Thanks for being our guest!
Thanks for spending Easter with us. As a thank you gift for you, we put together a special interactive page on our website. It features some messages and resources we hope will encourage and help you take some next steps in your relationship with God. Thanks again for being our guest, and we hope to see you in 2018!
- Steve Clifford
Q :: Wrestling with the Tough Questions of Faith
There are questions in life that are so difficult and troubling that, if left unaddressed, can undermine and derail our faith. Questions about hell. Suffering. Hypocrisy in the Church. For the next 7 weeks, we’ll take an honest look at some uncomfortable topics. Topics that everyone faces, whether you’re religious or not.
WEEK 1 :: THE HAPPY, MORAL, IRRELIGIOUS PERSON
If religion is supposed to make you a better person AND make you happy, what do you do when you meet a person who is both good and happy - and irreligious? Does this mean that Jesus isn’t necessary for either? In this week, we dive into the heart of Jesus’ teachings the famous Sermon on the Mount - and see that Jesus talks about both what it means to be happy and what it means to be good. And Jesus’ definitions and advice on these crucial matters are as shocking today to our modern ears as they were for His ancient listeners. And just as important to consider.
WEEK 2 :: HYPOCRISY IN THE
There is no doubt that hypocrisy in the church has done real damage to the spiritual lives of many people. But if we are honest, hypocrisy doesn’t just exist in other people - we often will fail to practice the kind of behavior we expect from other people. In this message, we examine the disastrous roots of hypocrisy, and see what real steps can we take (with Jesus) to arrest this deadly cancer. And in the process, live bravely and in freedom.
WEEK 3 :: HELL
Many today believe hell is a "skeleton in God's closet," a tough topic that, if looked at closely, would reveal a cruel, vindictive tyrant rather than a good and loving God. And we aren't comfortable with the answers we've been given. Portland pastor and author Joshua Ryan Butler stops by to pull these bones out into the open to exchange popular caricatures for the beauty and power of the real thing. We'll discover that hell was never really a skeleton at all but a proclamation of a God who is good "in his very bones," not just in what he does, but in who he is. And we’ll find - by studying the Biblical picture of hell - that God is good and coming to redeem his world.
WEEK 4 :: HELL (PART 2)
Last week, we delved into the caricatures of hell that exist in popular culture, and showed how the Biblical narrative gives a much different and much more full picture of what hell is. In part 2 of our examination of the topic of hell, we examine the terrible necessity of hell. Because of the gift of free will, humans have the chance to reject God, and hell becomes a symmetrical necessity because of free will and God’s character (which is incompatible with sin). Lead pastor Steve Clifford dives head-first into a topic that is heart-breaking for many, including apparently God Himself.
WEEK 5 :: CONTRADICTIONS IN SCRIPTURE
Everyone loves the parts of the Bible that are filled with love, affirmation and glowing promises. But what about when you get to parts of the story that are confusing, contradictory - or worse - seem to cast doubt on God’s character? Most folks simply avoid those passages because we’re secretly afraid if we dig in, we’ll find out something bad about God that will show He’s not that...good. In this message, Bible scholar and Sunnyvale Campus pastor David Kim chooses a particularly confusing verse - and shows us practical, scholarly, intelligent techniques to help us understand what’s going on in that part of the Bible so we can move from avoidance and suspicion to understanding and trust.
WEEK 6 :: SUFFERING (PART 1)
The physician Paul Brand once wrote, “In the United States, I encountered a society that seeks to avoid pain at all costs. Patients lived at a greater comfort level than any I had previously treated, but they seemed far less equipped to handle suffering and far more traumatized by it.”
Is this true? Are we Americans actually LESS equipped to handle the unavoidable pains of life than many of our less educated, less technologically advanced, less progressive counterparts on the planet? Is there a crisis of meaning in our world that makes it difficult for people to deal with suffering? In this deeply personal talk, WestGate Church lead pastor Steve Clifford talks about what the teachings of Jesus and the Bible say about suffering - and how they’ve helped him discover that no explanation or understanding of suffering could be more helpful, hopeful or encouraging.
WEEK 7 :: HUMAN SUFFERING (PART 2)
In the past 17 years, the overall suicide rate has risen 24 percent. It rose for every racial and gender category except African-American men. But why? Why should modern people feel more hopeless when, arguably, our lives are more comfortable and we are living longer than ever before? Perhaps it’s because there is a deep crisis of hope. In part 2 of his deeply personal talk on suffering, WestGate Church lead pastor Steve Clifford talks about what the teachings of Jesus and the Bible say about hope. And why the Christian story provides exactly what everyone who is suffering truly needs: confidence that God has better days ahead (even if that seems impossible).
Other Awesome Resources
The Bible is a big book and a big story (that sometimes can be intimidating and difficult to understand). Our friends at The Bible Project produce short-form, fully animated videos to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. They also create videos, podcasts, and study guides that explore the Bible’s unified story. Here are three great ones to start with.
Heaven and Earth
The over-arching, grand story of the Bible is that Heaven and Earth were meant to overlap, and Jesus is on a mission to bring them together once and for all.
Jesus fulfilled the ancient biblical promise of a wounded victor who would rescue humanity. He was the one who overcame evil itself by allowing it to destroy him.
What is justice and who gets to define it? Explore the biblical theme of Justice and discover how it's deeply rooted in the storyline of the Bible that leads to Jesus.