Who am I?

I am more sinful than I could ever appreciate.

But I am more loved by God than I could ever comprehend.

I am shaped by American culture in ways that pull me away from God.

But am I overwhelmingly drawn by the Holy Spirit toward God.

He who is in me is greater than me, is greater than the world that wants to form me in its broken image, to fall into it’s ruts and systems. Praise God!

If you know my parents, you know some of who I am.

If you know my friends or brothers, you know some of who I am.

If you know my wife, you know some of who I am.

And I am, in part, who I’ve chosen to be and the mistakes I’ve made. Hi, I’m me!

But above all else, I strive to be who Jesus Messiah called me to be.

I don’t fully know who that is yet, I’m still learning who I am because, well, I’m still alive and life is a journey! But I have complete faith in God to lead me to myself- and I don’t want to be anyone else than that person!

In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis put it this way,

The more we get what we now call “ourselves” out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. There is so much of Him that millions and millions of “little Christs,” all different, will still be too few to express Him fully. He made them all. He invented—as an author invents characters in a novel—all the different men that you and I were intended to be. In that sense our real selves are all waiting for us in Him. It is no good trying to “be myself” without Him. The more I resist Him and try to live on my own, the more I become dominated by my own heredity and upbringing and surroundings and natural desires. In fact what I so proudly call “Myself” becomes merely the meeting place for trains of events which I never started and which I cannot stop. What I call “My wishes” become merely the desires thrown up by my physical organism or pumped into me by other men’s thoughts or even suggested to me by devils. Eggs and alcohol and a good night’s sleep will be the real origins of what I flatter myself by regarding as my own highly personal and discriminating decision to make love to the girl opposite to me in the railway carriage. Propaganda will be the real origin of what I regard as my own personal political ideas. I am not, in my natural state, nearly so much of a person as I like to believe: most of what I call “me” can be very easily explained. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.

Who am I? I am Ben Tacoma, follower and ambassador of Jesus Christ.

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” -Hebrews 13:20-21

What does Christian nationalism look like in action?
It looks like bowing to Satan when he offers you political power and making you think it’s what God wants. Jesus himself was once tempted by it:

Matthew 4:8-10
“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

Political power and influence are the juicy sweet prize in a Venus Fly Trap maintained by Satan to keep us from the way of Christ.
Jesus shows us the God-honoring way to attain political power and influence: serving, surrendering, and dying. Are Christian politics defined by serving, surrendering, and dying? Through these powerful tools God raised Christ to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

It’s the long game God is playing. Do we have the faith and patience to play along?

It’s Satan who makes us feel like every politic event of current affairs is so desperately urgent. “We’re losing religious liberties! They’re attacking families! We must reclaim America!”
It’s when we give into a sense of desperately urgency that we make poor choices, choices NOT defined by serving, surrendering, and dying. Choices wouldn’t make if we were more confidant in God’s promises.

So Christians, when it comes to politics pursue two things:
1. Loving the Lord your God with all that you are and loving others as yourself- even your enemies. (Greatest Commandment)
2. Proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ unto the nations. (Great Commission)

It’s time to re-orient our perspective away from Satan’s nationalistic way of thinking. Trust God, He’s got this. America is only another earthly kingdom. The only war that matters, cultural or otherwise, was already fought and won. We celebrated it last Sunday!

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It finally happened… today is my official first day as the Student Ministries Pastor @ Hillside Bible Church! WHOA!
I know, I know. You’re all thinking, “Lord help them, they don’t know what they’ve done!” Ha ha ha. Let’s get the jokes out of the way… anyone have a bald joke they’d like to crack at this time? #Icantakeit 😉
It’s been a long journey. God first called me to vocational ministry when I was a teen. I had a sense of it even before then, but things got real in my teen years.
As a kid I argued theology and studied the Bible, as a teen I proclaimed my dedication to pursue a vocational ministry position, as a college student I began volunteering in various leadership roles in my local churches, and as a seminary student I studied to become a pastor.
And now I’m here! And there’s one quote that keeps bouncing around in my head: John 3:30, “He must become greater; I must become less.”
In my mind, being a pastor is all about serving. It’s not about being known or liked, it’s about serving God by serving his people. And after 6 years at Starbucks I know all about serving… well, serving customers at least! But it was something that always attracted me to the barista world. I lasted there so long because, in a way, I felt it fulfilled part of my calling- but definitely not the whole.
As I enter this new position and role, the following passage from Mark 9 frames perfectly what I’m thinking and feeling.
“(Jesus and the disciples) came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’
He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.'”
“A servant of all, with a spirit of welcoming.” Sounds like a great (cheesy) ministry by-line for my business cards, but I love it all the same because for me, it’s true!
I’m surrounded by wonderfully supportive believers here at Hillside, thank God! But to any of my fellow Christians back in GR reading this, please take a second to prayer for me entering into this new role. I’ve had many friends and family tell me they are praying, and it means the world to me! Keep it coming!
-For His Kingdom-