Learning with Jacob

Jacob (our foster son) probably has had more truly awful experiences in three years than I’ve had in 39.  These things leave scars.  “Scars”, though, is a lazy metaphor.  It doesn’t capture the interaction between Jacob’s experience and his present self.  We don’t interpret reality according to our scars, at least not the physical ones.    Continue reading

Advertisements

Is Investing Gambling? (Biblical Finance #9)

From time to time, I’ll hear people arguing that, morally speaking, investing in the stock market is the same thing as gambling.  Usually, the argument is advanced by folks who think that gambling is fine and want to expose what they see as hypocrisy in those who believe that it’s wrong.  They don’t actually avoid the market themselves; instead, they want to be left to their gambling. Continue reading

Committing to the Wrong Things

When we consider the unhappy record of the life of Saul, we see that he is a man who fails to keep faith with God.  He’s willing to follow God when it’s easy, but whenever things get difficult, he disobeys rather than confront the difficulty.  In 1 Samuel 13, he offers the sacrifice that only a priest had a right to offer because he is worried about the Philistine army bearing down on him.  In 1 Samuel 15, he spares the king and the livestock that God explicitly told him to kill.  In 1 Samuel 28, he seeks out the witch of En-dor even though he knows very well that consulting a medium is against God’s law (and, indeed, has enforced that law himself).  From beginning to end, he is a man deficient in moral courage. Continue reading

Breaking Bronze Serpents

In my Bible reading the other day, I encountered 2 Kings 18:4, which reads in part, “. . . and [Hezekiah] broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan).”

I find this fascinating.  Of all of the graven images that the Israelites worshiped in the Old Testament, Nehushtan was unique.  Unlike the other idols, it was made at the command of God.  In Numbers 21:18, God literally says, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole.”  It was the divine antidote to the poison of the fiery serpents that had been sent among the people because of their grumbling.  Continue reading

Law and Grace

At least since Luther, and probably long before that, self-described Christians have been debating whether the law of Christ or the grace of Christ is more important.  However, any scheme of religious thought that emphasizes law at the expense of grace, or grace at the expense of law, is logically incoherent.  Law and grace aren’t opposites, such that one declines in importance as the other increases.  Instead, the more we care about either one, the more we should care about the other. Continue reading