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If/Then: I Surrender/He Saves - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Apr 23, 2014

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
 
The next point on The Triangle involves living “In Community.” We hear the word community a lot at church. Sometimes we even hear the phrase “Biblical community.” What does all of that mean? Simply, it means living life with other people who help you develop your relationship with Jesus. Here we go again! Everything involves perpetuating and developing our relationship with Jesus. 
 
Our verses today point to some of the benefits of community. From the Hebrews passage we see that community with others following Christ can “spur us on toward love and good deeds” and encourage us daily to “hold on unswervingly to the hope we profess.” Godly community keeps us on track. In the Acts passage we see that Biblical community helps provide for each other’s needs, whether that’s by fixing cars or fixing meals. In the Acts passage we also see how true Biblical community draws others to want to know God for themselves. 
 
In a world filled more and more with “status updates” and “tweets” than face-to-face conversations, community done God’s way may become one of the greatest means by which we can convince people who are not in a relationship with God that He’s worth checking out. We all need this type of community, whether we’ve walked with God for years, or just started our journey with Him. One of the ways to join community at Southland is through Life Groups. Head over to our Launch Night page for some information on how to join one. Maybe the type of community you need involves healing of some past hurts, habits, or hangups. Celebrate Recovery has groups that can provide truth based on God’s Word and community like we described earlier. Finally...wait for it...this will be deeply profound..come to church. A lot. Find a way to attend a weekend service regularly. This is the easiest community you can engage in every single week. You can also experience our service online at SouthlandOnline.tv
  • Take some time to think about the type of community you’d like to be involved in. Pray that God will provide and show you how to get connected in the right type of community.
  • Read Acts 2:41-47 on your own today.
  • Memory Verse: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

Amanda Carter
Worship Leader

If/Then: I Surrender/He Saves - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Apr 22, 2014

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105
 
"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
 
Yesterday, we looked at The Triangle, our church’s strategy for spiritual growth. If you did not get a chance to click the link, here’s another opportunity for you to check it out.  For the next three days, we’ll break down each point on The Triangle, starting today: With Jesus. 
 
Each of us needs to be reminded that the goal of salvation mimics the reason for creation. God desired relationship. God wanted to share the relationship He has with Jesus and the Holy Spirit - with us. He created man and woman not just in His image, but in the image of Himself, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. (Genesis 1:26-27) He enacted the plan of redemption to fix the relationship we broke by choosing our own ways over God’s ways. Throughout Scripture, we see Him preserving His relationship with His chosen people. In the Old Testament, this involves His preservation of Israel. In the New Testament, it involves the sacrifice of His Son to permanently remove the sin barrier between us and Him. He just wants to be with you and me. That’s why focusing our energies on living “With Jesus” is so important. 
 
As in all relationships, we need to get to know God in order to develop our relationship with Him. Most of us know that our closest relationships involve people who know us well and who we know well. We get to know God through His Word and through talking to Him in prayer. Years ago, I remember when it dawned on me that I should talk to God about whatever was happening in my life long before I picked up the phone to talk to someone else about that circumstance. We all need the reminder that our relationship with God should take priority over all other relationships. No qualifiers or exceptions. ALL other relationships come after our relationship with God. We grow in relationship with Him when we understand that we love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). This is not fear-based relationship because we are free from all penalties of sin in Christ (Romans 8:1-2). Getting to know Him better and better is simply a response of loving Him back.
  • What is a “next step” you could take in developing your relationship with God today? Is He truly your first priority?
  • Memory Verse: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

Amanda Carter
Worship Leader

If/Then: I Surrender/He Saves - Monday

Posted on Mon, Apr 21, 2014

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 10:19-25
 
The cross and the empty tomb demand a response. The idea that someone would take on the penalty for all our mistakes, then overcome death - the consequence of those mistakes - and now live and intercede for us, compels all of us to respond. Some of us responded years ago, giving our lives to Him.  For some of you, this is the first morning you woke up a follower of Christ. This is a whole new season you’re beginning! For others, you have not decided to follow Christ yet. No matter where we land on the spectrum of belief and following Christ, we all have one thing in common: Jesus is our risen Savior. 
 
Today’s Bible reading says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Many people follow Christ more swerving than unswervingly. This week provides all of us a great opportunity to reorient our lives around the cross and the empty tomb. We need to make the Gospel central, even essential, to our daily living.  
 
Our church adopted a model of few years ago of how we want to intentionally “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.” It’s called The Triangle, and it’s our strategy for spiritual growth. The triangle provides three specific ways to live wholly With Jesus, In Community, and On Mission. Take a moment today to click the link and check out The Triangle model. This week we are all going to get back to the basics of following Christ well. Whether a new believer, a seasoned one, or someone still checking out Christianity, we all can benefit from knowing what it takes to follow Christ well and faithfully. Why?  “...for he who promised is faithful.” He has been so faithful to us. Learning how to be more faithful helps us grow in our understanding of God’s own heart and character.
  • What hope has become part of your life because of your relationship with the Father?
  • Memory Verse: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

Amanda Carter
Worship Leader

Shadows - Friday

Posted on Fri, Apr 18, 2014

By far, there have been more pages written about the death of Jesus than any other event in the history of the world—and rightly so. The crucifixion is the hinge point of history. No event since the beginning of time even holds a candle to the significance of Jesus’ death on the cross. But instead of focusing on the impact of Jesus’ death at a historical level, let’s focus on the impact of Jesus’ death at a personal level and highlight three changes that Jesus’ death makes in our lives.
  1. Jesus’ death means I am forgiven. You and I have a shattered past. We have all lied. We have all cheated. We have all compromised our character. But Isaiah 53:5 says, “He was pierced for my transgressions, he was crushed for my iniquities; the punishment that brought me peace was upon him, and by his wounds I am healed.” Jesus’ death assures me that the promise of Romans 8:1 is true: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
     
  2. Jesus’ death means I am free. Freedom from sin matters so much, because I wasn’t just a person who had sinned, I was a person in bondage to sin—without the power to live another way. Jesus said in John 8:34, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” That was me. I was enslaved to pride, enslaved to greed, enslaved to self-centeredness, enslaved to self-reliance. I was in bondage! But at the cross my chains were broken by the power of Jesus’ love. Jesus himself declared, “If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.” (John 8:36)
     
  3. Jesus’ death means I am family. Everyone has some level of disappointment with their family -- but the cross is an invitation into a perfect family that will last forever. A family that is filled with and held together by the world-creating, death-defying love of God. The cross is lasting proof that we have a God who loved us so much that he would go to a cross so we could have life. As it says in 1 John 3:1-2, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are. ” Because of the cross, I am a child of God. His son was sacrificed so that this son could be saved!
  • If God loved you to the point of the cross, is there anything you think he wouldn’t do for you?
  • What has God been teaching you about his love for you as a Father and about your identity as his child?
  • Think of someone in your life who needs to know these truths. Commit to sharing your story with them or inviting them to an Easter service this year.

Dan Hamel
Teaching Pastor

Shadows - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Apr 17, 2014

Ancient writers tell us the average person sentenced to death by crucifixion would survive three days on the cross before their death. Because of the brutal torture Jesus was subjected to before his crucifixion, he lasted only six hours—the six most important hours in the history of the world.
 
Each of the gospel writers gives us a close-up portrait of Jesus’ final hours. In their accounts, they record the final words Jesus spoke before his death.
  1. As Jesus was hung on the cross he said, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
  2. As Jesus was speaking to the thief crucified next to him, he said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” 
  3. As Jesus was ensuring that his mother had someone to look after her, he pointed to John and said, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And to John, “Here is your mother.” 
  4. As Jesus cried out in agony he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
  5. As Jesus’ body began to fail he said, “I thirst.” 
  6. As Jesus prepared for his death he said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” 
  7. As Jesus died he said, “It is finished.”
In the Greek, the phrase “it is finished” actually appears as one word—tetelestai. In the ancient world, tetelestai was the word used in the marketplace to indicate that the final price had been paid for an item. Tetelestai was stamped across a bill once it had been paid in full. On the cross, when Jesus cried out, “tetelestai,” it was an unequivocal declaration that the penalty for your sins has been paid and you are now justified and forgiven in God’s sight.  On the cross, Jesus took the full weight of your sin, paid every last penny of your debt, and made a way for you to be brought back to God!
 
New Testament scholar N.T. Wright wrote, “With this shameful, chaotic, horrible death Jesus has gone to the very bottom, to the darkest and deepest place of ruin, and has planted there the sign that says, ‘Rescued.’ It is the sign of love, the love of the creator for his ruined creation, the love of the savior for his ruined people…It was at the cross that the shameless, reckless love of the creator-God came running down the road to embrace the entire world.”
  • Which of the statements from the cross resonates most with you?
  • Are you living as if your sins have been paid in full, tetelestai?
  • Devote 10 minutes today to silent reflection upon the cross.

Dan Hamel
Teaching Pastor

Shadows - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Apr 16, 2014

There is a story from the time of the Great Depression about the then-mayor of New York City, Fiorello LaGuardia. He was a mayor who strived to live with the people. It was not unusual for him to ride with the firefighters, raid with the police, or take field trips with orphans. On a bitterly cold night in January 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. Within minutes, an old widow was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told the mayor that her daughter's husband had left the family, her daughter was sick, and her two grandchildren were starving.
 
Her story was heartbreaking, but the shopkeeper from whom the bread was stolen refused to drop the charges. “It's a real bad neighborhood,” the man told the mayor. “She's got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson.”
 
LaGuardia sighed. He turned to the woman and said, “I've got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions based upon circumstances.” He dropped the gavel and pronounced, “You are subject to a $10 fine." At first the courtroom was taken aback by the seemingly callous verdict, but then they watched as LaGuardia reached into his own wallet and pulled out the money to pay the fine. The courtroom erupted into applause!
 
LaGuardia was serving as a judge and had to be just, but he was also a man of compassion and desired to be merciful. A penalty had to be paid, but the judge paid the penalty himself!
 
This story reveals the heart of God. God is just and righteous, and has to punish our sins. Yet the Bible tells us the only proper punishment for our sin is death. Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.” But God is not only just and righteous, he is also gracious and merciful—willing to pay the penalty on our behalf. On the cross, Jesus died the death that we deserved—fully satisfying God’s righteous requirements and fully displaying God’s compassionate nature. Theologian D.A. Carson once said, “On the cross, justice and mercy kissed.”
  • Spend time today thanking God for forgiving all of your sins!
  • Refuse to allow the enemy to speak condemnation into your life about something God has already forgiven!
  • Knowing that you have been forgiven of so much, is there anyone who has sinned against you who you need to forgive and “release” from their payment?

Dan Hamel
Teaching Pastor

Shadows - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Apr 15, 2014

When I was young I had an incessantly curious mind and a rather stubborn will. Whenever my parents asked me to do anything I’d respond by asking, “Why?” It didn’t matter what I was being asked to do, I always wanted to know why. As I’ve matured I’ve learned to be slightly more compliant, but when I’m asked to do things, I still like to know why. Why we do things matters.
 
This week our focus is on the cross, and though we could spend time reflecting on how Jesus died, or when Jesus died, or even where Jesus died, perhaps the question that matters most is “Why did Jesus die?”
 
Luke 19:10 tells us, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.”
 
1 John 3:16 adds, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”
 
The Bible tells us that Jesus died because God loved mankind so much that he was unwilling to spend eternity apart from us. God created this entire world for the primary purpose of having a relationship with people. Our sin and rebellion made that relationship impossible, so God came to us in the person of Jesus Christ to bring us back. Jesus died for us because he loves us and wants a relationship with us.
 
As you prepare for this week, take time to reflect on how much God must love you for him to die for you. Reflect on how important his relationship with you must be in order for him to pay such a high price for you. And as you reflect on how much God loves you and his willingness to give his life for you, remember what Paul says in Romans 8:32: “If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?”
 
As you go throughout your day, let the reality of God’s love for you and desire to have an intimate relationship with you be the grounding thought in your mind!
  • When you wake up in the morning – reflect on God’s love for you and desire to be with you.
  • When you are driving to work – reflect on God’s love for you and desire to be with you.
  • When you eat your meals – reflect on God’s love for you and desire to be with you.
  • When temptation hits – reflect on God’s love for you and desire to be with you.
  • When discouragement sets in – reflect on God’s love for you and desire to be with you.
  • When you go to bed at night – reflect on God’s love for you and desire to be with you.
This is a special time of the year. Historically speaking, it was around this time when Jesus laid down his life for the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of the world. This week, let’s remember not only that he died for us, let’s remember why he died for us!

Dan Hamel
Teaching Pastor

Shadows - Monday

Posted on Mon, Apr 14, 2014

Think about something in your life you are absolutely committed to accomplishing. For students, it may be a commitment to get an “A” in a class or to complete a degree program. For salespeople, it may be a commitment to reach your goals for the month. For parents, it may be a commitment to see your kids grow up with the love or opportunities you didn’t have as a child. When we are truly committed to something, we believe nothing can stop us. We are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish our goals—no obstacle is too high to overcome and  realize what we have set our minds on.
 
There was something that Jesus was absolutely committed to, and he was so committed to his goal that he refused to allow anything or anyone to get in his way. Jesus’ goal was to give his life for the salvation of the world.
 
Mark 10:45 declares, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
 
John 12:27-28 reveals more truth. “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’”
 
Jesus came to the world to die for the world. Before Easter there had to be a Good Friday. Before the resurrection there had to be a crucifixion. Before reconciliation there had to be justice. Before peace there had to be pain. This is the week that Christians around the world will focus on the price Jesus paid to bring humanity back to himself.
 
The Bible tells us that when Jesus told the disciples he was going to the cross, “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, ‘Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’” (Matthew 16:22) Jesus saw through Peter’s words and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23)
 
Satan was at work through Jesus’ best friend, trying to convince him to avoid the cross. But Jesus was absolutely committed to accomplishing his goal.  He would not allow anything to stop him from giving his life to save the world. To save you!
  • Worship and thank Jesus for his resolute, steadfast commitment to give his life on the cross. 
  • Jesus was absolutely committed to giving his life for you. Are you absolutely committed to giving your life to him?
  • Jesus refused to allow anything to stand in the way of obeying God and laying down his life. What obstacles in your life are preventing you from being completely surrendered to God’s will?

Dan Hamel
Teaching Pastor

You Asked For It: Week 5 – Friday

Posted on Fri, Apr 11, 2014

John 8:32b
“The truth will set you free.”

There are times we can’t or won’t see overt truth. But we can see it if we disconnect our defenses long enough to let the truth do its powerful work in our hearts. Frederick Buechner wrote an insightful book called, “Speak What We Feel, Not What We Ought to Say,” in which he wisely puts forth the idea that, in fiction, we write what we actually think, as opposed to non-fiction where we have to hide what we truly feel. In fiction we can plausibly deny or disown what we’ve said… it’s fiction after all, right? Story is a conduit of truth when nothing else will allow it to flow. When King David was stuck in his sin, Nathaniel was able to break through by telling him a story. David’s heart broke and God’s power to heal and restore began to work in his life.

This week, we’ll end with a story: A man was hired to plow a field. He showed up only to discover that the job was going to be harder than he thought: the ground was dried up and hard as concrete. And it was hot as blazes. First, he was pretty angry about the fact he’d committed to do the job. But then he got a bright idea and made a phone call. After several dump trucks delivered piles of loose dirt, he proceeded to rake the dirt into long rows that looked like freshly plowed furrows. He summoned the owner of the field, showed the “results” of his work, and was promptly paid... for his deception.

Take a moment to reflect on how this story might intersect with your life, then think or talk through the questions below.

  • What is God doing in your heart? Do you need to get busy and do the hard work? Do you need to offer your heart up to the hard work of the plow? Do you need to confess an area of deception to God or to someone else?
  • We can fake it on the surface, but, in the end, the harvest will be evidence of whether or not the soil was ready to receive God’s seeds. What kind of fruit is your life producing?
  • Who can you turn to in order to ask for accountability to the steps you’ve identified above? A close friend or family member? Someone in your Life Group? Take the step today and watch what God can do in your life.

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

You Asked For It: Week 5 – Thursday

Posted on Thu, Apr 10, 2014

Proverbs 13:7
Some who are poor pretend to be rich; others who are rich pretend to be poor.

One of the most interesting moments of my life was thoroughly wrapped in the garb of inauthenticity. It feels like another life. It was a moment that was so totally outside of who I am. In many ways I was searching for who I was. I had recently come to Christ and been baptized. I had just finished two years as a Physics major, and had no idea what I’d do if I finished that pursuit. In the process, I found that my friend, Sara Baxter, who would later become my bride, had worked for a rising Christian rock band who would go on to be nominated for several Grammys and win numerous Dove Awards. All I knew was that I was slowly becoming disillusioned with my studies and I needed a job. Sara put me in touch with the right person and I discovered the band needed two roles filled: a bus driver and a dancer. I immediately set about investigating the pathway to get my CDL license to drive the tour bus, only to discover that I was three years shy of the 21-year-old minimum. So… I took the plunge and headed to Nashville to learn a few dance moves. A few days later I found myself sleeping on a tour bus, eating fast food, and standing on a stage with lights flashing, music blaring, people screaming. The people who really know me know how out of character this was for me.

The stressful part of it was trying to imagine much further down the road past the moment I was living and seeing it play out in a sustainable manner. Thankfully, when it came time to evaluate where to go from there, my friend who led the band was clear-headed enough to see, in the end, they needed something else: a dancer who could also play the drums at times... and I had zero experience on the drums. I was actually slightly relieved when the role was suddenly and clearly placed beyond my ability to continue striving to fill it. Do you ever feel like you’re pushing harder and harder just to hold it together? Like you’re walking a pathway you know is going to drop off in front of you at any moment? Stop pretending and reach out to the God who wants to help you become who He made you to be.

  • It’s been said, “The best thing you have to offer is your authentic self.” If you’re struggling, say so. If you’re on the wrong path, admit it. If you’re exhausted, sit down and rest. And if you need to talk with someone, don’t delay another moment. We’d be honored to help you discover God’s best version of yourself. If you’re not sure who to talk with or what your next step should be, call Jennifer Wallace to learn more.

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

You Asked For It: Week 5 – Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Apr 09, 2014

1 Corinthians 10:13a
But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience.

Sometimes problems can be figured out with a little brainpower and creativity. But what if your problem isn’t a mere brain teaser? Sometimes we run up against questions which have no linear, logical answers we can comprehend. Whichever best describes your troubles, I do know this: A lot of us are like the rest of us. Whether it’s sin in your life, or something that detonated in your life due to someone else’s sin, or simply because we live in a messed up world, Scripture tells us that we’re all in the same boat. We face the same struggles someone else does… or has… or will. Don’t fall for the lie of the enemy that you’re unique somehow in your difficulty. Satan will back you into the corner and pummel you there, convincing you that God has abandoned you because of what you’re walking through. That God is punishing you while everyone else gets a free pass.

No, the truth is that you are experiencing what others experience in this fallen world as a result of choices we’ve made or that others have made, but most often a blending of the two. And God knew we would step in these situations, circumstances, choices, consequences—or get stepped on. Even so, He sent Jesus to begin the process of fixing what’s been broken. One of the coolest things that happens (when we realize we’re not alone) is that God starts to bring hope into our pathway. Hope that things can change. We can change. We can heal. We can stand up out of the misery and walk forward again. With God and with other people in our corner, the enemy has to lay off. We not only have others who are helping to watch our backs—and that’s pretty cool—we also have a big God who is starting the amazing redemptive process that looks almost like a clock working backward. Our struggles are redeemed, and as we help others, well, our wounds are patched up and healed as well.

  • One of the places this happens so clearly and so often is at Celebrate Recovery. If you deal with or have been on the receiving end of anger, relational stress, family issues, codependency, control, anxiety, worry, addiction… this is the place to connect with God and others and know beyond a doubt you’re not alone anymore.

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

You Asked For It: Week 5 – Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Apr 08, 2014

Matthew 25:40
Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

One day I was pulling out of the church parking lot and saw a guy in a trench coat sitting on the curb, an empty beer can next to him, a cigarette in his hand. I pulled over to see if I could help. The guy averted his face and said, “No, I’m okay, I’m okay…” The voice was a dead giveaway, “Brewster? Seriously? What are you doing?” There he was, dressed up to challenge his fellow staff on their way out the door and others on their way in to attend one of his Jesus Parties to see if anyone would stop. I love it that Brewster is such a trickster. He looks alot like Jesus in that way. “Say what?” Yeah. Absolutely. In Matthew 25 we discover that Jesus has been throwing on a disguise and showing up in our pathway - incognito. But His play-acting has massive significance. This reminds me that our God is constantly and playfully inviting us to a game of hide-and-seek. For some, it’s a challenging invitation that cuts to the quick. For others, though, it’s the loving invitation of the God who loves us and longs to be face-to-face with us and have us look into His eyes. At Southland, we want to jump into the game and be like Jesus - to love God, love people, and prove it daily. There are many ways we have figured out to get face-to-face with Jesus by helping people. If you need help, let the church be the church. Throw your hand in the air and ask for help. You can be a part of helping or even receive help in the face of loss, hospitalization, joblessness, a death in the family.

  • One of the reasons we, as a church, organize the effort of helping people is that we want to participate with Jesus in the process of growing people to live a lifestyle of difference-making. You can serve through Southland, but you can also go and care for the people God puts in your path who don’t fit into a program or process.
  • Check out our Care Page. Do you need help? Reach out and ask for it. Can you give help? Jump in and get involved.

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

You Asked For It: Week 5 – Monday

Posted on Mon, Apr 07, 2014

Matt 28:20b
“I am with you always.”

We’re finishing a series about tough questions and difficult issues. Are you in a challenging season right now? There are so many people walking through difficulty in their marriages, health issues, joblessness, addiction, abuse, loneliness, financial problems. If it’s not on this list, it’s something else that is blowing up in your world. Or maybe it’s going great for you right now. If so, that’s awesome. Not to be a downer, but you may find yourself in need tomorrow. Things change from day to day. In the blink of an eye. Unexpectedly. Bottom line: We are surrounded by hurting people. The people who won’t make eye contact with you in the grocery store. The neighbor who drives into the garage and closes it without speaking to you. Even the people who will smile at you in church this weekend and say, “Fine!” when asked, “How’s it going?”

But what if Jesus showed up in the midst of the pain? I mean, what if the living, breathing Jesus walked up to your door, your desk, your devastating situation? How would you feel? You’d be face to face with the One who can fix your situation with a single word. Would you feel a little better? Like there’s a little more hope? Would you be strengthened and encouraged? I’d like to think I would be. But here’s the deal: Jesus is alive and well. And He is concerned with everything that happens to you. He is present in and through His people, the church. He never leaves us, doesn’t give up on us. If you’re struggling, don’t try to fake it or fix it. Bring your problems to Jesus - yes, when you’re alone and in prayer, but also by turning to the community of Christ-followers who can extend the love of Jesus to you, bringing hope in the midst of the most difficult circumstances.

  • Whether it’s going great or not so much, you can rest assured there will be a time when it doesn’t feel like it does today. Life in a fallen world just brings ups and downs. Simple as that. Depending on where you’re at, it could get better. Or maybe it could be worse. You need people around you when you’re in the challenging times. If things are going great, get proactive to connect with others at Southland by joining a Life Group. If it’s tough, you might consider stopping by Celebrate Recovery or checking out one of our Support Groups.

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

You Asked For It: Week 4 – Friday

Posted on Fri, Apr 04, 2014

He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
 
Our final Expression is, perhaps, one that most imitates the heart of Jesus. Jesus loved people. Specifically, Jesus loved and spent time with people who were poor. And when we use the word “poor,” we define it as someone who is physically poor, emotionally poor and/or spiritually poor. Jesus spent his time with people who needed healing in their bodies, their hearts and their minds. Southland wants to follow in His footsteps. 
 
Expression 4—We generously extend hope to the poor.
Challenge 4—100% of Jesus followers at Southland will baptize one friend each year.
 
We want each of you to extend hope to those in your life who are poor and we want you to do it with generosity in your hearts. But know and understand that it’s not just the extension of hope that God values. He also cares deeply that you do it with generosity. So put that in your own context. It’s not just mowing the lawn of the single mom that lives next door. It’s mowing her lawn all summer. It’s not just giving a few bucks to the guy standing on the side of the road with a cardboard sign. It’s giving him every bit of cash in your wallet. And it isn’t just being kind to your buddy at work. It’s generously extending the hope of Jesus in eternal salvation. 
 
See, it’s that generosity that leads us to the challenge that accompanies Expression 4. To follow generosity all the way through to the end would mean that we are taking this hope into the baptistry. We may fill a backpack full of food for a kid who’s hungry. But our deepest hope lies in that kid finding his eternal Savior. We may extend the hope of being emotionally healthy through counseling and community. But our generosity in that hope would help someone heal from emotional pain and find identity in Christ through salvation. 
  • Where are you generously extending hope? Encourage yourself by writing these things down. Celebrate how God is already using you.
  • Now challenge yourself to go further. Who is someone in your life that has a spiritual, emotional or physical gauge that’s running on empty? How could your generosity move that needle in a positive direction? And as you extend small glimpses of hope, ask yourself how this person could know Jesus through your actions.

Derrick Purvis
Formation Pastor

You Asked For It: Week 4 – Thursday

Posted on Thu, Apr 03, 2014

Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God,  till I declare your power to the next generation,  your mighty acts to all who are to come.
 
When I was seventeen years old, there was a guy named Scott who wouldn’t let me escape from my Heavenly Father. He was a high school pastor at a church nearby and I, somehow, had made my way into his ministry over the summer. It didn’t take long for Scott to open up his office, his home and his life to me without any reservations or concern. Shortly after I tip-toed  into the ministry, I was eating dinner at his house and watching “ultimate fighting” in his basement. Scott and his wife, Sarah, were investing in me and I didn’t even know it. Fast-forward to today and Scott and I are doing ministry together. His investment in a kid he didn’t even know will not only have eternal impact on my life, but also on the life of my family and those I get to serve in ministry. 
 
Scott and Sarah did a pretty radical thing for me. And we, at Southland, are all called to do the same. 
 
Expression 3—We radically invest our lives in the next generation.
Challenge 3—100% of Southland students will learn to follow Jesus daily.
 
Where are you investing in the next generation? We have children’s and student ministries at Southland that reach thousands of kids in the course of a year. They need leaders and volunteers to make those investments that last throughout eternity. And what about the world around you? There are kids in your neighborhood who need your investment. There are kids who take food home through our Backpack Program who could use an encouraging note from you. Are you willing to jump in and make an impact on the next generation?
  • Begin with praying for kids and students at Southland and in your community. Pray for their futures, their decisions, and their connection to the Church.
  • Browse our website and look for an opportunity to serve in our Children’s, Student and Local Outreach ministries that invest in the next generation.

Derrick Purvis
Formation Pastor


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