Tag Archives: resurrection

We Need New Hearts

We need new hearts.
Even if we righted every historic wrong, established the fairest pathways of opportunity, reformed every institution…we would still be incomplete in our pursuit of justice without one more change: a transformation of the human heart that is only possible with divine love. Yes to systemic change…and a concomitant yes to reconciliation with God and each other arising from the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. This more than a feeling…it is a metamorphosis of thinking, affections, and the will.

Lord, cleanse my heart of every hidden evil, all prejudice, and the selfishness lurking, waiting to take over in my vulnerable moments.

Lord, cleanse your church of apathy and fear, her sins of commission and omission, and help us reveal your love in how we love one another and all among us.

Lord, heal our land. Help us repent deeply, reconcile fully, and renew sustainably.

Lord, you resist the proud, and give grace to the humble. May your presence overcome polarizations. May your power overcome weaknesses. May your Passion be our pathway as we serve one another. Amen.

People of Faith in a Confused World

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.

Four 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 the world.

As 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.

History is Made and the World Changes Forever

Easter. Bunnies and chocolate, egg hunts and beautiful dresses.
Easter. A time of renewal as spring is fully here.
Easter. Family feasting.

Easter includes all of these cultural expressions, some rooted in ancient spring rituals that antedate Christianity. The word itself originates with fertility deities celebrating new life. Other practices are the creations of brilliant marketeers.

For billions throughout history and around the world, however, Easter is about the most important event in human history: the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. His crucifixion on Good Friday is a mere martyrdom without this divine affirmation of triumph over death. In First Corinthians, chapter 15, the Apostle Paul, himself a former persecutor of the church, declares that without the resurrection of Jesus, the entirety of the Christian faith is in vain and founded on a lie. Without the resurrection, there is no hope in our future or present as we confront evil and suffering – we might as well, “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die” (a famous Epicurean saying rooted in the denial of life after death).

Amidst all the chocolate and flowers, billions of Christians will declare, “He is Risen!” and respond with, “He is Risen, indeed!” this confession is at the core of the faith and ultimately, this belief is what splits history into BCE and CE or BC and AD…before Christ and “in the year of our Lord” (or “before the common era and the common era).

The resurrection declares that Jesus’ death is full of meaning: the forgiveness and sins and bearing of sicknesses, sorrows and undeserved suffering. Justice and love meet perfectly as the Incarnate One bears the penalty and shame for all human sin. But death does not win! The resurrection is also the preview of our human future as we see our destiny when the world is fully restored. Such hope, empowered by the Holy Spirit, inspires our acts of love and justice today. 

Please enjoy Easter in all its expressions…and remember that the essence of Easter is hope in Christ and an invitation to new life that is not mere pagan celebration, but spiritual transformation.

Observations of Our World

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:

  1. shared encounters in community worship; and
  2. 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.
Amen.

Thankful in All Circumstances

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.