August 2023

How do I know that God is closing a door and it’s not just something I don’t want to do?

NEWS FLASH.  We are human.  Our motives and intentions are sometimes so well hidden that we aren’t even fully aware of them.  So it is entirely possible that we will be certain that God closed a door even when it was just us not wanting to do a thing.  Here’s the thing- God is persistent and will continue to open doors, windows, or move the things we’ve stacked in front of them so that God will stop pestering us. When we find ourselves in the same place over and over again, it may be time to look for the door and open it.  God just may be on the other side! – Pastor Trudy Stoffel

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What is faith?

What is faith about? Rather than just belief in the unbelievable, faith can be understood as a state of being that isn’t necessarily a choice. Luther talks about faith as a gift from God, citing Ephesians 2:8 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…”

Ok, so faith is a gift, and a state of being that includes what one theologian calls “ultimate concern” (Tillich, Dynamics of Faith, 1957). In this way, faith means being ultimately concerned with ultimate things, aka God.

This “concern” shows a direction of attention and a closeness between two parties (if they are concerned about one another, they are close in a way). So, faith in God means being concerned and drawn toward God through that concern. This might look like devotional practices, or prayer, or service, or learning, or worship!

Faith as ultimate concern means that God can also be faithful, as is expressed in many Psalms (33:4, 36:5, 92:2, 100:5, 119:90, etc. etc. etc.). Just as we are ultimately concerned with God, God is ultimately concerned with us! :-0

How is concern a gift from God? We all feel concerned from time to time, and rather than it being a negative thing, directing that concern toward God in devotion, service, and worship brings forth healing, love, and a free exchange of giftedness. Faith in God overflows into connection to one another.

– Vicar Aaron Musser

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Is God a micro-manager?

When we hear that God has a plan, we may picture God sitting with something like a 3-D model of the world or at a computer filled with Sims, actively picking up and moving each and every piece, micromanaging the whole creation.  Or maybe with a giant wall calendar with everything already written in- like the day each person will die or moving the pieces to prevent or allow something to happen.  God’s plan is actually a much bigger picture than any of that.  When God says He has a plan, it is a plan of repentance, redemption, resurrection and restoration.  And it happens over and over and over again in each of our lives.  And it will keep happening- sometimes we might even notice. – Pastor Trudy Stoffel

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What’s the difference between a sin and a mistake?

The word ‘sin’ in Greek is ‘hamartia’, which means ‘missing the mark’.  This sounds kind of like a mistake.  However, when we look at the use of the word throughout the Gospels, it reveals that it is about missing the mark in a particular way.  Sin is when we turn from God, often turning in on ourselves.  Therefore it isn’t a list of ‘bad’ things, but a condition of being separated from God.  Repentance literally means to turn around, as in, face the other direction or in this case, turn toward Jesus and follow wherever He leads. – Pastor Trudy Stoffel

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What is a Vicar?

A vicar is sort of like a pastor-in-training. They are still officially enrolled at seminary, but devote an entire year to serving in a church. At GLC, vicars shadow Pastor Trudy for the first month or so, then set their own learning goals (in conversation with their “vicar squad” and PT) and focus on what is best for their pastoral formation.

The word “vicar” is close to the word “vicarious” – the original Latin root meaning “substitute,” or “stand-in.” A vicar might “stand in” as almost a pastor, but not quite. As Vicar, I will preach and teach bible studies and do other pastor-like duties, but I’m not officially a pastor…yet! – Vicar Aaron Musser

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