Death is a universal problem. It’s also a multifaceted problem. It’s not just physical death (our own or loved ones) that troubles us so much. It’s the knowledge that life itself is filled with things that end, and we can never get them back. The irretrievability of life is part of our problem with death. In this story, Jesus steps into the devastation of two sisters following the death of their brother and offers them a hope and a presence that transforms their lives, and can transform ours as well.
Human beings need two things: to be known and loved. When those two things are in place, we have what could be called a stable identity. Even thought the Bible doesn’t use that exact word, the concept shows up in many places. In this passage, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.” While he meets many of our core needs with that statement, one of the biggest is identity. And there are few things that are more contested and emotionally fraught in our culture than this subject of identity. How does Jesus give us a stable identity? Listen in to find out.
What kind of world do you want to live in? If our imagination could run wild, most of us would like to live in a world of no evil, suffering, or death, and where everyone and everything is totally flourishing. Many people would call such a world utopia. Jesus has a different way of talking about it, and a different way of bringing that world about. It’s all contained in this story of the shepherd and his sheep. Join us this week as we learn more.
We live in an age in which the idea of truth is embattled. If truth is even available, many see it as something that can only be known by observing hard, cold facts. Jesus gives us a radically different paradigm, however. In calling himself the Light of the world, he’s saying he is the source and embodiment of all truth. What does that mean, and how does it change our lives? Listen in to find out.
Our society is awash in the greatest opportunities to be happy that have ever been available to humanity. And yet rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide have never been higher. We are far less satisfied and far more discontented than we are often willing to admit. In this passage, Jesus reveals himself as the answer to our search for satisfaction, an answer that is totally counter to any other answer ever offered to the world.
Have you ever felt like you’re meant for more? Even if things are going really well in your life, have you ever felt like there’s something more you’re meant for, but you’re not even sure what it really is? This passage tells the story of Jesus’ first disciples. At its heart, it’s an invitation to walk through the door to the life you were meant to live.
God doesn’t just want us to know about him intellectually (although that is important). Amazing as it might sound, God’s desire is that we would experience him personally; to experience his presence with us, and his power for us. Even more than that, he wants us to experience his great love, to know that he delights over us. This week, Ben Tzeng helps us understand this precious promise.
When you read the gospel accounts of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, you realize it is not a peaceful story. This passage is particularly horrifying - the “Slaughter of Innocents.” But for that reason, it has a lot to show us about how peace really comes into the world. This is a “confrontation of kings.” But not in the way we might normally think. The only way true peace comes to the world is through Jesus, and his revolutionary way of confronting violence and evil in the world.
Human beings have a complicated relationship with hope. The history of humanity seems to be one continuous toggling back and froth between cynicism and hope. We want to believe in things like meaning, love, justice, goodness, beauty, and truth. But the world can be a cruel place, and we often feel like fools for believing in such things. In this passage about the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, we encounter a message that says to us, “You’re not a fool to believe in those things. They do exist, and you’re right to hope for them. But you need some help getting there. “ Join us as we find out more.
What if all the world’s biggest problems are the result of one, basic problem? And that if you could figure out what that problem was and solve it, you would solve all the other problems of the world? Many problems have been identified, and solutions offered (e.g. politics, economics, technology, science, etc). But so far none of them have fixed the world. In this passage, the climax of the book of Exodus, we learn God’s answer to the world’s most basic problem, and the true solution to that problem.
To be human is to be filled with desire. But it seems like there’s a constant gap between our desires and our actual experience. Which means either we desire something that doesn’t exist, or we desire something that is beyond our experience of current reality. This passage shows us what we’re longing for: the glory of God. It is the desire underneath all our other desires. Why do we need it? What is it? And how do we find it? Join us this week and find out.
Every great story has a problem that needs to be solved. It might be easy to think getting the Israelites out of slavery is the big problem in Exodus. But this chapter shows us the biggest problem: How is God going to win Israel back after their catastrophic rejection of him? The answer gives us insight into the biggest question of life (whether we realize it or not): How does God become a living reality in our lives?
The 10 Commandments is one of the most famous places in the Bible, but also one of the most misunderstood. A fundamentalist approach says, “God is holy. People should obey. And there should be consequences if they don’t.” A progressive approach says, “This is why I hate religion. I just believe in a God who accepts all people regardless of how they live.” This passage, however, shows us the folly of both approaches, because it shows us the wonder of God’s love toward us, and how our hearts work hard to resist that love. Join us as we learn more.
Exodus helps us understand the nature of salvation. But it doesn’t just leave it there. Not only does it show us how God saves. It shows us why. In fact, it shows us that God saves people in order to give them a whole new purpose in life. And everyone longs for purpose. If you have it, you feel empowered and energized. But if you feel like your life lacks purpose, it’s one of the most crushing things that can happen to someone. What is God’s purpose for your life? Listen in, and find out.
Life very often doesn’t go the way we want it to. It frequently feels like the world is against us. In fact, sometimes it even feels like God himself is against us. What do we do when it feels like God is being unfair? If we’re honest with ourselves, a lot of the time we get angry with God. If that’s ever happened to you, this is one of the best passages to look for guidance and help. Join us for this week’s installment in our series on the book of Exodus.
The Bible refers to the Exodus story in many places to describe the significance of Jesus and his work on the cross. That means that the Exodus gives us a paradigm for understanding salvation. There is no event more paradigmatic of the Exodus, and therefore no event more significant for us to understand, than the crossing of the Red Sea. When we look closely, we see that it is about getting free. But what exactly are we getting free from? And how does that happen? This passage helps us understand. Join us as we explore it more deeply.
One of the deepest impulses in humanity is that the way to connect to God is by being a good person. While the Bible affirms that as true, it also tells us that is not what is at the heart of what it means to have faith in God (at least this God). This famous passage helps us understand why this God is so different from every other God, every other religion, and every other approach to life. Because this passage shows us that it’s not about being a good person, it’s really all about the Lamb. What does that mean? Join us this week as we explore this life-changing passage.
In the Bible, to “know” someone or something is much more than just knowing about someone. It means personal, relational knowledge. This week’s selection of passages are about an event commonly known as the plagues of Egypt. But we will not understand what’s really happening in this event if we don’t understand what it means to know God, to truly know him and worship him, or to oppose him and defy him.
Every human being longs for significance. We long to know that our lives matter, and that we have worth and value. The problem is that our significance in this world is completely tied to our performance. As long as we’re performing well, we feel good about ourselves. But if we’re insecure about our performance, we’re insecure about ourselves. That means that everyone experiences insecurity at times in life. This passage has a lot to show us about our problem with insecurity, and God’s remedy for it.
Names are important in the Bible. Your name is the public manifestation of your character, essence, and identity. So when God tells us his name in this passage, he’s saying, “This is who I am.” So who is this God? What is he like? This passage shows us. It therefore holds great importance for all people. For non-believers, it helps work through the objection that it’s intolerant and freedom-robbing to say you have the one, true God. But for believers this is just as important, because anytime you have a distorted or deficient understanding of God, it leads to distortions in our lives. Join us as we explore what it means that God has a name.