D-Day: It’s Just a Matter of Time

Picture was taken at the National Archives and is offered Royalty Free by Historylink101’s World War II Picture Section. Pictures can be found at the D-Day Picture Page.

From John Ortberg’s If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat:

One of the most powerful 30 minutes of film I’ve ever seen is the opening sequence of the movie Saving Private Ryan. Veterans Groups say it’s maybe the most realistic picture ever given of the brutal suffering that those soldiers faced. It’s on D-Day, June 6, 1944. An unbelievable price was paid to gain just a toehold, just a few feet of Omaha Beach in Normandy. And that price was paid in blood.

At the end of D-Day, at the end of that one day, in one sense, nothing had really changed. The vast majority of Europe was still as it had been the day before, under the power of the swastika. Evil reigned through the whole continent. There was only this one little plot of ground, a few feet of sand on an obscure stretch of beach in one lonely country. But that one tiny stretch of land, that one tiny little beach, that was enough.

The truth is, at the end of that one day, everything was changed because now there was an opening, just a crack—a tiny little crack at first. But it would get a little larger the next day, and a little larger the day after that, and a little larger the week after that. And the forces would get stronger every day.

There still was a lot of fighting to do and a lot of suffering and a lot of dying. But from that day on it was just a matter of time. Then the day came when Paris was liberated. And then the day came when all of France was liberated. Then the days came when the concentration camps were overrun and prisoners were set free. Then the day came when Hitler destroyed himself in the bunker. And judgment came to that particular beast as it always does, as it always will. And then came V-E Day, victory. And then victory in the Pacific and the soldiers could come home. The war was over. The enemy was defeated. But really, the truth was that victory was all sealed on D-Day. It just took a while. The battle raged for a season. But after D-Day, victory on V-E Day was just a matter of time.

The Apostle John says this earth has fallen under a dark power. And then one day a woman gave birth to a son, a male child, who was destined to rule all the nations. He taught about and lived in a kingdom. He lived a kind of life that the rest of us had always dreamed of, but hardly dared hope for. Then one day, at a cost that none of us will ever fully understand, He took upon himself, on the cross, all the brokenness, all the suffering of D-Day, and all the suffering and all the sin and pain of every other day in the history of the human race since the Fall.

After the Sabbath day, before Jesus’ friends went to care for his body, the stone was moved. In one sense, nothing had changed. Pilate and the chief priests were still in charge. Caesar still reigned in Rome and didn’t even know the name of this obscure Messiah in some remote country. Nobody knew at first except a couple of women, but that was D-Day. Now there was an opening in this fallen world. Tiny at first—no bigger than the entrance of an empty tomb.

But now there was an opening, and the truth is, friends, every time you resist sin, every time you proclaim the Gospel, every time you give a portion of your resources for the spread of the kingdom, every time you offer a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name to the poor, that opening gets a little larger, and the darkness gets pushed back a little more, and the light gets a little stronger.

That’s why we exist as a church. That’s why we are called to struggle and pray and work and suffer and labor because one day liberation will come, make no mistake. There will be a lot of fighting and a lot of suffering and a lot of dying, but D-Day already happened when hardly anybody was looking. And at the end of that one day, everything had changed, and now it’s just a matter of time.

C.S. Lewis: Made for Another World

“Most people, if they have really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do acutely want something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. There was something we have grasped at, in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in the reality. I think everyone knows what I mean. The wife may be a good wife, and the hotels and scenery may have been excellent, and chemistry may be a very interesting job: but something has evaded us.”

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Northshore U: Who Needs Theology?

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Northshore U is a ministry of Northshore Community Church and is designed to help you deepen your understanding of God’s word and learn to follow Him more passionately. These classes dig deeper into the text and themes of the Bible as well as offer practical training in following Jesus.

This session, I am teaching an 8-week class called Who Needs Theology? Your theology—your thoughts on God—are your most important thoughts because they determine everything else in your life. If this is true, then we ought to dig deeper into what we believe and why we believe it. In this Northshore U class, we will explore how the Bible reveals who God is, who we are, and how He saves us to be the church for the world. If you want a fancy term for what we’ll explore, it will be a crash course in “systematic theology.”

We’ll cover the following topics:

1 – Who Needs Theology?

2 – The Bible (the nature of revelation, inspiration, inerrancy)

3 – The Trinity (God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)

4 – People & Sin (The image of God, the nature of sin)

5 – Salvation & the Work of Jesus Christ (the doctrine of atonement)

6 – The Church (the people of God & our mission)

7 – Things to Come (end times, heaven, & hell)

8 – Putting It All Together (how to live a theologically shaped life)

As part of the class experience, we will read Know What You Believe by Paul E. Little.

The class begins Thursday, September 24 from 6:30-8 pm at Northshore. Children’s Ministry is provided for infants through 4th grade.

For more info on Northshore U or to register, go HERE.

God’s Good Design Resources

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As we continue in our series God’s Good Design, here are some resources that have deeply influenced my personal theology and pastoral ministry regarding relationships, marriage, family, and human sexuality.

Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image by Hannah Anderson – one of the reviews of Anderson’s book wrote, “Here is a book for women that has something to teach men. Made for More is wise and well-written, and I heartily commend it to everyone made in the image of God, male and female alike.”

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim & Kathy Keller – this is an incredible book on God’s design for marriage. The Keller’s intellect and practical application makes is one of the best books out there on why God created marriage and how we can become more like Jesus.

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas – this has been a staple of my marriage library for years. You’ve likely heard me ask the question, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” That question is from this book. It’s one of the best books out there for viewing marriage as a laboratory for spiritual formation.

God, Marriage, & Family by Andreas J. Kosternberger – this is a scholarly yet accessible treatment of a theology of family and marriage. With topics ranging from marriage in the Old and New Testaments, divorce and remarriage, singleness, and the Bible’s treatment of homosexuality, Kosternberger’s book is a good reference resource if you want to dig deeper into what the Bible says directly about these topics.

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality by Kevin DeYoung – If you were to buy one resource to go deeper into understanding the Bible’s position regarding human sexuality and homosexuality, this should be the book.DeYoung examines key biblical passages in both the Old and New Testaments and the Bible’s overarching teaching regarding sexuality. He also responds to popular objections raised by Christians and non-Christians alike.

Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry – thoughtfully written by a British pastor who has struggled with same-sex attraction. Allberry’s book is short and readable, and like DeYoung’s book mentioned above, he clearly and simply explains what the Bible has to say about marriage, sexuality, and same-sex attraction. You can also watch a talk that Sam gave at the Village Church on this topic and his book.

“The Bible & Same-Sex Relationships” by Tim Keller – a concise, thoughtful review of two current books by authors who believe the Bible allows or supports same-sex relationships and the six arguments these books and those like them make.

The Bible and Homosexual Practice by Robert Gagnon – viewed as the definitive biblical and theological work on the subject, Gagnon’s book provides the most thorough and in-depth analysis to date of the biblical texts regarding homosexuality.

Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior is Changing Everything by Robert Reilly – writing from a philosophical and socio-political viewpoint, Reilly explores the fundamental views of reality. His book focuses on the current battle between the primacy of reason (order and intrinsic design/purpose) vs. the primacy of the will (making everything what we wish it to be). Reilly’s conclusion about the homosexual debates is that it’s really about “the Nature of reality itself.”

Out of a Far Country by Christopher Yuan & Angela Yuan – a heartfelt story about a gay son’s journey to God and a broken mother’s search for hope. “God calls all who are lost to come home to him. Casting a compelling vision for holy sexuality, Out of a Far Country speaks to prodigals, parents of prodigals, and those wanting to minister to the gay community” (from the book’s back cover).

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield – the author was a respected tenured english professor at Syracuse University who was living with her lesbian partner. “Then, in her late 30s, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down-the idea that Christianity, a religion that she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was, an idea that flew in the face of the people and causes that she most loved. What follows is a story of what she describes as a ‘train wreck’ at the hand of the supernatural. These are her secret thoughts about those events, written as only a reflective English professor could” (description from Amazon). You can read also Christianity Today’s article about Butterfield entitled “My Train Wreck Conversion.”

My recommendation would be to purchase one or two of these resources and spend the next few weeks and months reading and exploring this topics presented further.

Mind the Gap

Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling, saying to them, “It is written, ‘And My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a robbersden.” (Luke 19:45-46)

In this famous scene, after Jesus’ triumphal entry as the Coming King into Jerusalem, He cleanses the temple. In his commentary on the Gospel of Luke, Dr. Darrell Bock writes, “His cleansing of the temple indicates how great the gap is between the worship Jesus calls for and what goes on in the temple.”

There’s a gap between what God calls for and how His people are worshiping Him and living. As I read Bock’s words, I asked myself, “What are my gaps in worship?” If true worship is a lifestyle (Romans 12:1-2), what are the things in my life that reveal a gap between what I say I believe about God and how I actually live my life? So often we live like practical atheists, and God in His love and grace wants to help us close the gaps.

Luke includes this story in his Gospel to show how Jesus came to upset and then right everything, and that upsetting and righting includes my life and yours. So mind the gap and pray for His grace and wisdom to live the life that is truly life.

Jesus is Far More

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The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He *found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael *said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:43-51, emphasis added)

Jesus is far more than Nathanael imagined. He wasn’t just a Messiah on a white horse who would free the Jews from Roman oppression. Jesus could do that, but that wouldn’t change the human condition. Jesus did something far greater. Jesus took all of humanity’s sin—all of our rebellion, guilt, and self-absorption—upon Himself, and He paid the price for it. He was raised from the dead, ultimately defeating sin and death, and He offers us a whole new life. Not a better version of you, but a new version of you. Greater things than these, Nathanael, greater things than these.

Jesus is far more than you can imagine.

Many people come to Jesus looking for a good, moral teacher who gives life principles so we can be better people. Well, Jesus does that, but He doesn’t stop there. He tells us that we can’t be better people in our own strength. He says that we can’t bridge earth to heaven and change our own hearts to be those better people. But He can help us. He can change us. Jesus is far more than you can imagine.

Or we come to Jesus to fix our relationships. Well He can and does do that, but He doesn’t stop there. He says, “I want to fix your relationships, but I need to start by fixing you. And you can’t fix what’s wrong with you until you know what’s wrong with you. What’s really wrong with you is this thing called sin, this condition that is deep within you that perverts and destroys the good that I know you want to do. You can’t fix that, but I can.” Jesus is far more than you can imagine.

Or we come to Jesus to help us fix our finances. And He can do that, but He does it by reorienting our perspective and priorities toward our stuff. He says, “I’m not just here to fix your finances. I’m actually here to turn your life and your value system upside down. I’m here to ground your security, value, and hope in Me and My love for you.”

Jesus is far more than you can imagine. He is God. He is the Creator and Sustainer of heaven and earth. He is the Only One who can defeat sin and death. The Only One who can bridge heaven and earth. The Only One who can change your life and who can change our world. Can anything good come from Nazareth? Come and see. Come and see.

 

 

New Series: Original Jesus

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“Who do you say that I am?” This was a question that Jesus asked His first followers, and Jesus is still asking us the same question. The whole story of the world and how we fit into it is most clearly understood through the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. As one author put it—if Jesus had never lived, we would not have been able to invent Him. It is His life that helps us make sense of ours. Any intellectually honest answer has to admit that Jesus was no ordinary man—and someone this remarkable deserves a closer look.

Here’s the series schedule:

April 20 – Resurrected (Easter)

April 27 – Skeptics & Seekers

May 4 – Hesitant

May 11 – Broken & Forgiven

May 18 – Doubt

May 25 – Failure

For more information on Northshore and our Sunday worship gatherings, click HERE.

Christmas in February

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Over the past few months, I have been lingering in the Gospel of Luke during my time in God’s word. This morning I read and meditated upon Luke 7:18-23. Jesus has just healed the centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10) and raised the widow’s son from the dead (Luke 7:11-17). John the Baptist’s disciples reported these miracles to their teacher. He then sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” This one question holds hundreds of years of longing and anticipation. This one question holds all their hope. This one question holds a radical faith that God will show up.

When John’s disciples finally ask Jesus this question, He healed many people right in front of them. People who were diseased and afflicted. People who were possessed by evil spirits. Jesus showed them that He was the Long Awaited One. Then Jesus quotes a few verses from the prophet Isaiah, who called God’s people to live with anticipation and expectation that one day, the Long Awaited One, the Expected One, would show up and bring rescue and restoration.

This morning was like Christmas in February for me. I reflected upon the carol “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”

Come Thou long expected Jesus, Born to set Thy people free, 

From our fears and sins release us, Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art, 

Dear desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a King, 

Born to reign in us forever, Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal spirit, Rule in all our hearts alone, 

By Thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Here’s my question for you: are you living with a sense of expectation and excitement that Jesus can and will show up in the midst of your life (even with all of its ups and downs) to bring rescue and restoration?

Jesus, be the Joy of our longing hearts.

Gratitude in Life’s Ups & Downs

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This past Sunday at Northshore, I talked about “Reorientation is Life’s Ups & Downs.” We’ve all been on the roller coaster of life. We’ve all experienced the disorientation, disequilibrium, and discouragement of life not happening the way we thought and prayed it would. This is a common theme throughout the Bible among the people of God, especially in the psalms. As we discussed Sunday, David experienced the same thing in Psalm 22. But because he chose to believe in God’s presence, his spiritual and emotional reorientation happened at the intersection of God’s grace and his gratitude. The same can be true for us.

Here’s what we do when we choose gratitude in life’s ups & downs:

1. We thank God. There is a difference between the emotion of gratitude and the expression of gratitude God-ward. Take that thankfulness and actually tell God that you are thankful.

2. We get specific. Don’t all your gratitude to stay in the realm of generalities. Tell God exactly what you are grateful for. Rehearse how He has specifically come through to provide comfort, mercy, and grace in those moments of need.

3. We share it. We take our gratitude and we share it with each other and with our world. When we share it with each other, we encourage one another. We remember who God is and what He does, and in that sharing, the community of Christ is emboldened to trust God even more. When we share it with our world, we evangelize. We share the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done for us in the ultimate rescue. As I said on Sunday, one of your most powerful “evangelism” tools is your own story of God’s love and grace in your life. In addition, invite your friends and family to the weekend services at Northshore to hear about God’s radical love for them through Jesus and the gospel. Let’s “go tell it on the mountain!”

What has it looked like for you to live at the intersection of grace & gratitude?