Many of us wonder whether Jesus' teachings actually "work" in real life or whether they're just pie-in-sky, wishful thinking. And in our world where things like aggression and self-promotion are seen as keys to success, perhaps no teaching of His elicits more incredulity than Matthew 5:5 - "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." How can this be true?
We like to picture the journey of faith as a smooth upward progression of ever-increasing trust in God. But our journeys are more like roller coasters of faith and doubt. But the good news is that God meets us and walks with us through every up and down.
In a culture in which the pursuit of happiness is seen as an inalienable right, Jesus declares that mourning is a prerequisite for a blessed life.
In the Beatitudes, Jesus gives us a very unexpected, countercultural, and counterintuitive description of a blessed person. The first characteristic of such a person is that they're "poor in Spirit." What does that mean, and why is it the foundation of being a blessed person?
If someone were to ask us for our goals, how many of them would focus on what we're trying to achieve and how many, if any, would focus on who we're trying to be? And how does our answer to this question affect our happiness?
Genesis 2:25 tells us that when God created Adam and Eve, they were "both naked and were not ashamed." They were both known and vulnerable without shame or fear. But once they sinned, they experienced shame in their nakedness, which led to fear, which led to hiding. And ever since then, shame has been a central element of the human condition, causing us to hide from God, one another, and even ourselves. But the Good News is that Jesus meets us in those very hiding places.
In John 5, Jesus approaches a man who's been immobilized for 38 years and asks him, "Do you want to be healed?" This seems like a silly question. Isn't the answer obviously "yes?" After all, who wouldn't want to be healed? But perhaps the answer isn't as obvious as it appears. Perhaps we actually don't want to be healed after all. What might keep us from wanting healing, and what does the journey of healing look like?
We would all agree that we want our world to be marked by justice. Yet, how do we define justice? What is it, and what does it require? How do we pursue it in this broken world? And how do we stay involved for the long haul?
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?
If asked to write it down, what would your life's mission statement be? Just as, or even more, importantly, how did you go about answering that question? Underneath these questions are two of the central questions of life: What is our purpose, and how can we know it?
In our highly polarized world, Jesus calls the church to embody a unity that points the world to the supernatural power of the gospel.
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.