs, which is a very different calculation.

While China is addicted to manufacturing, Americans are addicted to low prices. As a result, a unique kind of economic codependency has developed between the two countries. If we ever stop buying from China, they will explode politically. If China stops selling to us, our economy will take a huge hit because prices will jump. We are subsidizing their economic development, they are subsidizing our economic growth.

Because of their huge growth in manufacturing, China is hungry for raw materials, which drives prices up worldwide. China is also thirsty for oil, which is one reason oil is now at $60 a barrel. By 2020, China will produce more cars than the U.S. China is also buying its way into the oil infrastructure around the world. They are doing it in the open market and paying fair market prices, but millions of barrels of oil that would have gone to the U.S. are now going to China. China’s quest to assure it has the oil it needs to fuel its economy is a major factor in world politics and economics. We have our Navy fleets protecting the sea lines, specifically the ability to get the tankers through. It won’t be long before the Chinese have an aircraft carrier sitting in the Persian Gulf as well. The question is, will their aircraft carrier be pointing in the same direction as ours or against us?

3. Shifting Demographics of Western Civilization

Most countries in the Western world have stopped breeding. For a civilization obsessed with sex, this is remarkable. Maintaining a steady population requires a birth rate of 2.1. In Western Europe, the birth rate currently stands at 1.5, or 30 percent below replacement. In 30 years there will be 70 to 80 million fewer Europeans than there are today. The current birth rate in Germany is 1.3. Italy and Spain are even lower at 1.2. At that rate, the working age population declines by 30 percent in 20 years, which has a huge impact on the economy.

When you don’t have young workers to replace the older ones, you have to import them. The European countries are currently importing Moslems. Today, the Moslems comprise 10 percent of France and Germany, and the percentage is rising rapidly because they have higher birthrates. However, the Moslem populations are not being integrated into the cultures of their host countries, which is a political catastrophe. One reason Germany and France don’t support the Iraq war is they fear their Moslem populations will explode on them. By 2020, more than half of all births in the Netherlands will be non-European.

The huge design flaw in the post-modern secular state is that you need a traditional religious society birth rate to sustain it. The Europeans simply don’t wish to have children, so they are dying.

In Japan, the birthrate is 1.3. As a result, Japan will lose up to 60 million people over the next 30 years. Because Japan has a very different society than Europe, they refuse to import workers. Instead, they are just shutting down. Japan has already closed 2000 schools, and is closing them down at the rate of 300 per year. Japan is also aging very rapidly. By 2020, one out of every five Japanese will be at least 70 years old. Nobody has any idea about how to run an economy with those demographics.

Europe and Japan, which comprise two of the world’s major economic engines, aren’t merely in recession, they’re shutting down. This will have a huge impact on the world economy, and it is already beginning to happen. Why are the birthrates so low? There is a direct correlation between abandonment of traditional religious society and a drop in birth rate, and Christianity in Europe is becoming irrelevant. The second reason is economic. When the birth rate drops below replacement, the population ages. With fewer working people to support more retired people, it puts a crushing tax burden on the smaller group of working age people. As a result, young people delay marriage and having a family. Once this trend starts, the downward spiral only gets worse. These countries have abandoned all the traditions they formerly held in regards to having families and raising children.

The U.S. birth rate is 2.0, just below replacement. We have an increase in population because of immigration. When broken down by ethnicity, the Anglo birth rate is 1.6 (same as France) while the Hispanic birth rate is 2.7. In the U.S., the baby boomers are starting to retire in massive numbers. This will push the “elder dependency” ratio from 19 to 38 over the next 10 to 15 years. This is not as bad as Europe, but still represents the same kind of trend.

Western civilization seems to have forgotten what every primitive society need kids to have a healthy society. Children are huge consumers. Then they grow up to become taxpayers. That’s how a society works, but the post-modern secular state seems to have forgotten that. If U.S. birth rates of the past 20 to 30 years had been the same as post-World War II, there would be no Social Security or Medicare problems.

The world’s most effective birth control device is money. As society creates a middle class and women move into the workforce, birth rates drop. Having large families is incompatible with middle class living. The quickest way to drop the birth rate is through rapid economic development. After World War II, the U.S. instituted a $600 tax credit per child. The idea was to enable mom and dad to have four children without being troubled by taxes. This led to a baby boom of 22 million kids, which was a huge consumer market that turned into a huge tax base. However, to match that incentive in today’s dollars would cost $12,000 per child.

China and India do not have declining populations. However, in both countries, there is a preference for boys over girls, and we now have the technology to know which is which before they are born. In China and India, many families are aborting the girls. As a result, in each of these countries there are 70 million boys growing up who will never find wives. When left alone, nature produces 103 boys for every 100 girls. In some provinces, however, the ratio is 128 boys to every 100 girls.

The birth rate in Russia is so low that by 2050 their population will be smaller than that of Yemen. Russia has one-sixth of the earth’s land surface and much of its oil. You can’t control that much area with such a small population. Immediately to the south, you have China with 70 million unmarried men – a real potential nightmare scenario for Russia.

4. Restructuring of American Business

The fourth major transformation involves a fundamental restructuring of American business. Today’s business environment is very complex and competitive. To succeed, you have to be the best, which means having the highest quality and lowest cost. Whatever your price point, you must have the best quality and lowest price. To be the best, you have to concentrate on one thing. You can’t be all things to all people and be the best.

A generation ago, IBM used to make every part of their computer. Now Intel makes the chips, Microsoft makes the software, and someone else makes the modems, hard drives, monitors, etc. IBM even outsources their call center. Because IBM has all these companies supplying goods and services cheaper and better than they could do it themselves, they can make a better computer at a lower cost. This is called a “fracturing” of business. When one company can make a better product by relying on others to perform functions the business used to do itself, it creates a complex pyramid of companies that serve and support each other.

This fracturing of American business is now in its second generation. The companies who supply IBM are now doing the same thing¾outsourcing many of their core services and production process. As a result, they can make cheaper, better products. Over time, this pyramid continues to get bigger and bigger. Just when you think it can’t fracture again, it does. Even very small businesses can have a large pyramid of corporate entities that perform many of its important functions. One aspect of this trend is that companies end up with fewer employees and more independent contractors.

This trend has also created two new words in business¾integrator and complementor. At the top of the pyramid, IBM is the integrator. As you go down the pyramid, Microsoft, Intel and the other companies that support IBM are the complementors. However, each of the complementors is itself an integrator for the complementors underneath it. This has several implications, the first of which is that we are now getting false readings on the economy. People who used to be employees are now independent contractors launching their own businesses. There are many people working whose work is not listed as a job. As a result, the economy is perking along better than the numbers are telling us.

Outsourcing also confused the numbers. Suppose a company like General Motors decides to outsource all its employee cafeteria functions to Marriott (which it did). It lays off hundreds of cafeteria workers, who then get hired right back by Marriott. The only thing that has changed is that these people work for Marriott rather than GM. Yet, the headlines will scream that America has lost more manufacturing jobs. All that really happened is that these workers are now reclassified as service workers. So the old way of counting jobs contributes to false economic readings. As yet, we haven’t figured out how to make the numbers catch up with the changing realities of the business world.

Another implication of this massive restructuring is that because companies are getting rid of units and people that used to work for them, the entity is smaller. As the companies+ get smaller and more efficient, revenues are going down but profits are going up. As a result, the old notion that “revenues are up and we’re doing great” isn’t always the case anymore. Companies are getting smaller but are becoming more efficient and profitable in the process.

Implications Of The Four Transformations

1. The War in Iraq

In some ways, the war is going very well. Afghanistan and Iraq have the beginnings of a modern government, which is a huge step forward. The Saudis are starting to talk about some good things, while Egypt and Lebanon are beginning to move in a good direction.

A series of revolutions have taken place in countries like Ukraine and Georgia. There will be more of these revolutions for an interesting reason. In every revolution, there comes a point where the dictator turns to the general and says, “Fire into the crowd.” If the general fires into the crowd, it stops the revolution. If the general says “No,” the revolution is over. Increasingly, the generals are saying “No” because their kids are in the crowd.

Thanks to TV and the Internet, the average 18-year old outside the U.S. is very savvy about what is going on in the world, especially in terms of popular culture. There is a huge global consciousness, and young people around the world want to be a part of it. It is increasingly apparent to them that the miserable government where they live is the only thing standing in their way. More and more, it is the well-educated kids, the children of the generals and the elite, who are leading the revolutions.

At the same time, not all is well with the war. The level of violence in Iraq is much worse and doesn’t appear to be improving. It’s possible that we’re asking too much of Islam all at one time. We’re trying to jolt them from the 7th century to the 21st century all at once, which may be further than they can go. They might make it and they might not. Nobody knows for sure. The point is, we don’t know how the war will turn out. Anyone who says they know is just guessing.

The real place to watch is Iran. If they actually obtain nuclear weapons it will be a terrible situation. There are two ways to deal with it. The first is a military strike, which will be very difficult. The Iranians have dispersed their nuclear development facilities and put them underground. The U.S. has nuclear weapons that can go under the earth and take out those facilities, but we don’t want to do that. The other way is to separate the radical mullahs from the government, which is the most likely course of action.

Seventy percent of the Iranian population is under 30. They are Moslem but not Arab. They are mostly pro-Western. Many experts think the U.S. should have dealt with Iran before going to war with Iraq. The problem isn’t so much the weapons, it’s the people who control them. If Iran has a moderate government, the weapons become less of a concern.

We don’t know if we will win the war in Iraq. We could lose or win. What we’re looking for is any indicator that Islam is moving into the 21st century and stabilizing

2. China

It may be that pushing 500 million people from farms and villages into cities is too much too soon. Although it gets almost no publicity, China is experiencing hundreds of demonstrations around the country, which is unprecedented. These are not students in Tiananmen Square. These are average citizens who are angry with the government for building chemical plants and polluting the water they drink and the air they breathe.

The Chinese are a smart and industrious people. They may be able to pull it off and become a very successful economic and military superpower. If so, we will have to learn to live with it. If they want to share the responsibility of keeping the world’s oil lanes open, that’s a good thing. They currently have eight new nuclear electric power generators under way and 45 on the books to build. Soon, they will leave the U.S. way behind in their ability to generate nuclear power.

What can go wrong with China? For one, you can’t move 550 million people into the cities without major problems. Two, China really wants Taiwan¾not so much for economic reasons, they just want it. The Chinese know that their system of communism can’t survive much longer in the 21st century. The last thing they want to do before they morph into some sort of more capitalistic government is to take over Taiwan.

We may wake up one morning and find they have launched an attack on Taiwan. If so, it will be a mess, both economically and militarily. The U.S. has committed to the military defense of Taiwan. If China attacks Taiwan, will we really go to war against them? If the Chinese generals believe the answer is no, they may attack. If we don’t defend Taiwan, every treaty the U.S. has will be worthless. Hopefully, China won’t do anything stupid.

3. Demographics

Europe and Japan are dying because their populations are aging and shrinking. These trends can be reversed if the young people start breeding. However, the birth rates in these areas are so low it will take two generations to turn things around. No economic model exists that permits 50 years to turn things around. Some countries are beginning to offer incentives for people to have bigger families. For example, Italy is offering tax breaks for having children. However, it’s a lifestyle issue versus a tiny amount of money. Europeans aren’t willing to give up their comfortable lifestyles in order to have more children.

In general, everyone in Europe just wants it to last a while longer. Europeans have a real talent for living. They don’t want to work very hard. The average European worker gets 400 more hours of vacation time per year than Americans. They don’t want to work and they don’t want to make any of the changes needed to revive their economies.

The summer after 9/11, France lost 15,000 people in a heat wave. In August, the country basically shuts down when everyone goes on vacation. That year, a severe heat wave struck and 15,000 elderly people living in nursing homes and hospitals died. Their children didn’t even leave the beaches to come back and take care of the bodies. Institutions had to scramble to find enough refrigeration units to hold the bodies until people came to claim them.

This loss of life was five times bigger than 9/11 in America, yet it didn’t trigger any change in French society. When birth rates are so low, it creates a tremendous tax burden on the young. Under those circumstances, keeping mom and dad alive is not an attractive option. That’s why euthanasia is becoming so popular in most European countries. The only country that doesn’t permit (and even encourage) euthanasia is Germany, because of all the baggage from World War II.

The European economy is beginning to fracture. The Euro is down. Countries like Italy are starting to talk about pulling out of the European Union because it is killing them. When things get bad economically in Europe, they tend to get very nasty politically. The canary in the mine is anti-Semitism. When it goes up, it means trouble is coming. Current levels of anti-Semitism are higher than ever. Germany won’t launch another war, but Europe will likely get shabbier, more dangerous and less pleasant to live in.

Japan has a birth rate of 1.3 and has no intention of bringing in immigrants. By 2020, one out of every five Japanese will be 70 years old. Property values in Japan have dropped every year for the past 14 years. The country is simply shutting down.

In the U.S. we also have an aging population. Boomers are starting to retire at a massive rate. These retirements will have several major impacts:

· Possible massive sell-off of large four-bedroom houses and a movement to condos.

· An enormous drain on the treasury. Boomers vote, and they want their benefits, even if it means putting a crushing tax burden on their kids to get them. Social Security will be a huge problem. As this generation ages, it will start to drain the system. We are the only country in the world where there are no age limits on medical procedures.

· An enormous drain on the health care system. This will also increase the tax burden on the young, which will cause them to delay marriage and having families, which will drive down the birth rate even further.

Although scary, these demographics also present enormous opportunities for products and services tailored to aging populations. There will be tremendous demand for caring for older people, especially those who don’t need nursing homes but need some level of care. Some people will have a business where they take care of three or four people in their homes. The demand for that type of service and for products to physically care for aging people will be huge.

Make sure the demographics of your business are attuned to where the action is. For example, you don’t want to be a baby food company in Europe or Japan. Demographics are much underrated as an indicator of where the opportunities are. Businesses need customers. Go where the customers are.

4. Restructuring of American Business

The restructuring of American business means we are coming to the end of the age of the employer and employee. With all this fracturing of businesses into different and smaller units, employers can’t guarantee jobs anymore because they don’t know what their companies will look like next year. Everyone is on their way to becoming an independent contractor. The new workforce contract will be, “Show up at the my office five days a week and do what I want you to do, but you handle your own insurance, benefits, health care and everything else.”

Husbands and wives are becoming economic units. They take different jobs and work different shifts depending on where they are in their careers and families. They make tradeoffs to put together a compensation package to take care of the family. This used to happen only with highly educated professionals with high incomes. Now it is happening at the level of the factory floor worker. Couples at all levels are designing their compensation packages based on their individual needs. The only way this can work is if everything is portable and flexible, which requires a huge shift in the American economy.

The U.S. is in the process of building the world’s first 21st century model economy. The only other countries doing this are U.K. and Australia. The model is fast, flexible, highly productive and unstable in that it is always fracturing and re-fracturing. This will increase the economic gap between the U.S. and everybody else, especially Europe and Japan.

At the same time, the military gap is increasing. Other than China, we are the only country that is continuing to put money into their military. Plus, we are the only military getting on-the-ground military experience through our war in Iraq. We know which high-tech weapons are working and which ones aren’t. There is almost no one who can take us on economically or militarily. There has never been a superpower in this position before.

On the one hand, this makes the U.S. a magnet for bright and ambitious people. It also makes us a target. We are becoming one of the last holdouts of the traditional Judeo-Christian culture. There is no better place in the world to be in business and raise children. The U.S. is by far the best place to have an idea, form a business and put it into the marketplace. We take it for granted, but it isn’t as available in other countries of the world.

Ultimately, it’s an issue of culture. The only people who can hurt us are ourselves, by losing our culture. If we give up our Judeo-Christian culture, we become just like the Europeans. The culture war is the whole ballgame. If we lose it, there isn’t another America to pull us out.