OK, here's the plan (if God is willing):

1) Every day will be a new devotional. I have enough devotionals for every day for three years

2) Also as I can, I'll be posting on my new political blog (see bottom of page).

Some other housecleaning:

A) If you'd like to just get new postings sent to your email, just submit your address in the box on the left just below. There's just one possible downside, though. Occasionally I'll add a music video at the end that's relevant to the devotional, and you won't get them in the email sent to you. If I add a video though, I'll make sure to mention in the posting, so you'll know to come to the site to see it if you'd like.

B) I actually finished writing new blog posting for the TAWG at the end of 2016. So what I'm doing now is at the beginning of every month, I'll move the earliest month from 3 years ago ahead so that a "new" posting appears every day. That's why you won't find any postings for January 2014, for example.

C) When I started this Blog, I was using the 1984 edition of the NIV, and that’s what I linked to on the Biblegateway site. However, in 2011 Zondervan updated its edition and thus reworded a lot of the NIV translation. Therefore, all the links which went to the 1984 edition now redirect to the 2011 edition, which often has slightly different wording. Thus, part of my editing process has been to update my Scripture quotes in my postings. But I might have missed some, in which case you might see my quote in the posting as a little different from what comes up when you click on my citation link, since that redirects to the 2011 edition on the Biblegateway site. It's a good thing that we realize that the work of translation never ends, but it can be a kind of a pain on a site like this. If you see any difference in verbiage between my quote and what shows up as a link on the Biblegateway site, or if you hover over a link and it has "NIV1984" at the end of it, please notify me and I'll correct it.

D) I can't believe I have to say this, but here goes. At the end of every posting is a suggested short prayer that has to do with what we discussed. This is actually what I've prayed when I finished writing it. In no way am I asking you to pray the exact verbiage of my suggested prayer. It's just a springboard for your own prayer, nothing more. Quite frankly, I've never been a fan of praying rote prayers written by someone else. As with everything else I do here, to the degree it helps, great; to the degree it doesn't, chunk it.

As always, thank you so much for reading, even if it's to read one post. God bless.

[Feb 25]--People and Things

Exodus 22:25-27; Deut. 24:10-13

When discussing the commandment against stealing, I made the point that God apparently values property rights, meaning that although ultimately you don’t own your “stuff,” your neighbor doesn’t own your stuff either. While this is pretty obvious, there have been quite a few debates within the church over the last 30-40 years about which view of economics is closest to the biblical worldview. How high should taxes go? How much should government regulate businesses and wages? The Bible doesn’t give too many cut and dried answers on these issues, but there are some questions which I think we can answer.

No matter what your view on taxes or government regulation, we can lay down one principle which should overshadow all discussion on economics: People are more important than things. The Torah had the death penalty for several crimes which we'd never sanction today: blasphemy, cursing one’s parents, kidnapping, adultery; but theft was not one of them. The absolute worst punishment one could receive for property theft would be a hefty fine several times the worth of the stolen item (see here, for example). Apparently God considered things like parental authority much more important than any type of theft (except for theft of people, otherwise known as kidnapping, which was a capital crime).

On the issue of interest for loans, this used to be a much more debated issue within the church, since the international banking system is a relatively recent development. The Medieval Church (on the basis of passages like today’s reading) usually outlawed any form of interest, but Jews tended to interpret it as “excessive” interest. The Jewish argument is that interest is the payment the loaner receives for the use of the money; if there’s no interest, then in most situations the lender actually loses money. Friends would never charge interest in a personal loan, and you shouldn't charge interest if you're making an emergency loan to someone in immediate need, but a bank has to make some type of profit, or it'll close its doors and its potential borrowers will be robbed of its resources. The passage in Exodus specifically and explicitly differentiates what it's talking about from a business deal. This is not talking about taking a loan to start a small business. This is loaning something to your neighbor to keep them from starving or freezing to death. I find the Jewish case to be persuasive, but the main point of this passage remains unchanged: People are more important than things.

When examining the Deuteronomy passage for today, I think we need to use the principle/application method. Why would God care about how a creditor collects a debt? Because human dignity is important to him. Imagine that you’re a debtor, and someone storms into your home and demands repayment in front of your wife and children. How would that make you feel? If you're so poor that you have to put up your coat as collateral, then the Lord commands the creditor to show compassion. Again, people are more important than things.

I might not be an international banker, but I still might need to examine my attitude towards things and people. In almost every book of the Bible you will find warnings about how we treat the poor and/or encouragement for us to be generous. Proverbs 19:17 says that “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” If my very soul belongs to my Lord, then how is that reflected in my finances?

Lord Jesus, you own it all. Whatever you want, the answers is “yes.” When I don’t value bearers of your image, please forgive me.

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