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!

Gossip


On rare occasions, my wife drags me to the supermarket. Since I’m the primary beneficiary of what’s purchased there, she figures I should occasionally share in the burden of actually purchasing it. After thirty minutes of mindlessly pushing a wobbly cart up and down the aisles, I find my attention drawn to the gossip magazines at the checkout counter, which usually carry a story on Britney Spears or one of the three presidential candidates. On a good day, they carry stories about all four.   And when I find my attention thus drawn, I ask myself why a graduate-school-educated pastor … Continue reading Gossip

Matters of the Heart


Americans spend billions of dollars each year on psychotherapy. Sometimes this is money well spent. I myself, for example, benefited from seeing a Christian counselor when I suffered depression several years ago. Sometimes, however, psychotherapy is not such a good investment. I know people who were offered bad advice by incompetent practitioners and came out of the process worse and poorer. The Book of Proverbs is a great psychotherapist, and the best part about it is that its advice is free.   Let’s take a look at what it says about matters of the heart.   An anxious heart weighs … Continue reading Matters of the Heart

Social Insecurity


   I live close to my church, so every now and then, a poor person comes to my house and asks for help. Such was the case with a woman who knocked on my door not long ago. From the way she was dressed and the way she spoke, it was clear that she had not been homeless long. She said she needed lodging and help with bus fare to Seattle.   To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t in the mood to help. I had just finished a frustrating day at the office and was tired. My wife was sick. … Continue reading Social Insecurity