Thursday, September 26, 2019

How Do We Know We Are Right?

“Poppy, how do we know we are right?” My grandson asked me that question recently at our family’s Sunday lunch. We were all sitting there, and he just randomly asked that question.

As I talked further with him to determine what he meant, I discovered he is wrestling with a question that has been posed to Christians since the very beginning of the Christian movement. My grandson wanted to know about the other faiths that he is encountering in his world. What about them? What if they are right and we are wrong?

That question has led to an open dialogue we are continuing to have. It is a worthwhile conversation. Years ago, I was in a village in rural Bangladesh engaged in a conversation with a Muslim Imam and a Hindu Priest ---- these men asked me the very same question. The Muslim cleric looked at me and asked, “On what authority do you base your exclusive claims of Christianity?”

In a day marked by tolerance and a general attitude of “whatever” – this is a challenging question. It can be posed differently depending on the circumstances. The real essence of the matter is this: Is Christianity the only true representation of the eternal God? Or, asked another way: Are all religions true?

Regardless of how one poses the question, the concern surrounds the exclusive claims of the Christian faith. Here is what I am discussing with my grandson---JESUS! That is right—Jesus.

Jesus is what separates us from all other religious expressions. We are followers of Jesus. We have read His teachings. We have examined His claims. We believe He is Who He says He is! Jesus Christ has changed everything.

Take a moment and reflect on some of what He said about Himself:

Luke 4:21 – Jesus visited his hometown synagogue in Nazareth and read a Messianic passage from the scroll of Isaiah. After the public reading of this passage, he sat down in front of all the congregation and said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

John 4:26 – Jesus was visiting with a Samaritan woman at a well and she told Him that one day the Messiah would come, and He would explain everything to His people. Jesus replied to her with this bold declaration, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

John 8:58 – Jesus was in a discussion with the Pharisees and leading Jews of His day. They challenged Him by claiming that Abraham was their father and He was certainly not greater than Abraham. Jesus told them that Abraham rejoiced at the knowledge that one day His day would come. These leaders were shocked and rebuked Jesus by telling Him that he was not even 50 years old ---- how could He possibly know anything about what Abraham knew or didn’t know. Jesus boldly proclaimed, “Before Abraham was born, I am!”

John 10:30 – Jesus was in Jerusalem for the celebration of Hanukah and the Jews began to ask Him about His claims to be the Messiah. Jesus challenged them to examine the evidence of His life and then He announced, “I and the Father are one.”

John 14:6 – On the final night of His earthly life prior to the crucifixion, Jesus was instructing His disciples. He offered them comfort and hope. In the midst of this historic and insightful conversation, He declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

I could go on. But the reason we believe Christianity’s claims are exclusive is because of Jesus! He claimed to be the Messiah. He claimed to be eternal. He claimed to be God in the flesh. He claimed to be the only way to God. These are bold claims! Either they are true or false.

We are staking our eternity on Jesus Himself. We believe He is Who He says He is. He is the authority who makes these exclusive claims. So, I am helping my grandson to fully understand Who Jesus is! He is the eternal, glorious, resurrected, ascended Son of God. He is the only way to the Father. He is The Life. He is The Truth. He is The Way. It is not so much that we are right ---- it is that He is right!

Consequently, we live our lives each day with our eyes fixed on Jesus! 

Thursday, May 23, 2019


We live in an interesting time. There are so many avenues for self-expression. Facebook, Instagram,Twitter are all a part of our everyday lives. Cable “news” often deteriorates into biased rants and diatribes aimed at infuriating one segment of our society and placating another. Any hope of decent, well-considered, meaningful, respectful dialogue seems futile these days.

Issus like racism, abortion, gender, sexuality, and ecological concerns are often discussed on these various platforms in the most detrimental fashion. Social media can be such a positive force for change and such a cesspool for degrading conversation.

Recently, I have noticed numerous discussions concerning abortion, abortion laws, and the entire topic of life debated on social media and in the news. I have found these discussions to be fascinating and disappointing. Something this complex cannot possibly be summarized in a tweet or Facebook post.

Life is precious. And complex.

God is the Author of life. He is the Creator of this universe. He designed it to be teeming with life. It uniquely supports life. And life is incredibly complex. That does not mean that we are not to develop convictions that are firmly rooted in Scripture and consistent with the character of God. 

Consequently, I am Pro-Life. That is not a political declaration. I am neither Republican nor Democrat. I am equally disappointed by both parties in my country. Neither of them has the copyright to life. They don’t own words, nor do they create dictionaries.

I will say it again --- I am Pro-Life. That means I value life. In all matters. I care about vulnerable people. I care about unborn children. I care about vulnerable women who are pregnant. I care about families trapped in poverty. I care about people victimized by oppressive laws and systems. I care about people who either struggle with their sexual identity or choose to live a life that is very different from what I have chosen. I care about unfair policies designed to diminish populations of people. I care about providing mechanisms designed to improve life skills for those who have not had adequate provision in their early lives.  I believe in ministering to people in tangible, helpful, and healthy ways. I care about responsible governments—both local and national—that serve the best interest of citizens. I care about moral integrity. I care about extending grace and patience.

I care about honest, helpful dialogue aimed at solutions. I care about people. I don’t mind paying taxes to support responsible means of governing our society. I believe in helping people flourish. 

I also have convictions. I believe in the historically orthodox Judeo/Christian view of marriage and sexuality. I believe Jesus Christ is the Redeemer for all of humanity. I believe The Jesus Wayis the only way to abundant and eternal life. I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I believe the Church is the physical representation of Christ’s mission on earth. I believe Jesus came to offer us life.

I don’t believe in demeaning people. I don’t support mean-spirited, judgmental attitudes. I don’t think complex life issues can be easily solved through angry personal exchanges with strangers. I don’t believe in always seeking a quick-fix to complex problems.

I believe we should spend more time in action than argument. Instead of trying to convince others about my convictions, I would rather demonstrate them through my life. Consequently, I felt called to serve First Baptist Church of Arlington, Texas as its pastor. Our church started Mission Arlington in 1986 to address some of the concerns I have outlined in this article.

We remain the sponsoring church for Mission Arlington. We are its largest financial supporter in its history. We have invested millions of dollars and millions of hours in sharing the love of Jesus in very tangible ways. We also have been instrumental in establishing shelters in our community for those victimized by abuse and neglect. We also own and operate Soteria—an individual/family counseling center at our church.

We are one of the founding churches of Restore Hope. We are the largest supporting church for Restore Hope. Through it, we are addressing some of the needs I have outlined in a cross-cultural context in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Spain, Slovenia --- and many other places around the world.

We also support Living Hope. When people come to us seeking help in relational healing, we walk alongside them in a journey of discipleship. We believe in the Gospel!

My church is engaged in all manner of ministries designed to help real human beings live real lives. My church is not perfect. But it is good. We care about people at our church. We are on record --- we care about life.

I am Pro-Life. That means I am concerned for life in every situation. I cannot be conformed to the Image of God’s Son without being Pro-Life. Our lives are often determined by the choices we make. I want to help people make the best choices to discover the best life available to them. I want to assist people in having the opportunity to make wise and healthy choices. So, I am also Pro-Choice!

I am praying for myself today—and you. I am praying that God will give us the maturity to be His people in this day.