The Truth Series: A Grand Homecoming (Part 6)

The Truth Series: A Grand Homecoming (Part 6)

Over the years I have had the privilege of pondering, writing about, and teaching on the pillar truths of the Christian Faith—such as creation, rebellion, redemption, consummation—which pillars are also known as the main movements in the Story of God. 

What I want to do in this post is reflect for a moment on how we might respond to these truths, should we desire to do so.

Many years ago, while working on my masters thesis, I found myself way too busy with a young family, full-time job, and seminary classes. My busyness took its toll.

Late one night—after the kids were in bed and clean up was done—I eagerly prepared to dive into my studies till the wee hours of the morning. The final piece in setting up for the night was fetching a freshly brewed cup of Joe with two cream. I headed back to my armchair and sat down to a greatly anticipated sip. To my shock the coffee was terrible! I looked and my coffee was reddish and the cream curdled. I walked back to the kitchen, wondering what went wrong. As I stared at the counter where the coffee machine was I realized there were two identical jugs beside it. One was pure, filtered water, and the other was the cranberry juice someone forgot to put back in the fridge. I had used the cranberry juice in the coffee machine without realizing it! Let me save you the trouble, only water works.

God’s grand Gospel Story is like the water. No other narrative will make sense of our lives in this universe, promise to resolve all our issues, and grant us complete fulfillment. Most importantly, it is the Story that makes true sense of Jesus Christ and his call to exclusively follow after him (Luke 9:23-25, Acts 4:12).

How might we respond to Jesus? We could do so according to his classic parable, the prodigal son, in Luke 15:11-24. There we read of a young son who prematurely demanded his inheritance, which was like saying ‘father, I wish you were dead.’ Surprisingly, the father granted his son’s request. And, with no thought of looking back, the son packed up and left for another country where he could live as he pleased.

Finally, having fallen into abject poverty, the young man came to his senses, repented from his heart, and returned to his father in the hope that his father would make him like one of his hired servants who had plenty.

Little did the prodigal know that his father had long been looking over the horizon for his son to return home. As he neared his father’s home his father saw him and, to the prodigal’s surprise, the father ran to him. Before he could finish his confession, his father embraced him and kissed him, reclothed him as a member of the family, and threw a massive celebration!

Your Heavenly Father is waiting for you (Luke 15:20, 2 Peter 3:9). So if you’re ready for a better Story, then it’s time to get up and run home! Simply pray and ask Jesus to save you (Romans 10:9-13).

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The Truth Series: Is There an End Game? (Part 5)

The Truth Series: Is There an End Game? (Part 5)

The past three years have been more than eventful! A never-ending pandemic, extreme heat and raging forest fires leading to evacuations and the incineration of towns, major flooding cutting off ground access to Vancouver, continuing economic and political upheavals, power-hungry leaders prolonging and taking advantage of crises, rising mental health problems and domestic violence, war, fear for the future, and the list goes on.

Sadly, human history is a replete with repeating cycles of trouble and sorrow (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10), which cycles have acutely intensified with population growth and global connectedness. Surely we are overdue for a deep reality check! How much more can we handle? Will we ever know anything more? Is there any hope for a better world? Is there an actual end game beyond Marvel mythology?

Our collective experience amply illustrates the ancient words of the Apostle Paul, ‘the whole of creation has been ever groaning in pain akin to childbirth’ (paraphrase of Romans 8:22). Fortunately, Paul’s metaphor and analogy also speaks hope to us, that something new will be born through the suffering. There most certainly is an end game!

However, due to our exile from Eden, the rebirth of a new creation will come through a single cosmic event: “he [God] has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

The prospect of divine judgment is an uncomfortable topic for most, to say the least. Yet, consider two thoughts: First, a final judgment is necessary and good. It is the only action that will truly fix our world and make all things right. Second, and most importantly, God wants us to be fully ready for that final day.

The final judgment is the doorway through which we shall all pass, whether into eternal joy or eternal misery. Being fully ready means heeding God’s gracious command and loving desire for you to enter into life with him—through his Son Jesus Christ, who alone is Savior and Lord (Ezekiel 18:32, Matthew 25:46, Luke 15:7, John 14:6, Acts 4:12, 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:3-4).

As you think about the life ahead, strongly ponder God’s perfect end game and let Jesus make you ready for a brand new world of everlasting joy (Acts 16:30-34, Matthew 7:24-27, Jude 1:24-25).

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The Truth Series: Good News! Read all about It! (Part 4)

The Truth Series: Good News! Read all about It! (Part 4)

Most people don’t realize the Christian “gospel” means “good news.”

I confess, there was a time when I did not see Christianity as newsworthy. Clearly, since I have written this piece, I have had a deep change of perspective.

My grandfather strongly felt the same as I once did. On one occasion, after my change of mind, I recall talking with him about this good news. At one point he said, in no uncertain terms, “that’s fine for you but it’s not for me.”

Yet, he also underwent a deep change of heart. This happened when all avenues finally failed him in his battle with cancer. Soon after his doctor gave him the bad news that there was nothing more they could do, the gospel became really good news to him.

What makes this “gospel” such “good news”? It meets our greatest need.

Think of it this way. If all our woes in this world stem from our estrangement from God then the only solution is to return to God. This is precisely what the gospel of Jesus does for us.

John 3:14-17 reads: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

The serpent was lifted up as a symbol of the curse the Israelites incurred for their incessant rebellion against God, the very curse which Jesus fully bore for us all when he was lifted up on the cross.

My grandfather and I came to this turning point: If we can humbly and truthfully face where we stand with our God, then we are in a position to return to our loving God, on his terms—by repenting, looking to, and trusting in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who died for our sin and rose again (John 1:29, Romans 6:23, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

Please don’t wait for crisis or tragedy to strike before you begin exploring the astoundingly “good news” of Jesus.

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The Truth Series: What is Wrong with Our World? (Part 3)

The Truth Series: What is Wrong with Our World? (Part 3)

I haven’t always been a disciple of Jesus. Needless to say I’ve done more than my share of wrong—I’m still a work in progress.

Way back in my senior high years my friends and I drove from the small town of Vanderhoof to, what we saw as, the big city of Prince George looking for a party. We found what we were looking for. An 18 year old girl, who’s family was away, got the bright idea to throw a party. By the time my friends and I arrived the inside of the house was damaged beyond repair, at least before her parents and siblings would return. I can only imagine how they would feel upon their return!

We typically don’t realize it, but this story is symptomatic of a greater, much deeper, ubiquitous problem: moral evil, the bad things we do to one another and our world every day (racism, greed, etc.). Moral evil is by far our biggest and most painful problem, even more than natural evil (earthquakes, cancer, etc.).

Seeing we usually miss connecting the dots from the micro issue of a house-wrecking party to our bigger problems, we need to ask the question: Why is our world in such a disastrous mess? The Bible provides a clear answer in Isaiah 53:6: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way … .

The tragic reality is that we are estranged from our God and his ways, and the consequence is that we are making a dreadful mess of the world God originally made to be very good (Genesis 1:31, Romans 1:28-32, 3:23). Sadly, living on our own terms, we all play our part in one way or another.

Quoting the French mathematician and philosopher, Blaise Pascal, the late theologian, J. I. Packer, wrote: “It may fairly be claimed that the Fall narrative gives the only convincing explanation of the perversity of human nature that the world has ever seen. Pascal said that the doctrine of original sin seems an offence to reason, but once accepted it makes total sense of the entire human condition.” (Concise Theology)

Be not dismayed nor hardened! The second half of Isaiah 53:6 prophesied the astounding good news of Jesus, … and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. The key is, when we face our issue for what it is, alienation from God, we can know his solution, redemption in Jesus.

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The Truth Series: A Firm Foundation (Part 2)

The Truth Series: A Firm Foundation (Part 2)

Sooner or later everyone wrestles through the truth about meaning, purpose, value, and love. But how important is such a pursuit?

Years ago, in a small northern town, I followed the construction of a four car garage. The completed project looked great. I was envious as I had to work on my own vehicles outside, rain or shine. However, it was not long before the garage began to sink, sag, break, and fall apart! Confused by the quick dilapidation, I talked with another who had tracked the project and wondered the same thing. Going over to have a look, he discovered that the structure had been built on cinder blocks on top of the ground! It had no foundation! It was a nice garage ruined, and it was eventually removed.

Our lives are like this garage. So if we’re to face life with confidence we must carefully discern what makes for a sure footing.

Consider the simple, yet profound, declaration of Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” But how does this help our search?

One prominent philosopher wrote: “If there is no God, then meaning, value, and purpose are ultimately human illusions. They’re just in our heads.” (William Lane Craig, On Guard, 30.)

The bottom line is that a universe like ours—one of meaning, purpose, value, with self-conscious creatures like us who have a capacity and need for love—can’t be explained apart from God. Sheer evolutionary processes and forces will not produce creatures like us and a world like ours. Believing such is like building a nice house without a foundation.

God is that solid footing we need (Romans 11:36, Matthew 7:24-27). Yet, to benefit, we must personally know God as our Shepherd and Overseer (1 Peter 1:25).

It is my delight to share with you that the God of Genesis 1:1 is who we meet in Jesus Christ. In John 3:16 Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The eternal life of which Jesus spoke is what it means to know God (John 17:3).

If you are struggling with where to find real love, purpose, and meaning then consider exploring further what the Gospel of Jesus is and what it can mean for your life.

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The Truth Series: What is Truth and Where do I Find It? (Part 1)

The Truth Series: What is Truth and Where do I Find It? (Part 1)

I remember hearing a hilarious anecdote several years ago.

There was a police officer parked out of sight at a four way stop. It was a popular place for motorists to run the stop sign. Early one morning, as predicted, a fellow was on his way to work and he hardly slowed down as he went through the intersection. The officer pulls out with lights on and, at the flick of the siren, he pulls the driver over. The officer asks: “Do you realize that you drove through a stop sign without stopping?” The driver replies “I slowed down and that is as good as stopping.” The officer responds: “Actually, it is not and here is a warning.” Early the next morning it is the same police officer, driver, and traffic violation. The officer pulls the driver over and says: “You went through the stop sign again without coming to a stop.” The driver reacts: “I don’t see an issue, I slowed down, looked both ways, and that is as good as stopping.” The officer responds: “It is not and here is a ticket.” It’s the third morning and, you guessed it, it’s the same scenario. The officer pulls over the driver. The driver lowers his window and blurts out: “Slowing down is the same as stopping!” The officer continues walking up without a word, grabs the driver by the shirt collar, pulls him half way out of the window of his car, and begins beating him with his billy club. As the officer is doing this he asks the driver: “Do you want me to slow down or stop?”

This fictional story humorously illustrates that when hard pressed we will acknowledge truth. Thus, believe it or not, at any given time, enduring, universal, and non-negotiable truths exist.

Strangely, finding such truths can be discouraging amidst the many conflicting voices. Yet, what resolves the issue is the realization that truth is a matter of coming to know God and learning to see life his way (John 17:17).

In fact, the good news is that God is seeking those who will worship him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), and that he has given us his beloved Son, Jesus, as the way into his presence (John 14:6). We have but to ask God who is near (Acts 17:26-27).

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