A Parable on Prayer

Jesus was a great teacher especially when you think about the eternal and heavenly truths he was trying to teach!  How do you help people learn and understand that which their minds are incapable of understanding? Well, like God always does, he meets us where we are at and begins there.  Jesus did this by telling stories.  He expounded divine mysteries through the simplicity of a story.  Here is one of them:
Imagine it’s the middle of the night, you are just about ready to turn in for the night when you hear the doorbell ring.  Puzzled and maybe a bit annoyed you answer the door to find an old friend standing on the stoop.  You welcome him warmly inside and take his coat.  You quickly fall into conversation. 


How to Clean a White Shirt

Leviticus is one of the tougher books in the Bible.  It is full of weird laws and rituals that do not seem to apply to our lives today.  Unless you are a Levite and appointed to be some kind of priest standing between God and the people, the job description of this role seems to be pretty forgettable.  However, I encourage you, do not miss out on this book!  It is full of history to be sure, but as you read through the pages, ask the big question: what is God doing with his people?  The answer to this query can then be directly applied to you because you, after all, are God’s child.  It can be easy to get bogged down by the sheer content of Leviticus…it is a lot to take in. But don’t read it for the details (at least for now).  Read it with an eye open to discovering the heart of God.
Leviticus (and all of Scripture really) is predicated on the idea of a covenant.  Often, we interchange “covenant” with the more often used “promise”.  This is not wrong, but it may be a bit incomplete.  Marriage for example, is a promise, but it would be more accurate to refer to it as a covenant because it involves two people.  Both profess love and commitment to the other.  A covenant is a two-way street.  It makes demands on both parties involved.  A promise is passive and really only requires action from the one who makes the vow. 


Is Everyone Going to Heaven?

Is Everyone Going to Heaven?

So, I have argued that Jesus is the one and only way for salvation (exclusive, I know! Not popular with culture’s current trend of relativism.), salvation comes through Jesus alone. So, if this is what I believe, then what does that mean for everyone else? Or, as I heard asked to me, “If Jesus is the only way, then what?

Well, it means the world needs to be invited to put saving faith in Jesus. Hence the Great Commission, where it records Jesus saying as He is leaving to go back to heaven, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20a).

Now, the question I get so often, especially from youth, is, “What about all those who do not hear about Jesus?” I really can’t answer this question well, but here is my best response.


Paul Comes to Thanksgiving Dinner

As I read the writings of the apostle Paul in the New Testament, I often wonder if we would get along.  He is brash and straightforward. He pulls no punches, he makes no compromise.  He is certainly unacquainted with our northern Midwest culture popularly referred to as “Minnesota Nice.”  Paul is a force with which to be reckoned.  The story was the same before he knew Christ.  As a Pharisee he hunted down Christians because they preached what he thought to be heresy!  After his conversion his zeal became even more unleashed.  Now instead of trying to condemn people, he was out to save them. 


Jesus, The Only Way of Salvation Part 4

As I conclude the “Why Jesus only” section of my blogging, I want to pass along some insights that I have been nurturing since I heard them shared by Ajith Fernando at an URBANA Conference in the early 1990s. 

Ajith Fernando is the teaching director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka, and has served as the national director for thirty-five years. His topic was “Why Jesus?” and he addressed why the Christian claims of Jesus’ uniqueness amid the world of faith beliefs is so important. They provided keen insight for me, and I share my interpretation of them here, drawing upon Colossians 2.

One unique aspect of Jesus is that He is the unique Revelation by the Creator of the world to the world. He created. In Colossians 2:2, Paul calls Jesus God’s secret, His mystery. Yet God is glad to reveal this secret in His time. The Gospel is the great revelation to the human race from the creator. Most great books of other religions give an account of people’s encounter with the spiritual truth. But the Gospel claims to be the revelation of the truth from God to people; it is revealed, not discovered! The Old Testament points to the Gospels, the Gospels tell of Jesus and the rest of the New Testament explains the Gospels. Because the truth of Jesus is given and not discovered, it is not something humans have put together. It can be trusted as correct, for it is a gift of Truth, from the Truth.


Between Zombies and Santa Claus

It seems that, more and more, Thanksgiving is becoming a blip on the annual calendar.  It sits in-between Halloween and Christmas and sort of ends up being swallowed by both.  Certainly, the historical moorings of the holiday have come under fire with the advent of modern identity politics casting a long shadow on sailing puritans.  Maybe it is a marketing problem…can a turkey really compete with zombies and Santa Claus?  Sure, it’s good eating, but it is still only one meal out of the whole year.  And really, who is going to choose green bean casserole and jellied beets over fistfuls of free candy and decorated cookies? But all logistical considerations aside, I am a huge advocate of Thanksgiving. Here’s why:  


Sitting in the Silence

Our church has been around for 50 years!  As I write from the perspective of a father in his mid-thirties, I am rather intimidated by such a large number.  I look forward to the days when I can say I have been married for 50 years, or it’s the 50th
anniversary of the day I did something amazing.  I may even be around to see my own kids reach such an age.
Anything that lasts for half a century requires work and upkeep.  A human life, a business venture, a successful invention and, of course, a church.  We know that the Church, the worldwide conglomeration of Christ-followers, is not just some fraternal organization that collects members and hosts social events.  The Church functions as the hands and feet of Jesus, as the preview of God’s coming Kingdom, as the beacon of hope in this dark world.  The Church is more than any leader or preacher…it is guided by our living Lord himself.


The 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

he 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God–not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” -Ephesians 2:8-9

Five hundred years ago, a world-shaking revolution was about to erupt and change history! The world was on the cusp of a dramatic shift. Europe was Christian, divided into two churches: The Orthodox Church in the East, and the Catholic Church in the West. Each blamed the other for separating away (back in AD 1054). In the West, there were seismic tremors suggesting the coming of a major quake.

The Catholic Church wielded amazing power, and tried to use that power to keep the culture in order and Christian. In an attempt to protect the holiness of God, it mandated that worship must be kept pure and based on tradition, that the Bible must be kept in Latin, and that salvation was found only in the path the Church explained.


Jesus, The Only Way of Salvation, Part 3

Jesus, the ONLY Way of Salvation: Part 3

I continue to answer the question, “Why Jesus? Why for Christians is Jesus the one and only way of salvation?”

For me, there are four arguments that validate the orthodox Christian position that salvation comes only through professed faith in Jesus Christ.

  1. The first is the witness from Scripture.
  2. The second is that only Jesus can save because only Jesus is fully human and fully divine.
  3. The third main witness for me is the historical witness of the Church:


Christians have claimed for the past 2,000 years that what Jesus did was experienced as true in their own lives. Other religious people claim to find peace in following other religious paths. Some have claimed comfort and some have claimed hope. 

But only Christians have claimed victory. Can you see that important difference? You see, Christ’s saving power is witnessed in His followers. Christians have the resurrection power evident in their lives. That is why miracles are so important. They are proof for the power of Christ’s resurrection in our own lives. Only Christians can say, “The power of God came into my life, freed me from my trap to (addiction, anger, lust, pride, whatever) and has given me new life. Followers of other religions say, “I’m trying my hardest to conform my life to what is right and good.” Christians say, “Christ lives within me and gives me the victory!” That is such a unique witness in our world, and it is credible proof to Jesus as the only real salvation. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, said that the proof of the truth of Methodism is the witness of all the thousands of radically changed lives of the Methodists living around us.


Jesus: The Only Way of Salvation, Part 2

Jesus, the ONLY Way of Salvation: Part 2

Sorry for the delay in this next blog! Fall is busy!!

Over the summer, I’ve been trying to answer some of the core questions I’ve been asked by youth. I continue to do that now in the fall.

Last blog, I started to answer the question, “Why Jesus? Why for Christians is Jesus the one and only way of salvation?”  For me, there are four arguments that validate the orthodox Christian position that salvation comes only through professed faith in Jesus Christ.

  1. The first is the witness from Scripture. This was the main content of my last blog. This time, I take up the next. 
  2. The second load-bearing argument for me is the Christological argument. This argument holds that only Jesus is ABLE to save, because of His unique person and two full natures. This argument starts from the utter reality of sin’s ugliness. Any claims that demote Jesus’ unique ability to save come from a demoting of sin’s reality. Christianity takes an honest stance on human sin and corruptness. I don’t have room to discuss the reality of sin. A cursory look at most religions before Christ demonstrate that religious people realized that human sacrifice was the only adequate payment for human sin. Sin is ugly, and total, and complete. There is no way out.  Religion is the way out from the human trap to evil and sin. Religions offered sacrifices (blood atonement) in place of the death we deserve.



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