Our vision is Gospel Saturation: that every person in our region would have a regular encounter with the good news of Jesus Christ in both word and deed.
Throughout the history of God’s working with people to partner with them to redeem and bless the world, there has been a pattern of whenever the people made space for God’s Presence, He fills it. It happened in the tabernacle in the desert in Exodus, it happened with Solomon and the Temple, and then again even in Acts with the first Christians. God’s Spirit descended in power and fills His temple and empowers His mission. We are going to look at 2 Peter to see what this letter suggests we do in order to create space for God’s presence. How do we prepare our lives for the presence and power of God?
3 Trees, Part 2
We use this image, called 3 Trees, to represent how real growth and change happens.
We can't just decide to change and automatically jump from a thorn-producing tree to a fruit-bearing tree. Instead, we have to trace our thoughts and behaviors down to their roots and bring them in need, confession and repentance to the Cross. When we allow Jesus' truth, love, and grace to change the deep, unreached areas of our hearts, something radically different comes out of us. God is at work, in the heat (situations of life) and wants to reveal the roots of our thorn ridden responses, not to shame us, but to set us free.
3 Trees, Part 1
January is always a time of reevaluating life and making changes - or at least intending to make changes! Personally, I look forward to it because of the opportunity it affords for a clean sheet and a fresh start, even though I know nothing really changes on January 1st. In fact, year after year I’m reminded of the simple (and haunting!) truth: Whatever I am on the outside, in my best and worst moments, reflects whatever I am on the inside. I simply can’t wake up on January 1st and choose to be more attentive in my relationships, less self-reliant and more dependent on the Spirit, and finally be a man of deep prayer and courageous witness. I can want to do all those good things, but wanting - and even trying hard! - is insufficient (or else we’d all be the best versions of ourselves all the time!). I need more than good intentions and resolutions; I need a process and pathway for real growth and change that leads to me becoming a new kind of person, from the inside out. So what does that look like?! Over the month of January, we’ll answer that question from one of my favorite texts (2 Peter 1.3-11), and hear stories from people experiencing the kind of change that only Jesus and his grace make possible.
03 | Hope
The Christian Story - the good news about Jesus - uniquely involves thinking, doing, and feeling. Faith involves our whole person, and is never just mental assent to doctrinal truths or just a set of practices or morals for life. Real Faith moves the soul and requires emotional engagement - we feel its truth, often before we even fully understand it. This is particularly true when we focus on Advent, the arrival of Jesus into our busted up world as a baby some 2000 years ago. Why would God come into the world? What is he doing by writing himself into the story, putting on the weaknesses of human flesh, and dwelling among us? Nothing less than a total remaking of the world, putting all things to right, and ruling and reigning in justice and peace forevermore! This week we explore the emotion of Hope, and how the story of Jesus give the kind of hope we really need.
02 | Heartbreak
Full-bodied faith is both intellectual and emotional, enlightening the mind and stirring the affections of the heart. This Advent we’re exploring the emotions of faith, looking at how the movements of God’s Story - Creation, Fall, Redemption - stir our hearts to feel deeply wonder, heartbreak, and hope. This week we look at the emotion of heartbreak, considering how the pain and strain of our lives, our relationships, and our world brings about a deep and abiding sorrow. What do you do with your own heartbreak? Do you minimize it? Look for someone or something to blame? Or do you just check out of reality, finding ways to numb and avoid really feeling anything? Advent invites us to feel deeply the sorrow of the world, and to own our responsibility in it, while also looking for rescue beyond us. Jesus came to save us from our sins and to be God with us, the perfect solution to the heartbreak we all deeply feel.
01 | Wonder
We’ve covered a lot of Biblical ground over the fall, tracing the Story of Redemption from Creation to New Creation every single week, and considering how we tell that Story in word and deed in everyday ways. For Advent, we’re going to slow way down, cover less content, and instead engage the emotional landscape of faith. What does faith in God’s Story feel like? What emotions does the Biblical storyline - Creation, Fall, and Redemption - invite us to discover? The Gospel Story is both intellectually credible and emotionally satisfying, making sense of our lived experience as humans. Over the month of December, I want to invite you to feel deeply the wonder of Creation, the heartbreak of the Fall, and the hope of Redemption. In a season when we’re all more prone to numbing and checking out, Advent 2020 invites us to press in, to fight the malaise, and to connect with God and one another in meaningful ways. This week, we’ll explore Mary’s Song in Luke 1.46-55 as we talk about the power of Wonder.