Pastor Q&A // Part 5

QUESTION: How does Soteria teach the meaningful impact of prayer in every area of life first through the family, then the church, the community and the world?

ANSWER: Pastor Jared

We believe that prayer makes an impact because that is what God’s Word teaches. James 5:16b says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”God delights in giving his children good gifts when they ask him (Mt 7:11). So if we stand on the biblical truth that prayer is effective and important, then how should that play out in our circles?

I appreciate the question’s implied premise that teaching on the prayer’s importance should start in the home. Parents, we will teach our children the necessity of prayer not just by taking them to church to hear the pastors pray on Sundays. No, we lead the way at home. Every meal is an opportunity to pause and thank God for what we have. Each night at the bedside is a gift of time to teach our kids to bring our thanks to God, our concerns to God, and other people’s needs to God. Every thunderstorm, police siren, or scary news report is a chance for us to teach our families that prayer to God is the first place to turn in trouble, not the last. As parents we should aim to pray in front of our kids as often as we can (not as Pharisees but as examples). We must also give our kids ample opportunities to pray, whether that is at meals, in the car, or at bedtime. Finally, we as families should regularly reflect on all the ways God has answered our prayers. We teach our families the impact of prayer by consistently practicing prayer in the ordinary moments of life. 

On a church level, we teach the impact of prayer by being praying people! That means during small group we don’t eat up our allotted prayer time in merely sharing requests. We pray for each other! We pray for our marriages, our evangelistic opportunities, and our desire to practice the Word. Each Sunday we intentionally schedule a time of corporate prayer where we ask God’s forgiveness, remind ourselves of God’s mercy, and rejoice in the gospel. Corporate prayer is a vital part of our all-church worship.

In regards to the wider community, we should regularly ask neighbors how we can pray for them. We can also share testimonies of how God is answering our prayer. However, we must make sure to practice in our homes and churches what we advertise to the community, lest we broadcast self-righteousness. 

Pastor Q&A // Part 4

QUESTION: What do I do about my Child who thinks they're gay?  Why is being gay bad?  

ANSWER: Pastor Trent

Don’t overreact and let your Child know that you love them. It takes courage for them to tell you these kinds of things, so the last thing you want to do is overreact, thereby making it difficult for the Child to be honest with you in the future. If it’s too late and you have already responded with anger, then ask for forgiveness and move on. It is also very important to keep this dialogue open with your Child. These conversations need to be peaceful and seasoned with love. Ask them what they mean by saying they are gay and how they came to that conclusion. Also, know that there is a difference between saying you are gay and saying you have feelings of being gay. Find out where they are in their relationship with God. Are they open to hearing what God’s word says about the subject? Asking these types of questions will help you understand what is going on in the heart of your Child. The more you know what your Child is thinking, the better you will be able to help them. 

Our standard for what is good and bad in the world must come from truth outside of ourselves. At the beginning of creation, God defines who we are as human beings. From the beginning, before sin entered, we see God’s perfect order and design for the world. God created male and female who become one flesh. Since sin entered the world we have distorted God’s designed and have “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25). Fortunately, God, the creator of human life has given us everything we need to live life to its fullest. If he created us, then he knows how life works best. We need to trust what he says is true and recognize God’s word as authority over our lives. Two main passages that speak on this topic in the Bible are found in Romans 1:24-29 and 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10. Both of these passages are very clear about whether homosexuality is wrong. In Romans, homosexuality is linked to the worship of self. In 1 Corinthians, Paul lists it with other sins and in essence, says that those who know these things are wrong but continue to practice them will “not inherit the kingdom of heaven.”

This topic is not an easy one and must be handled with grace and love, knowing we are all sinners in need of God’s grace. 

For further reading on this topic, I recommend these books:

  • What does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung

  • Your Child Says, “I’m Gay” (mini book) by Tim Geiger

  • The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith by Rosaria Butterfield

Pastor Q&A // Part 3

QUESTION: Should there be a spiritual difference between dating and marriage?  When some does start dating how should you spend time with the family of both sides, by themselves...?  Do we know when the right time to start dating is? if you find a good Christian guy while you're a teenager could you date him or does god call us to wait?

ANSWER: Pastor Trent

Yes, there is a spiritual difference between dating and marriage. The most significant difference is that when you are married, it is God who joins you together to be one with your spouse for the rest of your life. Marriage is also a picture of Christ and his love for the church. This is the most important relationship you have on earth. Marriage is more important than the relationship you have with your parents, children, and your boyfriend/girlfriend. (Gen. 2:18:24, Eph. 5:21-33)

I believe dating should be reserved for a time in your life where you are ready to find your significant other. When I dated before college, it was only for selfish reasons. I was not at all thinking about marriage, nor was I close to being ready. If the person is a Christian, I would say you are on the right track as we are commanded to only marry believers (2 Cor. 6:14), but I still hesitate to give a complete thumbs up on dating that person. I realize there are exceptions, but it is unlikely that you will end up marrying the person you date as a teenager. Dating before you are ready tends to distract you from actively pursuing Christ, sets yourself up for unnecessary drama, feeds selfish desires, and many times leads to sinful activity (1 Cor. 6:16-20). 

If you still do decide to go on dates with a Christian because you are romantically interested in him/her, then you need to be very clear to on what the Bible teaches about purity and be obedient to his word. I would also refrain from using words such as commitment and promise during the dating phase because it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that ring! 

For further reading on this subject, I recommend these books:

  • Sex, Dating, and Relationships by Gerald Hiestand & Jay Thomas 

  • Marry Wisely, Marry Well by Ernie Baker

Pastor Q&A // Part 2

QUESTION: What are some of the best ways that an older sibling can be a blessing and pour into their family?

ANSWER: PASTOR CODY

Not knowing whether this question is from a parent or a sibling, I will answer it from both perspectives.

First, if you are a sibling asking this question and looking for ways to serve your family, be a contributor. Choose to put others above yourself in the little things. The apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans, tells us to “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves...practice hospitality.” These commands are written to the broader church but start with those closest to you. For instance, play what they want to play, help them tidy up their room, teach them how to wash a dish or clean a toilet, learn a scripture verse together and talk to them about what God is teaching you.

Second, if you are a parent asking this question, I would like to give you the philosophy that my wife and I use. We have made a very concerted, but not perfect, effort to make sure that our children don’t feel like they are raising each other. For example, when we leave the house, our oldest child is not the boss of our youngest child. She may have to help our youngest, but not in the sense that she is the parent or has authority. We encourage them to serve and love one another, as mentioned above. We see it as our responsibility alone to pour into our children. (Deut. 6:4-9) The relationship between my wife and I is the primary example that my children will see and learn how to treat others. Our hope is that our children will see a godly example to follow.

Pastor Q&A // Part 1

QUESTION: What about divorce and abusive marriage. Physical, mental, emotional, etc.?

ANSWER: Pastor Cody

I want to start with an unequivocal statement. If you have submitted this question because you are in physical danger, leave your house immediately and contact your church leaders or someone you trust. God does not want you to be in that situation.

Now, onto the broader question of divorce.

God established marriage as the oldest and most sacred institutions. The apostle Paul teaches us that marriage should be a picture of Christ and the church. God loves marriage; it is for our good.

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus is responding to the Pharisees as they were trying to trap him. They referred to the book of Deuteronomy and asked if it was lawful to divorce for any and every reason.

Jesus respond to them, “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

They replied, “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.

There are three takeaways from this passage.

First, Jesus demonstrates that marriage was perfect from the very beginning, before sin; it was meant to endure. When sin entered the world, so did the need to legislate sin. God used the law both to restrain sin and to reveal to people their condemnation.

Second, while Jesus clearly makes a case for the enduring nature of marriage, he does, in my view, make an exception in the case of sexual immorality. If someone breaks the marriage covenant by committing adultery, there is room for divorce. However, divorce is the last resort, and God always loves a redemptive story. Note: there are several acceptable interpretations of this passage, and many that don’t include the exception.

Third, God loves marriage, but he hates abuse. For instance, in Deuteronomy 24, the very Old Testament passage in which the Pharisees and Jesus were debating, God allowed divorce and remarriage as protection to women.

In fact, throughout the scriptures, you will find God caring for the oppressed. Therefore, our first response to someone experiencing abuse is to protect them.

If you are experiencing physical abuse, please seek immediately. If you are experiencing emotional abuse, I encourage you and your spouse to seek biblical counseling. If your spouse is unwilling, bring someone along side of you to confront them. We want to help you.

God loves marriage; God hates divorce. And God hates abuse. Unfortunately, this isn’t a yes or no question it can’t be answered at a high level. Each situation needs personal attention before decisions are made. Again, I want to end by saying that if you are in a terrible situation, please get help, you will not find judgment, but love.

Passports And Baptism

— NICK HARSH —

It was about 2:00a in the lobby of an airport somewhere in India. We had just gotten off of our connection flight from Germany and needed to make it through Indian security. The only problem was that we didn’t have one of the documents required to pass — we didn’t have proof that we were allowed in the country. We were stuck between two countries and had no way of affirming the validity of our identity. It was like a cross between the Tom Hanks movie Terminal and a Bollywood music video. For about an hour we tried getting online to print the needed form, we tried calling people from home to have them send us the documents, and we watched as people from India passed through security with ease. And, why not? They lived there and had a means of proving their identity. Eventually we were able to get the documentation needed, we were questioned and finally allowed to enter the country.

Three weeks later we landed back home in the United States and were greeted with the words, “Welcome home.” The importance of identity was made clear in my mind on that trip. Why was I able to travel in my own country without any issue but had difficulty in another country? It was because my citizenship belongs to the United States and I was able to show that with documentation — a passport. While a passport doesn’t make someone a citizen, it is a tangible way to show their identity. We don’t become citizens when we acquire a passport, but a passport allows a person to visibly verify their citizenship. The same is true of baptism. Bobby Jamieson says, “Baptism is where our faith goes public.” [1] Baptism is like a “passport” that gets us into church membership — we are baptized into church membership. Baptism doesn’t save a person. Instead, it is where a person’s identity in Jesus is made public. Just like getting a passport is the first step before traveling to other countries, baptism is the first step of obedience to God and membership in a local church.


[1] Jamieson, Bobby. Going Public: Why Baptism Is Required for Church Membership. B&H Academic, 2015.

Observations about Facebook Logos and the Glory of God

— NICK HARSH —

Tony Reinke, in his book, “Competing Spectacles,” says we are hardwired with an unquenchable appetite to see glory. “Our hearts seek splendor as our eyes scan for greatness.”[1] The longing to see greatness is not a flaw in our makeup — it’s intrinsically human. You were designed to marvel at glorious things. And, the entire cosmos was created to direct your attention to the only One who can satiate that longing. Truly, the heavens are declaring the glory of God. Yet so often, we look for glory in things that were never intended to carry the weight of our worship. “The world aches to be awed. That ache was made for God. The world seeks it mainly through movies,” media, and social platforms.[2] Our society is in perpetual pursuit of entertainment, which Aldous Huxley described as, “man’s almost infinite appetite for distraction.”[3]

Most media is intended to arrest your attention and to captivate you with an endless stream of videos, ads, and images. This is how social platforms make money, it is how marketers create loyalty to a brand, and this is how corporations get you to buy their products. It is impossible to overstate the number of distractions that exist in a technology-driven, image-saturated culture. We are in danger of amusing ourselves to death.

Not long ago I updated the Facebook app on my phone (May 11, 2019, to be exact). After a few minutes, I realized that my eyes were drawn to the little tiny Facebook app logo for reasons imperceptible to my senses — weird. Perhaps, I am oblivious, but it took me most of the morning to determine what had happened. The Facebook logo was different. No longer was the logo a deep blue color with the classic “Facebook f” slightly to one side of the rounded square. Instead, the logo was a lighter shade of blue — the difference was practically unnoticeable. Additionally, the classic “Facebook f” was centered rather than offset to one side. Forgive me if I am making a big deal about nothing, but the difference was so subtle that a person may not even see it unless it was pointed out to them. All the same, the subtle difference was enough to draw my eyes to the app over and over until I identified the cause. You may think I am making a big deal about nothing — perhaps.

But, understand that at some point a group of Facebook marketers sat around a conference table and discussed the need to change the shade of their logo.[4] Someone spent paid company time to move that “Facebook f” to the center of their logo. Why? Their job is to keep you wowed by something that was never intended to bring lasting satisfaction. Facebook’s primary goal is to distract you with their product, and it works.

Note: This is where I try to convince you that the way you interact with media and social platforms has significant implications on your walk with God — you’ve been warned.

Unlike Facebook (and other social platforms), Jesus has never changed (Hebrews 13:8), never needed an update, never hired a marketing team, and is entirely able to carry the weight of your worship. We were not meant to be captivated by a continuous feed of images. We were created to marvel at the glory of Jesus who is the perfect image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). How sad it would be if we were so captivated by an endless stream of media that we failed to gaze deeply at the beautiful person of Jesus. He alone is worthy of our complete affection and worship (Revelation 7:12). 


[1] Reinke, Tony. Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age. Wheaton: Crossway, 2019, loc. 192.
[2] John Piper, twitter.com, April 12, 2017.
[3] Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited (New York: Harper & Row, 1958), 35
[4] Actually, it was probably a circle of beanbag chairs. That’s what all the cool companies are doing these days.

Dear Death

— NICK HARSH —

Dear Death,

Thank you for your painting. It turned out beautiful. Indeed, the idea was nothing foreign to you. Over the centuries, you have mastered the art of painting yourself on the canvas of history. Nero and Hitler were well-trained pupils — both learned your craft well. But, the Dispersion and Auschwitz were merely child’s play when compared to the invention of abortion, the heartbreak of miscarriage, or the loss of a parent. Your artwork is bent, yet humanity has taken a naive liking to it — we have picked up the brush and attempted to mimic your work. Like children unknowingly playing with fingerpaint, we have painted pornography in the place of chastity, gossip in place of edification, and “good stewardship” in place of generosity.

We grieve at funerals where you are present yet welcome you into our bedrooms as entertainment. We have suppressed the truth and chosen rather to believe that our pictures are beautiful, realistic, raw — “Look mommy! Do you see what I painted?” They are not. Our artwork is grotesque and mimics the original artist. While these pieces are impressionistic at best, they have left a mark on history. I have never been a fan of your work, but this piece is different. It is still horrible to be sure, but it has a strange beauty to it. The road to the Place of the Skull and the crown of thorns were painted masterfully. You are no stranger to painting the cross — it is one of your specialties. But this cross was different. No. Rather it was the man who was different. He was silent as a lamb.

Yet, as I look at the awful picture, even now, it is impossible to think of him as a victim. Instead, it is as if I am looking at “God’s backside” — at the very moment in history where God seemed to be acting in precise contradiction to all that a person might naturally anticipate Him to be. When most people think of divine power, they wrongly assume it is analogous to human power presuming they can arrive at a conception of God’s power by merely augmenting or multiplying the most potent things of which their minds can comprehend. But, this man displayed his power in weakness and victory through his ostensible defeat at the hands of evil men. In fact, the longer I study your work, the more it seems as if that man hanging in the picture was grasping your very hand and willfully painting himself into a picture he never belonged in. It is horrible to look at but find it beautiful. For through it God revealed himself wonderfully in history through the ugly and violent picture of the cross.

Sincerely, Christian

• • •

Dear Christian,

I hate that picture and loathe the day I painted it. How was I to know that man would take my art and twist it into such a grotesque thing of wonder and beauty. It’s disgusting. The very thought makes me want to vomit. How dare he take my hand as I paint and use my style, my craft to accomplish his horrible purpose? How dare he seek to achieve his purpose in those “beloved children” of his by means alien to him? Death is my craft. It’s MINE! To my shame, I still wonder how that man’s Father — my enemy — could will the greatest crime in human history without involving himself in any kind of moral guilt. I proudly claim the blood on my hands. But who does he think he is to tell me how he would be painted? Who is he to determine when he would be painted into the picture and when he would leave it? How was I to know that three days later he would paint another piece that would undo every canvas I have ever made? It is as if he borrowed my art to swallow it up completely. I hate that man. I hate that picture.

Signed, Death

• • •

Dear Death (a reprise),

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sincerely, Paul