Seeing Jesus

I have always been struck by the story of Mary coming in while Jesus and the others were eating, and pouring a jar of perfume on His feet and then wiping it with her hair. We could compare it to how people act toward a high government official or someone who is famous except for the fact that He truly deserved her sacrifice, AND He returned her love for Him fully. But the most intriguing part of the story to me is when He says, “…wherever the good news is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.” Wow! Wherever – in the whole world?! That’s a lot!So, my wondering is, what are we doing now that will be told “in memory of us”? And more importantly, what are we doing to help people see Jesus that will be told in memory of us? Mary’s devotion to Jesus was obvious – she poured a year’s salary on His feet. What are we pouring on Jesus feet? Is it obvious by the things we do – and say – that we adore and are fully devoted to Jesus? What drives our schedule, our calendar – it is love for something or someone – but the question is: is it love for Jesus that drives everything we do?

The statement was made in the sermon at Central on Sunday that “everyone longs to see Jesus, whether they know it or not.” Genesis 1:27 says that “we are made in His image” – made like Him, made to need Him. So are we living in a way that our friends who are “longing to see Jesus” can easily see and learn about Jesus from? Are we a clean window that people can clearly look through to see Jesus? Or are we a door that is an obstacle in the way of people seeing Jesus?

I fear that sometimes we are more like the people that Jesus drove out of the temple in Mark 11:17 than we are like Mary. We are in the “right” places, “looking like” we’re helping people, but instead of showing our love for Jesus (pouring everything at His feet), we are only serving our own selfish interests. When we do that, we become a barrier that blocks the magnetic pull that Jesus naturally has on people. We need to look daily at our motives and ask God to make our only agenda in this world to “Love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love others as you love yourself”, clearing the path for those that we are around so that Jesus can “draw them to Himself”.

What will be told in memory of you?

 Tammy Beck

Seeing Jesus every day 

If yesterday was “Friend Day”…what’s today?If you’ve ever been a parent, then you know that one of the most difficult scenarios you can find yourself in occurs when one of the kids wakes up abruptly and empties their stomach all over themselves.  

For a moment, you’re paralyzed, and then instinct takes over and you grab the child along with everything that got splattered and you throw them all in the bath tub. Well…that’s what my instinct told me anyway. This happened Saturday night. Wife was out of town and Dad was in charge. There’s no manual. There’s no step-by-step that comes to mind. I’ve got a six year old who is wailing, who’s scared, and who needs someone to take care of her.  

Soon, what was a frightening scurry of events, becomes a tender moment of vulnerability and love. It was a long night, with several other hurried moments that evolved into gentle whispers of affection.

That night, I was reminded that as a parent, the most important part of my job is to be present…really present. It’s not just a “I’m physically here” thing, but a fully engaged presence that is cognizant of the power of being and the gift of now.

Saturday night’s events meant that I couldn’t attend Central’s annual Friend Day. I love this day. I love the food and the fellowship. I love the crowd and the camaraderie. I love that we worship together as we’re accustomed to on Sunday mornings, and then we continue our worship by the way we share our lives together over a meal. It is the intentionality of each person to be PRESENT, whether by serving ribs or in shaking hands. We show we are “FRIENDS” because we show we are really THERE.

But today is Monday. If yesterday was “Friend Day”, what is different about today? Is our worship completed? Is our fellowship broken?

If my Saturday and your Sunday have taught us anything, it should be that we are needed in the present. Our lives should be shared together both in fragile vulnerability and in celebratory feasts. Each morning, we awaken to new opportunities to share life together, and this is a tremendous gift.

In a book I’m reading, the author says,

“Jesus taught his disciples a prayer that begins, ‘Our father, who’s in heaven…’

…which is another way of saying,

Begin your prayers—begin your day—by acknowledging that your life is a gift and this gift flows from a source. This source is responsible for the air in your lungs, the blood that courses through your veins, and the vitality that surges through you and everything around you.

…which is another way of saying,

Begin whatever you’re doing by remembering that you are here and you have been given a gift.”

Today is a gift. May we show our gratitude by how we accept the present.

Chad Tappe

Seeing Jesus Together

There are few things as fun as reading through the story of Jesus with a group of people for their first time. When you’ve been part of the church for a long time, as I have, there is so much we take for granted. Things that seem obvious or commonplace to us still surprise and delight a new hearer. In my Catholic context in Arequipa, Peru, the Jesus people usually see is either of Jesus as a child or Jesus on a cross. How do we in the U.S. see Jesus?

In the last couple months I’ve started reading through Mark’s account of the Jesus story with two not-yet-Christian families. Mark keeps it short, filled with action, and centers the story around the question, “Who is Jesus?” It works so well in a small group or family setting because the Jesus story was meant to be experienced in a group. Think of the early groups of believers, hundreds of years ago, who would’ve gathered to hear Jesus’s story read aloud on the only copy they had. We each hear Jesus slightly differently. Sharing those differences with each other helps us better to understand the image of God which Jesus fully reflected and which we have the capacity to reflect.

There have been several questions I take for granted that have surprised me as we’ve read through Jesus’s story with these Peruvian friends. For example, what “law” is Jesus always talking about? Or did Jesus really have siblings? (That’s a tough one in a context where people have been taught Mary conceived Jesus a virgin and maintained her virginity the rest of her life) And did Jesus’s cousin John really eat lobster in the wilderness? (The Spanish word “langosta” can mean both locust and lobster…I’d rather eat lobster, you?)

These are just three questions raised when experiencing the Jesus story with fresh eyes and ears. Questions I would not have raised by myself, because I’ve already decided who Jesus is. But seeing Jesus with a new group causes me to readjust my focus, to come to Jesus in a new light, and to be surprised by Jesus once again.

I believe with all that I am that when people come closer to Jesus, things change. A desire to put someone else first starts to replace our selfish instinct. Instead of seeing rivalry or enemies we start to see the capacity for the image of God in someone else. We bring together and unite instead of segregating and dividing. With Jesus, the secular becomes sacred, the common becomes special, so we too reflect God into our neighborhoods, workplaces, and favorite restaurants. And we do it together.

Sit down and read through the Jesus story with someone, and you’ll realize that we all experience Jesus slightly differently, be it a fellow church member, a friend, or an acquaintance. Be ready to learn. Be ready to share. We’ll be amazed by Jesus’s capacity to surprise, clash, and delight, all through his call to follow him—and the God he embodies.

One of the most surprising things to me about Jesus’s life is the sheer amount of time he spends talking about food and feasts, and the time he spends actually eating—with friends, outsiders, and rivals. There must be something special about sharing a table with other people who share God’s image.

What about you? What surprises you most about seeing Jesus? Share your answer in the comments below.

Jeremy Daggett

Wanting to see Jesus?

The sermon was entitled “Wanting to see Jesus” the preaching passage came from John 12:21 where John recounts a rather mundane incident that should give us all cause to pause! It seems that there were some Greeks who were traveling to attend the Passover celebration and they approach the disciples of Jesus and made a simple request, ‘we want to see Jesus’.

You know there are a lot of people today in the same situation as these men; they want to ‘see’ Jesus. The question however, is WHAT Jesus do people want to see? There are some today who are looking for Jesus to be a master magician who can entertain them with wondrous feats, (like turning water into wine or calming a storm). Others look for a Jesus who is a white robe wearing grand exalted ‘poobah’ who sits in judgment and condemnation on all those that they don’t like! Or perhaps some are looking for a Jesus who only says I love you no matter what you do and how you live and everything that you do is OK by me!

Now here’s the funny thing, I suspect the real Jesus is like none of the previously mentioned visions. I suspect the real Jesus is somewhere in between and vastly different from what any of our concepts are. But the real question for us to consider, especially as Christians, is can others see the real Jesus in us? We all need to realize that the only picture some will ever see of Jesus is in us who call ourselves Christians. Therefore, it’s pretty important that we have a good image in our minds of who Jesus is and as a result show that Jesus to the world not in what we say, but in how we live!

There are still a lot of people in the world today who want to see Jesus.
What Jesus are they seeing in you?

Have a great week!
John P. – 9/12/16

“We would like to see Jesus”

Sunday morning we will join together to think about this passage from John 12.

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus. 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

This weekend we ask that you make this short phrase your “breath prayer”. When we gather together Sunday, our friend day, we will continue to ask God to give us hearts that want to live this short and beautiful phrase.


Everything in Common

I was sitting at a restaurant the other day and there was a table of about ten women with one empty chair. A couple minutes later I saw a young lady walking up to the door and just KNEW that the empty chair was for her. Turns out, I was right. For better or for worse, we tend to associate with people like us.
I make judgments of others and shown favoritism or “prejudice” for those that I choose as friends, not in any malicious way, I don’t believe, but I gravitate toward people who are “like me.” It’s natural. Like osmosis (that we learned about and quickly forgot in science class): water moves from areas of high concentration to low concentration. It’s the path of least resistance. It’s comfortable. It’s easy.

Fortunately for me, being a campus minister in a new campus ministry, I don’t get to pick and choose who walks through that door. No matter who they are, they are valuable to me; one, because I want people here, and two, because they are valuable to God. Under other circumstances I probably wouldn’t know most of the people that I know right now. Maybe our personalities don’t click, or we don’t have common interests, or we don’t walk in the same circles, or we have a hard time understanding one another (linguistically or culturally)!

But being a part of Genesis means that I spend time with people from many different backgrounds: cultural, financial, religious, social, and whatever other kind of backgrounds there are. As we spend time together I learn about people; I get to know their personalities; and despite our differences, we become friends. When we go out together as a group we must stick out like a sore thumb because we cover nearly the entire “spectrum” of skin color…

And do you know what I’ve realized? That it is absolutely fantastic! 

Here’s why:

Being with people who aren’t “like me” means our friendship starts with me seeing them the same way Jesus saw people. Jesus fought through ASSUMPTIONS to make CONNECTIONS, connections with those no one else wanted to make a connection with. When my first impression says, “Not a chance!” Jesus whispers, “But I love them.”

When we fight through ASSUMPTIONS to make CONNECTIONS with different kinds of people, we find that God’s love is as wide and diverse as his people. Diversity is difficult; it WILL BE messy. But when we fight through our assumptions to connect with different people who are made in the image of God we get a glimpse of heaven on earth, where people of EVERY tribe, nation, and tongue will praise God together

Morgan Hines

A confession of favoritism

I show favoritism. When I receive a request for help of some kind, my mind immediately begins processing that request through a number of filters.
• What is my relationship to this person? I will aid a friend before I help an acquaintance and an acquaintance receives more consideration than a total stranger.

• Why does this person need my help? I am unlikely to help if I sense that that he/she is taking advantage of my kindness with inadequate motives.

• Does this person intend to return the favor someday? If so, then I am willing to do more for that person.

• How did this person ask for assistance? I am far more likely to help someone who asks me for assistance if he/she does so in a respectful manner.

But as a I consider my list of filters, I realize that I am much more likely to assist people who share my values – in other words, people who are more like me. 

I have wrestled with this tendency as I have come to realize two fundamental truths.

First truth: My values are shaped by my culture as a middle class American. For example, the Umbundu language of central Angola has no word for “please” and thus the Ovimbundu people communicate “respect” in other ways. Rarely does anyone say, “please” before asking for help.

Another example: my belief that the recipient should show some intention to repay my kindness arises from my American ideals about charity. My parents taught me, “Always repay your debts.” We had some lean years when I was young, but my dad always found a way to repay a kindness. He wound not accept a free lunch. But why should I expect an Angolan friend to offer something in return for my assistance? In traditional Angolan culture, those that have an abundance are expected to share with those that have a need.

Second truth: Jesus freely helped those could never repay their debt. Many whom Jesus helped were complete strangers to Him. Some were taking advantage of Jesus’ kindness with less than perfect motives (the crowd of 5,000, John 6:26) and others would not have seemed to need help at all (Zacchaeus, Luke 19).

If Peter had employed logic like mine, I doubt he would ever have arrived at Cornelius’s home. Peter preferred the company of Jews. It took a vision from God followed by a command from the Holy Spirit (Acts 10.19-20) to get Peter going in the right direction. Thus Peter’s words in 10.34-35 carry great weight. Peter himself showed favoritism (see Galatians 2.11-14). But Peter learned that God values all people equally.

God wants all people to come to know Him (1 Timothy 2:4). When I have an opportunity to serve another, I should fight against my tendency to help only those who share my values. God does not show favoritism, nor should I.

I see this wisdom in Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:42. “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Also see Luke 6:30-36.)

I also see how Peter’s experience in Acts 10 shaped his theology. He instructed the church to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3.15).

I am recommitting myself to serve as many as I am able, especially those who look and think differently than I. I pray that through these efforts, God will give me more opportunities to share the reason for my hope with others.

Robert Meyer

“Accidental” favoritism

“It’s like they didn’t even see me walking toward them.  I guess that’s better than having them give me a dirty look.”

“You know how people are who live in THAT part of town.”

“Now, let’s not just invite everyone.  I want it to be fun and some of those people are just awkward to be around, you know?”


It’s easy to spot favoritism when it’s obvious and it’s happening in someone else’s life.  I can see someone is prejudice for or against someone when I see them discriminate between people and treat some better and treat others with disdain at some level.

If I see someone giving preferential treatment or attention to one group to the exclusion of others, that’s favoritism.  Sure, some of it’s “normal” and a part of everyday life, but that’s kind of the point – when we accept what is normal and turn down the call of the Lord to accept and relate to all people, we’ve fallen prey to the hollow and deceptive philosophies of this world that are based on human traditions.

Spotting in other is easy.  Spotting in us takes some discernment, a deeper look inside our heart and in our habits.  Most of the time, we can explain away our prejudice and our discrimination:


“I don’t have time to get to know everyone.  I mean, there’s just a few minutes before and after church to talk with people and I want to make sure I touch base with the people I want to see.”

“Maybe if the church puts together a class time where we’re able to connect with different people, THEN I can try to see what other people are like.  I don’t have time or desire to do it on my own.”

“I’ve tried to reach out to people who are different from me, but it just seems like we don’t have anything in common and they aren’t very interested either.  I mean, what are we supposed to do?”


And once we see our habits and our heart, we can begin to step out and do something different – something that is a move toward God’s heart toward people.

It’s not always rocket science or something super formal.  It’s as easy as just being you and asking the other person to be themselves.  And then making a little time here and there to connect and talk.

As Leon challenged us this past week, have a coffee or maybe have lunch together.  15 minutes here.  An hour there.  Just pick some time.  Maybe ave someone over for dinner and just relax and get to know each other.


“Hey, tell me about where you grew up.”

“What’s your neighborhood/job/commute to work/family/etc like?”

“What’re your thoughts about ___________________?”


And just listen.  And then share your story.  A place to start in overcoming any of favoritism in your heart is just to start talking with people that you don’t normally take the time to get to know.  Try it this week.


Romans 2:11 “God does not show favoritism”


Wade Poe

Prejudice that eats away trust

This Sunday we will explore a portion from Acts 10.

34 Then Peter began to speak: “Now I really understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, 35 but in every nation the person who fears Him and does righteousness is acceptable to Him.

This is good news; but we don’t always see the good news as good. Too often the seat we are in colors our ability to see good as good. It took Peter a while.

It would be easy to find some injustice in the world and share it. But for this weekend, lets reflect together on where in our lives we show favoritism (as individuals) and where in our lives we can more fully pursue righteousness.

Be in prayer that our Central community will grow God’s kingdom through our hearing and practicing the truth as given in the Word. Pray that the Word will be flesh and dwell among us.

Dirt on mission

We’re all just different kinds of dirt.

It would do me good to remember that God breathed life into a handful of dirt and called it “man.” I take myself too seriously sometimes. Jesus also called us “dirt” in the “Parable of the Sower” (Matthew 13/Mark 4/Luke 8). But not all dirt has the same qualities.

Jesus shared this parable with a “great crowd” of people. He meant for each person who had gathered on that beach to consider what type of soil he/she was. Jesus broke them down into four types:

  • Do you allow the unexplained mysteries of the Gospel to prevent your faith from taking hold, like seed that never penetrates the surface?
  • Will your faith waiver when trials come and tear you free from your shallow roots among the rocks?
  • Are you so caught up in your concern for worldly things that these “thorns” will choke the life out of your faith?
  • Or are you so excited to have received the Good News that you go out and share it with others, like seed sown in good soil that bears much fruit?

It seems to me that our congregations (whether we live in Angola or the USA) are made up of all four kinds of soil – just like Jesus’ crowd on the beach. So the first question that we ought to ask ourselves – if we’re striving to be part of God’s Kingdom – is, “What kind of soil am I?”

But I think there’s a second crucial question implied in Jesus’ parable: ‘How can I better prepare myself to bear fruit like the good soil?

If you told the Parable of the Sower to a group of subsistence farmers (in Angola or Ancient Palestine, for example), they might burst into laughter. “Who spends a week’s wages on seed and doesn’t first till the soil? He is either lazy or foolish!” Even the casual gardener knows you ought to remove the rocks and weeds before you plant the seed. And you never cast your seed on the walkway.

I confess that I have not always been “good soil.” Nor does my life reflect a “thorn-free,” well-tilled garden. My little patch of dirt is more of a mix of the four soil types.

Surely Jesus didn’t mean to reject those in his audience who weren’t serious disciples. Instead he invited them to a more robust faith with deeper roots. He challenged them to grow. His words ought to remind us that gardening requires constant attention. We till the soil, pull the weeds, and do all that we can so that our soil will produce a greater harvest.

If I want to be part of the Kingdom, then I need to work hard to uproot the distractions in my life. I don’t want the cares of this world to crowd out things of eternal consequence. I need to fortify my faith through prayer, Scripture, fellowship, and service, so that I’m ready for the trials that come. Following Christ won’t be easy, just because I received the seed.

We’re all just dirt, but God has planted a seed within us. As we seek to grow God’s kingdom, let us be diligent gardeners, so that we, and our fellow disciples, will bear much fruit.

Robert Meyer