Bruce Hillman is Lead Pastor at Hillside Lutheran Brethren Church (www.hillsidelbc.org) in Succasunna New Jersey. He Holds a BA in History and Political Science from Quinnipiac University, (Hamden, CT), an MDiv. from the Lutheran Brethren Seminary (Fergus Falls, MN) and an STM in Patristics from Drew University (Madison, NJ); his research involves Augustinian studies and Early Christianity. He is former pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Henning MN. He is co-founder of Fifth Act Church Planting, having served on their board (www.fifthactchurchplanting.com) Bruce enjoys cooking, reading, all things British, exploring the world of wine, and conversations with good friends.
As a pastor I am often asked if pets go to heaven? The question may sound childish, or even sentimental, but it is extremely important for those who ask it. As the owner of a beloved German Shepherd myself, Winston, I know the deep love we can have for our animal companions.
Henri Nouwen, the Roman Catholic priest, professor and writer summed up his summary of the Gospel as, “You are the beloved of God!” For Nouwen, who struggled his whole life with feelings of inadequacy and who often felt unsure he was really loved...
God may be all-powerful, but he has an odd way of showing it. He tends to work his power through weakness, brokenness, even a cross. Where sinners use violence to overthrow and dominate, God uses martyrs and simple words.
When St. Augustine lost his best friend he writes what, up until that time, was the most personally revealing confession of pain and sorrow yet to be recorded in history. Scholars have noted that neither the Greeks nor Egyptians, the Romans or the Persians had ever thought or dared to pen a piece so introspectively graphic and emotional.
One of the common things I see my congregants struggle with is the concept of forgiveness. Contrary to what I had assumed would be the case, I find congregants don’t struggle so much with giving forgiveness as they do living with forgiveness.
For centuries the great problem with the existence of God was the problem of evil. If God is good and loves us, why is there evil? There are two kinds of evil, moral evil, like violence and abuse and natural evil, like earthquakes and child cancer. Much of Christian apologetics has been obsessed by this question.
One of the things I enjoy the most about having four Gospels is that we get four diverse accounts of Jesus. That is not only helpful, it is realistic. For example, take four people to watch a film and they’ll have differing impressions.
When we say we need something that means it’s indispensable. Without such a thing, our quality of life is drastically altered and likely endangered. I need food, air and water to sustain me physically, I need community, love and a healthy self-image to sustain me psychologically.
I once heard an old, retired Lutheran professor give in interview on a podcast. He was asked by the interviewer why people should bother going to church...
In the world of martial arts, which I am the first to admit I am no expert in, there is a concept, particularly in Jujutsu and Judo, called seiryoku zen’yo or, “maximum efficiency, minimum effort.”