2004 Sermons

Is It Worth It?01/04/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Community, Blessings, Faithfulness
  • In this first service of the year, Greg took a moment to reflect on what we are doing here. It is important to make an honest assessment of what progress we're making in advancing the kingdom of God. We inevitably face opposition in this world, but the task before us is worth the sacrifices that will need to be made.

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Feeding the Inner Self01/11/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Discipleship, Disciplines, Sacrifice
  • It takes discipline and self-sacrifice on the part of individuals for us as a whole to become "a community of spiritually empowered people" as stated in our church vision. As spiritual people, we are called to think more about the eternal consequences of our words and deeds.

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Who? Me?01/18/04

  • Speaker – Brenda Salter-McNeil
     
  • Topics – Leadership, Reconciliation
  • Brenda talked about the nature of leadership and asked whether it is something we are born with or if it is something that we can cultivate. She then added a third possibility: timing. She told us about an African expression: "What called you forth?" In other words, "Why are you here, and why now?" God has an ideal plan for you, and you are here "for such a time as this." She challenged us all to respond to the calling on our lives!

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The Sanctified Imagination01/25/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Imagination
  • The life of faith is not really about information. It is about a dynamic relationship with the living God! We need to "set apart" our imaginations for God so that God can shape us at the level of our dreams and aspirations. God uses our imaginations as a place for us to meet Christ in a very real way so that we can understand who Christ is, and what God is calling us to.

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Why Reconcile?02/01/04

  • Speakers – Sandra Unger, Paul Eddy
     
  • Topics – Kingdom of God, Reconciliation, Sin
  • There is bad news, and we need to hear it if we are to make any sense of the good news. The bad news is we are broken. Broken in our own lives, in our lives with each other as human beings, and broken in our spiritual lives. How did we end up so broken, and what are we to do about it?

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What's Really Real?02/08/04

  • Speaker – Dwayne Polk
     
  • Topics – Reconciliation, Spiritual Warfare
  • Our being unconscious of something does not necessarily mean that it is not real. It could just as well be that we are simply ignorant of that reality for any number of reasons. Reconciliation as described in the Bible is very real, but it must be made known and manifested in our midst if people are going to believe in it and in the One who accomplished it.

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Fasting with Our Finances02/15/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Money
  • The Bible speaks more about greed and injustice against those who are poor than any other particular sin. We are the richest country in the world, and we are fooling ourselves if we do not think that the words "to whom much is given much is required" apply to us. Greg was concerned that we not be trapped in guilt; at the same time, we must evaluate our habits and priorities in light of the war zone in which we live.

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Reconciling Churches02/22/04

  • Speakers – Sandra Unger, Paul Eddy
     
  • Topics – Community, Reconciliation, Conflict
  • Both Sandra and Paul spoke about the many ways that the Church has failed in its health as a body. Much of the history of the Church reveals the tragedy of its inner conflicts. However, if a church or denomination claims Christ as its center, then we had better be prepared to be united with them!

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The Passion for Worship02/29/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Worship
  • Greg briefly contrasted learning "about" a relationship with God while listening to a sermon to "doing" your relationship with God through worship. The first is a passive task, while the latter is active and requires us to involve our heart, soul, mind, body and strength. Because both sermons and worship play an important role in spiritual development, one should not be neglected in favor of the other.

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A Little Bitty Minnow in a Big Flash Flood03/07/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Simplicity
  • Americans are busier than ever -- many would say their lives are out of control. Is this how God intended us to live? Greg introduces this topic through numerous real-life examples, including the perfect example: Jesus' life. And guess what...he rested!

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Lessons from the Laid-Back Messiah on "Stuff"03/14/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Kingdom of God, Simplicity
  • Though often overlooked, Jesus took breaks, he slept, and he had fun! With our culture continuously pushing us to accumulate "stuff," it's difficult to find the time to relax. However, if we follow Christ's example, we learn that as humans we have limits that we must learn to live within.

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Having it "Just So"03/21/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Community, Sacrifice
  • The choices we make often result in more stressful lives, which, in turn, "stresses God out." In our quest to have everything "just so" (from our cereal to our vehicles to our neighborhoods), the majority of churches do not reflect the diverse body of Christ.

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The Widening Gyre03/28/04

  • Speaker –
     
  • Simplicity
  • Our lives are literally spinning out of control. Why is this and how are we supposed to live in it? Greg discussed exponential growth, J curves, and living inside the widening gyre.

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Prioritize and Simplify04/04/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Community, Relationships, Simplicity
  • Though advances in technology, medicine, psychology, etc., are growing exponentially, and the "gyre" of our world is nearly out of control, we are called by God to live in it (though not be OF it). Greg gave practical advice about how to live within the "widening gyre" that he discussed last week: strengthen our center by prioritizing and simplifying. It sounds easier than it is.

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Happily Ever After04/11/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Defense of Christian Faith, Salvation
  • This sermon challenged us to think about how our "story" ends. We long for justice, meaning, "happy ever afters." As Christians, our story is found in Jesus, the reality to which all great mythology and story telling points. Compare your relationship with Christ to the greatest love stories ever told, and you won't find a more dramatic, sacrificial story...and it ends with a big "happy ever after"!

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Taking America Back for God?04/18/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Controversial Issues, Kingdom of God, Politics, Power
  • Greg questioned the slogan "Taking America Back for God" by discussing the differences between the kingdom of this world and the Kingdom of God. As Christians, we are to belong first and foremost to God's Kingdom, yet live under the governments of this world. How does that work?

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The Difference Between the Two Kingdoms04/25/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Controversial Issues, Kingdom of God, Politics, Power
  • The kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world are two very separate things. One uses the sword (power over) to influence people; the other uses love (power under). To understand this distinction is much easier than letting it affect the way we live. Greg continued to discuss the differences between these kingdoms and how we are to live within the distinction.

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Abortion: A Kingdom of God Approach05/02/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Controversial Issues, Kingdom of God, Power
  • The Cross and the Sword series continued with this sermon, which covered two more consequences of fusing the kingdom of God with the kingdom of the world. To illustrate the damage this can cause, Greg discussed using the Kingdom of God approach with abortion: don't limit ourselves to the options given by the kingdom of the world, but ascribe unsurpassable worth to others (mother and baby) at cost to ourselves. This is the unique mission of the Kingdom of God, and it's not easy.

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Is the Church the Guardian of Social Morality?05/09/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Controversial Issues, Kingdom of God, Politics, Nationalism
  • The Cross and the Sword series continued with this sermon, which covered the final effect of failing to distinguish between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world: we Christians begin to see ourselves as the “protectors” and “fixers” of social morality, as the moral standard bearers. But our only job as the body of Christ is to look like Jesus, the one sinless human, who stood in unity with others and met their needs. Greg also addressed the idea that America is a theocracy.

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What Worship Is05/16/04

  • Speaker – Kevin Johnson
     
  • Worship
  • We were created to worship God and through worship to proclaim the wonder of God, engage in spiritual warfare and act as witnesses who testify to who God is. During this teaching time, Kevin's discussions about the three Ws of worship were interspersed throughout an extended worship time as a church.

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Be Thou My Vision05/23/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Controversial Issues, Kingdom of God, Power, Nationalism
  • Human beings have deep and fallen passions that propel us into continual conflict with one another, the theme behind "Troy," the movie based on Homer's "Iliad." We are stuck in a pattern from which we can be freed ONLY by embracing the paradoxical kingdom of God. Christians are to imitate Christ, period; we are not called to create another version of the kingdom of the world.

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In But Not of the World05/30/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Controversial Issues, Politics, Power, Nationalism
  • In this sermon, Greg responded to the top five questions he received while preaching "The Cross and the Sword" series. Maybe you've been asking some of these questions: "What's the difference between turning the other cheek and letting yourself be abused?" and "Are you saying that the church is politically irrelevant?"

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God's Word to Woodland Hills Church06/06/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Discipleship, Kingdom of God
  • God designed us to work both for our livelihood and for the Kingdom of God. Consequently, we will be held accountable for our work both individually and corporately as the body of Christ. The book of Revelation includes a "report card" of sorts given by God to seven churches; following this example, Greg reported on how Woodland Hills has been Growing in the Spirit over the past year.

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You are the Prostitute06/13/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Forgiveness, Sin, Gratitude
  • Greg read the story in Luke of the prostitute who interrupts Jesus' dinner at a Pharisee's home to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears, kiss his feet, and anoint them with oil. The Pharisee looks down on her because he considers her sin greater than his own, but when God is the standard, neither he nor the prostitute has any advantage over the other. They both fall infinitely short. We too must relate to the prostitute because of how short we all fall compared to the perfection of God's standard.

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The Wounded Healer06/20/04

  • Speaker – Dwayne Polk
     
  • Topics – Healing, Love, Pain & Suffering
  • Our wounds (emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual) in no way disqualify us from ministry. In fact, God often uses our healing experiences to assist others who are suffering from similar wounds. Dwayne affirmed this truth for us by appealing to its scriptural basis and by sharing a personal experience as a wounded healer.

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Walking Like a Zombie to the Grave06/27/04

  • Speaker – Sandra Unger
     
  • Topics – Discipleship, Money, Pain & Suffering, Sacrifice
  • Sandra challenged us to go against the grain of the so-called American Dream and the materialism inherent in it. She also encouraged us to be critical of how we're already being influenced by it and to allow God to work on all of the broken areas of our lives so that we can make an impact.

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The Dark Night of the Soul07/04/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Pain & Suffering
  • Greg vulnerably shared with us something he is currently going through, what St. John of the Cross called the “dark night of the soul.” In his brokenness, Greg openly talked about his current struggle by referencing Psalm 73, which was written by Asaph, who went through a similar experience.

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As Christ Loves Us07/11/04

  • Speaker – Dwayne Polk
     
  • Topics – Love, Sacrifice
  • Dwayne delivered a powerful message that challenged us to love as Christ loved us. We frequently emphasize the fact that we should love one another and what “the loving thing to do” might be. But this message had to do not with the “that” or even the “how” but the “why.” Our motivation for any act should be love, which requires that we have a heart that is responsive to the prompting of the Spirit of God.

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Love in Truth and Action07/18/04

  • Speaker – Dwayne Polk
     
  • Topics – Love, Sacrifice
  • In this final sermon of Dwayne's "Wounded Healer" series, he discussed how our character cannot be divorced from our actions; how we choose to act reflects who we are. 1 John 3:11-18 provides God's ideal for us - nothing less than perfection! The author of 1 John asks us whether we will behave like Cain or like Abel. Dwayne challenged us to think about the difference between simply responding appropriately when we see that others have needs and actually dying for someone, which is what God demands.

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Jesus is a 3-D Radical07/25/04

  • Speaker – Sandra Unger
     
  • Transformation
  • The typical Sunday school, felt-board Jesus (often with blue eyes) does little to inspire people to change their lives much less alter their ways of thinking. The real Jesus is much bigger and more radical than that. Using the New Testament, Sandra reminded us of just how big and revolutionary Jesus was and still is.

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Mission Impossible08/01/04

  • Speaker – Brenda Salter-McNeil
     
  • Topics – Reconciliation, Worship, Transformation
  • Brenda reissued the challenge of serving a radical savior. If we feel God has called us to do the impossible, then we are indeed following the radical God of the Bible! However, if our faith doesn’t inspire us, we need to take another look at Jesus to see how far from dull and boring he really is. Brenda helped us do this using Isaiah 6 and many vivid analogies.

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Congruence with God08/08/04

  • Speaker – Jim Winter
     
  • Topics – Communion, Spiritual Warfare, Transformation
  • This week Jim led us in a communion service. The sermon focused on the tension between the Spirit and the Flesh and how Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to be united with God in spirit. In communion we participate with our whole body as we obey Christ's command to "do this in remembrance of me." In this way, we submit our flesh to God's Spirit.

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Deeper Passion for Jesus08/15/04

  • Speaker – Efrem Smith
     
  • Topics – Identity in Christ, Reconciliation
  • Efrem was back in our pulpit this weekend with a powerful message of hope and vision for our body! Sometimes we need to look backward for a bit to be able to see where we are going, so Efrem used Christ's geneology in Matthew 1 as his text. Knowing where we came from can help us understand the destiny God has for us.

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Descending Into Greatness08/22/04

  • Speaker – David Clark
     
  • Topics – Leadership, Sacrifice
  • Using Matthew 20:20-28 as his text, David discussed how to be a “safe” leader by following Jesus’ example of leading by serving and how this upside-down principle truly reflects the kingdom of God.

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I Choose You08/29/04

  • Speaker – Kevin Johnson
     
  • Topics – Discipleship, Hope
  • Kevin, our Community Pastor, spoke about Christ's calling of Simon, Andrew, James and John to be his disciples. As fishermen, their families' livelihood depended on this trade, yet they simply dropped what they were doing and followed Jesus. Why? What was it about Jesus that caused people to leave their families and livelihood to follow him, and what was Jesus tapping into in these four early disciples?

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The Best is Yet to Come09/05/04

  • Speaker – Cecilia Williams
     
  • Hope
  • Cecilia, visiting from The Sanctuary Covenant Church, challenged Woodland Hills to look back in order to gain insight about what might lie ahead for us. Are our best days behind us, or is our best yet to come? She argued the latter by referring to a passage in Haggai that deals with rebuilding Solomon's temple. The new temple was far less grand than the original, yet the promise of God remained: this temple’s glory would exceed that of Solomon’s. Its best was yet to come, but the remnant, like Woodland Hills, could only believe this by faith—trusting that God would accomplish the promise.

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Write It on a Rock09/12/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Hope, Pain & Suffering
  • Greg described his journey during his sabbatical as one that was focused on a simple and important question: “What is real?” And he talked about how every now and then we all need to ask ourselves this with regard to every area in our lives. He challenged us to think like Job, who lost all of his securities and worldly relations but who still knew that his redeemer lived and that he would see him someday face to face. That’s what Job REALLY believed. What do we REALLY believe?

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Stop Going to Church09/19/04

  • Speakers – Sandra Unger, Paul Eddy
     
  • Topics – Community, Discipleship, Kingdom of God
  • Paul and Sandra's message called for a major shift in thought for many of us: church isn't a place you go or an event you attend. Instead, church is what happens when those who follow Jesus gather and live in unity and obedience to who Jesus is and what Jesus does. Both speakers discussed the effects of this new perspective.

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Kingdom Consciousness09/26/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Kingdom of God, Love
  • Greg compares life to a "magic eye" picture: if we focus on the immediate appearance of things, life is very busy and active, even chaotic. But if we are able to see what’s in the depth of life, we begin to see Jesus. We see the love of God manifest in ways and in places that we might never have thought possible. We begin to develop “an eye for the kingdom of God,” or what Greg calls “Kingdom Consciousness.” To behold the kingdom of God requires an intentional awareness.

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Kingdom Single Mindedness10/03/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Discipleship, Disciplines, Kingdom of God, Love
  • Willing just one thing, the love of God, is our only task. Our hearts are pure and our minds are sound when we overcome the double-mindedness that we unconsciously live in by submitting to God (James 4:7). Greg called our attention to how our minds are caught up in routines that produce behavior that is harmful to ourselves and others. Working toward kingdom single mindedness moment by moment will focus our energy where it should be: on the love of God for us and on loving ourselves and others because of it.

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The Kingdom's King10/10/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Grace, Kingdom of God, Love
  • Lately, Greg has been talking about the importance of being "awake" and "single-minded." In this sermon he discussed how both of these things are understood most fully in Christ. He focused on Christ's compelling love and the distinction between saying that you believe something and allowing a truth to penetrate so deep into your very being that it compels you.

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Some Dance to Remember, Some Dance to Forget10/17/04

  • Speaker – Thorsten Moritz
     
  • Topics – Parenting, Sacrifice
  • Thorsten Moritz, a Bethel Seminary professor, opened with this challenging question: “Are we prepared to live 'creationally' (in tune with the Creator) in a world of idolatry?” Focusing primarily on child adoption throughout the message, Moritz wondered if the abandonment of the world's waiting orphans experience is the result of this idolatry. It reveals, he argued, that people are operating with the wrong priorities. How prepared are we to be the primary tool of God’s recovery of this fallen creation? Just as God adopted us, shouldn't we (biblically) adopt others?

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Kingdom Centeredness10/24/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Discipleship, Kingdom of God, Transformation
  • Drawing from Luke 9:23 and 14:25-27 & 33, Greg talked about dying to the flesh so that we might have true life in Christ. Life in the “flesh” means that we cling to life outside the center (Jesus Christ), which results in our lives enslaving us, something God never intended! Jesus speaks strongly about this because he knows that when we finally let go and "die" to ourselves, we will find life in the center where there is peace and a whole new perspective on the world!

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Kingdom Holiness10/31/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Kingdom of God, Sacrifice, Justice, Nationalism
  • Greg gives us a timely reminder that the Kingdom of God is not the same as the kingdom of this world. Truly Christian public expressions of this Kingdom will resemble Jesus’ life: washing others feet, trusting God to meet our needs, sacrificing of ourselves for others, loving our enemies, turning the other cheek. This is what holiness does, and it is radically different from everything else in the world! And we must always be on guard, as there is a constant pull to desecrate the holiness of God by confusing God and the world.

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Kingdom Fearlessness11/07/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Fear, Kingdom of God
  • This message was about the rampant fear pumping through the veins of our society. Even though America is one of the safest countries in the world, we have more fear than most other nations! But as followers of Christ, we are instructed not to worry (Matt. 6:25, 32-33, etc.). Instead, we have received a spirit of adoption, not slavery. We are God’s children, so there is no need to fear anything in this world. If our hearts and treasure are with the kingdom of God, then we should live without fear of anything in this world.

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River of Life, Part 111/14/04

  • Speakers – Greg Boyd, Brenda Salter-McNeil
     
  • Topics – Kingdom of God, Reconciliation
  • Greg and Brenda delivered a powerful tag-team message: Greg offered a short six point summary of the Biblical vision for reconciliation in the Kingdom of God, followed by Brenda’s inspiring message about the living water that is within us. If we are going to allow rivers of life, or “liquid love,” the whole Gospel to move through us, we need to consider the principles of reconciliation that Brenda lays before us.

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Remember When...11/21/04

  • Speaker – Ike Leimberer
     
  • Topics – Communion, Community
  • This week, Ike, our Associate Community Pastor, discussed how communion is meant to be a celebration. Ike takes us back to the first communion as an example of the power of remembering through sharing our stories. Could it be that when we take communion in a large group we miss out on something Jesus valued? Do we miss the faith- and community-building aspect that Jesus meant for us to experience? We need to hear how God "showed up" in each other's lives to grow closer in community, to be encouraged, and to remember Jesus, to remember when...

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Waking to a Dream11/28/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Kingdom of God, Presence of God
  • Greg continued his series on the kingdom of God and focused on living life moment by moment. All we really can offer to God is the very moment we are in – will we bring our faith into the moment-by-moment reality of our life? Greg discussed Gen. 28:10-13 and 16-17, focusing specifically on the fact that Jacob was awakened (through a dream) to the presence of God right in the very place he stood. We must remember that God is with us right here in the place where we stand, where we work, where we sin, where we worship, everywhere.

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The Father is Always Working12/05/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Kingdom of God, Presence of God
  • This week, Greg preached an inspiring message that concluded his Kingdom of God series and emphasized how God the Father is a living, interactive God who is always working in the world. As such, the kingdom of God is one of the “here and now”! To the extent that Christianity is transformed from finding life in Christ to finding life from Christian religiosity and moral correctness, it will not only continue to alienate others by living in judgment but also blind its followers to how God is actively, vibrantly working right NOW in those alienated.

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What's in It for Me?12/12/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Sacrifice
  • Today’s message was on the offensiveness of the gospel, which becomes apparent when we start out by asking a typical human question: “What’s in it for me?” Consider Mary, the mother of Jesus, and John the Baptist – people who gave up much to obey God and suffered greatly as a result. Obeying God will have painful consequences so long as this world is under the reign of the enemy. The kingdom of God is not like this world, and when we bring this opposing Kingdom into the world we will find strong resistance, and it will cost us something.

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Longing for Perichoresis12/19/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Salvation, Trinity
  • The term "perichoresis” was used by the church many hundreds of years ago to describe the inner life of God, which includes the Father, Son and Holy Spirit fully knowing one another. This is sometimes artistically illustrated by a divine dance, which God wants us to become a part of as well. In Christ, God has made a way to include us in the dance even though we do not deserve to be included, and we persistently resist the movements required (full transparency, self-sacrifice, interest in the other over ourselves, etc.).

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The Incarnational Community12/26/04

  • Speaker – Greg Boyd
     
  • Topics – Community, Judgment, Love, Sacrifice
  • Central to Greg’s message today was that the incarnation was not simply a historical act that ended at Christ’s ascension. It goes MUCH further than that! The Church IS the Body of Christ - we are the hands, the feet, the ambassadors, the temple, the Body through which God works. Therefore, we must share Christ’s attitude summed up by this phrase: be present, in love, without judgment.

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