Pastor's Blog

October 31, 2017

I was being interviewed by an 8th grade boy from a nearby Catholic school whose assignment was to speak with a member of another faith or church tradition and try to understand the differences and similarities.  I've done several of these in the past., and enjoy answering the questions.  I'm also careful to explain that after 500 years many of our core beliefs as Catholics and Protestants are actually very similar.  Even so, I shared about the critical ideas that sparked the Reformation, summed up in the five "solas."  Sola Gratia (grace alone), Sola Fide (faith alone), Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), Solus Christus (Christ alone); and Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God alone).  When we were close to finishing I asked one more time, “Do you have any other questions?”  “No,” the boy said, but then turning to his father, “Dad do you have any questions for Pastor Steve?”  That was a first!  The father seemed caught off guard by his son’s remark: “No, I don’t have any questions for Pas...

October 14, 2017

On Tuesday morning I got a text from Sabrina Swanson, who lives with her husband Jon in Santa Rosa.  “Hey Pastor Steve.  It’s Sabrina Swanson.  Hope all is well with you.  Could you say a prayer in church Sunday for Santa Rosa?  My town is ½ burnt to the ground in less than 24 hours….7 lives lost and 100s upon 100s of lively hoods gone. Thanks.”  That text stopped me cold.  I shared our sadness as a church over this news and assured her that we would be praying for her and the whole town.  After these devastating fires, we are humbled again by the forces of nature which, like those of an earthquake or hurricane, bring us to our knees in prayer, make us want to curse, or cry, or all of the above. 

At times like this I try to remember that a universe in which God intervened and prevented anything harmful from happening, would be a universe in which nothing truly beautiful could happen either;  a world where every action and every event was pre-deter...

October 7, 2017

There was an outpouring of frustration this week at the many “thoughts and prayers” that were offered in the wake of the massacre in Las Vegas.  “Thoughts and prayers do nothing,” tweeted Kaitlyn Wilde.  As I considered this criticism of prayer I tried to reconcile it with something Karl Barth once said, “Prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”  Wilde was making an understandable plea for more gun control; but I had to admit that even the best gun control laws are powerless to change or control the human heart.  Without discounting the value of regulating or even outlawing the sale and possession of automatic weapons, or the importance of thorough background checks, there is evidently a moral and spiritual crisis, a tragic sickness of the heart and mind that no law can cure.  When life means so little to someone that he will take 58 innocent lives and injure 489 more with cold-hearted impunity, that person has lost the fear of God, and drifted light y...

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Los Angeles, CA 90064

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