Over the summer, we looked at the lives of the first kings of Israel: Saul and David. There were many differences between them. Saul was large and looked like a massive warrior. David was smaller, younger, and taught himself to fight as a shepherd in the country. Ultimately, they were both warriors and both kings. And in one way or another, they both believed in the God of Israel. But though they both believed in God, it would be wrong to say that they both put their faith in him.
In fact, the most fundamental difference between the two was a difference of the heart. This is what God explicitly says to Saul in 1 Samuel 13:14:
But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.
God made clear that David would be different in two ways. First, his heart would be for God rather than for himself, his own power, and his own survival. Second, David would obey the Lord, and if he ever failed, his repentance would be real.
Continue reading The Virtue of Humility
In the article, The Strange Way Being “Good” Hurts Your Willpower featured on the blog Nir & Far, Paulette Perhach offers a brain-hacking solution to the human problem that the apostle Paul describes in Romans:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Here is the gist of Perhach’s argument (also listed in her article):
- Moralizing your choices as good or bad opens you up to the risk of moral licensing (moral leniency).
- Berating yourself for being bad when you make the wrong choices only increases your chances of messing up again.
- Labeling your behavior as getting you either closer or further away from your ultimate goals is a powerful way to get around moral licensing.
- Congratulating yourself on your progress induces the effect of moral licensing. Using your progress instead to remind yourself how committed you are to your goal will re-up your willpower to achieve it.
- Catching the inner voice berating your past behavior and turning it toward planning a different outcome for the next day will make you less likely to repeat that undesirable behavior and get what you really want in the long run.
Sounds convenient, right? However, this current cult of brain-hacking, which is the focus of myriad recently published books, is opposed to the old paths of wisdom. Parts of these old paths are mapped out in many human traditions, but they have their full expression in the Scriptures, where they flow out of salvation by grace through faith in the crucified and risen Christ.
Continue reading Brain-Hacking and True Virtue
In the sermon on Sunday, we learned about stewardship. If you missed it, you can listen to the sermon Owning Nothing, Investing Everything here.
Stewardship is fundamental to our identity as Christians but is often under-addressed in teachings about becoming a substantive, thriving disciple of Jesus. Since we don’t discuss it very often, I encourage you to learn a bit more on your own. Here are two excellent resources to get you started:
Faithful in All God’s House: Stewardship and the Christian Life by Gerard Berghoef and Lester DeKoster (2013)
This is one of the most straightforward and comprehensive guides I’ve found for the issue of Christian stewardship. Coming in at 110 pages, it’s a slim and satisfying read that gives you a surprisingly broad and deep look at what it means to live as the bearers of a trust from God.
A 20 Day Study in Stewardship by Redeemer Presbyterian Church (Rev. Tim Keller)
This is a free PDF published by Redeemer Presbyterian Church, pastored by Rev. Tim Keller. It leads readers through twenty daily studies/meditations on the subject of biblical stewardship. Since stewardship isn’t only a concept to be understood, but a reality to embody, this kind of daily exploration–digesting small pieces over a period of time–can be particularly useful in making space for the Spirit to renew our minds. You can download the PDF on their website here. Scroll down to the section titled “Devotional,” and you’ll find a link.
I have talked with many people over the years that were uneasy about the script they felt was associated with Christian faith. It looks to them like some kind of script in which Christians are expected to follow every line—leaving no room for free improvisation in the romance of living itself.
And yet I’ve also run into quite a lot of people who quickly tire of making up everything as they go along. This is especially the case when large groups of people are working together spontaneously in profoundly complex sets of relationships. What if one person wants to get married, but it’s the furthest thing from the mind of another? Is getting a job negotiable? What if a parent wants to write a script that includes their child leaving the house, but their child wishes to read a script of them staying in the basement rent-free?
Is there a script?
Most actors know that there are various relationships that films and productions can have to scripts. Some stick exactly to every word of the script, and others leave some freedom to the actors. But according to this metaphor, following Christ is a little bit more like being in the writing room. Continue reading Living On-Script In The Modern World
The problem with a no-win election is, of course, that there is no circumstance in which everyone wins. But the more that is at stake, the more the winner wins and the more the loser loses. We have many no-win decisions in our life that don’t bother us. I can’t tell you how many highway exits I’ve taken and all the times I’ve had to choose between fried fast food and Subway. I don’t much care for either, but I don’t lose much in that situation. It’s just a meal.
When much is to be won or lost
That’s not the case in federal politics. As the size and scope of government has dramatically increased since the second half of the 20th century, much more is now gained and lost at the federal level. Originally, the intention of increasing the size of federal government was to provide more things for people in need and to coordinate large and audacious goals among a vast people. Although this may be a noble ideal, Christians should be shrewd through realism about human nature. Wherever more is to be gained, more attention is paid. The more there is to be won and lost in Washington, the more Washington attracts people looking for a special deal, an angle to cheat, or a way to get a once and for all win for themselves or their ideology. So increasingly, very much against the intention of the American founders, the federal government has become the most intense battle in our society. It has become a winner take all war, and war terrorizes everyone.
Continue reading What Do We Do After No-Win Elections?
My goal with this two-part series is to present a Christian’s reasoning on why to vote for each candidate. In part one, I shared My Obligatory (Unoriginal) Donald Trump Post written by my brother, Stanford Gibson, in which he shared his reasoning for voting for Hillary Clinton. Below is my Christian perspective on voting for Donald Trump. My hope is to provide you with further knowledge to help you prudently and conscientiously make your decision on November 8.
To review, Stanford gave four reasons for voting for Hillary Clinton in his post:
- The office of the president and its cultural power
- Donald Trump’s lack of temperance (specifically in reference to drones)
- Mr. Trump’s positions on immigrants and refugees
- Sentencing reform
In this post, I will address the issues for which an opposite case can be made for Donald Trump, as well as provide additional reasons in favor of a Trump vote.
Continue reading Clinton or Trump? A Christian Perspective on Each Candidate (Part 2)