Money and Happiness, Trust of Pastors, and Profanity (01.28.21)

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Plain Bible Teaching Podcast

Last week, one of the stories we discussed was a major news event. This week we have three stories that will be far less likely to be discussed on the network and cable news. But we have three interesting stories about money, pastors, and profanity.

STORY #1 – A New Study Says Making More Money Makes People Happier

“Money improves happiness because it gives people more choices – [Matthew Killingsworth from Penn’s Wharton School] finds one of the main links between money and increasing happiness is the flexibility a higher income gives people. ‘When you have more money, you have more choices about how to live your life. You can likely see this in the pandemic. People living paycheck to paycheck who lose their job might need to take the first available job to stay afloat, even if it’s one they dislike. People with a financial cushion can wait for one that’s a better fit. Across decisions big and small, having more money gives a person more choices and a greater sense of autonomy.’” (StudyFinds.org)

Related material:

STORY #2 – Americans’ Trust of Pastors Hovers Near All-Time Low

“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are more likely to trust medical professionals, while few believe pastors are completely honest. […] Americans’ opinion of clergy’s honesty falls between judges and nursing home operators. Around 2 in 5 (39%) say pastors have at least high ethical standards, including 10% who say their honesty is very high. For 41% of the public, the honesty and ethical standards of clergy are average, while 11% rate it as low and 4% as very low. Another 4% say they have no opinion of pastors’ honesty, the highest of any profession. […] This marks the second time since Gallup began surveying Americans about their trust of various occupations that fewer than 2 in 5 gave clergy the highest ratings.” (Lifeway Research)

Related material:

STORY #3 – Profanity Is Performative

“In 1934, Rear Admiral Richard Byrd spent almost five months living entirely alone in a tiny shack buried under the ice of Antarctica’s interior. […] The longer Byrd spent in isolation, the more he noticed the trappings of his old life fall away. He grew his hair out. Dropped his table manners. And, interestingly, stopped swearing. “Although at first I was quick to open fire at everything that tried my patience,” he observed, “Now I seldom cuss.” Byrd realized that profanity is essentially performative — done for the sake of others. To shock. To evince toughness. To add emphasis. Even a swear uttered when alone is born of the societal habit — the hope of attracting attention, and, if the curse was evoked from pain or fear, eliciting help.” (Art of Manliness)

Related material:

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Book Review: A Bountiful Eye

A Bountiful Eye (cover)I recently had the chance to sit down and read A Bountiful Eye: Insights from Proverbs on Wealth and Riches by John Allan. As the subtitle indicates, the book examines what the wise man had to say in the book of Proverbs pertaining to wealth. This may be a topic that some Christians are uncomfortable talking about, yet it is one that the Scriptures address for us.Continue Reading

Social Issues (Part 13): Materialism

Social Issues

Materialism is about valuing physical things over spiritual things. This could be in the form of money or possessions. It is often associated with those who are rich, yet those who are poor can also be guilty of being materialistic.

Those who fall into the trap of materialism will find themselves in one of two categories: (1) they do not believe in God and, therefore, do not value the spiritual blessings and rewards He offers; or (2) they believe in God but do not recognize the danger posed by material things and how they can distract us from focusing on spiritual things. Regardless of the category in which one may be, the result is the same – a disregard of spiritual things in favor of physical things.Continue Reading

Turning Blessings into Curses

Honey

Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, that you not have it in excess and vomit it” (Proverbs 25:16).

In the Bible, honey is often used to symbolize God’s great blessings for man. When God told Moses of His plan to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and to the promised land of Canaan, He emphasized the goodness of the land by describing it as “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8). Yet as the wise man pointed out in the verse above, that same blessing can be turned into something with a negative impact on us.

It is possible to take the good things with which God blesses us and turn them into something bad for us. This can be done by misuse, abuse, or excess. In this article, I would like to notice a few examples of how this can be done with certain blessings.Continue Reading

Regular Christians (Part 2): Philemon

Regular Christians

Philemon was one who used his possessions to help others. We can read about this man in the short letter written to him by the apostle Paul.

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker…and to the church in your house” (Philemon 1-2).

At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you” (Philemon 22).

Continue Reading

Through Many Tribulations (Part 3): Sacrifices

Through Many Tribulations

When we first read of Paul in the New Testament – then referred to as Saul – he was looking on with approval as Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 7:58-8:1). Following that event, he began a zealous campaign against the church that took him to Damascus in order to find “any belonging to the Way” and “bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:2). While on the road to Damascus, the Lord appeared to him and told him to go to the city where he would be told “what [he] must do” (Acts 9:6). The Lord then instructed Ananias to go to Saul to deliver His message to him (Acts 9:10-12; 22:12-16).

Paul was “a chosen instrument” of the Lord’s (Acts 9:15). Specifically, this meant that he was “called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” (1 Corinthians 1:1). However, this did not mean that the Lord was going to see to it that Paul had an easy and comfortable life as he served Him. Instead, He told Ananias, “For I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). When we think of the sufferings of Paul, we typically think of the persecutions he endured [we will discuss these in the next lesson]. Yet there were other sacrifices that Paul made that would be included in the things he was going to “suffer.Continue Reading

Through Many Tribulations (Part 2): Hardships

Through Many Tribulations

When Paul explained God’s choice of Jacob over his brother, he quoted from the prophet Malachi: “Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated’” (Romans 9:13; cf. Malachi 1:2-3). Jacob was chosen for prominence over his brother and for the blessings that came from being part of God’s promise (Romans 9:6-12). The Lord appeared to Jacob and said to him, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Genesis 28:13-15).

However, despite the fact that God chose Jacob and promised to bless him, he faced great hardships throughout his life. When he stood before Pharaoh, he said, “The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life” (Genesis 47:9). Notice some of the hardships that Jacob experienced:Continue Reading