Preparing Them to Be Sent: Jesus Prays That We Would Be With Him

According to a former U.S. Surgeon General, loneliness is a "growing health epidemic." In a recent survey, 2 in 5 Americans said that they sometimes or always feel that their relationships aren't meaningful (43%) and that they are isolated from others (43%). Earlier this year, the U.K. appointed a "Minister for Loneliness" to try to address the issue. Loneliness and social isolation are a growing issue throughout late-modern societies. In such a context, what, if anything, does the church have to say and do? 

God is in Control

God's heart is for every nation and every people group on earth. His redemptive love is offered to all peoples. And in His grace, He also grants us the privilege to play a role in the great story of salvation that He's writing. To hear more about the breadth of God's love and our role in making it known to others, you can listen to this week's sermon from our guest speaker.

Preparing Them to Be Sent: Our Divine Advocates

In John 13-17, Jesus is giving His disciples, and by extension us, a hosts of promises as He prepares them for His death and the mission He'll send them on afterward. Among all of the astonishing promises Jesus gives, the greatest is the promise of the Holy Spirit. Yet for many, the Holy Spirit is a mysterious figure, leading some to ignore Him while leading others to develop "interesting" ideas about Him. However, Jesus not only promises us the Holy Spirit; Jesus also explains what it looks like when the Spirit is at work in our lives. 

Preparing Them to Be Sent: The Inclusive Exclusivity of Jesus

Is Jesus the only way to God? Aren't all religions basically saying the same thing? Isn't it arrogant, divisive, and dangerous to make exclusive truth claims? Isn't it more important to live a good life rather than check off a set of beliefs? And what about those who've never heard the gospel? We confront these difficult questions as we take a look at one of Jesus' most challenging statements about Himself. 

Preparing Them to Be Sent: Getting Their Home Ready

Home is one of the most powerful words in our language. At it's best, it represents love, belonging, acceptance, safety, intimacy, and so much more. And when we have a place to call home, we're much better able to deal with the difficulties of life. In John 14, Jesus promises us that we have an ultimate home, the one toward which every earthly experience of home is but a sign, and that because of this, we should not let our hearts be troubled, even in the midst of great trouble. 

Preparing Them to Be Sent: Calling to Serve, Invited to Be Served

In John 13-17, Jesus prepares His disciples for His impending death and the mission they'll be sent on afterward. Jesus begins this time of preparation through the "enacted parable" of washing His disciples' feet, through which he calls us to a life of radical servanthood. But even more foundationally, He invites us to be served by Him and His cleansing grace. 

HT: Pastor Rankin Wilburne for the quotes from Herman Ridderbos (36:13) and Victor Hugo (37:36)

Life Is But a Drop

As we think about the future, we often do so under the illusion that we're in control. Yet, because it's an illusion, it leads us to all sort of problems. However, because that's our ingrained default mode, giving up that illusion often leads us to nihilistic paralysis. Our guest speaker Alex Watlington describes how to avoid both of these pitfalls and points us toward the path of flourishing offered by Jesus. 

Learning to Pray: That You Would Know the Hope of Your Calling

Hope is one of the most fundamental needs we have as human beings. Yet, where can we find our hope? What can we hope for? And can hope be anything more than wishful thinking or naive optimism? 

(Note from Pastor Mike: "I meant to acknowledge at the beginning that a few of the images/illustrations I use are drawn from Seasons of Waiting by Betsy Childs Howard.")

What Kind of Soil Are You?

As we begin a new year, we take a look at Jesus’ Parable of the Sower. This well-known parable is a powerful diagnostic tool for helping us reflect on the condition of our hearts so that we can have a more fruitful relationship with Jesus in 2018 and beyond.

Note: At 24:46 and 32:10, two visual illustrations are discussed. They are attached in this PDF file