ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S
UNITED CHURCH(ELCA)
            

Pastor's Page

Rev. Steven E. Thomas, Pastor

Rev. Steven E. Thomas, Pastor

      Pastor Steven Thomas was born in Houston, Texas. He graduated from New Mexico Tech with a BS in Chemistry. He was working as a chemist in Baltimore for a few years, and then decided to pursue the dream of being a pastor. In 1993, Pastor Steve graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg. He is married to Pastor LaDonna Thomas who serves at St. David Lutheran Church in Hanover, PA. They have one daughter, Rebekah.

      Pastor Steve enjoys kayaking, reading, and motorcycling. Pastor Steve’s passion is always looking for greater understanding - especially in how our expanding scientific knowledge reveals additional wonders of God.

      Some of his favorite books are The Bible (of course), Awareness by Anthony DeMello, The Shack by William P. Young, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, E=mc2 by David Bodanis, and the Tolkein trilogy.


Contact Pastor Thomas




Sample Sermon

Nathan and David


John 18:12-27


Joel 2:12-14


The Prodigal Son


Theodicy Sin Suffering


What Life Is All About


Keeping Sabbath


Jesus the Prism of Life


Isaiah 40:1-11


Christian Freedom

                                                 


When you think of the word “freedom”, you probably think of freedom in terms of being free from someone telling you what to do - or what not to do.  Freedom generally means being able to do whatever you want to do.  This is what you might call a “freedom from” kind of idea.

     And yet, service to Jesus presents you with an entirely different idea of freedom.  This is the idea of being free from selfishness in order to be able to serve others most fully.  It is the idea of being free from the rules and expectations of others - in order to best be able to serve.  This could be considered a “freedom for” kind of idea.  Freedom for the sake of serving God.

     Two scriptures stand out in this regard.  In Galatians, St. Paul is writing to tell the Galatians that they should not willing submit to the rules and regulations of the Jewish Law (the Torah), because Christ has created a whole new way of joyfully serving God.  Paul writes, “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)

     The Way of Christ is that you have been completely forgiven of your sin - completely unbonded from guilt and the fear of God’s wrath.  So that, now you are able to joyfully serve God in any way that you see fit.  You don’t have to worry about someone telling you what you should be doing (the Law), you can simply act from the goodness of your heart.

     This is a whole different way of being than having the rules and regulations dictating when and where and how you should and should not serve God.  In essence, your whole life and being are lived in service to God - not just one good act or good word here or there.

     The other scripture that speaks of our new freedom in Christ is in St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.  The Corinthian church had been having a lot of challenges with squabbling, class divisions, and immoral behavior.  So, Paul is writing to remind them that living in Christ means living a whole different way of life.  Living a life of freedom as mentioned above. 

     Paul writes, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  (2 Cor. 3:17) And the Spirit of the Lord is gracious and loving, merciful and kind, generous and filled with hope and joy. (see Gal. 5:22-23)

     What many people do not realize is that the freedom of the Christian is absolute.  The Christian is free from family bonds in order to be free to serve Jesus in every way possible.  The Christian is free from the laws and expectations of society - in order to be free to serve Jesus in any way possible.

     For instance, in early Christianity, many Christians belonged to households that worshipped the Roman gods of the day.  So, the Christian would be rebelling against their own household rules and may even get kicked out of the household for worshipping Jesus.

     Also, the expectations of most of the Roman world was that you would at least give token worship to the gods of your town and the local protector god or fertility god.  If you did not do that, society felt that you were literally endangering their safety and future.

     In today’s world, the Christian has to be free enough to speak out against the injustices of society even when it goes directly against the political or social views of their family and friends.  The Christian may even lose their job if their boss forces them to give up worship in order to work on Sunday.  The Christian may be barred from playing sports because their practices or games conflict with attending worship or otherwise serving Christ.

     In the popular culture Christianity gets watered down like it is some generalized moralistic society.  And yet, the Spirit of the Lord is a powerful force that can completely redirect a person’s life.  The Spirit of the Lord can give the Christian the courage and boldness to face beats or imprisonment (see early Christianity or the Civil Rights Movement).

      Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  A freedom far more powerful than just wanting your own way.  It is a freedom that wants God’s way - and has the full power of His backing.

                                     - Pastor Steve   


Pastor Messages of Special Interest

Suicide - Surviving Life’s Darkest Moments



Video of Archived Sermons

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