Tuesday, November 1, 2016

No Glory without Gory

My home congregation was a very "protestant" Lutheran Church that identified with those who rebelled against the Roman Catholic Church. There were no crucifixes in our building, because that was considered "too catholic." Of course, that is a revisionist understanding of history.

Martin Luther did NOT break away from the Roman Catholic Church. He was not a protestant, but a reformer, and he certainly never threw away his crucifix out of a concern that he was too catholic.

We should not be so quick to throw out our crucifixes: we need to be reminded regularly of the cost of God's grace and not be so quick to seek the glory of God without understanding and being reminded of the gory of the cross.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dont Give Up

Dont Give Up

Video Before the Sermon

Video After the Sermon

PDF Sermon Handout
Luke 18:1-8

The Parable of the Persistent Widow
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Its About God

It’s about God, not ME and MY faith!

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.  Luke 17:5-6

Have you ever seen anyone uproot a mulberry tree, by faith, and throw it into the sea?

No? Neither have I.

Why would one want to do such a thing?  That is beyond me.  Atheists would like to point out that this is just one of a thousand reasons why Jesus was just a delusional man, because they have never seen a mulberry tree thrown into a sea by faith either.

Good grief.  It is an illustration, people, and it is not about the stupid mulberry tree being thrown into the sea! It is an illustration about the power of God.

Wait, what?  You thought that this parable is about your faith, didn’t you.  It isn’t. It is about the pre-eminence and power of God.

It is very easy to misunderstand this parable of the mulberry tree as though Jesus is placing the emphasis on MY faith as the catalyst for the miraculous movements in the world.  However, one must always remember to place these lessons in their appropriate context.  In this case, the concern of the disciples about offending a little person of faith precipitated this parable (Luke 17:1-4).  Jesus turned the conversation on its head, demonstrating that it is the disciples who were the people of small faith. Nevertheless, regardless of their small baby like faith, miraculous things could still happen because miraculous events are about the power of God, not the size of my faith.

Get it?

Miraculous events occur despite the smallness of my faith because it is God does that does the miracle.   Therefore, stop worrying about the size of your faith.  Amazing things happen every day because of God’s power, not my faith.  I find that a great relief of burden.  It ultimately is all about God, not about us.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lottery of Life

Congratulations! You just won the LOTTERY of Life!

You will receive 138,000 blessings today and every day for the rest of your life.

I am serious.

You are alive and breathing.

Every day, your heart beats 115,000 blessings, and your lungs fill with 23,000 precious gifts.

You just had a fender bender? That’s one sad thing in a day filled with blessings. Your blessings still outnumber your disappointments by at least 138,000 to 1!

It is for this reason that I am baffled by the emphasis of some of us Christians who go to church on Sunday in hopes of receiving our “blessing from God.”  We are like Dursley in the Harry Potter franchise, who, while celebrating his birthday, counts the packages in front of him and throws a fit once he realized that he had one less present than the previous year. Doesn’t that seem like a lack of gratitude?

This is a lottery mentality, like those of us who spend our last dollar to buy a ticket in hopes of winning happiness.

Here is the news flash:  if we don’t realize that we have already received the blessings and riches of God, then winning the lottery is not going to fix our problems.  What we need is a heart change, not the change of our physical or financial circumstances.  We have already been blessed with everything we need for this life.

I know this sounds trite and dismissive of those real-life challenges that face all of us.  We do struggle with serious concerns about health-care, education, the safety of our children, life changing physical challenges, violence in our neighborhoods and more.

In 2011, Roko Belic directed a feature documentary called “Happy,” certainly well worth your time to watch.  Roko found that contentment had little to do with the amount of money one has, or with the physical circumstances of one’s surroundings.  Some of the most content people he found were those living in the slums of Kolkata in a tin box, and some of the least content lived in the US and were surrounded by great wealth.  He found that contentment is the result of gratitude for what one has along with the daily presence of supportive friends.

We have already received our blessing from God.  Rather than spending our lives looking for something that we do not need, we need to learn to be grateful for what we already have.

Close your eyes. Breathe in, breath out. Feel your heart beating in your chest.  Reach out and hug the friend, child or spouse sitting next to you.  You are wealthy beyond all belief. Acknowledge the God who loves you so.  You just won the lottery!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Go to God or Go to Hell

“And how do we receive forgiveness from God?” I asked

“We have to go to God, or we will go to hell….”

Not quite the answer I had expected.  I had just explained the Principle of Forgiveness to the man, that the power of a relationship shifts to the one who has been hurt once one has perpetrated a heartache against another.  The only way a relationship can be restored is if the one who has been hurt forgives.

I tried to direct the conversation a little differently, “But isn’t it God that comes to us with forgiveness?”

The man visibly shook, then erupted, “No!  That is silly.  We need to go to Jesus.  God coming to us… that is stupid.  If you don’t go to Jesus, you go to hell.”

I found the conversation somewhat distressing.  For some Christians, this is what passes for the salvation message. This man had spent many decades in a Christian church, and for this to be his understanding of salvation saddened me.  Going to God out of one’s fear of hell is the message of some other religions, but Christianity is, by nature, radically different and wholly other.

God comes to us. Not 50% of the way.  Not 80% of the way.  Not 90% of the way.  God comes to us in Jesus 100% of the way.  Jesus coming into our world is what brings God’s love, forgiveness and salvation to us. Yet, for some reason, we want to hold onto the notion that we somehow contribute 5% or at least 0.001% to the act of salvation by “Going to God.”

Here is the salvation message and the Good News of Jesus Christ:

  • We broke relationship with God, each other and our planet because of our desire to be our own god’s, insisting on our own selfish desires at the expense of others.  
  • God was hurt by our destruction of these relationships, but desperately wants to love and care for us.  
  • According to the Principle of Forgiveness, it is the offended party (i.e.—God) who must take initiative and bring forgiveness to us if we are to ever have our relationship with God restored.  
  • Rather than sitting in heaven and yelling at us from the sky “I love you,” God spoke the Word of love and forgiveness, and Jesus was born for the salvation of the world.  Jesus isn’t just a messenger of God’s love and forgiveness, Jesus IS God’s love and forgiveness.  
  • We tried to kill God’s love and forgiveness, but God’s love is relentless:  even death could not stop God from loving us. God takes that which is broken and dead and breathes new life.  

Isn’t that awesome?  

“But, I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!” the man yelled at me.

Why? Jesus means that we do not do ANYTHING for our salvation.  We don’t even “go to God.”  God came to us.  Salvation is 100% the domain of God and the gift of God in Jesus Christ.  

We can do something, just not related to our salvation.  Out of gratitude, we can and will respond to this gift, but there is nothing we need do as a prerequisite for receiving this gift.  We will want to please God as a sign of our thanks for what God has done for us, and as a means of blessing others so that they, too, can be assured God’s love for them. 

When I finally explained to the man that this is who Jesus is and that salvation is 100% the gift of God, the man stopped his gyrations. His jaw dropped, and, after a pause, a tear streamed down his cheek.

“Wow!” he said.  “I’ve been told wrong all of my life that my salvation depends upon me and what I do. But, this finally makes sense.  I have been living in fear of hell all my life, trying to please God to avoid hell, but God sets me free from this fear.  I get it now.”

I hope you do, too.  Stop living in fear of hell.  God has set you free.  God came 100% of the way to you.  You do not contribute even 1% your salvation.  Do change.  Not because you have to.  Change because you are grateful for this free gift of God.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Discipleship week 8 - Being Filled with the Spirit

insert video here

PDF for sermon handout
PDF for Spiritual Gifts 

Bible Verse 1 Cor 12:7-11

Everyone of us has been born with talents, but when we are born anew into Jesus Christ, we receive a unique spiritual gift that is meant to be available to the church, used for the purpose of furthering the mission of Christ.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Discipleship Week 7 - God's Healing

insert video here

Week 7 - God's Healing
PDF of Sermon Hadout

The God who has the power to create, and who has redeemed us through Jesus Christ, has the power to heal and to make whole. This healing takes many forms, including spiritual, relational, and physical healing, and is a foretaste of the healing which is yet to come.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Indie Artist Present - Dave Jones

David Jones (Vocals and Guitar) with Jake Harrover (Percussion) come and play an acoustic set of music with a little help from their Friends JustTerry (Spoken Word). Dave tells the tale of writing the songs as well as playing them.

Song List
7 last words
10 years old (Spoken word)
Save the Children
Take the Call
Go in peace

Contact us if you want to be featured on our Indie Artist Presents

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Healing Jesus

Healing is what Jesus does, and it is the work of the church.  Jesus did some spectacular, miraculous signs of healing during his earthly ministry, and claims that we will do even more spectacular things than he. (John 14:12-14)

However, I emphasize one important word in the second sentence: signs.  Spectacular physical healings are only signs of what God really wants to do in our lives.  The word "healing" is the same Greek word from which we translate “salvation.”  True healing is the restoration of relationships between God and humanity.

Physical healings are pale imitations and merely object lessons of what God wants to do for us. Every physical healing still ends in a death.  By raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus blessed Mary and Martha, but I am not so sure he did any favor for Lazarus, who would have had to face death a second time. (John 11)

It saddens me that a large number of Christians and some congregations spend a great deal of their energy seeking the signs of God’s healing, special blessings from God, both physical and financial. This is a spiritual lack of gratitude, a failure to acknowledge the already countless blessings of God. There is an entire faith healing industry constructed to make a profit on the backs of those who are desperate enough to seek this type of sign.  Often, when one does not receive the sign of healing, the faith healer turns the table on the supplicant, blaming their lack of faith; or, more cynically, their lack of financial generosity to the faith healer’s ministry.

Here is what I know about healing:
Physical signs of healing happen because of God’s goodness
Most people who received signs of healing in the NT never asked for it, and in most cases, did NOT have faith prior to the sign. (e.g.--John 11; Luke 7:11-17; 8:26-39)
Faith is the fruit of God's healing, not a pre-requisite of it.
If anyone actually does have the gift of healing, they should use it freely and generously, without expectation of financial remuneration.  (Luke 3:1-10)

That does not mean that we ought not to pray for healing and anoint each other. However, if the seeking of this physical sign of healing consumes us, diminishes our ability to give generously to those in need (because we are giving money to an already wealthy faith healer), then we are living in a poverty mentality, not understanding how absurdly blessed we are, and forgetting the beauty of the truth that we have already received the healing of God.

If we truly want to be agents of God’s healing, we should pick up the phone and call the friend with whom we had a fight and reconcile our relationship; we should use our hands to care for those around us; we should use our financial resources to bless the poor.  Then God’s healing power would be most powerfully revealed.

In other words: rather than seeking signs of God’s healing, BE God’s healing in the world!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Discipleship Week 5 - Resisting Evil & the Devil

PDF of Sermon Handout
Bible Verse: Luke 22:31-32

Because of Christ’s victory at Calvary over sin, death, and the devil, every believer has the right and ability to walk victoriously in life, free from guilt, condemnation, fear, bondage, and defeat. God always leads us to triumph over Satan in Christ.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Discipleship Week 4 - Reading the Bible

God's plan for us is that we enter into a loving relationship with Him. This priviledge is made available because of what Christ, The Word of God, has done. God continues to speak His Word to us in the Holy Scriptures, and this Word is powerful enough to transform our beliefs and actions and relationships

PDF of Sermon Handout
Bible Verse Matthew 4:1-4

Friday, July 1, 2016

Wedding Season

About 15 years ago, George Barna, a church sociologist, did a survey of pastors that discovered that 95% of pastors, when asked “What is your least favorite thing of being a pastor?” answered “Weddings.”  Those who know me, know that I heartily concurred with this evaluation.  I was troubled by the amount of money spent on weddings. Couples thought nothing of spending $5,000 on a dress, $30,000 on the dinner, but balked at the $350 our congregation asked to cover our costs associated with the wedding.  More troubling, many couples attempted to take over the holy space with secular rituals that were out of step with our Christian values.  Weddings were definitely prime evangelical opportunities, but they could be exhausting and stressful diplomatic battles.

However, over the last 5 to 7 years, I can say that I have enjoyed every wedding I have performed, and no longer dread the call from a couple seeking my assistance.  What happened?

Surprisingly, I think it is the accelerated secularization of the country which has alleviated most of the pressures associated with weddings.  In the past, secular couples would come to the church, wanting to use the congregation’s building as a prop for their fairy tale wedding.  That has not happened in recent years.  Secular couples no longer see the church as the back drop for their wedding; and, those couples that do seek out the church setting, are serious about God being a part of their marriage ritual. There is a greater honesty by couples about what they expect in their wedding, the role of the church, and the presence of God.

I do just as many weddings for secular couples as I did 10 to 15 years ago, but the weddings are in parks, homes, beaches and wedding halls.  I no longer have a turf to protect.  I still have an evangelical opportunity to tell them about how God can bless their marriage in the years to come with help, support, and love.

The larger issue of this post, then, are some of the positive affects of the continued secularization of the culture.  Many Christians see this as a great tragedy.  Not I.  I think it has led to an honesty that is refreshing.  Secular couples are no longer masquerading as a churched couple to please the institutional church, and couples for whom their faith is is important are fervent in their demonstration.

Pastor Dave

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Discipleship - Week 3 - Learning to Pray

Prayer is a conversation with God, through which we are privileged to talk with and listen to the almighty. Prayer is more than a few ritualized prayers said to God in the morning and before meals. Prayer is an ongoing line of communication.

Sermon Handout

Bible Verse

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Discipleship Week 2 - Releasing our Hurts

Sermon Handout PDF

Bible Verse
Matt 6:12-15

It is impossible to go through life without experiencing hurts, wounds, and disappointments. Our responses to these often lead to bitterness and un-forgiveness. As the people of God, we have been called to a higher walk. Jesus challenges us to love our enemies, even those who hate and plot evil against us. Forgiveness is never easy. However, God always gives us the ability to live according to His Word and example.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Discipship Week 1 - Confessing Our Brokenness

PDF of Sermon Handout

Bible Verse
Luke 4:5-8

We will never grow in our faith until we admit that we are sinful and cannot reach God by our good works or willpower. Sin is a partition that keeps our faith from growing. Truly, without Jesus Christ we can do nothing.

(John 15:5)
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

God of Healing

Pdf of Sermon Hand out

Bible Verses
1Kings 17:8-16
Luke 7:11-17

Friday, June 3, 2016



One thing sports have taught me is that there is always someone better than me, if not today, definitely tomorrow.  At the PIAA Track and field championships this last weekend, I saw humility, and the lack there-of, on full display.

First, a 4x100m relay team came to the meet expecting to win their 2nd straight championship medal. What they did not count on was that another team came to the meet with an alternative dream of their own. The defending champs lost by 0.01 seconds. In a fit of rage, the anchor of the losing team hurled his baton at the feet of the new champions. This bad sportsmanship led to an immediate disqualification and cost the team their 2nd place medal.

A lack of humility on the part of the losing team's anchor led to the shock and outrage that someone could take from him what he thought was his due, and this led to the subsequent unsportsmanlike outburst.  Whenever we believe that we are owed something, or that we are in some way sufficient in of ourselves, or that we are superior to other people, we have a lack of humility that cannot appropriately digest evidence to the contrary.  It prevents me from being connected to others and destroys relationships and opportunity.

How does this apply to my faith?  God wants to bless me, overwhelmingly.  However, a lack of humility on my part suggest that I don't need a blessing, that I can do it on my own, and that eventually, if I apply myself, I can earn the blessing I crave and desire.  This attitude is contradicted by the truth: I can't do it on my own, I can't work hard enough to grab hold of everything I desire or all the blessings of life.

If I want to receive the blessing of God, I need to humble myself, open up my hands, and accept that God wants to bless me absurdly, extravagantly, beyond anything I can ever imagine or deserve.  While there is nothing I can do to earn or deserve this rich and abundant blessing, a lack of humility is a wall I build that blocks me from receiving it.  God keeps pouring the blessings into my life, but in my lack of humility, I keep casting it away, throwing it at the feet of God as though God's blessing is a baton in my hand of which I simply want to be rid. I demonstrate my inability to comprehend that I am not sufficient in of myself and close myself from relationship and blessing.

I am reminded of the story of a powerful and well-loved centurion (Luke 7:1-10) who, rather than demanding that Jesus come to serve him and heal his servant, understood that he was unworthy of the blessing.  The centurion humbled himself, cast off any pretense of position and power, and depended upon the generosity of Jesus.  Jesus was astonished by the man's humility and faith.  Jesus intended to the heal the centurion's servant regardless, because that is just the way of God.  However, the astonishing humility of the powerful centurion diffused an entitlement mentality on his part, and prepared him to receive with gratitude the gift of Christ. Humility opens up the door for relationship, connection and blessing.

One last illustration from the state championship meet cemented an image in my brain of this wonderful spirit of humility.  Another defending champion, a senior, came to the meet expecting to take home her 2nd straight championship medal.  Once again, another girl, a freshman, had an alternative dream that did not include the defending champion.  The freshman girl ran the race of her life and defeated the senior.  The victor did a dance, threw her fist in the air, was jubilant, as she should be.  The senior collapsed to her knees out of exhaustion and disbelief and sorrow and began to weep. There was no tantrum from this girl, no sense of entitlement, no fit of rage. The evidence on this day was that she was only the 2nd best runner.

The freshman girl, while understanding the great joys of a victory, also understood that there was something more important than a gold medal: there was an opportunity for a meaningful human connection.  She turned to congratulate the runner up but saw the senior who had come expecting a victory, on her knees, her face in her hands.  The younger girl fell on her knees and threw her arms around the senior in a sincere and caring embrace that froze time: the entire track meet stopped, and the eyes of thousands were fixated on this touching human expression.  The freshman victor then helped the senior to her feet, and they walked to the finishers tent, arms around each other's waists.  Winner and loser were connected together, the importance of who was who forgotten in a moment of humility.

Pastor Dave

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Unity Amidst Diversity

How did Jesus pull together such a diverse group without them destroying each other? Read John 17:20-28

1. They focused on Jesus.  

The only hope for unity in the church, with such diverse personalities, is that we be focused on Jesus. Some churches have created unity by limiting those to whom they minister. Congregations tend to look and think like their pastor, so variety is not encouraged.  In some congregations, those who are different (i.e.--don't fit congregational norms) are expected to change in order to fit into the congregation's template, which is is why very few churches are integrated racially: those who are different understand they are not welcome.   

2.  Jesus nurtured this great diversity as demonstrated by those whom he chose to follow him. 

We don't need to change people, their temperaments, and their qualities to fit into our norms. We only need to realize that the church that focuses on Jesus can handle great diversity.  There is no one that the church should be chasing away or expecting to change in order to be a part of our faith family.

Your Partner,
Pastor Dave

Friday, April 22, 2016

Jesus is the anti-authoritarian

Jesus is the anti-authoritarian.

He is the one who is the authority of the world but submits to those who should be the servants

The master performs the humiliating tasks that no one else would do.

Many of us Christians want to submit to a dead law rather than a living Christ: "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it."

This is the murderous spirit of Christian authoritarianism.  Love dies with the utterance of those words.  This is not the way of Jesus, and is not the way of love. Therefore, let us not fall back into the bondage of immaturity, but grow into the loving people God has made us to be.

Pastor Dave

Monday, April 18, 2016

Set Us Free

There are many authoritarian voices competing for our attention, demanding for us to follow them if we want to be in the in crowd along with the other "righteous" followers. However, no one in this world deserves that type of devotion and unquestioned trust and loyalty: not our sports heroes, not our politicians, not our humanists, not our scientists, and certainly not our pastors. The only one deserving is Jesus.

Unlike the authoritarian voices, Jesus does not oppress us, but sets us free. Jesus is not interested in what we can give him, but what he can give us. Jesus does not use his authority over us to demand a particular outcome that is beneficial to him and his cause, but blesses us so that we can fulfill our potential. This Jesus just wants to love us and protect us, and does not demand our lives for his cause. On the contrary, he is the one who gives his life so that we do not have to.

Pastor Dave

Monday, March 28, 2016

A message of Hope

I found the Easter Message from the Pope to be one a great hope and joy. I find this especially wonderful in the light of all of horrible things happening in the world at this time.

"To those in our society who have lost all hope and joy in life, to the elderly who struggle alone and feel their strength waning," he said, "to young people who seem to have no future, to all I once more address the words of the Risen One: 'See, I am making all things new… To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life' (Rev 21:5-6)." Pope Francis concluded, saying, "May this comforting message of Jesus help each of us to set out anew with greater courage to blaze trails of reconciliation with God and with all our brothers and sisters."

you can read the whole message here.

Terry Bruce

Sunday, March 27, 2016

He Is Risen - Become Who you are

Happy Easter - He is Risen

Pdf Handout
Bible Verses: John 20:1-18

The Empty Tomb
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Mary The Fortress

We, like Mary, the Fortress, stand at an empty grave, with tears flooding our eyes, blinding us from the truth.

Wipe your tears, look up and into the eyes of Jesus.

You are not worthless You are heavenly royalty
You are not a bum You are a child of God
You are not worthless You are God’s masterpiece, the crowning jewel of creation
You are not no good You are the image of God and a towering fortress

Go and be set free to be who you are…

Pastor Dave 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Good Friday Prayer Stations

Good Friday March 25th 2016 7am to Midnight
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
405 Ridge Ave
East Pittsburgh Pa

See Map

Lenten Journey

My Lenten Journey did not go as planned.
…I didn’t cut out the things from my life that I had hoped to cut out.  Not a one of them.
…I didn’t add any of the disciplines I wanted to add.  Not one time.

However, this was one of the more powerful Lenten Journeys ever for me.  It was in the not not doing the things that I had planned (and in the not doing the things that I had planned) that I learned one of the best lessons of Lent.

Jesus doesn’t care about my Lenten disciplines or lack thereof!

The Lenten disciplines do not, in any way, contribute to my salvation.  That has been done for me in Jesus Christ.  We spend 40 days trying to be dour and all serious, when the truth is, I already know the end of this story.  Jesus wins!

The Lenten disciplines are not bad.  They are personally beneficial. Yet, failing to do them in no way risks my relationship with God.

The good news that I learned by my lack of Lenten discipline is that Jesus really does love me as I am, and that I can, in no manner, contribute to the gift of his love and salvation for me.

Pastor Dave

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Holy Week Schedule

Holy Week Schedule

Sunday March 20th
- 10 am Combined Worship Service
- 11 am Mission Festival

Tuesday March 22nd
- 7 pm Evening Prayer

Thursday March 24th - Maundy Thursday
- 7 pm Holy Communion

Friday March 25th - Good Friday
- 7am to Midnight Interactive Prayer Stations
- 10 am - Stations of the Cross
- 7 pm - Stations of the Cross

Sunday March 27th
- 9:30 am Traditional Easter Celebration
- 11:15 am Contemporary Worship

Interactive Prayer Stations
Come at your convenience for an opportunity that will deepen your connection with God. Immerse yourself in 8 interactive prayer stations that will engage all of your senses in the deepening of your prayer life.

We really do need each other

pdf of Sermon handout

go to the 40 days Community resource page  to get all the materials you will need for the bible study

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Share the Love

What does it mean to love? Some Christians claim that they would be willing to die for others, but would you really?  Being truthful, there are only two people in this world for whom I would die, and if you are reading this, you likely are not one of them.  If a bus is about to hit you, rest assured, I will shout a word of warning, I will scream as you are hit, and will cry at your funeral, but that is the best I have to offer.

In I John 3:16, the apostle tells us that we ought to lay down our lives for each other.  We interpret that to mean “die” since that is the length to which Jesus went for us.  However, there is only one death, that of Jesus, that really means anything for the future of the world and its salvation.  I don’t think the purpose of love is to die for each other.  The purpose of love is to LIVE for each other.

A more accurate interpretation is that we are to invest ourselves and commit ourselves to the lives of others.  Therefore, to really love each other means that we are to invest ourselves in each others’ lives.  We can’t invest ourselves in each other if we are dead, disconnected from or dismissive of others. So… if you want to love others, LIVE. Stop dismissing others because they do not share your values.  Don’t categorize people into groups of “them” and “us,” or limit who you will love based upon your evaluation of who is worthy. Invest yourself in the lives of those around you, live and love.

Love says, “I see you, I hear you, I know you are there, and I am here to help.”

Pastor Dave

Sunday, March 6, 2016

God is NOT out to get you

God is NOT out to get you!  God knows all of your faults, warts wrinkles, good and bad, and STILL wants to love you and be with you.  What does that tell you about the value that God places upon your life?

Some religious leaders have tried to manipulate you into believing that you are somehow an awful person who is being evaluated as to whether your life measures up to God’s standards. If your pastor or church makes you feel as though you do not measure up, I have a word of advice: find another congregation!  On the flip side, if you are feeling somewhat superior to others, if you believe there is an “us” and “them” in life, you are the one who needs a heart transformation.

How does God really see us?  According to I John 1, the apostle acknowledges that we all sin.  Interestingly, he uses the Greek word Hamartia for sin, which is an archery term meaning to miss the target.  Sin is not about disobeying some arbitrary category of behaviors, rules and regulations.  Sin is about relationships.  We daily miss the mark in our relationships, because life is messy, people are different.  What hits the mark with one, may miss the mark with another.  The only way to hit the target is to practice and to depend upon the guidance of a great coach: the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, God wants to shine a light upon our lives and expose our sin not to shame us, call us out, or make us feel guilty.  God wants to help us get better, to be better at loving each other.  There is no room for loathing and self-hatred in the Christian life. If you fail in your relationships today, admit it, get back up and keep going.  Another opportunity to practice is right around the next corner.

Pastor Dave

What does it mean to love

Pdf of Handout

go to the 40 days Community resource page  to get all the materials you will need for the bible study

Saturday, February 27, 2016

What if I stumble

A recent study found that how one responds after tripping and falling is indicative of their success in life. Those who struggle through life, trip and fall, are embarrassed, make an assessment of who was watching, apologize to everyone who saw them fall, then mumble under their breath about how stupid they are. Those who tend to be successful trip and fall, but get right back up and keep walking as though nothing happened.

Sin is a stumble and a fall. How we respond is indicative of our relationship with God.

In I John 1:5-2:1, the apostle tells us that we all stumble in our relationships. He uses the Greek word Hamartia to describe sin. It is an archery term that means missing the target. When one misses a target, get another arrow out of the quiver and just keep practicing. If we need help, ask the coach, the Holy Spirit to give direction. Fretting and fuming and stressing about missing the target does no good.

There is no place in the Christian life for loathing and self-hatred.  You missed the mark? You stumbled and fell? So what? Everyone does. Get back up and keep moving and improving.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

My faith and relationship with God is none of your business

“My faith and relationship with God is none of your business, Pastor.”

That was the response I got from one of our council members 25 years ago.  It is reflective of the attitude of many Christians who isolate themselves from each other, making faith an individualistic, pietistic practice. Some Christians worship in big box congregations, surrounded by thousands, but never connected to any of them. Others never leave home for worship, believing that “Jesus and Me” is all that is necessary.  However, contrary to that hymn of faith, we do not, and should not, come to the garden alone.

Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness is often used as the inspiration for this personalized, privatized devotion, disconnected from the life of others. (Luke 4:1-13)  It is the reason why, in Lent, we often participate in a private fast, devotion or quiet time that takes us away from others.  However, Jesus did NOT go alone into the wilderness.  Who went with him?  The Holy Spirit.  Jesus is always in relationship with the Father and Spirit, and Luke points this out to us regularly.  Jesus is not some lone wolf who does not need others.  Jesus’ ability to accomplish his salvific purpose is a result of his unity with the Father and Spirit and his connection to humanity.  Yes, humanity.  Luke makes sure we understand that Jesus is woven into the tapestry of humanity that dates back to God’s own hand (Luke 3:23-38).  Luke makes sure that we understand that even in his darkest moment, the time of his passion, not only doesn’t he go to the garden alone (Luke 22:39-46), he does not go to the cross alone.  

Therefore, I am asking you to do something different with your Lent journey.  Instead of practicing a personalized, quiet devotion, find a means of connecting with someone else on your journey of faith.  Your journey of faith may be yours, but it is not meant to be private.  God has given us partners to walk with us so that we, like Jesus, never go anywhere alone.

Pastor Dave

Saturday, February 13, 2016

40 Days of Community Home Bible Study Week 5

40 Days of Community Home Bible Study Week 5
go to the 40 days Community resource page  to get all the materials you will need for the bible study

40 Days of Community Home Bible Study Week 4

40 Days of Community Home Bible Study Week 4
go to the 40 days Community resource page  to get all the materials you will need for the bible study

40 Days of Community Home Bible Study Week 3

40 Days of Community week 3 Home Bible Study Video
go to the 40 days Community resource page  to get all the materials you will need for the bible study

40 Days of Community Home Bible Study Week 2

 40 Days of Community Home Bible Study Week 2

go to the 40 days Community resource page  to get all the materials you will need for the bible study

40 Days of Comminity Home Bible Study Week 1

40 days of community Home Bible Study week 1

go to the 40 days Community resource page  to get all the materials you will need for the bible study

Sunday, February 7, 2016

40 days of community kick off

Sermon for the 40 days of community kick off. come back every sunday for the next 7 weeks and enjoy a new sermon from Pastor Dave. Tranfiguration Sunday.

Luke 9:28-36

40 days of community resource page

40 Days of Community Training

This is the training sessoins for the 40 days of community.
40 Days of Community Resource Page

Small Group Training part 1

Part 2

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Mary the Mother of our Lord

This is the First post for us here at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. you can expect more from us in the future. We stream our services Live almost every sunday