Posted by: Pastor Bruce | March 18, 2012

A Prison Sanctuary

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
(Psalms 63:2 NRSV)

This past week I had an opportunity to hear a presentation from the prison chaplain at the Sioux Fall Penitentiary.  The talk was good and I have a new found appreciation for the work of the Lord that is done behind the stone and barbed wire walls.

It really didn’t really strike me about how important this prison ministry is until the question and answer period following the presentation came.  One of my colleagues asked if the Warden ever worshiped in the prison chapel.  Pastor Marlin answered within a split second, “No!”  At first I was rather surprised by this quick response.  The Prison Pastor went on to explain that the Warden was not considered a welcome guest in the prisoner’ sanctuary.  Don’t get wrong…it is the warden’s prison and he has the right to go anywhere he wants.  However, to have the warden show up during a worship service would create undue tension in this place of worship or what the prisoners call their sanctuary.

I have never really considered a church sanctuary in such a way before.  The chapel in the context of the prison truly is a sanctuary for those coming to seek refuge and to encounter God.  I am fairly certain that the prisoners who worship in the prison sanctuary are reminded of their past every minute of every day.  Such is prison life!  However, they have a sanctuary where they may go to encounter God in prayer and worship.  As the Psalmist writes, the sanctuary is a place to behold your power and glory.

Posted by: Pastor Bruce | March 14, 2012

John 3:16

We know this verse by heart.  We see it on billboards.  There are even songs written about it.

However, I think that we miss the point of this precious Bible verse if we only concentrate on it alone.  In context, Jesus is talking with Nicodemus when he states these words we know so well.  When reading John 3:16, it is wise to start from the beginning of the third chapter of John.

Some Christians have called John 3:16 “the Gospel in a nutshell,” but John 3:16 is not enough to form a fully mature Christian life or faith.  We do a grave disservice to scripture when we try to narrow down a Bible passage to a headline or singlet.  I am sure that we could do the same with the popular phrase from Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death.”  But wait, did I forget the rest of the verse?    It continues, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When reading the Gospel of John, I will often pause to read the very last verse of John Chapter 20.  It goes like this…”But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:31.  You see, John had a very specific purpose in mind when he wrote his account of Jesus’ ministry.  John wanted most to lay out evidence that Jesus is the Messiah.  Like a trial lawyer, John gives the reader evidence to further understand the ministry of Jesus.

Posted by: Pastor Bruce | March 14, 2012

I am experimenting with Blogs right now

Some may say that I already have too much to say and putting in a BLOG post is unnecessary.  Well you know, they may be right.  However, I am a Pastor.  I write and I talk often.  A blog only seems natural.