Last week Arik preached, “On Earth as it is in Heaven.” Yet, recent world events may make us feel like Earth is rather more like Hell right now. A series of tragedies between police officers and African Americans has created a climate of judgment, condescension, fear, and apathy. How are we to proceed as followers of Jesus Christ? In Matthew 7, Jesus makes it clear that when we are tempted to judge and lash out, we are to do serious self-reflection. We are to mourn with those who mourn, lament like David in the Psalms, carefully listen to Jesus and others, repent of what gets exposed in us (especially fear!), act in love and out of faith, and develop habits to continue to Heavenize as Jesus’ agents of reconciliation, no matter the environment.
The subject of calling can be a confusing one. In common vernacular we talk about “finding our calling” and it mostly has to do with following our dreams. Many of us can feel a sense of angst if we haven’t “found” it. But if there’s a calling, then there is a caller. And if there […]
Paul had great courage to stand in faith in the midst of the storm. Where did this come from? How can we stand courageously to face the storms of life that press against us?
According to a recent study conducted by Heart + Mind Strategies and the Barna Group, most Christians in America “feel a sense of distrust from society, and even fear, on account of their beliefs.” In our country’s shifting spiritual climate some are responding by separating from culture while others accommodate to become like our culture. In today’s message we discover that Jesus offers His followers a third path. The way of grace and truth. The pursuit of friendships in which we both listen and speak the truth in love. It’s an approach John Inazu (Associate Professor of Law and Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis) calls “Confident Pluralism” and it’s a 1st century framework for following Jesus that every 21st century follower of Jesus must embrace as well.
Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage comes from taking hold of a higher purpose that empowers perseverance in the midst of fear. Why did Paul head courageously into Jerusalem to be with those who did not accept him during his last visit and had previously killed Jesus? What fuels a follower of Jesus to be with people who oppose our Lord outside a 1st century temple in Jerusalem or in a 21st century school hall, neighborhood sidewalk or across the ocean on a village bench? Further, what could possibly empower us to overcome fear in order to testify, to speak the good news that Jesus is Lord with them? In this message we discover one of the magnificent purposes which ignited Paul and will equip you to shine the love and beauty of Christ even among those who misunderstand or are hostile toward Jesus and His messengers.
As Jesus called His followers to do tangible things during His time on earth, He continues to summons His disciples to action now. Sometimes Jesus’ plans for us are so difficult that others may urge us to head in a different direction. Do you ever second guess your direction? Do you ever stay awake at night worrying what others will think about your plans? In Acts 21:1-16 we see the courage of Paul who received his marching orders from one Source and remained faithful to his orders in spite of opposing forces. We also discover the high motivation that can make this loyalty possible for all disciples – for the name of the Lord Jesus.
According to the World Health Organization 54% of the people on earth in 2014 live in cities. So, Jesus went into cities, sent His first disciples into cities and continues to work through His followers in cities today. Since urban centers have unique challenges, this message announces 3 reminders that our exalted Christ gave to Paul during his time in the metropolis of Corinth. These truths have significant implications for all of us who love, live within and long to faithfully join Jesus in His mission in our city today.
Our cultural default and the tradition of America is to be completely in control and to live out our dreams. The culture in Jesus’ day was to live “in-control” in a religious sense – full of prim-and-proper religiosity. When Jesus is asked a question about fasting, He replies with a veiled correction followed by 2 mini-parables that almost seem out of place, but after examination, highlight how humanity’s need for control and the familiar has to be given up if one is to have real, deep, intimate relationship with God. Jesus Himself perfectly demonstrated this, maybe no more tangibly and beautifully than in the Garden of Gethsemane.
As we near the end of our journey through The Story we come to Paul’s final days. Fortunately, as Paul departed he also imparted final words to Timothy and to all who tend to be timid and cautious in sharing the gospel with others. In this message unbelievers receive encouraging words to believe the gospel and believers receive Paul’s final words to help us grow in gospel courage.