Tag Archives: faith

Who Is Jesus?

Michelangelo's Pietà

Pietà by Michelangelo, 1499

Who is Jesus?  Wow, talk about a profoundly important question!

There are a lot more people who “believe in Jesus” than there are those who know what Jesus actually claimed about himself.  Many think he was a great moral teacher, a prophet, or a wise Rabbi.  Some think a legend, a myth, or a contrivance.  Still others that he was one of many gods, or one of many roads to God.  That Jesus straightforwardly and clearly attacked these notions is of little consequence to those who will not invest the time to read the Gospels and weigh the evidence for his claims.

Jesus had to fulfill hundreds of Old Testament prophecies written centuries before he appeared on earth, and live within the Mosaic law of the Torah.  He had to submit to the cruelest punishment mankind could dish out, and to top it all off he had to rise from the dead.  No small feat.  When you think about it, he had to color between some extremely tight lines.  Lee Strobel calls this framework the “unmistakable fingerprint of the Christ.”  Only Jesus was man enough for the job—that was the whole point. Continue reading

Why I Believe

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”
1 Peter 3:15, NIV

So why do I believe?  Because the more I study, the more it all makes sense, and the more I find veracity in the wonderment of the Scriptures.  That veracity substantiates Christ as Lord.

Paris Carousel

Eiffel Tower Carousel, 2009

Personally, coming to faith is a lot easier if you’re somewhat of a thinker.  For example, take a moment to study the above photograph.  How much do you see?

People, a carousel, an interesting vignette?  A mother caring for her infant, an artist sketching a little girl, a father holding his small son on the ride, a man taking a picture of the Eiffel Tower at nightfall, people out in the late spring air?  Go a little deeper.  A street-corner amusement ride, yellow horses, lights, inertia, centripetal motion, commerce?  A woman enjoying a chocolate gelato—thermodynamics? Barely scratching the surface.  A woman wearing a Palestinian scarf—the struggles of displaced people.  What about the sounds and smells?  Music, emotion, soulful awareness?  A bunch of energy holding together particles interacting with their environment bound by the laws of the physical sciences bathed in photons?  All of this is happening in three-dimensional space and time.  Deeper still.  What might each of these people be thinking and feeling?  Love, loneliness, heartache, guilt, helplessness, grief, a moment’s rest, joy?  Now we’re getting somewhere.

Two overarching questions:
1.  Where did all of that come from, and
2.  Why is it there?

Intellectually speaking, this is where a lot of people just stay on the merry-go-round.  For whatever reasons they get lazy or distracted in their thinking and just try to enjoy the ride.  But that approach to life ultimately leads to the back end of where you were.

Conversely, if you think that picture through to a logical conclusion you can find Jesus Christ.  If you want to check the underpinnings of my faith, go to the Kaqexeß page of the Veracity blog and start reading.  I would recommend beginning with the Judge for Yourself post because it frames some really interesting facts that support Scripture, and because it challenges you to think about your burden of proof.  Specifically, it may be important to check your biases with objectivity.

But if you want me to give a reason for the hope that I have, here are just 50 of the reasons (in bulleted form).

Continue reading

Process of Suffering

Do you ever think about why God works by processes?  After all, why doesn’t God just ‘poof’ everything to be the way he wants it to be?  Why take 13.7 billion years to get to today?  Why take 4.6 billion years to build the earth and shape its climate?  Why did Jesus have to suffer?

Why do people have to suffer?

Countless theologians have taken aim at that question.  Most dissect it from the standpoint of purpose—as in “What is the purpose of suffering?”  The realities of suffering remain among the biggest stumbling blocks for atheists and believers alike.

When it comes to suffeDick Woodwardring, I have no credentials.  But I do know an expert.  Here are two messages Dick Woodward preached on the topic (from among many cataloged here) that get to the heart of suffering.

Some questions we just can’t answer.  Other questions we should never even try to answer.  Just like the difference between knowledge (knowing the answers to questions) and wisdom (knowing which questions count), it’s really important to know when to keep our mouth shut.

Here’s a short video that illustrates the value of “showing up and shutting up.”

It also highlights the processes by which God redeems us from suffering—not just for the care receiver, but the caregiver, the pastor, and everyone else.  Redemption is a process.  For whatever reasons, God followed his own rules, and suffered ultimately for our redemption.  There was no way to ‘poof’ the redemption of mankind—God had to prove it.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8,9 (NIV)

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
Apostle Paul, Galatians 5:6b (NIV)

The above story has a happy ending.  All three men interviewed in that video are ministers—and very good ones at that.  All three will tell you when people are suffering the most important thing you can do is show up.  And don’t pretend to know the reason for their suffering.

Sometimes we see the happy ending.  Sometimes the ending is just too hard to bear.  It’s hard sometimes to understand that God makes the rules, knows what he is doing, has a plan for each of us, values sincerity, doesn’t need us to attempt to explain anything for him, and intends ultimately for us not to have an ending.  But let’s keep our mouths shut and just use our feet and ears and arms when people are suffering.  The process is important.

HT: Steve Flanary, John Green, Bill Warrick, Steve Hooge, Dick Woodward

Searching for God

Impact Wrench

An impact wrench is a fine tool for changing brake pads or tires.  But it’s completely useless when searching for scientific evidence of God.  For that job you need a Large Hadron Collider.  Right?  (The right tool for the job and all that.)

The recent experimental confirmation of the existence of the Higgs Boson and Higgs Field comprises a major milestone in mankind’s understanding of the universe.  After 50 years of mind-numbing, abstract theoretical research, theologians and scientists are lining up to interpret the data.  But not everyone is coming to the same conclusion.

Finding the Higgs Boson doesn’t prove the existence of God.  On that theologians and scientists are in complete agreement.  But some of them are as far apart on their interpretations as the tools they use. Continue reading

D.L. Moody’s Bow Wake

I think about Jesus Christ’s words in John 16:33 a lot:

“…In this world you will have trouble…”

D.L. Moody built upon this obvious truth when he characterized his life’s mission in a verbal self-portrait:

“I don’t find any place where God says that the world is to grow better and better…I look upon this world as a wrecked vessel, God has given me a lifeboat and said to me, `Moody, save all you can.’ ”

D.L. MoodyOf course Moody was right.  The world is a sinking ship—just read the Bible. Or read the news.  As Mark Driscoll would say, “There, now you know.  You won’t be disappointed.”

Armed with this maritime perspective, it is very easy for us to rationalize the disappointments of our circumstances and culture.  “The world is going to hell in a handbasket!”  Right?

Not so fast.

We need to get over Moody’s bow wake.  Both and.  The wisdom in Moody’s statement is at the end.  It’s what Moody was called to do.  He didn’t sit in judgment of the sinking ship, and—as Dick Woodward said when I first heard this quote in a Mini Bible College lesson years ago—Moody did’t try to fix the ship or keep it from sinking.  He spent his life working passionately to lead people to Jesus Christ.

Moody was a remarkable man, born poor, in harsh circumstances.  He couldn’t afford a higher education, so he studied on his own.  And his study made all the difference.  He made the most of his time and gifts.

If anger is rooted in unmet expectations, there are a lot of people who are angry at God because things don’t appear to be getting any better.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that our world is indeed a sinking ship.  But if that’s all Christians have got as a comeback, we’re really missing the boat.  Time for a little more study.  God loves us and has a perfect plan—it’s our understanding of that plan that often needs some work.  The Apostle Paul had his own bow wake in Romans 12:2:

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Scripture is full of verses admonishing us not to put our hope in the things of this world.  It also tells us that our hope is in the next world.

Or as Jesus offered at the end of John 16:33,

“…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The best thoughts are orbital—they keep circling and circling and we’re never quite done with them.

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