Category Archives: Articles

Article: A Bill in the House

Last year an anti-lynching bill passed on the floor of the United States Senate by voice vote. Meaning, it was not controversial and it passed easily. This bill intends to make the lynching of another human being a “hate crime.” This bill was sponsored by senators on both sides of the political aisle. 

If you are not aware, lynchings (or hangings) have been employed in our country for a very long time. They are not conducted legally and are executed outside of  the judicial system which provides “due process of law.” People who conduct lynchings are not only committing murder but they are also taking the law into their own hands. Historically speaking, most lynchings were conducted to enforce white rule and the flawed premise of white superiority. People who conduct such atrocities are often trying to establish or reinforce dominance and fear over another group of people. The U.S. Senate was correct in passing this bill in which it tags lynching as a hate crime. 

This seems like a non-news item doesn’t it? You would think just about everyone would agree that this bill is good and even proper. The United States Senate did and they don’t agree on much of anything these days.  As Americans we believe in due process  of law and understand that killing people is bad especially if it is to assert some sort of fear of the “dominant culture” on another group of people.

But someone objected to this bill. As this bill moves over to the House of Representatives an evangelical Christian nonprofit organization is asking lawmakers to remove language from this anti-lynching bill that also protects Americans on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity before the legislation becomes law. NBC News reported on Wednesday that the nonprofit group, “Liberty Counsel” is lobbying members of the House  of Representatives to remove provisions referring to sexual orientation and gender identity in this bill.

Whoa. I was beyond disappointed when I read about this yesterday. As you know, when people outside of the Church read that some think that all Christians are like that. Although it is not fair, it is human nature to generalize and group people together. But this is less concerning to me than this group’s agenda.

I cannot see how any Christian would want to remove any group of people from anti-lynching legislation. Is it a subtle nod to say these people are worthy of a “hate crime”? It is theologically bankrupt as a Christian to not see violence against vulnerable communities as a sin. Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) to remind us that we should not hate other groups of people. We often forget that it is surprising that the Samaritan man was actually good. Remember, Jewish people hated Samaritans back in Jesus’ day. So much so that one person used the worst slur against Jesus he could think of when he said, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” (John 8:48)

Jesus came and cared for the marginalized. Jesus sided with the outsider. He ministered to people who were discounted, ostracized and minimized. In other words, he lived into the thing he talked about repeatedly: love. 

Even Jesus told us to “love your enemies”(Matthew 5:44) and then he did exactly that from the cross when the religious authorities conspired to have him killed. Remember what Jesus said as they mocked him? “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) We have been called to follow the embodiment of love and share that love, not hate, let alone condone violence.

I can’t help but think about one other thing… evangelism. How on earth can we reach a hurt and broken world if we hate them? Our job is to love… love people into the Kingdom of God. The best way to reach people is to care about them. 

God bless you,
Pr. Ben

Article: Being Judge-y

During the “Christmas break” there is always increased traffic by our home. I live in a national park by one of the most scenic and iconic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. Therefore at every holiday (and I do mean every holiday) there are literally thousands more people trying to enter the park and jockey for the best place to park their cars and take pictures. It wouldn’t be so bad if people obeyed the traffic laws and didn’t stop in the middle of traffic to take pictures from their car. 

I am not annoyed at the volume of traffic, I am annoyed at the lack of courtesy by those who delay my travel. It is as if the “rules of the road” apply to everyone else but not them. Now imagine many people acting like that in small space. Just yesterday I saw 3 cars going the wrong way on a one way street so they could get where they wanted go. Still others stopped on the road so they could take pictures and back up already congested traffic. 

I know, I seem like a traffic Pharisee (a religious teacher of the Law of Moses in Jesus day). I feel like one too. I think to myself, “just follow basic traffic laws and everyone (including me) will be much happier.”

Here is the deal… I know I should be more gracious to every person who comes to take to take in the gorgeous view I see every day (which I do not take for granted) but when some ignore the traffic laws for their own gain, I have a hard time feeling gracious. More often than not I say, “Where are the park police right now???”

That is why I like Saint Paul. He totally understands what I am talking about. Read this…

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.  Romans 7:21-25

Paul understands that we have two “laws” at work within each of us. One law, the law of goodness (think the 10 commandments) which informs us of the things we should be doing as a follower and disciple of Jesus. We all know that we should aspire to do good things as a person of faith as well as avoid other thigns. Most of us could make a list of laws or guidelines to follow Jesus and be a good person. If we take our faith seriously, we try to live by those “rules.”

The other law is the law of sin which has power over us all. We may want to do good but we often succumb to temptation and our temper. 

The image that comes to mind is the little devil on one shoulder and a little angel on the other whispering into our ear. Is this an oversimplified metaphor? Yes. It does reflect the conflict within all of us. 

Saint Paul feels trapped. He can’t live up to the law of goodness because he is also experiencing the judgment of being sinful. He is caught between two very real realities. 

Is there a solution? Yes! Here is what Saint Paul discovered…

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

Paul tells us this is not about the law of being good or the law of sin. Christ frees us from any law!! It is clear we are not able to follow rules very well and Jesus knows that. That is why God sent himself to us to remove the threat of the law (rules). We are forgiven and freed to respond to God’s love. No rules are needed!

I am glad that I am forgiven for my judgmental attitude this past week. I need to be reminded that we are fall short of God’s expectations whether it is my attitude or another person’s driving. I pray more for my attitude towards other to be changed more than the sharpening of other’s driving skills and obeying the rules of the road.

God bless,
Pr. Ben

Article: The Christmas Truce of 1914

THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE, 1914 (Q 70074) British and German soldiers fraternising at Ploegsteert, Belgium, on Christmas Day 1914, Front of 11th Brigade, 4th Division. Copyright: © IWM.

Have you ever heard about the Christmas truce that occurred during World War I?

The fields of Flanders were no place to be on Christmas Eve in 1914. The air was cold and frosty, of course, because it was winter, and things were very quiet. 

Thousands of British, French, Belgian and German troops were dug-in and planning yet another day’s carnage. None of them would have guessed that the “War to End All Wars” would continue nearly four more years and ultimately cost more than eight million soldiers’ lives. 

So, when the entrenched British soldiers saw candle-lit decorations emerging from the enemy’s foxholes and heard the strains of faint melodies being sung in German they thought their enemies were taunting them and prepared to open fire. 

German soldiers were raising their voices to sing “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht”… Suddenly, one of the British soldiers recognized the melody and started singing too — the same song that the Germans were singing — only in English. When the hymn “Silent Night” ended, the British soldiers replied with “The First Noel”. 

Back and forth, the singing went on for about an hour. Then there were voices of invitation to cross over to enemy lines. One German with great courage started walking across the “no man’s land”, and was soon followed by some of his buddies, all with their hands in their pockets to show that they had no weapons. 

When they’d crossed over to the enemy trench, one German soldier said, “I’m a Saxon, you are Anglo-Saxons. Why do we fight?”

For the remainder of that night and much of the next week the war stopped, as the both sides lay down their weapons and lifted their 18-20 year old voices to sing familiar Christmas carols in their own languages. They shared pictures of their families “back home” and even shared provisions. 

English soldiers started kicking around a soccer ball in a pickup game in no man’s land, between the trenches. Eventually England played Germany in a soccer match on Christmas Day in the middle of the battlefield in France in the First World War. (England won.)

An amazing spirit of peace fell over the battlefield that night as war gave way to peace in the Spirit of the Christmas child whose coming had been foretold by Isaiah. 

By New Year’s all sides would be back to killing as usual but, for a brief moment, peace came to one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history. That same Christ still offers peace to the bloodiest of conflicts in our lives. 

As far as I am concerned this was a miracle even if it was short-lived.  Today, I think about the ways I need the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) to enter my life. Not just calling for a temporary truce but lasting peace in my life and in the world. 

If God did it once, it can happen again. As we approach 2019 let us pray for peace in our lives and peace throughout the world. Amen. 

Pr. Ben 

Article: Love? Really?

“But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.

Paul writes to the conflicted church in Corinth that he “planted” several years earlier…

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:3

Most of us know this passage because it is often read at weddings. Paul did not intend for this letter to become a part of “Christian scripture” because it was merely a letter written to a church that he started and they were struggling. Even more so, I think Paul would be surprised that this portion of his letter to the church in Corinth is read at Christian weddings. 

Saint Paul tried to convey to the church that there were more important things than speaking in tongues, healing others and overseeing the administration of the church. Then he proceeds to tell us that love surpasses any title or spiritual gift ever given. Imagine that? Love is something everyone can do and it is the greatest gift given and as Paul says, it is “the most excellent way.” 

Then he applies love (or the lack of love) to several situations. 

  1. If I speak in tongues (which he just talked about in chapter 12 of 1Corinthians) but do so without love, I would be like a noisy, annoying instrument. (Think drum kit given to a 3rdgrader on Christmas.)
  • If I had the power to declare God’s intentions (prophecy) and understand the secret will of God (mysteries) and have a perfect understanding of theology (knowledge) and I have an unshakable trust in God (faith) but I am without love, I am nothing. 

By the way, if you look to the original Greek in which this letter was written you will find that my rendering is a little closer to the original intentions of Saint Paul.

  • If in an act of faithful, selfless devotion I give everything I have to the poor and even give my life as a burning sacrifice as sign of my faith but do not have love, I am nothing. 

All of this is surprising to me because Paul is the superstar apostle who speaks in tongues, gives prophecy, has the clearest understanding of the Christian faith (theology), seems to have an unshakable faith in Christ and does not draw an income for preaching and starting churches. This guy can do it all and yet he says that love is the most excellent way. 

He even mentions that the three greatest things are “faith, hope and love” and out of those three only love will continue on forever. 

I don’t want you to miss this… Paul is an intellectual. He is a theologian. He is heady. Paul is not known for being “warm and fuzzy.” I definitely do not think Saint Paul is a hugger. I think it is amazing that he is advocating for love above correct theology and wisdom. I would think that love would be secondary for Paul but it is not. That should perk up our ears.

Even Paul knows that God is love. Love that comes to us in the person of Jesus. 

As we continue to make our preparations for Christmas, just remember that there is no such thing as the “perfect Christmas.” Let those images go and focus on love. The love that God sent to us in the person of Jesus and the love we share with one another. 

God bless you, 
Pr. Ben

Article: Reflections on President Bush

I believe in love. I believe in the end that love wins. No matter what may or may not happen to us in this life, love has the final word and love is the final and eternal Word. I have committed my adult life and career to this truth.

As a human, I forget that love has the final say in all things. I am grateful for the illuminated reminders that God provides in times of darkness.

The stories shared of President George H.W. Bush shared by his friends and family at his funeral and on the news reminded me that in the end love wins . I was also reminded how that love should be shared as we live our lives.

President Bush and his family are people of faith. His pastor was present with the president in his final moments on earth. The same was true when his wife Barbara died. Their faith in Christ informed their living and their dying. I am strengthened knowing that.

President Bush loved his wife deeply. When asked (hypothetically) if he could come back and be anyone in a new life, who would he be? He answered, “Barbara’s second husband.” He loved her so much and wouldn’t want to live a second time without his best friend and wife. I am strengthened knowing that.

When President Bush’s close friend Secretary of State James Baker visited the president on his final day of life, the president asked, “Where are we going, Bake?”

Baker answered, “Well, Jefe” (Spanish for boss) “We are going to heaven.”

The president responded, “Good, that’s where I want to go.”
I am strengthened knowing that.

People said that he never talked ill of anyone. Someone even combed through his letters and the meanest they found was that the president described someone as being “not much of a gentlemen.”

President Bush loved his family too and they knew it. His son President George W. Bush called his father near the end and told his father that he loved him and he was the best father. I am strengthened knowing that.

On Thursday afternoon, President Bush was laid to rest at his presidential library in College Station, Texas. He was buried next to his beloved wife and their daughter Robin who died at three years of age because of leukemia. They are all together again symbolically and literally. As the honor guard moved the president’s casket to his final resting place, the band played the beautiful hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

Immediately the words of the second verse popped into my head (thank you God)…

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

President George H.W. Bush was once the most powerful man in the world. Yet, when he entered into the presence of Christ President Bush willingly and joyfully cast his symbolic golden crown in front of King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. You see, President Bush was a child of God and is now home.

Historians and political pundits will debate his political career and his stand on various issues. That is not what I experienced this week. I saw person of faith who lived that out to the best of his ability. I also know that in the places President George H.W. Bush failed to live into love… Christ forgave Him. I am strengthened knowing that.

May we be people who always love deeply and live with integrity.

God bless you,
Pr. Ben

Article: God First

I am not an expert in most things. However, I am a theologian. You may even question my expertise in that field of study, yet that is what I am. I look at  everything through the lens of God’s word as found in the scripture and through the filter of the living Word of God who is Jesus the Christ.

The season of Advent is here and our focus is on the “arrival” of Jesus on Christmas Day. We are not only looking back but we are also looking forward to the day Jesus returns in power. As we look at the events of 2018, we need Jesus more than ever.

When I think about all the trouble in the world, I am reminded of something one of my seminary professors once said in class. “If we could obey the first commandment perfectly we would not need the other nine.” He was referring to the first commandment of the Ten Commandments and that is “You shall have no other gods.”

What did my professor mean by that? He was not talking about other gods. He was talking about us. Not that we become a god but we take the place of God. What do I mean by that? Our priorities and preferences take precedence over God’s will for our lives. Now multiply that by the 7.5 billion people who live on earth. No wonder there are so many problems! We are all using our own playbooks!

For example, I see this most often when it comes to an individual’s political preferences. I see over and over again how God’s sovereignty in a person’s life ends at political preferences and policy. Somehow the First Amendment of the US Constitution applies to how people of faith think about God’s will for our nation. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue, it is a personal perception problem. God doesn’t appear to be welcome in our personal political deliberation as individuals. God is relegated to church and not allowed in the public forum as it relates to deliberation and discernment of important national issues. Why is this happening? This goes back to our inability to fully live into the first commandment and letting God lead all areas of our lives (and thought processes).

If I have hit a nerve, I apologize. However, it also means there is an element of truth in what I am writing.

Jesus reminds us that the two most important concepts as His followers are “to love God and love people.” (The Great Commandment as found in Matthew 22.) You may disagree but I believe this applies to every aspect of my life including larger issues in our nation, including how our nation treats the poor and those who have no legal standing and are seeking asylum.

Don’t read into my comments. I am not advocating for a welfare state or have open borders. (I am not interested in debating these issues either.) What I am saying is that we need to treat all people with dignity and love… even when they don’t return that love. That’s all I am saying.

I want God to lead every aspect of my life. Am I there yet? Nope but it is my desire. I continue to work towards surrendering all areas of my lives.

I am thankful we are moving toward Christmas. I need to be reminded that God comes to us and forgives us. I need reconciliation and a change of heart.

God bless you,
Pr. Ben

Article: Thanksgiving Article/Sermon

This is the text of my Thanksgiving Eve sermon at Bethel…

I don’t know if you saw the tragic news this morning but a Lutheran pastor in San Francisco was arrested for having many pornographic images of children on his computer.

It is just unbelievable and it is sad.

It is just another thing in this bad news month… and you know what those things are…

Massive wildfires, almost 900 people unaccounted for. And it seems to be a blessing that the rain has arrived… but there are flash flood warnings up north now because of the 4-6 inches of rain anticipated and no ground cover.

A mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh and at a bar on college night down in Thousand Oaks.

I am sure you could several more things to this list that you’ve seen in the news over the past couple of weeks.

It would really easy to focus on the reasons not to be thankful. We could lament that life is coming apart at the seams.

We may rank this as one of the worst years ever… but according to the Universities of Nottingham and Maine we aren’t even close. Can you imagine a year much worse?

Well according to these researchers 536AD was the worst year ever for humans.

That year had a massive volcano eruption which caused mass cooling. There were crop failures and famines. Then the bubonic plague… Black Death swept across the known world at that time. ¼ of the world’s population died.

I can’t help but wonder… what did the Christians do in this time of great suffering?

I do know that Saint Benedict lived through this time in the 6thcentury and he really was the first to establish monasteries. He began as hermit pulling away from everyday life but then established monasteries as a way to live communally and even serve within a community.

In other words devotion to God did not wane in times of trouble. I am hopeful that we will be the church in whatever situation we might find ourselves—whether good or bad.

I do believe that whatever we focus on is what we see. If we are to only look for the bad and talk about the bad—our minds will see mostly evil in the world.

If we look for the good… we will see that too. That’s not to say we won’t see some bad stuff too… I am not a total Pollyanna. But where we choose to put our focus is what we will see most of the time.

Do you remember what Mr. Rogers who was also a Methodist minister said about this topic?

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers–so many caring people in this world.”

We also have the opportunity to be those helpers at different times. That seems to be one of the roles that Jesus took on whenever he was out in the world.

Listen to this..

As Jesus was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance  and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Luke 17:12-13

 Jesus was a first responder… actually he was their last resort.

These men were desperate. They had been cut off from community, from family, from working from EVERYTHING.

They had nothing. They had to live outside of town in case they were contagious. They didn’t have lives and were treated like they were less than human.

Obviously rumors about Jesus had circulated through their families to them and so when they heard Jesus was coming through they probably knew this was their only chance.

Everything else had failed them at this point. It was either Jesus or living in exile for the rest of their lives.

As I said, they were desperate men.

We know what happens next right? Jesus almost always says yes to these kind of requests.

When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. Luke 17:14

 He freed them from their oppressed state.Now it was common practice to get the “all clear” from the Jewish priest (not Judas Priest the rock band) who was the expert on “clean” and “unclean” things.

One of them recognized that he had been healed and came back to Jesus to thank him. On top of that he wasn’t even an observant Jew… he was a despised Samaritan. “People like that don’t come back and thank anyone. How can this be?”

This doesn’t seem right? But there it is. Jesus notices too and asks, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Luke 17:17-18

 Jesus accepts his gratitude and that is the end of the story… there isn’t a chapter 2 when the 9 arrive to be examined by the priest only to discover that Jesus DID NOT heal them because of their lack of gratitude.

That kind of ending would make my life easier as a pastor… I could just say, “be thankful or else” and say “amen.”

But Jesus isn’t like that—even if we want him to be.

After the retelling of that story, I could simply summarize the story this way, “Be like Jesus and help the less fortunate.”

I could do that but I am not.

If this were Sunday School and we were going to act this story out… I wouldn’t want any of you to play the part of Jesus. I want us to all be lepers. All of us.

It is too easy to say, “Be like Jesus.”

It makes a lot more sense for us to be lepers.

I know what you’re thinking… I don’t want to be a leper.

Sure you do, you just don’t know it yet.

Here is why we should be lepers… they are desperate.

I think there is an important lesson to be learned in situations of desperation.

Don’t forget this: desperation can lead to dependency.

When you are at the end of what you can do… that is where God can step in.

When we are trying to fix everything ourselves and be in control—there is no room for God to act.

This problem is compounded by our comfort. The more secure we feel (financially and otherwise) the less dependent we are on love of Jesus.

I don’t wish bad on anyone… but I do hope we (as Christians) continue to increase our dependency on Christ the same way those lepers did… only without the leprosy.

Or maybe like those pilgrims in the Plymouth Colony who in spite of hardship still gave thanks to God for their first harvest of the land. They knew about dependency and didn’t let the circumstances of hardship over shadow their gratitude.

Sometimes we are too comfortable or too insulated and our dependency on God suffers because there is zero desperation in our lives.

We don’t want to give thanks to ourselves tomorrow taking credit for all we have done and how good things have been.

No, tomorrow is the day to give thanks to the One who is the giver of all good gifts. Let us cling to Jesus… like a Samaritan who has been cured of leprosy.

Happy Thanksgiving and God bless you,

Pr. Ben

Article: Dismantling Performance Theology

“Cursed is the person who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.”
Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” Deuteronomy 27:26

In chapter 27 of Deuteronomy we find a litany of  “calls and responses” of all of the things the Israelites should be about. After each proclaimed instruction the people shout “amen.” This “call and response” culminates with the instruction above.

I understand that I am not an Israelite… but I can’t imagine saying “amen” to that. It seems more like a burden than a joy.

The Priests: We are going to do EVERYTHING the law commands!

Me: Wait. What? Everything?

The Priests: Yeah, everything! Can I get an amen?

Me: (In a quiet voice) Amen?

I don’t go around thinking of myself as “cursed” but I certainly have not been perfect my whole life let alone a week. Even if I just compare myself to the 10 Commandments (and not the whole law of 613 commands) I fall short… way short.  I am not Jewish but that seems like a lot of pressure to be good.

The Jewish Law has a lot of instruction for various things including worship and civil law, but there are many, many directives on how to live your life (morally). Even if you excluded the ceremonial laws, the worship commands and the civil law contained in the Hebrew Bible, the pressure is on to be a good person. A really good person.

I am not against being a good person and it is admirable to be guided by your morals BUT if our relationship with God depends upon it, then we are all going to struggle.

Do you know the other place Deuteronomy 27:26 is referenced? In Paul’s letter to Galatians (chapter 3).

Paul reminds the church that he started that “following the law” (read being morally upright, good people) is pretty much impossible.

Paul writes, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse…Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” Galatians 3:10a-11.

 Let me translate this a little bit…

Everyone who thinks their relationship with God is built upon doing good is in big trouble. No one is acceptable to God by the good things they do. Those who have good relationship with God trusts Christ for all things.

I can’t imagine always wondering what God thinks of me based on the things I do or don’t do. That is a burden too heavy to carry.

God came to us in the person of Jesus not to evaluate our behavior but to free us from bad theology and the notion that God only likes good people. (Spoiler Alert: No one is that good.)

Paul (who wrote Galatians) wants us to know that we are people of faith and not people of good behavior. (Don’t read that the wrong way!)

In chapter 5 of that same letter Paul writes, It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

He is talking about the same things. We are free from performance theology and don’t fall back into thinking that God will love you more if you are good all the time.

Christ came to forgive what we can’t let go of. Jesus loves sinners. God does not want us to be burdened with guilt, remorse and shame over past deeds. Why? Because we convince ourselves God could never love a person like that.

We who believe in Christ are free from our past and free from the burden of trying to please God. That is good news.

Jesus loves us just the way we are.

Pr. Ben

Article: Growing in Faith and Knowledge

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;

            I will counsel you and watch over you.

                                    Do not be like the horse or the mule,

                                    which have no understanding  Psalm 32:8-9

Which part of the week are you spending learning about God outside of sitting in worship on Sunday morning (which isn’t a classroom)?

What is the most recent thing you learned about God?

Are you willing to learn something new about God?

I ask these questions because I am committed to learning something new whenever I can. I can remember a pastor once saying, “You are either growing or dying; there is no in between.” So let me ask you, “Are you growing or dying?”

As a matter of fact, whenever I learn anything new (that on the surface looks like it has nothing to do with God) I put that new thing through the lens of my theology and relationship with God. Why? Because everything is theological.

I don’t think I have arrived or do I believe that I have learned everything there is to know about God and the world He created for us.

The opposite of faith (trust in God) is not doubt… it is certainty. Whenever we wrongly believe we have everything figured out, we stop growing in knowledge, we stop growing spiritually and we quite possibly stop growing emotionally.

The resistance to learn is… well… unwise. (see Proverbs 18:2)

As a pastor and quite possibly your pastor, I bear some responsibility in your faith formation and I take that quite seriously. I want you to learn and then grow in your understanding of God’s love through Jesus Christ. Not only do I want you to comprehend the love of God, I want you to experience it as well. But it doesn’t end there. I want all Christians to know and see that God’s love is not just for a few but for everyone.

Never forget that knowledge should lead us towards God’s love… “knowledge puffeth up, charity edifieth.” Knowledge is a means towards a greater end.

I encourage you to pick up a book or listen to an audiobook. Read your Bible. Come to Sunday morning Bible Study. Do something to grow today.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Psalm 143:10