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Uncommonwealth: Uncommon Generosity - Monday

Posted on Mon, Jan 16, 2017

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
I had a great lesson in giving from my seven-year-old a couple weeks back. He had received a new Nerf gun for Christmas and decided to buy thirty additional bullets with his extra Christmas money. Now, there are about seven boys in my neighborhood within a five-house radius who are in a never-ending Nerf war.  And, naturally, these foam bullets get lost everywhere. If Abe leaves the house with three bullets, it’s unlikely that he’s gonna return with any after a single battle. Thus, these bullets have become a hot commodity among the neighborhood younglings. 
So rolling out the front door with THIRTY bullets was going to make him unstoppable. He was about to be the Rambo or John McClane of the Nerf war. But wouldn’t you know it, when he came back through the door, he had merely three bullets in hand.
“Did you lose all of those bullets?!”
“No, I gave them away.”
I went into adult mode. “What?! Those were expensive! You spent all of your money on those, buddy! Why would you give them away?!”
“Well, a Nerf war isn’t any fun if no one else has any bullets.”
Bingo. My little guy had nailed it. He didn’t give away his bullets out of a heart of generosity or a conviction from Jon’s sermon. He truly believed that the game is more fun if they’re all on a level playing field. Life’s better when we share the wealth. Adult math tells us to keep all our stuff for a rainy day. Kid math isn’t math at all. Kids just want to play together. God’s generosity looks more like Abe’s than mine most of the time. 
  • What about you? Are there areas in your life where you find yourself clamoring to be on top instead of building others up? Is your thinking on money and resources more about what you have versus what others need? Ask God to speak to you this week about building uncommon generosity in your life.

Derrick Purvis
Formation Pastor

Uncommonwealth: Uncommon Love - Friday

Posted on Fri, Jan 13, 2017

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.
Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.
I love looking at Acts 2:42-47 and seeing it as an inventory of sorts -- what “uncommon love” looks like in the life of the church. We deeply desire to be a church that faithfully teaches the Word, is a caring, loving, and supportive community, and is a place of prayer and worship--with a huge passion for extending hope so all can know and receive the love of Christ. 
As we commit to be completely devoted to these things, we will see the Lord’s work expand in our city and beyond! The world desperately needs to see the church be the church. What an incredible invitation for all of us. There is no place I would rather be!
In 2017, let’s all allow the Lord to increase and expand our devotion! I know we will see some incredible things this year as a Church. We know that the Holy Spirit empowers radical generosity and we know as we tap into the body of Christ we have unlimited resources to share the Good News!
We have an incredible opportunity in our places of work, in our schools, with our family, friends, and neighbors. 
One of the most powerful displays of the Holy Spirit in the life of the early Christians was the way they leveraged a contagious community to extend hope in radically different ways toward those in need - both in the community in which they worshiped as well as in the community where they lived.  
What will your role be? 
  • Pray and ask the Lord to show you what your personal growth area is in being an active contributor to Acts 2:42-27 in the life of our Church.
  • Share with a trusted friend how you would like to grow.

Michelle Frank
Staff Development

Uncommonwealth: Uncommon Love - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Jan 12, 2017

They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity - all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
One of the greatest joys is being around a new believer! In Acts 2, we see new believers sharing their faith with those who did not know Christ. Evangelism, sharing the Good News, was spreading and expanding the early Church. People could see the life change. And, the church grew. 
A highlight for our family has been walking with our son’s friend, Ian. Their family has become really special to us. Ian was diagnosed with a grave condition a while back and was miraculously healed. The doctors and nurses were shocked by the results. While in his MRI, he felt someone touch his foot and he asked his mom if she touched his foot. She said, “no I didn’t.” It happened again, and she said, “It was not me.” Then he heard the words, “You are going to be okay.”
I remember them coming over to our house that night and we cried, prayed prayers of joy, and cried some more! Ian had such a hunger for the things of God. We kept watching him take steps in his journey and the biggest step came while he was at the CIY Student Conference, MOVE, this summer. While there, he made the decision to get baptized and ask Jesus into his life. So we all gathered at the pond to celebrate his decision in the waters of baptism this summer. 
We can see how the Lord added to the early church those who were being saved and we still see this today! We want to be a church that “generously extends hope” in any way. We want to be a church that embodies the love of Jesus and points others to Him. Who is in your sphere of influence? Who is someone you can be praying for?
  • Check out our Local/Global initiatives -- who can you serve with the love of Jesus? 
  • Pray for our Church to continue to be a light and a messenger of love.

Michelle Frank
Staff Development

Uncommonwealth: Uncommon Love - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Jan 11, 2017

And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.
I love this “sharing everything they had” life in the early church! I also love hearing about these kinds of experiences from people right here in our own Church. I asked a friend to share a bit about her Life Group and how “life together” has impacted their walk with Christ and shared community. Here is what she had to say:
“I’m not sure where I’d be without them. I’ve been a part of a life group for about ten years. There isn’t much that we haven’t been through together. We have gathered together around our dinner tables, at our kids performances and ball games, in hospital rooms, and in funeral homes, too. We celebrate holidays, like our annual White Elephant Christmas Party. We have established traditions like ‘Soup Sunday,’ and ‘Taco Tuesday.’ 
We’ve helped pay for hospital bills, performed Random Acts of Kindness, and we have packed shoeboxes of treasures for kids without Christmas presents. We babysit each other’s kids and cook in each other’s kitchens. We fight for each other, too--often battling through prayer, realizing that our connection deepens as we intercede for each other and believing that things will change because we have prayed in unity.
We have arrived at a beautiful place where there is genuine love and care for each others’ families. And with that devotion comes a fierce desire to hold one another up, to show up when there is a need, and to celebrate like crazy when there is reason to celebrate. It can be challenging and messy, but it’s always rewarding. It’s doing life...Together.”
I’ve heard it said that a healthy church is identified by its continual devotion to one another -- salvation, sharing in the things of God, sharing together in material things, and so much more! Authentic community is such a witness to a watching world. It truly does reflect the heart of God!
  • Pray for our Church today that we would embody strong biblical community.

Michelle Frank
Staff Development

Uncommonwealth: Uncommon Love - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Jan 10, 2017

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.
One mark of a healthy church is its devotion to God. We see this in the life of the Early Church. We also see and experience that in our Church. Recently, I was reflecting on some significant moments in the life of our Church around prayer, worship, and God’s word. I wanted to share a few of those with you today:
  • Prayer: In June 2013, we began an experiment at 608 with an idea called a Prayer Text. We have had over 4,100 prayer texts so far this year. And, over 14,000 texts since we began. 
  • Worship: This summer we had a vision to create a space for a unified gathering of our 4 campuses -- to proclaim His worth in a public space and see people come to be baptized. It was an incredible night. We all witnessed this happening as God made a way through some unpredictable weather. We saw 25 people come to be baptized. Unplanned, unexpected, and only possible because of God’s hand.
  • God’s Word: Daily Devos have been running for about 5 years.  There are approximately 3,000 people a day reading them. 
One way the early Church could love in “uncommon ways” was because they had an “uncommon” devotion to the Lord. As a community, they were consistent in meeting together to hear the teaching of the Word, they took part in corporate worship, they worshiped through communion, joined in prayer together, and expressed gratitude. 
We are a part of something special here at Southland. We have so many opportunities to grow in our devotion to God. Let’s commit to growing like this in 2017. As we do so individually, it will radically impact us corporately!
  • Subscribe to Daily Devos.
  • Pray for our Church this week to continue to grow in our devotion to God.

Michelle Frank
Staff Development

Uncommonwealth: Uncommon Love - Monday

Posted on Mon, Jan 09, 2017

“Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” 
I am so excited about this series and specifically our topic of study for this week around “Uncommon Love.” Our focus on Acts 2:42-47 will serve to catapult us as a church as we gather around our mission of unleashing a revolution of love in Central Kentucky and beyond!
Being part of the local church is a privilege and a responsibility. There is no better time than the present to be inspired, compelled, and challenged to be a contributor in our mission. That is what the church is all about. 
One of my most impactful memories was when my parents divorced and the church came alongside my dad to serve him. I remember going to the front door one evening with my dad and brother after we heard the doorbell ring. When we opened the front door we looked down at the sidewalk and saw twelve bags of groceries filled to overflowing. 
We looked around to see who had left them and were getting ready to close the front door when two Elders from our Church walked from behind the house. They let us know they loved us and were there for us. 
As we journey through Acts 2:42-47 this week, we are going to dive into these verses and see a snapshot of the early believers and their lives of community. This community, called the church, has an incredible assignment. This assignment includes you and me. This assignment takes holistic involvement. 
In Acts 2 we read that the first followers of Jesus “had everything in common,” which allowed them to love people in uncommon ways. So, let’s rally together this week and just see what the Spirit will show all of us as we respond. 
  • What would it mean for our Church community to “have everything in common” as the early church did?
  • Pray for our Church this week that we would see and hear what He wants to say and show us. And be on the lookout to love people in “uncommon ways.”

Michelle Frank
Staff Development

1617: A Look Backward. A Look Forward. - Friday

Posted on Fri, Jan 06, 2017

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6
In school there were few better feelings than when I completed a major paper. Hours of procrastination, blood, sweat, and tears were finally done. On more than one occasion I stopped caring about the grade--I just wanted to get that sucker finished!
We have times in our life like that. We are in the middle of something grueling and realize just how hard a time we’re really having. All we want is for “this” to be done. While I hope 2017 is filled with blue skies and sunshine, it may be a really hard year. Regardless of whether it is easy or hard, I know God will do a great work in your life if you let Him. Don’t miss the IF in that last sentence. God will do a great work in your life IF you let Him.
Paul, who penned the Scripture we read above, had suffered way more than most following Jesus. What he came to realize is that God was working regardless of his circumstances. In fact, Paul shared the secret of contentment in the same letter where he wrote that God was going to keep doing a great work in our lives. He said that he can do EVERYTHING through Christ who gave him strength. He was committed to letting God do a good work in him.
  • I’m praying for you. I’m praying God will see the work He started in you through to completion and that you will do all things through Jesus in 2017 and beyond.

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

1617: A Look Backward. A Look Forward. - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Jan 05, 2017

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10
Yesterday we considered some inventory kinda thoughts and questions. Today let’s drill down a bit. On Sunday Jon challenged us with this question for 2017, “Will my relationship with Jesus move from a weekend activity to a daily priority?” We were challenged to move from something we essentially check off a list of activities and engage in the daily heart work that makes us more and more like Jesus.
He also talked about how much our SHAPE matters. Here is how it was broken down -- what your “shape” means:
S = spiritual gift (the supernatural ability within you that the Spirit brings out)
H = heartbeat (the things you love to do the most in life)
A = abilities (the things you do well that you have learned or honed over the years)
P = personality (the introverted or extroverted part of you—laid back or intense)
E = experiences (the good and bad things you’ve been through that God can leverage and recycle to help others)
John Piper states that, “The chief end of man is to pursue God by enjoying Him forever.” The more we pursue Him and His purposes, the more we realize our SHAPE. The more we realize and live into our SHAPE, the more our joy increases. A hammer isn’t happy trying to scramble eggs and a spatula won’t build your house. We were shaped for greatness through God.
  • Based on this, what is it God wants to do in us daily as we move from church as a weekly activity to a daily life priority? This isn’t about activities we do to make God happy or appease our own guilt; this is about passionately pursuing Jesus so our lives look more and more like Jesus every single day in 2017.

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

1617: A Look Backward. A Look Forward. - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Jan 04, 2017

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. Romans 8:11
Raise your hand if you a made a New Year’s resolution? I didn’t. I probably should have, but I figured the disciplines in my life are in solid shape and I didn’t need to make some radical commitment to something I’d likely forget about eight days after I started. However, I did take time to inventory my life. Here are some questions I asked:
  • Is there anything God is trying to tell me that I’ve ignored? Are there any instructions He’s given me that I’ve delayed obeying?
  • What’s it like to live with me at home? Am I patient, kind, helpful, compassionate? Would my wife brag to her friends about how I’ve served her recently or complain about my complacency?
  • Are my finances set up to honor God first?
  • Am I spending enough time in prayer and God’s Word that people would notice if I wasn’t?
  • Do I smile enough?
  • Am I honoring and blessing my Mom (especially in light of my Dad’s passing a few years ago)?
  • Have I given excellent effort at work this past year? Would my coworkers consider me an “extra-mile” guy or someone that does enough to get by?
  • Do I love my neighbors?
  • If my life circumstances crashed all around me, would I run from God in anger or would I stand dependent on Him and faithful in the midst of trial?
  • Are my St. Louis Cardinals going to win the World Series this year?
Ok, admittedly some of that got a little deep, but writing this content helped me slow down and process some big questions. None of us have any clue what 2017 holds, but we can trust all of it to God. What’s awesome is He sent His Spirit to guide us. As a matter of fact the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside those who trust Him.
  • Let’s ask this question together today, “What does God want from me in 2017?” Let’s commit that we will rely on His Spirit to help make that happen.

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

1617: A Look Backward. A Look Forward. - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Jan 03, 2017

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Ephesians 5:1
A few years ago I had a chance to help shape the discipleship strategy we pursue here at Southland. Not being the sharpest tool in the shed, I admittedly needed something so simple even I could understand it. To that end we picked the shape of a triangle and put a simple idea at each corner. The three things we picked are things we see Jesus’ life focus around.
Jesus’ first priority was His relationship with His Father in heaven. He constantly got away for extended times to pray and talk to His Dad. His recorded life was also spent in the context of community with His disciples and the crowds He ministered to and with. And, finally, He also had clarity of mind about His mission. He was often confronted about what He taught and did. His response always came back that He was carrying out His Father’s will, essentially doing what His Dad asked Him to. So, for us at Southland we focus on living our lives:
These priorities were in Jesus’ life and so they are in our lives as well. I find that when I’m missing one I’m outta balance. Our challenge, to everyone who is following Jesus with us at Southland, is to evaluate what God is saying to us about each of these focus points. We use the triangle to regularly recalibrate our lives. The start of a brand new year is the perfect time to do this.
  • Looking back on 2016, where did God stretch you the most? Celebrate what He did as you grew. Also, are there any of these priorities that you neglected? (For help check this web page out.)

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

1617: A Look Backward. A Look Forward. - Monday

Posted on Mon, Jan 02, 2017

But then I recall all you have done, Oh Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. Psalm 77:11-12
Yesterday Jon shared some incredible things about Southland. I’m so pumped about it I want to share some of them again. In 2016 at Southland:
  • There were 1,751 students actively involved in our life changing Student Ministries
  • Our Refuge Clinics served more than 2,000 patients with free care
  • 450 backpacks were filled and distributed to kids in need every week
  • 239 people went on a life changing missions trip
  • We served 1794 guests at our Jesus Prom for friends with mental and/or physical challenges
  • 600 people were baptized
  • Over a half a million dollars were given, outright, to people in need
  • 900 people found healing and hope through counseling resources
God continues to do amazing things in our midst and this week we’re going to take time to look back and then look forward. God’s chosen people, the Jews, had seven festivals they celebrated every year and most of them did this very thing. They were designed to remind the people of God’s faithfulness and future promises. They celebrated because God had delivered and rescued them through many difficult challenges.
In 2016 the highlight of my year came on the very first day. My oldest son Jordan was baptized on New Year’s Day. Years of praying and discipling by my wife and I were realized in that moment. We now get to celebrate his new life in Christ on the first  day of every year. 
  • So as we get 2017 started let’s take one more chance to look back at all God has done for us. What is the best thing God did in your life in 2016?

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

Holidaze: Amazed By Light - Friday

Posted on Fri, Dec 30, 2016

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John 1:12-14
New Year’s is coming. The ball will drop and we’ll dance and kiss. We’ll take in the fresh air of 2017 and decide to start over. We’ll make our resolutions to be good, better, thinner, faster, more punctual and less frustrated. 
But before all of that, would you stop and look at the Light of the World? The one who has come and says, “I am making all things new.” Fully man and fully God. All in this little baby born to a virgin in a filthy stable in Bethlehem. The One whose message turns the whole world upside down. Through Him God pulls the mighty from their thrones and exalts the lowly. He gives the hungry their fill and sends the rich away empty handed. He is the one who walks on water, turns water into wine, eats with sinners, and lifts the heads of the poor. The One who ultimately gives His life so that you and I can have ours. This little one has come. The only true Light in our dark world. 
So maybe this year we should forget the petty resolutions and make this our only resolution: to truly live in the Light of Christ. To allow His light to shine in and through us. To expose the dark, be thankful in the hard circumstances, and to invite, make safe, connect, and unite. 
  • What does that look like for you to be the light of Christ? What is He calling you to? Write it down. Say yes. Don’t wait any longer to walk in His Light!

Hanna Wahlbrink
Creative Director

Holidaze: Amazed By Light - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Dec 29, 2016

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5 (NLT)
The saddest part about Christmas for me is when the decorations come down. I love the smell of pine and having a live tree in the house, covered with ornaments and sparkling lights. I love driving around neighborhoods and seeing all of the lights on people’s houses that just naturally extend an invitation, “Come and see!” 
One of my favorite memories of Christmas is from when Reid and I first got married. After Christmas dinner with his family, instead of passing out on the couch in a food coma, we decided to walk the neighborhood and take in the lights. One street over we were met with a full cul-de-sac of bright shining lit archways over the sidewalks. I have this specific moment burned into my brain. We were walking through the arches, all together as a family. No one was saying anything. We were all just taking it in. Cold breath visible. Warm smiles. Feeling safe and connected. United. It was as if we had all been invited to this special moment together. 
On any normal day, you wouldn’t just go walking in the dark around a neighborhood. But there is something about Christmas lights that makes you feel safe. Invited. Connected. Isn’t it funny that we have this nostalgic tradition that is actually deeply connected to the story of the birth of Christ? The Light of the World has come. A light in the dark. He comes, inviting, creating a safe place, connecting and uniting us all. And now that very light is in you and me. As the lights of Christmas come down in the coming weeks, don’t forget to continue to extend their invitation to the world around you. “Come and see!” The Light of the World has come!
  • So the questions is, who are you inviting? Who needs you to be a safe place for them? Call them today.

Hanna Wahlbrink
Creative Director

Holidaze: Amazed By Light - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Dec 28, 2016

The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. John 1:4 (NLT)
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. As a kid, I’m not sure that I fully understood what I was singing. Or the very real ways that Satan would try to “hooph!” out my little light. The truth is, life is hard. And even children’s songs portray that reality. 
To be honest, my husband and I have just recently been through a pretty tough season of loss. And I have felt my light grow dim. I have felt the hot breath of the enemy threatening to puff it out altogether. But the funny thing is, God meets us in our lowest of places. I was reading a devotional a few weeks ago and came across a truth that I really needed. It said, “When we give God our thanks (despite our feelings), He gives us Joy (despite our circumstances).”  So in my pain, I decided to do exactly what that little devo suggested. I began to make a list of all the hard things that had happened recently, and I thanked God for them. Specifically, by name and pain. And in the middle of my list making, the Lord began flooding my heart with the truth of how He had used my suffering. Truths like: My relationship with my husband is stronger and sweeter than ever; we had to take care of each other in ways we had never imagined in this season. My ability to empathize with others has grown. And my appreciation for God’s sacrifice of His son is deeper today than ever before. God gave me joy… despite my circumstances. 
There is always something happening in life that’s trying to puff your little light out. But choosing to be thankful for the hard things is the sure way to keep on singing. 
  • Make a list today of the hardest things from 2016. Thank the Lord for them, and expect His incredible joy to follow. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

Hanna Wahlbrink
Creative Director

Holidaze: Amazed By Light - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Dec 27, 2016

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.  John 1:10-11 (NLT)
Light exposes dark. The early sweet pictures of Luke and John quickly turn into hard realities because the light reveals what is in the dark. The truth is, the peaceful picture of a tiny baby born in a manger quickly turns into a family running away in the dark of the night to seek safety in a town they barely know. It turns into many other baby boys being killed en masse by Herod. And it turns into a lifetime of rejection and suffering for this tiny, perfect newborn babe. The light of His birth quickly exposes the dark of the world. 
Life with Christ isn’t an easy road. Maybe you’ve spent this season feeling low, because the light of Christ in you is exposing the darkness around you. In his message entitled The Hard Side of Epiphany, Fred Craddock said it like this:
This is the crisis of the world, that light has come into the world and people love the darkness. It’s hard to accept that the gospel,
the Good News, has enemies. But the fact that announcing the Good News arouses that enmity is even moredifficult to accept.
But it’s true. What does that mean? It means that the coming of Jesus Christ and the proclamation of the Good News has aroused
the ugliness of sin and violence in the world
Following this long awaited Savior does not mean finding perfect happiness and the end of all suffering here on earth. In fact, it might mean more suffering - because the light exposes the dark. We are at war, light and dark. Pain and suffering are markers in the life of Christ and the life of a Christian. But have hope, little lightbearer. Because as the story goes, this is not the end.
  • It’s true that good news has enemies, and that the light exposes what is in the dark. But it’s also true that one day the light will completely overcome the dark, and our present suffering will be no more. Read Revelation 21

Hanna Wahlbrink
Creative Director

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