02.12 | The Good News For Today (55:32)
02.05 | The Good News Is Not Good Advice (36:59) Slides.
Most of us at some point in our lives have experienced a disruption, whether that be a broken relationship, a bad church experience, tragic loss, or even a paradigm shift in your beliefs. In this series, we will look at 5 "H's," Healing, Healthy, Hyped, Habits, and Hope. We will also ask 5 questions that will address those aches. How we answer these questions will be critical to healing our sense of identity and purpose. In accordance with our vision as a church -- to see love realized in all of our relationships -- we hope this series will bring some much needed healing to the pain many of us carry around.
Following Tuesday, November 8, Spark took two Sundays to help our congregation process through this time that is full of conflict and anxiety. We hope to not only "double down" on our core values, but also to extend ourselves as a people who will be safe for all.
11.20 | Living In A Foreign Land (31:51)
11.13 | Shaken and Doubling Down (26:20)
In churches all across the nation and the world, there exists a dominant theology of God who sits in the clouds, who is "up there," above us, often at a distance, looking down. In Grounded, Dr. Bass shares her journey of rethinking this "elevator" conception of God, and discovering a God with us, here, and now.
10.23 | Q&A (13:31)
10.23 | Grounded (37:20)
The following talks were given at Spark, October 9, 2016. Learn more about Dr. Balmer at his website.
Part 4 | Evangelicalism & Politics, Q&A (31:36)
Part 3 | Evangelicalism & Politics (35:01)
Part 2 | The History and Future of Evangelicalism, Q&A (21:00)
Part 1 | The History and Future of Evangelicalism (47:54)
Part A | Aymie Smith shares on the Why Christian Conference (6:48)
In preparation for our multi faith peace walk next week (September 11), Pastor Danielle shares the commission and challenge of being people of love, reconciliation, and rescue. Joining hands and efforts with people unlike us is hard work, and loving our enemy is not what any of us wants to do. But as followers of Jesus, it is what we are called to do.
Sparkers Stacy and Lauren have just returned from a 5 week trip to Greece, working face-to-face and hand-in-hand with the refugees and aid workers on the front lines. In sharing with us, they give us up close information, dispel the myths that are still so widely promulgated in our media, and connect the core values of the Way of Jesus to the critical work that is being done. (The image to the left says "PHILOXENIA" [φιλοχενια] which is Greek for "Love of the Other.")
Friends, we've been here before. We'll be here again. And we will always have to be wise in how we deal with politics as one context of living our our faith. So, let us not be afraid, let us not demonize, and let us never clamor for power, but rather lay down our lives in service to the Way of Jesus.
Curt Rhodes has spent over 30 years working with, and on behalf of, marginalized communities and young people across the Middle East, making him uniquely prepared to respond to the current Syrian war and the refugee crisis. In 1988, Questscope was founded with the goal of putting the last, first. From the beginning, Questscope worked closely with local communities, identifying their aspirations and together addressing their greatest needs. As the recipient of the 2014 Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award, Dr. Rhodes was recognized by Tufts University for his demonstrated compassion and tenacity in creating a highly effective and determined organization dedicated to the survival and nurturing of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised.
In recognition of his work through Questscope with marginalized youth in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and in the region, Dr. Rhodes was awarded the 2011 Social Entrepreneur of the Year for the Middle East and North Africa by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.
40% of Americans make New Year's Resolutions. 8% actually keep them. This common cultural activity is illustrative of something deeper about our humanity, a self-centeredness that is reflected, not just in popular psychology books, but also in the ancient work of Ecclesiastes. Through this talk, Pastor Kevin encourages us to not just make resolutions, but rather to also make remembrances, to "take note" of God throughout the entire past year. And as we do, we are exhorted to turn our inward focus upward and outward, toward God and others.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, December 28, 2014. Download the mp3.)
Immanuel means that God is with us. Not necessarily that we are free from all fuss
It is simply that in darkness we long for a light, to show us some hope, through a long winter’s night
So we tell you this story again through the years, to remind us that Christ shines through all our fears
As the Biblical authors thought important to write. So, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all this Great Light!”
(This poem was shared at Spark Church, December 21, 2014. Download the mp3.)
Human dysfunction begins when a person feels unloved, and unworthy of love (shame). As a result, the ways in which we function in this world lead us to blame others and game systems in order to protect our hearts and souls. This is poignantly illustrated in the narrative of Genesis 3. But what is also there is God's redemption, speaking deep into our identity, grounding us once again in love and worth. In this message, we are reminded once again of the power of love to transform all human relationships, starting with our own identity.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, April 27, 2014. . Download the slides.)
In pursuit of our value for Reconciliation, we continue to seek out various ways to practice what we preach, whether through racial reconciliation, interfaith reconciliation, or simply reconciliation between neighbors and family members.
have expressed a desire to understand modern Jewish practice and
experience a Shabbat service, so Congregation Etz Chayim graciously
invited us to their Friday evening, Shabbat Service on December 13. In
preparation, Rabbi Ari visited Spark Church to teach us a few prayers
and songs, allowing us not just to spectate but to participate during
our visit. In addition, Pastor Danielle shares insights on how to have interfaith dialogue.
(This presentation was given at Spark Church, December 8, 2013. Download the mp3.)
Our good friend and guest speaker, Pastor Dave Peterson shares a heartfelt message on Nicodemus. Peering into the interaction that Jesus had with this religious leader, we discover lessons for our own discipleship.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, August 25, 2013. Download the .)
This famous quote from the iconic film, The Princess Bride, is quite appropriate to our current cultural context. Much of the conversation around faith, religion, church, the Bible, and current events often involves a myriad of definitions which makes it difficult to understand one another. Some utilize these words in coarse rhetoric causing even further barriers to faith. This has left many people confused and hindered from further conversation. For those of us who believe in the goodness of life that comes from following Jesus, this makes spiritual conversations with friends, family, and co-workers difficult.
In this series we will explore the richness and significance of these words and their meanings, and discover fresh ways of talking about them in our world. It is our hope and prayer that over these next seven weeks, we will have a greater understanding of what we're talking about when we talk about these words, and as always, we are hoping this series sparks conversation. We also hope that these talks will spark greater understanding, and greater interest in the faith journey as we pursue meanings that resonate with the human spirit.
06/09 | - Slides
In this message, Pastor Kevin charts through Jewish and Greco-Roman first century worlds, considering how Jesus has met and transformed the ancient peoples' expectations in real life. While many of us are challenged to consider the "truth" of Jesus, we discover that historically, the transformational power of Jesus is found in the "realness" of the life that He and His early followers exemplified. So too, this day, may we consider Jesus, His life, teachings, and movement in real, tangible, concrete, and visceral ways.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, May 26, 2013. Download the mp3.)
Pastor Danielle reminds us to ground ourselves in the Jewish context and culture to understand much of the teachings of Jesus. As we do, we discover how much more we understand what Jesus is teaching, and how much more powerful the teachings are when understood in context.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, May 19, 2013. Download the mp3.)
Special guest Betty Ann Boeving, founder and executive director of the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition, shares the story of her journey into the work of justice, fighting human slavery. Betty Ann challenges us all, regardless of personality or spiritual gifts, to embrace Micah 6:8, to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. As we do, accepting Jesus' redemptive power, being prepared to live and act differently in this world, and considering our spheres of influence, we can readily say, "The Kingdom is here!" Let us together be "Kingdom bringers."
(This talk was given at Spark Church, May 12, 2013. Download the mp3.)
If you build the Kingdom, people will look for the King! While the "Kingdom of Heaven" is often thought of as referring to life after death, Pastor Danielle illuminates the historical and textual context of this phrase to mean the fact of God's rule and reign right here, right now. In addition, God's Kingdom is upside-down. Instead of power and authority this Kingdom is about humility. Instead of oppression, there is freedom and transformation. And instead of the exclusivity of the special and privileged, there is an invitation to everyone! This is a Kingdom where God's unconditional love becomes visible for the world to see!
(This talk was given at Spark Church, May 5, 2013. Download the mp3.)
We all follow someone. The question is not whether we follow, but who and how do we follow? In this message, Pastor Danielle encourages us to follow Jesus, and truly follow Him. Through a brief first-century discipleship study, we are encouraged to trust Jesus, take a hand, and to never give up. And ultimately rest in the fact that Jesus chooses us, and believes in us in this discipleship journey.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, April 21, 2013. Download the mp3.)
When we think of temptation, we often first think of sin -- things like money, sex, or indulgences. But the temptations of Jesus are about food, water, and relationship with God. In this message, Pastor Kevin suggests that this illuminates for us that perhaps our greatest temptation isn't about being bad, but rather about finding the core essence of our identity in things other than our Heavenly Father. In other words, we do "not live by bread alone." Finally, we consider a radical perspective on what a Biblical test can mean.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, April 14, 2013. Download the mp3.)
Pastor Danielle teaches on the "intertestamental period," a period of history from approximately 400 B.C. (B.C.E.) to the first-century A.D. (C.E.). Understanding the political and religious events of this time period provides critical insight and context prior to Jesus' arrival.
Part 1 (00:56:28)
Part 2 (01:04:37)
(These talks were given at Knollwood Community Church, April 13, 2013)
Part 1 address three main questions. Why this seminar? What is technology? What are the effects of technology? Part 2 addresses where technology comes from and offers a theological perspective. Presenters are Pastor Kevin Neuner (Spark Church) and Chris Lockett (Program Manager, SRI International).
Happy Easter! On this celebration Sunday, Pastor Kevin teaches through this perplexing and profound question asked by the angels of the women at the tomb. As with other questions found in our culture, and in the Bible, truth is often found in the asking of the question. By embracing this question, and the reply that "He is not here, He is risen!" we deny death the final word and enter a new creation, a new world, and a new life.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, March 31, 2013. Download the mp3.)
Pastor Danielle surveys the image and meaning of water in the ancient Jewish world. Through understanding the diverse meanings of the waters, we see that Jesus' baptism is rich with significance, symbolizing God's descent into the chaos of the waters to bring order, renewal, redemption, and salvation. This baptism ushers in the new Kingdom rule and reign of God, such that even the wind and the waves obey. If you're experiencing chaos, God is hovering over it, and He will not let you go. He is with you.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, March 24, 2013. Download the mp3.)
Pastor Danielle takes a historical look at the beginnings of Jesus' life, and asks a series of questions on our identity. These questions are core and central to our existence, and we discover profound answers through understanding Jesus' lineage and connection with the Heavenly Father. So, "Who am I?" I'm a child of God. "Who is your Daddy?" The Heavenly Father. "Who has your back?" He does. And, "Is there a plan or purpose for my life?" Absolutely. You are a son/daughter of the King! Understanding this identity, then inspires us to live that identity.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, March 17, 2013. Download the mp3.)
This is the first question we will be asking through our Jesus series. In this talk, Pastor Kevin encourages us to consider the influences our current culture has on our conceptions of Jesus being careful to not worship a Jesus that we have "created in our own image." And may we, through this quest, leverage, not just our minds and intellects, but our hearts and souls as Jesus is revealed to us by the Father in heaven. Let us move forward in discovering this question, Who do you say I am?, carefully, historically, spiritually, and humbly.
Since our opening 19 weeks ago, we have striven to communicate the importance of our core values. In concluding this teaching series, Pastor Kevin shares the stories that encapsulate these values, and illustrate the importance of values alongside beliefs. Through "4 acts" (similar to "This American Life"), we are inspired and challenged by these stories to put the way of Jesus into action.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, March 3, 2013. Download the .mp3 by clicking the image to the left.)
Faith is deeply emotional and spiritual. But faith is also intellectual, and historical. The claim that Jesus was raised from the dead brings the two together in which the richness of our faith meets the historical work of evidence and verification. In this teaching, Pastor Kevin shares the central claim of the Christian faith, and then provides four main evidences that support the historical, physical, real resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Here is the follow up document that addresses the questions asked in service.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, February 24, 2013. Download the .mp3 by clicking the image to the left. Our apologies for the audio interference in this recording.)
The concept and idea around resurrection did not have its beginning in Christianity. Through a historical survey, Pastor Danielle shares insights into the Jewish concept and expectation of resurrection and how it impacts the understanding of Jesus' resurrection in the first-century. This context helps us understand both how the resurrection of Jesus could have been understood, and why it was so radical and unexpected at the same time.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, February 17, 2013. Download the .mp3 by clicking the image to the left.)
Sharing a bit of the recent adoption story in the Parish-Neuner household, Pastor Kevin begins the core value of Resurrection by talking about the temptations that emerge in each of us when deception, evil, disappointment, etc., happen as a result of "living between the trees." Yet, resurrection says that we are saved and forgiven as we forgive. Resurrection says we do not have to acquiesce to the "slices of hell" we sometimes experience. Resurrection says that there is hope, love, redemption, and restoration, and it can transform any death into new life. Resurrection says we have the power, opportunity, and commission to reverse the pain and suffering in this world.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, February 10, 2013. Download the .mp3.)
Guest speaker, Pastor Sarai Crain shares on how we are all privileged to be used of God to bring rescue to the world. However, we must be guarded from misusing or abusing that privilege. Sarai shares practical ways to help us become fully the instruments of rescue God desires.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, February 3, 2013. Download the .mp3.)
Guest speaker, Pastor Dave Peterson from MPPC continues our series on Spark's core value of "Rescue." Sharing from his heart and experience, Dave exhorts us all to receive God's personal, physical, spiritual, and emotional rescue.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, January 20, 2013. Download the .mp3.)
Guest speaker Pastor Mark Arevalo, speaks on God's work of rescue through the Biblical stories, and in our lives. In this teaching we discover that God has begun the work of rescue in our lives, and that work is an ongoing process, and it's progressive. That hope is a privilege and to share with the world around us as we are both agents and recipients of this rescue in the world. So, let's all "share our rope," giving to others hope that God has given to us.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, January 20, 2013. Download the .mp3.)
All of us recognize that life is not the way it is suppose to be. That's why we work for justice and compassion; that's why we strive for patience, and kindness; that's why we yearn for freedom and peace; and in many ways, that's why we follow a calling and vocation. The challenge is that we live between Genesis and Revelation. Put other way, we live "between the trees." And as we reach out to grab hold of the life that God has for us, there is a third tree -- the cross -- that life and death of Jesus that empowers us to live life to its fullest. It is our prayer that we would not only reach out for that tree, but that we would embrace it, and allow the tree of the life of Jesus to transform us.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, January 13, 2013. Download the .mp3.)
Pastors Danielle & Kevin share a bit on the vision for Spark. Our core values are ultimately centered around living as Jesus lived, and walking as he walked. In concordance with slowing down and avoiding the seductions of "bigness," Spark is about caring for the people of the church more than about the size of the church. We also want to recognize our place in Silicon Valley as a "land between" cultures, and to dream about physical space in downtown Palo Alto that leverages our resources 6 days a week. We will continue to be a place that welcomes all people and all questions, and pursues education, learning, and discussion. Spark will also be shaped by the gifts, talents, and passions of those who join with us on this journey. We will continue to seek God, his guidance and wisdom, and pray that more people will come and be a part of this vision.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, January 6, 2013. Download the .mp3.)
Pastor Kevin teaches that you have been created in the image and likeness of God, one of the greatest truths taught in the Bible. That you have been marred, scarred, and broken is also true. What we don't always realize is that we all live out of the view we have of God, the perspective we have of this "image." In this talk, we will journey through the implications of this truth, and be inspired to heal the image and reputation that we have of God, of ourselves, and of others.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, December 2, 2012. Download the .mp3.)
In this talk, Pastor Kevin briefly briefly shares about a few key figures in the debate, and offers a framework and ethic for engaging in discussion. The first step is learning how to listen to each other. Second, be captivated by the wonder and awe of this universe that is revealed through scientific investigation and Scriptural reverence.
(This talk was given at Spark Church, November 11, 2012.)
In the public sphere, faith and science are often presented contentiously and in opposition to one another. Perhaps there is another way. This seminar hopes to elevate the conversation as we honor each discipline. We will focus on the history of the debate, share personal thoughts, and provide a few educational insights. Ultimately, we seek to discover how both faith and science provide ways of understanding the world around us that begin and end with a grand sense of mystery, awe, and wonder.
(This is a highlight and promotional video from the November 11, 2012 Learning Seminar.)
Pastor Danielle teaches on the Parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10. While often understood as a parable that helps us perform "acts of kindness," we discover through history, culture, and context that the teaching is far deeper, richer, and more radical than only "good deeds." People who we often consider "the other," are actually "our brothers," and we are called, as disciples of Jesus, to love even them.
Pastor Kevin teaches on the "greatest" commandment found in Matthew 22 (also in Mark 12). This "mega" commandment, when practiced, radically changes how we see everything. To love God and to love our neighbor is not just one of the commandments, or even just the first. It is the very lens through which we view all the other commandments. And as we adhere to this radical commandment, it can change us, heal us, transform us.
Pastor Danielle teaches on the "Parable of Lost Things" from Luke 15. In this teaching, we discover that God lavishes unqualified acceptance on everyone, even those who have experienced unqualified rejection. For many, this kind of grace is not just amazing, it is unbelievable. Yet, it is the prodigal love of God taught by Jesus in this parable.
(This message was given at Spark Church on October 21, 2012. Download the .mp3.)
Using history, context, culture, and language, we see that the Bible is so much more than "Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth." It's so much bigger than a mere book of morality. It's a grand story, a brilliant and beautiful journey through life's most meaningful moments. And ultimately, it's a story about God in and through each of those moments.
Join Pastor Danielle as she gives a brief overview of how to Study God's Word for greater understanding and transformation.
(This talk was given at the Foundation Experiment Bible Study, August, 2011)
In the beginning, God created...and it was good, and it was complete. Two chapters later, we find ourselves broken, incomplete, in chaos. Our faith in Jesus and commission from God is about “rebuilding” and “restoring” that which has been broken (Genesis 1-3). Other words that may be used to describe this faith journey: “rescue,” “repair,” & “redeem.”
(This talk was given at The King's Academy, Sunnyvale, CA, January 17, 2012.)
Religion has a reputation of being a burden of a bunch of rules and regulations that prevent us from experiencing the very best of life. After all, who wants a bunch of "thou shalt not's"? In this message, we discover, however, that the Bible speaks of a God who is begging us to choose the very best kind of life possible. And that life is found in obedience to his teachings, also known as "commandments." We all truly only have two options; "sh'ma," which means to listen, to obey, and to follow through, or "die," which means the very life that God intended us to live, dies. Now, choose life.
(This message was given at Abundant Life Christian Fellowship, Mountain View, CA, July 15, 2007.)