Category Archives: Articles

Article: Truth

To the Jewish people who had believed Jesus, he said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:31-36

About 20 years ago or so, truth became subjective in our society. My truth is not your truth and your truth is not my truth. Everyone is entitled to have their own “truths.”

There doesn’t seem to be an absolute truth everyone can agree on.

Yet, from the distant past Jesus says, “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

What is Jesus talking about?!?

He is stating three truths at once.

  1. We all mess up. None of us are perfect, nor will we ever be flawless in this life. No one can dispute that. It is true. We all make mistakes and hurt other people. Either intentionally or unintentionally.

  2. Only Jesus can free us from the hurt we cause to ourselves and others. Jesus is willing and able to free us from chains of hurt and regret. This is only true if we dare to trust in Jesus’ love and resurrection power!

  3. The last truth is often obscured by lies and misinformation. Jesus wants to be in relationship with you to free you from the idea that God demands perfection or face eternal damnation.

    Our relationship with Jesus is not based upon our ability to be good or even do the right thing. There are no steps to Jesus. He comes to us in our weakness and wants to show us a better way to live but he never demands our obedience, and he never threatens.

    Jesus wants to draw close to us and set us free from the misguided notion of “performative theology.” That we can earn or even prove to God we are good or at the very least, good enough. We aren’t good. God already knows that!

    Jesus wants to free us from the sin that hinders us and reveal to us that God is not a divine Santa Claus that is keeping a lists of all the naughty and nice children (us). No, Jesus wants to set us free from our worst selves and then show us that God desires to be our friend and not a cosmic law enforcement agency.

God bless,
Pr. Ben


Article: Share!

For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Romans 10:13-15

Saint Paul wrote these words to the church of Rome to remind them and us of something important.

The love of Jesus is so tremendously huge that anyone who calls upon God for help… for comfort… for salvation… those prayers will be answered. Including people who have ignored God their whole life until a moment of extreme duress. God doesn’t “turn his back” on those who call out to Jesus.

Think about the criminal on the cross next to Jesus. This man was about to die. He admitted he was a felon and probably never gave God a thought during his life of crime. Yet in that moment before death, he looks over to the dying savior of the world and says to him, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)

Jesus doesn’t hesitate. He doesn’t say, “not a chance.” Jesus doesn’t even scoff. In the final moments of Jesus’ life, the criminal is assured of his place in heaven.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Paul quoted Joel 2:32)

But then Paul asks a great question for the rest of us. If God loves the world so much that he would come to us in the person of Jesus, how do people call on the name of the Lord if they have never heard of him or know anything about him?

The answer is unambiguous. The answer is us.

We’ve been called and we’ve been sent into our neighborhoods and social circles to share the love of Jesus. We’ve been sent to invite others to come to church and hear about the love of Christ in song, in bread and wine and in preaching.

We aren’t just consumers of religious content, we are also the ones who share what we have learned and experienced in and through Jesus.

Someone needs to know what you have discovered. Somebody you know is searching for answers but doesn’t know where to look. Tell them.

God bless,
Pr. Ben


Article: Stained Glass

Recently an antique “hunter” bought several items from a church that was closing in Philadelphia.

Paul Brown bought some doors, a few pews and two stained glass windows. All were antiques and appeared to have a good resale value.

The stained glass was more than stained from that old church. They were darkened by years of candle soot and grime. Most likely they hadn’t been cleaned in many, many years which caused them to be very dull and dark.

After the purchase, Brown hired stained glass experts to remove the windows from the church and bring them to his location.

Upon careful examination and research, Brown discovered that they were made by the Tiffany Glass Studios somewhere around 1904. Yes, that Tiffany.

All told, Brown paid $5000 for the doors, pews and stained glass. Now that the provenance of the windows has been established, these windows are now selling for $225,000. Wow!

We are a lot like that stained glass. Sometimes, the hardships and traumas of life cause us to grow dimmer and less reflective. At times we forget that we are treasured by God and precious to Christ. The darker the events of our life the more inward we become.

Never forget, we are of infinite value to God! If you don’t believe that, then let me ask you, why would Jesus die for us if we weren’t important to him?

Remember what God said to the people of Israel so many years ago. It applies to us as well as children of God.

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession. Deuteronomy 14:2

It is easy to forget that when life is hard. More than that, the accumulation of disappointment grows. It doesn’t just go away, it is cumulative.

Just like a dirty, grimy stained-glass window we need to be cleaned occasionally. Not only does Jesus invite us to lay our burdens down and find rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-29) but when we return to our baptism, we are washed clean from sin and brokenness.

Martin Luther reminds us to return to our baptism daily (in asking for forgiveness) so that we remain spotless.

And like a stained-glass window that is clean, we will be able to reflect the light of the Son to the people around us.

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

God bless you,
Pr. Ben


Article: Contentment

In a well known portion of scripture, Saint Paul writes about secret of contentment to the church of Philippi.

This is what he wrote, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

Let me ask you two questions:

  1. Are you content?
  2. What is the source of that contentment?

Paul clearly answers that for himself and points the way for us. He is, in fact, content in all circumstances and not just when times are good.

It reminds me of the lyrics of a song Frank Sinatra recorded. In the song “That’s Life”, it says,

I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet
A pawn and a king
I’ve been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing
Each time I find myself
Flat on my face
I pick myself up and get
Back in the race

Paul said it didn’t matter the situation, he found contentment in the one thing that never changes: Christ.

I agree with Paul, satisfaction is found in Jesus alone and not in the circumstances we find ourselves in. Some days are great and others, not so much. Look to the One who never changes and will never leave us.

But wait there is more…

As soon as Paul finishes this thought he continues with something we should take note of.

This is what he writes, “Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.” Philippians 4:14

Paul isn’t an island unto himself. He recognizes that love and support that comes from others. He looks to Christ for all things but welcomes the community that comes to his aid in times of distress.

I love this so much! We are reminded to stand on the solid rock of Christ for all things, but know there are others in your church family who will support you too! It is a “both/and” situation.

These verses remind me that I need Christ and I need you!

God bless,
Pr. Ben


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


Article: The Face of Jesus

What does the face of Jesus look like in the world? It looks like this…

Please click on the play button and watch. You will not regret it.

It resembles Jesus whispering into the ears of children to help other children.

It looks like the Holy Spirit giving power to an idea that becomes a reality because of an unstoppable drive and determination to help others.

It is a simple message, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4) For when we do, things like this happen and the world is a better place.

God bless you,
Pastor Ben


Article: Lent Is For You

I like the season of Lent. This is the time I dig deep and look inside myself.  In the words of Alcoholics Anonymous, I take a “fearless moral inventory” of my life. I know some people make New Year’s resolutions; I prefer the internal reflection over the 40 days of Lent. No rush and no rash decisions, just time spent looking inward while spending more time in community at Community Lutheran Church.

On Wednesday at our first mid-week Lenten service, I said that spending time with Jesus also means spending time with each other because Saint Paul told us that the Church is the “body of Christ.”

I look at this way, being around other Christians brings out the best in me. That gives me strength to be my best when I am around others in the world. I want to be an example of God’s love in the world.

Last weekend in worship, I talked about the wisemen from Persia who followed a star to find Jesus. I know we all want God to write it in the sky that he is real and Jesus is the Son of God. But Jesus empowered us to be that star of Bethlehem for others in the world.

It is helpful for me to spend more time with the “Light of the world” (Jesus) so that I may reflect that light of love, joy, faithfulness and kindness to others.

Remember, Jesus doesn’t ask us to do anything or even feel more guilt ridden in the season of Lent. The season is for us not for God. It doesn’t matter if it is March or November, God still wants to draw close to us and change our hearts by filling it with love.

Lent is for me and it is for you. Do with it as you wish (or nothing at all). Jesus will do the same thing he always does: Love.

As for me, I don’t want to miss a thing, so I’ll be at the feet of Jesus this season. There is a spot for you too.

God bless,
Pr. Ben