Month: January 2020

A Few FAQs (and the Third One is Really Good, I Mean REALLY, REALLY GOOD)

Whenever we do a new series, it helps us to think about the theme. I love getting all kinds of questions from people. Some of the questions help me realize I haven’t done a very good job in defining or explaining things, such as CORE WORDS.

So, here are a few words with short explanations in the form of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).

FAQ #1: What is the difference between morality and ethics?

That’s a great question because they are two of the core words. Here is how I view them. They mean the same thing. They refer to the same thing. Here is why.

The Greeks had a whole group of gods—the Greek gods and goddesses. The Greeks had a name for the chief god or king of the gods. They called him Zeus. Zeus had a brother who was the god of the ocean. His name was Poseidon. They had a messenger god called Hermes. They had a god for the underworld whose name was Hades.

The Romans picked up from the Greeks all their gods, but gave them new names. Zeus became Jupiter. Poseidon became Neptune. Hermes became Mercury. Hades became Pluto. In fact, every planet name …

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6 Reasons Why Character Formation Is So Hard

Twenty years ago, in his book Becoming Good, writer David Gill described the moral scene in North America as an ethical wilderness. It is wild, untamed, unpredictable, threatening, dangerous, and thus, stressful.

Some Christians choose to withdraw and get as far away from that wide and wild wilderness as they can. Others stay in the wilderness but have sort of given up on change—they just try to survive reasonably intact. Others try to create pockets of goodness, like an oasis.

For those who know they have to stay in the wilderness and who are committed to creating oasis space there, it does help to understand what has made the wilderness—the wilderness.

Yesterday focused on ONE BIG theme, and that is the systems and structures that once were helpful are no longer helpful in forming virtue as Christians understand it.

Here are 6 more reasons why it’s a moral wilderness today:

1|| We have a whole new series of problems that are complicated and confusing. We face moral dilemmas because of technology and major advances in medicine, genetics, robotics, and the sciences in general. While much good has come out of all this, there is a dark underside that makes modern …

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Why Does it Seem Harder Than Ever to Be Good?

It really may not matter if it was easier to be good in 1950 than in 2020. I’m not even sure how we could make the comparison.

What I can say is that it sure feels or seems as if it is harder than ever to be good. And we know there are very powerful forces that work against our being good. Today, I’ll just explain the context in which goodness (or badness) grows. Our culture is the first reason why it seems becoming good is harder than ever, and the reason is simple: What used to work is not working so well.

The systems or structures in our culture that ONCE were the context where moral behavior was shaped are no longer working very well or in collaboration to foster traditional Christian morality.

  • The family system is often stressed, parents are exhausted, and many marriages and families are fragmented, broken, or blended. That doesn’t make character formation impossible, just harder.
  • The school system is now generally co-opted by the larger cultural views on morality. There may be some generic morality that is encouraged, but the school system is stretched and stressed to provide education, much less character formation. A

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Moral Intelligence for Leaders

On Sunday I referenced a book: Moral Intelligence 2.0: Enhancing Business Performance and Leadership Success in Turbulent Times. 

Leaders are those whose position and role gives them a wider opportunity to influence others. A good leader will have an expansive good influence and a bad leader will have an equally expansive bad influence.

Public distrust in leadership gets worse every year. This includes leaders in most institutions. Political leaders are some of the least trusted leaders. But whether it is politics, business, education, social institutions, or the church, confidence in leadership is in decline.

And it is not mainly due to a lack of skills and competencies!

It is primarily due to a lack of trust in the character of the leaders.

So, when I find a book on morality written by non-Christians for the corporate world, I am always interested. This book was published in 2011 and written as a response to the litany of notable corporate failures that have had a widespread impact.

The SubPrime Mortgage scandal, the Enron scandal, the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme (and the list could go on for a long time, just Google search “biggest corporate scandals”) was the wake-up call that something was …

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The Deeper Levels of Motivation

Here is a theme you are probably thinking about, but one I haven’t covered. It has to do with the levels of motivation. Are there some motives that are higher and more noble than others? Sure. Here is a quick overview of how most moral thinkers approach this.


1|| The lowest level of motivation is always that of SELF-INTEREST.

Now, please notice that does not mean it is a bad motive, just that it is the lowest. And also the most inescapable. We rarely initiate doing something that is not in our self-interest.

I became a Christian out of self-interest. I was lost and I wanted to be found. I didn’t have a God worth following and I wanted a Good God (named Jesus). My life was a mess and had the looming potential to get a whole lot worse. I wanted a better life. In the big picture, I wanted to go to heaven and I was pretty sure that before Jesus I was headed in the other direction.

For these reasons, and many others, I became a Christian. I wanted the benefits of Christianity. And there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, Jesus tells us what …

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Why Be Good? 6 Good Reasons to Get You Going

On Sunday we looked at the issue of why.

Why does morality matter? Why should you and I be concerned about becoming wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil (Romans 16:19)?


1 ||  FIRST, and foremost, God is good and God is concerned about what is good and bad.

God is concerned about your goodness. You were made for goodness. Along the way, we all lost some (a lot) of our original goodness. Life got very hard for us. God, through Jesus, is restoring goodness back to his world and to the people he loves.

  • When goodness abounds, people flourish.
  • You can go back and listen to week 1 of our character series where I spent some time unpacking this.

2||  SECOND, there are always consequences for our choices on good and evil.

The big text on this is Galatians 6:7-10. Read it in Eugene Peterson’s The Message.

  • You can ignore reality and, for a time, you will get away with ignoring reality. Eventually, you will not be able to ignore the results of ignoring reality. It’s like ignoring that blotch of skin cancer. Right now it’s just basal cancer, but ignore it and

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