Archive for April, 2014 // All the posts in this month

Reflections on the Resurrection

Originaly Posted on April 25, 2014

This week, we’re sharing quotes from significant theologians reflecting on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What do you think?

“The point of the resurrection is that the present bodily life is not valueless just because it will die. What you do with your body in the present matters because God has a great future in store for it. What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether (as the hymn so mistakenly puts it…). They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.”

N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

“Without equivocation or hesitation I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ. This is something that anyone who knows me could tell you, and I am not afraid to say it publicly, no matter what some people may think…

I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, each day that I turn my back on the poor; I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of the downtrodden and lend my support to an unjust and corrupt system.

However there are moments when I affirm that resurrection, few and far between as they are. I affirm it when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed.”

Pete Rollins, “My Confession: I Deny the Resurrection”

“We call the name of the One before whom the evil in us cringes, before whom fear and anxiety must themselves be afraid, before whom they shake and take flight; the name of the One who alone conquered fear, captured it and led it away in a victory parade, nailed to the cross and banished it to nothingness; the name of the One who is the victory cry of the humanity that is redeemed from the fear of death—Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified and lives. He alone is the Lord of fear; it knows him as its Lord and yields to him alone. Therefore, look to him in your fear. Think about him, place him before your eyes, and call him. Pray to him and believe that he is now with you and helps you. The fear will yield and fade, and you will become free through faith in the strong and living Savior Jesus Christ.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is In the Manger

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A Game of Thrones – Matthew Valdez – April 12, 2014

Originaly Posted on April 24, 2014

Matthew Valdez

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The Day God Died

Originaly Posted on April 18, 2014

By Dannon Rampton

Today is a unique day. Many of our worship services focus on the life of Christ, the life that God is breathing into our world and the lives we live as Christians in this world, but today on Holy Sabbath we commemorate the day Christ was in the tomb.

One common criticism of Christianity is that we tend to put on cheery faces most of the time, hiding the darker side of life away out of sight. “We have this hope,” you see, and we want to encourage each other to overcome life’s trials. “Don’t worry,” we say, “God is in control. God works everything out for the best.” We stand on the promises of God, asking for the Divine Power to help us prevail. We celebrate the positive things we see God doing in our lives, and dream of a better world to come.

But some 2,000 years ago, God died. I can only imagine how his followers must have felt that weekend. They had left everything to follow Jesus. For three years they had traveled with him, watching him do miraculous things and listening to him teach about the Kingdom of God. But in the span of two days, all their hopes and dreams came crashing down to earth. God was dead. Their world was shattered. They were broken, numb.

Sometimes we feel that way too. Let’s be honest about this. Life isn’t always sunshine and flowers. Sometimes our dreams are shattered, leaving us broken, numb. We call to God for deliverance and all we hear is silence. It feels like God is dead.

Typically, at this point Christians too often say, “Cheer up. All is not lost. God works in mysterious ways—your prayers will be answered; you just have to wait on God’s perfect timing.”

…But not today. Today let’s acknowledge the emptiness. Let’s give space to our feelings of loss and despair. This Holy Sabbath, let us listen to the silence. Let us open up the raw, bleeding parts of our lives and admit that we have felt hurt, abused and disappointed. There are things that have not gone as we’d hoped. All of our dreams have not come true. Where is God in this?

Our scriptures give precedent for this. With the Psalmist we cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I find no rest” (Psalm 22).

God understands these emotions. 2,000 years ago, part of Godself was tortured and crucified. In Christ, God walked the way of suffering and defeat. God has felt the pain of rejection, the dark cloud of hopelessness. That weekend, all of the Divine wept with Christ’s disciples. When it was done, God rested.

My prayer is that you too can experience God’s rest. When life seems hopeless and dark, know that God feels that with you. When you feel rejected or defeated, know that God understands. And when it feels like God is dead, may God give you the courage to rest awhile. There is peace in the silence. Sometimes what we most need is to simply rest in God’s silence.

Peace,
Dannon

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The Best Advice – Edmund Jones – April 5, 2014

Originaly Posted on April 15, 2014

Edmund Jones

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A Game of Thrones

Originaly Posted on April 14, 2014

Matthew Valdez speaks on Philippians 2:5–11. Sixth Sabbath of Lent, April 12, 2014.

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Living The Berean Life

Originaly Posted on April 11, 2014

LIVING THE BEREAN LIFE
By Andrew Froemming

“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” Matthew 7:15–16.

Last week—and really for the whole year—we are focusing on the overwhelming theme of the Bible: Love. This week I challenge you to join me in a quest to love people back to life while living a Berean life.

What do I mean by a Berean life? Acts 17 says, “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.” Living a Berean life is about an eagerness to learn and grow while studying teaching and scripture to best follow God’s directive to love Him and our fellow man as He loved us.

In Matthew 7 Jesus rebukes what the Jews were taught by their religious leaders. Jesus also teaches us to see God’s view of genuine and pure religion. In Matt. 7:1–3, Jesus tells us that genuine followers of God will not see themselves as above anyone. Don’t think it’s your responsibility to judge others because God will judge you like how you judge others. Besides, as a sinful person yourself how can you try to correct someone else’s insignificant issue when your own perspective is askew from the gargantuan weight of your own sin?

Jesus then reminds us that God’s call to us is a call to love. “Do to others as you would have done to you for this is the essence of the directive I have given you.” Jesus then explains in three different ways that not everyone will will get into the Kingdom of Heaven because it is much easier to follow a selfish path instead of God’s directive of love. Jesus concludes by saying “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.” But those who build on their own accord with fall flat on their face when the storm comes.

Friends, like Jesus we are living in times of polarizing rhetoric. Even though we have different points of view sometimes God calls use to love one another. Any teaching that does not call you to love others is a teaching that is not from God. To those that have fallen victim to or have been hurt by such teachings keep seeking after the God of Love. This next week, let’s knock on the door, sit at Jesus’ feet, and ask Him to create a clean heart and renew a right spirit in us.

Peace,

Andrew

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The Best Advice

Originaly Posted on April 7, 2014

Pastor Edmund Jones speaks on John 5:24,25. Fifth Sabbath of Lent, April 5, 2014.

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Living Sheepishly – March 29, 2014

Originaly Posted on April 7, 2014

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Loved to Life

Originaly Posted on April 4, 2014

By Andrew Froemming

“…we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he commanded,” 1 John 3:23.

This week I titled the journal “Loved to Life” because I want to take a few minutes to reflect on the idea of spiritually and emotionally loving someone back to life. I don’t believe that this concept is really new to us here in Hollywood but to others this idea can be scandalous—even causing them to make all kinds of claims about those that practice this principle. However, the Bible has a lot to say about love. So let’s see what insight we can gather from our guide book.

Loving people back to life is never an easy process; it calls for commitment to the long haul and can require deep sacrifice on the part of the lover. The Bible says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). In this verse Paul makes sure to point out the scandal that God’s love for us is by saying while we were still sinners Christ died for us. By the time Jesus came to this earth the religious community thought that they were better then everyone because of how meticulously they kept all the laws that they had developed. Then Jesus in came to this earth and showed us a scandalous way to live. Jesus said, “Listen, adding more laws and restrictions to your life and meticulously keeping them does not make you more pious than anyone else. In fact, let me make it really simple for you: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22:37–40).

God’s message to us is all about love but because of sin we have lost the knowledge of how to love. Matthew 24 says, “Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”

What is the good news of the Kingdom that the Bible talks about? It’s explained in the verse we read in Romans. The Good News of the kingdom is that while we were “still dead in our sins” Christ came to this earth to love us back to life. We didn’t deserve Christ’s love but He came and loved on us anyway. After God melts the ice on our undeserving hearts, Christ says, “Now go and do for others as I have done for you.” This next week let’s look for opportunities to love on people without expecting anything in return.

Peace,

Andrew

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Living Sheepishly

Originaly Posted on April 1, 2014

Brian Laurtizen speaks on Psalm 23. Fourth Sabbath of Lent, March 29, 2014.

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