“Heaven Comes Down: Epiphany” (January 4, 2015)

from Isaiah 60:1-6

No one likes to feel overlooked, forgotten, marginalized, or unnoticed.  Often our New Year’s resolutions have a goal that is bettering ourselves in hopes of avoiding such feelings…but what do you do when it feels like God is the One Who is overlooking you, when God is the One who isn’t noticing you?
What do you do when you feel like God is answering everyone’s prayers but yours?
Epiphany is about realization.  It is realization of Who God is through what God is doing.
In Isaiah 60:1-6 we have an opportunity to connect the visit of the Magi to a greater purpose in God’s choice to give His glory to Israel.  More than that we have an opportunity to come away with a new realization of what might just be behind the way God chooses to deal with us.
w/ Vern Collins

“Heaven Comes Down: Two Things” (December 28, 2014)

from Galatians 4:4-7

Many who are followers of Christ have some degree of understanding that God, through Christ has redeemed them…that is saved them from the penalty of sin through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross…
Why then, do so many find themselves caught in the perpetual up and down of “growth and guilt, growth and guilt, growth and guilt?”
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we find what could prove to be one of the most important truths about what ELSE Christ accomplishes in our redemption…
w/ Vern Collins

“Heaven Comes Down: The Goal” (December 14, 2014)

from Isaiah 61:1-11

We are more than midway through the season of Advent.  Christmas is fast approaching.  We tend at this point to feel the crunch of preparing for that day on top of wrapping up the end of another year.
Last minute shopping, final preparations, wrapping gifts, party plans, time with family, and even unexpected guests…what is goal of Advent?  What are we really preparing for?  A few hours on Christmas morning?  Then what?  What is the finish line?
What if Advent was about more than preparing for one day, or one moment…what if Advent was about something more than Christmas?
What if Advent was about transformation?
(w/ Vern Collins)

“Heaven Comes Down: Comfort” (December 7, 2014)

from Isaiah 40:1-11

What comforts you?  Are you a stress eater?  Do you find comfort in people?  Do you seek pleasure as an escape from difficulties?
We tend to seek comfort in the temporary and company in those who bear the same weaknesses we do, when all the while God is offering us comfort that lasts because it is comfort based on His promises, His faithfulness, and His Son Jesus.  In Isaiah 40 we find that God is offering us comfort based on His promises before we ever knew we needed them to be true!
(w/ Vern Collins)

“Heaven Comes Down: Listen” (November 30, 2014)

 

from Isaiah 64:1-9

We begin this new Advent series by considering that it is in the midst of our desperation that the Lord comes.  While it may seem too often that the heavens are silent, we must not stop crying out for the Lord to hear us in the midst of our suffering.  What is the cry of your heart? What are you longing to see God do?  Where are you longing for Him to move in your life or the lives of those around you?  Consider the condition of the world we are living in…may this Advent be about looking for those places that ‘Heaven Comes Down.’
(w/ Jeff McClain)

“Life Cycle: Birth” (November 23, 2014)

 

from Luke 1:26-38

In John 10, Jesus makes this promise that He has came to offer “life to the FULL.”  In our “Life Cycle” series we have spent time looking at the elements of such a life of following Jesus, and are left with the challenge of pursuing Him toward leaving a legacy worth following.
The question is, “what do you do when that journey is interrupted?”  How do you handle interruption?  How do you handle those moments, or people, or that news that comes in and seems to derail your journey?  Do you ignore them?  Do you follow them?  Do you become embittered by them?
What if the key to journeying well was not less interruption, but embracing more of the right interruption?
In Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth we see Mary’s life interrupted in a creation-shattering sort of way, and yet rather than ignore this interruption or become frustrated by it, we see Mary embracing it…and teaching us something incredibly significant in the process.
(w/ Vern Collins)

“Life Cycle: Childhood” (November 16, 2014)

 

from Matthew 18:1-4

For 4 weeks we have looked at life with Christ through the lens of stages in life.  We started with the end and asked the question, “what will it look like for you to end well?”  Following that, we looked at the “Legacy Years,” asking the question, “if people followed the path of your life, where would it lead them?”
We know the goal.  We have the finish line…the question is, “how will you get there?”  This world says we must work hard, we must strive for the goal at all cost, we must be willing to fight our way forward if we want to reach our goal.  Jesus suggests the opposite.  According to Christ, the only way to reach the end is not to go forward, but to go back…to childhood…
(w/ Vern Collins)

“Life Cycle: Adolescence” (November 9, 2014)

from 1 Corinthians 3:1-9/Luke 2:41-52

Adolescence is arguably the most mysterious, awkward, confusing, challenging season that we walk through in this life…and yet in adolescence we find two of the most important principles we can understand for a healthy, lifelong pursuit of Christ.
(w/ Vern Collins)

“Life Cycle: Midlife” (November 2, 2014)

 

from Ephesians 4:11-16

We hit a point in childhood when all we want to do is grow up…yet, when we hit that midlife season, we often spend it trying to figure out how to go back, or at the least make time stop.
Yet, Paul challenges us on to maturity, and many of us may want that, may want to grow in Christ, but feel as if we have been stuck in the same place for so long…so we just give up on the journey.
What if we understood the weight of what it means to mature in Christ?  What if we understood the hope filled implications of moving forward in our walk with Jesus rather than the frustration of simply remaining in the same place?
(w/ Vern Collins)

“Life Cycle: Legacy Years” (October 26, 2014)

 

from Deuteronomy 34:1-12

How do you want to be remembered?  What is the legacy you will leave behind?
In week 2 of our “Life Cycle” series, we look at the final journey of Moses; the final encounter he has with the Lord…he has just been shown the Promised Land and told that he will not be entering it…that his journey will end before crossing over into God’s promise, and yet his legacy carries on.
While you can’t determine your future, you can choose the legacy you will leave behind.
(w/ Vern Collins)

“Life Cycle: Homecoming” (October 19, 2014)

from 2 Timothy 4:6-8

As we begin our Life Cycle series, we look first at time in life when homecoming is imminent; when time has run out; when life is spent.
We begin with Paul’s second letter to Timothy written at a time when Paul believes that his time has come to depart this world.  For us who fight age every step of the way, how are we ever meant to come to terms with meeting our end?
Perhaps if we knew what it looks like to end well, then we, like Paul, would celebrate our homecoming.
(w/ Vern Collins)

“God Will Provide” (October 12, 2014)

from Genesis 22:1-19

In week 2 of stewardship, we have the privilege of hearing from pastor Jeff McClain as he brings a challenging and encouraging word from the account of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son Isaac to the Lord…

What might God be calling you to sacrifice?  What have you been forced to sacrifice?  What might you be resisting letting go of?

 

“Offer” (October 5, 2014)

from Mark 12:41-44

Why does “steawardship” tend to come across like something ugly in church?  Why do we approach a season of stewardship with some hesitation?
Perhaps it is because in our minds, stewardship has always been about money…what if we truly lived like Jesus didn’t give His life for our money, but our hearts?  Then perhaps it would change our understanding of what it means to live surrendered lives…
In Mark 12, we find perhaps the most important example of surrender and sacrifice next to the Cross that we find in all of the New Testament.
-(w/ Vern Collins)

“You’re Welcome” (September 28, 2014)

Story of Family

from Matthew 8:1-4

-Luke Edwards

Have you ever been in a place or in a situation where you felt unwelcome?  Have you ever experienced that uncomfortable feeling of being unwanted or just plain unnoticed?
Have you ever felt that way in the church?  Perhaps not, but there are countless people in our very neighborhoods who are made to feel unwelcome and unwanted by the church by those who are a part of it.
Our passage from Matthew this week touches down with the unwelcome and the unwanted, and asks the question, “what if all were truly welcome in the body of Christ…how would that change things…how would that change us?”

“Story of Family” (September 21, 2014)

Story of Family

from Romans 8:15-17

-Vern Collins

When you consider your life with Christ (or when you are considering life with Christ), do you often feel caught between the life you are called to with Him and the life that bears all of your baggage and scars and fear?
From Romans 8:15-17 we find that even in the midst of the life that is our “received narrative” (that is what we have been told about who we are by those with influence in our lives), we are being invited to take our role in a new story that is who we are as God’s adopted children…

“New Creation” (September 14, 2014)

New Creation

from 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

-Vern Collins

We tend to allow the opinions of others and the values of this world to have entirely too much bearing on our identity.
What if our understanding of who we are did not rest in the opinions of others, but of the work of the One who saved us?  And what if we allowed that identity to dictate not just who we become, but what we go on to do?

“Faithfulness in: Tragedy” (September 7, 2014)

Faithfulness in: Tragedy

From 2 Kings 24 & 25

-Vern Collins

It is difficult to open a newsfeed or a newspaper and not come face to face with the tragedy that is unfolding all around us.  Too easily, however, we move on to focus on what is right in front of us.
But what happens when you find yourself faced with some pain, or loss, or hurt, or mistreatment in your own life?  Where do you turn in tragedy?  How do you handle it?  What does it do to you, or how does it undo you?
In week 7 of our Faithfulness series, we find ourselves in 2 Kings 24 and 25, and the destruction of Jerusalem and exile of God’s people.  Once we can begin to learn the effects of tragedy in our own lives, we might just begin to see that God has been present all along.

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