My name is Brady, and I’m a pastor. Over the last few months, my ‘tribe’ (the church) has protested your right to marry the person you love and snickered about bathrooms. I know that for centuries, you have been harassed, attacked, and persecuted by my tribe.
Today, the world awoke to the story of no less than 50 human beings being murdered for the audacity to be at a gay bar. And you will undoubtedly turn somewhere for healing, care, and comfort, as we all would. And I’m aware that you may not be welcome in every church across the country.
But you’re welcome in mine.
Over the next few days, there will undoubtedly be some talking heads and social media posts, no matter how few, that talk about this attack as ‘the cost of living in sin’, as if you somehow deserve this hatred. Some of these statements will come from pastors and religious leaders.
But not from me.
For whatever differences you and I have, I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to offer love, comfort, and care. I serve a God who calls us to comfort those who mourn and bind up the broken hearted.
Please hear me on this: We do not have to see eye to eye to weep together.
Do you want to know what God’s plan and path for your life is? Like, you get the sense that God has a special role for you to play in the world. Something rewarding and fulfilling.
You just don’t know what that path is?
There is one story I think shows us one of the most critical elements to understanding God’s path for us. It’s found in Matthew 14:22-33, and it’s where Jesus walks on water. Now, this story is also found in Mark 6 and John 6, but in Matthew’s account, we see an important part to the story – we see another person walk on water.
In Matthew, we see Peter get out of the boat and become the Buzz Aldrin of water walking to Jesus’ Neil Armstrong. And it’s in Peter’s example I think we find the key component to following in the footsteps of Christ:
Peter had enough faith to do the impossible. Continue reading
A couple of years ago, I traveled to Berlin, Germany on a family vacation. There were a lot of incredible sites I saw while I was there, but one location stood out. In the heart of Berlin, there is a memorial aptly named ‘Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe’. (It’s the most German name ever: both a run-on sentence and succinctly descriptive). Truthfully, at first glance, the memorial doesn’t look like much. It consisted of a lot of nearly identical unmarked pillars, equally spaced out forming a grid of paths that ran from one side of the plaza to another.
When you stand on one side of the plaza and look out over the obelisks, they look to be relatively the same height as one and other. But when you look at the small, narrow paths that make up the grid of the plaza, you can see the decline that forms a sort of bowl in the center of the memorial.
To be perfectly honest, the whole thing seemed lost on me. It was a bunch of boxes evenly spaced out in the middle of a major city. Aside from the handful of signs telling a passersby that this was a somber memorial, you could easily have mistaken it for a weird piece of European modern art (I know I sound like a terribly uncultured American, and that’s because I am). The significance of the event the memorial represented wasn’t lost on me. I just couldn’t figure out a clear connection between the the event and the memorial.
Daniel made up his mind to eat and drink only what God had approved for his people to eat. And he asked the king’s chief official for permission not to eat the food and wine served in the royal palace. God had made the official friendly and kind to Daniel. But the man still told him, “The king has decided what you must eat and drink. And I am afraid he will kill me, if you eat something else and end up looking worse than the other young men.”
The king’s official had put a guard in charge of Daniel and his three friends. So Daniel said to the guard, “For the next ten days, let us have only vegetables and water at mealtime. When the ten days are up, compare how we look with the other young men, and decide what to do with us.” The guard agreed to do what Daniel had asked.
Ten days later, Daniel and his friends looked healthier and better than the young men who had been served food from the royal palace. After this, the guard let them eat vegetables instead of the rich food and wine.
God made the four young men smart and wise. They read a lot of books and became well educated. Daniel could also tell the meaning of dreams and visions. [Daniel 1:8-17]
Everyone loves a story about a hero triumphing over evil. It’s part of what we love about movies and television. It’s why books like ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Harry Potter’ are so popular (and not just with young adults). And our love of heroes is why the last 15 years has brought us a slew of comic book inspired movies (Thank God).
The story of Christ, found in the Gospel of Luke, appears to be written in the same tone as a historical epic. It’s a story of divine power, a savior to the downtrodden and oppressed, and redemption. It’s a story that, if we let it, speaks to our core and inspires us to dare for faith. Here’s why I feel that way.