Invisibles: Week Two @ The VINE

What would it be like if you woke up one morning knowing that you were going to be arrested? What if your reasoning for standing up to the authorities and powers rested upon fully taking up your cross and following Jesus wherever He leads? What if the place that He led you was into a homeless camp?

This coming weekend we’re continuing in week two of our Invisibles series. We’ll be having a couple of special guests that will be helping us come to understand more about a challenge our city faces that has been on our minds a lot recently. Many of you followed the news stories about those caught in homelessness who were removed from the Davidson Street bridge this past Tuesday. Of those arrested and removed one was a friend of ours named Maurice. Some of you may have previously had the opportunity to meet Maurice at the the Superbowl party for the homeless this past February. Maurice along with Ed Wilkes (Nick’s dad), will be with us to share in a panel conversation format about the challenges that we face together as brothers and sisters in Christ as we walk with those in homelessness. We’ll be looking at a challenge that is as present in the streets of Indianapolis as it is in the halls of Ben Davis High School where the statistic has been as high as 1 in 30 students have been or are currently experience the challenge of being homeless (according to Restoring Lives West

If you haven’t had an opportunity to catch any of the news stories you can view the WISHTV piece here:

Also, there’s a trailer from an upcoming feature length documentary that features some of the footage from this past week’s events that you can see here:

We’re looking forward to the dialogue ahead as we seek to be the people God has called us to be in our schools and in our city. Middle school and high school students and their parents are invited to Join us at Chapel Rock for The VINE this Sunday in the chapel at 9:15 AM.

How do I know?

by Andrea Koehler

I have this friend who has what appear to be prophetic dreams. And once? Once she told me she had a dream about me. About my future. She even told me a little of what it portended (which basically means predicted, but in a more mysterious and prophety way so it seems like the right word to use). I suppose a lot of us haven’t had this sort of experience but I can tell you from mine that it’s a bit weird. What am I supposed to do with this information? Do I act on it? Assume that kind of stuff is all made up? Or have faith that it means something? How do I know what’s true?? 

I was thinking about this as I started doing research about Joel to write this post. And here’s what I found out: nobody really knows exactly what’s up with him. There’s very little in the context of the book that helps pinpoint just when Joel lived or whether the book is a continuous prophecy or a collection of fragments. So I found myself again asking questions. What am I supposed to do with this information? Do I need to figure it out to understand what Joel is saying about God? How do I know what’s true??

And then of course it came to me: The Holy Spirit. I think it’s at the root what all of this is about—Joel, what he says about God, and all the sons and daughters of the Lord dreaming dreams, seeing visions, and prophesying. Here’s how I read it.

Up until 2:12, we’ve been treated to a graphic picture of God’s fearsome wrath. Unstoppable locusts devouring the land. The warning against the greater terror of Judgment Day. But then in verse 12 the darkness suddenly breaks as God shows his people another way. “Even now,” he says, “I still want you.” “Return to the Lord your God,” he says, “for he is gracious and compassionate.” God is alwaysseeking a way to bring us back to himself, just as we saw in Hosea. So in 2:12-17 he gives the nation of Judah another chance to repent, promising to be gracious if only they’ll put him first. Then in verse 18, we see how his intense love overwhelms even his wrath. Judah deserved to be punished for disobedience, but instead God “was jealous for his land and took pity on his people.” He promises them bounty, protection, and joy. I love the absolute richness of what God promises in 2:18-27. It’s a picture of everything beautiful, and the complete opposite of the whole locust experience.

And then it all comes together in the last part of the chapter. 

2:28-32 refers again to the coming Day of the Lord, but now God reveals something more. There is talk of smoke and fire and dread. But in the midst of it there is a promise not only of restoration, but of himself. He says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” He has already decided all the way back in the Old Testament that he will continue to restore his people and share himself with them. It’s a theme that comes up again and again in the Old Testament prophecies: God decided from the start that he would be present with us and that he would redeem us and that he would continually reveal his truth to us.

I love the way this plays out in Acts, when Peter quotes this very passage from Joel. It’s just after the Holy Spirit has shown up in a great display of wind and fire and words. Because the disciples all begin speaking in tongues, this huge crowd around in them Jerusalem—all the Jewish people who have gathered for Passover—think they’re probably drunk. But Peter says “No! Listen! We are not drunk. Don’t you see? God has promised this to us and HERE HE IS.” God has promised and he has come through. His word can be trusted. He is moving among us now, calling us back to himself.

And that brings be back to where I started. How do I know what’s true? It might not always be easy to tell what happened hundreds and hundreds of years ago to the prophet Joel or to anticipate my own future. But it’s clear that right now, at every moment, God wants us to be near him. He wants to show us the truth about who he is and the sort of people he wants us to be. He wants us to put him first. And above all, even now, he will be with us.


Today’s writing is entry #6 of our Minor Prophet series. Join with our study throughout the week, and as we gather on Sundays at 9:15 at The VINE at Chapel Rock to unpack the truth of God’s word together. This week’s study is focusing on the writing of the Prophet Joel.

Today’s reading is Joel 2:12-2:32 and Acts 2:17-21


By Rick Phipps

A few definitions are in order to really help our understanding of what’s happening in Hosea…

Adultery…sexual unfaithfulness of a married person

Jesus would later redefines (Matthew 5:27) that in God’s standards lust by sight and heart counts.

Prostitute…to offer indiscriminately for sexual intercourse especially for money; to devote or corrupt for unworthy purposes; a woman who engages in promiscuous sexual intercourse especially for pay. 

I give these definitions because it hit me just how low Gomer (Israel, people of God) had fallen. She (they) not only was a willing participant in adultery but also implied willing participant in prostitution. She was with another man (another God), not her husband (not their God), while still married (cared for, loved, desired by God) thus an adulterer (living outside the covenant with God). This man (sin, idols), as it says in 3:1, loved her (probably not a heart love but for sexual moneymaking, “what can you do for me kinda love”). However, their sin or lust, or just blindness to the sacredness of the marriage bed (true worship/respect for God), or maybe even the total lack of hope from such a great disconnection from God has Gomer involved in prostitution. And it would seem that is was a willing involvement. Sin has no boundaries, no restraints, no line where one can’t go any farther, it just keeps on calling one deeper and deeper into its abyss. So it would seem that Gomer had a lover but also a pimp (addictive sin; hopelessness). How lost she was…perhaps hoping that the next lover/customer would be the one to rescue her (this idol/god)? Bring her a love she fantasized about (provide an easy life)? Yet in the deepest darkness of her life who comes back for her? Hosea (God)…now it would seem that Gomer (Israel) was also past her money making prime for the amount Hosea paid for her, as one commentator remarked, ‘was pitifully small. Gomer was no longer worth much to anyone except Hosea’. Yet Hosea paid it! Hosea took her back…God’s use of Hosea paints a picture that no matter how low we sink He is willing to buy us back–to redeem us–and to lift us up again.  

Like prostitution, any sin, once it has its teeth in us, takes extraordinary will and strength to escape. For it brings us down to a state of hopelessness, shame, a feeling that there is not way out, that this is ‘just the way my life is suppose to be,’ then justification chains one to it even more… 

Romans 3:22-26: This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.  

So, when you are tempted to feel like we’re no longer worth anything to anyone, let alone God… know that Jesus paid the price to buy us back by His sacrifice on the cross. Now we stand in Christ as His’ redeemed.

Perfectly Rooted

by Adam Reiss

We often think obedience is a burden. There’s what we want to do THEN what we are told. We have our life separated into neat sections and subheadings; some containing desires; some our responsibility to God. Love sometimes includes a process of turning away and returning before we realize how intricately obedience to God and our desires interweave.  The beauty in Hosea is God’s constant drive to get us back. 

As Hosea’s wife was going elsewhere for something she could have purely gotten from him, so the Israelites strayed from the original Source. Hosea didn’t just forgive her, though.  She didn’t write him a nice little note that got him to accept her back; he found her in prostitution and BOUGHT her back. His love for her was stronger than propriety and social convention. 

With God, repentance is perfect and everlasting.  As many times as we fall away, He is there to take us back.  This is of course not to give us permission to sin but to realize the importance of obedience.  It gives us a chance to see the beauty which God’s commands pour into our lives in our own time and in full understanding. We fall away and stumble and God does not wait for us to beg. He actively seeks us. 

The natural metaphors in the last chapter are beautiful. God declares the abundance he has for those who obey him using the imagery of other botanical objects made by His hands. The trees he mentions are all so beautifully displayed in the open air, the breeze, and the sun while being perfectly rooted exactly where they need to be. In much the same way, God invites us to be rooted in Him.

Today’s Reading: Hosea 9-14


This Weekend: Join us at The VINE at 9:15 AM on Sunday in the Chapel as Stacy Sanford brings us thoughts and a challenging word from Hosea.