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South Fellowship Church

Benefit to All | Isaiah 58:11-12

What we have heard and known, what our fathers told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. Psalm 78:3-7 NIV

Isaiah was a prophet during a time of turmoil in Israel. The northern kingdom had fallen and Isaiah’s job was to speak truth to the southern kingdom, calling for a change in their fasting behavior in Chapter 58. He calls out their oppression, injustice, and cruelty to each other. He says the Lord calls them to share food, clothing and shelter with the needy, and “to set the oppressed free”, and “loose chains of injustice,” Isaiah 58:6. If they do, Isaiah 58:9 tells us, “Then you will call and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here I am.” Next he says if the people were to look after the needs of others, not oppress others, and stop “malicious talk” and pointing fingers, then, “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings,” Isaiah 58:11-12.

In another passage, Ezra 3 8-13, we are given a picture of the first group of Israelites who returned from the Babylonian exile and their heart for God, for their desire to worship God, and to rebuild the temple. The author of Ezra tells us first they built the altar, and began making the daily sacrifices according to the law of Moses. Some of the people gave money, supplies, or labor to rebuild the temple. Contributions were from young and old, “Jeshua and his sons and brothers and Kadmiel and his sons (descendants of Hodaviah) and the sons of Henadad and their sons and brothers – all Levites – joined together in supervising those working on the house of God,” Ezra 3:9.

In the Ezra passage, the exiles had returned, they were repairing broken walls, and restoring the temple, raising up the age-old foundations, as Isaiah had said they would. Ezra 3 lists fathers, sons and brothers working on the supervision of the building together. I am sure conversations took place while fathers, sons, uncles and grandfathers were building together. Surely the older generations shared with the younger ones the Lord’s past miracles and praiseworthy deeds. Join me, share God’s faithfulness to us, across the generations this week.

By Grace Hunter

Benefit to All | Isaiah 58:11-122020-06-18T13:11:33-06:00

All Generations Needed | Ezra 3:8-13

In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak and the rest of the people (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work. They appointed Levites twenty years old and older to supervise the building of the house of the Lord. Joshua and his sons and brothers and Kadmiel and his sons (descendants of Hodaviah) and the sons of Henadad and their sons and brothers—all Levites—joined together in supervising those working on the house of God. When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord:

“He is good;

    his love toward Israel endures forever.”

And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy.No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away. Ezra 3:8-13

It’s a moment of hope. After a long exile and enslavement God’s people are united, fathers with sons, to lay the foundation of the temple. This structure was more than a building, it was a symbol of God’s unique relationship with them. With each stone was an investment in a foundation of faith, a foundation of following God, a foundation of renewal. It was also a multigenerational task. Young spiritual leaders (Levites) 20 years old and up lead the effort while sons and fathers mingled sweat over the task.

There is a beauty and power in this scene. There is a sense of legacy and unity as old and young work not to simply build a temple but to turn back to God. This is how being God’s people should be: young and old side by side. Yet, there is an inevitable tension that rises when the generations mingle in this way. Look at verse 13. The young are rejoicing because they see their nation turning to God. They picture a bright future. They imagine hope and peace and the presence of God among them. Their shouts of praise are then met with a cry of lament and sorrow. Those who had seen the splendor of Solomon’s temple and had watched God’s presence lift from it, now look at the shabby foundation stones and they grieve. They grieve the mistakes they made, they grieve the loss of a dream they had once had. They grieve because their children don’t know how beautiful and hopeful the old temple had been. Yet, in the midst of that sadness they build because it is better than the alternative.

This mingling of youthful zeal and sobering grief is part of the point of God’s Multigenerational church. Those who are young bring a vibrant zeal for the future and a genuine belief that they can one day fully be who God wants them to be. What they often lack is the deep humility, brokenness, wisdom, and surrender required to avoid the pitfalls of human brokenness. When both generations are present and laboring side by side, they balance naivety with honest assessment. The balance hope with Joy. But we must acknowledge the tension that often exists between the generations and we must acknowledge that both perspectives are necessary to truly be the church that God commissions to reach and love the world.

Find time over the next few days to watch the movie, “The Intern.” Ask yourself, what does each character bring to the other? Finally, ask yourself, what role do you play in the other generations represented in your community?

By Aaron Bjorklund

All Generations Needed | Ezra 3:8-132020-06-18T12:41:22-06:00

Generational Gap | Isaiah 58:9-10

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;

     you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’

If you take away the yoke from your midst,

    the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

if you pour yourself out for the hungry

    and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,

then shall your light rise in the darkness

    and your gloom be as the noonday. Isaiah 58:9-10

In my past work experiences and missions trips, I’ve been blessed to visit London and have taken the subway (the ‘Tube’) to get around. It’s hard not to notice signs all over the place saying ‘Mind The Gap,’ referring to the space (or gap) between the platform and the subway car. I’ve never witnessed the result of not minding the gap, but I’m sure it probably involves tripping headlong into the car, injuring oneself, or others, or both. Perhaps the signs are paying untold benefits to passengers by preventing these injuries!

‘Mind the gap’ just might be helpful for us as we handle new generations, or those before. I’ve seen my parents sometimes shake their heads and say something like ‘what is this world coming to’ or ‘these are our future leaders?’ voicing their feelings and frustrations with generations ‘newer’ than their own. I have to smile when I catch myself thinking or saying the same thing!

There will always be new generations, thinking and doing things differently than before, and that is okay! This has been happening since humans were created, and we’re not going to stop it. Our white-knuckled grip on ‘how things have always been done’ only leads to being in conflict with later generations. It’s time for generations to ‘mind the gap’ and learn to treat each other well!

I know I’ve struggled with how my childrens’ generation say and do things, using differing terminology and sometimes way too many words. What I’m going to start doing now is change the way I behave when interacting with others, especially those of a different generation. This goes for newer and older generations! I’ve always had an interest in the views and perspectives of those from generations before, but it would be beneficial for me to do the same with newer generations. Study the passage for today and see if this isn’t true according to scripture.

If, like me, you’ve not ‘minded the gap’ with other generations, perhaps consider joining me in confessing our shortfall with them, repenting (or turning away), and then prepare to learn new things in new ways!

By Rich Obrecht

Generational Gap | Isaiah 58:9-102020-06-18T12:39:00-06:00

Call to Prayer | Calling All Generations to Fast

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice

    and untie the cords of the yoke,

to set the oppressed free

    and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry

    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—

when you see the naked, to clothe them,

    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,

    and your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness will go before you,

    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;

    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Isaiah 58:6-9a

Fasting is a practice of refraining to find true freedom. By willing ourselves to refrain from food or something we desire, we free ourselves from the bondage they have over us. Self-controlled practices like fasting teach us that will can trump impulsive desire and human desire does not have to have the final word.

Freedom is found when we walk in the way of Jesus not by our every impulse. Often our surface desires crave loudly – to fill our bellies, to respond in anger, to numb our circumstances. But, we all have a deeper desire to be released from our sinful entangling desires and to make them captive to our truest need for freedom.

Like in Isaiah 58, we don’t fast to change God’s mind but to unite with him in the process of walking in his way. We fast to remember we need God on this journey and we cry out to him for help. Let’s cry out this evening in fasting together remembering all generations need him desperately.
You can begin with us at 4pm at Littles Creek Park for a time of Worship through the freeing practice of confession.

By Yvonne Biel

Call to Prayer | Calling All Generations to Fast2020-06-19T13:59:48-06:00

Activity Practice | Digging Deeper

Every day she walked by in her floppy hat and giant sunglasses. She had a stick in one hand and a small dog’s leash in the other. Every day I was out in front of the house doing yard work. After several days of exchanging niceties, I asked her about the dog and if she lived in the neighborhood. She was dog-sitting and told me her address a couple blocks away. When I drove by her house, she had a very unkempt yard. I stopped and knocked on her door and offered to mow the lawn, she declined saying someone was coming to mow it. She invited me in when I gave her my phone number and offer to help with grocery shopping, she was 96 and partially blind and showed me her magnifying machine to help her read.

God puts us where he wants us, in geography and history. God wants us to love the people where we live regardless of age, politics, ethnicity, religion or offenses. Last week’s activities were about praying for these people around us in our neighborhoods, schools and workplaces. This week let’s take some “steps” towards loving our neighbors.

Take a prayer walk.

  • Pray for opportunities to meet your neighbors. Ask God to help you “see” and make observations.
  • Walk so your neighbors can see you. Take the time to stop and talk with them.
  • Ask questions, be curious, show interest, listen.
  • Interact. If God or faith come up, ask if they have a spiritual background and if it was a good experience. Be ready in return to share where you’re at with God right now.
  • If you can’t go for a walk, be available to your neighbors by hanging around in your garage, front yard or porch. And remember, walk over to talk to them, don’t just wave!

My elderly neighbor’s lawn never got mowed. No one answered the notes I put on her door. Soon after a FOR SALE sign went up and the house now has new owners and a new look. More opportunities are here in our neighborhood with people moving in and out. More doors to open to share the way of Jesus. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. 1 Timothy 2:1

By Donna Burns

Activity Practice | Digging Deeper2020-06-12T10:12:11-06:00

When We Divide | Galatians 2:11-14

When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? Galatians 2:11-14

Peter didn’t always get it right. This may or may not be a surprise, depending on how familiar you are with the story of the apostle, but it may be a surprise to know that he didn’t get it right when it came to interacting with people of another ethnicity. Paul tells us that when faced with pressure from his own ethnic group, Peter stopped eating with Gentiles, those of another ethnic group. Yet, even though Peter was wrong, he accepted correction when it was brought to his attention. 

As our culture collectively wrestles with the fallout of racism and racial bias, you may find your assumptions, viewpoints, and even actions are being put to the test. Ideas that many of us have taken for granted may not be socially acceptable, or more significantly, in line with God’s heart for all people. It can be difficult to admit that we have room to grow when it comes to race and ethnicity because that means we have to acknowledge we may not be as good of a person as we like to think we are, or we want other people to think we are. Being open to having your views and actions challenged and changed may feel costly, but benefit is a life more in line with God’s heart and kingdom. And isn’t that the point of following Jesus?

Be willing to let yourself be challenged in your ideas of race and ethnicity this week. If you feel yourself having a strong reaction to a new perspective, ask yourself why. Be willing to wrestle with your emotions instead of shutting down. It’s difficult, but it may be the first step towards growth. This might look like having a conversation with someone of a different ethnicity whose experiences might be different than yours. Or, you could listen to a podcast, or investigate resources from the Be the Bridge organization. Approach these perspectives with humility and ask God to help you grow.

By Jessica Rust

When We Divide | Galatians 2:11-142020-06-12T10:09:22-06:00

A New Heritage | Galatians 3:23-28

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 5:23-28

What’s your heritage? That’s an ice breaking question I ask when trying to get to know someone. It doesn’t matter what they look like to prompt me to ask that question. I’ve asked innumerable people of all colors, shapes, and sizes this question. Most of the time, the question is met with slightly raised eyebrows, a smile, and an engaging conversation about them. It’s a better question than “where are you from?” which could be very different from their heritage, or “what’s your background?” which could be a vocational discussion. No, I find asking heritage questions promotes great conversation which demonstrates my interest in them.

As Jesus followers, our spiritual heritage is vastly different than it was. Before we began following Jesus, we followed the Evil One. His path was ours. Feeling ourselves to be good wouldn’t and can’t change our destiny (Mark 10:18). As we turn to Jesus, dying to the other path, our heritage changes being based on Christ! What a glorious thing this is! We’ve become part of God’s family, heirs to the throne, through Jesus (Romans 8:17). And, we find in our Galatians passage the equality ceaselessly sought in this life is already ours in Christ!

In this tumultuous time we’re living, we see demonstrations based upon a lack of equality in the diversity of cultures in America. Justice isn’t being served. Centuries of oppression surface culturally embedded anger and it boils over. Most of us have no way of understanding or empathizing because we’ve not lived within their culture. Like me, we wonder where it comes from, being unaware but guilty of the turmoil just under the surface.

Many understand the Kingdom of God where our equality is already established. Being ‘in the now and not yet ’ Jesus followers, we’re living in the Kingdom of God as we live this life. We’re all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). Imagine if we began letting our Kingdom life spill into our daily life. How would that change things? How would we affect our neighbors?

Many times our imagination is the beginning of something becoming real. So, imagine being able to foster your Kingdom’s equality with your ‘here and now’ neighbor, then prayerfully pursue making it reality. Imagine what the ‘here and now’ would be like and how much deeper your relationships with your neighbors would be!

By Rich Obrecht

A New Heritage | Galatians 3:23-282020-06-12T09:49:29-06:00

A Covenant for All Nations | Acts 2:5-11

“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Acts 2:5-11

As a child, I was extremely blessed to be able to go to a racially diverse Christian school in the heart of Denver. It was normal for me to rub shoulders with kids of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds, from African Americans, Latinos, Pacific Islanders, Koreans, Indians, and even a few from Russia! As a child I got to see The beauty of this familiar sentiment, “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Fast forward about 25 years, and I have seen the same reality played out in my adult life. Jesus loves the adults of the world, no matter what their ethnicity, race, or heritage. Why? Because Jesus loves people. Moses described in Genesis 12 how this was God’s design all along.  God promised that ALL nations would be blessed through Abraham’s seed.

On the Day of Pentecost, it became a reality! God-fearing Jews from the surrounding areas were present. Looking at this map, you can see many of them came from very far away, a feat we take for granted in our modern travel world! On the day He sent His Spirit, God made sure that varied groups and ethnicities were present to fulfil the promise of Genesis 12:3 “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise, and the reason these believers were gathered that day.

The Day of Pentecost was a holy and awesome occasion, but that same power, that same Spirit is alive in us today, with the same message for every nation, tribe, and tongue. God has created the diverse palate of people as only a Master Artist can do. Each is unique. Each is a treasure. Each is a reflection of His heart. Each is blinded and broken by sin. Each needs to know the precious truth that Jesus loves them, willingly gave Himself up for them, and desires to build relationship with them. God’s throne is a patchwork of praise, as described in Revelation 5:9. And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll

and to open its seals,

because you were slain,

and with your blood you purchased for God

persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.

We should not fear this diversity, but seek to understand it and celebrate it as God the Father does. 

Take a moment to listen to Mandisa’s “We All Bleed the Same” Let the lyrics wash over you. If we’re going to fight, let’s fight for each other, for freedom, and for love.

By Sheila Rennau

A Covenant for All Nations | Acts 2:5-112020-06-12T09:46:58-06:00

All Nations Under One God | Genesis 1:26-27

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27 NIV

Our country is hurting right now over racial inequality. All people, regardless of their skin tone, their physical abilities or disabilities, their socio-economic status, their political affiliations or lifestyle choices, want to be loved, valued, and respected. Many people have become so frustrated with a lack of being valued, loved or respected, they have taken to the streets in protest in recent weeks. We live in a broken world, filled with imperfect, disrespectful, and often hurtful people.

This was not God’s original plan for us. He never wanted us to value people based on skin color. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them,” Genesis 1:27. God put his stamp on us, He made us in his likeness, in his image. We are all valuable to him. John Piper, a pastor in Minneapolis says, “As Christians we believe every human regardless of disability, ethnicity, gender, or anything else is worthy of dignity, value and respect because we are created in the image of God.”

Because we are all stamped with God’s creativity, every person is deeply loved by our creator. So much so, John tells us in his gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him,” John 3:16-17. Jesus came to the earth, to die on the cross, for the sins of all people, from all nations, regardless of skin tone, wealth, health, politics, or anything else. God loves everyone, and “wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” I Timothy 2:4. If we see people as God does, skin color, wealth, privilege, disability, politics and lifestyles have nothing to do with a person’s value, or dignity.

For 20 years I was blessed and privileged to be Mama to a severely disabled son. Some people may have felt his life was less valuable, or less worthy than other able-bodied people who can work and contribute to society. But I know Joshua was valuable to God, as all humans are. Revelations 7:9 tells us someday, we will see “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the lamb.”

John Piper wrote a moving prayer for Minneapolis, watch and pray along with me.

By Grace Hunter

All Nations Under One God | Genesis 1:26-272020-06-12T09:50:14-06:00

Call to Prayer | A Call to Lament

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Wise Solomon once said there’s a time for every season of the soul, including sadness. Unfortunately, our culture doesn’t take the time to actually cry our pain. Sadness is sadly an emotion we want to put off, shut down, suppress rather than lean into, allow to bubble out, and embrace. But when we shed tears our body is able to let go of this emotion more fully. It’s a natural way of letting our bodies process the emotion with us – especially when we don’t have words or understandable reasons for the sadness we feel.

Our country is experiencing a wave of sadness. We’ve lost jobs, finances, precious time for human connection, security, and equality. The list goes on. If you’re not sensing some level of weight or sadness in this season, perhaps you need to let yourself feel it a little more.
Tears are a beautiful gift from God and we don’t receive this gift when we try to avoid negative emotion. God gave us an entire book of the Bible dedicated to crying, grieving, lamenting (Lamentations). Jesus exemplifies how to let the body process with the soul when John tells us, “Jesus Wept” (John 11:35). Today, the invitation is to lament with us. Join us at 4pm for a time of Lament in the Park. Little’s Creek Park.

Note: If you decide to fast with us as well, we’ll begin at 4pm as well. If you’re not able to attend, I recommend watching Jeremy Lopez’s Guided Lament. 

Here is a document created by the Watchman Prayer Team to help us process the Spiritual Practice of Lament.

By Yvonne Biel

Call to Prayer | A Call to Lament2020-06-12T09:50:51-06:00
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