Why Christians Should Talk More Openly About Our Finances

Finances feel like a private matter, and yet they affect so much of our lives and reveal so much about our hearts that I wonder if we should talk more openly about them. What are some reasons to share more transparently about finances within our churches? And how can we do that? Even those who run headfirst into sensitive topics rarely delve into this one! Our hearts may be an open book, but our credit-card histories are not. No matter how close a relationship, it’s uncomfortable to disclose details about our finances. The only way to move past this discomfort is by reminding ourselves why it’s important and being willing to open up first. Here are three reasons transparency is wise. Reason 1: Finances Are a Common Cause of Marital Conflicts Money is a tension point among married couples—regardless of income level—and is often listed as a leading cause of divorce. To care for couples experiencing financial tension or disagreements, our churches must be places where the topic is discussed openly and in detail. For the first few years of marriage, money was a frequent source of contention between my husband and me. It was easy to paint a picture wherein I was always right—after all, I was the one more inclined to give and less inclined to spend. But when I shared specifics about our arguments with trusted friends, the details helped them discern sin I’d been blind to. Often, my concern over my husband’s materialism was wrapped up in my pride rather than his sanctification—I hated how that expensive TV reflected on me, and I was motivated by my glory more than God’s. If we withhold specifics, it’s difficult to give and receive care as we ought—we may even exacerbate problems. How can we offer wisdom and input without… Read More

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Poem for an Anxious World

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd; He will lead them to springs of Living Water.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.        (Rev. 7:17) For our anxious little realm, for the fears that overwhelm . . . There is a throne. For mistakes we can’t forget,and the sins that still beset . . . We have a Lamb. For our lost and lonely hearts,for our gnarled and tangled paths . . . We have a Shepherd. For our dry and listless souls,and our thirst for being whole . . . We have a Stream. For regret and ravaged years,for all sweet and bitter tears . . . We have a Father. For treks through burning sands,To our home in promised lands, This hope till all is done:Our God the three-in-one. Visit TGC The Gospel Coalition US

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The FAQs: What You Should Know About War Crimes

What just happened? Last week President Trump intervened in the case of three U.S. service members convicted of war crimes. Trump granted full pardons to Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Army Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, and restored the rank of Navy SEAL Eddie R. Gallagher, who had been demoted. Lorance was found guilty in 2013 of second-degree murder for ordering his men to fire on three men on a motorcycle in Afghanistan. Gallagher was demoted after being found guilty for posing for a photo with a casualty. Golsteyn was convicted of murdering a released Afghan detainee and conspiring with others to destroy the body. Gallagher had faced a court-martial for premeditated murder and attempted murder, but was acquitted. According to CNN, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other senior military leaders had told the president that a presidential pardon could potentially damage the integrity of the military judicial system, the ability of military leaders to ensure good order and discipline, and the confidence of U.S. allies and partners who host U.S. troops. What are war crimes? War crimes are those violations of international humanitarian law that incur individual criminal responsibility under international law. The violation can be a breach of either standards adopted by treaty or of customary international law (i.e., an aspect of international law involving the principle of custom). What actions constitute a war crime? There is no single document in international law that lists all actions that can be classified as war crimes. However, such crimes can be found in both international humanitarian law and international criminal law treaties, as well as in international customary law. In general, war crimes can be classified under four broad categories: (1) war crimes against persons requiring particular protection (such as prisoners of war); (2) war crimes against those providing humanitarian assistance… Read More

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Trevin Wax on Signs of Hope for the Next Generation

“It’s dangerous to look at the next generation and see only signs of hope, just as it would be dangerous to look at the next generation and see only causes for alarm. Every generation faces its share of challenges and opportunities. Oftentimes the opportunity is in the challenge.” — Trevin Wax Date: April 1, 2019 Event: TGC 2019 National Pre-conference, Indianapolis, Indiana Listen to this episode of The Gospel Coalition Podcast or watch a video. Related: Find more audio and video from the 2019 National Conference on the conference media page. Visit TGC The Gospel Coalition US

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David Helm on Teaching Jude

According to David Helm—lead pastor of the Hyde Park congregation of Holy Trinity Church in Chicago, Council member of The Gospel Coalition, and chairman of the Charles Simeon Trust board—every book of the Bible is like a piece of music that has a recognizable melody unique to it. David encourages Bible teachers to spend time seeking to identify the “melodic line” of the book we’re preparing to teach, that we might better get to the heart of its message. In our conversation, David demonstrates how to find the melodic line of any book by walking through the process of identifying the melodic line of the little book of Jude. The melodic line then serves as a guard or guide as we relate various parts of the book to it. He also helps us as teachers with the references Jude makes to extrabiblical writings and to Old Testament characters and events. Listen to this episode of Help Me Teach the Bible. Recommended Print Resources Recommended Audio Resources Visit TGC The Gospel Coalition US

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Religious Liberty Is for Everyone’s Good

I grew up in a great Christian community in a town called Irmo (“Home of the Okra Strut”) where religious liberty was highly valued but not always fully understood. I had friends whose families felt that religious liberty primarily meant the freedom to leave Irmo, live off the grid, and protect their kids from “government indoctrination” because nothing good could come from the government. On the other hand, I had friends whose families tended to see religious liberty as the freedom to keep good people in government to protect the rights we enjoy as a “Christian nation.” These folks encouraged my peers to work for senators and lead cheers at political campaigns, long before they were old enough to vote. Mostly there was a wide swath of us in the middle who agreed that religious liberty was a great idea and saw merits in both sides. Nevertheless, we struggled to articulate how the underlying principles of religious liberty interacted with the gospel to provide a compass for navigating real issues, such as prayer in public schools or speaking respectfully to those with whom we disagree. Free to Believe: The Battle over Religious Liberty in America Luke Goodrich Multnomah. 288 pp. A leading religious freedom attorney, veteran of multiple Supreme Court battles, helps people of faith understand religious liberty in our rapidly changing culture—why it matters, how it is threatened, and how to respond with confidence and grace. Many Americans are concerned about rising threats to religious freedom. They feel the culture changing around them, and they fear that their beliefs will soon be marginalized as a form of bigotry. Others, younger Christians in particular, are tired of the culture wars, and they wonder whether courtroom battles are truly worthwhile, or even in line with the teachings of Jesus. Luke Goodrich offers a… Read More

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The FAQs: Chick-fil-A’s New Charity Policy Sparks Backlash

What just happened? In a press release issued yesterday, the Chick-fil-A Foundation announced that in 2020 it will be introducing a “more focused giving approach to provide additional clarity and impact with the causes it supports.” “Staying true to its mission of nourishing the potential in every child,” the statement said, “the Chick-fil-A Foundation will deepen its giving to a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of education, homelessness, and hunger.” “There’s no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are,” Chick-fil-A president and chief operating officer Tim Tassopoulos said in an interview with Bisnow. “There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message.” What is the Chick-fil-A Foundation? Charitable giving by the company is done by the Chick-fil-A Foundation, the corporate foundation of Chick-fil-A, Inc that was created in 2012 as a not-for-profit organization. The foundation’s purpose is “to lead the company’s commitment to support organizations dedicated to the issues of hunger, homelessness, and education.” To date the Chick-fil-A Foundation has donated $52 million to organizations serving the local communities in which Chick-fil-A operates. What organization will the Chick-fil-A Foundation be giving to in 2020? The Chick-fil-A Foundation recently announced that in 2020 it would introduce a “more focused giving approach to deepen its giving to a smaller number of organizations” in its three primary areas of focus. The company committed $9 million to the following three initiatives. In the area of hunger, the foundation is dedicating $25,000 to a local food bank at each new Chick-fil-A opening. In addition to these donations, Chick-fil-A restaurants have helped and will continue to partner with the Shared Table program. In the area of homelessness, the foundation will continue to partner with… Read More

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How to Confront Your Boss’s Sin

An employee sees that his manager is not quite doing his work “unto the Lord” or with excellence—in fact, he lacks integrity and is fudging a few details to get better results. Both the employee and the manager are brothers in Christ. Does the subordinate call out his manager’s sin, or does he stay silent? Does the employee leave the company so that he can lovingly confront his former boss? Confronting someone in a position of authority over you is never easy or comfortable, even if that person is a fellow believer. So how should we respond when we observe our boss (and brother or sister in Christ) acting without integrity in the workplace? While difficult, I believe that Scripture calls us to lovingly and humbly confront any believer who is unrepentant in their sin, regardless of their status or relationship to us. Here are three biblical principles that can guide us. 1. We Should Act with Integrity in the Marketplace God takes fraudulent behavior in the workplace seriously. It’s a sin first and foremost against God, it dishonors him in the eyes of non-believers (2 Cor. 8:20–22; 1 Pet. 2:12), and it leads to our self-destruction (Prov. 11:3; 28:18). Scripture is full of passages that condemn the use of unjust weights and balances, which in ancient times was a common form of fraud (Prov. 11:1; 20:10; 20:23). Such practices were an “abomination” to the Lord; he “detests” unjust weights and balances. Similarly, God detests deceitfulness, but he approves of those who are “trustworthy” (Prov. 12:22). Leviticus 19:35 prohibits the practice directly. After calling God’s people to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly” in Micah 6:8, God speaks through the prophet: Can I forget any longer the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant… Read More

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How Can I Know if I’m Wasting My Life?

Recently, I’ve been studying the lives of famous missionaries like John G. Paton, Amy Carmichael, and Hudson Taylor. It’s difficult to look at Carmichael, who was rescuing orphaned children out of temple prostitution at my age, or at Paton in the New Hebrides evangelizing cannibalistic tribesmen, and not wonder if I’m wasting my life. Whether you’re a pastor, a missionary, or a layperson, do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a ministry holding pattern? Perhaps you can remember a time when you felt a sense of momentum—as though God were preparing you for some great endeavor. Maybe it was mission work, or some arduous but rewarding ministry career, or marriage and kids. But somewhere along the way, things stalled out. In moments of quiet honesty, your desires haven’t changed. Your heart still aches with the same longing: I want God to use me. Why won’t he? And what am I to do while I’m waiting? I don’t pretend to know God’s future plans for my life or yours. But I can think of at least three things we can be doing in the meantime. 1. Be Holy Earlier this year we were without a dishwasher for four months. It’s frustrating to reach for a dish only to realize it’s dirty. Paul encourages his young protégé to be a clean dish: “If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21). If we want to be used by God, we ought to be ready when he grabs us off the shelf. Holiness is readiness. What ways are you seeking to grow in sanctification today that will prepare you for the work God has for you tomorrow?… Read More

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