Hello SPV Fam!
One of the things that was drilled into me most as a kid growing up in church was that followers of Jesus, “are not of this world”. In fact, I can still (about 35 years later) hear Petra’s song, “we are foreigners, we are aliens, we are not of this world” echoing in my subconscious from my church camp days. The concept comes straight from from the lips of Jesus in John, the writings of Paul in a few of his epistles & even the author of the book of Hebrews (whoever that was) so overall it was probably a more healthy than not concept to have imparted to me. The problem was that I made certain assumptions as to what that meant, or people just out & told me, but either way 99% of, “not of this world”, basically meant to avoid sex, drugs & rock & roll which isn’t exactly what Jesus, Paul & the other guy were getting at.
We’ve done a good job at looking the part spiritually while totally missing the heartbeat of Jesus & what his kingdom is about. Let’s face it, we’re in love with power, fame, wealth, dominance, control, being #1....just as Rome was back then. And Jesus is saying if you’re to follow me then, “you’re not of this world...my kingdom operates on a totally different plane”. And he said it a hundred different ways: “whoever is first shall be last”, “whatever you do unto the least of these you’ve done it unto me”, “blessed are the humble/poor in spirit for theirs in the kingdom of God”, “put away your sword”....
I don’t know about you but this following Jesus thing is a lot more involved & a lot more difficult than just avoiding sex before marriage, just saying no to drugs, and listening to cleaner versions of music! In fact, sometimes it’s so difficult it’s almost as if you need to die to self to make it happen!
We’re starting a new sermon series on Love this week so we’ll be spending a lot of time in 1 Corinthians 13 & this particular verse has been on my mind lately: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
If I’m being honest I’m both conflicted and challenged by this verse. On one hand it’s talking about love being the ultimate marker of maturity and yet how well someone walks in love is hardly ever what we associate with “leaving childish ways behind & becoming a man”. A hard worker, responsible, reliable, honest, trustworthy are all traits of a “mature man”... but loving? When i was growing up I never heard anyone say: “you know that John Wayne/Paul Newman/Burt Reynolds/Clint Eastwood is a real man...they’re so loving!”
And I don’t really think of children as particularly lacking in love either, in fact, we could learn so much from their example of love and faith!
With that said, “leaving childish ways behind” is still a worthy challenge and goal when it comes to striving towards things like patience, service, long suffering & sacrifice. I guess the bottom line is that we all should learn lessons from wherever & whomever we can receive them, especially us men who could learn so much from women & kids in this as well as several other categories. And regardless of gender, age, ethnicity....we can & should always be striving towards maturity which don’t forget, looks like Love more than anything else. Much love, Chris.
Hello SPV fam!
I’ve been thinking about “warning signs” lately. One thing that occurred to me is that I have looked at them in different ways over the years. In my younger, not so mature years I tended to look at them as either a means to control me (who are you to tell me what I can & can’t do) or as a challenge (what, you don’t think I can do this?). Now, sometimes warnings can be a means of control, fear, manipulation or intimidation & sometimes they can be a friendly “listen here, you might want to pay attention because you can get really jacked up if you’re bot careful”.
And who isn’t familiar with the completely ridiculous & unnecessary warning signs like “removing mattress tag can result in improsonment”, “don’t put this plastic bag over your head or you could suffocate” or “don’t eat this Tide Pod” (ok maybe we still need that one)? But now that I’m so mature & wise (*snicker*snicker) I’m really appreciative of warning signs such as the “rocks are slick so don’t get too close to the edge of the river because people slip, fall in & get swept over waterfall”, stuff like that.
And the Bible is actually full of warnings, not meant to manipulate us or cause fear but to make us aware of unhealthy things we could drift towards. There are warning from falling away or from false teaching that’s inconsistent with the person or teachings of Jesus or from being self centered & conceited.
I’m reminded of a verse from the great hymn “Come Thou Fount”: Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love, Here's my heart. O take and seal it; Seal it for thy courts above.
I no longer get defensive about such warnings; instead I read them, give proper consideration (hopefully) & ask the Holy Spirit to seal my heart & lead me into truth...& I invite you to do the same. Much love, Pastor Chris.
It’s Christmas Week! And I want to actually encourage you to have TWO Christmas experiences this year. And no, I don’t mean wake up in your home and open gifts Monday morning and then head to grandmas to open gifts Monday night. You can do that if you want but that’s not what I mean.
Christmas 1) Silent Night, Holy Night, All is Calm....I love Christmas for a variety of reasons, and the music, movies, decorations, traditions, worship, candles...are all a part of that. So please make it a point to take in the tranquility, have some calm and holy moments, come to the SPV Sunday morning for our regular worship service and then at 6pm for Carols & Candles, and then sit next to your fake Florida fireplace with a cup of coffee or tea... giving yourself time to think, meditate, read the story, worship, and give thanks.
Christmas 2) Give yourself some time to consider the implications of this revolutionary baby being born to turn the world upside down: “...he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things...” Christmas might have a lot to do with tradition but the Incarnation (Immanuel, God With Us) is definitely not about the status quo but rather about shaking things up, righting wrongs, and enacting justice. Consider how the Lord might want to “fill you with the spirit of Christmas” to address some wrongs or injustices around you, or to topple systems of oppression. And if your response is “who me?” then consider the 13 year old Jewish girl given a similar invitation and responded with: “sure God, all things are possible with you, whatever you want, I’ll do it!”
Merry Christmas (both ways),
This weeks email is written by SPV staff member, Stacy Henderlong.
Hello SPV Family!
Back in the late 80's Nike coined the "Just Do It" slogan. And in the last several years we've seen a lot of "Be the change you want to see" often attributed to Ghandi. And in our own Vineyard movement, we tote the phrase "Everybody gets to play" as being a key part of how we do church.
During Advent we take the time to reflect on the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love that Jesus brings to the world. However, I feel like sometimes we get caught up in the waiting and the longing for the return of Jesus that we forget that he showed us how and called us to be like him NOW. That we need to BE THE HOPE to a world that is hurting - right now. To BRING PEACE to a world that is full of war - right now. To SPREAD JOY when our world is sad - right now. And to BE LOVE to a world full of hate - right now. It's all fine & good to "wait & pray" or send good thoughts, but don't just wait for Jesus to do it because he has called & equipped YOU to be the change. There is plenty for us to do - to BE Jesus - RIGHT NOW!
Hope, Peace, Joy, & Love to you all,
Hello SPVers and Happy December!
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, am I right? Well for all of you Christmas junkies out there, how well do you think you’d do with a Christmas quiz? Are you able to keep straight in your mind what the scriptures say from some of the songs/carols we sing or does it get all mixed together? For example, how many shepherds were there? Were the shepherds following the star as well or just the Magi? Was it really a “cold and winter’s night” in December? And do we really believe the lyric “no crying he makes” from the popular Christmas Carol “Away in a Manger”? And I’m more than a little disappointed in Bono for participating in a song that implies Africans don’t know about Christmas or that it doesn’t snow or rain in Africa. He should know better.
So if you’re like me, resist the urge in becoming a Christmas version of a “get off my lawn guy” where you nitpick every last detail. Being a critic is awesome if you get paid to tell people your opinion about movies and restaurants, but it’s hard to worship and think about Jesus if we overly obsessed with every detail. But by all means, have some friendly banter about what is the best Christmas movie or song and if Die Hard is or isn’t a Christmas movie. Just don’t let it get in the way of enjoying the richness and wonder of what Immanuel, God With Us, is all about.
And one way to maximize that experience is to join us each week for our Inbreaking Christmas series each Sunday morning and to lock 6pm on December 24th into your calendar for our Carols and Candles Christmas Eve Service.
Looking forward to experiencing the season with you all,
This weeks SPV email is written by Kid City Children's Pastor Amy Coyle.
"Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." - The Man In Black (Princess Bride, 1987)
As we grew, most of our parents did their best to shield us from the harshness of the world. They made us wear knee pads and helmets, had us call "when we got there", and implemented curfews. They also told us not to talk to strangers and encouraged us to make good friends.
They wanted us to be safe; physically, as well as emotionally.
But for all of us, at one point or another, pain won and all the helmets and phone calls home couldn't undo what had happened.
I'm fully convinced that trauma and disappointment are unavoidable and inevitable. If you trust others, the potential for betrayal is there. If you open your heart, the risk of heartbreak is there. If you jump out of a plane...ok you get my point.
The strange thing is that without that possibility of danger or pain, the beauty of life would dull significantly. Trust is valuable because it's rare. Love is magical because heartbreak is all around us. And if skydiving were 100% safe, it would be just another way to work.
The even stranger thing is that in these moments of pain, we often turn to God; not for help, but for meaning. "Why did you let that happen, God?" "Why can't I find work?" "Why did they have to die?"
Each of us is the artist of our lives. Getting mad at God when life doesn't go as planned is a lot like yelling at the art supply store that your painting doesn't look right. It might feel good, but it doesn't change a whole lot. And complaining or continuing in unhealthy cycles is a lot like an artist blaming his paint and brush.
You've been given the tools (the skills, character, and opportunity), the knowledge (your past), and the blank canvas (your life). Yes, life is painful and messy and difficult sometimes, even a lot of the time. But it's worth it! And the messiness of life doesn't mean it's not beautiful.
If you don't believe me, just try comparing the value of one of those Paint-by-Numbers to a Jackson Pollock.
You are the artist. Go paint!
Happy Thanksgiving SPV family!
As I said a couple of weeks ago, there are two kinds of people in the world: those who get excited for Christmas prior to Thanksgiving and those who refuse to even acknowledge Christmas until Thanksgiving is over. I’m not here to choose sides, although I will admit to listening to “All I Want For Christmas Is You” in the car the other day. But for me it doesn’t matter whether you are an obnoxious Christmas junkie like Buddy the Elf or borderline Scrooge material leading up to Thanksgiving. The important thing is that you approach Christmas and Advent in particular with a sense of anticipation and excitement. So if you need to wait a couple more days, feel free to do so, just make sure that you allow yourself to genuinely take in the meaning and wonder of it all. And if you’re already “all in” on the decorations, music, tree, and ugly sweaters, just make sure you pull it back to let the story speak to you and capture your heart all over again.
I hope you’ll join us for our Advent series “Inbreaking” throughout the month of December and even invite some friends to get caught up in the wonder of it all as well.
Much love, Happy Thanksgiving (& Merry Christmas to those of you who have already started),
Hey there, SPV Family!
I used to be the anti-Halloween guy (think Scrooge making an appearance in late October). I think the two main reasons for that 20 years ago were 1) an overly heightened view of spirituality and thinking that demons existed in every corner and 2) I was just too dang serious.
And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.“ Matthew 18.3
I love that Jesus gives us a healthy reminder to “check ourselves” and to make sure our heart and attitude are consistent with the kingdom and what is it that brings us in line with the kingdom? Child-likeness. If we start to become so stinking spiritual that we can’t have a little bit of fun or celebrate creativity in costumes, or can’t relax long enough to indulge in a piece of candy, or are so skeptical and cynical we lack the ability to believe in mystery and miracles, then I think meditating on these words of Jesus would be a good idea.
Want some help in becoming like a child and getting closer to the kingdom? Write on your connect card this Sunday (or hit “reply” to this email right now and volunteer to serve in Kid City or the nursery once a month. Laugh a little (or a lot). Don’t be so easily offended. Share/be generous. Make friends easily (show up to church early and get to know someone)....
And while I’m at it, I want to give a huge thank you to Stacy Henderlong (& Brian) and all the volunteers who helped us as a church get a little taste of the kingdom via the block party last night, and I believe showed our neighbors a taste of it as well. Well done peeps, well done.
Much love to you all,
"Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."
That is one of my all-time favorite movie lines from The Shawshank Redemption. And no, we're not on the God in Film series any longer, but this Sunday we are starting our Hope in a House of Blues series and I "hope" (see what I did there?) you'll not only make it a point to be present for every service, but will make an extra effort to invite some friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to join you. Kelly and the team have been working overtime to bring some legit Blues elements to our music this month and my good friend Crispin Schroeder is joining us again next weekend. Can you recall a time when we were more in need of some HOPE than we are right now? So come for the Blues music or the messages of HOPE or even for the coffee and doughnuts, but come each week none the less and I fully believe it will be a very solid investment of your time. HOPE to see you all this Sunday.
Much love to you all,
Pastor Chris Cahall
Chris loves Jesus & despises religion. Journey with him to dig a little deeper into your faith.