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

Advent, Week 3: The Various Responses to Jesus - Matthew 2:1-12

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?

Advent, Week 2: What's in a Name? - Matthew 1:18-25

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.)

Missional Habits: Stewardship and Generosity, Pt 3 - 2 Corinthians 8-9

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.

(Note: The chart referenced at the 28:00 mark can be found here.)

Missional Habits: Stewardship and Generosity, Pt 2 - Matthew 19:16-30

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.

Missional Habits: Stewardship and Generosity, Pt 1 - Gen 1-2; 1 Tim 4:4-5, 6:17-19

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?

Missional Habits: Blessing, Pt 2

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.

Missional Habits: Blessing, Pt 1

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?