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Blog Archives: April 2011

27
April
2011

The Power of Story

Matt Nault
Re-Imagining Evangelism Book Discussion   Chapter 5 The Power of Story   “The reason that story is so basic to us is that life itself has a narrative shape-a beginning and an end, a plot and characters, conflict and resolution… Jesus taught the truth by telling stories, and his stories still reverberate in our souls centuries later: the prodigal son, the sower, the parables of the kingdom. Jesus knew how to lodge truth not just in our heads but also deeply in our hearts and imaginations” (p 85).   The Overarching Narrative of ...
24
April
2011

The least of these

Daily Reading Matthew 25:31-46 >   Daily Reflection Christ the King, We rejoice and celebrate that on this Easter day, you came, despite our unfaithfulness to reconcile us to you. We celebrate the sacrifice that you have made on our behalf. We ask that you would transform us into a community of servants, that might see your glory and expand your kingdom through humbly serving the needs of this your city and throughout the world. We desire to be faithful in your mission and work until your Kingdom comes to fruition and look forward to ...
23
April
2011

The Garden of God

Daily Reading John 19:38-42 >   Daily Reflection The irony would not have been lost on the first-century readers of this passage: God's story began in a garden, and now it seems to have ended in a garden.  John notes twice that the location of the tomb of Jesus was in a garden.  Details like this provide important clues to John's intentions.  In fact, the big dreams of God in the first garden seemed to have died after Adam and Eve's fall, and now God's dreams seem to be dead again.  But are they?  A couple I knew once said, "Our ...
22
April
2011

The Dark Night of the Soul

Daily Reading John 13:36-38 >   Daily Reflection The darkness of Good Friday reminds us of St. John of the Cross, a 16th century Spanish friar and reformer who penned his now well-known Dark Night of the Soul while in a cold, rat-infested prison.  Amazingly, John wrote that though the dark nights of our lives are "miserable," they humble us, emptying us of "all natural affection and attachment," allowing us to "stretch forward to unrestricted liberty of spirit."  In this passage, Jesus is talking to Peter, a young and overly confident ...
21
April
2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Easter

Fred Harrell
We don't often think of having a holly jolly Easter. Growing up, Easter was boring compared to Christmas. In my house, the Easter Bunny mysteriously provided during the night a nice basket of candy for Easter morning. But we couldn't eat the candy till we got home from church, and the joy of discovered candy quickly turned into the massive stress of getting all of us dressed to the nines in new Easter outfits, Dippity-Do to slick back my hair (yes, Dippity-Do), long boring church, and then Easter lunch at my grandmother's house. The basket of ...
21
April
2011

God will Protect You

Daily Reading John 17 >   Daily Reflection Holy Week reminds us that the way of the Cross is not just a matter of historical record, but an invitation for you and I to participate in the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus. There are many best-selling Christian books about living your best life, but contrary to popular opinion Jesus assumes that our best life emerges out of suffering. His prayer in verse 15 is not that we would be saved from struggle in this world, but that we would be held in the midst of it. Picture a ...
20
April
2011

The Art of Spiritual Friendship

Re-Imagining Evangelism Book Discussion   Chapter 4 The Art of Spiritual Friendship   Talking about faith is not neutral... and especially in San Francisco, many people consider Christianity to be the root of all sorts of evils. Many of our friends have been hurt by Christians or the church in their hometowns and have fled to the city to escape.  I remember one of my friends at the gym saying to me: "Matt, when I found out you were a Christian, I was wary of you... and when I found out you were a pastor I didn't talk to you for 6 ...
20
April
2011

The Way Down is the Way Up

Daily Reading John 12:27-36 >   Daily Reflection The message of Jesus is radical, and sometimes troubling. His disciples expected a Messiah who would ride into Jerusalem like Patton before his army, wiping out their enemies. What they got was a Messiah who makes the bold claim that victory emerges out of failure, that a rise to glory emerges out of brokenness. His rhetorical question in this passage hits the nail on the head: "Should I ask the Father to save me? No!" So much of the fear and insecurity we feel comes from a sense that ...
19
April
2011

To Lay Down One’s Life…

Daily Reading John 12: 20-26 >   Daily Reflection The process of a grain of wheat falling to the ground and dying in order to bring forth life makes perfect sense when we are understanding it in relation to agriculture. In fact, it may seem nurturing, because we enjoy the fruit that the seed bears. We benefit and survive on this very natural process. However, when Jesus uses this metaphor for human life, we begin to choke on this concept. What Jesus suggests is unnatural for us and sounds volatile. Jesus tells us we must "hate" our ...
18
April
2011

What does triumph really look like?

Daily Reading John 12:12-19 >   Daily Reflection Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem is a familiar story for some who grew up in church. Children's bibles illustrate this story with colorful pictures of smiling men and women. There are children dancing and scurrying around waving palms in the air as Jesus enters into Jerusalem on a donkey's colt. The excitement and celebratory nature of this scene is evident. But, the significance of the occasion lies in the words that the people are shouting, words that foretold of a Savior. The ...
17
April
2011

Jesus anointed by the sinful woman

Daily Reading Luke 7:36-50 >   Daily Reflection God of Mercy, All too often, we place ourselves in the seat of the Pharisee. Though we are in need of forgiveness, we look at others with judgement and disdain. Create in us joyful hearts of gratitude for your loving forgiveness of our sins. Help us to celebrate the Gospel in a way that creates hospitality toward those who live their lives in constant shame. Amen.   Daily Worship Resources Morning Readings: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29 > Evening Readings: Matthew 21:1-11 >   Other ...
16
April
2011

Life… A Myriad of False Endings

Daily Reading John 11:28-44 & 12:9-11 >   Daily Reflection At first glance, it would seem that poor Lazarus just couldn't catch a break if his life depended upon it. Earlier in the gospel of John, Lazarus' story begins with him sick at the point of death. His sisters, Martha and Mary, send for Jesus to come and heal him. Jesus does not arrive in time and Lazarus dies. It is a devastating end for all. When Jesus does arrive Lazarus has been dead for four days. However, he is moved by compassion and raises Lazarus from the dead. In our ...
15
April
2011

The Resurrection and the Life

Daily Reading John 11:1-27 >   Daily Reflection Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" If you do, has the capacity to transform your life. What better question could we ask ourselves this Lent as we head towards Easter: Is your hope rooted in this reality? The reality is that it should be changing how we view every aspect of our lives (i.e. money, relationships, your job, our city)....
14
April
2011

Following the Good Shepherd

Daily Reading John 10:19-42 >   Daily Reflection Jesus continues the shepherd/sheep metaphor saying that his sheep hear his voice and follow him. That's the essence of the Christian life: knowing and following the Good Shepherd. Lent is a time to (re)consider following Jesus. Sheep never "outgrow" their need for a shepherd. They never grow to a point of leaving the flock to tend for themselves, but spend a lifetime under the care of their shepherd. The same is true for all of us. Whether we are considering following Jesus for the ...
13
April
2011

The Witness of the Community

Re-Imagining Evangelism Book Discussion   Chapter 3 The Witness of the Community   When I read through the stories of the early church, I'm struck by the communal nature of everything Jesus' followers did.  They ate together, celebrated together, mourned together, served the poor together, were persecuted together, commended their faith together... This may come as a shock to us post-enlightenment, Western, individualistic, self-actuated folks who think: "My spirituality is between God and me..."   Christianity is inherently ...
13
April
2011

The Good Shepherd

Daily Reading John 10:1-18 >   Daily Reflection In this passage, Jesus paints a vivid picture of how dependent we are on his goodness. Just as it is impossible for a sheep to survive without the care of its shepherd, we are helpless apart from Jesus. Leaving sheep unattended in the wilderness would spell certain death for the flock. Wandering sheep are vulnerable to attack and unable to find pasture on their own. But a good shepherd tends his sheep. He lies down in the gateway during the night to keep sheep in and predators out....
12
April
2011

A Song of Love

Daily Reading Psalm 145 >   Daily Reflection This Psalm illustrates an ascent into a place of faith where most of us yearn to be, a place of steadfastness and surety. A place where we know without a doubt that our help comes from the Lord and our feet will not be moved. We yearn for a place of faith where we know, like the psalmist, that God is active, not passive. A place in our lives where the imagery and words we use to describe God sound like a love story. How do we get to this place? The psalmist, King David, would tell you that ...
11
April
2011

The Blame Game

Daily Reading John 9:1-17 >   Daily Reflection Too often we derail our spiritual life by focusing on the wrong questions or what some would call the "blame game." This passage illustrates this natural tendency as Jesus and his disciples happen upon a blind man. The first question out of their mouth was, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" The disciples missed what was right in front of them. Jesus. Sometimes we can get so bogged down in our own lives assigning blame when Jesus just wants to make ...
10
April
2011

Jesus blesses the children

Daily Reading Matthew 19:13-15 >   Daily Reflection Father God, Help us to care for the children of San Francisco. Strengthen and guide David Starfas, Wendy Digerness, Dan Gannon, V Kehoe, Florence Nault and all of those who seek to bring the children to you through worship on Sundays. We pray for our city. Make San Francisco a place that protects and provides for its children. We pray for our public schools, specifically El Dorado Elementary, as they seek to educate and form young minds. We also ask that you would be a Father to the ...
09
April
2011

The Gospel is Offensive

Daily Reading John 6:60-71 >   Daily Reflection Have you ever had a friend tell you something you didn't want to hear? There are a myriad of ways we can respond in situations such as these, though it's our responses that can tell us a lot about ourselves. In this passage, we see Jesus' disciples are no different. Jesus has just told them that everything they previously thought to be true was really false. Many believed, including religious leaders, that one could attain God's grace through one's own merit. Jesus dispels this belief as ...

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