Modern Reformation Anyone?

On October 31, 1517, Luther famously nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg. Luther’s pen unleashed cultural ramifications that today’s bloggers could only dream of. He nailed his theses to the door, a few people read it, translated it from Latin into German and thanks to the technological wonder of a relatively new piece of technology called the Gutenberg Press – his 95 theses went 16th century viral. After 4 years of debate on justification by grace & faith alone, Luther was brought before the church assembly… Read More

Everybody Hurts

I am embarrassed to say this, but for many years in pastoral ministry, I sat across from people in real suffering, but because of my own discomfort with suffering, I sought to fix those who weeped instead of weeping with those who weeped. A number of years back, Susan and I were out with some close friends and they had some people in their lives going through some really hard times. They asked, ‘what’s your theology on suffering?’ I fumbled around. The truth is, my understanding of the bible  at that time in my life was formed by… Read More

John 1: a mic drop on grace

Our family loves going to the theatre. We love movies. You know that feeling when there’s a film you’ve been looking forward to for a while and it finally hits the theatres?  You’re sitting there and the moment the production house logo comes up accompanied by an epic score, you get this “here we go!” feeling. For me, the 20th century Fox score is a thing of legend. Probably because the first film I ever saw in theatres was Return of the Jedi when I was 10. John 1 reads like the… Read More

How Baptizing Children is Grace on Display

Infant baptism is a controversial topic of discussion. While we have historical evidence that the 1st century church practiced infant baptism and they referred to this as the “tradition of the apostles”, [1] the church has been divided on infant baptism since 1608 when Anabaptist leader Menno Simons, Baptist leader John Smyth and others asserted that baptism should be delayed until after the children of believers professed their faith. Before I continue, I want to be clear that even though I have come to embrace infant baptism and see God’s grace on display in it, my aim isn’t… Read More

The Pirates Curse

The 5th instalment in the Pirate’s of the Caribbean series hits the theatres May 26 and I’m sure the film will do well. Johnny Depp is a cool bloke who probably pulls off the whole pirate thing better than anyone. The film series started in 2003 with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The plot, in short, is that the crew on the Black Pearl took the cursed treasure of Cortés from Isla de Muerta (the Isle of the Dead), in the hopes that the treasure would satisfy their wildest dreams. Ironically,… Read More

Good News For Those who Face-plant

Every Christian face-plants. It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been saved by grace, we still face-plant. It doesn’t matter if we have a diligent prayer life and are faithful in our scripture meditation, we still face-plant. Our mind wanders in some illicit direction. We lose our temper in a moment of unjust anger. Our selfishness comes out and hurts those around us that we love. Our heart, which acts more like a stomach, draws us in one direction or another and we find ourselves dumpster diving to feed on something we aren’t… Read More

Where’s Jesus?

I was asked once if preaching the grace of Christ week after week will get old. Well, Jesus said in Luke 24 that all of scripture is about Him [1], so I think it’s best to keep Him front and centre. If those of us who stand in pulpits are concerned about “Jesus fatigue” and keep Jesus in the background in favour of putting applicational teaching in the foreground, we’ve missed the greater point in the text. The same is true around the dinner table. Our desire is to raise our children… Read More

Paul to Galatia: Stop Kissing the Ring

Leave the gun. Take the cannoli. The 1972 drama “The GodFather” is the quintessential mob story. I’m not just saying that because my father is Italian. You can’t talk about mob movies without someone pulling a Marlon Brando. He’s the OG kingpin of making offers you can’t refuse. “Going to the mattresses.” “Sleeping with the fishes.” Classic. The late AD40’s letter to the Galatians is considered by many to be the quintessential “law and gospel” epistle. “No one is justified by the law.” “Who bewitched you?” Classic. [1] Paul wrote his fiery letter against a backdrop… Read More

Promise or Performance?

Looking at our dining room table most days, you might think we were running a cartoon factory out of our house. Drawings. Everywhere. When a small child presents you with some artwork, it’s heart warming. They love you, they thought of you, it provoked them to create, and then they present you with their work. All their effort is because they love you, not because they need to leverage you. Imagine though, if a cruel teacher went into your child’s classroom and began teaching the class that their artwork was actually securing… Read More

Plato? Aristotle? Galatians? Morons.

  This iconic scene from The Princess Bride is one of my favourites. Plato? Aristotle? The Galatians? Morons. This past Sunday, I preached on Galatians 3 where Paul calls the Galatians morons. Yes, our english translations say “fools” but the Greek word “ἀνόητος”, also means “without logic, mindless and dense” so ‘morons’ also works. What provoked Paul’s response to be so strong? The church went from trusting in a Person to trusting in their practice for salvation. The false teachers erased the assurance of salvation based on what Christ did, and insisted… Read More

Toxic Cocktail: mixing law & gospel

In the same way that putting arsenic into a drink turns a cocktail from being refreshing to toxic, the false teachers in Galatia mixed God’s law with God’s gospel in a misguided effort to ‘balance’ out the grace Paul was preaching. Paul was preaching that salvation was by grace and faith in Christ alone, so the religious leaders came in and changed the message to “one part grace, one part law.“ When Paul heard about the toxic, glawspel cocktail being served to the church in Galatia, his love for them provoked a passionate, fiery response. The tone… Read More

Exile, Homecoming & Grace

No doubt you are navigating many conversations around your dinner table regarding the refugee crisis in light of recent executive orders by Mr. Trump and the far reaching ramifications of those decisions. As I scroll through the headlines in my newsfeed, I find myself increasingly thankful that the gospel invites me to rest in a world that is at great unrest. If Christ’s life, death, resurrection and ascension are true, then the gospel offers us an eternal perspective that informs how we relate to the issues of the world around us. Christ has saved… Read More

Will the Church Survive?

Will the church survive? I remember being in a forum a few years ago in New York City  where that question was posed to a very large group of pastors and ministry leaders from across Canada and the US. The Barna Group presented statistics about the dwindling congregations in many traditional, mainline churches and exposed how large attractional churches have large revolving doors. It didn’t matter if your church was high liturgy or rivalled a Bruno Mars concert, across the board, the next generation seemed to be saying, “see ya”. It’s been three years… Read More

Drunks on Horseback

According to Martin Luther, it is human nature is a little like a drunkard trying to ride a horse. When we fall off into a ditch on the left, we resolve not to make that mistake again, and so we remount with such force that we soon find ourselves in the ditch on the right. Historically speaking, the church has fallen off the gospel horse into the ditches of legalism and lawlessness. From the ditch of legalism, the Scriptures that tell us that our justification has nothing to do with anything we do, but rests solely on everything Christ… Read More

Great Question.

Last night I was out having wings with a young guy who had a barrage of questions … How do we know the scriptures are authoritative? How can we claim the resurrection actually happened? I heard God blesses people who give money & curses those who don’t- does the bible teach that? What about miracles? If Adam and Eve were created in perfection, how did they sin? Hasn’t science already disproved the existence of God? … it was quite the convo. Millennials aren’t afraid to ask questions – which is fantastic. Christian faith is… Read More