Some Implications of Jesus Being Raised from the Dead -

1)   Because of Jesus’ resurrection we can be assured that our sins are forgiven. (Romans 4:25)
2)   Because of Jesus’ bodily resurrection we can be assured that we too will be raised (1 Cor. 15:20-28).
3)   Since Christ has been raised our preaching is not useless and our faith is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:12-19)
4)   Jesus became Lord of all at the moment of His bodily resurrection (1 Cor. 15:24-28, Acts 2:36, Romans 1:3-4, 10:9, Phil. 2:9-11).
5)   Because of Jesus’ bodily resurrection all enemies have become subject to Him and have been or are being defeated by Him (1 Cor 15:28).
6)   Because of Jesus’ bodily resurrection a day of judgment is coming in the resurrection of both those who believe and those who don’t (1 Cor. 15:33, 2 Cor. 5:10). 
7)   Because of Jesus’ bodily resurrection, the last enemy - death has been defeated (1 Cor 15:26)
8)   Because of Jesus’ bodily resurrection complete and utter victory has been won Christ (1 Cor. 15:50-58).
9)   Because of Jesus’ bodily resurrection we will be raised in bodies that will not perish.  We will be like Him. (1 Cor. 15:50-58).
10) Because of Jesus’ bodily resurrection we are not to lose heart and can live lives now in hope of what is to come.  In other words, the resurrection of Jesus is an indication that this is not all there is.  We can endure, we can suffer, we can persevere because we know in the end we won’t just die. Because God raised Christ, God will raise us (2 Cor. 4:7-5:10).
11) Because of Jesus’ bodily resurrection God has given us His Spirit as an indicator of the life to come.  The Spirit is given to us as an eschatological down-payment.  In other words, the spirit of Christ has been given to us as a foretaste of the life to come (2 Cor. 5:5)
12) Because of Jesus’ bodily resurrection we can avail ourselves of the power of God in resisting sin and temptation.  This same power is ours.
13) Because of Jesus’ bodily resurrection we have a permanent dwelling-place waiting for us (2 Cor. 5:1)
14) Because of Jesus’ bodily resurrection we have been and will forever be adopted as God’s sons and daughters (2 Cor. 5:1).
15) Because of the bodily resurrection of Jesus these temporary troubles that vex us are really only light and momentary afflictions.  They will give way to glory that will be revealed at the day of the resurrection.  Death will be swallowed up in life (2 Cor. 5:4).
16) Because of Jesus’ bodily resurrection we need not fear death.  This enemy has been overcome.
17) Because of Jesus’ bodily resurrection our lives are now hidden with God in Christ.  In other words, new life, resurrection life, life in the power of the resurrected Jesus is at work in us to transform us and change us into the image of Jesus Christ.  This is great hope for us!  For those of us that our grieved by our own sin there is good news.  Sin is being put to death in us.  The fruit of the Spirit, which is the Spirit given because of Jesus’ bodily resurrection, is being made manifest in us.  When you get discouraged because of your sin remember the Spirit of the resurrected Jesus is at work in you.
18) In the bodily resurrection of Jesus a new day had dawned, a new creation was brought forth. Old things have begun to pass away.


Men Without Chests

“…But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”

-Isaiah 66:2b

“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
- Colossians 3:12-13

Dear Friends,

In 1943 C.S. Lewis wrote a small book called, The Abolition of Man. It was meant to be a commentary on the educational climate in England in Lewis’s day, but it was far more a philosophical treatise on the nature of man. In a scant few pages Lewis zeroes in on the lack of charitableness or generosity in 1940’s English educational culture. He was concerned for an educational system that was perpetuating the inculcation of masses with information totally devoid of a ‘fertile and generous emotion’[1]. Lewis called them, ‘men without chests’. They would become men and women with intellectual capacity and drive, but no capacity for civility or magnanimity. In other words, they would become heads bereft of hearts. The thrust of Lewis’s concerns are not limited to early 20th century England. The danger of the Reformed faith is the creation of our own men without chests. These would be men of incredible intellectual prowess, biblical and theological understanding, the ability to wax eloquent about the minutest theological point, but wholly deficient of a ‘fertile and generous emotion’. This is religious phariseeism at its most offensive apex. The knowledge of the gospel and the knowledge of Jesus Christ, by their very nature, are meant to cultivate love, humility, grace, longsuffering, and a magnanimous spirit. Knowledge, by itself, puffs up and inflates, but a right understanding of gospel truth brings us low. God’s intention is that the Christian is to be known by a largeness of spirit, thereby reflecting the character of God Himself. The work of the Spirit in the truth of the gospel is intended to bring much fruit by making us become men with large minds and large chests and not one without the other.

May God enlarge us with both knowledge and love for Him and for one another.


[1] Dorsett, Lyle, ed., The Essential C.S. Lewis, p. 437

(This blog was originally posted in January 2009)


Hope for Change When Hope Seems Lost

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
- John 10:27

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
- Philippians 2:12,13

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
- Colossians 3:1-3

“All my hope is naught save in Thy great mercy. Grant what Thou dost command and command what Thou wilt.”
- Augustine, Confessions, Book 10:XXIX

“Therefore, just as Adam did not die for himself alone, but for us all, so it follows that Christ, who is the antitype, did not rise merely for Himself. For He came to restore everything which had been brought to ruin in Adam…. The cause of death is Adam, and we die in him; therefore Christ, whose function it is to restore what we have lost in Adam, is the cause for life in us.”
- John Calvin, quoted in Calvin and the Atonement by Robert Peterson, pp. 61, 62

Dear Friends,
If you’ve ever experienced the gnawing low-grade discouragement of besetting sin you may have asked the question, ‘Will I ever change?’ Or you may have wondered if there is any hope for the nagging patterns of sin in your spouse, friends or children. The power for real and lasting change is resident in the objective reality of the person and work of Christ. Let me say it a different way - real and lasting victory over sin is achieved only through trust in Christ’s objective victory over sin. Christ achieved real victory over real sin. The frequent encouragement in Scripture is towards certain behavior, but that behavioral change is always rooted in the person and work of Christ in His real, historical, objective, and effective victory over sin. Theologians have called this the indicative (that which is objectively true) and the imperative (that moral action which God requires). The imperative of gospel behavior is rooted in the indicative of gospel truth. God declares something so based upon His righteous action, and right behavior is a moral action based upon this declaration and action of God. In other words, what God has accomplished in an historical event and has declared to be so is the impetus of my obedience. I work out my salvation because God has already worked and not vice versa. This gives true hope for gospel change.

Join me in thanking God today for His indicative that enables His imperative.



George Vernon Amundson
I've written this in consideration of Memorial Day 2018. In 2008 American country singer Jamie Johnson released a song entitled, In Color. The song went on to win the CMA Song of the Year in 2009. The song is a ballad about an old man remniscing to his grandson as they look at old black and white pictures in a photo album. The second verse of the song says this,

Oh and this one here was taken over seas
In the middle of 1943
In the winter time, you can almost see my breath
That was my tail gunner ole Johnny Magee
He was a high school teacher from New Orleans
And he had my back right through the day we left
If it looks like we were scared to death 
Like a couple of kids just trying to save each other
You should have seen it in color [1]

I have a story to tell about a young second-generation Norwegian-American. He was born in Minnesota in 1924. The son of hardy Nordic stock, and being raised in a tight Norwegian community, he never spoke English until he started grade school. In fact, until the day he died his strong Norwegian accent never abated, this despite being born in the US. At age 17 he left home to join the military. In 1941 World War II was in full force and because he was 17 he needed special permission to join the Navy. For whatever reason his parents would not grant permission, but he was able to convince an aunt and uncle to sign the waiver. Though he joined the Navy he was never able to swim very well. This was a bit problematic since he was twice in open ocean combat zones in the theater of war, and twice he had naval vessels sunk from under him, having had to spend time in the ocean awaiting rescue. One of those times he was picked up and sent to France. The second time he was picked up by Russian allies and taken to Russia. During his time in Russia he tried to join the Norwegian Resistance, which was an underground resistance group organized against Hitler and the Third Reich, but he was refused since he was an American citizen. For his bravery he was awarded several medals and awards. When he returned from the war, and after he married, he was so stricken by the sights and sounds and memories of battle that one day he walked into the forest, away from their Minnesota farm, and threw the medals as far away as possible. He was loath to talk about his experience. In fact, we don’t know much more about his war-time experience. George Vernon Amundson died in 1989 at 65 years old, suffering for years the effects of war in his body. George Vernon Amundson was my father-in-law, Judy’s dad, and a dear Christian man.

Who will remember? Who will remember George Amundson? Who will remember the names of the soon-forgotten heroes, and who will remember the reason men and women make sacrifice, some of them the ultimate sacrifice? This is why Veteran's Day is important. This is why remembering is important. We mustn’t forget them or their stories.

[1]Johnson, Jamie, That Lonesome Song, In Color, Mercury Records, 2008


Seven Hours on a Sunday Night

There is no want for criticism of law enforcement these days. Everyone seems to have an opinion and much of it leveled at the behavior of a few bad actors. Every profession has them…bad actors that is…it’s just that the stakes are higher because law enforcement requires performance that approaches perfection. One officer has told me that one wrong split-second decision will ruin an entire career. Think of it – one wrong move and everything is gone. The criticism is withering. The scrutiny is incessant.

My son is now in law enforcement. The scatter-brained, always-active kid with his mind on all-things unimportant, now carries a gun and a badge, and attempts to hold the thin blue line in a world gone increasingly crazy. It just so happens that last night, for seven hours, I had a front row seat into his world. This is a world of which I’m largely unfamiliar. It was Sunday night and surely he and I would have a quiet evening. His only warnings to me were to fasten my seatbelt and to not feel compelled to talk to anyone that may get a ‘ride’ in his patrol car. This was good counsel directed toward a guy that likes to talk to strangers. As it turns out I would heed his advice.

The shift started about 6:00pm. I was prompt and so was he. First things first, he introduced me to his commanding officer. Polite and all business, I knew immediately my son was in good hands. More on this later but in any endeavor leadership can make or break our best efforts. From there we put gas in the cruiser and we were on our way. 

We started out driving around to just show me the area. It wasn’t long and we were checking on an apartment with a report of bullet holes through a wall. Sure enough, someone had fired a high-powered firearm from one apartment building into another. While beginning to assess the situation another call came in over the radio, a code three. I was unfamiliar with the language but soon found that code three meant another officer was calling for backup…in a hurry…with lights, sirens, and blindingly fast speed. It was a domestic disturbance with an occupant threatening to harm herself by walking into traffic. She was resistant and angry and threw herself down on the asphalt. Several officers arrived and spoke to her daughter. The aid car was called and she was transported to the hospital for care and evaluation.

The next call was via phone to an elderly gentleman that had been the victim of credit card fraud. He was distressed. Someone had skimmed his credit card and put six bogus charges against his account. It was Sunday and he couldn’t reach his bank. He wasn’t sure what to do. I get it. I wouldn’t have been sure of what to do either. My son walked him through next steps to help settle his mind. The older gentleman, grateful, expressed his appreciation. 

We next made our way back to the apartment to sleuth out the stray gunfire. How had it happened? Was there a crime involved? Was it a suicide, or even a homicide? We tried to locate the tenants. My son called a phone number and a Hispanic woman, unable to speak English, answered. Little did I know my son now speaks conversational Spanish! He was able to gather enough information to know the call was a dead end. Just as we arrived at the apartment another call came in…another domestic violence call…this time from a woman with known mental health issues. Her speech was like stoccato’d gunfire, each sentence was brief, laden with emotion, and disconnected. Her story was implausible. She was troubled and wanted someone to listen. Notes were taken and counsel was given. She has been a frequent caller to dispatch. Ask them and law enforcement will tell you; folks with mental health challenges are frequent callers.

By now it was time for a break. We’d get something to eat and head back to the office for the evening briefing. Sonic was the meal of choice. I couldn’t eat. There was too much happening for me to feel the least bit hungry. Before we got back to the facility there was another call, this time at the jail of all places. The call identified a woman in a vehicle chasing a man in a vehicle. Every appearance was that this was a lover’s quarrel gone bad and then gone mobile; a quarrel that coincidently ended up at the county jail. After de-escalation the couple was sent on their way, but only after the deputy gave the young man a head start.

The briefing looked more like a family gathering. The commanding officer was checking in. Each deputy took a turn. There were a lot of laughs and good-natured teasing. In a job that’s ‘always on’ any respite from the stress is best shared as a team. It looked like it would be a relatively quiet night overall. The final decision…two officers were paired up to head to a rural community an hour away for another domestic call while we headed back into town. 

Heading back to the aforementioned apartment the next call came over the radio. I had a hard time deciphering the dispatch. My alarm escalated when my son said, ‘It’s too late to drop you off now. Is your seat belt fastened?’ He then said, ‘It doesn’t make sense. An armed robbery in a rural area is rare.’ Again, blindingly fast and we were the first to arrive with another deputy close behind. For all we knew the armed suspects were still on premises. Guns were drawn. K-9 was called. Other officers arrived. This one was serious. The attack upon the residents was calculated and egregious. I stayed put in the cruiser. After the K-9 swept the area no suspects were found. The homeowners were shaken. The crime was brazen. This will be one to keep an eye on. 

We hadn’t gotten out of the rural driveway when the next call came in. It was another exigent domestic dispute and it was escalating by the second. A woman locked herself in a back bedroom while her male friend barked rising threats. The call dispatcher could hear everything. So off we went to another rural area several miles away. The commanding officer had already arrived and screams could be heard from across the road. A large man met us in the driveway and he reluctantly let the deputies look around. The woman was located, another woman with a history to the deputies, and she would be given a ‘courtesy ride’ back into town. She was telling stories of biker gangs and stalkers. Heeding my son’s advice, I said nothing to her. 

Once back into town it was my time to head home. It was almost 1:30am. I had an hour-and-a-half drive back and I’d still have to get up for work in the morning.  My drive home was pensive, a swarm of thoughts and emotion; I was sobered by all I’d seen. I was sobered that my son had ended up here, and ended up doing this, and yet it made perfect sense. This is a calling, not for everyone, but for certain ones, driven by sense that they can make a difference in a world that can be an ugly place. I had a hard time squaring the criticisms of law enforcement I’d read about with the reality of real men and real women with real families themselves making incredible sacrifices every day in the promotion of civility and order. Their calling, serving and protecting, where laying their own lives down for others is an everyday occurrence. Often times their jobs are thankless and yet they’re the first we call when we’re in trouble. They run toward danger, while most of us run away. I, for one, am grateful for the seven hours I spent with my son and his outstanding team. And, I’d encourage you, the next time you are tempted to be critical of law enforcement, spend seven hours in a patrol car on a ride-along, but make sure your seat belt is fastened.