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we’re going to begin today by being a little bit reflective for many of you you’ll know that so many things going on in the world right now so many tensions so many heartaches what I’d like to do is to invite you into a moment of contemplation and prayer if you’d like to bow your heads with me I’m going to lead us through a moment where I’m going to name some of those things maybe things that this morning are a burden that you carried in a thing that has been on your heart an ache and I’m going to invite you in this moment to respond to each line with these words lord have mercy it’s a way of entering into those things that we’re praying for those things that we read about that we see on 24 7 news those things that for some people are life-changing for some of us are things that we try and avoid

and so we begin

God for those nations in conflict in this moment lord have mercy for the young men and women far from home serving unsure what returning home looks like lord have mercy for the young mother and father raising children in a war zone and certain if they have a future lord have mercy for the leaders who are leading the commanders who are commanding the followers that are following lord have mercy

for the parents grieving the loss of a child lord have mercy

so the family is fleeing natural disaster in this moment lord have mercy

for those whose hearts ache with uncertainty lord have mercy for those experiencing fear lord have mercy

for those of us that don’t know what to do with our grief and our heartache lord have mercy

for this world that you love and you care about lord have mercy

God with so many things going on in our world it is hard to know how to pray and hard to know whether our prayers have made a difference

for every person in afghanistan for every person in louisiana and all over the world

God we ask for your mercy we ask that you would show yourself to be good

when we don’t know how to pray we know that our hearts groan and you hear somehow our prayers

for this world would you show yourself to be good we think of the so many the lyrics that and then more than lyrics the prayers that we just prayed we prayed for those that are poor and powerless we prayed for those in their weak moments that you would be good to them we prayed for this world that it would come to know hope in you and we pray for ourselves for each individual in this room no matter where we are in our faith journey may you speak to our hearts may he lead us closer to you may you be merciful amen thank you for praying with me friends good morning my name is alex I’m one of the pastors here if you’re visiting we’re really glad that you joined us I hope you have a great time with us here you’re joining us just at the end of a series called what if we you’ll notice that we’re doing something a little bit different today because there are six chairs seven chairs set up behind me and of course if you are new and visiting that speaks into one of the deepest fears that we might say to you could you come up front and share with us some of the ways that you have failed all of the ways that you are broken uh with the community so if you are new could you make your way to the number we wouldn’t do that I’ve been in churches that have done that it was just as awful as you might imagine but we are going to do something a bit different we’re going to invite some of our community members to just share some of the ways that they are involved one of the joys of a church like south is it’s not really about me on stage it’s not really about the staff it’s not really about the elders it’s really about people in our community who have taken this good news about Jesus to her and are doing something wonderful and compelling with it so to catch you guys up if you haven’t been here for the last few weeks we started to shape this idea as part of our vision we’ve got our wonderful vision statement that we love we’re living in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus but that sometimes needs a little bit more unpacking and so we started to play with this sentence what if we became a Jesus people who are relationally connected deeply formed and outward reaching and and let’s start for a second without an idea of relationships this is called this is a place where we are called to know and to be known think about for a second the most significant relationship in your life unless that’s a biological family member that started with this one moment that started with all of this possibility in this first encounter maybe it’s the moment you met a loved one maybe it’s the moment you met a best friend but somewhere there was this moment where you met at all of these possibilities they all came to life in that moment and the deep relationship that you have now is only possible because of that first meeting that first encounter and we think about a Jesus shaped community and think that there’s this core here for us to be in relationship with each other and yet it takes the faith of like that first moment to enter into that relationship and to build those deeper relationships it takes bravery it takes work there’s this idea that we are called to be relationally connected but the idea is that it doesn’t just stop relationally connected somewhere there is this core for a church community to be about deep formation we talked about how that word might be new to you it’s very similar to the word discipleship but last week our formation pastor yvonne she came and she just did a wonderful job sort of shaping that idea and let me just say this as an aside it’s so nice to be able to go on vacation and know that someone will come and do this wonderful job in the teaching and just have that life in a church now it almost made up for the fact that the fishing during the week was terrible and we caught almost nothing worth I say almost made up for that fact we caught a lot of bluegill and nothing else and if you’ve fished and you know what bluegill are like they take some work to cut up and I got landed with some of that cutting up for these tiny little innocent fish that my kids had caught and insisted that we should eat and I remember standing there at one point cutting this poor little thing and thinking man this this little nugget of fish was not really worth it so I went back to my kids and said to them this I said I have a standard of fish that I am willing to cut up and it’s not these fish so if you want to participate and provide for a meal then well you need to help with the cutting up now I knew that considering these kids won’t even put worms on a hook themselves there was very little chance of them cutting up fish they can’t even walk past the fish house without gagging and suddenly surprisingly the standard of fish that was considered worth keeping suddenly dramatically raised suddenly it took sort of a couple of feet to be kept and we didn’t catch anything of that size at all so it worked out well we want to be these people that are deeply formed and this is what yvonne landed on there’s this passage in galatians this writer paul writing to one of the churches he’s planted he sees his relationship with them as something like that of a mother with children my dear children for whom I’m again in the pains of childbirth until christ is formed in you there is this longing that we would be shaped people that something in us would be changed and I think if you’re honest if I’m honest there’s probably things about us that we long to see different I I’ve sat with some people that have been followers of Jesus for a long time and have said quite honestly you know I don’t really like me and I’m surprised anybody else does as well now maybe we’re overstating some of the things but but the truth is for most of us there’s some stuff going on eternity that we’re like oh if I was different there that would be a dream somewhere this idea of this Jesus story is that you and I can be those shaped and different people and that that most often happens not as a solo sort of single thing but it happens in groups of some kinds it happens when we’re connected to other people we looked at this passage a couple of weeks ago it’s in proverbs as iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another in actual fact it’s only when we step into relationship really that that deep formation work has a chance to happen it doesn’t happen just by ourselves there’s some piece missing if it’s just us going through it by ourselves and yet there’s this third piece what if we became a Jesus people who are relationally connected deeply formed and outward reaching what if the thing that God started to change in you the ways that he gives you different passions for different areas of the world for for different people groups maybe for different areas of ministry what if he was shaping you and I for a reason and there was actually something for you to do with that thing what if the very act had been changed by Jesus was preparing you for something in your future something in your life something for you to connect with something for you to do maybe there’s this passage in this book ephesians and I’m always intrigued by this idea now to each one of us grace has been given according to the measure of the gift of christ maybe the language we might be used is what has God given you a grace for what has he given you a heart a passion for maybe you’ve met those people I’ve got a few friends like this they are so passionate about this one particular area of ministry that they really don’t see as much value in everything else as this one area that they are working in it’s I’ve seen it in some people that are very passionate about seeing modern slavery disappear and when you hear them talk it’s so compelling to them they can’t understand why everybody else isn’t as compelled by this one thing maybe it’s recovery from addiction and and I’m saying this as a good thing sometimes God puts something on our heart to such a degree we say I can’t help but get involved in it but we may think about that idea has been for people that stand on stages and people that run organizations and yet let’s look at what paul says in the next part of this passage and it was he Jesus who gave some to be apostles some to be prophets some to be evangelists some to be pastors and teachers but what did he give them for to equip the saints for works of ministry and to build up the body of christ until we reach unity and the faith in the knowledge of the son of God as we mature to the full measure of the stature of christ to equip the saints for works of ministry the whole point of people standing on stages of running ministries organizations is to make sure every single one of us knows we have a part to play there is nobody who is made just to sit and observe we are all made to be connected to something and so I’d like to invite some friends on stage some people that in our church community are involved in some of these wonderful things some people who are inspiring because of the way that it seems God has formed them has worked in their heart and and is compelling them to do something so we’re going to try and figure out the order a little bit better than we did last time and one of our friends that joined us in the first service neil asked why he was the only guy and for asking such a question we removed him from the stage so he’s not with us for this service so he’s gone uh he’s actually serving in kids ministry but I’m going to start with our food food bank team so erin cara would you like to come join me on stage

and let’s give them a round of applause yes

neil’s not here so we’ve got spare chair so maybe we’ll just pull someone up at random no I said I wouldn’t do that so just give us just a brief snippet I kind of gave it away a little bit but but what ministry are you guys involved in we’re involved with the food bank and yeah and um all week long we have a team of volunteers who pick up food from local grocery stores sort it and set out the best that we’re given and then on saturdays we welcome people from the community to shop for their families and then on sunday mornings um we still have one more pickup saturday night so we share with our south family what’s left over and you’re always welcome to come back and shop there’s there we go an offer of free food is one that I’m always willing to jump on so thank you for offering that to me personally and we this this is a historic ministry at south it’s been going on for a long time we had sharon in the the first service who we did invite to come up on stage with us and she very kindly said I have no interest in being on stage with you and so we we said that’s okay you don’t have to be up front not everyone wants to do what these guys are very kindly doing today but this has been going on for a long time I believe sharim a lot at some point was running a food bank as part of south from her garage and it’s at different times been organic it’s just started from somewhere different times been something the church has been involved in and and now we’re in this new iteration where it’s this team-led ministry which just seems to be thriving so thank you guys so much okay jody nevins let’s uh let’s invite jody to the stage give her a round of applause and we said in the first service you guys are welcome to chia and they’re welcome to cry because some of these stories are emotional so any tears are are very welcome and so jody tell us a little bit about your role you’ve been involved in operations at south for a long time and now starting to take on a different role uh working with dan and then taking over some of that ministry yes I like to do a lot of things so I started actually with women’s ministry and then did more of admin and now operations but as steve has come on board and taken on more of that my heart beat has always been for community and I’ve been involved in different things like the christmas shop and things like that in the past and um as just local as alex has talked about I’m just wanting to have a huge heart for our community and building that up some more I’m taking on more of the local outreach stuff here at south so so and that’s a wonderful journey I’m super excited to see how that evolves ruth would you like to come join us on the stage my dear friend ruth nichols and

and so I said to the first service ruth was the person who very gently when I started here at south sat down with me and said just so you know we’ve been here for 20 years so if you mess this up and she left this wonderful comic pause where I was like what’s going to happen to me like am I am going to end up buried in the back parking lot or something like this and and then she said to me she said we’ll still be here because this is our community this is our home and the joy to a new pastor’s heart with someone like ruth was just delightful and we get to hear some of her stories today and so ruth just briefly as we we prep the stories tell us a little bit about the ministry you and dan have been involved with for a long time my husband done and many here at south have been involved with reaching out to immigrants refugees my particular part was with the vietnamese ministry we’ve been at it for 30 years I love it thank you ruth um and then uh finally who have we got hannah and not neil because he’s going and serving yeah imagine leo was walking on stage with you

and hannah just a little bit same same question just tell us a little bit about the area of ministry that you’ve been participating in yeah I’ve been working or neil and I have been working with uh refugees and immigrants mostly refugees um in the denver area this is my mentor-ish person here um really involved with a lot of the afghans in the community but and then we have a specific area where we go to as well as yeah in sheridan there’s an area where there’s a lot um in one concentrated area so we spent a lot of time there as well love it thank you and I’m going to wander over to my chair I’m going to become like a talk show host and sit very casually over here I asked if I could do the stephen colbert thing and have a chair that’s way higher than everybody else’s so I look more significant but it was decided in church that wasn’t a good idea so I’m I’m here with everybody else so we’re going to go back to the other end of the the line and just start with this question of what drew you in uh these are ministries that involve different sacrifices some of them it’s relational it’s it’s hard to break into those communities some of it’s it’s just the time it’s an every week it’s it’s got a lot of that you have to give what pulled you in um I just I love the ethos of the food bank I love what it’s about and we have such a precious message to share with the world of Jesus love Jesus love for everyone and this allows us to really put hands and feet to it and just enter in and do life on life I mean we know that being in need does not in any way affect your worth or your value and that’s often not the way the world reacts and so having a space where people can come and just do life together and bring their needs and we we can meet a food need but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg it’s really coming alongside so much more um and you you kind of made a crack about you know welcoming new people to share your your deepest sorrows and and it’s but that’s what happens week and week out we just we get to really journey deeply in life with a number of our people who just share deeply they know we’re praying we’re part of their journey and they’re part of our journey and it’s it’s really it’s not a top down it’s just we’re doing life together and if they can get a glimpse of kingdom love in that that’s just really exciting to me and they get to share voluntarily as well which is important like instead of being forced up on stage to share everything deeply it’s just something but that isn’t that incredible in itself what we’re saying is that while that sounds terrible actually there’s this deep longing that we all have to share some of these weights and these burdens and you guys just provide this opportunity and it all comes out which is incredible really erin how about you um I got started in the food bank when I was a younger mom homeschooling young kids and I met sharon motzner who was the director and is still on the leadership team she’s been here for over 20 years helping with the food bank and she saw something in me and what she’s really good at is creating space for people to grow and learn and develop and so she kept offering me more responsibility and more responsibility and then I said no a few times but there’s an opportunity to come alongside her on the leadership team and really share the responsibility of running the food bank because it’s a lot of work and we’re all volunteers and so she invited me to do that and I finally said yes I felt like that was something that God had for me in this season and you guys have such a wonderful culture sharon was really at a point where she was starting to say I’m ready to stop doing some of this leadership piece and yet then really certainly actually you know it’s there’s a joy there it’s it’s not just it’s not a job it’s not just about something you have to do it’s something that’s deeply part of her which is incredible and so thankful for that jody how about you what was the what was the call you’ve been involved in things like the food bank shop that we do at christmas time before having a church staff role that was around outreach yeah our family has been at south for 11 years and one of the things that drew us to south was just the community and their their passion to reach people in our community to show love through the food bank through all the different ways that we invite people to our spaces and and and go out into community and love those our neighbors so I’ve been involved with the christmas shop I’ve been involved with the food bank I was shopping with the food bank during covid and just I think a big part of it for me is that it’s part of my own story it’s um my we lost our house when I was 11 years old to a fire so I know what it’s like to not have a home and I know what it’s like to go to those community meals and be seen and known and loved by the community so it means something deeper for me and our community here shows that love and that’s why I was drawn to come here and and do the same things here

and so ruth your story is is quite hilarious really in terms of how you got pulled in it uh it’s yeah tell us about it just share

it started with contentment so just in case you were unsure contentment can be a dangerous place to be regularly my prayer for us on sunday morning is God would you comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable and maybe the contented so what happened when you said I’m really contented I just been to a prayer meeting at a church that had dual services one english speaking one vietnamese this was a long long time ago and during the prayer meeting two different men said they wanted a different job I walked down the hall saying lord I thank you that I am not like those men I’m content I teach young children in my neighborhood thank you for making things neat for me uh

I actually did that do we have a class on humility later yeah yeah we can figure that out yeah okay I’ll teach nothing

uh the door to the vietnamese congregation opened up and two little children barreled out and collided with me and more clearly than I’ve ever heard anything God said those are the ones I want you to be teaching wow I tried to reason with him but it didn’t work he was unreasonable he had said it and there was just no debate uh and and so and and then hannah for you guys and and we said in the first service it’s intriguing the symmetry a little bit between what you guys are doing because you have on the back of conflicts in vietnam you have this vietnamese community kind of look down on maybe despised a little bit and now for you working with an afghani community similar sort of narratives and just seeing some of those the needs in that community what what pulled you into to working in an area that maybe you didn’t travel to an awful lot before you started working there it’s it’s maybe we have our areas some of us have never left highlands ranch it’s okay to do that as well just can I say that but um but yeah what was that like yeah uh neil and I have for years just have the nations on our hearts and when we moved from california to here one thing that God was showing us was to the ends of the earth and we didn’t know exactly what that meant I mean we knew but didn’t know for us and so give it another year or so we started taking the perspectives course wanting to see more of how to get involved and during that time neil had a pretty severe hand injury and because of that he really met the lord in the hospital and seeing hope through the loss that he had and in that time um highlighted it was in the midst of the perspectives course and it highlighted that not that we can understand the extent of refugees loss but that we can understand a little of loss and grief and how the lord has brought us through that and so we pursued um seeing if we could be a part of going overseas at least on a short-term trip to go and find out like do we need to do this long term or what does this look like so we ended up in greece at a refugee camp and for me specifically I remember going and they were refugees was a kind of a big word and they were just a bunch of people um and from there like being able to see people from all around the world and hear their stories and see their pain and then them in the midst of that tragedy it opened my eyes to everyone every the lord loves everyone and so coming back we ended up meeting um through a connection here we ended up meeting an afghan family and fell in love with them and it just kept on going I love it and you you used that word stories the word relationship there’s something about I think what I love about every single one of you guys the heart that you bring is that there’s something about the stories that you hear that have shaped you and when you hear stories when you get to know someone through their stories suddenly they’re not just a faceless sort of person anymore you can’t reduce them down to a caricature or something like that there’s something about the stories that are compelling so we’re going to return to the the other end of the line I was going to I’ve got a fantasy football draft later so I was going to do like a snake draft and stuff and go back and forth down the line but we’re just going to start from the other end what what what is it uh what stories would you share with people that just maybe give a little insight into some of the power of these ministries that you’re connecting to it’s hard to pick one story I’m going to share a different one on this service um so one of the first people I saw I’ve been with food bank about a year and a half and um I’ll call him jay I’m just going to use initials to protect confidentiality but jay and his wife em and their kids were actually workers with world venture in south america um and had um left that and were living here and then we reconnected when I started volunteering at food bank because they were coming and it was just amazing to make that reconnection with them see how God is leading their family and it’s it’s been quite the journey but the last several months he’s really been leading them to start a counseling ministry and bringing people to them and it’s just a christ-centered spirit-empowered counseling ministry and they’re just really seeing lives transformed um that’s a bit of the backdrop to the story another person I met really early on is e and e’s youngest daughter z just she’s adopted she had a really traumatic entrance into the world they probably don’t even know the extent of it but she’s just really struggled she’s really struggled with mental health issues and acting out and we got z was 12 I think when I started and we were getting to know her some and just sweet kid who really really struggled and we’ve just been on the journey with e just praying weekly and z ended up being institutionalized and needed to be in a live-in facility um we just have prayed and watched elizabeth e’s faith grow and have just prayed for Jesus to move in zee’s heart um in fact this past christmas zee was in this facility and they were on a complete lockdown over christmas and he actually came to the christmas shop um to get gifts for all the kids on her wing that were in lockdown because she said z’s gonna be loved on but so many other kids don’t even have families parents who are reaching out to them um anyway and we just continued to pray and then early in the summer jay and e were there at the same time at food bank and I watched them sit at a table together and just thought oh lord this could be an amazing connection and just their conversation got more and more intense and their faces lit up and e and z have been receiving counseling from j and m and it is completely changing their life zee is like a different person and she’s just growing in her relationship with Jesus she’s growing in hope and it’s just been an incredible thing to kind of be on the front row and see so that’s one of the many God stories and I love we were talking about this idea of how relational connectivity or being connected relationally leads to formation which which leads to outreach but it’s not really just that they are connected like that it’s almost like this spiral that keeps on going because what you guys are doing this willingness to reach out to the world around you creates opportunities for new relationships which creates opportunities for the life change that you’re you’re starting to see and you need a concrete need and through that God just addresses and identifies so many other needs and and goes beyond what we could even hope I love it thank you I’m not sure I need to tell any other feedback stories um I’ll just speak a little bit from an organizational standpoint um the story of the food bank is that God provides and he provides everything from the 40 to 50 volunteers that make the whole thing work each of them doing their parts each of them on their own journey there for their own reasons to the shoppers that come in on saturdays and it was very eye-opening to me that the people we get to come alongside are everyday people just like you and me and we all have struggles and we all have these hard things and it takes a lot of courage to come to a group of strangers and ask for help and so I just see this over and over again I see people willing to share their stories and willing to step into hard places with courage and vulnerability and we get to come alongside them and in the process of that we are also transformed like the holy spirit is working in and through that and among us and it’s just a beautiful thing I love it thank you so much jody so the food bank shop you’ve talked about that just briefly that’s a place of story as well right oh absolutely the christmas shop as is all of our stories here at south honestly um at the christmas shop we we welcome our food bank guests from that are come all year and then also some families from our real sea that are under resourced and the beautiful part of the christmas shop is that you all fill it up like we we create a toy store and we create a neat like household goods store and a coat shop and things like that and as people come in they are just so grateful for all that you guys have give and then there’s always tears there’s always tears because people are being loved and they’re given dignity and through that process they go from a place where they’re buying kids their toys for their kids that they wouldn’t normally be able to do and they get to go and wrap it and and just the whole experience they’re just grateful that they are given a place where they can feel comfortable to be where they’re at and that we love them right where they’re at and so all of you are part of that and one of the funny story I like to tell at one time we have christmas elves that help people go around and and shop and one of our christmas elves whose spanish-speaking male was helping this lady and he I was across the room and and he looked horrified and I like he needs help so I walk over and I said what do you need and he’s like she wants to know about these under women’s underwear I don’t know what to say so he had to contin he had to translate but I’m here telling her him how to translate how women’s underwear work so we we get into the awkwardness we get into the everyday questions of life and we love on people and we’re all a part of it in the small little things and the big things so none of us know his name but every guy in the room has a deep sympathy for this guy forever and always now poor man ruth how about you a story that stands out maybe a story that just connects and helps people understand just some of what you’ve seen I can identify with these other people that say there’s so many stories and it is about dignity and their story I want to tell you about one I’ll call her lynn

a big chunk of what we did for the vietnamese was establish a preschool year round for the children and a summer school summer camp for school-aged children and I’ll call her lynn she enrolled her little girl in our school and she made special contact with me she said hey teacher ruth do your teachers know how to pray and I assured her that we did know how to pray and she said would you think about praying for my niece she’s in the hospital she may not live and of course the teachers were glad to pray for the niece some of the teachers visited the child at children’s hospital we just tried to fill in the blanks of what they might need and the little girl got better got to go home and lynn came back to me and said thanks teacher ruth for praying for us hey now that you’re in the habit of praying how about you just keep praying how about if you pray for children all over the world and I’m glad that the holy spirit reminded me to say this lynn I prayed for you when you were a child you were a little girl in vietnam when the communists were taking over my own child was sick I was up three days and three nights while the communists were systematically coming through the country and I prayed those three days and three nights especially for the children I wasn’t able to help you lynn when you were a little girl but now God’s given me the opportunity to help your niece and your little girl and you any way I can and lynn grabbed my arm and cried and it was a good moment for both of us I love it thank you

hannah how about you well that family the afghan family that neil and I became really close with now we call each other brother sister who’s family they’re no longer just friends um but we’ve spent a lot of time together and it all started with the love of neil and the husband who loved home depot together um and working with their hands um but have guys connect home depot yes I think this story would will hit more close to home just because of what’s been going on in the world right now um but my the wife I’ll call ruth

she grew up in a in a place where she couldn’t get a lot of education and so it’s been amazing to be able to walk alongside her and teach her english and in the beginning we couldn’t I mean communicating was not completely gone but it was minimal um but we’ve grown in sharing with each other and they’ve asked us to pray for them in several occasions and seen answers to prayer and recognize that which is beautiful and so we just really have this close relationship and so a couple months ago again before all of this stuff in afghanistan it happened this last couple of weeks she was sharing about her some things that had happened to her family and how the taliban had um brought physical pain and and just the horrific things that were going on and she was in the midst of just I mean she still is don’t get me wrong by any means but in the midst of grief and sadness and anger for a lot of reasons and so in that moment the lord brought to mind the story of Jesus being asleep in the boat with the disciples and the disciples freaking out not knowing what to do and coming to find Jesus sleeping and wake him up and Jesus comes up comes and calms the wind and the waves and um and they worship him and so sharing that story maybe 20 seconds worth of a story and she immediately the lord got to her heart right there and said they call Jesus esau and she said esau can do it he can change their hearts and so I’m just just in those little those moments they may not be here here’s the whole gospel or heal I want to share everything my heart is to for them to have the hope of Jesus um now and forever but um just seeing those little pieces being able to share that with them then and right now to be able to walk with them and grieve with them um and love them and hopefully they will see the hope of Jesus that’s that’s just wonderful and your husband neil neil and I play chess together regularly and we’re pretty evenly matched it’s like 50 he’s like yeah I win like 80 of the time he’s not here no one knows

but but we were chatting one day over a game and it was when we were doing our friendship series and and he asked me who my close friends were which is a really great question just why why had I picked them or why had that friendship come about and then he said to me I would say that probably my closest friend in the world right now is a muslim is the afghanistani family that you were talking about that they despite different faiths have this deep connection they see the world similarly in lots of ways and every single one of you you shape these stories and it’s it’s so wonderful to hear you talk about people not as just people you’re serving or people that you’re doing things for there’s these deep relational connections which which seems to be how Jesus operated in the world right there’s something about how you see Jesus uh he never seems to meet a stranger never seems to meet an outsider he always is bringing people closer to the center always treating people with this incredible dignity is a word we’ve used multiple times and so thank you for just the way that you you shine this example of Jesus I for every one of you I sense that God has done a work in your hearts and it has enabled you to be the people that you are in the world and the great thing is about a community with a community like south there were multiple other people we could have invited to do this it just happened to be these five people I’m just so thankful that this is the community that we are um so thank you for participating in that I’m going to invite these guys to take a seat rather than sit there like an old-school pentecostal church like just hey do you wear a call oh I’m sorry yes yes sorry sorry I I just want to take this opportunity I mean as we’ve shared these stories like you this is for everybody this isn’t just for the few like our entire church has the ability to do things in this world that bring people to know Jesus and one of the way one of the things that we would love for you to do just today just show your interest and tell us what you would like to be a part of with outreach so fill out this and we also have a local outreach team that has been creating some values and we’re also meeting with our ministry partners and um just creating some strategy around what we’re going to do as south as some local outreach initiatives so we’d love to hear from you right so fill this out and put it in the offering boxes or at the welcome desk the second thing would be if you are available tonight at 4 p.m to come back to the all church training erin cara and I are doing an outreach breakout to hear more about what our current values and what are we working on at outreach so if you want to hear more come back for that and then the third thing is we’re doing a redemptive compassion class that will and that particular class has been some of the has been influential in some of our values so and we’d love to have you join us for that you can sign up for that in the lobby today and then the fourth thing hannah asked me she said some afghan refugees are coming so we need she’s gonna need some people to come and have relationships with those people so again if you’re interested in that you can also fill this out and just let us know and we can give your name to to hannah so thank you thank you guys to all of you

as we take some of those thoughts try and pull some of those strings together I’m always intrigued by the way Jesus sort of wraps things up with his disciples as he has been on this journey with them he’s now about to return to his father and we’re told these are some of the different endings in a couple of weeks we’re jumping into a new series in the book of acts which we’re super excited about and and this is like the lead into this book act he told them this is what is written the messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day the repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations beginning in jerusalem you are witnesses of these things I’m going to send you what my father has promised but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high this is mark’s ending he said to them go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation whoever believes and is baptized will be saved but whoever does not believe will be condemned and then finally this is matthew therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the father of the son and of the holy spirit teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age if you’re not familiar with the bible if you’re new to faith new to journey with Jesus these are the endings to three of the biographies on Jesus life and and this one here just is is the one that I’d love us just to focus on for just a couple of minutes as we end this how do we read these accounts I always used to read them as this this is Jesus whipping his disciples up into some kind of frenzy and saying you’ve got to go and do this thing I read it as this like imperative no get out I know you won’t want to but you’ve got to go anyway and yet as I got to read it later I started to question is that really what it is I actually don’t think so I actually think this is a moment where Jesus finally says all of that thing that’s been building that experience that life change all of the ways that you’ve become connected to this story that I’m living out in the world this is finally me saying okay now you get to play your part I have a feeling that these followers of Jesus were longing to go this is the finally the moment he says everything that’s changed within you now go share it with the world around you it’s not a whipping up it’s not a pushing out the door it’s it’s a final release that says you get to go a couple of short little stories that maybe help us see the difference for a while when I laura and I had been living here in 2010 in michigan we went back to england and I didn’t have a job so I just got the first job I could find that you could get in one day I agreed to be a charity fundraiser you know those guys that knock on the doors like late at night and say hey can you give us some money it never works very well I had to get around 150 houses a night and a good night was two people agreeing to support the charity now the truth is I would have said this these charities were fairly worthwhile they were pretty good but but really there was nothing in my heart that was particularly attached to them I can remember sitting in my car till the last possible moment where the team leader said right we’ve really got to get to work and I remember whipping through these conversations as quickly as I could just to get around my 150 houses and I remember knowing that without the five or six dollars an hour that they paid me to do this I would never ever have done this job everything about it was was really just that sense of just no you have to you have to make a living but there was no deep change in me that said this is worthwhile compare that story to to this story this is a pot of english tea a friend of mine steve and I used to sit regularly over breakfast for for hours every time we went and and we would have wonderful conversations but steve is what I would describe as well he can sell anything he could sell eskimos their own snow he’s just one of those people he’s very compelling when he tries to let you know about a project product and I took this photo this is the last photo I ever took on a phone that wasn’t made by apple I took this picture on a phone right before I sat down with steve just after the first iphone had come out I’d seen a couple of them in different people’s hands and said it’s just a gimmick it will pass I don’t really want one of these things until I sat with steve steve’s what you might call an apple evangelist there is something about him that he can share compellingly for this company that he seemed at the time like he deeply believed in and what happened after this was even though I was going on vacation in about five hours I drove myself to the apple store and was soon a proud owner of an iphone simply because steve was compelling not because he was paid not because he was coerced not because he had to but simply because he believed in what he was sharing there is something about these earliest followers of Jesus that they have become deeply convinced about what they have experienced and they are longing to go this is the passage that paul writes in romans and how shall they preach except they are sent even it is written how beautiful are the feet of them that bring good news of good things these followers of Jesus are convinced that they have experienced good things that this message of Jesus brings good things into the world around them and they are longing to go I’m gonna leave us with this passage from a guy called francis of assisi or this saying of a guy called francis assisi preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words we just heard from five people who have been involved in taking these good things this these this good news of good things out into the world around them and at times at times they’ve used words I’m going to invite aaron to come up and we’re going to close with some worship I’m going to pray for us what if we became a Jesus people who are relationally connected deeply formed and outward reaching and what if that wasn’t what that one thing just led to another but if it was an ever deepening spiral where every one of those things was connected to another God as we close may you shape us into the community you want us to be as we sing together again may you speak to hearts perhaps there is a story stirring here somewhere amongst us perhaps as we heard from these five ladies that each at some point felt some stirring to be involved perhaps you’re doing that in some of our hearts right now perhaps it’s something new something fresh perhaps it’s something we have to start for ourselves perhaps it’s something that’s already happening but I believe you have a part for each of us to play so for whatever you’re calling to us in this season for those of us that describe ourselves as being contented

may stir something up within us

because those stories that we got to hear those wonderful stories of joy of life change of new relationships and new possibilities they come about because a group of people were willing to say yes when you called thank you Jesus amen