The Rev. Dr. Philip Rigdon and his wife, Jamelyn, live in Kendallville, Indiana, with their two rabbits, Frankie and Buttons. He serves as pastor of St. John Lutheran Church and School in Kendallville. He enjoys writing, running, and playing guitar.

Recent Posts by Phil Rigdon

Digging Deeper into Scripture: Isaiah 5:1–7

With the onset of autumn comes the end of summer work at our house. One of our summer projects each year is growing tomatoes. We make every effort to create the ideal growing environment for them. We purchase large animal watering troughs that we fill with high-quality soil, water daily, fertilize, and trim off any dead fruit or branches. Nevertheless, we struggle with all the things that can go wrong with tomato crops: early blight, late blight, cat’s face, splitting, and the like. Despite all our efforts, the plants usually produce less than we desire.

Digging Deeper into Scripture: Matthew 18:15–20

During nearly thirty years of professional church work, I have often wondered which sin is most damaging to the local congregation. In my experience, it is not disregard for worship and Bible study, arguments over money, lack of unity regarding mission and ministry, lack of forgiveness, theft, or even adultery. In my experience, the single sin which most damages congregations is mismanagement of conflict between brothers and sisters in the faith. There are numerous reasons. Foremost, this mismanagement destroys trust, which damages relationships. But it also breeds gossip and character assassination, which can lead to loss of good reputation and even loss of employment. Mismanagement of conflict blurs the facts and leaves the conflict unresolved. Such unresolved conflicts are infected wounds in the Body of Christ. Let’s look at what Jesus has to say.

Digging Deeper into Scripture: Matthew 14:22–33

Telling nice people things they don’t want to hear is an unavoidable part of being a faithful pastor. On one occasion, a pleasant couple from the neighborhood came to my office. The husband and wife wanted to know my opinion of ghosts and spirits.

Digging Deeper into Scripture: Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23

It seems the land on which our house is built is the perfect breeding ground for thistles, a particular type of weed that is painfully prickly and extremely difficult to remove. No matter how many plants my wife and I remove, there are always more. Related to this month’s reading from Matthew, the parable of the sower, these thistles can grow abundantly regardless of the location or quality of the soil.

Digging Deeper into Scripture: Matthew 9:9–28

A quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin regarding taxes is “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” I have yet to encounter anyone who is pleased to pay taxes. What is more, were one to survey every taxpayer in the United States, such an effort would produce an endless variety of opinions on how much taxation is appropriate and what are legitimate uses of tax dollars. Matthew, a tax collector, lived under the disdain of those from whom he collected taxes.

Digging Deeper into Scripture: John 14:1–14

Having just passed my fiftieth birthday, I am well into adulthood. I noticed several years ago that I not only look but also behave like my father. My hands are an excellent example. The shape of my fingers resembles his, as do my fingernails and wrinkles. Even more interesting is that when driving, I place my hands on the steering wheel in the same places he did. This happened naturally since he was deceased before I learned to drive. There are a myriad of other examples in both appearance and behavior. The point is that beyond my birth certificate, there is evidence that I am my father’s son.

Digging Deeper into Scripture: Matthew 28:1-10

Can you recall a time when someone assured you that something would happen, and eventually it did? Your mother assures you that continued misbehavior will result in punishment. Your friend claims that the Cleveland Browns will win the Super Bowl, and they do. Your doctor assures you that losing weight will bring down your cholesterol and sugar numbers, and so they drop.

Digging Deeper into Scripture: Exodus 17:1–7

I have seen Star Wars too many times. Wait, is that possible? When I say I’ve seen Star Wars, I mean the original movie from May 1977, which started the whole franchise. I am dating myself a little here. I was five when I first saw it (technically four, I guess.) Here’s a trivia question. Remember that Luke Skywalker’s home world was Tatooine, a desert planet. Luke was raised by his uncle Owen and aunt Beru. What was the family’s occupation? If you guessed moisture farmers or something along those lines, you are correct.

Digging Deeper into Scripture: Matthew 17:1–9

An interesting phenomenon takes place at Halloween. Mom and Dad get dressed up in costume in anticipation of attending a party or taking the children trick-or-treating. Oftentimes their costumes include a mask or face paint. When the children first see Mom or Dad in the mask or face paint, they are often afraid, especially the younger ones. Mom and Dad have changed. They sound the same, and their height and general stature are unchanged. Yet the face, the point of connection between parent and child, has changed. Children cry out and cannot be consoled until Mom and Dad remove the mask and wash off the paint. At some point in growing up, children can suspend what appears to be reality, recognizing that it is still Mom and Dad under the disguise. 

Digging Deeper into Scripture: Matthew 2:1–12

When I work with couples in premarital counseling, there is a point at which we discuss leaving and cleaving, based on the creation account. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). I stress the importance of establishing themselves as a separate family, apart from their families of origin. One question I ask is where they plan to spend their holidays, recognizing that both families will likely want them to spend the holidays with the respective sides. The point is to encourage newly married couples to make these decisions independently and as a team.

The Wise Men had to make a similar decision, although they arrived in Bethlehem some time after Jesus’ birth. We don’t know if these men were married. Because they were educated, they likely traveled with an entourage, which could have included spouses. Either way, they decided the trip was worth it.

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