Article

Article

wheat field at sunset

He’s coming back

Some things are happening in our world right now that are disheartening. I sometimes wonder how much longer God will put up with it. There’s hurt, there’s anger, there’s injustice, there’s violence. More people are rejecting God’s plan for marriage for a less offensive, more “tolerant” approach. Unborn babies are still being killed, and fewer people believe in Jesus Christ as God’s revelation of himself. And then, of course, there’s the virus, and the uncertainty, confusion, anxiety, and division that…
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…
Scene in cafe - couple conflict arguing during the lunch.

Why We Argue

Been in a fuss lately? Maybe it was with your spouse or kids. Could’ve been a co-worker or neighbor. Maybe even someone at church. It doesn’t really matter what it was about, or who the person was, but I can predict a couple of things: One, it was unpleasant, and two, somebody was being selfish. Those two facts are amazingly consistent. Something pretty bad was going on in the church James was writing to, and he gives us several hints.…
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…
Lonely tree with lake and mountains in background

Learning to Empathize

Are you journaling?  Maybe you’re keeping a log somewhere of your feelings and activities during the quarantine.  I will admit, I haven’t been keeping any regular record of this year’s events.  But I thought I would at least use this space to write about a few things I hope I don’t forget after things go back to “normal.” We open up our church bulletins and read the words (usually at the end of our prayer list) “shut-ins.” I’m ashamed that…

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…