On May 13-14, 2017, Chip took some "family time" to look back at the past year and give us a look ahead at the coming months.
Read John 21:15-19 »
I can’t think of many things that are more shameful than having to admit to your failings in front of a group. Much less a group that you made grand and bold promises too. This is what we see happen to Peter in John 21
Peter had declared in front of the disciples that he would never deny Jesus. In fact, he had declared he would die for Jesus before denying him! John 18:15-18 and 25-27 show us that Peter’s promises and commitments had fallen short. He had failed in a most spectacular way. He is hiding in his shame by doing what so many of us do, we go back to something that we are good at, that we feel confident in. Peter went to fishing; though after a night without any fish, he must have been feeling even more shame (A professional fisherman who can’t catch anything?!). Jesus comes to Peter to wipe away his shame, and to restore him. Jesus asks him a series of questions in front of the other disciples that work to reinstate Peter and help him to see the purpose for his future. Jesus asks him three time if he loves him. When Peter says he does Jesus tells him to “feed my sheep”. On the third time Peter was grieved, because he knew Jesus was referring back to his denial. The other disciples were there witnessing this event and were seeing how you eradicate shame from your life. Shame leaves when the failure is brought into the light, when it is forgiven, and when we can move beyond shame into God’s purpose for our future.
What are the area(s) of shame in your life that haunt you, that you can’t seem to escape?
Focus internally for a moment, intentionally thinking about those areas. They are probably hard to think about even though likely they quickly jump into your mind. Jesus wants to free you; he wants to take your shame away. He wants to do for you what He did for Peter. Jesus is right there with you, wanting to meet you where you are at. Jesus wants you to face your shame, the events or the choices that caused that shame, and bring you freedom.
Pray right now, ask Jesus to bring you freedom from your shame. Specifically pray about the areas of shame and ask God to lead you toward healing and freedom.
Now you need to tell someone. One of the most difficult parts of healing is bringing our shame into the light and refusing to hide it anymore. This doesn’t mean you stand up and share it with the entire world, but find a person or two whom you deeply trust and share your shame with them. Let them help you walk along the process of healing and freedom.
God has a purpose for your life. God loves you. God is with you.
Have a wonderful week.
Many Easter services start with a greeting that sounds a lot like this. This greeting has been used throughout Church history and has become a traditional greeting Christians say to each other around Easter. I hope that this greeting is more than just a tradition to you. I hope that every time you speak this, you are giving testimony to your belief in the reality that Jesus Christ is alive today, just like he was 2,000 years ago.
Three times in John 20 Jesus’ followers testify about His resurrection:
- Mary Magdalene: “I have seen the Lord” – (John 20:18)
- Ten of the twelve disciples: “We have seen the Lord” – (John 20:25)
- Thomas: “My Lord and my God”— (John 20:28)
They saw the living and resurrected Christ, the Savior of the world! This experience (and receiving the Holy Spirit soon after) spurred them on to testify throughout the whole world that Jesus was the Messiah, the God/Man who has conquered sin and death!
Even in this moment of incredible evidence for Christ; there was still doubt. Honestly, this is comforting to me, because sometimes I doubt even there is no "good reason" to be doubting.
We see in John 20 that Thomas doubted and demanded proof before he would believe in Jesus. It didn't matter that Mary Magdalene and the other disciples told him they had seen Jesus. He wanted to see Jesus’ hands and feel Jesus’ wounds before he would believe. After Jesus appeared to Thomas, he responds with belief. Jesus’ words to Thomas in John 20 always provide me with great comfort, and I hope they do for you today as well.
Jesus speaks a blessing in John 20 that is true for us today. We who have believed based on testimony and witness, we are blessed! We have not seen Jesus in the same way the first-century believers did; and yet we still have the opportunity to believe and to be a part of God’s eternal kingdom. Hallelujah!
Church history tells us that Thomas traveled as far as India proclaiming the Good News about Jesus. The other disciples traveled the world and proclaimed the Good News about Jesus everywhere they went. God led them to overcome their doubts and they believed.
Who can you proclaim the Good News about Jesus to this week?
He is Risen; He is Risen, Indeed!
Isaiah tells us that one of the realities about God is that He is able to tell us the future, to prophecy about things that have not yet happened. As one looks through scripture we see incredible testimony about Jesus through prophecies made about Him. Let’s look at a few of these prophecies that are fulfilled in John 19.
These three prophecies are only a few of the hundreds (yes Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies in his life, death, and resurrection!)
Let us rejoice that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world! He is the only one qualified and able to save the entire world from sin, death, and destruction. Let us praise Jesus that we can know this truth and be saved from our sins! Let us be thankful that we have the Holy Spirit living in us, actively guiding us to become more like Christ.
Have a wonderful week and share with someone the wonderful truth about Jesus Christ!
John 18 is filled with incredible courage and sickening cowardice. This chapter of scripture contains testimonies about Jesus from a variety of people. Spend a few minutes reading John chapter 18 and look for these examples of courage and cowardice. As you are reading reflect on the motivations that directed each person’s testimony.
When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.
Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
“You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.
He replied, “I am not.”
It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.
Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
“I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
“If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”
He denied it, saying, “I am not.”
One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
When we as Christians move through our daily lives we are presented with opportunities to give testimony about Jesus. We can offer a courageous or cowardly testimony. Judas betrays Jesus and shows us a testimony of cowardice. Peter immediately steps up with courage (though misguided) and wants to defend Jesus by taking on a whole Roman detachment of trained soldiers with what was probably a fishing knife! What courage he has! Unfortunately, his courage is short-lived… that same night he responds with cowardice three times as people question him about his connection to Jesus. After his third denial a rooster crows and Peter flees, full of sorrow and tears (Luke 22:62).
How can we respond with courage, not cowardice, when we are faced with opportunities to testify about Jesus? Peter was empowered in his initial testimony because of Jesus’ presence, Jesus’ power, and the community of disciples that he was surrounded by. Later in Peter’s story his courage isn’t in misguided actions, but in powerful testimonies about Jesus. In his three denials he was alone, he was scared, and he wanted to hide because of the weight of the possible consequences that might come if he spoke the truth about Jesus.
When we are close to Jesus, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us, and being encouraged by a close community of Christians we are much more likely to speak out courageously! One of the big reasons that our vision at Venture includes everyone being In Community is so that we can be encouraging each other to be bold and courageous as we move through our daily lives. If you are not In Community, click here, join one of the various groups and be encouraged. For those of you who are already in a group, I would encourage you to be open and vulnerable in your group so that you can be courageous in your testimony this week.
Many times I’ve heard people express an unwillingness to pray for themselves. They feel that it is selfish and instead they should focus on others. Jesus gives us a great example of praying for Himself. We can learn a great amount from the content of Jesus’ prayer as he focused inward on Himself.
Jesus focused on the mission that the Father had assigned him to. Jesus’ prayer was that this mission (His death and resurrection) could be completed and that it would bring glory (think recognition/honor) to the Father and Himself. Jesus’ prayer is focused on the results of his mission. He knows that it’s completion will bring eternal life to all who believe, it will also bring great glory to the Father and Himself. He is eager for it and longs for it to come
Jesus also knows the pain and agony of what he will endure in the coming days (Luke 18:31-34). He is aware of the need for him to be punished, and ultimately killed for the sins of the world. He deals with the present agony as he feels of the weight of the path in front of Him (Luke 22:41-46). He submits His emotions (the agony of the pain he will feel) and His desire (to complete the mission a different way) to the plan of the Father and moves forward into completing the mission set before Him.
When we are praying for ourselves, our mission (and the glory it will bring to God) and our emotions ought to be a main focus of our prayers. Telling God your desires and emotions is wise, and helps us greatly in understanding how to submit and surrender those to God (Matthew 6:25-34 / Phil 4:4-7). As we pray for ourselves we must also focus on the mission that God has for us. Jesus focuses on this in John 17:20-26 and tells us that our mission is to testify, to be unified, to overcome this world, and to be glorified with God forever. The wonderful thing about being given this mission is that it is also a promise that God will be with us (John 14:15-17, John 14:25-26, John 16:7-11) and that we have an eternal dwelling with Him that has already begun.
Spend a moment thanking God for this mission that he has given all of us. Pray for strength and wisdom to complete it well.
Furthermore, God has placed each of us in a unique position with a unique role to play. What (or who) has God placed in front of you at this exact stage in your life? Spend a moment praying that God would empower you and lead you forward in the mission he has for you in this stage in your life.
In John 16 the disciples are facing a significant challenge. Jesus has told them that he was going to leave them. They had accepted Jesus’ call and followed Him, leaving everything behind. They had spent years with Jesus, being trained and taught by Him. They had seen his miracles. They had come to believe that He was the Messiah, their Savior. Now Jesus is telling them that He will be leaving!! We see their reaction in John 16:6:
They were having a very difficult time comprehending what it would be like to not have Jesus with them in the way He had been. Maybe you have pondered this same question, or in a specific situation have wished that you could just see and hear from Jesus Himself.
Jesus, helping His disciples (and us by extension), tells them the great advantages of having The Holy Spirit with them rather than Himself.
Read the words of Jesus below:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you."
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer, concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged."
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come."
How advantageous it is to have The Holy Spirit living in us! We have the privilege of having God living inside of each of us, simultaneously. The Spirit will teach us and remind us of Jesus’ teaching. The Spirit will convict us about our lives and guide us. Praise God for this incredible privilege! This week let us lean into the reality of The Spirit’s constant presence in our lives.
A question for you to consider this week - In what ways are you taking full advantage of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life?
May you be in tune to the leading of the Holy Spirit this week!
On February 19, we had a very important family time as a church, addressing how Christians can live like Christians in this new era of polarization. Please take a moment to watch this, and share it with friends and family whom it might encourage.
Thank you for praying for our country, our President, for those who feel alienated and afraid as we enter this era of divisiveness. God has called us to bring truth in love with gentleness and action like never before.
Pressing Ahead With You,
Senior Pastor | Venture Christian Church
It was May of 1986, and I was hoping to go on a summer short-term mission trip to Yugoslavia, but with the first financial deadline looming 8 hours away, I was still $300 short. I remember praying, “Lord, by faith I’m going to trust that if you want me to go, you will provide the funds,” and then I went off to class. That evening I returned, and on my bed were three checks totaling — yes you knew this was coming — $300. I ended up spending the summer in Yugoslavia. Another time I was broke and needed $150 for dental work. I prayed, and sure enough, received a rebate check in the mail for — yes you knew this was coming — $150.
Faith, believing that for which we lack complete proof, pleases God. Without faith it is impossible to please him, and he delights in our trusting him for things, particularly when those things will be used for his glory. For me, God’s financial surprises have been a catalyst to trust him for greater things. Faith Promise is a step of faith, trusting God that he will supernaturally provide funds that we then give back to him for Kingdom endeavors.
As a community we take this faith step together, trusting God to impress upon us an amount that he would have us trust him for, then giving to fund local and global outreach. Please take time to pray and — yes you knew this was coming — trust the Lord to provide.
We all know challenges are a part of life. The Bible is full of stories of people facing seemingly impossible challenges, whether it’s David going up against Goliath; the trials that Job or Joseph faced; the apostles going into the world and preaching about Jesus; or as our Tuesday night men’s Bible study recently discussed, the Israelites crossing the Jordan River.
If you feel frustrated, confused, and possibly angry with our current political situation, you are not alone. Never has America, the world's most powerful country, been given two options for president that both have such low approval among the populous.
Rarely has the rhetoric been so divisive and so negative; and we have only days remaining before the election. So...
How does a Christian live like a Christian
when it comes to this November election?
After much prayer and searching, I felt prompted to give my best answer to that questions. I encourage you to watch the video and pass it on if you find it helpful. Here's a brief outline to get you started:
1. Think Clearly
Until you understand the unique role of the Government, the Church, and the Individual Christian, you are destined to an electoral season of high emotion and poor decision making. To help you think this through, click here to download an mp3 audio message from Culture Shock on "The Church and Politics" that outlines God's purpose for the Government, the Church, and the Individual Believer.
2. Think Deeply
Ask the "why" question. Why are you "leaning toward," or resolutely voting for one candidate or the other? What is your motivation and reasoning? Anger? Fear? Bias? Tradition? Economics? Self-interest?
What if you honestly asked yourself, "Who would Jesus vote for and why?" What issues, values, and objectives, does He hold most dear? Why would Jesus vote even if He didn't have great respect for either as candidates for this high office? What criteria would He use that would help you vote wisely?
3. Act Responsibly
Remember that you are first and foremost a son or daughter of the Most High God and your communication and behavior need to reflect your Savior. How?
- Refuse to vilify the "other" candidate and party with whom you disagree.
- Refuse to pass on "untested information" because it's on the internet or the news.
- Refuse to attack, blame, label, and treat others who disagree with you as "less Christian."
- Know what the Bible says about key issues and articulate them with boldness and kindness (see Culture Shock book and Small Group Study).
4. Pray Fervently
Place your hope in God alone, not a candidate or a political party. Take God up on His promises. He has dramatically intervened through history and waits on high to hear the cries of His people.
5. Be a Change Agent
Refuse to be passive or fatalistic. Ask God to do a fresh work in you. You can't change the whole world, but you can let God change you. Don't unconsciously fall into the trap that the November election will determine our future. God can and does work through any leader – the question is will you let Him work in you?
It may sound strange, but I'm very encouraged and optimistic. Why? Because times of crisis and uncertainty cause us to awaken from our idols and distractions. We all have them and so do our neighbors, coworkers, and friends who don't yet know Jesus' love and forgiveness.
Now is not a time to be dismayed. Now is a time to seize the day!
God is WILLING! God is ABLE! God invites you and me to use this pivotal season in America's history to draw near to Him, start or join a group for strength, and reach out like never before.
Thanks you for taking the challenge, making a difference, and praying as we as Venture seek to be a catalyst to transform the Bay Area and the world for Christ,
Pressing Ahead With You,
'A few pictures from the villages today!'
All is going well! Team well bonded!
Update # 2
Pray for a full day for us preparing for the medical camps, practicing songs with the college sponsorship students, taking the video of them singing, I am giving a sermon to them and volunteers and our other 3 members are all giving their testimonies, and we visit villages and pray for people. May every word and action be for Christ.
Dear Family and Friends,
I am writing to you to ask for prayer for my up-coming medical mission trip to India. We have physicians, nurses, pharmacists, a physical therapist, a worship leader/videographer/photographer, and many nationals. We will care for hundreds of people every day.
Our team leaves in a few days to visit the remote villages we have been ministering to for many years.
I have been told by our missionary that we will visit to see the woman we prayed for (the elder's wife who had been sick for 3 years) 2 years ago. Please pray that she would be healed to glorify God and open heart to Christ in that village. We ask for prayers that a church service being planned on that evening will happen.
The elders and leaders in the villages in the last few years have started trusting us and asking us to "pray to our God to heal their loved ones." This is a beautiful opportunity to show Christ's love and light to them, and now that we are bringing a medical camp that will reach 14-16 villages in the area, we need your prayers that the Holy Spirit would move in the hearts of His people in India and move them to accept Christ into their hearts.
Please pray for wisdom and discernment for our team and for God's words and will to be made known to us at all times while we care for people and speak to them about our faith and show them Christ's love.
Please pray that we would have extra measures of strength and energy, that we would stay healthy, and that we would have complete protection against the enemy, which we will claim constantly every day in Jesus' Name.
Please also pray for our visit to the village elder's home and pray over his second son and his wife who have long tried to conceive a child, please pray that God will grant them this desire if it be His will so that He would be glorified in the two villages as well.
We believe and trust that Christ will be revealed in the hearts of His children as we cover all of these village families in corporate prayer.
"Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:19-20
There will be many people that we will visit and pray for every day until we return from the medical camps in those villages; therefore we ask that you would keep us covered in prayer continually. We pray that Christ would reveal himself to the families in these villages and that the Holy Spirit would move hearts to see, understand, and accept Christ into their hearts. This is our greatest desire for these village families who we have long loved and prayer for.
Thank you very much for joining us in prayer and for loving God's people in India along with us.
In Christ's love and service,
This past weekend, Chip addressed a few concerns he had received about the membership process and being "all in" at Venture.
Last year I attended a hackathon where a developer showed me a mobile application he was building for the homeless community. I challenged him to instead use a marker and paper to sketch his ideas and walk across the street a homeless shelter to test his basic assumptions directly with the people it would most affect. Not sure if he would take me up on the challenge, I was pleasantly surprised when an hour later he returned with key insights and a profound joy from the interactions.
Sometimes we hinder our best efforts to help others by over-intellectualizing a solution when we should be directly engaging our communities in true, authentic relationships. "Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them." (Romans 12:9) Yes, God placed you here specifically with works that He prepared in advance for you to do (Ephesians 2:10), just remember that the greatest gift you can offer is to is to be present and alert (Isaiah 43:19) to that work by engaging in direct relationship within the environments God has strategically positioned you.
If you are involved in technology and entrepreneurship here in Silicon Valley, this is not by chance. I invite you to to join us for <analog> , every fourth Thursday in Venture's coffee house, we will be building relationships to encourage and empower each other to become more directly active in our communities. On September 23-25 Venture is hosting a Bay Area Code for the Kingdom Hackathon, where we will all have the opportunity to engage our skills and talents directly to building technology solutions that impact our local region. I truly hope you will join us! Click here for more information.
Pastor of Innovation
A while ago, the Holy Spirit convicted me of a way of thinking that I had. A lie that I believed. A simple, predictable, insidious lie. The lie that people are the enemy. With all of the unsettling news that we hear, it can be very easy to begin to think of people as the enemy. Just look at all of the bigotry, terrorism, hostility toward the church, etc. It can seem to us as if we live in a world full of people who are knowingly attempting to ruin our world and our lives.
But in all this God met me in a quiet moment and whispered, “You only have one enemy.” I realized that these people are not trying to be hateful. They do not wake up in the morning, bent on destruction. They are simply believing the lies of the enemy, namely Satan. It made Ephesians 6:12 very real for me:
While those of this world may, at times, set themselves against us as enemies, let us not treat them as such. Let us react supernaturally in love, kindness, grace, and mercy.
The easiest answers are sometime the most difficult to see. Take the subject of God's will, for example. We followers of Christ want to see God's will expressed through our lives. We want to know—and use—our gifts. We want to see God do great things through us. The challenge, though, comes with determining that will.
MOM – there are only three letters in the name “mom” but she does so much. She is nurse, cook, laundry machine operator, organizer, control manager, hugger, maid, listener, event planner, taxi driver, cheerleader at each sports event, multi-tasker, teacher, counselor, hairdresser…and the list goes on. Thank you, Mom’s, for all you do and thank you for letting God’s love minister through you to the ones He has entrusted in your care. We are forever grateful for you!
We had a great time this past weekend honoring our moms. If you took a photo with your family at one of our photo booths over Mother's Day weekend, head over to our Facebook page, where you can find and download your family's photo: