Friends, whether you are a devout Christian or a
skeptic, inoculated to religious language or open to supernatural
experiences, the importance of understanding faith is vital as we
navigate our lives in a hostile and indifference world.
facets of faith are vital for our walk with the Lord and effective
service and witness in our world where everything seems up for grabs:
- We are people of “the faith”
– the Event of Jesus Christ: his incarnation, sinless life, atoning
crucifixion, burial, glorious bodily resurrection, ascension to the
right hand of the Father, and Return in glory (I Corinthians 15; Romans
1:2-4, 16-17; I Timothy 3:16; Jude 3). Unlike most religious systems,
our Christian life is built on God’s own activity in history, with the
Cross and Resurrection as the defining events and definitive foundation.
We must defend this truth amidst all the skepticism, historic
revisionism, and basic doubt about the truthfulness of anything!
- We are people with “saving faith.”
We can be assured by the Holy Spirit that we are God’s children with a
secure eternity (Romans 8)! How completely different this is from all
other religions, with their emphasis on human effort. We are saved by
grace through faith (Ephesians 2).
- We are people with “growing faith.” This
faith can move mountains when we trust God (NOT trusting our faith
level!). Faith grows as we obey the Lord – and his first and
foundational command is love (Galatians 5:6).
- And, we are people open to the manifestation gift of extraordinary faith
(I Corinthians 12). This is often linked with other gifts and is part
of God’s sovereign activity as we seek to edify the Body and evangelize
we navigate the turbulent waters of a world in need, may the Lord
strengthen all facets of faith, from solid apologetics concerning the
Bible and truth, to deep assurance, to compelling obedience, and
openness to the miraculous.
I am very concerned with the triumph of emotivism in academic/intellectual circles. Critical thinking is not confined to a culture, gender or race. Critical thinking needs new attention so our dialogues move us toward truth, and, where possible, principled compromise on policies. Please friends, let’s be unafraid listen with humility and observe with objectivity.
In our polarized world, there two things that offer hope:
- shared encounters in community worship; and
- shared engagement in God’s work that renews our communities. God’s presence expands our hearts in holy love and practical work expresses our unity in service.
For centuries, human beings have sought meaning. In our century, we are debating the meaning of being human. Grateful for the Biblical story that offers identity and hope, humility and purpose.
Lord, please heal us.
Heal our hearts: touch our deepest wounds as use us as emissaries of compassion.
Heal our heads: liberate our minds from captivity to crowds and release fresh thinking.
Heal our hands: deliver us from selfish motives and methods and unleash innovation and integrity for the common good.
Lord, heal our land, one prayer, one kind word, one sacrificial act at a time.
Our world is drowning in the quicksand of polemics, negativity and perverted reasoning. Sometimes I wonder if I am in a bad dream or B-grade movie where the universe is sideways. Everything is inverted. Sound fiscal policies mean starving children. Calling for good work ethics is “code” for racism. Supporting traditional marriage is intolerance. Affirming limited government and sound immigration is right wing xenophobia. Criticizing Palestinian Holocaust deniers is apertheid and condemning Muslim terrorism is Islamophobia.
It is time for unapologetic affirmations of indisputable truths. Rather than labeling and libeling those that disagree with me, I choose affirmation over attack, life over death and faith over fear. Here are some affirmations that I pray will guide all people of conscience:
- Life is precious and sacred, from conception to coronation. Whether a boy or girl, healthy or infirm, challenged or gifted, all humans deserve a warm welcome, a kind farewell, and love in between. It is a baby inside the mother, not a piece of tissue.
- Marriage is one man and one woman discovering depths of intimacy, heights of mutual purpose, experiences of sorrow and joy, and for many, the profound stewardship of raising the next generation.
- Freedom of conscience and religion is the first freedom and foundational to all others. This does not make evangelism coercion or the truth claims of religion unimportant. It means living peaceably with our deepest differences and sharing convictions without fear.
- Hospitality for all legal immigrants and secure borders are symbiotic and critical for national cohesion and diversity.
- Israel is a moral and political good for the world. She is a beacon of sanity in a geography rife with political and religious turmoil.
- Spending less than we take in and fostering economic productivity within the rule of law and an ethos of generosity will help the most people flourish.
- Wealth can be created without destroying the environment. We do not have one pie for seven billion people – we can bake more pies!
- It is the height of arrogance and overweening will-to-power to manipulate the populace with fear about global climate. Most of Rachael Carson’s and Paul Ehrlich’s predictions were (and are) wrong. Current climate “science” must be separated from globalist economics and politics.
- Our choices can add to the beauty around us, from works of art to words of wisdom, from life-saving medicines to laughter that heals the heart.
- The colors and clothes, accents and dialects, food and music of our many cultures is cause for celebration as we discover our common humanity and diverse tastes.
- Disagreeing with another person’s choices is not judging their soul nor being intolerant. My neighbor is made in God’s image and worthy of love and respect. Where we differ, we may argue passionately…then go to a PTA meeting and help our schools together.
St. Francis of Assisi rebuilt a church with his bare hands, rejoiced in his poverty, gained Papal approval, evangelized Muslims and could hear the songs of the trees and whispers in the wind. I do not share his monastic vocation, but I long to share his joy-filled humility and love for God and others.
Jesus of Nazareth healed the sick, delivered the oppressed, forgave sinners and reconciled enemies. He also pricked the consciences of the comfortable, condemned the abuse of the powerful and refused to compromise on matters of morality. All progressives need to heed his words of judgment and all conservatives must awaken to his compassion.
Today I choose affirmation because in the Incarnation, humble and sinless life, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, I discover my identity and worth, my destiny and discipline, and the affirmations and affections that shape abundant life now and forever.