Heard at Café: 11/5/2019

Tonight's fall-themed café brought us delicious apple crumble cupcakes and apple cider. The decorations were festive and the sudokus were hard (I didn't finish mine).

Jeremy spoke tonight on the parables that Jesus tells right before the parable of the prodigal son: the parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep. We looked at Luke 15:1-10:
15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The point of this passage is that God cares about the one even among the many. He looks at the one and sees the one that he wants to bring back home. Even among 7 billion people in this world, God still sees each person individually. This means that God isn't just playing a numbers game. It's not about the general; it's about the specific.

There are three parables back-to-back with this same theme: the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the prodigal son. It's as if Jesus is reinforcing this idea that His love reaches out to each of us individually.

Repentance is a word that means to turn. It means changing your mind and behavior away from everything else and towards God. In these stories, repentance is equated with the rejoicing.

A lot of our stories are like the lost coin or the lost sheep. We wander and lose our way. We forget where the good things are. We get distracted. Even so, even the most winding of paths can all lead home. Through these parables, Jesus is telling us that He still welcomes us with open arms. There's no shame or blame when the sheep returns. The shepherd throws a sheep party, and it's pure joy and happiness.

This is the kind of grace that God shows us. It doesn't run out, even when we expect it to. It welcomes us back home every single time.

Heard at Café: 10/8/2019

Tonight at Café, we got to hear from three of our interns: Conor, Caroline, and Lauren. They spoke on the parable of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10:25-37:
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Each of our interns chose to focus on a different aspect of the story.

Caroline reflected on the very last sentence in the passage: "Go and do likewise." This is a call to action. The point of the story isn't just to move on; it's meant to inspire us to be something different. Love is worth stepping out of our comfort zones; it's worth the fear and uncomfort that come with it.

The priest and the Levite saw the man who was mugged before the Samaritan did. Instead of helping him, they just passed by on the other side of the road. Lauren reminded us that this is not a picture of what love should look like. Love isn't meant to be shown just when it's convenient for us. Sometimes, it's unexpected, but we should stop and love the people around us.

Conor spoke on the action that the Samaritan took. It can be discouraging to look at all that we can't do. Sometimes, just doing anything is enough -- it's better than doing nothing. Conor gave us this piece of advice: "Don't let your inability to do everything stop you from doing anything."

The Samaritan could have chosen to move on with his day, but instead, spent his time and money to make sure that the man was taken care of. The Samaritan was a part of showing God's love to the man. The interns challenged us to "go and do likewise."

Heard at Café: 10/01/2019

Tonight was Harry Potter Café. We ate delicious lemon golden Snitches, and sipped on butter beer.

Jeremy spoke tonight on Luke 15:11-32, the story of the prodigal son.

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his propertybetween them.13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
This story seems unfair. The older son has been working faithfully for all of these years, but gets nothing. The younger son leaves, comes back, and gets a party. It almost seems to be rewarding his poor choices.

The father has a completely different view, though. He calls the younger son worthy just because he's his son. It's not about whatever the son has done in the past or will do in the future. The father loves both of his sons, unrelated to what they have and haven't done.

Jesus wants both groups of people listening to see themselves as the sons in the story. The Pharisees and teachers of the law would be positioned as the older son, while the tax collectors and sinners would be positioned as the younger son.

An inheritance is what would have been received after the father had died. Asking for his inheritance early is equivalent to the younger son already wishing that the father was dead. It would be easy for the outcome of the story to be that the younger son is punished for this sort of sentiment. Why would God follow a different script? It seems almost too good to be true.

Jesus calls us worthy, regardless of what we have and haven't done. He shows us that the world deserves grace because no one deserves it.

Heard at Café: 9/24/2019

Tonight, we got to hear from Kami, a former CCFer. Kami worked at the Globalscope in Mexico for seven years before returning to the United States.

Kami spoke to us on what it means to have a foundation in Jesus. Specifically, she focused on Matthew 7:24-29.

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
In this passage,  Jesus speaks of three men who build houses on three different foundations. Because of these different foundations, each man's house holds up differently to the storms that come.

Kami reminded us that Jesus is not the sender of storms, though; instead, He is the foundation that holds up the house. He is the one who redeems terrible situations.

We also looked at the same story, but from Luke 6:
46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
The word "radical" comes from the Latin word radix, which means root. Kami spoke of a radical life: one that has cleared out all of the unnecessary and built up a foundation in Jesus. Kami left us with a couple questions to reflect on:
What do we need to dig through to get to the solid foundation that is Jesus? What would we have to give up to follow Jesus?

Heard at Café: 8/27/2019

While enjoying chocolate milk and Oreo balls (the greatest dessert CCF has to offer if you ask Lauren Hessler), the second café of the semester brought good discussion and laughs.

We heard a talk from the great Jeremy Lawler on Luke 5:1-11, the passage in which Jesus calls his first disciples.

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

In this passage, we see that Jesus meets a few fishermen who have been fishing all night but haven't caught anything. Jesus tells them to throw their nets out one more time, and when they do, they catch more fish than they can even handle. Jesus then calls these people to follow him, and they do, leaving everything behind. This can only make us wonder -- what were the disciples feeling? They said yes to Jesus, so to some degree, there must have been anticipation and excitement, but also fear and doubt.

For the disciples, they chose to respond in spite of the fear and doubt by leaving everything (including all of the fish they had just caught!) and following Jesus. What's our version of following, and how do we handle fear and uncertainty? Jesus calls us to anchor ourselves to Him, so that He is our guide. Following Jesus is a challenge to live differently, and to see the world with a new perspective. It's in him that we find purpose, grace, and hope.

The disciples had just one glimpse of the good that Jesus could bring: the catching of enough fish to break all of their nets. Something ordinary, like fishing, turned into something extraordinary and began a great journey for these fishermen. This event changed their lives, and their response to it in turn changes ours, too.

Heard at Café: 4/23/2019

The last Café of the year was Marvel themed, with the premiere of Avengers: Endgame in just a few days. We drank Hulk's greenocolada (which was so good) and ate Aunt May's banana pudding.

Tonight, we discussed endings and change, especially in the context of this year coming to a close. More specifically, we looked at Mark 16:1-8. This is the passage that comes right after Jesus' crucifixion, when people begin to realize that Jesus had resurrected.

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

Image result for inukshuks
The reactions to Jesus not being in the tomb are ones of fright, bewilderment, and trembling. They're confused, but they get surprised by God because Jesus' death was not an ending; it was a beginning. 

Inukshuks are structures made of flat stones. The Inuit people would build them up pretty high, walk until the structure had almost disappeared from sight, and then build another one. They were markers that served as signals for people who would travel after them. It was a sign that someone had been there; it was a symbol of hope. 

The resurrection in is a symbol of hope for us. It says that God IS with us, and that ultimately, confusion isn't so unknown because Jesus was ahead of the disciples in this passage, and he's ahead of us, now. It also removes the expiration date from Jesus. It means that He's God, and that's worth paying attention to. It means that He has the final say on His life. 

The semester is ending. For some of us, it's exciting. It means graduation or the start of summer or rest from busy weeks. For some of us (like me), this is difficult. It means that people will graduate and move on. It means that a lot of things will be changing. Either way, Jeremy reminded us tonight that life goes on, and that there is hope of good things in the future. Our stories don't end here, they only just begin. 

Heard at Café: 4/16/2019

At the penultimate Café, we celebrated the premiere of season 8 of Game of Thrones with delicious cheesecakes. We also had Penultimate Café Bingos, with spots ranging from Jeremy saying penultimate 7 (yes seven) times to Stephanie saying "my friend mugshot."

This week was also Holy Week, a term that describes the week leading up to Easter. Tonight's talk focused on the time right before the crucifixion.

We discussed Matthew 26:36-46, the passage describing Jesus praying in the garden right before he's handed over to be crucified.

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

In this passage, the disciples are falling asleep. They think it's just another night, but obviously it's not; everything is about to change. Jesus tells them repeatedly to stay awake and pray with him, but clearly, the disciples don't understand what's about to happen.

Reading this and knowing what the rest of the story is, we can often criticize the disciples. Why wouldn't they stay awake? All Jesus asked them to do was pray and be there for him, and yet they weren't. At the time, though, it most likely didn't seem important. They didn't know that Jesus was about to be betrayed. In the end, though, they leave him at the time when he needs them the most.

Jesus basically loses his community in this passage. He's shown to be fully human here: he's surrounded by his best friends, but he's still completely alone and scared. His prayer consists of asking to have the cup taken away from him, an indication that he was afraid of the next part of the story.

From these verses, we can find comfort that Jesus went through a lot of what we do. He experienced worry, fear, and the loneliness. If God remains with Jesus through everything that he went through, we can be assured that he remains with us, too. The thing that we should pay attention to is that the cross means that God has remembered us this whole time-- even in the darkness and the silence. He tells us that we don't know how our story will end, so we should wake up and pay attention because we shouldn't miss what's at hand.

Heard at Café: 4/9/2019

Tonight, we got to enjoy snickerdoodle cookies from a recipe by our very own Britt McCord! They were absolutely delicious.

We also got to hear from three of our interns tonight: Shoeman Williams, David English, and Christian Shaheen. These interns shared their stories and a message of hope with us. We looked at Romans 5:1-5:

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

These verses say that suffering leads to endurance, endurance to character, and character to hope. This is the pathway that Paul challenges us to follow. This path from endurance to hope does not mean that suffering won't happen, but rather that when it comes, we have the endurance to withstand it.

As Christian defined for us tonight, hope is an alert expectancy. It means that we're alert to our surroundings and God, and we're expecting for Him to show up. This is a complete mindset shift from the suffering to the positive outcome.

Each of the interns shared with us the ways in which this kind of hope has been present in their lives. Each person's story ended with the realization that the things that we go through push us to place trust in a God that calls us to a better future -- one without pain and sorrow. These kinds of sufferings also allow us to build trust with the community around us in the support that we receive in these times.

The interns reminded us that our stories don't end here. They end with hope, restoration, and Jesus.

Whatever you might be going through, CCF opens its doors to everyone. We have great staff and interns who are always willing to sit down and talk with you whenever you need them. If you would like to get in touch with any of them, visit http://www.gtccf.org/staff/ for contact information!

Heard at Café: 4/3/2019

Tonight we had Globalscope Café! Globalscope is just like CCF, but in a different country. Students are able to intern abroad in different countries and be a part of the culture there. It's a great way to share God's love and learn more about yourself and a new country.

Dessert was make your own milkshakes. Each table represented a different country and held several different toppings from those countries to be mixed into ice cream. It was delicious, and we discovered that mini churros are really good!

The talk carried this theme of going out into the world, with a focus on 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12.

You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results.We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children[a] among you.
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children,12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
These words come from a person who lived life with and really loved the people of Thessalonica well. As Jeremy said, Paul's intention was to share his life and the love of God.

We also got to hear from four students who followed in Paul's footsteps. They took the steps to reach out to areas with which they weren't comfortable, and they shared their stories tonight.

First, we heard from Jancy Durrence. Jancy was inspired by the quote: "Ships are safe in the harbor, but that's not what ships were made for." She made the decision to Globalscope at The Garden in Australia the very first semester it was opened, the fall of 2017. Many of the students who visited The Garden weren't even interested in learning about Jesus. Jancy shared how this was a new but incredibly eye-opening experience. Through this, she was able to see how faith and love are shown through how you live your life; it's not about words, but actions. She also shared how coming back was difficult and frustrating: it felt like she had hit an all-time spiritual low. She explained that any faith that hasn't flatlined has its highs and lows, and this was an important lesson that she learned through her experience in Globalscope.

Next, Walker shared his Globalscope story. Walker went abroad to Uruguay the fall of 2018. He shared that he actually prayed that God would make him uncomfortable as he was making the trip to Uruguay. He realized that having a future where you have complete control and one where God has complete control are mutually exclusive -- it's not possible to have both. Walker told us that he learned that ministry is using what you love to do life with the people around you. He also gave some sound advice: "put your heart into whatever you love and the people you do it with, especially in groups outside of CCF." It's important that people beyond CCF experience the love that we get to within the CCF house. Walker concluded by relating his story back to Paul's: he learned what it was like to be in a place for a short amount of time but come to truly love the people around him.

Elyse Martin was the next student that we heard from, and she talked about her experience Globalscoping in Thailand. Elyse had a very different experience from Jancy and Walker. She was incredibly homesick the first couple weeks there, and at most of the events that happened, there weren't a lot of students who participated -- sometimes as few as two would show up. When traveling overseas specifically to do ministry, this can be seen as frustrating or not worthwhile, but Elyse had a much more positive take to this situation. She shared how she was able to reach out to a student by tutoring him. She explained that God had literally sent her across the world just to give this student love. As Elyse said, "God is a God of big things, but he's also a God of small things, and those things matter just as much." Even though Elyse had many fears coming into this experience, she learned that fears show us what we need to learn about God and the people around us.

Finally, we got to hear Karen Herrera-Teague's story. Karen had sort of a flipped situation from the other Jancy, Walker, and Elyse; she moved here from Mexico, and she shared what her experience with this was like over the last 5 years. Karen was able to find a new home here in the United States. She pointed out that even though the environment was completely different from what she was used to, she was still able to find a community that she could call home. She also learned that no matter where you go or what you do, you can always be yourself. Karen was able to share her life and love with the people here, and she explained how when she moves to Washington at the end of May, that she knows she will be able to do the same thing there. God made us to be people who live our lives with each other, and this was exactly Karen's experience after moving here from Mexico.

The common thread among these stories is sharing life. The Bible shows us the picture of God coming to dwell with us, and this is what we should strive to do with the people around us, as well. God works through people and experience. This boils down to verse 8 from the passage we discussed today:
Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

If you would like more information on Globalscope, many of our interns have Globalscoped and would love to answer your questions! You can also visit https://www.cmfi.org/explore/who-is-cmf/university-student-communities/ .

Heard at Café: 3/27/2019

Tonight was a good night. We had Oreo balls for dessert, and that's enough to make any night a good night.

Today at Café, Jeremy spoke about grace and peace. In particular, we looked at 2 Corinthians 11:21-31.

21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!
Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying.

We also looked at Philippians 2:1-11:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first dayuntil now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heartand, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousnessthat comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Grace and peace. These two words are at the beginning of every letter that Paul writes in the New Testament. These are the two things that gave Paul life and keep him going, and he extends that to everyone. Why does he do this?

The grace and peace that Paul greets his fellow believers with is of a different variety than what grace and peace meant in those times.

Grace was used as a term for favor. In this context, grace is about God's full favor. Paul, once a person who passionately persecuted Christians, has himself received this grace and quite literally turned his life around. This grace means that God is for you and that you're forgiven. Paul offers grace to everyone, the same way that he was offered grace. Can I say grace one more time dang

Peace was a term used to refer to being free from violence and war. The Romans ruled in a way that presented peace under a threat of fear. Peace from God is completely different. Peace here speaks to the idea of shalom: wholeness and completeness, where everything flourishes. This means that everything is the way that things should be.

Paul lived a life that shows that even when things aren't going well, it can still be well. Paul wrote the letter in Philippians 1 from jail. We can also see from 2 Corinthians that Paul lived a life full of obstacles and troubles.  It's hard to imagine how someone who has experienced what Paul has could write letters filled with such joy. As Jeremy said tonight, even when it feels like it's the most absent, grace and peace still remain. God tells us to take heart because He's overcome the world [John 16:33].

Where do we seek shelter from the things that rob us of peace? We need more than an education or a paycheck; we need something more complete -- the things that go far deeper.

In the face of struggles, will we choose Jesus?