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A Brief Response to the Critique of Christian Hope

ThumbnailSome critics of Christianity say that Christian hope is just wishful thinking. Some say that Christianity is just a pipe dream – an unattainable hope.

Frederick Buechner, an author of numerous books about the spiritual life, addresses this in his own comments about Christianity and hope. He writes this in his book, Wishful Thinking:

Christianity is mainly wishful thinking…

Dreams are wishful thinking. Children playing at being grown-ups is wishful thinking. Interplanetary travel is wishful thinking.

Sometimes wishing is the wings the truth comes true on.

Sometimes the truth is what sets us wishing for it.

When people critique Christian hope as simply an unattainable dream, we may respond by saying that perhaps another name for our wishful thinking is faith. Further, perhaps faith is a way not of avoiding reality, but of accessing a reality that is not readily apparent to our senses. Even further still, perhaps the reason we dream about such a thing like Christian hope is that the truth has birthed such a dream in us at the first place. Perhaps God, the Creator, has made us with a yearning for something more because that is actually the way things are and fighting against it is more wishful thinking than pursuing it.

[This is a continuation of this week's theme of "Beginning to Live with Hope."]

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Books and Quotations, Discipleship

 

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Instant Faith?

ThumbnailThis past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I launched a new series called “Beginning to Live.” The focus of this past weekend was faith and so my blog posts this week are all about faith.

Faith is something very challenging for us in our day. We live in a fast-paced culture intent on instant gratification. We think of an item that we want and we immediately search for it online. We find it at a good price. We purchase it with credit. We have it shipped to us within two to three days. When we receive that item, there are times when we no longer remember exactly why we wanted it in the first place.

We want what we want and we want it soon: a few hours, a few days, or hopefully not more than a week.

Look at these words about the faith of those from times past:

They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. (Hebrews 11:13)

They heard the promise, they believed it, and then they lived in light of it…but they did not often receive it within their days on earth. What a hard concept for us today. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Faith at 110 Stories – Philippe Petit [repost]

ThumbnailThis past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I launched a new series called “Beginning to Live.” The focus of this past weekend was faith and so my blog posts this week are all about faith. Here is one of my favorite stories that illustrates what faith looks like.

In the early 1970s, Philippe Petit, a French acrobat and high-wire artist, heard about the construction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. When he saw a picture of their design, it was like he heard a voice calling him to do something startling and risky.

After six years of planning, on August 7th, 1974, Petit and his friends secretly rode a freight elevator 104 stories up into the newly constructed twin towers of the World Trade Center. After stretching a ¾” metal cable across the 200 foot span between the towers, Petit illegally stepped out for a high wire act like no other. With the winds blowing, Philippe Petit was 110 stories – a quarter of a mile – above the sidewalks of Manhattan.

He walked the wire for 45 minutes, making eight crossings between the towers. He sat on the wire, gave knee salutes and, while lying on the wire, spoke with a gull circling above his head. After this spell-binding display, Petit was arrested, taken for psychological evaluation, and brought to jail before he was finally released.

Faith looks like that. We hear a voice calling us to action. We respond. And then we step out. It may seem startling and risky, but we will do whatever Jesus says.

Here is a trailer for a movie, entitled Man on Wire, about Philippe Petit’s risky steps as a high wire walk between the World Trade Center towers in 1974:

I first mentioned this story in my sermon called “Walk on the Waves” in our Risky Faith series.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2013 in Discipleship, Eastbrook

 

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Living with Faith

ThumbnailFaith. It’s the object that Christianity is built upon and around.

This past weekend, we launched a new series at Eastbrook entitled “Beginning to Live.” While celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, I spoke about “Beginning to Live with Faith.” But what is faith?

Ask around and so many people say things like: “At least I have faith…” or “I have faith that things will get better…” But what do they mean? What is the substance of their faith? In the Epistle to the Hebrews we read the following descriptions of faith:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

All these people [Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah] were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners on earth. (Hebrews 12:13)

Here, the writer to the Hebrews defines faith as: “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith is a surety and certitude connected with an enduring hope related to unseen things.

However, this is still a slightly broad and abstract definition. I could have a blind and confused certainty about Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2013 in Discipleship

 

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Cyclist credits faith for ride across Wisconsin

I’m thrilled to share the record-breaking story of Mark Ehlers, an Eastbrook Church attendee who recently set the record for in Wisconsin for a non-stop ride across the State at its longest point in mid-August. OnMilwaukee.com recently published Mark’s story with the title: “Cyclist credits faith for ride across Wisconsin.” Here is an excerpt of the article. I’m proud to say I know Mark. You can get to know him more at his blog, “the Prodigal Cyclist.”

Mark Ehlers wears his faith prominently on his cycling jersey, yet he didn’t strike a Tebow-esque pose at the end of his record-setting ride across Wisconsin.

He was too exhausted, physically and emotionally.

The 54-year-old from Milwaukee collapsed to the ground in Marinette, after completing a 298-mile journey guided by his desire to make a mark as an ultra-marathon cyclist and his commitment to Christianity. He thanked the Lord not from a knee, but from his back.

Ehlers’ ride from border-to-border on Aug. 19 took 19 hours, 43 minutes, but actually spanned three decades, from the time he first found a passion for long-distance cycling. [continue reading here]

 
 

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Let’s Grow!

This coming weekend, we will begin a new series called “Let’s Grow” at Eastbrook Church. The series is really an explanation and exploration of spiritual growth for the follower of Christ. Will Branch will help me teach this series, so I am looking forward to learning from him as we go through this over the next few weeks.

Here is the series outline with dates:

August 25/26
Title: Made to Grow
Speaker: Matt Erickson

September 1/2
Title: Growing Pains
Speaker: Will Branch

September 8/9
Title: Barriers to Growth
Speaker: Matt Erickson

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2012 in Eastbrook

 

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Pray Like Jesus

We will begin a series this coming weekend at Eastbrook Church called “Pray Like Jesus.”

If you wanted to develop a skill, you would learn from a master teacher. How much more is this true in prayer? In this series, we will take Jesus as our Master Teacher in the life of prayer. We will look at Jesus’ teaching on prayer, modeling prayer, and then praying in the midst of difficulty.

My good friend, Dave Choi, a church planter from the south side of Chicago, will kick off this series this weekend and then I will preach the following two weekends of the series.

August 4/5
Title: Lord, Teach Us to Pray
Text: Luke 11:1-13
Summary: The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. His response shows that prayer is simple, prayer is shamelessly bold, prayer seeks until it finds, and prayer works because of who God is.

August 11/12
Title: Jesus on How We Should Pray
Text: Matthew 6:1-8
Summary: In Jesus’ most clear teaching on prayer, He tells His disciples to not be like the hypocrites who love to be seen or the pagans who babble on endlessly in prayer. Instead, Jesus calls His followers to have a humble secrecy in prayer and a deep trust that Father God hears us.

August 18/19
Jesus Praying in Difficulty
Text: John 17
Summary: The night before His crucifixion, Jesus spoke powerfully with His Father. He was concerned about all sorts of things: the glory of God, the continuation of the faith, the unity of His followers, and those who would come later. Looking at Jesus’ prayer on that difficult night, we will learn what it means to pray in the midst of challenges.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Eastbrook

 

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