Dealing with Anxiety | Hindsight is 2020 (Part 4)

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oh we deleted our bumper video it’s gone okay so hi everyone good morning welcome my name is alex I’m one of the pastors this is my tag team preaching buddy this morning I uh bear with me for a second that was the best bear don’t groan dare you it’s a great bear pun sometimes I think I understand you people I really don’t um so what I will say is this when you put a giant bear in the front seat of a car and drive through starbucks drive-through you get some very curious looks most people seem to value it but you know it’s not for everybody and we’ll get to the bear in a little while oh that’s not me ah do we have any slides ah so the slides are on the desktop and we’ll just talk for a little while about just the bear and all those kind of things so we are in a series that we called hindsight is 2020. it was this uh opportunity for us to

look back just on some of the experiences that we went through last year and talk about how we might do some things that will change what the next year looks like next week we’re moving on to a series uh that we’re calling quite simply building stronger friendships so one of the things that we were amazed about as a sermon planning team uh that we began to look at what are the what are the relational needs of people in america in 2021 and this is a season where I love to do some kind of relationship series and sometimes we’ll talk about how we can parent better or grandparent better sometimes we’ll talk about better relationships in marriages and all those different things but actually when you look at some of the details of what’s going on in our world one of the greatest needs is friendship about 10 years ago most

people would be able to identify having at least six good friends by around the last couple of years it had dropped to two the loneliest people in the world are guys over the age of 60 who’ve lost their spouses because suddenly they find out that all of their friends were actually their wife’s friends and not really theirs and so there’s all these cultural things going on so we just thought you know what let’s take three weeks before lent uh to talk about how we first might start friendships second might build them better and and thirdly what does it look like to be friends with Jesus and moving a friendship relationship with Jesus so that’s a short three week thing we’re going to be doing and then we’ll be into lent and we’re doing a book study on the book of ruth and those of you that love to go verse by verse will be in your element because

this book is just a dream as it leads us up to easter lent is this fabulous season if you’ve never done it or maybe you’ve done it as part of a catholic church and you’re kind of not sure about doing it again lent is this season where we recognize that there’s times where it feels like God is absent and that sometimes recognizing that as it builds us up to easter makes the joy of resurrection sunday and everything we celebrate in who Jesus is and what he did just shine all the more brightly so we’d love to invite you into that journey so this is where we’ve been so far over the last three three weeks since the start of the year we’ve talked about these three principles that we might learn from our experience of 2020 to live in gratitude the first thing I noticed is that there was some stuff that maybe I hadn’t appreciated before that I needed to

learn to appreciate just being able to sit in a coffee shop with something after 2020 or sometime around april I was like oh I miss the community vibe of of that there were so many things that just stood up to just being able to drop over to a loved one’s house being able to get on a plane or in a car and drive were all things we suddenly said oh I miss those things we live maybe better in gratitude when we learn from that experience we maybe can learn to choose together and to build community where we can did you notice that there were things that we missed but when we got to the heart of it it wasn’t the thing itself it was the people behind the thing I suddenly missed going to the gym but actually what I missed was the people I used to work out with at the gym you maybe had a place that you used to go regularly and suddenly

you said I miss those people I don’t miss being in the office but I do miss relationships in the office all those type of things that allowed us to gather we said I miss those relationships are so fundamental to life and maybe we learn to choose to gather more intentionally and then last week we talked about growing on purpose we looked at how the language that the bible uses about Jesus was that Jesus grew intentionally and on purpose in wisdom and favor with God and man it was a purposeful action God works in us and that starts the work but we have to choose to participate with God and think about all the things you experienced all the negative things what we said is there are actually ways that you can take negative experiences and say I’m going to choose to learn from that and then this is the fourth one so yeah ignore that we’ll

talk about the fourth one today so this is paul for the last time he’s in this little place called philippi over there where the p is one of the x’s is where he’s stuck in prison somewhere and overall the theme of this book has been incredible in spite of all the challenges and think about it in comparison to our 2020 all of the challenges his constant refrain is this because of God’s good grace we can choose joy at all times even in the midst of trials paul says there’s joy you can find ways to be joyful this is the epistle or letter of joy mentions the word 16 times which is just for the size of the letter just an incredible amount of time and so for those of you that like to know where we’re going this week I’ll reference the passages as we come up grab your phones take a picture jot them down they’ll be on social media during the week this is our

journey for today and this is what paul would tell us rejoice in the lord always I will say it again rejoice let your gentleness be evident to all the lord is near do not be anxious about anything but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in christ Jesus and we’ll carry on a little bit further later let’s pray and we’ll get into all the wonderful things this says Jesus as a community here at home wherever we are we see some stuff in this verse that already begins to speak to us I’m sure in so many ways we find ourselves to be anxious people especially when we don’t keep our eyes on you for those of us that don’t know you you invite us into relationship for those of us on a journey that feel distracted you

invite us to turn our eyes back to you God would you speak to us through these words that you breathed on you made this book alive may make us alive in new ways thank you Jesus amen so let’s start there rejoice in the lord always I will say it again rejoice paul in the midst of everything that’s going on says no you can rejoice in every situation and he’s in a bad situation he says rejoice it’s this little word charity which simply means be glad because of grace maybe you can remember back to week one we talked about this word eucharisto which meant be thankful for all good grace it talked about being able to say that God’s grace has worked well even in the situation it was a declaration that God knows what he’s doing it’s okay and in this situation paul will go a little bit further and he’ll say no be glad because of grace find a way to

see God’s grace working in your life now if you’re not following Jesus at the moment that’s fine we’re so glad that you’re here we’re so glad you’re listening or watching online there are things that you can be glad for and you need someone to thank I would suggest this is a picture I took of sunset out on pelican lake laura’s grandfather owns a place up on pelican lake in minnesota and they get the most startling sunsets and so I sat with my girls late at night on the boat in the summer and just looked out at this sunset and it was this moment for me of being thankful of just enjoying the good simple things that God had given me that week we ate some wonderful food we spent time with people we loved my kids learnt to fish and I watched the joy as they caught their first little fish and the heartbreaking decision they had to make when they decide

did that fish get to live or was that fish going to be food and all of the dilemmas that kids go through there and I was thankful thankful that there were times where they threw the fish back thankful that there were times where we got to eat and they decided that the fish could be food but this is what’s called common grace everybody gets it everybody gets something that is good you may not get all of those things that I just talked about but there are things in your life that are common grace and we get to be glad and this this verse takes it a little bit further because the first one talks about an inner thankfulness of gratitude this one talks about a declaration where you say almost out loud no God’s grace is good I am glad for the grace that I have been given and that of course goes deeper for those of you that are choosing to follow

Jesus right now because there’s this recognition that this God works in your life that he has done things for you and in you he has made your life what it is everything good in my life when I look at it it comes back to Jesus I met laura I met my wife because of my relationship with Jesus and that brought me the wonderful joy of my kids I ended up here because of my relationship with Jesus all of those different things come out of that and so I get to go the next step and I’m glad not just for common grace but for what theologians call particular grace God has done something for me particularly and I am glad and I rejoice because of that and that is where paul starts and then he moves on to say something else which doesn’t seem to fit within the rest of the the little passage we’re looking at so we won’t spend a ton of time on it he says

that your gentleness be evident to all the lord is near the this early church lived with this constant expectation that Jesus was coming back soon maybe something we struggle with today it’s been 2 000 years and yet there’s passages that talk about well a thousand years and a day to God there’s not much difference it’s not like it’s been a long time from this heavenly perspective but for them they lived with this any moment Jesus could come back and the world will be as it should and so be ready and for a christian that meant gentleness one of the spiritual fruits or fruits of the spirit just show the world that you can live like Jesus because he’s coming soon all of the things that are held against you this was a group of people remember we talked about in week one and two that’s been persecuted that’s being attacked and paul says

you don’t need to fight back you can rest you can be at peace everyone will see one day when Jesus comes back you were right you did make the right decision you don’t have to argue your own case and then the next verse and this is where we’re going to spend a chunk of our time today do not be anxious about anything do not be anxious about anything and yet we know don’t we the anxiety in our world is huge statistically anxiety has increased across the board for everybody over the last 10 years if you’re in the category of 18 to 25 anxiety has doubled now before we get too far into it there’s definitely a difference between anxious feelings and a clinical anxiety so there are ways that if you have clinical anxiety there can be medication doctors can help you can go into counseling and all those different things this isn’t to make you

feel bad but every single one of us at times would own to be anxious to be worried to being concerned there’s that feeling that takes place where we sort of feel discombobulated is maybe a great word the the greek word that poor uses is this word norma nate it means quite literally to be pulled apart in different directions it’s this feeling of I don’t feel whole I don’t feel complete right now I feel like everything inside me is is disordered and I I just can’t sit comfortably I wanted to try and recreate some of that feeling a little bit for you so I created I found some of these images online the images that are supposed to sort of give you that slightly anxious feeling this is one of eggs slowly rolling off a conveyor belt and you get to experience that feeling of what happens when they crack the eggs will be broken that’s no good

they’re not supposed to break how about this one there’s a balloon over a bunch of pins and it’s slowly it’s going to descend at some point the helium will run out and it will slowly start to land and then pop it’s gone the bowling ball about to roll over all the packaging stuff and just the the pop pop pop pop pop and then this one is my favorite this one is the one that got to me this was the one I was like ah I don’t like the look of this I like clean clothes and there’s the fountain pen with the ink and it’s just suspended just waiting to fall and that perfectly white shirt will suddenly not be perfectly white anymore and it shouldn’t be that way should it it should stay clean and white forever look at that beautifully starched color and everything’s clearly a person that knows how to dress well and so these feelings give us a little taste of what we’re talking

about when we’re talking about anxiety it’s a feeling of being uh out of place torn apart I don’t feel like I can sit comfortably in this situation right now paul talks about anxiousness and this is a big topic as I said amongst sort of sociological conversations and how our brain work amongst psychiatrists and it all comes down to these two incredible words the sympathetic and the parasympathetic and I love it when the bible matches up with scientific scientific things that people are discovering and talking about now because it just says that God knew what he was talking about all the time you have these two nervous systems that work in you all the time one is the sympathetic system one is the parasympathetic system you might know them by two other phrases the first is fight or flight and the second is rest and digest when you have that

moment of tension your body goes into what’s called fight or flight you either stand up to the problem or you run away from it but something reacts but what has to happen for that to happen is this all of those other important systems they shut down they stop working your digestion digestion literally stops working when you’re in anxiety when you go into the sympathetic nervous system it stops functioning multiple systems just shut down so you can run as fast as you possibly can or fight as hard as you possibly can so this is where our friend here comes into play this is red bow bear I over thought him a little bit I nearly put clothes on him and stuff like this because you know I just whatever but I I decided I was overthinking that he’s just a bear he used to have a red bow hence the name red bow bear but he lost it but we

didn’t change his name we felt that was cruel so this is the kids bear and and when we’re talking about sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems that movement from parasympathetic rest and digest all is well is the same movement that would have been made if you were around two thousand four thousand years ago and in the midst of looking for food out trundles mr red bull bear suddenly your system panics suddenly you desire lose all desire for food you are no longer hungry your body is no longer functioning in the normal ways suddenly everything in you says this I either run or I fight now here’s here’s the thing you are made to function in the sympathetic system for a short period of time but you cannot function there for the long term that’s not what it’s made for it’s made for crisis it’s made for

emergencies it’s made but we’ve got to solve this problem now so if you are constantly living in the presence of the bear and by that I mean like constantly living under anxiety multiple other things that are supposed to work they just don’t work in the way that they’re supposed to we cannot function in anxiety on a natural level that’s just not possible and paul knows this so his comment is be anxious for nothing and yet here’s the truth for our lives and for the philippians the philippian story is loaded with reasons for anxiety we talked early on paul is in jail he might die he might be killed for his faith maybe he’ll get out but he probably won’t he’s not seen these people he loves for years and he’s worried about their spiritual health this church in philippi they are persecuted they are not like there’s a political leader that’s going to start persecuting

persecuting christians in just a couple of years from now and the tensions are already rising there are multiple reasons in philippians to be anxious and I would suggest that’s probably true for us as well we probably can find multiple reasons that we could be anxious maybe it’s what the future holds maybe it’s our personal lives maybe it’s relationships maybe it’s work life all of these different things we can summon them up I’m sure maybe it’s just what’s happening in other nations all around the world maybe it’s coronavirus all these different things are reasons for anxiety we have them just as this church in philippi did and yet paul I think would say the same to us be anxious for nothing be anxious for nothing here’s a question for you why are we so anxious I’ve given you a few different reasons but I talked briefly about anxiety rising across

the board why is that taking place and what’s what’s maybe the cause and to sort of get to the bottom of this I’d love us to take a look at a couple of different stories from the old testament and just see how people react so the first story comes from exodus chapter 16. it’s going to cover verses 11 27 it’s on the list it’ll be on social media but let’s get into this text because it’s fascinating the lord said to moses I have heard the grumbling of the israelites tell them at twilight you will eat meat and in the morning you will be filled with bread then you will know that I am the lord your God this group of people have escaped a land called egypt they’re in the middle of the desert there is no natural food source and so we’re told in this story that God provides for them supernaturally he’s going to give them this type of bread in the morning it’s

called manna and then quail will land in the evening they’ll get both bread and they’ll get meat that evening quail came and covered the camp and in the morning there was a layer of jew around the camp when the jew was gone thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor when the israelites saw it they said to each other what is it for they did know not know what it was moses said to them it is the bread the lord has given you to eat this is what the lord has commanded everyone is to gather as much as they need take an oma for each person you have in your tent the israelites did as they were told some gathered much some gathered little and when they measured it by the oma the one who gathered much did not have too much and the one who gathered little did not have too little everyone had gathered just as

much as they needed the the message from God to this group of people is I will take care of you supernaturally I will do what is necessary you don’t have the natural food that you need I will provide and then he does but look what happens a little further in the story then moses said to them no one is to keep any of it until the morning you must trust that the next morning the food supply will be back in the same way it was the day before however some of them paid no attention to moses they kept part of it until morning but it was full of maggots and began to smell so moses was angry with them each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed and when the sun grew hot it melted away on the sixth day they gathered twice as much two overs for each person and the leaders of the community came and reported this to moses he

said to them this is what the lord commanded tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest a holy sabbath to the lord so bake what you want to bake boil what you want to boil save whatever is left and keep it until the morning so they saved it until morning as moses commanded and it did not stink or get maggots in it first time when they kept it the next day and they didn’t trust went bad this time when they’re told that the next day is a day of rest they can trust God he’s going to provide enough for that day when there is no manner there is no quail when they keep it it’s fine eat it today moses said because today is a sabbath to the lord you will not find any of it on the ground today six days you are to gather it but on the seventh day the sabbath there will not be any nevertheless some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it but

they found none it’s not there there is no provision on the seventh day this is predating this this moment where God will give these people ten commandments and one of them will be to keep the sabbath and to keep it holy and to rest but in this principle for for these people in this desert there is this constant refrain you work six days you take a day off we live in a world that tells us we have to do more and more and more there’s constantly another ask there’s an anxious another anxiousness that says I won’t be provided for there won’t be enough there’s always another day to work and these people reflect us so well there’s always the extra thing that has to be done there is no rest and the question is why what causes this anxiety this struggle that there won’t be provision let’s take a look at a story back from just before this story

took place this is when these people are still in egypt and it’s in exodus chapter 5 verse 6 to 12. that same day pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people you are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks these people were slaves their job was to make bricks for the egyptians to keep building you are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks let them go and gather their own straw but require them to make the same number of bricks as before don’t reduce the quota they are lazy that is why they are crying out let us go and sacrifice to our guard make the work harder for the people so they are key they keep working and pay no attention to lies then the slave drivers and the overseers went out and said to the people this is what pharaoh says I will not give you

any more straw go and get your own straw wherever you can find it but your work will not be reduced at all so the people scattered all over egypt to gather stubble to use to use for straw this people are taught by hard experience that they have to keep producing there’s more and more to be done and there’s less and less resources to produce it with so they have to work harder and harder to get to the same level as before doesn’t that sound like what society tells us today when we think about anxiety rates in 19 to 25 specifically spiking up it’s based around this fear of what does my future look like will there be enough resources for me will I match up to the expectations will I keep up with all of my friends that are going to go out and achieve stuff will I measure up will I be successful there’s this constant drive towards what the future

looks like and when you don’t know that your future is in God’s hands what that tells you is when there’s a seventh day available you work when the space available you do the extra bit just keep going and one day you might be able to stop and rest but that is not this day just keep on going can you see why that drives anxiety higher and higher there is no ability in that scenario to trust that God will provide in that scenario we constantly live in the presence of this bear we constantly live in this this idea of sympathetic nervous system we constantly live under this illusion that we cannot rest and digest we are in fight or flight there is no peace of course there’s anxiety what I realize about me is this I have a desire to make myself the center of everything the world revolves around me at my worst point I want to know that I’m going to be

successful that I’m going to achieve that people will look at me and think well of me and all of those different things that itself in itself is a cause for anxiety it means that what happens to me is the biggest deal in the world and and somewhere this this poor line thing and this faith thing it asks us to step away from that it asks us to do something else with the center of our lives or the center of the universe it tells us we can’t live in the center this is frederick beatner talking about faith faith is not so much believing this or that thing about God as it is hearing a voice that says come unto me we hear the voice and we step towards it without really knowing much about the voice or ourselves faith is standing in the darkness and taking the hand offered to you maybe you’ve been waiting to follow Jesus until you know every single thing about him and

you’ve got everything figured out figured out and that is really how it works the decision to follow Jesus is to step out and take hold of a hand that says you can trust me I’ve been here before I have walked this journey you can come with me we may know some of the details we may have some things that are important that we kind of have figured out but it’s very rarely about figuring it all out mentally faith at its core is this hard decision to step towards this God that we don’t really know yet but who says I know you intimately I know everything about you I know what you need we’re invited to step towards him but to do that involves taking ourselves out of the center this is Jesus view of anxiety therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow for tomorrow will be anxious for itself sufficient for the day is its own trouble do you see how that

connects with this story of egypt this people that can’t trust that tomorrow will take care of itself or at least that God will take care of tomorrow do you see how it connects with what paul tells us but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God now I’d love us to pause and acknowledge the tension there because what I don’t want you to hear is just pray about it and everything will be fine there is some truth to the power of others tons of truth to the power of prayer prayer does things but when you hear that especially if you’re not on a Jesus journey right now that can just sound slightly naive and slightly disconnecting I remember on a journey to the philippines I’d never been abroad before I was 19 years old in a team of 30 year olds and I remember this ferry journey as I’d already

traveled for two whole days and then there’s me and 150 filipinos in this like bunk bed situation on this ferry for 10 hours as we made our way to mindanao and and I just was exhausted just done in everything was so new and I remember getting there and them telling us we won’t be able to leave you in the place that you were supposed to stay you were supposed to stay in this village but there’s been an uprising in the southern part of the island they’re invading the northern part of the island they’re kidnapping americans and british tourists or missionaries and we need to put you somewhere safer so they moved us to the city and I remember lying there the first night and all I could hear was bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang bang and I can hear it’s gunfire I’m terrified there’s people coming and they’re coming for us and so I

turn around to the 30 year olds that I was traveling with at 19 years old and I said what do we do and their answer was just pray about it and I remember for me at 19 with someone who was developing my own faith but was still figuring out my thought was you flipping christians you have one answer to everything don’t you there must be something practical that we can do that will help in this situation but to just do nothing seems ridiculous so if you feel that desk disconnect I have been there now to conclude the story because I’ve told this story before and forgot to tell the ending we finally fell asleep the noise stopped and when we walked out the next morning we found out what the noise was uh the lady that was cooking for the conference we were attending had killed a cow and she was using a machete to chop it up on a table right

outside our window so what sounded like gunfire was just actually good butchering so just the story ended up fine but the truth is as well that while it can seem naive I can tell you story after story about prayer doing the most startling things and many of these people in the room would tell you the same thing we see these ways that when things are committed to God in prayer the supernatural happens someone once said that about the idea of prayer and coincidence that when I pray coincidences happen and when I don’t they don’t there’s something about our ability to come to God and give him these things and say you take care of him that does work will he solve all of your anxiety in an instant maybe not will it mean that you never have those moments where you slip into sympathetic nervous system and you’re not sure what to do

maybe not but there are ways that when we bring things to God in prayer our attitude changes and we’ll look at that a little bit more the famous psalm 23 that many of you will know that talks about guard as this wonderful shepherd has this curious verse in the middle of it I’ve given you the version in the message it says you serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies you might know it as you prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies think for just a second about all we talked about about sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and how the two operate when you think about sympathetic as as being the stopping of your digestion system when you think about anxiety is the reason that you’re very rarely hungry when you’re struggling with anxiety God invites you in the midst of that to sin and trust

him what he essentially says is this in the presence of this bear I’m going to put him here at the table I brought him a knife and fork and everything and little cups and stuff like that it tells us that in the presence of the bear in the presence of everything that would drive you to anxiety you can sit and enjoy fine dining you can sit and enjoy a meal you don’t have to allow your system to drive you into fight or flight because this God allows you to sit and enjoy fine dining even in those moments where you may feel anxious that is the incredible joy of psalm 23 and and I love that paul this guy is so on one hand spiritual and so on another hand practical because he tells us to just commit things to God whatever you are anxious about by prayer and supplication let God know what you need and then on the other hand he gives you this very

practical wisdom finally brothers and sisters whatever is true whatever is noble whatever is right whatever is pure whatever is lovely whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things and one hand God says pray and on another hand he says choose to intentionally focus on what is good choose to take your eyes off all of the things that are negative and choose to think about these good things as we think about anxiety one of the things to be aware of is this on a practical note when you slip into that sympathetic nervous system when you go into fight or flight when you feel that sense of being pulled apart it happens like a light switch that’s how the system works something happens and it just flicks on and you’re there and so know what flicks the switch know what sends you into that state but

you can’t always avoid all of those things that’s just not possible unfortunately the change back to parasympathetic that doesn’t happen like a flick switch that happens like a dimmer switch it’s a slow process of slowly moving it back and allowing your body to come and return to its normal way of processing things so on a practical level here’s some advice know what turns that dimmer know what allows you to rest yes prayer definitely commit those things to God but on a practical level know what it is that you can do that return that that will allow you to turn that dimmer and slowly return yourself to normal here’s some ideas for you music around 70 beats per minute it’s the natural rhythm of your heart when you go into fight or flight your heartbeat increases music at 70 beats per minute actually allows your heart rate to return to

where it’s supposed to be being outside in natural beauty looking at the mountains experiencing the freshness of the air all of those things help prayer yes we talked about that it allows your body to to just relax this focus on God and bringing of things to him deep breaths that allow your heart rate to regulate a warm bath drinking cold water these are all practical things that just allow your system to reset I love that this bible offers us both the spiritual yes commit your things to God let him take care of it know that tomorrow will take care of itself but also choose to think about what is good choose to think about what is lovely know your body well enough to know that on a practical level you can turn that dimmer switch you have more control over anxiety than you realize you have more control than you realize as we think about

our fourth principle I had these different ideas as we talked about different things before the first idea that I came to was give yourself a break anxiety is the enemy of rest you cannot rest in anxiety I loved about the pandemic early on that suddenly I would see families talking about sitting down to meals and suddenly there was no traffic on the roads in the evening did I want it to last forever no but there was some beauty in that moment of okay everything is a little different right now give yourself a break give yourself rest was another option I came up with but I didn’t feel at the end those got to the heart of what I think we need to focus on or what we need to take from 2020. this is where I landed give God the center give God the center that’s what Jesus language about anxiety comes down to that’s what paul’s language about

anxiety comes down to when we take God out of the center when we place ourselves there we constantly find ourselves flexing between sympathetic and parasympathetic we constantly find ourselves struggling in the presence of despair and God’s word to us is give me the center and you can enjoy fine dining even in the presence of the bear I’m going to invite aaron and the team up on stage and we’re going to pray and close God thank you that you’re present with us we recognize that we are in a world that’s anxious for those here that struggle with clinical anxiety we pray that they would know no guilt over that they would know wise counsel that they would know good physicians good psychiatrists that can help them on that journey that they can be the right medication when it’s required or necessary that there can be all those

things in place but we recognize a world where so many of us feel anxious about our futures anxious about what is next anxious about whether you will provide for our needs thank you that you invite us to come to you in prayer you come to refle will you invite us to come and give our needs to you and then you ask us to trust that you will take care of them in the midst of trusting and believing thank you that you give us all these practical things that work on our bodies that allow us to rest that allow us to turn the dimmer switch thank you for the invitation that even in the presence of the bear we can enjoy fine dining with you a six-course meal thank you Jesus amen

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Dealing with Anxiety | Hindsight is 2020 (Part 4)2022-01-27T12:33:37-07:00

Invest in Personal Growth | Hindsight is 2020 (Part 3)

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good morning friends how you doing thank you good morning good morning alex I appreciate that so we are going to jump into this in a second but first I have to give you an insight into the weird workings of how my brain is and everything uh so I was up with jude a little last night and and so we have this practice my wife and I that whoever gets up with him uh during the night gets to sleep during the morning now that’s a little more difficult on sunday morning obviously and so I said to laura as she got up with jude at about 5 30 or whatever crazy time he gets up uh wake me up at about 6 45 but then I had to trust that she was going to do it for some reason my mind didn’t trust that she was going to do it and you know how your mind goes in these weird circles so during that last sort of hour my dream was this that I was late for church by

about 15 minutes and I was trying to figure out whether I could still make it in time to to do the sermon or whether they just have to have figured out a plan and then when I got there uh aaron our worship pastor had decided that he was moving the service to a swimming pool um so all of you guys were in bathing suits in the water uh while I was preaching uh and then teresa our communications director she gave me one of these clicker things that didn’t work and then when it did work it was all slides that I hadn’t prepped for so something deep inside me said that everything was going to go bad this morning so I was relieved to get here this morning and find you all a suitably attired for church thank you for doing that continue on that journey it’s healthy for all of us no bathing suits allowed this is not southern california um and so we’re

gonna jump into the series that we’ve been walking through hindsight is 20 20. how do you take a year like 2020 and learn some principles that you can put into place that help us in 2021. for 24 many of us 2020 was a difficult year we were still processing some of that and yet there’s something about being in difficult circumstances that as we follow this journey we’re going to see they actually are good for us maybe even challenge us maybe they even spark growth in us and as we’ve been doing that we’ve been following through this letter that paul wrote to the the church in a place called philippi so to catch you up if you haven’t been here the p is philippi it’s this uh small city in what is now modern day greece and paul uh maybe our hero our writer our author he sent this letter from prison this has not been a great year from him he’s in one of

these exes this is a town called caesarea over here on on the right there’s a town over here called ephesus and all the way over there in italy is roman he’s in one of those locations locked down shut away from his friends worrying about a church that he hasn’t seen in years he’s trying to figure out what is next for this church but overall he has this incredible theme because of God’s good grace we can choose joy at all times in the midst of these weird circumstances there is still joy to be found in this letter to the philippians it is the letter of joy so I’m going to read a passage the next passage and I’m going to leave those up there for a second and realize that I left my bible down here so I’m gonna take a a slow walk of shame to pick my bible up and come back to you so we’re gonna read today from philippians chapter three if you get to

revelation you’ve gone too far church joke for you there a little church riff for those of you that are aren’t here so here we go we’re going to start in verse 10. I want to know christ yes to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings becoming like him in his death and so somehow attaining to the resurrection from the dead not that I have already obtained all this or have already arrived at my goal but I press on to take hold of that for which christ Jesus took hold of me brothers and sisters I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it but one thing I do forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwood in christ Jesus all of us then who are mature should take such a view of things and if on some point you think differently

that too God will make it clear to you only let us live up to what we have already obtained let’s pray together God as we spend time together as a community teach us for those of us that need comfort give us comfort for those of us us that need afflicting and to get moving move us on our journey thank you that you’re present with us as we learn together thank you for this book that is alive as we read it may we become alive in new ways amen so if you needed to get a picture you had your chance this is where we’re going during the course of the day it’ll be on social media during the week if you want to do some reading and we said over the this next two weeks we’re going to look at some of the ways that we can do what Jesus seems to ask us to do in this parable that we read last week this parable of these three servants who were each given

some resources to invest the parable uses the word talents uh and that kind of makes us think as english people about the idea of like our giftings but really a talent was was money and and the truth is as is often the case with Jesus parables it’s not about either of them it’s about everything we talked about how this parable really is about how you use resources you’ve been given these resources of time of wealth of energy of gifting and the ask for each of us is that we use them in a way that that takes us closer into the heart of God that that makes the world a better place and and it seems to suggest in this parable that God says like this is what I’m going to hold you accountable for you’ve been given these things what did you do with them and so we talked last week about how we can bring those incredible resources we have and we can

choose to be part of a community time talent energy and wealth we are able to choose to gather and gathering is great regardless community is important I got to chat to a couple of you afterwards that just said I need community we have things like celebrate recovery that that provide community for people coming out of addictions and things and there’s this wonderful joy in community and then there’s a joy in faith community or a magic and faith community but we looked at this idea that the the goal is Jesus-centered community there’s something about what happens when Jesus is at the center of things that he changes hearts and he gives us a completely different attitude towards each other we’re able to put the we before the me when we follow Jesus centered community and today we’re going to move on to something else but

paul I wanted to catch you up because we can’t cover every part of philippians and so paul has just gone from last week where he talked about community to the passage this week I want to just give you a quick little little blurb on where he’s gone because he’s started to talk about how jewish he is he started to talk about how he is the jew of jews if anyone has a right to boast in their heritage he has a right to boast he’s done everything right he his family followed all the right traditions and everything he follows all the laws he’s a jew of jews and I understand that because I was told growing up that I was english so for those of you that have seen downton abbey there’s those magical moments where someone who isn’t rich and isn’t a aristocracy uh they they suddenly find out they’re about to

inherit a great castle and my grandma told me for years that this was our castle maybe not in practice but in principle back through the family history the genealogy like the there’s this castle raby castle and and the bulmers her family they belong in this castle now I promise you this if it ever happens if I ever get the call I’ll take you guys with me we’ll do the journey together I won’t leave you behind and you know and and this is this is the the thing that we were told we were told you guys your english english english english english english this is your heritage it goes back and back and back and back and back and this is what paul says about his jewishness if anyone has a right to boast on their heritage paul says I have a right to boast and where he gets to this passage is he says but I decided it doesn’t matter I don’t care it’s not

worth anything what I’ve decided is all of that I was willing to lay down because my goal now is to know Jesus and this is where he is this is where he gets to this passage that we just read I want to know christ yes to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings becoming like him in his death and so somehow attaining to the resurrection from the dead philippians 3 chapter 10. not that I have already obtained all this or have already arrived at my goal but I press on to take hold of that which christ Jesus took hold of me brothers and sisters I did not consider myself to have taken hold of it but one thing I do forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead I press on on the surface paul is talking about he’s just talking about growth if you were to build this list that we’ve been talking about over the last few weeks

we’ve talked about living in gratitude as week one we talked about choosing to gather in community and now paul’s going to move into this territory of growth it fits another passage really well that he he shares with the church in corinth church in a very similar situation a church that was very rich that was maybe tempted to just focus on all the things that the world could offer and and he says this do not know that in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize run in such a way as to get the prize every anyone who competes in the games goes into strict training they do it to get a crown that will not last but we do it to get a crown that will last forever therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly I do not fight like a boxer beating the air no I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached

to others I myself will not be disqualified for the prize so paul in this context he’s probably sat there watching some kind of athletic competition you can picture him sort of taking notes for his letter he’s maybe sort of outlining it to somebody else and they’re writing for it and he’s picturing this idea that these games these greek games roman games they all came with a prize and it doesn’t sound on the surface like a particularly great one the winner would get a crown of laurel leaves that would be their great prize now they may get some patronage as well they may get celebrated in some other way but this this was what they were chasing after and paul starts to talk about if if a runner wants to win this prize they have to do very strict things to make sure that they get there in some ways when you look at paul’s letter on the surface just

this little snippet that we’re just reading we’re in the realms of self-help I I went on amazon and found that right now you can get 70 000 plus different books on self-help it is a huge market millions and millions of dollars spent on and how can I live better and I just loved some of the the titles that you find the ambition handbook a guide for ambitious persons if any of you are ambitious go and grab this book apparently and it will help you uh a year of positive thinking daily inspiration wisdom and courage if you can just think better then you’ll be better and how about this one quiet mind epic life if you have a quiet mind your life will be epic and epic is like a buzz word for today there’s all these books that enable you to move further on your journey to grow and to a certain degree that is true I I stole this quote and I don’t like quoting other

pastors because it always feels like this is my job to make these quotes and but but sometimes they’re just so good you feel like I’m going to leave it exactly as it is this is from a pastor called andy stanley everybody ends up somewhere a few people end up somewhere on purpose there is truth to this idea that actually if you want to grow you have to be intentional about it and that’s okay if you’re not following Jesus right now that’s that’s a good thing for you to know growing on purpose is a great goal this is mr tom brady the classic michigan man I refuse to show him in a patriots uniform or anything like that and I’ll I’ll be watching him passionately this afternoon because I love tom he was a michigan guy but tom brady is one of those classic stories about people that decided they wanted to be somewhere he was drafted in the sixth

round not considered a great prospect particularly this is what mel kiper the famous scouting guy said about him at the pro level his lack of mobility could surface as a problem and it will be interesting to see how he fares when forced to take chances down the field sure he doesn’t have the total package of skills but you have to be impressed with his level of performance this past season against notre dame it’s like damning with faint praise he’s okay not not bad like sure yeah he’s had a couple of good games this is like the way that this guy was talked about and and but but to tom brady that didn’t stop him he has a list of every quarterback that was drafted in front of him he can tell you where they were drafted and who drafted them and all of those details because he knew he wanted to be great and so he decided to chase after he is like

a a caricature or a principle that we can follow and we think about paul’s letter where he says about the runner that wants to win he has to lay down everything and he has to chase after it that’s who tom brady is first person in the building last to leave in the evening just working working working everything centers around he wants to be great and it seems like paul says that if you want to do that you can there is a choice there is a decision to grow on purpose in that respect but but what paul would say to us is this if you chase after that you might find you’re disappointed in the end you might find that there’s something missing that the laurel leaves maybe don’t last as long as you thought they were going to last everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training everyone who wants to be tom brady works and he works

and he works they do it to get a crown or 17 super bowl rings or whatever he’s rocking on his hand right now they do it to get a crown that will not last but we do it to get a crown that will last forever therefore I did not run like someone running aimlessly in paul’s mind you can achieve some great things but ultimately if you want to if you achieve them you may find they just don’t last in the way that you thought they were going to last and paul’s sort of goal for us would be this turn your attention to something that does last turn your attention to something that is bigger than that that’s exactly what he did when he laid aside all the jewish stuff and he said no this is what I’m running after I’m running after this crown of life the laurel leaves don’t fade on this crown I want to know christ this is now for him this is his central goal I just want to

know Jesus I’m not interested in all of the other stuff I just want to know Jesus yes to know the power of his resurrection participation in his sufferings becoming like him in his death and so somehow attaining to the resurrection of the dead and this is the last part of that little letter this letter to the to the philippians that we’re focusing on today I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwood in christ Jesus there’s this purpose that we can chase afrida we can choose to grow to go somewhere or end up somewhere on purpose but ultimately choosing to follow Jesus according to this rider paul is a bigger thing it lasts forever so maybe when we talk about living gratitude and choose together instead of just grow maybe I’d add this maybe it’s grow like Jesus maybe it’s becoming more like him chasing after

him becoming closer to him but this raises attention because some of you have been in church for a while know that there’s this whole conversation about well well who makes that happen who does the work who makes you and I like Jesus if we decide that’s what we want is that a me driven thing do I have to make that happen or is that like an organic thing that’s going to happen naturally over time think about growth in an organic sense you have a plant and to a certain degree it grows without you doing much at all it has this thing that seed that sparks up those environmental things that need to be there but it it grows by itself and paul I would say he seems a little bit confused I’m not sure he knows exactly who does the work either look at this little verse from philippians chapter two therefore my friends as you have always obeyed or

do not only in my presence but now only now much more in my absence continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling work out your salvation guys for it is God who works in you to will and purpose in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose which is it should you be working should you be trying to work this thing out should I be trying to work this thing out or is it the guy is it God that works in us he seems like he’s not particularly sure this was his opening to the letter that we looked at a couple of weeks ago I thank my God every time I remember you in all my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now beginning being confident of this that he began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of christ Jesus whose

responsibility is it are you supposed to make something happen in your life am I supposed to make myself more like Jesus or is this something that’s supposed to come out of us or grow out of us and is it supposed to be organic and maybe the answer is just simply this maybe it’s both and not either or see this is the starting point of life with Jesus and if you’ve never grasped this this is an incredible incredible truth so the bible uses this word metamorphosis about life with Jesus it is as spectacular as when a caterpillar goes into its cocoon and it comes out as a butterfly now one of the things I sometimes wonder is if we realize as people just how spectacular that is this caterpillar goes into a cocoon as I understand it I’m not hugely scientific but it literally breaks down its whole body disintegrates into almost nothingness and then it’s

reformed as something completely different it’s not that there’s the butterfly inside and it grows out no the whole thing starts from scratch it is no less spectacular than if a mouse went into a little thing and came out as a hummingbird that is how ridiculously incredible what a caterpillar does in becoming a butterfly and that’s the language that the bible chooses to use when it starts to talk about what has happened to you and I when and if we choose to follow Jesus you became a different person you were one way and now you are something else it happened instantaneously it was God that did it it wasn’t you you were just responding that is the supernatural thing that has taken place on one hand the work is guts but then we can’t discount the fact that paul has talked about things like laying off every weight making sure that

you’re going into training making sure that you’re working towards this goal that God has given you and when we look back at Jesus life the same is true as well this is a verse from luke chapter 2 verse 52 it’s one of those fun little kind of gap verses in the bible the verse before this Jesus is a small child and in the next verse he’s going to be an adult and so there’s this sudden movement between like one little verse he suddenly grows up but it says this to us and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man now luke has used the word grow a couple of times already in chapter one and earlier in chapter two and when he’s done it he’s used a word for growing greek that is very organic he’s talked about natural growth this this idea that like a plant it springs up and it does its thing you don’t have to do anything can you

improve the growth yes but it does it naturally and then in this work this verse he’s going to use a completely different word a word that hardly appears anywhere else in literature he’s going to use this word procoptin it’s literal meaning is this it is to beat a pathway forward it is to choose to grow it’s not organic now it’s important to understand here some big time wrestling for those of you that are around my age 30 sort of mid-30s maybe you remember 1990s wrestling this was an awesome season to be alive there were all these great characters hulk hogan the ultimate warrior all these guys doing their thing and it was fabulous and what they seemed to have got in their heads was this they had to pretend all of these guys doing wrestling really had other jobs because wrestling didn’t seem serious enough so they’re always like stuck

car racers that have decided to leave the stock car circuit to chase glory on the professional wrestling scene and they took this very seriously and these are two characters called the bushwackers I never knew what bushwhacking meant I was just oblivious I just took these characters at face value they just were a little goofy but but I actually now know what it is it is procoptin that is bushwacking it is to have a forest in front of you to have a wilderness and it is to beat your way through it it’s actually become a popular trend out where I used to live in upstate new york now I’m on board with denver I will say this the the denver mountains are vastly superior to the adirondacks I’m giving you that but there is some joy in the adirondacks as well very cold very windy all those different things very icy the skiing is bad you don’t need to

go there when you live in denver just stay where you are but the quote was about the adirondacks so I’m going to keep it about the adirondacks bushwhacking has become this art form that people have started to perfect where they have started to chase places that aren’t really on the map what the description was was this or the reason for it was this there are more great places to go than there are trails to get you there there are more great places to go than there are trails to get you there and so if you want to experience these incredible things you have to go you have to be blaze your own trail I do this with my kids sometimes we call it blazing a trail we go out somewhere and we just we go off the path and we’re just we’re just gonna find something fun this is the language that luke chooses to use about Jesus growing in

wisdom and favor with God and man it is intentional growth and paul’s language will be I’m just trying to be like Jesus I’m trying to do the Jesus thing he says to us you follow you follow me as I follow Jesus Jesus beat a trail it seems like he grew on purpose the tension point I think within the church is this that we’ve had this language for years that works are bad and grace is good and there is some truth in that of course if you’re working to earn something that isn’t what the christian life is about it is a gift when Jesus called you to him he gave you new life as a gift that’s the the metaphor morphosis the caterpillar becomes a butterfly the mouse in our story literally becomes a hummingbird that happened to you but that doesn’t change the fact that you and I get called to choose to grow on purpose we get to choose to beat a trail to to follow Jesus on

that journey he has for us and what I would say is there are more great places than there are trails to take you there there is a decision to say I am going to follow Jesus I am going to pursue him and I am going to become what he has for me to become and this is a great dallas willow quote that kind of helps us sort of frame that a little bit what he said is this grace it isn’t opposed to effort it’s opposed to earning there’s nothing wrong with working in the sense of I want to grow more like Jesus it doesn’t earn you anything it’s not something that you’re doing to earn some kind of salvation heaven when you die or anything else but but there is this truth that it’s not a post effort you can choose to grow on purpose I would say maybe this is good language because of God’s good work in you you can grow on purpose with him we can take all

of the hardships of 2020 and choose to focus them on growing in Jesus we can take those resources that we talked about and choose to focus that time that energy those talents that wealth on growing like Jesus that is there for us but I would say this a good question to ask is who supplies the power for you to do that who are you relying on as you seek to do that does your spiritual life your following of Jesus or whatever journey you’re on right now is it encapsulated more by this photo or this one this one or this one this one this one you look at the difference between the two both our work sailing is work but sailing is about harnessing a greater power it is about taking the power of the wind and using it whereas rowing is simply about using your own energy and your force to get you somewhere and when we think about

taking those two things together the truth that God works in us and we get to work out what he has given us as we grow on purpose the truth is that you you know you get to choose but you have to choose to use the power that God supplies right now you cannot follow Jesus even if you try really really hard outside of his life in you it’s not just about effort it’s about his work in you and harnessing the power he gives to grow intentionally maybe I would tweak it to say this yes we’re growing like Jesus but we’re gonna choose to live in gratitude choose to gather but also to grow on purpose and so my question for you is how might God be growing you this year how am I in the midst of those resources might he be working in you because what I have found to be true about myself is this I am lazy by nature I’m an enneagram seven for those of you that

are any grand people what that means is enneagram seven’s like happiness that’s what we enjoy so I started doing crossfit for a while and I found it hard as I expected that I would the first two weeks were miserable I hated it but what I realized is after a while things got easier but then I learned a deep dark secret about myself and maybe it’s true of you as well I actually at my heart just want the gym to be easy I want to get to a point where I’m fairly physically fit that I can go and do a workout and not have to try very hard I don’t want to embarrass myself I don’t want to be the last to finish so everything that I did with crossfit was to manipulate the system if the workout was finishing about finishing first I would make the weights as light as I possibly could so I wasn’t the last to finish if the workout finished at a set time I knew that I

could lift heavier weights and just do less reps than everybody else I was manipulating the system to look good and I had no real interest in growth I just wanted to stay where I was and yet one of the things we learn about life is this right things that stretch us are good for us if 2020 stretched you it may have been hard it may have been a difficult journey but the stretching part was good you become someone else in that journey of stretching so my question for you in amongst all that conversation about resources about time and energy and about wealth and giftings where might God be stretching you this year what new thing might he be calling you to do maybe he’s calling you into a journey with your time to spend more time on spiritual disciplines maybe prayer has been a struggle for you maybe you need to find some

new ways to be able to partner with God to take his power but use that to spend some time in prayer maybe you start by taking a walk and praying at the same time maybe it’s a practice of spending some time in silence I hate silence but it’s so good for me when I do it maybe you’ve never taken a challenge to read the bible or memorize passages of scripture maybe that is something that you’re called to do this year it’s a stretching experience that will lead you down a journey of growth maybe you’ve got into a habit and I find this by nature as well that I I manage my money in a very selfish way and maybe God is calling you into all these wonderful avenues that you can choose to give and he’s calling you to stretch and think about how you use your money to make the world a better place some of that might involve giving to south for

the first time as as a partner here but some of it might just involve giving to different wonderful organizations all around the world maybe you’ve got talents and gifts that you’ve just hidden dormant and and the call is to stretch and to use them in a new way in 2021 maybe it’s to intentionally put yourself in places that will stretch you because growing is good it starts with God’s gift and God’s work in us but we you and I we get to choose to grow on purpose and I love how paul finishes this passage that we just read it’s like paul is the ultimate he’s the ultimate sort of like relator all of us then who are mature should take such a view of things and if on some point you think differently that two guard will make clear to you only let’s live up to what we have already attained feels like paul would do really well in 2021 with all the chaos I

always thought of him as being very hardline and decided on his opinions but in this he’s like it’s okay if you disagree with me I can handle it God will show you in the end maybe that’s something that we can learn too as a little aside somehow we need to learn to figure out that people might think differently how will you grow on purpose in 2021 how might God be stretching you we’re going to watch a video in a second we’re going to pray over a wonderful family that are about to head out to luxembourg as missionaries that south will be supporting so I’m going to invite the hammersmiths to come up on the back end of this video and any elders that are present we’d love you to have you come up and pray over them but you’re going to see in their story what it looks like to be stretched and moved into new things so let’s cue

that video guys is it recording it is recording well I’m craig hammersmith and we have ian may janice levi and logan boy we’ve been at south for I think around seven years now we’re looking for a new faith community and and we found it here itself um there were there was kind of two simultaneous stories that were kind of happening and they kind of converged uh the first one is I was at a family reunion back in july of 2017 at that reunion I learned that I could become a citizen of luxembourg and I thought wow that’s kind of cool don’t know what I would do with it but I’m intrigued and as I started pursuing that I lost my job and so it was really in the sort of a season of three months where I started asking the lord okay lord I just came out of a you know tough season of work uh what is next and as I was asking that question I was sensing the lord

saying craig do you trust me um it was really in that time where um he kept done saying do you trust me and saying I have something for you and so once I said yes lord I trust you I need you to lead the next steps is when he started revealing uh some aspect of missions I decided to go ahead and file for the citizenship paperwork they explained it was a year and a half process from start to finish and four months later I get a call and they say congratulations you’re officially a citizen you’re completely done and she said that you know after you filed your paperwork luxembourg enacted what they call article seven which basically stated if you had all males in your family lined to a certain year you could be fast tracked to the system and and so here I am with this citizenship document in my hands in the mail never had to go anywhere I

had never even been to europe and I’m looking at this saying okay lord I just wrestled with this four and a half months ago of you’re saying trust you say impossible missions and now I have this citizenship paperwork what am I supposed to be doing and so mostly me I started just reading and understanding the country and this dynamics and I was introduced to people along the way and I reached out and someone said hey you’re interested in doing missions work possibly in luxembourg there’s a organization called young life that’s trying to get started here maybe you can chat with them I ended up a month later five weeks later from that conversation I was in europe having a conversation with young life and what I learned is that young life had been praying for almost two years up to that point about getting started in

luxembourg and they were praying for the right opportunity and waiting on the lord to help direct them into what was next and so as they told me their story I shared my story and there’s this moment of silence where you could almost hear a pin drop we just kind of agreed that lord is up to something here and we should be watching and seeing what he’s gonna do so I knew I was just praying that God would reveal whatever he needed to reveal but it didn’t I didn’t expect that he would come home and say I think there’s really something in luxembourg for us and well at first I disengaged I just thought this is crazy and I didn’t really think about it craig would craig was thinking about it a lot and every once in a while would bring up conversation to me and then I finally decided I should start praying about this and at least engage with God

about it and so he really spoke to me in very sweet tender purposeful ways through bible study I was in through south like just little sign after little sign after little sign that no person could ever put together january of 2018 was a big pivotal time for us and that’s when ryan started his sermon series on life was amazing discerning God’s will I mean I was crying in the service because yes those are my questions I don’t know I’m getting to the point that he’s made it evident enough that if I say no I’m gonna be saying no to God in his calling I hadn’t said yes yet then they all were saying mom when are you gonna say yes you’re holding us all back so thank you God for bringing us together in unity there’s zero young life in luxembourg it’s one of the only western europe countries that doesn’t have a young life presence so I get to help start that

um really there’s kind of a couple different visions um the first one is to start with the international school since it’s an english-speaking school and I guess what I see is is sort of the make disciples aspect I go back and tell you a little bit about luxembourg it’s this little tiny country that’s a dot on the map has significant influence financially across europe and the world as well as tech and look at that they can do that business-wise what’s God going to do spiritually in this little tiny country so there’s a fresh opportunity to connect with students to present something they maybe have never heard before ever love them and show them God and they go home share that with others yeah yeah if you email us we can get you on our monthly newsletter and we’ll be happy to add thankful for the partnership and support from

south and I guess our prayer requests would be just as we transition from a mom’s heart as we transition and the emotions can be up and down that we would all grow in our faith with God and that he would help us to be peaceful in him and trust him and shine through us for his glory love it how many of you guys want to do a trip to luxembourg let’s go so I’m going to invite craig janice and the kids if you’d like to come up on stage with me what a great story of just what we were talking about today God working behind the scenes beginning things and and these guys choosing to partner with that choosing to I think the language was to to engage and then get on board um so thank you guys for doing that and you’re going to have a great journey out there I’m excited for for all of you guys to experience life in a in europe and just all of that

that that brings so uh I’m going to invite some of the elders current elders pastels if you’d like to come up on stage uh you know I always have to hold you guys back we’re not all going to pray for as good as that is but we don’t have time otherwise the next service will be mad at us so uh we’re gonna give an opportunity for one or two of you to pray um and uh guys we’re excited well father I want to lift up the hammersmith and thank you for how you’ve worked and led and lord that story as I’ve got my hand on craig here just to think he’s a citizen of luxembourg that’s amazing and I know as I’ve walked on this journey somewhat with them I’ve always scratched my head about luxembourg it just seems like such an idyllic christmas card place and yet I’ve come to realize oh lord you love every heart that’s there in luxembourg as

much as you love every heart and other desperate places of this world and you have raised up craig and janice and their family to go and be your hands and feet and lord you’re going to use their efforts through your power and I praise you and thank you for that and I know you’ve been working in them to willing to act you’ve been you’ve been putting that that drive that desire thank you so lord I entrust the hammersmith into your tender loving care as they go to distribute your love to those people in like luxembourg ah man you may you use them in powerful ways praise your lord thank you amen in Jesus name amen thank you lord for all the years I had the opportunity to work with craig and lord thank you for your very very clear direction to him um I remember when he was wrestling with all of this process and what to do

and lord you made it so clear to janice uh to craig we are grateful for that and we ask for your blessing your protection your guidance your leadership over them as they reach out into the world and into luxembourg to spread your word lord and share your love thank you Jesus thank you God for the way that you work in us you work through us and we get to participate with you as these guys are stretched as they move into new things as they grow on purpose may you use them to do wonderful things in luxembourg may we hear stories of disciples who make disciples who make disciples thank you that you are present with them on the journey with all of the things that are ahead of them your presence remains there with them faithful as always amen amen thank you guys be sent and enjoy the adventure and for the rest of us I’m going to

close us with a benediction from philippians chapter one appropriately if you’d like to stand as I close us if you’d like to hold out your hands to receive the blessing you’re welcome to do that if that’s unfamiliar to you you don’t have to I thank my God every time I remember you in all my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now been confident of this that he who began a good work and you will carry it on to completion until the day of christ Jesus may you go this week and may you partner with this God who loves you who has transformed you may you know what it is to walk with him may you walk into new places may you grow on purpose in partnership with Jesus go in peace amen

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Invest in Personal Growth | Hindsight is 2020 (Part 3)2022-01-27T12:25:56-07:00

Invest in Community | Hindsight is 2020 (Part 2)

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good morning friends my name is alex one of the pastors here if you’re visiting we’re really glad that you are and first little personal business I would like to give a little shout out on video uh happy birthday shout out to my gorgeous little now six-year-old gigi georgiana uh I yeah give her a clap on video she she was supposed to be here at this service but I guess they got caught up and they’ll be at the next service or something like that but it happens when you’ve got three kids uh but she gets to share her birthday with you guys today a little bit she uh it’s not always easy having a pastor as a father occasionally it comes around that your birthday is on a church day and uh it just feels a little different and yet she didn’t complain once and she is sweet and she is sassy and if elena thought she was getting a doormat younger sister she did

not get that in gigi because she tells you exactly what she wants when she wants it and so if you see her when you’re walking out give her a happy birthday and she’ll be thrilled uh she also asked me to hide presents in the church for her um so if you’re feeling you know mandatious or whatever the word is then you can go find some presents and you could take them but you’d break the heart of a six-year-old child and I’m sure none of you want to start your new year with anything like that we are talking about hindsight is 2020 we’re unpacking the weird pandemic year that we just all walked through now we’re still there right we’re still walking through how we process everything that’s going on in the world around us but at least this time we had a little warning at least this year we walked into it knowing it was coming last year we

were learning as we went along and it was a year that just took a lot from us to keep going so as we started to think through teaching series for the start of the year originally what I wanted to do was this was just give you uh some topical practical things that I thought would help us get through 2020 2021 in a more positive way than maybe some of us did in 2020 but as we as I read this book philippians it just hit me that this letter it’s a lockdown letter it’s a letter that could have been written to a group of people just like us to give you a refresh from from last week if you want here this p is where um where philippi is this town in what is now greece and paul the guy writing it he’s writing a letter to them to let them know situationally this is what I think you should do this is what I want you to know this is what I want you to learn about Jesus

and who he is paul is in one of these three places and he’s stuck in a prison cell he’s not going anywhere he may never get out of prison he may be locked down forever his court case may go badly he may be killed maybe he’ll be let go but he’s locked up in house arrest he’s separated from those that he loves and he’s living through these crazy politically volatile times where nobody quite knows what’s going to come next does it sound like a time that you are familiar with it probably does and then this church philippi facing uncertain finances not sure where the money is coming from experiencing persecution as a group of people they are not liked not valued right now and then they’re trying to learn the way of Jesus there’s all of these different things going on and this letter that was written a couple of thousand years ago could have been

written to people just like you and I and yet the central message in amongst everything going on is this because of God’s good grace we can choose joy at all times because of God’s good grace we can choose joy at all times would you like more joy in 2021 than you had in 2020 everyone I think whether whether 2020 was a great year or not you’d still say yes more joy is something that I’ll take send me some more joy and so we wanted to look at these practical principles that we could put into place from this book philippians so last week we started with the idea of living in gratitude if we can take gratitude as a focus for this year that it just makes everything better now before we move on for those of you that like to know where we’re going those you like to have a little path ahead here are our passages for this week camera phones at

the ready write them down if you’ve got shorthand if you have an identic memory then just look at the screen and you will be fine but you have three seconds one two three and you’re done so this year this week sorry not this year but this year as well this week we’re going to start somewhere maybe a little unusual because we’re not going to start in philippians I’d love to give you this passage to start with before we get to philippians chapter two as what I’d call an umbrella text for the next two weeks it’s got a principle that Jesus teaches that I think will just help us understand what paul will talk about in philippians and amy just read a passage that’s very similar uh here we go again it will be like a man this is the kingdom of God Jesus is talking about going on a journey who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them to

one he gave five bags of gold to another two bags and to another one bag each according to his ability then he went on his journey the man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more this guy’s doing well so also the one with two bags of gold gained two more but the man who had received one bag went off dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them the man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five master he said you entrusted me with five bags of gold see I have gained five more his master replied well done good and faithful servant you have been faithful with a few things I will put you in charge of many things come and share your masters happiness the man

with two bags of gold also came master he said you entrusted me with two bags of coal gold see I have gained two more his master replied well done good and faithful servant you have been faithful with a few things I will put you in charge of many things come and share with your masters happiness notice it doesn’t matter how much they were given it’s simply a matter of what they do with what they were given then the man who would receive one bag of gold came master he said I know that you are a hard man harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seeds so I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground see here is what belongs to you his master replied you wicked lazy servants so you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed well

then you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest this is a parable that Jesus taught Jesus taught mostly in parables parables are stories the word simply means to throw something alongside so Jesus would take something that was really well known to the people listening and he would place it alongside an important spiritual truth and they would go away but the parable requires you to work because it’s very rarely just about the thing that it’s talking about the para Jesus parable is centered around resources and it’s centered around how we invest them wisely originally in the original language it was called the para parable of the talents or the word talents was used now because of talents again you get the confusion in english people thought it was just about the

gifts and abilities that you had and then other people started to say well it’s clearly about money but in actual fact it’s about both Jesus is massively interested it seems in how we take the resources that we have given and what are those resources you’ve been given time you’ve been given energy you’ve been given skills and you’ve been given wealth and he’s massively interested it seems in how we take those resources that have been given to us and how we use them we get to invest them wisely and here’s a confession moment I am a hopeless investor of money at the start in the middle of this year with a little down time a little boredom in terms of the pandemic I decided I was going to take some of our savings and I was going to begin to invest them in stocks and shares so I got this little app that you can get on your phone it’s called

robinhood and you get to do it yourself and it doesn’t cost anything so I started to take some money and I started to invest it and yet it seems that I’m not very good there are stocks that I have bought that are now worth half of what they were when I bought them and I’m still holding out for the fact that no it’s going to recover it’s going to bounce back I generally am too cowardly in terms of investing to jump on great opportunities that I think I see so I just don’t and then I get to watch with deep frustration as a stock that I could have bought for a certain amount of money is now five times what it was when I originally wanted to buy it I’m not a good investor I have this cowardly streak and I’m not always the wisest now fortunately there’s some good news here because I am not allowed by my wife uh all by my good conscience to

manage most of our money there’s a retirement fund that I’m slowly putting money into and there are people that apparently are much better at this than I am because that seems to go up consistently whereas mine seems to hover somewhere around this flat or red line there’s wise people that get to invest my earthly resources for the future now that’s good news but but here’s the bad news for most of the resources God has given you for your time for your energy for your giftings and even for the most part for your money other than just putting it away for retirement no one can manage your resources for you that’s on you people can give you advice people can give you wisdom but in actual fact you have to learn to manage them yourself God gave them to you and said do something with them don’t bury them in the ground putting stuff

aside hiding it away very rarely seems to work I remember as a child deciding if I ever got sent to my room which happened periodically just as a punishment I would hide some food in my room I’d just take some different food that I would have during the day and I just hide it under the bed and just keep it there for such a rainy day as punishment day and yet when I came back to it it was never good it was covered in mold covered gone stale all those different things typical teenagers room right but that’s a principle you have gifts you have things to invest and yet you have to learn to do it yourself I have to learn to do it ourselves so that’s a blanket thing a principle for the next two weeks as we move into philippians you’ll see hold that intention for a while just hold it there thinking about how you might learn to invest things and then let’s

move on last week we talked about live in gratitude let’s see what paul has for this church in philippi and for us this week this is chapter 2 starting at verse 1. therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with christ if any comfort from his love if any common sharing in the spirit if any tenderness and compassion then make my joy complete by being like-minded having the same love being one in spirit of one mind do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit rather in human in humility value others above yourselves not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others and we’ll move on to verse five in a little while but let’s stop there because man that’s a dense rich passage let’s focus for a second on this if any comfort from his love if any common sharing paul lands in the second part of

philippians on this word queen o’nea he’s going to talk to us about community the word at its heart has this sense of what is shared in common he has a group of people in this church in philippi and he wants them to know you are a group of people called together you are a community of people think about them for a second we talked about how they were trying to learn the way of Jesus but you might add they are trying to learn the way of Jesus as a community of people doesn’t that make it a little more complicated I actually sometimes wonder is it easier to try and follow Jesus stuck in a room by yourself there’s no one to rub you up the wrong way there’s no one to knock off your edges there’s no one to irritate you you’re just there and it’s you and Jesus and he’s perfect and you’re not but but that seems okay and

yet God called us to follow him in community this is a group of people trying to do that together paul is deeply concerned about the health of their community it seems that that when you read what he writes they live and die by community I would just start here if you’re uncertain about following Jesus if you’re watching online if you’re just jumping into church for the first time outside of following Jesus I would say just this broadly speaking community is a good thing community is good this is a small town in pennsylvania it’s called rosetto in the mid sort of like 2000s they started to do scientific research into this town because they couldn’t understand why nobody died of heart problems in rosetta there were not a single case of a man under 55 having a heart attack there was no heart disease in anyone under the age of 65 they just

couldn’t understand why this town was different to every other town around it and then they started to do some history some sort of searching back and they found that almost every person every family came from this town back in italy they had been in community for years together and when you went to roseto and walked down the streets of this small pennsylvania town that looked like just all the others there was something different people lived in multi-generational homes people would stop and talk to each other on the streets people would check in on each other there was this community spirit that was thriving in rossetto that wasn’t in the other towns around it and when they looked there was no difference in diet in actual fact this group of people their diet had changed remarkably from moving from the mediterranean

to america it had got worse by all scientific standards and yet something about this community was thriving community for them was good and even outside of the Jesus story we see this principle in the bible this is a book ecclesiastes two are better than one because they have good return for their labor if either of them falls down one can help the other up but pity anyone who falls and has nobody to help them just as this broad principle it seems like community is good so as a principle from philippians even outside of following Jesus I would say do this in 2021 choose to gather where it’s approved by the government of course now that’s a joke where it’s shouldn’t go there where it’s approved or where it’s sorry where it’s healthy you’ve got to be wise in this time but think about that think about how you can choose to gather even

when it’s not as easy as it used to be it seems like community and gathering is what we as human beings are made for community it is good but I’d like to nudge that a little bit further we’ll get to the Jesus story in a couple of minutes but even outside of that again faith community it seems like is a good healthy thing faith-centered community is better there’s all this research that’s been done into these fascinating parts all over the globe these are the five blue zones there’s one in california one in costa rica one in italy one in greece one in japan and these are areas where people live to around 100 years regularly and they do it in good health now they have good diets the sunshine all those different things but one of the things they couldn’t ignore was this every single one of them has strong faith communities at the heart of

everything that happens there this was a piece of research that gallup did recently they asked people how was your mental state in 2020 versus 2019 talk to us about how you feel talk to us about your emotions talk to us about depression all those different things and across the board everything was down male 1 down 8 8 points female down 10 points republican down 15 points independent down 11 points democrat down one points white down 10 points non-white down eight points the only thing that seemed to change that was this if you said you attended a weekly religious service your mental state had improved even in the midst of pandemic even in the midst of all of the craziness it seemed like something had gotten better you were able to process everything going on better than if you didn’t community is good faith community is

even better but you know where I’m going with this for those of you that have been following church for a while because my nudge now is I would suggest that Jesus centered community is different to all of those other communities there’s something about a community that’s following Jesus together that is best if you would like to put it that way but my question is this well what is different about Jesus centered community because firstly most of us that have been around church for a while have probably seen ways where we’ve seen the Jesus centered community be really toxic or at least a community that claimed to be Jesus centered be really toxic we’ve probably been through experiences where we’ve been like oh the church does not seem like it’s functioning as it’s supposed to this seems to be kind of broken kind of messy and

yet the the narrative of the bible as we read through these different writers is that now this story is the significant story and this is the type of community that you’re supposed to tap into and that’s what paul is talking about he’s not just talking about any other type of community if any common sharing coinonia in the spirit he’s talking about koinonia pneumatus community of the spirit if you want to write that down the what that we’re talking about is that shared in common is spirit this is a community united by the fact that they have this common experience of this spirit of God that lives within them this is a Jesus centered community empowered by anne that’s not right ah I’ll definitely get an email about my poor grammar they’re a shared experience of the spirit that is what this community that paul is writing to is centered on and

then look at how that sort of affects their behavior as we move on shared in the spirit if any tenderness and compassion then make my joy complete by being like-minded having the same love being one in spirit and of one mind do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit rather in humility value others above yourselves not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others there’s something about this community that shapes them in a very particular way now just a little bit before we move on there about what it is exactly to understand how we might understand this idea of being a community centered around the spirit this Jesus community that we’re reading about comes from another community so paul think about this he always has this in mind and this community that this community comes

from is a community shaped by law all of the Jesus story comes from this old old jewish story and all of the oldest christian communities were jews who had chosen to follow Jesus now their understanding of identity was centered around everything that was external it was what you did it was laws that you had put in place it was yvonne talked to us about circumcision and I think we only need one sermon on circumcision for the next year and so we’ll leave it there but there were these markers that said this is how you identify someone who is part of this community so a way to understand this is like the school spirit idea so I brought this with me I was going to wear a sucker shirt but it was a bit cold I was a coach in michigan for a while and so I was given like all these school spirit jackets and stuff like that and this on the external level

was your identity you got to see which team you were on based on the shirt or the item of clothing that you were wearing but think about that process for a second for the first year that I was coaching I actually didn’t really want to be there the only reason I’d signed up was because I thought it might be good for my real sort of passion which was helping people to follow Jesus so I thought if I coach sucker I get to meet all these students that are not following Jesus and I’ll be able to have an influence on them and I’ll be able to lead them down that journey so every time we sort of played soccer I was kind of indifferent to the result on the field now that would change eventually but even when we got towards the playoffs I’m like I’m kind of done here this is getting cold it was in now november in michigan time it’s freezing at this point I’m stood

there shuddering on the the sidelines and there’s a big part it’s like if you guys could just lose then I wouldn’t have to come out in the cold again and my days would qualitatively improve and so that was the first year and then as the thing started to get hold of me as the passion started to increase all of that changed I was willing to stand out in the coldest weather with the hope and we we got pretty good we won a couple we won a state championship went to a couple of finals and it was a fun thing to be involved in but do you see the change there there was a a change from the external thing I was always wearing all of the gear to something that began to happen inside of me where I actually genuinely got this co go chiefs mentality that was actually really important this external and this internal for years and years and years

religion had been defined by what was on the outside 617 laws to obey circumcision process to go through people knew who was in and who was out by everything that was on the outside but if you didn’t change on the inside nobody really knew you could just go through the motions and it was fine what changes with this Jesus centered community is suddenly the outside it’s important there are markers there are things that you can tell there’s a way of Jesus that you can see outside but it all driven by something that’s changed inside it’s all changed there it all begins there it’s this transformation process this idea of metamorphosis it is a spectacular as a cocoon turning into a butterfly a caterpillar’s process of breaking down its body and and it’s as spectacular as that there is something that has changed in the moment that you chose to follow Jesus we’re told that you moved from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom

of light now all the outward process it takes a while it’s gonna be shaped over years and years and years but it began internally didn’t begin externally that’s what paul sees this community has been shaped at and because of that they can be centered around we before me not just me before we there’s this community attitude there that is about the other that is just so important and then he goes on to unpack this fascinating hymn the most people that read this think that this was something that communities of christians would have got together and sung together years and years ago in your relationship with one another have the same mindset as christ Jesus who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant being

made inhuman likeness this is what this community is centered on it’s centered around a genuine willingness to put others before yourself and he takes as example the fact that Jesus the son of God he did that someone said to me once the reason they chose to follow Jesus was this the story was upside down it didn’t make sense every other story was about God’s seeking honor God’s wanting to be above everyone else and the Jesus story was the one that was different it was the one that said I’m gonna make myself lower what a fascinating reason to choose to follow Jesus and and this was his incredible way of phrasing it greater love has no one than this to lay down one’s life for one’s friends this is the shaping of paul’s Jesus centered community but then he’ll go on to say something else something that speaks to what our role

might be and helps us get back to that earlier question of how do we choose to invest the resources God has given us this is romans chapter 12 in this way we are like various parts of a human body each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole not the other way around the body we’re talking about is christ’s body of chosen people each of us finds our meaning and function as part of his body but as a chopped our finger or a cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much would we so since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in christ’s body let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other or trying to be something we aren’t participation in Jesus center community requires contribution not just

consumption you have something to bring paul’s language of the body is is fascinating he talks about the fact that you may think of yourself as just a toe but if you’ve ever lived with a broken little toe you know just how difficult and painful life is for a while there’s something that you have that essential and if you come just to consume that’s fine for a time but you’re missing some of the point it’s about contribution not consumption this is burning man festival I’m sure that none of you have ever been and if you went you’d probably feel deeply uncomfortable it’s this festival that’s held out in the desert every year and the craziest stuff happens I would not recommend you go in I would not recommend you just googling images from burning man or anything like that because you’ll be in dangerous territory but I would love you to read their

mission statement because I read it and it just it blew me away this is how they see community you participate here you belong here and you participate you’re not the weirdest kid in the classroom you are here to build a community that needs you and relies on you and I read it and I was like they stole our idea like that’s what the church is supposed to be about and they just stole it and took God out of it which again they can do what they want that’s fine but that’s what we’re supposed to be about that’s our idea the idea that you come and you participate that it doesn’t matter if you feel like the weirdest kid in the room the fact that you’re needed here this is a community that relies on you now that’s what we’re supposed to be like but I guess my question is is it because I think churches have a tendency very quickly to move to this

idea of well the past is important the worship leader is important the guy running sound eric thank you is important all of those those things the things that we see are important and yet the story that paul would give us the construction that he would give us is no it doesn’t matter you can be as insignificant as you think but but you’re not this is a community that needs you and relies on you that’s life-changing language you are wanted here and you are needed here and so what do you do when you feel like communities aren’t shaped in that Jesus way what do you do when you walk into a community you’re like I see lots of floors and and if you’re new to south you will see some floors some floors that some of us that have been longer here longer we’ll we’ll kind of start stop noticing them after a while well I think you get to ask yourself this

really important question am I a thermostat or am I a thermometer see my tendency is to go places and if I’m not careful I tend to think that I’m there to be a thermometer I’m there to take the temperature to check how everything is going to see if it’s all good and yet it took me a while to realize well actually God called me to be a thermostat when I saw a community that wasn’t functioning well that wasn’t up to the right temperature I was there to help change that there’s this wonderful story about a an organist called billy preston one of the great organists of all time just incredible player used to play the hammond organ for so many different people and he’s one of the few people to be credited on an album with the beatles it just didn’t usually happen the beatles did their own thing and and yet billy preston is but more than that billy

preston saved the beatles at least for a couple of years in about 68 things were so bad between this famous four musicians that they were considering splitting up and in the middle of a big blowout in a recording session george harrison walks out the building he says I’m done with you guys and he goes off to a club to have a drink and to calm down and he runs into billy preston who he’s been friends with for some years and billy and him get talking and he says you know what come back to the studio with me and hang out with the guys for a little bit and the story about billy preston is this not only was he an incredibly talented musician but he was just the most gregarious person you could imagine he brought joy into a room just by who he was and just being with him as a five-some now instead of a foursome just changed everything again at

least for a couple of years so much so that they beginning they began to talk about adding him to the beatles he was going to become the fifth beatle but there was something about billy preston he was he was a thermostat not a thermometer he walked in and he changed the temperature of the room paul will spend time in philippians outlining what a real Jesus-centered community looks like it’s a community that’s structured around we before me not me before we it’s a community that’s about contribution and not just consumption and yet our tendency I think as followers of Jesus in the west in 2021 is this we go to places and we say is this going to give me what I need I would suggest that isn’t the question that we’re called to ask the question we’re called to ask is what can I bring and what can I give you’re called to be a

thermometer a thermostat not a thermometer and so I’d love to close this I’m going to invite aaron and the team to come back on stage and I’d love to to close us by getting you to ask a couple of questions if you’re not following Jesus right now or you’re on the fringes or you’re uncertain about what faith looks like for you here’s a great question you can ask how will you choose or how will I choose from your perspective how will you choose community this year how will you choose to build community that can do that ecclesiastes thing when you fall down it will pick you back up how can you choose to enter into a life that is better because you have community around you where will you find it and if you’ve decided that south is a place that you want to be if it’s a place where you feel happy with what you get to consume but you don’t

find a space yet to contribute my question for you is this what is your part to play on the journey for self you have all these gifts all these resources that God has given you you get to choose to invest them wisely how is God calling you to invest this year if you want options I could give you loads we have welcome teams that need new people and you get to stand on the door and smile and be friendly and because you’re wearing a mask no one will even know if you’re smiling or not so if smiling is beyond you you get a pass on that one for a while as well we have a children’s ministry that is starting back up that it just is is a gift of an opportunity I when I used to run youth ministries I always used to say to people this do you realize the privilege I’m giving you I wouldn’t let just anybody do this in having you do this I’m giving you

the possibility that in years in the future God people will come to you and say do you realize you were the reason I first took my first steps following Jesus the same is true of kids ministry there are opportunities galore but you are called to contribute not just to consume what is your part to play on the journey of south in 2021 let’s pray Jesus thank you for your present thank you for a community that is centered around you community is good faith communities are better but a community centered around you is best God we have sinned the ways that the church appears broken at times help us to be a healthy community we thank you for paul’s care for this church that he’s distant from he’s deeply passionate that they follow you in healthy community help us to do the same help us to take the same attitude of Jesus help us to take

that attitude where we put others before ourselves help us to center ourselves around we before me help us to contribute not just consume where we’re unsure of what our giftings are maybe we take journeys of discovery this year or we find out where we are called may we step in and try new things thank you that you’ve been present with us as we’ve sung and learn and that’s the most important thing you present amongst your people amen

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Invest in Community | Hindsight is 2020 (Part 2)2022-01-27T11:34:32-07:00

Practicing Gratitude | Hindsight is 2020 (Part 1)

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good morning friends great to be with you on this new year 2021 you made it way to go you you got through and you did it and great job i was just intrigued on new year’s eve just to listen i went and sort of listened to some of the different comments that were made by different um people on tv as the new year clicked over and one reporter went simply with this thank goodness that’s over i was like wow i mean way to go negative and and then on the bbc they did a big fireworks display right after midnight and the first words were as they started their big display and the voice over were in 2020 a new virus hit the world i was like is there anybody that that is news to at this point surely we all need we know we’re good um and and what we wanted to do in this new year was this we wanted to to think about the idea that we can look

back at 2020. that’s maybe for some of us a celebration we get to look back and say hey that year is gone we’re in a new year but also whenever you go through an experience one of the best things you can do is is to learn from it so so our goal was this how can we learn from 2020. now there’s something about us as human beings i think that we like rhythm we’re just made that way so think about this if you woke up or you never got to wake up on a new day how would that feel every failure every time you made a mistake every era that would always be today there’s something fresh about waking up on a new day and be like ah i can i can start over there’s something about a new week about the weekend about having some time off and starting again we’ll get to that in week four when we talk a little bit about rest but there’s

something about rhythms that we like so i think it’s normal that we think new years are a fresh start but there’s a danger there as well maybe this was something that theresa outcomes director sent me uh that a friend of hers had posted his post from 2000 december 2019 220 is gonna be a great year now maybe it would have been maybe 2021 will be a fantastic year or round but if our reliance is just on a calendar ticking over for things to get refreshed for things to be new then eventually we’re going to find ourselves back in the same place that we might have found ourselves at the end of last year just waiting for another fresh start if we learn from it if we put some principles in place that actually we may get to come out of 2020 into 2021 feeling stronger feeling like we are better equipped to to do what south fellowship wants to do

which is to walk in the way of jesus with the heart of jesus so over the next few weeks we’re going to follow this guy called paul a new testament writer and we’re going to read through his letter to the philippians now we can’t go verse by verse that would take us a lot of time a lot more than the four weeks that we have but one of my encouragements to you would be this take that one book in the bible and read it just take half an hour sit down you can read it in half an hour read it cover to cover when we land on the high points as we go through it week by week here take some time to read the bits in between the bits that we didn’t get a chance to cover this is a chance for you to to self feed to grow by yourself which is is a really cool thing so let’s get into it this is paul writing to a church in a place called philippi i marked it with a p i

realized that may have been a mistake because that could also mean paul paul is not where the p is philippi the town is where paul is and paul paul’s stuck in prison paul’s in maybe one of these three places there’s all sorts of like scholarly reasons why you could be over on the the sort of the far side of your map over here is a town called caesarea over in the middle is a town called ephesus and and far over there in italy is a map it is rome now in case you needed to hint this is the mediterranean if you’re unaware just filling you in geographically but but paul is somewhere here and there’s a reason we picked philippians because you might say that philippians is a lockdown epistle philippians is a virus time epistle philippians is a letter that you might write in a situation just like lots of us find ourselves in right now this is paul’s situation

see if it sounds familiar paul is locked up in house arrest he’s not allowed to go out anywhere right now he’s separated from those that he loves he doesn’t get to see them this is a church that he started he went on this big expedition he started this church in this town called philippi and it’s now been years since he got to see them and he’s also living through some politically volatile times the the year is probably somewhere about 62 a.d jesus died and rose again about 30 years before christianity went from this tiny little sect in one town to spreading everywhere and the guy that’s running everything is this guy called nero some people love him some people hate him he’s very divisive does that sound familiar i’m not saying that that president trump is like nero or not i’m just saying that people love him people hate him he’s in that time of like

what’s going to happen now i think one of the things we could learn learn there on a little side note is this i don’t think paul was sat around asking if nero was god’s man for the roman empire i’m not sure that was the biggest thing in his mind his focus his sole focus was on how can i share who jesus is and what he did and then this church in philippi this church is facing uncertain finances they do not know where their next paycheck is coming from does that sound somewhat like someone you might know maybe that’s you right now this is a little note that paul writes to another church about this little town in philippi and now brothers and sisters we want you to know about the grace that god has given the macedonian churches in the midst of a very severe trial their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity

this is a church that that didn’t know where the money was coming from and yet still found themselves to be generous this church is experiencing persecution this sect this group of people this new religion christianity is no longer popular it was to start with just a little thing that was a side note and now it’s big and significant and people hate it people are not happy that this thing is spreading everywhere nero the guy we just looked at will in a few years start a huge campaign against christianity and this group of people is trying to learn the way of jesus even though the guy that started the church paul is now many miles away and they haven’t seen him for years they’re a group of people wrestling with what it is to follow jesus in this world that they’re presented with philippians is a letter that could be written to our times could be written

to our times and so if you want a broad summary of philippians this is what i would say if you wanted to get it in a sentence obviously there’s more to it than this the message of philippians is this because of god’s good grace we can choose joy at all times because of god’s good grace we can choose joy at all times so some of you all want to know where we’re going some of you all want to do some reading during the week if you want to grab your phone you can take a picture if you want to write down these passages you can go and look at them as well we’re going to cover most of them today but it’ll give you a chance to do your thing i’ll leave it up there for at least the next five seconds so act quickly while they’re doing that i can just note that we talked about leaving the layout as it is loads of you said that you loved it for this season

right now i said dangerously this let’s try and make it feel like a comedy club and then backtracked quickly because there’s two implications there one is that i’ll be funny which is not probable and two what happens at a comedy club you’re told things that aren’t true um and you’re supposed to laugh at them which is not what we do here just on a side note and your time’s over so let’s jump in philippians chapter one verse one paul and timothy servants of christ jesus to all god’s holy peoplein christ jesus at philippi together with the overseers and deacons grace and peace to you from god our father and the lord jesus christ i thank my god every time i remember you in all my prayers for all of you i always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now being confident of this that he who began

a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of christ jesus we’re going to use these three verses as an anchor for the next four weeks if you like to memorize parts of the bible this is a great part for you to memorize over the next few weeks it just has so much in it and we’re going to go through this bit by bit and we’re going to jump into some of the other chapters in this really short letter to this church in philippi the start is just the start of a normal letter this is just how people wrote letters in the first century a.d i just send you my greetings it could be a letter from a mother to a fur to a son it could be almost any kind of letter so paul starts off just in the traditional way and then he lands in this first line i thank my god every time i remember you paul’s first step is gratitude philippians begins with gratitude and think about

that in the context of what they’re going through we just said paul’s in jail paul’s been in jail for a while and paul may never get out of jail this writer is he’s his court case is in the balance he could be executed at any moment he doesn’t know what his future holds this church in philippi is struggling they are doing some great things and yet at the same time their future is uncertain as well and yet paul in the midst of this philippians in the midst of this begins with gratitude this incredible word this greek word eucharisto which is literally two words put together the greek word for good and the greek word for grace when paul talks about thanks when he talks about gratitude he’s talking about this idea of good grace and now you guys i’m sure every one of you can find a source of gratitude something that you’ve experienced at some time in your life

maybe you’ve had one of those feelings where you’re like i am so grateful in this moment right now this is my family back in england we went to visit them we tried one of these shots called magic pano so my actual my my second daughter gigi has kind of disappeared from the shot uh didn’t really work very well but these are all the people that i love most in the world and i have this moment this feeling of gratitude a couple of years ago i distinctly remember sitting in my parents garden and just having one of those moments everyone i love in the world right now most deeply is safe they’re here present with me this is joy every one of you can think of a moment i’m sure where you have felt that deep sense of gratitude life is good maybe you’ve seen it maybe you’ve seen it on others a few years ago i was taking a trip out to haiti i was

spending some time with the the representative in the country and we hadn’t got to meet this group of kids that we were going to work with yet but i said to france where i said francois i have a plan um how would it be if we took them to the beach haiti’s like this caribbean paradise in some ways and yet so much of it is broken and i just said i’d love us to take him to the beach and he looked at me and he said it would be really expensive i said well we’ll figure out the money part but what would it mean would it be worthwhile i don’t want to do something that’s not worthwhile and francois looked at me with tears in his eyes and he said it would be everything these kids have never been more than sort of 10 minutes outside of their the the street that they live in they live on a caribbean island and they’ve never seen the ocean it would

mean everything so i said well we’ll make it happen we’ll figure out the money and so we we got these buses and we grabbed there was a hundred of us about 60 haitian kids about 20 american kids and then a load of adults and stuff like that and we we stuck them on this bus and we drove them two hours to this beautiful ocean side uh a beautiful ocean beach and i had this plan there’s about 60 of them they can’t swim so i’m like we’re going to send them into the water about 20 at a time and we’ll keep the other 40 on the side so we got there and we split them into groups and i sent the 20 into the water and i was sick i had shingles i was miserable in some ways but i’m there sort of helping things happen and i send these 20 kids into the water and then i watched as this group of american teenagers is left to sort of police this 40 that are

left on the beach looking at the water and it’s like that moment if you’ve ever seen a dam start to burst you see like a little bit of water starting to appear and then more and then more and more and slowly one haitian kid finds a way through a crack and then another and as you turn to stop those two three more run to the other side of you and in the end it was just this joyful mess of screams and giggles and laughter and joy of kids enjoying life kids born into adversity born into situations that aren’t great many of these kids they lost their parents during the earthquake in 2010 and the pastor of the church he he just they just turned up on his doorstep and he just went about figuring out what do we do now and he just made plans and he kept working and he kept feeding them and he kept clothing them and he kept schooling them and

he just made it happen and one of my joys in this moment was to watch him just floating away in the deep water as though he didn’t have a care in the world this guy who carries so many burdens and then the moment where these kids ran up to me and i’ve just met them for the first time and just their their eyes and just the idea of ah i’m so thankful they were so grateful they were experiencing this incredible gratitude maybe you felt it maybe you’ve seen it and even in 2020 part of our dream for this series was we wanted to reclaim 2020 because it was tough and there were things that were hard but i would guess so many of you experienced things in 2020 that were a wonderful joy to you i moved to a different state i became part of south and this community here it was a joy to me many of you have experienced what it is to

have kids to to give birth to children many of you have experienced marriages you’ve experienced new jobs you’ve bought new houses you’ve done new things that have been things in 2020 that have been good and to say that it was just bad doesn’t do justice to the great gifts that this year that this last year gave to us there is so much good we can redeem this year because good gifts were given in 2020. so why is practicing gratitude so important because i would suggest it is now you could just go for the biblical answer the the poor answer is that that actually the bible just tells us to do it this is from 1 thessalonians chapter 5 18. rejoice always pray continually give thanks in all circumstances for this is god’s will for you in christ jesus this is psalm 107 give thanks to the lord for he is good his love endures forever but that

answer may not work for every single one of you what we can say is this psychologically gratitude actually is just important whether you’re following jesus or not there’s this idea about how our brains work bad experiences bad things they work like velcro they stick really quickly to your cognitive experience you have a bad experience and it just stays you don’t have to do any work you don’t have to do anything you don’t have to contemplate it it just stays with you think about watching a movie with a bad scene something in a horror movie maybe that you watched as a kid and glue it’s just there and you might even be able to picture it now it just stays all these years good experiences they don’t work like that good experiences are like the other thing that’s one of those nasty cheap teflon pans if you still have them in your uh kitchen i

apologize get rid of them um that’s my one piece of advice for today other than the biblical stuff but there’s this sense that good ideas they don’t stick you actually have to work you have to decide to process them and there’s this idea that 15 seconds is the minimum amount of time that you need to process something for that good experience to stick gratitude is important as a practice because it’s the only thing that gives us the value from our good experiences the negative ones will stay anyway the good ones require work good gratitude changes my attitude when i’m low when things aren’t going as i want them to there’s something about this practice of gratitude that makes it changes me it’s transformative good gratitude changes my attitude now i would say this for so far this works whether you’re following jesus or not i would say

whether you’ve chosen to follow jesus whether you’re at home whether you’re here if you’ve decided that that isn’t for you right now gratitude is still an important practice it will still benefit you it’s still really good self-care there’s a ton of value in it but i would suggest that the question of who gets our gratitude is the next question i would push to you we’re going to read this story about jesus encounter with a group of guys that are sick now on his way to jerusalem jesus traveled along the border between samaria and galilee as he was going into a village ten men who had leprosy this disease where your body would literally almost disappear disintegrate in front of you they stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice jesus master have pity on us when he saw them he said go and show yourselves to the priests and as they went they were

cleansed one of them when he saw that he was healed came back praising god in a loud voice he threw himself at jesus feet and thanked him and he was a samaritan someone who wasn’t supposed to acknowledge the god of israel someone who’s supposed to try and keep a distance from anyone of a jewish background which jesus certainly was jesus asked were not all ten cleansed where are the other nine has no one returned to give praise to god except this foreigner then he said to him rise and go your faith has made you well there’s this moment where every single one of them receive a gift they are healed and nine of them just go off and they just do their thing they don’t show any particular gratitude they’re excited they go and they celebrate and then one comes back one comes back and recognizes that the gift was given

by somebody do the other nine lose their healing no but does this one get something that they don’t perhaps jesus chooses to use a different word here he uses the word well not the word healed there’s maybe something that this guy gets out of his experience that the others don’t but certainly he gets this incredible privilege of recognizing that the gift was given by somebody i wonder about our tendency sometimes i wonder if there’s a tendency to experience great things and sometimes to miss the fact that they were given as gifts i wonder if we have a tendency to focus on the gift itself and not the person behind it and and in this ways in some ways i think i think it’s like a bubble maker um and so i didn’t just bring this toy just for fun well kind of i guess i did um i’m not just bringing toys regularly to services anymore so i’m going to

try and turn this upside down without spilling it everywhere so this will be a project okay there we go and this thing is pretty noisy i’m going to warn you but think about how a bubble maker operates this one doesn’t it’s broken success so give him a second in amongst his noise to to do his work for us there he goes i’m gonna move my ipad because it doesn’t like bubbles so there’s something about them that they’re captivating right for kids you see bubbles you want to come pop them you want to come play with them i don’t blame you i’m making a ton of mess here sorry aaron your beautiful stage there’s something about bubbles that are so just they just they they just grab you they are like gifts and yet they came from somewhere and it takes an adult and their mental capacity i think to appreciate the fact that it’s the bubble maker that that

produces these bubbles now it sounds really weird to say that god is like a bubble maker but in some ways for the purpose of the illustration this is true think about the wonderful things that you have we just talked for a while about gratitude we talked about things you’ve experienced in 2020 things you’ve experienced throughout your life maybe you’ve had moments sitting with the people you love and it’s been wonderful maybe you’ve had moments where it felt like you were floating on a haitian ocean and you didn’t have a care in the world and you have those sense of i am so deeply grateful maybe you’ve looked into the eyes of someone you loved all of those experiences they are all wonderful and yet they are all bubbles at some point they will pop at some point they will go at some point they will be over some of you have experienced

that this year as well you’ve experienced loss you’ve experienced grief my bubbles laura elena gigi jude they’re temporary as much as i would love to keep them safe forever as much as i would love to protect them i can’t at least not ultimately they’re all things that are ultimately made to disappear at least from my experience or i’m made to disappear from theirs and yet the thing that gives the gift the bubble maker is permanent and it constantly gives new bubbles maybe you won’t appreciate them in quite the way that you appreciate the other ones but it constantly gives new ones there’s something wonderful about how gratitude changes us when we move not from not not just being grateful but we move to this idea that the gift was given by someone who loves us deeply who loves to give good gifts who values us and loves to see

the joy in us when we receive them so many of us find that i think we fall in love and without someone to thank for that person it loses some of its value we receive something a child maybe as a gift something some joyful experience and the something transformative about being able to move from just thanking for the gift or being thankful for the gift to being able to say this gift was given by someone who loves me and i am so thankful for the gift and its giver there’s something about this god-centered gratitude that i would call it this move from just gratitude to centering it around the fact that god was the giver of the gift that i think is powerful and so the question is just how powerful well let’s look at philippians chapter one a little further down this is what paul will say now i want you to know brothers and sisters that what has happened to

me is actually served to advance the gospel as a result it has become clear throughout the whole palace garden to everyone else that i am in chains for christ and because of my chains most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear it is true that some preach christ out of envy and rivalry but others out of good will that like to do so out of love knowing that i am put here for the defense of the gospel the former preached christ out of selfish ambition not sincerely supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while i am in my chains but what does it matter the important thing is that in every way whether from false motives or true christ is preached and because of this i rejoice paul in this incredibly difficult situation in a situation where he is in chains and

other people are preaching about jesus teaching about jesus showing the way of jesus and it’s making his life worse he can still say that’s a good thing his god-centered gratitude can bring him through even this incredible trial and yes i will continue to rejoice for i know that through your prayers and god’s provision of the spirit of christ jesus christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance what does he mean by deliverance well we read a little further i eagerly expect and hope that i will in no way be ashamed but will have sufficient courage so that now as always christ will be exalted in my body whether by my life or by my death for to me to live is christ to god to die is gain poor his life is in the balance this court case it could go one way or another he’s probably been charged with disturbing the peace or something like

that if he’s found guilty he’ll probably be killed if he’s found innocent he may be set free but maybe not poor can say whether i die or whether i live i can rejoice that’s what this god-centered gratitude drives him to whatever happen this is his advice to them whatever happens conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of christ then whether i come and see you or only hear about you in my absence i will know that you stand firm in the one spirit striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you remember i said this is a group of people that are experiencing persecution paul’s message to them is i can i can thrive even when life is hard you as a church you can thrive even when life is hard but that thriving it begins with gratitude good gratitude changes my attitude

and he at this last point in this chapter one he he celebrates about what is happening to them freddie’s been granted to you on behalf of christ not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him since you are going through the same struggle you saw i had and now here that i still have paul has this landing spot of we’re in this together and you you philippi you group of people that are feeling persecuted feeling like the world is against you this is good you are so privileged in in the midst of these trials paul can find reasons to be thankful and his thankfulness is what will carry him through poor believe that god’s centered gratitude can navigate us through the most difficult of situations and why why does it navigate us through because it takes our eyes off of us our tendency is to keep our eyes on us and god’s centered gratitude it doesn’t put

them on us it doesn’t put them on the gift but it keeps it firmly where it needs them firmly where they need to be i’m the giver of the gift god-centered gratitude will carry him through because it puts his eyes firmly on jesus which is where they need to be this idea of this word eucharisto this word that i said was a mixture of good and grace what it means at its heart is something like this it’s acknowledging that god’s grace works well we’re going to move to a time in our service where we’re going to celebrate communion together in some places you may have grown up in a tradition that called it mass you may have grown up in a tradition that called it the lord’s supper but in many places it is called that word it is called eucharist it’s the same heartbeat it’s a celebration of good grace god centered gratitude is an acknowledgement

that god’s grace works well and that’s what we get to do in communion if you’re at home and you’d like to take communion with us in a few moments you can go grab some elements we’re going to give you a couple of minutes to do that and in a second i’m going to invite aaron and the team uh just aaron to come back up on stage but let’s read how jesus processes gratitude this is his moment of sitting with his earliest followers and doing communion with them while they were reading jesus took bread spoke a blessing and broke it and gave it to the disciples saying take and eat this is my body then he took the cup gave thanks and gave it to them saying drink from it all of you this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the given the forgiveness of sins i tell you i will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until

that day when i drink it anew with you in my father’s kingdom jesus at his lowest point at his worst hour can sit with his group of friends and know that it’s for the last time on earth this is the last time they were gathered this is the last time they will share a meal together and he’ll hand them this bread that he says resembles his body broken on a a cross he’ll hand them a cup that he says that this is my blood poured out for you and in the midst of all of that he can give thanks he can give eucharisto he can say good grace he can acknowledge that god’s grace works well at his lowest point at his worst hour jesus can look and say this thing that’s about to happen to me is good because of what it will do for you and what it will do for me his death is the worst thing and it’s the worst thing because it happened to the best person it happened to

the only person to live a sinless life the only person to live on this earth and live seamlessly and he did that because he was both god and man and and he gave that life for you and for me so you and i could say this the the last thing is not really the last thing death is not the last thing it’s just the thing before the last thing jesus came and and could celebrate good grace because he knew what it meant for you and i it’s one thing to be grateful for the great gifts we experience it’s another thing to be grateful for the god who gives good gifts but it’s still another thing to recognize that the greatest gift of all was given by jesus by god himself who came and could say good grace over the worst thing because it led to the best thing i’m going to invite aaron to come up and we’re going to sing a song after communion that is simply called good

grace but i wanted to give you a moment to prepare a moment to think for a second about what you’ve been grateful for in 2020 moment to recognize that maybe for the first time that that good gift was given by the god of the universe who loves you but his greatest gift his greatest gift is himself jesus came and gave his life that we could have new life so in this place with the joy of kids doing their thing and parents don’t worry about your kids causing noise it’s okay we can work around it we’re just going to take a moment to contemplate you might want to close your eyes you may want to hold your hands out as someone waiting for a gift you may want to hold the hands of someone that you love who’s nearby to you we have been given so many good things and they have been given by a good god who loves you deeply who

experiences great joy in seeing your joy who loves to hear your murmurs of gratitude and then i’m going to invite you to take your communion elements your eucharist elements and whether you’re here or whether you’re at home jesus said that when we did this he would be present with us after being grateful for good gifts been grateful for a good giver of gifts we take time to remember the greatest gift of all but right before his death jesus could gather with his earliest followers he could take bread and breaking it hand it to each of them and say this is my body broken for you and we take the bread and we remember jesus whose body was broken and in the same way he took a cup of wine and he gave thanks gave thanks for his blood spill and a palestinian ground gave thanks because he knew what it meant for you and i the new life was

possible and so we drink the wine and we remembered jesus who gave his life for us communion eucharist mass the lord’s supper is this incredible thing it has both a contemplative element and yet it is also at its heart a celebration a celebration that the god of the universe came and actively worked in amongst us that became a character in his own story that gave his life so that we could have a new future and ultimately will come and reshape this world in new ways we get to celebrate the fact that we are part of his story shaped by him one community and amongst many others thank you jesus for your new story thank you for your good gift amen

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Practicing Gratitude | Hindsight is 2020 (Part 1)2022-01-27T11:29:41-07:00
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