We each have a story that includes a past, present, and a future. The Bible also tells a story; a narrative of historical events full of significance for all of humanity.
As those united to Jesus, we are made participants in God’s story and cast as characters in the drama of redemptive history. The resurrection of Jesus is one of those climactic moments in both Jesus’ life and the Bible’s story of God redeeming a people and restoring His corrupted creation. When we think of Jesus’ resurrection we should consider the past accomplishment, the present effects, and the future realities dawning upon us. As participants of the story through union with Christ, we must see how the resurrection rewrites our past, remakes us in the present, and reshapes our future.
Continue reading The Past, Present, and Future Realities of the Resurrection
Jesus’ sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection stand at the center of the “good news” Christians stake their lives upon. The Bible joins the bloody cross and empty tomb as two distinct but inseparable events. And yet, many of our gospel presentations and theological conversations refer to the cross as the place where salvation was fully accomplished and the deal was sealed. Christ’s resurrection is either left out or tacked on as the cherry on top. I’m thankful evangelicals have been “cross-centered” but it’s unfortunate we’ve moved the resurrection to the periphery.
Continue reading The Cross is Central but Incomplete
Like any good narrative, the Bible uses literary devices such as metaphors, double-meanings, paradoxes, and irony. The New Testament authors often used irony to draw out the difference between how mankind sees things and how God sees things. Irony shows the sharp contrast between expectations and realities as well as between intent and effect. A third way authors employ irony is to highlight something the readers know that the characters in the story would have been unaware of. In Colossians 2:13-15 Paul provides at least four ironies tied to the cross of Jesus Christ.
Continue reading 4 Ironies of the Cross
On Good Friday, we remember the death of the Son of God on a bloody and horrific cross. It seems paradoxical to call such a day Good Friday. How can a day focused on death and suffering be good? How can Jesus being rejected by his people and tortured on a Roman cross be good? To understand more of this mystery, and what Good Friday is all about, it might help to wade deeper into the pool of theology by considering the meaning of the cross. Ultimate victory was at work in initial defeat.
Continue reading Why Good Friday is Good News
This coming Sunday begins what the Church has called Holy Week or Passion Week. The time from Palm Sunday to Easter (Resurrection) Sunday has provided Christians with a week to give special attention to the person and work of Christ. It interrupts our normal rhythms and intentionally puts Jesus before us so we can reflect on the events leading up to and including his sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection. Below is a reading plan for the week, as well as activities and resources to help you leverage this significant week in the Church Calendar.
Continue reading Holy Week Reading Plan & Resources
I love books, whether it’s reading them, talking about them, giving them as gifts, or even flipping through them at the library or bookstore. Books become a conversation partner stirring us to action or stretching our thinking. At any point, I’m reading (or researching) several books, so it’s easy for me to get excited about new books. But, having grown through Mark Vroegop’s preaching, serving under him as a staff member, and getting the chance to see this book develop, I’m especially excited to share with others what I think will be a very helpful gift to the Church. Here are my top 5 reasons (among others) to read Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament.
Continue reading Top 5 Reasons to Buy Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy
Last night at College Park Church Fishers, we hosted a short forum on prioritization. With all the choices and possible commitments before us every day, and with the pace of life and the constant presence of distractions, it’s an important topic (though very broad). Below are a few of the resources recommended by the panel members.
Continue reading Resources from Prioritization Forum
“The iron bolt which so mysteriously fastens the door of hope and holds our spirits in gloomy prison, needs a heavenly hand to push it back.” Charles Spurgeon
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1)
The Problem: Life is Hard
Despite the way our culture values “authenticity,” most of us rarely feel comfortable enough to speak honestly and personally about the wounds and pains we carry, the weariness and weakness we feel, the dark thoughts we wrestle with, or the disappointment or frustration with life experienced. While it might be okay to admit generalities like “my life is a mess” or “I’m struggling along,” to say how and why we are fragile or broken, to confess our sins, or to share our burdens seems a bit too far. It can be an awkward moment of transparency in a world of surface-level dialogue.
Continue reading God is Our Refuge
God’s Creation is a gift, not merely a resource but a means of our refreshment. In John Piper’s sermon-biography of David Brainerd he briefly compares Brainerd and Jonathan Edwards. He does so in the context of discussing the sufferings Brainerd endured, including regular bouts with depression. While not suggesting a walk removes depression, Piper draws on Edwards and Charles Spurgeon to suggest Brainerd’s neglect of nature likely restricted him from one means of God’s grace to us in our weakness and darkness. Below is an extended quote. With Spring knocking on our doors and with today’s temptation to always reach for our smartphone or the remote, I hope this encourages us to take advantage of God’s Creation for our good and His glory.
Continue reading John Piper on Not Neglecting Spiritual Refreshment through Nature
An idol is anything that takes the place of God in our life. They are the things we look to, trust in, and give our allegiance to instead of God. They offer to satisfy the desires of our heart and make us happy, but they never are true to their word. The end of every fling with our idols leads to brokenness, pain, and regret. Every day, we face the choice of giving in to the seductive allure of those idols, or steering clear of them and following after the One who can give joy and who does follow through on His promise to satisfy us and grant us life and joy. To see the power and pain of idols, and to consider where we might find hope, I want to compare and contrast the songs “Vice” by Miranda Lambert and “Ulysses” by Josh Garrels. You can see the full lyrics for each, side-by-side, at the bottom of this post.
Continue reading The Pain of Broken Idols & the Path to Finding Hope: Comparing Two Songs