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What to do with… Discontent | How Do You Really Feel? (Part 2)

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so so that’s a somewhat old video of my kids that I put together just just because it’s got this poignant question right like what do you want to be like what what’s the future hold for you she’s wrestling already and the fun part is now we get to go back and and wrestle we we spoke about this the other day and I said well does that still work and she’s like no I I don’t know I want to be famous anymore that seems like really hard work and and our lives maybe I spent asking this question maybe what do we want to be maybe just simply what do I want we’re in this series where we’re talking about emotions and we’ll get to that in a second let me just make sure for those of you who weren’t here last week we’re up to speed we’re in this series on the church calendar that we would call lent through to easter it’s this idea that God is for us that Jesus came into this world to to rescue us to do something specific for us now we don’t go like full send on lent uh we we sang a song with a thousand hallelujahs in it so let me just say we protect you from some of the that we I’ve got some friends who pastor a church down the road and and I was chatting to them the other day and they said you know we fast the word hallelujah for like the the season of lent I’m like well we’re just gonna take all your hallelujahs and we’ll use all of them because we’re going to sing a thousand hallelujahs and and now when I do that usually aaron takes that as this moment where he’s now going to put together this really melancholy feely set next week and just to warn you that’s probably coming lent is the season where we generally think more about the the more difficult things and that’s helpful for me because I tend to be upbeat almost all the time and so for me just being me you wouldn’t get much of that this calendar sort of protects you from that and we make this movement through easter this celebration of resurrection on resurrection sunday all the way through to pentecost where we celebrate the idea that if you are a follower of Jesus the promise is that God’s spirit dwells within you that this is a new thing and you get to partner with him in the world around you and so we pick the season to talk about some emotions and emotions any time you start to unpack them this could be a hard conversation some of us would say I don’t want to do that some of you have already said to me if I did that my wife wouldn’t know me anymore it’s probably not a good idea to open that pandora’s box sort of 30 40 years into a marriage but the truth is like we we tend to go one of two ways we tend to either just not talk about them at all maybe we talk about them a little bit too much one of the things that helped me understand this a little bit was was the idea of family road trips and I picked the great bluey cartoon there’s a lot of cartoon in here today I don’t have a reason for that some of you could probably find a reason but but you think about going on a road trip with your kids it’s chaos it’s it’s noisy there’s some fun to it the truth is when you go on that kind of trip there’s two things you can’t do you can’t just shove your kids in the trunk of the car you can’t do so some of you are like there’s one parent in every family that’s like you’re the one that would put them in the trunk of the car you also can’t let them drive the car like you can’t have them in charge and there’s probably one parent that’s like you’re the one that would let them drive and you can figure out who is who there’s those two tendencies emotions can’t drive everything about your life they can’t control everything but if you just shut them in a trunk you’re kind of missing some of the purpose I think we tend to talk about emotions as good versus bad maybe better language languages is this maybe easy and difficult emotions there’s some emotions that are really easy to feel happiness is really easy to feel and yet we handed out an emotions wheel last week and talked about this all this big spectrum of 72 different emotions and and a chunk of them right a negative or difficult chunk of them aren’t easy to feel necessarily and yet why is this important work a couple of things on a practical level this is john gottman from the one of the big marriage institutes in america emotionally intelligent husbands are key to a lasting marriage so if you’re a guy here who’s married or would like to be married and you’re saying I don’t want to do emotional work the truth is you being emotionally healthy is one of the biggest predictors as to whether you’ll have a healthy marriage that’s a big deal right secondly does this idea that following Jesus some of us we treat that as just about thinking or thoughts we have information about God and yet I would suggest these feelings bring new data that is missing when only thoughts are trusted genuinely meeting God in love not simply in thoughts will therefore always be deeply growth producing somewhere my hope for us as individuals in a community is we don’t just have information that says God loves us but the somewhere where that drops from just a cerebral thing into some of the feelings into some of the emotional core does that mean you always have to feel that way it doesn’t but does it mean that actually sometimes you should and you should have this awareness that God loves you that he likes you that’s an important thing and then the truth is just from the beginning it seems that God thinks emotions are important from the early hebrew tradition on the story of the first family this ad these adam and eve characters I’m going to introduce you to if you’re unfamiliar with them they were understood as fundamentally about emotions and emotional suffering as central to God’s oracle to the first couple what does that mean that could probably use a little bit of unpacking the truth is we were made with emotion but the four introduces emotional suffering from the beginning there is emotion in this genesis story that will unpack God creates and he is happy in his creation he says it is good he enjoys it there is emotion there it seems that for the first couple there is emotional tranquility for the most part to start with there are good emotions and yet this fall creates this idea of emotional suffering everything changes in that moment so for this emotion today we’re gonna track back to this story this not the first story of the first human couple maybe the second story the first different story we’re told quite simply God makes adam and eve now some of you in the room would say I’m very much an evolutionist we’re just gonna leave you with that for a second some of you would say I’m very much a six day creationist and and some of you would say I don’t know what either of those two things are and that’s fine as well we’re just gonna start with the story as we’re given it within the text and we’re told in genesis chapter 3 if you have a text that this is what happened now the serpent again no information about who the serpent is no information about where he came from no information about the origin of evil in the universe just simply a garden with adam and eve and a new character enters everything is good in the garden this serpent character enters the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the lord God had made he said to the woman did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden now the woman said to the serpent we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden but God did say you must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden and you must not touch it or you will die you will not certainly die the serpent said to the woman for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil when the woman saw the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom she took some and ate it she also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate it this is the story we are presented with in genesis chapter 3 a man and a woman occupy this garden it is good this character comes in who convinces them to make a decision that will lead to a story that is not good what what happens what my question would be this what emotion is here what causes them to make this decision yes the answer might be like we know maybe our bible history maybe it’s just that word is temptation but but okay but what emotion caused that temptation why make this decision what is the motivation if that’s important for this decision so let’s go back a little bit further we started in genesis chapter 3. let’s go back to genesis chapter 2 and see if that helps us at all so in genesis chapter 2 verse 7 we’re told the lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being verse 8 and 9 now the lord God had planted a garden in the east in eden and there he put the man he had formed the lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food in the middle of the garden there was a tree the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil the lord God took the man and put him in the garden and eden of eden to work it and to take care of it and the lord God commanded the man you are free to eat from any tree in the garden but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for when you eat from it you will certainly die and this is just an important little thing for next week adam and eve and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame the story we read in genesis chapter three will cause shame but right now shame is not an emotion that they feel and next week kevin butcher will come and he’ll teach us on shame it’s going to be fantastic he was a pastor in detroit for many years and has written a ton on this so I’m really excited to hear what he shares with us but right now before all of this their stories they don’t feel shame there is no emotional suffering at this point what causes them what does this serpent character do to move them from a story that is good to a story that will be bad how does he play on their emotions to say no no we’re gonna we’re gonna move you into this new story I would suggest the central emotion of this story is discontent they believe that God is holding out on them they have one story that is good and this serpent convinced them it convinces them there is another story that is even better if you make this decision if you do this thing the new story will be even better than the current story and and the interesting part perhaps is this it says that they will die and yet when they do it they don’t die initially it seems that the serpent is the one that has told the truth he said that you won’t die and they don’t but they do begin to die something has happened that has fundamentally changed the story that they will live and a james a new testament writer will say this then after desire has conceived it gives birth to sin and sin when it is foreground gives birth to death somewhere this decision changes fundamentally their story it was a good story and now it is a bad story it was a story with no shame and it’s now a story with shame and all of that centers around discontent and again so another question why how does this character that come in convince them that the story will be better if they follow his narrative or his idea of what comes next what causes the discontent what causes it let’s go back a little bit further we did genesis chapter three we did genesis chapter two now let’s go back to genesis one genesis chapter 1 gives us maybe what you might call the initial story like the first story who are you and I made to be so let’s go back and look at that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth now the earth was formless and empty darkness was over the face of the deep this writer isn’t concerned by the fact that God might make a world that was broken and needed fixing he just says that’s what happened that’s no more problematic to him than God creating a world in six days when he could have done it like that the spirit of God was hovering over the waters we skip down to verse 11 and see how this creation shapes then God said let the land produce vegetation seed bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it according to their various kinds and it was so the land produced vegetation plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds and guards saw that it was good and there was evening and there was mourning the third day God doesn’t just make trees and then make another tree and then make another tree he makes trees that make other trees he makes a creation that’s continually producing there’s a couple of words there that become important there’s this word dasha which means to sprout bring forth and produce you guys experience this or will experience in a couple of weeks you know when you go to the cracks in your driveway and things are growing out of them that isn’t because you planted something there unless you’re doing gardening completely wrong there is some life in creation that just springs out and continues to produce this word zera seed or offspring trees that produce other trees through their seeds it’s almost the same language as children this creation that God makes is vibrant and continuing and growing it doesn’t just stay as it is maybe some of you guys that have been in church for a long time if you’ve heard words like eden is perfect the answer is well yes depending on what you mean by perfect if by perfect do you mean it was this place that was just supposed to stay exactly as it was forever and ever then no genesis this writer does not understand that kind of perfect he understands a kind of perfect that is growing and expanding it’s perfect in its intent or its origin but it doesn’t just stay there static and and like it was for all time it has this purpose laced into it there is dasha there is zera there are these words that are expanding and there are growing and all this is important because now you and I get introduced into the story at least in terms of our forefathers or our first couple then God said let the land produce vegetation and it was so God speaks and it happens he is creative and he puts creativity into his creation then God said let us make mankind in our image in our likeness so they may rule over the fish and the sea and the birds in the sky over the livestock and all the wild animals and over all the creatures that move along the ground so the word here that’s important is this word selem which is just simply meaning to resemble something not physically we don’t physically resemble this creator but somewhere we are like him somewhere in our creativity and our way of doing things we operate like he does and doesn’t that speak to some of the difference that you see between us and other parts of creation a bird doesn’t wake up one morning and say do you know I’m just a little unhappy with how my curtains match my bed sheets and how that blends with the carpet and all of those different things so I think I’ll just redecorate the whole thing to a bird and nest is functional it has a purpose to us it’s a it’s a way of endless creativity of creating new options of bringing out color palettes that ladies understand and guys don’t we’ll get to that another week because that’s an important way of thinking about emotion then God said let us make mankind in our image in our likeness so they may rule over the fish and the sea and the birds in the sky over the livestock and all the wild animals over all the creatures that move along the ground so they may rule now rulership is added into this and then be fruitful and increase in number fill the earth and subdue it rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground if you’re someone who loves hunting I’m giving you an apology for hunting right now it seems because somewhere you’re supposed to rule over this world according to this writer in genesis there’s different words that come in here this word radar which means to tread down to to give it some shape you as a person in creation are made to help shape it it seems that was your original purpose and then this word this beautiful word kabash which means to subdue this is like the verb that someone who is a radha a ruler would act upon it it reminds me do any any of you guys play that whack-a-mole game uh where you go to the arcade and these things they jump up and you have a hammer and you have to keep hitting them and it seems that’s what you and I are made to do in creation to a certain degree we’re supposed to keep it in control the things that grow the cracks that grow you have to take care of them the plants that grow up when they’re not supposed to somewhere you are made to deal with that thing you are made to have a role in that then God said I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it they will be yours for food I would suggest and I think there’s lots of other writers that would suggest that our role is to be involved with God in his creation this is what philip hefner says we are created by God to be co-creators in the creation that God has purposefully brought into being we are made to be co-creators that’s our original story we are co-creators so think about what that means when you get a little bit further along somewhere God has made a world and he has made this world and it is bro it is chaotic is the word that is used and then he plants this garden that isn’t chaotic he plants this garden that that meets all of his standards that is as he would shape the world and he puts people in it like you and I and he says now grow this thing this thing is infused with life it will continue to grow but shape it form it help it go in the right direction you might say that discontent is embedded in the story I I said that discontent was what caused adam and eve to make this decision that changed everything for everyone but but somewhere if we believe eden is supposed to grow and supposed to be shaped by people like you and I discontent is supposed to be there think about that moment that maybe you’ve had I have my two my 0.25 acres my little highlands ranch plot and I have these moments where it starts to get dark and I’m out there working and I’m like I just I just wish it would stay light for another hour I have so much that I want to do I I want to do all of these different things to make it as I’ve imagined it and somewhere that pictures or mirrors their story they were made to shape the creation God had infused with life they were co-creators and maybe that tells us something about where the story is going I have this suspicion that for many of us if we’re honest even if we’ve sat in church for many years when people mention heaven secretly there’s this thing inside us that’s like sounds kind of boring I I don’t actually know if I want to go there I was told heaven was an endless worship service and there was part of me that was like what is that it because every one of us have had these moments where we stand singing songs and we’ve been standing for 20 minutes and aaron has this beautiful delightful voice and yet we’re like I’m ready to do something different I can’t just keep singing forever and I always pictured this this idea that it was just this endless worship service and then I read genesis and I was like wait work was there in the beginning involvement in the story and shaping it was there from the beginning I was made to co-create with God and that’s got some different elements than just singing now I’m not saying that there won’t be lots of singing in heaven it seems to be in the text it seems to be this idea that we will sing praises to God and yet there seems to be still this sense that we will be involved in something that is bigger than just singing songs if that’s your picture of heaven maybe there is an element in your honest moments like I don’t know if I want to do that or don’t know if that feels like like like what heaven is or what God has planned it seems like we’ve lost some picture of just where the story is going discontent is embedded into the story it was supposed to guide their stewardship of the earth as we partner with God in more creativity you are creative because your creator is creative when you are creating you are partnering with him when you operate in this world you are stewarding with him and yet even in the midst of that good story that exciting story somehow this character comes in this serpent and he’s able to sow some scent of some sense of different discontent yes there was discontent this should be growing this needs to expand God has more work to do and we get to partner with him and now this serpent comes in and he brings in a different narrative a different kind of discontent you will not certainly die if you eat this fruit the serpent said to the woman for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil somewhere this serpent’s idea is that there might be a better story maybe God is holding out on you right now as a co-creator he’s still the centerpiece of the story but what if you were the center of the story what if it was about you what if you were like him what what if you were God the serpent’s discontent is about is not about the story it’s about their role in the story it suggests that there may be something else for them the cause of this new discontent is the serpent’s idea that there might be a more advantageous story what if there could be more what if I could have everything I ever wanted what if there’s something else the writer of this book ecclesiastes this mysterious book that has no known author says this and I saw that all toil and achievements spring from one person’s envy of another this too is meaningless and are chasing after the wind this writer suggests that each one of us is chasing after something or has the temptation at least to chase after something believing it will give us everything we ever wanted the indie band mgmt talk about this in their song uh time to pretend I’m feeling rough I’m feeling raw I mean the prime of my life let’s make some music make some money find some models for wives the models will have children we’ll get a divorce we’ll find some more models everything must run its course it’s this picture of just there’s got to be more there’s got to be more and I am the center of this story I am always looking for the next thing it is a picture of this almost eternal state of discontent that we can land in as human beings it seems the serpent’s first story his first lie was there may be more for you there may be a better story and perhaps for us the constant idea is that there might be a better story there might be something different what if you could have everything you ever wanted it’s a question that I think is raised by another wonderful cartoon these guys the very great wily coyote I’m gonna fix my laces bugging me I’m sure it’s bugging some of you will now if it wasn’t before

the very great road runner and wylie coyote what happens in road runner uh he’s constantly chased by this coyote now you may or may not know this but this cartoon comes with some rules the guy that created it created a set of rules to help all of the writers shape the cartoon the one rule is that the road runner cannot hurt the coyote except by saying beep beep like that’s his only thing that he can do there is no dialogue other than beep beep and roadrunner has to stay on the road uh because if he’s not on the road then he’s a roadrunner it’s a whole philosophical problem if you go down that avenue you’re like I don’t know what to do with the world anymore so these guys have this back and forth battle the coyote constantly chasing the road runner constantly wanting to catch him to him as we’re left to imagine to eat him or something like that what are the possibilities for kayak for coyote in his state of discontent the possibility right number one is this he doesn’t catch roadrunner possibilities he doesn’t catch roadrunner never gets the thing he believes is going to make his life what he wants it to be it’s going to give him everything he wants and he doesn’t get it so he just keeps going and going and going until he possibly forgets why he even began the writer george santayana said this fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts even when you’ve forgotten your aim and you’re sometimes left wondering is that where coyote is he’s just disbelieved he wants roadrunner for so long he just keeps on going what if he never catches him well then he’s never fulfilled he’s never happy but there’s an equally pressing problem what if he does catch him what if he does catch roadrunner where does the story go then because he’s believed that catching this bird will give him everything he wants and then he does what happens next fortunately because of how much content there is in the world we don’t even have to wonder about this the very brilliant people that family guy actually created a scenario where wiley catches roadrunner he does the thing where he has a rock a boulder set up to land on the road and road runner runs through and this time he pulls the cord and instead of road runner sneaking through in the the boulder somehow in some weird way landing on wiley coyote it hits roadrunner he squashed that pesky bird he takes him home back to the female version of wiley coyote and they sit together and they eat road runner and he’s got everything he ever wanted it’s like joy like they celebrate they have a big party and he’s so happy and then someone asks him a question they said what are you going to do now

and he looks at the camera and he’s like I don’t know I didn’t really go to school to be honest like I I’ve been chasing this bird as long as I can remember I don’t have another purpose there’s nothing else I’m interested in this is consumed night and day for me I’ve constantly gone back after this but even when disaster has fallen even when cliffs have mysteriously disappeared from under my feet even when boulders that are supposed to land on a bird have landed on me I have still gone back time and time again looking for this thing that I believe will bring me happiness and now I’ve got it and so in in this episode he ends up sitting watching daytime tv drinking tequila he ends up flipping burgers in wendy’s just trying to find something that brings him life and he ends up really depressed he’s actually just like I don’t know what to do with myself anymore he is a picture of ecclesiastes what happens when you think this thing will bring you what you want and it doesn’t he’s a picture of genesis what happens when you think this thing will give you what you want and it doesn’t it’s the oldest trick in the book and if we’re honest it’s one we fall for time and time again we’ll get on to more difficult emotions like anger and shame and fear but the truth is for so many of us this is where we live in chunk of our time discontent if only I could have this thing where does discontent take you where does that road runner scenario take you it seems that somewhere we go a couple of different ways the writer of ecclesiastes goes on to say fools fold their hands and ruin themselves that doesn’t seem in his mind just doing nothing isn’t the answer better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind his recommendation is this one handful it is this picture of learning to be content it’s language that paul the new testament writer will use when he says I’ve learned to be content in everything but so many much of the time don’t you and I don’t we land in that second part two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind I think the guys that wrote that song mgmt they they would get that two hands chasing after the wind they would get I’m always looking for something else and we see this in our language about so many different things we see this in our language about money you may have heard the the line what’s a rich person’s favorite million and the answer is the next one it’s the next one it’s the one that I don’t have yet the oligarch or the the octogenarian from the simpsons mr burns he has millions and millions of dollars in one episode I told you there was a lot of cartoon today I have no explanation for it whatsoever it’s simply chance but there’s this moment where where homer simpson says to him mr burns you’re so rich the richest person I know way richer than anybody else and mr burns looks at him and says so poignantly yep it’s true I am rich but I’d give it all up for a little more I’d give it all up for a little more like I’d surrender it so long as more comes back the other way we see that with with wealth and the truth is I said a rich person’s favorite million but that wealth question isn’t about rich versus poor that’s every single one of us if I just had this I would be content that would be enough and yet just like wiley coyote we get the thing and there’s another thing how about in relationships now we have south I love the fact we have people from all sorts of different backgrounds and so people have been through loads of different relational relational struggles and I don’t want anyone to feel guilty about a past relationship but think about into the future one of the things that people say causes people to have affairs is this they have a partner a spouse with 90 percent of what they long for in a relationship and then they meet somebody else and that person has the 10 percent that the other person doesn’t have it’s not that they have everything it’s not the it’s just the complete person but that 10 is so intriguing and the question becomes what if I was with that person wouldn’t that give me everything that I wanted no one stops to question whether just having 10 or even 25 will really be satisfactory but just like chasing road runner there is the idea that oh if only that was the case if only that was the scenario if only that was the story and again behind it whether it’s money it’s sex or power the suspicion is think God the universe whoever think they’re holding out on me there’s a better story for me if only I could have that next thing

interestingly Jesus asks this super poignant question to two of his future disciples that I think maybe helps us navigate some of this a little bit this is john chapter 1 verse 36 the next day john was there again this is john the baptist with two of his disciples when they saw Jesus passing by he said look the lamb of God when the two disciples heard him say this they followed Jesus turning around Jesus saw them following and asked what do you want what do you want on the surface maybe the question is just simply like what do you want do you want to follow me or something like that but but but thinking about that that question like in all different circumstances it just can get very profound taps back into me asking my daughter at five years old what do you want to be at a start to her starting to create this potential future for herself and I would suggest that for you and I when we land in those moments of discontent when we land in those moments we’re like I believe there might be a better story I believe that someone is holding out on me maybe the question we get to ask ourselves is the same question that Jesus asked his disciples what do you want what do you want because I would suggest the thing that we really want deep down in the core of ourselves is that first thing that adam and eve had I think you and I are made to be co-creators with God and I think somewhere the story we’ve been given is this you were born bad and Jesus came and he saved you from your badness and that’s not the full story is it because the heartbreaking story is you were born great or you were made to be great that’s always the truth like that when you look at literature that’s always the tragedy of different characters the tragedy of macbeth that we talked about the other week isn’t that he was bad it’s that he could have been great and the tragedy of humanity is that we were made to be green made to be co-creators made to partner with God in this world and the story we’ve been told is no you were born bad and Jesus saved you from your badness and that actually is part of the story we did become bad there is brokenness there is sin there is tragedy in the story Jesus does fix that problem but maybe it’s more maybe along with fixing that problem maybe along with this idea of forgiveness maybe the uh be beyond the idea that the cross brings forgiveness of sin maybe there is also this beautiful truth that that genesis story that we begin with maybe he begins to restore that for us as well I would suggest we’ve been told that the bible starts in genesis chapter 3 and finishes somewhere around the end of the gospel narratives and yet the truth is the full thing starts in genesis 1 made to be co-creators fallen broken yes but now restored by this incredible Jesus who who of paul of whom paul says this for God was pleased to have all of his fullness dwell in him and through him to reconcile to himself all things whether things on earth or things in heaven by making peace through his blood shed on the cross we come to this table today and we celebrate the idea of death and resurrection we recognize that Jesus gave his body and his blood but the truth is the big picture of this is that it isn’t just about forgiveness of sins this is about God not giving up on this world reconciling it restoring it bringing about this old story and creating it as a news story that’s the full picture of everything that we’re seeing happen and maybe when they ask the question what do you want maybe the answer is I long because it’s in my nature to be a co-creator and perhaps you’ve been told somewhere that the valuable people and the valuable jobs are people that work in church and if you do something outside of that your job is to make as much money as you can and contribute money to the church and that’s your function and yet when you think about this genesis picture it feels like there’s almost nothing that you can’t do and partner well with God in it and bring life to this creation it seems like in this story it is so much less about what you do and so much more about how you do it it seems there are so many things that you could partner with God in as a co-creator and bring stewardship and life to this world that seems to be our story and it brings us back to that question what do I want what do I want when you when discontent starts to circle when the roadrunner coyote scenario starts to sort of raise itself in your mind when you start to ask yourself questions about is there a better story some questions we can ask ourselves might be these what do I want what do I want for those around me where do I experience discontent what need or suspicion is behind that and then this question I love whose story is central in my preferred future when you imagine what this other story might look like when you imagine where it might go when you like my five-year-old at the time daughter begin to sketch out your life plan the question I might ask is who stays central in that story because for adam and eve the suggestion was you can be the center you can be the you can be the thing that matters and that was never ever a place you were made to be a co-creator in God’s great story and when you do that there is almost again nothing that you can’t do well any business any way that you operate in the world any way of living can bring life to this world whether you are staying at home with kids homeschooling whether you are doing something with employees and building a company there are so many things that it seems like we can participate in well just let your imagination go and you can create with the God of the universe as a co-creator and on the downside there’s almost nothing that we can’t do badly if we make ourselves the center saint augustine this writer from the fourth century said this a heart is restless until it rests in you I wish you’d continued that just a little bit because I feel like this is what I would have said our heart is restless until it rests in you and your story God has made himself almost inseparable from his great story he has created this world and he has incredibly entered into the story himself as a character within it in the midst of a world that became broken he says I am not giving up on this thing how easy to say I’m just going to create something new but how much more life given to say I’m going to take the thing that was broken and I I will reconcile all things you were made to be a co-creator with the God of the universe and the incredible message of Jesus is you still you still can you still can so when we come to this table we come with a few different things in mind we come remembering that Jesus invited to do it as to do it in remembrance of him he invited us to come and take bread and remember his body broken for us he invited us to take wine grape juice and remember his blood shed for the sins of the world he also invited us to repeatedly re-enter his great story to come and remind ourselves that this is about the reconciliation of all things and that is a great story to be a part of so when you come you come and you consume a story when you come and you take these elements you consume the story that God has in the world and I would hope this as well I would hope that that story consumes you I would hope that for you and I it takes every part of us everything that we do and it gives it this incredible nobility it says that when you go out into the world whatever that looks like for you this week whenever there is this discontent that arises what you get to say is no I am co-creating with the God of the universe we are partnering together making a new world whatever your world looks like you can do that with the God of the universe this week let’s pray

God as we come to your table would you guide our emotions some of us come feeling fearful scared

angry some of us come feeling discontented feeling like the world is holding out on us that you are holding out on

you restored us to our original purpose

then for a second I’d like you to ask yourself is it real will it really do what I think

maybe the answer is I don’t know then I’d like you to just take that preferred future that thing you’re moving towards and ask yourself who is the center of that story

because there’s one thing that seems consistent across all of scripture all of these books within this bible that we hold and read the God of the universe will take second place to no one else in the story this is his story you’re invited into partner to create but you can never be the center of this story

God I thank you that you gave us a story that began with goodness of creation you made us with purpose in your image

and even in that broken story you come and you bring new life forgiveness reconciliation of all things and so today as you follow us two thousand years later we gather and we remember Jesus we remember his body broken for us as we take the bread

remember his blood shared for the sins of the world thank you that you are reconciling all things through that we take the black together

Jesus thank you for your great story may consume us this week as we live our story in the world with you go in peace friends have a great sunday

What to do with… Discontent | How Do You Really Feel? (Part 2)2022-07-14T13:25:53-06:00

Paul’s Third Missionary Journey | The Book of Acts (Part 11)

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well good morning everyone it’s great to see you all this morning and uh you know I’m glad to be up here um but I have to admit you know Alex has done a terrific job taking us through acts and now I’m gonna do the last one in the series and that doesn’t seem to be quite fair but um I’ll do it but I’d love to hear what Alex would say about these in fact you know as we went through acts you know we kind of focused on that the first part and then we had a couple times dealing with Paul who was formerly called Saul who was on his missionary journey when he went to Philippi when he went to Athens and now we’re coming to the end and I’d love to see us revisit acts and do the second part of acts together sometime so I’ll just put that out as a request to Alex and um hey it’s going to be on tape so it’s there for all to see um I I welcome

you and you know we’re coming to thanksgiving it’s going to be a great time then we come to advent and um tonight Kerry and I are gonna hop on a plane and uh we’re gonna go back east and we’re gonna go back east for a family celebration my mom now this kind of gives away my age a little bit I always thought it was my hairstyle but my mom is turning a hundred this week and we’re going to have a chance to celebrate her yeah it’s a neat time it’s a neat time it’s going to be a sweet time and just reflecting as a family together but you know it kind of sets me into this thing of realizing hey we’re a family together and we reflect every week together we’re a community and I want to help us just kind of dig into some as we look at acts in which we see the birth of the church we see the birth of this community that’s been going generation after

generation after generation up until right now and will continue to go it’s amazing to see how I think there are two I’ll say solid themes that come in acts and are still as important today as they were back then and those two themes come out in the first couple verses of acts so we’re going to go back to the beginning of acts and just see what the author of acts his name is Luke but see what he kind of says as he’s getting ready to write this book now I would just preface all this by saying we’re going to go through like six chapters so if you’re gonna try to follow in your bibles it may be a little hard and I apologize about that we’re gonna fly through these so I’ll try to have the scriptures up there but just so you know it is the bible okay here we go uh back at verse 1 of chapter 1 in my first book I told you Theophilus about everything Jesus began to do

and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the holy spirit now he’s talking about his gospel or the biography of Jesus that he wrote Luke wrote during the 40 days after he suffered and died he appeared to the apostles from time to time and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive now that just seems a little odd to me um he’s with them he’s standing in front of them and he’s proving to them that he’s alive which means that some of them said prove to me you’re alive the resurrection from the dead Jesus was the first one to rise from the dead and that’s one of those themes that we get in the book of acts throughout the good news that Jesus is alive the

resurrection’s for real the resurrection brings a change a transformation if we really believe that there’s a resurrection from the dead and there will be a resurrection from the dead in the future it should bring an immediate impact on our lives right now and sometimes that immediate impact yeah we can be a little bit uh I don’t know scared sometimes to speak up about it because face it the resurrection can be kind of a stumbling block for some people and we don’t like to be criticized for something that we believe so strongly so there’s the next verse that he has in Luke chapter one and he talked to them about the kingdom of God once when he was eating with them he commanded them do not leave Jerusalem until the father sends you the gift he promised as I told you before john baptized with water but in just a few days you’re

going to be baptized with the holy spirit here’s this wonderful transforming belief about the resurrection and now here’s this wonderful transforming gift of the holy spirit of God himself who comes to dwell within us to empower us to be able to have that courage to be able to have that creativity to be able to know the words to share and so the second principle is hey this was God’s plan so he could live within us the holy spirit is for real and we see that on page after page after page after page of acts we see we see that the transforming power of these people who are a small scared little group and then the holy spirit came upon them and suddenly they have this courage to go out and speak to all these people on Pentecost and there’s thousands that come to believe and throughout the pages we see time and time again sometimes there’s

victory sometimes there’s questions and challenges sometimes it makes so much sense and other times it’s kind of why but the holy spirit is there all along the way and the power of the resurrection is there all along the way and it brings us then toward the end of acts in this life of Paul as we’re going to see how he ends but as I think of this transforming power of the resurrection I have to go back um I’ve been around south for a while and years ago there was a song that we used a chorus that we used to sing it doesn’t have any tricky metally or melody so we probably won’t sing it much today but the words are powerful every morning’s easter morning from now on every day is resurrection day the past is over and gone goodbye fear goodbye guilt good riddance hello lord hello son I am one of the easter people my new life is

begun I always have that going through my mind and um I don’t know how to end it but you know we used to sing it over and over and over but it makes someone say goodbye fear goodbye guilt good riddance because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ these things are put away the past is over and done and now we’re starting a new life with him a transformative life in which we are called with his purpose and power to step into the world to be his hands and feet that’s amazing and the spirit empowers us to do it and we’re going to see how Paul with his with his belief in the resurrection with the power of the holy spirit he endured he persevered he was determined at the end of this book of acts to do something I’m going to pick up here’s a map of what we call Paul’s third missionary journey which means he had two before that um so

he had three missionary journeys and you know Alex has been kind of focusing the last couple weeks on some things that happened during the second missionary journey when he went to Philippi and when he went down to Athens and spoke in both of those places that happened on his second missionary journey but in this third one we see where Paul went and he visited some of the churches that he had already planted and then he came to Ephesus and in Ephesus it tells us he stayed there for three whole years teaching and preaching and uh and telling them more and more about the resurrection and while he was there he heard that the church in Jerusalem was suffering because it was a famine and many of the people were very needy so he let all of his churches know that he had planted he let them know that this was going on in Jerusalem

and he wanted them to put money together and then he was going to take a big offering a big gift back to the church in Jerusalem so they could have it so that’s when you see him going over there into Greece and some of those places Macedonia and then you see that purple line that purple line is when he’s coming back towards Jerusalem and he sails back to Jerusalem and he lands at a place down there if you can read that word tire he lands it tire and here’s what happens in tire some people come to we went ashore we found the local believers we stayed with them a week these believers prophesied through the holy spirit that Paul should not go on to Jerusalem when we returned to the ship at the end of the week the entire congregation including women and children left the city came down to the shore with us they there we now

prayed and set our farewells then we went aboard and they returned home you know I read that and I go now wait a minute wait I thought the holy spirit said don’t go and it doesn’t seem like Paul stopped they went um they went down the coast a little bit and they ended up a place called Caesarea and in Caesarea this happened several days later a man named Agabus who also had the gift of prophecy arrived from Judah he came over took Paul’s belt bound his own feet and hands with it he said the holy spirit declares so shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the gentiles and when we heard this we and the local believers all begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem so I ask you what’s going on here because Paul went on to Jerusalem um you know when we look at the apostle Paul and if we

come back to acts we’ll look a little bit deeper into this but Paul listen to the holy spirit he didn’t disobey the spirit if I go back to this map right here if I go back to this map now this is the third missionary journey but what happened when he went on a second journey notice where Ephesus is he never got to Ephesus in fact he wanted to go to Ephesus but he started going and all of a sudden the spirit said no he it says he hindered him from going so Paul stopped I don’t know if he heard a voice I don’t know what happened but the spirit hindered him from going to Ephesus and Paul obeyed that so then he was going to go up to see that big word Asia right up in there is a is a province like Bithynia it’s called and he thought well it makes sense I’ll just go up north I’ll go to Bethania and the spirit stopped him from going there hindered him from

going both times he listened and I’m sure both times he said what gives come on and he ended up going over to Troas and when he was in Troas he had a dream and the dream said come across to us come over to Macedonia come over to Greece and speak to us and he interpreted that as the holy spirit he went now back to the third journey I’m sorry if I’m mixing you up but back to the third journey you see that purple line that’s after Paul collected all this money for Jerusalem and then he hopped on a boat and he went across and ended up down in tyre but when you look there it says he stopped not far from Ephesus and when he went to Ephesus he asked for the elders of the Ephesian church to come meet with him and basically he said goodbye to him and this is what he said to them and realized this was a few days before he got

to tyre and heard some of these prophecies about not going to Jerusalem he said to the folks in Ephesus and now I’m bound by the spirit to go to Jerusalem I don’t know what awaits me except that the holy spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead but my life’s worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the lord Jesus the work of telling others the good news the wonderful news of the grace of God the wonderful news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ the wonderful news that the holy spirit empowers us I’ve got to go but you wonder wow his spirit is he’s bound by the spirit and the holy spirit tells him in city after city he’s going to suffer so I had to go back and do a little bit of digging and you know the bible was written in Aramaic and Greek and when I got back into the Greek I found

that that word spirit is pneumonia pneumatos pneumatus and that was that was there but right there where it says holy spirit there was also a second word agios which means holy and it defined the spirit it said this is the holy spirit who’s saying when you go you’re going to face jail and all kinds of persecution the first word and now I’m bound by the spirit to go to Jerusalem when I looked it was just pneumatos it didn’t have any aggios with it so it was just spirit and some people have translated that as saying Paul is saying I’m bound by my conscience I’m bound by my spirit to go because God’s spirit himself has told me yes I’m going to suffer but I’ve got to complete the work so I went back to the other things that were said to Agabus he came over took Paul’s belt bound his hand and feet and he said the holy spirit declares it and guess

what when I went in there yes it was agios and pneumatos it was holy spirit and when you look at his message it doesn’t contradict what God was telling him in Ephesus it’s the very same thing you’re going to suffer when I went to that other passage in tyre we went ashore found the local believers stayed with them a week these believers prophesied through the spirit that Paul should not go on to Jerusalem in other words when I got in there and looked there wasn’t that word aguios there was just pneumatus now I know we can open up a whole can of worms when we get into this but I believe what was going on there these people were very well meaning and they were saying hey we’ve heard that things are going to be bad if you go to Jerusalem don’t go we feel in our spirit that you’re not to go to Jerusalem um you know I I guess uh I would I

would share a little personal situation that Kerry and I had and many well most of you know that Kerry and I have never been able to have children and that’s a great sadness for us and we’ve learned to live with that but years ago I’ve been at south a number of years and back in 1999 when I was an associate pastor earlier we went with a group of students from south down to Mexico and we had a great trip it was an amazing time and it stretched us out of our comfort zones I can still remember when we drove in we’d been driving on a bus all day we’d been driving all day Saturday we got there Sunday night about 4 45 and we were told we were going to be at a church at 5 30 and I had to preach a sermon that was out of my comfort zone but uh Thursday night I had fair warning so I was able to preach on Thursday night things went quite a

bit better we had a great time in this service and Kerry shared her story and she shared how we couldn’t have children and she was a teacher I was I can see this so clearly at the end of the service they were having some great times of worship and it was a much more emotional service and um all of a sudden coming down the aisle was this older gentleman with tears flowing down his face and he was raising his hands and he was just speaking in Spanish and I had no idea what he was saying and the missionary just kind of turned to me and said uh dan you better get prepared I said oh and anyway he came down and basically he announced the whole church God had told him that this woman was going to have a child and so they called Kerry down to join me and probably 40 people gathered around and laid hands and everybody

was praying they laid hands all over Kerry they were praying all over and I’m sitting there saying wow okay lord and the missionary said you better go home and paint your nursery I’m looking in the back of the church two rows of kids students at south who are sitting there saying what in the world is going on um we had to download that summon we said hey let’s meet in 10 months and see if this comes out we met in 10 months and as you can imagine no we didn’t have a child um and Kerry and I have had to wrestle and deal with that that will always be in my mind but I believe every one of those people in that church loved Jesus to the max and the last thing they wanted was for us not to have a child and so in their heart of hearts they were saying you’re gonna have a child but it says in scripture to test the spirits to make sure to make sure

this is a message coming from Jesus anyway I believe very much that Paul as he’s coming back these people met so much they so much didn’t want to see Paul suffer but he said I’ve got to go because I have to complete the work of telling others the good news about the grace of God and so he went to Jerusalem and guess what everything broke loose he goes to Jerusalem he meets with the apostles and the leaders of the Jerusalem church and they say you know some people are really questioning if you’re preaching against the law of Moses as as we present Jesus Christ and so Paul said okay I’ll go to the temple and I will prove that I still love the law of Moses but Jesus is the one who’d come and freeze us and so he went to the temple and while he was at the temple it was Pentecost so there were a lot of people there and some of the

Jewish men from Ephesus had hopped on a boat and come all the way over to Jerusalem to worship at Pentecost and when they saw Paul they recognized this man who had taught there for three years and they started sending out rumors that he had tried to undermine the Jewish faith listen to what happened the whole city was rocked by these accusations and a great riot followed and Paul was grabbed and dragged out of the temple and immediately the gates were closed behind him and as they were trying to kill him they were trying to kill him word reached to the roman to the commander of the roman regiment that all Jerusalem was in an uproar and he immediately called out of soldiers and officers they ran down among the crowd and when the mob saw the commander and the troops coming they stopped beating Paul now there’s

some pretty physical violence going on here and I would think oh my goodness you know if I were Paul you might say I should have listened but he was grabbed and he was dragged by a mob and then they were trying to kill him who knows what they were doing to him but at that time word comes to a commander in the roman legion that this is happening so he musters his forces and he comes down and dissipates it but that takes some time I think Paul was looking in pretty bad shape by the time they got there anyway the roman soldiers get around Paul they protect him they’re walking with Paul out of this mob and Paul says to him would you let me speak to my people wow he’s just been beaten up and now he wants to speak to them and so he speaks to them he shares that hey he’s just here to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus and

this happens the mob grew so violent at that that the soldiers had to lift him to their shoulders to protect him and the crowd followed behind shouting kill him kill him kill him boy I can’t imagine being in his shoes and it just reminds me it reminds me when the holy spirit speaks it may not always be good news but it will be truthful when the holy spirit speaks and he does speak and his presence is with us but sometimes we have this picture of such a loving God who’s our best friend and he would never hurt us he would never discourage us it may not always be good news but he will provide the power to be able to follow into his truth and it reminds me of a verse that Paul gives us in romans when he said and we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his

purpose for them God will go with us into his truth and like Paul yes I I’m not saying Paul was not afraid man I’d be so afraid if I had a mob after me but the spirit of God kept him alive and kept him moving forward so that he could proclaim the good news um there’s four characters that we’re gonna see now four characters that Paul has the opportunity to be able to live in front of speak to and these four characters I doubt that he ever would have had the opportunity to come into their presence if he hadn’t followed the holy spirit’s leading to Jerusalem the first is a roman tribune Claudius lycias and Claudius lycias is the one who came down and saved Paul’s life from that mob he was in charge of a cohort which is part of a legion of roman soldiers a cohort is about 600 soldiers so this man was no pansy but he led these

soldiers there in Jerusalem which was a tough place to have a cohort of roman soldiers um so he not only saved Paul’s life then but he saved Paul’s life a couple other times that we’re going to see the next person that comes in is Marcus Antonius Felix he was a governor of Judea or a procurator of Judea this guy was kind of a he was kind of a character he ruled about eight to nine years in Judea he was known for being very rather vicious and uh cruel and also he was kind of conniving he was very greedy anyway Felix the next one is uh Porsche’s Festus Porsche Festus now he was the next governor that came in which kind of gives you a clue that Paul was under prison arrest for quite a period of time here enough time so that these two governors one could be deposed while the other one came in and what happened to Felix was that he got

a little too cruel and Caesar called him back to Rome and he was demoted at that point whereas Festus then was appointed to come in to uh Jerusalem into Caesarea and Judea and the final character we’re going to see is herod Agrippa the second herod Agrippa the second is king of Judea all four of these individuals have some kind of interaction with Paul over the next four chapters and we’re going to fly through these four chapters first lycias has this idea if I can just bring Paul together with this council of Jews uh the Jewish counselors then they’ll be able to reason together and I can find out what’s going on here so he brings them together and Paul says brothers I’m a pharisee as were my ancestors and I’m on trial because my hope is in the resurrection of the dead and guess what happened after he said that a conflict grew more

violent and the commander was afraid they’d tear Paul apart now this is about a day later and these people are still after Paul’s neck because he believes in the resurrection because he believes in what all the Jews were hoping for that the messiah would come so he ordered his soldiers to go and rescue him by force and take him back to the fortress after doing that he uncovered a plot he would he was told about a plot that they wanted to kill Paul as they were going to escort him to the governor and he intervened with that but that night as Paul was lying in the jail cell and I have a feeling probably pretty bloodied probably pretty bruised this happened that night the lord appeared to Paul and said be encouraged Paul just as you have been a witness for to me here in Jerusalem you must preach the good news in Rome as well so

he has that promise he has a determination the resurrection is for real he knows the holy spirit is with him lyceus realizes it’s probably a little bit too hot to have him down here so I’m going to send him to Caesarea and I’m going to send him there by night so that there won’t be anybody along the way to assassinate him and he writes a letter to the governor Felix and he says these words when I learned that he was a roman citizen I removed him to safety but then I took him to their high council to try to learn the basis of the accusations against him and I soon discovered the charge was something regarding their religious law it was certainly nothing worthy of imprisonment or death so he had him taken up to Caesarea which is in the north part of Judea and governor Felix met him read Leicester’s letter and said okay I’m going to bring that

Jewish council up here and we’re going to hear what happened so he had the council come up there and uh they presented their argument they had a hot shot lawyer with them who presented their pa their case and then Paul stood in front of Felix and said these words these men cannot prove the things they accuse me of doing but I do admit that I follow the way which they call a cult I worship the God of our ancestors I firmly believe the Jewish law and everything written in the prophets I have the same hope and God that these men have that he will raise both the righteous and the unrighteous the resurrection the resurrection um he’s saying that in front of this council which half of that council didn’t believe that there was a resurrection and Paul’s saying this before the governor I believe in the resurrection um he also

says ask these men hear what crime the Jewish high council found me guilty of except for the one time I shouted I’m on trial before you today because I believe in the resurrection of the dead at that point Felix said okay enough and he called the closing uh he called it to a closing and he sent the council back to Jerusalem and he sent Paul back to prison but listen to what happened next a few days later Felix came back with his wife Drusilla who was Jewish sending for Paul they listened as he told them about faith in Christ Jesus as he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control in the coming day of judgment Felix became frightened go away for now he replied and when I looked up that word frightened it really means frightened which probably says a lot about his character that he would be frightened that here’s this

prisoner talking about righteousness and talking about justice and all of a sudden he starts to get convicted when it’s more convenient I’ll call you again and get this he also hoped that Paul would bribe him I’m not sure where he expected Paul to get the money unless he heard that maybe Paul had come to Jerusalem with a large offering for the Jerusalem church I’m not sure but for some reason he thought he could get money out of Paul but look at the last one so he sent for him quite often and he talked with him this lasted for two years two years that Felix didn’t let him out of prison two years that Felix would call him to come to him and talk two years that they would dialogue back and forth two years that Paul would share about the resurrection of Jesus Christ like I said Felix went a little too far he got a little too violent at one

point and Caesar called him back and so then he sent Festus and Festus came and Festus learned from the Jews that there was this guy Paul in his jail up there in Caesarea and Festus said well okay come up and talk to me about Paul and so they had a little interaction and then Paul said to Festus I’m not guilty of any crimes against the Jewish laws of the temple of the roman government if I’ve done something worthy of death I don’t refuse to die but if I’m innocent no one has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me I appeal to Caesar up until this time Paul has really had freedom to be able to go around and share his faith he’s been able to travel all around the roman empire now Paul is in jail Paul is confined and to tell you the truth Paul is dependent on the holy spirit to come up with his travel arrangements he is now in

a prison cell and he’s able to talk to Festus the governor um when his accusers came here this is Festus talking now and I should back up because Festus heard Paul and then sent Paul back to the jail cell and then king Agrippa came and he’s trying to explain to herod Agrippa the second about this prisoner when his accusers came for the trial I didn’t delay I called the case in the very next day and I ordered Paul brought in but the accusations met against him weren’t any of the crimes I expected instead it was something about their religion and a dead man named Jesus who Paul insists is alive I was at a loss to know how to investigate these things you know I read that and I thought man if Paul can be in a jail cell and he insists that Jesus is alive I should be able to do that over a cup of coffee isn’t this something how integral the resurrection is the

power of the resurrection the transformation of the resurrection Festus is explaining this to king herod ii inherits says well let’s hear Paul let’s let him share and so this is what Paul shares with uh Festus and Agrippa he says if they would admit it they know that I’ve been a member of the pharisees the strictest sect of our religion now I’m on trial because of my hope in the fulfillment of God’s promise made to our ancestors yet your majesty they accused me because I have this hope why does it seem incredible to any of you that God can raise the dead some Jews arrested me in the temple for preaching this and they tried to kill me but God has protected me right up to the present time so I can testify to everyone from the least to the greatest I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen that the

messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and gentiles alike and at that point governor Festus interrupted and said Paul I think you’ve lost your mind you’ve been reading too much the resurrection can be a stumbling block believing that the dead can come alive can stretch people so much but the resurrection is so crucial and look what herod Agrippa says do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly now that almost sounds like it’s a challenge some other versions put it this way you almost persuade me to become a Christian wow four men four chapters and at the end of each chapter you hear this same theme this man has done nothing to deserve capital punishment he does not deserve death but he’s appealed to Caesar so he’s got to go to Rome

and so he starts the next section of his journey with the holy spirit as his tour guide he hops on a boat he’s put on a ship and he’s going to be sent to Rome where he’s supposed to talk to Caesar and this is a little map of the of the trip that the boat takes when he goes um and I’ll just highlight a few things it goes up to Sidon that’s the first place they go to and Sidon actually the commander who was in charge of these uh the prisoners who were on this boat the commander lets Paul have freedom to be able to go and visit some friends inside so you can see Paul and this commander his name is Julius are starting to be able to know each other some then they hop back in the boat again and you see it curves around that they were in and this storm lasted for two weeks and there’s a verse in here that says they couldn’t see the sun they

couldn’t see the moon they couldn’t see the stars to be able to figure out where they were they thought they were going to crash into the shore of north Africa this was such a violent storm that the sailors actually took ropes and tried to lash the hull together I don’t know who went underneath to put the rope underneath and back up but they tried to keep the boat together that way it was being tossed torn apart and I can just imagine Paul he’s not in a jail sound now but he’s down the base of this boat and they’re being tossed all over and he’s probably thinking to himself I thought I was going to get to Rome it says that all the sailors and all the people on this boat didn’t eat anything for two weeks in this storm at first I thought that’s a that’s a stretch until I kind of put myself in their shoes and realized I probably would have lost anything

I would have eaten if I had a storm like that Paul says these words to him in the middle of the storm no one had eaten for a long time finally Paul called the crew together and said men you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Crete you would have avoided all this damage and lost but take courage none of you will lose your lives even though the ship is going to go down last night an angel the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and he said don’t be afraid Paul for you will surely stand trial before Caesar what’s more God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you so take courage for I believe God I believe it will be just as he said but we are going to be shipwrecked and we’re going to be on an island wow and you know what it happened just like that they were tossed around some more

um the storm was fierce they couldn’t tell where they were but as they were starting to take soundings they realized oh we’re coming to some landmass and the sailors actually thought there’s no way we can bring this boat in so they tried to steal the lifeboats and get off themselves the soldiers caught them before they could do that and then the soldiers cut the lifeboats and let the lifeboats go so nobody could get off the boat and the boat was driven farther and farther in and finally you know it looked like it was inevitable they were going to hit these rocks and so the soldiers themselves thought well these prisoners if they escape it’s our neck so they pulled out their swords and they were ready to execute these prisoners when the commander Julius stepped in and said no Paul said everyone’s going to let make it so we’re

going to make it together isn’t that amazing and sure enough they hit the rocks the boat went to smithereens the commander or the captain of the ship said everybody grab some wood and take it wherever it takes you and everybody got to shore safely but the drama didn’t stop there um they’re soaking wet it’s a storm as things began to die down they built a bonfire to and the people from the town came to help them and in the middle of gathering wood Paul gets bit by a snake a viper it’s hanging from his hand and it says the people from the town were saying oh this guy must really be a bad criminal because his justice is caught up with him and Paul shakes the snake off it goes in the fire and then they’re watching him saying this guy’s going to swell up and he’s going to burst right in front of us and he didn’t and he was healed and they said he’s a

God and then a little while later this happens near the shore where we landed which was in this island of Malta was an estate belong to the Publius the chief official of the island and he welcomed us and he treated us kindly for three days as it happened Publius’s father was ill with fever and dysentee Paul went in and prayed for him and laying his hands on him he healed him then all the other sick people on the island came and they were healed as well and as a result we were showered with honors and when the time came to sail people supplied us with everything we would need for the trip the holy spirit the holy spirit with them every step of the way and they were provided with the means to be able to get from Malta up to Italy and from Italy where they landed up to Rome and when they got into Rome it’s amazing but Paul as he’s

coming there and he’s anticipating I’m going to appeal to Caesar I’m going to be before Caesar but the first thing he does is call the Jewish synagogue and say I want to meet with you as leaders and here’s what he says to them I asked you to come here today so we could get acquainted and so I could explain to you that I’m bound with this change because I believe that the hope of Israel the messiah has already come he explained and he testified about the kingdom of God and he tried to persuade them about Jesus from the scriptures using the law of Moses in the books of the prophets he spoke to them from morning until evening but guess what he persuaded some he didn’t persuade others the spirit worked with some spirit did work with others and Paul stayed in a rest there in Rome for two years and that is the end of acts he

didn’t die at the end he still has some life to live but he spent two years in prison waiting to talk to Caesar but listen to this as the closing of acts for the next two years Paul lived in Rome at his own expense he welcomed all who visited him boldly proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the lord Jesus Christ and no one tried to stop him wow what a journey what a determination because the resurrection is true the resurrection is for real and what an empowerment because the holy spirit was with him every step of the way guiding him and I’m convinced that the same is true of us today the resurrection’s for real every morning is easter morning from now on every day is resurrection day the past is over it’s gone goodbye guilt goodbye fear good riddance because the resurrection’s for real and the holy spirit empowers us

um I wonder what Paul might have said to folks who would come visit him and I’m just going to read some last verses that are written in a letter to Corinth and the reason I’m reading it is because Corinth the letters that he wrote to Corinth first and second Corinthians that was written just before he hopped on that boat and came across to Jerusalem where all of this drama began to unfold and so this is some of his latest thought here’s what he said and this is a paraphrase from the message now let me ask you something profound yet troubling if you became believers because you trusted the proclamation that Christ is alive risen from the dead how can you let people say that there’s no such thing as a resurrection it seems like there were some people right in that Corinthian church who were saying you know I love this stuff about

Jesus but not the resurrection you just can’t believe that that’s too much and Paul’s challenging them saying no the resurrection is key if there’s no resurrection there’s no living Christ and face it if there’s no resurrection for Christ everything we’ve told you smoke and mirrors and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors not only that but we’d be guilty of telling a string of bare-faced lies about God all these affidavits we passed unto you verifying that God raised up Christ sheer fabrication if there’s no resurrection if corpses can’t be raised well then Christ wasn’t because he was in indeed dead and if Christ wasn’t raised well then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark as lost as ever it’s even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection because they’re already in their grave if all we get out of

Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years we’re a pretty sorry lot but the truth is that Christ has been raised he has been the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries and I believe that includes each and every one of us you know I I think of how I’m going to be going home tonight I’m going to see mom and we’re going to celebrate her 100th birthday which face it most people don’t get to that um we had a little open house for her yesterday and I wasn’t able to be there but my brother I talked to him last night and he said you know the interesting thing happened there was probably about 30 people all sitting there in the room they were all chatting and everything kind of quieted down and then mom just said very clearly to one of the ladies who used to sing in their church said hey donna would you sing at

my funeral everybody’s going whoa we’re here to celebrate your life but you know what she has said to me so many times on Monday mornings when we talk on the phone dan I want to go home I want to go home she totally believes in the resurrection now I know I’ll see her someday too and I believe each and every one of us the resurrection is so pivotal to our faith yes it can be a stumbling block and you know what God will take it when it’s when we stumble and he’ll help us to step back up and he’ll walk with us more and more into the power of that knowledge of the resurrection is true and that his holy spirit is walking with us let’s bow our heads in a word of prayer our dear heavenly father I thank you so much you are here I thank you so much that you were there with Paul I thank you so much you’re the way you spoke to

him and the way you revealed him that he was going to get to Rome the way you got them they’re safe and sound what a what a picture what a story what a fact and lord I thank you that today you are here and you are walking with each and every one of us the resurrection is real we love you thank you God thank you Jesus thank you holy spirit amen as Aaron in the band get ready uh to lead us in our last song I just want to share one thing this is kind of a little family news um but you know I think back to that story in Mexico when Kerry and I were there and when they came down and prophesied over us and we never had a child um it was a about a year after that time as someone from here at south who I highly respect and love and still do came to me as well and spoke to me and said dan I don’t usually say things like this but I just

sense God is telling me to say to you you’re going to have a little girl and you’re to call her grace I said well thank you and I went home and shared that with Kerry and you know I was playing with the Greek one day you know and I said okay grace Greek in grace in Greek is karis and I thought hey that’s the name we’re going to name our little girl charis and her nickname will be Kerry that makes all the sense in the world we were excited we were ready you know years passed and it never happened and Kerry wrestled through that wrestled through that and finally asked well I wonder I wonder who my charis really is and she came to the conviction to believe that you know what my charis is those 20 or 25 students that I have every year in second grade that I’m teaching that I’m investing my life in that I want them to know about the

resurrection of Jesus Christ being for real and I want them to know that the holy spirit walks for them and I had to wrestle with who was my charism and I came to the conviction that my charis is you is this church that God has placed me in for all these years I got a little something in my email that said dan Elliot has worked at south fellowship for 24 years as associate pastor I saying 24 years that’s a long time and it’s been a great ride and I just want to announce to all of you that you know we have a tremendous staff here at south and the time has come for me to think about retirement and when I say that I don’t mean leaving I but I mean gradually going I think I’d go nuts if I just went into retirement cold turkey but I’m gonna in a few months start working part-time and I’ll still be here but I’ll be working part-time and the elders have asked

that I take a sabbatical which I think is hey I like that idea but uh the reason that they would like me to have a sabbatical is so that other folks can come in and start doing the responsibilities that I’ve been doing and Jodi Nevins will come in and she’ll be taking over more and more of the responsibilities of local outreach which is community care and Jessica Rust is going to be coming in and she’s going to be taking over more and more of the responsibilities of care for our particular community right here and when I come back after sabbatical I’ll be part time working with them and for them I’ll still be here and I still love each and every one of you but it’ll be a little different anyway the resurrection’s for real the holy spirit’s for real and we will continue to go on as a church influencing this community for Jesus Christ let’s sing

Paul’s Third Missionary Journey | The Book of Acts (Part 11)2022-01-13T15:27:56-07:00

Edith Leland Memorial Celebration

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Navidad Shoppe al South Banco de Alimentos

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Navidad Shoppe al South Banco de Alimentos2021-12-08T12:48:09-07:00

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Good Friday Service2021-02-17T11:52:07-07:00

Hope When It’s Hard | 3.22

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And Then What Happened? | Mark 11 | Online-only Service

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AND THEN WHAT HAPPENED? | The Time is Now–The Great Reveal  | Mark 11 | Pastor Dan Elliott

This message I’m going to be bringing this morning is from Mark 11.  We’ve had a great series so far in the gospel of Mark….And Then What Happened?   This eleventh chapter has some very interesting things in it; I’m calling it The Great Reveal.  I think how gender revealing is a big thing these days.  I’m talking about babies.  I’m talking about when people have babies and they go through all these antics about revealing what the gender of their child is going to be.  It’s often times a big surprise.  I remember when it used to be a cookie with different colored M&M’s on it.  Red was a girl, blue was a boy.  Then it progressed to donuts with different colored jelly in the centers.  I was at one party where they had a cake and when they cut into the cake, you could see the pudding and you could tell if it was a boy or a girl.  Speaking of cake, I think I saw a gender reveal that takes the cake.  I went over to see Terry and Ann Bote and Terry showed me a video of their nephew, David Bote.  David is a third baseman for the Chicago Cubs.  Here’s a video of his gender reveal.   

We go to certain lengths on all these different reveals.  We do things uncharacteristic of us.  I think in Mark 11, we have Jesus doing some very uncharacteristic things as he comes to, what I’m going to call, the great reveal.  I think there’s three uncharacteristic, maybe unpredictable things that he does here.  Let me read Mark 11:7-21  — Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it.  Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields.  Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting…”Hosanna!  Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD!  Blessing on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David!  Hosanna in the highest heaven!”  So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple.  After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon.  Then he returned to Bethany with the twelve disciples.  The next morning as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.  He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so he went over to see if he could find any figs.  But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit.  Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!”  And the disciples heard him say it.  When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices.  He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace.  He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”  When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him.  But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching.  That evening Jesus and the disciples left the city.  The next morning as they passed by the fig tree he had cursed, the disciples noticed it had withered from the roots up.  Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, “Look, Rabbi! The fig tree you cursed has withered and died!”

Before we dig into it, let’s have a word of prayer.  Lord, thanks for this word.  I pray you help us to may some sense out of it.  Jesus, thank you so much that you walk on this earth.  Teach us now.  I pray this in Jesus’s name….Amen.

As I look at these events we just read, I see three uncharacteristic, almost unpredictable events that occurred in Jesus’ life, when I compare it to the rest of his life and ministry.  He has this public celebration about himself.  And he hadn’t really done that to this point.  I would say, well, it’s about time.  He had this kind of destructive miracle.  Yeah, I don’t know what to make out of that one.  And then, he had this public display where he goes and makes a public scene flipping the tables in the temple.  In fact, he was kind of like a public nuisance.  If he’d try to do something like that today, he’d probably be arrested.  Of those three events….we really know the triumphal entry, we really know about him cleansing the temple, but that fig tree thing!  That’s a puzzler to me, so I want to start with that.  

Let me just set this—I’m not doing this in chronological order, as you can tell.  I’m taking the middle event where he curses this fig tree.  On Sunday he came through and had this triumphal entry.  The next morning he gets up and he’s going down.  I just picture him coming over the brow of Mount of Olives, coming down and there’s this fig tree.  He’s hungry.  It’s in leaf and it looks like it has lots of fruit.  He goes over to it and finds out it has no fruit.  Then he says those interesting words….May no one ever eat your fruit again!  He speaks to the tree.   You wonder why Jesus did this.  This is uncharacteristic…that he would curse one of his own creation.  Maybe he was kind of hangry, as we’d call it.  Maybe he realized the tree had lost its usefulness so he kind of said, “Okay, I’ll put it out of its misery.”  Or maybe, and I think more so, he might have been having a living parable about this.  I still wrestle with it.

I came across the term “breba fig.”  I had never heard of this before.  Basically a breba fig is really the first fruit that comes out in a season.  It comes out before the season of figs even comes.  Oftentimes a tree may leaf out in June and little figs begin to develop in mid-June to late-June.  The harvest for figs usually takes place at the end of summer.  THIS is time of Passover which is in the spring.  It’s early and Jesus sees this tree and it’s all in leaf.  It looks like it has lots of fruit.  Breba figs are those figs that come out first fruits, right around this time, and they’re actually the fruit that’s growing on, what they call, the old wood or the mature wood.  It’s not the new branches that are growing, the ones that produce the new harvest.  It’s the old ones from last season.  These are kind of leftover figs that continue to grow and they’re suppose to be real sweet and real good.  People, after a long winter, look forward to having these.  

Anyway, Jesus sees this tree that looks like it’s going to be fruitful, that looks like it’s going to have lots of figs.  He goes up and finds that there’s none.  So he says, “May no one ever eat from you again.”  There’s a verse I want to throw out to you to be thinking about.  It’s found in Micah 7:1-2a —  How miserable I am!  I feel like the fruit picker after the harvest who can find nothing to eat.  Not a cluster of grapes or a single early fig can be found to satisfy my hunger.   The godly people have all disappeared; not one honest person is left on the earth.  I just threw that out to make you kind of think.  When Jesus went to this tree to find some early figs and there wasn’t anything, but it looked like it was going to be fruitful and it wasn’t.  It looked like there would be some of that early first fruit on those mature branches and there wasn’t anything.  You put the pieces together while we go on.    

I want us to look at that second event that we all know as the Triumphal Entry.  On Sunday, Jesus comes into Jerusalem with the disciples and he orchestrates a celebration.  He instructs these two disciples to go ahead of them and find a donkey.  We know the story.  He gets this donkey, puts his garments on top, he gets on the donkey, comes down the hill from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem.  Everybody cheers and says hosanna.  We reenact it many times on Palm Sunday; we love it!  I love singing those songs, “Hosanna,” and waving the palm branches.  But, I will tell you, this is pretty uncharacteristic of Jesus, orchestrating a celebration about himself, and that’s why I think it’s a unique time in the ministry of Jesus.  This is coming to that final week and he’s going to reveal something very important about himself.  

The reason I say it’s very uncharacteristic…..well, we can look through the gospel of Mark and it seems like time and time again he’s telling people to be quiet, he’s telling people not to tell others about him.  In Mark 1:34, it says:  ….and he cast out many demons.  But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak.    I think that would be some pretty good PR, to have your enemy point out that you are the Son of God, but he didn’t allow them to speak.  It tells us a few verses later that the crowds were so great, they found him and said, “Everyone is looking for you.”  What did Jesus say?  Okay, that means we’ve got to go to another town.  We’d want to stay there where all the crowds were, but Jesus said no, it’s time to go on then. (1:38)  One time he healed a man of leprosy and sent him on this way with a stern warning: “Don’t tell anyone about this.” (1:43)  Don’t spread the word.  Another time when he’s dealing with a demon, an evil spirit — “You are the Son of God!  But Jesus sternly commanded the spirits not to reveal who he was. (3:11)   Probably the one that I think takes the cake is when raises the little girl from the dead — Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened. (5:43)   

So, this is a change, this is something unique, something uncharacteristic, Jesus is now revealing himself.  Jesus is doing this great reveal.  He sends his two disciples in to find a donkey he can sit on.  The crowds develop around him and they all start screaming and having a great time together. {Puts Triumphal Entry slide up}  It does look a little like Sunday School, I realize, but I wanted to kind of focus on this donkey and this picture.  It said you’re going to find a colt, a foal, which is really a young, young donkey.  The reason I like this picture is it kind of looks awkward to me.  I see Jesus sitting on this little donkey, his feet are maybe a few inches off the ground.  He’s even a little askew on the donkey.  The folks who were in Jerusalem at the time had been overrun by the Romans.  These folks had seen the Romans enter at different times in ceremonies of celebration and victory.  The generals of the Romans never rode a white donkey.  These always rode a white stallion.  They always rode high and mighty.  They always looked down on the people they had conquered.  Here comes Jesus as a king….but he’s coming very humbly.  There’s some verses in Zechariah (9:9) which really speak to this:  Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you; righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  

Sounds like Zechariah sees this picture of Jesus awkwardly coming in.  A king…but coming in in awkward humility.  But as I look at this picture, I know this is Jesus, this is the Son of God, who’s coming in like this.  This is the Son of God who has AWESOME majesty, yet he’s coming in in awkward humility.  This is Jesus who has sovereignty.  Sovereignty over all things.  He created all things….yet he’s coming in in great submission.  This is Jesus who has full authority and ALL power over ALL things….Jesus, the Son of God….yet he’s coming in in total dependence on the Holy Spirit.  What a juxtaposition when we come to worship Jesus.  I think John faced that same kind of juxtaposition when he was weeping (Revelation 5:5-6) — But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping!  Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory.  He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.”  Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered.  The Lion.  The Lamb.  The King. The donkey.  The majesty.  The humility.  It’s Jesus.  He’s making a great reveal and he’s fitting totally into Zechariah’s prophecy.  

But there’s some other things.  The people were saying — Hosanna!  Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD!  Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David!  Hosanna in highest heaven!   

During Palm Sunday I love this!  We wave branches, we say hosanna, and I’ve always seen this as a great word of worship.  Hosanna.  It comes from Psalm 118:25-26.  One of my father-in-law’s favorite verses comes out of this psalm.  This is the day the LORD has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.   Kerry said he would say it every morning at breakfast.  She remembers how she’d come in for breakfast and he’d start “This is the day the Lord has made….” and she’d go, “Oh, Dad, I’m so sleepy.”    Let’s look at these verses:  This is the day the LORD has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.  Please, LORD, please save us.  Please, LORD, please give us success.  Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD.  We bless you from the house of the LORD.   Do you see the word hosanna in there?  Well, I’ll tell you it is.  It’s translated here “please save us.”  There’s a desperation.  There’s a hope.  The people are proclaiming he’s the Messiah, but it’s not that kind of victorious worship that we do on Palm Sunday, it’s kind of Lord, we need you.  I wonder if I have that same kind of desperation in my worship.  

When I told you all those things about Jesus holding back the crowds from proclaiming who he was or from pushing him too quickly….four days from now, Jesus is going to be talking to his Father and he’s going to be saying, “Father, the hour has come.”  (John 17:1)  I believe very much that Jesus is making the great reveal that he is the Messiah.  

As Jesus comes into Jerusalem in this victorious parade with these palm branches waving, it has a very interesting little verse that’s added here.   Mark 11:11 — So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple.  After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon.   This was the time of Passover and I just want to give you a little bit of background of what Jesus was observing when he got off that little donkey and walked into the temple courts.  Let me show you a diagram of Herod’s Temple.  It took Herod about forty years to construct this edifice called the Temple.  There’s the Court of Women where the Israelite women could go in.  Then there was the Court of Israelites where the men could go.  That’s where the altar was, where sacrifices were made.  There was a tall structure which was the Holy Place, that’s where the priests could go in.  There was a large area called the Court of Gentiles or the Court of the Nations.  Josephus who was a Jewish historian tells us that on Passover, many times, the population of Jerusalem would multiply to almost two million people.  Two million people.  That’s a lot of people!  I wondered what Jerusalem’s population was so I looked it up.  At Jesus’s time the population of Jerusalem was about forty thousand.  Can you imagine how many people came crowding in?  

For Passover, these courts would have been filled with all kinds of people.  They were getting ready to offer sacrifices.  Every family that came had to offer a lamb or a dove to cover their sins.  The animals had to be without blemish or marks.  What developed over the years was that the priest had to examine each sacrifice that was brought.  Many of those sacrifices didn’t pass the mustard so they had to have substitute sacrifices for them.  The priests themselves had flocks of sheep available if they wanted to buy a lamb to be able to offer as a sacrifice.  Many times during Passover these courts were filled with stalls of animals.  The shepherds and other animal keepers were there.  Many of the sheep were from Bethlehem, but they would come to Jerusalem (about five miles away) and have these animal sacrifices available for Passover.  If the pilgrim’s lamb was not acceptable, they would have to buy an acceptable lamb.  Many times those prices were four, five, six times more than what a lamb normally cost.  They had to produce the money and then they faced another dilemma.  Most of the time the money was in Roman currency and that wasn’t acceptable in the temple of the Jews.  They had to use Jewish currency, so they had to exchange it.  So you had tables of money exchangers.  They would exchange it at exorbitant rates.  So the pilgrim got taken both ways:  exchanging money so that it was usable, buying animals that cost a lot of money.   Josephus said that one Passover, the estimate the priests gave was that there were 250,000 lambs sacrificed.  If you can imagine all that cacophony going on in those courts.  Someone made the comment:  If you think about Wall Street and our financial floors and how chaotic and confusing those seem, and then you add thousands  of animals to it, you might get an idea of what the Temple may be like.  

It says Jesus looked at everything.  I never spent a lot of time thinking of that, except, I was reading Tim Keller and he started stimulated my thinking to ask the question, “What is the purpose of the Temple and what might Jesus be observing as he’s looking at all these things taking place?”  To tell you the truth, I think He’s thinking back to that first temple.  No, that’s not Solomon’s temple.  Yeah, it was the first one mankind built.  But there was a temple before that.  I believe the first temple was the Garden of Eden, where God, man, and woman had a unity together that we long to have.  That’s what the purpose of the temple is suppose to be, where we connect with God, where we come together with God.  Tim Keller puts it this way:  “The story of the temple starts all the way back in the Garden of Eden.  That primal garden was a sanctuary; it was the place where the presence of God dwelled.  It was a paradise…  In the presence of God there is shalom, absolute flourishing, fulfillment, joy, and bliss.”  I kind of picture Jesus walking through there, thinking back, “Boy, what we had for these people.  What the Father, what the Spirit and I had to offer you, the people, and what you threw away.”  I wonder what might be going through his mind.

In Genesis 3, I read these words.  After Adam and Eve chose a different way and chose not to go in God’s way and not to walk in this unity with God, God had to banish them from the garden.  (Genesis 3:22-24)  And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.  He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”  So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.  After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.   I’m sure Jesus is looking at that flaming sword.  I’m sure Jesus is remembering how precious it was to walk with his creation, and now he’s seeing this temple and how sad he is to see where it’s come. 

I just want to challenge us with a simple thought:  Remember, the Gospel begins in Genesis 1 & 2.  It does not begin in Genesis 3 where we failed.  It begins with God’s great picture and purpose for us as his creation.  He so much wants to have that unity and that oneness.  Here’s Jesus walking in that temple and seeing what has transpired, what we’ve come up with as far as what a temple should be.  Jesus is remembering back to the original temple, that first temple.

Let me move on to the third event.  We’ve looked at this destructive miracle of the fig tree….interesting.  We’ve looked at this triumphal entry of coming in and people proclaiming “hosanna,” and him fulfilling these Messianic prophecies…riding a donkey, a foal.  Then going in and looking at the Temple and reminiscing about the Garden.  Now we come to what many of us know as ‘The Cleansing of the Temple.’  Let me again set the chronology, because we mixed it up a little bit.  It starts with coming down in the Triumphal Entry, then he takes a look at this temple.  Then the next morning, he’s hungry, the fig tree doesn’t produce any fruit, those mature branches don’t bring the first fruits he’s looking for so he curses it.  Then he goes to Jerusalem and this it what happens.  When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices.  He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace.   

We see Jesus cleansing the Temple.  We see his anger coming out.  He’s overturning all these moneychangers’ tables.  All these animal stalls, he’s cleaning out.  John’s gospel even tells us that he makes a whip and he drives the animals out of the Courts of the Nations.  And then Jesus says these words:  He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”    

A house of prayer for all nations, but you’ve turned it into a den of thieves.  You know, it’s so easy for me to read that and not let it sink in.  As I was working on this passage, it kind of hit me.  In fact, I’ve always looked at it as saying, “My temple is a place of prayer and we’re going to come together and we’re going to pray for all nations.”  That’s the way I always interpreted this passage.  I actually asked Kerry if she looked at these verses the same way—the temple is a place of prayer and we’re suppose to pray for all nations?  Kerry said, “Well, no, it says it’s a place for all nations to be able to pray.”  You know what?  That’s true.  

On the temple grounds was this huge court called the Court of the Nations or the Court of the Gentiles.  It was made for the Gentiles to be able to come and to pray and converse with God.  This challenged me because I wondered, “Man, is there some racism in my bones?”  Yeah, I guess there is.  I kind of have this ‘We/They’ mentality.  I kind of see the Temple as for me to be able to pray for everybody else instead of realizing the Temple’s for everybody else to get together WITH me and we commune with God.  The Temple is not suppose to have anything hindering all of this world coming together.  I have to admit, for me, I want that Temple to open up to what God’s purpose would be.  I bring up another simple little point:  Remember, the Temple is where we connect with God and with all His people.  

I’m sad when I think about Sunday mornings, because I think someone said that Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours of the week.  We kind of worship God with people we like like us.  Instead of coming together with the world before God.  I’m challenged as I think of that temple and I think of what the mess was that Jesus saw and how He cleaned it up and how He overturned those tables.  You know, it wasn’t forty years later that the temple was destroyed, but Jesus did an amazing powerful work and it’s found in 1 Corinthians 3:16 — Don’t you realize that all of you yourselves are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?  {We are the temple.  We are God’s place.  We are the temple of God.}  God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple.  For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.   That’s a challenge to me, folks, because I realize that I’m suppose to be a welcoming person to people that are very different than I am.  

At this point, if we hadn’t had all this stuff with coronavirus, I would probably be making this shameless plug for a seminar we were suppose to have tonight called “Fear, Facts, and Faith.”  This centers on the whole immigrant and refugee situation.  We’re not going to be able to have that tonight, but we’re going to try to have it again sometime.  We’re postponing it until we get through this time in our lives.  But I need to hear about that and I hope you realize you probably do too.  Somehow we have to ask ourselves how do we really make our home?  How do we make South that welcoming place for people that are different than us?  How do we make ourselves, our hearts, welcoming for people that are different than us?  How do we make room for others?  Not just for where we’re comfortable, but maybe where the rubber meets the road and it gets a little uncomfortable.  I’ll leave that with you.  Think about it.  

We’re coming to the end.  Jesus, after overturning those tables, goes back out to Bethany.  The next morning, he and his disciples start coming back towards Jerusalem and we read these verses:  The next morning as they passed by the fig tree he had cursed, the disciples noticed it had withered from the roots up.  Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, “Look, Rabbi!  The fig tree you cursed has withered and died!”  I kind of picture the disciples and Jesus coming down the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem and here’s this dead fig tree.  Peter brings this up and he’s amazed.  I previously shared a verse from Micah, now let me share a verse from Hosea 9:10-11a  —  The LORD says, “O Israel, when I first found you, it was like finding fresh grapes in the desert.  When I saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the first ripe figs of the season.  But then they deserted me for Baal-peor, giving themselves to that shameful idol.  Soon they became vile, as vile as the god they worshiped.  The glory of Israel will fly away like a bird…”  When I see what Jesus has done to this fig tree and when I see in the context of these verses in the Old Testament, I almost see, wow! here’s this fig tree that looked like it was fruitful, had all kinds of fruit, and when Jesus got there, there was no fruit at all.  The fruit was suppose to appear on the mature branches, the old wood, I guess you call it, and there was nothing so He did away with it.  

Then I saw Him overturning the tables in the Temple.  The Temple that looked like it had so much fruit, that it should be producing so much closeness to God and yet, all it was producing was commerce, so He cleansed it.  I see a parallel and I expect Jesus just to kind of rake the situation that was going on there.  Yet Jesus says:  Have faith in God.  He turns to his disciples and they’re saying, “You destroyed this fig tree.  Wow!  Look at it!  It withered from the ground up.  What a miracle this is!”   And Jesus says, “Have faith in God.”  Then he goes on to say these words:  Have faith in God.  I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, “May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,” and it will happen.  But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.  I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.  But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.  

It was funny, as we were talking about this passage, we were with some friends, and he shared how when he was a kid, he remembers standing in front of a window and praying that a tree across the yard would move.  He prayed earnestly and prayed earnestly and it never moved.  He’d just read this verse, but he started questioning.  Let me say that this is not a verse about how to become a wonder-worker.  This is a verse to say how do we have faith in God.  How do we have faith in the God who can do wonders?  But how do we have faith in Him who we know will do what is best?  How do we have faith in God?  I wrote down that our faith is not meant to force God to do anything.  No.  Our faith is meant to allow us to surrender to God who can do anything and trust Him.  To trust Him to do what’s best.  

You may say to me, so what’s this bit about the mountain?   Telling the mountain to go jump in the lake.  Here’s the setting:  Jesus coming down the side of the Mount of Olives.  Jesus by that fig tree.  Jesus looking across the valley toward a mount.  It’s called the Temple Mount.  Kerry and I had the opportunity of being in the Holy Land, two years ago, and we saw this Temple Mount.  I can just imagine…it took Herod forty years to build this temple, and part of the reason was he had to build a mountain to be able to put the temple on.  He had to build a mountain so he could make those huge courts.  It took years building these reinforcing walls, filling it with dirt and going higher and higher.  On top, he built the temple.  I see Jesus looking across there, because look what Jesus says:  You can say to THIS mountain, “May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea…”   I almost hear Jesus saying, “You can say to all this religious tradition….you can say to all these rituals and relics….you can say to all these things you put your hope and faith in….go jump in a lake!”  Your faith has to be in God.  When I say that, please don’t misunderstand, I’m not doing away with miracles or anything like that.  I think we have a wonder-working God, but our faith is in Him, not in our faith producing those things.  So another simple little reminder:  Remember, our faith is in the ONLY God who can do anything.  Our faith is only in Him.

As we bring this to a close, I see Jesus, who’s had this great reveal.  He’s set the stage.  He says to his Father, “The hour has come, the time is now.”  I’ll go back to the Garden where this angel is placed with that sword that flamed, that kept people from going back to that Tree of Life.  Ever since that time, people, in order to come into the presence of God, had to basically have something go under that sword.  They had to provide some kind of sacrifice so that they could enter into the presence of God somehow, some way.  Jesus knows he’s coming to be that final, full sacrifice.  He’s going to go under that sword for each and every one of us….and He did!  And in going under that sword, four days from now, being hung up on that cross, going through that excruciating time, separation from God Himself…being the Son of God, He made that way open for us to be able to come in to His presence.  In fact, I would say, He made that way open for us to be able to come to that Tree of Life, because we now have eternal life because of Jesus Christ Himself.  Boy, can you see Jesus, that victorious Messiah, coming down the Mount of Olives on a humble donkey?  Coming in with peace, grace, righteousness, justice, mercy.  And He’s calling each and every one of us to step into this new life that he has created for us, to be able to bring hope and change into this world.  To be able to not fall into the rituals and all the regulations and the hopes of just religious foolishness.  But instead, to walk a life with Him.

I’ll just say in closing, we are in some very unique times.  I can’t remember a time in my life when we’ve had to close public places, where we’re fearful of a virus that could come and we have no idea where it might be.  It would be so easy to fall into that fear.  But I hear those words of Jesus, “Have faith in God.”  Jesus is saying to each and every one of us today, I’ve already taken the sword for you.  Now bring yourself to God Himself.  There’s one little thing he adds on the end of there:   If you’ve got a grudge against somebody, forgive them, so that God can forgive you.  It would be so easy to get caught up in trying to change systems and to be upset at everything, yet Jesus said don’t be upset, try to understand why they’ve gotten to where they’ve gotten.  Instead, take my grace and my peace with you into this world.  I challenge you, don’t live in fear, live in faith.  Live in faith in the amazing God.  Live in faith of the full work of Jesus Christ.  Live in faith of knowing that the Holy Spirit lives within you.  You are his temple.  

Let’s bow our heads.  Father, I thank you for this time.  Lord, I don’t know who’s watching this right now, but, Father, I just ask that you be so real to them.  Lord, may we know your strength and your hope and your power, and Father, may we not sink into fear, but help us instead to stand on faith.  Faith in you, the Hope of Glory.  We love you.  We give you this time.  In the name of Jesus…..Amen.  

 

And Then What Happened? | Mark 11 | Online-only Service2020-08-20T19:03:09-06:00

Navigating an Unknown Road | Ecclesiastes 9:1-12

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Navigating an Unknown Road   Ecclesiastes 9:1-12   Dr. Scott Wenig   (1st Service)

{Manuscript–View video for complete content.}  Let’s bow together.  Father, thanks for everything you provide for us, day by day, week by week, month by month, and year by year.  Lord, as you know, the way we count time we’re entering into a new year and new decade, so we pray for your wisdom, your grace, your guidance.  Lord, I thank you for every person who’s here today.  Lord, wherever we’re at, I pray that you might minister to us in a special way.  Now, Lord, give us ears to hear your word, minds that are attentive, and hearts that are receptive to you and your Spirit.  We ask all of this in the great name of Jesus.  Amen.

Given that it’s a new year and a new decade, there are a number of people and pundits who are trying to predict what the future will bring. It doesn’t matter whether it involves politics, or the stock market, or the Broncos, lots of people are making predictions about what’s going to happen in 2020 and beyond. But it’s always a dangerous business to try and predict the future, because it almost never turns out the way people thought. To illustrate the point, over the past 50 years various individuals and groups have ventured forth with their visions of the future and I’d like to share just a few of them with you.

  • In 1995 one man predicted: Almost all of the many predictions now being made about 1996 hinge on the Internet’s continuing exponential growth, but I predict the internet will soon go supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.
  • In 1996-97 a number of people predicted the end of Apple Corporation.  The magazine The Economist said, “Apple seems to have two options.  The first is break itself up–selling the hardware side.  The second is to sell the company outright.”  Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Computers, said, “What would I do?  I’d shut Apple down and give the money back to the shareholders.”  Wow! was he ever wrong!
  • My favorite comes from 1962 about the Beatles:  We don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out!

As these examples show—and they’re just a very few of many that we could find—trying to predict the future is dicey at best.  Now, while you and I probably aren’t going to spend much time on that, in our more honest moments we probably wish we had a crystal ball to see what awaits us in 2020 and beyond.  Most of us would probably like a glimpse into next week or next month or next year so we could be more in control of life.  This is where the Book of Ecclesiastes is so relevant.  The Preacher, Quoheleth, who was almost certainly King Solomon, tells us that trying to foresee the future is a fool’s errand.  And so, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he warns us off from that and, instead, points us towards the life that God wants us to live right now.  Let’s begin by looking at Ecclesiastes 9:1 and then verses 11-12.  So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them.  (11) I have seen something else under the sun:  The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.

Solomon argues that it’s impossible for us to know the future; we have no idea what life will bring our way.  In verse 1, he says we don’t know if this week we’re going to meet a new friend who really cares about us or if we’ll meet someone who has no regard for us.  And as we scroll down to verse 11, he challenges what might be called the Success Formula for life, or the cause and effect flow of life.  While the fastest runner more often than not wins the race, that doesn’t always happen.  And while the biggest and best army usually wins the war that’s not always the case; one need only think of the American experience in Vietnam to know that. And while we like to think and predict that wealth and favor go to the smartest or best educated, that’s not always what happens.  A friend once told me about a dinner he had with a man who was an investment advisor. He said that as the dinner came to close and the dessert was about to be served, he asked the investment advisor “You’ve been at this job of financial planning for over thirty years. What have you learned?” My friend was surprised by the man’s answer. The investment advisor said, “I’ve learned that some of the stupidest people in this city are among the wealthiest, and some of the shrewdest have gone bankrupt.”

Solomon would say, “Well, maybe that’s not the way it should be, but sometimes that’s the way it is.”  Then he goes on in verse 12 to reinforce that.   Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:  As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.
As he says, sometimes unforeseen misfortune comes our way.  It might be a visit to the doctor reveals a tumor, or a drive on 470 that ends up in an accident, or a phone call in the middle of the night brings sad news of an unexpected death.  We simply don’t know what life will bring our way in 2020 and beyond, whether good or bad; we’re too limited to have that kind of knowledge.

And then Solomon goes on to say that the one thing we can know about the future is that someday we’ll all face the same end.  Look at v. 2-3:  All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.  As it is with the good, so with the sinful; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them. This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all.   Solomon asks us to pause and take a look at the reality of our death.  In a broken and fallen and messed up world, the one thing we can know for sure is that we’re all a little bit closer to death than we were when we walked through those doors thirty minutes ago.  And, as he does throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon verbally processes the weird and evil way that death works:  He says that it comes to the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the nasty and the nice, believers and unbelievers, the risk takers and those who are risk averse.  Earlier generations may have been more in touch with this reality than we are in 21st century America. For example, in the medieval world, one of the most prominent phrases among Christians was the Latin phrase momento mori—Remember, you will die.

Now that’s a depressing thought but, fortunately, he doesn’t leave us there.  In verses 4-5, he turns and offers us some hope in light of the inevitable:  Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!  For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward and even their name is forgotten.  He argues that you and I have an advantage over the dead:  we’re alive!  To prove the point—to his cultural audience—he makes a comparison between a live dog and a dead lion.  In contemporary America, we elevate dogs to human-like status and make them members of the family.  On average, Americans spend $1300 a year per dog. That’s a lot of money so obviously we think they’re worth it. But, as you may know, that was never the case in the ancient Near East.  To ancient Jews, dogs were horrible, dirty creatures that scavenged for garbage.  They were never welcomed in the home and the idea of owning one as a pet was culturally disdained.  On the other hand, lions were noble and proud creatures that served as cultural symbols of strength and might and majesty.  But a dead lion no longer exhibits any of its prior outstanding qualities and that’s why a live dog is always better.  This is what I love about Ecclesiastes: The Preacher gives us an accurate description of REALITY!  Death is inevitable, but life offers the hope that we can learn about reality and then live our lives based on that, and the foundation of reality that we want to build our lives on is the sovereignty of God.  As Solomon told us in verse 1, ‘we’re in God’s hands.’

That’s a metaphorical way to describe that God is in control.  He’s the King Who rules and reigns over everything and everyone in the universe. And His Kingdom came to earth in a personal way through the life and ministry of Jesus.  Jesus inaugurated His ministry by preaching ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.’ And by that He meant God’s rule and reign in the lives of people which would, in time, eventually extend over all of creation.  About 20 years after He died on the cross and rose from the dead, the Apostle Paul wrote to those first Christians in Colossae that …God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)  Then late in the first century, when he was exiled all alone on that island called Patmos out in the Mediterranean, the Apostle John said in Revelation 1:17-18: When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. Then He placed His right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

The resurrected, sovereign and glorified Christ tells us, “Don’t worry about the future because I’m the King and you’re in my Kingdom and I’ve conquered sin and death and hell.”  He says: I was singing to you through your mom when you sat on her knee as a baby.  I was next to you at church camp when you first heard the Good News about Me. I was holding you close during those dark days and nights when you were heartbroken and alone and scared.  And I’m in control of what happens every day the rest of your life, and when you die, I’ll take you to be with Me forever and ever.

Friends, we don’t have to worry, fret, or fear about the future, or even the inevitably of death, because our King, Jesus, is in control. Oh, friends, it’s true we don’t know what awaits us; it’s true that sometimes things go awry and that sometimes bad times come and that it’s also true that someday we’ll get sick and die. But we don’t need to worry or stress about those things because our King, Jesus, loves us. He’s placed us in His Kingdom and He’s in control. And as the reality of all that begins to sink into our hearts and our minds and our souls, over time, we’ll become people of joy. We’ll be people who see life as something we can engage and enjoy, not just endure.  We’ll be positive people of prayer and praise, not Sidney Cynic or Debbie Downer or Tommy Tombstone.

Solomon goes on to show us what that kind of life looks like beginning in 9:7-8—Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil.  He says that life in God’s kingdom means that we can ENJOY eating and drinking and having fun.  It’s like a lavish dinner party where the food is outstanding and there’s anything to drink that you like. The phrase in verse 8 about being clothed in white and anointing your head with oil is a Jewish reference to wearing your best clothes and putting on your very best, expensive perfume or cologne.  This is a picture of celebration, like we do when someone we love and care about is getting married.

And please notice what the Preacher says in the second half of verse 7 because this is very, very important:  God has already approved what you do.  One person translates it this way: God takes pleasure in your pleasure!  Friends, this is how Jesus lived as traveled throughout ancient Israel.   In Luke 7:34 he says that his religiously minded critics accused Him of ‘eating and drinking and being a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners…’  In Luke 13:29 he says that when the kingdom of God finally arrives in its fullest expression ‘many will come from east and west and sit down and dine with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob….’   One biblical scholar said that if we read the Gospels slowly and carefully we can’t help but come to the conclusion that Jesus ate his way through his ministry.

And given that Solomon begins this section with the word ‘Go’ I want to encourage you to leverage His command to eat some food you really like—regardless of whether it’s good for you or not!’   My good and godly wife, Melanie, blesses me every Christmas and buys me some apple strudel from Taste of Denmark!  It’s fantastic and I’m enjoying every single bite to the glory of God!  I know it’s bad for me, but I want to have a blast while I last.  Friends, if we know Jesus, we’re part of His Kingdom and, as our King, He is in control.  So let’s begin to move away from worry, fear and stress and instead have a blast while we last.

And Solomon shows us that there’s even more to this kind of life. Look at verse 9—Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this fleeting life that God has given you under the sun—all your fleeting days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.  Here the Preacher tells us to ENJOY our spouses.  Marriage is a good thing; God designed it to be a blessing and we should take the time and make the effort to love on our spouses and nurture our spouses and do everything we can to make our marriages as healthy and happy as we can, and for this we try to keep good health with exercise and diet, also the use of a keto pills amazon could also help a lot with this.  In the 16th century, Martin Luther initiated a revolution called the Protestant Reformation, and part of that was clergy now getting married.  Luther was 41 when he got married to a former nun, Katie, who was 25.  They had a long and happy marriage.  Here are a couple of quotes that Luther shared with his students and parishioners, which I think are very apropos for us.  “Of course the Christian should love his wife.  He’s suppose to love his neighbor and since his wife is his nearest neighbor, she should be his deepest love.”  “It is impossible to keep peace between men and women in family life if they do not condone and overlook each other’s faults but watch everything to the smallest point.  For who at times does not offend.”  Now while most of us will, at some point in our lives, be married, we’d be wise to take Luther’s advice to heart to love on our spouses.  The broader application of Solomon’s point is to enjoy the relationships we have with those closest to us regardless of whether we’re married or we’re single.

Once again, Jesus serves as our model.  He never married; He never had kids.  In fact, most of His own family didn’t believe His Messianic claims until after the Resurrection. But as we survey His life in the gospels, it’s clear that He had a number of close relationships that He clearly enjoyed and invested Himself in.  There were the twelve disciples of course, and it appears that Peter, James and John may have been the closest to Jesus. There was Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha, who often hosted Jesus in their home in Bethany.  There were the women mentioned in Luke 8 – Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna – all of whom closely followed Jesus. Friends, we don’t have to be married to have good friendships and great fellowship and thoroughly enjoy those! We simply need to keep in mind that in the Kingdom friendships and fellowship and relationships are one of God’s gifts to help us enjoy life!

Let me ask us a couple of questions:

  1. Whether we’re single or married, what specific relationships are we going to give ourselves too in 2020 and beyond?
  2. Are we willing to invest our time, our energy and our money in those relationships?

Solomon tells us that if we want to live a good life, we should trust in the sovereignty of God and enjoy as much good food and fellowship for as long as we can. That’s a great way to have a blast while we last.  He also tells us to enjoy the work He’s provided.  Look at verse 10:  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.  If we dial back from Ecclesiastes for just a moment to the first two chapters of Genesis, we’re told there that men and women are made in God’s image.  Now while the meaning of that has been debated for centuries, one helpful way to understand it is that when God looks at us He sees something of Himself.  And since God worked in making everything in the universe, He made us to work as well and we see that in Genesis 2.  Solomon picks up on that idea and refines it a little bit. He says that whatever work you have, do it to the best of your ability while you still can, because the day’s coming when you can’t work any longer.  His admonition prefigures what the Apostle Paul would write 1000 years later to those first Christians in the Asian city of Colossae when he told them:  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24) 

In the last couple of years, Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers fame has been gaining a lot of attention, through a movie ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ and a documentary ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’   It’s interesting that in the documentary, it showed him giving a college graduation speech.  After he gives the speech, all these graduates stood in line to talk to him.  One young woman, with tears in her eyes, thanked him and told him that he changed her life because his show made her feel loved.  You know why?  Because he went to work every day and to the best of his ability, he tried to connect with all the kids.

Friends, let’s remember that God is in control of our lives and we should have A BLAST WHILE WE LAST, whether we’re selling insurance, writing code, building houses, managing employees, or teaching kids.  Whatever it is, let’s put our hearts into that because it’s part of the good life God has provided for us.

Just to drive this home, I want us to meditate for a moment on Eugene Peterson’s rendering of verses 7-10 in The Message:  Seize life! Eat bread with gusto, drink wine with a robust heart.  Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure! Dress festively every morning.  Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.  Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange for the hard work of staying alive.  Make the most of each one!  Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily! This is your last and only chance at it, for there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think in the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.   Notice the phrases: Seize life, eat with gusto, dress festively, make the most of each one, grab it and do it!  Friends, as the Preacher has taught us, we’re not in control and we never will be.  But Jesus is, so let’s love Him, let’s look to Him and then let’s have a blast while we last!

Navigating an Unknown Road | Ecclesiastes 9:1-122021-01-31T09:16:25-07:00

Just a Man with a Can | 1 Corinthians 3:5-9

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A MAN WITH A CAN     1 Corinthians 3:5-9

The last two months, for me, have been a rollercoaster, to say the least.  We had the chance to go to Disneyland on our vacation two weeks ago, and I can tell you that Disneyland has nothing on two months of processing a move across the country.  That’s been a way better rollercoaster than anything we rode there.  It’s been an interesting journey, to be quite honest with you.  In many ways I didn’t see the emotional journey coming that I’ve been on, and that we’ve been on together as a family.  I’ve experienced sort of mini panic attacks, and immense sadness, and a little bit of anger, and immense doubt in the midst of it all.  I knew that this day was coming.  I woke up this morning and it was sort of that Brian Regan thing of like, “Oh, it’s due today!”  This day that I’ve been getting ready for for so many days just sort of snuck up on me.  It’s hard for me to believe this is my last Sunday standing in the pulpit here as Lead Pastor of South Fellowship Church.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve tried to take some time to remember and to reminisce a little bit, and to do so with thanksgiving, and that’s been such a natural thing because God has been so abundantly good.  Kelly and I were talking last night after a night with friends in our neighborhood.  We said to each other, “This is so hard because it’s been so good,” in every phase of our life here.  I thought about what do I preach on the last Sunday I have with you and what do I try to impart.  To be quite honest, I feel like my bucket’s a little bit empty today, but I’m going to do my best to impart something to you that I hope gives maybe a little bit of framework for where we’ve been over the last seven years and hopefully, a launching pad for this next season for life as a community of faith as South Fellowship Church.

What I’m reminded of is that transition in the church is as old as the church.  This is something that’s not new, it’s actually something that’s ancient, it’s something that’s old.  I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul as he’s saying good-bye to the elders of the church at Ephesus.  It’s a church that he helped start and pastored for three years.  These are people that he grew to love deeply.  Acts 20:36-37 —  He knelt down and prayed with them all.  And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him….  and sent him off to Jerusalem.  You can read in Acts 13:2-3 where the church is having this prayer meeting and worship time—the church in Antioch—and the Spirit of God says to them to send out Paul and Barnabas and it seems like it’s that next day that Paul and Barnabas are on a ship to Cyprus to start their very first missionary journey.  Can you imagine missing that prayer meeting?  You get there the next day and your pastor and teacher for the past year is gone!  Transition in the church is as old as the church.  That doesn’t make it easy, it just means that we have a little bit of perspective on what this looks like and how this goes.

If you have a Bible and want to follow along, I’m going to be camping out in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9.  Context is that the Apostle Paul has planted the church at Corinth; he’s no longer the pastor there.  A man by the name of Apollos has come in after him to be the leader and teacher and one of the pastors in that church.  There’s some people saying that we like Paul better and others that are saying, “Well, we follow Apollos.”  What Paul tries to do in the first few chapters here is reframe that whole discussion.  Here’s what he says in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 — What then is Apollos?  What is Paul?  Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.  For we are God’s fellow workers.  You are God’s field, God’s building.

I was struck by the fact that I didn’t plant this church.  Dale Schlafer did back in 1979.  Brad Strait pastored after that.  Then in 2012, God graciously called Kelly and I to come and water.  Yeah.  As I’ve tried to think about what these last seven years have been, this is the image that came to mind.  This is how I want to say it today:  I’m just a man with a can, partnering with a God who had a plan.  I’m reminded of John 9, where there’s this little boy who comes to Jesus.  All these people are hanging onto every word that Jesus has and every word that he’s saying.  They’ve gathered on this hillside and there’s no food.  The disciples ask well, how are we going to feed all these people?  This little boy goes well, I’ve got five loaves of bread and two fish.  Jesus said, “Bring it to me.”  He brought it to him.  Jesus took what seemed like a totally insignificant, completely insufficient amount of food, looked at 5,000 people and somehow took what was insignificant and insufficient and multiplied it.  Over the last seven years, I’ve just imperfectly—oh man, horribly imperfectly…..but I think the picture I have is that I’m taking my two fish and my five loaves and I’m taking my can and God’s filling it up as he’s gracious…..I’ve just had the chance over seven years to see God multiply my life.  Our lives.  To say that I’m grateful is an understatement.

One of the tensions that this text points out—I think it’s this tension we all wrestle with, whether we’re in “vocational ministry” or whether we work in business, whatever our life looks like.  Whether we’re a mom who stays home and raises kids or whether we’re retired, we have this tension, especially as people who want to follow the way of Jesus.  Here’s the tension:  We wrestle with thinking man, my work doesn’t matter.  God’s just going to do what God’s going to do.  I just want to gently, pastorally say to you that is an absolute lie.  Your life and your work matters greatly.  Somebody needed to bring the food to Jesus for him to multiply it.  Jesus is gracious enough to invite you into his story, to bring your gifts, and to bring your talents, and to bring who you are to him, and to give them to Him and to see what He might do with them.  I think that’s one polarity we wrestle with.  We wrestle with thinking, “My life and my work and what I contribute to this church, or to this community, doesn’t matter.”

Then there’s the other polarity of thinking that it all depends on us.  Larry, who’s one of my best friends in the entire world, usually on Sunday mornings at some point, will pull me aside and he’ll say, “Remember, this all depends on you!”  He did it again today.  He’s speaking my love language of sarcasm.  It’s his way of reminding me, “Ryan, you’re just a man with a can, partnering with a God who has a plan.”  That’s all you are.  I’ve needed that reminder.  Maybe you do too.  To reject the polarity of thinking, “It all depends on me,” and the polarity of thinking, “My life doesn’t matter at all.”  We all live in this beautiful, mysterious in-between of somehow what we bring to the table matters deeply and somehow it’s God who infuses all of it with meaning.

The Apostle Paul is going to unpack this tension.  This is more just from my heart today, but I want to give you just a few things that would be an encouragement to you and sort of some takeaways as we look back together and as we start to look forward.  In verse 5, he says:  What then is Apollos? What is Paul?  Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.   This translation is making it seem as though the Lord is assigning belief to each.  In the Greek, it’s really, really clear.  What he’s assigning to each is a task.  Paul and Apollos had this role to serve the church.  They did it in a way that’s just simply following the instruction of Jesus.  Here’s what Jesus said to his disciples  — And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. {That’s still the way of the world.  If you have the power, if you have the influence, if you have the money, if you have the fame, use it for yourself.}  But it shall not be so among you.  But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45) 

This isn’t just unique for those who are in leadership in the church, but…..I want you to know that every believer is a servant and every servant has a task.   Sometimes we get the opportunity to choose what our task is, and sometimes our task is given to us.  But what I’m reminded of, number one, is that I’m not the master.  If I’m a servant, I’m not the master.  I just get to come under the wings of the master.  I get to live in his wind, in his spirit, in his love, in his goodness, I don’t need to control it.  My role, as a follower of Jesus, is to be a servant, and that means I don’t need to call the shots, I just get to live under the good Master.

I’ve shared with you a little bit about how God started to—what Kelly and I felt like—maybe start to reassign our task.  I shared some of that with you in the message that I gave when I started to say listen, we might be moving, and God seems like he might be leading in this way.  But I want to give you a little fuller picture of what that looked like for us.  I know there’s some of you may be wrestling with the idea of 1) Ryan, how do you know? and 2) Are you just seizing an opportunity?  As you know, back in January and February, I did a series called “Life is A-Mazing.”  It was about discerning and discovering God’s will.  It really started to mess with me.  About three-quarters of the way through it, I was approached by the church in California, Emmanuel Faith, to ask if I’d be interested in interviewing for their lead pastor job.  I had turned them down a year-and-a-half before for a role there and they called me and I said, “No! I’m happy at South. I love South.”  Then I started preaching on Jonah and I gave a message entitled “Life on the Run.”  I was driving home from church and thinking, “Man, Lord, I wonder if I’m running from you, number one, but number two, I’m so glad I already said no.”  Then the search firm Emmanuel Faith was working with emailed me and said, “Ryan, we heard your name floating around, are you interested in having a conversation?”  I gave him a list of reasons why I was a terrible choice for them.  They said, “Well, if some of those are put off to the side, are you interested in having a conversation?”  I said, “Well, maybe.”  On March 10th, I had a meeting with Janice and Craig Hammersmith.  Over lunch, they were sharing about God’s prompting in their life about missions and potentially moving their family of six to Luxembourg in the next season.  I drove home from that meeting thinking, “They’re willing to move to Luxembourg and I’m not willing to move to San Diego.”  On April 4th, Jodi Nevins, who’s on staff with us, met with me—we have a standing meeting once a month just to catch up.  She came into my office and said, “Ryan, I’m really nervous to meet with you today.”  She said she told her husband Eric that she was feeling that way and he suggested praying about a question to ask me.  She thought that was a good idea but nothing came to her.  She went to bed and woke up at one in the morning and said, “The question was really, really clear what I was suppose to ask you.”  I said, “Great.”  She said, “What would it look like for us as a church to accomplish the mission and the vision without you as being involved?”  At this point, nobody knew any of these conversations were happening, except Larry.  I went, “Are you kidding me?”  She said, “I went back downstairs; I couldn’t get back to sleep.  I was listening to my Bible meditation app, just praying and praising, and the word that came to me was real crystal clear.  I was suppose to give you the word ‘release.'”  It was this process, you guys, of God just slowly prying our fingers off of something we loved.

From there it got weird, if that isn’t weird enough.  We’re still going, “God, we’re not with you on this.”  On April 15th, I got a text message from somebody I have never met before.  They said, “Hi, Ryan, my name is Kelly.  I’d like to speak to you about purchasing 7584 S. Ogden Way.  Did I reach the right person?  Thank you.”  I wrote back, “No, absolutely not!  We’re not interested in selling.”  In the back of my mind I’m thinking, “What is going on?”  You can write that off as circumstance, that’s totally fine.  I’m actually okay with that, but some of the ways God speaks and moves is through circumstance.  I asked our neighbors and friends, “Hey, did you guys get this text?”  Nobody else.  April 20th, Kelly and I sit down on our couch after a long day.  We look what’s on our DVR.  We like this show “Restaurant Impossible.”  There was a new season and a new episode; we haven’t watched this show in a year.  We put on “Restaurant Impossible” and where was the episode filmed?  Escondido, California!  May 5th, I went to meet with someone from our congregation.  She’s been a missionary in Democratic Republic of Congo for forty years.  It was this really encouraging and sacred meeting we had for almost two hours.  At one point, she started to quote a hymn.  I said, “Norma, what hymn is that?  I’ve never heard that hymn.”  She said, “The hymn is entitled ‘I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go.'”   May 24th, I was having it out with God.  I told Kelly, “I feel like I’m on a runaway train and I don’t know how I got here and I know where this is going and I’m not sure I like it.”  I was really wrestling with leaving my dad and Kelly’s folks.  In my regular Bible reading, I came to this passage:  Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”  “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:28-30) 

May 29th, we flew out to California.  I preached there and said, “God, if they don’t vote at least 90% I’m not going.”  I’m like praying for an 80% to just say, “Okay!  I knew it!  I knew all this was messing with me.”  The vote was over 95%.  Got home on the night of June 2nd, and on June 3rd we had to make this decision.  I wrote an acceptance letter.  Through tears, I wrote an acceptance letter.  I told Kelly that I couldn’t send it.  I went out on a run.  On the run, I had this idea:  I’m going to write a decline letter also, and I’m going to see which one feels more in line with what God’s doing.  I wrote the decline letter and felt like I worded it really well.  I told Kelly to read both letters and to tell me what she thought God’s doing.  She read them and said, “Ryan, we just know.  We know.”  The assignment has been reassigned.  We’re servants, not the master, and we don’t call the shots.

Here’s a few implications for us, I think, as a community of faith.  The person who follows me as lead pastor of South Fellowship Church will have the same job description, but in a lot of ways will have a different task.  The task is contextual.  The task is unique.  My task for seven years was different than they’ll have, because the church is a different place than it was seven years ago.  We’ll both have the chance to be filled and to pour our little lives out for the sake of the kingdom.  But I think God’s going to grow something different in this new season.  {Will you lean in for a moment?  I just want to say this as clearly as I can.}  That’s a good thing.  That you’re not looking for somebody who’s just like Ryan.  You’re looking for the person that God will call for the next task, for the next season, to lead this church to a place I didn’t lead it to.  One of my pleas with you is that you would support the next lead pastor of South Fellowship Church—the next person who’s a servant with the task of watering this unique field, right here in Littleton—that you would support that person with the same love and support and care that you supported me with from day one.  They’re going to be different, and different isn’t bad, different is probably what this church needs to move into the next season.  So that’s one implication.

Second implication is this:  My task is changing, but that doesn’t mean that yours is.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, transitions are times for the church to rise up.  To say, “God’s planted something in me also.”  Maybe you’ve been sitting on the sidelines for a while wondering: A) Is this the church for me? or wondering B) What do I have to contribute?  I want you to reject the idea that you don’t have anything to give and I want this to be the season where you put your hand in the air and go, “What might it look like for me to pour my life out just a little bit more in this church for the glory of God?”  Because you’re a servant too and as the Apostle Paul would write to the church at Ephesus:  For are his workmanship, {In the Greek, that word is poiema and it means poem or song.  You’re God’s song!}  …created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)   Your work matters.  And when Paul says, “Listen, who’s Paul and who’s Apollos?  We’re nothing,” he’s not saying that their work doesn’t matter, he’s saying the story is not about us, it’s about Jesus.

In 1 Corinthians 3:6-8, he says:  I planted, Apollos watered….  {That image is one that I’ll carry with me.  That as a pastor I’m just a man with a can following a God who’s got a plan.}  but God gave the growth.  So neither he who plants nor he who water is anything, but only God who gives the growth.    It’s this mysterious inner working of our work and God’s, and God’s spirit and our sweat and it makes something beautiful.  I think the call is to recognize that our greatest blessings are the work of His hands, not the result of our labor.  Think about this, when you plant a garden, at the end of the summer (assuming it grows), very rarely do you look at it and go, “I’m amazing!  I’m awesome!”  No, there’s this mysterious combination of soil and water and rain and photosynthesis and all of these things that I had zero control over that happened.  I think our lives, in so many ways, are just the exact same thing.  It’s really good—whether you’re a follower of Jesus here or not—for us, every once in a while, to pause and remember that the best things in our life aren’t the result of our work.  Think about that.  The best things in life are not the result of your work.  Whether it’s a friendship…..certainly there’s work that goes into that, but did you arrange the meeting?  Did you create your exact personality that would mesh with this person?  No!  So much of that is gift.  If you’re married, the same is true of a marriage.  If you have kids, the same is true of your kids.  The greatest blessings in your life are not the work of your hands, they’re the result of His labor, His work, His goodness, His grace, and His mercy.

As I’ve had the chance to reflect on the things that I’m most grateful for here at South, I want to affirm this once again.  My greatest blessings here are not the work of my hands, they’re the result of His Spirit.  His hands, not my labor.  A few things I reflected on.  It’s been so fun to see, because ministry and church is all about people.  It’s been so fun to see God grow this church, to see more people come to know and to love Jesus.  That’s been an absolute blessing for me.  I’m shocked at what God has done.  To see him clarify our missions and our values when we had a discussion in our elder board about changing our mission statement to be “helping people live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus.”   It’s a huge, huge step for an organization to change their mission statement, and for us, it was one part of one meeting and we just went, “Yeah, this feels exactly like what God’s been doing and this is exactly who we are.”  For me, as a pastor, to carry that banner and go, “Oh man, there’s such alignment in my soul with this church,” has been an absolute joy.  I didn’t create that, God did that.  To look at our values on the wall and go, “Those are things I’d give my life to.”  Absolutely.  Pursuing the presence of God.  Practicing relationship with Him.  Helping people move towards wholeness.  Being and living together as a family of believers.  Being rooted in the Scriptures and grounded in the Scriptures.  Renewal.

When we got here, there was around $300,000 in debt.  We’ve seen God wipe that out miraculously, and move us to a place of financial wholeness.  We’ve seen God birth a Young Adult ministry here.  We’ve seen Him start, in the last seven years, a Celebrate Recovery ministry, where people are getting free from hurts, and habits, and hang-ups.  I can assure you, that is not the work of my hands.  It’s not the work of Nicole’s hands; she’s doing an amazing job leading that ministry and I’m so grateful for her partnership, but it’s nothing that we do, it’s the way that God works when we show up and use our gifts.  We’ve seen support groups started that address mental health issues, divorce, addiction, and grief.  Praise God!  We’ve seen the Food Bank remodeled; that was a lot of work of our hands!  Specifically Bill and Erin and Sharon and Larry and John and so many others.  But God’s the one that’s going to make it grow. He’s the one that’s going to make that meaningful, not us.  We’ve seen Family Promise started here, where we get the chance to open our facility for families experiencing homelessness to come and live for a week and try to get their feet back under them, in partnership with twelve other churches around this area, to create seamless transitions for people to hopefully find jobs and find a place to land.  Man, you guys, that’s good work.  But God infuses it with meaning.

I’m so grateful, in the last seven years, that we’ve seen God move in such a way that South Fellowship now has female pastors.  Personally, I’m so grateful for that, because I always said I wanted to raise my daughter in a church where she saw strong female leaders.  We’ve seen missionaries sent out.  We’ve seen spiritual formation and practices and taking discipleship seriously, in the forefront.  I’ve seen a staff that’s grown together, that loves each other, that is like family.  I could stand before you and tell you I’m just a man with a can trying my best to follow a God who’s got a plan, and it’s the work of His hands, not our labor.

Graeme Keith was the treasurer for the Bill Graham Association and one of Billy’s long-time friends.  He was in an elevator and somebody else was in there.  The man said to Billy Graham, “You’re Billy Graham, aren’t you?”  He said, “Yes.”  “Well,” the man said, “you are a truly great man.”  Billy responded, “No, I’m not a great man.  I just have a great message.”  I would say the same thing.

Verse 9.    For we are God’s fellow workers.   {I just want to set this straight.  Fellow. Workers.  Paul and Apollos: Fellow workers.  Dale Schlafer.  Brad Strait.  Ryan Paulson.  Fill-in-the-blank.  Not competitors; fellow workers.  Just people with a can and some water, doing our best.  Fellow workers, not competitors.}  You are God’s field, God’s building.  According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it.  Let each one take care how he builds upon it.  For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.   I just want to remind you:  understand that your fruitfulness, in the past and in the future, is determined simply by our foundation. Our foundation has a name.  His name is Jesus.  He’s unshakable, immovable.  He’s the same yesterday, today, tomorrow, next Sunday.  Jesus is the foundation.  He’s the chief cornerstone.  He’s the head of this church.  He’s the senior pastor.  You’ll just get another under-shepherd.  Where we build matters.  Where you build matters, not just as a church, but as a person.  Jesus would say, listen, you’re either building your life on sand or you’re building your life on rocks, but the foundation that you lay will determine the fruitfulness that comes from your life.  So where is it?

As Aaron and the team come forward, I just want to end by reading one of my favorite verses to you.  Paul writes in Philippians 1:3-7 — I thank my God in all my remembrance of you    {I just want you to know, South Fellowship, that Kelly and I will remember this church.  Not only because you took a risk on a 31-year-old guy who had no senior pastor experience and were gracious with me while I learned (really gracious with me), but because we’ve grown to love you deeply.  We really have!  So when we remember you, not just you collectively as a church, but you, individually, we will do so with fondness and with gratitude and we’ll thank Jesus.}   …always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.    I’m so grateful the last seven years hasn’t been me building a ministry.  It’s been us linking arms and hearts together for the sake of the kingdom.  This really has been partnership.  I’m so grateful for that.

Paul says:  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  Hear me, South.  God is not leaving you.  He has great things in store for you.  He’s committed to the plans He has for this church.  He’s committed to the plans He has to you personally.  This is our chance, both collectively….because Kelly and I are in this too.  We’re stepping out—Free Solo style—sort of going, “Alright, God, you’ve been so good to us this last seven years, and we’re just going to do our best to trust that if this is where you’ll lead, this is where you’ll provide, that you’ll be good to us too.”  But hear me, South, God is not done with you.  I firmly believe, with everything in me, that the best days of South Fellowship Church are in front of her.

Finally, I say this to you:  It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace.   We have both tasted and seen that God is good.  That our eternal home is Him.  That we have the opportunity to make our home in Him today.  Paul says those things knit us together and they drill relationships deep within us.  Kelly and I would say to you all, as a community of faith, but also as individuals, you are deeply, deeply, deeply in our hearts and we love you dearly.  So, South, continue to chase after Jesus.  Continue to serve the people around you in this community, and continue to love each other well.  You’ve done it for seven years, I have no doubt that you’ll continue doing it in the future.  Whatever can God gives you to water in the field that he plants you in, do so knowing that He’s the one that’s at work.  Amen.

Just a Man with a Can | 1 Corinthians 3:5-92021-01-17T13:59:06-07:00

Share Your Faith Workshop

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][us_image image=”8873″ size=”full” link=””][vc_column_text]Many followers of Jesus would share their faith with their friends and family, but they just don’t know how. This workshop is designed to give you the practical tools necessary to share your faith with confidence and effectiveness. This class is going to be fun, interactive, and informative.

There are materials that go along with this course and there is a cost of $10 for the workshop. Please follow this link to register and sign up online.

Date: 2/28/15
Time: 9:00am – 3:30pm
Location: Connections Room (@ South Fellowship Church)
6560 South Broadway
Littleton, CO 80121
(Behind the McDonald Hyundai Dealership)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Share Your Faith Workshop2015-02-11T00:00:00-07:00
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