On Holy Ground: Urbana 2018

Every three years, InterVarsity Christian Fellowships hosts a transformative mission conference called Urbana.  The conference was originally hosted at the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, but outgrew that facility.  Since that growth it has been held in St. Louis, MO.  During the four days of the conference, between ten and sixteen thousand college students gather to study Scripture, hearing speakers, and attend workshops all directed at equipping them to be world changers on mission for the sake of Christ.

This year, Ian Bernados, a member of our congregation, attended Urbana along with fellow students and staff from InterVarsity at San Diego State University.  Here’s what Ian had to say of his experience: Continue reading

Why Membership?

In his New York Times bestselling book, The Benedict Option, author Rod Dreher comments, “a tree that is repeatedly uprooted and transplanted will be hard pressed to produce healthy fruit.  So it is with people and their spiritual lives” (65).  Dreher goes on to commend a portion of an ancient rule of life, the Benedictine rule, which had monks take a vow of stability, which meant they would stay in one monastery for their whole lives.  Continue reading

An Invitation to Go Deeper!

This winter, Kasi and I were able to go to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and experience the breathtaking views of God’s creation. No picture can capture the beauty and sheer size of this canyon. And what struck me was that this canyon was formed by a consistent water source. In a similar way, human beings are being formed by consistent habits and actions whether positive or negative. One of my favorite passages in all of the bible reminds us that the company we keep has significant consequences.

 

“Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.” (Proverbs 13:20 Message Translation)

 

Formation is extremely important, but grossly undervalued in our culture today. Continue reading

The Six Peaks Challenge

You’re invited to come and ascend the summit of South Fortuna Peak in Mission Trails Regional Park on Saturday, February 9th at 9am.  We’ll meet at the parking lot at the intersection of Jackson Drive and Mission Gorge Road.  The hike is rated as moderate.  Be sure to bring sun protection and plenty of water.  For more information on the trail, see the park’s trail map.  You can also read a blog post which summarizes the hike here.

Why are we doing this?  Continue reading

Unapologetic – Defending the Faith

Do you ever feel unsure why we, as Christians, believe what we believe?  Have you ever had someone ask about your beliefs, but you didn’t know how to answer?  It’s not always obvious, even to ourselves, why we believe certain things; for example, could you explain to your neighbor why Christians believe that Jesus is the only way to God or give reasons for believing that the Bible is the Word of God?  We don’t have to be experts, but the Apostle Peter tells us, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15). Continue reading

Exploring the First Testament

As Christians we have a Bible that comes to us in two parts, called ‘testaments.’  We call them testaments because they are witnesses or manifestations of the person and plan of God.  While for many Christians the older of these two witnesses is often neglected, Jesus held that it was of vital importance.  These 39 books form a witness to him (see Luke 24:25-27, 44-45; John 6:39‑40).  And even after Jesus’ ascension, this first testament was the authority to justify the claims that the early church made about Jesus.

On Sunday, January 13th we’ll begin a six week course in which we’ll study the first five books of the Old Testament, taught by Fr. Brian.  Over the course of this time, we’ll survey what is in each of these books, how they are structured, and how they function as a witness to the God we meet in Jesus Christ.

Celebrating the Incarnation

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” Luke 2:14 (NIV)

One of the most glorious services of our church year is the celebration of Christ’s birth on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  For many of us the concentration of family traditions around this great day permeates the service itself with great nostalgia and meaning.  It is a comforting reminder of God’s faithfulness; that is, despite the year we have had, we still find the fulfilled promise of God come among us in the little baby, Jesus.  The events of our lives may rock and shake us, but God is not shaken by them; He remains the same.  The birth of Jesus is the beginning of God’s fulfilling of all of His promises to renew this creation and bring us to that place where there will be no more death, no more tears, and no more sin.  Continue reading

Advent 2018 – A Way of Life: Both at Home and with God’s Church.

We begin the new year with the season of Advent in only a few days! Advent is a fasting season believe it or not, and is a time of examination, preparation and expectation. The church has an ancient tool used to help disciple believers, called the church calendar. Just like our normal calendar we use, that has 12 months in a year, the church has used a calendar for nearly 1500 years that focuses our minds and hearts on Jesus. Each season in our church calendar is usually either a fasting season, like Advent or Lent, or a feasting season like Christmas or Easter. Think of it like a wonderful potluck or buffet dinner. If you were preparing for a huge dinner, you would probably eat a very light meal for lunch. In the same way, as we prepare for the feasting season of Christmas (12 days starting on December 25th), we trim up our meals and prepare for a time of feasting! We remember some of the ancient promises of the coming of the Messiah, as well as, prepare for the second coming of our Lord as King and Judge. Continue reading

Our Road to Bethlehem or How Not to Grinch Advent

‘And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?” “It came with out ribbons! It came without tags!” “It came without packages, boxes or bags!” And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.” “Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”‘ – Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Dr. Seuss’ beloved Christmas classic features the humbug Grinch, whose scheme to end Christmas is focused on the gifts, decorations, and food for the holiday.  He is convinced that he knows what this special day with its attendant joy and “noise, noise, noise” is all about.  But to his surprise, and perhaps that of Seuss’ reader, Christmas “perhaps…means a little bit more.”  For Christians in the time of preparation for Christmas, that is, the season of Advent, how do we avoid becoming a grinch in the lives of our families and friends? Continue reading