If you are anything like me you get a little tired of the seemingly daily (even hourly) onslaught of bad/sad news. Between the politics, natural disasters, racism, protests, boycotts, corruption...it's enough sometimes to make me want to buy a small cabin off the grid, out in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes I think things just keep getting worse and worse and then I remember that Jesus entered a time far worse than this. Government corruption and totalitarianism was through the roof and crucifixion was a daily occurrence without any sort of trial or due process. And racism was rampant. The Romans hated the Jews and the Jews hated the Romans. The various Jewish sects fought and argued constantly, struggling to get along even though they were on the "same side", and Rome was still invading countries to conquer, killing anyone who would oppose them. And yet this is the very context and backdrop Jesus announced and demonstrated the good news of the kingdom. My point is this: if the good news of the Kingdom was relevant then, it's every bit as relevant now. This kingdom is a counter cultural movement calling people out from the hatred, bondage, gossip, slander, backbiting, violent, prejudice, self serving...ways of the world's system into something that is loving and beautiful and healing and kind and compassionate and welcoming and self sacrificial and...I think it's important to choose daily to be participants of this divine kingdom rather than follow the currents and drama of the world. Choose Jesus, choose the kingdom, choose love, choose joy, choose faith.
Much love to you all,
If you’ve been hanging around the Vineyard or reading the weekly emails for any length of time, you probably notice a recurring theme. It’s not about reading your bible more, praying longer, going to every small group we offer, managing sin in your life, or making sure not to miss Sunday morning service. It’s something much more simple, and can be one of the more difficult things to do, and that is
I know Pastor Chris gets asked a lot why he’s always preaching on love – but it really is the key to living a Christ-filled life. I touched on this briefly last Sunday during communion that Jesus came to show us the way of love. It was at the forefront of his message and calling. He showed us how to stand up to those oppressing others and to help and care for those who are being oppressed. He didn’t come inciting hate and violence. Instead, he came in peace and love – to all.
Before we come together this weekend, take some time to consider those of us in our own church family that might be different from you in some way. Maybe it’s their skin color or ethnicity, age, political leanings, how they dress, style of worship, what they do or don’t eat --- whatever it is --- we are all different. Let’s choose to celebrate our differences, stand against hate and oppression, and just
In peace & love,
Hola SPV family!
I hope you're all doing well in the midst of your trials and victories as you walk out this journey. Did you get easily offended this past week? I talk a lot about love but I never said I do it all that well! LOL. One thing I love about the Scriptures is that it never sugarcoats how difficult this journey of following Jesus can be. Even Paul, who is considered to be one of the "heroes" of our faith acknowledged his struggle in Romans 7.19: “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing."
Paul admits that he is in a battle to do the very things that he knows he should do and I, for one appreciate that sort of honesty. But I also appreciate the fact that he gives us some encouragement to move forward and not just accept the discouragement and defeat, but that God has provided us with help and given us a remedy. “Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!...For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 7:24-25, 8.2
We can have all the best of intentions and be super disciplined, but I personally believe that only the work of the Spirit can properly empower and sustain us on this journey. So if you're struggling to love others, the answer isn't to try to love more/better but to be filled with and led by the Spirit! I hope that is encouraging to you.
I hope to see you all this Sunday as we continue our God in Film series with the movie Hidden Figures.
Much love to you all,
"Love is not overly sensitive or easily offended." 1 Corinthians 3.5
I saw this church sign last week that caught my eye and caused me to think:
I immediately started to wonder things like: How many will be offended by this gesture of love? What would the SPV reaction be if we posted this on our sign? How would our neighborhood react? Does such a sign automatically infer a particular political or social ideology and if so, then is it truly love? What if we posted those words one week and "we love our hetero community" the following week? Or "we love our liberal community" one week then "we love Trump and his loyal supporters" the following week?
So do I have you thinking yet? My point is that love is supposed to be just that; love. But so often we attach things like agreement and support to it which sort of cheapens the whole thing. Jesus said in Luke 6.32 "...if you only love those who love (agree with) you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that!"
I want us to be the kind of church (individually and corporately) who never gets offended by love but rejoices regardless of who it is being extended to! So if you have a few minutes try this little exercise: write out the words "I love our ________ community" and start inserting various words, ethnicities, and people groups, football teams, politicians/political parties... until you find one that stirs a negative emotion or offends you, then when/if that happens, pause for a moment and ask the Father's love through the presence of the Holy Spirit to touch and warm your (our) hearts until we can honestly say that "love does not offend us".
Much love to you all as you extend love to (all) others,
In the spirit of hearing from a variety of voices, this week's email is written by SPV member Barbara Kauffman.
Hello SPV Family!
Have you ever noticed how a certain word or setting can trigger a bad memory? Even after the event is over and seemingly resolved? Or am I the only one?
For example, a number of years ago there was a misunderstanding about a dinner that featured a Greek salad. As a result, I was not only blamed for something that wasn't exactly my doing but also viciously attacked by someone I thought was a close friend. To this day, the phrase "Greek salad" rekindles all those old feelings, and I have to stop and remind myself it has no relevance now.
I think most of us could share similar stories. Whether it was something as insignificant as a dinner or a Big Important Event that changed your life forever, somehow the trauma stays with us, and it doesn't take much to trigger remembrance of that time. These triggers can follow us throughout our lives. They affect how we see ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we relate to God.
John's gospel relates one such event in the life of Simon Peter, and the setting was a charcoal fire. Jesus had been arrested and taken to the palace of the high priest, but Peter and another disciple, likely John himself, had followed. John 18:18 tells us that they were in the courtyard, and the guards and servants had built a "fire of coals" or a charcoal fire to warm themselves, and Peter joined them. But when some began to recognize him, fear got the best of him, and he denied Jesus not once, but three times.
He was supposed to be God's man of faith and power, the rock on which Jesus would build His church. He had expected to be the one who stood by Jesus even if everyone else deserted Him, but he fell short. He was not who he thought he was.
Now you won’t find this in the NIV version, but in both the Amplified and New American Standard (which I’m told are consistent with the original text) John 21:9 states that when John and the others arrived, they saw a “fire of coals” – Peter’s ground zero, if you will. And it was here that Jesus reaffirmed the call on Peter’s life by asking him to “feed my sheep.”
I know many of us have our own “ground zero.” Most of us even know exactly where it is. Maybe something happened when you were very little. Maybe the person you thought you were going to spend your life with abandoned you. Or maybe, like Peter, you failed at something and are disappointed in yourself.
I pray that Jesus will allow you to revisit that pivotal event but to see it through His eyes. You are more than your mistakes, and whatever someone else thinks of you is colored by his or her own flawed perception. When we see ourselves through His eyes, it changes everything.
Oh – and the unfortunate incident with the Greek salad – I've decided to look at it as the event that allowed me to share this insight from the book of John. I don’t think it will bother me much anymore.