Heard at Café: 02/18/2020

Tonight, we got to sip on green tea lattes and eat delicious crumb cupcakes, while hearing from three of our Café interns (!!): Matt Kelley, Jonathan Brown, and Benji Lee. We focused on Luke 11:1-13.
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”He said to them, “When you pray, say:“‘Father,
hallowed be your name,your kingdom come.Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins,    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead?12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
To Benji, prayer is a form of talking to God, which in turn allows us to grow in our relationship with him. This requires persistence, and following through with prayer even when it's hard. Benji shared with us that while the Lord's prayer provides guidelines for how to pray, prayer doesn't have to be scripted; it can be casual and still with a level of respect. Benji also talked about the daily bread phrase in the Lord's prayer. In Biblical times, bread was an everyday essential; in fact, it was almost used as a utensil for other food. The Lord's prayer is similar: it's just the essentials; it's asking just for what you need today.

Jonathan shared about how prayer can sometimes become lists of what we need or want. In this prayer, Jesus doesn't pray for the ideals of the situation. He prays for God's kingdom to come, and for his will to be done. This is trusting God in every aspect, and in doing so, we invite his power in the good and the bad. Jonathan also pointed out that the kingdom of God isn't far away. By asking for God's kingdom to come, we change from being future-oriented to being present-minded. Jonathan also focused on the persistence of the friend from the passage. God wants us to pray to him, and to show the persistence of the friend.

Matt Kelley shared how sometimes we can think that there is a right path and a wrong path, but actually, God will be with us anywhere that we choose to go. The Lord's prayer doesn't really have a future focus to it. Jesus is telling us to pray for the right now and to trust God with what's to come. This means that we get to use our present circumstances to further God's kingdom. In verse 13, we see that the gift God is offering to us is the Holy Spirit. This is the part of God that is currently with us. God's will is for us to receive the Holy Spirit and to act on it. God uses the Holy Spirit to empower us in scary situations. The good gift God is offering is his presence because his spirit is a source of strength.

The underlying theme here that the interns pointed out to us is that the point of prayer is to align with God's will and build and grow in our relationship with him.

Heard at Café: 02/11/2020

Tonight was Café Unplugged! This meant that everything was done without electricity, from the lights to the music to the desserts. This Café is done once a year (and it's my favorite Café), and it's meant to help us realize the things that we take for granted by doing without the normal conveniences that we're accustomed to.

Tonight's passage came from Luke 4:
14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,    because he has anointed me    to proclaim good news to the poor.He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners    and recovery of sight for the blind,to set the oppressed free,19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
The passage that Jesus reads from the scroll here comes from a passage in Isaiah, prophesying about what's to come. Jesus, when reading this passage, seems to be saying that these things -- freedom for prisoners and sight for the blind -- are happening right now. He says that this is what happens when light is brought to the world.

Tonight, we also got to hear from four members of CCF who are actively bringing light to the world around us: Katie Carlson, Sam Derry, Kori Alejandro, and Nia Rich.

Katie spoke of simple obedience: this idea of just saying yes to opportunities. Katie has had the chance to bring light to several different countries, and has realized how she has purpose in these areas even when she doesn't see it at first. Through these opportunities, Katie has seen how God can use our yes for a greater purpose.

Sam spoke of his experience with the MLK service trip last year, and how that has influenced his decision to serve in Sierra Leone this summer. He explained that all of the things that we've been given, like time and money, aren't really ours to begin with. To Sam, serving also means trusting God, and he shared Proverbs 3:5-6 with us:

Trust in the Lord with all your heartand lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight.

Kori shared her summer experience in Peru, and how she has had multiple opportunities just this summer to serve God. Kori explained how serving meant helping the community around her and getting to be a part of something bigger than what she sees.

Nia told us about how passions can be transformed by God's intervention. Nia initially thought that service was just something that looked good on paper. She soon realized, though, that she had the opportunity to serve the next generation. Nia is involved with City of Refuge, where she tutors kids every week. She explained that it's her duty to be a role model to these kids, and how showing others love was a direct result of getting to experience God's love herself. Nia also shared Proverbs 11:25:
A generous person will prosper;whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
God sees the darkness in this world, but he offers us hope and light. He tells us to be reflectors of this light and bring heaven to earth. Through the stories that we heard tonight, we are presented with this challenge: to ask ourselves what we are doing to bring the light to our world.

Heard at Café: 01/28/2020

Tonight, we had the opportunity to hear from two CCF alumni: Sarah Harrington and Stephanie Tillman. Both Sarah and Stephanie have spent the last several years as a part of the Globalscope ministry in Mexico, and visited CCF tonight and brought us the talk for the evening.

Sarah and Stephanie spoke on the topic of humility. They helped define humility for us by explaining what it isn't -- that humility isn't just an attitude; it's a practice. This means that it's intentional and takes work. Humility isn't self-deprecating; it's not circumstantial, or dependent on the situation or context we're in. It's not the absence of confidence, but instead, putting your confidence in something greater.

The passage that we looked at tonight came from Philippians 2:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death
        even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
In this passage, Paul is writing a letter to the people of Philippi, imploring them to imitate themselves after the way that Christ lived. We can see this idea of tangible humility, or risking your own discomfort for others lives. This is modeling the behavior of Jesus. We should use humility as a means for learning: to grow in gratitude, to be more reliable, and to connect with others.

Humility is being able to celebrate others and realize that there's something greater than what we see. Sarah and Stephanie ended the talk by challenging us to think about what we can do to help chart the path for the next, and what we're currently doing to better our community and the world around us.

Heard at Café: 01/21/2020

Tonight, we got to hear a talk from Jeremy while eating salted caramel brownie bites and drinking hot apple cider (shoutout to Benji for his family's amazing recipe). The talk came from John 6:51-52 and 56-67.

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[e] and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

This passage seems a little strange; Jesus is talking about eating flesh and blood. We see here that some of Jesus' disciples leave him because they're not able to comprehend what he says in these verses. When we look at verses 68-69, though, we see Peter's response to Jesus' teaching.

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Simon Peter essentially says that he's going to stick with Jesus even though he doesn't understand what Jesus had been saying. It wasn't that he understood what Jesus' words meant or even that he knew exactly who Jesus was. All he knew was that Jesus had the key to something greater, and it was to this that Peter held on.

The reality of faith is that we're going to doubt, but we can hold on because there's something more there for us.

Jeremy explained to us tonight that maybe doubt is a part of faith. This is Peter's example in this passage: he brings the doubt and the faith together. We can be honest about what we don't know and don't understand, and Jesus is still with us through that.

It's in our struggle and in our doubt that we can become more confident not only in God but ourselves. It's important, though, that when we have questions that we engage with it and take steps towards understanding. That's how we love God more and find our place with Him.

Heard at Café: 01/14/2020

Tonight's Café included London Fogs (delicious) and scones (super delicious).

We also heard a talk from Jeremy on Mark 12:28-34.

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Prior to this passage, the teachers of the law had been testing Jesus: asking him questions in order to trip him up. In this passage, we see a teacher of the law asking what seems to be another one of these questions. In response to his question, Jesus gives him more than what he asks for: not just one commandment, but two. Jesus tells the man that the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. This is telling us that in a changing world, we can start with these two commandments as our guides and our building blocks.

"Love the Lord your God" is a commandment that comes from a passage in the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 6:4-9. 

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

This passage would've been words that the teachers of the law knew well. In Jesus' time, the Pharisees had become grounded more in rituals and sacrifices rather than the meaning behind them. Jesus is reminding them of this command and telling them to stay anchored in this one key idea. It's a commandment that we've already heard many times before, but the story in Mark reminds us that everything else flows from it -- that the rituals and sacrifices have no meaning if we don't have the love behind it. 

The commandment also says that we should love the Lord our God with ALL of our heart, ALL of our soul, and ALL of our strength. This kind of love should permeate everything; no part of us should remain unaffected.

Jesus is ultimately reminding us of what we already know. He tells us to be rooted in these ideas of loving God, loving our neighbors, and loving ourselves.