Description: God came to us in the form of a child. Incarnate in the baby Jesus. Flesh and blood. Not some all powerful diety, but human and helpless. He was at his most vulnerable, just as we are when we are born. And for many years we require, we need, we must rely on others to take care of us until we can do so on our own. But how can we remain vulnerable as Christ did, even in his later years? How do we continue to leave ourselves open to letting others in, even if it means they know our story, our background? Even when they know the truth about who and what we are. Bart explores the very nature of what it means to live and experience our life through Jesus.
Description: Guest speaker Scott Lisea leads us on a journey of discovery as he relates his first experiences being exposed to God, Jesus and the loving grace of the Lord. He wonders how each of us goes about receiving Christ into our lives and our hearts and whether or not we were reluctant receivers, anxious receivers or overwhelmed receivers.
Description: In this time of thanksgiving we also find ourselves quickly moving into Advent, the time of the coming of the Messiah, so greatly expected by the people of His day. We often think of this time of year as gathering with friends and family and simply being thankfull for the blessings we have. Yet, we are full of anticipation around the celebration of the birth of the Christ child. Our gratefulness is held in tension with our expectation of what it means to know that God became human and entered our history, to be with us, walk with us, talk with us, eat with us and to carry out His mission on earth. Our gratitude should be shown and expressed to all we meet and touch. Our expectation of what it means to live in Christ should be expressed outwardly in our daily lives. Bart helps us to understand what it means to not only live with gratitude, but the expectation of knowing that "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son....." At this time of year, there no greater present we could receive that this unbounded love of the Father.
Description: So much of how we think of Jesus rests in his holiness and divine being. Yet we must pause to remember that he was born into our word, grew up like anyone else and into mahood long before he began his preaching and teaching. Who was this "human" Jesus? What attributes did he possess that drew so many to him? And continue to draw millions to him today. There is no physical description of him to be found anywhere in scripture so we are left to our imagination. Peter explores the unknown aspects of Jesus and then concentrates on what we do know about the man from Galilee who was fully human and fully divine.
Description: Bart begins this message with a reading from John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." (NRSV) How much more loving can this generous God be? He gave us all a gift of such generosity that it is beyond our capacity to even understand what has been done for us. What are we generous with? Our money? Our time? Our talents? Our love? Bart points out that in "giving" we must do so from a place of love which is not restricted by our own sense of "how much" should we give. If one cannot give completely, freely and in the love of God, what's the point of doing so in the first place. Jesus became the ultimate gift to the whole world. And He was willing to give of himself in following the will of the Father. We can learn how to give in a generous, loving way which doesn't always mean we have to give money.
Description: "Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I shall be." Jesus tells us that we are not meant to be alone. Not apart from other people; certainly not apart from God. When we go about our daily lives, keeping our head and heart on the kingdom of God, we are never, ever alone. While it may seem as though God is not present, we need only look to Psalm 46:10 that reminds us to "be still and know that I am God". God is being not only present, but very present in our lives, without us even realizing it. Going through life with a present God means we can also be present for others and they for us. Two are stronger than one, and three (God) make for quite a team!
Description: Bart continues his series on The 12 Beliefs of Jesus, Part 6 with a look at how God has already opened His arms wide and wants to welcome us in, despite our worries that we are not worthy of such love. In John's gospel we read that it was not that we loved God, but that God loved us first...and cotntinues to do so in ways beyond our comprehension. So in taking an example from Jesus, who never turned anyone away and was always welcoming to the outcast, the marginalized, the poor, the lame, the blind, the leper...even the tax collector(!) we must lean to follow His lead and do the same.
David Mosgofian Koeker
Description: As part of the contuing series of messages on the beliefs of Jesus, David explores the prayers of Jesus and how they are integral to our understanding of Christ. The most startling aspect of the many wonderful prayers said by Jesus is that they often contain words of forgiveness...toward all. While dying on the cross, he utters the most famous phrase: "Forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing". In this case, "them" refers to all who persecutred him and to those who abandoned him in his moment of need. He forgave them all! The prayers of Jesus reflect his humanity, compassion and understanding of being human; most of all they often reflect his desire to follow the will of God, the Father; "not my will, but yours," he utters at one point, knowing what he is facing on the cross. We must learn to prayer as earnestly as Jesus did and to not be afraid to have an honest conversation with God.
Description: "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."--Dietrich Bon hoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship. What is the cost of our discipleship? What does it mean that we must "die" in order to live in Christ? Bart Tarman explores this theme in the fifth of his series on the beliefs of Jesus and explains how we must be willing to give up our attachments--some good, some bad--in order to follow Christ.
Description: Living a humble life before God does not necessarily mean we have to retreat from the world and seek the solitude of a monk. It does mean that we have to put our ego to the side and defeat the forces that continue to pull us in directions that take us a way from God; feeling that we know what is best for us--that doing it "my way" is the only way and coming to terms with what Jesus wants for us: A fruitful life, lived out in receiving and giving love. And to set aside our inner desire to be acknowledged, recognized and openly thanked for what we do.
Description: Part of our transformation as we try to live out our life by following Jesus, is that we are expected to be an open vessel, a container for God's love. But our goal is not to hoard that love, but to give it away to everyone with whom we come in contact. It can be, and often is, a surprising moment in our lives when we realize that giving God's love to someone else energizes and expands our love, for God always replenishes what we have given away. We are meant to be the very people Jesus entrusted with the Gospel. And instead of just sitting in church once a week for an hour or so, our mission is to share the Gospel, God's love, with our neighbors and friends and yes, even the stranger on the street. Bart is joined in his sermon today by a longtime friend, Art Kopecki, with whom he shared the 500 miles walking "The Way" across Northern Spain earlier this year.
Description: Where are we in the story of God's grace? This beautiful favor granted freely to the underserving. How do we get grace and what are we supposed to with it once we have it? The story of John Newton of Britain, who transformed from a profane seaman and cruel ship's captain who ferried thousands of slaves from Africa to North America, into a man of God who eventually wrote the lyrics to "Amazing Grace" is worthy of telling and retelling. For it is no stronger example of God's grace being given and humbly received by someone who certainly seemed the worst possible candidate. But God has always sought out the "least among us" to do his work and will; a quick read through the Old Testament will provide many examples. Jesus did the same, dining with tax collectors, prostitutes and outcasts. Perhaps we should examine ourselves and be a little less critical of who and what we are--for we all have a secret story--and feeling as though God couldn't possibly love "a wretch like me" as Newton wrote in the song. (My thanks to Wikipedia, and its many contributors, for providing the voluminous crib notes on the life of John Newton; to Philipp Yancey for excerpts from his book, "What's So Amazing About Grace?" and to Eugene Petersen for his fine work on the Gospel of Luke in "The Message". I'm indebted to all--Peter)
Description: Decades ago there was a TV game show hosted by Johnny Carson called "Who Do You Trust?" Married contestants were given a number of possiblities and then the husband or wife would say that the thing in question was true or not true about their relationship, with often surprising results. When it comes to trusting in God, trusting in Jesus, we may be faced with a number of possiblities because our trust system can be flawed. We may have any number of reasons of not wanting to trust Jesus. Afterall, this is an unseen force in our lives and we often feel it wiser to trust our own ways and instincts than turning everything over to God. But God is trusting in us that we will let go of our human instincts and put our trust in the one thing that is pure truth. Easy? Not always. Challenging? You bet. Changing the way we "trust" requires us to change the way we think about Jesus and God. It moves us out of a comfort zone that we can wrongly belief is serving us well. God is asking us to take a chance and let go of our stubborn ways in order to open our eyes to what is and what can be.
Description: Ever wonder what Jesus believed in? While the question seems to beg a rather obvious answer, it may not be that simple. Bart begins this new series by taking us deeper into the meaning of what "belief" is about, why we struggle with our own, sometimes rigid beliefs, and how Jesus was constantly thinking outside the box and pushing the limits of a new paradigm in relationship with God.
Bart Tarman & Dr. Jawahar Gnaniah
Description: What does it take to become "aware" of Jesus? How do we open our eyes to more fully appreciate the impact that Jesus has on our lives? If we are going through our daily lives with no reflection, no introspection, no "looking in the mirror", then we are ignoring the essential element in knowing Christ: that everything and everyone on the planet is connected to God and to each other. Our awareness must be like a child, open and curious about everything around him; almost to the point of being fearless in seeking, searching and experiencing each new encounter with joy and abandon. Dr. Jawahar Gnaniah joins Bart in this message.
David Mosgofian Koeker
Description: A pilgrimage is a journey, usually a spiritual one, in which there is a destination, typically a holy site, shrine, temple or church. The journey can be difficult or easy depending on the chosen route, but eventually one hits "The Wall", the point at which we may be exhausted, tired or just plain worn out and quicckly losing the will to continue to our desitnation. What do we do when we hit "The Wall"? Marathon runners will tell you it's at this point that you either push through it or just give up. How do we push through it and keep going? Listen as David lays out a course of action that keeps us moving on our pilgrimage.
Description: In this modern day parable, Bart tells the neverending story of a story. In the end, we are left to ponder its meaning and how our lives could be woven into the story. Listen...and wonder.
Description: Our lives often feel as though everything has been laid out on a map. We carefully follow the lines that lead us to various events in our lives. For the most part it can seem pretty routine. Until we take a detour we didn't mean to take. Or the road suddenly goes from smooth to rocky and bumpy. Or we take the wrong fork in the road. You may have been carefully following the map until something shows up that's not on the map. What do you do when the map is wrong? Pastor Bart takes us along on the journey, comparing a geographical map to the spriritaul and divine map that God has prepared for us.
Description: God gives us no greater gift than His love. Yet we are often reluctant to love ourselves and to bring out the love and beauty in others. When we awaken our love in order to see into the heart of others, we pass along God's gift. Bart teaches another lesson learned from his 500 mile journey along "The Way", completed earlier this summer.
Description: Even in our wildest imagination, how do we see or picture or envision God? How do we wrap our heads around a concept of goodness and love that is so far beyond what we can dream up that should we try, we will fall far short of the vastness of what God offers. We can try, but our attempts will be feeble compared to what God is not only capablce of doing in the universe around us, but within us as well. How then do we grasp what is so infinite that we continue to be baffled by the immenseness of it all? Pastor Bart talks about unlocking the joy, sharing the laughter of God and coming to intimately know Jesus whose greatest desire is to know us.
Description: Stop and smell the roses! How many times have you heard that? Our daily lives are so filled with "busyness" as we rush about trying to get it "all done", that we rarely, if ever, slowdown to appreciate the splendor of God's great creation that exists all around us. In this story based on his 500 journey along The Way, Pastor Bart talks about being forced to see everything because he's moving along at speed of walking--3 miles per hour. Traveling in a car at 70 miles an hour you miss an awful lot of beautiful things and beautiful people. Slow down, stop and smell the roses!
Description: Who among us has not judged someone on their appearance, the way they speak, their mannerisms, their attitude, the way they dress or act? We process and make all kinds of judgements every day about the people we meet. But has there ever been a time when you so misjudged someone you were embarrassed and humiliated by the experience? Pastor Bart reflects on meeting a man along "The Way" and the story has a surprising outcome. David Mosogian Koeker reads the opening scripture from Matthew 7:1-14.
Description: Following his two month sabbatical in which he hiked the famous "Way of St. James" in northern Spain, Pastor Tarman returns filled with wonderful memories and recollections of the 500 mile journey; a pilgrimage that millions have completed over the past thousand years! In this sermon, he talks about how God slows down to meet us at our pace...a walking pace of three miles an hour.
Description: The Gospel of John opens not with the birth of Jesus, but reaches back to the beginning of time to tell us that Christ was not only with God at the moment the universe came into being, but IS God, who simply by speaking brought everything into existence. And John insists that Jesus is also the Light that cannot be overcome by darkness. Christ shines in every nook and cranny of our heart, exposing even our deepest held secrets to the light of his love.
David Mosgian Koeker
Description: How much are we willing to comitt of ourselves to following Jesus? Even though we may prepared to follow, are we "all in", 100 percent? What if following Jesus means we are "healed", but yet may face more suffering in his name? Are we ready? Are we prepared? Are we going to give Him our all or hold back just a little, just in case? David brings this message of wholehearted devotion to the fore, challenging us to be ready, not wary, to belieive, yet bold enough to ask Jesus for help in our unbelief.
Description: Many people speak about wishing they had more patience. Patience with themselves, with family, with friends. It appears to be an attribute the most wish they could exhibit more often than not. Perhaps the greatest story in the Bible concerning patience is the Book of Job. Here we read about all the afflictions visited upon Job; loss of family, loss of property, loss of everything he has ever been blessed to have. Job faces all this with a stoic, but resigned to his fate attitude. He won't blame God nor curse God for what has happened to him, in spite of please by his wife to just "curse God and get it over". Even his three friends tell him he must be to blame in so many ways for what has happened to him. But it is the voice of the young man who finally speaks up to tell Job that he has not done anything to deserve this kind of punishment. He reminds Job that God is good, righteous, loving and faithful. He will not be abandoned by God even though it feels that way. And when God finally breaks his silence and speaks to Job he reminds him of all the things that God has created and provided. Most of all, he restores Job to health and blesses him with more children and possessions than he ever imagined. It was not so much that God rewarded Job for his refusing to curse God for all that happened to him, it was the recogntion that in the end, Job stood by his faith and belief that God was good, kind, loving and held nothing against him even though he had been tested to the breaking point. Could we endure such a test? How quickly would our patience with God run out? Would we curse him for putting us in such a place? Even in the darkest times of our lives, we can endure because God is with us. Even in the silence.
Description: We read in scripture that there were many times when the 12 aspostles of Jesus simply did not understand what he meant. They would pull him aside and ask for clarification or to expand upon his thoughts so they might better grasp his meaning and intent. In doing so, they revealed a certain "denseness" in their lack of understanding or not "getting it". Yet, they also showed how human they were in their emotions and desires. We too, can be and at times certainly are, dense disciples. For we must admit there are just some things that Jesus says that we "don't get". This struggle to understand has been going on for a long, long time and it isn't something we need be ashamed of or embarassed about. For as disciples of Christ, we have a learning curve that never ends. The good news is that God has it already sorted out for us and we have no need of worry.
Pastor Laurie Short
Description: How many times have we questioned God about where we are in our lives? We often ask Jesus to help with a minor irritation in our lives, but when comes to understanding and accepting why God has placed us where we are, we often have a deaf ear. Our guest speaker Laurie Short, Associate Pastor at Ocean Hills Covenent Church in Santa Barbara, tells us that God often leads us to places or to people or into circumstances that we simply can't understand why we are there. More so, we often question why something is happening to us, rather than living in our faith and trusting that God's plan is being worked out in our lives.
Description: Are we bold enough to speak out loud about the Gospel? Are we willing to risk ridicule, derision, criticism or perhaps even outright disgust from people who think we are "drunk" at 9 in the morning? That's exactly what the followers of Jesus faced when they dashed into the streets of Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost and began to shout to the world about the Good News of Jesus Christ. It was Peter, who just weeks before had been reduced to a blubbering mess after deniying he even knew Jesus, who rose before the crowd and proclaimed, boldy, loudly and with conviction that no, indeed, they were not drunk...they were filled with the Holy Spirit. From that moment on, the world was never to be the same again.
Description: Jesus is often seen and heard offering compassion to others. They are even times when he is described as weeping when he is overcome with compassion. Throughout his three years of preaching and teaching, many of his moments with the people are puncutuared with great compassion followed by healing. Can we be the compassionate people Jesus wants us to be? Can we also become the healers he desires us to be? The answers are within his gospel, so simply but so eloquently stated as "love one another". Yet, we must admit, we often are far from being the compassionate, forgiving and healing people we should be. Listen as David works us through God's compassion and lets us know that Jesus is always trying to break into our hearts to release the love we must give to others even in the most difficult of circumstancees.
Rob Crawford, Regional Dir. Young Life
Description: Our guest speaker brings us into Mark's gospel by showing how Jesus invites us to enter a new kingdom that promises eteranal life. More than that, He brought a radical message of hope, love and healing to people who, for the most part, felt there was little chance of being lifted out of their circumstance of Roman opporession, poverty and for many, a loss of spiritual awareness. God, it seemed, was getting more and more distant.
Description: Where does our walk with Jesus lead us? How far must we go before we realize that He has been walking with us the whole time, by our side, providing guidance and love all along. Would we be the one who hangs back in the crowd, afraid to approach Jesus? Or would we be among the hundreds who wanted to get close, to touch his robes in hopes that something miraculous would happen? If we were to be on the outer circle of those gathered, it is very like He would come looking for us, just as He did 2,000 years ago when he sought the outcast, the marginalized, the lonely, the widow and the orphan. Our walk on the way also means we must begin to shed the invisible, but very burdensome baggage each of us carries. Fear, anger, stress, shame, worry, lack of trust, loneliness all tend to drag us down. Jesus walks with us not to blame and condemn, but to give us hope and to tell us we are loved beyond all measure, now and forever.
Description: What does it mean for us to be "beloved" by God and Christ? It means that we are loved by God simply because we exist. We belong to Him. Christ makes it clear that He loves us, warts and all; our fears and insecurities and our failings and transgressions. He loves us, each and every one of us, despite all of that and wants us to know that in being loved, we can love others. Can anyone offer us such perfect, unconditional love?
Bart Tarman and Sami Awad,
Description: Pastor Bart continues his messages based on "The Mentored Life" by Debbie Bellingham. This one centers on hospitality. How do we put aside our preconceived notions about people and open our arms to welcome them into our homes and our lives? Why is it that we struggle with inviting different people to share our lives, our hopes and our dreams. We are reminded that Jesus never turned away anyone who sought Him out. In fact, He often sought those who were afraid to approach Him! You'll also hear the wonderful story of Sami Awad, a Palestinian Christrian who lives in Bethlahem and who is the Executive Director of The Holy Land Trust. Once you hear his story, you may never view the situation in Palestine quite the same way again. The Holy Land Trust is neither a political nor a religious organization; we aspire to learn from the spiritual teachings and values of all faiths and traditions that bring unity to the human family and closeness to the Creator of all things, practicing and promoting love, truth and goodness, between all people, and acting always with empathy and compassion. Nonviolence is at the heart of Holy Land Trust's work and is incorporated into everything we do and strive for. We seek to live out nonviolence as a core spiritual teaching, not only as a pragmatic approach to dealing with conflict. In order to achieve a future that seems impossible to so many, leaders first need to engage in new levels of thinking that allows for them to fully see the possibility of peace in the Holy Land and work towards that vision. We believe one of the biggest challenges preventing a viable peace process is the lack of mutual trust and respect between the different groups, especially between Palestinians and Israelis.
Description: Pastor Bart's series of messages based on the book, "The Mentored Life" by Debbie Bellingham, continues with a look at humility. And what it means to come to full knowledge of one's self to understand who we are in God's eye.
Description: Pastor Bart continues his series of messages based on the book, "The Mentored Life" by Debbie Bellingham. His Easter message is one of hope and triumph, that the story that begins in the darkness of that Good Friday afternoon is overcome by the piercing light of sunrise on Easter Sunday.
Description: Jesus had a purpose. It may not have been clear to the disciples exactly what he meant by having to die and rise again, but statements to that effect disturbed the 12 who quickly argued against anything bad happening to him. But Jesus somehow knew that his destiny was going to take him to Jerusalem and that the journey was to end in his death and resurrection. His purpose was to serve God, even to the point of death on the cross. Yet, through it all, there was still joy in his heart and his love for God so intense that he was willing to take on the sins and burdens of the world and in a final moment of agony forgive those who had cried out for his death! What is our purpose, our intent, our committment in following Christ and loving God? Pastor Bart lays out several scenarios about "purpose".
Description: Pastor Bart continues his series of messages based on the book "The Mentored Life".
Description: Pastor Bart continues his series of messages based on the book "The Mentored Life".
Description: For centuries we have had to deal with "disruptive technology" a term given to the invention and introduction of something that alters our lifestyle or even replaces a technology that we thought was new just a few years ago. When Jesus came out of the desert and began his three years of preaching and teaching, he introduced a "disruptive theology" that stood all the theological conventions of the day on their head. He introduced a very different and radical way of looking at, responding to, and even experiiencing a one-on-one relationship with God. He so disrupted the theological thinking and beliefs of the day that nothing has been the same since.
Rob Crawford, Region Director for Young Life
Description: Scripture readings: Matt 3:16-17, Mark 1:35-39 and John 2:23-25 ready by David Mosgofian-Koeker. Too often we ask the questions, where do I belong? How do I fit in? Where is my place? Rob Crawford suggests that the question may better be put this way: To whom do I belong? While we are seeking to find our "place" in the world, it is God who is seeking to make us one of his own. He has already chosen us. He knew us before we were born. Perhaps our time is better spent not trying to figure out who we are, but what God desires for us. When we are asked, as we often are, "what do you do?" instead of replying about our daily "job", it may be more truthful to say, " I'm a follower of Jesus." for that is where our focus should be, on following Christ, and not be in pusuit of the things that we believe give us prupose or a sense of "belonging." Maybe our declaration should be, "I belong to God".
Bart Tarman w/testimony from Keith Forster
Description: Pastor Bart's series on healing continues as he zeros on how our body, our inner soul, is in need of repair by Jesus. At the same time we are seeking healing, it may so happen that the healing we hope for, the one we pray for, may not be given or granted by God. What then? In the humorous and touching testimony of Keith Forster you'll hear how, after suffering through an illness, he lost his sight at the age of 25. You'll hear how, over time, he came to accept his blndness, not as a curse, but as a blessing. And eventually how he began to heal from the inside out.
Description: Pastor Bart continues his series insired by the book "The Mentored Life". This is an extension of his previous sermon on "Healing". How does the healing process of God's love permeate our body? How does it affect our heart, our mind and most importantly, our inner soul? Where do we go to find such healing? To whom do we turn? Jesus knows our pain and suffering. And in His love and compassion comes a healing love that transforms us from the inside out. Listen as Pastor Bart takes us on a journey of healing to a place that puts us at the feet of Christ.
Description: "Jesus got out of the boat....." begins the story of the demoniac man held captive by a legion of evil spirits who begs Jesus not to do him harm. He eventually relents, agreeing to have the spirits sent into a herd of hundreds of nearby pigs. When Jesus sends the unclean sprits into the pigs they immediately stampede into the sea and drown. The man is now seated, "clothed in his right mind", quiet and calm. So much so that the locals fear him even more than they did when he was doing crazy and wild things. What does it take for us to cleanse our "spirit"? Would we beg Jesus not to harm us or would we allow Him to work His love and passion through us and release us from the invisible chains that hold us captive in our own interior prison? Would we gladly accept His help or reject Him outright?Would we be able to soften our hearts and our minds to allow His healing to take place or would we simply walk away, thinking that He can't heal what can't be seen. Pastor Tarman poses many questions in the journey of this message. Questions we need to be asking ourselves each and every day.
Description: How do we gain perspective on Jesus? How does He give us the tools to gain perspective into God's kingdom? In turn, how are we to live our life in the wholeness of God's plan and Christ's commandent to love one another as He loves us? Getting perspective is what it's all about. Learning to discern the subtle voice of Jesus playing in our ears and landing on our hearts. Turning His love for us into action as we daily encounter the uncertainty of this world.
Description: What does it mean to be "free" when we are being led by Jesus? What did Jesus mean when He said, "I have come to set men free"? How does our understanding of "being free" work in living a life in Christ in the 21st Century? Does Jesus really set us free? Pastor Bart explores the many facets of Jesus' role in "setting us free" and our role in pursuing a life that is free from earthly desires or hindered by our past.
Description: When we are thirsty, when we are hungry, we usually find refreshment or a meal close at hand. There are times when we have found ourselves far from a source of water or have gone hungry because food was not available. These are the provisions we need in order to live in our physical body. Jesus, however, reminds us that our bodies, our hearts, our souls and our minds need more than the usual nourishment. We need spiritual refreshment. We need the provision that God provides to us each and every day, but to which we are often blind or choose to ignore. Our speaker poses the question: How can we remain open, aware and accepting of the daily provision that God is providing for us?