Church this morning is still a go at 11am — HOWEVER we will be meeting in our 130 Jackson St NW location downtown Blacksburg INSTEAD of Squires Colonial Hall. Thank you!
Road to Emmaus – ‘did not our hearts burn when he opened the scriptures to us?’
A few weeks ago I was reading through the gospel accounts of Jesus after his resurrection. The famous interaction between Jesus and the disciples on their way to Emmaus in Luke 24 stuck out to me anew. If you’re unfamiliar, two men leaving Jerusalem are troubled by the events that have unfolded during the Passover, especially the gruesome crucifixion of the man they followed, Jesus. They encounter a stranger who walks with them along the way. Unbeknownst to them, this man is himself the risen Jesus. He begins to explain to them the scriptures regarding the Messiah and about the events that happened. They invite him to dinner and as Jesus breaks the bread, they suddenly recognize him and he disappears from their sight. They turn to each other in amazement and begin to run, AT NIGHT, back to Jerusalem to tell the others. Two things stick out to me from this amazing encounter. First, this verse – “They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”” (Luke 24:32) Second, their immediate response through obedience.
“Were not our hearts burning within us…”
Perhaps we can relate to these men. Buzzing after an encounter with the risen Savior they leave changed, uplifted, mesmerized. I sometimes can fall into the trap as a church staff member of wanting to create these moments for the congregation. I want them to experience that “heart-burning” sensation when they read the Word, or hear the Gospel, or in their prayer and reflective times. I cannot create these on my own. That’s a good thing – I’m not God.
However I can, hopefully, help foster receptive hearts and responsive wills to the word of God. Diving into the spiritual disciples myself can create a more attentive heart, and I can encourage those around me to do the same.
But… the disciples who encountered Jesus weren’t just suddenly “in-tune”. They didn’t just continue on their merry way home to prepare for the week ahead. They left and immediately went back to Jerusalem to share their news.
When we encounter Jesus, whether it’s a moment while reading scripture, a word from prayer or reflection, or in the serving of others – we must respond.
We must be aware that our culture desires us to limit our faith experiences to behind closed doors occurrences on Sunday mornings, and compartmentalize our worship – setting it aside for “real life” throughout the week. Too many times we may have an amazing encounter with Christ, only to say “wow,” and move on as if that’s it.
But that’s not what following Jesus looks like.
There must be a moment when our belief becomes reality. Where our knowledge becomes action. Where hearing becomes obedience.
Perhaps Jesus famous proclamation in Mark 1:15 of “the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the good news” could be even further simplified as “hear the good news of the Kingdom and respond!” Listen and obey!
In Luke 6, drives this point home.
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”
[Luke 6:46ff – emphasis mine]
These words are strong, because they matter. The disciples along the road recognized this, and obeyed.
That’s actually another piece of this encounter that stands out. The disciples hear and respond in congruence – together. The best way to heed Jesus’ call on our lives is within a community. Whether it’s one or several hundred people. Our commitment to our brothers and sisters in Christ allows us to be a part of this community that stretches back two thousand years. We can’t do this alone!
The encounter along the road to Emmaus is a great passage of scripture that helps place us in that very real time Jesus walked around this earth resurrected. The text speaks to us just as Jesus did to the disciples – here I am! It’s really me! Now go and do!
What can we understand from this passage of scripture?
- Learn to recognize the “heart-burning.” Become adept at listening to the voice and seeing the movement of the Spirit in our midst.
- Respond with obedience – immediately. Don’t hesitate when we sense the need for a response.
- Respond together. Dive into a community of believers that can challenge, push, pull, and encourage you. And do the same for them. That’s why we emphasize over and over again the importance of small groups, Engage Groups, and programs like summer Leadership Training.
~Robbie Poff, NLCF Staff
Summer service time and location
Wow, another school year has flown by! As our campus community spreads out for the summer, our Sunday gatherings reflect this change, and we join our New Life congregation at 10am on Sunday mornings in 130 Jackson St.
130 Jackson, Blacksburg, VA
We’ll return to normal 11am, and 707 services in late August!
The three weeks before Easter at NLCF, we’re focusing on the three traditional aspects of Lent – God, ourselves, and others. Last week was focused on God, so we increased our prayer as a community and learned the Lord’s prayer together. This week the focus is on ourselves – how badly we need God and reminding ourselves of where our provision comes from. We’re doing that by participating in some simple fasting as a community. Next week we’ll focus on the needy in our community where our church can have a direct impact.
What is fasting?
A simple definition of fasting would be to abstain from food or drink for a period of time, for a specific purpose. Fasting has been a spiritual practice and biblical discipline since ancient times and is still used today to bring us closer to God.
Fasting is not just skipping a meal – fasting is an affirmation of the word of God. It is saying that we trust God and we trust what he tells us in his scriptures and through revelation to our hearts.
As recounted in Matthew 4, Jesus was led out into the wilderness and tempted for 40 days. He fasted through all 40 days. I can only imagine the type of hunger he experienced. One of the temptations given to Jesus by the devil is to turn stones into bread so that he may eat and be satisfied. Jesus replies by quoting Deuteronomy 8 which says,“‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
By doing this Jesus affirms that God is the provider of all things, and that there are parts of us that cannot go without nourishment from the Lord, and only the Lord.
This week when you fast, don’t just skip the meal. Take that time and pursue God. Talk to him, listen to him. Acknowledge what he has done for you and ask him to provide in every part of your life. Pray for a specific situation, whether it be healing for you or someone you know, or a friend to come to know Christ, or whatever it is that seems like it’s too powerful for us to manage on our own.
Total Water charity
Don’t forget to set aside the money you’d otherwise use for the meal you’re fasting through and bring it on Sunday. We’re going to give this money as a church to the Total Water organization – a ministry started by our missionaries in Danli, Honduras to provide the local community with clean water and sanitation.
Despite the fact that American Ninja Warrior just finished its 6th season, this summer was the first time I had ever seen the show – AND I got hooked! For those that might not know me well – I wouldn’t necessarily classify myself as super competitive or too athletic (especially when it comes to jumping spiders, warped walls, and salmon ladders). But nevertheless, I quickly became intrigued with the obstacles, the discipline, and the since of community surrounding ANW.
So … every Monday (almost) I’d tuned in to see what obstacle tripped the contestants up, to see that one competitor each week that just zipped through the course like it was a simple stroll down the street, and of course … to see if any of the female contestants would reach the final buzzer.
For those that haven’t gotten hooked, first there are qualifying weeks in various cities around the US. The top 15-ish times (those that complete the course and those that get the furthest along) move on to finals in Las Vegas. Eventually, those that make it through the various qualifiers end up at the ultimate goal – Mount Midoriyama (the final 4 stage portion of the competition). In my opinion, many of the obstacles are just crazy and require an insane amount of grip strength, athleticism, and I believe a bit of fearlessness. It should also be noted, in most cases, if you don’t complete the obstacle, you end up falling (however many feet) into a pool of water! (If totally confused, just youtube it!)
Back to this season … so after several cities and I’m guessing hundreds of competitors (many of whom we probably never see this side of TV), it was finally time for Mount Midoriyama. And, it was what happened at Mount Midoriyama that has left me pondering for weeks … (spoiler alert!!) …
No one finished! No one WON! And, not only did no one win this season … no one has EVER won in the previous 5 seasons!
Whether a goal of the producers of American Ninja Warrior or not, this show has stirred up some overarching questions – what does it mean to WIN? what is SUCCESS? and, perhaps what could be the most important question, what do you do when you land in the pool of water?
to be continued ….
A reminder of hope found in sunflowers…
A few evenings ago, while heading to a neighbors house for a quick visit, I walked down my driveway to be pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful row of sunflowers staring at me from across the street. It’s been a long couple of weeks and instead of rushing by, I stopped to take a picture (even though I felt a bit like I was creeping on my neighbors).
Shortly after I got home from my visit I remembered there was an interview on TV that I had wanted to watch. I have followed this couple for a few years on their blog and recently they just released a book (that I’m currently in the middle of) sharing their story – a story of love, of a brain injury due to a car accident, and of a much deeper love. A sacrificial love that I believe in this day in age is all too often replaced with a shallow, selfish love. This story shines of hope amidst the brokenness.
Well, “thanks” to the internet, I found the a clip of the interview online but felt it hard to believe that it was only a 3 minutes interview so I went searching for more. Big mistake … kinda. Through typing in a few key words in hopes of finding a longer interview, I stumbled upon some “troll sites”. For those unaware, a troll site is a world of its own where individuals sit around (on the internet) hating on other individuals sharing their story, the story that has been given to them (on the internet). Honestly I’m not really sure who has that kind of time? And really all I could think was, what brokenness is swirling and spiraling about, a brokenness that just leaves a disgusting pit in your stomach.
In disbelief that this site was really what it seemed, I scrolled through several pages of forum titles … until … I found another name, another blog that I follow. But like I said, it’s been a busy couple of weeks and I haven’t really kept up with the two blogs I tend to read. And then I quickly learned that a member of this family, of this other blog that I have followed for years, had died in a tragic, tragic accident. Again all I could think was, what brokenness.
And I could have sat there in that place, a place faced with the brokenness, the heartache, the mess, the hurt of this world.And then I was reminded of those sunflowers. Those sunflowers that had caught my attention just hours before and beckoned me to pause … even for a brief moment. And now these sunflowers, found in an Instagram photo on my phone, reminded me of hope, of Hope! A Hope that doesn’t turn a blind eye to the pain but a Hope that heals the hurt and the hurting. A hope that we must choose not to ignore.
A hope expressed in the words pinned by Edward Mote centuries ago yet continues to speak to us today.
Last week NLCF posted this “throwback Thursday” picture on its Facebook page as we gear up to celebrate NLCF’s 25th anniversary! My freshman year (let’s just say in the late-ish 90s!) that same picture was used as an advertisement around campus to introduce people to NLCF. While I knew coming to Virginia Tech that I wanted to get involved in a Christian community, I had the blessing of having a roommate who was a year ahead of me in school and already connected to NLCF. So, pretty much from day one that poster advertisement was taped to our dorm room door (“back-in-the-day” that was okay!) and throughout the first few weeks of school I was slowly introduced to many of the faces in that picture.
Looking back at that picture now, I had no idea at that moment what that community of people (those exact individuals and the many people that would encompass the community of NLCF throughout the years) would mean to me 18 years later!
August is quickly approaching and as a Hokie you are automatically joining an amazing community of people called the Hokie Nation. You’ve probably never thought about creating an outfit with maroon & orange as the main colors and in just a few months it will feel as if those colors have always belonged together. But will that be the only community of people that you identify with?
Because of my roommate, some of the extra steps were taken out of my equation in finding a community of people to belong to. People were coming to my dorm room to see her and consequentially I was constantly being introduced to new friends. But even if it hadn’t happened that way, I had already made a commitment prior to my first step on this beautiful campus that I would reach out and find community.
– Incoming freshman and transfer students … I encourage you to make that commitment today, before you step foot on the campus of Virginia Tech, to find a community that you can walk through life together centered on your relationship with God.
– Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors … I encourage you to make the commitment today to make the effort needed to welcome people in to your community, into your small group, Engage Group, or circle of friends. If my roommate’s friends hadn’t been willing to welcome me in to their circle, I think I would have had a much different first year.
How has being a part of a community of people impacted your life?