Posts by Chuck Webster

Posts by Chuck Webster

Money background

A warning

The Bible says a lot about rich people, and most of it isn’t pleasant. For some reason I find myself wanting to skip over these passages, or—if I pay any attention to them at all—explain why they don’t really mean what they say . . . or why they don’t apply to me or the people I’m teaching. Could it have something to do with the fact that—because I have access to clean drinking water and plenty of food—I’m in…
Calendar appointment

If the Lord Wills

Most of us like to plan. One-year, five-year, ten-year plans. What we’ll do, when we’ll do it, and how we’ll get there. If we invest 10% of our income starting at age 25, we’ll retire at 65 with no financial worries. Next year we’re going on vacation. Next month we’ll take a couple of days off from work. Next week we’ll get this report done or that chore finished. “See you Friday night,” we say without thinking. “I’ll be there at…
Man saying hush or be quiet

Bad words

Some communities become toxic—you’ve probably been part of one before. Workplaces can digress into name-calling and back-biting. This group against that group. So-and-so’s mad at so-and-so. Sound familiar? It happens in schools across the world. Rumors—usually bad ones—spread like wildfire among teenagers. She’s mad at him, he’s mad at her, her clothes are out of style, he’s weird. And on it goes. People talk, and because we live in a fallen world, people talk badly, and they hurt each other…
Calm water surface backgriund

He gives more grace

“For we all stumble in many ways,” James wrote (3:2). Amen to that. Most Christians I know are quite aware of the myriad ways they fall short. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in James 4 the writer’s on a bit of a negative kick. He accuses his Christian readers of lust and fighting and covetousness. He insinuates that they’re selfish, then—if that wasn’t enough—he calls them adulterers. He doesn’t seem very happy, does he? I’m glad there’s this…
Hearts on wooden floor

Cheating on God

You should probably stop reading now if you’re uncomfortable with a little PG-13 language. James wasn’t afraid to “call it like he saw it,” as the saying goes, and he didn’t shy away from ruffling feathers when they needed ruffling. I suspect this statement hurt some feelings, but I doubt he minded that (assuming it helped some of them): You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be…
Confused businessman writing question mark on whiteboard

Why God Might Not Be Answering

I’d like to think that God answers all my prayers, but he doesn’t (at least not by saying yes). Can you relate? It happens for dozens of reasons, and James gives us one of them here: You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions (James 4:3). I can think of specific times when at the time it seemed like God was just ignoring me, but now I know why he refused to…
Majestical scene with mountains in clouds

From above

You can just see Jesus in some people. Folks who’ve been with the Lord for a while—really been with him—have a different spirit about them, it seems to me. We’ve all been around the guy who argues just for the pure fun of it. He’s always mad at someone, always spoiling for a fight, always looking for an excuse to lose his temper. That’s not Jesus. Notice the contrast James makes in this passage. He says that jealousy and selfish…
Angry man working home on a computer

Jealousy?

Emphasizing this part of James “would not be warmly received in the modern church,” writes one commentator (K.A. Richardson). That’s an interesting thing to say. Surely those of us in the church wouldn’t shy away from listening to any part of the Bible, would we? Here’s the verse he’s talking about: “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth” (James 3:14). At first glance, the verse might…

Your good life

The hallowed halls of academia aren’t really known for fostering a spirit of humility. Not always, of course, but often there’s a temptation toward pride that comes along with being a notch above one’s peers in intelligence and education. James would call the smart-but-proud person a fool, or at least he seems to imply that here: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from…
Top view of religious male crossed hands in prayer

A prayer for this time

Perhaps it’s somewhat oversimplified, but I agree with the gist of what Esau McCaulley wrote in an opinion piece to The New York Times this past week: “What about the rest of us [who aren’t medical professionals]? This remains certain in the ever-shifting narrative of Covid-19: the most effective ways of stopping the spread of the virus is by social distancing (avoiding large gatherings) and good personal hygiene (washing our hands). The data suggests that what the world needs now…
A woman reading a bible

Do it

Mark Twain famously quipped, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me; it is the parts that I do understand.” I’m not sure exactly how he meant that, but in some ways I agree with him. There’s a lot about the Bible I don’t grasp, but I’ve got plenty to do just to work on the parts I get. Here’s one of the parts I understand: God wants us to do what he says. You…
Drawn scales with empty cups on chalkboard

Big sins, little sins

Sometimes we put sins into categories, probably without even thinking: “really bad sins,” “bad sins,” and “not-so-bad sins.” Sure, I’m a sinner, but none of mine are the really bad ones. I’d never commit those. Like murder. Or adultery. My sins are smaller stuff like sometimes thinking bad thoughts, losing my temper with my kids, spreading a little gossip, or being impatient and irritable. Everybody does that stuff. Sound familiar? The Christians James was writing to apparently made the same…