South Valley Community Church

South Valley Community Church
By Gospel Centered Mission Focused
About this podcast
South Valley Community Church is one church in many locations. Each week, hundreds of people at South Valley meet in small communities to learn about God, pray, eat, laugh & live.Church is more than a service, it’s people living life together and helping one another. Gospel Centered, Mission Focused. Our purpose as a church is simple: "Love God and Love People". That purpose comes from the Bible where Jesus is asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." Let's shape and grow the community we live in. Sermons will be posted weekly by 10:00 AM Tuesday.
Episodes (Total: 125 / Page: 1)
Oct. 15, 2017 · 00:50:50
Why does Isaiah matter to us? After all, we are Christians, so why would this ancient Jewish prophet’s voice have any impact on us? If you review concordances, commentaries, or other biblical reference works, you will find that the books of the New Testament make direct or indirect references to the words of Isaiah more than 400 times. Do the math. If a typical New Testament (without commentary and footnotes) is less than 400 pages, then on average, you would see at least one Isaiah reference for every New Testament page. But it’s not just “quantity” that matters. The content of the Scroll had “qualities” that the New Testament authors and theologians found indelibly connected to the life and work of a humble carpenter who would become the hope of Israel and all the nations.
Oct. 2, 2017 · 00:45:49
All the functions of a name—reference, revelation, and reputation—come together to carry a lot of weight. A nickname given by a friend or a foe can bring with it remembrance, sometimes in the form of encouragement, and other times as an anchor around one’s neck. We can see that these names of God carried significant weight in the memory of the people of God in the Bible and they still carry weight for us. As with all the names we have studied, YHWH Yirah or “God provides” can be seen not only as a life-granting reminder for the people of Israel, but also a pointer forward to the hope we find in Jesus.
Sept. 25, 2017 · 00:57:26
Sometimes names can give a feel for one’s reputation and point to history. Think of figures such as Alexander the Great, Bloody Mary (Queen of Scots), or Vlad the Impaler. Though the name may not carry a wealth of information, it can speak of the renown (or infamy) of a person. In the Bible, there are many examples of names for God that do this. In Isaiah, it often speaks of the “Holy One of Israel” and in Jeremiah the “Lord of Hosts” but regardless of the book, these names carry a story, a memory of what God has done. One of the most powerful of these names is “El Shaddai” or what is sometimes translated “God Almighty.”
Sept. 16, 2017 · 00:43:47
Sometimes names function as a simple reference, but other times they reveal something related to one’s character. For example, if you stop to help a stranded motorist with a flat tire, the motorist may call you a “hero” or a “savior.” Names can be a revelation about a person. YHWH Ra’ah or Rohi means “God is my shepherd.” A quick read of Psalm 23 will show what the author feels about the character of and relationship to this “Shepherd.”
Sept. 11, 2017 · 00:57:00
He Has a Name: YHWH • Isaac Serrano 09.10.17 by Gospel Centered Mission Focused
Sept. 4, 2017 · 00:44:48
Dr. Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, and in particular young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences in a tangible way through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support for viewing all areas of life through a Biblical worldview. Sean is an Associate Professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University. And he is the Resident Scholar for Summit California. Traveling throughout the United States and abroad, Sean speaks at camps, churches, schools, universities, and conferences.
Aug. 28, 2017 · 00:45:15
Hank Hanegraaff serves as president and chairman of the board of the North Carolina–based Christian Research Institute. He is also host of the nationally syndicated Bible Answer Man radio broadcast, which is heard daily across the United States and Canada—and around the world via the Internet at equip.org. Hank is the author of more than twenty books, with more than a million copies in print. He is a regular contributor to the award-winning Christian Research Journal and an articulate communicator on the pressing issues of our day.
Aug. 19, 2017 · 00:44:38
Jonathan Morrow is the Founder of Think Christianly, a web site devoted to promoting the Christian worldview--especially through the vulnerable post-high school years. He speaks around the country helping Christians understand what they believe, why they believe it, and why it matters. He speaks nationally at conferences, camps, churches, and retreats to youth and adults on Christian worldview and apologetics.
Aug. 13, 2017 · 00:41:53
Mike Licona is associate professor of theology at Houston Baptist University and president of Risen Jesus, Inc. He has a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from the University of Pretoria, which he earned with distinction and the highest mark. Mike was interviewed by Lee Strobel in his book In Defense of Jesus: Investigating Attacks on the Identity of Christ and appeared in Strobel’s video The Case for Christ. Through his ministry, “Risen Jesus, Inc.” 100,000 Christians have been equipped to share their faith using the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.
Aug. 7, 2017 · 00:50:17
Greg Koukl started out thinking he was too smart to become a Christian and ended up giving his life for the defense of the Christian faith. A central theme of Greg’s speaking and writing is that Christianity can compete in the marketplace of ideas when it’s properly understood and articulated. Greg has published more than 145 articles and has spoken on more than 40 college campuses both in the U.S. and abroad. He is an Adjunct Professor in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Greg hosts his own radio talk show advocating clear-thinking Christianity and defending the Christian worldview.
July 30, 2017 · 00:49:15
Freedom Sunday by Gospel Centered Mission Focused
July 23, 2017 · 00:45:33
The Heart of a Father (Conclusion) Sam Whittaker 07.23.17 by Gospel Centered Mission Focused
July 16, 2017 · 00:44:44
1 John 5:13-21: 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. 18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. A Confident Realism: There is a confidence and authenticity to people that are “comfortable in their own skin,” but if we’re honest, realism doesn’t always come naturally to humanity. We are experts at self-delusion and self-rationalization. Think about it. We all have at least one family member or friend that truly believes they have a particular skill, but we know the truth. Consider Uncle Festus. He loves to dance and at your cousin’s wedding he drank a little too much, as usual. Only one thing can happen now. You brace yourself for the convulsive storm of arms and legs, but you know most of the onlookers are oblivious to the spectacle about to take place. By the end of the event, he is confident that he was the life of the party even though the bride has twice cried in shame, and at least one person had to leave the dance floor in need of minor medical attention. Of course, good ole Festus leaves the wedding “more confident in his dancing gift,” but the rest of the guests depart with smart phones filled with Facebook uploads that would make Festus blush. Fortunately, he isn’t on Facebook. Like Uncle Festus, we often slide to extremes in our self-evaluation. From where does our confidence stem, and how realistic is it? After all, “liking to dance” and “being a good dancer” are two separate but valid things. What would make Uncle Festus comfortable with enjoying dancing and knowing he is mediocre at it? In a similar way, what would make us utterly confident in our faith knowing that we don’t have it “all put together” or all the answers? John has referred to his listeners as “beloved,” “little children,” and “children of God.” His words declare “you are the family of God and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” His goal is to firmly plant them in the King’s garden, a place where growth and redemption are certain, and their varied beauty endless. They believe in the name of the Son of God and His name is now part of their own. But in the midst of the beauty of His garden, John is reminding them that the deposed tyrant of the land is still menacing God’s people, even planting weeds and false gardens in their midst, and they must be cautious.
July 7, 2017 · 00:47:21
1 John 5:1-12: 1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. Birthright and Bloodline: I could be wrong, but I believe most parents not only want their children to thrive, but they also want them to carry and reveal some remnant from each of them. Far more than the “nature” of a few proteins in the double-helix of DNA, we want our “nurture,” our working of the clay of our children's lives, to be evident in the way they live. Recall one of those special moments like when a young boy, sitting at the kitchen table, mimics every move his father makes as he goes through his morning routine of reading the morning paper and eating his breakfast. The boy who really doesn’t get excited over snotty eggs learns to eat the white first and then gulp up the whole yolk all at once just like Daddy does. Or imagine the same boy carefully spreading shaving cream over his face, then scraping it away with the handle of his toothbrush because he saw how Daddy does it. We want our children to perpetuate something of our character that somehow bridges the legacy of our identity and efforts into the future. Fast forward to the same boy as a twenty-something. He is now his own man. Not a “mini-me” but a wonderful variant of both mom and dad with a bit of the child’s freestyle mixed in. Now, imagine you have a family friend who gave your son a job at his machine shop. One day he comes to you and as you share a conversation over a beer, he begins telling you that he doesn’t respect your son, remarking how he is “so different from you.” Gut-check. Even if those criticisms were objectively accurate, what would your initial reaction be? I think in my own mind I would be inclined to wrap my hands around my so-called friend’s scrawny little neck, because how can someone love and respect me, the father, and yet hate my son?
July 3, 2017 · 00:50:03
1 John 4:7-21: 7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. For the Love of God! Have you ever had one of those moments where someone used a particular word excessively in conversation? You think to yourself, searching for an explanation why such an uncommon word has suddenly received such regularity. You wonder if Billy Bombastic had just received one of those “New Word Everyday” calendars and you simply bumped into them on “extraneous” day, which is not only bizarre due to the excessive use of the word, but also because his use of it was indeed “extraneous” in virtually every utterance. A slightly different scenario might be with a loved one where they choose to use the repetition of a word in conversations with you to somehow ensure you remember it or catch a hint. It’s as if the conversation has become a giant syringe subliminally injecting the key word into the recesses of that bucket-with-a-hole you call your memory. It is fair to say that we all adopt pet words into our vocabulary that somehow launch themselves from our tongues too often. Even within church circles, we have burdened our vocabulary with words that may have truth to them, but our use of them is baffling to those outside of our church context— “fellowship,” “ministry,” “conviction,” “saved,” and the like. Whatever the case, sometimes this makes the hearer want to respond with a mildly irritated “For the love of GOD . . .” Look carefully in this section and you will find John repeating a word to his hearers. Without irritation and with fatherly care, it is as if he is saying “For the love of God, look for the love of God.” Without looking at any other criteria, this section of the text includes twenty-seven uses of the word “love” in its different tenses (all based upon the same Greek word), and twenty-one uses of the word “God.” You don’t have to be an astrophysicist to understand the thrust of what John wants his hearers to capture. God is love, He loved us first, and any love we have to offer is borrowed from His.
June 26, 2017 · 00:48:09
1 John 4:1-6: 1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Close Encounters: Have you ever had one of those truly spiritual moments? Most of us remember at least one grace-filled, awe-producing moment. Though fleeting, they put giant smiles on our faces and fill our hearts. Maybe it was a conversation with a complete stranger when you shared a bit of your story and heard his. Maybe it was holding your newborn for the first time, or maybe it was a meal you shared with your spouse or spouse-to-be in a very special place. These are sometimes referred to as “thin” moments or places where, like the sharing of oxygen through the whisper of a bride’s veil, we almost feel the breath of God. There is also the other side, where the membrane between material and spiritual is just as thin. Moments of oppression or unexplained despair can come on us like a viral flood. I remember a night a few years back when I felt an evil oppression in my dreams and I was awakened from sleep to an audible low growl with the weight of a man pressing on my chest, sending me deep into my mattress. I swear I thought I would open my eyes and see someone over me. It feels odd to admit to it, especially because I have no rational explanation for it. Truth be told, I have suffered from a heart condition called atrial fibrillation for over 10 years, but this was not my heart. The physical sensation took my breath away, and though it only lasted seconds, my sleep escaped me for what remained of the night. It was one of those moments when I felt complete vulnerability and real fear. Needless to say, I prayed. The reality of a spiritual realm is not in question for John. He wants to make sure that his listeners are aware that there are spiritual forces at play and they are not always good; but, most important, their quality can be tested. Much like his previous contrast of “love of the world” against “love of the Father” (Session 5), John brings out his permanent marker again to lay down a line between “the Spirit of truth” and the “spirit of error.”
June 18, 2017 · 00:49:54
Matthew 1:18-25: 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. Fatherhood: You may not be a parent, but I tell you being a Dad is incredibly fulfilling and very difficult. I remember sitting in the “delivery room” as my wife was going through cycles of pain and hopeful uncertainty. Some ice chips and a small bit of cranberry juice were the only solace in the active skirmish taking place within her (as if that provided any sustenance to carry her through the battle to come). In the midst of this quiet room, all I could do was wait, do my best to comfort her, and keep my own anxious thoughts to myself. I recall the moment one of the nurses indicated we were getting close. “We” was not very accurate, but I appreciated the pseudo-inclusion. She went to get the doctor and said, “make sure you don’t push yet.” The moment the door creaked shut, I heard this guttural hiss from my wife, so I asked, “wait, are you pushing?” In a half grunt and a voice much deeper than I recall her having, she said “I DON’T THINK SO.” It wouldn’t help to call her a “liar,” so I jumped up and ratted her out to the nurses. Moments later my beautiful daughter was born. From the moment we uneasily receive that swaddled, cooing lump of personhood, we are forever changed for good and for bad. On the good side, we now have a fuller purpose to bring life and hope to another, but on the bad side, this good threatens to take down the walls of our pride and personal desires. “What do you mean we can’t go on that vacation now?” “What do you mean I have to lose sleep and still get up at 5:00am to go to work?” “Are you serious? How can so much stuff come out of such a small thing?” Two kingdoms are fighting within the city walls, where a parent’s heart, will, and self-importance become the battleground for true “parenthood.” Success requires leaving a part of ourselves behind like a field amputation in the middle of cannon fire. Mary’s husband, Joseph, is portrayed in Matthew’s gospel account as a man who stepped into the role of parent before setting eyes on his child, in fact, this child was certainly not his own. Even if you don’t have children and never plan to, stand in his place for a moment and you will see the magnitude of Joseph’s faithfulness and sacrifice in adversity. Betrothed to a pregnant virgin, ready to quietly slip out the door, called by God to marriage, we see Joseph choosing true sacrificial fatherhood.
June 11, 2017 · 00:52:19
1 John 3:11-24: 11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. Brothers and Bullies: I love my brother. He’s a couple of years older than me, and definitely wiser. I remember a time when I was a preschooler, and I was in daycare after school. As I was playing inside the giant cement tunnel in the lower playground at St. Marks Episcopal, I came face-to-face with my first “bully.” I am not sure, but I think his name was Jimmy Spears (yep, it sounds ominous because it was). He was a few grades older than me, and maybe a grade above my brother. He called me “kid” and you know how that sets me off (see Session 3). Anyway, I was being harassed for no apparent reason and I felt trapped. I didn’t even know he was around, but I remember my brother appearing out of nowhere. I don’t recall if it got physical, but if it did, I know the scuffle ended with heroic music, Spears on his rear-end, and my brother, victorious, reaching his massive first-grade arm around me to shepherd me to safety. On that day, the powers of evil were defeated. About a decade later, when my father died of colon cancer, my brother became the most important male role model in my life. It’s not like we don’t have differences or we spend every week on the phone, but deep down I know our “blood” means something. I can count on his counsel and care, but not every sibling story is the same as mine. John writes as a subject within the Roman Empire, and the city of Rome at the center of the Empire was said to be founded by twin brothers, Romulus and Remus. One version of the myth describes them born to a princess by the god Mars and hunted by an evil uncle. Together they help defeat that uncle and found the city of Rome, but disagreeing on which hill would be best to found the city upon, Romulus kills Remus. This is a different kind of brotherhood. So far, John has reinforced proper foundational faith and ethics using familial language like “beloved” and “little children,” but here he makes a sharp distinction between two types of brotherhood, one good and one evil.
June 5, 2017 · 00:39:23
1 John 3:1-10: 1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. Tax Returns and Children: Don’t you love tax refunds? My wife and I always get our taxes done as early as possible so we can put the refund to use, usually to pay for property taxes. Funny, we receive our tax refund to pay more taxes—only in America! Anyway, those few weeks after we send our tax returns have become weirdly hopeful, because we have spent years tweaking our withholdings knowing (hoping) a good chunk of money will come back to us. Simply put, we make plans for what has yet to occur. Consider things with larger horizons, like our children. If you have children, have you ever considered that every instruction you give them anticipates something? You may tell your son to wear a helmet when riding his bike, because you are anticipating his safety. You may tell your daughter to work hard on her homework, because you are anticipating her success. You may tell your teenager to clean his room because most potential wives are NOT anticipating a “slob” for a husband. You plan for what is yet to occur, but these plans are built on something. They are fueled by hope. You may tell your daughter to work hard on her homework, because you are anticipating her success. You may tell your teenager to clean his room because most potential wives are NOT anticipating a “slob” for a husband. You plan for what is yet to occur, but these plans are built on something. They are fueled by hope. John’s vision is for his family—his proverbial children—to grab ahold of a future hope that enables them to live differently now. He knows that Jesus’ incarnation and glorification to the right hand of the Father are not only foundational events behind them, but they have also triggered seismic and hopeful implications for living life cemented in God’s imminent future with His “children.”
May 29, 2017 · 00:52:42
1 John 2:18-29: 18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. 26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. 28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. Trees and People Have you ever thought about trees? From giant sequoias to that “weed bush” that keeps coming up in your yard, plants can be incredibly hearty. But if you think about it, they establish themselves in a single place and they are wholly reliant on getting all their needs met by remaining in one location. They don’t move because the sun is brighter down the block or because the soil seems more lush over near that super cute butterfly maple. They stay put, but they grow. Under the soil, roots journey out and down on a slow trek to find their way to stability and sustenance that ensures growth. Above ground, they grow up and outward to harness the rays of the sun and to blossom for a future generation. On the other hand, people are highly mobile. We commute. We travel. We go out to dinner. Sometimes I think our culture teaches us that “remaining” anywhere is a bad thing—go ahead, take that new and better job, to get a new and bigger house in a new and better neighborhood. Our wanderlust tells us “the grass is always greener . . .” John is singing a different tune. He knew about trees like we do. In this section, John explicitly references the “separatists” and how they “went out” from among them. He knows that his hearers have been surrounded by multiple voices and some of those voices were pointing to a “greener pasture” of knowledge that John knows is not true. Throughout the whole letter, but heavily in this section, he is reinforcing that they have everything they need in God and his righteous Son. He wants them to “abide” permanently in the soil of the gospel.