Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

April 24 Sermon: Rediscovering Hope (John 20:1-9)

Pastor: Ryan Laughlin
Series: Easter Sunday
In this passage, the image of Peter and John running -- not walking -- to the empty tomb captured my imagination.  How often the resurrection of Jesus becomes for us an object of dispassionate inquiry or stale investigation.  But, in this story, the urgency of these men reminds us just how much was at stake with Jesus' resurrection. 

Discussion topic: As I mentioned in the sermon, Eugene Burnand's painting of this scene (found hereène_Burnand) offers an unique perspective, perhaps one that you or your small group could discuss to open your time together.  How does this painting help your study of this text?  Or not?  

Here are some more questions for your individual or group study:

1.  John invites us to sift through the evidence discovered in Jesus' tomb, particularly a massive stone lifted away and a set of grave-clothes still lying in their place.  Reading this section of the passage again, what is significance of each?  What new insights can you gain into the resurrection of Jesus as you discuss these things together? 

2.  How do you account for the fact that John suddenly saw and believed?  

3.  If you were to explain the importance of the resurrection to a non-Christian, what would you emphasize?  

Endnotes: I contrasted the discovery of the full tomb of King Tut with the empty tomb of Jesus.  Here is more information on the historic discovery of King Tut's tomb: 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 21-28

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   

Apr 21: 2Sam 1-4
Apr 22: 
Ps 6/8-10/14/16/19/21
Apr 23: 
1Chron 1-2
Apr 24: 
Ps 43-45/49/84-85/87
Apr 25: 
1Chron 3-5
Apr 26: 
Ps 73/77-78
Apr 27: 
1Chron 6
Apr 28: 
Ps 81/88/92-93 

To view the full schedule:

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 17 Sermon: Going to See the King (Mark 10:46-52)

Pastor: Ryan Laughlin
Series: Palm Sunday
The last person to join the procession into Jerusalem is the last person you would expect. After all, this was Jesus' moment. He was going public. The stakes were high. Only the important and significant need apply. But Jesus brings it all to a grinding halt when he hears the desperate cries of a blind man. Out of sight but not out of mind. Because this event precedes Jesus Triumphal Entry in all three Synoptic gospels, we ought to pay close attention to the larger lessons Jesus is teaching. He is not just opening this man's eyes. He is opening our hearts to what this march to Jerusalem is all about.
In the sermon, Ryan referenced or consulted the following:
  • 60 Minutes segment re: Albert Pujols:
  • Quote from Charles Spurgeon: “We never should have known Christ’s love in all its heights and depths if he had not died; nor could we guess the Father’s deep affection if he had not given his Son to die. The common mercies we enjoy all sing of love, just as the sea-shell, when we put it to our ears, whispers of the deep sea whence it came; but if we desire to hear the ocean itself, we must not look at every-day blessings, but at the transactions of the crucifixion. He who would know love, let him retire to Calvary and see the Man of sorrows die.”
Some questions:
  1. Why are we blind to the worth of every human being? What are the various ways we assign worth to some and not to others? What effect does technology have on our capacity to value people? How does it help or hurt?
  2. If you valued people as much as Jesus does, how would your life change?
  3. If Jesus were to ask you, as He asked Bartimaeus, "What do you want me to do for you?" how would you respond?
  4. Why are we often unmoved by the drama of our rescue? What experiences in your life has God used to give you new eyes to witness the glory of your rescue? What steps will you take this Holy week to reflect deeply on the significance of Jesus' sacrifice for you?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

April 10 Sermon: A Community Together (1 Peter 5:8-14)

Pastor: Ryan Laughlin
Series: 1 Peter
Why is it we need to be convinced that we need each other?  Are we still hiding with Adam and Eve among the trees of the Garden (Genesis 3:8), isolated from the God Who knows and loves us and peeping up over the leaves at one another?  In her wonderful, gospel-saturated book, Because He Loves Me, Elyse Fitzpatrick offers her own analysis of our isolation: 
"our American individualism and desire for privacy.  We don't want anyone poking around in our affairs and we certainly don't want to be accused of poking around in anyone else's.  This idolatry of privacy and individualism is one of the greatest detriments to sanctification in the church today.  God has placed us in a family because we don't grow very well on our own."
Whatever the reason for our stubborn isolation, Peter exposes our folly in this passage by reminding us that we need one another to fight, heal, and work together.  

In the sermon, Ryan referenced or consulted the following: 
  • Restrepo (, winner of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival for documentary.  An incredible glimpse into the beauty and brokenness of men at war.  (Parental note: check ratings and reviews before viewing.) Remind me of the quote by Abraham Kuyper“If once the curtain were pulled back, and the spiritual world behind it came to view, it would expose to our spiritual vision a struggle so intense, so convulsive, sweeping everything within its range, that the fiercest battle fought on earth would seem, by comparison, a mere game.  Not here, but up there – that is where the real conflict is engaged.  Our earthly struggle drones in its backlash.” 
  • C.S. Lewis The Screwtape Letters: In this book, C.S. Lewis presents imaginary conversations between a senior-ranking devil, named Screwtape, and his nephew, Wormwood, who has just been assigned his first “patient,” or human.  At one point, Screwtape advises his nephew on keeping his patient’s mind off Satan’s schemes.  This is what he writes, “I do not think you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark.  The fact that ‘devils’ are predominately comic figures in the modern imagination will help you.  If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that he therefore cannot believe in you.” 
  • John Piper's essay in Christianity Today entitled "Gutsy Guilt" which helped me understand Satan's accusations and how the gospel defeats them. (Parental note: in the essay, Piper speaks frankly about sexual temptation, so preview accordingly: 
  • Tullian Tchividjian's blog @  I especially enjoyed his entry entitled "I'm Addicted." 
Some questions: 
  1. What holds you back from depending on other people? Pride? Fear? 
  2. How does Peter's depiction of spiritual danger motivate us to seek out other people?
  3. Does Peter's description of our suffering as something we endure "for a little while" helpful for you? confusing? frustrating? 
  4. How specifically do we (as a church, as small groups, etc.) need to work together to extend and experience the gospel? 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April 7 - 14

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   

Apr 7: Ruth
Apr 8: 
1Sam 1-3
Apr 9: 
1Sam 4-8
Apr 10: 
1Sam 9-12
Apr 11: 
1Sam 13-14
Apr 12: 
1Sam 15-17
Apr 13: 
1Sam 18-20; Ps 11/59
Apr 14: 
1Sam 21-24 

To view the full schedule:

March 24 - April 7

Our apologies for the delay in posts these past two weeks!

Readings can be accessed in full by clicking on the links below:   

Mar 24: Josh 5-8
Mar 25: 
Josh 9-11
Mar 26: 
Josh 12-15
Mar 27: 
Josh 16-18
Mar 28: 
Josh 19-21
Mar 29: 
Josh 22-24
Mar 30: 
Jud 1-2
Mar 31: 
Jud 3-5
Apr 1: 
Jud 6-7
Apr 2: 
Jud 8-9
Apr 3: 
Jud 10-12
Apr 4: 
Jud 13-15
Apr 5: 
Jud 16-18
Apr 6: 
Jud 19-21
Apr 7: 

To view the full schedule: