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City Blog: January 2017 — December 2017

November 15, 2017

Pastors and Pharisees

Benjamin Spalink
Matthew 5:5-6 reads, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.* Pharisees (the "hypocrites") were the religious professionals of the day. Pastors are religious professionals, too. This word applies to us, perhaps most ...
November 08, 2017

Straining for Sabbath Amidst the Demands of Phones and Computers

Reprinted with permission
By Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI We are becoming more enslaved to and more compulsive in our use of mobile phones and the internet. For many of us it is now existentially impossible to take off a day, let alone several weeks off, and be on a genuine holiday or vacation. Rather the pressure is on us to constantly check for texts, emails, phone messages, and the like; and the expectation from our families, friends, and colleagues is precisely that we are checking these regularly. The sin-du-jour is to be, at any time, unavailable, unreachable, or ...
October 30, 2017

City Grace Scripture Challenge

Benjamin Spalink
I kicked off a new campaign to increase scriptural literacy and change lives by encouraging my congregation to be more closely shaped and formed by God's Word. It's called the City Grace Scripture Challenge, and the challenge is this: within the next year, become an expert in one book of the Bible. I mean "expert" somewhat tongue in cheek, but the idea is that you would focus this next year on one book of scripture, and make it your business to learn as much as you can about that one particular book. This doesn't mean you don't read other ...
October 25, 2017

The Problem with Discouragement

Benjamin Spalink
It's easy to lose perspective when facing discouragement.  Sometimes, God is extending his Hand to us, but our discouraged hearts fail to perceive it.  We stay discouraged even though help is just around the corner. "Moses reported this (God's plan) to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor." (Exodus 6:9) Moses comes as God's ambassador to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. He is preparing a spectacular show of supernatural power.  Redemption is just around the corner, but ...
October 04, 2017

Have I Committed the Unpardonable Sin?

Benjamin Spalink
The "unpardonable sin" is mentioned in all three synpotics (Matthew, Mark and Luke).  There are similarities and differences in how it is used which help us get to the heart of what, exactly, the unforgivable sin is. It is my conviction based on the phrase's use in all three Gospels that the primary issue at stake is one of identifying the validity and basis for Jesus' ministry of Kingdom inauguration and soul liberation. To "blaspheme the Holy Spirit" is another way of saying that one denounces as illegitimate the person and work of Jesus....
August 28, 2017

Life in the Church

Benjamin Spalink
This Sunday's sermon focused on Paul's vision for church life as articulated in Colossians 3:1-11 Church life can go off the rails in one of two opposite directions - you have those churches that claim to be "family" but are seriously lacking when it comes to regular involvement in each other's lives. At the other end of the spectrum are churches that are seemingly over-involved, with gossip and judgmental-ism souring relationships.  The Gospel forms a community that avoids both these pitfalls and lays a path towards ongoing spiritual ...
August 17, 2017

Summer Movie Series #2: Cowspiracy

Allen Peng
City Grace church members watched and discussed the documentary "Cowspiracy" as the second of three summer film series gatherings on July 22nd. "Cowspiracy" explores global warming and sustainbility through the production and consumption of meat, particularly of beef. While the documentary's arguments were compelling and left an impact on the members, several people thought that it was a bit dramatic. They also shared a healthy skepticism of the statistics presented in the film. "It was kind of what I expected," said Jonathan Poch, ...
July 18, 2017

Summer Movie Series #1: Requiem for the American Dream

Allen Peng
City Grace church members watched and discussed the Noam Chomsky documentary "Requiem for the American Dream" as the first of three summer film series gatherings on June 25th. "I think the screening went great!" said Jeri Kwek, who organized and co-hosted the event with her husband Matthias in their FiDi apartment. "We had a full house and started on time as I expected at 2:30." The summer film series is a new initiative at City Grace church to explore socially relevant issues and their intersections with its members' faiths. "It ...
May 23, 2017

How to change your attitude towards a job you hate

Benjamin Spalink
At a recent gathering to explore the connections between faith and work, the following question came up: The answer to the question is a "yes."  You can transform your attitude and yes, you do need to rely on, or wait upon, the Holy Spirit. Should you actively work to try to change your attitude? A quick survey of the NT will immediately reveal that even in situations where we're called upon to do work that we don't enjoy, God always encourages us to do everything with a positive, thankful and worshipful attitude: "And whatever you ...
April 03, 2017

Courage to face suffering

Benjamin Spalink
A Reflection on Revelations 2:8-11 The Church in Smyrna must keep its eyes on Jesus Christ and remember his example for us - that he died, yet his death led to new life.  The church in Smyrna is a church that is suffering.  They are experiencing persecution and poverty.  Jesus wants to remind this church that though outwardly they are poor, yet spiritually speaking, which is the most important way of speaking, they are rich beyond measure.  They have Jesus Christ as their Savior, they have a rich inheritance in the faith, they have the ...

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