Weekly Thoughts

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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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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What Everyone Wants

After fifteen years of pastoral ministry, I have observed a common thread to the expressed desires of men and women. It’s not the accumulation of wealth, the pleasure of sex, or accolades from achievement. It goes much deeper. The Ubiquity of Despair The great English journalist and satirist Malcolm Muggeridge, reflecting on forms of despair in[…]

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Push & Pull of Christian Faith

Christian faith involves a push and pull. The former compels us to move away from an identity that is grounded in one’s self; the latter consists in the magnetic pull toward God’s beauty and grace. In what follows, we will consider examples of each, starting with the push that comes from our idolatry. Sixteenth century Reformer[…]

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Freedom from Your Anxiety

A beloved relative is dying before your eyes; the syncopation of an EKG monitor punctuates each heartbeat. Bleep… Bleep… Bleep…. It’s not the sound of hospital equipment, however, that is dragging your soul into despair; it’s the conflicted thoughts and emotions swirling within. Beautiful memories from the past, tender and most lovely, stand in contrast[…]

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