In John 14:1-14 Jesus repeatedly mentions a place where he is going. It is a place that he prepares, it has many rooms, and he even says that he will go away and then come and take us to this place. This passage has been read at thousands upon thousands of funerals and the place that Jesus describes is what we call, heaven. But what is heaven? And is it really a place that we go when we die? This Sunday, we will discuss a theology of place, God’s intentions for us after we die, and what Jesus really means when he talks about heaven, for those who go from living with bodies, to living without them. You will not want to miss this!
From God's hand of grace in coming to the aid of Adam and Eve to his patient grace in bringing restoration to Israel in the time of the exile, the Old Testament is awash in grace. So, it is not surprising when we turn to the New Testament and see the grace of Jesus in action in relation to sinners as God incarnate. There is perhaps, no other passage that so clearly speaks of grace as the wonderful, gentle way in which Jesus releases from judgement a woman caught in the act of adultery. In a world that is often permeated by harsh judgment and ruthless retaliation, scenes of grace seem to speak to a very deep place in the human heart, fulfilling a longing we all have to be forgiven and to forgive when there has been a wrong against us and when we have performed a wrong. Join us this Sunday as we explore the life of Jesus, his teachings, and the way his life of grace can bring healing and reconciliation to the areas of our life and work that are filled with conflict and diminishing. Invite a friend.
*Please note that due to recording trouble, the scripture reading is very quiet and the first minute of the sermon wasn't captured.
John 21: 1-19
In the calling of Peter to be a Disciple, Jesus declared that Simon would be called Peter and that he would shift from fishing to being a fisher of men. The story shows us that Jesus has in mind to change his followers into what they should and can be- but not in a Hollywood kind of ‘you can be whatever you put your mind to’ kind of change. There where conditions that allowed Peter to become a “rock” and this passage explores both the conditions and the beautiful change that did in fact take place in Peter’s life. Come explore how God can change us as we near the end of our series on the Gospel of John.
In John chapter 9, Jesus heals a man born blind. The inquiry about the meaning of this man's blindness is very contemporary- bad things happen to bad people. But, Jesus gives another reason and it points to the cross, where He will suffer, as a good person, the best person who ever lived. This week we will explore a vital question for every Christian. Why does God allow suffering if He is good and powerful? Reflecting upon this Dorothy Sayers said: “For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is— limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death—He had the honesty and the courage to take His own medicine. Whatever game He is playing with His creation, He has kept His own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from Himself. He has Himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair and death. When He was a man, He played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile.”
John 12: 20-36
We know fame. We know the magnetizing grip that a famous person can have on our lives. Lunch with Ashton Kutcher is not something you would not tweet. Nor is it something that would go unnoticed if you posted it on Instagram- you and him at a table. To know glory, we only need to look to our understanding and desire for fame, the famous and being associated with such. Glory in the Bible is the equivalent to fame in the late modern age. This Sunday we will take a look at fame for what it is and get some understanding of the central role it plays in our search for meaning in this life.
The Book of James compares the tongue to a rudder of a ship, concluding that though the rudder can be controlled to steer the ship, the tongue cannot be controlled by the best intentions of mankind. St. Paul places gossip between God hating and murder in his warning against the ills of the mouth. In contrast, Jesus is described as The Word made flesh and we are told that it is through the hearing of God’s word that our souls are saved. In the book of Titus, words and the weight they carry are a serious matter for Paul, describing the wrong use of words as a means of destroying people. This week we will look at one of the most practical ways that we can grow as disciples of Jesus through what we chose to say, what we chose not to say, and ways we can apply the Gospel that can and do tame our unruly tongues.
The first part of John Chapter 11 sets us up for the death of Lazarus. In this part of the story, Jesus purposefully waits for Lazarus to die. Why? And what might that mean in relation to our lives and the times that we do not get our way with God? What is Jesus up to when he allows suffering to occur in the lives of his followers?
I recently spent some time with a group of fellow church planters. The subject of “founders” came up and one of the planters said, “I was warned that most of my launch team would not be with me after a few years but I never really believed it. With only a handful of our founding team left, I sure believe it now.” None of us laughed. We just looked at each other with pained expressions and nodded our heads in consent. I have heard the same thing from founders of institutions, as well as successful entrepreneurs- most of your launch team doesn’t make it to the finish line. In John 6:60-71, Jesus is experiencing his first wave of those who will abandon him. In the end, he will be alone on the cross. And, yet, after his resurrection 11 will return to him and launch the early Church. These people will become known as little Christs or Christ-ians. Join us as we explore the joys and challenges of being disciples of Christ.
John 13: 1-20
Christian doublespeak uses the words of servant hood casually- “she has such a servant-heart.” But, in the scope of human history, servant hood has not been counted among the virtues. In fact, in the scope of human history, the servant has been seen as a loser, a nobody, who has apparently made some bad moves and has been left in a state of being in last place. Not so with the coming of Christ and of the Christian Church. In the economy that Jesus brings to the fore, to serve is to be as close to being God as possible. This week, we look at God’s values and the majestic role of servant hood as a means of being truly great.
There are many beautiful stories of Muslims, Jews, and Secular Humanists who, in recent years, have come to faith in Jesus Christ through miraculous means- dreams, visions, divine interventions. These stories are a continuation of the promises of God to reach the world with His love. This Sunday, we will look back to the story of the Magi, who came to Christ by way of gazing-at-stars, and explore the unexpected ways that God reaches us.
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