Heard at Café: 2/26/2019

Tonight was Classy Café! We rolled out the red carpet, dressed in our classiest clothing, listened to a string trio, and sipped on blackberry Bella Bellinis.

This semester, we've been talking about what it means to live a full life. Jeremy's talk tonight was about our possessions, and how they can factor into our definition of a full life. Specifically, we looked at Luke 12:13 - 21.

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

In verse 15, Jesus says that "life does not consist in an abundance of possessions." The word abundance indicates that not only did this rich man have enough, but he had a surplus-- he had more crops than he needed. The rich man instinctively wanted to build more barns to store all of the crops, but Jesus tells him that this is a waste. Jesus challenges us and the rich man to use the "enough" and the "surplus" for something beyond ourselves.

This story points out that the rich man had a lot, but none of it was being used to benefit others. This is a mindset that many of us can easily fall into: wanting things for ourselves so that we can have things our way. We focus on building our world the way we want it to be rather than the way God wants it to be.

The sin in play here is greed. Greed creates a false sense of security in our own ability. Generosity is the antidote to greed, and practicing it leads us to a full life. Jeremy reminded us that we should be rich towards God. We should be mindful of where we invest our treasures and our hearts, and give our energy to things that will remain.  The story continues:

29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

When our trust is in things of this world, we're easily disappointed. When our trust is in God, we look at the things we have and do what we can to share them with other people. Jeremy's advice to us tonight on living full lives was simple: go, give, serve, love.

Heard at Café: 2/19/19

Tonight was Café Refill, which means that we took some time to rest. Life is busy, and it moves fast, and it's too easy to get caught up in the stress that comes along with it, especially as college students. This week, we took a break from all of that to just enjoy time for ourselves. This looks different for everyone. For some, it's journaling. Others may use the time to read, do art, or even just sit quietly. The idea is to set aside time to do something that brings you peace. If you didn't get the chance to come to Café Refill tonight, take some time this week to just intentionally rest, however this might look for you.

Heard at Café: 2/12/2019

Tonight, we celebrated Valentine's Day! We got to hear about the melodica for creative spotlight and about eating dinner with our friends in Wachovia Park for compassion spotlight. We also ate pink cherry cookies and drank Shirley Temples!

This week, we had the opportunity to hear from Michal Ruth, the speaker from the JIBR retreat this past fall. Michal Ruth had a lot of wisdom to share with us on the topic of loneliness.

She began by sharing a story about washing dishes, a perfectly normal everyday activity. She talked about how these dull moments are the ones that are usually skipped over in the movies -- usually briefly shown through montages. In reality, though, these condensed scenes in movies are a much bigger part of our lives; these mundane moments last so much longer than the 30 seconds they are shown on screen.

It's usually in these moments that we start feeling what Michal Ruth called "pity of self," a pit where our minds go in circles, and where fear and doubt are the loudest things we can hear. A lot of times, on top of the pain and fear that we feel, we also experience isolation because we think that no one can understand what we're going through. It's in these times, though, that we have to remember that fear is a liar and that we are not alone.

Michal Ruth shared 1 John 4:7-19 with us:
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us.
In this passage, we can see a perfect picture of love from God. This is a love that is unconditional and leaves no room for fear. We also read that we are given love so that we can give it away to others. Michal Ruth shared that what holds her together in the depths of loneliness is remembering who God is -- His love, character, and integrity of a perfect father. God is love, and that is something to hold onto.

Michal Ruth gave us a few points as key takeaways from this talk:
1) Transformation most often takes place in the ordinary. Whatever causes us fear, doubt, and strife is a gift because it's in this weakness that we are enabled to see who God is.
2) None of us are alone. The same love that God gives us is the love that we share with each other, and we can go forward encouraging each other in that love.

Having God's love is a powerful thing. Tonight, Michal Ruth reminded us that even when we feel as though there's no one who understands us, even when we experiencing crushing fear and doubt, even when we feel totally isolated, there is a perfect love that drives out fear every time.

Heard at Café: 2/5/2019

With TRFKATCR right around the corner, the CCF house was decked out in pink, complete with Rick, the inflatable flamingo pool float. We enjoyed refreshing strawberry milk and hibiscus tea, and dug into Oreo turf cups.

We discussed the idea of forgiveness, of how we've shown and received forgiveness. Specifically, Jeremy spoke from Luke 5:17-26, the story of Jesus healing and forgiving a paralyzed man.

17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

Remarkable --- this is the what the people in this story take away: that they have experienced remarkable events. They saw something totally unexpected.

Jesus redeems us from sin. Because of sin, the relationship between God and His people has been broken. Throughout the entire Bible, the underlying factor is that there is restoration in Christ from this sin. We have a tendency to overlook the needs of others and ourselves, and it takes honesty to admit that we are all sinners.  When we are faced with fears and sin, when we believe that God might be angry, upset, or disappointed with us, He calls us friend. He tells the paralyzed man, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." Jesus literally puts himself on the same playing field as the paralyzed man. This makes room for a relationship with Him rooted in good.

In the same way, Jesus looks at our sin, at our broken lives, and He calls us friends. He reminds us that He is with us, and that we can be at rest if we find peace in Him. God wants to restore all things, and that includes us. He takes our broken and restores us.

Without a doubt, we have all sinned. The great thing is that Jesus still wants us; He still loves us, and calls us His own. As Jeremy puts it, "We are human, we are broken, and we are forgiven."