Do You Have a SUSTAINABILITY Problem?

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I had never given much thought to the issue of “sustainability” until my daughter entered the master’s program in Urban Planning at the University of California Irvine. Abbie helped me see that while some activities appear to work satisfactorily in the short term, they cannot be successfully sustained down the road.

Perhaps you think of sustainability mostly in terms of environmental issues, but I’ve come to realize the wisdom of applying the sustainability question to just about every area of life.

First, I started getting invitations to free seminars by financial planners who wanted to sign me up for help with my retirement planning. I soon discovered that every planner’s goal was to paint a dire, self-serving picture: Without their help in growing my nest egg, my current standard of living was unsustainable.

And then a number of my friends embarked on dating relationships with women who lived in other cities, states, or even countries. They had met their soulmate, they assured me, and I was very happy for them. But I couldn’t help but wonder about the sustainability question.

Recently I’ve also found myself paying more attention to people’s eating habits. In my younger days, I was a big fan of Krispy Kreme donuts, fast food, and the Golden Corral buffet. But now I see the price many of us baby boomers are paying for our lack of nutritional restraint in previous years. Of course, eating junk food won’t kill you in the short run—but it’s not a sustainable lifestyle if you want a healthy future.

As I seek to apply the sustainability question to these practical areas like finances, relationships, and nutrition, I’m seeing how this approach leads to greater maturity. While immature people take little thought for the future as they seek to satisfy their immediate desires, those who are mature understand the great virtue of delayed gratification.

Inevitably, there are consequences  to our lifestyle choices, even choices that seem rather small and insignificant at the time. Often, though, the full consequences aren’t seen until many years down the road.

As you survey your life today, do you detect any sustainability problems? Are you engaging in activities, habits, or expenditures in the short run that will bring about negative outcomes to your long-term happiness?

The good news is that you don’t really need a master’s degree to recognize the wisdom of the sustainability question. You just need maturity and self-discipline.

Ironically, this issue of self-control brings us full-circle—right back to Urban Planning. Solomon warns in Proverbs 25:28, “A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.”  You see, self-control and sustainability go hand in hand. The walls of our lives—and ultimately our cities—are broken down when we sacrifice our future for the pleasures of the moment.

Solomon adds in Proverbs 16:32, “Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” Before we can successfully tackle the problems of our cities, we must first receive God’s help in conquering ourselves.

My prayer for you today is that, filled with God’s goodness and love, you’ll find joy that’s sustainable all the days of your life—and into eternity as well (Psalm 23:6).

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The Only Gun Control Law That Will Work

I’ve never owned a gun, nor have I ever been the victim of gun violence. As a result, I’ve been pretty wishy-washy on the whole gun control debate. I’m certainly grateful for the protections of the 2nd Amendment, but I also would love to keep assault weapons out of the hands of crazy people.

I’m sympathetic to the argument that America’s founders never envisioned assault weapons when they wrote the 2nd Amendment. But I’m even more  concerned about a very disturbing trend in our country, particularly under the current administration:

  • Individuals have fewer and fewer rights.
  • States have fewer and fewer rights.
  • The federal government has rapidly increasing rights.

I don’t like the trajectory of these trends, particularly when the top person in power has openly criticized “those who cling to their guns and religion.”

But what about stricter gun control laws? Like I said, I’m pretty wishy-washy on the subject. Yet even the most ardent gun control fans will have to admit that the numerous laws already on the books haven’t been particularly effective. Some of the worst gun violence, in fact, seems to be occurring in the places with the strictest  laws.

The Bible provides some very insightful observations about all of this:

  • The first murder in history occurred in Genesis 4, when Cain killed his brother Abel. There were no laws against guns, nor were any guns even invented yet. However, Cain found a way to kill his brother anyway. There wasn’t actually a “law” against murder at the time, but God assumed anyone walking in a close relationship with Him would certainly know better.
  • When the 10 Commandments were given in Exodus 20, murder was on the short list of things people shouldn’t do. However, that didn’t do much to solve the murder problem. Nor did people quit making idols, worshiping other gods, committing adultery, violating the Sabbath, lying, or being jealous of their neighbors. Although the Law came with great fanfare, I guess you could say it didn’t really work.

To summarize these examples: It didn’t work to not have any law, and even after the Law was finally given, it proved unsuccessful in putting an end to the things it prohibited. Based on these facts, I don’t have a lot of optimism that a new gun control law today will save any lives. While it’s terrible to let insane people have guns, it’s also  terrible to allow grandstanding politicians to demagogue the issue and enact insane laws that have no chance of actually fixing the problem.

Of course, the ultimate form of gun control  is self-control  and sound minds  (2 Timothy 1:7). Under the New Covenant, there is an internal law  instead of an external one. God says, “This is the covenant that I will make…: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people”  (Jeremiah 31:33).

If laws engraved by God on tablets of stone didn’t work, it’s highly unlikely that new laws from Washington will work either. We need a revival in the land, changing people’s hearts, restoring families, and putting a hedge of protection around our children.


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