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?