Who is the Holy Spirit?

Our current Bible Study (Tues at 7pm or Wed at 3pm) is focusing on the Holy Spirit, using material from Francis Chan’s Forgotten God. I recently compiled a bunch of information from the material and included the scripture references. Come join us to check it out, or if you must, here’s a link to the document: Who is the Holy Spirit? I hope and pray it is helpful to you.


Homeless Hearts

Image result for homelessSome of my friends happen to be homeless. Perhaps you’ve seen them, or folks in similar situations, around town. I just met some folks who are finally emerging from a life of addiction. They are thankful for the local shelter and the Turning Point, but finding a long-term home seems nearly impossible, which undermines their stability and ability to find a better life. But they keep striving.

Although troubling, to say the least, physical homelessness is relatively rare and often temporary. Spiritual homelessness, however, seems to be rampant and long-lasting, and no less troubling. Most of us, in my experience, have little or no healthy connection to a spiritual home. Our bodies may be clothed, fed, and sheltered, but our souls are not. We may experience temporary human love in our homes, but our experience of God’s eternal love is minimal. I am sure we all know the longing to connect with others, to know and be known, to be safe and supported, for the place where we can be our true selves: the longing for home.

Very few of us would choose to be physically homeless, but I did meet a fellow recently who described himself as a homeless veteran who travels from town to town. While his external appearance was a bit rough, he seemed happy and healthy. After sharing a cup of coffee together, I found him to be one of the most fascinating and enjoyable people I’ve ever met, and one of the most spiritually healthy and grounded. He may not have had some of the security, safety, and comforts that I think I have, but I could tell he had true faith, hope, and love, which are gifts from God himself. What he lacked in a physical home he made up for spiritually.

Most of us are just the opposite, myself included. If my immediate physical needs are taken care of, I tend to think I’m all set, and too often ignore my deeper, eternal needs. Multiplied out for a lifetime, I’m lulled and lured into spiritual homelessness. A nice pot of chili fills me up on a cold rainy day, but ultimately only masks my spiritual hunger. Meanwhile, Jesus says: “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). A refreshing beverage may take the edge off after mowing the lawn, but ultimately only masks my spiritual thirst. But Jesus says: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). A warm bed and a toasty wood stove provides the physical rest I need after a long, cold day, but really only masks my need for spiritual rest. Again, Jesus says: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). A place to call home here in town may satisfy a lot of my earthly needs, but it can’t fulfill my true need: to find my forever home in God himself.

Jesus said in John 14: “In my Father’s house are many rooms…I go and prepare a place for you.” A paraphrase of 1 Peter 2:11 says it like this: “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it.” And a very loose paraphrase of St. Augustine might go like this: “My heart is homeless until it finds its home in God.” Though on our own we are spiritually homeless, God has provided our eternal home with him, and the way into that home is Jesus himself who said, “I am the door.” And right after Jesus promised to go prepare a place for his followers, he told us how to get there: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

We come home to God only through Jesus, but we don’t come alone. None of us can make it far alone, so we have each other: fellow pilgrims for the journey in our local church families. So whether your local church home is Methodist, Pentecostal, Assembly of God, Alliance, Baptist, Presbyterian or whatever, if you hear God calling you, let’s head toward home arm in arm. Together we follow Jesus: celebrating, enjoying, and serving God with our whole hearts. Together we love our neighbors and serve our community with the power of God’s Spirit. Together we enjoy the support, security, and encouragement our spiritual home on earth as we look forward to our eternal home together with God.

Perhaps you’ve never been physically homeless, but there’s a good chance you’ve found yourself feeling spiritually homeless. Hear the gentle invitation of the old hymn chorus: “Come home, come home; You who are weary come home; Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling; Calling, O sinner, come home.”

Bob Wiegers is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Bennington, who invites you and yours to join us on the journey home.

Surviving the Holidays seminar

When you are grieving a loved one’s death, the holiday season can be especially painful. Our Surviving the Holidays seminar helps participants prepare for the holidays and even discover hope for the future. Open to anyone grieving a recent or distant loss of a loved one or friend.

Sunday, November 18
601 Main Street, Bennington VT 05201

To sign up please call 802-442-2105 or email PastorBobWiegers@gmail.com
$5.00 cost for materials
(scholarships available: ask Pastor Bob)

More information: www.griefshare.org/holidays

Help and hope as you navigate the Christmas season
Wondering how you will survive the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas? Are you dreading these holidays, knowing that everything has changed and that happy memories from past years can’t be recreated?

Our Surviving the Holidays seminar is especially for people who are grieving a loved one’s death. You’ll learn:

  • How to deal with the many emotions you’ll face during the holidays
  • What to do about traditions and other coming changes
  • Helpful tips for surviving social events
  • How to discover hope for your future

Please join us for this encouraging seminar, and bring along others who may benefit.

Welcome Home!

homecomingsundayIf it has been a little while (or maybe a long while) since you’ve been to your spiritual home, we’d love to welcome you back any time, and especially Sunday October 21. You are loved. Come as you are. Welcome home!

An open letter to any and all who we haven’t seen in a while:

We miss you! Your church family and friends here at First Baptist Church truly miss having you and yours among us, so we’d love to have you join us for our “Homecoming Sunday” which will be October 21 at 9:30am. You are loved. Come as you are. Welcome home!

I know there’s lots of possible reasons to move on from a church, but I also know there’s many ways God can lead you back. So if there has been anything that I, or we as a church family, have done or said (or not done or not said) that have made you feel unwelcome, I would love for the opportunity to make amends. Like any family, we can often have things that come between us, but God enables us to reconcile and once again join in the mutual love and support we all need. We all need each other to grow in our faith and serve and worship Jesus together.

I will soon mark my third year as Pastor of First Baptist Church. Many aspects of our church life have stayed the same, and many have changed. We still worship God every Sunday at 9:30am and enjoy coffee and snacks afterward. We have child care and Sunday School for the little ones each week. We still host our tag sales and bazaars. We still host many nonprofits that benefit our community. We still happily welcome anyone who comes through our doors.

And yet you may notice some differences. We have quite a few newer folks with us these days, both old and young. The music on Sunday mornings is now a blend between older and newer styles. We still sing the old favorites with the organ, and we also sing newer songs with guitars and the piano. Our new organist/pianist is Charlie Marshall, and he is a wonderful musician. I do my best to bring a compelling and relevant teaching from the Bible each Sunday, emphasizing the amazing grace that Jesus gives us for our everyday lives. Jesus died and rose again for us, so we can follow him with joy, and by the power of the Holy Spirit we can truly make a difference in our lives and our community. We are digging into our Bibles and growing deeper in prayer, and God is doing good things in and through us. We are seeing the lost become found, and God is changing lives!

We are also growing in our faith together in our weekly Bible Study as well as our vibrant Youth Group, and we continue to reach out to our community, sharing the love of Jesus with our friends and neighbors, as well as the addiction and recovery community through our Mercy Street gatherings. I know God has great things in store for us and our community, one way or another. What I would love to find out is how you can be a part of God’s good plan for us!

I would love nothing more than to see you grow in your faith in Jesus and your relationship with God. It is truly life-changing and soul-enriching. Yet one thing that the Bible, and my own experience, makes clear is that we need each other to faithfully follow Jesus and experience spiritual growth. Are you sensing God calling you back to your spiritual home? If there’s something in the way, I’d love to talk and pray about that together. This is not about worldly power, money, or significance. This is about finding and staying on the path of following Jesus. Only in him will we find true faith, hope, and love. Will you join us? We hope to see you October 21, or any time.

You are loved. Come as you are. Welcome home!

Humbly yours,

Pastor Bob