Had a fun scavenger hunt around San Lucas yesterday afternoon; got acquainted with the culture!
– Feb 16
Good day of travel yesterday – made it safely to Semilla and got 6-7 hours of sleep.
– Feb 14
Our team departs for Guatemala in just two days! We’re so excited to be sending our 7th team to San Lucas Tóliman. We are 21 students and 4 leaders. This year we will be posting trip updates and pictures right here on our website. Check back to this page each day for a few short updates and pictures!
(Note for Parents: any specific parent info will be emailed directly to you!)
Please lift us up in prayer this week! Here are a few prayers to get you started:
For protection: O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve our students and leaders on this mission trip; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger; and bring them in safety to their journey’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For Mission: Everliving God, whose will it is that all should come to you through your Son Jesus Christ: Inspire our witness to him, that all may know the power of his forgiveness and the hope of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Join us for our quarterly Newcomers Connection Dinner! If you are new or have yet to attend a newcomers dinner, this is a great opportunity to go deeper in the life of TCC. A great time to enjoy a meal together, get to know the pastors, and learn about the mission and vision of the church.
Dinner will be hosted at the Vanslette’s home in Wayland (address will be given after registration). Children are welcome to join for this informal event – please indicate names and ages on the form. Childcare is available from 6:30-8:00p.Register Online
Many of us are familiar with the stories in Daniel, like Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But many don’t know that Daniel also has a series of apocalyptic visions. These visions are amazing because not only do they specifically lay out what will happen in history hundreds of years before it happens, but also it will give us a clear picture of the ministry and work of Jesus. Through Daniel, we will understand better the Kingdom of God, God’s sovereignty, and how to live faithfully for God in an anti-God society. This will be a series of lectures taught by Gordon Conwell Student and YWAM Montana School Leader, Ryan Horwath. Lectures are 3/1, 3/8, 3/15, and 3/22 at 9:30 AM, upstairs in the choir room. Come and study this amazing book!
Heads up church: Pastor Tom will be on vacation from February 8 – 20.
Tip for this week’s pastor’s note: Read Luke 10:1-42 in one sitting
As we continue the journey to Jerusalem in the Gospel of Luke, the theme of mindful hospitality frames Luke 10. In what becomes an early version of a short-term mission trip in the New Testament, 72 disciples are sent out two-by-two in an intentional canvassing of towns and villages (Luke 10:1). In typical Middle Eastern hospitality, the visitors are expected to be provided for in the homes they enter (hence there is no need to take money with them; Luke 10:4). As they are welcomed in, the disciples apply a deliberate strategy to announce that the “kingdom of God is near.” They are not to go “house to house” but to be mindful who would welcome them in. While not everyone accepts them/Jesus/God (Luke 10:16; Luke 10:22), the trip is evidently a success (Luke 10:17-20). Jesus reminds the disciples not to focus on their victory over Satan (who has lost his authority; Luke 10:18) but should instead be mindful that “their names are written in heaven.”
Evangelism through hospitality has always been a very effective way to reach out to neighbors. In suburban Metro west, we too can start reaching out to our neighbors on our street (or school or workplace) and discern who is open for a good conversation about spiritual matters and who is not. It takes time and patience and lots of love and kindness. But if we are mindful, the Holy Spirit will lead us to those who are open. The Lord will lead us to ‘men/women’ of peace, households who are receptive to hearing the good news of healing through forgiveness of sin. The Alpha program, among others, was always designed to be offered in homes, rather than churches. So mindfulness of our neighbors is a start! And we too may be surprised how the Lord will open hearts! We will also feel the rejection. Some will most definitely not be interested in hearing the news; at least for the moment. In all these mindful attempts, we remember that the harvest has already been provided (“plentiful;” Luke 10:2). Our job is to pray “earnestly” for laborers to go and reap our harvest here in Metrowest and throughout the world.
Mindful hospitality continues to be powerfully illustrated through the parable of the good Samaritan (though he’s never called ‘good’ in this account; if anyone-or rather anything- is good in chapter 10, it is Mary who chose the “good” portion; more on that below). The story is well known: those two who should have helped the man in need didn’t, while the despised Samaritan is the one who obeys the great commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The lawyer who tried to trick Jesus realizes that the “neighbor” he should love is not only the man left for dead on this remote path from Jerusalem to Jericho (a 4664-foot vertical drop), but also the Samaritan.
It’s a classic ‘gotcha’ moment because the Samaritans as an ethnic group were intensely despised. Their worship of God was completely misguided (a fact that Jesus himself never refutes; see John 4:22). In people’s minds at the time, these are not the proverbial ‘good guys’!. The parable hits a powerful punch, across the ages and cultures: we ought to model the mindful kindness and compassion of the Samaritan who makes sure the wounded is given hospitality in the inn and given proper care. We too proclaim the Kingdom of God through practical means and hospitality. But it’s also about loving our neighbors, even those who reject us as the Samaritans did with Jesus and His disciples only a few verses back in Luke 9:52-55. In fact, this parable speaks as much to the Lawyer as it does to James and John and about Jesus who practices what he preaches. You just never know who is the neighbor you and I are called to love; it might even include the ones who reject us! After all, this is exactly what Jesus does with all of us! Yet Jesus continues to warn that continued rejection of His message will also carry eternal consequences (Luke 10:13-16). Jesus walks a line that allows Him to love His enemies, while at the same time affirm the dire consequences of rejecting Him. We too love in the sort of same dynamic tension: Love your neighbor, knowing full well some will reject the message of the Gospel (and entrusting that process of salvation to God alone, Luke 10:21-22). Just as God keeps reaching to rebels (Isaiah 1:2), we do the same. We, as the lawyer, just have realized that the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves just got a lot more complicated than we realized!
How appropriate for the chapter to end where it began, inside the home of a “man of peace,” only now it’s two women who have received Jesus to proclaim the Kingdom of God. “Martha Martha” is mindful alright but about the wrong things. Her sister Mary knows true mindfulness and sits “at the Lord’s feet.” What a well known and enduring reality. Whether a sleepy First Century AD small settlement, or the hustle and bustle of a 21st Century world-class city like ours, how so very easy it is to get busy with all sorts of things and forget what the “good portion” is: to spend time with the Lord Jesus Himself.
Mindful Hospitality: invite people into your home and preach the Gospel; love the ones who have rejected you; and spend time in the presence of the Lord Jesus, in His Word, in quiet contemplation.
In what ways have we allowed ourselves to get distracted from following Jesus “daily.” Maybe we are worked up by the politics in DC. Maybe we feel like James and John, wanted to bring God’s fire of judgement on this earthly realm in light of rampant unrighteousness and rejection of everything Jesus stands for. Here too we heed the call not to confuse the splendour of this earthly Jerusalem (wherever we live on this earth) with the true glory of our true home, the presence of God for eternity.
Maybe we are losing this sense of urgency and the finite nature of our lives. How it is our main life priority to believe in the good news of our forgiven sins and then to share it with others. This past week, the loss of a larger-than-life athlete is a fresh reminder of how this realm is not home. As the nation grieves (including this Lakers fan), how comforting to know Kobe and his daughter were devout Christians. Before boarding that fateful flight from John Wayne Airport in Orange County to Thousands Oaks, reports indicate they had attended a church service. You and I never know when the time will come. The urgent call to follow Jesus remains as real then as it is now.
As we now turn our eyes toward Lent and Easter, we begin a new series out of the Gospel of Luke. We catch up with Luke’s narrative of Jesus’ life at the most critical turning point in Luke 9:51, where he deliberately strengthens His resolve to go to Jerusalem. The text talks about the fast-approaching (and planned) time for Jesus to be “received up/taken up.” In the immediate context of chapter 9, it means His sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection (Luke 9:21-22; Luke 9:44). This abrupt transition thus creates a sense that Jerusalem is the place where Jesus will suffer on behalf of others (Luke 22:37 = Isaiah 53:12) for the forgiveness of our sin.
In fact, this theme of forgiveness of sin is one of the major thrusts of the book. There are over 20 occurrences in Luke where forgiveness of sins is specifically addressed; see Luke 5:20). The book of Luke is not reading materials for the “righteous” but for sinners (Luke 5:32). “The Son of man came to seek and save the Lost” (Luke 19:10). Luke wants us to take a long hard look in the mirror of our lives and ask, ‘so Pastor Tom, how righteous do you think you are?’ Story after story, this “orderly account” (Luke 1:1-3) drives the same point ‘Lord, open our eyes so that we might see how lost we really are.’
The first installment on this journey from ‘the city of destruction’ (Jerusalem where our Lord was crucified; Revelation 11:8) to the ‘celestial city,’ the Heavenly Jerusalem, our true home (Hebrews 11:9-10; Galatians 4) speaks of Jesus’ single-mindedness. This outlook is conveyed through several quick illustrations in Luke 9:51-62. Every incident points to the need for us to embrace this same dogged determination (not unlike the journey of ‘Christian’ in the Pilgrim’s Progress)to stay the course on our journey to the Celestial city. The first example teaches us that we don’t look to this earthly realm for vindication and judgment but we embrace in love and compassion those who reject us (Luke 9:52-56).
Just like the above saying says, simply move on with your life! We are not building a kingdom for ourselves on this earth (see Luke 9:46-48) but we follow Jesus on the road to Jerusalem and on that path we pick up and carry our cross daily (Luke 9:23). The following illustrations (Luke 9:57-62) all get to the same point of single-minded focus. First, there is no real home here on this earth because our home is in heaven, the heavenly Jerusalem. So in this sense, we don’t have anywhere to lay our heads either (Luke 9:58). We are spiritual pastoral-nomads, just like Abraham was. Second, the urgency of the task to proclaim the Good news of the Kingdom is real; there isn’t even time for this would-be follower to bury his own father! (Luke 9:59-60). By saying this radical and extreme thing, Jesus prioritizes what is important for us: put the gospel over everything and everyone else in your life. Of course there are plenty of teachings in the Scripture that support the idea we should take care and love our families and others. So like every Scripture we read and apply, a sense of the context must prevail in the way we apply it. But we also don’t want to dull the impact of the moment either. Jesus jolts us out of our spiritual slumber and apathy and reminds us of what our true priorities are: the proclamation of the gospel to the (spiritually) dead (Luke 9:60). In the moment of this extraordinary and unique encounter with the incarnate God, yes, absolutely, this no-name guy can’t fall back and drop Jesus to attend to other matters. Let others bury his own dad! He needs to get on the road to Jerusalem with Jesus. I suspect most of us won’t be confronted with this sort of dilemma in our lives, but the call to radical followership is the same for everyone who confesses Jesus as his or her savior.
The final encounter is one that equally jars you and me because not even the great prophet Elisha was held to this standard (1 Kings 19:20-21). Yes, he burned his yoke and sacrificed his oxen to follow the prophet Elijah (an oft-present figure in the gospel of Luke) but at least he could go back to kiss mom and dad before he went on to become a minister. Here in the story, the would-be disciple isn’t allowed to even do that. To “plow” in God’s harvest demands total focus and perseverance (Luke 9:61-62). Such is the call of Jesus upon us. Truly all or nothing. May the Lord guide us as we journey to Jerusalem. And let’s make sure we’re headed to the right Jerusalem. As the narrative will show us, it’s quite obvious Jesus and His followers got the earthly and heavenly Jerusalem confused. If history of the Christian church is a guide, his followers through the ages have been prone to fall for this confusion just the same.