Going Deeper


We want to help you "Go Deeper" by moving Christ a little closer to the center of your life every day. The following resources are provided to help connect the weekly message to your every day life and reveal God's desire to be in relationship with you.


Pastor Jim Hoffman




    • I Kings 8:22-30
    • 2 Chronicles 7:12-22
    • Isaiah 56:1-8
    • Jeremiah 7:1-15
    • Mark 11:15-19 (cf. Matthew 21:12-17
    • Luke 19:45-48)


    Did you have or take any time to watch the recent week of honoring and the laying to rest of Queen Elizabeth II?  I heard the comments about all of the planning and forethought that she personally put into this.  I also listened to the commentary about the precision of every movement and the attention to detail including the exact timing of everything.  Maybe the cutest story to come out of all of this was a moment where Princess Charlotte reminded her older brother, Prince George, of the times when he was expected to bow.  Whether you believe in it or not, there existed an expectation of decorum and reverence to moments and the spaces like those involved with the memorialization of the queen.  From the reverent St. Giles Cathedral to the hallowed expanse of Westminster Hall, each step of the way, the people observed the unwritten rules of British culture and tradition.  Unfortunately, this does not hold true to all the spaces that we think of in terms of “holy” or “sacred.”


    A few years ago, I officiated a wedding in the sanctuary here at St. John’s.  Instead of the groomsmen escorting the bridesmaids, they came in with the groom and me.  While we waited for the families to be seated, one of the groomsmen was talking rather loudly and cussing.  Another groomsman looked at him and said, “Have some respect; we are in a church.”  The guy responded with something like “this isn’t any different than any other building.  It’s a building built by human hands.  There isn’t anything special about this place.”  In the moment, I wanted to attribute his words to him being inebriated, but in hindsight, I recognize something deep-seated in his words.


    A poisoning of the relationship between people and God’s house of worship and prayer has taken place.  Read any research by Barna Group or Pew Research and the information will back this up.  The fastest growing religious group in our country is what are called the “nones and dones.”  The “nones” are people who claim to be spiritual but have no religious affiliation.  The “dones” are people who are walking away from their church community.  The list of reasons are almost as lengthy as some of the scripture passages above!  One of the main reason cited though, is usually church hurt.  Someone (the pastor, a leader, or another parishioner) injured them emotionally or spiritually and the reaction was to walk away from the community.  I get that because there are times that if does feel like the church is anything but a “house of prayer.”  That being the case, we (the members of the church) must discern what we do to bridge the hurtful divide (if we can.)  I would suggest to you that we should embrace deeply the call to be a house of prayer.  We have a grand opportunity to dive deeper into our prayers for specific people and specific circumstances that affect more than our friends in the pews.  Our prayers can and should be slanted toward our literal neighbors and neighborhood.  Then we can begin to deliver the antidote that overcomes the poison in our relationships and that antidote is love of neighbor.


    I invite you to take time and read each of the scriptures above as you move to reflect on the questions below.  Review your prayer list and revise it, as needed, to focus as much, or more on the needs of your neighbors and neighborhood.  Lastly, I pray that God bless the reading of God’s Word and the meditations of your heart.


    Questions to Consider this week:

    • Monday:  How often do you pray?  Once a week in church, once a day, or more than once a day?
    • Tuesday:  What do you believe Paul means when he says to “pray without ceasing?” (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
    • Wednesday:  Have you ever had a conversation with a neighbor that was deeper than the weather, your yard, or your pets?  Why or why not?
    • Thursday:  Can you name one aspect of Christian action that poisons the relationship with people who are not religious, done with religion, agnostic, or atheist?
    • Friday:  What is one thing you believe God is inviting you to do that will heal the divide between the church and our neighbors?
    • Saturday:  What do you think we need to do to restore the vision of our church as a “house of prayer?”


    Actions for the Week:

    • Head:  Consider what you were taught about prayer (what you pray, when you pray, and how often you pray.)
    • Heart:  Quantify what you pray for (personal, others, circumstances, change, repentance, etc.) 
    • Hand:  Read a book on prayer and what it means to pray for others.  Develop a deeper relationship with your neighbors.  Make a plan to spend time focused on praying for the needs of your neighbors and neighborhood.  


    O God, I confess--there was something kind that I thought to do, but it was too much effort.  I knew a comment would hurt feelings, but it was so clever, I said it anyway.  I was angry with a family member and dug up old shortcomings.  I forgot to say, “thank you” or “I am sorry” to a child.  I skipped the dog’s walk, “stole” a parking space, ignored a lonely person, and insulted a telemarketer.  Forgive me not only of my great sins, but also of the poisonous fruit that I gave away this week.  May your Spirit empower me so that I might bear the fruit of you love and compassion for my neighbor and neighborhood.