Category Archives: B.C. (written Before Conversion)

These are articles that were written and published before I became Catholic. They may not all reflect the theology that I currently hold. They serve to show my journey toward the Catholic Church.

Final Thoughts

For almost three years, you and I have lived the Faith life together. We have worshiped, served in mission, studied scripture, and lived life together. As Kristin and I prepare to embark on a new adventure (with a slightly larger family than when we came to you) we are thankful for the opportunities we have had at Faith.

In my time at Faith I have written over 120 articles on various themes. Today I write my last article to you. Final thoughts are often the hardest to come by. There is an urge to cram every important thought into the single page, after all, I’ll never have another chance to speak to you in this way. I have wrestled in my own mind over what to say here. Ultimately, I chose what I believe is the most important.

Worship is a matter of submission to God, of seeing His majesty, of recognizing our own frailty, and submitting to His will and way. Worship is not found in the emotion of a song, or the swing of a hammer, it is found in the heart that does those things out of reverence for Christ.

Social justice in and of itself is not worship. But social justice, out of obedience and love for Christ is the sweetest fragrance to God. In the book of James, we are told that caring for the widows and orphans is pure and undefiled religion.

Singing songs on Sunday morning is not worship in and of itself. If we sing our songs for our own benefit, we have missed the greater act of worship. But when we sing with hearts full of awe at the thought of a God who loved us so much He sent His son to free us from the captivity of our sins, those songs rise to the throne of God.

True worship is total submission. Paul exhorts us in the book of Romans, to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. He tells us that this is our spiritual act of worship. But what does it look like to offer our bodies as living sacrifices? The short answer is to imitate Christ in His prayer “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Sacrificing our own desires, and following the leading of the Spirit.

If you would like a little more detail in the answer, we turn to the writings of Paul (with whom I share in my inability to be brief). In the letter to the
Colossians, he lays out clearly what it means to be totally submitted to God.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
—Colossians 3:1-17

Your Homework and mine, for the rest of our lives. Become a true worshiper. Offer yourself as a living sacrifice. May your answer to the leading of God’s Spirit always mirror that of Christ, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

The Lord Directs Our Steps

“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” —Proverbs 16:9

Over the last few weeks, Proverbs 16:9, Proverbs 3:5-6, James 4:13-17 and Acts 17:26 have been the mainstays of my meditations. They all speak to God directing our paths.

I am reminded of a specific campout I attended in boy scouts where we competed in an Orienteering contest at Lake Texoma. Someone had laid out a path for us, that we were to follow. In order to get there we had to pay careful attention to our map, our compass, and the surrounding terrain. In the same way, our paths are laid out for us by God. Our destination is a life of intimate relationship with God. As circumstances in our lives change, as the terrain changes we have to reference our compass (prayer) and our maps (scripture). This often leads to a change of plans.

For me, right now, this change of plans comes in the form of a career change. I always planned to work with music until I died. I often stated that I couldn’t fathom doing anything else with my life. But the Lord directs our steps. God has been cultivating a passion in my heart. It started small, just a seed, but has grown to a point where I can no longer ignore it, or give anything else precedence over it. That passion is to strengthen marriages. In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote that Marriage is a mirror image to Christ’s relationship with the Church. When the world looks at our marriages, they see how Christ loves the Church and how the Church loves Christ! Kristin and I are devoting our lives to helping the Church give a clear and accurate picture of how much God loves us all!

Faith has been such an amazing home for almost three years! It has been such a blessing to serve in a church that is so wrapped up in missions and caring for one another. Our lives are forever impacted by your love and hospitality! We are so grateful for the time we have had with you, and will continue to lift you in prayer as you advance the Kingdom of God in our world!

Declaring Thomas

“Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!'” — John 20:27-28

Thomas gets a bad rap! Year after year, we go around calling him Doubting Thomas, like school children on the playground trying to get under his skin. I’m sure he didn’t expect that his one moment of grief would define him.

The truth is, Thomas only asked for what the other disciple’s received. After the Resurrection, Jesus came into the midst of ten of the disciples and he showed them his wounds, spoke peace over them and commissioned them to the work of the kingdom. When the ten disciples saw this, they were “glad.” I think to myself, surely that is an understatement, but that is what the text says — “the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.”

When Thomas returned from where he had been, the disciple’s excitedly told him all that they had seen. They told him of the wounds, they told him of the peace, they told him of the mission. Thomas’, with a heart full of emotion, only longed for those very proofs that Jesus offered to the ten. Thomas statement could be more accurately read, “When I see what you saw, I’ll believe like you believe!” or “I want to experience what you experienced!”

One week later, Thomas was given that chance! Behind locked doors, Jesus appeared to them. He walked straight over to Thomas and offered his wounds. Thomas didn’t ask Jesus for proof, he had asked the other disciples. But Jesus, knowing the heart, walked straight to the one who had been away and freely offered his wounds. Thomas’ response, however, was slightly different than that of the other disciples. Thomas answered him, “My Lord and My God!”

Thomas was the very first (that I can find) who asserted the Divinity of Jesus. Oh, sure, I know we all think it was Peter, but I’m not sure Peter had quite grasped that aspect of Jesus. Peter declared that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Those terms, however, which are found in Psalm 2:2 and 2:7, were simply Davidic or Messianic. The Jewish people did not associate the messiah with Divinity. Messiah simply meant “anointed one.” Son of the Living God comes from God’s statement to David in 2:7, and likely refers back to 2:6, which reads, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

Peter recognized that Jesus was the Lord’s Anointed, but he was speaking in royal terms, he was looking for a King. It was Thomas who first recognized that Jesus was far more than Israel’s conquering king. Jesus was, Thomas recognized and declared, God himself in their midst!

I often wonder why Jesus chose to reveal himself to all but one. Was Thomas slow getting the Mary’s report to meet Jesus in Galilee? Was it on purpose that Jesus came when he was gone? Did Jesus want to test Thomas’ belief? Did he want to set Thomas up for the revelation of Jesus’ divinity? Did Jesus want to create a moment where he could bless all of those who believe and have not seen?

All we, who have not seen and yet believe, are blessed by the faith, revelation and declaration of Thomas.

Homework this week: Meditate on the declaration, “My Lord and my God!”

Broken Hallelujah

“After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know the man!’ At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.” —Matthew 26:73-75

Perhaps you’ve noticed it. In our times of worship over the last five weeks, a familiar word has been missing. Hallelujah is a transliteration of a Hebrew phrase meaning “Praise Yahweh.” But more than just praise, it carries the connotation of being foolishly clamorous. Throughout the ages, the church has steered away from its use during the Lenten fast.

But why? Surely God is worthy of our boisterous praise year round! God is certainly worthy! But those joyful praises can make it difficult to remember that we are not worthy, and Christ died for us anyway.

The season of Lent and the Lenten fast serve to remind us of our own brokenness. Those things that we gave up, make us realize our need for God. As we hunger for those things from which we are fasting, we turn our gaze and attentions to God, and pray with the psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Like Peter, we have denied our Lord. We have looked to own benefit, and our own interests and have kept our distance from God. The season of Lent and the Lenten fast serve as an effective tool for self examination. We do not sing “Hallelujahs” because we do not want our Joy to carry us away from discerning our sin, and bringing us to repentance. During this brief time of repentance and reflection we postpone our joy so that when Easter comes we may celebrate it more completely.

Homework this week:
Pray Psalm 139, listen for what God would reveal to you.
Identify and agree with God on any hidden sins brought to your attention.
Repent of your sin, and turn to God.
Prepare for the overwhelming joy of Easter.

Well, Well, Well…

“So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?'” —John 4:5-7

Let anyone with eyes to see, see, and everyone with ears to hear, let them hear.

This story has always fascinated me. There are a hundred ways to look at this passage. Even the title of this weekly article was derived from this passage. Jesus tells us that the Father is looking for worshipers who will worship “en pneumati kai aletheia,” in spirit and truth. As we seek to worship God, it is helpful to know how God wants to be worshiped. But that is a topic for another day.

Today I want to look at something else; Jesus saw potential in the woman at the well and invested in her. This is true, but I think it may even go deeper. Jesus saw her as a person of great worth to God. Culture saw her as an outsider for her gender, morality saw her as an outcast because of her behavior, Prejudice saw her as unacceptable because of her race, but Jesus saw her as valuable because of her Creator.

How many people do we pass every day, and fail to see their worth? How many people do we just miss; who are either invisible to us, or worse, judged and shunned because they are “beneath us.” From the drive-thru attendant at the fast food restaurant, to the checkout clerk at the grocery store, we have dozens of brief encounters with people of value every day. How can we be like Jesus in those interactions?

Well, what did Jesus do? First, He was mindful of his surroundings. He knew that in every place there is opportunity to bring healing and wholeness to a broken world. Second, He broke convention and exceeded expectation by engaging a person that He could have easily ignored. He acknowledged that she had value to Him, even if it was just as a means to get water (though we know He saw her true value as a person). Third, He shared life with her despite the cultural strikes she had against her.

What does this look like in our context? Well, that is your homework this week:
Identify the “wells” you visit this week. Maybe it’s the store, maybe it’s the sanctuary at Faith. Where do you come in contact with invisible humanity? Take note of the name-tags, or unfamiliar faces and engage that person. It may be the most important minute of that person’s day, or life. Listen to the Holy Spirit as he guides the conversation. The Spirit knows exactly what that person needs, and will drop hints to you if you are listening. Share the life that God has given you. You never know how chance encounters can affect the destinies of a person, a town, or a nation.