These are the QUESTIONS that were submitted during the QUESTIONS series with responses from the pastors. We will continue to add more as they become available.
The “women keep silent” passages are not to be proof-texted, they were in a specific context. Paul left Lydia, Phoebe, and Dorcas in charge of churches. Jesus made it clear women are to be leaders in church also. We need to look at the totality of scripture, not a few passages. The women who were disciples of Jesus were last at the cross, and first at the tomb.
No. It has to involve water and the Trinitarian formula. Laypeople can baptize as well as clergy.
We don’t know how the end will come. The rapture is one interpretation. As addressed in church, it should not be fear based. God is in charge, we should not fear the end of the world, but rejoice He will come again.
Science and faith are complex, but not incompatible. While we don’t believe the bible is a science or history textbook, we are also not people who negate God as creator.
Prayer is important, and Jesus told us to pray. It is always “God’s will be done”. We don’t always know that will or see it clearly.
I have no idea what this means. We welcome all people here, but we also don’t agree with everything in society.
God’s forgiveness covers all our sins and shortcomings. We are promised we will see loved one and made whole in heaven, how that happens exactly no one is sure.
The creation account, in our Lutheran understanding, is not a science textbook. So seven days could be seven thousand or million years. The important thing is God Created. Like the end of the world, the account is our limited human interpretation of how things happened.
Well, if we go to scripture, Jesus says thinking bad things is equivalent to murder, so it is the heart of the matter -Our hearts, at stake. We are inherently broken, so it is not the individual sin as much as repairing that relationship that is the cross and empty tomb.
The Ten Commandments do equate lying or stealing with murder, so yes, all sin is bad. How it impacts us may be different.
Science and faith are not incompatible. Even great scientists as people of faith believe in evolution and creation. Dinosaurs are a fact, we don’t need to disprove them. We need to build bridges with non-believers, not judge them. Best thing to do is study and learn more, and listen to others while also holding our own views.
All are welcome in the Memorial Garden. Suicide is a complex issue, we handle it gracefully, and do have several suicides in the garden already.
See above. Views have changed in most, but not all churches. Mental illness, depression, and other issues can cause it, and so rather than judging, we need to be kind and help the family and survivors.
Jesus declared this in Mark 3 because some claimed his miraculous powers came from “an impure spirit.” The word blasphemy means “to slander, scorn, or injure another’s good name.” Slandering God, someone who gives God a bad name, is the ultimate rejection of God and characteristic of an unrepentant heart. God cares about the quality of our character, and for some, their character is so hardened towards God, they could never coexist with God for eternity. Pride is considered the deadliest of all sins because pride has the ability to build a wall between us receiving God’s grace. We need to become the kinds of people that want to be with God. If someone has the humility to see their need for God, to listen to the Holy Spirit knocking on their heart, they will be forgiven.
Regular routines of rest will always be in our best interest. However, there are several examples in the Gospels where Jesus intentionally did work on the Sabbath to prove a greater point to the religious leaders of his day, “God desires mercy, not sacrifice.” God commands us to rest because quite frankly, we’re not machines and we need it. However, if there are opportunities to do good on the Sabbath, Jesus of course approves.
So many! Here are a few:
Matthew 1:23“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Philippians 2:5-6“Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God…”
Colossians 2:9“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”
Revelation 22:13“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” and 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.”
Historian scholars estimate Jesus’ birth to be around 6-4 B.C. and his death to around 30 -36 AD. There are a number of factors to consider for these ranges, such as the historical figures Herod the Great, Quirinius, Tiberius Caesar, Herod Antipas, Pontius Polite and their reigns. With that said, Jesus could have been between 34-42 years old at his death on the cross.
The Gospel writer in Luke 23 leaves those names anonymous. However, what they contribute to Luke’s passion narrative is significant. There’s great irony and play on words in Luke 23 where Pilate, Herod, the repentant criminal and the centurion all use the same word to describe Jesus’ innocence (23:4, 14-15, 22, 41, 47) which is also the same Greek word the prophet Isaiah (in the Greek Old Testament) uses to describe the suffering servant as “innocent” or “righteous” (Isaiah 53:11 LXX).
Just southeast of Jerusalem, is a valley called Gehenna. It was the city’s garbage dump where leftover animal sacrificial remains and trash were burned. Worshippers to the god Molech also sacrificed children here. It provides horrifying imagery one can imagine wolves gnashing their teeth on animal sacrifices and mothers weeping before their babies are offered to the fire. It was the worst place imaginable in the Jewish mind and the same location Jesus uses to refer to where the unrighteous go.
The early church developed some very deep and thought-provoking theology on the Trinity. They help us understand that Jesus is God and God is Jesus. However, they make a clear distinction that the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Spirit, and so on. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God and they each play a unique role… where we have relationship to the Father, because of the Son, through the Holy Spirit. Augustine of Hippo wrote a book, “On the Trinity” in 400AD. You might like to explore more in his book. The nature of God is surely mysterious.
Yes. Nothing is impossible for God. Lord, have mercy on you. There is no good explanation on why some experience miraculous healing and others do not. It seems God performs miracles purposefully… for example, to inspire faith in Jesus, to show compassion to the poor, to restore what’s been broken by sin and the devil. However, no miraculous healing is a permanent solution to our problems. The hope of eternal life will be the greatest healing for anyone to experience.
This is a great and difficult question. Yes, God led Israelite armies in battles against their enemies. God also gave the Israelites laws for their own community life, such as the 10 Commandments. The phrase, “You shall not murder” in Exodus 20:13 is actually one word in Hebrew, “ratsach” which means “premeditated” or even “accidentally causing death.” This word is never associated with any war passages in the Bible. There are different words used in these cases the context was God judging certain nations that inhabited the land that would become Israel. Throughout history, certain “Christian” nations have unfortunately waged war in the name of God, gaining inspiration from Old Testament passages. This is why it’s so important not to take the Bible out of context.
To assume God tempts us is similar to comparing God to how Willy Wonka operated his Chocolate Factory contest. At the end of the movie, Charlie successfully resisted the “temptations” and “testings” by Mr. Slugworth who was actually an employee of Willy Wonka. Is this what our God is like? Is God putting all of humanity through moral testings to separate the good eggs from the bad eggs? This is the furthest message of the Bible and the grace of Jesus Christ. God is FOR us and actively available for us to overcome sin and temptation. I actually consider this a translation issue and prefer the New Living Translation which reads, “Don’t let us yield to temptation. But rescue us from the evil one.”
To assume there was absolutely nothing is to assume there is no ocean floor/land/dirt either. A conservative reading of this would see an elementary planet with a crust and water formed in Genesis 1:1, “God created the heavens and the earth.” I particularly enjoy the poetical value of this ancient Jewish text with patterns of 3’s, 5’s, 7’s, 10’s and a structure were the first three days of separating correspond with the next three days of filling the spaces that were separated. I also admire its impact in the ancient world. Every other ancient civilization believed we were outcomes of the gods at war, which isn’t very good. This God tells a different story of a very good creation.
Because of sin, we live in a fallen world prone to violence and undeserved suffering. As God’s creation, it all falls within the sweep of his sovereignty. Why God permits hate crimes remains a mystery for we cannot know the mind of God. And yet, God can use devastating circumstances for his glory, to stir compassion and self-sacrifice among the faithful, to grow us in Christ’s likeness, and to bring out his best in us.
The apostle Peter offers an explanation. It appears to be a preaching mission–to proclaim God’s triumph over sin and death. Jesus’ descent into hell was not to have him suffer the torments of hell, but to preach to the imprisoned spirits. “For Christ suffered once for sins…to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits, to those who were disobedient long ago.” 1 Peter 3:18-20
Quite often, perhaps daily, we intercede on behalf of someone who is kind and thoughtful but unchurched. We want them to believe in Jesus, but have no clear indication that they do. However, when we pray for them, we have the assurance that whatever we ask in his Name, he hears us (1 John 5:14-15). We know that our God is trustworthy, that he is full of compassion and mercy (James 5:11), and he is gracious and rich in love (Psalm 145:8).
You can start by developing a solid friendship. Identify needs so that you can respond in ways that demonstrate you truly care for them. Pray for them daily and pray to see them as Jesus sees them. Pray for an opportunity to share your story—to tell them the difference God has made in your life. Bridge the gap with patience and kindness.
Challenges in this world can be discouraging, if not agonizingly difficult. We can be so distracted by the pain or suffering, we find ourselves asking, “Where are you God?” or “Why can’t you fix this?” In times like these, we need God’s wisdom, strength, and courage to keep going. It’s available if we will only seek him first.
God wants us to grow in grace and in our dependence on him. He wants us to look beyond our circumstances and to see how he is present. God may not be the fixer, but he is always present. God always intends what is best.
The Bible doesn’t come with instructions for its own disposal. However, here are some ways to handle a well-worn Bible.
If you want to keep it, you can (1) have it restored by a professional or (2) save it in a place to keep it from further deteriorating.
Pass it along to a family member who would like to keep it as a family heirloom, treasuring its precious markings of favorite passages.
You can donate it to a library, thrift store, or homeless shelter.