December 11, 2011

Chosen and Sent

Mike's Message on Dec. 11. Isaiah 61:1-4 and 10-11.
I think we too often make choices based on the safety of cynicism, and what we're lead to is a life not fully lived. Cynicism is fear, and it's worse than fear - it's active disengagement. Ken Burns
Tips for Advent/Christmas Season--- Read and reflect on Isaiah 61:1-11. How is God encouraging you through these verses? How is He challenging you? Pray 5 minutes each day for 3 people in your life who need to meet Jesus this Christmas.

December 5, 2011

Message from December 4, 2011

Here's Mike's message from Advent- Week 2
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever- Presented by Vineyard Kids Church, Friday, Dec. 16 at 5pm. Location: Vineyard Church Concord- Suggested Donation: $5 per Family/Group

November 27, 2011

Isaiah- Advent 2011

From Mike's message on Nov. 27
Tips for Advent/Christmas Season
Read Isaiah 64:1-9

Ask God in prayer;
How do you want to save/heal me?
How do you want to save/heal those in my life?
What can I do to co-operate with You?

Mike's Message on Advent: Isaiah 64:1-9

November 20, 2011

Farther OUT with Jesus

Here are the verses from Mike's message on Farther OUT with Jesus, on November 20:
Acts 2:46-47, Matthew 9:9-13
How were you reached by God? Who did God use to reach you?

November 13, 2011

Verses for this week

Here are the verses from Mike's message on 11/13

Romans 16:3-5 and 10-11
Philemon 1-2
2 Timothy 4:19

November 6, 2011

Farther in With Jesus

Here are the verses Mike used in his message, "Farther in With Jesus" Acts 2:42-47, Acts 11:19-29, Acts 13:1-5, Acts 19:8-12, Acts 20:20-21 Why are large, medium and small group gatherings important?

November 4, 2011

This Sunday, (Nov. 6) at Vineyard

Well this is one of those weekends that people either love or hate. Some take great joy in the extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning, some mourn the end of Daylight Savings. I once worked with a man from El Salvador who asked me "How can you change time?" (they don't do daylight savings). I had no answer for him. So turn your clock back one hour on Saturday night, turn on your DVR for the 49er's game, and we'll see you for worship at 10:30. November is a great month to be thankful. Many people are participating in 30 days of thankfulness and posting something they're thankful for every morning on Facebook. See you Sunday!

October 16, 2011

Moravian Bible Texts

Would you like to get involved in the bible readings in the Moravian Texts? Go to this link and give them your email; you'll get daily readings to reflect on.

October 15, 2011

This Week at Vineyard Church

Here are the verses for Mike's message on Sunday, 10/16. Go get 'em! Matthew 4:4 / Deuteronomy 8:1-5 / John 6:68 / John 1:1-5, 14 / Luke 9:23-24 Deuteronomy 8:1-2 1 Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.

October 6, 2011

This week at Vineyard Church

Here's something to read and reflect on; the key verses in Mike's continuing message, "Going Farther With Jesus." Sun. 10/9 10:30am. Luke 4:18-22 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vineyard Kids Present: THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER Friday, December 16th

October 1, 2011

Read ahead for Sunday, Oct. 2

Luke Luke 24:13-36 focusing on verses 28-32, and Ephesians 1:15-23, focusing on verse 17.
This will be the introduction to the Fall series I am calling ‘Going Farther with Jesus’.
Over the weeks I will preach on going farther UP, farther IN, farther OUT.
Blessings, Mike

September 22, 2011

Vineyard Work Party

Thanks to everyone who helped out today at the work party! Some good stuff got done!

September 16, 2011

Sunday Sept. 18

For Sunday, please go ahead and read 1 Corinthians 15 and take a few minutes to reflect on it.

1 Corinthians 15

The Resurrection of Christ

1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[c] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”[d]

33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”[e] 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

The Resurrection Body

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”[f]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we[g] bear the image of the heavenly man.

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[h]

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

September 10, 2011

Compassion Sunday Sept. 11

If you are sponsoring a Compassion child, could you bring a picture tomorrow morning? We're putting up a new, updated map of sponsored children.

September 9, 2011

Acoustic worship at Vineyard

Acoustic worship at Vineyard this Sunday. Justin Mc Roberts, Gail Lund and Dave Foster, keeping it folky. 10:30

September 7, 2011

This Week @Vineyard

Justin McRoberts will be with us this Sunday to talk about A Christian Response to Natural Disaster.

August 30, 2011

This Week @Vineyard

Be one of the cool kids and read ahead for this Sunday, Sept. 4. 1Corinthians 14:1-46. It's about prophecy, but you already knew that!

Remember, worship starts at 10:30 sharp! :-O

August 23, 2011

This Week @Vineyard

Cheryl Perkins will be at Concord Vineyard this Sunday (8/28 @10:30) to share her experience serving in Gambia.

August 8, 2011

Summer Sabbath Devotional- Week 6

Faith, Hope and Love
August 8, 2011

We’ve been working our way through first Corinthians all summer, so with this, the final devotional of the Summer Sabbath, I want to focus on arguably the most familiar passage from that book. And though it is very familiar, I want to look at it with fresh eyes.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels,
but didn’t love others,
I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I had the gift of prophecy,
and if I understood all of God’s secret plans
and possessed all knowledge,
and if I had such faith that I could move mountains,
but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
If I gave everything I have to the poor
and even sacrificed my body,
I could boast about it;
but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable,
and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice
but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up,
never loses faith,
is always hopeful,
and endures through every circumstance.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—
and the greatest of these is love.

Paul is saying if I had a magic wand and it could grant me everything of value to this world: a brilliant mind, all knowledge of now and the future, all riches and power, but I lacked love, I would lack everything needed for a life that mattered. And I want a life that matters now and long after I’m gone.

This is really the whole point Paul is trying to make in his letter to the Corinthians. He is trying to stress to them, the new life they have in Christ, isn’t about rules and laws or about freedom verses constraint. He wants them, and by extension, wants us to understand it is much, much bigger than that. Because this new life we have is about love.

We may think we understand love. (yawn here)
But I know I don’t. If understanding goes beyond theory, to doing, I have a long, long way to go in my understanding of love. I certainly don’t live love, as described above, all the time and in all of my relationships and all my encounters with other human beings on this planet.

Love is what God is
Love is why Jesus came
The love we show and extend to others matters more than we can possibly imagine
Love changes everything
Love is bigger than life and stronger than death
And love is as small as the broken cracks in our heart that no one else knows about
Love breathes life
into us, into others and into the world
Love has no fear (what would it be like to never again experience fear, worry, or dread?)

Every good thing I have, every right I claim, everything of value in my life comes from Christ. And through Christ I have every freedom. Freedom matters.

But when freedom’s aim isn’t love it becomes freedom wasted.
Love matters more. And ultimately love will always win.
And at the end of the day, the end of my life and ultimately at the end of this age, only one thing will remain.

Questions to think about:

1. Re-read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, (many times this week) what hits you the most? Does any part of it jump out and hit you right between the eyes? Is there part of this description of love you wish you embodied more?
2. Is there a relationship in your life that could use more of a certain aspect of this love? What, by God’s grace, can you do about it this week?
3. Love is His will being done, His Kingdom coming now, on earth as it is in Heaven. Look for opportunities where you can take some risks to live out this type of love at work or school or just in everyday encounters with people.
4. Another way to think about love is this: what do I fill my life with, nouns or verbs? Things or actions? Which will leave behind the story I want my life to tell?
5. What are you nurturing in your life now that you will bring into heaven? Selfishness can’t come. Jealousy, envy, greed, sarcasm, worry, fear, cynicism, bitterness, these things won’t be in heaven. But patience, kindness, joy, truth, faith and hope, will come with us. These things are a part of the Kingdom to come. How can you cultivate more heaven on earth in your life now?

Romans 11:29 For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.
May you recognize His call and live committed to it.

“Indeed, God’s grace is enough.
Now friends…
Go in peace, and may the grace of our mighty God go before you.
May the hand of our Lord Jesus rest upon you,
And, may the power and love of the Holy Spirit fill you,
now and forever more.”

Karen Greschel
1965 - 2011

August 1, 2011

Summer Sabbath Devotional- Week 5

Quietness and Confidence
August 1, 2011

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Psalm 24

I grew up believing in God. I never doubted there was a God. I believed He created and ran the universe. He suffered and died on a cross for all of us; past, present and future. He reigned over all and was somehow in all. The nuns told me so and I believed them. And I was one of the multitudes included in what He did for ‘all’.

I never doubted He cared in a large, cosmic sense, for me. I never expected any personal conversation. Nor did I expect any personal attention or favor. It was enough. It was enough that He was Creator, Savior, and God. It seemed to me kind of greedy to expect more.

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

Then on August 11, 1973, when I was 17, I heard more of His story. I heard that He loved me. Not ‘me, one of the multitude in His creation’, but me. He loved me. He wanted to know my heart. He wanted me to know His. Not only as revealed in Scripture, but He wanted me to know the depth of His love for me and to understand this covenant He initiated with me in the context of my everyday, very real life.

And learning this, I was never the same. I don’t know WHAT changed that day, exactly. But I know all my decisions from that day forward have included this understanding.

“I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49

Seeing God as close and relatable was certainly different and strange. He wanted to hear from me, He wanted me to hear from Him. My Catholic upbringing had led me to understand my covenant relationship with God in a certain distant, yet valid way. But now I was also seeing this covenant between God and me as something more ‘one on one’, not just ‘one on everyone who ever has or ever will live’. I was not just a speck in His creation. I mattered as if I was His only child. Paradigm shattering. I know it will take my lifetime here on earth to reframe and understand this loving covenant relationship God has made with me.

“Whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye.’’ Zechariah 2

With this new understanding, I realized this was a personal relationship. There would be personal interaction and communication. But, how? Scripture, for sure, tells me a lot about God and His character. My brothers and sisters speak His voice in my life often. But I knew there was a more personal element in this communication.

“What's God going to say to my questions? …. I'll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon. I'll wait to see what God says (to me)… Habakkuk 2

I recently re-read this wise, old saying in my devotional: “They who watch for the providence of God will never lack the providence of God to watch for.”

And I thought how that is similar to how I know God speaks to me. It makes sense to me, because He wants to say that when I ‘listen for the voice of God, I will never lack the voice of God to hear’. And that the inverse could be true as well, ‘They who never listen for or expect to hear the voice of God will never have the voice of God to hear.’ Not that His voice won’t be just as present, but it won’t be heard without having the ears to hear it and the expectation of hearing it… So,

“This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.” Lamentations 3

I wait and hope and expect to hear. Often I don’t think I am hearing anything in particular or at least not hearing anything I am aware of. But I now see the world, my world, as a place where God does want to speak to me. At many times, and in various ways, I know His voice now. In rare, rare instances, it is a clear and resounding assurance. Often, it comes through Scripture or a trusted brother or sister. Mostly it is a still small voice, a knowing in my core. A ‘thought’ even, that I know isn’t just mine. A knowing I can’t explain or put into words adequately.

Hearing God on one level is very mystical, and on another level very ordinary. To expect nothing mystical is wrong. I’d miss out on those rare amazing moments with God that are somehow mysterious. But to not acknowledge and appreciate the voice and presence of God in the ordinary would be for me to miss out often, to miss out regularly, and dismisses the wonder of God’s interaction with me in the sacred mundane of my life.

If I look and listen for the Divine in the ordinary I see and hear the voice of God. The Voice that so loved the world, that so loved me, that He made a covenant with the world at large and with me personally that cost Him everything.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” Psalm 27

In the (many) years since I was 17, I have invested a lot of time thinking about these things. And there are some things I know for sure. I know God lives. I know God reaches into my individual life to show me His love and compassion. I know the rain will fall on the just and the unjust. I know the troubles of this world will come. I know I will be confused and hurt, not able to see the whole picture. I know too that I have had His voice in my life from my earliest years. I know there is more to hope for now than just going to heaven someday. I know God’s will does happen on Earth, even now, as it is in Heaven. Amazing. Heaven does invade my present suffering, my present joys, my present life on earth. I know He is a God who wants me to know the plans He has for me. And I know that I know more of Him and hear more from Him when I wait and expect, knowing Him to be a good God.

“In quietness and confidence (is my) strength.” Isaiah 30

1.What are your expectations of hearing God speak to you?
2.What beliefs or assumptions have you brought in to these expectations?
3.What experiences have you had when you felt you heard God’s voice or knew His leading for you?
4.What can you do to learn to recognize His voice / leading in your life more? And by the grace of God, may you do it.

Romans 11:29 For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.
May you recognize His call and live committed to it.

July 25, 2011

Summer Sabbath Devotional- Week 4

Grace and Peace
July 25, 2011

I know a woman. Her name is Karen: mid-forties, she went to Northgate High School, single, an ordained Presbyterian minister with a big smile. While on staff at a Presbyterian church on May 29th of this year, she gave a sermon. Not much outstanding about any of that; there’s nothing out of the ordinary about her description and ministers give sermons. It’s their job. But I want to share this benediction that she prayed over her congregation at the end of the service on May 29th.
“Indeed, God’s grace is enough.
Now friends…
Go in peace, and may the grace of our mighty God go before you.
May the hand of our Lord Jesus rest upon you,
And, may the power and love of the Holy Spirit fill you,
now and forever more.”

I don’t know about you, but when I hear that, I can literally FEEL the peace of her words. Her peace: contagious. I can feel the strength of her sincerity in these words. She obviously knew them to be true personally.

She calls the congregation ‘friends’ as Jesus called His disciples. And there was a tenderness and truth to addressing them this way. Again, not much astonishing about this, as a believer we are supposed to believe these things. As a minister of the gospel, we’d assume she knew these truths.

But the reason these words have stuck with me so profoundly, the reason I experienced such tremendous peace reading these words is that this woman, Karen, died on June 17, nineteen days after she gave this benediction. She had been battling ovarian cancer for months and without a doubt she knew as she gave this sermon, it would be the last sermon she gave, the last opportunity she had to pray a blessing over these people she called friends, she knew, barring a miraculous intervention, the end of her life was very near.

And yet, she opens with: “Indeed, God’s grace is enough….” She knew her God to be mighty even in the face of certain death. She was living in and by His grace and it was enough. She knew His rest in the midst of incredible pain. And she knew His power and love as absolute truth. And there is no hint of fear.

And isn’t that the faith we all signed up for? When we became followers of Christ, isn’t this the faith we wanted and hoped for? A faith that moves mountains and a trust in God that is unshakeable regardless of our circumstances. A faith so strong that fear has no place. Karen’s words inspire me, they encourage me, and they remind me of my own young faith. They also challenge me to live in the authority and confidence of someone who believes these words. To pray, knowing He is faithful. To live knowing His grace to be enough.

Karen stood firm in her faith until the end.

Abraham believed God… Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed….
Rom 4:1,18
By faith Abraham … obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going … because (he) considered Him faithful who had made the promise … And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. Hebrews 11

God promised Abraham that he would have more descendants than the stars in the sky. And this elderly man, married to an elderly and barren woman, believed God. Abraham didn’t believe his eyes over God’s promise, Abraham didn’t believe his body, or the calendar of years or anything else. Abraham’s hope and trust were squarely in God’s promise. He didn’t even engage his own doubts. He believed and trusted in God.

Abraham so many years ago and Karen in 2011; neither got what they expected or deserved. But both trusted their God to be good and faithful to His word. So, like Abraham and Karen and so many believers between these two lives, I want to take God at His Word. I want to believe Him, and trust Him to be true to His promises to me, to all of us. Even against all hope, in hope we can believe. Even when everything seems to be going against us, we can have peace, because the One who promised is faithful. And He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever more.

So as we slow down our minds and quiet our hearts before Him, may we know that His grace is enough, may we live in His peace,

Questions to think about this week:
1. Think about it, what is the first thing you’d like answered when you are with God face to face? (or first several things you’d like to ask and understand – I can never pick just one thing )
2. Do you think you could say the words of this benediction knowing you were dying and dying as a young person, dying before you hoped or ever thought you would?
3. The challenge is for all of us to live this way, to live the truth of these words so that when faced with challenges, trials and even death, we will have peace knowing His grace is enough. Ask yourself what you might do to make this truth more alive in your life? And by His grace may you do it.

Romans 11:29 For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.
May you recognize His call and live committed to it.

July 18, 2011

Summer Sabbath Devotional- Week 3

Eyes to See and Ears to Hear
July 18, 2011

At night when I turn out the lights, it is pitch black.
Completely dark.
I can’t even see my hand held right in front of my eyes.
In fact I can’t see anything at all!

But given a few minutes, my eyes adjust and I am able to see the shapes of things that are there. I can see the faint light from outside slipping through the blinds, I can see the closet and the chair, all the familiar things that were there a few minutes before, but things that in the sudden darkness I couldn’t see.

What happened? Did the world and the actual degree of darkness change?
No. I changed. My eyes adjusted and I was able to see what was there all along.

Likewise, there are sounds around me constantly. But in the noise of my daily life, my brain chooses what my ears hear at any given moment. Then at night, when all is still and quiet, I can clearly hear the whistle of the train or the rushing of BART on its tracks. Those sounds are there all day, but it’s not until late at night, when other sounds have dropped away and I am still that I’m able to hear them. The sounds are the same but the noise around me and in me has changed.

It makes sense to me that hearing God’s voice, or seeing and doing what the Father is up to, is very much the same. It’s not that God isn’t speaking or showing me or guiding me, it’s just that without regular stillness in my life, stillness in my inner being, it’s just too difficult to hear or see.

C.S. Lewis reportedly said this: "I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me."

I love that. I pray because I can’t help myself. The needs of life and my weakness compel me to pray. I am helpless in the face of the looming needs and responsibilities of life. I don’t have the answer for many of my life’s biggest questions. I don’t know about you, but these words of C.S. Lewis could be my words.

And, think about it, how often in your life, has someone not normally drawn to prayer, maybe they don’t even know if they believe in prayer… but when suddenly faced with something desperately bigger than their ability to handle, ask you if you would pray for their need?

I pray because my need is so great and apart from God I can’t meet it.

But prayer is only half of the equation. It’s the Lord’s response to my prayer that meets my need, answers my questions and gives me comfort. And patient stillness is most usually needed to hear what He’s saying and to see what He wants me to do. I need to let my spiritual eyes, so to speak, adjust, and find a quiet where other sounds drop away and my heart can hear only His voice.

To be sure, there are times when God may be silent, and I need to wait. But my thought is that more often, it’s my lack of hearing and seeing. My lack of stillness and quiet that’s at the root of not knowing what God is saying and what He wants me to do about it. That lack of stillness may be more internal than external. Sometimes a strong need will be so loud in my heart and mind as to compete with the inner stillness needed to be ready to really hear Him…

But, what do I know for sure?
That the apostles, teachers and prophets in agreement and have said over and over, God speaks to His creation.
We are His creation- and more, we are the children He loves.
God IS love and wants to be close to us.
God wants us to know His will for us.
And His grace is always available to us to do His will.
God is always the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. He cannot change.
But we can.
May we grow in knowing His voice, in seeing His loving guidance and doing His will.
May we grow in knowing that following Jesus is not a bunch of rules, but a loving, growing, committed relationship that leads us to our best life.
May we be changed to be more like Him.

Ears to hear and eyes to see—both are gifts from the Lord.
Proverbs 20:12 NLT

Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?
Mark 8:18 TNIV

…blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.
Matthew 13:16 TNIV

Some questions to think about this week:
1.What do you think? Do you know you hear God’s voice? Or do you feel you rarely know His voice?
2.Can you recall times when you heard His voice clearly? What was it like? An audible voice? A consensus of trusted friends? A voice through His Word? A knowing deep inside?
3.Was there a time in your past when you desperately needed to hear His voice and felt let down not hearing anything?
4.Maybe can you look back on that event or time now and see where He did speak? Are there times you recognize His voice in hindsight?

Romans 11:29 For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.
May you recognize His call and live committed to it.

July 9, 2011

Concord Vineyard Summer Sabbath 2011 Devotional #2: We Are Called and Committed

July 11, 2011

Last week, we talked about the invitation and the challenge of resting, physically, emotionally and spiritually as we were created to do. This week we will look at why this is so crucial.

Dave officiated this past week at a funeral service for a 97 year old man. He was a dear man. Many spoke to the good he did, the good he brought to this Earth, and to their lives specifically. And it did, as it should do, get people’s minds to thinking, ‘Am I going to leave this world a better place? Am I investing in the lives of those God’s placed in my life? Will they have a good report to give when I pass on? Have I used my time on Earth as God hoped and planned I would?’ So Dave put forth a few thoughts:

We were created by God and He loves us.
God created us on purpose and for a purpose.
What is that purpose you specifically were created to do and how well are you doing it?

God knew us, planned us and had His purpose for us before we were even born. The bible is very clear about that!

Isaiah 46:3 “I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born.”

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…”

Psalm 139:16 “You (Lord) saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

We know we love life most when we are doing exactly what we were meant to do.
So then, in rest, and by His grace we are invited to do exactly what He created us to do.
He invites us to partner and participate with Him, our Maker and Lord. (WOW!)
He gives us His grace to live in such a way that His will is done here and now, on Earth!
Just as it is, and as it will be done in Heaven. (Again, a lot to get our mind around, but: WOW!)
We are called to participate with God in bringing His will on Earth.

We were bought by the Lord God Almighty at great cost, by great sacrifice.
So let’s USE this life and time we have as a mission.
What is the ‘mission’ God has given us this week? this year? in life?
What are we to do and be, by His grace, that will bring Heaven and His will on Earth,
(or at least our small part of this Earth),
as His will is and will be in Heaven?
Ponder THAT!

Mark 1:11 “ You are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
(says the Spirit of God)

Isaiah 49: 1,2,5,15,16
Before I was born the LORD called me;
from my birth He has made mention of my name.
in the shadow of his hand He hid me;
And now the LORD says—
He who formed me in the womb to be His servant
… I am honored in the eyes of the LORD
and my God has been my strength—
because of the LORD, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.
‘I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…’

So we are CALLED by our Creator to participate in this great adventure,
and He has equipped us to be of service.
What does that mean to you?

1. What is it that you do, that while you do it, you lose track of time, you think, ‘I could do this forever, I was made for this!’? What do you do now that will carry over in the world to come?
2. How can you make more space or room in your life, even during or within the regular day to day responsibilities, to be or do that that you were made and called and purposed to do?

Romans 11:29 For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.

July 3, 2011

Summer Sabbath Devotional 1:

The Invitation and Challenge of Sabbath Rest
July 4, 2011

this first one is long, but the coming devotionals will be shorter.)

There remains, for God’s people, a Sabbath rest…
Hebrews 4:9

Seasons are great; they are built into our wiring, our internal clocks. And summer is my favorite. We all switch into seasonal modes as the year rolls along. Be it Christmas, Summer Vacation, Fall, Thanksgiving… seasons evoke memories and feelings. Seasons have traditions meant to reinforce our cultural, familial and spiritual beliefs. The church calendar has seasons as well. These are times of purposeful, intentional focus.

During Advent, we remember the birth of Christ. We light candles, we sing carols with words that tell and re-tell the story of Christ’s birth. We decorate our homes, give gifts and we remember. The awareness and anticipation of celebrating Christ’s birth is all around us.

And then there is Lent. In this season, for the six weeks leading up to Easter, we often set aside something in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We intentionally call to mind the cross and its meaning in our lives of faith. During Lent we fast, we pray and we focus on this foundational event of our faith that culminates in the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.

For us in the Concord Vineyard, Summer Sabbath is part of our seasonal rhythm. Life may not be much different day to day. We work, we meet deadlines, we cook, we drive children, we do the laundry, we interact with coworkers, friends and family… it is like any other season. But during Summer Sabbath, internally and spiritually we regroup, we remember, we admit our need for His rest. We remember God created the world in six days and then He rested. We remember that we are His created beings. We are made in His image. We are created to rest and work. Need for rest was actually built into creation from the very beginning. But the pace of life so often eliminates the time to rest. We can feel ruled by our work and just assume rest is out of the question. But during Summer Sabbath we can re-evaluate our pace of life. This is a time annually for us to remember in obedience that rest is not optional or occasional. Rest is part of our created order. Rest is part of our design and therefore, mandated by God. Daily. Weekly. Annually.

By the time of Jesus, Mosaic law that detailed Sabbath observance had become such a strict and cumbersome set of rules that people easily forgot the intended purpose of Sabbath rest, which was to help people by giving them rest, not to add burdens to them by forbidding things like healing. Jesus had to break through all that, as we see in the Gospels, but nowhere does the New Testament nor Jesus, deny that the principle set out in Genesis 1 remains important. In some ways not much has changed. Today, we don’t need Mosaic law to crowd out rest and restoration for our minds, body and soul. We allow the ‘demands’ of our life to tell us what we need to do. This effectively crowds out the rest, reflection and restoration we need as part of our life. This demanding inner voice is not God’s.

Some things to think about this week:
Remember you are created to require rest.
Humbly acknowledge that by His design you need rest and restoration.
Intentionally be aware of life’s pace trying to rob you of needed rest.
Remember those things that restore you physically, emotionally, spiritually.
Allow time to do those things.
Remember God Himself gives you permission NOT TO DO MORE THAN HE ASKS of you.
Use this time to reassess where your time is currently being spent and how.
Ask yourself if you are where He’s called you to be? Doing what He’s called you to do?
Sleep more.
Play more.
Do what restores your spirit.
Pray more.
Listen more. To God and to those who love you.
Be aware of God’s invitation to rest and just ‘be’ with Him.
Challenge yourself this week to find one thing you can do in obedience to this invitation.
By His grace, refocus your awareness on the rest you need everyday, every week, all year long, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

Some questions to ponder this week:

1. What would a perfectly restful day be like for you?
2. What obstacles keep you from believing a balanced life of work and rest are achievable?
3. All of us face the challenge to trust God rather than to trust in our own concepts of what needs doing and when. What would help you keep the Lord’s mandate to find times to rest and to just ‘be’ with Him?

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength." Isaiah 30:15

May you find the grace to set aside your ideas of what is important to accomplish. And may you have grace to find God’s plan for your day and then to, by His grace, to do only that.

June 25, 2011

Summer Sabbath 2011

Vineyard Summer Sabbath- July 10- August 14, 2011

Summer Sabbath in the Vineyard starts on July 10. A great way to look at this season is to see it as another part of our church calendar. We have the Advent (Christmas) season and the Lent season, which have special meaning to us as we observe them each year. So now, we have a season called Summer Sabbath.

Most likely, during Summer Sabbath, not much about our day to day activities will change. We’ll still go to our jobs, spend time with our friends and families, play and do the normal things we do. But, as when Lent comes along every year, we intentionally change our focus. During Lent we focus on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and we sacrifice through fasting or acting in a way that is a blessing to others. We don’t do much that appears different in our daily lives, but our time with Christ has a different focus.

So, it’s the same with Summer Sabbath. It’s a time to take a breath at some point during the day, to focus our prayers and minds on listening for God’s voice and resting in His presence. Our groups are pruned back, and our Sunday worship gatherings are simpler. This is with the intention of leading us into a more contemplative recharging time with God, which hopefully then becomes more a part of our daily lives.

Every Monday, beginning July 4, and continuing through August 15, there will be a guided weekly devotional emailed and posted on the church blog, to lead all of us as we reflect, pray and listen. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to grow closer to God by abiding. Find a few minutes each day. You won’t regret it.


Mark 6:31The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, "Come off by yourselves; let's take a break and
get a little rest."

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June 21, 2011

Reading for the next two weeks

If you like to read ahead, here are the verses we're using for the next couple of weeks.
June 26 1 Corinthians Chapter 1, verses 1-9
July 3 1 Corinthians Chapter 1 verse 10 through Chapter 4 verse 21

Here's an update on the Summer Sabbath Schedule
Vineyard Kids are on Summer Sabbath Schedule June 19- August 14
The whole Vineyard is on Summer Sabbath from July 10- August 14
We'll still meet on Sunday mornings together at 10:30

June 18, 2011

Father's Day at Vineyard

Sunday is Father's Day! (Some lucky dads are going to win raffle prizes!) Sunday is Invention Convention Day! The kids are going to sing their camp songs, it's a Kodak moment! Be there- Concord Vineyard 10:30!

June 17, 2011

Invention Convention

Today is the last day of INVENTION CONVENTION, Concord Vineyard's Kids Camp! Leaders and kids have had a great week together learning, experiencing and sharing God's love with each other and our neighbors! Be sure to come to Vineyard worship Sunday at 10:30, when the campers will share some of their songs.

June 4, 2011

June 5- Sunday Worship Celebration at 10:30! See you there!

May 27, 2011

This Week at Concord Vineyard

This is our last week together in Covenant and Kingdom. Here are a couple of questions to consistently ask: "What is God saying to me?" and "What am I going to do about it?"

May 22, 2011

Take Away from Sunday, May 22

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for usas a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Don't live like refugees!
Let's be a rescue team!

May 21, 2011

This Week at Concord Vineyard

Here's what you want to read to get ready for Sunday!
Covenant and Kingdom—the Journey Completed

John 14 Hebrews 6 Revelation chapters 21 & 22
(page 225-229 and chapter 17 in Covenant & kingdom book)

April 26, 2011

April 19, 2011

Easter Week 2011! (Luke, chapt. 24 and C&K, chapt. 13)

greetings vineyard community,
I hope you are experiencing God’s great and awesome love for you as we move toward Easter and Resurrection Sunday!
I wanted to remind you of our Easter rhythm for this special week:
I) 40 Hours of Prayer – Tuesday and Wednesday
II) Maundy Thursday
III) Good Friday
IV) Easter Sunday

I) Church without Shoes is doing 40 Hours of Prayer starting Tuesday, April 19 at 5:00 AM thru Wednesday, April 20 at 9:00 PM.
We are gathering at the vineyard community center and each hour is led by a different valley pastor. At some of the hours there will be worship music as well.
We are praying for God’s breakthrough in our valley, cities, churches, and lives. Come by any hour to pray with God’s family from other churches.
Most of our community groups are going together to pray so check with your community group leader to see what is up with your c-group.
You will be a blessing to the Lord and others, and you will be blessed as well.

II) Maundy Thursday Worship and Communion is this Thursday, April 21, 7:00 PM at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church, 1801 Lacassie Avenue, W.C.
Kids are welcome but you will want to be early as this Church without Shoes event is usually packed.
Dave Foster will be leading the worship team with folks from other churches. This is always a special night with God and his people so I encourage you, ‘Don’t miss it!”.

III) Vineyard and Shelter Good Friday Service is this Friday, April 22, 7:30 PM at the vineyard. We will remember what God has done for the world and us in the death of Jesus.

IV) Our Easter Sunday Worship Celebration is at our usual time on Sunday, 10;30 AM.
Remember that we will be taking our special Lent offering for our missionaries Abbie Case and Cheryl Perkins on Sunday.
This offering is from what God led you to give up this Lent or whatever He has led you to give to Abbie and Cheryl.
We will also be baptizing some folks and then have our awesome Easter Potluck Brunch right after our celebration.
Everyone is welcome to the brunch but if you can, please bring something ‘yummy’ to share for the potluck.

My prayer is that this Easter week rhythm will allow you to encounter the Jesus, Risen Lord and King.

Blessings in King Jesus, Pastor Mike

April 17, 2011

Verses for Today 4/17/11

This is the section that Mike left us to reflect on today.

2Corinthians 5:14-21

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

April 15, 2011

This Week at Vineyard Concord

Saturday, April 16 is the Cystic Fibrosis Walk for a Cure. We are Team Sierra-Vineyard. Come to Heather Farm Park at 9:30am to join in.

This weeks's reading is Luke, Chapters 22 & 23 plus Chapter 13 in Covenant and Kingdom.

April 5, 2011

This week at Vineyard Concord

Invitation and Challenge

This week, read Matthew, Chapter 16 and also Covenant and Kingdom, Chapter 12

March 29, 2011

This Week at Vineyard Concord

This week, we'll be looking at Luke Chapter 4, and Covenant and Kingdom Chapter 11.
The theme is Jesus- The Time Has Come.

Remember, the iLent online devotional is going on every day until Easter Sunday.

Make plans to come to Church Without Shoes (Maundy Thursday) Communion Service- Thursday, April 21 at 7pm. Location is Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church

March 25, 2011

This week in Covenant and Kingdom

For this Sunday, read Jesus in the Desert: Luke chapter 4 (chapter 10 in Covenant & Kingdom book)

Here's a new song called "One Thing Remains" from Jesus Culture. We're going to start singing it in our Sunday morning worship celebrations soon. If you'd like to get it on iTunes, here's the link.

March 16, 2011

March 11, 2011

This Sunday at Vineyard Concord

This Sunday is Pastor Swap Sunday! Our guest will be our friend, Kevin Murphy of St. Matthew Lutheran Church.
Remember to spring ahead!
The Covenant and Kingdom reading is Chapter 8.
Please join in prayer for the people of Japan.

March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday and Lent

As we head into Lent, here are two things to consider. The first is an action. Saint Matthew Lutheran Church in Walnut Creek has a very moving Ash Wednesday Worship Service tonight at 7:30. We partner with them in this every year, because we value the symbology of historical Ash Wednesday along with some modern elements of corporate worship. Hope you will make it a point to come.

Second, Mike Breen posted a very good blog today about what Lent means to us. It's a quick, but very encouraging read. You can read it here.

February 28, 2011

Covenant and Kingdom- Reading for March 6

Covenant and Kingdom reading this week is Chapter 7, Connecting the Old and New Testaments. Plus, it's a good idea to look at a summary of covenant relationship and kingdom relationship, starting on page 125 (just before chapter 7).

If you'd like to get the iTunes recording of Kristene Mueller's song Praise the Lord, which we've started using in worship recently, you can get it here

February 24, 2011

This week in Covenant and Kingdom David

Read Covenant and Kingdom Chapter 6 plus 1Samuel chapters 8, 16, 17, 18 and 2Samuel chapter 7

February 16, 2011

Covenant and Kingdom- Moses

This week, we read about the incredible story of Moses.

Covenant and Kingdom Chapter 5
Exodus- Chapters 1-14
Deuteronomy- Chapter 5- Chapter 6:9

February 12, 2011

Songs from the Valley

Songs From the Valley is tonight at Saint Matthew Lutheran Church in Walnut Creek. I'll be doing a couple of new songs (this is Dave writing :)) Hope you can come

February 4, 2011

Covenant and Kingdom- Joseph- Part 1 of 2

Hi Everyone,
Here's the reading assignment for this Sunday, Feb. 6

Covenant and Kingdom Chapter 4 Joseph
Genesis 37,39,40 and 41

January 25, 2011

Covenant and Kingdom- Abraham and Sarah

This week, read Covenant and Kingdom- Chapter 3. Plus Genesis- Chapters 12,15,17 and 21:1-20. It's only Tuesday, you have some time