What picture would come to mind if you heard someone described as "holy?" Would you picture someone who, at best, is austere and who, at worst, is self-righteous and judgmental? That would probably be a pretty common reaction. But what if holiness has gotten a bad rap and is in fact the key to our wholeness?
We all long for joy and peace, but what are they, where can we find them, and is it possible to have them in the midst of sorrow and suffering?
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.
Disappointment is an unavoidable part of life. Throughout our lives, we suffer disappointments, ranging from the minor to the life-altering. How does the Resurrection of Jesus speak to this reality, including disappointment with Jesus Himself?
(Note: The resources dealing with the historicity of the Resurrection that are mentioned at 19:45 are available here)
Where do you draw life from? In John 15, Jesus uses the imagery of a Vine (Himself) and Branches (us) to highlight the fact that He alone is the True source of life and that it's only by staying intimately connected to Him that we can bear fruit as His followers.
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.
In one of his most famous statements, Jesus declares that He is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." As we continue our series through John 13-17, we dive into what this statement means for us, and the ways that it helps us face the troubles of life.
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.
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.
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)
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.
As we conclude our brief series on praying for others, we consider how to pray for God's power in others' (and our) lives and what exactly it looks like when God's power is at work within us.
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.")
Over the next several weeks, we'll look at examples from the Apostle Paul to help us learn to pray for others. In Colossians 1, Paul prays that the Colossians would be filled with the knowledge of God's will. But what exactly does that mean, and how can it shape the way we pray for others?
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
We often wind up “domesticating” and “sentimentalizing” Christmas by making it about things that we can all get on board with – time with family, peace on earth, etc. However, even at His birth, Jesus elicited a variety of responses from people, including hostility, indifference, and worship. Why did people then, and why do people now, have such diverse responses to Him?
Why did your parents name you what they did? Was it in honor of someone who went before you, perhaps a relative or other significant individual? Was it because of the meaning of your name? Was it just because they liked the sound of it? In our culture, names have various levels of significance. However, in the Bible, names are very significant as they reveal something foundational about the person (or place or thing). In that light, we consider the names of Jesus and what they mean for us today.
(Note: From 1:35-2:30, the congregation is given time to discuss a question. So you may want to skip that portion.)
Christmas can be a difficult time for many, with one of the main sources of heartache being our families. As many of us wrestle with the challenges of family at this time of year, it’s right to wonder whether the Incarnation of Jesus into a specific family tree has anything to say to us in that heartache.
The Gospel of John famously opens by describing Jesus as “the Word.” But what does that mean, and what are its implications for things like our desire to belong, our confidence in God’s love, and our frenzied, fragmented selves?