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9:15 // 10:45

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Posts by Alex and Steve

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Double Prophecy

There’s a fulfillment that happens in the near term and then a second fulfillment that happens down the road....

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God with us

What do you think God sees when he sees you? ...

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On the virgin birth

From the very start, he’s extraordinary: God who is truly with us....

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Who gives the sign?

Who’s going to give us the sign we need to move forward into the uncertain future with confidence?...

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He is not silent

Our day-to-day experience might make this assertion difficult to believe....

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The Real Zeal

How does the Lord set up an eternal kingdom marked with justice and righteousness? ...

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God's gift to you

A new generation, a new king offered a new start, hope that things can take a turn for the better, that the future might be great....

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The Light has come

Light in the darkness … that’s a powerful image for Christmas-time....

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Love The Tension

The Jesus who pushes us to love across borders did this himself and did this by design....

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The Galilee Principle

As we see God’s willingness to include places and people who society considers on the margins, we can feel both sobered and encouraged. ...

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Inevitable Christmas

Christmas comes every year. In a way, Christmas feels inevitable. As we spiral out and look at history, that feeling persists....

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Who is the Lord talking to?

This is a great way to let your curiosity guide you into the biblical text and to create space for the Lord to speak to you in your study of the Bible....

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The Lord Stays Engaged

It’s important to pay close attention to the Lord’s engagement in this story. He seeks out the main characters. He listens to them. He responds to them. He stays, well, engaged....

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The Tragic Voice

Listening carefully to and believing fully in the words of God protects us and, graciously, restores us. But doubt, confusion, and distrust stand daily at our elbows....

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Be Thankful For What You Have

We may not have all the resources we might want ...

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Grace in Every Act

We desperately need God’s grace...

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Can't Buy Me Joy

We would expect to feel something positive when we’re in the sweet spot of our destiny, even if it isn’t always easy. Perhaps that’s part of the reason God wants us to do good works. ...

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Faith vs Self

Paul wants to protect us from the temptation to take credit for our salvation....

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What does grace mean?

God gives us something we don’t deserve, haven’t earned, and desperately need....

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Our "Amen"

Saying “Amen” to God’s promises expresses faith. We communicate that we believe Jesus, that what he says about God is actually true of God. ...

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Yes, no?

Years ago Alex introduced us to a phrase that offers great insight into this dilemma: “God’s ‘No’ is always in service to his larger ‘Yes.’”...

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All our needs, all his promises

In Christ, we see God’s persistent initiative. We aren’t left to our own devices. God follows through on his promises....

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"Yes" and Union

As we consider God’s faithfulness to Christ as faithfulness to us, we’ll gain confidence that God can be trusted....

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Meditating on "Yes" and "Amen"

We’re going to invite you to meditate on a verse this morning. ...

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God's plan on display

What does Jesus tell us about God’s character and intentions?...

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Peace and Prosperity

Generosity will change and shape you. Becoming a generous-hearted person may cost you. Some might take advantage of you. But in the long run, you’ll flourish....

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Steps toward thriving

The good and beautiful life is always available to us. We may find ourselves in challenging and desperate situations. We may have moments when we can’t see through the tears. But God is for thriving. And he will make a way for you to experience life and joy … if you are willing....

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Who did the carrying?

How can both Nebuchadnezzar and the Lord Almighty carry the people off into exile? ...

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Back to Reality

Communities frequently have to rise to challenges. They rebuild. They restructure. They forgive. And these challenges leave a mark on the community … in some cases a scar, in others a callous, and in still others a pearl....

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In the Presence of Salvation

Something had changed in Zacchaeus....

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Meditative Reading

Jesus’ every word and phrase can ring in our ears....

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Better than you imagined

What do you expect God to do when he sees you?...

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A Creative Attempt

All sorts of things motivate people to seek Jesus: a longing for meaning, a desire for community, curiosity, financial interests, peer pressure … the list goes on and on....

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The Rest of M's Story

Take some time today to read the dramatic conclusion of Mephibosheth’s story. Commentators disagree as to what happens with him here....

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We're not worthy

The Lord’s way of lifting us out of our shame isn’t to create a fiction in which we have nothing of which to be ashamed....

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Structural and Personal

When we walk in step with his Spirit, we find ourselves drawn toward holistic engagement with people in need....

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The Kindness of God

When you think about God, do you think of him as kind?...

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Overflowing Kindness

Faithfulness to the Lord overflows into kindness toward others. ...

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Enabling Courage

God can make you brave...

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A Dose of Perspective

You don’t have to be muscular to be strong. You don’t have to be intimidating to be influential. The Lord can do mighty things in and through you if you’re willing to let him guide you in the use of your voice....

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Responding to Disrespect

What do you do when you’re disrespected?...

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Shadows of the past

David found himself in the in-between part of his story: anointed but not yet ascended to the throne. And those in-between places can be so challenging....

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Disorienting Change

Change and loss can be disorienting to us. We can struggle and veer out of control. These are the times when we most need friends. These are the times when we most need God....

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It's complicated ... relax

The easy, obvious shortcut that appeared in that cave in En Gedi might not actually have been as strategic as it seemed....

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Respect for the office and the Lord

That kind of respect for the office, for David, stemmed directly from his respect for the Lord. ...

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When the Giant is in your Hands

Moments like these reveal what’s inside of us. What do we choose to do in the opportune moment?...

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A Giant Complex

Don’t be discouraged. Complex problems are just that. And they can be overcome. ...

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Surprised in the desert

The desert is both a challenge and an opportunity...

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Don't Drink the Water

We easily underestimate the influence we have on others. An idle word or comment or bit of action or inaction can carry outsized cachet. ...

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Explaining the Risk

Good Bible readers will float and test theories as to why things are happening in the text and why people say and do the things they do....

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Water that's more than water

Food and water are almost always more than food and water....

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Do Something New

History never repeats itself exactly. And the new thing that happens can be remarkable....

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At Harvest Time

Although the Bible is intimately concerned with the highest spiritual themes, it doesn’t shy away from engaging with issues like hunger and thirst....

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Paper, Rock, Slingshot

When we refuse to fight the giant on the giant's terms, the Lord can lead us via creative paths to a meaningful victory....

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An Interactive Reading of Psalm 23

David spent his youth working as a shepherd. His experience there marked every corner of his life, from his leadership to his spirituality. ...

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A Psalm for a Storm

Faith and courage don't prevent us from experiencing fear and anxiety; instead, they help us to connect with God in the midst of our fear and move forward in the face of our anxiety....

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Valuable Courage

On a day when the virtue of courage is publicly celebrated, perhaps it’s appropriate for us to look close to home for examples of courage. When we find them, we can show honor, express gratitude, and thank God....

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A Mighty Team

We are better together. The Lord has hard-wired us for community, that we thrive when we have meaningful connections. And this also is the best way for us to engage the world for good....

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After the giant falls

Hope became confidence. Confidence became courage. Courage become action....

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God at the center

David's confidence in the Lord is so central to his identity that it comes spilling out of him even when trash-talking....

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Go and the Lord be with you

David does not let his lack of direct experience disqualify him. David does not presume future success because of his past victory. David is less focused on his qualifications than on the Lord’s presence. ...

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New Direction - New Person

A new person jumping into an old, stuck situation with a new perspective (and maybe a little new life) can change history....

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Who are your giants?

When God wants to get us moving again, he has to reframe our relationship with our giants....

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Actions speak louder

Words and speech can be cheap if they aren’t backed by action and truth. ...

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Seek the Source

Today’s passage circles back around diagnostically. If we feel no pity when faced with a brother or sister in need, something has gone wrong with our relationship with God....

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An Emotional Response

Compassion is the most important action in the face of need....

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Radical Generosity AND Beautiful Humility

As a church community, we are blessed to have some in our midst who have material possessions and others who are in need....

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Beyond Charity

We need help to move toward real love. Our love-compass is broken. It spins and spins in circles because the magnetic power of our own neediness overwhelms everything in our orbit. We need Jesus to settle us so that we can love....

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For Complete Joy

Proclaiming the good news about Jesus Christ completes our joy. It satisfies some need deep within us. It terrifies and blesses us. And it can change the world. ...

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For Fellowship

The purpose of proclamation is connection: connection with each other and, ultimately, with God. Fellowship. ...

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A relaxed reading of the text

Try letting the Holy Spirit guide your reading today...

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Person, not Idea

A co-opted Jesus is not Jesus. He doesn’t work for our political or philosophical schemes. He stands on his own feet. Mash him together with the rest of that and you’ll lose him altogether. ...

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The Real Deal

Jesus breathes new life into us as his love invites us to live with him in a larger, clearer, brighter world. ...

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What love looks like

The clearest picture of love isn’t buried in some corner of the future or hiding in some region of the present. You can see love as easily as you can see your own shadow … if you’ll look....

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Love in Common

We need common ground and we need someone else to set it for us....

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What is love? (no definition here)

Our valuation of love can vary as widely as our definitions of it....

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Sabbath Questions

The Pharisees look at the individual behavior and not the system behind it. They ask about the disciples’ activity and not their poverty....

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Sabbath Conflict

Sabbath often brings collisions between our values. What do we do when our values collide?...

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A Rest for the People of God

Rest requires effort. Rest is not passive. Rest is active and rewarding. And when our restless souls find their rest in God, we thrive....

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Work and Rest

From God’s initial creative work in the universe work and rest are intertwined....

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Taking stock of sabbath

The Lord provided non-condescending support, guidance, and structure in the Sabbath...

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No Longer Slaves

Slaves work day-in and day-out. They have no rest from their labors. But our heavenly Father wants to give us good, good rest....

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Rest as Imitation

Our reasons for rest reach back to the ground of creation and the dawn of time. ...

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Waiting for Goodness

In times of restlessness, the knowledge that the Lord is real and really loves us changes everything....

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Surprised by Trouble

Some of our restlessness is fueled by our surprise that troubles show up in our lives....

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One Thing I Ask

We are at our most realistic when we realize his realness and reallocate our attention accordingly....

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Light, Salvation, Stronghold

Fear can drive restlessness....

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A Community of Support

The same Lord who gives shelter and security and sleep also gives support to those who dream the dreams he so generously gives....

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The Lord gives sleep

Every night when you drift off to sleep, you have a powerful reminder that you are loved by God....

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The Lord and Giver of Rest

There’s almost always more work to do than can ever be done....

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The Lord and his Creation

The Lord’s will is not bound to ours as if he’s a marionette being pulled by the strings of our activity....

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God at work

If we think we’re in it all on our own or that our effort is the only effort that matters, when will we ever rest?...

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Reading as Listening

In reading, we experience communal relationships not only with the author but also with others who are listening to the words. ...

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The Channel and the Source

What do you do if your father’s instruction and your mother’s teaching don’t feel like a garland to grace your head or a chain to adorn your neck?...

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Listen to your parents?

One way to navigate the communications chaos in the world is to set up priority people, people to whom you’ll listen no matter what....

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Not past the past

A humble take on our current era can help us pursue wisdom in healthy ways in our generation....

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Jesus, The Straight Path, and Trust

The echo of the proverbial straight path reminds us that trusting Jesus is how we get to holiness, righteousness, and life....

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The Direct Path

The easiest path isn’t always the most direct one....

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The Heart of Trust

How much trust does it take to walk with the Lord for a lifetime?...

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Trust and Disappointment

The Lord knows what it’s like to experience disappointment. ...

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Trust and Guidance

Maybe the struggle isn’t with guidance; maybe the struggle is with trust....

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The Pathmaker

The Lord cares how we live our lives. ...

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Building Trust on Trust

Our relationship with the Lord can create space for us to have other relationships....

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Wholehearted Trust

Wholehearted trust in the Lord looks like depending on him rather than your own understanding....

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A Glance at Trust

We have so many options for where to place our trust....

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High Stakes Wisdom

We don’t just pursue wisdom for our sake. When we get wisdom, everyone around us gets blessed....

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You can choose

You can choose who you spend time with and how you will allow them to influence you....

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Becoming a mentor

You’ve been entrusted with something precious....

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Leveraging Wisdom for Influence

If we want to grow in wisdom, we need to spend time with those who have wisdom. ...

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Walking with the Wise

What do you picture when you picture walking with the wise? ...

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The Creation of Wisdom

Don’t turn your mind off when seeking the Lord. He’s the source of all the brilliance that dwells inside you....

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On Wisdom and Wealth

Wisdom and Wealth are not enemies....

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Wisdom Acquired

You don’t have to already be wise to gain wisdom....

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Wisdom seeking

God’s reaching out to us makes it possible for us to reach back out to him with hope and confidence....

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3 Ideas to Help You Guard Your Heart

Wisdom will watch over, protect, and guard our hearts according to Proverbs. But what does that look like? How can we guard our hearts?...

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Walk wisely

Which path do we want to walk?...

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Wisdom worth everything

What makes wisdom so valuable?...

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Relationship with wisdom

Wisdom emerges from relationships: relationship with your context, with your community and with your heart....

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The Heart of the Matter

God’s invitation to us is to receive free, healthy, wildly-alive hearts. Jesus came to give us hearts that fill our lives with life. Walking wisely with him requires us to tend thoughtfully to the condition of our spiritual and emotional lives....

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Love is better

All the good we do in the world in the name of this particular King must be done in love....

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Free to love

What if this new way of seeing the world got its light from relationships rather than from obedience to rules?...

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The Most Important One

Don’t let the commandments take the place of God....

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You have to start somewhere

We may want to have a different set of conversations with the people we love or a different way of engaging with our local community. But we have to start where we can start....

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The Discipline of Attention

Ask yourself: “Of all the _______, which is the most important?” Pause for a beat and reflect on what your answer reveals about you and your perspective....

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A Prayer Observed

What does this prayer show me about the way I think about God and feel about this person for whom I’m praying?...

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The service of sharing from the heart

There’s something powerful that happens when we pull our affection into our awareness and communicate it to another person....

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Carry in your heart

Paul feels the way about his friends in Philippi that mothers often do for their children....

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God won't give up

The work won’t reach completion for a while. But don’t lose heart. God loves you and won’t let you go....

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The Joy of Partnership

Joy fills our prayers and our hearts and spills out from our faces as we go to the places God sends us with the people he gives us....

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Strengthened for Service

Jesus doesn’t just serve; he empowers us to serve....

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The Secret of Contentment

Learning the secret of contentment requires relationship....

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The Secret of Contentment

Contentment always seems to be just around the corner and just out of reach....

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Service and Contentment

When we rest in the security of contentment we can be available to truly see and respond to the needs of people around us....

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Intentions stalled out

Don’t let guilt or shame over past inaction keep you from making a difference in the future. ...

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Strong to Serve

The ultimate destiny and goal and end of all strength is service....

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Strength Required

Serving always requires strength....

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A Guided Tour

There’s something special about pausing for a beat to study on your own....

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Serve Anyways

The hard and joyful work of the soul that’s alive to God in Christ is to serve anyways. Where we can. When we can. And to be gentle with ourselves when we just can’t....

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An Empowered Example

The example Jesus gives us lands in the midst of God’s empowering work in our lives....

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Second Philemon

Sorry to flood your inbox, but I just remembered that I wanted to add something....

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Bond Brothers

When we’re included in Christ, new bonds spring into existence between us and each and every individual who is connected with God....

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Real people and real activism

Human connection is an essential element for Christian social engagement. It’s what makes Christian social engagement distinctly Christian....

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Love as the foundation of activism

Love doesn’t preclude passing laws, boycotting, protesting, or engaging in activism. Love shapes the way we do all of these things. ...

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Read or listen to Philemon

This week we’re going to be studying a whole book of the Bible. Sure, it’s only one chapter. But that still counts!...

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The Joy of Helping

Amazing things happen when we obey God....

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A powerful paradigm shift

Ananias needed to see differently before he could do differently. ...

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The Dance of Inclusion

The reason Jesus includes Ananias has little or nothing to do with Ananias and a lot to do with Jesus....

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Getting what you wish for

Comfort and Challenge with Jesus...

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Wrong about the resurrection

The resurrection changes everything....

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No Needy Persons Allowed?

Why might there be no needy persons in a faith community?...

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A Resurrection-fueled Connection for Good

When we forget the resurrection reality and treat Jesus as a dusty historical figure, our experience of connection and impetus for generosity begin to fade. We lose perspective. Our petty differences take on an exaggerated significance....

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From Unity to Generosity

Unity precedes generosity. And generosity always follows unity....

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Reflecting Reading of Acts 4

As you read, allow the Lord to direct your attention to a word or phrase that describes this new community....

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Spirit-inspired Forgiveness

Saying “Yes” to Jesus’ challenges is our best path to peace and joy....

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A Prayer for Easter Joy

We’re hoping that each of us and everyone who visits a church would have a meaningful moment with Jesus this weekend. We want to experience that joy....

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Jesus the Not A Ghost

Use the negative image to grow your appreciation for what actually happened....

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Peace to you

What would you expect Jesus to say to you if you met him today? Digging into that question can give you a flash of insight into a) how you see Jesus and b) how you see yourself....

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God will meet you

Wherever you are, God can meet you there. He can meet you when no one else wants to listen to you. He can meet you even when you doubt....

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Speaking of Easter

One way we can lift our voices to glorify God is to talk to people about him. This could involve sharing your story of God’s work in your life, telling someone about something you’re learning about God, or directly inviting someone to connect with God....

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The Shouting Stones

In today’s passage, Jesus points to a very important truth: God is worthy of our praise. ...

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The Caution of the Pharisees

When you’re swept into the worship of God, lifted to the heights of prayer, plunged into the depths of scripture, filled with zeal for justice … those are always the moments when the pharisaical voices begin to ring in our hearts....

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Great expectations of Jesus

This is not what the crowd expected....

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Preparing for Easter

It’s less than two weeks away. With forecasts of snow showers and promises of spring break, if you blink you’ll miss it....

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Easier

Anyone can say the words. ...

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Theological conundrums

What do you do when you bump into things Jesus says or does that you don’t approve of, don’t understand, or don’t enjoy? ...

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Cutting in line

We’re invited by God today to witness the friendliness of Jesus....

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On Emotional Whiplash

What we do in the face of emotional whiplash and deep disappointment makes all the difference in the world. ...

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Including Jesus

This week, as we explore Jesus’ interaction with the friends of the paralytic and the crowd that had gathered to hear him teach, we’ll have an opportunity to listen to Jesus for ourselves....

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Whatever it takes

They would do whatever it takes to get their friend to Jesus....

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Looking for cues

These aren’t the only times or the only ways to bring people to Jesus. But some of us need a nudge....

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The Choices of Friendship

When Jesus healed the paralyzed man in response to the faith of the man’s radical friends, a bunch of different people had a bunch of different decision to make....

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Meaningful Friendship

In spiritual friendship, we connect in meaningful ways with another person and, ultimately, through that relationship, with God....

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All those alls

How might this influence our relationships with people with whom we might disagree? ...

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The one about the ones

Our view of who God is shapes our view of who we are and, consequently, influences all of our relationships....

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Close reading on unity

Over and against bland or brutal or brief unity, Paul presents the unity of the Spirit....

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In line with the calling

A non-comprehensive yet challenging list of ways to live a life worthy of the calling we’ve received...

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A Foundation for Unity

We’ve been invited, summoned, called into the life and mission and kingdom of God....

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The Seeds and the Birds

When we become who God invites us to become we benefit from the growth and we bless our broader community....

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The Swinging Pendulum

Rapid expansion doesn’t repudiate smallness. In fact, smallness is a necessary and significant element of the life of Christian community....

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Grow and Change

Growth brings change. Change brings challenges. Challenges bring choices....

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A Small Seed

God isn’t afraid to start small. That’s how he always does it. ...

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Teaching in parables

What’s your willingness to wrestle with God as you come into this week? ...

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Principles of Community Connection

Nothing can help us connect with difficult people quite like the presence of Jesus....

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The Mirror of Conflict

So often our hesitations about the people we distrust have as much to do with our own fears and pride as anything having to do with “them.” ...

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The Beauty of Gatekeeping

Apart from Jesus, none of these disciples would have received an invite to Levi’s party … and none of these disciples would have had access to Levi’s social network....

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The Zealot and the Tax Collector

Jesus packed a riot into a small group. And that small group changed the world....

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The Taxman

Tax collectors in Judea in the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry had remarkably complex jobs....

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Look at this group

Healthy small groups will connect us to people we wouldn’t ordinarily connect with thought means we wouldn’t ordinarily use in ways that radically challenge us to mature and grow. ...

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An Ordinary Group

The remarkable thing about the men was that they had been with Jesus (see Acts 4:13)....

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Is 12 a magic number?

Did Jesus and the Twelve know some secret to group dynamics and community structure?...

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The Mission in the Middle

From the very beginning Jesus’ small group had a mission. ...

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Jesus was in a small group

He could share more with them by living life with them than by lecturing them....

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He came to serve

Our participation in service gives us a deeper appreciation of the salvation that Jesus bought for us. That salvation works deeper into our souls as a result. And we’re transformed....

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Pursue true greatness

You’re more likely to find the truly great person by looking for someone serving. You’re more likely to grow into true greatness in your own life by looking for opportunities to serve....

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What if you don't know what you're asking?

We have an opportunity to practice the discipline of trust. We can relax into the watchful care of our wise God....

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What would you ask?

Imagine Jesus turned to you and asked you: “What do you want me to do for you?” ...

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Willing to pay attention

As we pour out our hearts to him, he hears us and responds in love. That doesn’t always mean giving us what we ask for, but it always means giving us his best....

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Depending on each other

God’s invitation to “together” is the only pathway to “better.”...

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Sending with authority

There’s no sending without authority and there's no authority without sending....

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Don't go it alone

We need to be “together” in our pursuit of the “better.”...

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Not in a large group

Why didn’t Jesus send them out as one big group?...

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Grit in the face of rejection

As Jesus continued to faithfully visit town after town ...

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Leaving the family business

Following Jesus does, at times, come with a cost. He doesn’t offer us cheap discipleship....

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Drop your nets

Jesus’ invitation to follow him requires us time and time again to leave our nets, to leave behind even the good things that will distract us from following him....

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Go Fish

What do you do when you come to one of Jesus’ metaphors?...

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Shaped from the Beginning

Jesus flips the script. He calls uneducated fishermen. He initiates the relationship. And that changes how the whole thing would work....

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Different and Alike

Every movement has a starting place....

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Coming and Going

Don’t miss his purpose. Don’t miss his invitation....

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That is why I have come

The dance between his Father and his friends, between solitary prayer and community life, that created an environment that was primed for Jesus to discover and rediscover his purpose....

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Bypassing Honor

Jesus’ decision to move on to other towns and villages to preach meant that he wouldn’t be able to stick around to enjoy the honor and gratitude of all of the people he had directly and indirectly helped....

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Prayer and Purpose

God the Son ...

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Everyone's looking for you

How does the tug of popularity pull on your heart? ...

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A Patch of Green Grass

Our world is thirsty for “green grass,” for places where people can sit down together and connect with each other in meaningful ways....

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When God hands you broken bread

Don’t ever think that your small loaf of bread and your few fish aren’t enough to make a difference....

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Why feed the crowd?

Great Bible study involves letting your imagination roam through a text, seeking understanding and insight....

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For the sake of compassion

Watch out for God’s great compassion! His compassion will change the course of history. His compassion can transform your life....

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Quiet and Rest

There’s a rest that comes from quiet and a rest that comes from depending on Jesus. We, like Jesus’ disciples, need both....

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An end of year reflection

A lot of us feel the speed of time as we close out another year. Where did 2017 go? ...

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Reminders from the Margins

Anna’s story reminds us of much we already know but easily forget in the busyness of life....

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Disruptive Discipleship

In the presence of Jesus the ordinary power structures of the world get flipped on their head. ...

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Hope fulfilled

Something came alive in Simeon when he met Jesus....

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Merry Christmas!

Listen for any part of this story that warms your heart toward God and that sparks joy in your soul....

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Find Jesus

When you connect with Jesus, joy follows....

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A Savior's Crib

All too often we bump right up to the threshold of joy and turn back because we see rough wood and straw and very little gold. We need to pay closer attention to find joy, to find our Savior in the manger....

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News Joy People

The shockwave of this good news wraps great joy around the world. Can you feel it? ...

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The Tumult and the Turn

Knowing that you may encounter opportunities to be terrified on your path toward joy allows you to summon your courage and look to the Lord for strength to stay engaged....

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An Expected Surprise

We can look back on this ordinary night and see that any ordinary moment is a moment that could be pregnant with potential for a miracle....

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God's Tender Mercy

Taking a word or phrase like this and reflecting on it and meditating on it (like we did right here) can be a great spiritual discipline. ...

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A Father's Gift

God invites us to be his children before he invites us to anything else. ...

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The Prepositions of Salvation

Don’t miss the full picture of the salvation that God has for us in Jesus Christ!...

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With us for our good

The presence of God in our midst is good news to us....

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Eclipsed by Jesus

John was going to lead an extraordinary life. But he would be eclipsed by Jesus....

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Normal and Unique

God can be at work in our lives that fit the patterns we’ve seen in the lives of other. But he can also break the mold....

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A Disruptive Holiday

Mary had a deep sense that God’s new work in the world at Christmas would turn the world upside down....

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Part of something bigger

God’s work doesn’t start with us. ...

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The song of a grateful heart

Rejoicing sparked by gratitude does something powerful in our souls....

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Break into song

When the emotion is too great to convey in mere words, characters in a musical will sing out. ...

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Presence and Affection

Presence and affection. This is what love looks like....

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No word of God will ever fail

For us to become a people of deep faith, we need to attend carefully to the stories of God’s faithfulness in the lives of the people around us....

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Why the virgin birth?

In the virgin birth we see the extraordinary and miraculous lengths God will go to for the sake of a relationship....

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Doubting the Virgin Birth?

“A simple translation correction,” we think, “could clear up all this confusion.” Except that it doesn’t....

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In real time

God meets us in the real world. ...

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First impressions with Jesus

How would it change your relationship with Jesus if you came to believe in him in the midst of a feast that had been marked by this miracle: turning water into wine?...

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Give thanks today

As Vanessa Williams sang a long time ago: “Just when I thought a chance had passed, you went and saved the best for last.” And that’s just what Jesus did....

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From ordinary to extraordinary

Just as God can take the ordinary and make it extraordinary, he can take the sacred and make it holy....

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When the fun winds down

Jesus kept the party going....

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Tis the Season

God wants to be present in every corner of our lives....

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Spirit and Truth

There’s so much packed into this one tiny verse. ...

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Switchtracking

Switchtracks reveal something about the person with whom we’re speaking. What we do with these switchtracks matters....

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Thirsty

She had such a hard time seeing beyond her thirst. And so do we....

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Asking for help

We don’t like to be vulnerable, to expose our needs to strangers, or to be the one asking for help. We’d much rather give answers....

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Strange Paths

Jesus’ need to go through Samaria had nothing to do with logistics and travel efficiency and everything to do with his mission to seek and save the lost....

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Seeking Jesus

Our obsession with being right keeps us from being loving and, in effect, keeps us from experiencing full and deep and rich intimacy with Jesus....

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Finding Common Ground

Doing this requires courage....

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Check your posture

All too often our conversations across religious divides devolve into petty arguments....

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What about other religions?

People feel strongly about their gods....

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Grace and Mercy when you need them

In our time of need, we need to know that God is at work restraining evil. He’s not absent. He isn’t on vacation or taking a nap. He’s fully engaged....

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Bad stuff and bad behavior

Bad stuff can tempt us to bad behavior....

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Jesus and empathy

Jesus doesn’t just feel sorry for us; he shares our emotional state....

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Centering our hope on Jesus

Centering our hope on Jesus and holding firmly to our faith allows us to reject the unhealthy options that present themselves to us in our times of crisis....

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What about the bad stuff?

When bad things happen, we can find our faith shaken. We trust the Lord, but that trust gets tested. And that’s okay....

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Scripture-induced heartburn

Even the most rational and intellectual among us sway under the weight of our hearts....

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Reflected glory

The Bible’s glory is a reflected glory: the beauty of the moon, not the beauty of the sun. But in these dark days, we can feel grateful for a full moon shining brightly and guiding our footsteps....

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What would it take?

On Easter Sunday, Jesus had been raised from the dead, but his followers and friends were still deciding if they were going to believe the news. How would you help these folks believe that Jesus was alive?...

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History told honestly

Throughout the Bible we see the story of God and his people told honestly, warts and all....

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What about the Bible?

As followers of Jesus, we trust the Bible and allow it to guide both our lives and our community because we believe that the Bible speaks faithfully about Jesus....

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The Neighbor of Mercy

Anyone can be your neighbor....

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Like a good neighbor

The good news in Jesus Christ is that God’s acceptance of us doesn’t depend on our performance for him....

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The Good Samaritan

Stories like these have the ability slip past our defenses. They challenge us without being obnoxious. They give us space to consider a different point of view....

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From Obligation to Opportunity

We’re at our worst when we put our church or our family or our politics above our connection with Jesus. ...

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More than answers

Jesus desires to offer relationship and not just answers. ...

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Questions coming back

When we come to Jesus with our questions, we shouldn’t be surprised when he challenges us in return....

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Questions and Expectations

If Jesus answered the question but not the expectations underlying it, John’s emotional turmoil might continue....

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Lean into the Relationship

Don't keep your questions to yourself, allowing it to smolder and burn up your insides. ...

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Consider the Context

Take some time today to listen to the questions people ask about God, faith, religion, and spirituality...

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Questioning God

The God we see revealed in Jesus is a God who can handle our questions, a God who loves being asked questions....

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Meant for Good

Throughout your life you will encounter people who in moments of foolishness mean to do you harm. Don’t wrap your life around them....

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Playing God

We all have times in our lives when we slip through the garden and grab for forbidden fruit and play God. ...

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Manipulated Forgiveness

Many of us couldn’t forgive others from our hearts except that God is at work in and around us....

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Receiving Mercy

In our relationships with God we’re the recipients of his radical and surprising mercy. ...

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Words of Blessing

When in your life have you been the recipient of words of blessing, of someone with authority in your life commenting on your past, your character, or your potential?...

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Surprised by Mercy

Everyone is surprised by mercy. ...

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A Good Older Brother

We need someone to rescue us from our slavery to anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, and pride....

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Coming Unstuck

God can work in a thousand ways to transform the way we see the people who’ve hurt us....

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Emotional Landmines

Our past experiences of trauma can trigger strong reactions in us....

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Justice and Revenge

Justice doesn’t have to come at the expense of your soul....

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At work behind the scenes

This is a God who is worthy to be praised. ...

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What has God given you?

Don’t let anyone convince you that you have nothing to offer. And don’t let the spirit of comparison creep into your heart. Bring to the table exactly what God has given you and do so joyously....

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Generous like him

We’ve seen time and time again how our community generously responds to neighbors in crisis and global needs. We’ve made sacrifices to help others. And it’s so worth it....

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Depending on Others

The myth of the self-made, bootstrap-pulling, hard-working, independent hero stumbles in seasons like these....

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A Pregnant Moment

Tremendous pressures pile up to move the wheels of the world and of our lives....

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The Right Person

Pause for a moment and thank God for putting the right people in your life in decisive moments. ...

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Rumblings in Your Heart

The ongoing rumblings in Joseph’s heart foreshadow an upcoming work of God in Joseph’s life....

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The Second Chair

Joseph leaned in and was faithful to do the work God had given him to do....

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Giving credit

Joseph wants to rely on God. And that’s what makes him extraordinary....

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Waiting

Don’t lose hope if you can’t chart a clear course from where you are today to where you hope to be....

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Be aware

Awareness of God’s activity can boost your God-confidence....

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Whispered wisdom

As you navigate difficult situations and relationships, God's presence can fill you with tremendous confidence....

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Boomerang

Joseph’s past and his present collided. He had a decision to make....

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Paying attention

All too often we get so busy doing our good work that we forget to connect with the people who God has placed in our path....

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Catch

As God poured his blessings out on Joseph, the cupbearer and the baker benefitted as well. This can also happen to us in hard times....

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Integrity's Reward

What happens inside of us when we see people punished for showing integrity? ...

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Blessing and Boundary

God gave blessings and God gave boundaries. Joseph knew that he couldn’t accept one without the other....

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Temptation

With success comes challenge....

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Blessing

The Lord’s blessing on the household didn’t remove Joseph’s challenges, but they did change his experience....

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Presence

Your prospering doesn’t ultimately depend on your circumstances....

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Not Good Enough

Though God is not mentioned once in Genesis 37, we later discover that he was at work all throughout this painful and difficult episode....

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That Dreamer

Let’s refuse to participate in the destructive practice of dehumanization....

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Immature Dreams

Our dreams can reveal our areas of immaturity, as can our way of communicating them. ...

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Against favoritism

Favoritism is one of many broken relational patterns that separate us from each other....

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Past a first impression

We can’t rid ourselves of our automatic habit of capturing first impressions as we meet new people, but we can cultivate habits of attention that allow us to look beyond those initial judgements....

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Not sent alone

The Lord constantly works through communities. For every great figure in the story of our faith, we also find the Lord sending them friends....

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Blessed to be a blessing

As God’s blessings pile up in and around us, we need to share them with others. Only then will God’s blessings to us be complete....

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A Covenant Framework

God holds up his side of the covenant. Though his covenant purposes advance over rocky terrain, they advance nonetheless....

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Go and went

God's invitation stands. It’s our turn to respond. What will we do?...

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An Adventure with God

The adventure of life with God gives us healing and joy and blessing, but it also stretches us. We leave familiar territory, relationships, programs, and narratives behind when we launch out into this adventure....

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Eternity in our hearts

What if the craziness we feel when we’re crazy busy is due to having two different songs playing inside of us: the drumbeat of eternity and the roar of busyness?...

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Beautiful in its time

God has made everything beautiful in its time. Even us. ...

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Meaning

Without meaning, work becomes miserable and we lose our drive....

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There is a season

This burst of poetry reaches out and connects with our hearts. We’re given space to connect viscerally and emotionally with God’s truth about the seasonal nature of life....

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Seasons

God does huge things in our lives when we shift from Now-Or-Never Thinking to Season Thinking....

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A Clear Path

The Lord is the one who makes known to us the paths of life....

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Good Boundaries

Contentment is the fruit of a soul who’s put down roots in the generosity of God....

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The Search for Security

We love hard work. We work hard. But the Lord is the one who holds our ultimate security....

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Evil Sacrifices

Other gods make big promises if only we’ll worship them. They give us benefits in the short-term (sometimes). But over time these gods fail us. And we suffer more and more as a result of our bondage to them....

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God our Refuge

Lean more heavily on God when times get hard....

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Prayer and great work

Calling out to God changes us for the better. ...

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Be persistent

In order to pursue your God-given great work, you need to make more than just one good decision; you need to string together a series of good decisions....

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Your Great Work

Don’t give in to the temptation to compare your great work to others....

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Great opposition

When you embark on great work in your own life, you probably won’t have people trying to get you killed. But it may feel like it....

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Given great work

When we live crazy busy lives, we miss out on the great work God’s given us to do....

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Part of Something Epic

Enter into this passage imaginatively. ...

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Better Together

You cannot go off by yourself and grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ....

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MadLibs Love

Only love can hold us together. ...

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Power for Connection

Paul’s prayer for power which leads to strength isn’t focused on doing and achieving. Instead, Paul wants his friends to have the rich and beautiful experience of intimacy with Jesus Christ....

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A Good and Engaged Father

The special relationship you have with God gives you strong permission to open your heart to him in prayer....

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Don't be discouraged

The reflected glory shines brightly in the dark....

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On display in the church

God’s choice to identify with us was, according to Paul, his way of making his wisdom known to the entire cosmos....

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Paul's big mysteries

We don’t have to jettison our ethnic identities in order to fully participate in the body of Christ....

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Mixing with mysteries

Paul didn’t want the Christian mysteries to be held in secret as copyrighted proprietary instruction. He wanted everyone to talk about these great mysteries....

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Paul's call and ours

Paul had a beautiful call from the Lord. What’s yours? ...

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Creating space to connect with God

God has chosen to make himself know to the world through us, to meet with people through us, to identify with us....

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Tearing down the walls

If Jesus can stand alive on the mountain top, he can bring us there with him....

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Far to near

When Jesus brings us near to God and to other people, he does it in a way that challenges and changes us....

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The Exclusion Experience

In God’s good goodness, he goes out of his way to connect with those of us who live as outsiders....

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Identifying the Divides

Our world is full of divides....

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Good works

God pulls us into his activity....

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God's good gift

Salvation is a gift, not a payment for services rendered....

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Motivated by love

God’s great love for us has the final say in our lives....

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Correct the Rear-View

God changes the story of our past, but he doesn’t rewrite history. He adds new chapters. And each new chapter reshapes how we see the entire story....

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The way you used to be

A humble memory of where you came from ...

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In the highest place

Christ will always be the highest authority. No one will topple him, surpass him, or overthrow him....

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Jesus at the Center

God is at the center of Paul’s vision and at the center of our lives....

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Pray to know

Above all, Paul prioritized knowing God, so that’s what he asked God to do for his friends....

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Giving Thanks

What are we missing when the focus of our prayer lives is only asking for things?...

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Faith and Love

You can’t have meaningful faith in the Lord Jesus without also having love for all God’s people; you can’t have love for all God’s people without also placing your faith in the Lord Jesus....

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God is serious about our redemption

The Spirit is God’s very presence with us. He doesn’t just welcome us to ping him when we have a minute; he wants to spend time with us....

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Hearing and believing

God’s good work in us invites us every day to both hear and believe....

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To the praise of his glory

Wouldn’t you love for everything that’s glorious about God to be on display in you? ...

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The one on predestination

Paul talks about something he calls “predestination” and treats it like good news....

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You are wanted

Adoption is special. The child or person being adopted is chosen, wanted, added to a new family....

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Everything in Christ

Jesus gives us access to every spiritual blessing....

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Grace and peace to you

God the father who welcomes you and Jesus the prince who loves you send grace and peace to you every minute of every day...

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4

God's holy people

We become God’s holy people only in and with and through Christ Jesus....

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By the will of God

God works actively, daily to shape us into the people he wants us to become....

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Welcome to Ephesians

This week we’re kicking off a new series out of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. And as we get started, it might be helpful for you to learn about Ephesus and the folks who received this letter....

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God takes initiative

God is doing amazing things in the world, unlooked for amazing things. We feel so grateful that God has taken the initiative to bless, heal, and bring about reconciliation....

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Doomed to misfortune

The scope of the challenges that face us when we roll up our sleeve to engage the world for good can paralyze us....

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Fruits of Your Labor

For those of us who labor ...

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Progress toward the Promise

Our tiny acts of service, performed with great love, link together into a great chain of progress. Pulled by the Lord, this chain of progress lifts our community a little bit every day, a little bit every year....

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Sure Promises

God will make all things new. He’s promised to time and time again. He didn’t promise this on a whim. He hasn’t forgotten his promise. He can do it. And he surely will....

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Everything new

Do you believe this is true?...

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Imagine New

God’s cosmic new-making mission will radically change the way the world works....

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Okay

Some days it feels like our sadness will last forever. But it won’t. It won’t. Our Father will stop the madness. He will make it stop. We will wipe our tears from our eyes....

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Experiencing the presence of God

Jesus has removed every reason for us to be terrified of God. So we can go searching for him without fear. And we can find him and discover that he’s been with us ...

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Cosmic New

God’s new-making mission takes place on a cosmic scale. It’s bigger than any of us. We’re so small, but so dearly loved. And this is good news....

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All in Jesus name

The Christian life spills beyond Sunday morning worship, small group life, and quiet devotional emails. ...

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No streaking

These virtues function like clothing. They make it possible for us to be present and un-self-conscious, to feel safe and secure, to feel wanted for who we are and not just for our bodies … for what we can do....

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Putting off and Putting on

You can’t put on your new self without also taking off your old self and being made new....

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Close to Jesus

We have no life apart from Christ. We go where he goes and join him in what he’s doing. He’s not our safety net; he’s on the tightrope with us....

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One Thing

Right now we are called to set our hearts on things above, to shift our focus onto Jesus....

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God helps

Jesus makes us new....

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Giving Back

What have you written off as gone forever?...

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Jesus' touch

Over and over again, in every situation, when Jesus reached out to touch someone who was unclean something remarkable happened. ...

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Collision Course

Who wins? Spoiler alert: Jesus wins. Always. In the end, Jesus makes all things new....

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Ordinary Jesus

We need to know that Jesus is no stranger to our ordinary places....

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Needing Jesus

Let’s not slip into that place where we feel like our good behavior earns us a place in Jesus’ party. ...

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Those People

So many people will say that they like or even admire Jesus, they just can’t stand his followers. ...

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Connect with Jesus

We throw our lives open in healthy and joy-filled ways and invite the people that God’s placed in our lives to join us as we connect with our Savior....

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Follow Me

We must choose every day to follow Jesus....

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Calling the tax man

Jesus changed everything for Levi, as we’ll see this week. ...

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Be Reconciled to God

Being reconciled to God is both a once-for-all-time kind of thing and an every-day-I-live-and-breathe kind of thing....

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Fully forgiven

The barriers between you and a healthy relationship with God have come down. You have no more reason to hide....

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The Ministry of Reconciliation

We have a role to play. God has commissioned us. What a blessing!...

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Reconciled to God

Underpinning today’s passage is the story that tells us that something had gone horribly wrong between us and God....

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Two Realities

Because the new is here, the old has gone. The old may remain for a beat or two, but it’s gone just as surely and securely as if it had already been eradicated....

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The New is Here

Celebrate this. Sing it. Shout it. Write it on your walls. Christ has made us new....

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A New Point of View

The trickle-down effects of our relationship with Christ continue to unfold in today’s passage. ...

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We died

Death in all it’s forms ...

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Live For

Love is not a finite resource, but our priorities do shape the way we express our love. ...

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Compels

The love of Christ gives us the emotional and spiritual energy we need to carry on the life of faith....

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Talkin' 'bout a Resurrection

They knew their message would seem like nonsense. But they shared it anyways....

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Searching for new

If Jesus can come back from the dead, what is impossible for him?...

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Angelic Guidance

Why doesn’t God make this extraordinary circumstance more ordinary?...

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Time to wonder

Taking time to wonder doesn’t come naturally to everyone. And it’s tough to do in our frenetic, fast-paced, get-things-done culture. But it has an impact....

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Within Expectations

What they found at the tomb didn’t align with their expectations. The tomb was opened and the body was gone....

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The cross shows

You are dearly loved by God. And he proved it on the cross....

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More than Reform

The place where prayer and action meet is a place where we can connect with God....

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Not (Just) a Teacher

Jesus did a great deal of teaching … but his teaching wasn’t what he was known for in his lifetime, what he was remembered for by his disciples, or what from his life has had the most significant impact on the world....

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About a Revolution

Jesus’ revolution is marked by Jesus’ character. His love, patience, compassion, and mercy will come stamped on his every action. He’s delightfully and maddeningly consistent....

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Difficult Decisions

Reflecting on your own decision-making process might help you to connect more deeply with Jesus in this pivotal moment in his story....

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A Connecting Church

The church is more than a Sunday morning gathering for music, sermonizing, and donuts. It’s bigger than us. ...

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Going to look for Saul

Who are the great partners that God has brought into your life ...

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Parachuting in

Barnabas’ posture had a tremendous impact on his experience and on the way others experienced him. We’re at our most healthy when we cultivate a similar posture....

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Outsiders reaching outsiders

It took outsiders to reach outsiders....

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Disrupting Default Segregation

Ethnic segregation, socioeconomic segregation, political segregation … left to our own devices we’ll surround ourselves exclusively with people who look, spend, and think just like us....

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Small Faithfulness

What might God do with your faithfulness?...

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Talk to God about it

The Lord of all the cosmos has chosen to treat you as a friend ...

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Underestimating Jesus

This gap between who Jesus really is and who people perceive him to be shows up for all of us....

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ME

Jesus isn’t just alive on the other side of the cross and the empty tomb, he’s present in the lives of his people. ...

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Prayer for the persecuted church

Opponents to God’s work in the world today can appear in various forms. Some come equipped with little more than snide comments and teasing. Others carry knives, bombs, and the hammer of unjust laws....

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Prayers of Protection

Turn away and pray and it will be okay. ...

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Radical Reorientation

The Lord isn’t done with our transformation at the moment of our initial conversion. Every day we follow him he works in our hearts and souls to change the way we think, love and live....

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The Light Wins

No one is too lost to be found. No one is too stuck to be freed. No one is too evil to be loved....

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Contested Space

Every inch of ground gained by the kingdom of God has to be taken from other little imposter kingdoms....

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Pay closer attention

The miracles earned him a hearing....

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Ready for Opportunities

How do we go from being unprepared to being prepared? ...

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Cross-cultural connection

God’s power is put on full display when his followers cross racial, ethnic and cultural lines with the news and love of Jesus....

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Direction without details

Philip will get more instructions later in the passage. All he’s given to start with is a direction. But that was enough....

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A Dose of Joy

In a world that’s clearly not the way it’s supposed to be, God has intervened....

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Disruptive Forces

God is wildly available to us in these seasons of disruption....

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The Source of Celebration

The arc of the universe bends toward celebration....

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Strength and Joy

Take some time today to meditate on the strength-giving joy of the Lord....

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A Noble Cedar Kind of Church

The Lord’s work in our hearts is to turn us back toward community in healthy and generous ways....

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From Mourning to Celebration

The goodness of the Lord gives us a reason to celebrate....

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After the end

What do you do at the end of a great, good project? We’ve talked about building and rebuilding families, careers, homes, churches, and communities. But what happens next?...

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CC + GG = RR

If we were going to draw it into something like a formula, it might look like this: Committed Community + Generous God = Remarkable Results....

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2

The Dung Gate

The whole community is blessed when someone is willing to step in and do the work no one else wants to do....

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Women at work

Those daughters of Shallum, those strong women, worked as hard as all of the rest of the men. And their work was noted both by Nehemiah and by God....

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Getting your hands dirty

There is an intimate connection between your willingness to get your hands dirty and your ability to bless people....

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2

The Lord notices

Your particular part in God’s good work has not gone unnoticed by him....

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Gracious Hand

Nehemiah’s testimony about God’s gracious hand at work for him gave the people the faith they needed to actively move into the future....

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We and Us

“We” creates space for “us.”...

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Telling trouble

Sometimes you need someone to tell you when you’re in trouble....

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Due Diligence

A patient due diligence process prepares us to step into the work we’ve been given to do in a knowledgeable, prepared way....

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Quiet Start

We live in an age that struggles with secrecy....

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The Place for Planning

As people of faith, we don’t have to be afraid of planning. The same God who speeds and catches us when we take our leaps of faith can inspire and guide us when we plan....

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In the beat

The active, rough-and-tumble, dangerous phase of the Jerusalem rebuilding project was peppered with prayer. Connecting with God in prayer filled the beats between moments of action. ...

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What is it you want?

We often are only in touch with the surface of our desires. We rarely dive into their depths....

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Fear and Faith

Fear is not the absence of faith. Even the faithful feel fear. Fear can serve us well, pushing us onto the path toward wisdom. But fear makes a terrible master....

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Positioned Perfectly

We believe that the Lord still does this: he positions people perfectly to pursue their destiny. ...

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The Basis for Our Confidence

You also can store up for yourself a supply of conviction about the Lord’s willingness to keep his promises....

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A Prayer of Corporate Confession

Nehemiah’s willingness to identify himself with his broader family and community in confession positions him powerfully to lead his entire community in mission....

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False Bad News

The Lord is present in our lives and history, whether the news is good or bad. When his people practice prayerful engagement, they discover that their activist God is already deeply engaged: bringing restoration, resisting evil, and generating hope....

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People and Structures

One of the things we love about Nehemiah’s story is that he manages to care both for people and structures. He doesn’t just have warm and fuzzy sympathetic feelings for his fellow Jews, he also cares about the state of Jerusalem’s walls....

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Asking the question

Choosing to care does something in our souls. The Lord works with that choice, enriches it and expands it and nourishes it. Choosing to care slips you into the center of God’s great work....

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Growth and Vulnerability

Life in the church brings our vulnerabilities to the surface. This is perhaps never more true than when a church is growing....

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The Lord's outside influence

The Lord delights to do the seemingly impossible....

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One barrier-breaking example

Don’t encourage people to imitate your behavior. When they’re inspired by the Lord’s work in your life, encourage them to connect with God....

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The Blessing of Community

When the Lord grows a community, when the Lord grows a church, when the Lord grows a person … the blessings spill beyond that the life of that community, church, or person....

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God at Work

The political and military machinations of the world powers look like ultimate powers, but God is also at work. God’s work continues even in seasons of difficulty and uncertainty. And God’s work is the work that matters most....

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Good Soil

There is good soil out there, soil that’s been prepared, hearts that are ready to hear and accept that word of the Lord. ...

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3 Barriers

Jesus insightfully lists 3 things that can keep the word of God from bearing fruit in your life: worries, wealth, and distraction....

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Prepare for trouble

Troubles and persecutions can come as a result of our faith. If we haven’t put down deep roots, our faith won’t survive....

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Hard Soil

The soil on the path has not been prepared to receive the seed....

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Reckless and Generous

God’s kingdom is marked by the reckless generosity of the king. ...

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Particular Purpose

How will we respond to Jesus’ great act of service? Gratitude. Shame. Joy. Confusion. Worship. So many responses are available to us....

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Recalculating Your Route

Will you choose to serve? This is a daily choice, a choice that goes against the grain of the world, a choice that God uses to transform us....

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An Examined Grumpiness

When do you find yourself feeling grumpy about the way other people talk to or about God?...

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A "No" from God

Our prayer requests fly to God, but we can’t pretend to fully comprehend the full impact of each flap of their wings....

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Manipulating God

James and John are comically transparent in their attempt to manipulate Jesus. Aren’t we all?...

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For Seekers and Stumblers

The kingdom of heaven is available to both seekers and stumblers. Some of us searched high and low looking for a place and a community where what God wants done is done. Others of us went looking for friends, free food, and a little spiritual icing on the cake we call life and stumbled into this great and wonderful kingdom that God is bringing to fruition in our midst. God...

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Worth Rearranging Your Life

What do you consider to be so worthwhile that you’ll rearrange your life? This question can give you insight into your priorities, your dreams, and the challenges of your current life situation....

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Comparing and Contrasting Parables

Great engagement with the scriptures begins with good observation of the text. As you read these parables, what stands out to you?...

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Kingdom Parables

The Kingdom of Heaven is worth it!...

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Kingdom of Heaven

How would you fill in this blank: “The kingdom of heaven is like _________.”?...

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Seeking God's Kingdom

What would happen if we all committed to seek God’s kingdom first in 2017?...

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Your Resolutions and God's Kingdom

Every resolution you make in this new year can contain a kingdom component if you are willing to seek it out. Losing weight, reading more, decluttering, taking a vacation, calling your kids … each and every one of these can be used by our heavenly Father to advance his kingdom in our lives and in this world....

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Kickstart change

This time of year many of us will ponder making resolutions to live life differently in 2017. The changes that take place in our lives might have a tremendous impact on our relationships and our participation in God’s kingdom. ...

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Reflecting on 2016

Mary’s practice of treasuring what has happened and pondering them in her heart is a practice that can serve us well in our own lives....

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Boxing Day Rest

Rest. Rest. The weary world rejoices. ...

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Reaching out at Christmas

Who can you surprise with a Christmas invitation this year?...

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Christmas across divides

Our differences don’t go away; they just cease to keep us apart....

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Even for the religious

Wouldn’t it be great if all of us had our eyes fixed on Jesus and our hearts filled with joy? ...

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Christmas on the margins

It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world...

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Christmas is for everyone

Because Christmas is for everyone, Christmas is for you and for everyone you love....

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Christmas tension

Going home for the holidays can be difficult....

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God can join your story

There’s no story that God cannot join....

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Caesar vs. Jesus

Don’t go to Jesus expecting to find a king like Caesar Augustus. He has his own personality, his own priorities, and his own values. The kingdom in which Jesus rules and reigns differs tremendously from the empire of the Caesars....

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God and good outcomes

God is not thrown by the twists and turns life throws us. He can leverage and redeem them. He can see to it that good comes about despite them. And this can help us trust him....

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Unintended consequences

The ripple effect of one small decision can be felt throughout a community or throughout a lifetime....

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The Lord will fulfill his promises

Blessed are you if you believe the Lord will fulfill his promises to you....

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Given spectacular work

Time and time again the Lord has empowered both women and men to speak up in the power of the Spirit and testify about Jesus. And he empowers us today....

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Your faith-giving story

Have you ever considered this possibility: God’s faithfulness to you may be used to bolster someone else’s faith?...

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The choice to give credit

Crediting the Lord is a choice that we make. And it’s a choice worth making. ...

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Disappointment with God

One of the Christmas surprises we have to reckon with this season is the surprise of disappointment. We have such high hopes for God’s work and intervention. But they won’t always be fulfilled....

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Mary's Song

When Joseph found out about the pregnancy, he went and took a nap. When Mary found out, she went to visit a friend and sang a song....

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A simple, mechanical question

God connected with history in a new way in Jesus. He connects with us in a new way through Jesus today....

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The Surprising King

Through Christmas, Mary was pulled into God’s bigger story. And we are too. Through Christmas we’re invited to participate in significant ways in God’s subversive kingdom....

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A Surprising Greeting

You are highly favored and the Lord is with you. ...

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A Surprising Location

What resources do you think are necessary for things to change for the better?...

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Joseph's obedience

In those early years of Jesus’ life, his adopted father sheltered him from political powers that would gladly have taken his life and obstructed his saving mission....

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A Bigger Perspective

Once Joseph received this bigger perspective, his reason for being afraid went away. When he chose to listen and believe, his life changed....

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The influence of character

Joseph didn’t ask for this burden, but he did the best he could to navigate this difficult challenge in a faithful way....

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Surprising everyone

Christmas came as a surprise for everyone involved. No one would have expected God to act in this way....

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Christmas history

God wants to meet us in the real world. ...

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Generous happiness

Our generous God wants us to share his happiness. ...

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Held Accountable

Wherever you are on the spectrum, your relationship with the master makes a tremendous difference. ...

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Hustling and hiding

What are we doing with what God has entrusted to us?...

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Each according to ability

Not everyone starts from the same starting place....

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Generosity and Gratitude

Without gratitude generosity falls to the wayside....

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Sacrificial Generosity

Sacrificial gifts have a deeper significance than gifts that are given out of our surplus; the difference between someone giving you the shirt off their back and a shirt out of their closet....

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Who gave more?

Who gave more: the wealthy or the poor?...

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More than the temple

Place your devotion on Christ himself: the one who made you, loved you, rescued you, and gave you purpose....

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God paying attention

Jesus didn’t just pay attention to the large gifts of the wealthy; he also paid attention to the significant gift of a poor widow....

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Big Religious Show

Healthy conversations about God and money can help us become generous-hearted people....

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Your heart and your treasure

Jesus cares about your “treasure” because he treasures you and knows the impact that our resources have on our allegiances....

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The gift of the kingdom

God has so much more for us than we could ever gain on our own....

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Generosity and trust

You can’t separate generosity and trust....

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A bigger perspective

What would happen if God’s people truly learned to trust him?...

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Worry and Generosity

The practice of generosity can be used by God to liberate us from the weight of worry....

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Our Margins and Our Lord

God is God and we are not....

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Work in the margins

The Lord pays attention to the margins of our lives and those who live on the margins of society....

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The Blessing of Margin

Preserving margin blesses both the people keeping the margin and their community....

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Challenges to margin

Margin ain't easy....

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Maintaining Margin

Few things prove harder to maintain than healthy margin....

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The Generous Image

If we are made in his image, it should not surprise us that when we are living a generous life, it brings us joy, too....

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Generous joy

God is so committed to being generous with us that he starts us out in paradise and secures for us eternal joy at the sacrifice of his Son....

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Generous sharing

God not only makes a wonderful creation, he generously shares it with people that they might tend to it in a way that he would....

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The Generous Maker

You are uniquely and brilliantly designed by a generous God who has stamped you with his image....

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Generous Creator

God has given us signs and signals of his character in the generosity of the wonder of all that he has created....

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Spoil love

Don’t let conflict with a brother or sister stop the overflow of God’s love in you....

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What motivates us to serve?

Fear can motivate us to serve others. So can love. On the surface, you might not be able to tell the difference between the two. ...

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More than words

God didn’t just say that he loved us. He showed us. He backed up his love with action....

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Love starts with God

Because God loves first, God gets to decide who we are to love....

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You need to know God is love

This Sunday we’ll replace our regular worship services with a community-wide day of serving our community together. And this is directly connected to our belief that God is love....

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It worked

The blessed life we experience when we obey God is actually the by-product of something else. Let’s circle around to take a look at it....

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Faithfulness Matters

Faithfulness matters to us because we have a God who has proven himself faithful....

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How will it work?

We may know what he will do, but the how stands beyond our comprehension. ...

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Strange plans

The Lord often works in mysterious ways. That popular proverb prompts peace until you’re stuck in the middle of a weird “mysterious-ways” situation....

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Juxtaposition

God promises to act and invites us to join him...

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Self-protection

Our attempts at self-protection will, at times, interfere with our experience of God. He does amazing things in our lives when we’re willing to be vulnerable to him....

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Worship is warfare

We respond to God with open hearts and are transformed by him. We humble ourselves. We need this more than he needed plans, guidance, or miraculous intervention. ...

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Neither

God is always right and good. And that means that he’s always on his own side....

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Whose side are you on?

Whenever we find ourselves in highly politicized, highly charged environments, it’s entirely natural to want bright lines. We seek them out of instinct....

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What Got You Here

The same God walks with us from season to season but the way we see his provision changes....

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Stones vs Walls

If you compare your small pile of stones to the great structures that cast shadows over you, you’ll miss out. ...

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Story triggers

Symbol and ritual will remain hollow, empty and dead unless they are articulated and explained. ...

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Storytelling historians

We carry a responsibility to faithfully pass along what we’ve heard and seen of the Lord....

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Go back

At times this “going back” experience comes to us for the sake of someone else: you go back into the fire because someone you care about is in there....

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Miraculous Experiences

Have you had miraculous experiences with God?...

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At flood stage

Perhaps God had the people cross over when the river ran at flood stage to make it clear to all who were willing to believe that he was involved in this endeavor....

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Wade in the water

God’s deliverance happens upstream. The miracles are decisive. The results are guaranteed. But it’s all happening upstream....

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Present and accounted for

No matter where you wander or where you roam, no matter where your courage-journey takes you, you will never be beyond the reach or presence of the God who loves you....

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Whole-hearted commitment

When the Lord does amazing things in our midst, will we be ready?...

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A Communal Courage-Story

The Lord often leads us to places where our own courage can never be sufficient....

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A Picture of the Gospel

Jesus showed courage. We benefitted....

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Engage the tension

Engaging God directly is the best way to engage the tension we feel when we’re confused by God’s action or inaction. ...

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Aware of the Lord

Do whatever it takes to be aware of the Lord today. ...

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Unlikely allies

The Lord loves to create unlikely alliances....

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Trust Exercise

The path to the Lord’s promise is always paved with risk....

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Affirmation

We all will struggle at times to believe the word of God that is spoke over us....

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The Irony

We can so easily overestimate the level of our obedience to the Lord. ...

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Part of this world

When Jesus saves us and welcomes us into the family of God he begins to connect us with people who are different from us....

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Generosity motivated

God’s generosity toward us motivates our obedience to him....

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Call to adventure

We all will have times in our lives when the Lord will call us to great adventures....

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Follow the path

We may not know all the twists and turns that the path will take, but we know where it ultimately leads and we know who walks it with us....

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The purposes of God

Out of trust comes both strength and courage....

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The Source of our Courage

God’s presence fills us with strength and courage. ...

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Will be with you

What could you do if only you knew the Lord would be with you?...

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Filling Big Shoes

Moses was dead....

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The discipline of confident waiting

How can we grow in this discipline of confident waiting when we are in a season where waiting for the Lord is our most faithful option?...

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Both confident and flexible

Confidence and flexibility both stand as necessities when dealing with the promises of God....

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A Primal Fear

In today’s psalm we encounter that primal fear that God might forget or reject us. ...

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What are you looking for?

All too often we go to the Lord looking for safety or for victory, but have little desire in our hearts to be with the Lord himself....

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The Lord our Stronghold

David didn’t fear his enemies ...

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Zoom out

Our trust in the Lord also has a direct impact on the people around us. ...

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Remember, forget, remember

David wants to be remembered according to the great love of the Lord....

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Trust and shame

Those who trust in the Lord have a secure relationship with him....

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Who you trust

God alone is worthy of our complete and total trust....

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The Difference Unity Makes

God’s people were always meant to live together in blessed unity. ...

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Good and Pleasant

The life God’s people live together is both good and pleasant. ...

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Not Uniformity

An imposter has stolen Unity’s identity and attempted to pass himself off in her stead....

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The Interruption of Reconciliation

This too is worship unto the God who desires brothers and sisters to live together in unity....

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Journey in Community

The community that ascends the mountain of the Lord together is a community that values unity. ...

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King of Glory

Sing the psalms...

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A Mighty Good Leader

When we praise our earthly leaders, let’s not forget to praise the Lord....

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Blessing and vindication

God has blessing and vindication to give in abundance....

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Clean hands and pure hearts

How do we get clean hands and a pure heart?...

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Everything and Everyone

Have you ever considered the comprehensive nature of God’s ownership? ...

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The Good Shepherd

When we are attacked, he’s attacked. When we suffer, he suffers. And he takes the worst of it on himself....

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Full Life

Try asking for it!...

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Why we drift

We drift away from the Good Shepherd when we stop paying attention to him....

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Freedom-giving Boundaries

When Jesus gives us boundaries and restrictions, he’s giving a gift to us, not taking something from us....

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Know his voice

Four ways you can grow your familiarity with the voice of Jesus...

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Embracing limits

Humility doesn’t require us to beat up on ourselves; just to be honest about the areas where we make mistakes, fall short and hit limits....

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One thing I know

People can doubt your testimony but they can never take it away....

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Whose resources?

All too often we find ourselves keeping hurting and suffering people at an arms’ distance and wishing in some corner of our hearts that we had the resources or skills to help them. ...

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Shifting the questions

God is more interested in redeeming suffering than he is in explaining it....

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Beyond the questions

A real blind man sat at their feet, asking for help....

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Free at last

Where will your freedom take you?...

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Real freedom

Following Jesus isn’t easy, but it’s worth it....

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Know the truth

Jesus is talking about three truths: the truth about ourselves, the truth about the world around us, and the truth about God....

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Beyond Belief

If we know, remember, and obey Jesus’ teaching … if we hold to his teaching, then we’re his disciples....

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Belief and Connection

Common beliefs pull us together...

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Mercy and Challenge

Grapple with your beliefs about sin...

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Under one condition

An awareness of our own sin moderates our response to sin in the lives of others....

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The Who Question

All of our hopes hang on Jesus being not only just but also forgiving....

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Surprised by Jesus

As we step forward into the next year, we know that Jesus will surprise us....

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Communal examination

The person who hasn’t practiced self-examination will struggle to experience self-control....

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Going forward

Tomorrow will be Yesterday before we know it....

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You and Christ

Self-examination leads to us to remember the saving sacrifice of Jesus....

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Anchor and learn

Ignoring the past makes you susceptible in the future....

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Take a life inventory

Guided by scripture and the Holy Spirit, we can encounter God in these moments of examination....

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Pray for your community

Let’s think about Jeremiah’s charge to pray to the Lord for the city....

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Engaged with the city

Even though we don’t live in densely-populated, urban areas, we live in the midst of systems and structures that extend beyond individuals....

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Peace and prosperity

God’s people bring God’s blessing to the whole world, even at a cost to themselves....

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Putting down roots

Settling down feels like settling. But God has a purpose for us, a reason he placed us where he placed us....

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Placed on purpose

God placed them in Babylon; therefore, there’s work for them to do....

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The end of James

With these words, James closes his letter....

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Wander not lost

The lost can be found. The trapped can be set free. The wanderers can be brought back....

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Risky prayers

We have to rely on God when we pray big, risky prayers....

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Praying with courage and wisdom

We need to listen to what James actually says (instead of what we secretly hope he’s saying)....

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Inventory your prayer life

James picks out several different reasons to pray and several different ways to pray....

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Rich People

The vast majority of the world’s population lives on less than $10 per day, making us some of the richest people living on the planet today (and in human history)....

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Delayed Obedience

Don’t delay the good you know you need to do today because you’re caught up scheming for tomorrow. ...

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Future Planning

The Lord is free to exert his will on any and all of our plans....

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Fragile Future

Knowing that we are mist-people motivates us to cling to our solid God....

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Talk about the future

If we’re not careful, we’ll plan our lives without giving thought to God....

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No shuffle

We are freshwater people. ...

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Words like God

We are made in God’s image and likeness....

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Why Try

Knowing that we’ll stumble prepares us to receive God’s helping hand as he draws us to our feet to try again....

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Spark

Fire in the fireplace can give warmth to the house. Fire in a grill can feed a family. Fire in a lamp can give light to a community. But we must, must, must prevent forest fires....

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The Power of Words

This week we’ll be listening to James’ teaching on the importance (and difficulty) of taming the tongue....

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Deeds and faith

Take a Holy-Spirit-led inventory of your faith and deeds...

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Faith into action

What are some ways you can put your faith into action?...

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Faith without deeds

Why would anyone claim to have faith without deeds?...

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2

Laws and Freedom

James believes that God can use the law to give freedom. ...

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Listening and Doing

Listening is important work. But listening is not the same as doing....

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Favoritism Commandment

How does favoritism connect with The Great Commandment? ...

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Excusing Favoritism

We can find a dozen different reasons to justify our favoritism. But in the end, just like an unhealthy relationship, favoritism will hurt us....

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Surprising Favoritism

When James tells us not to show favoritism, it isn’t because everyone’s equal....

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Favoritism Example

We find ourselves attracted to people who are like us and to people who are like the people we wish we were like...

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Going to town on favoritism

Given our relationship with each other and our relationship with Jesus, how can we show favoritism? ...

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Filtering pollutants

We pray for wisdom and courage to navigate life in this beautiful, dangerous world....

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A history of caring

James explicitly singles out the care of orphans and widows in his description of “acceptable religion.” This is not a random choice....

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Doing Good in Hard Times

As the church expanded and grew, their concern for those who were less fortunate became one of their distinguishing marks....

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Worthless religion

James wants his readers to experience the joy of integrity....

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Good religion

This week we’ll be exploring James’ thoughts on religion, particularly the difference between “worthless religion” and “acceptable religion.”...

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God is the source

For James and for us the most important question we can answer is the “Who is God?” Question. ...

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Applying the concept

Applying this “chain” takes some intentional work....

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The chain of temptation

Sin doesn’t exist in a vacuum....

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God can be trusted

Let’s try two thought-experiments....

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1

The Difference Between Trials and Temptations

According to James, God sends trials but he is not responsible for temptations. That difference may seem arbitrary to us, but it matters tremendously to James....

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Blessed

Blessed are those who experience trials because they get a specific kind of benefit that can only come on the other side of a trial....

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Foundations exposed

During our trials, we need to maintain a firm conviction that God is willing and able to give us wisdom to navigate our difficult circumstances. ...

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Generous with wisdom

Our generous God cares immensely about who we’re becoming as we walk through life....

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What trials produce

Trials change us: for the better or for worse....

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How we process trials

Trials remain trials. Pain remains pain. Suffering remains suffering. But we aren’t helpless....

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Search in progress

Jesus' compassion and love extend even to those of us who cross our arms and mutter in response to his generosity....

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Complicated Lost-ness

Rejoicing is the only appropriate response when someone comes home to God....

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Emotional Journey

But if we push through the valley with faithful endurance, what a joy waits for us on the other side: second chances, restoration, new life!...

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When rejoicing spreads through heaven

God values “lost sheep” so much that rejoicing spreads through heaven whenever one person changes their life course and heads home to God....

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Making a special effort

Throughout his ministry Jesus made a special effort to connect with those who were socially ostracized, vulnerable and far from God....

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The correction of the Father

While the father’s patient forgiveness of the younger son is obvious, it’s important that we not miss that he’s just as generous with the older, self-righteous son....

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More than dignity

“This son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”...

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2

The reputation of the Father

The way people answer the “What’s God like?” question matters tremendously....

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2

Grieving the disaster

If you have a loved one who has left home for a distant country and met disaster, grief is healthy. ...

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The Generous Father

That’s his reputation. And his core of generosity never seems to be exhausted....

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Self-Righteous Isolation

One cannot be a son without being a brother. One cannot be a brother without being a son....

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Performance v Relationship

Our place in God’s family is secured because of our relationships, not because of our performance....

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Unjustified anger

Feeling anger in the face of injustice or evil is a totally appropriate response. Even Jesus felt anger. But our anger isn’t always justified....

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Beneath the obedience

They stuff their frustration and pocket their pain so that everyone around them can focus on the crisis. But this comes at a great cost to their souls....

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The Pathway to Self-Righteousness

There’s a story behind every self-righteous person’s arrogance....

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Dead and Alive again

Jesus the son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found....

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Rehearsing your speech

The younger son comes up with a plan for how he can influence his reception when he arrives back at his father’s house....

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Come to your senses

Caught up in our own sin or our own busyness or drama, we need something to jar us out of our pattern of behavior....

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The Descent into Darkness

If you’ve ever watched VH-1’s “Behind the Music” you know where this story is going....

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Straining at the Leash

What do you think are the consequences of ignoring the ways our worst nature strains at its leash?...

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Attracting a crowd

Jesus continues to attract people to himself for different reasons....

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Core Convictions

We have to clarify what’s most essential and cling to it...

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Jesus be the center

When we think and talk about breaking through barriers, we must remain centered on Jesus....

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Unhappy Easter

Not everyone’s happy about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem....

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Excited about Jesus

Even when things in our lives are difficult, there’s a part of us that continues burn with excitement for Jesus....

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A Legacy of Intentionality

Our decisions to tear down dividing walls in Jesus’ name will impact the generations that follow us....

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Shepherding a Breakthrough

Barnabas' first response to the breakthrough was celebration....

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Generosity and Accountability

Why did the church in Jerusalem send Barnabas to Antioch?...

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The experience of being an outsider

There’s something about the experience of being an outsider that prepares you to connect with other outsiders, even if they’re different from you....

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Old Habits Die Hard

Something had to change. And something did change....

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Sweet openness

How ready are you to listen to those who come from outside your circle of relationships? ...

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Peace Posture

In our efforts to break through barriers, we often stop short of this step of radical humility....

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Complex Privilege

If we encounter complicated power dynamics when interacting with our bosses and our in-laws, how much more will we encounter them when attempting to cross economic and ethnic divides?...

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Power Dynamics

Power dynamics often come into play when breaking through the walls that divide us....

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A Person of Peace

Who can help us cross fault-lines by receiving us when we make the leap across the divide?...

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Encounter Gaps

We’re tempted to fill in those gaps. And, having filled in those gaps, we’re tempted to be guarded and defensive....

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What Divides Us

When we decide which rules to keep and which rules to toss, we end up leveraging rules to maintain divisions between us and people who are different from us....

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Patterns of Life

Habits ingrained over the course of a lifetime can be hard to break....

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Positioned Perfectly

Although Peter didn’t know it, he was being positioned by God to extend God’s mission across a barrier that had never been crossed....

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Human Divides

Throughout human history, fault lines have appeared and divided humanity. ...

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Breakthrough

There seems ...

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Really Listening

Listening is a powerful response to a complaint....

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Legitimate Complaints

Bringing the breakdown to the surface ......

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When Generous Communities Fall Short

What happens next ...

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Growing Pains

Challenge always comes with growth. The question that’s presented to us is: “What will we do in response to these challenges?”...

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Wherever wisdom is found

If this mission really is from God, it goes from “mission impossible” to “mission inevitable.”...

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Obey God Rather Than Men

Take time to cultivate an ear for the voice of the Lord....

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The Call to Go Back

The same God who provides daring rescues also sends his people into dangerous situations. But he never sends them alone....

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Responding in tough situations

Why do the same circumstances harden some and polish others?...

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Boldness instead of safety

God forms us and shapes us and makes us bold-patient-loving in the midst of our day-to-day lives....

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Systemic Transformation

When God’s people leave life in their wake, social systems around them are transformed....

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Relationships Healed

And our community, filled with grace and the Holy Spirit, should be a place where we’re continually seeing relationships get healthier and healthier....

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Healing Hearts and Minds

Wounds aren’t always physical....

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When Healing Does Not Happen

Let’s avoid hollow and unhelpful answers....

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Miraculous Healing

Those of us who are Jesus’ followers will, at times, have the privilege to pray for healing for people, reach out and touch them, and God will bring new life....

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Restoration is the goal

God’s great restoration work is already underway. But God’s restoration project is not yet complete. ...

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Times of refreshing

The weight of sin we carry exhausts us to the core. Only when it’s been lifted from us will we feel truly refreshed....

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Know and Do Better

Once ignorance is removed, a new level of accountability and responsibility appears....

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Common Ground

Peter focused on the common ground he shared with his hearers....

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Internal and external obstacles

There’s a huge difference between taking credit and giving credit. ...

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Risk-taking Faith

We will have to demonstrate risk-taking faith as we join God in his without-him-it-would-be-impossible mission....

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Offer what you have

You may not have two nickels to rub together, but ...

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Compassion Fatigue

Making that connection with another human being can free us from our compassion fatigue....

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A Magnificent Collision

A collision between this man’s persistent requests for help and the representatives of a good God who gives us beyond anything we can ask or imagine...

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Daily and Weekly Rhythms

We never know which days will prove to be full of extraordinary events....

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Vibrant vs Growing

Vibrant inward community in this case spilled over into favor, growth and transformation....

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Rhythm of life together

The life that God calls us to in Christ is a life in community...

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Continuously fully present

Nothing else mattered nearly as much as Jesus and being a part of his movement....

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No spectators

When we engage God’s mission, we all have a role to play. ...

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With Growth Comes Challenge

And challenges are essential to growth....

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Explain the good news

We can’t let God’s restoration project be mistaken for a little community service....

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His timing is perfect

He knew what he was doing. He knows what he is doing....

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Spectacular and Ordinary

God’s spectacular Spirit often meets us, guides us and empowers us in ordinary, non-spectacular ways. ...

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God with us

As we lean into and engage God’s great global restoration project, we need him to be present with us....

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Gathering and scattering

God uses these times of gathering to equip, empower and envision his people. And then God sends them out....

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Should you choose to accept it

We witness through our words and through our lives ...

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The Spirit and preparation

As we prepare to join God’s great mission, we need the Holy Spirit....

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Waiting Dangerously

Trust God to look out for you and for his own mission....

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The Gospel of the Spirit

God’s mission will prove impossible without the Spirit’s involvement....

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Christmas Eve Services

Thanks to everyone who helped make our Christmas Eve Services a special experience for the whole community...

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An impossible mission

Two thousand years ago Jesus gave these unsophisticated, uneducated, unspectacular people a mission: to be his witnesses even to the ends of the earth. ...

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Merry Christmas 2015

A long reading from the Gospel of Luke and a few reflection questions...

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At just the right time

God always shows up in our lives at just the right time....

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Not too late

It’s not too late for you to have a great Christmas. ...

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All those Christmases

The first Christmas happened inside of a larger story. This year’s does, too....

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Humbug

Every inconvenience is an opportunity. ...

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Sonship is the core of the whole gospel

God wants our Father-Child relationship with him to transform us and to bless our families....

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God accepts us fully

He adopts us into his family....

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When the set time had fully come

Was this really the optimal time for Jesus to come?...

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God joined our family

Jesus joined our family and took his own special place: the firstborn son, the Savior, the Lord. God with us....

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God includes us in his family

When we become Christians, we join a big, wild, diverse, messy family....

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Celebration spills over

When God’s people celebrate, those who have little always are blessed....

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The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

We don’t have enough joy on our own to make it through life’s failures and disappointments and trials....

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A Very Good Party

Watch small pockets of celebration break out all over the place....

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Mourning and Celebration

As followers of Jesus, we always retain in our hearts a measure of joy, even in the midst of the hardest seasons....

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May He Bless You With Fun

Our God knows how to party and have fun and he invites us into that in this season....

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His indescribable gift

The indescribable gift of Jesus' life, love and presence transforms us. His generosity makes us generous if we’ll let him do his work in us....

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Be Generous

As we encounter God's generosity, he transforms our hearts and we become the sort of people who can give generously to those who need it....

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The Provision Question

Cheerful giving is a litmus-test for genuine, authentic faith....

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Given Good Gifts

Seeing God’s generosity in action changes the way we think about generosity. ...

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God is able to bless you abundantly

God is not stingy, miserly, or grudgingly giving people what they need. He is generous. ...

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When Creativity is Hard

Don’t sacrifice your relationships for your image of the perfect Christmas....

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A Thanksgiving Psalm

Give thanks to the Lord, our God and King. His love endures forever....

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God is an Artist

The Spirit of God is a creative Spirit. And all those who are filled with the Spirit receive his creative power....

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Enjoy the Work

Our creative work should produce pleasure and joy in us....

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Hanging Christmas Lights

The good, beautiful, creative work of God fills the world with joy and wonder. ...

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Mutual Interdependence

Together, we seek each other’s blessing....

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Marriage Beyond Your Capacity

No marriage can thrive without a support system....

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Choosing to reinvest

Choosing to reinvest makes a tremendous difference....

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The Right Person

Ask for faith to trust that God has either ordained or is redeeming your marriage....

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Good Purposes

God has plans for us as a community: to do good in our midst and through us....

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Alternative Conflict Options

We can move into even the most intense conflicts with creativity and love....

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The Other Person

We might try to be healthy, but we don't live in a vacuum....

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Mutually Assured Destruction

Like a nuclear arsenal, the biting and devouring power of our words is too dangerous to use safely....

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Why we fight

These vivid words for human conflict tell us something significant about why we fight. ...

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Cannibals

Close relationships created charged environments where contending factions fight fiercely....

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Reconnect and Refocus

Throughout the Bible we see God continuing to pursue and bless humanity in exile. God is with us, always....

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From Blame to Contribution

Shifting the blame off of ourselves doesn’t protect us in the long run....

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Your Options

In Jesus, you can choose how you’ll respond when someone blames you for their bad behavior or when you’re confronted about your own....

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Under the bus

When our foolish actions are brought to light, we’re always faced with the temptation to blame those actions on someone else....

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Hide and Seek

The results of our rebellion ...

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Put it into practice

The challenge isn’t just to learn, it’s to put these things into practice....

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Out of the Overflow

If it’s out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks, our words give us special insight into what’s going on in our own hearts and in the hearts of the people around us....

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Be a marriage prepper

Whatever we store up in our hearts eventually will be brought to light....

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Expecting

A significant part of the journey of marriage involves learning to love the person you’re actually married to...

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Grow Your Fruit

Even though the corn stalk is more stalk than corn, the corn is what gives it its identity. The same is true for us....

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Love is a choice

We are called to wrap all of our other virtues up in love....

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Forgiveness Required

Committed relationships will always require forgiveness....

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Bearing with each other

You can’t “bear with each other” if you’re all alone. ...

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Difficult Virtues

Where these virtues are most needed is also the place where they’re most difficult to display....

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Find Your Identity

The Scriptures tell us that God takes responsibility for our well-being....

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The Good Fruit of the Spirit

God’s Spirit is at work in each and every one of us to produce in us this good fruit....

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A Transformed Relationship

The Spirit offers us a new way to live in our marriages....

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No roadmap

All real relationships have a measure of unpredictability....

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Freedom in commitment

Ultimate freedom is always found in commitment....

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Love Your Neighbor Today

Over the next 6 weeks we're going to be talking about biblical principles of communication and conflict that will be helpful for everyone to know....

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Eating and serving together

We always move out in community....

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And all who join them

Celebrations like these always tend to spill over beyond the immediate community. ...

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Provision and Serving

God dignifies everyone with an invitation to serve....

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Real Life Realities

Celebration and service take place right in the middle of real life....

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Setting aside time to celebrate

We realize that a day of community service makes for a strange holiday....

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Remember your moments

What had God done for you? What do you need to remember?...

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Downstream blessing

We are not the only beneficiaries of the “such a time as this” moments in our lives....

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On celebration

The discipline of celebration is especially important for people in exile....

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Take a measured response

Across the empire, the uniform posture of the Jews was to protect themselves, not to take advantage....

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A mature response to opposition

A mature response recognizes that not everyone is an enemy, but that enemies are real....

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A calling rediscovered

In exile, God’s people often rediscover their calling....

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Rapid Rise

God’s people in exile rise to power when they demonstrate faithfulness and character. But things rarely run in a straight line....

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Disturbing Justice

Throughout Scripture we’re called to hold onto both sides of God’s character: mercy and justice. ...

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Focus your communication

Esther refused to dilute the persuasiveness of her request....

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Gift in the limelight

Is there a gift you been waiting to apply and unleash?...

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Operational atheism

Where in your life do you see operational atheism (ie. you running your plans as if there is no God)? ...

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Play the game

Where in your life is God calling you to step in and play the game by the rules?...

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The Virtue of Credit

Choosing to credit God grows our sense of connection with God’s great story in the world....

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Between superstition and cynicism

There’s a tension around prayer....

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Stepping out in faith and community

Esther stepped out in faith and she also stepped out in community. ...

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For Such a Time as This

The place where God invites us to step in is often surprising and un-expected. ...

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Hard Truth

How do you think Mordecai’s conviction shaped his willingness to speak the hard truth to Esther? ...

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What do I not know

When people hustle us through our grief or drag their heels when we think they should move on, asking the “What do I not know?” question makes a huge difference....

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Responding to lament

Those who push us to too quickly abandon our grief often do so with good motives....

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Let Lament Happen

There’s something significantly healthy to an honest season of lament following a loss. ...

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Conflicts always have backstory

Conflicts always have history. They always have backstory. And sometimes it has nothing to do with you....

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The Crisis is the Moment

When we have crisis-moments in our lives, they can feel like obstacles and detours, barriers keeping us from living the lives God has called us to live. ...

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Stormcrows and silence

We all know people who revel in drama and darkness....

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Drawing a line

Healthy boundaries almost always receive resistance, especially when we first put them into place. But they are so worth it!...

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Enter the villain

Real villains cause real problem that require real intervention on God’s behalf....

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The Right Person

The places and times in which we find ourselves reveal who we truly are. ...

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Gift and season match

Can you identify a gift that God’s given you that you’ve had to sit on for a while?...

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Good work and good gifts

For every good work God gives us to do, he’s given us gifts...

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Stepping into a different story

If we hold too tightly to what we think God should do, we might miss out on what he’s actually doing....

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Great and unexpected work

God was positioning Esther perfectly for the time in which she found herself....

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Goodness and Love

Take some time today to let this verse wash over you....

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Goodness and Love

Take some time today to let this verse wash over you....

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Anointing

We share in Jesus' anointing. His cup overflows and that means that ours does too....

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The Table for Us

We are called to be God's people who will celebrate and feast and remember the Lord even in the face of great opposition....

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Through the Dark Valley

Fill up your reservoir before you hit the dark valley. And if you're in a valley right now, come looking for signs of God's presence and attention....

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Dark Valley Surprise

All you have to do is live long enough and you'll have dark valley experiences....

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The Good Shepherd Guides

Your Good Shepherd is guiding you along right paths for his name’s sake. Don’t be afraid....

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Soul Refresh

Resting is essential but not sufficient for a fully healthy soul....

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Hyper Sheep

The wise among us will go where the Good Shepherd leads us, even if that’s to a moment of pre-adventure rest....

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I lack nothing

The same David who here sings “I lack nothing” elsewhere cried out for God’s help, rescue, protection, provision, forgiveness and attention....

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The Lord is my Shepherd

A shepherd’s job involved leading the sheep to good food, keeping them safe from predators/enemies and protecting them from their own stupidity....

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Mighty to Save

Carve out some space to sing to and praise the Lord....

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Unshakeable Trust

The engine that drives all of David’s glory is his trust in the Lord....

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God gives glory generously

One way of being glorious involves generously sharing everything you have with everyone you can....

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The Desires of Your Heart

God’s at work in the planting as well as the granting of our desires....

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Give Credit

Planting a flag of praise is one way we can resist this drift, one way we can stand secure in the face of all our successes....

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Trust in the Lord

Hey, we don't trust in chariots or horses....

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The Lord Gives Victory

God invites us and expects us to put ourselves out there...

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Now this I know

David might not know much. But he knows what he knows....

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Blessing in Distress

David didn't assume that the difficulties in life were obstacles to be avoided. Instead, he painted them as opportunities for us to see God hard at work on our behalf....

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Psalmist Prayer of Blessing

Praying this prayer of blessing over them is one way that David contributes to the ongoing spiritual health and vitality of his community....

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Great Expectations

Jesus fuels people’s expectations. ...

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Receiving and Sharing