Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Alpha starts tonight! Don't worry if you didn't register - you can still do so online or just show up tonight at 6:30 pm. Dinner is free and childcare is provided.

The book recommendation for this evening is C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. Check it out!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Alpha is about to begin!

Our fall session of Alpha will be starting next month on Tuesday, October 10 and, this time, will continue for eight consecutive weeks. It's our hope that by shortening the Alpha Course by two weeks that all participants will be able to attend until the end. It will begin at 6:30 pm with dinner and dessert, followed by a short talk. After that, attendees will break up into discussion groups where they will be able to ask any questions they have about God or the Bible. We are hoping to see a lot of new faces, so if you've never come out, please consider this as your personal invitation to come. We would love to have you!
You can register online at sovgracenj.org/alpha If you need childcare, please register your children there too. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Alpha is about to start again!

Our fall session of Alpha will be starting this month on Tuesday, September 27 and will continue for ten consecutive weeks. It will begin at 6:30 pm with dinner and dessert, followed by a short talk. Then attendees will break up into discussion groups where they will be able to ask any questions they have about God or the Bible. We are hoping to see a lot of new faces, so if you've never come out, please consider this as your personal invitation to come. We would love to have you.
You can register online at sovgracenj.org/alpha If you need childcare, please register your children there too. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Week 5 Why and How should I read the Bible

Sorry for missing a week.  I only missed a week writing to this blog though, I haven't missed a week at Alpha this time so far.

This week we had a few changes.  However, one thing that didn't change was the excellent meal and conversation we enjoy to get things started.  The food is top notch, but the service excels beyond that.  The ladies who serve us each week with smiles and a friendly word would put the service at most fine restaurants to shame.  It's hard to give them the gratitude they deserve as well, they are quick to brush it off with a smile and quick words about how it is a pleasure for them.

The Alpha joke this week broke new ground:  Potty Humor for the first time!  I'd have to give it a thumbs up though, because between the few groans there were a lot of laughs and giggles.  I admit that that Irish guy who delivered the joke, kept everyone's attention until the punch line.  I wonder if it was the exotic accent or the material.  I'm leaning on the side of the accent.

Another change was the speaker.  We've heard from two of our pastors so far, and this week we heard from one of the community group leaders in the church, Trent Booth.  Trent came to talk to us about the Bible, a huge topic and I think we gave him about 30 minutes.  He did seem to touch on a lot of essential points, and it was clear that the Bible is an important part of Trent's life.  The things Trent shared seemed to keep everyone's attention.  I wonder though if some of that didn't have do to with Trent also being foreign born.  Another exotic speaker at the microphone!  Trent told us of his beginnings in Canada and revealed his love of hockey, eh.  I don't know what was more compelling to me, what Trent was saying or trying to see if he lost any teeth in his last run-in with a hockey puck.  He was sporting quite a manly mark on his noses that he claimed was from his last game.  Now that I think about it, he didn't say if it was a run-in with a puck or one of his opponents.  Hmm....but I digress.

Our conversation group took a bit of a turn this week as well, rather than just discuss the topic at hand, the Bible, we took some time to study it for ourselves.  Delving into some of Jesus' words from Matthew, we got a chance to see that at least some of the Bible isn't so mysterious and hard to understand.  One thing everyone seemed to agree on was that Jesus was spot on when He challenged us about anxiety.  He reminded us to focus on today, which leads me to end here. I'm off to my next adventure of the week, but I am looking forward to getting together next Tuesday.  I don't know if everyone would agree since I haven't asked, but I never think we have enough time to talk about all the things that come up in our discussion time.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Week 3 - Why does God allow suffering

Boy, I felt like we jumped into the deep end of the theological pool with this week's topic.  On the one hand it is a great topic because no matter how different we are, we do have this one thing in common and that is we suffer or have loved ones who suffer. On the other hand, thinking and talking about this kind of thing not only raises a lot of questions but also can be pretty emotional.  I got a bit emotional myself thinking about suffering.  For me it helped to remember that I really believe that God is love and all powerful.  Even more settling is knowing that Jesus is "a man of suffering, acquainted with grief"  I imagine Jesus had much the same emotions as I do when looking at suffering.  In His life on earth, I read about him having compassion and one time even cried when one of His friends died.

Our discussion group seemed to jump from the topic of suffering to all kinds of other topics before returning back to suffering.  I think that's because suffering is so personal a topic that it stirs up very deep thoughts. I'm glad to see the folks in my group are becoming close enough to share some of those very deep thoughts and feelings.

Looking forward to Tuesday this week where I can spend some time with my new friends.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Week 2 - Why did Jesus have to die?

It seems like every week, there are more people in the room eating dinner.  Of course, this was the second week so I can't be sure this is a real pattern yet.  As I looked around, I saw people chatting, smiling, laughing and enjoying their food.  This was especially true when they were eating desserts, I think many would have made good commercials for a dessert company. The Alpha joke of the week was really funny this week, not just so bad it seemed funny.  The punch line, "and by the third day the swelling had gone down enough......"   ha ha.  I'm still giggling over that one.

It was good to be reminded by Jason of why Jesus died.  This doesn't sound like a very happy topic, but Jason reminded us that this was "good news" or gospel.  For us it is pretty good news.  I think the singing time next week will be more sweet for me as I remember that Jesus died to pay MY penalty for a lifetime of sin.   Even as I type this, I find it a bit overwhelming:  the God who created the universe included me in His plan. Wow.

I can only report on what happened in my discussion group, but I would say it was a better discussion this week than last, and that's saying something.  The folks in the group were both ready to share some of their thoughts, but also were listening pretty intently when others were speaking.  Before getting down to serious talk, our group shared what would be our dream jobs.  I was a little jealous when one of our guys, said he actually has his dream job!  Another wow!  I think I'm going to ask him next week how he managed that.

As a guy who had a lot of trouble making friends in high school, I'm finding it pretty easy with this group of people.  Feeling glad here that I decided to attend Alpha this time.  I wonder what's in store for next week.......