But, for many of us, it’s our Winter seasons that seem to last the longest - if not in duration, then in intensity. Our Winters are those seasons characterized by darkness. They’re times of forced inactivity and isolation. Our winters are when our circumstances, relationships, and emotions are lifeless, or at least appear to be.Read More
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“There was no longer any sea.” In all honesty, as many times as I’ve read this passage before, I’m not sure I had ever really considered that clause specifically. What does that mean? Why would John include it in this passage of hope and promise?Read More
In our attempt to do good things and to be good people, Salem has bought into a different kind of religion: humanism. Humanism: the idea that if I do good things, I will be a good person, so - in the end - good will come back to me too. Humanism is karma with skin on; karma with flesh and bones: it’s the idea that as long as I keep doing good things, I will be considered good enough, so whatever happens in the future, surely goodness will come to me.Read More
All told, many of us spend a good portion of our lives exploring and re-exploring our identity, and at each turn or transition, it’s easy to find ourselves asking this question again...Who am I?Read More
Given our experiences, questions, insecurities, anxieties, and the overwhelming circumstances we find ourselves in… we don’t really know if we can name specific places God is moving anymore. We aren’t really sure we hear His voice. We know we can’t just stop. We have to keep chugging along. So maybe it’s time to put out heads down and figure things out for ourselves. I mean, how else are we supposed to respond?Read More
When we hear the word "repent," many of us immediately think of street preachers and televangelists shouting about God’s wrath and judgment. Maybe even some of us think of our own experiences in the church - moments when we’ve felt shamed for our choices or thoughts or habits. And yet, we cannot escape the fact that, according to Scripture, repentance is a necessary part of experiencing God at work in our midst. So that begs the question: what does “repentance” actually mean?Read More
Those seasons when the workload and responsibilities pile up. And the demands of your relationships feel daunting. Then you receive that unexpected call from a doctor or family member with that “not-so-good” news. And to top it all off, it seems like nearly every major household appliance breaks all at once.
When it rains, friends, it pours.
And I imagine this phrase was not lost on God’s people as they found themselves exiled in Babylon during the time Isaiah wrote the words from our passage this morning.
For the last few weeks, we’ve been going through a series on the book of Isaiah called One Hope. And throughout the series, we’ve considered the promises God makes to His people in the depths of despair. Because, for God’s people, the events leading up to the exile were not simply a minor rain storm…When it rained over Israel in the 6th century BCE... it poured.
Choosing to live out God’s hesed in our lives means moving away from our tendency to surround ourselves with people like us and isolate ourselves from people like them. It’s moving away from our judgments of “deserving” and “undeserving.” The invitation to follow Jesus is an invitation to see others through God’s eyes, to remain committed to them and have compassion on them, to love them without reservation, regardless of whether or not we agree with them all the time.
Because the truth is, at one time or another, we have all been the “other.” At one time or another, each of us has been undeserving. The truth is that when we consider the greatness of God’s hesed, we are all undeserving. But the good news of the Gospel is that God has not given up on us. In Christ, God has put to death all of our brokenness and undeservedness so that He might pour out His hesed upon us.Read More
What happens when our expectations for others go unfulfilled? How does this affect our outlook on our relationships, our dreams, our hopes, and our aspirations? And what in the world do we do with the ensuing disappointment?
Because, more often than not, our expectations are often the driving force that moves us from freedom to captivity, from prioritizing our love for God and our neighbors towards an imprisonment to our own desires, fears, and anxieties. We become so bound by expectations that we're unable to hear the truth Jesus offers us: there is another way, a better way… a way rooted in sitting before the Savior who fulfills all our desires, hopes, and aspirations.Read More