Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Next Greatest Generation

As we are all well aware, we are currently experiencing very tough economic times. All around the world people are dealing with financial pressure, and here in America, we are going through what is possibly the most extreme recession in several decades. If all of that isn't bad enough, we are not getting straight answers from our political leaders, and expert economists cannot agree on where we go from here. That's the bad news, but is there any good news?

I believe there is, and I feel like I have some today. Let me be clear that I am not an economist, and I do not know what all the future holds. I do believe the financial pressure is going to continue and is likely to increase for a time, but I also believe that this can lead us to a much better place. The other night I had a dream that I feel is talking about our economy here in America, and I think it is good news, but I also feel that it is a call for some major changes in our approach to money and the way we do business. There is an old saying that "when America coughs, the rest of the world catches a cold." That is certainly true in many cases, so I believe the opposite is also true: when America experiences breakthrough, the rest of the world can, as well. That being said, this dream certainly applies to those of us here in America, but it can also apply to other nations.

In this dream, I was taking a tour of the Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte, NC. This particular building is the tallest in the Charlotte skyline. I was exploring one of the middle floors when I was invited to come up to the roof. I walked out on the roof expecting to see just a roof, but I noticed that it was actually another whole section of the building that was unknown to most people. There was a parking lot with brand new asphalt and an excellent view of both Interstate 77 and Interstate 85. There was also plenty of office space with people busy working. As I looked around I wondered what this space was, and then somebody told me that this was Tom Brokaw's area.

Tom then came out of an office and we began to talk. I was thinking to myself that Mr. Brokaw was an author and retired journalist, so I didn't understand why he would need such a big space and so many people on his staff. I asked him what all he did there and why did he need all that space. He explained to me that he had his accountants over on one side, there was an office for his attorney, he had a section for his research team for his writing and there was a room in which he home-schooled his kids. I hung around what was going on in Tom's area for a little while longer, he fed me lunch and then I woke up.

As soon as I was awake, I knew this dream was from the Lord. I began to pray to find out what the Lord was saying, and over the course of a couple of days, the meaning, or at least part of it, started to unfold. I believe the Bank of America building represents the financial and economic system in America. The first thought I had about Tom Brokaw was the fact that he wrote a best selling book several years ago called The Greatest Generation, which describes the generation of people who lived through The Great Depression and World War II and went on to help rebuild this nation. I also feel that it is very significant that Tom's area was above the rest of the Bank of America building. There are many other important parts of the dream, but let me summarize what I feel those aspects of the dream represent. I believe there is a generation of people who will rise above the current financial and economic systems in America, and also the rest of the world. This will be a generation of people who will choose to do things differently than what has been the norm for many decades in this country.

Let me say again that I am not an economist nor a financial expert. However, as we consider the current financial and economic system, it is easy to see that greed fuels so much of what takes place in those sectors. It is very rare to find someone who is truly content with what they have and are patiently working to attain more. Instead, it is very typical for a family to live well above their means, run up lines of credit and finance their futures for the sake of a better position in the present. There was a time when the widely held view was that if you couldn't afford it then you didn't need to buy it. Today the widely held view is if you want it but can't afford to pay cash for it, just charge it and pay for it later. There is much wisdom in the old saying: you can pay now and play later, or else play now and pay later. Many of us have chosen to play now at the expense of our future, and now it is really starting to catch up with us. Much of the economic pressure being experienced in the world today is because of overwhelming debt stemming from irresponsible spending. This has become the system in our nation today - from the government to the eighteen year old applying for his first credit card. This is the kind of system that I believe we need to rise above and choose to conduct ourselves differently.

The price we are having to pay right now for the irresponsibility of the past is very great, and, unfortunately, we have not made the final payment yet. There is still more pressure to come, and I don't think anyone really knows how the landscape of our nation will look once all the pieces have fallen. However, the good news is that through all of this, the Lord is preparing a generation that will not continue to make the same mistakes, but will help to establish a different system. In my dream, the parking lot in Tom Brokaw's area was brand new, which speaks further of "new" ideas being embraced as this generation chooses to act responsibly as they move forward. He also had accountants and an attorney which, at least in part, speaks of business being conducted, money changing hands and even involvement in the legal arena. In the floors below it was business as usual, but he and those with him were doing things differently. He was also choosing to homeschool his children, which I believe speaks of the proactive approach we need to take to ensure our kids are not educated to the standards of the current world system. We can no longer rely on the government to provide those things that we are responsible to provide, like education, for example. It may not mean that every family needs to homeschool, but we need to entrust our children's education to those that believe the way we do.

The last thing that really stood out to me in the dream was the fact that I had a great view of Interstate 77 and Interstate 85. In the natural, these two interstates do run through Charlotte, and they intersect a few miles north of the downtown area where the Bank of America headquarters is located. As I prayed about what these two highways represent, I had a strong impression to read Psalm 77 and Psalm 85. If you read through these two chapters, they are different, but they also have a similar theme. In both Psalms David is writing from a perspective of being in a season that was very difficult for him and the nation of Israel. In Psalm 77 we see David crying out to the Lord asking for help and wondering if God has forsaken him. He looked back and remembered a time when things were better and asks if the Lord will ever show him kindness again. He finally closes chapter 77 praising the Lord, and it seems that his faith has been restored. He talks about the Lord leading his people like a Shepherd. In Psalm 85, David asks the Lord many of the same questions. He looks back again at a time when things were better and wonders what the future will hold. As the chapter continues, his faith is again renewed and he talks about the goodness of the Lord, how the Lord will speak to peace to His faithful ones and fill their land with glory and salvation.

I believe that many of us are in a place similar to where David was when he wrote both of these Psalms. Just as it was in that season of David's life, this season for many of us is very difficult. We find ourselves looking back to a different time when things were better for us, and we look forward with uncertainty and doubt. However, just as David's faith in the Lord's goodness and faithfulness was restored, ours can be, too. The Lord never forsook David or Israel. The Lord will also never forsake us, and I believe He still has many great things in store for America. If we return to the Lord and the principles of His kingdom, especially as they relate to finances and the economy, our best days and the best days of this nation and the world will be ahead. Let us be encouraged and challenged to seek the Lord for His answers and leading as we press forward into this victory! I don't know what all is coming down the pipeline, but through whatever the future holds, there is a generation that can arise as the next greatest generation this country has ever seen. Let's be that generation!

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