When Christianity becomes Inconvenient

   A preview of July's email-only article.


Mike Haupt


Every month I publish an exclusive article for my email subscribers. (If you'd like to join the club, fill out the form below. It's free!)

In this month's subscriber email we're looking at how to respond when faith becomes inconvenient.

Here's how the article starts:

On the blog this month we examined Job's wealth and godliness and the implied causal relationship between the two. The Scripture seems to suggest, but does not state, that Job was wealthy because he lived an upright and blameless life. That is, God blessed Job because he was godly.

But as we progress through the book we see Satan trying to reverse cause and effect. This should come as no surprise since the adversary is always trying to twist the truth, calling up, down and right, wrong. Here he claims Job is only living a righteous life because of the blessings God has given him. Take those away, Satan said, and Job would curse God.

If you ask me, it's pretty dumb to wager with an omnipotent being, but the enemy has enough hubris to do just that. Nevertheless, Satan probably formed his assumptions about Job's faithfulness to God based on centuries of human examples.

 

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Yes, the Wealthy Can Be Godly. Here's What It Takes.

 Lessons from one of the richest men of the Bible.


The book of Job is underrated.

While other passages and tomes get all the love, Job offers poignant and practical lessons regarding some of the most existential questions humans face. These lessons are myriad: faithfulness, suffering, evil, God's silence, integrity, holiness, justice, and more.

An important lesson we see right in the beginning is one that was not even a question for the book's original audience: the congruence of wealth and godliness.

As we read the first few verses of the book of Job, the narrative describes Job as both "blameless and upright" (1:1) and wealthy. In fact the passage describes Job as the wealthiest man of the east. (Such a designation probably means east of the Jordan river.)

In the ancient near east way of thinking, these two statuses should co-exist. Riches and honor result from integrity and faithfulness to God. Although the passage details no causal relationship between Job's godliness and his wealth, ancient minds would have read as much into the story. Whether or not such an inference is justifiable is up to interpretation.

Nevertheless, today we (and I mean culture in general) often villainize or look down upon the wealthy. We assume that they are greedy or unethical and love to take advantage of others.

Where do we get such notions?

The Sin of Complacency

  A preview of June's email-only article.


Nikola Jovanovic


Every month I publish an exclusive articles for my email subscribers. (If you'd like to join the list, fill out the form below.)

In this month's subscriber email we're examining the foolishness of complacency.

Here's how the article starts:

Have you ever noticed that people get the most spiritual when faced with some kind of tragedy? 

When once they couldn't be bothered to say a prayer, suddenly they find themselves on their knees every day.

While I do spend quiet time with God every day, I'm not immune to this phenomenon either. I find that my prayers are more pointed--more focused--when I'm dealing with some type of stressor or pressing issue in my life.

Part of this is natural, no doubt. When times get rough, the best thing we can do is turn to our maker for guidance and deliverance.

Nevertheless there is danger in operating one's life in this manner. The best time to prepare for a famine is when food is plentiful, not when the drought has already come.

Solomon touched on this phenomenon in Proverbs 1.

 

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Another Thing All Wise People Do

The second of a two-part article. Read part one here: Two Things All Wise People Do.


Joseph Chan


We learned last month that one defining characteristic of the wise is that they continually seek out more wisdom. They do so because it is the wise thing to do. While this seems kind of like a catch-22how do the unwise ever become wise?it makes sense if you think about it. As one increases in knowledge, he or she recognizes its value and therefore pursues even more of it.

The second aspect held in common among the wise is that they acknowledge the source of wisdom. And such an acknowledgement yields the humble admission that knowledge doesn't originate within themselves.

In the seventh verse of Proverbs, Solomon said as much with his thesis statement for both the book of Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes. He wrote, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."

In essence he's claiming true wisdom comes from God, just as his did.

This claim here that God is our source, our starting point, for wisdom is what sets Proverbs apart from other wisdom literature of the ancient near east. While scholars have uncovered writings very similar to some of the proverbs in the Bible, Solomon's thesis here lends a uniqueness not found anywhere else.

Now, I know you might object to this claim that all wise people fear the God of the Bible and accept him as the origin for knowledge. After all, aren't people like Gandhi and Confucius famous for the wisdom they possessed? And yet neither one ascribed to belief in the Judeo-Christian God.

The Slippery Slope of Unbridled Greed

 A preview of May's email-only article.

Jonathan Gallegos


In this month's subscriber email we're examining the devastating effects of unchecked greed. (If you're not signed up to receive these emails, you can do so below.)

Here's how the article starts:

Among many vices and stupidities against which we're warned in the book of Proverbs, greed has to be in the top ten. In just the 13th verse of the book we get the first treatment on the subject where Solomon relates the motivations of would-be murderers: "We shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder."

In this case the driving factor for murder is mere greed. They want to get stuff.

Sounds pretty lame to me. And desperate.

Nevertheless, we should not be so quick to dismiss the gale force of the winds of greed. Though the vice may start small—a longing for new shoes or the newest iPhone, perhaps—left unchecked, greed is a cancer that can eventually consume its host.

 

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