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?
How would you describe your relationship to money? Are you a Spender of money? Are you a Saver of money? Are you a Servant of money? Or are you a Servant with your money? As we conclude our series on Stewardship and Generosity, we consider what it looks to have and live out a vision where we serve others with the resources that God has entrusted to us and how that leads to our freedom and joy, the blessing of others, and ultimately the glory of God.
We often treat Jesus sort of like the local Goodwill, where we donate clothes that we weren’t planning on wearing anyway. Similarly, we often give Jesus control only of those things that either don’t matter that much to us or that we’ve clearly broken while withholding those areas of life that matter the most to us. And for many of us, one of those last areas is money. As we spoke about in the first sermon in our series, the doctrine of creation tells us that money, and material things generally, are good and something we can enjoy and delight in. In this week’s sermon, we discuss how the doctrine of the Fall shows us that money is very dangerous and something that can become one of the most powerful idols in our lives, one that Jesus seeks to liberate us from so that we can be a generous people.
How should Christians feel about money, material things, and created goods in general? Should we enjoy or be wary of them? Is it ok for us to have more than we need, or should we simply meet our necessities and give the rest away? Can created goods help us in our relationship with God or are they a distraction at best and an obstacle at worst?
In the broadest sense, blessing others involves anything we do that helps others live as God intended them to live, i.e. in right relationship with Him, ourselves, others, and creation. As we continue our series on Missional Habits, we consider two additional ways that we can bless others: gifts and service. To hear how each of these can help others flourish spiritually, psychologically, relationally, and/or vocationally, you can listen to our sermon from this past Sunday.
Being missional isn’t first about doing a whole bunch of new things but about doing what we already do with an eye toward blessing others. Well, there’s nothing we do more than talk. And that’s even more true if we include emails, texts, etc. But what are our intentions in all of those words, and what effect do they have? What if we took this thing that we do more than anything else and sought to bless others through it? What might it look like? How might God use it? And how can we become such a people?
Eating and drinking are among the most foundational and common things we do. But what if they point beyond themselves to redemptive realities and, as a consequence, are some of the most powerful missional habits we can develop?
If God answered all your prayers from this past week, how many people would have come to saving faith? How would people in your church have been blessed? How would your city be better? If we struggle to answer these questions, is it possible that our prayers are inadvertently deepening our self-centeredness rather than helping to free us from it? We reflect on these and other questions as we consider “missional prayer” in our latest sermon.
In Ephesians 2:10, Paul writes that we are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Similarly, in Titus 2:14, Paul writes that Jesus “gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” A central reason that God saved us so that we would be a people who zealously do good works. But how does God equip us to do those works? We consider this question and others in this week’s sermon.
A central part of our vision at Missio Dei is to love L.A. – the beautiful, glorious, and broken city where God has placed us and to which He has called us. But what does loving L.A. require of us? What does it mean for us to be a church not just in L.A., or even just for L.A., but with L.A.? How can we be a “counterculture for the common good?” To hear thoughts on these and other questions, you can listen to our sermon from this past Sunday, the 3rd in our Vision Series.
Before the Church is an instrument of God’s shalom, it’s meant to be a display of God’s shalom – a new community that reflects the love of God in its life together. But what would such a community look like? We wrestle with that question in the second sermon in our Vision Series.
A scholar once identified the “anxiety of emptiness and meaninglessness” as the root anxiety of the modern age. Whether that’s historically and sociologically accurate, the question of meaning and purpose is a universal human question that we all wrestle with. We all want to know that we matter. In the words of the acclaimed writer David Foster Wallace, “We are all dying to give our lives away to something.” But what should that something be? To hear thoughts on these and other related questions, you can listen to our sermon from this Sunday, the first in a 3-part series outlining our church’s vision.
How do we find contentment in the midst of disappointments and regrets? What’s the secret to happiness when we find ourselves in what feel like the cul-de-sacs or even the dead-ends of life?
Doubting is something that most Christians do not think you are permitted to express and work through, yet the Bible has multiple stories and situations where doubt seems to be a *part* of faith. What is doubt, and is it the enemy of faith? Are there any benefits of it? And how to work through times of deep uncertainty?
One of the recurring statements throughout the Psalms is the call to “Praise the Lord.” But why does God call us to do this? Is it because He’s some sort of insecure narcissist who needs to have His ego stroked? Shouldn’t whether I’m a good person or not be all that matters and not whether I praise Him or love Him? And besides, what about Him deserves my praise anyway?