Weekly Thoughts

Talking with Nominals about the Gospel

The homemade cannoli and Napoletani rivaled the artistry of the Sistine Chapel. And the coffee—mama mia! Since Rosa’s café, located in downtown Bologna, was merely a bocce ball roll from my residence, I visited often. Her congenial personality made it easy to broach the subject of God, which I did after the third visit. In[…]

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My Song Is Love Unknown

It will soon be Good Friday, a time to read Scripture, poetry, hymns, and events from church history that probe into the wonder of Jesus’ cross. One of my favorite poems is one that we’re planning to sing on Friday evening at New Covenant Church, My Song is Love Unknown. Let the lyrics sink into[…]

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Hope in the Shadowlands

Having begun his professional life believing in the promise of communism, British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990) abandoned his utopian dream in the 1930s. Coming to Christ in 1969, he emerged as a cultural critic who saw groundless vanity in suggestions that human achievement or human error could save or ruin everything. Lord Jesus was the[…]

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The Courage to Be Meaningful

In his book The Courage to Be, Paul Tillich memorably divides theological periods of history into existential struggles: the fear of death marked the early centuries of the church; the late medieval and Reformation eras struggled with moral anxiety—the question of how one can stand before a holy God; and in our modern period we[…]

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A Lenten Friday: What Separates Catholics and Protestants

I am often asked, “What is the fundamental difference between Catholic and Protestant belief?” There are numerous ways to answer the question. Sometimes I use the following illustration. During my early twenties, I worked for a fundraising firm that conducted campaigns in Catholic parishes and diocese across the country. On one occasion I attended a black-tie[…]

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How Is Faith Alone?

During this year of commemorating the Reformation, we are enjoying conversation about the gospel with all sorts of people. These interactions are especially interesting among Catholic friends. But such discussions are not always easy. Consider a classic landmine on which we often step: our message that justification is by “faith alone.” From an evangelical Protestant[…]

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Because God Suffered

We live in a day of suffering. A simply survey of news headlines verifies the fact. In times of suffering, grieving people often pose a challenge to any minister within earshot: “Why did God allow this evil to happen?” To answer that question, pastors sometimes offer a theodicy (i.e., a response that justifies belief in[…]

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The Death of Despair

Followers of Jesus Christ, more than any other tribe, have reason not to despair. On the night of the Lord’s impending departure, however, despair was in the air. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace,” said Jesus in the Upper Room. “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I[…]

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The Day I Began to Follow Christ

It started one morning. Upon reaching my office in Manhattan, the phone rang. It was my grandfather. In a serious tone, he spoke a brief message: “It’s your Dad; come home.” Somehow I knew not to ask questions. It turned out to be a severe heart attack. The waterline of anxiety quickly rose above my[…]

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Impossible? Far From It

“We who have the greatest news in the world (the message of eternal salvation in Jesus Christ) should be the clearest and most compelling communicators of that message.” So said Dr. Lon Allison as we were drinking coffee one day reflecting upon the church’s calling in the world. Lon is one of those guys who has a[…]

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