Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
Do you recall that catchy tune from Fiddler on the Roof? "Tradition!"
My apologies if you now have that melody stuck in your head! 😉
As good Lutherans, we know it isn’t only the Jewish faith that is rife with tradition. Our Lutheran heritage also has handed down many customs and traditions over the centuries. But if we don’t know the reason or history behind the tradition, then what good is it? For the depth and entirety of a tradition to be expressed and appreciated, we need to know why we do it.
Ash Wednesday is an odd tradition. At least our preschool students, during chapel time yesterday, certainly thought so. "Why do you have dirt on your head?" "You have an X on your forehead." "It looks like an airplane." These innocent children couldn’t quite understand why grownups would come to church to smear dirt on our heads. How would you have answered?
Did you know that Ash Wednesday has its traditions from well before the Lutheran church came into existence? This first day of the Lenten season is intended to make Christians mindful of their sins and to bring into focus the gravity of those sins and their consequences. In 1091 Pope Gregory I started the tradition of marking a cross of ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as he uttered the words of Genesis 3:19, “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.” This custom has been passed down through generations, spreading even to many Protestant denominations. That’s right, ashes aren’t just for Catholics! This is a gifted ritual for all Christians. It is completely optional, but it also can be an edifying practice for the whole Church. This custom was reminiscent of Old Testament people of God sitting in ashes or sprinkling them on the head. In a time of great sorrow or repentance, ashes and sackcloth were outward signs of grief or repentance.
We are in the process of painting the rooms of our house. Now that our first-year warranty has come to an end and drywall cracks and nail pops of a settling house have been repaired, we have the green light to start painting the walls of our home. And it was really in desperate need of a paint job. The painters that finished all of the homes in our neighborhood weren’t exactly the most careful or polished painters. No doubt they initially came in with their fancy sprayers to do a quick coat, without concern for drips or smudges. They clearly never came back to touchup missed or poorly done spots. Furthermore, they used a near-white, flat paint. This means that the paint is impossible to clean. It hides nothing. Any attempt to remove a spot either smears the stain or adds new water spots to the already infected area. I’m convinced that if you even looked at a wall too long you would leave some sort of marking.
For the past year, our walls have shown every mark. Scuffed up. Stained. Chipped and flaking. Water spots, handprints, and all sorts of other blemishes. Time to paint indeed!
We are making slow, steady progress. One bathroom and all the kids’ bedrooms have been completed. We’ll get the rest done… eventually. This is certainly not a labor of love. Painting is probably my least favorite home improvement task to accomplish. But as much as I despise painting, I must admit that there was something rewarding for my wife and me as we applied that first, fresh new color of paint to the walls. Whether it was by brush or by roller, watching our various new shades of color cover up every prior blemish on the walls was oddly gratifying. Gone are the scuff marks of furniture and bedframes. Gone are the unknown stains and markings of a house inhabited by three children and a dog. With great satisfaction and via two coats of paint, we covered up every spot and blemish. It took plenty of time and money, and I certainly would not call it enjoyable, but what a good feeling to step back and look at a wall that previously looked so horrible, and see it now just about perfect and scuff-free. The walls look brand new… for now. 😉
God deals with us in a similar fashion. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) Sin leaves each of us so very much scuffed up. This is an understatement of course; we don’t need to look hard to find the blemishes and stains on the walls of our lives. Our sins stand ever before us and they are undeniable. We are desperate for far more than just a proverbial fresh coat of paint. Truth be told, we need to knock down the walls and start the whole building process over. But alas, this is no task we could ever complete ourselves.
This is why God steps down from heaven… to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. He washes us clean and to makes us new. And unlike my experience painting, for God this spiritual cleansing is absolutely a labor of love. It is the love that God has for each of us that led Him to take redemptive action—coming to earth to suffer and die so that we could be forgiven. Of course, He does not use the stroke of a brush or swipe of a roller, but instead His body is pierced by thorns and nails. Our merciful God paints over the blemishes and iniquities of our sin-stained lives with the very blood that flowed from His cross. In an extraordinary, once-and-for-all moment (and at no cost to any of us), God gives us a purifying makeover with eternal consequences. No more spots. No more stains. No more sin.
Do you remember these words from the Apostle Paul? “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17) Something to ponder next time you pick up a paintbrush.
We are cleansed.
Our spots have been covered.
We are made new.
Thanks be to God!
“Forgiveness is God’s greatest gift because it meets our greatest need.” (D. Platt)
I did it!
After many months of thinking and talking about it, I finally made the commitment. No more empty words and good intentions. No more excuses or procrastination. No more being lazy or apathetic. After more than two years without, I have signed up for a gym membership again. As of last Wednesday evening, I am a member of Planet Fitness. Now I know what you’re all thinking… How can Pastor Steve possibly be any more buff, toned, and studly than he already is? But alas, over the past 2+ years, my regular early-morning, gym-rat routine has become non-existent. This change was long overdue. Getting back into a routine of regular exercise and intentional healthy habits will be good for me. It is certainly needed. I can no longer use moving across the country or even a global pandemic as reasons to not exercise. As of last Thursday, everything has changed. I am now an official gym member once again!
One week into my brand-new Planet Fitness membership, I must be honest. I should probably admit that I haven’t actually gone yet. I have tried, and had every intention to go, but it just hasn’t happened yet.
But wait! I have my reasons. Here’s why…
Do you see where I’m going with this? These are my excuses, err I mean, reasons, and they are all legitimate and reasonable. But such things will always creep into my life, and unless I start to prioritize going it simply won’t ever happen. A gym membership is only could if it gets put to use. Thought about going. Planned on going. Downloaded the app. Paid the processing fees. But in the end, best of intentions will not do me a lick of good in shedding a few extra pounds. Sure, I even have a gym bag packed and sitting in my car, but I actually have to show up at the gym in order for good habits to form and lasting effects to take shape.
It is also this way with worship. Worship matters. It’s important. It is essential to the spiritual well-being of us all. Worship is where the Word of God trains us and keeps us from going off the rails. It prevents from becoming lazy or spiritually weak. This is where the Spirit of God softens the strains and soothes the pains brought on by the sins and stress of the past week. Worship is where we find encouragement and love from our fellow pew-sitters. It is where our eternal Father, reaches down from heaven to quench our thirst and relieve our burdens. This is where God shows up to serve and save us with tangible vessels of forgiveness and prayer. Only in church will we hear of a powerful God who is filled with infinite grace towards His people; that we are so tenderly cared for and loved that He was willing to die for our sake. What an awesome message! We dare not neglect it. We dare not keep putting it off. But don’t take the word of a pestering pastor, God said it too (and first): “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 11:25) Here God tells the church to keep gathering, keep worshiping, keep growing stronger.
Jesus wants genuine commitment; He wants faith-filled follow-through. He doesn’t just want us to sign-up; put our name on a church membership list and then walk away. There are strong words of warning from Jesus here in his Sermon on the Mount. Jesus wants followers who are devoted to Him and who hear His Words; then take them to heart and live by them. That’s a hard thing to do when we are deserting the word and worship of God. There is a joy that is found in gathering around the Word of God and with the people of God. Again, don’t take my word for it. Look here. Or here. Or here. Or here. I’m just the messenger; God wrote the book. He's the mastermind behind this. Just like my week above, there will always be things that come up and try to prevent you from worship. Power through. Persevere. Come back and join us for worship—whether that be done in-person or virtually.
Who knows?!? Maybe I'll even go to the gym today! Oh wait, I have a... 😉
“God directs his people not simply to worship but to sing his praises ‘before the nations.’ We are called not simply to communicate the gospel to nonbelievers; we must also intentionally celebrate the gospel before them.” (T. Keller)
“From your heroes you pick up mannerisms, phrases and tones of voice, facial expressions and habits, demeanors, convictions and beliefs. The more admirable the hero is and the more intense your admiration is, the more profound will be your transformation. In the case of Jesus, he is infinitely admirable, and our admiration rises to the most absolute worship. Therefore, when we behold him as we should, the change is profound.” (J. Piper)
As of last Thursday, we have officially been owners of our new house for one whole year. How quickly the time flies! When we signed the closing documents twelve months ago, one of the “perks” of a new-build, was a fairly comprehensive one-year warranty. If any issue arose, all we had to do was fill out an online form and a repair person would (eventually) show up. This was also true for much of the furniture we purchased to fill the new home.
As such, for the last couple of weeks, I have had to wait around for people to come and fix things. Vinyl flooring. Carpet. Refrigerator. Garage door. Furnace. Dining room table. None of these things were major, but they were covered by our expiring warranty, and it would have been foolish for me to not get them serviced for free while I still could. On one hand, it is nice to know that the repair would be covered free of charge—even if it was only a temporary benefit. Yet on the other hand, in each instance, we had to wait… and wait… and wait. We had wait to for calls back and open schedule slots. We had to wait for replacement parts to arrive. Wait for the arrival of the service people. We were helplessly captive to their schedules, entirely dependent on whenever they could fit us in. And when they gave me an option, I had to take it, no matter how inconvenient it was, or risk waiting another three months. For the dining room table alone, I waited over three months for an open timeslot and was then given an unhelpful arrival timeframe of 8am-4pm. Thanks for narrowing it down!
Today’s devotion is from Lutheran Hour Ministries, their devotio from 1/25/22. It is a reflection on our upcoming Old Testament reading from Jeremiah for this Sunday. Take a few extra minutes to follow the link and read the scripture. It is a great, simple reminder to us all about the role we each play in the mission of the church. We are all loved, called, and sent. God is using every one of us to impact the world, to replicate the same love that He gives to us.
Jeremiah was nervous when God called him to be His prophet. "I don't know how to speak," he said. "I'm just a youth." Jeremiah was right—he wasn't up to the job, and he knew it. So far, so true. But he missed one thing—and God pointed it out. "I have put My words in your mouth," God said. It's as if God said, "Don't worry. It's not about you. It's about Me. You don't have to be smart enough or strong enough or good enough. I have put My words in your mouth, and they will do the job." And they did. Jeremiah spent the rest of his life speaking God's Word to the people. He did the job God had for him.
God has called you, too, to certain jobs. They may not be flashy jobs like being a prophet. More likely they are humble jobs—being a parent, a child, a spouse, a friend. You may be a caregiver, an encourager, a pray-er, a protector. You may even think that you have no job at all, because at this point in your life your role is mainly to receive care from others. But that's a job! And a hard one, at times.
What happens when you feel overwhelmed by your job, whatever it may be? You can turn to the same source of help Jeremiah did. "I have put My Word in your mouth," God said to him. "You aren't doing it alone." And to us He says, "I have put My Holy Spirit in your heart. You are not alone. I laid down My life at the cross to make you Mine, and I will not forsake you now. I will work through you, with all your faults and weaknesses, and I will bring glory to My Name."
Jesus never sends us out alone. He is always with us, and we can call on Him for help and strength and wisdom. Because He loves us and holds us up, we can do the difficult jobs we face—one step at a time, supported by Him.
“God's messengers come in all sizes, all colors, and all ages - male and female. We're all called to the ministry of reconciliation.” (Nan Jones)
Earlier this week an article was shared with me. It’s short and written for pastors, but the logic applies to us all. I’ll adapt it a bit, but I recommend you glance at it. You can find it here.
Go. Go. Go.
Run. Run. Run.
Busy. Busy. Busy.
Now that Christmas has long faded from the rearview mirror, we have likely settled back into some form of a work/school routine. But even with that return to a “normal” schedule, our lives have not necessarily slowed down. In fact, with the New Year we have also probably tried to start new habits and maintain workable resolutions that have unintentionally added more demands and more pressure. New professional goals at the office. The start of winter sports and activities in schools. Attempts to get healthy. As good and as enjoyable these things may be, they also often intensify the rat race we cannot seem to ever really get out of.
Today our rhythms of work and rest are broken. Hard work and independence are among the greatest virtues in many of our cultures. Rest is reduced to laziness. Laziness and dependence are seen as failures. We are encouraged to hustle and hurry, to keep pushing and driving until our hard work is rewarded with what we want.
Hectic. Tired. Stressed.
What is one to do?
Martin Luther talked often about rest and Sabbath, the importance of working hard but also balancing that with more recreational moments of life. He made sure to teach the value in taking time to enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep or a good Wittenberg beer in the company of good friends. The essence of the Sabbath is this: God wants to give you rest! He wants you to find rest in Jesus. Rest is good. It is God-ordained. It is necessary. Jesus himself said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28, 29) Jesus is the heart and soul of the Sabbath! The word Sabbath literally means “rest.” This is Jesus telling you to slow down and rest in Him. Jesus declares that the only way to truly get rest in this crazy world, is to spend time time with Him.
Most importantly, Jesus wants you to rest from the hardest work of all. The work of trying to justify yourself. And that is hard work! And many people are engaged in the trade. We want to be justified. We want other people to justify us. We want people to declare, “That is a good man!” “That is a good woman!” And so we work to be called “good” people. People work and work and work to convince themselves they are “good people” before a fast-paced, ever-demanding world.
Friends, if that describes you even a little, take a break! Get some rest! Get some rest…in Jesus. Rest yourself in the Word of God, for that is where you find the beautiful good news of a God who loves you to the point of a cross and empty tomb. Come to worship, and find rest for yourself in the words of grace and in the sacraments of the church. Rest yourself at the altar and let Jesus do all the work, the work of serving you his given body and shed blood so that your soul can be at rest. There's nothing you need to do. No task to finish. Just simply be and let the God of all creation, come to you and take care of you. Imagine… Jesus works for you! Rest in that truth. Don’t allow your work—whatever that may be—to become an idol. Find a day, or even a few hours, where the time is holy, the time is different. Put away your phone, computer, and any other buzzing notifications in your life. Silence the rhythm of the busy world and listen to the rhythm of rest. Receive the rest Jesus gives you freely. Make room for rest; make room for play in your life.
“The spiritual rest which God especially intends in this commandment (3rd) is that we not only cease from our labor and trade but much more-that we let God alone work in us and that in all our powers do we do nothing of our own.” (Martin Luther)
Welcome to 2022.
What is your mindset heading into this New Year?
It is good to make personal goals—exercising more, eating healthier, reading more books. It is good to ponder and implement things that can better our lives and those of our families. But what about having a few spiritual goals of lasting value? Efforts with an eternal impact? To this end, I wanted to share two of the “goals” I have for our congregation as we head into this New Year: (1) to average 100 people weekly in worship; and (2) to add five new families to our membership. These goals provide an overarching challenge question to all of us here at King of Kings. How can we, as a church body, encourage people in their walk with Jesus and invite them into the spiritual life of our congregation? We as a congregation must do more than just exist in our community; we need to make a difference in it. We as people need to do more than just co-exist with the people around us; we need to be intentional in our relationships with them to share the love of Jesus.
Of course, these are not goals that I can achieve on my own. No pastor can. I need your help! We are, after all, a body of believers here in this place. God does call us to gather each week not just for our own spiritual nourishment, but to also equip and push us out into the world we live to bring the light of the Gospel of Jesus. Being forgiven and redeemed ourselves, we then walk alongside our Savior in His mission to seek and to save the lost. In other words, how can we shine the light of our faith wherever we go—at work, at home, at play?
After 10 long seasons, and the recent most four especially putrid seasons, the New York Football Giants have finally cleaned house. They got rid of their disastrous General Manager and fired their less-than-successful head coach. Listening to local sports radio the last two days, you can hear the renewed sense of optimism and hope among the represented long-suffering fanbase. People from all over are calling in to express how, for the first time in a long time, they’re excited about the direction of their favorite football team. Of course, there are no guarantees. This won’t be a quick-fix or immediate turn-around. But at least, there is a reason to think that things could improve. Now we wait to find out who the new group of leadership will be to (hopefully) lead the team into a new era of success—or at least give us one day above .500 (which hasn’t happened once in five years!).
Whether it is in their professional lives, their family relationships, or in the fandom of their favorite sports team, people of today are craving hope and good news. No one wants to see loss. This is true for everyone. Fortunately, within the Christian church, we have that in abundance to share! Even better, there is no waiting period or uncertainty in the church. The hope we have in Christ is as immediate as it is impactful. We know now that Jesus is alive and with us, that He will never leave us. This won’t ever change. A faithful pastor and evangelist once said of the church’s job in comparison to the world: “Let others talk about the bad news. We will share the good news.” Let it be so among us. Thus, the job of our church is defined and set before us. Our goal and our mission is clear: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20)
100 people each week in worship… will you be there?
5 new families… will you help me recruit?
“If we understand what lies ahead for those who do not know Christ, there will be a sense of urgency in our witness.” (David Jeremiah)
“His voice leads us not into timid discipleship but into bold witness.” (Charles Stanley)
Today is an oft-forgotten day in the church year: the Epiphany of Our Lord. But what does this mean? In December we celebrated Advent, a time where we look forward to Jesus’ coming—both on Christmas morning and on the Last Day. Now we move into the season of Epiphany. “Epiphany” means literally “to manifest or appear.” Epiphany is a word that communicates a sudden appearance or a showing forth. It is a word that communicates that something has been presented… that God has emphatically and incarnationally shown up into the very world He created. No more waiting. God is here, now and in the flesh. And although this season might not receive as much commercial (or religious) attention as Christmas, the church has been celebrating Epiphany since the 2nd century. Epiphany is one of the oldest seasons in the Christian Church Year, second only to Easter. This season of light emphasizes Jesus’ manifestation (or epiphany) as both God and man. When the Gentile magi come to worship Jesus, they show that everyone now has access to God. Now all people, Jew and Gentile, can come to God’s holy temple to worship because Jesus is the new temple: the Word made flesh.
The Epiphany season begins with the celebration of the visit of the Magi—an acknowledgement of the arrival of the Lord’s great King of kings. Throughout the season Epiphany stresses the “why” of Christmas. It is not enough to know about the birth of Jesus; this season declares that the reason for Christmas is God coming to reveal His great love and plan of salvation for you. All of the incredible stories emphasized throughout Epiphany season (the Magi, the Holy Innocents, Jesus in the temple, Jesus’ baptism, Transfiguration) remind us that the Almighty and powerful Creator of the world steps down from His lofty throne as an act of compassion and mercy. Epiphany essentially sets the stage for the Lent. He comes down to redeems us. He comes down to showcase His love.
That’s why today is an important day. Epiphany reminds us that Jesus comes for everyone. Not just the religious elite. Not just those with the proper last name or ethnicity. When the wise men show up; they are just as unexpected guests as those shepherds and stable animals who met Jesus that first Christmas night. They were not Jewish. They were Gentiles, outsiders from pagan nations. They were not part of the chosen people of Israel; they were not part of the covenant community. Yet immediately after they arrive at the house, they bow down and worship before Jesus. Author Chad Bird wrote: “In these worshiping Gentiles, we begin to see the true flowering of a promise that was made many centuries before. God had told old Abraham that, through him, God would bless all nations: "in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. 12:3). The rest of the Old Testament, however, seems narrowly to focus upon only one nation, Israel. But God had a plan—a plan that was finally coming to fruition. These Gentiles are the first fruits of many other Gentiles (including me and you) who will bow before the King of the Jews, be adopted into the new covenant community, and be heirs of the promises made to Abraham.”
Epiphany vividly reveals the reason the Son of God came among us, as one of us. He has come as the fulfillment of God’s promises to send a Messiah who would save all people—without any kind of exception—from sin, and its condemning and life-controlling power. He came to restore all kinds of people everywhere to the presence and power of God. He came to restore you. It all begins beneath a star, with Gentiles from the east, confessing that the son of Mary is the Son of God. We echo that confession. In him, we are blessed by the Father. In Jesus, we see the epiphany of the heart of our God.
“Arise, shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1)
Just a couple of days before Christmas, I had to go pick up some last-minute things at Walmart. Signs of Christmas that once filled every aisle and was visible on every endcap was now much harder to find. The green and red colors gave way to pink and red. Valentine’s Day candy and decorations now filled the shelves. Most of what was left on Christmas shelves were either picked over or starting their approach toward the clearance aisles.
Oh, how quickly the world moves on from Christmas…
On the day after Christmas, my wife and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. Just a couple houses down from us, we passed a home that was already done with Christmas. Outside lights and inflatables were taken down and put away. Christmas tree, already void of any decorations, were thrown out to the curb.
Oh, how quickly we turn the page from Christmas…
To be sure, many of the celebrations and most of the family gatherings have ended. Presents unwrapped and cookies eaten. Non-stop Christmas music radio stations have gone back to their normal playlists. Given some truth serum, perhaps you would admit that you just want to get Christmas boxed back up and out of the way. It’s clutter, and you’d just as soon put it behind you. Has the joy of Christmas quickly disappeared in your home? Time for us to gaze back into the manger scene. We still must keep Christ in Christmas—even if the rest of the world has quickly forged ahead. To do this, we don’t bake more cookies or buy more presents. Instead, we bask in the reality of the meaning of Christmas, the Incarnation. For us, Jesus is not a babe whose manger is getting old and dusty. He is a living person, whom we know, a reality who has become a living presence. For Christians, Christmas is not a festivity but a birthday—a beginning! Enriched by this celebratory time, we begin to ponder the coming year.
Do you remember the verse from the Gospel of John (1:14), often read on Christmas morning, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us?” The word “to dwell” meant “to pitch a tent.” Eugene Peterson put it graphically as he paraphrased, saying, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son… generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”
Did you catch his phrase, he “moved into the neighborhood”? In other words, Jesus relocated. “From heav’n above to earth I come to bear good news to ev’ry home; Glad tidings of great joy I bring, whereof I now will say and sing.” (LSB 358, stz. 1) God with us indeed! The real Jesus stepped down from His heavenly throne and moved into our neighborhood. He took up residence in the brokenness of the once perfect world He created. Therefore, life for us can never go back to what it was before He came. We don’t simply turn the page and move on. “Getting on with business” after Christmas must include living with same joy and excitement that filled our hearts on Christmas Eve. Our joy to the world was not a fleeting moment, but a reality that permeates far beyond December 25th.
No matter what type of greeting cards Hallmark is pushing or what colors fill the stores, Christmas never stops impacting how we live. As you “get on with business,” make sure dispensing His love and grace is your business. May we enter the New Year with eyes that see those who need Him most.
This week's devotion was inspired/adapted from an online article, which I can no longer find to reference the author.
This past Sunday in our service we reflected on the very first worshipers of Jesus at Christmas—the shepherds. They were an unlikely invite to the royal guest list. Stinky. Dirty. Underappreciated. These were not men that were overly respected or valued in their 1st century community. Yet, there they are, with their staffs in hand, worshiping the newborn king on the night of that first noel.
For them that night started off like every other. Nothing strange. Nothing out of the ordinary. The shepherds were out doing what they did every other night. They were simply doing their job—a blue-collar, bottom-rung, minimum wage, underappreciated but absolutely necessary work. In an instant, their lives, and the entire course of history changed forever. “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” (Luke 2:8-9) There is something here we can easily overlook; and if we miss it, we can’t duplicate it. The only reason the shepherds showed up and found that baby wrapped in swaddling clothes was because they were invited. The shepherds may have noticed a brighter-than-normal star hanging in the sky, but they would not have made any connection to Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled. They certainly would not have left their flocks and hurried off into town. They would not have even known there was a miraculous birth that night which would change the world forever. If the angel had not shown up to extend the invitation, they would have missed the whole thing. They wouldn’t have been there. Can you even imagine a Christmas program or nativity set with no shepherds?!? It’s preposterous. That would be baa-ed.
I remember talking with an old neighbor several years ago. He was born and raised in the church but had become disenfranchised with organized religion. He had long walked away from his faith. He considered himself an agnostic. I invited him to church. He said, “A lot of my friends go to church. They talk about their church. But you’re the first person to ever actually invite me to attend.” He came not long after to check us out.
Pastor Steve Vera