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South Fellowship Church

About Yvonne Biel

I’m here to journey with others to the feet of Jesus through creative soul care and mind/body healing work. I am the Formation Pastor at South Fellowship Church

Inclusive Gift

“We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”” – Acts 2:11b-12

Imagine yourself amidst the crowd of Galileans staying in Jerusalem that day. Jerusalem is swarming with God-fearing Jews from across the known world and you are feeling the energy in the city. The Jews are gathering for their traditional fe”stival of Firstfruits. Perhaps you don’t understand the meaning of this festival but are mesmerized by how this one day has gathered people from every nation.

As you’re enjoying the sights and taking in the wonders of this festival, all of a sudden, something unusual starts to happen. The crowd bursts into laughter and tears start flowing. The sound of this massive crowd causes an uproar. You can see them. People of differing colors and ethnicities are connecting in ways you didn’t think were possible. All because they were speaking in each other’s native language. You were among a crowd of diverse people, but that day you truly felt “with” them.

No wonder the Scripture notes how the crowd was amazed and perplexed – wondering what all this means. All separation that once existed from language barriers was gone, in the blink of an eye.

This is precisely what the Spirit of God does. He breaks down barriers so he can be “with” his people and his people can be “with” one another. God is sometimes called Immanuel, “God with us”. Yet, there are three Greek words for “with” in the New Testament – meta, para, and en. Over the next few days, we will explore the nuances of all three.

Today’s word for “with” is meta, meaning together or among. Think about how many barriers we create between people – divisions of race, gender, political positions, socio-economic status, etc.. Truth is: humans create division but God’s presence includes. God’s Spirit brings humans together. Separations among us cease to exist when God’s presence enters the room. Find at least one person today with whom you can break down barriers because you walk with the Spirit. Ask God what creative actions you might take which would allow for the Spirit to be “with” or among your relationships today.

Inclusive Gift2022-06-08T14:14:20-06:00

TENSION WITHIN THE FAMILY

“Jesus left [the region of Galilee] and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.”
‭‭- Mark‬ ‭6:1-5‬ ‭NIV

Jesus could not do miracles in his hometown. Does this surprise you? Perhaps you’ve heard this story, but have you considered how Jesus would have felt as the authority of God’s Kingdom is limited in his own backyard? Jesus’ authority is limited not by lack of power, but by lack of belief. And notice WHO are the ones lacking in belief – Jesus’ closest friends and family.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we catch glimpses of his family dynamics. At one point Jesus’ family thinks he’s out of his mind, not taking care of himself, and they go find him in hopes of straightening him out (Mark 3:20-21). Another time we see his mother and brothers unable to get to Jesus because of the crowds. And Jesus flat out says, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put them into practice” – as if to say, “though my mothers and brothers are related to me, they do not necessarily hear God’s words and put them into practice” (‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:19-21). Ouch.

Limiting God’s authority by lack of faith must have been a major disappointment for Jesus and created some tension within his family dynamics. But, imagine how it would feel to be on a journey of discovering your God-given identity and not be fully supported by your mother and brothers. That’s painful.

If you follow Jesus, I’d imagine you can relate. Sometimes the things Jesus calls us to do create tension in relationships, perhaps even rejection. In what ways has your choice to follow Jesus brought about tension in your closest relationships? Tell Jesus about how this makes you feel and let him sit with you in empathy.

TENSION WITHIN THE FAMILY2022-05-29T21:08:34-06:00

Shame Undone

“When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 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. When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.””
‭‭John‬ ‭21:9-17 ‭NIV‬‬

The Apostle John notes more interesting details of Jesus’ appearance to Peter. We notice Jesus’ invitation to breakfast, the mention of a charcoal fire, distribution of fish and bread, as well as a poetic display of grace through Jesus’ intentional questions.

All in all, we notice Jesus bringing about reconciliation with Peter without directly addressing the elephant in the room.

Jesus never condemns Peter for returning to fish or for denying him. Jesus simply makes breakfast and invites Peter for a conversation over food. Obviously, Peter knows the elephant in the room, he even smells his shame as the fragrance of charcoal reminds him of the night he was asked if he knew Jesus while warming himself by a similar fire (Luke 22:55-57).

Jesus doesn’t have to bring up the incident to heal Peter’s shame. Instead, he undoes the shame by replacing it with love. Jesus loves Peter profoundly in this moment with his thought actions, kind words, quality time, and intentional questions.

Perhaps we, too, can offer love in place of shame as Jesus did. Is there someone Jesus is inviting you to reconcile with by serving them with love rather than bringing up their shame of wrongdoing? Or perhaps the person you need to reconcile with is Jesus himself. If so, listen to this song (https://youtu.be/BoZd7ZXh9yY) receiving Jesus’ presence where there is no shame, only love.

Shame Undone2022-05-24T20:48:55-06:00

How Many Fish?

[Jesus] called out to [the fishermen], “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” … 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. – John 21:5-7a,10-11

This story sounds all too familiar to another story of Peter fishing and catching nothing. Luke 5:4-6 recounts Jesus telling Simon Peter to, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.”

Here, we see Peter fishing all night, catching nothing, until Jesus comes along. In today’s text, Peter is back fishing, catching nothing, until Jesus comes along. As the Apostle John tells this second miracle concerning fish, he adds some intriguing details. He specifically mentions 153 fish and that the nets do not break. Some scholars wonder what this specificity means. What does the number symbolize? What does it mean about Peter’s ministry or Jesus’ Kingdom?

But, as we see with both miracles concerning fish, the purpose was never really about fish. Although the nets were bursting with swarms of fish in the first miracle, the sign pointed to a calling. Jesus prophesied over Simon Peter, “from now on, you will fish for people” (‭‭Luke‬ ‭5:10‬). And in the second miracle, although the nets stayed intact with an overwhelming number of fish, the sign pointed directly back to his original calling.

The miracle that day was that Peter’s calling to fish for people was still intact. The number of fish was likely only to prove the amazing strength of the net intact after carrying over 150 fish.Peter felt weak after denying his Lord, but Jesus returns to miraculously remind him of his unique calling to fish for people and the miracle demonstrates how Peter’s calling would still hold up with the help of his Lord, even though tested by trial.

Have you heard God’s voice speak a specific calling over your life? If so, remember what he’s said to you today and praise him that your calling is still intact, no matter what’s been happening in your life. If not, ask God to speak over you. Ask him, “Who do you say I am?”

How Many Fish?2022-05-17T21:36:14-06:00

Present and Eternal Scars

But [Thomas] said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” – John 20:25

[Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” – John 20:27

Too often, we give Thomas a hard time for asking to see Jesus’ scars, but this request brings out an intriguing thought: Jesus would be eternally marked by his suffering.

Wounds remind us of what a person’s suffered and since Jesus’ glorified body carries these markers, Jesus’ body forever illustrates his victorious testimony.

Do you envision Jesus as a scarred human forever? Perhaps you assume his humanness ceased to exist when he ascended to Heaven or simply because he’s divine. But, Jesus is and always will be the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15-19).

In this post resurrection moment, Jesus lovingly shows Thomas evidence of his human suffering. Perhaps because Jesus is eager to testify of his triumphant story. As he lets Thomas put hands on his wounds, it’s as if he’s saying, “Evil has left its mark but everyone who overcomes lives to tell the story.”

When Jesus returns, he will show us the same marks of his selfless, sacrificial story. As he establishes his kingdom, his scars will eternally remind us of his humanness.

Consider the reality of Jesus showing you his human scars one day – whether that be when you reach glory at the end of your life or when glory returns to us. What significance are Jesus’ eternal scars to you?

Present and Eternal Scars2022-05-08T20:19:31-06:00

One By One

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
—John 20:17

Jesus appears in his glorified body to his disciples. Each moment lasts for just that, a moment, as Jesus reminds them HE is not the one to stay with them. In Mark‘s Gospel, he even says, “do not hold onto me.”

Consider this: Jesus remains as one single being as he returns to his disciples after the resurrection. He does not appear in multiple places at the same time. Jesus, in his glorified body, remains somewhat limited by time and space even though he can now show up in a room with closed doors (John 20:19).

In these next weeks at South, we will explore several occasions where Jesus shows up as still one single being before he instructs his disciples to wait on his Spirit and ascends to his Father in Heaven. Notice how Jesus comes from the Father to complete his unique task in the process of our redemption. Yet, even in his resurrection, he sees the necessity of handing off the task to someone else, for he alone had limitations in his unique bodily form.

Those of us who love Jesus and connect with his unique person of the Trinity can also be guilty of taking hold of Jesus and not wanting to let him go. We’d prefer to have God show up to us as friend, companion, and faithful guide. So, when God moves us into a different season in our spiritual journey – one where God feels absent, abstract, or mysterious, we long to return to what we once had.

Can you identity which person of the Trinity you connect more with? What might it look like to let go of that person of the Trinity to more fully embrace the fullness of who God is today. Perhaps you could honor the holiness or authority of the Father. You could take a walk with Jesus and talk with him as a friend or teacher. You could feel his tangible presence in your spirit or worship him in spirit and truth.

One By One2022-04-24T20:23:01-06:00

First-hand Witness

“Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there. It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ” -Mark 15:40-16:8

Notice how women are mentioned all over Mark’s account of the resurrection. Women have been caring for Jesus for years. And now, Mark notes how it was women who cared for his dead body and women who discovered the empty tomb.

Mark was getting most of his data from first-hand accounts and recording them to spread the news within the first century. If you were telling a story you wanted people to believe in this era, you would not have included women. Their testimony was suspect. However, Mark seems to go out of his way to fill up his second-hand account with first-hand female characters.

Why do you think this detail matters?

We live in a culture where women have more value than they once did. Yet, there are still ways women and others are treated as lesser. This story of resurrection re-humanizes women as Jesus honors them for their nurturing servitude and partnership in spreading the gospel.

Just as Mark emphasized the worthiness of women’s partnership in the gospel, we too, can uphold others as being worthy of resurrection life.

Who do we see as unworthy of receiving the good news of resurrection? Take a moment to confess this before God and ask him to open your heart to reawaken your compassion for this person or peoples.

First-hand Witness2022-04-17T20:29:02-06:00

How Do You Really Feel | Week 7

Disgust is a fascinating emotion. As humans, we feel a physiological visceral response when we encounter anything that smells bad, anything rotting, anything dying. We are repulsed. Our bellies sour. Our instinct is to move away. This can be beneficial for our safety and wise protection, but it also gets easily twisted when it comes to the disgust we feel toward others.

What happens when we feel disgust for others or when they feel it toward us? The Genesis narrative uses this concept “loathe” or “sickening dread” in context of relationship. Groupings of people like the “Gentiles” and “lepers” and “sinners” in the New Testament were also a source of disgust for the Jews.

Yet, Jesus repeatedly moves past disgust toward others. He moves toward the physically, morally, and spiritually compromised. As we walk in his way with his heart, we need to be a little skeptical of our disgust. God’s grace reaches down into our deepest disgusting parts to redeem us, and he invites us to walk in this way too.

  1. Get Honest … What disgusts you? Why do you think these things disgust you? How has your disgust helped you? How has it held you back from living in the way of Jesus? Share this with Jesus now.
  2. Change Mind … Listen for what Jesus wants you to know.
  3. Walk Anew … What does Jesus want you to do?
How Do You Really Feel | Week 72022-04-08T09:37:30-06:00

How Do You Really Feel | Week 6

The Abraham story circles around a tension between fear and trust. God invites Abram to take steps of trust, yet Abram wrestles with fear despite saying “yes” to trusting God. We find Abram fearing others, harm, God not coming through for him, loss, and death.

Fear deceives Abram, making him a liar on multiple occasions. Fear lies to us, too. Often, we live out of distrusting fear when are needs are not being met, and we quickly fall captive to fear and function from a false version of ourselves.

It’s not all that easy to rid ourselves of fear. Especially when some fear is necessary. Fear gives us proper respect for authority. Fear can even save us from harm. God gives us a gift in fight or flight response. The trouble is when fear tells us we cannot trust anyone or anything – including God.

Almost every time an angelic being arrives on the scene or when God is about to do something major, God’s response to our fear, is a gentle reminder, “Do not be afraid.” His reminder for us is the same, “You don’t have to fear when God is near.”

Jesus offers us the safety of his presence. The psalmist puts it this way. “Even when I walk in the darkness valley, I will fear no evil for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4). There is no circumstance where God’s presence cannot find us. Under Jesus’ reign, we have nothing to fear – including death. But we must seek him in our fear.

  1. Get Honest … What are you afraid of? What makes you fear this? Where do you think this reason for fear comes from? Tell Jesus about what’s behind your present fear.
  2. Change Mind … Listen for what Jesus has to say concerning this fear.
  3. Walk Anew … What invitation does Jesus have for you in your fear?
How Do You Really Feel | Week 62022-04-03T20:48:39-06:00

Formation Guide | Week 5

​​The story of the very first family has a ripple effect of sadness. In the story of Genesis 4, Cain’s sadness turns into an outburst of angry violence and death. We turn to the next chapter and find a long list of people whose existence on earth is cut short. Then, in chapter 6, we even find God himself grieved.

Sin brought about sadness in all of us. There’s no way around it.

Whether we’re sad because of bad things that have happened to us or good things that have never come to be, we’re all familiar with loss and any loss hurts our heart. It’s that pain we feel inside that makes us emote – even physically, we feel weighed down, we may well-up with tears, and sleep takes the better of us.

God also knows grief, and he willingly accompanies us in our grief. If we let him.

In Psalm 56:8, the psalmist finds comfort as he imagines God holding his tears. He tells God, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” This image offers such a beautiful picture of God’s care for us in our sorrows and grief. God honors our pain and is present to collect our tears.

1.  Get Honest … What are you sad about today? Why do you feel sad? In what way do you feel hurt? Tell Jesus about your hurt.
2.  Change Mind … Listen for what Jesus has to say concerning this hurt.
3.  Walk Anew … What invitation does Jesus have for you in your hurt?

Formation Guide | Week 52022-03-29T07:09:03-06:00
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