Pastor's Blog

September 30, 2017

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God….” – 1 Peter 2:9

In about 30 days, we will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  It was the eve of All Saints’ Day, October 31st, 1517, when a German monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed his historic “Ninety-Five Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral, protesting many aspects of the Medieval Church.   The four watchwords of the Reformation are “Grace alone, Faith alone, Scripture Alone, and Christ Alone.”  The Reformers rediscovered the core message of the Christian gospel; that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ who alone is Lord and Savior of life.  Much as Copernicus discovered that it was the sun and not the earth that was at the center of the solar system; Luther rediscovered that it is only the saving work of God’s Son, and not our works that can redeem us (Ephesians 2: 8-10).  Our good works are an important response to the saving grac...

September 16, 2017

Dallas Willard once observed that we all depend on relationships, what he termed “circles of sufficiency” for life: parent/child, extended family, community, world.  Genesis 2:18 tells us something we instinctively know is true: “It is not good that the man should be alone.”  God has created us to be in life-giving relationship – what we might call “circles of sufficiency” where we feel safe and cared for.    

Of course, the idea of a “circle of sufficiency” – a network of relationships where we always feel safe and cared for is extremely fragile.  We want our circles to be self-sufficient, but we know they are not.  When we reassure a child with the words, “Everything is going to be OK” we know we don’t have the power to make everything OK.  In fact, we ourselves depend on others to make things OK for us.  A child depends upon his mother and father to be OK.  A family depends on the larger family.  The larger family depends on even larger circles to make their own c...

September 9, 2017

This month is the 40th anniversary of Spielberg’s classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a film that conveys an almost spiritual longing for contact with intelligent life in the cosmos.  As a fan, I’ll definitely be buying tickets for its return to theaters this month.   Having seen the movie a few times, there is a truth in this film we would do well to recognize.  That each of us is innately fascinated by and drawn toward both the possibility of life on other worlds, and to the Maker of All Worlds.  We are wired, say brain scientists, for transformative and transcendental experience.

In other words, “close encounters” are really what each of us longs for most.  Just last Sunday two women approached me, one a newcomer to St. John’s and the other an elder.  What they shared, having never met before, involved a spoken prayer need, and an unusual dream.  The very next Tuesday, while I was at the gym, a fellow approached me about a friend who had collapsed while t...

September 2, 2017

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of suffering that is caused when natural disasters like Harvey overtake a major city.   As Hurricane Harvey passed over Houston, more than 40 are now reported dead and between 30,000 and 40,000 homes destroyed.  When I read about a 3-year-old girl found alive in a rain-swollen canal, clinging to the body of her drowned mother, my heart broke.  Even so, I never cease to wonder at the way such events bring out the best in human nature.  Here are seven examples….

#7 According to KABC, Dr. Stephen Kimmel guided his canoe through waist-high water for at least a mile to get to a Clear Lake-area hospital to perform surgery on a 16-year-old with a life-threatening condition.  "I thought if I can do it I certainly should" he said.

#6 A TV reporter helped rescue a truck driver from rising floods in the nick of time.  When Brandi Smith of KHOU news first spotted the stranded driver from a highway overpass, she voiced her concer...

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