pastor grant's blog
As a kid, one of my favorite Halloween activities was watching the TV special "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" where Charlie Brown, his dog Snoopy and the rest of the gang go trick-or-treating while Linus waits, as he does every year, in the pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin to appear and bring him gifts. Linus believes that if he is sincere enough, and if he does not doubt, that the Great Pumpkin will come and bring gifts to him. But each year Linus is dissapointed.
Makes we wonder if we relate to having faith in Jesus the same way. Maybe we think that if we are sincere enough, if we believe hard enough, then faith and Jesus can be real for us! But what if we struggle with this, what if it's hard for us to believe? Will we, like Linus, be disappointed every time we wait for God to show and instead we end up feeling like we've been tricked instead of treated!
The good news is that it really doesn't depend on our efforts. Faith and the ability to believe is actually a gift from God... and one of the ways God distributes this gift is through the church.
So, if you are looking for faith or you need some help with believing, you don't have to wait out there, like Linus in the pumpkin patch by yourself. Come and visit us at Valleyview, you don't need to dress up, no masks are needed, just come and discover what God wants to treat you with.
Hallowed Blessing to you!
What's more important, right beliefs or right actions? Its a bit of a false dilemma really, obviously both are very important - but the current trend these days is to minimize or dismiss the importance of having the right beliefs or correct beliefs about God, Christ, scripture etc... as long as we are helping the poor, fighting for justice and loving each other.
Because it seems that the alternative to this is that we would have correct beliefs about God, Christ, scripture, etc... but not help the poor, fight for justice or love each other. But that seems hypocritical and so the other scenario is preferable.
But in our current context, and especially within mainline churches like the PCC, I would be tempted to place "right beliefs" as more important, or at least being primary.
And it would be precisely because right beliefs don't always lead to right actions. What better way is there for each of us to come to the awareness that we are walking contradictions because of Sin, than to realize we don't always act, or want to act, according the "right beliefs" revealed to us in Scripture.
And its the awareness of Sin as a frustratingly real and pervasive aspect of our self which opens us up to receive God's solution for it - Jesus Christ.
I know its easy to try and dismiss it when someone says - hold on, that's not the correct way to think or the right belief about God, Christ, scripture, etc... and try to move on to more "important" matters of loving our neighbors through right actions of social justice.
It may sound more "spiritual" and come across as more noble and tolerant, however we end up missing out on the best way to understand who we really are, and to truly experience Christ's forgiveness and the Holy Spirit's transformation.
Its also the best way to ensure any "right actions" we do are motivated from the kind of gratitude that only comes from being a forgiven sinner. It also protects us against self-righteous - from believing that our focus on "right actions" makes us superior to those who quibble about uminportant matters such as what to believe!
Because that would really be hypocritical - and its why I find the primacy of "right beliefs" more appealing. So...don't stop believing!
This summer marks four years for me as a minister at Valleyview. I think the one thing I've learned, which really stands out for me, is that things don't happen in people's lives unless you're willing to ask for it.
This has been a challenge for me because I'm the kind of person who wants to give everyone their own space and pace for growth. And I've always sort of believed that if people were happy and liked what you were doing in ministry then they would just sort of grow on their own.
I've discovered otherwise! In my context I've seen that people respond and start to grow in discipleship when I've clearly communicated what the expectations are and what the commitment level is.
I find this a bit difficult because we live in a culture which says "don't force your opinions on me!" But I am a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that means that I have to answer to Christ one day for the spiritual growth of those he has entrusted in my care.
So I'm discovering that I need to gently, but boldy and confidently say - discipleship is a priority and you simply need to make it more important than some other things in your life right now...
If I don't, people won't become more committed disciples automatically.
Just my thoughts after four years.