“Easter: Not the End” (April 16, 2017)

from Mark 16:1-8

In each of the Gospels we are given an account of the resurrection of Jesus…that moment, that event which took place on the third morning when Jesus walked out of the tomb.  The event that changed everything.  The hope of the church, and the world hangs on that one event.  The one that says death and sin DO NOT have the final say.

We hear that story each year on Easter morning…hear that hope proclaimed.  But how do you make more than just the retelling of an account of something that happened 2,000 years ago?  How do you, like Peter for example, EXPERIENCE the resurrection…the LIVING HOPE of the resurrection…the hope that affects your life NOW right where you are?

Mark’s Gospel gives us an idea of how we might go from hearing an account to be transformed by this Savior!

w/ Vern Collins

“Disordered Love: Pride” (April 9, 2017)

from Matthew 21:1-11

Pride affects not only our relationships with others, but our relationship with God.  It divides and pits us against the One Who came to meet us at that very point of our weakness…at the point of our need to be at the center…that our lives and our love might become rightly ordered.

w/ Vern Collins

“Disordered Love: Greed” (March 12, 2017)

from Luke 12:13-21

Is enough enough?

It seems like a simple enough question…perhaps even a bit ridiculous, but when you consider what you really need for this life…is enough enough?

On top of that, when you consider what you have been so freely given in the sacrifice of Jesus so that you might have life…what more do you need?

When does abundance become greed?  When does blessing become excess?  In Jesus’ parable in Luke’s Gospel, he challenges our tendency to want to “store away” for a future…a future that God has already secured.

w/ Vern Collins

“Disordered Love: Gluttony” (March 5, 2017)

from Matthew 6:25-33

As we enter the season of Lent, we begin by considering St. Augustine’s idea that one of the marks of a Christ-honoring life is that our love is properly ordered….God first, other, even enemies, as well as self.  While this seems good and right, the truth is, we spend much of our life loving in a way that is disordered…and at the core, the result is sin.

What happens when we love the things of God more than God?  What happens when we use the things God has given us as a substitute for God, or when we turn to those things as a way of escape?  When we worry about having, not just what we need, but what we want…and enough of what we want, then we have allowed our love to disorder our understanding of what is necessary in this life.

What if the goal was not all?  What if the goal was not even enough?  What if the goal was God?  What if rather than covering your weakness with excess, you took this season of Lent to rest in your brokenness and frailty and allowed God to meet you in that place?

w/ Vern Collins

“Life Together: Redeemed” (February 26, 2017)

from 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

The foundation for our call to relationship with others is found in the relationship made possible by God’s willingness to look at our broken relationship with Him and move to make things right.  Not because God had somehow wronged us, but because God is gracious to we who have wronged Him.

We are called to take up the cause of bringing the world around us to reconciliation with God…but in order to do that we have to be willing to step outside of our small worldview and live lives in response to the grace offered by God to us through Jesus.

When we view that sacrifice for what it is and what it accomplished, then our view of the world around us begins to change.

w/ Vern Collins

“Life Together: Loving Well” (February 19, 2017)

from Romans 12

Loving well is not like sleep well.  IF things go smoothly during the night, if there are no worries, if kids don’t wake you up, if there are no nightmares then maybe you will sleep well.

But loving well should not be left up to such chance.  God is not a God of luck, God is a God of intentionality…in the way He loves us and in the way He calls us to love others.

Paul gives us a model for how we are to achieve the kind of love that is a reflection of the relationship from which we were created…the relationship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

It begins with grace.

w/ Vern Collins

“Life Together: Made For Each Other” (February 5, 2017)

from Genesis 1:26-27

Our lives tend to be a web of relationships.  Marriage, family, dating, friendship, classmate, co-worker, employee and employer, proponent and opponent of an issue or idea…

Relationships can often be a source of great joy or they can be a source of great pain in our lives.  There are times when we find ourselves seeking isolation because we have been so wounded by relationships…and there are times when without realizing it, we find ourselves living in a “functional isolation” born our of the illusion of connection we create through social media.

To say that relationship is complicated is an understatement…but what if we saw relationship not just as a challenge we have to navigate, rather something for which we were actually created?

Imagine how you might begin to look at God, and humanity around you differently if you lived like you were created for connection with both.

w/ Vern Collins

“Pray Like Jesus: Deliver Us” (January 29, 2017)

from Matthew 6:13

It’s not just that we feel overwhelmed from time to time…many of us are living lives in a constant state of being in over our head…and yet we tend to spend our time and energy looking to people and powers and systems in this world to change things…to give us hope.  What happens when those are the very things that seem to be stealing hope from us?

In our final week on the Lord’s Prayer, we look to Jesus’ petition for our protection and deliverance…a protection and deliverance He would make possible because He Himself was not protected from suffering.

w/ Vern Collins

“Pray Like Jesus: Forgive” (January 22, 2017)

from Matthew 6:12

We live in a world that is full of hurt, and many of us carry that hurt around inside us.  Whether we hurt over the things we have done that we feel guilt over, or whether we have been hurt by others…our lives are marked with pain of some sort.  The question is, what do we do with that hurt?  Do we simply learn to deal with it, or are we willing to release it?  To seek forgiveness, to be forgiven?  What about forgiving others?

Are we willing to name our pain, and trust that God can release us from it?

Are we willing to release others from the pain they have caused us?

Too often not…but it is not impossible.  Perhaps all it takes is a new understanding of forgiveness, what happens when we are forgiven, and what can happen when we forgive.

w/ Vern Collins

“Pray Like Jesus: Thy Kingdom Come” (January 8, 2017)

from Matthew 6:10

At the heart of the prayer Jesus offers as the example for His disciples to follow is surrender.    It is naming the work He has been called to do and committing Himself to that work…the work of seeing God’s purpose accomplished on this earth.

In inviting His disciples and all who would follow to pray in this way, Jesus is also inviting us to name and commit ourselves to being a part of God’s rescuing and restorative work on this earth.

And yet, our tendency is to build our little kingdoms and then ask God to bless them.

What if instead, our lives were spent building the Kingdom that Jesus came to inaugurate?  What if we began to bend ourselves to the work of God rather than trying to bend God to our work on this earth?

Imagine how different our lives might look.

w/ Vern Collins

“Pray Like Jesus: Our Father” (January 1, 2017)

from Matthew 6:7-9

If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated by prayer, if the mystery that surrounds prayer, the fact that it seems like prayers too often go unanswered or aren’t answered the way you’d like…if you’re not even sure what or how to pray most of the time, then you’re in good company.  Even the Apostle Paul wrote that when we don’t know how to pray or what to pray, the Holy Spirit would be faithful to lead us.

That’s good news, but many of still feel unsure as to where or how we begin.

Jesus’ disciples longed for more in their prayer life too, and so they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11).  While Jesus didn’t answer every question they asked, or respond to everything they desired to see happen, He felt this request important enough to respond to…and so He gave them what we have come to call, “The Lord’s Prayer.”

As we work through this series, beginning with “Our Father,” may your heart for prayer be rekindled, may you encounter the power that are in these words, and may you be transformed.

w/ Vern Collins

“Advent Conspiracy: Love All” (December 18, 2016)

from Matthew 1:18-25

Advent was never just about the single event of the birth of Christ…yes, it represents the waiting, the hope, the expectation…yes it connects us with those who hoped for so long to see God’s promised Messiah…and yes, it now offers us a framework as we wait for Christ to return.

But Advent was about much more than a significant event…Advent IS about much more than a significant event.  It is about the Kingdom Christ came to establish.  It is about reminding us that His Kingdom is still here and we are called to live in to it…to live into our new citizenship.

Worshipping Fully, Spending Less, and Giving More are all characteristics of the life of a Christ follower…but when we Love All we begin to look a lot more like Jesus Himself.

w/ Vern Collins

“Advent Conspiracy: Give More” (December 11, 2016)

from Luke 3:7-18

There is something about Advent that begs the question, “why?”

“Why would God send His Son to this earth?”  More specifically, perhaps, “what is it in my life that I am incapable of taking care of on my own?”

In our Advent passage this morning we find John the Baptist in the wilderness, in light of the Christ Who has arrived and is about to begin His ministry, calling people to repent…to turn from what they thought gave them worth, and turn to a new understanding of who they are and what life is meant to look like.

And in this we catch a glimpse that the Gospel might just be about more than the individual…that maybe it is about those around us too.

w/ Vern Collins

“Advent Conspiracy: Spend Less” (December 4, 2016)

from Matthew 6:19-21, 24

In all of the natural world, humans have the greatest proclivity toward collecting things.  Sure, there are animals that store away food, but with the intention of consuming it when there is no food to gather.  Humans, however, collect things that may never have an purpose beyond essentially taking up space.  Whether you hold on to furniture, trinkets, finances, or the latest technology…chances are there are things you have that you simply do not need.  And yet, too often, it is the “stuff” that holds our focus more than anything else.  Having it.  Acquiring it.  Longing for it.  Keeping it safe.  We worry a great deal about things in our world that ultimately only have a fleeting value.

Jesus, on the other hand, suggests that the treasure we store up ought to have an eternal value to them…that instead of storing up treasure on this part, we store up treasure in heaven.  When we hold that teaching up next to the simple manner in which Jesus was born into this world, then storing up Kingdom treasure looks a lot less like material investment and much more like becoming preoccupied with the hearts of others.

w/ Vern Collins

“Advent Conspiracy: Worship Fully” (November 27, 2016)

from Isaiah 9:2-7

The Advent of Jesus meant something to the small corner of the world in which He was born.  In fact, it would go on to mean something to the ENTIRE world.  From the birth of a baby to a criminal’s cross, the entrance of Jesus into humanity would forever alter the course of history…but has it altered yours?

Is your life different because of the Advent or arrival of Jesus?  Do you think differently about your time?  About your treasure?  About your future?  About those around you?

This and so much more is what we are invited into in Christ.  This Advent season, you are invited to pursue something a bit different from what this world says the season leading up to Christmas should be.   Come be a part of the conspiracy…it begins with worship!

w/ Luke Edwards

 

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