Erin Otis

Erin Otis has a pastoral heart and it shows. She is talented and creative leader determined to see WCC know the story of King Jesus and experience his presence, especially our children and their parents. She is a hard worker who is unafraid to do hard things. She is thoughtful and compassionate, and it shows in how she discerns the Spirit’s in challenging situations.

In many circles Erin has been the only woman in a room of male leaders, and at times, she’s been dismissed. But she stands firm with dignity, strength, listens deeply, and speaks courageously. On our team she leads us well and helps us see what we would otherwise miss. She is a critical voice in our church family and proves her leadership by what she does, not what she says. For me personally, Erin is a steady rock on the shifting sands of ministry.

Erin is a faithful wife, mother, daughter, and sister. Above all I’m thankful to call her my friend and co-worker in God’s mission. #SingOneAnothersPraises

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Garrett Laubscher

Garrett Laubscher’s heart yearns for the justice of God to make the broken things of this world whole. He loves fully and feels deeply, and it shows in how he works to proclaim the love and reign of Christ to all our middle and high school students. He wants them to know the story of God and the life Jesus offers. He wants them to see what it means to be loved by God, no matter where they’ve been, what they’ve done, or what’s been don’t to them. He’s a champion for the vulnerable and a prophetic voice to the rest of us. He’s a kind soul and faithful friend.

Garrett is an artist both with words and images. He writes some of the best sermons I’ve ever read or heard. He also creates all of WCC’s digital media. Without him we’d be stuck with flannel graphs and stock images from Microsoft Word.

Garrett is a faithful husband, father, son and grandson. I am thankful for his pastoral leadership, service and friendship. Above all I’m thankful to call him my friend and co-worker in God’s mission.

#SingOneAnothersPraises

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Jon Sprankle

Jon Sprankle’s faithfulness to God and his Church shows in his work ethic. Jon has a strong heart filled with love and compassion that wants all people to know the love of God and joy of community. He understands what it means for the local Church to be a family of faith. He is committed to self-giving love and gracious hospitality and leads by example. Each week we catch a small glimpse of it as he guides us in our liturgy and invites us to open up to the story of God and turn our attention to the presence of God who reigns in Christ by the Spirit.

Jon is a gift to our church family and critical member of our pastoral team. Without him we’d be a scattered mess. We would lack the capacity to faithfully equip and send God’s people forward in His mission, especially during this strange season. The work he does is simply incalculable.

Jon is a faithful husband, father, grandfather, and brother. Above all I am thankful to call him my friend and co-worker in God’s mission.

#singoneanotherspraises

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Who Will be “the Wise“

In Deuteronomy 1:13-17 Moses knows a great time of transition and change is coming for God’s people. Battles will be fought both inside and outside the community. Challenges will arise from within and without. There will be tough times and prosperous times, times of joy and sorrow. And in the midst of it all, wisdom will be required if they are to navigate these times well. Wisdom will be required if they are to not lose themselves in their successes or failures. When abundance threatens to strike them with amnesia and they are tempted to say to themselves, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ they will need the wise to rise up and say, “but remember that the Lord your God gives us the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to our ancestors.”

The wise will help them keep their eyes focused on God’s reign and faithful love. The wise will call them to faithfulness.

The wise will remind them to step away from the network news and social media newsfeeds, and breath so they can think for themselves. The wise will remind them to do the research before drawing a line in the sand. The wise will remind them to listen to their neighbors, especially the least among them, so they can hear the fullest versions of the story. The wise will remind them to take all they see and hear and measure it in light of the Scriptures. The wise will call them, above all things, to act with love for God, neighbor, and enemy alike, because that is how God loves.

The wise will remind them that God is faithful and resilient and, by God’s power, they can be resilient too.

Our Church, city, and nation does not need loud people or eloquent people or smart people.

Our Church, city, and nation needs wise people. Wise people are resilient people, faithful in love, quick to listen, humble in spirit, steady in compassion, committed to mercy, courageous in character, and knowledgable of the whole counsel of God.

The wise choose their battles wisely. The wise resist the temptation to define another human being by labels. The wise are honest with their biases and desires and how these biases and desires impact how they interpret what they see.

The wise can rightly discern the times, not with American party politics like liberalism or conservatism—you and I will answer to God for all that stuff—but with what reflects what we see in the life and teachings of Jesus.

The wise are resilient in the way of Jesus because the wise remember His resilient love on the cross to liberate the world.

Who will be the wise? Will you be the wise? Will I be the wise? Will we be the wise?

(This is a snippet from Sunday’s conversation with WCC. )

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Some Musings from others

This week I found these posts made me pause and think more deeply about how my faith intersects with society. I hope they do the same for you.

From Brian Zahnd, pastor at Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, MO:

One of the most remarkable things about the earliest Christians is that they didn’t try to hide, downplay, or gloss over the fact that the One they worshiped as King of Kings had been crucified. Paul says things like, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” The early Christian hymn that Paul quotes in his letter to the Philippian church doesn’t merely say Jesus died, but that he was crucified. The earliest Christian creed doesn’t flinch from confessing that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate and was crucified. For Christians living at such a far remove from the first century, the depth of this scandal may be hard to grasp, but your hero being crucified would be the last thing a Jew or a Roman living in antiquity would boast about. And yet the early Christians did boast about it. Paul readily admitted that this was foolishness to Romans and offensive to Jews. But Paul also said it was the power and wisdom of God, contending that “God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” Paul doesn’t mean that when God is weak, God is still stronger than humans. That wouldn’t be scandalous, that would be just a typical boast about conventional power. Rather Paul is saying that God’s power is weakness! Think about that for a moment and you will realize that such an assertion is still scandalous today. We are fascinated by conventional power — power to purchase, power to enforce our will, power to kill — and we are put off by any form of powerlessness. But it is precisely the powerlessness of God enacted by Jesus on the cross that saves the world.

From Rich Villodas, pastor of New Life Fellowship in Queens NY:

“The church is not to be found at the ‘center’ of a left/right political world. The church is to be a species of its own kind, confounding left, right, and middle, and finding its identity from the ‘center’ of God’s life.”

Then from Michael Gonzalez, a theological in Philadelphia:

Jesus does not serve the agenda of peace and unity. Jesus demands loyalty to the reign of God.

Michael later posed this question:

How come verses like, “”You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” never become Bible verses of the day?

And finally, a sad observation made by Dr. Chuck DeGroat, a reformed pastor in Michigan who also serves as associate professor of counseling and pastoral care at Western Theological Seminary. He posted this on October 8th.

“Today, while a kidnapping plot was revealed related to the Governor of MI, a pastor had his ministry hijacked by a powerful and wealthy contingent who threatened to leave, bankrupting the church.

Not over the Trinity. Or worship styles.

But over… masks.

He’s out.

He shared Gal 5 and 1 Cor 9 to no avail. Their imagination has NOT been shaped by St Paul’s self-giving notion of freedom but American freedom. Ayn Rand, not Jesus.

Before he packed his office, he confessed his failure of discipleship to them. He sacrificed his ego to repent.”

We live in strange times with pressures on every side. I personally find it helpful meditate on short thoughts these days. I also feel it’s important to discern carefully to whom I listen yet purposefully listen to people or sources that make me uncomfortable. It’s good for me to be surrounded by an array of godly voices and perspectives.

I’m learning a lot.

I hope of these thoughts will do the same for you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment