Spiritual Portraits and the Purification of Means

Eugene H. Peterson, The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways that Jesus Is the Way (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007).   There are two kinds of spiritual writers: mechanics and artists.   Mechanics focus on how spirituality works, on tightening the nuts and bolts of prayer, meditation, fasting, and the like. By showing us how these means of grace work, they help us draw closer to God and godliness. Richard J. Foster is a mechanic of the spiritual life. His Celebration of Discipline is a masterful user manual of spiritual practices.   Artists, by contrast, show us what spirituality … Continue reading Spiritual Portraits and the Purification of Means

Pride and Humility

  The Book of Proverbs makes four interrelated claims regarding pride and humility.   First, pride and humility are fundamentally spiritual in nature. They are outward manifestations of the inward state of your heart toward God. If you are proud, your heart is far from God. If you are humble, your heart is drawing closer to God. As an example of the former, consider what this proverb says about the mocker, i.e., a militantly anti-religious person:   The proud and arrogant man — “Mocker” is his name; he behaves with overweening pride (21:24).   Haughty eyes and a proud heart, … Continue reading Pride and Humility

Ethics and Organized Religion

I once had a friend who was very interested in spirituality but not in organized religion. His wife attended church, but not he. Instead, he would invite me over to his house from time to time, cook a wonderful dinner, then pepper me with questions for the rest of the evening. I did my best to answer them before he brought out dessert.   There are probably a passel of people like my friend. They like Jesus, but not the church. They are interested in what he says about ethics and whatnot, but they are uninterested in what the church … Continue reading Ethics and Organized Religion

Leaving It Better

  The Boy Scouts have an unofficial motto when it comes to campsites: Leave it better than you found it. In my opinion, this would make an excellent mission statement for Christians and their churches. As a result of our efforts (individually and collectively), the world should be a better place (spiritually and morally).   Several proverbs speak about the positive influence of the righteous, and the negative influence of the wicked.[1]   Influence is expressed through what we say and how we say it.   Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth … Continue reading Leaving It Better

To Spank or Not to Spank?

  When I was a kid, my parents spanked me if sweet reason didn’t stop me from misbehaving. The parents of most of my friends acted the same way. Today, however, spanking is controversial. Does the Bible say anything about the topic? Yes, actually; quite a lot.   First, the Bible offers a theological argument for disciplining children.   My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in (3:11-12).   Discipline, here, is a broad term. It includes every action … Continue reading To Spank or Not to Spank?