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.
A few weeks ago, we said farewell to my father at the age of 89. His life was marked by love of family, deep integrity, intellectual curiosity and hopefulness. His passing was a bit sudden, but the entire family was able to celebrate a life well-lived. We shared laughter and tears and saw some family members we have not seen for many years.
Just a few days ago, tragedy struck our family as our newborn granddaughter, Nora Jo, only lived a few hours after her birth. Complications during delivery led to this unexpected and heartbreaking moment. We are grateful for the prayers of thousands and the strong faith of Michael and Aubren as they walk through this valley.
Thanksgiving takes on a new depth this year as we absorb this moment and remain faithful in faith, hope and love. The resurrection hope of the Christian faith is a sustaining grace.
As in Habakkuk 3:17-19, we remain hopeful even as we are healing in our hearts. These moments pull back the veil just a bit and we receive foretastes of eternity, whether in privation or prosperity. The prophet lives during a time of great political and spiritual turmoil and the Lord revealed his sovereignty over all events and nations. The job of the righteous in such times is remaining faithful under trials, watchful in prayer and worshipful in all circumstances. Here are the prophet’s closing words, apropos for our world:
Though the fig tree should not blossom, not fruit be on the vines,
The produce of the olive [crop] fail and fields yield no food,
The flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s
He makes be tread on my high places.
To the choirmaster: on my stringed instruments.
As we remember the Pilgrims, feast with family and reach out to the hurting, may we renew our devotion to the Lord, the One with us in all circumstances.