Outwards: How Do We Impact Our World? | Directions (Part 5)

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so welcome friends my name is alex I’m one of the pastors here if you’re visiting it’s it’s great to have you here uh today we have made it in 2020 to thanksgiving I am intrigued to hear what the different thanksgiving day sort of thankfulness statements look like this year it’s a little different than most years um and we’re figuring out those problems like can we have people over should we have people over should we travel should we not um and and I think that’s okay I think you know we’re wrestling with which of our neighbors is most likely to report us to the housing association I got flagged for the first time by hyland’s ranch housing association so I feel like a local now I feel like I belong uh they said that my fence is the wrong color um and I’ve been told to go and purchase highlands ranch brown and and make sure that it’s all taken care

of uh but you know there’s that that sense of like oh I’m not sure whether I should have people over or not all those different things and I think the great news is sometimes we think that God is with us when we’ve made the right decision and actually realizing that he’s with us as we wrestle through those things is an important step that God is there in the process of figuring out the right and wrong and all those different things um and so to to realize that is I think it’s helpful uh we’ve been talking for a few weeks uh this theme of directions it’s it’s something that I feel is helpful for any time we go through change whether that’s personal and that change could be like the grief of a lost loved one it could be a different job situation it could be a family situation any change has some lust to it and there’s usually some grief in that so it’s a personal

thing but it’s also a corporate thing like when organizations change when they go through something different uh when something happens like there’s a loss to that as well um and there’s some figuring out to do there so we walk through these directions with the idea that we look uh backwards and celebrate the great things that God has given the great things in that relationship the great things in that time of life and then in the midst of that we get to look upwards in the midst of struggle we get to look up and say God how are you present right now is it going to fix everything no is it going to make everything okay no will there still be some tension yes probably and will you feel ready to move on from that grief straight away probably not especially in that personal grief but eventually the joy is there’s this movement from

upwards to forwards it’s the idea that God has a new story to bring the some other thing to come out of that so we looked at this thing here we looked at this idea of like joshua in this community that we’ll look at in a second they cross this river they take some stones and they they put together this rustic altar as a celebration of we’re going into a new thing God you have been with us and we’ll remember that and last week pastor yvonne she did just such a wonderful job talking us through the idea of inwards and we’ll get to that in just a second because after forwards the the series takes a little turn I I asked the question for the first three weeks how can we experience God in change but the last two weeks the inwards and the outwards it’s much less individual and personal a much more corporate and community we

start to ask this question what kind of community is this so last week we talked about inwards who are we inwards now I think every community every organization has this organizing principle to it there’s something about an organization that will tell you exactly how the organization works or give you some idea at least so southwest airlines I have a pilot a friend who’s a pilot for southwest airlines he loves southwest he goes on and on about how just how wonderful it is apparently according to the ceo of southwest you can know how to run the company just as well as he does with just one piece of information if you know that southwest is the low-cost airline in the southwest that tells you everything that you need to know it means that when a smart intern does some research and she says right I’m going to go away and ask

customers what they want and she finds out that the customer she talks to would like a light caesar salad when they’re going from san francisco to houston uh she goes to the ceo and says this is what I’ve discovered our customers want a caesar salad and the ceo looks at her and says well hold on a second our customers chose us because we’re the low-cost airline in the southwest do they really want a light caesar salad what will that do to ticket prices will it lower them or will it increase them and she says well no it will increase them a little bit because we have to pay for the caesar salad and he said then the customers don’t want it they only think that they want it in actual fact that that whole thing is damaging to who we are as an organization you can now go away and be the ceo of southwest if that’s what you’d like to do

I’ve given you a new job opportunity at least if nothing else but there’s this idea an organizing principle is foundational to what we who we are as a group of people so last week yvonne looked at this idea of inwards who is south this community that we are part of for itself and we wrestled with this question is it about the me or is it about the we is it what I want or is it what we as a whole group of people need you might rephrase that a little bit like we’re supposed to be about me for my community the western church can be driven by this consumer tendency that says well it’s about what I can get out what are you going to do for me south what can you give to me and yet we would all say I think and we feel like the Jesus story would say well no it’s it’s not about that it’s about what can I bring it’s about how can I bring the gifts and the

resources that God has given me to this community of this is where I feel called to be if this is where I’m made to belong what can I do what can I bring and so that we walked through this process of like of surrender and walking back into grace and realizing that what makes us who we are isn’t who we are but whose we are and that when we figured that out realizing that we’re here for the the we and not the me it gives us this organizing principle to work with and now we get to switch to outwards which I would say for a Jesus community is the second organizing principle this second thing and so we’re going to start by reading joshua chapter nine I’m going to warn you guys this uh we switched to hour-long services to try and you know get 50 people in a room and fill up fill in fitting with the restrictions you guys are the last one so

there’s no other service to come afterwards so all the stuff that I cut out in the first two services because I’m hopeless at crafting a 30-minute service I’m just gonna unleash it so if we need to back in some panera bread or something like that we’ll just we’ll sit here we’ll do church together and and all the staff that have been here since like seven o’clock really so let’s start with this we’re going to read joshua chapter 9. we’re going to take this passage today as as almost like a springboard we’re going to go back and ask whether this what we see this joshua community doing here is really what they were made to do and who they were made to be are they really living by their principles so for some of you that love to really deep dive into a passage and go word by word this sermon’s going to look a little different to that this is a

fascinating narrative but actually I think it’s more helpful when we look at some of the other stuff going on around it so here we go joshua chapter nine now when all the kings west of the jordan heard about these things the kings in the hill country in the western foothills along the east entire coast of the mediterranean sea as far as lebanon they came together to wage war against joshua and israel however when the people of gibeon heard that joshua had what joshua had done to jericho and ai they resorted to a ruse they went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn out sacks and old wineskins cracked and mended they put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes all the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy then they went to joshua in the camp at gilgal gilgal and said to him in the

israelites we have come from a distant country make a treaty with us the israelites said to the hivites but perhaps you live near us how can we make a treaty with you we are your servants they said to joshua but joshua asked who are you where do you come from they answered your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the lord your God for we have heard reports of him of all he did in in egypt and all that he did to the two kings of the amorites east of the jordan and our elders and all those living in our country said to us take possessions for your journey go and meet them and say to them we are your servants make a treaty with us this bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you but now see it is dry and moldy these wineskins that were filled that we filled were

new but see how cracked they are and our clothes and sandals are worn out from the very long journey the israelites sampled these provisions but did not inquire of the lord then joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath three days after they made the treaty with the gibeonites the israelites heard that they were neighbors living near them so the israelites set out and on the third day came to the cities gibeon kerepheth bethshar and kirith jerim but the israelites did not attack them because the leaders of the assembly had sworn and oath them by the lord the God of israel the whole assembly grumbled against the leaders but the leaders answered we have given them our oath by the lord the God of israel we cannot touch them now this is what we will do to them we will

let them live so that God’s wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath who swore to them they continued let them live but let them be woodcutters water carriers in the service of the whole assembly so the leader’s promise to them was kept then joshua summoned the gibeonites and said why did you deceive us by saying we are we live a long way from you while you actually live near us you are now under a curse you will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God they answered joshua your servants were clearly told how the lord your God had commanded this servant moses his servant moses to give you the whole land and to wipe out all its inhabitants from before you so we feared for our lives because of you and that is why we did this we are now in your hands do whatever

seems good and right to you so joshua saved them from the israelites and did not kill them that day he made the gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the assembly to provide for the needs of the altar of the lord at the place where the lord would choose and that is what they are to this day let’s pray and we’ll jump into this uh Jesus thank you that you’re present with us thank you that as we open this book that you’ve given us we believe you breathed on it by your spirit it comes alive God make us to be alive in new ways for those of us that are here and feel afflicted may you we be comforted for those of us that are comfortable may we be afflicted teach us your ways show us your paths that we can walk in them thank you that you’re present here as we do that amen so we can talk about that and miss that there we go so one of the

interesting things about this whole text and how it works is this group of people that approach joshua and ask essentially keep us safe we want to make a treaty with you on some level we want to become connected to you and then the reaction of the people as God allows them to do that or as they are allowed to do that there’s this shock and horror that these outsiders would become insiders one of the things I’ve noticed about the church as a whole sort of worldwide is this the two principles that we’re talking about over these two weeks inwards and outwards we tend to latch very much onto the first one the inward one as we wrestle with some of this whole is this me for my community or my community for me as we wrestle with what it is to care for each other inward the one tendency that we have is to become less and

less focused on the outside now if you happen to be listening and you would say I’m an outsider to the Jesus story I’m not even sure I buy into it and you’re kind of talking about me as though I’m not listening or not there that is true to a certain degree the truth is you are welcomed into this Jesus story it is open to you but this Jesus story this church thing has always been about reaching outsiders when I was chatting with elders at south about coming on board here as a pastor one of the things they asked me is do you have any non-negotiables or do you have any things that you’re unwilling to surrender on and the one thing I said was this I do not and cannot stand to be part of a church that doesn’t reach unchurched people so if you don’t want to do that then I’m really not the person for you because to me that is our whole point every

good thing about my life has come from this Jesus story and so to say that it’s not about pulling more people into that story just didn’t fit with who I am now the truth is churches all over the world struggle with that tendency we’re supposed to be outward reaching and we become inward looking but the funny thing is that’s always been a problem that’s not a new thing that’s always been there because this joshua community that we’ve been looking at they were made to be outward focusing there was a story back in their history that should have said to them you’re supposed to be for the world it’s not just about you it’s supposed to be about something bigger now just like every organization might have organizing principles so every country has stories or every nation has stories that kind of reflect who they are kind of inform who they are

so if I were to say to you guys the date september 15th 1775 that should ring some bells there’s this story about revolution and all those kind of different things and I’m being born in a different country my kids and I have some interesting debates about just the health of that resolution of revolution and whether an appropriate approach was to throw a wonderful thing like english tea into a an ocean um we disagree a little bit there’s a there’s a brokenness there but that’s a story that says something about who america is as a nation june 19 1865 the day of the emancipation it says something about who we want to be as a nation we say that we don’t want people to be treated differently because of the color of their skin these are stories that hopefully they inform who we are they say something about who we are now just like us this

people had stories that reflected or informed who they were supposed to be and maybe one of the central ones was this one this is the story of a guy called abraham or abram check out what God says to abraham the lord had said to abram go from your country your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you I will make your name great and you will be a blessing I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse it’s abraham centered abraham said it it’s all about him it’s all about his family and then there’s this moment where the story takes a little twist and this is the next line and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you suddenly the story isn’t just about abraham and his family suddenly the story is bigger and broader than abraham and his family

suddenly the story is the whole world abraham’s relationship with God I would say is on some level the same as fixing a crack on a windshield so when I first moved to or first visited america to visit laura I was just horrified to see that people tolerate cracks in their windshields in quite the way that they do when I first met laura she was driving around in a 1990 honda civic and it had cracks the entire breadth of the windscreen I was shocked that this was legal apparently in michigan everyone’s just fine it’s okay it’s a thing that happens when you hit minus 20 minus 30 people just continue to drive I don’t know if denver is the same way but the crack doesn’t start big right the crack starts small and it slowly spreads out and suddenly there might be that moment where the whole windscreen shatters but it doesn’t usually happen in a moment

usually it happens over time and what we see in the early part of the bible in the early genesis stories is the ways that humanity is cracking and to start with God does these big story things he talks to the whole world it’s the stories that were familiar with maybe like the flood and the tower of babel but then in genesis chapter 12 this passage we just read everything switches and and suddenly it’s one person suddenly it’s abraham and abraham you will be the means by which I will reach the whole world you’ll be the means that will start to mend the cracks so that the whole thing doesn’t splinter abraham starts off like every one of us very selfish very egocentric it’s all about me my young little son jude sat here during aaron’s time of worship in the second service and just repeatedly repeatedly yelled about how delicious his snack was now

he’s cute so he can get away with it he’s young so he can get away with but but repeatedly yelling oh it’s so delicious I’m so happy is not something you can do as an adult in a worship service just to give you a heads up if anyone’s thinking that that may be in their future he’s egocentric and slowly he’ll be learning to become broader than that he’ll become what all of us become which is ethnocentric abraham and his family are ethnocentric it’s about them but God in this passage is beginning to say well it’s going to be bigger than that you’re going to be geocentric abraham your story isn’t just going to be about you it’s going to be about the whole world so the best way for me to help explain this is my beloved michigan wolverines if you cut me I bleed blue and yellow I’m very contentedly pro michigan football think for a second about

how you might describe the experience of watching football and see how it informs this abraham story I’m going to cast you guys over here you guys get to be michigan fans you guys are michigan you guys are the good guys and you guys in the middle I’m sorry to say uh you guys you guys are ohio state so I’m sorry but that’s who you are for now and then you guys over here you’re the officials nobody likes you guys you’re just the you’re the enemies of everyone and so think about what happens football is tribal it’s ethnocentric you guys cheer for your team you cheer for your team there’s go blue there’s go bucks it’s very much focused on I want my team to win and on some level the other team are the bad guys now we all know in this case ohio state are the bad guys but generally it’s very subjective so you see this idea that like

there’s one side against the other but think about what happens if during the course of this game one fan on one side starts to choke on some popcorn they’re sitting away eating and suddenly something gets lodged in their throat suddenly they can’t breathe what happens in that moment to this rivalry now you might say on one hand like one less buckeyes fan it’s a good thing but in reality human beings are wonderful about putting aside petty differences in this moment where some crisis appears this thing doesn’t matter and because michigan values academics as well there’s probably some doctors in this bunch and so you jump out and you come across and you do the heimlich maneuver and you save the person who’s choking that’s what it is to have this bigger picture that’s what’s happening with this abraham story he’s

starting to be moved from being tribal to being geo starting to be moved from being ethnocentric to being about the entire world this is where the story was always supposed to go it wasn’t abraham and just his family it was the world the story was always supposed to be about the world the struggle is that this group of people seem to find it easier to focus on very specific laws instead of on the bigger picture things like the thing we’re just talking about so this is a law from a leviticus chapter 11. of all the animals that live on the land these are the ones you may eat you may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud there are some that only chew the cut or only have a divided hoof but you must not eat them the camel though it chews the curd does not have a divided hoof hoof it is ceremonially unclean for you

the hyrax though it chews the cud does not have a divided hoof it is unclean for you the rabbit though it chews the cud does not have a divided hoof it is unclean for you and the pig though it has a divided hoof does not chew the cut it is unclean for you you must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses they are unclean for you this group of people was brilliant at obeying these laws that were very very specific and about them very very individually and these laws taught them that there is clean and there is unclean they struggled with those lo they were great at those laws but then they struggled with laws like this when a foreigner resides among you in your land do not mistreat them the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native born love them as yourself for you were foreigners in egypt I am the lord your God

this thing this big macro thing that said it’s about bringing in the outsider that was difficult worrying about laws like this three verses before do not cut the hair on the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard that they could do but the big thing became harder and harder for them to focus on and so you see that all of this is being wrestled with when we talk about this joshua chapter 9 story are these guys outsiders that should be welcomed in are these guys enemies that should be killed or mistreated there’s all of these tensions that must play into this when the people of gibeon heard that what joshua had done to jericho and ai they resorted to a roost they went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn out sacks and old wineskins cracked and mended they put worn patches patched sandals on their feet

and wore old clothes all the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy then they went to joshua in the camp at gilgal and said to him and the israelites we have come from a distant country make a treaty with us this is a group of people that are outsiders that are trying to find a way inside when joshua receives them one of the fascinating things to me is his shock that they would try this ruse that’s his question why would you do this I always wonder what their answer would be because you were going to kill us if we didn’t do this it’s all about self-preservation it’s all about wanting to live and joshua almost taps into some sense of honor no you shouldn’t have played this kind of trick on us I wonder if this passage of scripture ever came up in any of the discussions on how to treat this group of people I wonder if any of the tensions

ever arose that yes we’ve got this command from God this land is ours that we’re going to march into we’re going to be given it there’s people that will lead us astray we have to be careful about them but yet also there’s this command that if a foreigner comes to you and tries to live with you you’ve been there how do you treat that person that person becomes an insider they’re not an outsider they answered joshua you’re so sorry I read this passage so joshua saved them from the israelites and they did not kill them that day he made the gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the assembly to provide for the needs of the altar of the lord at the place the lord would choose and that is what they are to this day I’m so fascinated by how this story ends up the people are kind of pulled in they’re kind of part of the

the community but they’re also kind of not they’re given this weird place of honor they’re by the altar of God they’re involved in this whole process which was sacred to this group of people and yet they’re seen as second-class citizens it’s like this half-hearted middle ground that joshua and these people land in they they welcome the outsider in but not really it’s like this fringe sort of thing there was something about this idea that God gave abraham about reaching the whole world that was was revolutionary you might say that it was disruptive nobody else was doing this everybody else was just focused on this is about my tribe this is about me there’s a great arabic proverb that somewhat represent represents that idea the idea of it’s me versus my brothers me and my brothers versus my cousins me and my cousins versus the world does

that that sort of like that was the worldwide view of things were about us and our tribe everybody thought that way for God to say it should be about the world that was revolutionary but don’t you notice that sometimes something will happen in the world that’s revolutionary and then it sort of stops I always think about uber when I think about this uber’s this company that suddenly created taxes everywhere up until this point you either needed to be in a big city where taxes drove by regularly and you could flag one down or you needed a telephone number to call and the taxi would come to you and then uber came along and suddenly there’s taxi drivers all over the place and you can go on your phone and order a taxi or a service and and you’re set but what happens with companies that do something revolutionary is after a

while instead of doing more revolutionary things instead of being more outward focused they become very insular about doing their own thing and protecting what they have and I think about that when I think about abraham’s community and how it was supposed to be outward focused and it became inward focused and I think about that when I think about the church and I think about how it was made to be outward focused and it becomes inward focus there’s this temptation when things start to grow and get bigger to suddenly say at some point well we’re just going to protect what we have and I wonder as good as all the inward stuff is if that’s what happens when that’s our focus when it’s about about just south about just us about just the church I wonder if we lose something magic or something that we were given that that makes

us different to everything else in the world around us a few weeks ago I uh gave you this theo this philosophical problem theseus is both so if you weren’t listening or weren’t here that week I’m going to give you a quick catch up theseus’s boat is this philosophical sort of conundrum if theseus the great hero of old sails his boat around the world and during the course of his adventure he has to replace every single piece is it the same boat as when he left now a reasonable person will probably say well yes it’s the same boat he just changed pieces in and out but there’s another counter problem to that theseus is boat in a museum what happens if after his adventure theseus is short of money so he sells his boat to make some cash and he sells it to a museum who put it on display and then during the course of the next year a gang of

thieves break in every night and they steal one piece and replace it with a fake piece and rebuild the ship back in their hideout who has the real real boat the thieves or the museum and it’s kind of different ways of thinking about it that’s really just a jumping off point to give you my own theseus’s boat problem that I created for the problem of the church I started thinking about the church and and I thought about this idea theseus boat in a dry duck supposing theseus builds his boat in a dry dock and it never gets into the water is it a boat at all or is it just a house or a building or a structure that happens to look like something that might float is the moment a boat becomes a boat really the moment that it lands in the water and it actually floats and actually sails and I wonder if the church if it never actually does what it’s made to do

is it really the church or is it just a good social organization a good club that we get to belong to if it never does the outward focus thing which it was made to do if it never becomes an organization that reaches people and allows them to come to know Jesus if it never becomes a thing that changes the world around it and leaves it better than they found it is it really a church or have we just missed something we’re made to be outward focused there’s the picture I grabbed to turn theseus boat into a dry duck very poor uh technological work look at this early church this early church was incredible in its way of bringing in outsiders and making them inside us this is a conversation between God and a roman centurion called cornelius at caesarea there was a man named cornelius a centurion in what was known as the italian

regiment he and his family were devout and God were devout and God-fearing he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly and in the course of the conversation this is the reply he receives your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God now send men to japan to bring back a man named simon who is called peter he’s staying with simon the tanner whose house is by the sea and peter is as he said in the house by the sea and this is the conversation peter has with God as cornelius is sending his his friends to to collect him about noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city peter went up onto the roof to pray he became hungry and wanted something to eat and while the meal was being prepared he fell into a trance he saw heaven

opened and something like a large sheep being let down to earth by its four corners it contained all kinds of four-footed animals as well as reptiles and birds and then a voice told him get up peter kill and eat surely not peter replied I have never eaten anything impure or unclean the voice spoke to him a second time do not call anything impure that God has made clean this happened three times and immediately the sheep was taken back to heaven peter’s response is no God I know the difference between insiders and outsiders I know the difference between the unclean animals and the clean animals and I don’t break that rule I’m very clear on that important rule but then as you see this story begin to sort of develop peter is pulled into this Jesus way of looking at things again back in history the outsiders were always supposed to be

drawn inside it was always an outward facing community and that’s where peter is allowed to land that’s where God leads peter to land while peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision the men sent by cornelius found out where simon’s house was and stopped at the gate they called out asking if simon who was known as peter was staying there while peter was still thinking about the vision the spirit said to him simon three men are looking for you so get up and go downstairs do not hesitate to go with them for I have sent them there’s this moment where the two stories seem to connect in peter’s mind he’s sitting there wondering about what it means to see animals he thinks of as unclean being presented to him as clean and suddenly three men turn up that he sees as unclean and suddenly the connections fire suddenly he

realized this story was never about food at all and the truth is it never was about food even back in the old testament it was always about something bigger this is this moment where peter ends he finally arrives at cornelius house and this is the conversation that takes place while talking with him peter went inside and found a large gathering of people he said to them you are well aware that it is against our law for a jew to asso associate or visit with a gentile which wasn’t really true but God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure unclean so when I was sent for I came raising without raising any objection which also wasn’t really true he raised several objections but kind of convinced himself he didn’t but this is the moment that he arrives like this is the moment where he’s like ah this church thing is about outsiders coming

inside this is about the outward focus I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right we’re going to finish just by talking a little bit about john roblink I used to live in new york not far from niagara falls we would drive past it regularly it’s this incredible site one that my kids never got to see because they always preferred swimming in hotel swimming pools when we stayed overnight in niagara instead of going to see this incredible site john rubling was the first person to cross the niagara falls with a bridge he looked at this third this place and said a bridge is necessary up until this point people were being ferried across by the famous maid of the mist and he said no we can cross this we can we can make a bridge work and not just any bridge he

would only accept there’s a picture of john rubbling a two-story bridge that had freight trains growing going across the top and carriages and people walking in the the story underneath nobody else thought this could be done and he was convinced no it is definitely possible and so he won the contract and began the process of figuring out how to do this and what he discovered was this the hardest part wasn’t actually building the bridge the hardest part was getting anything across the river in the first place he just wanted to get a piece of string across this incredible span he wanted something that he could build on if he could get a string across he could attach the string to a chain and get a chain across if he could get a chain across he could begin to put a structure in place he could put steel across and but it started with this fact

that nobody had ever been able to cross this huge expanse with anything other than a boat and so he came up with this ingenious solution he hired kids from the local town to fly kites up in the air with the goal of flying the kite across the river and landing it on the other side if they could do that then he had his string which covered the span if he had his string he could put his chain across if he put his chain across he could build his bridge but it started with a string I think that this church thing that we are part of were made to build bridges across people that don’t know this Jesus person were made to build bridges to different parts of society that aren’t connected to us we’re made to build bridges with different nations different countries that aren’t connected but that’s who we’re made to be this abraham movement this moses

movement this joshua movement became very interested in how to keep people out how to build those gaps up how to make them bigger how to keep people separate and I would suggest that we’re made to cross them we’re made to cover those gaps we’re made to cross those incredible divides but starts with a string doesn’t start with a bridge it starts with the fact that you as an individual may be called to reach one person to pray for one person to love well one person I love hearing stories in south about couples and and people that are reaching people that are completely outside of this church world maybe you’re called to find someone that only you can reach maybe you’re called to join a ministry that’s already doing that to be part of something that that’s already existing it’s the the it’s not the string across the river but maybe

it’s the chain across the river you’re called to volunteer in something that you’re desperately needed in maybe you’re called to give new strength to something that’s been there for a long time but the truth is you are made to do something because we as an organization were always supposed to be outward reaching it was never just about us yes my community me for my community is true but that only works if it’s then my community for the world we are bridge builders changing the world that is what we are made to do and we always were so I’m going to invite the worship team to come back as we close out this third joyful service and uh we’re going to walk through the idea that there’s this there’s these these spiritual practices that I’ve given you each week we talked in week one about lament about the idea of looking backwards

is recognizing our grief and realizing it’s okay to not be okay week two is this practice of presence realizing that God is here with us in this moment week three is petition asking God what is next how might we move forward week four is confession it’s what it really means at its heart is saying the same as we get to say the same about ourselves as God is saying we get to say who we are and then finally I would give you this one I would give you imagination that’s what it took to cross the niagara river it took this incredible imagination that’s what it takes to cross those divides in our world it takes each of us having this imagination the theologian walter brugerman has this wonderful phrase prophetic imagination he says that the church is very good at one of two things for the most part we’re very good at doing the prophetic things

saying to society in the world around and know the world around us know that behavior is not good and then some parts of the church are very good at the imagination part they’re good at doing the part where they say this is how the world might look different but very few churches do the two together very few churches stand and say this is how God how man is made to live with God and at the same time saying this is how the world could look if you could only imagine it we’re called to do both so I’m going to pray for us as aaron and the team closest to worship father as we contemplate as we wait for you as we think about what forward looks for south and for us as individuals thank you for the inward focus that we have that we are a community that loves each other well we are here to participate not just to observe we care about this

community we want what’s best for it we’re willing to put aside the me for the we but you didn’t call us to stay insular you call us to go out to build bridges to change the world around us God for whatever you have for each of us here give us the imagination to see how you might work in the world help us to see the world differently than it is right now to dream big dreams to cross great divides and in doing so change the world around us amen

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Outwards: How Do We Impact Our World? | Directions (Part 5)2022-01-26T14:53:02-07:00

Inwards: Do You Know Whose You Are? | Directions (Part 4)

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good morning friends I’m pastor yvonne and I’m here to continue our series on change change goodness I have a love hate relationship with change there are certain days when I want to see so many things change and when they don’t I get frustrated and there are other days when I change is out of my control and I hate it and this year has been a year of so much change gosh it is november 15 2020 and we are still in a season of change it’s not going anywhere and this entire series that alex has set up for us has been a series to help us navigate through change and in the process to to experience God in that change and I hope that one thing you can take from this series is the last three weeks this general structure I think is such a gift that alex has given to us this chance to look backward and to look at how change has affected us what we’ve

lost what what emotions have been stirred out of this season of change and give yourselves time to reflect and even lament and then moving into looking up because we have a God who has gone through all of this change with us and he’s gone nowhere you know there is nothing that can separate us from his love there is no place on the planet or in the depths of our emotions that we can go that that he wouldn’t meet us there and so we can confidently look up in the midst of change knowing that we can look godward and that he is with us and we can step forward knowing okay God you are with us and we can start to ask you what do you want us to step into next and we can expect that he’s going to go with us whether we notice him or not we can we can look backward we can look upward we can look forward and I would just

give you that as a gift um today and an encouragement to use this rhythm in your life with God as you meet with him every week or and every season of life to to do this reflection every year perhaps I think that this is a beautiful gift that alex has given to us and as we step into another week on change actually two weeks on change we’re going to sort of shift gears a little bit because we’re going to have a chance to look inward and ask a question who are we and then next week we’re going to look outward who are we for this community because not only have we gone through change individually I know that I’m in a multi-tier level of change in my life right now I’ve just changed I’ve just moved I bought a new home I have new roommates um my my job has changed I have a new boss and I my church community has changed the way that

we meet together has changed our nation has changed and is changing and the globe we have global pandemic that has changed our world so I’m in a multi-tiered level phase of change but today as we gather we’re gathering as as a church and I know that many of you are gathering with us online and we’re here together to look at the change within our community and I will tell you that as alex asked me to to share and lead this message it’s a challenge to be able to say who are we as south fellowship church right now in the midst of all this change and even next week as we’re going to be in even smaller groups together and those of you who are online we are so glad that you are with us but it is hard to tell you who we are when you guys are sitting in your living rooms and we’re here in church you know God who are we as a community how has

this season changed us and who are you changing us to be God you’ve you’ve already put us in this season of change um and for those of you who may be new with us we have gone through a season of change here in our community last year we had a lead pastor say that he was taking another position and so we’ve kind of gone into a season of of wilderness in a way and now we have a new lead pastor we have a new executive pastor and and we’re excited but this is this is also still a lot of change and so today I felt like the one thing I could do is go back to a story in scripture that is a story of of a people a community that has gone through a bunch of change and perhaps their story can actually anchor us into a greater story that we are also a part of one of our values here is roots and we want to be connected to a story that is ancient and so today

we’re going to pick up the story of the tribe of israel after they have set up their their monument taking their stones out of the jordan river they’ve walked across on dry ground and they’ve worshiped the lord that he has been faithful to them and they have stepped foot in the promised land and I hope today that we can find ourselves in their story and we can find some of the attributes and and process of this community true about us today but let’s pray before we pick up the scriptures and start in joshua 5. father God king Jesus holy spirit we thank you that we can have confidence to look backward and upward and take steps forward on knowing that you are here with us and God today as we look at who we are and how our story is connected to a greater story God I pray that you would speak to us that you would highlight

something in this text that would illuminate something that we can talk to you further about this week and I pray this in your name Jesus amen amen we have this tribe of israel they have gone over one river on dry ground first in the red sea they’ve wandered in the wilderness for many many years they’ve walked across now another river on dry ground and they’re standing in the promised land joshua chapter 5 says now when all the amorite kings east of the jordan and the canaanite kings along the coast they heard that the lord had dried up the jordan before the israelites until they had crossed over their hearts melted in fear and they had no longer had any courage to face the israelites whoa this community who just walked into the promised land they had a clear identity everybody knew who they were because they were the community

and the tribe that was known for walking across rivers on dry ground and they step foot in the promised land and all of their opponents are melting okay maybe you’ve had this experience before if you are a competitor and you’ve gone up in a competition against somebody who is miles ahead of you in the process it’s like you’re up against professionals and you’re the amateur and you’re like oh I know this game is gonna end in a mercy game and we’re gonna have to call it early because there’s no way we’re gonna win against that team so here we have the other amorite kings uh the canaanite kings all of their opponents they’re freaked out they know that there’s something cool about this community of israel and they all know it so here we have israel and their job is to go take over the promised land and you would think that they

are ready to go their other opponents are freaked out but if we look at who is in this tribe and who just stepped over that river on dry ground you might not be so terrified anymore these were a whole bunch of campers that had just gone in the wilderness for years living on manna and all of their warrior men have died off so they walk across the river as sort of a bunch of misfits I don’t I don’t think they were trained for battle or war at all so why is it that all the other nations are freaking out to the point that their hearts are melted they’re discouraged they’re on the floor they’re thinking no way can that group of campers come they’re afraid of a group of campers right and we see that actually the clear identity for these people of israel was not actually because they were anybody special they were distinguishable not because of who

they were or who they brought across that river but because of whose they were and that is true of communities of faith that if we believe in Jesus and we follow him which is our mission here to walk in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus that means we belong to him and so this is true of our tribe here at south fellowship church we are a people of God and we belong to him we’ve just sung songs about that that it is it is God’s church here we are God’s church and that means that we are chosen to be loved by him and this is nothing that any amount of change can take away from us we are grounded in the fact that we are gods and I wonder today do you know whose you are do we know as a church whose we are I honestly think that we’ve been learning this lesson over this season of wilderness in our journey here because we had our

lead pastor leave and he said you weren’t ever following me if I was doing a good job you were following Jesus and actually he’s been your lead pastor all along amen and he will continue to be our lead pastor although we love alex and he’s gifted and he’s strong and he’s a great leader for us we are gods and that’s a part of our identity here at south I know men I know some of you that your story was that you began here because we said that that Jesus is our lead pastor it’s not any person that’s standing up here it’s him and this should make us distinct in our world this should make us stand out the other nations or the other people around us should start to know that we’re different because we’re gods so where is it that we stand out in the way of Jesus are we standing out and and shining bright or are we blending in is our our social media

posts are they blending in are they looking more like the world or are they looking more like the way of Jesus how about our conversations with our family about the holidays coming up are they looking like Jesus or are they looking like the world are we freaking out in a way that that makes us unable to stand out I think this is an invitation for us to remember that this was God’s plan all along he chose this people of israel uh out of all the nations of the world that he would bless them that he would make their name great that he would set them apart but it wasn’t just because they were super cool not because they had anything going for them but because he wanted the whole world to see that when we make God our God and when we belong to him that we start to stand out and we become magnetic for the other people the reason that the

other tribes were looking at them as they were freaking out is because they had something they had access to someone that they didn’t and that that made them feel different but in the end God wanted to use a set apart nation a chosen nation so that the whole world would know whose they could belong to as we continue this story the very next verse in joshua chapter 2 says right as they stepped into the promised land they realized that there was one way that they were not distinguishable God said to joshua make flint knives and circumcise the israelites again he stops them in the middle of their process they were probably raring to go the other nations were were discouraged and they could probably take them over easily and here God says wait a minute there’s one way that you’re not distinguished the way that I set apart for you

and that was circumcision so we’re going to have to talk about circumcision out of all the passages in joshua I chose circumcision I mean looking at the following passages I would have had to deal with massive elimination of nations and cities or perhaps the stoning of an entire family for their sin so circumcision seemed like an easier way to go and then I realized you know what if men can stand up here and talk about child bearing I think that a female can stand up here and talk about circumcision anywho circumcision was always connected to a covenant and the covenant was given of many many many many generations before and that was what I was alluding to that abraham was called out of all the other nations to be set apart and God said I’m going to bless you I’m going to make your name great I’m going to give you a whole bunch of

nations I’m going to make a special covenant with you we’re going to be in a really special relationship and I’m going to covenant to you I’m going to be your God and a part of this is that you’re gonna walk into this promised land and you’re gonna take it over you’re gonna have the whole land of canaan and this story is just a beautiful story because at the very end of I mean at 99 years old abram does not have his descendant right and out of the most impossible circumstances God shows up for him and he’s able to make this covenant with him even when there’s no sight that it could be fulfilled and God goes ahead and makes this covenant with abraham and I think that God knew that there would be some there would be some deal breakers in this covenant in this relationship he knew that they weren’t going to fulfill that and

when he set and established this covenant with abraham God put the entire weight of the covenant on his own shoulders he asked abraham to bring out sacrifices of all different different wealth statuses and he walked through all those pieces saying I am going to put this covenant on me and I’m going to be faithful because I know that you’re going to be unfaithful and that is absolutely what’s playing out in the story of joshua here but he said in this covenant I want to I want you to make this a physical sign of this beautiful spiritual relationship that we have and so I want you to undergo circumcision that would be a sign of this covenant that I’m loving you I’m choosing you you’re going to be set apart among all the other nations and I want you to have a physical sign and this is not a physical sign that’s like a tattoo on their forehead

this is a private sign where an intimate time of their love relationship with God and he said during his time with abraham he said any uncircumcised male who has not been circumcised of the flesh he will be cut off from his people because he’s broken the covenant so here we have a whole bunch of group of deal breakers and they’re standing before their faithful deal maker they’ve just stepped foot in the promised land remember that was God showing up on his promise he promised them the land of canaan and they finally their feet are on that ground they’re about to take this over but they’ve failed to continue the sign of the covenant throughout the wilderness and for whatever reason whether they thought it was unsanitary or they might have had really rational reasons for why they didn’t do that these people that were

stepping into the promised land were not carrying the sign of the covenant it’s like they they weren’t wearing their wedding ring they were they were not showing that they wanted to have covenant back with God God wanted to have covenant with them and they weren’t showing up on their end now I would imagine that when it says that all of them were not circumcised maybe some of them were maybe there were some families that that had continued this process and they wanted to have covenant with God but those of the men who were out there not uncircumcised that should have happened on day eight that should have happened when they were an infant so did they choose to be uncircumcised maybe not maybe they didn’t even know that they were breaking a covenant with God and here they are and God says guys you’ve

been breaking covenant with me and maybe they had to say wow maybe that’s true and we need to agree with God in this I think the most courageous thing happens next because I’m going to skip that joshua made the flint knives and he circumcised them he agreed with God and he said you’re right we were wrong we are the deal breakers and you are the faithful deal maker what a beautiful step of courage I think that joshua joshua realized that this was by the grace of God they didn’t deserve to step into that promised land if they had been uncircumcised on the way and they had been disobeying God’s covenant remember he said you’ll be broken off that you’re the deal breaker and yet he still showed up for them and how beautiful a grace that is and I think that that’s true of us too that even when we get it wrong as

a church as as a people of God that we are lavished with God’s grace we are a people of God’s grace we realize that we don’t deserve all the good things and the good benefits and blessings that are part of your kingdom and yet you still choose to give it to us and I think that that this is a church that I’ve seen example after example that have admitted you know what in that area we got it wrong and we’re willing to come back into alignment with you God there’s ways that that we’ve admitted you know that maybe it wasn’t what we did that was wrong but how we did it was wrong and we’re willing to to always come back into agreement with God I think that grace the um I think that confession actually is one of the biggest gifts that God can give us when he corrects us it is a grace in order to bring us back into covenant relationship with him so

do we see God’s correction as grace and where might we as individuals need to agree with God receive his grace for the sake of this community maybe there’s ways that that God is pointing out that there’s something we need to agree with him on and make it right maybe there’s a way that we just need to sit and receive his grace and truly receive his grace to believe that we are freed from that in order that this community can get stronger in the grace of God and I hope that we would continue to be a courageous community that’s willing to surrender willing to obey even when it’s painful this community of israel they they’re stopped in their tracks they could have gone out and wiped out these communities while they were discouraged and their hearts were melted and God says no I want you to somehow find flint and carve some knives

get everybody in order and perform surgery and and I want you to stop for a time so all of those that were ready to move ready to go God says wait for all of those who were okay we gotta get stronger I’m gonna go I’m gonna go work out I’m gonna go you know lift some rocks I’m gonna get stronger so we can conquer these enemies and he’s like no I want you to have surgery and I want you to heal you think that this is really disappointing and now they’re in a position of vulnerability the the jordan river just flowed back behind them and the enemy territories in front of them and now they’re they’re stuck between literally a rock and a hard place and they’re vulnerable they’re having surgery so I hope that we would become as daringly dependent as israel despite disappointing detours there are so many detours that keep coming

our way including new health restrictions and but maybe we need to posture ourselves and say God whatever you say we’re gonna obey you know that might cause more work for us by putting together three services for you all but we want to be committed to putting you all before ourselves I think we need to be a community that places a we over the me and I know there’s a whole lot of dreams that I have and a whole lot of things steps that I want to take and then God’s saying to me yvonne are you willing to surrender your own opinions and dreams and preferences in order that self can become who I want them to be we are a community and I think it’s really important in the midst of change to realize that you are not alone you are a part of God’s church you are part of a tribe of grace and there is so much joy that comes when

we connect to the story that’s greater than our individual story and when we’re able to put our own preferences on on hold for the sake of the whole we start to free ourselves to love this community to love one another to see the needs around us and to not be so navel-gazing that we get so caught up in our own journey in our own struggle in our own wrestlings in our own conflict and resistance to change that we don’t see that we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves and today I want us to to have a little ceremony in order to remember this moment and I’ve chosen three candles and I’m gonna ask three pastors to join us up front and to lead us in a whole communal surrender one one prayer that has been beneficial to me during this time this whole season of change has been the serenity prayer that there is a whole lot of things that

we can’t change but you know God also gives us the ability to change and so there are things that we can change and so I’ve tried to blend some of what we’ve been talking about today uh with the lord’s prayer and with our our points of the sermon with the serenity prayer to together proclaim that we are God’s church let’s make a memory today that we are a people of grace and that we are a people willing to surrender and put the we over the me so let me pray for us and then we’re going to do this ceremony together father God I thank you that you have knit us together as your church that you have lavished us with your grace and that you continue to walk with us every step of these discouraging and disappointing detours God continue to do your work amongst us as we just declare and affirm together our identity our grace and our surrender in Jesus name amen

Inwards: Do You Know Whose You Are? | Directions (Part 4)2022-01-26T14:24:49-07:00

Forwards: An Invitation to New Things | Directions (Part 3)

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good morning friends how you doing if you’re visiting my name’s alex I’m one of the pastors here if you are a kid uh sitting in the audience uh I will do my best not to be boring I’m joking I’m definitely gonna be boring to you that’s fine you can sleep my kids would so we’re in this series on directions we’re talking about what it is in the midst of change to look backwards and then we talked about looking upwards last week it’s this idea that change can come out of nowhere every one of you have been through change this year some of you were expecting to be in school and you aren’t in the normal way some of you are expecting to not be working from home some of you are expecting like everything to be just as normal and then it isn’t we’ve been through the election cycle all those kind of things and and then we’re like well is

that even normal anymore all of us experience change in different ways and when we experience change man it can hit us like a train the train that we just talked about boarding it feels like we got it straight in the chest at times especially when we experience things like grief maybe some of you have lost someone this year maybe some of you are walking through grief right now man that is tough and that can take ages to process so we spent one week taking that very seriously and saying sometimes lament this kind of crying out to God is exactly the right thing to do and then in the midst of that hopefully we have this space to look upwards but upwards we weren’t really talking so much about about looking up specifically but looking godwards realizing that God has something to say into the situation that we’re dealing with so

we took this question what happens when we encounter change and then we started to to ask this one in week two how do we allow change to lead us into an experience of God how do we allow the change of experience to lead us into an experience of God and I would twist that question a little bit this week and I would phrase it like this how do we allow an experience of God to lead us into next steps now if you’re in a process of grief because you lost someone you may not be ready for next steps for years and that is fine sitting with God in that season and say I just don’t know what forward looks like is okay but for organizations for a group of people like us that are experiencing the change of having a new pastor of all those kind of things at some point there has to be this move to a forward direction and that’s what we’re going to process

today and I’ll start with a confession I have no clue where south is going actually that’s a bit of an exaggeration I have some clue about where south is going but I certainly don’t know all the directions that this community of God is called to follow we are on a journey together and we get to invite people along but but in actual fact that’s a day-to-day and week-to-week exploration as we say God well what do you have for us but how do we as a group of people that took a week to have presence to say God we are waiting for you how do we allow that to lead us into some next steps how do we begin to ask what does God have for us and so a few things as we sort of build this to start with I think that week of presence that week of asking God what what do you have it ends with this specific ask what is next ask what is next and then

expect ask what is next and expect expect that the God that you’ve heard from will actually do what he said he would do when you have a step of obedience expect that the rewards of that will actually follow through for those of you that are experiencing change in different ways in individual ways ask what is next for those of you who are uncertain about college choices ask what is next for those of you that are uncertain about how your business is going to grow into the future ask what is next for those of you processing a job change ask what is next for those of you thinking about getting married ask what is next for those of you that are struggling with parenting and how exactly that works and and I heard someone say once that you know at some point I had zero kids and six theories of parenting and now I have six kids and zero

theories of parenting uh it’s exactly the same running a church by the way but there’s this sense of like ask what is next if you don’t ask how can you get an answer as people were so keen sometimes to just rush ahead and just do I hate sitting still I’m an enneagram seven you can see by the way I stand at the front of the church and worship by the way that I preach I’ve always got some kind of movement going on and if that’s irritating to you I’m really sorry there’s nothing I can do about it I’ve tried but if you the tendency for me is to run to just move and yet that pause to ask what is next is so key but then to expect we’re going to continue with this community that we’ve been walking with this joshua community if you’re new to the bible this book joshua is the sixth book of the old testament and it follows this community that have lost

their beloved leader moses has been the text will actually say things like there was never a guy like moses man what a hard thing to have to follow what a tough thing for this guy joshua to come like into the situation and say well now I’m going to lead this community forward but there’s never been a guy like moses and we’re going to watch us as he does those very two things we’ve just outlined he asks what’s next they take this moment that we looked at in the first couple of weeks to pause they wait this side of the river they have this big river in front of them before this land that they’ve been promised and they just wait and then God says go here’s the text joshua chapter 3 so when the people broke camp to cross the jordan the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them now the jordan is at flood stage or during

the harvest yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge the water from upstream stopped flowing so the people crossed over opposite jericho and when we talk about the jordan in flood season this is what we’re talking about I’m not convinced that you guys that grew up in the denver area really understand rivers or lakes you don’t really have that many of them here someone once said that lake in denver was spelt p-o-n-d uh because the lakes are non-existent but this is like a real river this is like this raging torrent and this is what they’re expected to cross and God says go across it it’s going to be fine but how easy is it to expect in that moment for him to do what he promised he would do and yet this community of people they confidently walk down to the river and it says that

the first moment that the priests put their foot into the water it stopped it built back up way upstream the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the lord stopped in the middle of the jordan and stood on dry ground while all israel passed by until the whole nation had completed crossing and dry land I want you to just embrace for a second the tension of that moment this group of people walk down towards the river it says that they crossed over in front of jericho that means that jericho was there this big city this fortress and let me just say as we get into some of this text you’re going to see like some stuff that might make you uncomfortable if you’re new to church if you’re if you’re old to church there’s a level of violence that seems more game of thrones than something we might expect in a religious text it’s tough

to read and and they’ll go eventually and they’ll sack this city jericho and it’s like we’ll have to process that a little bit together but this city right now is waiting there it’s like nothing that they’ve ever seen they’ve had some victories they’ve won some battles but they’ve not seen anything like jericho and they cross over in front of this city so everybody imagine this everyone watching them from the towers from the windows uh from the places you shoot the arrows from and there’s just this moment of them putting their first foot into the water and there has to be this question what if we look ridiculous what if we just get washed away by the water they’ve got this old story where where God parted the red sea you might remember it from from sunday school but what if it doesn’t work again that was 40 years ago what if the guard

who had some power back in egypt and in this wilderness doesn’t work for us now and they have to make this first step and expect that this God that told them to go will be faithful to them ask what’s next and expect and then reflect ask what’s next then expect and expect then reflect when God does what he promised you that he would do take this moment to say wow that actually worked you were faithful to what you said you led me in this direction I felt called to do this and when I did it you were good you were faithful this is what this community does watch this wonderful moment in the midst of crossing this incredible torrent of a river while the land is dry joshua says to the people I want you to grab a stone to represent each tribe now for me personally if I’m crossing a river that miraculously dried up out of nowhere I just want to get

across I’m like let me get to the other side and we can celebrate there I don’t want to be pausing around to pick out my favorite type of rock I’m not looking for different hues I just I don’t want to carry rocks across rivers that have miraculously stopped and yet these people do when the whole nation had finished crossing the jordan the lord said to joshua choose 12 men from among the people one from each tribe and tell them to take up 12 stones from the middle of the jordan from right where the priests are standing and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight the only way to read that text as far as I’m concerned is this the people crossed over got to the other side and then joshua said to 12 of them go back into the middle and get a stone just continue to prove that God is faithful they

had all crossed over 12 of them go back and then this is what they do with those stones so joshua called together the 12 men he had appointed from the israelites one for each tribe and said to them go over before the ark of the lord your guard into the middle of the jordan each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder according to the number of tribes of the israelites to serve as a sign among you they gathered from where they were from the middle of the river 12 stones and what they did is they would have taken them and they do have built them into this really rough altar we tend to think about altars as being these really pretty things maybe you’ve got a picture of what it looked like and maybe in different places it was but this was just 12 stones gathered together they weren’t worried about the shape what these stones were

supposed to do was remind them that in the midst of that step of obedience God had been faithful when they had acted in obedience God had done what he had promised they had asked what is next and that they expected God to do what he said he would do and the other side of the jordan for years and years stood a pile of rocks that said one thing to every one of their descendants when you ask God for something and he answers and you obey he will do what he said he will do in the future when your children ask you what do these stones mean tell them the flow of the jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the lord when it crossed the jordan the waters of the jordan were cut off these stones are to be a memorial to the people of israel forever ask what’s next and expect and then reflect take this moment to say God thank

you you did what you promised you would do so a question for you what stops us taking next steps yes we talked about how you do take next steps but what is in your life in my life that stops us doing that so some thoughts first one it’s the mind the mind or getting lost in it over thinking it assuming that human wisdom will be the answer to everything let’s take a look at this jericho story as I said this people cross the river this city this castle this fortress is in front of them and then they go and attack it but they go and attack it in the weirdest way you could possibly imagine now the gates of jericho were securely barred because of the israelites no one went out and no one came in then the lord said to joshua see I have delivered jericho into your

hands along with its king and its fighting men march around the city once with all the armed men do this for six days have seven priests carry trumpets of ramshorn in front of the ark on the seventh day march around the city seven times with the priests blowing the trumpets when you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets have the whole army give a shout then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up everyone straight in can you imagine what it would be like to be one of joshua’s generals in that situation receiving that battle plan okay so we’re gonna go to the city yes okay I’ve got that step we move towards the city we send all our army in yeah and then we do what we seige it we use big sort of machines to throw rocks a day no no no we just walk around it and we keep walking around it and we do that every day for a

while and then after walking around it and nothing happening for seven days we’ll walk around it on the seventh day and all the stones the rocks the buildings they’ll all collapse if you’re a general how do you accept that plan that seems like no plan that I’ve ever heard of it doesn’t have any credibility and yet these people are slowly starting to learn actually God has done what he said he would do in the past maybe just maybe he’ll do it again joshua has learned this principle sometimes the situation can say no but God will say go and sometimes the situation would say go and God will say no and the difference there is the most important thing for next steps simply looking at the situation in human eyes does not give you or me all of the framework that we need we need something bigger and joshua has learned the hard way that

actually sometimes the situation looks great and the people have gone into battle and it’s been a disaster because God had said no this isn’t the right time check out this passage from numbers chapter 14 if you’re following texts early the next morning they sat out for the highest point in the hill country saying now we are ready to go up to the land that the lord promised surely we have sinned but moses said why are you disobeying the lord’s command this will not succeed do not go up but because the lord is not with you you will be defeated by your enemies because you have turned away from the lord he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword this was a situation these people were confident we can handle this hill tribe we’re fine it’s nothing like jericho would be in the future nevertheless in their presumption they went up

towards the highest point in the hill country though neither moses nor the ark of the lord’s covenant moved from the camp then the amalekites and the canaanites these two other tribes who lived in that hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to homer two different situations one that looks great and God says don’t go don’t do it one where the situation looks terrible and God says go and everything works out great what would it look like for you and I to apply that in our life what it would he look like for that to impact our business decisions what would it look like I’m not saying just throw caution to the wind but if you sit and you say to God I really want to know what is next and you feel like he answers what would it look like for it to be more than just human wisdom that led you to that decision I don’t

know how many of you guys have been around at south for years one of the things I love to do when I come become part of a community is just ask some people some of the old stories how is this community shaped how is it wired like why is it the way that it is so I think we’ve got a few people anyone want to throw up a hand have you been at south for more than 10 years anyone tenure people we’ve got some tenure people in the back how about some 15-year people any 15 years yes thomas the friend is like yeah I’ve been here any 20 year people out there we got some 20 years any 30-year people there’s a couple yeah I see you carolyn yeah dell I see you 40 yeah 40 years 40 years there’s some people yeah I love it 50 years any 150 yeah okay carolyn we got you at the back for some people that have been around here for a

chunk of time and yet there’s some of us like me that one knew maybe even some of you that have been here one two years and so as I was preparing forward I sat down with carolyn and with dale some of you know dell and I said to them like I would I would love to know like how does the forward movement for south affect some of the backwards stories and you have to know if you join this community you join a weird community of faith we meet in a strip mall we don’t even have a real church building like in the normal sense we meet in a building that was a safe way this community is the community this was the bunch of like of I’m going to use the word in a good way weirdos because I consider myself one as well that moved out of a denomination and when the denomination said well if you you know you leave we’re gonna

take your building and your bank accounts this is the community that said fine we don’t need the building we don’t need the bank accounts when I asked dell how he came to be a part of south he said to me this and I asked if I could quote him it’s official he said uh he said well I was reading in I think it was christianity today how the church had been kicked out of its denomination so I turned to my wife and said that church must be doing something right we need to go there and that’s how we arrived here this is the community that has taken those ridiculous steps of faith who gives up a beautiful building over a principal and yet this is a community that learnt that when God said go sometimes it could look like no and God would say go and so they did that is who you joined and and then the question becomes like well well

is it still that community are we still a community that wants to take brave ridiculous looking decisions decisions that on the surface that don’t make sense are we still willing to take brave steps when we feel like the situation looks like no but we feel this pull of the spirit that says well God is saying go are we still willing to turn down great looking opportunities because we feel like God says now this isn’t the right time for that figuring out whether an organization changes over time is this fascinating thing there’s this beautiful philosophical problem called theseus’s boat imagine theseus this great hero of old sails he’s boat around the ocean around the world and during the course of the year he has to replace every single part of that boat just you know wears out and when he gets back to port after this year is it still the same boat

maybe some of you would feel like oh yeah it’s still the same boat like you know it might have changed the parts but it’s the same basic ship other people might say no it’s not the same anymore as south has changed out different parts as we have less and less people that remember the old days the question becomes for us are we still that same community and do we still want to be are we willing to chase after those values even when they feel uncomfortable because I’m sure that there were people that said I’m uncomfortable letting go of a building I’m uncomfortable being nomadic I’m uncomfortable having to meet in a school I’m uncomfortable parking in the field in a foot of snow because there’s not enough room for us to park in the parking lot those different decisions that this community has made some of them

must have felt uncomfortable and there’s times if we chase that vision for God’s community that you might feel uncomfortable and yet I’m not sure human wisdom always gives us what we need even the greats have been fooled by human wisdom this is steve jobs on a segway he was one of the first investors to be given a chance to like look at a segway and explore it and he was convinced segways would change the world he said this the segway will be to walking what the car was to the horse and carriage it would destroy you wouldn’t walk anywhere you right now should all be on segways I don’t know what you did with your segways but they’re not here I don’t see them in front of me but you should be according to steve jobs in all of his wisdom be coming to the building on a segway now pulling it out of your car lifting it out and you know

doing your thing and yet you’re not because he was wrong he looked at it from this human wisdom he just like it didn’t work and it will not work every time and we as a church community and you as a follower of Jesus I as a follower of Jesus I’m called to listen to this wisdom that is beyond human beings do not deceive yourselves if any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age you should become fools so that you may become wise for the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight as it is written he catches the wise in their craftiness and again the lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile there’s this idea that well actually no it’s it’s not just about human wisdom we have to be listeners we have to ask what is next and expect and then reflect another thing that maybe gets you caught up is this is is the past

maybe there’s this tendency to say not just that I want to honor the past but I I like I just wish we could go back to it it was so good in the old days things were different then if only we could capture that and that isn’t always as helpful as you might think yes there’s ways to pull back some of the old thing we just talked about that but actually just wishing you could go back very rarely works we looked at this quote in week one this is sauron kirkegaard the 19th century philosopher life must be lived forwards but under stood backwards sometimes wonder whether we wish we could flip that quote sometimes think that we’d like to kind of like live backwards and understand forwards we want to know every single decision before we move we want to know every outcome before we move and sometimes we want to live just heading backwards

we want to live back into the past because it’s safer there the mind can stop us figuring out what God has for us but also the past can stop us God has new things for south God has new things for you you are on a journey and journeys go forwards they’re moving and then another one the rush the rush or getting caught up in it one of the most important things that you see for this joshua community is the power of taking a first step it’s not about the whole journey in front of them they don’t know where they’re going I just said that about south at the beginning I don’t know all the places that God is calling south to go joshua did not know all of the places and all of the costs that would come up with this expedition this exploration this moving into this promised land he knows jericho’s in front of them and then there’s other stuff in the future

but right now his focus is on what is the first thing to do what is that one next step that I can take and sometimes we can become so obsessed with knowing everything about the future that actually that first step becomes harder and harder to take this is this wonderful story that pastor amy talked about during the kids moment this is Jesus and peter and this incredible moment out on the sea of galilee this moment that has never been replicated and probably never will be but who knows immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side while he dismissed the crowd after he had dismissed them he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray later that night he was there alone and the boat was already in considerable distance a considerable distance from the land buffered by the

waves because the wind was against it shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them walking on the lake when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified as you would be that is a reasonable response it is it is a ghost they said and cried out in fear but Jesus immediately said to them take courage it is I don’t be afraid lord if it is you peter replied tell me to come to you on the water come he said I love peter like what an absurdly ridiculous question what a um what’s the word I’m looking for audacious question if it’s you well tell me I can do the same thing you’re doing they’ve already started to grasp the fact that well Jesus has this thing he’s there’s something about him they’re not quite sure all the time but they’re just aware that he’s different and nobody else is walking on water and out of all the disciples in the boat

the 12 of them that are sitting there only one of them thinks that it’s appropriate to say Jesus if it’s you tell me to come to you on the water peter as we’ll read in other parts of the the gospels is he has some issues like sometimes his tendency to ask these kind of questions or make these kind of suggestions or or make these steps we’ll get him into trouble and yet they also take him into incredible joys as well because Jesus unbelievably says it’s okay come and then there’s the moment like a wonder whether peter regrets that question at some point because it’s one thing to say it and then there’s the moment where he has to lift his leg over the side of the boat and for the first time in human history for a a completely mortal being he’ll put his foot in the water and he won’t sink I’ve always been intrigued as to just exactly how it worked did he go down to

like his ankles did he go down to his knees did he’s water you know his feet sort of float on the surface but whatever happens he puts his feet into the water and he doesn’t sink and yet that first step must have been the hardest step it’s not about the rest of it it’s about that first willingness to sort of step into the future step into the next thing this is a picture of crystal lake up in michigan some friends of ours have this beautiful lake house up there which they let us borrow occasionally and the water is crystal clear as you would imagine in a lake called crystal lake seems to go with the name it would be very bad if the lake was murky when you got there and you can see for the first hundred yards out every single stone you can watch as the water ripples and then as you get further out there’s this moment about 100 yards out from the

surface where suddenly it drops away that bit where you can see where it’s dark blue it goes from about 12 feet deep to 170 feet deep and so when we were staying there they call it going out into the blue and I took a a paddleboard out there and I grew up surfing you know I never thought about how many how how deep the water was underneath me never really occurred to me I was never really worried about sharks and all those kind of things I just assumed everything would be fine and then going out on crystal lake on this paddle board as I slowly got to this part where it just suddenly drops down deep deep deep I suddenly got incredibly nervous I kind of like hovered at the edge of the light blue part and then I was thinking about turning back and I thought you know what no I’m never going to forgive myself if I turn back

and mentally I knew there was nothing down there it’s a freshwater lake the worst thing there might be is just you know a couple of you know freshwater fish but inside me I’m actually really nervous and I made myself cross over this sort of vague line there to go into the deep blue part because I didn’t want to go back and say I hadn’t done it I wonder if that’s peter’s moment a little bit that moment where he’s like I’ve asked now the opportunities in front of me and I can’t go back but he must have been nervous but he makes this decision I’m going to keep going I’m going to take that next step and that next step changes everything and next next steps begin they begin with first steps they begin with first steps one of the interesting things like psychologically is this when you decide that you want to go to the gym the number one thing

that will change whether you go or not is whether you put your shoes on it’s whether you put your shoes on putting shoes on is that first step that changes all of your next steps if you don’t put them on you’re probably not going once they’re on your feet you’re probably not taking them off until you’ve been think about that application just for us and next steps the something that we’re called to do that will lead us into the future the something that makes that future more likely and figuring out what that is for south and what that is for you and I individually in our personal lives that’s part of the key first steps of what lead to next steps this is elizabeth elliot she was the wife of a missionary called jim elliott in south america they had engaged with a tribe through an airplane that dropped some leaflets downtown this tribe had never been

reached by Jesus people before so they started to feel like the tribe might be friendly and might be willing to have a visit and so four guys went in a plane and landed with some gifts to meet the tribe and the tribe tribal leaders killed all four of them they all died and elizabeth elliot and the otherwise were left with this decision what do we do do we just go back home and they decided that the love of Jesus was so compelling to them that Jesus narrative was so compelling to them that they were going to continue to reach this tribe of people and when the tribal leaders found that the wives of the people they had killed had still come to reach them with this message well somehow that changed everything these leaders these these women began to work with these tribal leaders and and loads of them came to know Jesus for themselves but

there was this moment for elizabeth elliot left with the weight of this missionary thing that they were trying to do where she said she was just overwhelmed and so she asked God well what am I supposed to do and the answer she heard was this just do the next thing just do the next thing just do the next thing for us as we as a community as we follow Jesus on the journey he has for us for you as you figure out the journey he has for you in life what is the next thing what is the first thing that’s what leads you into the future a journey is a step as you expect and then reflect and then another step expect and reflect and then another step expect and reflect expect that as you ask God what is the next thing for us as what is the next thing for you that he will do what he said he will do take time to reflect take time to be grateful does this sort of like

psychological thing that happens in our brains bad experiences people say are like velcro they stick instantly they just stay with us you see a clip in a horror movie my wife is terrified of sharks I can say this because she’s not here so whenever we go in the ocean she believes that every shark in like 100 miles is like oh laura’s in the ocean here we go they all come and yet that’s probably not true but it stems I think from watching these like movies about shark attacks and stuff and if you’ve seen one you know that it can just glue in your mind negative experiences are like ah they’re just like velcro and they stick and yet positive ones are not like that positive ones are like those nasty teflon pens that were so popular at one time if you own nasty teflon pans feel persecuted you should go and sell them immediately they’re not good um

but they’re like these things that things just slip off unless you take a certain amount of time and the estimate is about 15 seconds to appreciate to be grateful the memory just doesn’t stay that’s what this is that’s what this thing is in that song we sang found of every blessing when it says raise my ebenezer that’s what this is it’s this ebenezer it’s this memory it’s this oh God came to my aid he stepped with me I asked and expected and he was faithful that’s this memory of like ah he was good he was good we’ve looked at a couple of spiritual disciplines to help us sort of process the last couple of weeks we’ve looked at the idea of lament and the idea of presence over the last two weeks I would say that for this week a good discipline for you for me for south is petition and we can do that through this psalm this is psalm 25 show me your

ways lord teach me your paths guide me in your truth and teach me for you our God my savior and my hope is in you all day long remember lord your great mercy and love for they are from old take a picture of it find it in your bible psalm 25 read it every day this week and make it your prayer as you’re figuring out what are the next steps for me personally God what are you calling me into what decision am I making show me your ways lord teach me your paths guide me in your truth and teach me for you are God my savior and my hope is in you all day long show me your ways that’s what we’re asking God for for each of us what is your next step I don’t know but maybe there’s something that instantly comes comes to mind maybe there’s a decision that you’re trying to process something that you’re moving into but whatever it is ask what’s next

and expect then reflect and for us as a community too I rephrase some of the language to make it corporate show us your ways lord show south your ways teach us your paths guide us in your truth and teach us for you our God our savior and our hope is in you all day long remember lord your great mercy and love for they are from old show us as a community God where would you have a step next what audacious ridiculous decisions that we’ve made in the past might inform the ridiculous audacious decisions that we might make in a future what uncomfortable steps might you be calling us into that might change everything are we the people that still want the answer to that question what is our next step as a community of people we are called to enter into prayer to enter into asking God what is next and expect then reflect the next two weeks

we’re going to ask what type of community is this we’re going to look inwards and we’re going to look outwards and we’re going to process some of those questions together but one of the things I’ve loved about being at south so far is I’ve already got to see God move I’ve already got to see God be faithful as some of you will or most of you will know when uh I arrived larry boatwright was our executive pastor wonderful guy we got him really well but he felt this call to be somewhere else and so he moved to california and there’s this moment of like oh okay we don’t have an executive pastor anymore and some great people like jody stepped up into some of those roles uh I did some of those parts myself but but I was always in this sense of like no we need somebody who has some real just like some experience some solid on the ground sort

of experience of church but also knows some of the stuff that we do down here this strip and so God was incredibly faithful to us asking what is next and expecting and now we get to reflect as a community of people together so I’m going to invite steve schroeder to come up on stage with me for a second steve uh he’s going to just share a little bit of his story and steve is now on board with us as an executive pastor there is a microphone right there for you to grab so yeah round of applause for that and so I got to sit down with steve um you’d already have think you and tom had a conversation about you know maybe you’re helping out in the interim or could that be a permanent thing but we sat down uh just for a little while um just the two of us not long after I got here and um but that journey was not just starting there for you right there was

a little bit going on that might be helpful for people to know I’ve been on a journey with Jesus for so many years and I love the church we were in kansas I was a lead pastor there and after 34 years of being in pastoral ministry we sensed God nudging us to move to denver and to buy a business I’ve always had a little interest in business and we bought the great great harvest bakery in greenwood village which is unusual for a pastor because most of us have no experience with anything practical whatsoever so to run a bakery is a fairly impressive thing I’ll let that one go we loved running the business we learned a lot we grew a lot through that time we loved the bakery about january of this year and we’ve been attending south for at least three or three and a half years we sensed it was time to put the business up for sale and I didn’t

know what was next and I kept asking Jesus what you know what’s next for me I don’t feel like just sitting around and retiring and I heard him say I want you back in the church and I didn’t know where or what that meant and I was sitting over here that august 16 when larry was up here surprising uh surprised me with his resignation and I heard Jesus say surprise me too just this is what I’ve been preparing you for and I said really and I’d never put the dots together that all those years of pastoral ministry and then running a business would actually set me up well to qualify me to be an executive pastor where we’ve got a budget that’s similar to what ours was at the bakery I’m working with a similar size staff I’ve been a tenant I know what it’s like to have to pay rent and to work with leases I’ve learned quickbooks in the last four years sorry what’s

quickbooks I don’t know so we sold the bakery on september 23rd the day before you and I had our first meeting together and I was just shaking my head like Jesus you just wove all of this together so perfectly and I had no idea that he was doing that so you know we got to know each other and you stepped out on faith and said I think I can trust this guy let’s hire him and uh and it just feels right it feels like the right fit for the right time so to give some sense to the community of what I felt as we were praying as a group of people asking God what is next I had this sense of a few things we needed someone who had some real experience running a business as steve just alluded to some people that had actually done the thing which I have not done I worked on a golf course but that’s maybe not the most practical experience for

overseeing coffee shops and early learning centers and things it was great but not useful and then I also had this sense that we have a fairly young pastoral team as well I’m pretty new to some of this stuff we have a load of great staff in their 30s we have dan who’s still rocking it out in his is it 40s down 45 something like that and um but I had this sense that you know we wanted a uh someone who had more experience that as we passed to people some of you in your 60s 70s would would have some of that experience as well I wanted someone who’d been a lead pastor that wa that had sat in the seat that I sit in because it is different that thing about parenting about the theories that is true of being a lead pastor as well you have all these wonderful theories till you do it and then you’re like none of them work we’re just you know we

just go and listen to what God says and so when I met steve and sat down it was like box after box after box was ticked it was that thing that we talked about at the start ask what’s next and expect that God will be good in his promises and now we get to reflect as a community that God is the God who answers prayer that south has taken a step and now the thing is to ask what is the next one and so I’m delighted that we get to do that together stephen I am too I’ll be the old guy on staff dan and I yeah that’s okay it’s fine with me you said it I didn’t say it I just I just inferred it so what I’d love to do as we sort of uh move towards the close of the service I’m going to ask any elders that are present we’re just going to pray for steve as he starts this new journey with us uh if you have been an elder in the past and you would like to join us feel

free to come up as well and I’m going to allow the worship team to get ready to lead us in a closing song but we’re going to pray for steve together and be thankful together

Forwards: An Invitation to New Things | Directions (Part 3)2022-01-26T14:19:21-07:00

Upwards – Experiencing God’s Presence in our Hurt | Directions (Part 2)

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good morning friends if you’re visiting my name is Alex I’m one of the pastors here it’s great to have you here uh for those of you that visited a cup last week um in lament week and came back bravo good for you uh because it was samba we were looking backwards and just experiencing some of what it is to appreciate that man when change happens it is difficult uh and this morning we began to sing some of the some of those songs of of what we’re going to talk about today this idea of presence I asked darren if we could sing all 12 verses of crowning with many crowns because it does have 12. and he said however much extra time that takes you lose off your sermon and I said maybe we should just do two verses and then we landed on four um but what a wonderful just joy to sing those hymns and hopefully you caught the the

connection with these songs that talk about this idea of awake but last week we asked this question what happens when we encounter change when we kind of change whether it’s a personal thing whether we go through loss or something like that or whether it’s a corporate thing like a community thing change is this difficult season sometimes we want to hide from that but actually what we talked about last week is is acknowledging that is a very healthy thing to be able to say I’m not okay that’s a good thing it is okay to not be okay what we looked at is this idea change is loss loss brings grief and man grief is disorientating I talked about my experience surfing and being tumbled up and down by some waves and not knowing which way was up and which way was down and that’s where we can land in that season of change we’re

like ah I just don’t know where I am as a community we’ve been through change whether it’s the coronavirus season of 2020 whether it’s moving from one lead pastor to another those different things when we go through those seasons at times we can say ah I don’t know where I am and yet there’s this other tension with change the other tension is that you might find that there’s one group of people that are very much I’m ready to go forward let’s move I’ve been standing still too long and there might be another group of people that are like wait I’m not quite ready to move forward now the tension there is this if you don’t move forward something stagnant tends to happen I took these pictures of brighton pia or the west pier more correctly in the south of England this is what it looked like in the 90s when I used to visit as a child it’s

what’s called a grade 1 listed building that means it can’t be used for anything other than what it was designed to be and it was designed to be appear for people to go on and play games so this is like mid 90s just this sense of like dilapidation to fix this pier would cost around 35 to 40 million dollars but you can’t use it for anything other than what it was designed to be so it’s very hard to make that kind of money back people have offered to buy it and you can buy it for a pound one pound which is about a dollar 25 if you have the 40 million dollars to do the renovations and then it’s yours um but you have to do it to have to turn it into a pier so people have talked about making it into a hotel people have talked about living on it and building a house just for themselves but nobody wants to to to change it back to what it used to be so

slowly over the years this has happened this is what it looks like today slowly this beautiful building this incredible thing has slowly disappeared into the ocean bit by bit it falls away lost in this tension of not being able to move forward but not being able to stay back in its past in its history communities can be like that now I want to make a distinction there because in personal grief man that can go on for years and and I will say this truthfully you may never stop grieving and that’s okay in the place you are you may never stop grieving um and that’s okay but for a community to constantly be caught in this looking backwards phase can be really difficult I once interviewed at a mega church and this church had had a very famous pastor who had since moved on and as I hung out with the people the staff and people in the community his name

and his aura just seemed to lurk around the building I was convinced that somewhere there was like an office with a hidden door that was still his office that they just never changed and was casually gathering dust I I imagine that the last toilet that he blessed with his presence had never been flushed or something like that it just felt like this this awkward tension of not being able to move on and yet a community has to move on otherwise it dies so in between backwards and forwards one of the most healthy things I think is this idea of upwards it’s this idea of God’s presence if I could have us ask a question this week it would be how do we allow change to lead us into an experience of God I need to fire whoever left the question mark off the end of that um it was me my own incompetence but how do we allow change to lead us

into an experience of God that’s what we’ll see this Joshua community do before forwards there is there is there is upwards so we’re going to start I’m going to read Joshua chapter one we’ll look at all the different passages as we move forward now Joshua chapter 1 moves straight on from the book before that Deuteronomy chapter 34. now if you’re unfamiliar with the bible that’s fine what you tend to find is that the individual books there’s not a ton of concern about who wrote each book the bible actually cares less about those kind of things than we seem to care about them obviously Moses who’s the traditional writer of Deuteronomy did not write Deuteronomy 34 because it’s very hard to write the words and then Moses died if you’re already dead so somebody else wrote those and then Joshua chapter one seems to follow

straight on and it goes like this after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord the Lord said to Joshua son of nun Moses aid Moses my servant is dead now then you and all these people get ready to cross the Jordan river into the land I’m about to give them to the israelites I will give you every place where you set your foot as I promised Moses your territory will extend from the desert to lebanon and from the great river the euphrates all the hittite country to the mediterranean sea in the west no one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life as I was with Moses so I will be with you I will never leave you nor forsake you be strong and courageous because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them be strong and very courageous be careful to obey all the law my my servant Moses

gave you do not turn to it from it to the right or to the left that you may be successful whenever you wherever you go keep this book of law always on your lips meditate on it night and day so that you may be careful to do everything written in it then you will be prosperous and successful have I not commanded you be strong and courageous do not be afraid do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go let us pray father as we look at this passage as we begin to look upwards God we know that there’s so many different experiences in this room some of us have come in hurting some of us have come in joyful some of us look back to our past with so many things we’re thankful for some of us look back and see things that we’ve lost in this moment we dare to look upwards we dare to look to you God we

believe that you breathed into this book that we read and it came alive God would you breathe into us your people that we might come alive in whatever way we need that thank you Jesus for your presence with us with your church as you promised amen so here we go first part of Joshua Joshua chapter one after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord the Lord said to Joshua son of nun Moses aid Moses my servant is dead now then you and all these people get ready to cross the Jordan river into the land I’m about to give them to the israelites Joshua’s first step after this big change after Moses has died is to wait he doesn’t move instantly he doesn’t make that first step in across the Jordan into this new land he waits and he has a conversation with God so often when we land in the the tension of change our first response is

action we want to do something and yet Joshua is wiser than us now one of the things that’s interesting is I’ve called this week upwards but that can be problematic for some people you see the bible is written in the language of what I would call a three-tiered world view so uh hang with me on this you have the middle part that’s the part we live on and I used the shire because it made sense heaven on earth and then you have the heavenly realm which God occupies or the angelic forces occupy and then you have something below us which is either hell or hades or the grave or someplace that you don’t want to go and and the bible it just really operates in the tension of that’s how people saw the world quite often you’ll see phrases that would describe the world in that way now we still do some of that today I’m an unashamed

new york Yankees fan you can hate me all you want but I started watching the Yankees years ago and this is glyber torres he hits a grand slam he celebrates what does he do he points to the sky so for a chunk of us we still continue with that just three-tiered world view heaven is up guard is up there but if you’re of more of a scientific bent that may cause you some problems so maybe it sends up how can I take the bible seriously when it talks about guardian up there in the sky when it talks about a middle ground and it talks about like a health thing right below our feet somewhere like if you dig down far enough you’ll reach it that’s caused tension for people for a good hundred years now the first cosmonaut to reach space yuri gagarin famously looked out upon this space that mankind was entering for the first time and said I don’t see God

up here anywhere now in actual fact the bible is far less simplistic in its view than we might think it is there there are passages that will say things like this this is what the Lord says heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool where is the house that you will build for me where will my resting place be there is this sense of like that three-tiered view but in actual fact most of the time it’s metaphor and a lot of other times you’ll see passages like this where can I go from your spirit where can I flee from your presence if I go up to the heavens you are there if I make my bed in the depths you are there if I rise on the wings of the dawn if I settle on the far side of the sea even there your hand will guide me your right hand will hold me fast plenty of other places in this book there’s this idea that well no God is everywhere there is no up and

down it’s everywhere that the bible is comfortable with the tension between the two comfortable with its use of language one way and its use of language the other way and if you come in with this sense of I struggle with the compatibility of faith and science one of the things I would say is that God is the bible is actually comfortable with that it’s comfortable with the tension there that it’s possible to to love and enjoy science and yet find this deep faith the challenge might be for you this week is are you willing to be come open to something more mystic something that you can’t grasp with your five senses that can be a challenge that can be a hard thing to do if you’ve never done it before to begin to ask that question is the more than just the physical stuff that we see around us what I would say is when I use the language

upwards I’m not using it in this distinct sense of upwards I’m using it in this sense of looking godwards and in grief in change that can be hard to do when we experience something when we experience a disaster when we experience a loss when we experience pain that idea of growth grief that idea of disorientation looking towards God can be the last thing we want to do there’s this passage in psalm 74 that says God take your hand out of your robes the picture that it gives is a God who is sitting or standing with his hands like this able to help but refusing to do so this is the psalmist’s like unabashed expression of like oh God why aren’t you doing something in this situation in grief to choose to look godwards for some of us can be difficult for some of us it could be a sort of a mental struggle we can’t believe we can’t bring ourselves

to cognitively cognitively process the idea that there is a God for some of us it’s an emotional struggle and then of course there’s some of us that find it easy for some of you that walk through change you’re like it’s okay God has this and that’s great I’m glad that you are one of those people but often I am not that person often in my experience of pain experience of lust looking to God is a painful thing fortunately for us this Joshua character is wiser than perhaps we are he through learned behavior knows before he moves before he takes this people that have lost this great leader and says we’re going to do something new he knows to wait and he’s learnt that from this guy Moses that he’s hung around with for a good 40 years or so look at this passage back in exodus 33 if you want to note it down and read it later Joshua right before this

passage the line before this has it’s we’ve been told that Joshua is always present when Moses has these encounters with God and this is this encounter Moses said to the Lord you’ve been telling me lead these people but you have not let me know whom you will send with me you have said I know you by name and you have found favor with me if you are pleased with me teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you remember that this nation is your people the Lord replied my presence will go with you and I will give you rest then Moses said to him if your presence does not go with us do not send us up from here how will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us what else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth and

the Lord said to Moses I will do the very thing you have asked because I am pleased with you and I know you by name then Moses said show me your glory Joshua has learned from Moses before you move you have to wait before forwards there’s this moment of looking upwards or godwards of of taking pause and bringing God into the situation and Joshua does this faithfully experiencing presence requires awareness it requires a willingness to stop as we just looked there’s these passages in this text that we read that say God is everywhere but I think between us would be honest and say there might be some of us that we feel like we sense God’s presence regularly there might be some of us that say that’s a difficult thing for me and right now where I am in my life I’m just not sure that he’s with me in the way that I would like there

might be some of us that have never taken that step before personally and we would say that if we experience God here now that would be for the first time and that’s okay all sorts of different backgrounds and yet the first step to experiencing God’s presence requires awareness a few years ago I was wandering down the street of my hometown and I saw a huge crowd with a uh a big rolls royce sort of like in the center of them and then the building door opened and this guy walked out uh if you can’t see the picture clearly it is Simon Cowell from the x factor wondered out now if you don’t know who he is he’s on tv judging American talent british people’s main function today in the world is to judge American talent apparently we have no discernible talent of our own uh and and yet so that’s what we do we’re on tv doing that and so

this crowd was waiting they must have heard somehow that he was there and so there’s this sense of the like there’s this rumbling of anticipation and then when he walks out everyone’s like ah Simon Cowell is here celebrity culture is one of the few avenues that we have into seeing like for the first time maybe what what it is to experience something bigger than us now of course the experience of Simon Cowell is nothing like the experience of the creator of the universe but it gives us some language to use for those people that were aware it was a big moment for me he was unaware it took a while to catch up a second story to sort of parallel with that this is the birth of my uh third child Jude’s first visitor was not the normal grandparent was not the normal sister or brother or something like that it was Santa Claus not the real Santa

Claus like one of his fake minions that helps him you know those guys um he turned up and wandered in it was December 12th and all the way through I’m thinking there’s something wrong with this Santa Claus he’s far too athletic to look like a Santa Claus he just doesn’t fit and then his wife was young and she was pretty and I’m like ah there’s just something wrong with mrs Claus as well they’re not the usual jolly sort of fat figures that you’re presented with and it turns out that all the time Santa Claus was jim harbaugh the coach of Michigan football now as a huge wolverines fan like at that time jim harbaugh was like he was almost like the voice of God to me he was the guy that was going to save our dilapidated program and three years on a much more cynical than I was then but at the time when I found out I was like I missed it this

guy he caught it I found their picture in the paper they sent it in this guy knew who was with him and I was caught unawares does this distinction between being aware of God’s presence and not being aware of God’s presence it doesn’t mean that it’s not here it just means that there’s a chance that we might miss it means there’s a chance that we might miss it the question I would twist then is is are you aware that God is there what does it take to experience God’s presence what does it take if you’re someone who’s never had that sense of God is here with me now what does it take to move into that for the first time maybe that feels a little too risky for you maybe a little too mystic for you and yet all through history there are these stories of people that have encountered God and their lives have changed dramatically because of it

this idea is is present in the new testament as well not just the old testament this is some of Jesus last words to his followers I am going to him who sent me none of you asks me where you are going other rather you are filled with grief because I have said these things but very truly I tell you it is for your good that I’m going away unless I go away the paraclete will not come to you but if I go away I will send him to you I left that word pericle in the original greek language it could be translated as advocate or lawyer or something like that it’s Jesus way of referring to this spirit that as followers of his we believe that we engage with but the the word paraclete most comfortably means comforter someone who comes alongside someone who brings that sense of comfort I have a series of photos to show you this is from some Christmas photos we

took a few years ago I’ve always been intrigued by this willingness to receive comfort at least from the perspective of my children watch what happens in this series of Christmas photos we tried to take first photo everything is fine sisters holding hands all is well second photo things have started to take a turn for the worse uh third photo younger sister is no longer happy with oldest sister older sister is still smiling angelically finally we see like the full horror of everything has gone wrong I am broken I am angry I am hurting uh and then youngest sister throws self on floor and then this is my favorite one of the the bunch there’s there’s nothing to see here I had no part to play in this and of course as sisters there’s regularly these interactions of like ah we get angry with each other we get we we you know we get upset what I noticed is this for years

and years it took Gigi a long time to accept comfort I would gather them both to me and it would sense elena’s breath starting to align with mine the the sort of the desperation started to disappear she would slowly start to breathe at my rate and she would lie there for 10 15 minutes and and peace would come but for Gigi it was much harder to do that she would get up she would run off she would go looking for comfort elsewhere or she would just stand screaming now she’s gotten much better over the years but it was just fascinating to see this difference and I think that is true for some of us as well there’s this question of are we those that are willing in God’s presence to take comfort are we those that are still looking to find that somewhere else there’s this incredible story uh from a few years ago of a bunch of navy seals

that went into rescue some hostages somewhere overseas in places that I don’t want to go and and don’t know anything about but they got in they got rid of the bad guys as I’m told and they they went into where the hostages were being held and they undid their bonds and they’d been kept in this dark sort of underground place and they said you’re free to go and nobody moved they just stayed they were terrified they didn’t know they were disorientated they were lost in this process of loss and grief and what it took was this one of the the navy seals took off his armor put down his gun and climbed in amongst the hostages sat there where they could feel his presence where they could sense his breath in the room next to them and he started to begin to tell them it’s okay we’re here to help I’m here to rescue you come with us you’re safe

now it’s so interesting what it took for them to be willing to move and I think there’s this wonderful parallel between this Jesus story that that talks about the idea of a God who doesn’t stay distant but is willing to come to our rescue to be like us to experience what life is like on our level and say come with me there’s a new story for you to live in the word comfort or consolation in Hebrew is a mixture of two different words the letters the consonants are the same as like two words imagine them put next to each other now I don’t know what that means necessarily to a person from a couple of thousand years ago but the two words that it would make up are a rest and warmth there’s this idea that comfort consolation is about warm rest it’s about warm rest my wife is very smart far smarter than me and the rest of my family I

believe we go to this place on the southwest coast of England uh sometimes we have great weather and sometimes the sea is delightful there are other times where it never gets above 60 degrees and the water temperature never gets above 50 degrees or something like that and yet my family are so addicted to the ocean that every single one of us will still be in the ocean regularly during that week my wife will not be in the ocean during that week what she does is this she sits in the glass room or this one particular year I’m sitting thinking of she sat in this glass room overlooking where we’re all bathing and she found the biggest blanket she could possibly find she made this actually herself um this is about the weight of a small child or even a big child and it’s made up of yarn that we got a 90 discount and it still cost 90 so you’re looking

at a blanket that’s worth I know like 800 and something dollars here or something like that and she made it herself but it’s it’s this this idea of like ah she would sit wrapped in this blanket of warmth and she knows what it is to rest that’s this picture that we’re given when we talk about the idea of God’s presence this this comfort this warm rest this sense of relaxation of like ah but this blanket is also something else it’s not just warm it’s what’s called a weighted blanket so there’s been some research done over the last few years that says that a blanket of a certain weight over about 20 pounds for people that suffer from anxiety adhd autism actually can just bring this sensory level of comfort it brings this like place of like I feel okay I feel like I’m safe when we looked at that passage earlier I read in that that liturgy that that passage from second

chronicles it talks about God’s glory coming into the temple now that’s a foreign word to us what do we mean by God’s glory the literal Hebrew word for glory kabod is from another word that’s very similar kabad and it quite literally means wait quite literally means weight never in a bad sense never in a weight that you can’t handle but always in a good sense so when we talk about presence all these words sort of sort of align with each other there’s this idea of warmth and rest and comfort and weight and safety when we talk about God’s presence those are the things that were invited into and isn’t that good news for a people lost in change isn’t that good news for people that are lost in loss that are struggling in grief that are going through disorientation there’s this invitation to this presence that says come and sit and experience

warm rest experience what it is to have that weight rest upon you know that you are safe there’s this connection between warmth and rest and God’s presence and that is there in that passage where Moses has that conversation with God with a Joshua is sitting waiting in the Lord said my presence will go with you and I will give you rest presence and rest are related to each other it’s becoming aware that God is there it’s moving from the question of are you aware to to becoming aware of like God is here and he was all along but that presence that rest for waiting is always purposeful and he’s always getting ready for that next move forward which we’ll get to more completely next week but we’re going to live on the verge of today this is the next part of that Joshua passage be strong and very courageous be careful to obey all the law my servant

Moses gave you do not turn to it turn from it to the right or to the left that you may be successful wherever you go keep this book of the law always on your lips meditate on it day and night so that you might be careful to do everything written in it then you will be prosperous and successful when we think about the law and this word for some of us that have been around for a long time we tend to think about actions that we’re supposed to do rules were supposed to keep and yet central to the law for these old testament people wasn’t just stuff that they had to do it was a knowing of who God was this is Deuteronomy chapter six verse four it’s called the shamar it’s like what Jesus said is the centerpiece of the whole Jewish law hear o israel the Lord our God the Lord is one love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with

all your strength why did this people need to know that the Lord was one why did they need to know that God was one they lived in a time where there were all these competing deities around you had gods of particular nations and there was always this question of which God is stronger when you’re in which different place and then there were these gods that you had to keep happy there was the river guard who made sure that your crops got water but there was the guard of the harvest that made sure that the cup crops grew and you you had to make sure that you kept all of them balanced and you could never let one of them get unhappy with you had to appease all of them and and showing too much honor to juan might mean that you didn’t show enough honor to the other and this God starts to say to this people actually you

don’t need to worry about all of those different types of things I have you covered it’s funny that it reminds me of my experience with my kids as they’ve started to ask me questions about monsters now we all know monsters aren’t real right I think but I told my kids I didn’t tell them that they were but when they came to me I’d read this parenting book and in no way am I prescribing this behavior so if you’re a parent learning stuff don’t do what I do I just I’m trying it I’m experimenting but when they came to me and said they asked me about the monsters I didn’t tell them monsters weren’t real do you know why because that just tells them that you don’t know about the monsters it means that you’re weak it means that you’re a failure they’re like no mom and dad don’t know about the monsters I’m in real trouble like when the monsters

come they won’t even be there to protect me so what I did was I told them that daddy eats monsters for breakfast and that seemed to work so in actual fact they started going to their friends and when the subject of monsters came up they were like no you don’t need to worry my dad eats monsters um now again I have no idea if it’s good or bad it was a theory and a parenting book and I went with it the bible is very comfortable with the framework that there is one God who is the God everywhere but when it talks about these other gods it talks about them often in the sense of don’t worry there might be monsters out there but I have you covered you’re going to be okay this place of presence is this place it’s like this thing this starting point to move on from it’s this waiting and you’re in this sense of safety in this place

where God is there and it’s this getting you ready to go out and when you go you take that presence with you and it doesn’t matter what you face because this God knew all about those things that were in front of you and I gave you a little picture of monsters inc because I was talking about monsters there we go some of you will go home and watch that movie just based on that picture that was such a good movie I’ve got to go back and watch it again and don’t tell your kids that monsters are real and this is the final passage have I not commanded you be strong and courageous do not be afraid do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go don’t worry about what’s in front in this moment I am here with you and the same God who is here will be there in the next step and the step after and the step after

and the step after that’s what presence is all about you haven’t moved yet and you get you get to picture this guard on that journey with you wherever you happen to go we’re going to move to a time of communion of eucharist of the table of mass whatever you grew up calling it is just fine but the the whole point of eucharist is this it’s this idea that God is present in a particular way it’s not just that we remember what Jesus did it’s that we actively sort of place ourselves back in that very time or maybe even better we draw that that very moment where Jesus gave his life for us into our present reality right now and we say God in this moment I need you to do something in my life I need your presence to be with me and we create space for that but as we do that I’d love you to walk with me through this spiritual exercise I’m going to invite you to just

close your eyes for a few minutes I’m going to do this thing called palms down palms up if it seems a little mystic that’s okay you’re actually part of an eastern faith whether you knew it or not but it’s it’s actually uh just a wonderful way of taking into our minds what God has done for us you see the reason that God’s presence I think can be awkward or difficult for many of us it’s simply we are distracted people right now my biggest distraction to God’s presence is I’m talking to a whole chunk of people that if I say the wrong thing I’ll look like an idiot you brought your own distractions in maybe you’re worried about your fantasy football team maybe something you came in with an argument between you and your spouse you and somebody else there’s just something that’s off in a relationship maybe you came in just with this weight of loneliness

that you live by yourself you’re not around many people they can be big things they can be little things but each of them are they’re a distraction they are the thing that has our focus could be a sickness could be a loss of income it could be a job opportunity that didn’t work out whatever the thing is and and as you close your eyes I would expect that in this moment it’s the first thing to jump into your mind the first thing that distracts you from God’s presence maybe you’re just really hungry you skipped breakfast this morning whatever it is in this exercise we get to lay that down before we enter this time of communion we get to say God I refuse to let this distraction get between you and me so what I’d love you to do is just as you close your eyes feel the weight of your feet on the ground in front of you put your hands out in front of you if you \

feel comfortable and just imagine whatever that thing is in your hands that thing that has all of your attention right now maybe it’s this sense that you feel like God is disappointed in you that you haven’t been all that you could be maybe you’re worried there’s a fear about something in front of you you’re not sure about the journey the journey doesn’t matter right now right now is a time for presence God will be with you in the journey but right now he is with you he’s looking for your attention whatever that distraction is whatever that thing is that is in the way as Aaron plays I’m just going to invite you whenever you’re ready to take your hands that are now palm upwards and just turn your palms down and imagine dropping whatever that thing is into the hands of your heavenly father who knows what you have need of he knows that you

can’t carry the weight of it he knows how alone you felt he knows how much of a burden it has been to bear he knows how important it is how much it matters to you he knows that you might have to deal with it in the future but right now he just wants you and so as you place that burden in the hands of your father who loves you for a moment you get to let go and then whenever you’re ready turn your hands back the other way and just be ready to receive whatever God has for you sometimes he doesn’t give us everything that we want but he always gives us himself and maybe that was the thing that we needed all along God in this moment we wait for your presence for those of us that have never experienced that to whom this whole thing feels a little bit weird God may we experience your presence for those who have felt like

we’ve walked through a desert of dryness of emptiness may we experience the fresh rush of your presence like a spring bursting forth down for those of us who feel that this season has been rough before we go back into the world around us may we experience your presence your presence as a warm rest as a weight that makes us feel safe and whenever you’re ready you can take the communion elements and I’m going to read you this passage from first corinthians this is Paul the writer talking for I receive from the Lord what I also passed unto you the Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed took bread and when he had given thanks he broke it and said this is my body which is for you do this in remembrance of me in the same way after supper he took the cup saying this cup is the new covenant in my blood do this whenever you whenever

you drink it in remembrance of me we are putting ourselves back into that moment Jesus gave his life for each one of us or maybe even better we are inviting that moment into our present reality and realizing that he is here for you now and so whenever you’re ready I invite you to take the bread remember that this is the body of Jesus which is for you and in the same way the cup this cup is a new covenant in of blood we do this in remembrance of Jesus and realize he is present with us God thank you for your presence with us today thank you for needs met thank you for a pathway into the future but thank you for right now the only thing we have to do is rest in that presence

Upwards – Experiencing God’s Presence in our Hurt | Directions (Part 2)2022-01-25T14:15:41-07:00

Backwards – Recognizing Loss, Hurt & Pain | Directions (Part 1)

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I love it good morning everyone thank you for braving the snow this morning it’s great to see you here man we just have such an amazing staff of people here uh they threw this together um just you know on very short notice Aaron and the team just working together and then you have people like dan who doesn’t bring technical skills like for this kind of thing but brings that silky smooth voice over and everything so it’s just like I just I’m amazed at the team that we have in place and we’re going to move into this series called directions uh which takes seriously that change is difficult when things change man we get thrown off at times it also takes grief seriously and we’re going to walk through some of those different aspects of grief but before we get into that I just wanted to give you just a quick update because we’ve had some

questions this week just about how some of the different news articles about coronavirus affect what’s going on with church with south with different things so just to walk you through really quickly um we will be talking through some of this as a staff and a team that we put together to to do the whole reentry thing over the next week but right now what we are leaning into is this right now we’re going to stay doing what we’re doing and let me explain why uh this week the governor uh gave an announcement and said that they were asking us to reduce in-person gatherings um for sort of personal gatherings family gatherings the whole point of that was to enable things like churches to continue doing what they were doing at the level that would they were doing it so right now Arapahoe county is in what’s called level one which enables us in a

building this size to have a gathering of up to 125 people in this room if masks are in place and things like that so that’s what we’re going to continue to do that’s what the government said that we could do and we’re going to stick with that now at the same time some of you may have heard there was a federal court case where a uh uh church in Denver took the state of Colorado to court and said well we don’t think it’s right that you should mandate masks in worship and that case was successful so then one of the other questions was well are we just going to throw out everything that we’re doing and the answer is no we’re not we’re going to try and walk this line in between what we think is is sensible and what we think is right and and here’s the thing in doing that we won’t always get it right we’re going to try and keep

functioning healthily while also trying to do what is safe for people to enable as many people to join us in for in-person worship as we can right now now even for me personally just walking through that there’s this line that I’m always trying to figure out in the guidelines for the state of Colorado there’s a provision for being a religious officiant that you don’t have to wear a mask but every time I come into this building for Sunday worship I have this line of wool when am I a religious officiant when am I not a religious offician am I a religious officiant when greeting you at the door am I one when standing on stage am I one that’s in worship and and so many of those things they leave you with this sense of like tension to be honest it would be easier for me and our staff and our teams if the government just said do this do this to this and we just

did it but we’re also trying to find this line so we appreciate your grace and we appreciate your input as well for some of you you might come to us and say hey we feel like that we’re not being strict enough and we need to hear that from you because we won’t always know we want you to feel like you can come to your home community and be in worship as much as possible for some of you you’ll feel this tension of I am so sick of this thing can you guys just move on already and and we need to hear that from you as well the thing is when we hear from you that doesn’t mean we’ll just be able to do exactly what you want to do we’ll have to figure out this line of what works but we’re trying to do that with this sense of loving our neighbor and loving our community really well so hopefully that helps you understand some of what we’re working

through as a team and we just appreciate the grace that you’ve shown so far you you have all been wonderful and and so two directions here we go experiencing God in change man 2020 has been a year already right it was a year back somewhere in April it fell and now it’s still continuing someone said the other day I think that this is march 317th or something like that we just feel like we’ve been stuck in this moment if it’s always march and when you see articles like murder hornets arriving on the west coast of America you start to question like wow how is this thing gonna turn out is it going to all be okay in the end and in amongst that haven’t every one of us experienced different levels of change uh different levels of loss uh I found this sign I don’t know how clearly you can see it I tried to make it big enough but someone put up

gravestones for Halloween of things that they were mourning uh concerts had gone festivals had gone specifically these people in this house whoever they were were grieving mike’s Hawaii trip not everyone’s trip just mike’s apparently this trip was going to be so good that even people that weren’t going on it are sad that it no longer uh is happening and and then sanity as well a few days ago the uh astrophysicist neil degrasse tyson said that uh apparently the day before election a giant asteroid could crash into the earth and everyone went well that makes sense in 2020 I am not surprised that it was going to happen it’s been that sense of like ah change is everywhere and change is difficult change is difficult when you are sort of on board with it when you know it’s coming I just thought through some of my life changes uh I thought

through what it was to go from being single to being married going through this change from like doing whatever I wanted all the time to suddenly have somebody else that wanted to say in that that was difficult even though I was fully on board with it and then I remember like having uh our first kid and if you have a question like this is like eight years ago have you and Laura changed at all in all of these years we haven’t really particularly we still look pretty much the same we have this vampiric gene I think it just you know just everything stays normal so I thought about just the change I remember the day I took our first child Elena home we actually because we’re those type of people we took her straight from the hospital to my parents house there was about 50 people gathering for my brother’s birthday and she got passed around all

these different people and then I remember the moment where I got a home and then suddenly it became real I was like oh this thing isn’t going away she’s here for good and now she screams when she doesn’t get what she wants the change is difficult and I remember going from one to two and then suddenly there was no peace like in the old way you got to pass her off and say hey you know I’m done for a while and now suddenly it was always like you know one to one and then I remember the change when Jude came along and suddenly we moved from like the famous saying we go from man-to-man coverage to zone defense like you’ve always got more than you can handle you are officially outnumbered uh and then there’s the the question of do you have a fourth one and the theory is once you’ve had three four doesn’t

make any difference but I have no desire to test that theory right now I remember listening to jim gaffigan the comedian talk about what is it like to have four kids and he said imagine that you’re drowning and then somebody hands you a baby and that is like this like moment the reason we caught judas because it’s as close to the book of revelation as you can get and we’re like this is like the end we’re done um change is difficult when you plan for it and then it’s perhaps more difficult when you don’t plan for it think about what change can include I’m going to throw in all these different things it can include the grief of loss and we’ll get to that in a moment it can include an event that just came out of nowhere and hit you like a freight train and one of the things it seems to do is it seems to pull us out of the normal time of things we

we feel like we’ve been grabbed and all of our forward motion has been stopped this picture was the best I could if I find to explain uh the story I’m about to tell you a few months ago my youngest daughter my oldest daughter Elena was trying to jump from the deck to the ground which explains something about her personality that’s just how she does she she wants to go and she goes and so she jumped off the deck and as she jumped the back of her shorts hooked onto one of the hooks for holding plants on the deck you know one of the things that just hangs off the edge and she suddenly found herself just suspended in midair completely unable to help herself completely unable to move she was there and she was just hanging and I’m torn in this like fatherly sort of like sense of do I leave her there long enough to get a photo or a video or do

I feel the need to help her down before the hook gives way and breaks and I went with the safe option I I just helped it down but it was this moment of just watching her dangling there and it was wonderfully hilarious but at the same time isn’t that how we feel sometimes in the moment of change sometimes something happens to us and we feel like we’ve been hit and hit by a freight train we feel like it’s like that cow that’s running away and someone lassos and all of its forward motion stops and it collapses to the floor those are just some of the ways that I might articulate how we experience change so we’re going to tap into this story from the old testament and we’re going to watch a community go through change and recognize that we are a community going through change we’re going to talk about the idea that that can cause grief

it can cause a sense of loss and that also while it’s a community thing can be a very individual thing as well what happens when we encounter change the story we’re about to look into is a story from about three and a half thousand years ago it’s a story of a community that a guy called Moses has led out of a land called Egypt now it’s it’s hard for us to put into any sense like just how significant this story was unless you can imagine yourself as a group of people that have lived for generation after generation in a nation that isn’t their own where they have no rights no freedom where they’re completely under the control of somebody else perhaps the only story that we have to help us understand uh in modern terms is the story of African black nations in slavery in the western world in britain in America and things like that this group of

people these Israelite nation they have been there for 400 years at the point where we’re going to get into the story think about what that’s done to them all of their cultural history has started to disappear they’re in this land called called Egypt where they are told to just produce and to produce and to produce where they have no freedom and then imagine what it feels like for that people to be rescued by somebody to be pulled out this guy called Moses appears and says that he has heard from God and his job is to bring them out into this new promised land and then incredibly he does it Moses stands up to pharaoh this ruler of this other world and and pharaoh blinks first pharaoh backs down yes it’s God behind the scenes that’s doing it we understand that story from from our perspective but imagine what it felt like to those people

God didn’t seem to do anything till Moses turned up and then for these people this guy Moses he takes them and he pulls them out of this other nation and he takes them into this new land and they stand on a mountain in this land that is free and God speaks to them as a whole group of people but they’re terrified hearing God is a scary thing there’s only a couple of times in history sociologically where a whole people group claim to hear from God and so this group of people they say this God don’t speak to us speak through Moses let him be the one that tells us what he needs to tell us and we’ll be happy with that they find this thing that I would call orientation this uh theologian walter brueggemann talks about this process of orientation and a couple of other things that will follow it but they find this place where they’re like okay

everything is normal everything is good we’re going into this new land and this this guy is hearing from God and he’s speaking to us and all is well and then what does it feel like for this community at the point we’re about to enter for suddenly this guy to no longer be around suddenly he’s going to disappear so this is the passage we’re going to tap into today this is deuteronomy chapter 34 if you want to look at in your text we’re going to go through the whole passage um but here we go then Moses climbed mount nebu from the plains of moab to the top of pisgah across from jericho there the lord showed in the whole land from gilead to dan all of naftali the territory of ephraim and manasseh all the land of Judah as far as the mediterranean sea the negev and the whole region from the valley of jericho and the city of

palms as far as zoar if you don’t know where all those places are it’s absolutely okay but it’s a big piece of promised land that these people are going to move into then the lord said to them this is the land I promised on oath to abraham Isaac and jacob when I said I will give it to your descendants I have let you see it with your eyes but you will not cross over into it and Moses the servant of the lord died there in moab as the lord had said he buried him in moab in the valley opposite bethport but to this day no one knows where his grave is Moses was 120 years old when he died his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone the israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of moab 30 days until the time of weeping and mourning was over so multiple times in this people’s history this man this hero has gone up to a mountain to hear from God

and every time he’s come back down and the journey is continued until suddenly he goes up the mountain and he doesn’t come down the whole story is set up to just tell us how how unexpected this is Moses was 120 years old when he died yet his eyes were not weak and his strength was not gone for this community there’s this sense of oh this guy is going to be around for a while and then suddenly he’s not around anymore there’s this change that takes place and anytime you experience change there is loss and loss brings this sense of grief part of the reason I think this story is so important for those of you that have been at south for a while we are a community that is experiencing change I’ve been here just a few short weeks there was a year where there was no pastor and a staff that did an amazing job filling in on an interim level

and then before that there was Ryan and he was here for seven years and there was a sense for many of you that things were great but then before Ryan there was somebody else that was brad and for a season maybe that was great as well and there’s all of this history that goes back and back and back and yet you’ve experienced this sense of what it is for a leader that you thought oh maybe he’ll be here for years and suddenly he’s not here I just thought it would be a really cool prank if uh if I just said in the midst of that hey it’s not really working out I’m moving on I was like wow I just got here but it wouldn’t be funny um it was funny in my head as lots of things when you experience that change you go into this process that that wallah brugerman in his triad would call disorientation you go into disorientation now you may have a question am I

saying that word correctly because I believe in America you might say disoriention or it’s not disorientating it’s disorienting I’m not sure but I’m not sure you’re saying it right I’m sure I am saying it right we are in this time of disorientation what is disorientation the best way I can describe it is a feeling I grew up occasionally trying to surf on the southwest coast of England and occasionally going on trips to France I was never particularly good but good enough that I could try and get into some bigger waves than most people might be comfortable with and I can remember this one time where I came off the board in a wave and I felt this sensation of tumbling suddenly all my perspective of what is up what he’s down has done I’m just there and I’m just hovering and time seems to have slowed down and I’m waiting for that moment where

I can get back to the surface but just as I do this other wave comes across and I’m pulled back down under and I’m turning over and over again and then you’re back to the surface and you can get caught in these series of waves for six seven waves and you’re just waiting for enough of a break and your breath slowly is becoming less and less and less like present within you that sense of your chest constricting and that uncertainty about when you’ll get back to the surface that’s disorientation that’s that sense of like ah am I gonna get out of this which way is up which way is down because there’s no ocean in Denver those of you that are locals maybe a snowstorm or something is a better example but you hear stories about people getting caught in avalanches and they’re so disorientated that up and down become terms that no longer

make sense the way that you figure out where you are is you you actually allow some spit to form in your mouth and you create a space and if the spit falls then that’s down and if it doesn’t then it’s up but eventually like there’s this sense of like I just I’m not sure where I am that’s what I think this community that we’re looking at here is going through and I would expect that for some of you when you lost a leader of this community here I expect there was some sense of that as well this process of change can be disorienting I would extend that sentence change is loss and loss brings grief and grief is disorientating for those of you that have experienced personal grief there’s that sense of ah I feel like time stopped and I’m not sure where I am anymore we’ll get into some of that in a few moments grief and and change and loss it’s

something that organizations all over the world struggle with it’s not unique to churches so sales drop in up to 60 up to 60 in companies that suddenly lose a ceo a large number of organizations don’t survive the loss of the person that founded it think about a few years ago apple computers to be able to go through what they went through where Steve jobs suddenly this guy that had created absolute magic and his products had taken over the world suddenly isn’t there and it becomes this question of like can apple survive that now on the surface the sails have continued but actually stories that come out of apple repeatedly are the culture just isn’t the same anymore we’re no longer the creative force that we once were we’re just surviving on products that come from our past we don’t have that same aura that we used to

have Steve jobs just had this presence so for organizations as this sense of lust and here’s the last one the most challenging time in the life of a faith community is the loss of its founder what happens when that person isn’t there anymore this is what this group this Moses community is walking through can we survive this do we even bother keeping on going do we just go back to Egypt and just say that the whole project was just wasn’t worth it there’s this land that apparently we’ve been promised this promised land but do we go or do we just stay what does the future look like for us that sense of like change it means loss and loss means grief and grief is disorientating it leaves you in that sense like my daughter Elena I’m hanging on a hook and I’m not sure what comes next it’s an organizational thing but it’s also an individual thing as well

and some of you are people that are well acquainted with grief you’ve been through this sense of ah I feel so lost right now it comes when we experience the death of a loved one when we experience what it is for someone to no longer be with us physically but they feel like they’re still with us spiritually or emotionally it feels like their presence is still in the building I remember when my uncle passed away one of the the most sort of painful losses to me still he was still fairly young and I remember what it was to to lose him I remember what it was to walk through that process of his sickness I by nature I’m an enneagram seven for you any grand people out there by nature I hate pain and I hate negative emotions and I try and avoid them all costs so when I found out my uncle was sick I didn’t go visit him for several months and I

remember the moment that I walked into the room because my mom said he’s not going to be around much longer you should go visit him and I remember walking into the room and seeing this little old man sat in a corner and to give you some perspective my uncle was the most charismatic man that I have ever met in my life he was as the irish would say a man you don’t meet every day he had this aura to him whenever he walked into a room people paid attention and and seeing this little old man in the corner and realizing that that was my uncle and what he looked like now was the beginning of this sense of grief and I remember what it was when people said to my aunt well he’s still with you really and then this question of like ah but does that help what it was for her to feel stuck in this disorientating moment of ah he still feels like he’s here but he isn’t here anymore divorce or separation caused that same sense of grief

maybe not as profound as as a death but there’s that sense of ah it’s just not normal now I feel like I’ve caught I’m caught up in the suspension of time and sickness as well does the same thing there’s a great article by a guy called tony billings who talks about his experience as a pastor and a father and what it meant for him to get a terminal cancer diagnosis and he said the most challenging part was all of my expectations of what was normal were now gone we have this framework for what a normal life equals we expect to go through the rituals of marriage we expect to go into giving birth to children probably and we expect to have grandchildren one day and suddenly when that is called into question everything becomes difficult we feel very disorientated very lust but let’s just make it a little more light-hearted

because it’s not all of those deep profound things actually grief happens anytime we lose something that we value in little ways grief happens every time we lose something that we value I found this article just lurking around on the internet giving birth during coronavirus something has been stolen from us this person sketches out what it is to have a child during this era and to to have a partner that wasn’t able to be present with them at the birth to have a child that after five six months still hasn’t been hugged by its grandparents there’s a loss there as well and you can think about anything in your life over this year that you’ve lost a graduation ceremony the chance to go and watch your kids walk across the stage to the chance to walk across a stage for yourself income from a job a job itself there are so many things that in this

weird 2020 that we might have lost and our temptation can be to say well we should just get over it but actually loss changes loss and loss is grief and grief is disorientating and the process of coming through grief can take years and very rarely takes place because we avoid it enneagram sevens do not get through grief well change is loss and lust brings grief and grief is disorientating so some questions to help us as we kind of navigate through this what do we do or what should we do when we encounter change so I’m going to give you a couple of things that hopefully will help you at some point in your life some of you may go through grief for years some of you may be grieving right now some of you will not go through serious grief grief for some time and yet hopefully these principles will help us as we look backwards and in a

couple of weeks that are following we’re going to start to do this thing where after looking backwards we’ll begin to look upwards and ask where is God in the midst of that grief and and then we’ll finally start to take those steps forward and we’ll talk about what that means for us as a community but I want us to start by taking the looking back part seriously grieving well involves looking backwards when you experience grief first thing I would say is this take your time to lament it’s okay to not be okay it’s okay to say I am not all right right now a tendency can be to say I’m fine everything’s good but it is okay to not be okay I think that the I’m gonna put that back there I think that people from uh back in history they were better at this process of lament than we were I think they were willing to take their time to say oh this affected me

profoundly I thought about that song that we just sang great is thy faithfulness the words are amazing great is thy faithfulness oh God our father there is no shadow of turning with me it talks about how God’s mercies are new every morning but have you ever taken the time to go and read where that comes from it comes from this book called lamentations and this is chapter three that those verses are buried right within think about some of these verses as you think about those spectacular verses I am a man who has seen affliction by the rod of the lord’s wrath he has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light he has made my skin and my flesh grow old he has broken my bones he has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship he has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead he has

walled me in so I cannot escape he has weighed me down with chains even when I call out or cry for help he shuts out my prayer he has barred my way with blocks of stone he has made my paths crooked he has broken my teeth with gravel he has trampled me in the dust I have been deprived of peace I have forgotten what prosperity is so I say my splendor is gone and all that I hoped from the lord I remember my affliction and my wandering the bitterness and the gall I will remember them and my soul is downcast within me yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope and this is where he starts to move into like the good part of the part we sing all the time but that good part that party sings is based on being able to sing his sense of lament for the first is before that that sense of ah everything isn’t okay and people rarely are able to do

that today when we need to lament we have to look to poets and people that seem better at it than we are this is a wh orden a poet from 60 70 years ago read these words this is a guy that knows how to lament he was my north my south my east and west my working week my Sunday rest my noon my midnight my talk my song I thought that love would last forever I was wrong the stars are not wanted now put out everyone pack up the moon and dismantle the sun pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood for nothing now can ever come to any good this is a man who is embracing lament our tendency as western people I think is to move very quickly from that sense of lament to that sense of everything is fine and yet history tells us some people from oh tell us that actually taking the time to say no I’m not okay is actually one

of the healthiest things you can do to acknowledge how change has affected you is a positive thing to recognize that you have lost something in a change whether it’s an organizational change like south has been through whether it’s a personal change like you might be going through or will goof go through at some point in your life to be able to say that change has affected me and I am hurt and I am angry is a good thing to realize that you are probably shaking your fist at somebody even if that is the creator of the universe is a healthy thing and for thousands of years people were able to do that and it seems to me that we’ve lost that ability now today we say unless you’re positive unless you’re upbeat that there’s probably something wrong with you and yet for thousands of years this ability to experience change and

say I am not okay with that was seen as a healthy thing there’s something about reading poets that enable us to do this this is a surrender kirkegaard quote what is a poet an unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them it sounds like lovely music and people flock around the poet and say sing again soon that is may new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before for the cry would only frighten us but the music that is blissful that that quote that w h orden poem that we just read it’s it’s beautiful words it’s well put together that is a guy who’s screaming his pain screaming his emotion as you and I each of us at some point in our life will do in grief it is okay to not be okay the second thing I would say is this uh that may be in a time

of grief and change expect the unexpected we’re we’re told that grief follows a pattern maybe you’ve heard that it they have the different stages of there’s denial and then there’s anger and and dot five stages of grief that we’re supposed to process one of the most helpful things for me was to learn that those five stages that you might read about they don’t happen in a specific order it doesn’t all fit and make sense you may feel like that swirling emotion takes you through all of those five stages in an hour in a day and that is okay as well let’s go back to lamentations for a second think about those positive verses that I just talked about um in verse 22 he says this of chapter three because of the lord’s great love we are not consumed for his compassions never fail they are new every morning great is your faithfulness I say to myself the lord is my

portion therefore I will wait to him for him the lord is good for those whose hope is in him if lamentations was written by a 21st century western person that would be the end of the book we found resolution everything has come back to normal think about how all of our movies end what’s the important thing for a movie to do it’s supposed to end with a positive good ending in 2012 a movie called the master was made with philip seymour hoffman it was an absolute masterpiece and it was not given a nomination for the best Oscar why because the end was tragic and Hollywood forgives everything except one thing Hollywood will only accept a story that has a good ending all of our stories seem to end somehow on a positive note and this one didn’t we demand that the resolution come through at the end and that would be our

resolution but not in lamentations written three thousand years or something ago listen to the end of lamentations slaves rule over us and there is no one to free us from their hands we get our bread at the risk of our lives because of the sword in the desert our skin is as hot as an oven feverish from hunger women have been violated in virgins in the town of Judah princes have been hung up by their hands elders have shown no respect young men toil at the millstone boys stagger under loads of wood the elders are gone from the city gates the young men have stopped their music joy is gone from our hearts our dancing has turned to mourning the crown has fallen from our head woe to us for we have sinned because of this our hearts are faint because of these things our eyes grow dim you lord reign forever you’re thrown in jurors from

generation to generation why do you forget us why do you forsake us for so long restore us to ourselves renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure that’s a 3 000 year old text finishing with like I’m still there in lament I had this moment where I recognized that God was present but it didn’t just fix everything I went back into this time of I still don’t feel like I can get through I still feel broken I still feel painful the unexpected happens when you’re grieving now let me just say this uh we are doing grief this week if you’re visiting or watching online we are trusting you to join us in lament week it will get more upbeat than this at different points but because of our tendency to rush through for this week it’s important that we choose to sit this will make sense at some time even if it isn’t

now expect the unexpected there is no normal choose to look backwards even though it’s hard in grief learning to look back at what worse actually brings so much value my wife and I love romantic comedies and usually they’re very light and easygoing but sleepless in seattle is this movie that has these moments where you’re like oh you really just got to the deep core of my emotion and I dug out this quote from tom hanks character during this this movie where he’s asked how do you survive what are you doing to get through your grief and he profoundly says this I’m gonna get out of bed every morning breathe in and out all day long and then after a while I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out and then after a while I won’t have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while this

is a character that’s choosing that process of looking backwards of saying ah it was wonderful when you go through a time as an organization experiencing change there is nothing wrong with looking back and saying those years were so good when you go through the change and loss of a different situation individually there is nothing wrong with looking back and saying oh those years were so joyful so wonderful when you lose someone looking back and saying ah it was so good when they were here those are good things the funny thing to me is this that grief and gratitude they seem to hold hands with each other they seem to run very close together and actually our grief is caused by this sense of oh it was great for a while because if it wasn’t

good there’s nothing to grieve if it wasn’t good there’s nothing to grieve this is this group of people working through that process we looked at how Moses was 120 years old when he died yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone the israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of moab 30 days until the time of weeping and mourning was over in Jewish culture there’s this set aside period to take grief seriously it breaks into these three categories there’s an innut which is like this first moment when you lose a loved one and then the shiver which we may have heard of because it’s fairly popular in culture it’s seven days of certain practices that take place and family come around and then there’s this 30 days that take place afterwards called shalotion 30 days where you are allowed to just have space to mourn now you’d think 30 days

seems pretty short it seems like to expect people to move on after 30 days that’s nothing and that’s not really what this is about but this process is actually honors the fact that rarely do people who grieve take 30 days to stop in our culture something about our culture says get up and move on quickly with your life 30 days is like a minimum amount of time and this is sheryl sandberg who’s the ceo of Facebook talking about what that process looked like for her she lost her husband a few years ago tragically he was jogging on a running mill running a treadmill and he fell and hit his head and he died in the ambulance and she talks about her different stages of grief that she processed she talked about her anger in the ambulance at every driver that didn’t move out of the way and stopped the process of her getting to the hospital quickly with her

husband and she talked about how she prayed these desperate one-line prayers like God let me not die while I am still alive but she talks about how taking time 30 days to process a grief enabled her to look backwards at everything that she had had I have lived 30 years in these 30 days I am 30 years sadder and I feel like I am 30 years wiser this is someone who is taking that time to grieve and this is what we’re told this group of people did from with Moses they grieved the loss they grieved the change they allowed that process to hit them life must be lived forwards but it’s understood backwards that’s sauron kirkegaard again you don’t really get sauron kirkegaard twice in a sermon most of the time but it just felt like this profound sense of life must be lived forwards but understood backwards looking back allows us to see the places

that God has been with us what might we see when we look backwards as a community we might see markers of God’s goodness in the past one of the things I love about south is this sense of we are a Jesus community I love our vision of we are living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus as we look back as a community it’s probable that we should see moments where Jesus has walked that journey with us this place was never about one person it was never about you as important as your role might have been over the years it will never be about me itself it was never about Ryan it was never about brad it was never about anyone who was sat on staff it has always been about Jesus we get to be a Jesus community in the world around us when you look at this Moses community you see that same sense of them finding God marcus in

amongst them even before the story starts to move to some sense of resolution now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away calling it the tent of meeting anyone inquiring of the lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp whenever Moses went out to the tent all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents watching Moses until he entered the tent as Moses went into the tent the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance while the lord spoke with Moses whenever the people saw the pillar of clouds standing at the entrance of the tent they all stood and worshiped each at the entrance of their tent the lord would speak to Moses face to face as juan speaks to a friend then Moses would return to the camp but his young a Joshua son of nun did

not leave the tent this Moses community will transition to be led by this guy Joshua who will take them into this promised land that they were told that they would have and you see when you look back into these old texts this is exodus 33 Moses has been everything that they thought he was he was someone who heard from God and relayed that message to the people he was incredibly important to the life of this community but you see lurking there at the end of that text Joshua was there all the time God knew where the story was going it was just there lurking in the text Joshua did not leave the tent he was there in God’s presence just waiting just waiting for that time where Moses would move on and the story would continue for the people the story was about Moses but it was never really about Moses south is never about alex waldo

brugerman in his triad talks about this orientation then this disorientation and then he talks hopefully about this idea surprising reorientation that moment where at some point you suddenly are like ah God you brought the story around you knew what was happening you were there in the midst of the grief in the midst of the struggle slowly you get to see these markers that say oh God you were moving and now we come towards that sense of where we’ll move over the next couple of weeks where we start to talk about upwards and forwards we talk about that hint that God was there all along this is the beauty of this Jesus story think about the story of Jesus with its tragedy of crucifixion and lament lands us in those couple of days after Jesus death that good Friday and Saturday that we only tend to talk about at easter

time right it lands us in those moments and I’ve always been struck by how profound that Saturday moment is because good Friday there’s all the tragedy of crucifixion but the Saturday’s just blank it’s nothing it’s empty there is no story on Saturday it’s sitting and waiting and it feels empty and in all of that story the tragedy of Friday the the cold sort of numbness of Saturday God is moving he’s moving them towards the joy of resurrection they don’t see it yet but is this moment of surprising reorientation in their story it’s lurking there all the time so as we as a community and you as individuals take grief seriously as we take 2020 seriously I’d love us to land on a couple of questions I’d love you to ask this what have I lost for you as a participant in south over the changes that have taken place what have you lost for you in 2020 with all your

different experiences what have you lost part of processing grief recognizes that you’ve lost something maybe you lost an opportunity to participate in some kind of event maybe it was something as simple as I lost festivals I lost con con conferences maybe you lost mike’s Hawaii trip whoever mike is and why ever he’s sad about it what have you lost but then another question I would have you ask is this how am I thankful whatever you lost what was it about it that was good that might be easy to put a finger on there maybe an absolute sense of course my relationship with this person was good of course this job was good but what is it that you’ve lost and why are you thankful what good gift did God give that was with you for a while what good joy did you carry with you for a while when you process grief knowing how you were

thankful is an important step recognizing what you’ve lost is an important step grief and gratitude they seem to sit hand in hand with each other you grieve because you’ve lost something good over this week one of the things I’d encourage you to do is to tap into our daily team devotions we walk through this process you can find them online and it’s this slower process of being able to look every day and take the lament seriously we will not lament well today the broncos are on there’s other things to watch there’s good things to do the snow to play and there’s excitement for the new winter season skis are there to be sharpened whatever it is that you do I’m not expecting you to lament or weak but my encouragement is this to take those two questions seriously and over this week as we’ve prepared to look upwards as a

community and ask where is God in our midst now look to the past and say why am I thankful and what have I lost in your individual life ask what have I lost why am I thankful and do it repeatedly and pray that God speaks to you in that process speak to our hearts amen

Backwards – Recognizing Loss, Hurt & Pain | Directions (Part 1)2022-01-25T11:37:16-07:00
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