Tag Archive for: Theology

The Promises of 2022

I love a clean slate.

That first page of a new journal, starting a new book, or the first day of a new season. And, I really love the beginning of a new year. Every new year holds so much promise.

2021 started with promise. It was certainly going to be a better year than 2020; it had to be.

No more COVID, no more political division or racial divide? At least, that was the hope, right?

Well, we didn’t even make it a week into 2021 and the wheels fell off, again.

2021 felt like any other year that started with so much promise, but ended up being such a disappointment.

We can laugh it off now — we kind of have to — but the effects of the past few years are real: division, sickness, and uncertainty.

2021 broke a lot of promises.

Well, here we are again. It’s January. A clean slate. I love a new year!

But our hopes have been tempered. Everyone seems to be a little more cynical and hardened this time around. And maybe we should be. Life is hard and will continue to be hard. In fact, long before COVID-19 Jesus told his followers:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

— John 16:33

Jesus was honest about the challenges of life.

But, there is a difference between a realistic understanding of our broken world and losing hope as Christians.

So what if 2022 really does offer promise? And what if that promise will never lead to disappointment?

As we begin the new year, here are three promises we can hold on to:


These past couple of years, we’ve experienced isolation, separation, and loneliness to a greater degree, but this is not new. Spiritually and relationally people have a tendency to feel isolated. We need to be reminded that we are never alone if we know Jesus.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

— Matthew 28:19-20

As we walk through 2022 (and whatever may come with it) we can be reminded that we have a God who is present with us always.

In fact that’s what we just celebrated at Christmas. Jesus, who is Immanuel, God with us!

And, as amazing as it is that he came to dwell with us, Jesus also came and experienced the real suffering and brokenness of our world. He knows what it’s like to be thirsty and hungry, to be tempted and rejected and abandoned.

He knows what it’s like to suffer and even to die.

He understands it all and is with us in it all. Always.


I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

— Philippians 4:10-13

This is a popular verse, but so often misconstrued. Paul was not saying he could do whatever he wanted to do because God would strengthen him. He wasn’t talking about the perfect jump-shot or a six figure salary.

Paul was in the midst of the suffering and tribulation Jesus had warned about.

But, even there, Paul was content in abundance, and he was content in suffering, because Christ was present with him.

It’s not a promise of comfort or ease, but of God’s presence and power in the midst of anything we might face.


I know this is often a Christian cliché, but it’s also a real promise.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

— Romans 8:28

The context of this verse is, again, acknowledging the suffering in our world.

Paul was describing those who walk in the Spirit as disciples of Christ.

For us, no matter what we face, we can be sure that not only are we never alone, not only does God strengthen us along the way, but we can trust that in the end, his goodness, power, and sovereignty will work out for our good and his glory.

Let’s be clear though, this promise doesn’t mean that everything is good. There is so much in our broken hearts and our broken world that is decidedly bad, like sickness, betrayal, cancer, hurricanes, selfishness, and so much more.

But, even in the middle of all of it, we trust that God is faithful to keep his promises. And in the end, he takes even the worst of life, the brokenness of our world, and he works it for good. It is an incredible promise!


The “promises” of this world will always disappoint, but we can be certain in the promises of God. None of these promises guarantee an easy new year ahead, but they are true and something we can and should hold fast to no matter what 2022 brings.

God’s promises are as true today as they were last year. They will always be the same and they will always offer hope beyond today.

This is what true faith, founded in Christ, looks like.

Grace: God’s Purposeful Presence

As Christians, we are always concerned with communicating the Good News of Jesus. The gospel is the message of grace for sinners, life eternal in Christ, and the transforming power of God that impacts every aspect of our lives.

The multidimensional nature of the Gospel is seen clearly in Clear Creek’s spiritual formation chart: our activities are rooted in our gospel identity. Or, said another way, because of who God is and what he has done, we have new identities that transform what we do in this world.

Despite this understanding, however, the gospel can sometimes be presented as the antithesis to good works.

While we may think this provides clarity to the unique and redeeming work of Christ, it can make us uneasy about emphasizing good works. We are afraid we might become legalistic or worse, undermine the grace of God, by preaching a gospel of works.

Neither Jesus nor the apostles are uneasy about emphasizing good works. Jesus says we are the light of the world called to faithfully let that light shine before others so they may see our good works (Matthew 5:14,16). Paul tells us we are to “be rich in good works” (1 Timothy 6:18), “a model of good works” (Titus 2:7), and “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). In fact, a key function of the Bible itself is to equip us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17).

So, where does the tension between grace and good works come from? Are good works optional? Are they ancillary? Or, are they essential to our faith?

A simple definition of grace is God’s unmerited favor. Because we are sinners, we rightly understand that we do not deserve God’s goodness. But, because of the reality of our sinfulness, it’s easy to think of grace as only being granted for our redemption. When God’s grace is only understood to be expressed toward humanity after the fall of the world in Genesis 3, it can cause us to think of grace in a static and transactional way.

Yet, grace for humanity does not originate in the response to the fall and our now sin-tainted life in this world. God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He did not become gracious after human rebellion corrupted God’s creation.

Instead, we must learn to see God’s gracious will and purpose for humans as the first and defining expression of grace toward humanity.

The world that God created in the beginning was good! It was to be a dynamic place where good works and stewardship were at the heart of the plan. Energy, effort, discipline, growth, and change were essential parts of God’s purposes and gifts to humanity. It was a world full of potential with a story to be written and work to be done!

Yet, remember, Adam and Eve did not choose to be created, they did not earn their existence, and they didn’t deserve the delight of living in God’s good creation. So, we can see that grace was poured out on innocent, not condemned beings. This is the lens through which we must see and understand grace even in our post-fall existence.

Grace is a means not an end. God’s grace for humanity has a purpose — a God-sized purpose — where we exist to reflect his image throughout his creation. He allows us to participate in the greatest good of them all: a relationship with himself. God’s unmerited favor is, has always been and always will be his purposeful presence with us. Grace allows, enables and empowers us. Grace is not opposed to goodness, grit, or goals.

We need to understand this as believers of Christ not just so we do remember that effort is not the same as earning, and that doing is not the same as deserving, but also because it will enable us to fulfill our mission to lead unchurched people to become fully devoted followers of Christ.

We cannot fulfill our purpose apart from knowing and being known by God in Christ, but through him, we can and should do much good in his world.

Grace should energize us to engage in service projects in our community, so the presence of God is manifested for the people of the 4B area. Good works are essential to the Christian life. It’s no wonder that Paul not only says we are to be zealous for good works but that in Christ we were in fact created for good works (Ephesians 2:10).

Our call is to bring wholeness, peace, and justice to God’s creation. To do this, we must go beyond words. The world must see our good works in such a way that they give glory to our Father in Heaven and then are inspired to join us in our calling to reflect God’s grace to the world.


The Immanence and Transcendence of God

Christmas brings with it a “comfortable” view of Jesus. Like Ricky Bobby in the movie Talladega Nights, we love the image of “Dear tiny Jesus, in your golden-fleece diapers, with your tiny, little, fat, balled-up fists pawing at the air.” There’s a tender vulnerability in a baby that allows us to approach him without the fear usually inspired by the presence of God himself. This is the beauty of the incarnation – a God who has lowered himself to take on human frailty and dwell in our midst.

Unfortunately, there can be a danger in our Ricky Bobby thinking, picking and choosing the version of Jesus who most appeals to us while ignoring the aspects of his character that are more complicated or difficult. Despite the comfortable feelings that this minimization can bring, our concept of God can begin to feel inadequate to the difficulties we face. We need a God of power and might, one whose purpose is more significant than soothing us with warm, fuzzy feelings.

There is an increasing longing within our culture for something beyond ourselves – a spiritual desire for a greatness beyond our own achievements and effort and a power that can transform our lives. The human heart yearns for something more: more glorious, more grand, more worthy.

Only in Scripture can we find a picture of God who is both perfectly transcendent and truly immanent — infinitely beyond us and yet personally with us.

Transcendence is that aspect of God’s character that recognizes his position above and beyond all that he created. He is great, impenetrable, and matchless. His immanence recognizes that he graciously enters into his creation, working and acting within the world that he has made. The gospel message is most effective when we hold both attributes of God in balance, neither minimizing his transcendence to increase our comfort nor minimizing his personal nature to satisfy our reason. When we present both aspects of God’s character equally, his goodness is magnified.

The Lord is high above all nations,

and his glory above the heavens!

Who is like the Lord our God,

who is seated on high,

who looks far down

on the heavens and the earth?

– Psalm 113:4-6

Here the psalmist praises God for his transcendence — placing God in his rightful place “above all nations,” filled with authority, and independent from his creation. Unbound by space or time, he is infinite, omnipresent, and sovereign over all. Our God is above even the heavens themselves, beyond any need that we could fulfill, and past the limits of our finite understanding. This is no small God, able to be pacified or distracted. Our only right response is a posture of reverence, awe, and humility.

But the truth of God’s transcendence does not contradict his personal interactions with us. Rather, it increases the value of that relationship. The next verses in the same psalm paint a picture of an immanent God of love:

He raises the poor from the dust

and lifts the needy from the ash heap,

to make them sit with princes,

with the princes of his people.

He gives the barren woman a home,

making her the joyous mother of children.

Praise the Lord!

– Psalm 113:7-9

The mercy of God overflows from this passage. His consideration for the needy, his reversal of their suffering, his care for the childless all indicate that there is no suffering he cannot see. Even the most invisible and devalued in our society are treasured and sustained by the God who is present with us; the God revealed in the gospel of Matthew as Immanuel (1:23). Jesus displayed this same compassion in his earthly ministry as he healed the sick, touched the leper, and wiped the tears from women’s eyes.

But the mercy of God doesn’t negate his infinite nature, for only his complete freedom allows him to right these wrongs. God’s immanence gives him awareness of and compassion for our suffering and sin. God’s transcendence gives him the power to heal, rescue, and redeem. Because he is beyond the limits of all we understand, he can reverse the fortunes of those who seem inevitably downtrodden. And nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the incarnation and atoning work of Christ.

Though the Son of God was completely, utterly divine, he stepped down to earth and entered the womb of a woman. He took on a human nature in order to live among us. And in his death, he paid for our sins against an infinitely holy God as no mere human could have done, for his transcendent nature bore an infinite cost.

Our God is beautifully personal, and we should rejoice in his invitation to intimacy with him.

As we anticipate and celebrate Christmas this season, may we be reminded that the little babe in the manger was also our infinitely transcendent King lifted on high, who in humility descended to dwell with us.

God is both further from us, and nearer to us, than any other being.

– C.S. Lewis


Confident in Christ, Compelled by Love

The Church today suffers from a confidence problem. Our culture may seem to be growing more hostile to Jesus and his gospel message, but that does not change God or his plan to redeem the world. Are you someone who has complete confidence that God’s message of hope in Christ is the right message? Are you convinced, like Jesus, no matter who is in front of you – no matter how strong, intelligent, sinful, hardhearted, or far gone they seem – that “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe” (Romans 1:16)?

This confidence is foundational for living effectively as a missionary.



The love of God displayed in Christ is too marvelous to allow anything to get in the way of proclaiming it. Like Jesus, we must not allow any obstacle to hinder us from engaging others.

Jesus lived with complete confidence. He wasn’t arrogant, because his confidence was placed in something beyond mere human ability. As followers of Jesus, we can imitate him by placing our confidence in the same two objects that he trusted in.

First, we must have confidence in God. Jesus knew himself and the Father. He neither had to be reminded of his own power, majesty, holiness, and greatness nor of God the Father’s qualities and worth. No matter who stood before him – king, slave, rich, poor, or a troubled Samaritan woman – Jesus wasn’t intimidated. He knew that God, and his plan for the world, were both perfect and complete.

Second, we must have confidence in the gospel message. Jesus knows he is the only hope for every man, woman, and child. Jesus was never overwhelmed by anyone’s sin. On the contrary, sin was overwhelmed by him. That’s why Jesus never encountered a life that was too far gone from him to rescue. He knew who he was and what he was going to do at the cross. He knew he had come to bring new life!

Intimidation can arise when our eyes become fixed on the person we are sharing with instead of on Jesus. This is not to suggest looking past or trivializing people, but to fix our eyes upon Jesus, never losing sight of who he is and the power of the gospel he brings. To fail to do so risks becoming easily overwhelmed by shifting our focus to the problems, questions, or intellect of the people we’re trying to reach. Confidence shrinks as well as our desire to share the gospel.

Do you believe God is wonderful and glorious? Do you believe in his message of reconciliation? Are you convinced the gospel is the hope for every man, woman, and child? Be confident in God and the gospel he offers!



Our confidence in the gospel of Christ should also result in love for others. It is sad that the American church is better known for what we are against rather than who and what we are for.

To be fair, we are not entirely to blame. There are spiritual forces at work which hate us and would continue to do so even if we did everything correctly. Jesus reminds us:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

– John 15:18

However, no matter how much hate we endure, as God’s people we need to hold fast to what drives our gospel mission: love. It’s an essential part of the foundation for missional living.

The gospel message cannot be divorced from love. Our engagement with lost people should find its roots in our love for God and his glory. It was the great desire of Jesus to see his Father glorified above all else (John 17:1-5). Everything Jesus did was done to show his love for the Father (John 14:31).

In Matthew 22:37, when asked what the greatest commandment of the Scripture was, Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” We must seek to be driven by love for God in the mission of making disciples. Evangelism was never meant to be a spiritual drudgery we slavishly perform, but instead, a glorious calling fueled by an ever-deepening love and awe for the one who first loved us.

And if we grow in loving God, we will then be moved to love the lost as well. It’s no coincidence that Jesus followed his statement about loving God with these words, calling them the second greatest commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). This was the reason Jesus was called the friend of sinners. He loved others well – all kinds of others, especially those that everyone else wrote off as too broken, dirty, or evil. We must love others as Christ loved them in order to fulfill our new mission in life.

Do you have a genuine love for people? Do you love, not just for the ones who are easy to love, but, as Jesus modeled, those who are difficult?


May we, as missionaries, be people who are confident in Christ and compelled by love!


(This article adapted from Go & Multiply: Sharing the Gospel in Word and Deed)


My Truth

Words are strange. They are the building blocks of our language; signifiers that carry meaning. But that meaning can be imprecise or changing.

Think of the word love. Its meaning can change based on a variety of factors. Telling your spouse you love them carries a different weight than telling your pet you love them. Or using love to describe your favorite food or book. The meaning of a word can change based on context, audience, or tone.

Or culture.

Every culture has language specific to its time and place. Words and their meaning can change over time and culture. Such is the case with the word truth.

Christians have always held to the notion that there is such a thing as objective truth.

By and large, our culture does not have a strong understanding of the term truth. As we leave Postmodernism, wherein truth was stripped of all meaning and made completely relative, our culture has realized that truth must exist in some form. This agreed upon form of truth is now found in people’s stories. Experience has become the lens through which modern minds process and respond to thoughts and ideas.

When people say “my truth” they often mean “my story.”

We all have lenses through which we see the world. These lenses affect how we view the world, God, truth, others, and ourselves. As we work to understand God’s Word, we have to be aware of the lenses we use. If our lens is purely our own experience, we will read Scripture as if we have the right to interpret God’s message in a way that agrees with what we want to be true based on our experience. Sharing our experiences with others is a great way to connect, but experience makes a poor lens.

As disciples of Christ, we must have our lens shaped by the truth of Scripture. God’s word has much to say about what and who truth is. In John 17, Scripture provides us with Jesus’ prayer to the Father in which he prays for his disciples. Through this prayer, Jesus revealed what truth is: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

Jesus flat out said that God’s word is truth.

Later, the apostle Peter says the Word of God is eternal truth which lives forever (1 Peter 1:23). Jesus described himself as “the way, the truth, and the life” and said that “no one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6).

This biblical view of truth is an antidote to our cultural understanding of truth. Through Scripture we know that absolute truth exists, the Word of God is true and unchanging, and faith in Jesus is the only true way to know God. The truth contained in Scripture is true for all times, all peoples, and all places.

Yet, the idea that truth and experience are equitable still peaks its head into our Bible studies. While earnest believers might not purposefully confuse their personal experience with truth, the reality is that sometimes believers interpret Scripture in light of their experience.

Think of the language that you might hear in group, “Here’s what this passage means to me…” In reality though, when we approach Scripture as a church or a small group, God has one intended message. We must do the work to understand the context and language, but God’s meaning is not unknowable. When we share our response to the Bible with others, instead of saying what a passage means to me, it is more accurate to describe how a passage applies to me.

For example, say your small group is reading through the Gospel of Luke, and you’ve come to the parable of the prodigal son.

You might hear people in the group share the truth of the passage through their own lens. One person might say this parable means to them that God is waiting for us to return to him. Another might say this passage means to them that kids have to make mistakes on their own and return to God. Still others may say that they see this passage as a warning against the temptations of the world.

But, to really understand the parable in Luke 15, we must understand that God has truth that he is communicating to us. This means that we have to do the work to understand what the passage means to God and not to us. If we do the work of understanding the context of Luke 15, we can see that Jesus is talking to religious leaders (Pharisees) who were upset that Jesus was speaking to, and eating with, sinners. The parable of the prodigal son then, was originally intended to illustrate God’s goodness to sinners and to challenge the Pharisees to see and replicate that goodness.

Once we have a common understanding of a passage, we can discuss how it applies to us. Some in our small groups might identify with the younger brother running from the Lord, and realize they need to repent. Others might see themselves to be more like the Pharisees and need to repent of their unloving attitudes. And still others might just need to be reminded of how good God is.

When we become Christ followers, the lens through which we see the world radically changes.

However, we still live in this world and we often put on its cultural lens without realizing it. Scripture makes it clear that there is such thing as Truth. A definite, objective, eternal truth. As Christ-followers, let’s honor Jesus as the Truth and seek after him with all that we have.


Whose Fault is the Hurricane?

When natural disasters occur and lives are lost or destroyed, everyone begins searching for answers. The pain is so great and the suffering is so consuming that we feel a need to make sense of the chaos. Some people do that by searching their Bible for connections between the current disasters and the end-times, while others look for someone to blame.

Is a city or nation’s sin at fault for this tragedy?

Is it a result of God’s judgment?

Why did this happen to them—or to us?

A similar question was posed to Jesus during his ministry. In the midst of a conversation about the final judgment, someone asked how this connected with some recent tragedies. Were these two unexpected events—eighteen people dying in the collapse of a tower and the killing of innocent bystanders by soldiers in the Temple—a punishment on those who suffered? Jesus responded:

Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

– Luke 13:1-5

Jesus knows what they are really asking: Did these people deserve what came? Are they particularly bad? His words remind us that suffering is a result of sin, but it is not our neighbors’ sin that should worry us, but rather our own. What can Jesus’ answer teach us about how we should respond to hurricanes, pandemics, or any other suffering in this world?



In the beginning, God’s creation was completely good, but Adam and Eve’s rebellion changed everything. And their sin is our sin too—it is the sin of all mankind. This is the broken world that we have created, in which we constantly feel the consequences of our corporate and individual sin.

In our fallen world, the redeemed suffer alongside the enemies of God, as both his common grace—sunshine, rain, science, art—and the brokenness of the world are experienced by us all.  The world is full of goodness, but we still must reckon with the impact of our sin on the world. And beyond our day-to-day difficulties, a judgment is coming that will bring greater destruction than anything we have experienced. The full wrath of God will be revealed.

Disaster of all kinds should lead us to repentance, not because we live in a city that is particularly bad, but because we are all sinners. Humanity has rejected God and determined to live our lives outside of his authority and presence, to disastrous results.

We all must repent. This is not merely a call to the lost. Repentance should be a defining mark of the Christian life. To follow Jesus is to acknowledge to God, ourselves, and the world around us that we fall short constantly, even as we continually turn toward Jesus in trust and obedience.



We still live in a fallen world, but there is hope amid the brokenness, even as storms rage in our minds, our families, and creation itself. We will see suffering in this age, but Jesus descended into our suffering world to rescue us from the destruction of our sin. Christians should understand more than any others the deep pain of a paradise lost, but we also know the hope of Jesus.

Jesus confirms the reality of judgment for our sins, but he also offers a solution—himself. The one through whom and for whom the world was made, the sovereign King of all, has descended from his throne to redeem us and all of creation. Not only has he saved us from judgment, but he is making all things new and will return to rule his people in the restored creation, made perfect once again.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

– Revelation 21:4



Suffering provokes believers and unbelievers alike to seek answers. When disasters strike—natural or personal—we should grieve with those who grieve, acknowledging the terrible reality sin has wrecked upon the world. Let us then offer an answer of hope and trust in Christ, both proclaiming and embodying the gospel of redemption. We ourselves are new creations, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and our response is the best testimony of the promises of restoration found in Jesus.

How we offer this tangible, sacrificial hope to others is unique to each of us: a meal for someone in pain, giving up weekend rest to clear debris, offering shelter to a family without a home. There are a myriad of ways to love and serve others, but we all have the responsibility and opportunity to participate in the missional work of Christ to draw others to himself and set the world right.

Disasters remind us that although judgment is coming, there is a solution: faith in Jesus. We might not always understand why suffering occurs, but we do know who gives us redemption and hope, walking beside us in the face of it all.


May suffering and pain always lead us to repent of our own sin, remember the work of Jesus to redeem and restore his creation, and respond with missional love to a lost and broken world.


When you look around and wonder whether God cares,

you must always hurry to the cross

and you must see him there.

– Martin Luther


A Study of Zechariah: The Sovereign Love of God

In the summer 2020 message series “For the Love,” the Clear Creek Community Church Teaching Team will examine one of the least known sections of the Bible, the books known as the Minor Prophets, to better understand the great love of God and our faithful response to that love. Join with us in reading each book along the way! Each Sunday afternoon we will post an introductory video by The Bible Project and a 5-day reading plan with reflection questions to prepare you to hear the following Sunday’s message.

DAY 1—Read Zechariah 1-3

Zechariah begins with a clear identification of the setting for this prophet’s preaching: the reign of the Persian king Darius, during which God’s people are living back in Jerusalem after 70 years of exile. Verse 3 contains a clarion call which resonates through the remainder of the book: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you. To whom does Zechariah compare his audience in 1:2-6? What does he want his listeners to return from doing?

The rest of today’s reading is a series of visions, sent to Zechariah by the Lord, in order to deliver his message to the people of Jerusalem. The first three visions involve a horseman, four horns and craftsmen, and a man with a measuring line—but thankfully Zechariah doesn’t leave us to guess what these varied images represent. For each vision that he sees, an angel accompanies him to explain God’s message. What is the overarching message of these three visions? Is the tone of Zechariah’s prophecy more positive or negative, more hopeful or frightening?

Our reading today closes with a vision of Joshua, the high priest of Zechariah’s day, being clothed in clean garments—a symbol of holiness in the presence of the Lord. This vision is accompanied by a promise: The Branch, God’s servant, will come to remove the land’s iniquity and bring full restoration (3:8-10). Who is this promised Branch (Isaiah 11:1-5, Jeremiah 33:15-16)? What characteristics of his are displayed in these passages? How does Jesus fulfill these promises with his coming?



DAY 2—Read Zechariah 4-6

Zerubbabel was the leader of the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem after Cyrus’ edict, who had led the people to begin work on rebuilding the temple before its construction was stalled (Ezra 3:1-4:5). What does the Lord promise that Zerubbabel will do? By what power will this work be accomplished?

Zechariah’s visions continue in Chapters 5-6 with a flying scroll, a woman in a basket, and four chariots. What do these visions have in common? Would these messages have produced hope or fear in God’s people?


APPLY—Today’s reading again concludes with a prophecy regarding Joshua, the high priest, and the promised Branch who is to come. The crowning of Joshua seems to imply that both the priesthood and the Davidic kingship are essential to the future restoration of God’s people. Read Hebrews 10:11-14, 19-22. How does Jesus fulfill both of these roles? How might an awareness of the kingship and priesthood of Jesus on our behalf transform our relationship with him?



DAY 3—Read Zechariah 7-8

These two chapters were written two years after the visions of Chapters 1-6, addressing a different dilemma among God’s people. During the exile, the Jews had made a practice of regular fasting to mourn the tragic loss of their nation and pray for God’s mercy. What question do they ask Zechariah in 7:3? Zechariah answers their query with both a question and a history lesson—what does he ask, and whose history does he recall?

Chapter 8 begins with a statement of the Lord’s jealousy for Zion, just as he declared in 1:14. As opposed to the more familiar concept of being jealous of someone, what do you think it means to be jealous for someone? What desires does God have for his people (v. 4-8)?


APPLY—Twice in today’s reading, Zechariah summarizes the law of God into some simple statements of how we treat others (7:9-10, 8:16-17). List the commands given in these verses. What difference can it make when we see these as instructions for a flourishing life in community rather than arbitrary laws to keep in order to avoid punishment? Which of these is most challenging for you—remembering to evaluate your own thoughts and attitudes as well as behavior?



DAY 4—Read Zechariah 9-11

Today’s reading has a lot going on: multiple audiences, both blessings and curses, promises of redemption and judgment. Although we could examine many different aspects of these chapters, we’re going to focus in on a few select verses that are referenced in the life of Jesus.

Zechariah 9:9 foretells the coming of a future King who would rescue God’s people. What aspects of the Messiah’s character are emphasized? Read Matthew 21:1-11. How would the crowd’s familiarity with Zechariah’s prophecy have influenced their response to Jesus?

Zechariah 11:12-13 is cited (in combination with a related passage in Jeremiah) in Matthew 27:1-10. In what ways do we see Judas fulfill Zechariah’s prophecy? What connections do you see between the chief priests in Matthew 27 and the sheep traders of Zechariah’s story?


APPLY—The shepherds of the flock of Israel are a recurring theme throughout today’s reading, for their leaders had been marked by irresponsibility and exploitation rather than compassion and faithfulness. How does the guidance given by Israel’s leaders (10:2-3, 11:5-6 & 16) compare to the care that God promises to give (9:16-17, 10:3 & 8)? Read John 10:11-15. How have you experienced Jesus’ tender guidance and care in your life?



DAY 5—Read Zechariah 12-14

These last chapters of Zechariah also contain references to the gospel accounts. Zechariah 12 speaks of the Lord’s promise to bring salvation to his people, ending with their mourning over one whom they have pierced(v. 10). Read John 19:31-37. How does John explain the fulfillment of this prophecy? Why is Zechariah’s description of how they will mourn significant?

Chapter 13 again alternates between promises of future judgment and restoration, connecting back with his earlier prophecies regarding the shepherd and his flock. Read Mark 14:26-31. How does Jesus connect Zechariah 13:7 to his disciples’ future behavior? What hope and grace does he extend to them despite his awareness of their coming failure?


APPLY—Zechariah 14 concludes the book with a prophecy of the coming Day of the Lord, in which great suffering (v. 1-2) will be followed by the final victory of the Lord and the restoration of Jerusalem. Though there are multiple ways to interpret the details of this passage, we can be assured that the definitive fulfillment will come in the establishment of the New Jerusalem following the Second Coming of Christ. Read Revelation 21:22-22:4—what similarities do you see between this passage and Zechariah 14? What hope do these promises give you about our ultimate future and the Lord who will bring it to pass? How can you live today in light of that hope?


A Study of Nahum: The Comforting Love of God

In the summer 2020 message series “For the Love,” the Clear Creek Community Church Teaching Team will examine one of the least known sections of the Bible, the books known as the Minor Prophets, to better understand the great love of God and our faithful response to that love. Join with us in reading each book along the way! Each Sunday afternoon we will post an introductory video by The Bible Project and a 5-day reading plan with reflection questions to prepare you to hear the following Sunday’s message.

DAY 1—Read Nahum 1:1-7

The book of Nahum begins by announcing the city of Nineveh as the subject of its message, much as Jonah was concerned with this Assyrian capital.  Take a closer look at the first half of verse 3 and compare it to both Exodus 34:6-7 and Jonah 4:2. How does Nahum’s quotation of the Exodus passage differ from Jonah’s? What aspects of God’s character are each of them trying to emphasize?


Today’s passage has been compared to a psalm. It is poetic in its language and focused on the character of God himself rather than any future events. What aspects of the creation does Nahum evoke here? Which of these parts of creation can withstand the wrath of God?


APPLY—Verse 7 is one of the most comforting verses in Nahum’s prophecy. After six verses focusing on God’s anger, why might this verse feel incongruent to us? What does that feeling reveal about our beliefs regarding both God’s wrath and his goodness?


DAY 2—Read Nahum 1:8-11

In today’s passage, we begin to see those against whom the Lord’s wrath is directed. For what action does Nahum condemn them (verses 9 & 11)? In what way were the Assyrians guilty of this?


Verse 10 uses some striking metaphors to emphasize the inability of Nineveh to withstand God’s judgment. What do each of these metaphors have in common, and how does each individually add to your understanding of Nahum’s condemnation?


APPLY— Nahum claims twice that the Lord will make a complete end of those who oppose him. Read Jeremiah 46:28. How can we find comfort in both sides of this passage—not only that he will not make a full end of his people, but also that he will make a complete end of his enemies? How does Romans 5:10-11 connect both aspects of God’s character to Christ’s work on the cross and lead us to worship him?


DAY 3—Read Nahum 1:12-2:2

In this passage, it is often difficult to understand the intended audience. In v. 12-13, they refers to the Assyrians, while you speaks directly to the people of Judah. This pattern is also followed in the second half of verse 15. In contrast, who is addressed in verses 14 & 1? What clues in the passage help you to understand it?


These verses are a study in contrasts. What outcome is being promised to the city of Nineveh (v. 12, 14, & 1)? What will be the ultimate result for the people of Judah (v. 12-13, 15, & 2)? Read John 8:31-36. How will the promise of freedom in v.13 be finally fulfilled?


APPLY—In verse 15, Nahum is quoting from Isaiah 52:7 regarding the future reign of the Lord in Jerusalem. Paul also quotes this passage in Romans 10:13-15, emphasizing the need for God’s people to go to those who have not yet heard the good news. How would Nahum’s words have been good news to the people of Judah? In what way is the gospel of Jesus even better news?


DAY 4—Read Nahum 2:3-13

The second chapter relates Nahum’s vision of the destruction of Nineveh, described as vividly as if the prophet was recording with a video camera. List some of the specific images he uses to let his reader see the battle as he did (v. 3-6).


Nineveh was a powerful city, ruling over a vast empire. Though they had turned to God in repentance in Jonah’s day, by Nahum’s time they had reverted to their old ways. What clues can be found in this passage that highlight the objects in which the Assyrians are placing their trust?


APPLY—At the end of this chapter, Nahum creates an extended metaphor comparing a pride of lions to the royal family of Nineveh. How does the prophet describe the king’s actions on behalf of his family? In what ways might we be tempted to wrong others or neglect justice in order to better our families’ lives? What behaviors are we sometimes willing to justify in order to achieve our own comfort and security?


DAY 5—Read Nahum 3

In Nahum’s final chapter, we see a familiar metaphor (v. 5-7)—the unfaithful nation depicted as a prostitute who will be shamed by the Lord’s judgment. Read Hosea 2 and compare it to Nineveh’s fate. What similarities do you see? What does God promise Israel that is missing from Nahum’s oracle regarding Nineveh?


Verses 8-10 compare the Assyrians’ conquest of Thebes to their own impending defeat. On what was Thebes depending for safety and strength? What will similarly happen to Nineveh’s defenses? How would these images of the annihilation of their enemies have given comfort to Nahum’s Judean audience?


APPLY—Nahum’s prophecy concludes with an indictment of Nineveh’s leadership: the king, princes, merchants, scribes, and nobles. What metaphors are used to describe their behavior when judgment comes? Though few of us are responsible for cities or nations, we each have been given stewardship of people and possessions for whose care we will be held accountable. In what ways are you failing to lead wisely and reliably, tempted to neglect or abdicate rather than steadfastly protect and provide for that which has been placed in your care? What does it look like when we lead others out of faith in God’s might rather than trusting in our own strength?

A Study of Jonah: The Uncomfortable Love of God

In the summer 2020 message series “For the Love,” the Clear Creek Community Church Teaching Team will examine one of the least known sections of the Bible, the books known as the Minor Prophets, to better understand the great love of God and our faithful response to that love. Join with us in reading each book along the way! Each Sunday afternoon we will post an introductory video by The Bible Project and a 5-day reading plan with reflection questions to prepare you to hear the following Sunday’s message.

DAY 1—Read Jonah 1:1-6

The book of Jonah begins almost identically to many of the other prophetic books—Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah—but what follows is a stark contrast. What does the Lord call Jonah to do? What does Jonah do in response?


APPLY—Think of a time when you responded to God’s commands like Jonah, taking off in the opposite direction of the way that he called you to go. What did it take to bring you back to the path of obedience? What lessons did you learn through this experience about the benefits of following God? What did you learn about God’s love for you?


Jonah isn’t the only person in the Bible to fall asleep on a stormy sea. Read Luke 8:22-25. How do both stories demonstrate God’s sovereignty over not only the weather, but over all our lives?


DAY 2—Read Jonah 1:7-17

In Jonah’s day, many cultures used the casting of lots to discern the leading of their gods, including the people of Israel (see Joshua 7). When this method demonstrated Jonah’s guilt, what does Jonah ask the sailors to do? What does this reveal about Jonah’s state of mind? What does the sailors’ initial refusal to follow his suggestion tell us about their character?


When the story begins, the original Israelite audience would have expected to identify with Jonah, the man of God from their own culture. However, as the story has progressed, the pagan soldiers have shown more faith and obedience than the prophet himself. Compare verses 9 and 16. Who is truly fearing the Lord in this story? By what actions is this reverence demonstrated?


APPLY—The Israelites of Jonah’s day had taken the distinction of being God’s people and construed from that a mindset of superiority to the surrounding nations. Jonah’s story would have turned their worldview upside down as they saw his righteousness be surpassed by the pagan sailors. To what people or groups are you sometimes tempted to see yourself as superior: other races or nationalities, those with a different religion or socio-economic status, people who have made bad choices or are less gifted? Why is it difficult for us to even admit these feelings? How are these inclinations dangerous to our relationships with God and others?


DAY 3—Read Jonah 2

Many interpreters use the fish swallowing Jonah as a reason to disregard this book or to assume that it is merely a parable, finding it too fantastic to be believed. Do miraculous stories from Scripture tend to strengthen your faith or challenge it? How can we work through difficult texts like this in a way that leads to encouragement and growth?


After three days within the sea creature, Jonah turns to God in repentance and gratitude. Why do you think it took him so long to pray? How do his words demonstrate both a renewed faith and a greater desire for obedience?


APPLY—Amazingly, Jonah praises God with this beautiful hymn in celebration of God’s goodness while he is still in the belly of the fish. Can you remember a time when God gave you the grace to trust him in the midst of your pain and difficulty? How can our suffering lead us into a new awareness of his goodness and intimacy in his presence?


DAY 4—Read Jonah 3

Compare Jonah 3:1-3 with 1:1-3. How are these passages similar? What is different? What do you think is behind the change in Jonah’s response?


Jonah travels to Ninevah and preaches the Lord’s message of coming judgment. How do the people of Ninevah respond? Think back over our study of the Minor Prophets. How does Jonah’s message compare to the themes we’ve seen throughout these books? How does the people’s response compare to the response of the people of Israel when the prophets preached against their corruption and idolatry?


APPLY—When the king of Ninevah hears the word of the Lord, he responds with repentance and leads his people to do so as well. What specific commands does he give? In what ways is the king’s decree a model for our own repentance? What aspects of repentance do you tend to neglect: mourning, prayer, turning away from disobedience, etc.?


DAY 5—Read Jonah 4

In today’s passage, we finally hear why Jonah was initially resistant to God’s message. What did Jonah believe about God’s character (v. 2)? Read Exodus 34:5-7. Did Jonah have a good understanding of who God is?


Though Jonah responds to God’s forgiveness of the Ninevites with unseemly anger, God patiently teaches him a lesson using unexpected tools: a plant, a worm, and a wind. What is Jonah’s emotional response to this lesson? Emotions are powerful heart indicators. What makes you mad or sad or glad? What does that demonstrate about your values, priorities, and affections?


APPLY—The book of Jonah ends ambiguously with a question. Though seemingly directed at Jonah himself, the open-ended structure puts this question into the hands of the reader. As we’ve seen throughout, the book’s original audience would have been dismayed to see the Israelite prophet repeatedly demonstrate a lack of faith, while the pagans around him respond to God with repentance, humility, and trust. Like Jonah, do you have a hardness in your heart toward those in need of God’s mercy? To whom are you hesitant to reach out? What would it look like for your heart to reflect the grace and compassion that overflows from the heart of God?


A Study of Obadiah: The Just Love of God

In the summer 2020 message series “For the Love,” the Clear Creek Community Church Teaching Team will examine one of the least known sections of the Bible, the books known as the Minor Prophets, to better understand the great love of God and our faithful response to that love. Join with us in reading each book along the way! Each Sunday afternoon we will post an introductory video by The Bible Project and a 5-day reading plan with reflection questions to prepare you to hear the following Sunday’s message.

**With our study of the book of Obadiah, we move back in time to the days of the conquest of Judah. Obadiah preaches not to the people of God, but to Edom, a nation bordering Judah to the south. This book is not only the shortest in the Old Testament — those numbers to read each day are verses, not chapters — but also one of the least popular to read.

DAY 1—Read Obadiah 1-4

Obadiah addresses two different audiences in these verses, which we can identify based on the pronouns used.  Who is us in verse 1? Who is her? Then in verses 2-4, Obadiah is addressing someone else: Who are I and you in this passage?

Obadiah’s original readers would have been familiar with Edom’s history, especially their interactions with the nation of Israel, with significant roots extending all the way back to the beginning of the Bible. Read Genesis 25:19-34. Who were Jacob and Esau? When Jacob had grown, God changed his name to Israel, and his twelve sons fathered the tribes that later formed that nation. What was Esau called (v. 30) that later became the name of his descendants’ country? What did the Lord predict would be the relationship between these two nations (v. 23)?


APPLY—How does the prophecy about Rebekah’s sons in Genesis 25 compare to Obadiah’s prophecy in v. 4? Have you ever been tempted to seek a greater glory for yourself than God has promised you? What difference can it make when we approach our tasks and accomplishments to bring glory to God rather than ourselves?



DAY 2—Read Obadiah 5-9

In today’s verses, Obadiah continues to describe the extent of the Lord’s wrath against Edom. What are some of the things and people that this nation will lose in the coming judgment?

Notice that Edom is repeatedly referred to as Esau or Mount Esau in this passage. Let’s read Genesis 27:1-28:5 to get a deeper idea of the roots of their relationship with Israel. How would you describe Jacob’s behavior in this passage? How does Esau respond to Jacob’s actions? What feelings does Esau have for his brother?


APPLY—Just as Jacob took away the blessing to which Esau felt he was entitled, so Obadiah predicts that the Lord will take away Edom’s treasures, wisdom, and might. How do you respond to a loss or lack of worldly success or possessions, especially when you see others who seem to prosper despite lacking integrity? What might it look like to completely trust God with both our abundance and scarcity?



DAY 3—Read Obadiah 10-14

This passage gives us the first clues to the reason that Edom has provoked God’s wrath. In v. 12-14 Obadiah frames his prophecy as a series of commands, but this is a condemnation of their past behavior. How did Edom respond to the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the people of Judah? What does this reveal about the attitude of their hearts toward their brothers?

Although Jacob was sent away to escape Esau’s wrath (and find a non-Canaanite wife), he eventually decides to return to his native land. Read Genesis 32:1-21 and 33:1-16 to see Jacob’s first meeting with Esau since his departure. How has Esau’s heart seemingly changed toward Jacob? What do Jacob’s words and behavior reveal about the state of his heart? What has shifted in the relationship between these brothers, and what has stayed the same?


APPLY—Jacob has returned to Canaan with increased wealth, family, and significance. Esau’s response is to rejoice rather than resent his brother’s good fortune. In contrast, the Edomites of Obadiah’s day only rejoiced over Israel’s destruction. How do you respond to the rise or fall of those with whom you have experienced conflict? What does your reaction reveal about your heart?



DAY 4—Read Obadiah 15-18

Obadiah’s prophecy now extends beyond the borders of Edom. What does he prophesy regarding the other nations of the world? How does that contrast with his message for God’s people in this passage?

The fraught relationship between Jacob and Esau continued long after their deaths, as seen in the ongoing interactions between the two nations of their descendants. During the Israelites’ journey from   Egypt to the Promised Land, they were forced to take an indirect route due to Edomite resistance (Numbers 20:14-21). After traveling far to the south to avoid Mount Seir, they then travelled through the far edge of Edom’s territory. Read Deuteronomy 2:1-8. In what ways does God affirm the nation of Edom? How does their story resemble that of Israel?


APPLY—In both passages that we read today, we see the Lord’s sovereignty over the rise and fall of both individuals and nations. Read Acts 17:24-31. What is Paul arguing here about God’s sovereignty over the nations and his purposes for us? Just as Obadiah did, Paul connects sovereignty with coming judgment. What might it look like when we trust God to be sovereign over our lives: our current circumstances, political turmoil, and ultimate judgment?



DAY 5—Read Obadiah 19-21

Obadiah concludes with a focus on Israel’s future rule over all the surrounding nations as a reconquering of an extended Promised Land. Verse 21 references “saviors” who will come to rule (literally, “judge”) over Edom, like the judges who led Israel before the days of the monarchy (Judges 2:16-19). Why do you think the Lord will utilize deliverers to lead his people rather than re-establishing the kings of Judah? Who will be the ruler of God’s people?

This passage clearly shows that Israel, despite their rebelliousness, will ultimately be redeemed and restored, while Edom’s story ends with judgment. Read Romans 9:9-16. What does Paul argue here about the differing outcomes of Jacob and Esau’s descendants? Though our human tendency is to cry out for “fairness”, in what way is God’s sovereign choice an act of merciful compassion?


APPLY—Obadiah’s prophecy was fulfilled first by Babylonian conquest of Mount Seir in 553 BC. The Edomites later became known as Idumeans and were eventually ruled by the Jews by the time of the birth of Christ, losing their identity as a separate culture or nation. But even in judgment, the mercy of God is clear. Read Mark 3:7-10. Can you spot the Edomites in these verses? Although God’s wrath took away their land and independence, this loss gave them the opportunity to follow Jesus during his earthly ministry, leading some to saving faith. How have you experienced God’s presence even in experiences of great difficulty?  How can suffering grow our character, compassion, and trust in Jesus?


Tag Archive for: Theology

Can All Religions Be True?

One of the great barriers to becoming a follower of Jesus Christ is that Christianity is too exclusive. How can Christians really claim that Jesus is the only way to heaven? How can they say Christianity is the one true faith? And what about the millions of people all around the world who follow other religions?

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Did the Resurrection Really Happen?

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9

Have you ever wondered if the claims of Christianity are possibly true? Did Jesus really rise from the dead?

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What is the Gospel?

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Is the Bible Still Relevant?

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Did the Miracles of Jesus Really Happen?

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What is Heaven Like?

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Who is Baptism For?

Teaching Pastor, Yancey Arrington breaks down how God designed baptism to be practiced in his church as the first public way of communicating one’s personal choice to become a follower of Jesus. We want to celebrate those who have come to faith in Jesus and choose to be obedient in baptism.

Tag Archive for: Theology

131: Curses, Tears, and Worship — Praying with the Psalms

Clear Creek Community Church is taking part in 28 Days of Prayer as a church family.

As part of these 28 days, we are praying through Psalms, the prayerbook of the people of God.

Throughout this book, there are many different types of psalms; each one a different and authentic way of crying out to God our Father.

In this episode, Rachel talks with Tanner Smith, Director of Prayer Ministries, and Denise Ward, teacher of Grief Share and Women of the Word, about the example of honest and intimate prayers in the Psalms and how we can incorporate them into our own prayer lives.

130: What is Spiritual Warfare?

Throughout Revelation, John wants his readers to realize that there is more going on that meets the eye; there is a spiritual reality at work with angels and demons, and God and Satan.

So, what is spiritual warfare?

Is it something we really experience today?

Ryan sits down with Bruce Wesley to discuss Satan and demons, as well as the authority, power, and peace of Jesus.


127: End Times Forum Q&A — Part 2

On February 20, we hosted the End Times Forum featuring our Teaching Pastor, Yancey Arrington.

After the main session, Yancey answered questions from the audience, but we were unable to get to all of them.

So on this episode, Ryan Lehtinen invited Yancey to the podcast studio to ask him the rest.


126: End Times Forum — Q&A

What does the end of history look like?

When will Christ return?

Will believers undergo the tribulation?

These are the kinds of questions that Christians have been asking for centuries, and in seasons where global troubles increase like today, the questions are even more pervasive.

In partnering with our series All Things New: A Study of Revelation, CCCC hosted an End Times Forum where we looked at the different ways Christians have understood what the Bible teaches about the end of the age and sought to answer some of the most asked questions about one of the most important doctrines of the faith.



125: End Times Forum — Main Session

What does the end of history look like?

When will Christ return?

Will believers undergo the tribulation?

These are the kinds of questions that Christians have been asking for centuries, and in seasons where global troubles increase like today, the questions are even more pervasive.

In partnering with our series All Things New: A Study of Revelation, CCCC hosted an End Times Forum where we looked at the different ways Christians have understood what the Bible teaches about the end of the age and sought to answer some of the most asked questions about one of the most important doctrines of the faith.



121: Does God Control Everything?

Life is full of the unexpected: both good and terrible. Is God really in control of it all? And if he is, why do so many bad things happen? Are we still responsible for our choices? Ryan Lehtinen sits down with Lance Lawson and Aaron Lutz to discuss God’s sovereignty, humanity’s freedom, and what this means for our lives.


Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom by John M. Frame

Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will by Kevin DeYoung



120: Is This the End Times? (Repost)

Last year we recorded a podcast on the end times, before knowing we were going to walk through Revelation in 2022 as a church. Here’s the conversation with Rachel Chester and Yancey Arrington about how the Bible seems to describe a period of turmoil that directly precedes the return of Christ. Are we living in that time? What does the Bible really describe? How do we respond as Christians? But over all, this episode is about how to understand Revelation and what it means for us today.

The Bible and The Future by Anthony Hoekema

Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright



119: How to Read Revelation

Revelation is of the most popular books to read in the Bible, but it can also be the most intimidating.

Is it actually possible to understand Revelation?

Rachel Chester sits down with Jenna Kraft and Aaron Chester, teachers of How to Study the Bible, to discuss how to unlock the truth and beauty of the culmination of the entire biblical story.


How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee

Clear Creek Classes: How to Study the Bible




105: Why Does God Allow Suffering?

During the series Salty: Sticking Out for the Right Reasons, we’re discussing questions related to each message on our podcast. On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen, Yancey Arrington, and Bruce Wesley discuss the questions: Why does God allow suffering? How can we walk with those who are suffering?


Suffer Well – Fight Triumphalism (sermon

101: The Surprising Impact of Studying Theology

Looking through the list of classes on clearcreek.org, there’s one that might sound a little intimidating — Systematic Theology. On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen talks with Systematic Theology teachers, Yancey Arrington and Mandy Turner, to discuss what Systematic Theology is, why it’s important, and the surprising impact it has on those who study it.


Clear Creek Classes

Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem