To Live is Christ

Happy Thursday to you all. Last Sunday we wrapped up our journey with Paul through the book of Acts, and this week I’ve been mulling over Paul’s statement in Philippians 1, “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

I think the “die” part gets a bit overemphasized in that short statement. Here’s the “die” part. Paul knows when he dies it will be rad to be with Jesus. Ok, we’re done with “die” part.

The “live” part is more important for most of us, and through out journey with Paul I have been struck by how true this statement was for him. His ministry was a catch-as-catch-can kind of affair. The only consistent strategy he seems to use is going to the Jews first, then the gentiles. Other than that, he talks to whomever, whenever, wherever.

I’ve known some people who do this without much skill. Those folks tend to not listen, just talk to whomever, whenever, and wherever. Paul, however, puts a great deal of effort to have the appropriate (not always non-confrontational) conversation based on the background and story of the individual or group.

Jesus is the answer. To live is Christ. Jesus is the central character to all the stories, but they are different and varied stories.

I love Paul’s answer to Agrippa when he asked if Paul was trying to convert him in such a short time. “Short time or long-I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

To live is Christ. We want more for us, jealous and covetous for more intimacy with Jesus. To live is Christ. Every relationship around us is a story in which we have a role to play.

That’s all I have to say about that,

aaron

Thoughts On Paul Series

Good morning fellow sojourners on this planet, Odie here.

I have been enjoying the dickens out of our study of the apostle Paul. Not only have I been learning how to RE-ENGAGE when I want to go hide or give up after facing drama and difficulties, but here’s another thought:

Even though it was prophesied that Paul was going to have big trouble in Jerusalem, he went anyway.

Have you ever had to step into a situation where you knew it was going to be really bad, but you knew you had to do it anyway? Yep. Very uncomfortable. Been there done that. It was rough. But in that uncomfortable situation, Paul had the opportunity to share his spiritual journey not only with the local authorities, but he was also heard by a variety of other folks who would have gathered at these events. We will probably never know, until we see the Lord, who heard his oration and what the results were.

But it doesn’t matter. God knows. And He knows about our situations. And He knows how to use them.

Odie

I Want a Cookie for My Suffering

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'” (Luke 17)

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day, when he brought this passage up. It came to mind during the sermon session last Sunday in Templeton (in an Einstein moment where creativity comes in that half-asleep/half-awake state).

The concept hit him in response to how suffering can become an end, rather than a necessary step in the making of HOPE.

What didn’t cross my infinitesimal mind, was how often we want a cookie for all the suffering we have suffered, and all the hard work life requires. What we don’t tend to understand, is how much suffering and work we have been shielded from, how much the Lord is helping us in each trying moment, and how once we conquer/endure/dodge a difficulty, even more is required of us in the next moment.

Yep, it stays about this bad until it gets worse. Unless, of course, you’re are looking for hope.

“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory. 3 Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance, character, and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5)

But now, O Lord, upon what am I relying? You are my only hope! (Psalm 39)

Hope in the Lord, that more of Him will be revealed in our hearts regardless of outcome, is hope that never disappoints.

Dayn

Old Christian Cartoons

I was looking at some interesting cartoons this week that took a pretty stark but honest look at the world, and there were a handful I had to save.

This one made me think of too many folks I care about who stop discovering the amazing things God has put in their life because they have judged other’s treasures to be better or more spiritual or important.

Dayn loves to quote Ephesians 2:10. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Within that statement is an intimate a personal thing. Our creation is personal, God’s gift in Christ is specific, not general, and the things He has set you up for within that creation had you specifically in mind. No one can do what you do. They can do IT perhaps, but then it’s what they would do and not what you would do. It’s missing the vital ingredient of God’s Spirit working through YOU.

Please don’t take this as a nice softball make you feel better kind of thought for the morning. You know I can’t handle being thought of as nice like that. It’s a clarion call. Honor God’s love and grace as it is expressed in your life and salvation. Dig your own hole and find that diamond.

aaron

We Can Trust God With More Than We Do

Been thinking quite a bit about Paul laying aside his available and righteous justification/defense/reason to do an act of love that he reckoned was better. I’ve wondered how many thousands of times I have neglected a better, higher way to love, in my quest to vindicate myself.

Now, I’ve kept a pretty good record of these neglects on the part of others close to me, and could craft better ways for “them” in retrospect and in future situations (if they would only do it my way). However, in my quest to specify better ways of loving in others, I conveniently and continually overlook ways for me to love better.

I’m reminded of some Scripture along these lines:

Proverbs 19:11
A person’s wisdom makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

1 Peter 4:7-8
For the culmination of all things is near. So be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of prayer. Above all keep your love for one another fervent, because love covers a multitude of sins.

John 13:34
I give you a new commandment-to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

John 15:13
No one has greater love than this-that one lays down his life for his friends.

But what about their wrongdoing? What do do about the sin?

What about God’s ability to work in your and other’s hearts? What about loving someone into a better state of being? How about trusting Jesus in his death on behalf of those who killed him?

I’m thinking we can trust God with much more than we do, especially in relationships. Especially when hurt and love are hanging in the balance.

Been thinking maybe the Lord is better at this than we are.

Dayn

Churches in San Luis Obispo

Did you know that there are more than 30 churches in San Luis Obispo? It’s not that big of a city. We probably don’t need that many churches. But hey, Vintage! Here’s one more.

Yep. We’re one of those churches in San Luis Obispo.

A few months ago, Dayn and Aaron shared a bit of the story of how Vintage came to exist and what makes it different. It was a good reminder for me about why we’re doing this. When I pass three churches on my drive across town on Sunday morning, sometimes I wonder, “do we really need more churches in San Luis Obispo?”

Definitely not. Not just “another church,” at least.

I need a place to come on Sundays where my assumptions are challenged. Where I can sit side by side with other Christians who think differently than I do and still worship the same God. Where I can be OK with not having it all together. Where things might be awkward and not fully polished, but it’s real and everyone is welcome to participate.

It’s not about trying harder–it’s a weekly moment to pause and remember who God says I am. To be called back to the goodness of the Gospel. To be reminded that though we’re all flawed, we’re together–and we’re known and loved by God.

So yeah, there are a lot of churches in San Luis Obispo to choose from. Some of them have great children’s programs. Some have amazing preaching. Some are real communities. You might go to one of them and be real happy there. That’s great!

But if you’ve been to church in the past and are over it, maybe come check out Vintage SLO. You might like it, you might not. But hopefully it’s a little different than what you’re used to experiencing on Sunday morning.

churches in san luis obispo

(And if you were searching for “churches in San Luis Obispo” and found this page, be sure to check out the rest of our site)

Gary

You Talkin’ to Me?

How’s about a little sermon preview for Templeton, and rehash for SLO this morning?

We are looking into Acts 21:15 to somewhere in 22. In there, we see Paul doing something he simply did not have to do, but did to accommodate a group of his fellow Jews who believed a rumor about him.

Now, I don’t know about you, but my first reaction to something false said about me is to defend the truth of it all, and set straight those who are fabricating/perpetuating such lies. I also seem to feel responsible for how others interpret my way/words – in spite of my best efforts to be clear, and their responsibility for the filter they use.

But Paul, though very intelligent, a great debater and clearly not at fault in this situation, chose to align himself with the truth by participating in a vow, with some other guys, that was completely unnecessary and opened himself up to confirm the accusations. His allegiance to Jewish laws and traditions were always clear, as was his message of non-Jewish obligation to the Gentiles.

And that’s where this trouble began. Those who were preloaded to have a problem were having a problem. So Paul subjected principles that were readily and non-sinfully at his disposal for a greater, overriding principle. You’ll have to look into it.

Dayn

This Just In: Loving Enemies is Hard

John 5:44 says, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” and I find that inconvenient.

This morning your coach team is even at this moment walking through an issue that makes us feel like certain forces are working against us, and there are names attached to those forces. Personally, I am not feeling love or motivation to pray.

The difficulty in this verse is that personal connection. Praying for politicians I disagree with, or groups I find offensive is hard, but doable. This verse is calling me to pray for those that are directly messing with me. I love justice. I have a deep desire for the bad guys to get their due. Jesus’ call to love and prayer feels like I am betraying my own heart. And I am.

Jesus calls us to betray our hearts of flesh every day. Jesus calls us to surrender and let Him be Lord and judge. Jesus asks me to remember that I only want the bad guy to get his due when the bad guy isn’t me…because then I’m hoping for grace.

It is necessary for me to keep my blinders fixed firmly in place to maintain obstinate opposition to Jesus’ words. Please write back with stronger justification than I can find to ignore Jesus or pretend He didn’t mean what He said, I’m totally open to suggestions.

Aaron