In troubling times we look for signs, explanations, and certainty that brings order to disorder. The Bible, filled with the stories of God, his commands, and miraculous works throughout time and history is the resource we often consult. Did God predict this specific event? Is there something we can do to save ourselves from imminent doom from an angry God? Or maybe there is a secret code or revelation that somehow we missed? Apocalyptic texts like Daniel in the Old Testament rightfully grab hold of our curiosity and imagination in disruptive days like these. However, as we read these texts, perhaps the answers we’re looking for have been hiding in plain sight and are not so secretive after all.Continue reading “Biblical Prophecy and Current Events”
With the lights dimmed and the table set for a quiet Christmas Eve dinner in-between watching our favorite holiday movies, we set our eyes on the true meaning of Christmas. Above the fun, laughter, entertainment, and gifts is a promise as old as the universe, fulfilled in the birth of a perfect, knowable, and eternal King who is for everyone, everywhere.Continue reading “The Promise of Christmas”
Tom (not his real name), sat up from his position on the couch opposite me, exhaled deeply, and asked the group, “So, what should we do about it?”
I remember a time when I went shopping on Christmas Eve for some last minute gifts (okay, probably all of my gift shopping was done that year on Christmas Eve) and was reminded why that was a bad idea. On the eve of what continues to be communicated and sold as the most joyful time of the year, a time of making happy memories and a season of giving, the not-so-hidden ugly side of the holiday was exposed. This is a season filled with stress and anxiety.Continue reading “The Hope of Christmas”
As Christmas day approaches, I’m both burdened and hopeful. How about you?
I’m burdened by the pain, suffering, brokenness, violence, war, and division in the world. Burdened by the deterioration of life and a creation that was meant for good and glory. And yet I’m hopeful for a bright future. Hopeful for unlimited peace and joy. Hopeful for eternal reconciliation. Hopeful for a perfectly restored creation.
The source of my burden is the fallen creation and humanity’s inherited rejection of God and his Kingdom. We don’t have to look further than Genesis 3 to understand the universal cause of our pain and suffering.
Yet the source of my hope is in the grace and love of a God who initiated a cosmic reconciliation through the living presence of himself in Jesus Christ. Christmas is the single historical event that changed everything. Christmas is the day we remember that God fulfilled his promise that he would be with us – his creation, his people, his children, his loved ones. Christmas is the day that marks the beginning of the end that will bring about a perfect new beginning. Christmas is the reminder that Jesus is with us now and forever.
All too often I find Christians believing in and selling a weak and shallow gospel. It goes something like this: “follow Jesus and get the life you always wanted.” There are all sorts of variations to this, but in the end, these superficial gospel messages are rooted in a superficial theology of the person and work of Jesus Christ. A shallow gospel becomes nothing more than fire insurance for the afterlife or pithy inspirational messages that boost one’s emotional morale for the day.
In contrast, a deep theology of Christ is the unshakable foundation to something more than fire insurance or daily inspiration. Intimately knowing the person and work of Christ, His unrivaled supremacy over all creation, and His defeat over sin and death is what brings about total transformation – a fully restored life and world.
I see my daughter wading through the chilly waters of a tiny lake a few blocks from our home on a warm spring day in late April. She slowly steps in by first dipping her toes, then her foot, followed by an adventurous spirit to keep on going. She does not spend much time thinking about the potential dangers of the water or what lurks underneath, or even how cold the water is. In other words, she doesn’t depend on her “own understanding.”
Today I was deeply saddened over the numerous reminders that our world is broken, imperfect and marred with evil. No one is immune from its widespread effect, but I have great hope knowing that evil does not have the last word.
For what has God above chosen for us? What is our inheritance from the Almighty on high? Isn’t it calamity for the wicked and misfortune for those who do evil? Doesn’t he see everything I do and every step I take? Have I lied to anyone or deceived anyone? Let God weigh me on the scales of justice, for he knows my integrity.
(Job 31:2-6 NLT)
Job spends more time defending his righteousness before God based on his works rather than his faith. His friends too, also zero-in on this same common error – accusations of hidden sin must have angered God, leading to his just punishment.
Job’s lesson was to learn the art of abiding in faith, not to defend his works-righteousness.