The Oppressive Behavior of the Rich

On May 2, 2008, Cyclone Nargis made landfall on Burma (officially, Myanmar). Its path of destruction was huge, with fatalities numbering well over 100,000. Unfortunately, Burma is ruled by a corrupt military junta that has so far outright blocked or otherwise interfered with the international delivery of relief assistance. Through its action and inaction, the Burmese government has exacerbated the suffering of its people.   If some people are poor because of their own foolish choices, it is also true that others are poor because of the wicked choices of the rich and powerful who hold sway over them.   … Continue reading The Oppressive Behavior of the Rich

The Foolish Behavior of the Poor

A majority of the world lives in poverty. According to United Nations statistics, roughly 2.7 billion people live on less than two dollars a day. What is the cause of their poverty?   The Bible teaches three basic causes of poverty. (1) the foolish behavior of the poor, which calls for reform; (2) the oppressive behavior of the rich, which calls for repentance; and (3) forces outside the power of the poor and the rich, which call for generosity. Over the next three days, we look at each of these causes in turn, beginning today with the foolish behavior of … Continue reading The Foolish Behavior of the Poor

The Causes of Wealth

   Why are some people wealthy and others poor? The Book of Proverbs outlines the causes of both. Let us consider the causes of wealthy today and of poverty tomorrow.   An obvious cause of wealth is inheritance. Some people enter life with a head start.   Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord (19:14).   Inheritance in and of itself is neither moral nor immoral. What a person does with his inheritance is important. According to this proverb, a good wife is more important than a lot of money.   A … Continue reading The Causes of Wealth

Spirituality and Subsidiarity

We live in a world that is characterized by extremes of wealth and poverty. Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim Helu, and Bill Gates are the world’s top three billionaires, but the world’s bottom three billion people live on less than two dollars a day. While most of us aren’t as rich as the three billionaires, we’re not as poor as the three billion either. We’re somewhere in between.   Over the next few days, I would like to examine the extremes of wealth and poverty from a biblical perspective. Specifically, I would like to outline for you what the Book of … Continue reading Spirituality and Subsidiarity

Table Manners

Bachelors are not particularly well known for their table manners. Perhaps that is why they’re bachelors. They’re too uncouth for a woman to be interested in them. What woman wants to be with a man who ingests his food without benefit of chewing, licks his fingertips, and then belches his final approval (or disapproval) of the meal? None that I know of.   Table manners – etiquette, more generally – communicate your respect for others and their opinion of you. Of course, the rules of table etiquette can be complex. (Did you know, for example, that it’s proper to eat … Continue reading Table Manners

State and Speech

This is an election year, and I have many opinions on politics, so I thought I’d share an important one with you today. In the presidential race between John McCain and Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama, I think you should vote for…   Just kidding!   It’s not my job to tell you whom to vote for. I’m a pastor, after all, not a pundit. My job is to teach you biblical principles, not partisan politics. And when it comes to biblical principles, the Book of Proverbs has many true and useful things to say. Today, I’d like to focus … Continue reading State and Speech

To Heal and to Guide

  Words are powerful things. They can heal or wound. They can guide or mislead. Words shape our moods and affect our actions. This perspective on words is common sense, and the Book of Proverbs is nothing if not a book of divinely inspired common sense.   Consider, first of all, the power of words to heal or wound.   An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up (12:25).   A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (15:1).   Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul … Continue reading To Heal and to Guide

Our Very Consequential Mouths

One of the most consistent teachings of the Book of Proverbs is that actions have consequences, whether for good or bad. This teaching applies to what we say as well. Our mouths, we might say, are very consequential.   Proverbs 18:20-21 outlines the awesome power of our words.   From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.   One of the most basic functions of speech is to tell the … Continue reading Our Very Consequential Mouths

A Word Aptly Spoken

My Uncle Larry and I form a study in contrasts. He rarely talks; I rarely shut up. While you have to wade through thickets of verbiage to find the hidden treasure in what I say, pretty much everything my uncle says has “X marks the spot” written on it. He’s a wise man. I’m still in process.   I thought about the differences between Uncle Larry and me when I began to study what the Book of Proverbs says about our speech. Proverbs 25:11 is a good starting point:   A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in … Continue reading A Word Aptly Spoken

Shame on You!

The other day, I politely asked three junior high girls who live behind my church not to climb the fence that separates the church and their homes. My concern was legal liability; if they fell and hurt themselves, we could be sued. I was a bit surprised by the sarcastic vituperation they hurled my way. When I was their age, which wasn’t that long ago, you simply didn’t talk to your elders that way. And if you did, it would be reported to your parents, and just wait till dad got home!   Social scientists tell us there are two … Continue reading Shame on You!