Article: Living Water

I love the story of Jesus encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria.

However, there are a lot of nuances that can easily be missed.

  • The woman went to the well around noon (the 6th hour) to avoid conversations with others.
  • Jesus should not be at the well because it was inappropriate for a man to talk to a woman alone.
  • Jesus was in Samaria and there was bad blood between Jews and Samaritans.

This is a “conflict rich environment.”

Jesus is at this well in Samaria (not Israel) by himself around noon when a woman from town comes to draw water, hoping no one would be there.

Rather than minding his own business, Jesus asks her for a drink of water.

The woman knew he wasn’t a Samaritan. Maybe it was his accent? Already annoyed that she is not alone, she tries to end the conversation.

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) John 4:9

She is trying to cut this conversation off before it begins.

Essentially, the woman says this, “Why are you even talking to me? Your people look down on my people. Your people wouldn’t touch anything that touched my hands because we are ‘unclean.’”

A little passive aggressive to get Jesus to leave her alone!

It doesn’t work. And now, Jesus has her full attention.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

Jesus knew this woman was struggling because Jesus always knows. He intentionally makes a provocative statement to see if she will “bite.” And she does.

Jesus’ intention was to show her the love of God maybe for the first time in her life. This woman knows disappointment. This woman knows shame. Her is life was marked by numerous relational failures and the subsequent judgment from others in town.

Jesus wants to change her life moving forward. He does this by offering her “living water.”

This offer of living water sounds kind of like new age spirituality when Jesus first says it. But it is not. To understand what he is talking about, we would need to read more of the gospel of John to understand what he is talking about.

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.  John 7:37-39

There we have it. Jesus was offering the woman at the well the gift of the Holy Spirit. He was inviting her into a relationship with God.

It is the same Spirit offered to all who come to faith in Christ, including you. It is the Spirit who wants to gift you with all the tools you need to get through life.

Listen to this…

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22

Those are the things the Holy Spirit wants to give to every child of God! I gladly accept these gifts! I hope you do too.

The Holy Spirit is like a chilled glass of water on a hot day… refreshing!

This weekend we will gather to celebrate the day God gave the Holy Spirit to all believers. Come and join us online or in person as we give thanks for the Holy Spirit that guides and inspires us… each and every day.

God bless,

Pr. Ben

Article: Why I Talk About Church Finances and Giving

The church is the body of believers that gather together. Saint Paul refers to us as the “body of Christ.” (1Corinthians 12:27)

He takes that a step further and calls Jesus the “head” of this body. In other words, Christ is the brains of the operation!

First and foremost, this is Christ’s church. Second, we are stewards (managers) of what Jesus entrusted to us.

It is a communal responsibility to care for our church. It doesn’t just fall to me or Pastor Brian or even the church council. We all have a stake in caring for all aspects of our congregation.

That is the precisely the reason I have been so open about our finances and all the different things that needed repairs over the years.

It was conveyed to me recently that some are uncomfortable with me sharing our congregational needs with the membership, especially when there is a deficit.

In my attempts to be transparent, I have made some to feel uncomfortable and question what we are doing?

In several previous congregational meetings, I have stated more than once that our largest expense is our staffing and that is common in all churches. We have reduced staff since the pandemic to trim our budget.

Up to this point, we have resisted shrinking our staff even more.

Occasionally, there are unforeseen expenses that happen too. This year (so far) it was our exorbitant gas bill. We are still working on finding out why.

My objective is simple: Let our amazing congregation know what is going on and why.

I do not mean to upset anyone. Ever.

As it relates to all things giving, I believe in what Saint Paul wrote with my whole heart.

Each person should give what they have decided in their heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2Corinthians 9:7

There is no reason to give to the church if you don’t feel like it. It is that simple.

God wants people to be cheerful and joyful when they give. We should never give because someone is guilting us or twisting our arms.

I love our church and only want the best for us and the ability to continue to provide quality ministry to you, the city and online!

God bless you,
Pr. Ben

Article: Accepting Yourself and Others

This past Sunday I preached on the first part of our mission statement at CLC. It states that we are church of real people. Essentially, we are imperfect people seeking Jesus.

The church is full of broken people in varying degrees, including myself.

Although God is perfect, he doesn’t demand perfection from us. God knows us so well that he sent us himself (as Jesus) to forgive us and draw us close. The cross tells us that God doesn’t hold anything against us.

Jesus wants us to draw so close so that we can be washed clean (forgiven) by him. He isn’t scared off by sin. Jesus embraces sinners.

Knowing this, why do we judge people who sin knowing we do it too? There is something wrong with us when we feel superior to those who do bad things, and we look down on others. It is contrary to everything we know about ourselves (we are sinners too) and God’s unconditional love.

No matter how many times we are told that God is love (1John 4:8) we still think God requires people to get their act together before they can truly be considered a Christian. There is nowhere in the Bible that we are asked to be “gatekeepers” to keep the riffraff out.  The point is that we are all a hot mess to some degree.

We don’t need to fit in… we are accepted as we are.

It is a paradox to think “I am acceptable to God” but you over there “are not.” It is purely by God’s grace, God’s gift of love that we are all welcomed into God’s family. We are then forgiven and made new by our faith (trust) in the living Christ.

We don’t have to hide our sin because we can’t. We don’t have to wear a mask or build a carefully curated version of ourselves for God or other people. When we embrace the ouchy parts of our life, Jesus draws close to bring healing. Hiding the pain only prolongs the emotional agony.

God bless you,
Pastor Ben

Article: Holy Week 2023

Holy Week crown of thorns background.

We begin the most important week of the year: Holy Week.

Jesus came to forgive. To repair what was broken shortly after creation: Our Rebellion.

On Good Friday, Jesus gave his life as a ransom so that we can be truly free.

Much happens between Palm Sunday and Easter morning. More than we can describe in worship this coming week.

If you are interested in a timeline of the week, you came to the right place.


  • Jesus arrives in Bethany six days before Passover (Jn12:1)
  • Stays with Lazarus, Mary and Martha (his Judean home)
  • Possibly the supper and anointing in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper where Jesus is anointed by Mary. (Mt 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9; Jn 12:1-8)

Palm Sunday:

  • Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mt 21:1-9; Mk 11:1-10; Lk 19:28-38; Jn12:12-18) Fulfills the prophecies of Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9
  • Jesus weeps over seeing Jerusalem and predicts its destruction. (Lk 19:39-44)
  • Jesus cleanses the temple. (Mt 21:10-17; Mk 11:11; Lk 19:45-46; Jn 2:13-25)

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday:

  • Jesus curses the fig tree. (Mt 21:18-19; Mk 11:12-14)
  • Parable of the wicked tenants (Mt 21:33-46; Mk 12:1-12; Lk 20:9-19)
  • Returns to Bethany at night.
  • Jesus denounces the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 23:1-36; Mk 12:37-40; Lk 20:45-47)
  • Jesus teaches in the Temple (Lk 21:37-38)
  • Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple. (Mt 24:1-3; Mk 13:1-4; Lk 21:5-7)
  • Possibly, on Wednesday, the supper and anointing in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper. (Mt 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9; Jn 12:1-8) Mark’s account is just after he says that it was two days before the Passover.

Holy Thursday, Thursday Night, Early Friday Morning:

  • The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and preparation for the Passover for Jesus and the disciples. (Mt 26:17-19; Mk 14:12-16; Lk 22:7-13; Jn 19:14)
  • The Last Supper (Mt 26:20-25; Mk 14:17-21; Lk 22:14, 21-23; Jn 13 “before the Feast of Passover”)
  • Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane; the betrayal of Judas and the arrest of Jesus.
  • Jesus taken to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest. Annas sends Jesus to Caiaphas (Jn 18:12-25)
  • Jesus taken to the high priest Caiaphas’ home where the scribes, elders, and the chief priests had gathered. (Mt 26:57-75; Mk 14:53-72; Lk 22:54-71)
  • Peter denies Jesus three times.
  • Jesus was kept overnight in a cistern below Caiaphas’ home.

Good Friday:

  • Early in the morning, the Sanhedrin meets, they lead Jesus to Pilate. (Mk 15:1; Mt 27:1-2; Lk 23:1; Jn 18:28)
  • Pilate sends Jesus to Herod (Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee) (Lk 23:6-7)
  • Herod mocks Jesus and then clothes him in gorgeous apparel, and sends Jesus back to Pilate (Lk 23:6-12)
  • Pilate examines Jesus and finds him not guilty of the Jew’s charges against him. Pilate has Jesus flogged and plans to release him. (Lk 23:13-16; Jn 19:1-13)
  • Jesus is crowned with thorns. (Jn 19:1-6)
  • Jesus is sentenced to death and is crucified at 9:00 in the morning (Mk 15:25)
  • Jesus dies at 3:00 and is buried in the tomb. (Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34; Lk 23:44)

 Holy Saturday: Jesus’ body in the tomb.

Easter Sunday:

  • Early in the morning of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome (Joana?) brought spices to anoint Jesus’ body. The stone had been rolled away, the tomb was open, the body was gone, and they were told by an angel (two angels, a young man or two men in white clothes) that Jesus had been raised, and to go tell the disciples that Jesus has risen and would see them in Galilee. (Mt 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-8; Lk 24:1-12)
  • The disciples did not believe the women, but Peter ran to the tomb. (Lk 24:10-12)
  • Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene and tells her to go to the disciples. She is the first person on record to see the risen Jesus. (Jn 20:11-17)
  • Matthew’s account: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were on their way to tell the disciples what the angel had said, when Jesus met them and said, “Hail!” “And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Mt 28:5-10)
  • Mary Magdalene tells the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”. (Jn 20:18)
  • Jesus appears to Peter (Cephas) (Paul’s account in 1Cor 15:5)
  • Two disciples walking to Emmaus recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread. (Lk 24:13-32)
  • The two disciples immediately return to Jerusalem, find the Eleven gathered, and are told that Jesus has appeared to Peter (Simon). (Lk 24:33-35) “While they were saying this, Jesus stood among them…” (Lk 24:36) “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week…Jesus came and stood among them…” (Jn 20:19) “Now Thomas…was not with them when Jesus came.” (Jn 20:24)

Click here to look at the graphic more closely:

Make the journey with us this week. From the triumphal entry to the upper room to the cross and finally to the empty tomb.

God bless you,
Pastor Ben