Thoughts

Don’t Do the Things!

Take a second to read this little comic. Step 1: Laugh. It’s a pretty funny piece of comedy. Step 2: Ask yourself – is the primary takeaway from the Bible the instruction to “not do the things”? Clearly, much of the story of the Bible is centered around commandments. Over and over again in the Pentateuch, God’s people are told to obey God and keep God’s commandments. In the Great Commission, Jesus tells the disciples to teach everyone to obey everything he commanded. There are many rules to follow. But – are the most important rules the ones that tell…
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Famous and Important

There was a young boy whose teacher asked him what he was going to be when he grew up. He said, “I’m going to be famous and important!” And his teacher told him that it’s difficult to be famous and important, and he would have to work hard to do it. And the boy took her seriously: he worked hard at school, always getting his assignments done on time, always earning good grades. Because of his hard work, he was recognized by the mayor of his small town for an outstanding civics project. The mayor asked him why he worked…
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Death and Life

Here’s a sermon from a few years ago, which has become relevant for worship at church this coming Sunday. This sermon was given to the Presbyterian Mission Agency at a board meeting. Alex Becker Preached at PMA Board Meeting 9/12/2012 “Death and Life” Given the short time I’ve spent as a Presbyterian pastor, I feel that I am quickly becoming an expert on death. I performed my first funeral before I officially began working at Henryville Community Presbyterian and Mount Lebanon Presbyterian and I did my second funeral soon after. The two churches I serve have less than 50 members…
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Resurrection

Resurrection, in practical terms, means bringing something that is dead back to life. As Christians, resurrection means being “regenerated,” that is, beginning a new life, through Christ’s resurrection. We are dead people, people who can’t raise ourselves up to good deeds, bringing nothing but evil and death into the world; but when Christ resurrects us through his resurrection, we stop being dead people and come back to life. We are, in a spiritual sense, zombies! We have been given a new life that is different from the old. But unlike zombies, who are shadows of their former selves, our former…
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What is Christmas?

A few years back, Sesame Street put out a Christmas special called “Elmo Saves Christmas.” Elmo meets Santa Claus and is granted three wishes. So for his first wish – he wishes for a glass of water to prove that the wishes are real. He gets his glass of water, and then the next day he’s so excited about Christmas that he wishes it could be Christmas every day. It turns out to be exciting at first, but all that celebrating really wears people out, so Elmo realizes that maybe having Christmas every day isn’t the best idea, and he…
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Teaching Congregation Guidelines

There are many small mainline churches across the country that see their mission as “bringing up the next generation of pastors.” It’s a great way to make good use of a small church budget that can’t support much more than a part-time pastor in a call that is more likely to appeal to someone just out of seminary. However, this often turns into a cop-out, a reason not to change and adapt to a changing community, a reason not to do evangelism or address the problems that have led to a budget unable to support more than a part-time pastor….
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What is Church?

This week I’m preaching on the importance of going to church. As a pastor, this is a somewhat self-serving sermon, but I think I’ve gotten up enough courage to preach the sermon that needs to be preached no matter if it’s self-serving or not. What’s more important is that it’s God-serving! Society tells us that church is no longer necessary, and for many people church is in fact damaging. Self-preservation tells us to don’t do things that are unnecessary, and to avoid doing things that are harmful. Thus, going to church falls low on many people’s lists of things to…
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Teaching Practical Theology

“Preaching, teaching, and pastoral care are complex in their own right, and courses in these areas must help students acquire the language and skills involved in these ministries.” – Richard Osmer, Practical Theology Theological education as it stands does not primarily help students acquire these skills. The Master of Divinity program in general, it seems, is and has been focused on acquiring academic knowledge instead of practical ministerial knowledge and skills. Curriculum tends to focus on knowledge of the Bible, Christian History, and theological concepts. Granted, these things are important – but how important is knowing theology if you can’t…
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Henryville and March2Recovery

Tornado recovery work has continued to be a major part of my ministry. You can read about my continued role in this article from the Courier Journal.

GA Pedaling Pilgrimage

If you didn’t get a chance to see it live, check out the video of Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons riding a tandem bicycle with Sweaty Sheep to the stage at General Assembly! Sweaty Sheep had a great ride in from Louisville to Pittsburgh, and I was blessed to be part of the trip. You can read more about it in this article.