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“I like Jesus. He was a good teacher. I appreciate the sacrifice he made and that the Father gave his Son for me. But I also like my culture. I follow the seven traditions of the fathers.” This was the tail end of a conversation that I recently had during an Anchored youth outing with a gentleman (I’ll call Mark). Twenty of us went down to Moline to invite people to worship at the new location of our church plant, Living Hope.

I love the Bible because it is truth spoken in love by the Wonderful Counselor. Every day, otherworldly voices—other “counselors”—intrude and compete, beckon and beguile, sound plausible and pleasing. But wonder of wonders, God inserts himself into the conversation. He is not silent. He does not leave us guessing as to who we are and what life is really about. He speaks his mind in Scripture, exposing folly, providing wisdom, restoring peace. “The unfolding of your words gives light” (Psalm 119:130).

My reading diet has not been healthy. Too much meat, not enough dessert. Too much reading for knowledge and not enough reading for the sheer joy of well-crafted sentences and a compelling story. This past month I was able to read two such books (they are hard to find).

We’re a presbyterian church. Central to being presbyterian is our conviction that Christ, who is the head of the church, exercises his rule over his church through ordained elders. Christ has also established the office of deacon in the church. Deacons are to lead the congregation in demonstrating the mercy and compassion of Christ to those inside the church and outside the church.

One of the very best things in life - like good wine, coffee on a cold morning and fall colors – is a word of encouragement. In her song, “Legacy”, Nichole Nordeman begins with the line, “I don’t mind if you’ve got something nice to say about me.” And further on, “We all need ‘atta boy’, or ‘atta girl’.”