Christianity in a Word

Godafoss

Just One Word

London, circa 1940.

The room was crowded—full of sharp minds and tweed coats. Some men mumbled. Some scratched their heads in silence. No one could think of an answer.

Moments before, someone had inquired of Christianity, “What’s unique about it? Is it any different than other religions?” They were men from around the world, gathered for a British conference on comparative religions.

Incarnation? No, other religions have Gods that have become human.

Resurrection? No, this too is a teaching of other religions.

From the back of the room emerged a young scholar. He wore rounded glasses. His hair was balding. He carried a half-lit pipe in the fold of his hand.

“Oh, that’s quite easy,” he said. His voice was soft, strong—it ceased any mumbling. All were eager for what he would say next.

“Grace.”

This young scholar was C.S. Lewis.

Continue reading “Christianity in a Word”

Will You Be a Christian Tomorrow?

House on sand

Are you 100% sure? 99%? 95%? How do you know?

This has massive implication for our daily lives. 99% isn’t enough. It will leave us feeling timid and insecure. We will call God our Father, but we will really think of Him like our Boss—getting our work done, avoiding major screw-ups, hoping He doesn’t fire us. Our lips will declare, “I will be a Christian tomorrow because my faith is strong!” while our hearts mutter, “I think I will… I mean, I sure hope so…”

Believer, you can be 100% sure. You will be a Christian tomorrow. Guaranteed. How do you know?

The keeping power of God.

Continue reading “Will You Be a Christian Tomorrow?”

The Gospel is Practical

dirty-hands

Sometimes I think we can get our head stuck in the clouds. We make living for Jesus too mystical, abstract, and theoretical. We spend more time with Christians talking about how to love people rather than actually going out into the world and doing it.

We make it complicated. But really, it’s not complicated at all.

Jesus says to feed the hungry. Okay, let’s go feed the hungry. Jesus says to give water to the thirsty. Okay, let’s go give water to the thirsty. Jesus says to care for the sick, to welcome outsiders, to give to the poor, to clothe the naked, to love our neighbors. Okay, let’s go do it then!

I was recently confronted with this as I read about when Jesus brought Jairus’s dead daughter back to life. Check out what happens immediately after:

Continue reading “The Gospel is Practical”

The Great Stone Face

Stone Face1

If you haven’t read “The Great Stone Face” you should read it now. Here’s your warning—I’m about to spoil the ending. It’s a short story written by the Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850, and it’s riveting.

Hawthorne tells the story of Ernest, a young boy who awaits the fulfillment of a prophecy. He lives beside a mountain that bears the natural image of a man’s face: “All [its] features were noble, and the expression was at once grand and sweet . . . The Great Stone Face seemed positively to be alive.”

The prophecy says that one day, a man would arrive into town bearing perfect resemblance to the Great Stone Face. Every day, Ernest gazed upon the Great Stone Face, longing to see the man who would bear its beautiful image.

Years pass, Ernest grows old, and many men claim to fulfill the prophecy. One built his life on material wealth, another on military strength, another on political leadership, and another on creative magnificence. None of these men, however, doubled the gentle wisdom and tender sympathies of the Great Stone Face. Through all the discouragement, Ernest’s hope remains steadfast:

“‘Fear not, Ernest,’ said his heart, even as if the Great Face were whispering him—’fear not, Ernest; he will come.'”

By the end of the story, after years of gazing upon the Great Face, Ernest’s face grows into its perfect likeness. Someone realizes this and shouts, “Behold! Behold! Ernest himself is the likeness of the Great Stone Face!”

Here’s your one-sentence summary of “The Great Stone Face.”

We become what we behold.

Continue reading “The Great Stone Face”

Five Truths Against Satan

scary lion

Be Alert

That should describe our attitude toward Satan (1 Peter 5:8). I’d bet for many of us, though, we rarely ever think about him. I’d bet we’re more alert about the weather, shopping discounts, or our favorite sports teams.

It’s pretty inconceivable that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). But what’s really inconceivable is that 60% of Christians don’t believe he’s real. How can we be alert to something that we don’t even believe in? And that’s Satan’s great desire. To have us forget about him, and eventually, to disbelieve in him.

“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” – C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

But the Bible is clear that Satan is real. He is not merely a symbol of evil, but an active, intelligent being with a desire to ruin us. He wants us to question God’s character and to doubt our identity. And like a master chess player, his plotting is subtle, clever, and often unnoticed.

Here, I’d like to offer five truths to provoke our alertness against Satan.

Continue reading “Five Truths Against Satan”

Do You Scuba Dive?

Universe

Maybe you’re like me. I’ll read a passage of Scripture and feel like I have a pretty good grasp of it. Then I’ll hear someone else talk about the same passage and go, “Woah . . . There’s a lot more here that I didn’t even see!”

This happened to me pretty recently. I was listening to a Tim Keller podcast where he was expounding on these ten words:

“[Jesus] upholds the universe by the word of his power.” — Hebrews 11:3

I’m amazed at the significance of small phrases like this in the Bible. If we aren’t careful, we’ll miss them. Let me walk you through what Keller had to say about it.

Did you know that the distance between the earth and the sun is 92 million miles? Long way. If you and I could take an intergalactic road trip at 65 mph, it would take us 175 years to get there.

So for right now, let’s think about that distance—92 million miles—as the thickness of a sheet of paper.

Continue reading “Do You Scuba Dive?”

Beyond the Door

Rustic Door Handles

Gospel-Gold

When I read the Old Testament, I often feel like I’m mining. A lot of it feels confusing, strange, and irrelevant. And for average joes like you and me, I think that’s okay. Keep reading. Every now and then, we’ll hit gold.

Recently, I came across some gospel-gold. Here’s how it starts:

“When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free.” — Exodus 21:4

In those days, if someone accumulated an exorbitant debt, he could sell himself as a slave to the person whom he owed. He’d live in slavery for six years, and after the seventh year his debt—no matter the amount—would be paid in full. His owner would be required to release him.

Except on one condition.

Continue reading “Beyond the Door”

East of Eden: John Steinbeck

East of Eden Review

Purchase Hardcopy                                          Purchase Kindle Edition


Why do we fear that we’re not really loved? Why do we do the things we hate? Why is there so much pain in the world? Is there anything we can do about it?

If you’ve ever found yourself asking these questions, this is a great novel for you.

Continue reading “East of Eden: John Steinbeck”