{Sunday Scripture} The Beauty in Baptism

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending onhim like a dove. And a voice came from heave: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-11 NIV.

Today I had the pleasure of attending First Baptist Church in San Francisco where I witnessed the baptism of someone I know. I was extremely touched by her testimony and the public pronouncement of  her faith in Jesus Christ.

The baptisms were followed by an awesome sermon given by guest speaker, Bryant Wright. He talked very plainly and clearly about the purpose of baptism – it is obeying God’s commandment to all Christians who follow him. This simple statement has spoken to me immensely.

An equally as powerful teaching is that Jesus was baptized to give us, his fellowers a prophetic picture, of his life to come. His life, death on the cross, and resurrection. Thus, baptism is a symbolic drama of what would happen to Jesus Christ. Jesus, who had no sin, identified with us as sinners, to show us the way.

Although I am only relaying a small part of his sermon, Pastor Wright preached a lot more on the value of baptism – many lessons I am still absorbing. This Sunday was a reminder of the beauty of Jesus and how He always, even in baptism, strived to identify with us to save us. He loves us that much.

Wishing you a Sunday evening full of peace, joy and restoration,
Hope

Linking up with Deidra Riggs and The Sunday Community

welcome mat

{Five Minute Friday} Welcome

welcome mat

[Today I’m joining the wonderful LisaJo of thegypsymama and a beautiful community of bloggers for the 5 minute Friday writing prompt. Today the word is WELCOME.]

So week after week, I go searching and longing for a church home where I feel welcome.” And I think “welcome” has several meanings. First, and perhaps most importantly, my spirit must feel welcome or at home. For me, it requires that the sermon or the pastor’s message resonate with me. I want the words to dig in deep – to set up a place inside of me that requires me to think, meditate, and pause. I want the sermon’s words to challenge me and take my faith to the next place – God’s place.

And secondly, my ears must feel welcome. Yes, this sounds silly, but I believe that my soul will be stirred and welcome where the music moves my heart and spirit. You know how you listen to a song and it sticks with you all week.

And finally, in my search for a church home, I want to feel welcomed by the church {God’s people}. I’ve discovered the difference between “nice” and “friendly” in the recent weeks. I’ve visited several churches where the people were nice – meaning pleasant, said hello, well-meaning, but carried on about their business.

It wasn’t until I visited a friendly church where I felt the difference. I felt like they were waiting for me. Like they somehow rolled out a warm welcome mat. I was met with hugs and questions about myself and what I liked to do. They really tried to get to know me. They even wanted to spend more time with me – little old me. I felt the beginnings of friendship.

God is welcoming. God is friendship – the ultimate friendship and when you find him… He digs in deep into your soul.

wishing you hope, joy, peace, and lots of welcoming experiences,

Hope

Five Minute Friday

Parable of the Talents

The Parable of Talents

Parable of the Talents

Modified Photo. Source: http://pueblochristiancenter.com

This bible verse comes from a sermon I heard today at City Church of San Francisco. Simply, God gives us talents, resources, and money, which we should not waste. We should also realize that God is the reason we have anything at all. He is where all blessings – money, talents, skills – come from. Check out the entire bible verse from Matthew 25:14-30 (NRSV).

Wishing you a wonderful week,
Hope

Linking up with the wonderful Sunday Community over at Jumping Tandem.

My window

[Five Minute Friday] Join

My neighborhood window

My neighborhood window

[Today I’m joining the wonderful LisaJo of thegypsymama and a beautiful community of bloggers for the 5 minute Friday writing prompt. Today the word is JOIN.]

“In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5 [NIV]

So, this past Tuesday I decided to go to the Reality SF Connect Group in my neighborhood. They are studying the Psalms. Oh how I love the Psalms.

I wanted to join a Connect Group because they are a wonderful way to meet other Christians and study the bible. I belonged to one in Los Angeles and really grew in my faith.

“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Matthew 18:20 [NASB]

Plus, I know hardly anyone in San Francisco and very few people in my neighborhood.

Besides, I need want to meet new people and make new friends. And I specifically wanted to make new Christian friends. I wanted to create a friendship circle in which Christ is put first.

And sometimes you can only go to a fellow Christian to talk about life’s struggles because only they understand life from your same perspective. Christians simply need other Christians.

And occasionally, I learn more in the Connect Group meetings than I do in church because the Lord just feels so personal there.

I love hearing how Christ affects the lives of others. I love seeing the faces of people light up as they share praise report. And I love praying for others – together.

“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.”  James 5:16a (MSG)

I love seeing the power of Jesus.

It’s nice to find a community of believers especially that live really close to me. I’m imagining the Lord blessing and looking over my little neighborhood.

I just need to remember to draw myself out of my shell, so that I can make new friends and grow in Christ.

Do you belong to a community group based out of your church? What do you think of your group? How have you made new Christian friends? I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you hope, joy, and peace,

-Hope

Five Minute Friday

The Journey Church

[Church Home Challenge] Week 1 – The Journey Church

The Journey Church

The Journey Church

“God’s family is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15b (GWT)

As many of you now know, I’m new to San Francisco. Not surprisingly, moving has meant uprooting my whole life – physically, mentally, and also spiritually. My entire rhythm has changed – from where I go to eat, where I can drive, exercise, find community, and most importantly, worship.

In Los Angeles, I’d gotten used to worshipping usually remotely (due to the demands of law school) with Oasis Church Los Angeles and in their connect groups. My experiences were WONDERFUL. I am missing Oasis LA and my group BIG time. I was introduced to bible study books by Holley Gerth (amazing)!

I was also attending a women’s bible study that one of my closest friends in LA had felt chosen to lead. It really helped me get into the Word.

And I would also listen to sermons online from my favorite pastor, Rick Warren (the author of The Purpose Driven Life), from Saddleback Church. In addition to being one of the reasons I became a Christian (for more, click here), I honestly credit Pastor Warren with helping to get me back and forth to my bar prep course sanely which consisted of a crazy hour or so drive in heavy LA traffic.

These varied components were my spiritual community. They were my spiritual foundation. And some of the key parts – the offline parts are now missing.

So, I’m searching. I’m on a mission to find a new church home. [And as you can probably tell from a couple of posts, I take things pretty seriously!] There are so many reasons to join a church (a post on this topic coming soon).

So, my plan is to attend at least 1 new church service every Sunday until I find one that feels right.

During Week 1 (July 29, 2012), I attended The Journey Church of San Francisco. I had checked out their web site when I was in Los Angeles and saw they gave away my favorite book, The Purpose Driven Life to San Francisco residents. I knew I had to check them out when I got to the city.

Upon entering the church, I immediately got a good vibe because I was actually greeted and welcomed by someone. She could probably tell that I looked a little lost. The church also has a great reception area complete with snacks and java!

The lead pastor, Chris Brady, had a series called “God on Film,” which was a theme to help discover the meaning behind the biggest movies of the summer. I attended the final sermon in the series based on the movie “Total Recall,” “Making Peace with My Past.” The sermon even included clips from the movie and another movie with The Rock (Dwayne Johnson – bonus!). The service had a great “hip” factor and as a former L.A. resident, I could definitely relate to the movie-Hollywood theme!

The sermon was about Forgiveness and achieving peace of mind (and peace with the past) by seeking God.

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

Pastor Brady laid out Four Steps to Making Peace with My Past:

Step #1: Receive Forgiveness. [God offers forgiveness for all that we’ve done.]

“God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong.” 1 John 1:9.

We were asked to write down what we’re receiving forgiveness for.

Step #2: Offer Forgiveness (to others, those who have hurt us)

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13

Honestly, this was a bit more difficult to do but I did pray to offer forgiveness to a couple of people that I have not approached with a forgiving heart.

Step #3: Learn from My Past

Pastor Brady told us that we need to figure out what lesson do we need to learn. And if we don’t learn, we are destined to repeat the same mistakes.

“Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them.” Proverbs 4:5

Step #4: Trust God with my Future

And to me, it usually always comes back to trusting God and having faith in God. And Pastor Brady closed with two of the best bible verses. In fact, I’ve been meditating on Jeremiah 29:11 for the past couple of weeks.

“For I know, the plans I have for you, ” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

And we were given the following Memory Verse:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6.

All in all, I was spiritually nourished that Sunday. And I would highly recommend The Journey church to others. I encourage you to check out their web site and listen to this sermon.

Stay tuned for a post on church visit #2….

Wishing you hope, joy, and peace,

-Hope