As Jesus is the cornerstone upon which the Church is built, so are his teachings the unifying cornerstone of Christian doctrine.

Old Wine and Old Garments

I once heard of an African sect where everyone wears white clothes, taking the metaphor of white garments literally. We are tempted to place the letter into the things of the spirit. Jesus interpreted the law of Moses in the spirit and not the letter. In Mark 2:21-22 he taught about people attempting to combine the old with the new. We attempt to mingle the old way of the letter with the new, even in our interpretation of the new. Paul's cultural commentary about hair becomes church law, Old Testament letter of the law issues regarding things like Sabbaths and tithing become New Testament letter of the law rules instead of spiritual principles. We forget the example that circumcision of the heart no longer requires circumcision of the flesh. Do we also circumcise Christ's teachings by applying the letter when we should be learning to understand things in the spirit?

Count Your GDP Blessings

Having lived in several countries, I am constantly perplexed as to how little people seem to know about how the rest of the world really lives. Some think that everyone else is poor and bigotry towards foreigners is too common. So, I thought I'd introduce you to your neighbors. If you live any other place except DC, several countries earn more GDP per capita than you. People in Hawaii and Canada make about the same. If you live in Mississippi or West Virginia you probably make about the same as someone living in New Zealand. This chart compares GDP per person for US States and other wealthy countries. GDP per person is a fairer analysis than comparing a large country's income with a small one's. Enjoy! (source: CIA Factbook and
  • $136,714.13 District of Columbia
  • $118,000.00 Liechtenstein
  • $111,000.00 Qatar
  • $81,200.00 Luxembourg
  • $69,900.00 Bermuda
  • $64,609.90 Delaware
  • $59,500.00 Norway
  • $57,500.00 Kuwait
  • $57,000.00 Jersey (the island not the state)
  • $53,296.35 Connecticut
  • $51,600.00 Singapore
  • $51,300.00 Brunei
  • $51,044.13 Alaska
  • $49,647.88 Massachusetts
  • $47,728.82 Wyoming
  • $47,705.27 New Jersey (the state)
  • $47,500.00 United States average
  • $46,724.35 New York (the state not the city)
  • $45,500.00 Ireland
  • $44,600.00 United Arab Emirates
  • $44,600.00 Guernsey
  • $43,957.50 Minnesota
  • $43,800.00 Cayman Islands
  • $43,800.00 Hong Kong
  • $43,162.41 Virginia
  • $42,860.75 Colorado
  • $42,727.46 California
  • $42,500.00 Andorra
  • $42,300.00 Iceland
  • $42,000.00 Switzerland
  • $41,900.00 San Marino
  • $41,439.21 Illinois
  • $41,313.29 Washington (the state not the city)
  • $41,151.11 Nevada
  • $40,500.00 Netherlands
  • $40,445.95 Maryland
  • $40,400.00 Austria
  • $39,770.52 New Hampshire
  • $39,314.80 Hawaii
  • $39,200.00 Canada
  • $38,953.19 Rhode Island
  • $38,625.90 North Carolina
  • $38,601.04 Nebraska
  • $38,536.19 Texas
  • $38,521.96 Iowa
  • $38,500.00 British Virgin Islands
  • $38,244.10 Wisconsin
  • $38,200.00 Australia
  • $38,200.00 Sweden
  • $38,200.00 Gibraltar
  • $37,914.36 South Dakota
  • $37,719.03 Pennsylvania
  • $37,554.82 Georgia
  • $37,500.00 Belgium
  • $37,400.00 Bahrain
  • $37,300.00 Equatorial Guinea
  • $37,200.00 Denmark
  • $37,037.62 North Dakota
  • $37,000.00 Finland
  • $36,830.47 Michigan
  • $36,700.00 United Kingdom
  • $36,484.34 Ohio
  • $36,381.10 Tennessee
  • $36,235.97 Indiana
  • $36,102.48 Kansas
  • $35,500.00 Germany
  • $35,493.14 Vermont
  • $35,400.00 Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)
  • $35,189.24 Oregon
  • $35,033.99 Missouri
  • $35,000.00 Isle of Man
  • $34,600.00 Spain
  • $34,100.00 Japan
  • $33,700.00 European Union average
  • $33,616.80 Arizona
  • $33,599.80 Louisiana
  • $33,419.31 Florida
  • $33,346.90 Utah
  • $33,300.00 France
  • $32,749.78 Maine
  • $32,446.41 Kentucky
  • $32,100.00 Greece
  • $31,786.22 South Carolina
  • $31,601.59 New Mexico
  • $31,400.00 Italy
  • $31,100.00 Taiwan
  • $31,000.00 Faroe Islands
  • $30,700.00 Bahamas
  • $30,394.87 Alabama
  • $30,334.56 Idaho
  • $30,225.34 Oklahoma
  • $30,000.00 Macau
  • $30,000.00 Monaco
  • $29,605.52 Montana
  • $29,600.00 Slovenia
  • $28,805.89 Arkansas
  • $28,600.00 Israel
  • $27,900.00 New Zealand
  • $27,395.68 West Virginia
  • $26,087.88 Mississippi
  • $22,997.39 US Virgin Islands
  • $18,983.89 Guam
  • $18,499.23 Puerto Rico
  • $11,199.32 Northern Mariana Islands
  • $8,638.41 American Samoa

Truth about Agape

We all begin our journeys as novices. Even after years, our knowledge is going to be limited. One area is that of biblical Greek. Even most preachers only have a cursory understanding of it. So, when a preacher stands in the pulpit and claims that this or that Greek word means such and such, please forgive him and take it with a grain of salt. For instance, we often hear that agape refers to a special kind of Godly love. That is not necessarily the case. It depends on how the word is used in context. In some cases agape is used to describe some other kind of love. One example is 2 Timothy 4:10 which mentions that Demas left Paul because he loved this present, evil world. So, what ought we to do? Perhaps we need humility that we could be wrong and a willingness to change our opinions.

A God or Mammon Xmas

What is the reason for the season? That depends on what our priorities are. The name of the Christmas season indicates to some the mass of Christ, however the season and its name were not always focused on Christ, but a variety of other pursuits including certain pagan customs. Today, there are two extremes of Christmas, that observed by non-Christians and the celebration of Christ's birth. The one is a materialistic and commercialized Christmas focusing on spending money, decorations and fictitious stories. The other is a spiritual Christmas which focuses on simplicity, truth and Christ. To be honest, most of us are probably somewhere in both camps. We have a foot in the commercial hype which plays on our emotions, and perhaps we pay a token tribute to the so-called reason for the season. Perhaps the choice voiced by Matthew 6:24 also applies to Christmas. Can we serve two masters?

Jesus in our Hearts?

We often hear evangelists spouting religious-sounding things that do not always come from the Bible. One such commonly found fallacy is the idea of asking Jesus into our hearts. How often have we heard this idea? It is so commonly accepted that it may even sound sacriligious to challenge the idea. In fact there is no Bible command, directive, instruction or even a hint of any kind that we do any such thing as ask Jesus into our hearts. This is one of those saying that has crept into pop culture which has no biblical backing whatsoever. There is, however, someone who does live in our hearts, if we allow him. According to 1 Corinthians 6:19 that person is the Holy Spirit. Let's make sure that we get our faith out of the guide book to Christianity, the Bible, and not from the vain ideas and traditions of mere men.

Peace Prize

Sometimes we criticize the choice of who receives the Nobel Peace prize. Why waste time criticizing any committee for giving something in the manner that this world gives? Are we so naive that we actually expect something that is given by this world could ever meet the highest criterion? Or, are we realistic enough to know that this world gives by this world's standards? Is it not like chasing the wind to expect great standards for peace in a world without peace? Alfred Nobel's legacy is certainly a gesture that measures up to his name, noble, but perhaps it is also naively labeled. There is only one source of peace and it is not found in any of this world's leaders.  Jesus is the source and it is a peace which passes understanding. Let us leave the world to its devices and prize the peace that only he can give (John 14:27)

Cuss Words

Why have Christians banned so-called cuss words? What does the Bible say about this? Paul taught the Ephesians against unwholesome talk (4:29), a much broader term than a mere list of banned words. In fact it doesn't refer to individual words at all, but how we communicate. 1 Samuel 20 records Saul refering to Jonathan as the linguistic equivalent of a son of a b__. Okay, so we don't follow Saul's example. Jesus called Herod a fox and the Pharisees snakes and hypocrites, culturally equivalent to curse words in modern English. Paul called the former things dung, actually more like crap or s__ in the original language. The Bible also refers to men as that gender that p__ against a wall. Don't get me wrong. I usually find vulgarity offensive. However, there is also a fitting occasion at times. The New Testament does not give us lists of banned words.

Alphabet Soup Salvation

The god of education is often touted as the way to salvation for our planet and its many troubles. Yet, just a generation ago, one of the world's most educated nations, Germany was engaged in some of history's worst atrocities. And so today, our beautiful world is run by highly intelligent people with alphabet soup after their names: PhD, MD, MBA and so on. Have these wonderfully talented and incredibly bright people solved the problems of war, starvation and atrocity? No. They can't. Education is wonderful, and extremely profitable, but it is not the way to salvation for our weary planet and its insurmountable problems. There is someone who has exclusive franchise rights on that commodity. As the Bible says, "there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12 NASB)

Christmas on Credit

She received notice that her credit card limit was reduced as Christmas drew near. She called her bank screaming how they had just ruined her holiday season. She was deeply in credit card debt and now she wanted to place herself under an even deeper burden fooled into believing that Christmas was all about things. Quietly, when he was given a chance to respond, the credit manager reassured her he was going to give her the best Christmas present that he had available at his discretion. He was not going to restore her former credit line, because it would ruin her life and make her Christmas worse. In gentle and reassuring tones, he told her that Christmas is not about what we can buy, but about family. More importantly, it's about a Savior and we can celebrate him for free. What about us? What kind of Christmas are we planning?

Servant or Master of Money

Slavery is alive and well today. An example is credit card debt. It is bad for us, the economy and the bank. The insanity is that banks charge disgustingly usurious interest rates to discourage this debt, but the credit drug is just too powerful. The worst kind of credit card slavery is the habit of carrying a very high balance from month to month. People who carry high credit card balances are a risk to themselves, their country and their lender. On the other hand, there are those who are masters of money and use credit cards wisely. They pay the balance in full every month, on time, every time. These people help themselves, their country and even their bank benefits because it carries low outstanding debt and still manages to make some income from interbank charges. Matthew 6:24 reminds us not to be slaves of money, but instead serve God.

Merry Christmas vs Happy Holidays

Some Christians abhor terms like Happy Holidays, insisting that we use the word Christmas. Is this a Christian version of political correctness that neglects what's really important? Has Christmas become elevated to the status of a mandate by traditional and commercial interests? It was neither commanded nor celebrated by Christ or the Apostles, but came into the Church about 300 years later. Contrary to some twisted theological thinking, it is also not banned in the Bible. It is not a core Christian requirement. Our traditions have made it appear so, but neither Jesus nor the Apostles demand it. So, if we criticize those who simply prefer a term like Happy Holidays, we also need to ask ourselves, why are we upset? Ought we not be more concerned about focusing on the commands that Jesus, the head of the Church made, than political correctness about church traditions invented by mere men?

Faith vs Truth

How do we separate having faith in truth from having faith in a half truth, or worse a lie? Perhaps humility is a key. We have all kinds of opinions about a great many topics. Few of us are really qualified to have an expert opinion in such matters as global warming, politics, paleontology or the economy. We tend to make hasty and uneducated opinions based upon partial facts or prejudice, and yet as Christians we are supposed to be dealing in truth, as best we can. To be fair, outside of mathematics, we human beings are limited in our ability to formulate absolutely certain conclusions. Perhaps what is missing is a degree of humility, which leaves the possibility open that we might be wrong on a few things. I exaggerate! More accurately said, we are probably more wrong than right, and I believe that may possibly be the truth.

A Generation Willing to Suffer

Our forefathers were willing to suffer. Many suffered through wars or financial hardships. Today, from the boardroom to the street, we don't seem to be willing to suffer. We are impatient and sell our children and grandchildren into debtor's slavery so that we can have it all now. We are angry at the credit card company or the store sales person when we can't have what we want. We push and shove others out of the way on the freeway and during retail sales. What happened to that patient generation that willingly endured suffering? In Romans 8:17 the writer of a letter to ancient Rome reminded them that we are heirs, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Are we willing to be a generation ready to suffer for the good of others?

Finding the Genuine

The free world is not -- free, but captive to graft and corruption. Gay is not -- gay. French Fries are not -- French, but Belgian. The World Series is not -- the world, but regional. is not -- free, but contains fees. The Secret is not -- a secret, but new age philosophy. Victoria's Secret is not -- secret, but exposed. Political saviors are not -- saviors, but fallible human beings. The world is full of empty and misleading promises. So what is genuine? God alone has the ability to keep his promises. God's benefits are real and permanent. He forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases. He redeems us from death and crowns us with love and tender mercies. He fills life with good things. Our youth is renewed like the eagle's. God gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly.

Negative Christianity

As Christians we have a choice to wallow in the negative or dwell on the positive. It is easy to allow ourselves to get caught up in all the bad news around us as if our hope is in this world. As I listen to Christian radio shows like Point of View, which ought to be labeled Negative Point of View, I am reminded of my grandmother's positive point of view. She was a grace-filled Christian lady who tended to find the good in things. My father carried that legacy and I believe that it was his positive mental attitude that enabled him great success in business. Perhaps negative Christianity was also a phenomenon in ancient times and that's why Paul reminded the Philippians to focus on positive things. How often do we dwell on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent and worthy of praise?

Christmas Tree Lessons

There is a movement of negative Christians who tend to overly focus on what is bad in the world. Many also focus on negative things associated with Christmas, such as pagan origins and modern debt. That is okay. Paul encouraged the Philippians to focus on the positive. God created trees and as such they declare his glory. The many baubles on a Christmas tree are reminiscent of the tree of life and remind me of Christ, the way to life. The Psalms declare that a righteous person is like a tree planted by the waterside, bearing its fruit in its season. The Christmas tree and every tree reminds me to stay close by the water of God to bear spiritual fruit. The bright lights often found on a Christmas tree remind me that God's word is a light to my path and that Christ is the light of the world.