Northside Blog

Best Summer Ever: May 17

by Neal Windham, Spiritual Formation Pastor Scripture “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” - John 15:5 Abiding & Abounding The premise of John 15 is really quite simple: those who abide abound. That’s it. Disciples who remain committed to Jesus, faithfully serving him over time and in circumstances both good and bad, eventually see results. The key is remaining... Read More

Identity Theft: May 14

Scripture Jesus, speaking to the Woman at the Well: “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.” - John 4:18 About “Indecent Conversations” She came to the well in the heat of the day, not early or late when the other women would be there, so as to avoid being seen and talked about. Gossip has a way of eating into the very fabric of your soul, after all, and she’d... Read More

Identity Theft: May 13

by Jacob Bales, Student Ministry Pastor Scripture A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” - John 21:17 I am Peter In the summer prior to seventh grade, my dad did something bold and courageous: he got blonde tips in his hair. If you are unaware of what that is,... Read More

Identity Theft: May 12

Scripture And when he (Manasseh) prayed to him the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God. - 2 Chronicles 33:13 Hope for the Hopeless There are actually two accounts of Manasseh’s reign over Judah in the Bible–2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 33. In the 2 Kings account, he ascends to the throne as a twelve-year old kid who follows all the detestable practices of the... Read More

Identity Theft: May 11

Scripture Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” - Genesis 32:26 Fighting with God? I love this text. Jacob is a real mess. He deceived his dad, cheated his brother, and evaded his father-in-law - quite the family man - and he’s one of the “good guys” in the Bible! (Maybe there’s hope for me, after all.) And now here he is, on the eve of an encounter with his estranged brother and 400 men accompanying him, wrestling with an angel... Read More

Identity Theft: May 10

Scripture Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. - Genesis 4:1-2 It’s a Family Affair What comes to mind first when you hear the name Eve ? Mother of all humanity? The first woman? Adam’s wife? I’m guessing that for many it’s that fateful encounter with a crafty snake in the garden. Forbidden fruit. The Fall.... Read More

Identity Theft: May 7

Scripture If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. – Philippians 3:4b-7 The Kingdom Comes as a Gift, Not an Achievement Sometimes our... Read More

Identity Theft: May 6

Scripture Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” – Matthew 20:20-21 It’s a Family Affair Momma’s boys. Can’t you hear her? “How ‘bout you make James the point guard? He’s quick, can think on his feet,... Read More
Posted by Dale Best at Thursday, May 6, 2021

Identity Theft: May 5

by Anita Oldham Scripture As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” The Master said,... Read More

Identity Theft: May 4

Scripture What had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. – Daniel 4:33 A Parable Enacted Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful and longest-reigning Babylonian king of his time, a capable leader but incredibly cruel. Well known for great building projects, particularly to his god,... Read More

Identity Theft: May 3

Scripture Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” - Genesis 11:4 The First Humanists? These remarks sound a lot like something you would expect to hear from people who’ve rejected God altogether and decided to rely upon themselves instead. “Let’s build ourselves a city … to make a name for ... Read More

Identity Theft: April 30

Scripture “Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are ?” - John 8:53 Never a Comfortable Question You know the feel of this question, don’t you? I mean, at some point in your life someone has asked, “Who do you think you are?” It’s never a comfortable question. You go around the boss and he discovers it. “Who do you think you are?” he says. Or maybe you try to get past security... Read More

Identity Theft: April 29

by Jacob Bales, Student Ministry Pastor Scripture You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. – Galatians 1:13 NLT Saul to Paul I want you to imagine yourself ten years ago for a few moments. Think about where you were at that time. Think about what you were doing. Who were your friends? Where were you in school or work? What were you proud of? What was difficult? What would the... Read More

Identity Theft: April 28

Scripture God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. - Ephesians 1:3b Heaven on Earth? What comes to mind when you hear the word heaven ? In the Bible, it’s where God dwells. Angels live there too, as do the redeemed. Heaven is a crowded place, if I’m reading 1 Kings 22:19 right. It’s like a large house with lots of rooms and features a great big temple. It’s jeweled, permanent, and decorated with crystal and pearls.... Read More

Identity Theft: April 27

Scripture The LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7 I Am More Than Meets the Eye David, the eighth son of Jesse (in a world where the number seven meant everything), was an afterthought to his father when the prophet Samuel came to his house to anoint Israel’s next king.... Read More

Identity Theft: April 26

Scripture “Here comes the dreamer!” they said to each other. “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” – Genesis 37:19-20 They Called Him a “Dreamer” Let’s suppose you’re a member of a large family, that you came along later than most of your siblings, that you are socially clueless, that you nevertheless have... Read More

Identity Theft: April 23

Scripture “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 God’s Beloved Something just happened I don’t think I’ve ever seen happen before. I’m writing this on a Google Doc, and, phrase by phrase, every part of this verse popped up automatically, reminding me again and again that no verse is more widely known or recognized than John 3:16. I close the... Read More

Identity Theft: April 22

Scripture For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10 by Jacob Bales, Student Ministry Pastor Workmanship/Masterpiece This past week we talked about the lie that can sometimes steal our identity: I am what I do . Now to be clear, doing things is good. We have been called to not be passive with our lives but to be active: to work, to come together, to serve, to put our faith in... Read More

Identity Theft: April 21

Scripture For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV What does it mean to be saved? Have you ever noticed how people talk about salvation? “I got saved” is pretty common, as is “I was saved.” What’s interesting is that in both cases someone else does the saving. In other words, “saved” is a passive verb. It... Read More

Identity Theft: April 20

Scripture For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart–it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God. – Romans 2:28-29, NRSV   A Matter of the Heart The ritual of circumcision seems so odd to us, but it is important to understand that what is odd to us was customary in... Read More

Identity Theft: April 19

Scripture You have made people a little lower than the heavenly beings. – Psalm 8:5 “I am what I am.” We’re tackling the I-am-what-I-do myth this week. In a workaholic culture, that’s no small task. Go pretty much anywhere in the world. Pay attention to how people get acquainted with one another. Where is your home? Tell me about your family. Are you married? Do you have children? Grandchildren? This is what you’ll hear. In the United... Read More

Identity Theft: April 16

Scripture “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When someone found it, they hid it again, and then in their joy went and sold all they had and bought that field.” (Matt. 13:44) Leveraging All Here’s a little story about leveraging everything you have to gain access to the one thing you don’t have.  In the ancient Jewish world, it probably wouldn’t have been unusual to bury one’s treasure in a field. What would have been... Read More

Identity Theft: April 15

by Cali Broy, Care Intern Scripture “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 Reflection The term seek in this passage means to pursue something and keep pursuing it without stopping. Earlier in this chapter, we see that God knows exactly what we need before we ask Him (6:8); God knows all of our needs (6:32). Matthew wants us to know that God provides over all things. It’s important to... Read More

Identity Theft: April 14

Scripture “When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, ‘Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 8:18-19) Simon wanted the Holy Spirit not to help people but to exploit them. He was a sorcerer, and sorcerers were into spiritual power because it was really lucrative. So, when Simon saw Philip legitimately healing people by the... Read More

Identity Theft: April 13

Scripture Speaking to a rich young man, our text says, “Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.’” (Mark 10:20-21) Downward Mobility You remember how this story goes. This guy comes to Jesus, earnestly falling on his knees, and begging, “What can I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus in turn recites some of the key... Read More

Identity Theft: April 12

Scripture Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” – James 4:13-15 Being Consumed “You are what you... Read More

Humble & Hungry: April 9

Scripture Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). One Thing Remains Have you heard the song “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” by The Script? It tells the story of a brokenhearted lover whose girl has left him. He camps out on the corner of a major urban street, proclaiming his love for her and refusing... Read More

Humble & Hungry: April 8

by Tom Gilbert, Care Pastor Scripture  Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality (1 Corinthians 15:51-53). Reflection Some things are simply a mystery. Our resurrected body, the dead... Read More

Humble & Hungry: April 7

Scripture The last enemy to be destroyed is death…. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:26, 55). Befriending death? Not on your life! I’ve actually heard people say you should befriend death. Truth be told, I’ve said it myself. Death is inevitable. At some point in life, we all face it and, like it or not, have to come to terms with it. So why not befriend it? Or at least learn to accept it? But Paul didn’t see... Read More

Humble & Hungry: April 6

Scripture If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all people (1 Corinthians 15:19). They shall soar on eagle’s wings and run and not be weary (Isaiah 40:31). Remembering Reggie My dear friend Reggie Webb died last Friday. He’d been in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down, for over fifty years. I'd first seen him rolling his way into class in the bitter cold of a Central Illinois winter back in the late 70s, studying Hebrew... Read More

Humble & Hungry: April 5

Scripture For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time … Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all … to me. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). Evidence Faith... Read More

Humble & Hungry: April 2

Scripture “We love because he (God) first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 Primary & Secondary Loves All week long we’ve gathered around the cross, Monday to watch Jesus die, Tuesday to marvel with the centurion, Wednesday to grieve and repent with the crowds, and Thursday to stand at a distance as with the disciples we attempt to take all this in. Today, we’re departing Luke for a touch of First John. “We love,” John says, “because he first loved... Read More

Humble & Hungry: April 1

Scripture “But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.” Luke 23:49 Uncomfortable Distance Listen as Luke talks about various people who “stood at a distance” from God and Jesus, scattered throughout the pages of his gospel: “As he (Jesus) was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice,... Read More

Humble & Hungry: March 31

Scripture “When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.” Luke 23:48 They Will Look on the One They Have Pierced Whatever else we may take from this little verse, it’s clear that the crowd which gathered to see Jesus crucified (quite literally, “to behold a spectacle”) returned home deeply troubled. I wonder just what they were thinking, don’t you? It was a Jewish crowd, one... Read More

Hungry & Humble: March 30

Scripture The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” - Luke 23:47 Missional Dying  As he has for all of us, Jesus Set the Table for this centurion by entrusting his spirit to the Father when he died. In this way, right up to his last breath, Jesus remained a teacher. His final words became a catalyst for the centurion who, moved by all of this, concluded Jesus must have been innocent, that he was, in fact, a... Read More

Hungry & Humble: March 29

Scripture Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. Luke 23:46 One Last Breath Prayer As we begin Holy Week, before I say a word about this text, I just have to pause for a moment. The Son of God, after all, has died. So please, pause with me. Please allow this to sink in ... Jesus, the Breath-Giver, was present with the Father at creation (Colossians 1:16) and therefore... Read More

Humble & Hungry: March 26

Scripture Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst (1 Timothy 1:15). Paul, a Sinner? Throughout this series, we’ve focused on what Jesus and others noticed as the crucifixion unfolded. For example, Jesus was tuned in to the women who were mourning as he ascended the hill of execution. The religious rulers, on the other hand, saw an attempt to unseat their authority coming to its... Read More

Humble & Hungry: March 25

Scripture Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) The Ultimate Garden Spot Just what comes to mind when you hear the word “paradise”? An exotic getaway? Worry-free living? A private beach? What? Actually, “paradise” was a word used for walled gardens among the ancient Persians, so reminiscent of Genesis 2, where we read about the Garden of Eden, a safe, lush garden with plants and animals,... Read More

Humble & Hungry: March 24

Scripture “Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’” Luke 23:42 A Dying Wish Do you ever find yourself praying this dying man’s prayer: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom”? I love the sound and simplicity of it. In fact, the verse is set to a simple Taize tune whose tracks run river-deep in my head & heart.  What seems so astonishing here is that the crucified man who made this request, a man... Read More

Humble & Hungry: March 23

Scripture “But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’” Luke 23:40-41 Compassion Compassion enters deeply into the pain of others in order to remind them that they are not alone. I hear such compassion in this criminal’s voice, don’t you? “This man has done... Read More

Humble & Hungry: March 22

Scripture “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’” Luke 23:39 Harsh Words for Jesus Have you ever seen a person die? Heard them draw their last breath? It’s such a holy moment. Grief-filled? Yes. Emotionally draining? Of course. But above all holy, because the one dying is entering into a realm of mystery none of us really knows or understands. Sure, we’ve read the articles, and... Read More

Humble & Hungry - March 19

Scripture Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Luke 23:34 “Father, Forgive Them” as Breath Prayer As we trace the past progressive verbs in this text (Greek “imperfects”), it sounds like a conversation was emerging from the cross, the gist of which runs something like this: “Jesus kept saying, ‘Father, please forgive them; they don’t understand what they’re... Read More

Humble & Hungry - March 18

Scripture “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 Restoration is possible Years ago, I served on a restoration team for a friend in ministry who had made some poor choices. (No, it wasn’t a sex scandal.) Having lost his job, at his own initiative we met together weekly in order to explore what had happened, why it had happened, and what could be done to bring healing... Read More

Humble & Hungry - March 17

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32   St. Patrick’s Legacy Today is St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t forget to wear green. Patrick’s story is remarkable. Captured by Irish pirates from his native England as a fifteen-year-old boy, he was taken to the northwest of Ireland where he served as a shepherd-slave. And here the formerly wayward Patrick grew up spiritually. Each day... Read More

Humble & Hungry - March 16

Scripture “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ - and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32:5   Letting History Be History The twin towers of forgiveness are really pretty simple. Forgiveness is first about a kind of surgical removal of whatever separates people from God, as well as what separates people from each other. Scripture calls this agent of separation... Read More

Humble & Hungry - March 15

Scripture "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats … by his wounds we are healed. " (1 Peter 2:23-24, emphasis added)   Hidden Joy In his woundedness, Jesus became a source of life for others, and he did this by entering into our woundedness, by becoming one of us. As he absorbed the pain of the cross, he showed us something about suffering we could not otherwise have seen: joy is often hidden in... Read More

Humble & Hungry - March 12

Scripture: “Where you go, I will go, and where you stay I stay.” (Ruth 1:16)   “Membership” As I pondered the Bible’s Humble & Hungry in preparation for this week’s final devotion, people like Moses and Esther came to mind.  But, with the exception of Jesus, no one stood higher on this list than Ruth. At times I well up with tears (as I am at this very moment) just thinking about her unflinching tenacity, her sacred love for Naomi,... Read More

Humble & Hungry - March 11

Scripture: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.” (Luke 23:28-29)   Empathy for Sons and Daughters Within a generation of Jesus’ death, the revolutionary sons of Jerusalem’s daughters were impaled on Roman crosses lining the streets outside the city as a warning to all... Read More

Humble & Hungry - March 10

Scripture: “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties, for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)   Just What Kind of Weakness are We Talking About Here? While the words are original to Paul, Jesus surely could have used them. “When I am weak” (tortured, humiliated, spat upon, mocked, stripped naked, crucified), “then I am strong” (refusing to buckle, forgiving my accusers,... Read More

Humble & Hungry - March 9

Scripture: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.” (Matthew 23:38)   The Power of Shame Has the stubborn refusal of an addict to give up their habit or the hateful and uncommunicative party in a marriage gone bad ever left you aching, I mean physically... Read More