Being different isn’t easy

The past couple weeks at our church has really been awesome. Every couple of months or so our pastor Gary fires up a new theme that he leads the entire church body through, little by little. Each theme is like a puzzle that has one focused idea that is made up of a number of pieces that are given to us through the message each week. It’s a fantastic way for the church to break apart and disect the Bible so that we can learn more about it.

I’ve actually talked to Gary about how he packages up these different themes and he told me all about the incredible amount of work that goes into each and every one. It’s a lot like how a teacher will break apart different subjects for his class so that it can be digested and learned as easily as possible.

The theme for the past few weeks has been all about being different and how there’s really no better way to show others what God has been doing in your life by being different than what’s culturally accepted. More specifically this week the focus was on how to be different by being what God would consider to be a “good person”.

Being a good person can mean a lot of things and even if you seem like you’re a good person on the outside (by your actions), it doesn’t mean that you’re truly being what God would consider to be one. This is because you also need to be a good person on the inside (in your thoughts and in your heart). This gets a little deep and is hard to sometimes deal with and understand, but I’ll give you an example of what this means to me in my life by providing some personal context.

Back in the day, say 4 or 5 years ago, I would have considered myself to be a really good person. I was nice to people (even strangers!), I helped out friends when they needed me (I would give money to the homeless!), I went to church every Sunday and I never did anything illegal (except for speeding, of course). On the outside I seemed to be a really, really good person, but I’m here to tell you that I wasn’t. I wasn’t even close and here’s why.

Even though most of my actions seemed to be good, there were things that I was thinking and doing that were anything but.

One example is that I was dating multiple girls and not telling them the full story about what was going on, which happened a lot. I made myself feel better about it by not committing myself to any of them as their “official boyfriend” (hey, I’m single — who cares, right?), but deep down my heart was totally in the wrong place. Although I was also friends with each of the girls involved, I had no real emotional ties to any of them (I wouldn’t let myself get attached) even though most of them had stong emotions about me. This made me feel like that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and that I was just doing what all single guys do. I was going along with the cultural norms and felt just fine about it. I was not being different and I definitely was not being a good person.

Being different would have been *not* doing what the rest of today’s culture thinks is ok for a guy to do, which is play games with women for the benefit of their own pleasure, social status and who knows what else. Even if the guys who are doing this are completely open with the women at the time, deep down they know (just like I knew) that it’s not right to treat them the way that they are.

Is it fun? Of course, for a while at least. Is it the right thing to do and is it what God would want you to do? Nope, definitely not.

Luckily for me I was blessed to have Stephanie enter into my life to help set me straight. Now that I look back on it I’m almost embarrassed how I used to treat some of the women I had in my life and how I used to string them along for my own selfish pleasure. I have actually apologized to several of them and I’m sure I still owe apologies to the others, which is never an easy thing to do.

Anyways, this is just one example from my own life that I wanted to share. There are many, many more but for some reason I felt like this was a good place to start. It feels weird telling you all about this, but I feel like I have nothing to hide. Everyone reading this needs to know that I’m far from perfect, but that I work and pray every single day to God that I can be different. You can be different, too.

If you’re interested in digging in to find out more about how to be different, check out Matthew 5 in the Bible. It’s some really good stuff.

Tamara Lowe tells it (raps it) how it is

Just ran across this video of a woman names Tamara Lowe from Christ Fellowship rapping some sweet lyrics about God and how we’re just wasting space if all we’re doing is living for Earthly things that our culture is telling us is important. What do you think of it?

Church thoughts to chew on for April 11, 2010: Why Does God Allow Injustice?

thoughtstochewon

This week I wanted to get back on track with writing our ‘used-to-be-weekly’ Church Thoughts to Chew On posts because whenever we write one of these up it allows us to really think about the message that was talked about during church and give our thoughts on what all was said. Also, I want to make sure that I’m extending out the message to others who may (or may not) want to hear it. A lot of questions about God, Jesus, Christianity and other things that most ‘religious’ people don’t talk openly about are discussed every single week at our church, so I feel like it’s up to us to do our part to communicate that message to our social circle of family, friends and co-workers and we both feel like this blog is a great way to do that.

After all, just like our Pastor Gary says at the end of every service, the most important part of what we do as a church isn’t what we do during the services each Sunday, it’s what we do once we leave and continue on with our day-to-day lives. Stephanie and I couldn’t agree more.

This week’s message was about a topic that I think a lot of people question Christians about: Why does God allow injustice?

>> What is Injustice?
Before we talk about this some more in detail I think that I should clearly define what injustice actually means. It’s one of those words that we all probably hear a lot in everyday conversations and news, but one that we probably have never taken the time to research. Injustice is defined as acts or conditions, brought forth by forces of natural or human evil, that result in people suffering hardship or loss undeservedly.

So, according to this definition injustice can be split up into two different buckets, human and natural and although each of these types are open to some interpretation, there are some basic injustices that belong to each. Here are a few examples so that you can get an idea of what I’m talking about:

Human Injustices: Murder, terrorism, war, discrimination, job loss, sexual abuse, infidelity, crime, cruelty, sinful behavior

Natural Injustices: Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, birth defects, learning disabilities, diseases, addiction, infertility, chronic pain, untimely death

>> Why Deal with the Issue of Injustice?
Both of these types of injustice result in people suffering hardship or loss undeservedly (with some obviously affecting more than others) and each are caused by either a human or by some force of nature. Both are also very hard to explain and neither of them are easy to deal with and as Christians it would be very easy to simply skip over the tough subject of questioning why God allows these types of things to happen and never really deal with it. But, it’s something that we do need to discuss and here’s why:

1. Faith is hindered by it (many believers drift away from God as a result of injustice)

2. God is misunderstood (many people think that God only hands out flowers and lollipops, which isn’t true. His plan is not all what we, as a culture, would consider to be good, but it’s the plan that will make us into what He wants us to be.

3. Suffering is inevitable (as you can see every single day on CNN or any other news station suffering is happening all over the world and is inevitable, so as Christians we need to try  to understand why it happens and what God’s intentions are with it)

>> So Why Does God Allow Injustice?
Now that we have a good understanding of what injustice is and why we need to talk about it, it’s now time to dig into the real question — why does God allow these terrible and unfair injustices to even happen in the first place? Why does he allow children to get molested? Why does he allow for tsunamis to take thousands of people’s lives? Why does he allow us to become addicted to drugs? These are all great questions to ask and believe it or not they’re actually questions that Christians are more than free to ask God about (how awesome is that? ).

Here are three main reasons why God allows for injustice to happen:

1. It is just a consequence of the fall: If you’re not sure what the fall of man is, it’s when Adam and Eve decided to go against what God had told them to do and ate the fruit from the tree in the garden of Eden. Although this story is usually condensed down to a child-like version, this is the beginning of evil entering into both human beings and the Earth. This evil was caused by both Adam and Eve rebelling and being tempted by Satan due to the fact that God had given them both free will.

Before the fall Adam and Eve felt no embarrassment, no shame, no pain and definitely no injustice, but the moment that they ate the fruit that all changed in an instant. This is the reason why both Adam and Eve both noticed that they were naked once it happened — it was due to the fact that they were no longer the perfect beings that God had intended them to be.

Here are some Bible verses that help support this first reason:

And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. — Genesis 3:22

To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. — Genesis 3:16-17

2. It is a useful part of His loving Ultimate Plan: The injustices that we deal with today are a part of God’s Ultimate Plan, which basically has three main sections.

  1. Evil/Brokenness: This is the section that started with the fall and all of the time of brokenness, sin and evil that followed.
  2. Redeeming: This is the section that started with the coming of Jesus Christ, continued on with his death and resurrection and continues up until now. This section is obviously highlighted by is the fact that God gave up Jesus as a way to forgive us for our sins. This section is filled with both sin and injustice, which are all part of God’s plan to restore us to the perfect beings that we were created to be.
  3. Restore: The final stage is when all believers will be gathered to heaven — let the party begin!

3. It develops character and intimacy with him: Although it never seems like it at the time, God brings these various types of injustices into our lives with a plan in mind. This plan might not be realized for many years to come, but that’s where faith and trust in Him to guide you along the best possible path comes in handy.

An example of this is could be someone who had a terrible drug addiction getting through the injustice and turning it into a way to counsel and help others who are going through the same issue. God uses these injustices to help us build character, to help us build our faith and to help us realize that we aren’t in charge of our lives — He is.

Here are some Bible verses that can give you some more insight into this third reason:

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. — Romans 5:3-4

Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. — 2 Corinthians 1:9

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. — Psalms 34:18

Well, that’s enough for one Sunday — please let me know if you have any thoughts on any of this, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

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If you’ve read through this and you’re questioning how exactly you accept God’s free gift of grace and forgiveness and are ready to make that commitment, then please read on!  There is no “magic prayer” or exact wording that you need to pray.  It’s as simple as admitting to God that you are a sinner, and there is nothing that you will ever be able to do to merit forgiveness.  Believe that Christ, God’s son, came to earth to die on the cross and take our sin upon Himself.  Believe that He rose again on the 3rd day, and is alive today.  Dedicate your life to God and invite His spirit into your life.

If you have dedicated your life to Christ after reading this, then please don’t stay silent.  Contact us or someone that you feel comfortable with and tell them!  It’s a long road ahead but it’s a wonderful one, filled with hope, love, and new beginnings.

Also, each of these weekly messages can be streamed/downloaded on iTunes for free. Click here to open up the podcast in iTunes now!

Figuring out that ‘finding myself’ isn’t the point

Unfortunately I never ended up writing up last week’s post, but with the message that we heard this morning at church this week should more than make up for it. This week’s message was all about how Jesus died to make us righteous, which is actually a subject that Stephanie and I just talked about last night while having dinner at one of our favorite places in San Francisco, Miss Saigon (tasty Vietnamese deliciousness).

The conversation that we had and that I actually started was all about how in just the past couple of years I have had a strong sense of finding who I really am as I have made what I would consider to be several major life changes. Just to give you an example of these life changes, here are just a few things that I have personally experienced in just the past 24 months:

  1. Met Stephanie and she became my first official girlfriend since my junior year of high school
  2. Moved to California with Stephanie, which was also the first time that I have ever lived with a significant other (yeah, that’s quite a change)
  3. Changed jobs once I moved out to California
  4. Was saved and became a true follower of Jesus Christ in December of 2008 (a whole other story altogether)
  5. Became engaged to Stephanie on Christmas of 2008 (awesome)
  6. Moved from Palo Alto to San Francisco in April of 2009
  7. Had my first major surgery in May of 2008
  8. Got my first dog in June of 2009 (Frank is the best dog, ever)
  9. Got married in August of 2009 (should we now change it to HupandHup.com?)

So, as you can see, there have been some major things going in both mine and Stephanie’s lives and I think once all of the these things happened I started to wonder what God had in store for me and what I should be doing with my life. This is naturally something that many of us think about (especially once we turn 30 years old), but today’s message reminded me that I need to not worry so much about what I’m supposed to be doing or who I’m supposed to be, but instead trust that God will continue to point me in the right direction and enjoy the ride.

I say all of this because today’s message focused around how Jesus died to make us righteous and only through this gift can I truly become what God has intended me to be. I know that this sounds a little heavy and hard to understand, but that’s where having faith comes in. The idea of receiving the gift that God gave us with the death of His son isn’t something that just clicks and makes sense in an instant. It’s something that is a life long journey of learning and actively living out what God has built us to do — serve, love and spread the word about how Jesus gave up his life so that our sins could be forgiven.

I hope that all makes sense, but for some of you it’s probably sounds like I’m speaking another language. For those of you I encourage you to reach out to Stephanie and I through the comments below or our email/Facebook links to the right. We’d both love to chat with you all about it.

Church thoughts to chew on for February 7th, 2010: Jesus Died to Make us Righteous

thoughtstochewonHey guys!  It’s Steph writing our church thoughts for this week.  Ryan has some two cents to add in reflection to the sermon this morning, which you can read over here in his post. This week was all about righteousness.  Righteousness is another big church word that could use a good definition to truly understand what it means, so here you go:  Righteousness- to be accepted because you live according to God’s standards; comes from a root word that means “straightness”.

Wow, how can you be ‘righteous’ in the eyes of God?  What kind of good works can I do that will be worthy of His approval?  This concept of righteousness needs to be pulled apart and examined closely because in today’s culture, we so often believe that in order to gain something, we must buy it.  Can we buy God’s favor through our good moral standpoint and religion?

A deep conversation revolving around our future typically goes a little something like this…

person 1:  “Hey, so do you think you’re going to heaven?”

person2: ” I think so, I’m a good person.  I do a lot of really  nice things like drive hybrid cars, send friends nice cards , and give money to charities at Christmas.”

So, how good is good enough?  What can I possibly do to be good enough for God?  Can I give enough money? Enough time? Enough warm and fuzzies? The answer simply put is no.  The reason that we can do nothing to earn God’s favor is because we are all born with a sinful nature. We can not be acceptable to a just and holy God when we are identified by sin.  According to Genesis 3, the fall of man happened when Adam and Eve went against God’s commands and sin was brought into the world. Why is it though, that we must suffer the consequences of something that Adam and Eve did?  I didn’t eat the apple, why should I have to be born with sin?  Here’s a shot at an explanation: Do we not suffer the consequences of choices made before us in our very own day to day life?  We’re in an economic downturn, did something YOU do directly effect this?  No, but the choices made of those before us in government did.  What if your company goes bankrupt and you lose your job.  Did something that YOU did directly effect that situation? No, but the decisions and actions of the collective employees and superiors did.  We are faced with the ramifications of situations that we did not have a direct part in on a daily basis.   And so it is with sin, we are born into this world with sin, and there is nothing great and wonderful enough that we could possibly do to make up for it in God’s eyes.

There are two specific ways that people mistakenly  try to be good enough for God.

1. MORALITY

“For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself.  Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.” – Romans 10:3

Myth: if you live good, you’re righteous.  This is the classic example of how we feel we need to do enough good things to earn God’s favor.  It doesn’t just happen to non-Christians, either.  Christians can be guilty as well of trying to ‘add’ to the cross by tacking on our good works and morals.  You can’t add anything to the cross.  It’s because of the cross and only the cross that we have righteousness.

2. RELIGION

In Mark chapter 5, Jesus talks about the Pharisees incessant religious checklist of tasks and laws that they were to abide by in order to be ‘religious’.  Jesus used them as an example that even their obsessiveness over laws could never allow them access to Heaven.  Your works without the cross are meaningless.

In Philippians, Paul writes –

“Yes everything is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.” -Phil 3:8

All of our works, good deeds, self-esteem, and religiousness is simply nothing in comparison to the undeserving gift God gave us through the death of His Son on the cross.  We need to stop searching for our own identity and self-worth, and instead trade it in for an identity in God.

When we seek God’s provision for our righteousness through admitting our sin and unworthiness He both transfers and transmits righteousness upon us.  It soon becomes apparent that we don’t need religioun, we need Jesus!

Here are some verses to look up describing how Christ died for our sins to bring us to God – 1 Peter 2:24, 1 Peter 3:18, 2 Corinthians 5:21

Once we have been made righteous through salvation we have a power source to be moral and begin good works through faith in Christ knowing that our good works are not the earning of forgiveness, but a fruit of our faith.

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If you’ve read through this and you’re questioning how exactly you accept God’s free gift of grace and forgiveness and are ready to make that commitment, then please read on!  There is no “magic prayer” or exact wording that you need to pray.  It’s as simple as admitting to God that you are a sinner, and there is nothing that you will ever be able to do to merit forgiveness.  Believe that Christ, God’s son, came to earth to die on the cross and take our sin upon Himself.  Believe that He rose again on the 3rd day, and is alive today.  Dedicate your life to God and invite His spirit into your life.

If you have dedicated your life to Christ after reading this, then please don’t stay silent.  Contact us or someone that you feel comfortable with and tell them!  It’s a long road ahead but it’s a wonderful one, filled with hope, love, and new beginnings.

Also, each of these weekly messages can be streamed/downloaded on iTunes for free. Click here to open up the podcast in iTunes now!

Church thoughts to chew on for January 24th, 2010: Redemption

thoughtstochewonBefore I start this week’s church thoughts to chew on, I wanted to say that Stephanie and I have gotten some great response from several people since we decided to start posting these weekly recaps. For us these posts are a great way to reflect, absorb and share the message that we hear each week during church and we’re super excited to get feedback that lets us know that some of you out there have actually been paying attention as well. Our goal isn’t to to shove our thoughts and beliefs down your throats, it’s to give you all an insider’s look into what we’re experiencing each week in a Christian worship setting and to give you some of our thoughts on how it all translates to us personally. As always, thanks for reading and if you have any comments or questions for us, please be sure to comment on any post or shoot us an email (you can contact us by clicking on the links under the ‘Stalk Hup and Steph’ to right).

With all of that being said, the main focus of the message at church today was redemption, which to me is a word that is often used in religious settings, but rarely explained. If you Googled the word redemption, you’d quickly see that it has a lot to do with being freed or rescued from a harmful situation. Today during service, redemption was specifically defined as: to be liberated, freed, or rescued from bondage and slavery to a person or being and it was the foundation of a fantastic message that explained and outlined the redemption that Jesus gave each and every human being by giving up his life on the cross. Yeah, you could say that redemption is pretty awesome. Read on to find out why.

To better understand redemption, we went over two different prototypes: Exodus Prototype and Cultural Prototype, as well as Bible verses that supported each.

Exodus Prototype: This type of redemption is focused on a freeing or release from something that is harmful to us or enslaving us. For example, in the Bible passage below the Israelites were redeemed from being slaves to the Egyptians, but this type of redemption could easily be from something more relevant to our everyday lives, such as being a slave to alcohol, pornography, sexual temptation or any other unhealthy or sinful behavior.

Exodus 6:6 – “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.

Cultural Prototype: The idea of redemption has become a major theme in today’s pop culture, which can easily be seen by flipping on your TV on practically any night of the week. Are you in a situation where you severely need some redemption for your home? Well, then MOVE THAT BUS!!, because all you need to do is contact Ty over at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and your redemption will be granted through the building of a brand new, top of the line home with all of the furnishings. Need your wardrobe redeemed? The show What Not To Wear can help you out with that redemption, too. Need to be redeemed from a drug or alcohol addition? The guys over at Intervention would be more than happy to help you with with that, too. Everywhere you look there are people looking for a new beginning, a fresh start and a release from the hardships and struggles that they are dealing with and it’s selling better than ever before because true redemption is an incredibly powerful thing to watch.

Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Now that we’ve all got a good grasp on redemption, it’s  time to dig into how Jesus plays into all of this.

How Did Jesus Redeem Us?
– Jesus redeemed each and every one of us by willingly dying on the cross for us.
– God paid our ransom through the death of his son, Jesus Christ, and through that gave us all the opportunity to be redeemed from our sins.

How Do We Receive This Great Gift?
– Receiving the gift of redemption is free and simple, but not easy.
– Redemption requires humility, which basically means that you need to realize that you don’t have the power to overcome sin on your own, and we are ultimately undeserving of such love and forgiveness due to our sin nature.
– The first and most important thing that you need to do is to confess to God for forgiveness and then confess to others to start your healing process.

What I got most out of this message is that no one has done too much or gone too far in God’s eyes — there’s always a way to get redemption and be freed from the things that you are a slave to. But, it’s not going to happen automatically and it’s not easy, although it’s very straight forward from God’s point of view. If you ask Jesus to come into your life and realize that you can’t overcome the temptation of sin on your own, you will be given the gift of redemption and that, my friends, is an amazing sense of freedom that only God can give.

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If you’ve read through this and you’re questioning how exactly you can receive God’s free gift of grace and forgiveness and are ready to make that commitment, then please read on!  There is no “magic prayer” or exact wording that you need to pray.  It’s as simple as admitting to God that you are a sinner, and there is nothing that you will ever be able to do to merit forgiveness.  Believe that Christ, God’s son, came to earth to die on the cross and take our sin upon Himself.  Believe that He rose again on the 3rd day, and is alive today.  Dedicate your life to God and invite His spirit into your life.

If you have dedicated your life to Christ after reading this, then please don’t stay silent.  Contact us or someone that you feel comfortable with and tell them!  It’s a long road ahead but it’s a wonderful one, filled with hope, love, and new beginnings.

Church thoughts to chew on for January 17th, 2010: Understanding God’s Grace and Love

thoughtstochewonIt’s been a while since we’ve posting some of our church thoughts and we’re happy to get started on getting them out to all of you on a weekly basis. It’s no excuse, really, but the holidays threw us off a bit, but we promise that you’ll be seeing them on every week from here on out. Of course, you still need to keep us in check so we don’t slack off and as always, please be sure to leave any comments/questions that you have in the comment section below.

This week is all about God’s grace and love.To kick off this post, here is a great passage from Romans (Romans 3:22-26) that talks about how we all have sinned and there is nothing that we could ever do to earn God’s forgiveness, but through faith in Jesus Christ and His grace we can all freely accept His gift of love and forgiveness.

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

To fully understand God’s grace and love we all need to first have an accurate picture of who God actually is:

God is King: God is our Lord, our Savior and our King and all things that we do for/against others we do for Him.

– God is Judge: Motives, not just actions are judged by God. He is a very justified judge and we will all be judged by Him.

James 2:10 – for the person who keeps all laws except one is just as guilty as one who breaks them all.

Proverbs 17:15
– acquitting the guilty and condeming the innocent — both are detestable to the lord.

– God is Compassionate Father: God wants to forgive, not condemn.

Now that we have an accurate picture of God, we can now look at how He justifies His grace and love for us:

By Grace Alone (Romans 5:16-17) — You can not pay off your sins, they can only be forgiven through God’s grace (that was paid through Jesus, His son, on the cross)

– Through Faith Alone (Romans 5:1) — You can not earn God’s forgiveness. The good works that we all do (things that we think God will love us for) don’t earn us grace, they should only be the result of our overabundance of faith. Jesus paid the penalty of our sin so that we can experience this grace.

– Because of Jesus Christ Alone
(Galations 2:15-16) — None of us are justified by only observing the law, but by Faith in Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter what you do, it’s all about your faith.

To quickly summarize, here are some things that we took from this week’s message:

  1. You can’t earn God’s grace and love by ‘doing stuff’ that you think He would want you to do
  2. God not only judges you by your actions, but also by your motives. There will be no secrets withheld from Him during your judgment.
  3. Eternal life in heaven is not reserved for good people, but people who have faith and believe in Jesus Christ, the son of God, and that He took our sin upon Himself on the cross.

Thanks for listening and please leave comments if you feel like chatting!

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If you’ve read through this and you’re questioning how exactly you accept God’s free gift of grace and forgiveness and are ready to make that commitment, then please read on!  There is no “magic prayer” or exact wording that you need to pray.  It’s as simple as admitting to God that you are a sinner, and there is nothing that you will ever be able to do to merit forgiveness.  Believe that Christ, God’s son, came to earth to die on the cross and take our sin upon Himself.  Believe that He rose again on the 3rd day, and is alive today.  Dedicate your life to God and invite His spirit into your life.

If you have dedicated your life to Christ after reading this, then please don’t stay silent.  Contact us or someone that you feel comfortable with and tell them!  It’s a long road ahead but it’s a wonderful one, filled with hope, love, and new beginnings.

Drinking, Smoking and the Bible? Pub Theology puts God on tap for a whole new audience in Broad Ripple

I hardly ever watch the local news and if I ever do end up watching it for some reason I usually have a better chance of hitting the PowerBall jackpot than I do with taking away something that’s interesting and/or useful to my life. With this being said, I guess that it’s about time for me to go buy me some lotto tickets at the local gas station because just yesterday morning I saw something on the local news that really caught my attention.

The story was all about Pub Theology (watch video here), which is an idea that has been brought to life by Daron Earlewine who is also the drummer of a local Christian band, The Travellers. Daron and his band play at this very non-traditional worship service every Sunday night at CT Peppers in Broad Ripple. Several members of the band are also  members of the worship team from East 91st St Christian Church and they have started Pub Theology as a way to really reach out to people who would never even consider stepping foot into a church or who have no idea what being a Christian even means.

“It’s for the people who are walking past the church, you know, who feel like if they go into church, they are going to burst into flames. This is a good step to get you in the right direction,” said worshipper Aaron Hubbard.

Although many church-going traditionalists think that preaching from the Bible in the same place where people are smoking cigarettes, drinking beer and shooting pool isn’t a very good idea, Daron and the 100+ people that attend each week think it makes total sense.

“Alcohol’s not the point. It’s about creating an environment for people to be able to investigate Christ and see that they’re never at a place where they’re unlovable,” Earlewine said.

“It’s your soul, it’s your spirit, it’s your heart. That who you are would fill its worth, that you are worthy to be loved by God, no matter what your story is,” Earlewine told the crowd.

Personally I think that this took some serious balls to get off the ground and I fully support any type of outreach that allows the word of God to be spread around to the people who need to hear it. I mean, if you take a look at how Jesus reached out to the non-believers and sinners of his time, I think that it’s pretty clear that he used many non-traditional methods to connect with those who needed to be saved through his grace and love. And just like with what’s happening with Pub Theology today, the traditionalists of His time also  thought that He was a complete disgrace for doing so.

For example, check out what went down in Mark 2:15-17 when Jesus was asked by scribes and Pharisees why he was eating with sinners and tax collectors:

And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.  And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with tax collectors and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with tax collectors and sinners?  When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

With all of that being said, I think that what Daron and the rest of the crew that puts on Pub Theology is doing in Broad Ripple is really, really awesome and if you’re ever looking for a nice, relaxed place to hear about the word of God (and have a beer) on a Sunday night you now know where to go.

Church thoughts to chew on for November 22nd, 2009: Enduring Love

thoughtstochewonNow it’s my turn to give the church thoughts a shot.  Ryan has done a great job posting the last few notes from our church services, and we have had a great response from all of you.  We’re going to continue on with our reveiws, so be sure to send any thoughts or questions that you may have our way.

This is the last sermon during our iLove series on studying the  the core values of the 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 passage

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trust, always perseveres.

Today we examined the last sentence of this verse: “It always protects, always trusts, always perseveres.”.

Love – always protects
The first key in an enduring love is to GET OVER YOURSELF.  That’s right, you need to actually be willing to shift your focus from yourself to others. An important question to ask is, “what are you willing to put up with to love?”.  You will never be able to bear all things if you are too focused on yourself.  In 1 Corinthians 9:12b, Paul writes, “…we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.” If you find yourself to a point in which you feel you are unable or choose not to bear with a situation in love, remember what Christ ‘put up with’ when He forgave you.  Colossians 3:13 reminds us to, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Here are some examples of how ‘love protects’ applies:

What is God putting up with to love you? It is impossible to get over yourself until you have something greater to move on to.

Love- always trusts
I find this one can prove to be some what of a challenge. In order to trust, we must always BELIEVE THE BEST of a person.  The great thing, however, is that we can put our trust in the faith of the person, not in the person them self.  This is not always the easiest thing to do, and will most likely not be your first reaction in dealing with trusting people.  It’s very easy to pick out the negatives in a person instead of focusing on the positives that will help to continue to build trust.  It is only until you begin to believe the best in people that you will bring out the best.

Love- always hopes
One of the most comforting pieces of this effort in love is MANAGING YOUR HOPE.  Hope is only as important as the object you place it in and when your hope is in the Lord, what can defeat you?  No matter how bad things become, there is always hope beyond this world.  It is also very important to remember that hope does not deny reality.  Hope gives you power for the present.  The constant struggles and hardships of our daily lives are put into perspective when we focus on the fact that, “…the faithful love of the Lord never ends!” – Lam. 3:22

Love- always perseveres
Persevere means to patiently endure, which brings up an interesting question.   How do you respond to the daily challenges of loving others?   The key is to ACCESS YOUR STRENGTH in God.  Our human nature prevents us selfishly to fully love.  Not relying on our human strength but relying on our spiritual strength in God will allow us to experience enduring love for others be it a friend, family member, spouse or complete stranger.  The writer of Hebrews focused on the great power of Christ as He endured the cross for us. (Heb. 12:2-3) He gives us His great power and strength through His love for us, and in turn we are able to love others in the way that He loves.

It’s a lot to chew on this week, but these principles are at the core of every relationship in our lives.  Are we willing to apply these truths when it’s not easy to love or understand?  It’s easy to start something, like loving another, but it’s not always easy to finish.  It takes a lot of hard work and determination to apply these values in our relationships.  In the end it’s our faith that allows us to endure these hardships and love completely.

Enjoying a beautiful (Satur)day with Stephanie, Zigs and the rest of the Peninsula Covenant Church crew

This past Saturday me, Stephanie and our weirdo (yet really fun) friend from Indiana, Molly Zigovits (her Facebook and Twitter for all of you lovely cyber-stalkers out there) decided to actually do something productive with our lives on a Saturday afternoon. So, instead of doing the normal laying on the couch watching college football while snuggling with the Frankster the 3 of us decided to head down to Redwood City to Fair Oaks Elementary School to help out with what our church calls Beautiful Day. Beautiful Day is an entire day (from 8am – 4pm) of selfless giving that was set up by a group of churches and the local Redwood City school system and it allows people like yours truly to help a great group of people (like a needy elementary school) who needs it, but may never really know who (or how) to ask for it.

The 3 of us ended up getting to Fair Oaks around noon and helped out with all kinds of stuff until around 3:30pm or so. Over 300 people ended up showing up throughout the day and let me tell you something — it’s pretty amazing what all can get done at an elementary school when there are a few hundred people willing to help.

After seeing all of the awesomeness of everyone helping I guess what the famous English writer and poet John Heywood said in 1546 is true: Many hands make light work.

Here are a few shots that Molly took of us all getting our giving on throughout the day. As you can see she’s pretty handy with the ol’ picture box and if you want to see some more of her stuff be sure to check out her blog over here.


There was a lot of painting going on (and I still have plenty of proof on my jeans).


Stephanie was working hard packing up these supplies that were headed to El Savador.


We helped organize and stock over 1,000 books that were donated to the school.


Everyone got involved in whatever way that they could. I thought this lady was cute.


One of the many murals that we painted for the school — the kids loved to help out with these.


We cleaned (most) of this stuff up — sometimes paint can get a little messy.


Most of the manly men chose to do some serious landscaping work (insert growl here)


This is one of my favorite shots of the day and the mural that’s being painted looks amazing!


Of course, it wasn’t all work — me and my new buddy decide to take a break for some fun.


Then it was my turn — push faster!


He was actually pretty strong and after we finished him and his brother played for about another hour or so.


No, Stephanie wasn’t scolding this little boy, she was actually trying to find out his age.

Time to get down and dirty.


Don’t just stand there, get to work!


I love this shot, too — Stephanie was getting after it for an awesome cause.

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