Hope Every Day

A small cross of twigsSpring and Easter go together as they both speak of new life. Spring is the new life of growth after winter, when creation seems to wake from a cold slumber. The warming temperatures and lengthening days remind us of God’s nature to bring light into darkness, beauty from ashes, and life from death. Ultimately, this time of year reminds us of the light of Christ and the reality of His resurrection.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

The resurrection is not just an abstract historical event, but a personal reality for all who know Him. Because of what He accomplished on the cross, we have become new creations and our old selves have died. Now Christ lives in us, conforming us more and more to His image as we spiritually mature.

In this, we know that God works all things together for our good. We can rest assured that, even though we may face trials in this world, we have hope because He has overcome it. His indwelling presence produces fruit that helps us experience His joy and peace in every situation as we wait on the Lord.

This Easter season, let’s give Him thanks for the hope that we have every single day because of Him.

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A Look at the Great Commission in Acts

A small cross of twigsFor many Christians, the world seems to be growing darker each day. While the occasional event or ministry sees some some success, the larger trends are a shrinking number of believers, growing divisiveness and conflict, and churches that increasingly mirror the world. Since Christians are to be the light of the world, candles in the darkness, one can’t help but wonder if something is being missed. Many mature and educated Christian leaders have wrestled with these things, but there is no clear consensus or solution.

It’s unlikely that I’m going to add anything to the analyses of our leaders, but being led to seek understanding, have returned many times to Scripture for clues. One thing that has jumped out over and over is while many approaches seek wisdom from individual passages or subtle threads, it often seems that they skip over the biggest themes. I’ve often been struck by the fact that all four Gospels end with a commission for believers to go, that the commission is echoed yet again in the beginning of Acts, and the entire book of Acts is about the church obeying that calling. Although a handful of verses give some insight into church life, the whole theme of the book is the early church’s obedience to Jesus’ commission. For example, while prayer is mentioned throughout Acts, only one is actually recorded that they prayed together. It was for boldness and equipping for obedience, for doing the work of reconciling people to God and making disciples.

Jesus’ final direction for the disciples was given in the beginning of Acts:

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:6–8 (ESV) Continue reading

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Immersive Explorations of the Spiritual

A small cross of twigsThe vision of The Gate is one of finding creative ways to present spiritual truths in today’s science-saturated world, using concepts borrowed from that worldview. It is based on an exploration of such ideas, ranging from essays to technology-driven artwork. These ideas are sometimes referred to as ‘physical parables”, and one of the key examples is virtual reality photography, which forms the basis for my photography blog. Taking that idea a little further, one of my friends suggested using 3D technologies to help people encounter the spiritual, and so I added this description to the list of physical parables:

In addition to VR photography itself being a metaphor, immersing people in a virtual reality space can be used to bring spiritual concepts to life. This would be especially effective if used with immersive 3D technologies such as VR headsets that include audio. When we experience things ourselves, the natural inclination is to believe what we see. Thus, such experiences can help people accept things like the truth of miracles, the historical existence of Jesus, and the reality of the spiritual world. Also, creative visual effects can be used to further illustrate limitations of our natural senses and reasoning abilities.

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Whole Reality Description

Whole Reality is my personal exploration of ways to understand and present the Gospel by using ideas from today’s increasingly secular world. It seems the success of science and technology have blinded many people to the reality of spiritual truths. Modern advances have made great strides in explaining the natural world and providing physical comforts, and as a result, there is powerful perspective of Godlessness in the midst of a culture that used to be mostly Christian. Jesus said we would take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, but now the ends of the earth have come to us.

The result looks like a post-Christian darkness that needs new witnesses to speak in that language.

Seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance, Whole Reality intends to present spiritual concepts through essays and interesting metaphors that draw from the very technology-driven worldview in which people are immersed, sort of like modern parables. The starting point uses a different type of photography, virtual reality photography, as a way to explore the need to deliberately open one’s eyes, both physically and spiritually. While exploring this, experience has already shown how God will use it to open even hardened hearts, and VR photography is just the first of many possibilities. Working as one with a variety of believers to bring many such parables together is a ministry dream that will unfold as God leads and provides.

Until then, Whole Reality is a means to seek the Spirit’s wisdom and guidance, put the leading into practice, and share the opportunity with other believers. Continue reading

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Practice Unity

A small cross of twigsThere is a great need for love in today’s world. Of course, this has always been true, and always will be. However, today’s level of divisiveness makes the need especially clear. Pointing to the source, Christians are called upon to be agents of God’s love. This is a tall order in today’s world, but we can be assured of direction and power when we act according to His will. Continue reading

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Beyond Religion

A small cross of twigsIn today’s world, it seems harder and harder for many people to find a connection between God and church. Many feel that God has the answer to feeling fulfilled, guidance through life, release from judgment, and eternal life, but don’t find themselves closer to Him when sorting through the various doctrines that seem so important. It’s as if something has been lost in the swirl of theology, programs, and politics. There are endless debates about music styles, doctrinal differences that separate people, and a focus on entertainment rather than love. We all read the same book, yet come to radically different opinions of what it means and how to apply it.

Could it be that we need a different approach today, something Scriptural yet not being taught?

This essay is an attempt to answer that question, to seek a new approach, rather than a definitive answer. Answers are found in Him, not in our intellectual effort, so we need an approach grounded in humble seeking. Continue reading

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Our Conquering Messiah

A small cross of twigsIn the first century, Jewish people had high hopes for the messiah. They expected him to defeat Israel’s enemies and free them from bondage. When Jesus appeared, those around him expected a victorious leader. Even at his ascension, the disciples wondered if he was about to restore the kingdom to Israel. Their expectation was for a physical victory, but they would eventually learn that his kingdom is much more profound. Continue reading

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