Thanksgiving Shapes Us in More than One Way

Today is the day in the United States when we set aside to give thanks and reflect on all the Lord has done in our lives over this past year.

Other countries, like Canada and Ukraine also have national holidays dedicated to giving thanks, but days of thanksgiving have a rich history in Christian groups all over the world, going back before the pilgrims held their famous thanksgiving feast in Plymouth.

In the Old Testament, God instructed his people to hold several days of thanksgiving every year: Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread in early Spring, thanking God for delivering them from slavery and for the beginning of the barley harvest; the Feast of Weeks in early Summer, thanking God for the beginning of the wheat harvest; and the Feast of Tabernacles in the Fall, thanking God for the end of the harvest season. God told them to “Be joyful at your festival…because the Lord your God will bless you” (Deuteronomy 16:14-15).

For us as Christians, Thanksgiving is not only a day we celebrate, but a way of life. Colossians 2:6-7 says: : “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Thanksgiving Shapes Us

Spending time reflecting on what God has done for us and giving thanks not only honors Him, it also shapes us. The Thanksgiving meal obviously shapes us into certain kinds of people: slightly rounded than we were before! But the practice of giving thanks also shapes us: the more we give thanks, the more our eyes are opened to see the things God is doing and has done – which builds our faith and trust in Him!

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving!

Missional Ecclesiology: What is the role of the church in the mission of God? – with Kellen Criswell

In this week’s episode of the Theology for the People Podcast, I am joined by Kellen Criswell.

Kellen Criswell is a pastor, ministry leader, and former missionary who holds and MA in Global Leadership from Western Seminary and is currently working on his doctorate. He is the Executive Director of Calvary Global Network and has a heart for the mission of God and the global church.

After a brief discussion about Kellen’s favorite music and the fact that he is from Utah (AKA “Colorado Jr.”), we dive into a discussion about Missional Ecclesiology, which is a way of understanding the identity, purpose, and function of the church within the Missio Dei (the love-motivated, self-sending, mission of God into the world to save, redeem, and restore).

One more thought about Utah: If you have to tell people (on your license plates) that you have “the best snow in the world,” you probably don’t. It’s kind of like using the world “Real” in a title. If you have to say that something is “real ______” – it probably isn’t. And also, what Margaret Thatcher said: “Being a leader is like being a lady: If you have to tell people you are one, you probably aren’t.” Same with the snow, Utah…

But I digress…

Ecclesiology is the discussion of what the Church is called to be and to do – including its nature, purpose, hopes, structures, and practices.

We discuss how this concept works out practically, including a discussion of “foreign missions” and how they fit into this understanding. Furthermore, we discuss what the past nearly two years of pandemic has revealed about ecclesiology, and why there is hope as we move forward.

Listen to this episode in the embedded player below or by clicking this link: Missional Ecclesiology: What is the role of the church in the mission of God? – with Kellen Criswell

Missional Ecclesiology: What is the role of the church in the mission of God? – with Kellen Criswell Theology for the People

Kellen Criswell is a pastor, ministry leader, and former missionary who holds and MA in Global Leadership from Western Seminary and is currently working on his doctorate. He is the Executive Director of Calvary Global Network and has a heart for the mission of God and the global church. In this episode we discuss Missional Ecclesiology, which is a way of understanding the identity, purpose, and function of the church within the Missio Dei (mission of God). Ecclesiology is the discussion of what the Church is called to be and to do – including its nature, purpose, hopes, structures, and practices.  We discuss how this concept works out practically, including a discussion of "foreign missions" and how they fit into this understanding. Furthermore, we discuss what the past nearly two years of pandemic has revealed about ecclesiology, and why there is hope as we move forward. Bibliography and recommended resources: Hirsch, Alan. The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating Apostolic Movements. Goheen, Michael. The Church and it’s Vocation: Leslie Newbigin’s Missionary Ecclesiology.  Stetzer, Ed. Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply. Newbigin, Leslie. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society.  Van Engen, Charles. Transforming Mission Theology.  Wright, Christopher J.H.. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Bosch, David. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission.  Hooker, Paul. "What is Missional Ecclesiology?"  Make sure to check out the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org

Make sure to check out some of the books and papers listed below for more information and study on this topic.

  1. Hirsch, Alan. The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating Apostolic Movements.
  2. Goheen, Michael. The Church and it’s Vocation: Leslie Newbigin’s Missionary Ecclesiology.
  3. Stetzer, Ed. Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply.
  4. Newbigin, Leslie. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society.
  5. Van Engen, Charles. Transforming Mission Theology.
  6. Wright, Christopher J.H.. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative.
  7. Bosch, David. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission.
  8. Hooker, Paul. “What is Missional Ecclesiology?”

Reader Questions: Does the Bible Encourage People Who are Poor to Ask for Help?

There is a page on this site where readers can submit questions or suggest topics. Recently I received the following question:

Does the Bible encourage people who are poor to ask for help, or does it put the onus on the rich to provide for the poor?

The Bible gives a pretty nuanced view of provision for the poor, which includes both proactive provision for the poor, while still requiring action on the part of the recipient.

For example, in Leviticus 19:9-10, farmers were instructed to leave the corners of their fields unharvested so the poor could come and glean. So while the rich were called to sacrifice some of their profits to provide for the poor, the poor were still required to go and harvest the food for themselves. Rather than giving them flour, for example, those in need were required to harvest grain and grind it into flour themselves. If someone was unwilling to work, in this case, they would not eat – but provision was made for them, via sacrifice on the part of those who had enough, to be able to get what they needed to survive.

A similar sentiment is found in the Epistle to the Galatians, where in Galatians 6:2 it says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” but a few verses later, it says, “Each person will have to bear his own load.” (Galatians 6:5). The difference is that the “burden” mentioned in 6:2 refers to a crushing burden, whereas “load” in 6:5 refers to an individual’s burden of responsibility. So, we are called to help those who are facing burdens they are unable to bear on their own, yet with the goal of helping those people to stand on their own two feet and take responsibility for themselves and their lives.

In 2 Thessalonians 3, we read an interesting passage:

If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12

For some reason, there were people in the Thessalonian church were unwilling to work, and were living off the generosity of others. Some believe that the reason for this attitude is because they believed it was more spiritual not to work, since they expected the imminent return of Jesus. While Paul encouraged them that Jesus could return at any time, they were encouraged to work in order to provide for themselves if they were able. Here again, we see the importance of providing for those in need while at the same time encouraging people to take initiative and responsibility to work if they are able.

So, to answer the question: The onus is first on those who have to help provide for the poor, no matter how or why they became poor. But this generosity is not to be done in order to create dependence, but rather to relieve a burden and encourage responsibility and independence.

Local Resource: Table of Hope Food Pantry

Table of Hope Food Pantry is a ministry which was born out of White Fields Community Church in Longmont, Colorado and serves Southwest Weld County, Longmont, and the surrounding communities by providing residents in need with nutritious food, the ability to become more self-sufficient, and hope for their future.

Table of Hope is open to anyone, no questions asked, and no ID required. For more information about Table of Hope, check out Table-of-Hope.com

What Has Athens to Do with Jerusalem?: How Should Christians Relate to Ideas and Practices Which Originate Outside of Christianity?

In this episode of the Theology for the People Podcast, Michael and I discuss the topic about which I wrote my BA dissertation: How should Christians relate to ideas and practices in our culture and society which have their origin outside of Christianity?

Some good examples would be:

  • Can Christians practice yoga? (Origins in Hinduism)
  • How about martial arts?
  • What about Christmas? (December 25 was originally a pagan solstice festival which Christians “took over,” detached it from its pagan origins, and infused it with new meaning and made it all about Jesus)
  • What about psychology?
  • How about certain instruments, like drums?
  • What about rock music and electric guitars?

This discussion of how Christians should relate to ideas and practices which originate outside of Christianity can be traced all the way back to a historical argument between Tertullian and Justin Martyr, early Christian apologists and theologians, and can be summarized by Tertullian’s classic question: “What Has Athens to Do with Jerusalem?”

In this episode, Michael and I discuss the relevant principles from the Bible we should follow as guides in navigating these matters.

How does the redemptive narrative arc of Scripture affect how we relate to these practices? How about what Paul says about meat sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 8-10 and Romans 14?

Check out our discussion in the embedded player below, or by clicking here: What Has Athens to Do with Jerusalem?: How Should Christians Relate to Ideas and Practices Which Originate Outside of Christianity?

What Has Athens to Do with Jerusalem?: How Should Christians Relate to Ideas and Practices Which Originate Outside of Christianity? Theology for the People

In this episode Nick Cady and Michael Payne speak about how Christians should relate to things which originate outside of Christianity, such as yoga, psychology, Christmas, drums, or rock music.  This discussion can be traced all the way back to a historical argument between Tertullian and Justin Martyr which can be summarized by Tertullian's classic question: "What Has Athens to Do with Jerusalem?" Visit the Theology for the People blog site at nickcady.org – where you can ask questions or submit suggestions for future episodes.

Dominic Done Coming to White Fields Church: November 14, 2021

Pastor and author Dominic Done will be joining us at White Fields Community Church on Sunday, November 14, at all three services: 8:00, 9:30 & 11:00 AM.

Dominic is the author of When Faith Fails: Finding God in the Shadow of Doubt (Zondervan, 2019), and the host of the Finding Faith podcast, where he discusses issues related to doubt, deconstruction, and faith.

I was given a copy of Dominic’s book when it first came out, and it sat on my shelf until I picked it up one Saturday to thumb through it, and next thing I knew I had read every word and used up an entire highlighter. I read the whole thing in one sitting because it was so fascinating, well-written, and applicable.

More recently, in September of 2021, I got to spend some time with Dominic in Colorado Springs at an Expositors Collective training weekend where he was one of our guest speakers.

We are excited for Dominic to come and speak at our church on November 14, and I encourage you: if you are within driving distance of Longmont, make sure to join us and bring someone with you who needs to here this important, helpful, and relevant message!

If you have ever struggled with doubts, or if you are curious about deconstruction: what it means, if it is a good thing or a dangerous thing – join us for this special Sunday!

Navigating Issues of Christian Liberty without Legalism or Licentiousness – with David Guzik

Pastor and author David Guzik joined me on the Theology for the People podcast last week to discuss the topic of Christian liberty. 

How do we make sense of “gray areas,” things like drinking alcohol, tattoos, smoking tobacco, music choices, etc. about which some Christians have strong convictions that a Christian person should never engage in those things, whereas others feel that they can enjoy them in moderation without any conflict in their fidelity to following Jesus?

How do we honor one another without being held hostage by every person’s personal whims? David helps shed some light on these and other questions related to this topic in this episode.

David is the author of a free online commentary of the entire Bible, which can be found at EnduringWord.com, along with the audio and video archives of David’s teachings through most of the books of the Bible. Make sure to check out his weekly Q&A sessions on his YouTube Channel, Thursdays at 12:00 PM Pacific Time.

David and I serve together on the steering committee of the Expositors Collective, a group dedicated to raising up the next generation of Christ-centered expository preachers and Bible teachers through weekly podcast episodes, 2-day intensive seminars, and other resources. The next Expositors Collective in-person training weekend will be in Orange County, California on February 18-19, 2022. More information and registration available here.

If you would like to submit a question or suggest a topic for future articles or podcast episodes, you can do that here, by clicking the Ask a Question or Suggest a Topic button.

You can listen to this podcast episode in the embedded player below (for desktop users), or by clicking this link: Navigating Issues of Christian Liberty without Legalism or Licentiousness – with David Guzik

Navigating Issues of Christian Liberty without Legalism or Licentiousness – with David Guzik Theology for the People

Pastor and author David Guzik joins the podcast this week to talk about the topic of Christian liberty.  How do we make sense of "gray areas," things like drinking alcohol, tattoos, smoking tobacco, music choices, etc. about which some Christians have strong convictions that Christians should never do those things, whereas others feel that they can enjoy these things in moderation without any conflict with their fidelity to following Jesus? How do we honor one another without being held hostage by every person's personal whim? David helps shed some light on these and other questions related to this topic. David is the author of a free online commentary of the entire Bible which can be found at EnduringWord.com, along with the audio and video archives of David's teachings through books of the Bible. Make sure to check out his weekly Q&A sessions on his YouTube Channel, Thursdays at 12:00 PM Pacific. Visit the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org, where you can submit questions or suggest topics for articles or future podcast episodes.

Do You Have a Theology of Glory, or the Theology of the Cross?

Do you have a theology of glory, or do you follow the theology of the cross? Here’s an easy test: honestly ask yourself the question, “Do you seek God primarily because you consider him useful, or because you find him beautiful?” 

There are many things about God that are useful; He is omnipotent and He is able to answer prayers, do the miraculous, help in time of need. But do you seek Him primarily for what He can do for you, or do you seek Him primarily because of who He is? 

Martin Luther and the Theology of the Cross

A theology of glory, as Martin Luther explained, most famously in his Heidelberg Disputation (1518), views God primarily as useful to you. A theology of glory, as Luther used the term, is really a theology of man’s glory. Rather than focusing on and seeking the glory of God, a theology of glory is focused on seeking your own personal glory — with Jesus as your self-help guru, who gives you a “boost” or a “shot in the arm” to help you achieve your goals and reach your potential. 

The theology of the cross, on the other hand, states that it is ultimately by looking at the cross that we learn who God is and who we are (cf. Hebrews 1:1-2). For example, the cross of Christ shows us that, as human beings, we are completely unable to save ourselves — this is why the Jesus’ death on the cross was necessary. Furthermore, it is through the cross that we come to known the depth of God’s love for us. 

The theology of the Cross understands that Jesus is your savior, not your side-kick or personal assistant. The cross causes us, as Paul the Apostle puts it in Philippians 3:3, to “glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,” i.e. our own abilities or goodness to justify ourselves or earn God’s blessings.

As we come to see the beauty and depth of God’s love, displayed for us in the most ultimate way on the cross, it compels us to respond by surrendering our lives to Him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). This transforms us from being people who seek to use or leverage God for our own power or glory, and who instead take up our crosses and die to ourselves, that Christ might live in us (Galatians 2:20). We do this, remembering that Jesus surrendered himself to the will of the Father, even unto death on a cross, after which God highly exalted Him (Philippians 2:8-9). Therefore, we also know that if we, rather than seeking to exalt ourselves, seek to exalt Jesus and surrender our lives to Him, God will exalt us in the end as well (1 Peter 5:6).

Useful or Beautiful?

Do you seek God primarily because you consider him useful, or because you find him beautiful? How you answer that question will have big implications for how you view God, and how your faith weathers the storms and trials of this life. For example, if you seek the Lord primarily because you find Him useful, what will happen if there is ever a time when you feel that following Jesus isn’t useful? What if God doesn’t answer your prayer in the way, or within the time frame you expected, or hoped?

If, however, by looking at the cross, you become acutely aware of the beauty of God’s heart and the depth of his love, you will have a faith that is able to weather any storm. 

By looking at the cross, we are made aware of who God is and who we are. May we look to the cross, and rather than putting confidence in our flesh, may we glory in Christ Jesus. As we look to the cross and see the beauty and love of God on display, and may it compel our hearts to live not for our own glory, but for Him who died and was raised for us.

Reformation Day: Martin Luther, the Bible, & the Gospel

Martin Luther, the Bible, and the Gospel

Originally posted on CalvaryChapel.com

If you own a Bible in your own language, it is a direct result of the Protestant Reformation, and the key figure God used to ignite that worldwide movement of returning to the Bible was Martin Luther: a German monk and professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg.

I grew up attending a Lutheran school until eighth grade. During my time there, I learned a lot about Luther, including studying his catechism. Years later, when I put my faith in Jesus and was born again, I started attending a Calvary Chapel church; and over the years, I have grown in appreciation for Martin Luther and the pivotal role he played in God’s work in the world.

The last day of October is celebrated around the world as Reformation Day, because it was on October 31, 1517, that Martin Luther set into motion the movement now known as the Reformation, by mailing a letter. Yes, you read that right: on the eve of All Saints Day (Halloween = “All Hallows Eve”), Luther mailed, not nailed, a letter.1 2

The letter was addressed to the Archbishop of Mainz,3 and Luther sent it because he wanted to alert the archbishop that plenary indulgences were being sold in the archbishop’s name by a man named John Tetzel. Tetzel had been sent from Rome the year before to sell these certificates promising the release of a soul from purgatory in exchange for their purchase, as a fundraising campaign for the building of St. Peter’s Basilica. Luther assumed the archbishop was unaware that this was going on, and that upon receiving his letter, the archbishop would tell Tetzel to cease and desist. That, however, is not what happened.

As a result of the archbishop’s inaction, Luther, as a professor, decided to organize a scholarly debate on the topic of indulgences: whether they were actually effective in procuring the release of a soul from purgatory. To this end, he wrote up what are now known as the 95 Theses, which he titled: A Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences. This paper, which was posted on the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, was an invitation to a scholarly debate, but in it Luther challenged both the selling of indulgences and the doctrine of purgatory as unscriptural. By doing this, Luther was challenging the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching and authority, and insisting that the Bible, not the church, should be the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes correct doctrine.

The posting of the 95 Theses is considered the spark which ignited the Protestant Reformation: a movement which sought to reform the church by shedding man-made traditions and returning to the faith which had been handed to us by God in the Holy Scriptures. 

Today, there are nearly 1 billion Protestant Christians in the world.4 In the “majority world,” including Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Muslim world5, Protestant Christianity is growing faster than any other religious movement by conversion.6

Before Luther, there were others who sought to reform the church and bring the Bible to the people. John Wycliffe (1331-1384) published the first English translation of the Bible. Jan Hus (1369-1415) taught the Bible to the common people in Prague. Peter Waldo (1140-1218) commissioned a translation of the New Testament into the local vernacular of southern France. Each of these people were persecuted for trying to put the Scriptures into the hands of the common people.

Over a century before Luther, Hus had protested the sale of plenary indulgences, pointing out that the idea that God’s favor or blessings could be earned in any way, runs contrary to the message of the gospel and the testimony of the Scriptures, and the concept of purgatory is in conflict with the biblical teaching of the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement on the cross.

Martin Luther had long struggled with feelings of condemnation and inadequacy, until his own reading of the Scriptures led him to an epiphany when he read Habakkuk 2:4: “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.” This led Luther to the other places in the Bible where this phrase is repeated: Romans 1:17Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38 – where the message is clear: It is not by our own works that we are justified before God, but it is God who justifies us sinners as a gift of His grace, and we receive that justification by faith. After all, the Bible explains, this is how Abraham, the father of our faith, became righteous: he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6Romans 4:322). We receive God’s righteousness, which he has provided for us in Christ, in the same way.

Luther became convinced that everyone needed to be able to read the Scriptures for themselves, and he took it upon himself to translate the Bible into German, a translation that is still in use to this day. Soon the Bible was translated into other languages, including English, as the Reformation spread.

Martin Luther called people back to a belief that the Scriptures are perspicuous (clear), and can be understood by those who read them. He called us back to a belief in the inspiration and sufficiency of Scripture: that it is the ultimate rule of faith, by which we are to measure both doctrine and our lives.

In April 1521, Luther was brought before Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms, at which Luther was commanded to recant his teachings. Luther refused to do so, famously stating:

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason – for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves – I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant.”7

This October, as we celebrate Reformation Day, may we take the opportunity to open the Bible and read it for ourselves, and may we embrace and celebrate the message of the gospel: that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and that we are justified freely by his grace as we trust in him by faith.

NOTES

1 Marshall, Peter. 1517: Martin Luther and the Invention of the Reformation. OUP Oxford. 2017.

2 Little, Becky. “Martin Luther Might Not Have Nailed His 95 Theses to the Church Door.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, October 31, 2017. 

3 “Luther’s Letter to the Archbishop of Mainz (1517).” Historyguide.org, 2002. 

4 “Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population.” PewResearchCenter. Accessed December 2011. 

5 Miller, Duane A., and Patrick Johnstone. Believers in Christ from a Muslim Background: A Global Census II (2015): 2–19. academia.edu

Melton, J. Gordon (22 October 2005). Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9780816069835 – via Google Books.

7 “Here I Stand: Martin Luther’s Reformation at 500.” Abilene Christian University Special Collections, March 11, 2019.

Christ-Centered Hermeneutics – Part 2: Responding to Objections to Christ-Centered Hermeneutics

Did you know that not everybody embraces Christ-centered hermeneutics with open arms?

Crazy, right? So, what exactly are their objections – and are any of them valid?

In this week’s episode of the Theology for the People Podcast, Mike Neglia joins me again for Part 2 of a 2-part series on Christ-centered hermeneutics. In Part 1, we discussed what a hermeneutics is, as well as the scriptural basis for Christ-centered hermeneutics.This week, in Part 2, we respond to some objections to Christ-centered hermeneutics.

These objections were given to me by a seminarian and author, who is involved in ministry, serving as a preacher in his church.

It all began when a friend of mine, seeing some of my presentations on Christ-centered hermeneutics, reached out and told me that a friend of his doesn’t agree with this position. I asked him to write out his objections for me, and he gave me a list of 8 reasons why he takes issue with Christ-centered hermeneutics.

Then, Mike and I went and read a journal article by Abner Chou, in which he used a lot more words to basically state some objections similar to those given by this friend of a friend.

Finally, Mike asked the Expositors Collective Facebook Group about whether they held or had heard of objections to Christ-centered hermeneutics, and the response we received also mirrored one of the points made by this friend of a friend in his list of 8 objections.

So, in this episode, we go through the 8 objections one-by-one, and respond to each of them.

The interpretive approach this friend-of-a-friend uses is what he calls the “grammatical-historical” hermeneutic. As you will hear in the episode, I think that a grammatical-historical hermeneutic dovetails perfectly with a Christ-centered hermeneutic, and the two are not at odds, as if we must choose one or the other. Certainly we can, and should choose both.

Listen to this week’s episode in the embedded player below, or by clicking here: Christ-Centered Hermeneutics – Part 2: Responding to Objections to Christ-Centered Hermeneutics – with Mike Neglia

Christ-Centered Hermeneutics – Part 2: Responding to Objections to Christ-Centered Hermeneutics – with Mike Neglia Theology for the People

This week Nick Cady and Mike Neglia respond to some objections to Christ-centered hermeneutics. Is Christ-centered hermeneutics actually ego-centric, in that it focuses on what Jesus has done for “me’? Does Christocentricity fail to honor the trinitarian nature of God by focusing primarily on the Son? Does it fail to teach what the text actually says in an attempt to make every message about Jesus? Nick and Mike respond to these, and other questions in this episode, which is Part 2 of a 2-part series on Christ-Centered Hermeneutics. In Part 1, we laid the foundation for what Christ-Centered Hermeneutics is, and whether it is a true and faithful way to read the Bible. Mike Neglia is the lead pastor of Calvary Cork in Ireland and he is the host of the Expositors Collective Podcast, which has an incredible line-up of guests, with interviews to help you grow in your private study and your public proclamation of God's Word. Resources mentioned in this episode: Fred Sanders, The Deep Things of God (Second Edition)

9/11 – 20 Years

Today marks 20 years since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Those of us who are old enough to remember it can all remember where we were when it happened, but those who are younger have all felt its effects. 

Personally, I remember that it was a Tuesday and I was working for Christy Sports in Golden, Colorado in the snowboard shop, and we had the day off to attend a seminar hosted at the Burton Snowboards Colorado headquarters in Denver, so I was parked behind the shop waiting for a colleague to meet me so we could drive down together. He was over an hour late. This was before most people had cell phones, so I just had to stand and wait for him. When he arrived, he told me what had happened. I remember the confusion of that day; at first, people assumed it was an accident, until it became clear it was an attack. 

We went to Denver and instead of a seminar, we ended up watching the TV reports at the Burton headquarters. Downtown Denver was absolutely empty, as no one knew if there were going to be more attacks. 

I went home, and my dad was there; he worked at the Denver Mint, and since that was a federal building, it was considered a high risk for attack.

At this point in September, I had just returned home from my first trip to Hungary, after which I felt called to move to Hungary, and was making plans to go there in January. I did end up moving to Hungary in January, and one of the ministries I worked in was a refugee camp.

The camp was in an abandoned Soviet military base which had been reopened in 2006 by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) to house refugees from the Bosnian war, and had then been kept open to house refugees from Kosovo. Around the time I came, there were still many refugees from former Yugoslavia, but quickly the camp filled with over 2000 Afghan refugees.  

While working in this camp, I got to know my now wife, Rosemary, and together we saw many people from Afghanistan, Iran, Kosovo, and other muslim-majority countries become Christians. As these people came to Europe to escape the conflicts back home, many of them had the opportunity to read the New Testament and hear the gospel, and meet Christians, and attend a church for the first time in their lives – and God used His Word to change their hearts and their lives.

My heartfelt condolences go out to the grieving families whose lives were changed when over 2,997 people lost their lives on September 11. I pray that the Lord would be their comfort and that they would find in Jesus the hope of the resurrection and life everlasting.

May we also honor and thank the first responders and emergency workers who served that day and in the weeks following. May we pray for our medical workers today as well as they serve the hurting and sick in the midst of this current crisis.

Let us also be in prayer for those who served in the military over the past 20 years, and for the families of those who lost family members in service. And let us pray as well for the Afghan people and the Afghan Christians who are now suffering under Taliban rule today.