October 3, 2011
You know about “assumptions,” don’t you? The dictionary renders an “assumption” to be “a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.”
We live with assumptions. I got on the freeway this morning – at 5:05am – assuming that the people in the lanes around me (traffic, at that hour? I’m home in SoCal) knew how to drive, and would stay in their lines. I came to a specific Starbucks at 5:15, based on the belief that they’d open when their “hours” sign on the window promised. I assumed that the guy with the bulge under his hoody, in line behind me, wasn’t packin’ a gun, planning to get famous at the cost of my life.
My financial planner is a great guy, a serious Christian… and a good friend. When George put the pieces of our financial story together – pointing toward the future – he made a variety of assumptions in order to make the calculations. How long would I live? How long would Cheri outlast me? How long could I create value and derive income? And, the big one: what would “the markets” do with our funds?
The front of the USA Today finance section this morning challenges the market assumptions that we’ve all made, with this headline: “ U.S. heads for same fate as Japan’s ‘lost decades.’” Synopsis: our economy is 70% consumer spending, but Americans aren’t spending, and won’t until they resolve their personal debt crisis. Date for that resolution is about three days after we declare an end on the “War on Terror,” and take out the last remaining “I hate America” zealot with a drone strike (meaning: no time soon). I can check our financial plan, but I don’t remember a footnote called “lost decades.”
Lost decades? That was a dark period for Japan. They were – for them – “out of control” in conspicuous consumption in the ‘80s. That caused an economic implosion that defined them through the ‘90s, when their national economy went flat. The condition continued into the first decade of the new century… and American economists are beginning to draw parallels.
Boy, did I need the last weekend to protect my personal motivation. If my financial plan was my roadmap, we’re heading into the Valley of the Shadow of Death. But, if my copy of the Truth (you have a few copies, as well, I’m sure!) can be trusted, this could be called the Found – not Lost – Decade!
You need the backdrop. First, here’s what Jesus told the guys in his Master’s Program (the 12), as he prepared to hand the mission to them: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
They took that assignment seriously, and gave the rest of their lives to its directive. John – one of the 12 – outlived the rest, and was given the chance to see the end-point of the mission before his death: “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” (Revelation 7:9-10)
“Go tell everybody” was the order. The scene from heaven – at the End – says that there will be people from everywhere who are in front of the Throne. Mission launched; mission accomplished. Where are we in that continuum?
Cheri and I spent the weekend with some our Kingdom colleagues – people working with, and giving support to – the Jesus Film Project. The conference began with this update: click on www.jesusfilm.org/updates/110927 to see it for yourself. It’s four minutes that will light your fire!
Bottom line: the Great Commission Marathon started about AD 30; it could be completed by AD 2025, if we all join forces and run the finale with the same devotion that the first runners showed.
Lost Decades? This will be the most powerful period since Paul and the rest got into the race. Care to join us as we run the final miles and declare the victory?