Category: Culture


I was running on the path that’s near the Seaton Hackney Stables recently and there was a huge pile of horsefeathers ahead of me. A man hiking with his family said: “You’re going to have to jump over that!” I was tempted for a second, but I replied, “Nope, I am running around it.”

Had I jumped and missed I would have had my shoes and shins splattered with horsefeathers.

Had I successfully hurdled it I would have been quite a star in front of this family.

I like to express my Christian convictions in my blog. I don’t want to wimp out. But in the world of blogging and in the Twittersphere, there are many arguments where each side says to the other, “Your opinion is horsefeathers.” Indeed, that attitude often gets a lot more re-tweets!

But my goal is to keep the spotlight on Jesus. So, if I disagree with you, I’ll try to do it respectfully. I don’t want us splattering each other with horsefeathers.

Should we seek the spotlight?

We live in an attention-seeking age. That’s true not only in the wider culture, but even inside the Christian church, as we’re told that as Christians, we should make a giant visible impact for the Kingdom of God.

But what about someone who leads a quiet life, serving the Lord behind the scenes with actions that don’t get widely known or garner much attention and are quite outside the spotlight?

Today, I applaud out-of-the-spotlight people. I’m reminded of a memorial service at my old church. The honoree was a quiet and unassuming man who did not stand out in the public worship service. But at the memorial, person after person came up to testify about the loving deeds he had done in the name of Jesus that no one knew about.

Consider these words from the Apostle Paul:

 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders. (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12a)

Could it be that loving God’s family more and more is more important than flashiness? How far this is from a “whatever works” mentality —- the philosophy that given the right techniques and programs, your church will look successful and your attendance will skyrocket?

One more thought about this quiet life: so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders.

Suppose as a Christian I am known for loud, angry outrage at all that’s wrong in society and show myself to be a nasty troll on social media. Instead of loving, I become a spewing volcano of invective. Someone says, ‘If that’s what Christians are, I want no part of it.”

That may be giving someone an excuse to reject the truth of the gospel.

On the contrary, I’d like to live in a way such that someone might say “I don’t believe what that guy is saying about Jesus, but at least the way he lives is consistent with what he is preaching.”

Why be an unnecessary obstacle? I’d rather have them wrestle with the real reasons they don’t want to believe…….than be able to use me as an excuse for not believing!


No matter how kindly we frame it, the message of Jesus draws opposition.   Several years ago, Vanderbilt University derecognized various Christian groups because they required that to hold a leadership position in their group, you needed to believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead after his crucifixion.

The Vanderbilt administration said that to forbid someone from being a group leader for not believing in the resurrection was intolerant! The Christian leaders showed a winsome attitude as they explained what they believed and why they believed it. But basically the administrators said, “We don’t care about your kind attitude; your beliefs are discriminatory and your groups are hereby banned from campus.”

I at least give the administrators credit for having an accurate grasp of the real core issue. You might think that they would evict Christian groups due to disputes about cultural issues such as abortion or gay rights.  But the administrators chose the key Christian distinctive that has not and will not ever change: we owe our lives to, and base our lives on, faith in a resurrected man.

The Vanderbilt fight, then, has a helpful lesson:  We don’t want to erect false obstacles by saying that being a Christian is defined by a list of positions that you must take in the culture wars. (Indeed, when fights about abortion and gay rights die down, they will only be replaced by a new set of culture war issues.)

I’m not saying that political issues are irrelevant or unimportant. But they are all less important than this claim:  Jesus is alive. And he wasn’t blowing smoke when he said he will return to rule as King. Neither Republican nor Democrat, and not a capitalist and not a socialist, he won’t allow any fights over culture war issues. We will laugh at the idea that we once thought that the right political solutions would bring heaven on earth.

Does all that sound too good to be true? It’s not. Check out this promise about Jesus’ return: He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)  

Piles of Penalty Revenue

 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
(Psalm 146:7,9)

Are conservative evangelicals good at personal piety but unconcerned about systemic wrongs? Based on today’s verses from Psalms, I contend that a policy that is deliberately designed to funnel money from the worse off to the better off is unbiblical and should concern us.

Recently Wells Fargo admitted that between 2002 and 2016, it “falsified bank records, harmed the credit ratings of customers, unlawfully misused their personal information and wrongfully collected millions of dollars in fees and interest.” 1

Wells Fargo sales representatives, egged on and threatened by their bosses, told customers taking out car loans with them that they were required to buy car loan insurance. This was a lie: there was no such requirement. When that happens, does God hold “the corporation” responsible or the individuals who, out of greed, set the bogus policy? And who should be punished? The bosses who set the policy? The sales reps?

The penalty so far: A fine of $3 billion. And that’s not the last case against Wells Fargo.

God opposes rip-offs of all kinds but the biblical prophets and Psalms have a special ire towards those who rip off the poor.

Consider astronomical late fees on credit cards — charges that far exceed what the delays cost the credit card company. Remember when every credit card, not just the exclusive ones, had an annual membership fee? The annual fees on regular cards have disappeared while the past due payment penalties skyrocketed. So now ironically, those living paycheck to paycheck who can least afford it are huge drivers of credit card company profits and those who can most afford it get a free ride.

(And don’t get me started on overdraft fees on checking accounts………..)

Many argue these issues can be solved with an increase in regulations. But isn’t the real problem here a culture of greed? Can we legislate greed away? Can a company squeezing out every last penny from its poorer customers be forced by law and regulation to behave with sense of “social responsibility”? I doubt it.

But let me recommend a program like Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, extremely helpful for those who are trapped in debt. They also have a great online community on Facebook, encouraging each other to follow the steps. Much harder for banks and credit cards to accumulate mass penalty revenue from struggling people if enough folks followed those steps!