Intersect

Website Square.jpg

(The Cross In The Midst of Our Human Condition)

Have you ever been in a place where you desperately wanted to “be there” for someone in exactly the way they needed for you to be there for them? Do you remember the frustration as you tried to figure out  and understand what this meant? Ie. HOW – in what way – you could “be there” in just the right way? Maybe a husband or a wife?...Or a child or a parent?...Or a friend?...Or someone else you were trying to help?

And on the other hand, have you ever desperately wanted someone to be there in “just the right way” for you?...Do you perhaps remember how frustrating it was even reaching out to someone and trying to explain what you needed, but no one seemed to “get it?”

Our focus in the next few weeks is how God is there for us in our human condition in every situation in exactly the way we need Him to be, always tied to the cross of Jesus; And how in Jesus we can be there in every situation in just the right way for another.

This is for all for us, for we all share our human condition. This is for all of us, for we all share the same Jesus.

Sat./Sun. March 9th/10th        Intersect   (Getting the “Lay of the Land”)

Have you ever seen the musical, “The Music Man?” The opening scene is a bunch of con-artists (“flim-flam men”) on a train talking about the next town they want to fleece. They are all excited at the prospect, but one guy keeps standing up and yelling a word of caution: “But you’ve got to know the territory!” Have you ever had someone say to you, “You just don’t get it” when you were trying to understand and be there for them? Have you ever said it to another?  Today we look at the territory – the lay of the land when it comes to the human condition and the cross of Jesus. God gets it! Today, He would make sure we do.

Sat./Sun. March 16th/17th     Intersect    (In the Face of Guilt, The Cross)

Ok. Have you ever carried the burden of guilt?...a foul up you can’t make right? You can’t make excuses/justify yourself – it was wrong and there is no good excuse!  You can’t make up for it – it is too late for that and anything you could do or any “payment” you might make would fall short! You did wrong. The only way out is to be forgiven…to get out from underneath the burden of a debt you can’t pay!...So, did someone give you that forgiveness? How did it feel? What did it mean for you? In our guilt, the cross intersects, bringing the peace of God and a new beginning… for you…and for the one you can “be there for.”  Interested?

Sat./Sun. March 23rd/24th      Intersect   (In the Face of Shame, The Cross)

It has been said that to live in guilt means to admit, “I have done wrong,”….but to live in shame is to say, “I am wrong.” Where is this you? Where do you know someone in this place in your life? And how does the cross of Jesus intersect into this human condition?...for you…and for the one you can “be there for.” Interested?

Sat./Sun. March 30th/31st    Intersect      (In The Face of Fear, The Cross)

Where do you live afraid?...especially of those things “beyond your control?” How do you try to cope? Does it work for you? Many times we just stuff things until we have to face them – as many do, I believe, with death. We live our lives in fear trying to cope in ways that, finally, cannot possibly give us victory over what we fear. Our fears dictate our lives!...and no, it doesn’t work very well. Can you relate? Do you know others who can? It is the cross of Jesus that intersects with this human condition, giving victory!...for you…and for the one you can “be there for.” Interested?

Sat./Sun. April 7th/8th      Intersect   (Synthesis: Guilt/Shame/Fear, Innocence/Honor/Power)

Have you ever dissected a heart or a cow’s eye or a frog in a Biology class? While you learn a lot, you also fail to see what it looks like/how it works when it is alive, interfacing with all the “moving parts!” (Just google a film of a working heart to see my point!) Today, we synthesize everything we have focused on in the past month. In “the alive,” “pumping heart,” living out of our human condition in guilt, shame, and fear, we see the intersection of the cross that brings real time innocence, honor, and power….for you… and for the one you can “be there for.” Interested?

Last Words of Christ

website square (1).jpg

“Context.” It’s important if one is going to really understand what is being said. Have you ever heard someone say, “You took my words out of context!” Or, “I was only joking.” Or, “well you don’t understand what happened before that!” Or…well, you get the point.

This year our Lenten Wednesday Worship will focus on the Last Words of Jesus spoken from the cross, especially looking to understand them in the context of the relationships of those who heard them and walked with Jesus. Why? Because the context is important! And with Jesus the context is always relationship, a relationship that, finally, Jesus in His love would offer, give, and grow in you. During this time of Lent we will look at the Last Words of Christ in the context of Jesus speaking them into the flesh and blood reality of your life in the relationship He offers to you through the cross.

For a millennia or more, Christians have used this time of Lent – the 40 days before Easter not counting the Sundays – as a penitential time; a time of recognizing and turning away from our sin to the cross as we prepare to be renewed in living in the Easter reality. What better way to do this than to focus on our Savior’s Words spoken from the cross into our lives?

Our Lenten Journey begins on Ash Wednesday, March 6th and will include the Imposition of Ashes and Holy Communion. There will be TWO opportunities for worship – at 1pm and at 7pm, which follows a Soup Supper beginning at 6pm. For the remaining Wednesdays in Lent there will only be the 7pm worship following the Soup Supper. (Please call the church office if you would like someone from the St. Matthew family to pick you up for worship on these Wednesdays!) Beginning with Ash Wednesday, each worship will be enriched through the reading of the account of the suffering of our Lord according to the four Gospels as well as a Dramatic Reading designed to touch our hearts. May this time be a blessing to you as we travel it together!

 

Ash Wednesday, March 6th      The First Word From the Cross Relationship Context: The Paralytic) (Imposition of Ashes/Holy Communion)

Have you ever fouled up – I mean really fouled up – and all that you could do was ask for forgiveness? Was it given?...And if so, what difference did it make?...On this Ash Wednesday, we focus on the first Word from the cross spoken into our human context. We should not be surprised that it is a word of forgiveness. For finally, it makes all the difference.

Wednesday, March 13th          The Second Word From The Cross Relationship Context: The Rich Young Ruler)

We like to make sure the cake is “cut right down the middle” so we get what we deserve, what’s rightfully ours. It absolutely has to be “fair.”

But have you ever noticed that in the closest of relationships it just doesn’t work (at least very well) this way?...like, say..in a marriage? The kingdom of God is not fair. All one has to do is to look at the cross to see it. And thank God it’s not. This is what we look at tonight.

Wednesday, March 20th        The Third Word From The Cross     (Relationship Context: John The Beloved)

This last Summer I was trying to find someone to help my sister in Southern California with a kitchen remodel. In desperation I contacted a dear friend of mine….whom I hadn’t talked to in probably 30 years. But even after 30 years or more I trusted him without question and yes, he was there for me. Do you have some relationships like that? Jesus did. And I think He still does…maybe even with you.

Wednesday, March 27th      The Fourth Word From The Cross       (Relationship Context: Martha)

Do you ever ask “why?”….especially when stuff happens that you just don’t understand? One of my sons went through a great disappointment in his life because of an injury he suffered. He asked me, “Dad, if God didn’t want me to have this ability, why did He give it to me in the first place and then just take it away? I told him I didn’t know….all I knew was that God loved him and we could trust him.  Have you ever had a relationship like that with someone? It’s what Jesus wants to have with you!

Wednesday, April 3rd        The Fifth Word From The Cross      (Relationship Context: Matthew)

Have you ever been “blown away” by how much someone is “for” you? When I was in college, I drove an old VW Bug. When the transmission went out, it took the guy 5 tries to fix it. You know who I called all five times to tow me even though he worked 6 ten-hour days? My dad. And he was always there. And he was always nothing but supportive and even full of joy that he could help me. Even as a college kid, I was blown away…. Still am. Have you had a relationship like that with someone in your life? Jesus wants you to know He is that someone for you!

 

Wednesday, April 10th        The Sixth Word From the Cross       (Relationship Context: The Adulteress)

One day after school in my freshman year of High School I went to get my books in my locker and was cornered/surrounded by a mob (racial discord). In that moment just before being pounded – or worse – a guy who looked just like the guys in the mob broke into the hallway and said it wasn’t right to gang up on me. He rescued me. I never saw him before or after, but I still remember and yes, it changed me. Jesus is the one who stands up to the mob for you. And yes, it can change you.

Maundy Thursday, April 17th                        “The Gift”            

(7pm) Holy Communion and Stripping of the Altar

Tonight, on the night on which Jesus was betrayed and His final suffering began, on the night before we will remember His brutal death on the cross, Jesus ushers in a new era, a new reality, for us. Why? Because we are family. And we are never apart.

Good Friday, April 18th              The Seventh Word From The Cross          (Relationship Context: The Donkey)

Estes Park was our favorite place in the Colorado Mountains. We first time we went there the kids were really young, we stayed in a hotel, and I remember having the kids jump into my arms while I was in the deep end of the pool. I still remember how each one was a little hesitant that first time – and then they were good! Have you ever had to trust someone like that? How did it work out? Did you know you can always trust Jesus and His Words? Just jump. He’s got you!

Making Everything New! (Knowing Jesus Better)

Web Square.png

Christmas is all about Immanuel – God with us! It’s all about God wanting us to know this in a profound way as He brings the birth of Jesus before our eyes. Every human being longs to know that they are not alone, especially in the brokenness – the knowing - that things are not right in our world and in our lives. Our longings bubble up at Christmas and God brings us face to face with a brother who is Immanuel – God with us! As a friend of mine once said, “no one can ever say that God is not there; that He doesn’t care; that He hasn’t done anything; for the Child is born – and that changes everything! It makes everything new!”

In the next few weeks, we focus on the gift that this is meant to be in your lives. We focus on this baby that would turn our world upside down and make everything new! We focus on knowing Jesus better!...And living in His gifts in our lives!

Have you ever noticed how quick all the Christmas decorations come down? It’s as if everyone is trying to “get back to normal” at warp speed! It’s as if the brokenness of our existence is so familiar that we are all frightened to actually embrace a different way…even the way of hope, joy, peace, and love, the very things we deep-down long for. But the whole reality of Christmas is that God has something better for us than the “normal.” He has Jesus. Immanuel. God with us. And He is meant to “make everything new!” This then is our focus; “Making Everything New – Knowing Jesus Better!” What might this mean for your life? 

Weekend of Dec.29th/30th        New Beginnings

“God’s mercies are brand new every morning.” Lam.3

“Behold, I am making everything new!” (words from Jesus in Rev.7)

Where do you need a new beginning in your life? God wants you to know Jesus better. He wants you to know Him as the One who brings and gives new beginnings! What might this mean for you?

Weekend of Jan.5th/6th          New Heart

How do you see yourself before the face of God? And how does this color how you see others? Today, God would rock our world with a picture of how God sees us…and others. God wants you to know Jesus better. He wants you to have a new heart. What might this mean for you?

Weekend of Jan.12th/13th         New Connections (1)

The first day of High School Summer football practice I didn’t know hardly anyone because I went to a different grade school. But a couple of guys I did know quickly introduced me to everyone and all of a sudden I was part of the family. Has this ever happened to you with a friend and their family group? To know Jesus better is to understand what new connections He would bring into our lives; to understand life in a whole new sense of family. What might this mean for you?

Weekend of Jan.19th/20th          New Connections (2)

When I got my first real job (in a grocery store) the people I worked with became almost a second family. And when I met Jane and got married her family became my family – and vice versa. To know Jesus better is to understand what new connections He would bring into our lives; to understand life in a whole new sense of family. What might this mean for you?

Weekend of Jan.26th/27th         New Growth (1)

Lee Genter. He was a good friend of mine in the seminary with whom I would have long talks about theology. Looking back (and don’t ever tell him – I don’t want him to get a “big head!”) God worked through that relationship and those conversations to grow me as a person and pastor. But that’s the way it works – right? You could state the above exponentially with my wife…or my children (don’t tell them!), my parents, and many others throughout my life. How about you? Today we see what Jesus has to say about this as we look to know Him better; as He shows us how He works the gift of new growth into our lives! What might this mean for you?

Weekend of Feb.2nd/3rd            New Growth (2)

Who do you call if you have a plumbing problem? Or your car won’t work? Or you have a financial decision to make? Most of us look for an authority we can trust – right? And when we find them we go back again and again – right? How about you? Today we see and know better the authority of Jesus. What might this mean in your life as He works the gift of new growth?

Weekend of Feb.9th/10th                 New Paradigm (1)

Sorry. I use this word “paradigm too much. But I couldn’t help it.  A paradigm is a way of looking at life. Jesus would give us the gift of a foundational, startling new beginning in how we see ourselves in the life we live. He said it best, “when you lose your life, you find it.” Today, as we come to know Jesus better, He would work this new beginning in each of us. What might this mean for you?

Weekend of Feb.16th/17th         New Paradigm (2)

A paradigm is a way of looking at life.  A new paradigm is a way of seeing things differently. Today, Jesus would give us a shocking new way to see reality…and where we fit into it as one who follows Him. Today, we come to know Jesus - and the lens through which He sees life – better. What might this mean for you?

Weekend of Feb.23rd/24th          New Awe     

What causes you to pause in awe? Is it a sunset in the Sierras or over the ocean? Is it the power of a storm or the crash of a 20 foot wave as it hits the shore? Is it an athletic feat or a musical performance? Is it the mystery of life or even our existence? Today God would reveal just a bit the glory and power of Jesus face to face! He wants us to know Him better so that we can live brand knew in the awe of this Savior who has come for us! What might this mean for you?

Who Is This Jesus who Comes at Christmas?

whoisjesus-advent-square.jpg

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him.” Matthew 3:16

Matthew 1, Mark 1, Luke 3, and John 1; Each Gospel has at it’s very beginning the account of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist with the Holy Spirit of God being poured over Him “without measure” – that is, “without limit” - as it says in John 3. This must be pretty important!

But what is God trying to teach us about this Jesus who was born in Bethlehem but whose ministry begins with His Baptism as He is anointed with the Holy Spirit without measure as recorded in all four Gospels? What are we supposed to know from this? How is this supposed to touch our hearts and strengthen our faith relationship with Jesus? And how is this meant to guide us as the people on whom God’s Spirit has been poured, in the lives we live with Jesus, this one who was born on Christmas for us? This is our focus in our Wednesday Advent worship as we learn anew and remember who this Jesus is as the ANNOINTED ONE (the MESSIAH!) of God and what it means for us. May God’s Spirit be poured over us in our worship, study, and lives!

Wednesday, Dec. 5th     Jesus, Our Prophet (He Proclaims the Message. He is the Message.)

Did you know that in the Old Testament, often when God chose, called, and appointed a Prophet, He was anointed with oil to signify that the Holy Spirit would empower him to carry out his calling in the power of God, the Holy Spirit? Jesus is our Great Prophet. The Spirit was poured out on him without measure! But what does this mean for us? And what does it mean that the Spirit has now been poured out on all of God’s people? What is it God wants us to know, to joyfully receive, and to live in?

Wednesday, Dec.12th      Jesus, Our Priest (He Makes the Sacrifice. He Is the Sacrifice.)

Did you know that in the Old Testament often when God chose, called, and appointed a High Priest, he was anointed with oil to signify that the Holy Spirit would empower him to carry out his calling in the power of God, the Holy Spirit? Jesus is our Great High Priest! The Spirit was poured out on him without measure! But what does this mean for us? And what does it mean that the Spirit of God has been poured out on every Christian and each of us is declared and called to be a priest of God?  What is it God wants us to know, to joyfully receive, and to live in?

Wednesday, Dec.19th      Jesus, Our King (He is the King of all!...He Rules for Us!)

Did you know that in the Old Testament often when God chose, called, and appointed a King, he was anointed with oil to signify that the Holy Spirit would empower him to carry out his calling in the power of God, the Holy Spirit? Jesus is our Great King! The Spirit of God was poured out on him without measure! But what does this mean for us? And what does it mean that the Spirit of God has been poured out on every Christian and we are called a KINGDOM…who will REIGN on the earth? What is it God wants us to know, to joyfully receive, and to live in?

Christmas Stories

christmas-stories-square.jpg

Have you ever seen one of those Christmas Hallmark movies? My mom loved those things! And to be honest, Jane and I used to curl up together and watch one of them every so often as well. Have you ever seen one? Every one of them is set during the time of the Christmas Holidays – as it is pictured in these movies, a kind of a “magic time,” a time when heaven and earth is moved so that love and romance can happen!

Each movie is a story about someone who has been touched by disappointment or tragedy in their lives but are having to face it alone (indeed, oftentimes the tragedy is being alone when they do not want to be alone!) – without that someone special who loves them - and who they love - and who will do life with them. The story is always about how that “special someone” comes into their life, and how, in the very special season of Christmas through situations and story lines that are at times almost magical, befitting the season, they are connected, fall in love, and by the end of the movie will live happily ever after! These movies are love stories - stories of love and joy and peace and hope – in the midst of a magical season where seemingly it can all happen! And we get to watch!

Tell me, why do you think we do – watch, that is? It seems to me it is because we all long for these kinds of stories in our lives and our world; stories of hope and love and peace and joy.  And during this time of Christmas we dare to hope it is possible, even if it is in a kind of “fairy-tale like” movie.

As we approach Christmas this year, we want to share some Christmas Stories with you, stories of hope and love and peace and joy, the kind of stories we all long after. But the most wonderful thing is that these stories are not Hallmark Movies. They are real. And they not only bring to you – your story - what we all long after, but they will also help you to bring these same things – hope and joy and peace and love into this real world…into the stories of those who are close to you as well as those who are farther away.

Merry Christmas!

Weekend of Dec. 1st/2nd    Stories of Hope That Won’t Let You Down (Merry Christmas!)

I remember one Christmas when I was hoping I would get my first bike….and I got it!...I remember another Christmas when I was hoping for a certain toy but all I got was clothes – hope dashed! How about you? Today we focus on stories of Christmas hope – a hope that will never let you down!

Weekend of Dec. 8th/9th     Stories of Love Shining Brightly (Merry Christmas!)

What do you remember the most about Christmas? Is it what you did or what you got or what you ate?...or who you were with?...Family, friends….people. People who loved you and showed you that love; and people for whom you did the same! Today we focus on stories of love shining bright for us at Christmas….and how our Christmas love can shine brightly on others.

Weekend of Dec. 15th/16th              Stories of Peace That will Last(Merry Christmas!)

This is an interesting time of year. We talk about it being “the holidays” – literally a time to slow down and “take a holiday” but we tend to fill our lives with more and more, with everything going faster and faster until finally we feel like we are missing whatever it is this season is all about!  Into the midst of the storm, God comes with His Christmas Peace…to receive and relax in….and to share.

Weekend of Dec. 22nd/23rd*         Stories of Joy …Released!  (Merry Christmas!)

Do you remember the story of Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol?” Once the “spirit of Christmas” touched his heart, he could not contain his joy! He was so filled with joy it had to be released! Today we focus on stories of Christmas joy released…and how it can be released in our lives as well! JOY to the world!

How the Kingdom of God Works

How the Kingdom of God Works…

And Our Place in It…Head, Heart and Hands

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90: 12

 

HowTheKingdomWorks_300x300.jpg

God is there….and here. He is close. He is the all in all.  Every human being knows this deep down in our souls. From the most ancient of civilizations to this day, human beings have searched after God, intrinsically knowing that God holds the answer to the knowledge of eternity – which He Himself has placed within our hearts. (Eccl.3:11) We all know that we literally are “here today and gone tomorrow,” yet eternity awaits….and God and His kingdom hold both the key to eternity and the key to living our lives for what counts right now….to living our lives in the fulfillment and joy and purpose for which we were created!

Jesus talked a lot about the kingdom. He centered it in Himself. He said, talking about Himself, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near (literally, right here in front of you!). Repent (literally, change your mind – receive what I bring), and believe the Good News.  He showed by His life what it looked like to live in the kingdom. And He told stories -called parables – about how the kingdom works, inviting us to receive it all and live in it!

In the next few weeks we look at some of these stories that Jesus told about how the kingdom of God works….as He shows us also our place in it, Head, Heart, and Hands…as He shows us what life is meant to be about as people of the Kingdom of God!

“O Lord, teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Weekend of Nov.3rd, 4th                  “Kingdom Paradigm” (Living in the Kingdom Picture)

Early in our marriage I got the impression that Jane was angry over something. I can’t remember the details – as with so many things, they don’t matter and get lost with time. But I do remember that my response was to decide to get angry in return…until Jane took my hands in hers after dinner one night, and looking into my eyes with great concern said, “Brad, what’s wrong? I’m so concerned about you!” I was seeing things through a completely wrong paradigm. Jane wasn’t upset with me at all. And even if she was, I should have seen things through the filter, the paradigm, that she loved me and only wanted the best for me. A paradigm is a way of seeing things –  a filter through which you understand and respond to things. It is essential that we see things through a correct paradigm. Today, Jesus shows us the paradigm through which to see things – and to live – in the Kingdom. Interested?

Weekend of Nov.10th, 11th                “Kingdom Math”  (Living in the Kingdom Equation)

Basic math. Negative numbers. Quadratic equations. Geometry proofs. Trigonometry functions. Calculus…. well, you get the point. There are many types of math and if one is to function in that realm, they must know the equations. God has a math as well – and like many things of God, it is hidden in mystery. For instance, the math for God who dwells in His essence as the Trinity is 1+1+1=1. Today, we look at God’s Kingdom math. It too is a mystery. But if we are going to live in the kingdom, we really need to understand the math! Interested? 

Weekend of Nov.17th, 18th                “Kingdom Vision” (Living with Kingdom Eyes)

They say that Ted Williams (one of baseballs’ all-time great hitters) could actually see the stitching on the baseball as it was coming to home plate traveling at 90 miles per hour! It pays to have good vision!  I remember when I was coaching, another coach walked up to me in the middle of a game and told me to have the running back “cut back” right after he got through the line of scrimmage. I did – and it went for a touchdown. The other coach had “seen something.” But note this, If Ted Williams had never swung the bat his vision would have been wasted and if I had never told the running back to “cut back” the vision of that coach would have been wasted as well. Today, Jesus would give us “Kingdom Vision” in a way that perhaps we have never understood – SEEN before – so that we can LIVE with “Kingdom Eyes.” Interested?

Weekend of Nov.24th, 25th               “Kingdom Urgency” Living in the Kingdom NOW)

My son, Jeff, is an emergency room/trauma nurse. He tells the story of how one shift they brought in the husband of the doctor who was the Chief of Staff. While Jeff immediately recognized the signs of severe sepsis and began to take action, no one else caught it or believed him. In fact, the head nurse was so busy talking with the man’s wife (remember, she was the Chief of Staff of the hospital) trying to “make points” and assuring her they had everything handled, that she told Jeff to “calm down and quit acting like it was so urgent.” But being Jeff – and this being his patient – he refused, living in the urgency that the situation deserved, saving the man’s life. The next day the Chief of Staff pulled him aside privately in her office and thanked him for saving her husband’s life. Today, Jesus would give us “Kingdom Urgency.” He would hold up the situation in which we live our lives and how this by necessity points us to living our lives in the “urgency of the Kingdom” RIGHT NOW. Interested?

The Apostle's Creed

TheApostle_300x300.jpg

Where are you looking for something you can trust to live by? That’s what this series is about!!!

The Apostle’s Creed. No, it was not written by the Apostles. Rather, it is a short summation of the writings of the Apostles  - the New Testament – as the Holy Spirit gave them the words. It is a summation of who God is, what He did, and what this means for us.

And even though it does not date back to the Apostles, it has been around a long time. It was first used around 325AD in what is today modern France as a Baptism Creed. Why? Because it explained/declared/witnessed to this God in whose Name they were Baptized. It was a confession – a declaration, a witness of the faith.

But it is called a CREED. Think about that a minute. So often we think about a confession or CREED as simply a statement of what one believes. But a CREED is far more than that. It is something one lives by – isn’t it? When one was Baptized into the Name and reality of God, they were also saying, “this is the reality – the Creed – I will live by.” And for close to 1700 years, Christians to this very day have used these words -this CREED - to declare, “This is what I believe and this is the reality under which I will live my life!”

In the next few weeks we will focus on the eternal truths of the New Testament – written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the Apostles – yet summarized in the Apostle’s Creed. We will not look at this CREED simply from the idea of WHAT – what we believe, the content of our faith – though, of course, this will be our beginning place. Rather, we will look at this ancient CREED for what it is – a CREED – something to touch our hearts and move our hands; something to live by!

Where are you looking for something you can trust to live by – Head, Heart, and Hands? That’s what this series is about!

Sat./Sun, Sept. 8th/9th     Origins 1: Who is God?  (Focus on Relationship!)

Origins. Beginnings. “Who God is” is the foundation of all beginnings. To know who God is gives us a window into who we are and really all reality. Everything – including ourselves - begins with God. Everything -including ourselves - comes from God. Where do you long to know, see, and live in the “big picture.” This is our focus today, Head, Heart, and Hands!

Sat./Sun, Sept.15th/16th     Origins 2: The Creator God (Does it make a difference?)

A number of years ago I remember seeing in college a film of Dr. Leakey discovering “Lucy,” who at the time – since discredited - was held up as our “earliest ancestor.”  What I remember the most is the hushed, reverent, awe-filled tones used in the film, almost as if they were in worship, talking about our supposed origin as humans. Why would this be so since every one of these people would espouse a theory that says all of life only got here by chance and man is just another animal? Maybe it is because deep down we all know this isn’t true. Maybe deep down, in a place we can’t get away from, we understand our existence to be the stuff of awe and mystery…and it is! This is our focus today, Head, Heart, and Hands!

Sat./Sun, Sept. 22nd/23rd     Jesus   (Who is he? What did he do?)

There are a number of short films where a “man on the street” approached is used as an interviewer and cameraperson ask people in a low-key way who they think Jesus is….or was. The answers span from “I don’t think he ever existed” to “He was a good man” to “He was a son of God” to “He was a prophet” to “He was THE Son of God.” Today this is our focus; Who he is. What he did. But not just to know in our heads…rather to know in our hearts and to live by. Jesus: Who he is. What he did. Head, Heart, and Hands! 

Sat./Sun, Sept. 29th/30th     Jesus   (What is he doing NOW?)

Now THIS is a GOOD question! Have you ever thought about it? How would you answer it? And what would be your basis for your answer? And can we ever know for sure? Or do we have to “put our brains on the shelf” and just speculate? Today, we focus on knowing for sure what Jesus is doing NOW and what this means for us; Head, Heart, and Hands!

Sat./Sun, Oct.6th/7th      Jesus  (The Rest of the Story!)

Our society – and humankind in general seems fascinated by world doomsday scenarios. Just look at all the movies that have been made with this as the story! It’s as if we know it’s all got to end sometime. But have you noticed that these same movies always seem to have a hope for a tomorrow in them?...even if it’s for a few or on another planet? Why do you think this is so? Today it seems as if we focus on the opposite end of origins. And in a sense, we do as we focus on the other end of the timeline….the end. But maybe in Jesus this end becomes a new beginning. This is our focus today; Head, Heart, and Hands!

Sat./Sun, Oct. 13th/14th     The Spirit  (Who is this guy?)

Have you ever had someone knock on your door whom you did not know? How much do you trust them when you first open the door? How about when you meet someone new in another way? Before we begin to trust someone we need to get to know them – right? Today we focus on “getting to know” the Holy Spirit so we can learn to trust Him more; Head, Heart, and Hands!

Sat./Sun, Oct. 20th/21st     The Spirit (How does it all work?)

I know nothing about how a car engine works….BUT I know enough. I know enough to put gas in it. I know enough to put oil in it. I know enough to take it to the mechanic when the little lights come on. I know enough to turn the ignition key and I know enough to drive it. I can take full advantage of the car even though I honestly do not know how it all works; I just trust it works. So it is with the Holy Spirit. This is our focus today; Head, Heart, and Hands!

Sat./Sun, Oct. 27th, 28th      The Bottom Line: Grace!! (Reformation Day Celebration!!)

If you could take all of the letters in the words of the Apostle’s Creed and put them in a blender, the one word that would come out is GRACE. Five hundred years ago a man -Martin Luther - rediscovered this for it had been largely lost and most lived in a darkened world void of grace.  We – together with all Christians who know this God of grace – joyfully remember and celebrate this gift! Grace; Head, Heart, and Hands!

Life Animated (Revisited!)

LifeAnimated2018_300x300.jpg

He (Jesus) did not say anything to them without using parables. Matthew 13:34)


Can you believe it? August marks the beginning of a new school year!! Back to school we go! What a great time to revisit this fun and exciting special focus! This year we will be using the classic animated children’s films Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. This is going to be a blast! It will be like “going to the movies” but even better! Come and check it out! And bring your friends! It just may make “going back to school” a little easier! Oh, and we just may have an “ah-ha” experience or two as we see how these stories reveal things about ourselves and how our stories intersect with the story of God for us in Jesus! Don’t miss out on this fun adventure!

Our lives are made up of stories. Perhaps this is why we are story tellers. Books. Plays. Musicals. Films. Aesop’s Fables. Ancient Greek tragedies. Shakespeare. It seems that humankind has always had a need to tell stories. Stories are meant to explain our existence. They point to a voice within each of us that whispers to us of a “backstory,” a greater story behind our stories which somehow intersects with our individual stories to make sense of our lives.

Through these stories we almost instinctively try to answer “the big questions” that are part of each of us. Stories are a window into our soul. They can touch our hearts or communicate a point to us in a way that mere words cannot hope to do. They can give us that “aha” moment of truth like no other medium. Jesus often told stories, called parables, even coming to the point where He only spoke using these stories. In this way, He intersected God’s story with our stories. 

Embedded in the stories we tell are the longings of our souls…which all, finally, point to the only place these longings can be met; Jesus. On these three Sundays, we will use these three stories in film to examine our human condition, the longing of our souls, our need for a greater story, and how the greater story of God in the Savior meets us squarely in this place of need. Whatever your age, this series will connect with you in your story with the story of Jesus!

Sat./Sund., August 11th/12th                               Beauty and the Beast

Ok. This is a classic! Great characters! Wonderful music! But what does this movie reveal about  ourselves and our stories….and how God’s story connects with our stories? What does this movie say of the ancient questions we are asking that are embedded in the stories we tell over and over again? What are we trying to explain? What are we trying to understand?...and where does God’s story in Jesus connect to it all? Come and see!...and maybe, for the fun of it, before this Sunday gather together your family and/or friends and watch the movie one more time!

Sat./Sun., August 18th/19th                   Cinderella       

Another classic. A tale of evil making another feel worthless and alone. (Can you relate? Have you ever felt this way?) A tale of help given in a hopeless situation. A tale of good triumphing through love! Why do we tell such stories? Why do we call them “classics?” And how does this story fit into our story and how the story of Jesus intersects with ours? Come and see!...and maybe, just for the fun of it, before this Sunday gather your family and/or friends to watch the movie one more time!

Sat./Sun., Sept. 1st/2nd                      Sleeping Beauty

Once again, an absolute classic story! A story of intrigue and rescue! A story of good vs. evil. A story with a villain and with a hero. A story where love triumphs! Why do we tell such stories? And how do these things fit into our story and how the story of Jesus intersects with ours? Come and see! …and maybe, just for the fun of it, before this Sunday gather your family and/or friends to watch the movie one more time!

“Knowing the Heart of God….And Living In It!”

"Knowing the Heart of God... And Living In It!"

KnowingTheHeartOfGod_300x300 - Copy.jpg

Humankind has always sought to know God and to live in Him….because deep down every single human being knows that God is there. How about you?

The Bible says, “God has set eternity in the hearts of humankind; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Eccl.3:11)  But then, we really don’t need the Bible to tell us this, do we? If you were to calculate the number, out of all of the billions of people who have ever lived, who have claimed they believe that there is no god, it would be so small as to be statistically irrelevant! In truth, these people are anomalies in the overwhelming statistical and historical reality of a universal belief of humankind that God is there.

We see this reality reflected in our own time as many thought the decline of Christianity in Europe and the USA would mean the end of religion – that is, an end to a human “spirituality” that sought out a reality beyond space and time that stretched into eternity. But this has not been the case. Both in Europe and especially in the USA we have remained a “spiritual” people seeking some type of “spiritual” truth. Humankind just seems to know deep down in the very essence of who they are that there is an eternal reality; a reality grounded in God.

Yet, throughout human history, we see humankind searching but not finding; longing but not being fulfilled; desiring to know truth but left empty.

The Bible says the truth is not something we need to discover or to achieve or to earn. Rather, the Bible says that the truth has come to us. His Name is Jesus and He is “the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” In Jesus is the heart of God revealed; in Jesus is the answer to what we all seek, the One who can fulfill every longing; the One who is the truth that fills us up.

In the next few weeks, in 4 three-week mini-series, we will look to know and receive the heart of God revealed finally in Jesus; And we will look to be empowered to live in it! For this is what we all seek!

Humankind has always sought to know God and to live in Him….because deep down every single human being knows that God is there. How about you?


KnowingTheHeartOfGod_300x300.jpg

Mini-Series #1…The Inviting God

Have you ever been on the outside looking in?...And then someone invited you in? How did it feel? In this short three week series God would have us know Him as the One who invites us in….This is God’s heart toward us!...And this is how he would empower us to live toward others!

Saturday and Sunday, May 5th/6th  “It’s Personal”

When my oldest son was in the 4th or 5th  grade a number of kids in his class asked him personally if he would play on their little league baseball team. It’s nice to be wanted. Even though it was a longer drive, we let him do it. Did you know you are personally wanted by God?...That He would touch your heart with His heart-feIt invitation? It’s nice to be wanted….And it’s a gift to have such a heart towards all.

Saturday and Sunday, May 12th/13th  “It’s Relevant”                    

“Ontogeny recapitulates philogeny.”  It is something I had to learn in detail in an advanced Biology class in college where, just as we finished the final, we were told that it was no longer thought to be true…Did you ever have to learn something in school that you knew would NEVER be relevant in your life? God’s invitation to you – from His heart to yours – will never be irrelevant. It is a gift to receive and a gift to live in!

Saturday and Sunday, May 19th/20th   “It’s Not Something He Wants Us to Miss!”

Have you ever driven cross country in the Midwest and as you are approaching some restaurant or museum there are huge signs –one after another over a number of miles perhaps even on the sides of huge, old truck trailers – advertising the attraction or eatery? They really don’t want you to miss their invitation! Did you know God, in His great love for you that doesn’t want you to miss the invitation, does very similar things? Did you know that we are called to do the same?


KnowingTheHeartOfGod_300x300_2.jpg

Mini-Series #2…The Connecting God

Have you ever experienced a time when you weren’t sure you were welcome in a particular situation? Awkward, wasn’t it?  Throughout the Bible God’s heart is revealed as the One who breaks down the barriers so we can see and know His wide open arms of welcome and friendship as well as His heart of hospitality towards us in every situation and every moment. In the next few weeks we explore what this means for us both to receive it and live in it!

Saturday and Sunday, May 26th/27th    Hospitality: You are WELCOME Here!

When I would bring friends home, my dad had a way of making them feel welcome...as if they belonged with us!...and he firmly believed they did! His concern and care for them expressed in genuine hospitality was transparent and real! I remember when my dad died Ernie Perez, a close friend of mine from High School that I had not seen in 20 years came to his funeral…that’s how connected he felt to my dad. The hospitality of God; You are welcome here!...to receive it and to live in!

Saturday and Sunday, June 2nd and 3rd  “I Call you Friend!”               

The first day Jane and I got to the Seminary, I went to the Administration Office, got squared away, and then was immediately asked if I would help move in another student and his family who had just gotten there. So I worked with Lee all afternoon and got him and his family moved in. But the thing I remember about that day? We each offered the other one the hand of friendship in ways too numerous to count. We remain close friends to this day.  Today, we see the heart of God in that He offers us the hand of friendship…and empowers us to do the same.

 Saturday and Sunday, June 9th/10th  “Here for the Duration”

Have you ever sung a version of the song “On Top of Old Smokey?” Most of them talk about someone being all alone on top of a mountain without….something they desperately need. God, in His love, NEVER leaves us “on top of Old Smokey.” He NEVER says, “Your on your own now!” No, in His love He stays connected….and He would empower us to live this same way toward others.


KnowingTheHeartOfGod_300x300_3.jpg

Mini-Series #3….The Discipling/Apprenticing God

The story goes that when someone asked Michelangelo how he could sculpt such beautiful works out of the stone, he said that he saw the figure in the block of stone and all he did was to bring it out. God sees us as who we are in Christ and what we can become in Him! By His Spirit, in His love, He works to sculpt His work of art in each of us!  We were made for great things!

Saturday and Sunday, June 16th/17th    “Special Made for a Purpose”

Have you ever seen the movie “Chariots of Fire?” It is a movie about the English men’s track and field team at the 1924 Olympics. There is a character in the movie who is a Christian and says, “I was made to run. When I run I feel God’s pleasure.” Do you have that one thing –or perhaps a couple of things – that you know you were just “made to do?” In truth, God has put each of us together special and unique and then has gifted us even beyond this with His Spirit to do special and unique things. What will this mean for you?

Saturday and Sunday, June 23rd/24th   “Doing Life Together”

Have you ever heard the phrase, “learning by osmosis.” Basically what it means is that just as when you throw salt in a glass of water and over a few seconds it spreads through the entire solution, so too when we spend enough time doing life together with someone, they tend to “rub off” on us. So, God wants to do life with us so He can rub off on us…but He also wants us to do life with each other, so that who we are in Christ can rub off on each other as well. Jesus does NOT leave us alone. He comes to do life with us. Such is God’s heart toward us.

Saturday and Sunday, June 30th/July 1st   “On the Job Training”

Have you ever “learned by doing?” It really is the only way to truly learn how to do something. I mean, you can talk about it, diagram it, understand it, see someone else doing it, but until YOU do it, you will not truly learn how to do it and get better at it. (If you have ever been on a football team and remember the first scrimmage of the year you know exactly what I mean!) Jesus taught His disciples through “on the job training.” And He still does. He just uses us to do it. He does NOT leave us alone. He comes to us. Such is God’s heart toward us.


KnowingTheHeartOfGod_300x300_4.jpg

Mini-Series #4…The Sending God

John 3:16 is the most well-known verse in all the Bible. It says in part, “For God so loved the world that He SENT His Only Begotten Son…” Jesus was sent to us and for us by God the Father! We have a wonderful, loving, sending God! And then Jesus, following the Resurrection, says to His disciples, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you!” This is our focus in the next few weeks!

Saturday and Sunday, July 7th/8th  “A Way of Life”

Not long ago I had a cataract removed from my left eye. It was really quite amazing to go from seeing hardly anything out of that eye at all to 20-20 vision. But the thing that I wasn’t prepared for was how all the colors were so crisp and clean and vivid! It was amazing to see like that again! This kind of transformation gift is what God gives us as people who see themselves as SENT just as Jesus was SENT! As Paul wrote in the book of Philemon, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith (in word and deed!), so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ!”

Saturday and Sunday, July 14th/15th "Always to Others"

Jesus came for all. We are sent to take Him always to others. We are pleased and privileged to have the recently retired Rev. Ted Hartman with us who has served our district with distinction for many years as the Mission Executive. May God, the Holy Spirit, bless His message and witness to us this morning!

Saturday and Sunday, July 21st/22nd "Our Student Ministry"

On this very special day, our students and Student Ministry will  be featured. These young people are not simply the “church of tomorrow” but the church of TODAY! This will be a lively, joyful, insightful day of celebration!

Saturday and Sunday, July 28th/29th   “We (Together!) Are The Body of Christ!”

Have you ever heard the phrase, “perception is everything?” What it is saying is that perception is powerful because it frames how one sees things, whether it is how one sees another, or how one sees themselves. What is your perception of the people of God, the church? The Bible depicts us as being SENT together on a mission – to actually join Jesus on His mission! We are an army on the move! And the Bible says the gates of hell (gates here being defensive weapons since we are the ones doing the attacking) shall not prevail against us! This is our focus today!

Saturday and Sunday, August 4th/5th “Experience Is A Great Teacher”

Did you ever teach a young person (maybe your own son or daughter) how to drive a car? You can talk about it and rehearse it and have them watch you, but they really won’t learn until they actually do it. Today we focus on ways that we can intentionally gain experience through doing by going on “short term mission trips.” Why? It is what Jesus did! We can do some great things! And we can grow in our everyday discipleship!

Finding Jesus: Monday through Friday!

FindingJesus_300x300.jpg

(God’s Easter Gift To You!)

Were you ever in a Math class in school where someone said something like, “This is crazy! When will I ever have to use this stuff in my real life? It’s just not relevant!”?

The point of this series is that Jesus is relevant not just on Saturday or Sunday but on Monday through Friday as well! Interested?


 

Sat. March 31st and Sun. April 1st  Finding Hope: Monday Through Friday!  Easter Celebration!

Easter will be awesome! Great crowds of God’s people connecting with God and one another in worship…and then over breakfast and conversation as we share our lives. And the worship!...Exciting, joy-filled, worship with great music and song! And the reality of the victory of the Savior… “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”…But this morning, it is on the above theme that we especially focus. Biblical hope is certainty….certainty in what Jesus has done for us.  And don’t miss this; It is a hope – a certainty – that is relevant and is meant to be with us Monday through Friday – not just on Saturday and Sunday! Where do you need this gift of Easter hope in your Monday through Friday life?


Sat. April 7th and Sun. April 8th     Finding Peace and Purpose: Monday – Friday!

Peace: How are you doing with that?...not just on the weekends but Monday through Friday? And purpose…does the Monday through Friday grind sometimes feel pointless? Today we focus on a peace that is relevant not only on Saturday and Sunday but on Monday through Friday as well. And we focus on a purpose that is not only for the Sunday moment but also transcends the Monday through Friday grind. Where do you need this Easter gift of peace and purpose in your Monday through Friday life?


Sat. April 14th and Sun. April 15th       Finding A Second Chance: Monday – Friday!

Sometimes we would be shooting hoops in the driveway when my dad got home from work.  I can still remember him saying again and again - wanting to make one shot before he went in the house to see mom -  “one more,” “one more,” “one more,” until he made it.  Where do you need “one more” – a second chance? This is our Easter focus today. And this second chance is not just for Saturday and Sunday; it is to take into your Monday through Friday life as well. Where do you need this Easter gift of a “second chance” in your Monday through Friday life?


 Sat. April 21st/Sun. April 22 Finding Success and Connectedness: Monday-Friday!

Where are you chasing after success in your Monday through Friday life?....and how’s that working for you? And where, in the struggle to achieve, do you feel disconnected and alone? Today we focus on the success and connectedness that the Resurrected One would give us; not just on Saturday and Sunday but also in our Monday through Friday life. Where do you need this Easter gift in your Monday through Friday life?


Sat. April 28th and Sun. April 29th    Finding Your Place: Monday through Friday! 

When I was 8 years old my older brother and I walked to the falls at Yosemite National Park from where my family was camped in the meadows. It was a long walk for an 8 year old. (I even remember the grass being over my head in the meadows when we began and the switchback trails looking as wide to me as a highway lane does today.) But I knew my place. I followed my older brother and I was content. He led. I followed. And even though it was a challenge, everything went great. Are you sometimes searching for your place in your Monday through Friday life? Today we focus on the Easter gift of finding your place…And it is not only for Saturday and Sunday but for your Monday through Friday life as well! Where do you need this Easter gift in your Monday through Friday life?

Diamond Vision

DiamondVision_300x300.jpg

Early in my Sophomore year in High School, just before Christmas, I had the opportunity to see “A Christmas Carol” (ie. “Scrooge.”) in a “theatre in the round”

in Hollywood. (I remember I was a Sophomore because a pretty Senior girl who had tickets asked me to go and even drove…but my high hopes were soon dashed….but that is another story!)

The play was wonderful! However, I kept wondering how it was being viewed by the people across from me as well as from the various angles in the audience that circled the performance. I mean, literally, every seat would see the play a little differently….like a many faceted diamond! After the play, we even took some time to circle the stage trying to picture how each angle saw the play!

Jesus –and what He means to us – is like a many faceted diamond. In one sense, He means the same for each of us….but in another, who He is and what He offers to us is different for each one of us depending on what we are going through in our lives. Further, even as we individually live our lives in the constant change of circumstances and struggles, He is there for us every day exactly as we need Him to be, a multi-faceted diamond! Perhaps this is why the Bible has four different books that narrate Jesus life – to begin to show us this many-faceted diamond that IS Jesus! Perhaps this is why, in the first chapter of the book of Romans alone, the word Gospel – Good News – is used seven times concerning Jesus! Jesus is Good News for each of us in every facet of our lives!

In the next few weeks, we will explore Jesus in “Diamond Vision,” looking to understand a little better the many faceted ways that His love would touch our lives and the lives of all in the multifaceted realities of our lives. This is Good News!...to receive and to give away! Where/how do you need a Savior in your life?

Each message will feature a unique video. If you want to share the video on it's own they are available on our videos page.


Sat.,Sun., February 17th/ 18th     “Falling Plates”

Growing up, our ever day plates were made out of Pyrex – pretty much unbreakable unless you were really trying. But on special days such as Thanksgiving or Christmas or a Birthday, mom would get out “the good plates.” These were different. If you dropped one of these, it would shatter. And on top of this, these plates had been passed down from my mom’s mom to her. They were MUCH MORE valuable than the Pyrex plates. Today, we compare our lives to falling plates – not the Pyrex kind but the Valuable kind – and how Jesus would put us back together. This is Good News!... to receive and to give away!


Sat./Sun., February 23rd/24th                “Freedom Within”

These are two common words put together in an uncommon way, yet expressing the longing of each of us. Freedom. We usually talk about this in a way that focuses outside of ourselves in the sense of, “being free to do what I want.” Within. What is inside of us. Hidden. Private.  But what if we brought the “within” out into the light? Where/how are you in a prison – enslaved – inside? And what would it mean to be free. Because Jesus brings freedom….inside! This is Good News!... to receive and to give away!


Sat./Sun., March 3rd/4th   “Paper Hats”

Hats. A cowboy wears one type of hat. A ship’s captain another. And a common sailer another. And a king another! In a sense, the kind of hat we wear determines how we see things…and how we live in our world. How do you see things? What hat are you wearing? And how is that working for you? Did you know that Jesus came to give us a “new hat?”….a new way of seeing things? And did you know that it was meant to change everything?” Where do you need this? This is Good News!...to receive and to give away!


Sat.,Sun., March 10th/11th    “Flow”

When we were in Denver, a large water pipe ruptured across the street from the church. They had it fixed in a couple of days, strongly telling us that the water was fine. Yet, for days afterward, when we turned on the water, it came out brown and fresh and healthy!...so we can be healthy. Today, we focus on the “water” we drink for our soul. How healthy has it left you? Did you know Jesus is called the “water of life?” Here is refreshing, clean, healthy, water for your soul, whatever your need! This is Good News!...to receive and to give away!


Sat./Sun., March 17th/18th  “The Search”

On one backpacking trip, my brother and I were hit with an unexpected blizzard. It was so fierce, we got out the maps and walked out a shorter way. When we got home, we found out my parents had called “Search and Rescue” who were getting ready to try to find us. The problem? They would have looked in the wrong area!....Where are you lost in your life? Where do you hope someone is searching for you? Where do you need to be found? There is someone who is searching and who knows right where you are! His Name is Jesus. And He has come, and is coming for you! This is Good News!...to receive and to give away!


Sat./Sun., March 24th/25th   “Newly Forged”

Do you remember the first “Karate Kid” movie? The patience of a young man, who has come to an old Karate Master to learn Karate, is sorely tried as he is told to do such things as paint a fence and wax old cars. Finally, he loses his trust and with it his patience, calling out the older man….who then shows him that the movements he was doing over and over again in the work was training him in the movements of Karate. In a sense, they were “forging him” to be what he wanted to be. Where, deep down, do you want to be –perhaps even need to be -  “different?”….maybe even not knowing what this means? What would you say if you were told that Jesus, somehow, through every experience and all situations, is working according to His plan to forge you into exactly who you should be as you walk in Him?  This is Good News!...to receive and to give away!

Pray Under The Cross

PrayUnderTheCross_300x300.jpg

Lent is a time when we focus on the cross and what this means for us. As we do this, one does not need to look far to find our Savior praying; His wonderful and moving prayer for Himself, His disciples and finally, for “all who would believe in Him through their message” – for us! – spoken on the Thursday night before He died; His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane –“Father, may your will be done!” – and it was as He went the way of the cross; and His prayers on the cross –“Father, forgive them,” “My God, why hast though forsaken me?,” and “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”

But prayer – this communion with God – is not just for Jesus. It is a gift given to each of us through what Jesus did on the cross. In fact, when His disciples, seeing His intimacy with God through prayer, came to Him asking Him to “teach us to pray,” He graciously did so. And He does so for us as well.


Ash Wednesday – February 14th              Dear Children/Holy Name

We come in repentance confessing our sins. Through the cross of Jesus we are declared to be His own dear children and are renewed in living to Hallow His Name! What does this mean for our prayers? (Note: This worship includes both the imposition of Ashes and Holy Communion.)


Wednesday, February 21st -Kingdom/Will

The gracious kingdom of God and the gracious will of God is inextricably bound together. What does this mean for us in our prayers?


Wednesday, February 28th- Bread   

See the depth and brilliance of Jesus as He simply yet powerfully teaches us to pray for “bread.” What does this mean for us in our prayers?


Wednesday, March 7th - Forgiveness

 Forgiven: the gift of a state of being received and a way of life to live in. What does this mean for our prayers?


Wednesday, March 14th- Temptation/Evil  

The gift of victory over all our enemies – received and lived in! What does this mean for our prayers?


Wednesday, March 21st- Kingdom, Power, Glory

The certainty of God’s Kingdom, Power, and glory seen in the cross. What does this mean for our prayers?

This is Jesus

ThisIsJesus_300x300.jpg

When I was in the 8th grade a friend and I slipped out of the house about 10pm to toilet paper the principal’s house (because we LIKED him!). We walked about two miles to his house, realized we had “hit it perfectly” because he was not home, and proceeded to masterfully cover everything with toilet paper. Just as we turned to go, a police car rolled up and there was no mercy. But as we were sitting in the back seat of the police car (you ever noticed there is no door handles in the back seat of a police car?) up walks my father. He had quietly followed us in the car to make sure we were ok! He then proceeds to have a laughing conversation with the police officers and soon we are in his car on the way home. That was my dad. He was ALWAYS there for us!

Have you ever told a story about your mom or dad or someone else to try to communicate what they are/were like and who they are/were? It’s what we do, isn’t it? It’s how we can communicate in ways that are powerful and hit the mark.

For instance, right now you know my father much better than if I had just said, “he was always there for us.”

And yet, there will always be questions…”how did he see us go?” “Why did he let us sit in the police car?” “What did he say to the policeman that was so funny…yet “freeing?” There is always questions, but the truth of the story still stands: “my dad was always there for us.”

In the next few weeks, we are going to look at some stories about Jesus in the Bible that were written so that we might really –intimately and personally – in the midst of the great mysteries and questions of our lives, know Him and who He is and what He does for us…for you.  THIS is JESUS!!...And even in the face of all the questions and mysteries of our lives, THIS STANDS!


This IsJesus_MediaSlide.jpg

Saturday/Sunday, January 6th/7th   “He Is One Who Is King of All….My King!”(Coming of the Wisemen)

Mystery. Questions. They are always with us when it comes to Jesus. Yet, through them all this story is told to establish deep within us that Jesus is the King of all who has come to be our gracious king. THIS is Jesus!


This IsJesus_MediaSlide2.jpg

Saturday/Sunday, January 13th/14th         “He Is The One Who Forgives My Sins!”

Mystery. Questions. Deep down, each of us longs to be unconditionally loved and accepted. But what does this mean and who can do this for us so that we know it’s real, even with all the hard stuff we live through together with all the questions this brings?  Jesus can. It’s called the forgiveness of sins. It’s why He came. THIS is Jesus!


Saturday/Sunday, January 20th/21st     “He Is The One Who Meets My Needs”

Mystery. Questions. Where are you in need? Physically, relationally, provisionally, spiritually? Amidst the mystery and questions of life, where can you turn in complete confidence to have those needs met? And how can you be sure? At Thanksgiving everyone –religious or not – stops and remembers to be thankful for all they have. Why? Perhaps it is because every human being is acutely aware of the many variables including health and opportunity upon which hangs our ability to meet our needs. Perhaps, because finally, we are not the ones who meet are needs but rather it is Another who provides all things for us. THIS is Jesus!


This IsJesus_MediaSlide4.jpg

Sat./Sun., Jan. 27th/28th       “He is the One Who Understands My Temptation”

Mystery. Questions. In the intricacies, mysteries, and questions of life, where/how are you tempted to do what you should not do or to not do what you should? Is there one who really understands and can help in the multifaceted shadows of your personal struggles to do right? Yes. THIS is Jesus!


This IsJesus_MediaSlide5.jpg

Saturday/Sunday, February 3rd/4th         “He Is The One Who Calms My Fears”

Mystery. Questions. In the mystery and questions of life all of humankind seems to live in multi-faceted fear. It is different for each of us as each of us live through unique and different experiences. Yet, we all have fears. What fears reside in you? There is One who can calm them once and for all. THIS is Jesus!


This IsJesus_MediaSlide6.jpg

Sat./Sun., February 10th/11th        “He Directs My Path. He Secures My Eternity.”(The Transfiguration of Jesus)

Mystery. Questions. Have you ever heard the poem, “Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood?” The point is that the traveler has a decision to make – which way to go – and the choice will make “all the difference.” Is there one who can guide our lives in the “forks in the road?”…who can, amidst all the questions and mysteries, lead is in the path that “makes all the difference?” Yes! THIS is Jesus!

New Beginnings

NewBeginnings_300x300.jpg

This is the time of year –when one year slides into the next – that we think of all the things that ought not to be but are…and all those things that ought to be but are not. It is why people talk about -and sometimes make - New Year’s resolutions. It is a time when people, just for a moment, dare to hope that things can be different, that we can actually have new beginnings. But, like Camelot, the ideas and resolutions and hopes soon seem to fade away. BUT WHAT IF we really could have –and live in – New Beginnings? What would it look like? How would it feel? What difference would it make? Because we can; it is a gift of God to us…right now, at the beginning of a new year.

Christmas Family Stories

ChristmasFamilyStories_300x300.jpg

Last Summer my whole family got together for a week together at the Beach, together with my brother and his wife. One of the things I noticed is how many family stories we remembered together. My kids are old people now, so they love to tell/remember these stories together as well. And, they were delighted when my brother would tell them a story about me growing up that they had never heard before. And of course, all three of them know their “birth stories” that I have recalled for each of them on their birthdays for as long as I can remember. Yet, when we all get together, those birth stories seem to get retold a couple of times even though it is no one’s birthday at that moment.

How about you? Do you tell family stories when you get together with your family? Or maybe as you are reading this, the stories are just popping into your mind and leaving a smile on your face? (And if not a smile, I pray a realization that God was with you and sustained you in those difficult times as well.)

On these three Wednesdays in Advent, we are going to go back many centuries and observe the family of Mary and Joseph as they remember the family birth stories. And we won’t be as those who are on the outside looking in, but rather we will do so as part of the family of Jesus. For family stories are never told in a vacuum. They are not just reminiscences, but rather they also reveal insights into the family and are meant to give us identity, purpose, meaning, and direction in our present day lives.   So join us with your whole family as we tell the Jesus family Christmas stories; the Jesus family birthday stories.  For these family stories ARE Christmas….and through them we are reoriented to joyfully celebrate Christmas brand new!


Wednesday, December 6th                  “Who is This Baby?”

When Sarah – our oldest daughter – was born we were going to the Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. We left for the hospital (“honey, we have to go NOW” as I timed the contractions..) at about 630a just as the sun was rising after a night of heavy snow. As a southern California boy I will never forget my anxiety as I was maneuvering through the snow and ice…yet in the middle of my anxiety Jane, looking at the beautiful morning as the sun shone off the fresh snow that clung to the trees, said, “what a beautiful day to have a baby.”…And when I tell this story to Sarah I look at her and say, “And that baby was you!” Tonight, we focus on the birth of Jesus. At the end of this night our goal is to lovingly say, “and this is who that baby was and is.”  You won’t want to miss it. This is what Christmas is all about!


Wednesday, December 13th                 “What Will This Baby Do?”

You know the comments people make as well as I do; “Look at how strong he is, he could be a “fullback!” She is so fast – she just glides…I wonder if she’ll be a runner. Did you notice? He has almost perfect pitch already –goodness, he’s going to be a singer! Look at her rhythm!...She could be a great dancer…or maybe a drummer – a rock star! He is so smart..he will be able to do anything he wants to do…he could be a doctor or an architect or an engineer. She is just so smart and look at that personality…she could be the first woman president!” And so it goes. We all have dreams for not just our children but for all children. Tonight, we focus on what the baby Jesus will do. You won’t want to miss it. This is what Christmas is all about.


Wednesday, December 20th   “What Does This Mean for Us?...for Me?

Every time the Summer Olympics rolls around, there are stories about the families of the athletes; how both the support of and success of their child has completely changed their lives. There are stories of families moving across the country so their son or daughter is able to train under the best coach. There are stories of how families have sacrificed and even sold their homes to give their son or daughter the opportunity to do what they are doing. And there are touching, personal stories of how a family has been brought together by the quest they are on together. Probably not one of these families at the birth of their child had any inkling of how their son or daughter would affect their lives, what it would mean in their lives, how it would change their lives. Tonight, we focus on what the birth of Jesus means for us – how He is meant to change our lives every day and forever! You won’t want to miss it. This is what Christmas is all about!

Merry GRINCH Christmas!!

GrinchChristmas_300x300.jpg

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of (your) life.” Proverbs 4:23

Yesterday I went to Physical Therapy. As I was leaving I wished a “Happy Thanksgiving” to the gal at the desk. She looked at me with a totally worn out expression on her face and said wearily and with no joy, “yeah, my son just told me he was coming. I’ve got so much work to do.” Can you relate?

Christmas is just around the corner. It is meant to be a time of joy, hope, and peace all wrapped together in a heart of love. But December is such a world-wind, isn’t it? There is so much to do! Gifts and sweets and parties and food and travel and family and neighbors and a tree and decorations and…  if we’re not careful, we end up worn out and weary. It all becomes a chore, something just to get through. It loses what it is meant to bring us. Can you relate?

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we will focus on “guarding our hearts” so that our Christmas celebration and joy - what it means in our lives - will be all it is supposed to be. For you see, for each of us, our heart is the wellspring of our lives, our heart effects everything we do, and from our heart comes the ability to receive anew and celebrate all that Christmas is.

So why,“Merry ‘Grinch’ Christmas? Well, the Grinch’s problem was his heart. His heart was two sizes too small. But it got fixed. It got fixed when the truth of Christmas touched his heart. You see, it is our heart that can rob us of what Christmas is meant to be, but God –with the Grinch as our example – would fix it to our great joy!


Saturday /Sunday, Dec.2nd & 3rd      Guarding The Gift of A Pure Heart       

The Grinch hated Christmas.  (Do you ever find yourself there?) But no one seemed to know why. (Do you know how your heart gets to that place?) Yes, his heart was two sizes too small….but how did that happen? How does it happen with us?  And how does it get fixed? And how can we “guard it?” After all, it is important. For it was Jesus who said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God!”…And  I might add, they are the ones who are able to celebrate Christmas to its fullest!


Saturday/Sunday, Dec.9th & 10th     Guarding the Gift of A Passionate Heart

Passionate. When a person is passionate about something it means that they care deeply about it. It is the “why” of life –correct? But have you ever lost your passion? It is like the air being let out of a ball – like being punched in the stomach – and it takes the air out of living –doesn’t it? How does that happen? And how can we get it back?... Especially with Christmas around the corner?


Saturday/Sunday, Dec. 16th & 17th    Guarding the Gift of A Patient Heart

Patient. On the one hand, my son, James, had no patience when it came to not knowing what his gifts were under the Christmas tree; when we weren’t around he would prick tiny holes in the wrapping paper so he could find out. On the other hand, he had great patience in that he would painstakingly with great care use this process he had developed of putting these tiny holes in the paper- that you wouldn’t  even see unless you were looking for them. Do you ever lose your patience around this time of year? …and with it, your “Christmas spirit?”  Want to get it back?


Sunday, December 24th         Guarding The Gift of A Peaceful Heart

In a hurricane, the force of the wind and rain is devastating!....but in the hurricane, all is at peace. This is how I picture a heart that knows and lives in peace. Even though the hurricanes are screaming all around us, a heart at peace is not affected; it is beyond it. Take a deep breath right now and then let it out all the way. Feel that? When is the last time you did it down to your very soul? Today the Grinch finds peace for his heart. He finds it in Christmas. It is where we can find it as well. Where do you need peace?

“The Blessing of Living A Generous Life…. ….And Real Life Money Issues That Get In The Way”

GenerousLife_300x300.jpg

The cat is out of the bag. Study after study in the last few decades have shown that people who live generous and giving lives have a much happier and fuller life. This is true – Christian or not - across the spectrum of generations and social realities and people groups and level of income. But we don’t need anyone to tell us this – do we? Deep down, we all – every single human being – both knows this and has experienced it. When we are generous and giving it fills us with joy, purpose, and meaning –doesn’t it? It is almost as if someone made us to live this way but we have forgotten how to do it or perhaps something is getting in the way.  

When we left Denver to serve St. Matthew, one of the things we did was have a big garage sale. A little girl found a rather expensive educational toy that my daughter had loved, but her parents, seeing the $5 price tag, said “no.” So, I gave it to them. I will never forgot the joy in that little girl’s face but neither will I forgot the joy I had in giving it to her. It filled me up…so much so that I was giving things away all day!...And I still smile about it!

What stories can you tell? We all have them, little glimpses that remind us that we were created to live generously and in so doing to be filled up and complete in ourselves…Little glimpses that touch our hearts with the truth that living generous and giving lives is what we were made to do. When you think about it, this is exactly what the Bible says. It says we were created in the image of our Heavenly Father, who gives GENEROUSLY every day to all. And when we lost sight of who we were created to be, our generous Heavenly Father generously gave  His own dear Son so that we could have and live life anew as His dear children, being filled with His joy  and reflecting His generous heart in our lives.

In the next few weeks, this is our focus; the blessings of living the generous life we were created to live…and the real life money issues that get in the away. Don’t miss it!


Sunday, November 5th                   “Not Having Enough” (Fear vs. Identity)

GenerousLife_MediaSlide.jpg

Not having enough. Have you ever struggled with this dilemma? I mean, how can someone be generous when they don’t have enough themselves? It makes sense…but a rather unsettling statistic is that virtually no one thinks they have enough. That is, study after study finds that when people are asked if they have enough money, virtually everyone –no matter how much money they have – say they need just a little more. How about you?.. We tend to tie the blessing of living a generous life to having enough or maybe even having beyond enough…but maybe there is a different way of looking at things, a way that would empower us to live the blessing of a generous life even when we don’t think we have enough. This is our focus today.


Sunday November 12th Everybody Wants A Piece of Me (Worry vs. Grace)

GenerousLife_MediaSlide2.jpg

Ok. What’s the first thing you think when the doorbell rings and you answer the door to find a salesperson in front of you? Are you open to listen to what they have to say?...or are you immediately guarded as if they are trying to part you from your hard earned money? We have learned from experience that wisdom says for us to be concerned – worried even – in that everyone seems to want to separate us from our money. But where is this wisdom -this frame of mind – taken too far in the sense that it is a roadblock keeping us from living in generosity in those places and opportunities that God gives us? That is, where is this mind set perhaps keeping us from living in the blessing of a generous life? Where does it make sense to see others through the eyes of grace instead? This is our focus today.                                                                                                      


Sunday, November 19th "Giving 'til It Hurts??" (Limits vs. Thankfulness)

GenerousLife_MediaSlide3.jpg

When I was in grade school, I remember reading the story of Roger Bannister, the first runner to run the mile under 4 minutes. It was a feat of both mental and emotional as well as physical proportions. Why? Because all of the “experts of the day” said it couldn’t be done, that the human body was simply incapable of running a mile under 4 minutes. But Roger busted through what now is seen as an “artificial limit” to a new place. How do we view the blessing of living a generous life? Do we immediately put limits on it? I mean everything in our lives and in our world has limits –right? This grace of giving, this living a generous life certainly must have limits as well –right? It’s what we talk about today. Come and see as we celebrate Thanksgiving together!


Sunday, November 26th "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow" (Ego vs. Honor)

GenerousLife_MediaSlide4.jpg

In the classic movie, “The Lord of the Rings” there is a scene where the evil Saruman asks an orc that he has just created the question, “Whom do you serve?”…to which the orc replies, “Saruman.” This is always the bottom line, isn’t it? Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” …to which Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” The key to living in the blessing of a generous life, finally, is about these two questions, the bottom line. Who do you say Jesus is?...And whom do you serve?  This is what we focus on today.

For The Sake of the Gospel- Reformation Celebration

For The Sake of the Gospel- Reformation Celebration

ForTheSakeOfTheGospel_300x300.jpg

This year marks the 500 year anniversary of what has come to be known as the Protestant Reformation. On October 31st, 1517, an unknown but brilliant professor-monk name Martin Luther from Wittenburg, Germany, posted 95 statements on a church door meant to “reform” the teaching of the institutional church where an understanding and proclamation of the Gospel had largely been lost. For Martin Luther, it was always and personally about the Gospel – the Good of Jesus - so much so that he was willing to die for it and barring this, to live his life proclaiming it. Therefore, it is with great joy that I can confidently say to you that Martin Luther would be in full accord with the following statement; There is really only one good reason to talk about – or remember – Martin Luther; for the furtherance of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ! This is our focus today!