Pastor's Blog

Chris Boehnke

Chris Boehnke

Hi! My name is Chris Boehnke (a good German name pronounced “Bane-key”). Tracy, my wife, and I have been married for 21 years and God has blessed us with four beautiful children: Joshua (18), Lauren (16), Nathaniel (13), and Mikayla (9). I treasure my wife and family among the greatest gifts God has given me in life.

I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska – the heartland of the Midwest – by two loving parents, Don and Linda. I grew up attending a conservative but vibrant Lutheran congregation, while also experiencing excursions into other evangelical and charismatic church environments. This exposed me to a breadth of Christian practice and teaching that has incited me over the years to ask a ton of questions and to seek deeper understanding regarding what “the church” is and what it’s central message, “the Gospel,” is all about.

While my interests were in art (drawing and painting) and language (excelling in German) at Millard North High School, I ended up completing a B.A. in Philosophy at the University of Nebraska in Omaha (I consider philosophy “the art of asking good questions”). I attended Concordia Seminary in St Louis to finish a Master of Divinity in May 2000. Since then I have served as a shepherd-teacher for followers of Jesus in Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota, and now Michigan. I happily reside with my family in Grand Haven, Michigan, where I serve a community of Jesus followers in Spring Lake called Lakeshore Fellowship. When I’m not reading or studying one of several books at a time, I enjoy spending time with Tracy and the kids, going for walks in nature, relaxing at the beach (with a good book!), cycling, exploring new things and places, watching Star Trek, or painting.

Along the way I’ve encountered many casualties of organized Christianity – those who have been sorely hurt, turned off, offended, or just disenchanted with all its stale rules and rituals. My desire is to compassionately hear and love those who have been broken or turned off by the church and those who have rejected an ugly God they can no longer worship. I want to wrestle alongside those who have nagging questions and doubts about who God is and what our place in this ugly world is. Most especially, I want to paint a better, more beautiful picture for them and for the world – to reimagine – who God is as unfailing, relentless LOVE, gloriously revealed in Jesus the Messiah-King.

I invite you to join the conversation!

Website URL: http://www.facebook.com/Chris-Boehnke-1794284217475214/ Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

SEE JESUS AND YOU SEE GOD THE FATHER

Do you clearly see who God is and what he is like?

Or do you feel like your vision of God is fuzzy and unclear?

Perhaps you feel like you’re in the dark and you can’t really see who he is at all.

I was in 3rd grade when I discovered that my vision was fuzzy and unclear. Sitting in the back of the classroom, I strained to see what the teacher was writing on the chalkboard (yes, I’m dating myself here. There were no dry-erase or smartboards yet!).

I didn’t realize I had a vision problem until that moment when I experienced my inability to clearly see.

After an eye exam, the optometrist prescribed lenses for my first eye-glasses. I had a significant near-sightedness with an astigmatism – which has gotten worse through the years. But with wearing glasses and then contacts, starting in high school, my vision is corrected.

Wow, what a difference! I could make out lines and see sharp edges unlike ever before. The whole world around me now looked crystal clear in my sight.

We need this same crystal clear sight of who God is.

On the evening that Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples, spiritual vision became the topic of conversation when Philip thought he still lacked a clear vision of God the Father.

“‘Lord,’ said Philip, ‘show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.’

Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been among you all this time and you do not know me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.’”  (John 14:8-10 CSB)

For Philip, if he was going to clearly see or imagine who God the Father is, then he believed he would need to see something aside from or in addition to Jesus. But Jesus corrects Philip’s fuzzy vision here. Jesus tells Philip that when he sees Jesus he is seeing the Father!

This means that none of us can clearly see or imagine who God is unless our spiritual vision is restored and corrected by Jesus alone.  Jesus is the lens that enables us to clearly see and imagine who God is and what he is like.

Who is God?

See Jesus.

What is God like?

See Jesus.

How do we know what God’s heart and will for us is?

See Jesus.

Not “Jesus and ….”  Not “Jesus but…”

Simply Jesus. See Jesus and you see God the Father.

Look at Jesus declaring the Good News of God’s liberating kingdom. See him drive out demonic powers of evil. He heals sick and broken bodies. He brings peace and order within chaotic storms.

See him liberate the oppressed and bring justice to the victimized.

See him rebuke religious hypocrisy and pride. He chastises the self-indulgent wealthy. He condemns sectarian and exclusionary attitudes. He warns of the self-destructive end for the self-absorbed life.

See him forgive people of their sins. See how he loves and parties with outcasts, the marginalized, and the throwaways of society. He feeds the hungry and poor. He offers rest for the weary.

Look at him bring the dead back to life. Look at him promise life and redeeming justice for a world in the throes of evil, violence, and death.

See Jesus hanging on the cross. Suffering. Bleeding. Dying.

See Jesus praying from the cross in harmony with the Father: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Look at Jesus crucified and see God the Father giving His life for you!

God allowed us to reject him and do our worst to him. Yet, he gave his best to us in love.

The suffering-servant King Jesus, crucified on a cross and risen from the dead. He is the lens the Holy Spirit uses to correct our blind, distorted, and fuzzy vision of God.

When we see Jesus with Spirit-given eyes of faith, then we have a crystal-clear vision of who God our Father is and what He’s like.

He is a Jesus-looking God.

Wow, this makes all the difference in the world!

In the coming weeks, we will explore all the ways that reimagining God as a Jesus-looking God transforms how we think and live.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A RELATIONAL GOD OF LOVE, PART 1

When you think of God, have you ever imagined him as a grumpy grandfather figure in the sky?

There are many people who picture God like this. In fact, there are many distorted images of God we may have.

Here are a few of the ways people imagine God:

An angry Zeus on Mount Olympus hurling his lightning bolts of judgment.

An Unmoved Mover who determines and causes all things.

A Force like in Star Wars – a universal energy field within all things that we can use for good or evil.

A cosmic Santa Claus who gives us the presents we want so long as we’ve not been naughty but nice – and he’s keeping track!

Jesus, however, is the correcting lens by which we clearly and definitively see who God really is.

Jesus said to Philip, one of his twelve disciples, The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me… Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:9-10, 13).

Notice that not only does Jesus give us the revelatory sight of God as our heavenly Father. But Jesus also reveals that he is the Son of God, his Father. Jesus is “in the Father” and “the Father is in” him. This means that both the Father and the Son are God.

Do you suppose the disciples’ heads felt dizzy trying to figure this out? How about yours?

As the Son of God the Father, Jesus is the Word of God – the speaking Voice, the Message, the Reason, the Logic of God (Logos in Greek). Here’s how the apostle John put it at the start of his gospel:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:1-4)

This speaking Voice and Word of God the Father – through whom everything was made – came to us. He got up close and personal to reveal the Father to us and for us.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Jesus definitively reveals who God is because he is God the Son united to our human flesh and blood. As the infinite God, he joined himself to a finite human body. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a young Jewish girl named Mary and was born as a baby over 2,000 years ago.

He came to walk in our shoes and speak to us on our level.

This is why Jesus is called “Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23). He is “God with us.” God has come in our flesh-and-blood humanity so we may reimagine who is and what he is like.

“No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side – he has revealed him.” (John 14:18)

Jesus breaks through all our distorted images of God. As God the Son, he reveals who God the Father is.  This means we can’t look for who God is behind Jesus, apart from Jesus, or in addition to Jesus.

We see God’s character and nature in Jesus.

Not only does Jesus reveal the Father, Jesus is also the bearer of the Holy Spirit of God!

John the Baptizer, who prepared the way for Jesus to come on the scene said, “he who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The one you see the Spirit descending and resting on – he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:33-34)

Or consider these words: “For the one whom God sent speaks God’s words, since he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hands.” (John 3:34-35)

So, let’s sum up what we’ve discovered at this point.

Jesus reveals God as our heavenly Father.

Jesus reveals that he is the Son of God his Father.

Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit, who comes from God the Father.

One God, but three “persons” – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is what Christians have traditionally called “The Trinity.” God is a Three-in-One and One-in-Three God.

At this point, we may be tempted to think: “Oh yeah, this is the historic, orthodox, Christian doctrine of the Trinity. But it’s all so abstract and has nothing to do with my real life.”

But we would be terribly wrong to think this way.

Yes, there is a deep and holy mystery to this revelation of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But, seeing God in Jesus as a Triune God is all about the light and life he gives us to experience each day!

I’ll give you a clue as to where we’re heading…

God is not a solitary, impersonal, Sovereign separated from us in the heavens.

God is a vibrantly-alive, relational Three-in-One community of mutual self-giving, sacrificial love. And this God includes you and me in the “dance of love” that is revealed in Jesus!

(Stay tuned for more on this theme in next week’s post: A Relational God of Love, Part 2)

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

A RELATIONAL GOD OF LOVE, PART 2

Who is God and what is he like?

This is a deeply significant question for each of us to answer. For the person we become will reflect what we worship – the god or God we worship. Our view of God will form and shape how we think, act, and relate with others, for good or bad.

Jesus alone is the lens who clearly reveals to us who God is. “The one who has seen me has seen the Father” he said. (John 14:9).

The writer of Hebrews makes this profound statement about Jesus that should elicit awe and wonder in us: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:3)

As the Word of God, the divine Son of the Father, Jesus united himself to our human flesh and blood in the incarnation by the Holy Spirit from the Father.

Jesus reveals that God is not a solitary, impersonal, Sovereign separated from us high above in the heavens.

Consider the event of Jesus’s baptism that began his public ministry. This is an epiphany experience revealing to us a Jesus-looking God.

A rugged, desert prophet named John was urging fellow Jews from Jerusalem and the surrounding area to “repent” – to change the way they think and act about God and his coming kingdom-reign on earth.

So people came out to John in the Judean wilderness to confess their sins – their wrong beliefs and their ungodly lives – so they could be immersed (“baptized”) in the Jordan River. As sinners they were immersed in water to receive the promise of forgiveness for their sins and a new life.

Then Jesus shows up. And he wants John to baptize him! Apparently, John knew enough about Jesus to know Jesus didn’t need to be baptized, because baptism is only for sinners who need to repent.

“But John tried to stop him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?’

 Jesus answered him, ‘Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John allowed him to be baptized.

 When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice from heaven said: ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.’ ” (Matthew 3:13-17)

Jesus is immersed in water like a sinner, in solidarity with sinners, sharing in our human flesh and blood.

And when Jesus came out of the water, his identity – indeed God’s identity – is revealed right here!

The heavenly voice of God the Father declares that Jesus is his Son whom he loves and is pleased with. And the Holy Spirit proceeds down from the Father to rest on Jesus his beloved Son.

In his baptism Jesus is revealed as the promised servant-King of Israel (the words of the heavenly voice reflect Psalm 2 and Isaiah 42).

But this is no ordinary human king.

Secondly, Jesus is revealed as the God-man – he is God united to our humanity, indeed all humanity!

In his baptism Jesus also reveals that God is a vibrantly-alive, relational Three-in-One community of self-giving, sacrificial love.

The Father loves and delights in the Son with the movement of the Spirit.

And the Son with the Spirit yields himself, listens to, and loves the Father in response. Anointed with the Spirit, Jesus expresses his love back to the Father throughout his ministry in the words he speaks and in how he serves.

Here at his baptism Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature.”

Who is God?

Jesus reveals that God’s core essential nature that binds together all his attributes is LOVE.

John, the “apostle of love,” put it best when he said:

God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son in the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sin…This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us: he has given us of his Spirit.”  (1 John 4:8-10, 13)

If God is love, then that means he is the perfect relationship of love. And every relationship of love has three elements: the lover, the beloved, and the love they share.

God is a relational God of love: the Father loves the Son, his beloved, in the bond of love that is the Spirit.

This is Good News that heals us of all our toxic and harmful images of God so we may experience our lives immersed in the Triune God’s presence through Jesus.

The Triune God of love has sacrificially loved us in Jesus by immersing himself into our humanity and our sin. By the Spirit we see and know that we are immersed in the sacrificial love of Jesus that comes from God our heavenly Father.

When we see God’s glory radiating in the incarnate, crucified, and risen Jesus with the eyes of faith, then our hearts are set free to dance in the communion of God’s self-giving, sacrificial love.

(Next week we continue with A Relational God of Love, Part 3)

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Meet Pastor Chris

  • Hi! My name is Chris Boehnke (a good German name pronounced “Bane-key”). Tracy, my wife, and I have been married for 21 years and God has blessed us with four beautiful children: Joshua (18), Lauren (16), Nathaniel (13), and Mikayla (9). I treasure my wife and family among the greatest gifts God has given me in life. I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska – the heartland of the Midwest – by two loving parents, Don and Linda. I grew up attending a conservative but vibrant Lutheran congregation, while also experiencing excursions into other evangelical and charismatic church environments. This exposed me to a breadth of Christian practice and teaching that has incited me over the years to ask a ton of questions and to seek deeper understanding regarding what “the church” is and what it’s central message, “the Gospel,” is all about. While my interests were in art…

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A Congregation of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

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