Wednesday, December 2, 2009


The kingdom of heaven is like. . .a man scattering seed upon the ground. Seeds. . .there's a lot that goes into them to actually produce something, right? Someone has to prepare the soil, there's a seed scatterer, a waterer, some sun shared, sometimes fertilizer, and not to mention the pruning and harvesting-whether it be by hand or machine.

Look at your life-can you see all of these things evident in it? Can you see how God orchestrated the entire process? I can in mine. I experienced the preparation-welcome or not at the time! Someone first planted that seed. Many, many people watered it and watched-waiting for so long to watch it grow! Through that whole process I had a small part, but after that first growth, the responsibility came. It was my turn to start planting seeds. At the same time, I had to allow someone to prune me-someone to hold me accountable and challenge me and humble me.

So as I go through that process, I still wait for that wind to blow, speaking where I need to scatter the seed, where I am to water or spread some sun, and also the people that I need to prune so that the harvest might be so much more.

Where are you? Are you allowing someone to prune you? That sounds pretty weird. Haha. But, are you? Is someone honest enough to help you pick off what is holding you back from growth and encourage you on? Is your spirit humble enough to accept this? Do you give God access to Yourself?

Are you scattering seed, watering, or pruning for someone else? Is there some place that God is calling you and you are hesitating?

Or is someone scattering seeds upon you or watering you? Ahhh. . .the struggle that each part brings, but the excitement and passion that it all brings!

The kingdom of heaven is like. . .

Monday, November 23, 2009

More Pictures

The Wall

As we approached The Temple in Jerusalem, I had many thoughts running through my head. I was told that each one of the original stones that Herod the Great used to build the Temple weighed between five and six tons. Each Stone was placed on the wall with such precision that you couldn’t even slide a piece of paper in between the stone next to it. There had to be thousands of these stones used to build the Temple. Here was the amazing thing: Engineers today don’t have the technology to do what Herod did in building this wall. Crazy!

While inside the Temple we visited the Western Wall. This too was an amazing sight. It was here that once again I saw the reverence that people have for the one true God of the universe. I met a man who told me he spent two hours praying at the wall, two more hours studying scripture then three working for a non-profit organization all before heading to work. He did this every day except for Shabbat (Sabbath). Seven hours of his daily life was wrapped around loving God and loving people, all before his work. I wonder, is this a cultural issue or is this a heart issue? Does our culture, or maybe a better question, could our culture even contemplate such a lifestyle?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Wedding

Sunday, we discovered "The Wedding". If you need to be clued in, will have a link to the sermon for you from 11/15.

Exodus 19-The Wedding, a courtship. What? I can honestly say I never thought of that one before. But the language speaks for itself if we truly see what is coming to light. God is making a contract with us, a wedding contract. The contract being the Ten Commandments. And Israel has a chance to respond, and they do, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient"-Exodus 24:7. Israel says, "I do".

God has been pursuing us for years, whether we believe in Him or not. Look at your life, I'm sure you'll find moments big and small that you can't explain and that just make no sense. He's been pursuing us and asks the question, waiting anxiously (well I think so anyway) for our answer. He's waiting for us to say, "I do and I will".

For those who have said it, have told God, "I do", has it been hard? Would you say it again if you knew what it was going to require? I'm guessing it would be a resounding "yes", though our thoughts travel back to those times when we just didn't think we were going to make it through. "I do" comes with a deep, lasting commitment where each day we have to get up and say it again. The morning will come and we'll hit the snooze and say "God, I don't want to do this again. Just give me a day off". But how did the story end? God REDEEMS his people so that He can REVEAL Himself so that He can rule when we take RESPONSIBILITY. That part is ours. We take on our responsibility so that we can become light for Him.

So the question is. . .Are you willing to say "I do"?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading

· New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus: David Bivin
· Restoration: Todd Bennett
· The Law and Grace: Todd Bennett
· Our Father Abraham: Marvin Wilson
· Listening to the Language of the Bible: Tverberg/ Okkema
· Boundary Stones: Aaron Eby


On the Sea of Galilee

As we pushed out onto the sea of Galilee, I was able to see the landscape and countryside where Jesus spent most of His time and ministry. I could see Capernaum where Jesus considered His home for a time. I could see the place where Jesus gave “the sermon on the mount”. I could see the other side of the lake where Jesus traveled and healed a man full of demons in the area of the Decapolis. This area full of rich history and culture waiting to be explored by our group. It was a day of anticipation and excitement. We looked in awe, we laughed, we danced, we were enjoying the beginning of our adventure.


It was very interesting visiting the place where Jesus was raised as a boy- not necessarily the town of Nazareth itself, but what it has become. One of the most striking things to me was the church we visited that was near the home where Jesus grew up. There was an outer courtyard with many mosaic tile paintings from around the world. Apparently it was requested from the church that many countries should submit artwork to display Mary and Jesus in a mosaic. What I saw at first was beautiful, then perplexing, then sickening. As I went from each country’s mosaic I started noticing that each one was different. Not just because of artistic style, but because I noticed that Jesus was different. Each mosaic representing Jesus took on the form and look of that culture. There was a Korean Jesus, an African Jesus, a French Jesus, etc., all looking like the people from those different countries. Some would probably think that it was art, but in fact that depicts our human nature. We forget that WE were created in God’s image. We didn’t create God in our image. We forget that Jesus was not from our culture, He did not look like us, talk like us, and in many cases think like us. He was Jewish, He spoke Hebrew, He thought like a Hebrew, He lived and acted in the customs of Judaism. His message was preached from the Torah and the prophets and even the Oral Torah and traditions. Continuing in our Greek worldview, from our roots, our ancestors have always wanted to make the gods in their image. It seems as though times haven’t changed much.


“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He (Jesus) departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed. Mark 1:35
My second day in Israel I stayed on the shores of the sea of Galilee. After a long flight and jet lag catching up to me, I awoke early in the morning around 4:30. It was still dark out and not a sound to be heard. While sitting in the silence I peered out my window in prayer and contemplation. It wasn’t long until I witnessed the cracks of sunlight hitting the sky and the sun breaking over the mountain ridge directly across the lake in front of me. As I enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation before me, I couldn’t help but remember this was the place Jesus, went out early to pray, and this is what He too would have seen.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Sabbath

What does your Sabbath look like? What do you think the Sabbath is? Is it any day we choose to be our day of rest? Is it the one day set aside by God at the beginning that He rested on? Interestingly enough, the Sabbath, was the only day that was actually named. The other names came later-check out who/what they are named after for some interesting reading.

But back in the "day", the days were different. A day started at sundown and ended at the next sundown. So. . .the Sabbath starts on Friday at sundown and ends on Saturday at sundown. But what, exactly, do we do with that whole day? What is a day of rest? Is it a day to do what I deem restful? Is it a day that is devoted to spending time with God? Is it both? There are hundreds of rules that tell us what not to do. But let's get back to the basics again-isn't it about our hearts? God wants our hearts. The practices mean nothing if our hearts are not right. And. . .as stated in "The Law and Grace" by Todd Bennett, "The Torah was never considered to be a burden by the Yisra'elites; rather it was thought to be a special gift, a treasure, to a people who were chosen to live set apart lives."

When did we deem all rules bad? We forget that sometimes they are put in place to protect us, to help us focus on what's important, and to prevent us from making mistakes. Is that how we feel about the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible)? I think we've all thought that at one time or another. But this week I've wondered. . .what would it look like if I looked at the Torah as a treasure? I think my outlook and attitude might begin to change.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Journey

The last several months we have really dug deep into the Law and have begun to look at some of what a Jewish person would learn growing up and how they would live their life. I think that the majority of The Gathering Community would admit that this has brought up some questions and has caused many to dive into the Word searching for answers-myself included. That something as simple as discussing what a Jew's daily life would look like forces us into the Word is amazing to me. Have you noticed? Conversations have changed. Many of what used to be normal conversations have changed into ones centered on Jesus. Do we follow the Law? Do we not? What about pork and shellfish? And all the offerings? What the heck do we do with those? Do we really make a 'booth' outside during Sukkot and sleep in it and have a party for 7 days?

Then we have Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur-did you practice them? To truly set aside time for self-examination, confession and repentance, and prayer and fasting is something I think we would all say is beneficial. So why haven't we been doing it? Is it because we didn't know? Because it's difficult? Lack of understanding?

Last Sunday Adrianne talked about her journey-especially about how she has been learning about the festivals and Jewish culture for the last 10 years-and admitting, still, that she doesn't understand it all or have it all together. If nothing else, these past months of study have caused many of us to seek God in a way like never before. Maybe, just maybe there is something to it.

(Note: This is meant to be more of a continual thought process and discussion starter. We are all in a journey seeking truth-let's share our journey together, whether you are in the very beginning with more questions than answers or a little bit further along-quite possibly still with more questions than answers :) Feel free to share a thought. Let's grow together.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Little Gs and Big Gs

The Gathering name was chosen for its multipurpose use-that anytime someone is with someone else, it can be a "gathering". Yesterday Aaron talked about the Sunday service, which we deem the "Big G" and Community Groups during the week, which we call the "Little g's". Both seem vital to a person's life. Both serve different purposes as well as some overlap between the two. If you go outside of the two groupings, there are still many gatherings to be had that are essential to life, but let's focus on the two from Sunday.

Is your life changed by G, g, or both? I love the G, but my heart is for the g. By nature an introvert, if I'm not connecting in a smaller gathering, then you can bet that my life is off track and that God is probably not being glorified by my life exactly the way He should be. And to be honest, the g for me isn't too formal. The g happens over dinner or coffee or a late night chat or on a drive somewhere. But though it's informal, it's intentional. It's me digging down deep to share what is hard and what I'd rather just keep to myself. And whatever that something is, it's not something I always feel led to share at the G. It's the g's that keep me going in the long run-where i find encouragement and share life. The big G is where i realize i'm a part of something that is so much bigger and where I have the opportunity to share my life and connect with others in that bigger setting. It's a chance for me to be taught, to sing, to catch up with friends I missed during the week or to meet someone new.

what's the g or G mean to you? what does community look like in your life?

Friday, September 11, 2009


Communion-individually or as a group? Cracker and juice or an entire meal? Taken on Sundays or during the week? As we study and struggle through picking apart what is traditional and what is biblical, we find that maybe what we have known isn't really scriptural-or maybe it has been. Is there one model that is right? Does it really matter?

I hope that you have been challenged on this quest for truth in practices as we have been. Aaron brought some good information from what he has studied and how the truth is being fleshed out into practice.

It's the thought of remembering God's faithfulness. It's looking back and seeing what He has done since the beginning and seeing how that effects today. It's a joyous meal celebrated among believers when they look back and see His faithfulness and how He has been working.

Your thoughts?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Work Day at The Gathering Place

August 22nd found volunteers both from our Gathering community and the community at large at The Gathering Place. With the permit in hand for only a few weeks, work days are happening frequently to further the progress on the building. Here are some pictures from the day. Thanks for all who came out to help!

Czech Trip a Success!

August 11-23 found Emma Taffaro and Abbey across the Atlantic to the Czech Republic. They spent a week at "Sport Camp '09", a sports and English camp for students ages 9-16. The camp was even better than last year and fruit was definitely seen from the '08 camp, both in growth in the student's faith and in their command of the English language. Here are some pictures so you can see a little of the camp! Another trip will be planned for Summer 2010, so look for more details in the Spring!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Permit in Hand!!!!!

We now have the permit for The Gathering Place (our community center) in hand! Praise God for His favor and pray for the construction, as projects are already underway.
Prayer Night was an incredible experience, bringing believers from throughout St. Bernard together to pray. Small groups spent time in a series of 4 classrooms praying for Teachers, Students, Administration, and New Building Projects. As they finished, everyone joined together for a time of singing and crying out to God in praise.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Grant filed this week to help pay for Community Center building supplies

David, Robert, Matt, Lucas, and Gavin are now in their home!

Teen girls Community Group has begun


July 20-Prayer Night at 7pm at C.F. Rowley

Kyle Koval- Ron and Becky's son, home from Italy, as he travels cross country to share with supporters

Liz Kuester's mom-she began chemo this week

Kids Camp-meaningful connections with parents and kids

Friday, July 3, 2009


Liz's mom (Kathy) has been diagnosed with cancer and will begin chemo and radiation treatments beginning July 7th.

Erik and Emily Thien as they settle into life in St. Bernard.

Many people still traveling over the holiday.

Abbey and Emma's preparation for Czech trip in August.


We have filed for a building permit for the Community Center!

Trip to Discovery Ministries with students went well.

Erik and Emily Thien added to our Gathering family!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Prayer Requests

* Ryan- still facing many health problems.

* The Kovals and Morgans are in Italy until the 21st.

* Andrea and Abbey head to Discovery Ministries with the Youth Advisory Council. Pray for safety, spiritual conversations and growth.


* One more document needed before we can file for our building permit on the Community Center!

* Over 100 ceiling tiles donated and hundreds of dollars of paint rollers and brushes donated!

* Volunteer Group last week had an incredible week and is planning to come back

* Divorce Care is starting on June 24th