South Fellowship Church

About Aaron Bjorklund

I am the Creative Arts Pastor here. That means I oversee our worship ministries and our communications team. I also serve on our Directional Leadership Team here. I love this place and I love the team I work with here!

Alone at the Table

‘God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. ‘

Psalms 68:6

I don’t know how you feel about eating alone. Even if you enjoy it occasionally, I suspect you would find yourself lonely as a common occurrence. There is something about being at a table alone that emphasizes loneliness.

Being a part of the church is more than a place to go on Sunday. God’s church family is meant to be a family for those who are alone. That means it provides full tables for the lonely and family for the single. That sounds like a beautiful potential, but it’s more than that.

Have you ever felt lonely even when you rarely eat alone? Perhaps you are around people all the time, and still, you feel alone. Even if you live with others, you can feel this way because proximity is not a guarantee of relationship. There may be more relational fullness when diversity is involved. What do I mean? If all your family and friends are similar, you may miss out on the fullness of God’s plan for you. Most of us naturally gravitate to people who are like us. Spending time with those in the same racial, socioeconomic, political, and occupational circles seems easier.

That is not the vision that God has for his church. Could it be that God’s plan isn’t JUST a plan to care for the outsider and the lonely? Could it be that God designed relationships to be more fulfilling when they are with a cross-section of all peoples? Learning to do that may be challenging, but it is also more rewarding. Maybe there is an aloneness that we feel when we are at a table with only people like us? Find someone who looks and thinks differently than you. Find a way to spend some time with them this week. Ask them about their life; it may help you feel less alone.

Alone at the Table2022-06-17T11:36:18-06:00

Radical Hospitality

‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ Acts 2:42-47

If you were the creator of the universe, how might you show Hospitality? You might create sunsets. You might create beaches and mountains and flowers. It seems to me that the beauty of creation is a beautiful example of radical Hospitality. If that isn’t enough already, when God sees humanity struggling to thrive, he becomes one of us to save us from ourselves. God isn’t satisfied with watching humanity languish in sin and pain; he entered our experience to rescue us. That is the premier example of radical Hospitality.

God’s radical Hospitality towards humanity is an example, but it is more than that. God shows us what he made us for by living it out himself. The old saying, it is better to give than to receive, isn’t just practical advice; it is our design. We were made to find more joy when we are hospitable than when we are not. When you read the text above, there is something beautiful about it. Even if we are skeptical that the community can sustain such goodness, I think we all long for it. That longing is God’s design in your soul, beckoning you towards God’s way.

Find a way this week to show Hospitality to someone. What does that mean? It simply means making someone feel a bit more comfortable. Help someone feel more at ease. Afterward, evaluate how you feel. Ask yourself, is this a better way of living than if I hadn’t shown Hospitality?

Radical Hospitality2022-06-10T10:08:28-06:00

Spirit Week

“Do you have the Holy Ghost?”
“We need to make sure the Holy Spirit leads us.”
“I’m just asking the Holy Spirit to lead me.”
“Jesus, take the wheel.”

My thoughts and feelings about the Holy spirit are hazy. By nature, the Holy Spirit is a subject that is invisible and abstract. When we talk about him (Holy Spirit), What are we talking about? Who is the Spirit? How does he work? How are we supposed to interact with him? This week we intend to explore some of those things, but today I want to focus on the biblical words used for Spirit and how they might help us explore some of our questions.

The Hebrew word for spirit is ruakh. Interestingly, it is the exact same word for wind and breath. God’s spirit is an animating force in the world for the Hebrew mind. Something is moving the trees, ruakh. When someone stops breathing, they are dead and stop moving. That too must be ruakh. At first glance, that may seem like a primitive understanding of spirit, but what if that understanding is more accurate than we realize?

For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ – Acts 17:28

‘He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, ‘ – Hebrews 1:3

There is a power in the universe that animates it. The scriptures speak of that animating power as bing Him. He animates the world, and he animates us. It’s no wonder we sense something transcendent when we attend a ball game and feel the energy of a crowd. God is sustaining the individuals in that crowd.

The question for us today is, do we let the Holy Spirit animate us? Are we really alive if we are now affected by his wind, breath, and spirit? How can we cultivate a life blown in the direction he wants us to go? Maybe the first step is to acknowledge that even your physical life is sustained by him. That may not feel very supernatural, but it is. Now ask him, Spirit, animate my life in the way you want me to go today.

Spirit Week2022-06-05T21:49:21-06:00

James’ Ministry

When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. Acts 15:13

He hears the sounds of Jerusalem waking up. As the city awakes, it beckons his eyes to open. His mind begins the acknowledge the new day. Thoughts of what the day holds begin to meander through his mind. Then all of a sudden, the magic of his life and calling begins to hit him. His day would be filled with teaching, encouraging, and fanning the flame of this fledgling movement of Jesus followers. To think, not long ago, he wouldn’t have been caught dead associating with this movement. Now, he was part of the leadership of it. Everything had changed since he had seen his brother resurrected.

This week in our daily writings, we have explored the character of James, the brother of Jesus. We saw his childhood, rejection of Jesus’ ministry, and conspicuous absence at his brother’s crucifixion. If you fast forward to the book of Acts, you find James standing up and leading the Jerusalem church. It’s somewhat jarring to observe James’s massive change of heart. His entire life is spent advocating for the reality that his brother is God and savior.

This is the power of resurrection. If the resurrection is real, it can change everything. It didn’t just win James over; it caused him to rise as a leader in the church.

Do you have someone you have given up on, someone you have prayed for but rejected your faith? Don’t give up hope. James was an unlikely character to become a leader in the early church. Yet, he becomes a leader in the movement he had rejected before seeing his dead brother rise again. Don’t give up hope on your loved ones. If God can raise the dead, he can also change everything for those around you. Ask God to make his resurrected presence real. When people encounter God alive, they can’t help it; they will be changed.

James’ Ministry2022-05-29T21:15:03-06:00

Now That is Funny

Does this sound like the punch line of a joke?

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” – John 21:22

It may not be a joke directly, but I still laughed aloud when I reread this verse this week. In fact, our Daily Devotional Team laughed quite a bit as we read this chapter in the book of John. We decided to point out the subtle humor in this chapter and acknowledge the value of humor in the scriptures.

The scriptures are masterfully written. The longer you spend studying them, the more nuanced, delighting, challenging, and even humor you notice in them. As you learn about ancient Jewish culture, figures of speech in Greek and Hebrew, and the various characters found in the text, you also begin to appreciate the depth of these texts.

I challenge you to make the scriptures a part of your lifelong study program. Thank God for giving us such a beautiful gift to begin to learn who he is and how humans are. With that said, I’ll point out a few funny observations we notice in John 21

The punch line of the text I quoted above is that Jesus keeps asking Peter to “Follow Me.” Then the text tells us that there is a disciple following Jesus even as he and Peter are trying to have a conversation. The moral of the story is that Peter should be doing what this disciple is modeling. The punch line is that John is the one both writing this text and offering himself as an example that Peter should follow. The humor is increased because John makes editorial notes throughout his gospel.

We also enjoyed John’s commentary that he noticed Jesus before all the other disciples. We appreciated John’s closing lines in the chapter. It is as if John’s hand is cramping, so he casually tells us that Jesus did and taught lots of things.

Again, these slightly comical observations are subtle, sometimes tertiary to the point of the passage, but they also bring us joy. It’s a blessing to have such masterfully crafted scriptures with life’s natural humor, and character quirks included. This is just an invitation to continue to learn and enjoy these texts.

Now That is Funny2022-05-22T20:56:09-06:00

Breakfast With Jesus

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. (John 21:10-14)

Something is comforting about Jesus being God. It means he is strong, wise, and in control. Yet, there is just as much comfort in the humanity of Jesus. He understands us; he isn’t distant. Instead, he is near. In this story, Jesus draws from his genuine human relationship with the disciples. He knows them. Jesus knows their stories, and he knows how to connect with them. In light of that, he makes breakfast. It’s such an everyday activity, so familiar, so disarming. These disciples had shared countless meals with Jesus over the years, and when he invited them to do it again, the light bulb went on.

The image of his hands breaking bread, and the sound of his voice blessing the food, must have been a bit of glorious Deja Vu. It is with this beach breakfast that Jesus decided to re-invite them to the story. Aren’t you glad that he knows you just as well? This is the kind of God we follow, patient, familiar, yet completely different from others.

Where might Jesus be inviting you into the story of his world? What is the beach breakfast that he is offering to you? You may wish he would show up with flashes of lightning and a booming voice, but he may decide to be more covert than that. Are you paying attention to his invitation to breakfast? One way to heighten your awareness of Jesus’ presence in your everyday life is to set aside time to pray a Prayer of Examen at the end of your day.

How to Pray the Examen
1. Place yourself in God’s presence. Give thanks for God’s great love for you.
2. Pray for the grace to understand how God is acting in your life.
3. Review your day — recall specific moments and your feelings at the time.
4. Reflect on what you did, said, or thought in those instances. Were you drawing closer to God, or further away?
5. Look toward tomorrow — think of how you might collaborate more effectively with God’s plan. Be specific, and conclude with the “Our Father.”

Breakfast With Jesus2022-05-15T21:14:10-06:00

It Hurts to Hope

“So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ Now Thomas (also known as Didymus ), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.” John 20:24-25

He wasn’t in it for the money. He wasn’t even in it for the recognition. He actually believed that the world could be different. Thomas had found a leader worth following, and he was so committed to him that he was ready to die with him.

“Then Thomas (also known as Didymus ) said to the rest of the disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’” John 11:16

I think Thomas gets a bad rap for his doubt. His name even makes its way into a euphemism when we call someone a doubting Thomas. The evidence in the book of John is that Thomas was deeply committed to Jesus. He was willing to risk his own life to follow Jesus. So the question is, why does he doubt now?

Perhaps, you know why he doubts now. It is emotionally taxing to hope sometimes, isn’t it? You have a dream, a longing deep down in your heart, and it doesn’t come true. It’s almost less painful to stop hoping for things if our hopes are just going to be dashed repeatedly.

I think Thomas is in that place. He watched a dream be crushed before his eyes. Thomas saw his master, Jesus, brutally crucified. All his hope was wrapped up in the person of Jesus, and now he was dead. The idea that Jesus had risen from the dead meant that he could hope again, but his heart was too crushed to try.

Here is the reality – being in a relationship with God doesn’t mean that your every desire will be realized. It does mean that you are in a relationship with the one who can make dead things alive again. It feels risky to hope, but hope is also what keeps us alive. I’d like to learn to risk my hope on Jesus, wouldn’t you?

Take a moment to tell Jesus some of the hopes that you have let die. Ask him if any of them need to be resurrected. Ask him to give you a heart that hopes again.

It Hurts to Hope2022-05-08T20:17:40-06:00

Didn’t our Hearts Burn?

They had given up hope. They had been a part of what they thought was a movement. Not only that, they had personally known the head of the movement. He would change the world, but then it had all fallen apart—his arrest, trial, and death on a Roman cross. This wasn’t how the story was supposed to end. Now what?

The characters found in Luke 24 were trying to move on with life after Jesus’ death. They were literally on the road, walking away from it all. They didn’t know what else to do. It’s on that hopeless road that Jesus shows up and begins to trickle hope back into their souls. They didn’t recognize him, but his words started to pull together their shattered dreams. When Jesus finally reveals himself to them, it’s just for a moment before he vanishes. Then, they express what they had been feeling along the road.

‘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

Their hearts were burning as Jesus taught them because the stories he told them meant that the dream wasn’t dead. Instead, the story was just beginning.

You were made for a grand story too. Did you know that? We all want to be a part of something significant. That isn’t a selfish desire; it is a God-designed desire because he did make us for something meaningful. He made us to partner with him; bring his goodness to the world. That story is the only big enough and true enough story to feed every human desire. That is the story that makes your heart burn. You may not know it yet, but your heart awakens when it hears the story that God is writing.

This story is an invitation to hope again. Have you given up on living a grand story? Have you given up on being a part of something genuinely significant? This story is about two characters finding out that hope isn’t dead; it’s alive. There is hope for us too.

Take a moment to ask yourself what hopes you have let die. God may not be reviving your dream the way you wish or imagined. Instead, he may be telling you that an even better hope is alive and well. Does your heart burn for that?

Didn’t our Hearts Burn?2022-05-02T10:07:15-06:00

Right Place and Time

‘Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” ‘ John 20:1-2

It seems both the most natural and the most unnatural truth that Mary was the first person to see Jesus after he rose. It was strange because her testimony would have been weak as a woman. It also seems so fitting for this woman, whose life had been changed by Jesus, to be the first.

Even in her sorrow and hopelessness, Mary still loved her savior, and she couldn’t help but tend to his body. That love brings her to the right place at the right time to encounter the most world-changing news in history. Jesus had risen from the dead.

Have you ever wanted to hear from God? Have you ever longed to feel his presence? Could it be that deep love and reverence for Jesus help put us in the right place to encounter him? See, it’s not her status, reputation, wisdom, or good works that pave the way to being the first to See the risen lord. Instead, it’s her love that draws her like gravity to be near him even in her grief. Perhaps cultivating a deep love for Jesus is a recipe for encountering him.

How does one do that? I suggest you get to know him through the gospel accounts. Spend extra time in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Find a way to read from these accounts often, all while asking God to teach you Jesus’ personality. How did he think? What Was he like? Why did he do things the way he did? This exploration is one of the ways that God has caused me to grow in my love for Jesus. It is then Love that puts us in our Gardens of encounter.

Right Place and Time2022-04-24T20:43:02-06:00

Not The End

If you attended one of our easter services you may have learned that resurrection isn’t the end of the story, it’s the beginning. The pursuit of eternal life has been the subject of Hollywood productions as well as wealthy individuals. We are all drawn to the idea of living long productive lives. That longing may be embedded into God’s design for us. We were meant to be eternal creatures and resurrection is the promise of that.

This year, rather than celebrating Easter and moving on with regular life, we want to let Easter be an invitation to a deeper journey. We will be starting a new series called eastertide this coming sunday. In this series we will explore Jesus’ as he encounters people after his resurrection. We will see all the ways that he invites us to live in this new world where death is defeated.

Take a moment to pray. Ask God to stir in you a longing for the life that resurrection brings. Ask him to help you grow in that life more in this spring.

Not The End2022-04-17T20:25:28-06:00
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