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I Know You Are But What Am I?: Priest - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Sep 02, 2014

 “...Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that great, perfect sanctuary in heaven, not made by human hands and not part of this created world.”
 
Sometimes you have to step aside and take care of business. Yes, I’m speaking euphemistically. Let me be a bit more clear and say, “When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go.” When you feel the urge, you are compelled to push the pause button on what’s happening and take care of it. I was on a mission trip recently and, thankfully, it was in a part of the world with running water and actual toilets, furnished with toilet paper. This place had electricity as well. And one of those energy-saving, motion-detecting light switches. Now, I’m definitely not complaining about the private amenities. But… that automatic light switch had a bit of a defect. It would only stay on for about 20 seconds unless motion was detected. So, if one were to, say, walk into a stall and shut the door for a moment of peace, the lights would go off. By the end of the trip, most of us were praying we would not need to go to the restroom after sundown. Awkward. 
 
Speaking of stepping aside for a moment of rest… Can you imagine stepping outside of this rush-and-tumble existence? What would it be like to depart this place which, when compared to heaven, is like looking through a darkened lens? Today’s text reveals that Jesus has done this for us … and made the way for us to walk out of the darkness and into God’s wonderful light! 2 Corinthians 3:18 reminds us we can be mirrors to reflect God’s glory as the Spirit of the Lord works within us. But we can’t reflect the light if we’re standing in the dark. 
 
On my recent trip, if you had to go into the restroom at night, you needed someone to hang around and wave their arms outside the stall if your time was going to be illuminated. Today’s scripture shares about the One who stepped into this dark world with us, but who has also stepped outside it and into the perfect place of worship in heaven. The place where we can approach God face to face. Unlike our need on the mission field to have someone waving their arms to dispel the darkness, Jesus completely dispels the dark and brings us into relationship with the One our souls long for. The One we want to know - and need to know - forever.  By going into God’s presence on our behalf, by shedding His blood to make it possible for us to walk out of the darkness and into the light, we have experienced restoration of relationship with God. And, because of what Jesus has done, we can do the same for others - showing them the way toward knowing God through Jesus.
  • Check out these two texts in Zechariah and talk about them with a friend, a co-worker, your spouse, or your Life Group. Zechariah 3:1-7 and Zechariah 8:23. How do these texts speak to making the way for others to come into God’s presence, into His wonderful light?
  • If you’re looking for a great way to be with others in God’s presence, think about joining a Life Group. You can start here

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

I Know You Are But What Am I?: Priest - Monday

Posted on Mon, Sep 01, 2014

“...you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, His very own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light.”
 
Ever wanted to meet someone really badly? Maybe it was that guy or that girl in class who you couldn’t work up the nerve to talk with. You just couldn’t find the way to broach the conversation. So you looked for people who had connections. Who could introduce you to him or her? Who did you know that you could stand beside without looking ridiculous as they spoke with the person you wanted to get to know? This is a picture of the role of the priest in Scripture. People want to know God. So how do they meet Him? They look toward someone who has a connection with Him. 
 
I’ve had a desire to know God for as long as I can remember. But as a child, I wasn’t really sure how to connect with Him. My dad was in the army, so I went to the military base chapel with my family every week. I prayed sometimes. But there was always something missing. This persisted until I met someone my age who looked like Jesus. Not with long hair and a beard. Someone in whom the reflection of Christ made Jesus almost knowable in a real way. Someone who followed Jesus in a way that seemed accessible in my teenaged mind.
 
Everyone needs to know God. Whether they realize it like I did or not. And our relationship with God is a bridge for others to meet Him. God’s Word says you and I are priests. That we can show others the goodness of God. Christ is most clearly expressed in the way we serve one another and others. The way we do this is what separates us from a selfish world. Priests sacrifice their time and their lives for the good of the people they serve. As Christians, we are authorized and empowered to do the same. We may be showing Jesus to a watching world when we think no one is looking. But the pressure doesn’t rest on our shoulders… only God can help us truly reflect Christ.
  • The priest was part of facilitating worship. Psalm 15 is an amazing text that shows us how we can come into God’s presence in worship - and explicitly tells us who is allowed to come to Him. What are the qualities listed?
  • Do you find it as fascinating as I do that this clear description of how we can approach God in worship is also a description of how we can serve as priests, as God’s representatives in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools? It tells us how to love and serve others. Which of the list do you find easiest to live out? Which is most difficult?

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

I Know You Are But What Am I?: Alien - Friday

Posted on Fri, Aug 29, 2014

On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus prayed to his Father in John 17:14-18,
I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 
 
When we take a journey of much distance, there are always places we pass through, or over, on our way. They’re the small towns we pass right by as we speed down the interstate. They’re the landscapes we fly over as we pass time on a long flight. We take little to no note of them,  because these places have no real significance to us (at least at the time). Our focus lies on our final destination. Our hearts are set on that which lies ahead.
 
Sadly, some Christians approach life in this world in a similar way. We see our life on this planet as a mere stop on the way to Heaven. We do what we can do to find happiness, but we feel no real need to seriously invest in this place or the people who surround us. Logically speaking, this approach makes sense … if we are indeed aliens, right?
 
Well, yes. And no.
 
I’m not going to venture into a discussion about how Heaven will come to Earth. But I do want to make one thing abundantly clear as we wrap up this conversation about what it means to be an alien in this world.
 
We’ve been sent by Jesus into this world. And we’ve been sent for a purpose. We’re called to be Love in this place, to be His hands and feet, and to usher in His Kingdom. Jesus didn’t ask His Father to take us out of this world. He asked His Father, instead, to keep us from the evil one and sanctify us in truth.
 
In and not of it. It’s truly what we’re called to be as followers of Jesus. But as we seek to receive more and more of our identity from Christ, we must keep two things in mind:  as we live our lives in this world, we must remember we’re not of it. But in remembering that we’re not of it, we can’t forget that we’re in it for an indescribably important purpose. 
 
Your life is the one you alone can live. If you’re feeling like an alien today, it might be because you are one. But you’re not here by accident. You’re here on a mission, friend. 
  • Do you know how loved you are by our Father? Do you believe your life is purposeful? Ask Him to help you see yourself with a bit more of His perspective today.
  • Are you living life on mission? If not, we’d love to help you begin doing so. Check out this  page for lots of great ways you can make a difference in this world with Jesus.

Katie Bodager
Life Groups Administrative Assistant

I Know You Are But What Am I?: Alien - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Aug 28, 2014

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. 
 
I’ve only traveled without my husband and children on a couple of occasions. In both situations, I felt prompted by the Lord to “go,” and I was deeply glad I chose to do so. But when I’m away from my precious family, there’s a certain longing I carry around with me. It’s consistent and deep, and it’s almost too sacred to put into words.
 
Do you ever feel that way about life? Even life as a Believer? Like something is incomplete or missing? I used to believe if I only pursued Jesus passionately enough, this feeling would go away.  The Bible teaches us that in Christ we are complete. So this seemed like a logical conclusion to me. 
 
Strangely though, it seems that the more I know Jesus, the more I long for more of Him. The more I long for His way and for His Kingdom. It’s an insatiable hunger that can only be filled daily by Him.
 
In this world of performance, I think we often approach life like a game of Whack-a-Mole. When one goal, trend, or opportunity pops up, we whack away with our mallet (of knowledge and skills), and then move on. We take a quick breath just before we anxiously go back to look for another mole (goal) to whack. 
 
The Kingdom of God isn’t like this. When we encounter Jesus, there’s no “moving on” to the next thing. He is the next thing (person). And the one after that. And the one after that. He’s the One we’re called to forever desire, praise, and abide in.  Sometimes, I think people “try”Jesus, only to move on after our expectations haven’t been met by Him. But the truth is that the deep needs of our souls will never be met apart from Him. 
 
We are aliens in this world. But we’ve not been deserted. We can and should both relentlessly pursue Him in the “now” and eagerly wait for the day when we are fully with Him and fully transformed by Him. He’s gone to prepare a place for us, friends. And when heaven fully comes, that longing … that aching … will be no more.
  • Have you taken time lately to rest and celebrate in the promise that Jesus is coming back? Meditate on the following verse, and give Him thanks for that today. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3
  • Would you like to spend some time today growing in His truth? Check out this page. It’s where you’ll find some terrific videos series, designed to help you know Him more.

Katie Bodager
Life Groups Administrative Assistant

I Know You Are But What Am I?: Alien - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Aug 27, 2014

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against the soul. 
 
Maybe you’re feeling a little guilty reading the devotionals this week, because you don’t really feel like an alien at all. Maybe at this point, you’re not really miserable in your sin. Maybe you find yourself indulging in the desires of the flesh, and if you’re honest, you’re struggling to even want to give it up.
 
Guess what? The message for you is exactly the same as it is for the rest of us. Greg Boyd says it this way: 
 
“When the New Testament tells believers to be holy, loving, kind, patient, and so on, it is not giving us a new set of behavioral rules we are to strive to accomplish. From the perspective of the New Testament, striving to be holy, loving, kind, or patient means nothing if these attributes are sought as ethical ideals or to fulfill a rule or meet an obligation. They have meaning only insofar as they manifest the new life that is found in Christ. They are descriptions of what real life looks like, not prescriptions for how to get life. The only way to get life is to accept by faith that you already have life in Jesus Christ … The fruit of the Spirit is manifested in our lives as we cease trying to produce it on our own and yield to the Spirit’s loving influence in our lives.”
 
So the answer, as we discussed yesterday, is the same for us all, regardless of whether we’re sinning in overt ways or in hidden ones, and whether our tendency is to perform in the secular realm or in the religious one. 
 
Our only hope is Jesus. The answer to our sin problem was given on the Cross over 2,000 years ago.  We’ll never fill that vacuum in our inner beings by what we do. We must receive it for free from the one who alone can truly fill it.
 
And as this miracle unfolds in our lives, friends, and as we grow in awareness of the vast and immeasurable love of our Father, we will inevitably come to hate sin. When we experience His love, the ways of this world can only become dark and empty to us. 
  • Have you made the decision to receive Jesus into your heart? If you haven’t, maybe now is the time. You can talk with Him about that right now.
  • Are you in need of a place where you can be transparent about your wounds or your struggle with sin? You may want to consider a group we call Celebrate Recovery. It’s a safe place for all people, with all sorts of hurts.

Katie Bodager
Life Groups Administrative Assistant

I Know You Are But What Am I?: Alien - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Aug 26, 2014

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against the soul. 
 
When it comes to the statements God makes about us in the pages of Scripture, I think many of us would agree that they’re all true. If we believe the Bible is the Word of God, and we believe Jesus is who He claimed to be, then it’s unlikely any of us would deny that the statements made/ inspired by God are accurate ones. If God says we’re aliens in the world, then we’re, well, aliens, right?
 
But my question for you today is not whether you believe what God says about you is factually true. My question for you is this: Is it real to you? Do your choices in your everyday life reflect those things which you claim in word to be true? Are you living out of your true identity?
 
Just to clarify, here’s what I’m not asking you, friends: I’m not asking you whether you’re doing all the things you should be doing. I’m not asking you if you’re trying as hard as you should be trying to be like Jesus. And I’m not asking you to make a mental checklist of all the areas in which you need to improve as a Christian.
 
You know why? Because I used to do that to myself on a daily basis. (I still do it, at times.) And it’s never gotten me anywhere. Except defeated.
 
If you feel unable to abstain from the sinful desires that war against your soul, please hear me in this: you’ll never “will” your way to victory. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have it. Our only hope, friends, is in Jesus and in walking by the Holy Spirit of God. 
 
But isn’t this just another way of creating that behavioral checklist I referenced above? No, it’s truly not. I recently read an author that explained it this way:
 
“The Spirit is not a leader like the pace car in the ‘Daytona 500.’ He is a leader like a locomotive on a train. We do not follow in our strength. We are led by his power. So ‘walk by the Spirit’ means stay hooked up to the divine source of power and go wherever he leads.” 
 
You can abstain from sinful desires and walk in the freedom for which Christ died. You’re never too far away. And you’re never too deep in sin. Fill your mind with God’s truth. Listen as He sings over your life. (Zephaniah 3:17) And expect Him to change the desires of your heart. 
  • Do you want to learn to live and walk differently? If you haven’t watched Gary Black’s teaching series on our Identity in Christ, I’d encourage you to do so. 
  • If you’d like to read an excellent book on the Holy Spirit, check out Francis Chan’s book called Forgotten God. Few books have had a greater impact on my life.

Katie Bodager
Life Groups Administrative Assistant

I Know You Are But What Am I?: Alien - Monday

Posted on Mon, Aug 25, 2014

When I’m tired or preoccupied, I sometimes find myself drifting into an auto-pilot of sorts. I’ll be in the middle of doing some all-too-familiar task, and I’ll suddenly realize that for the past several minutes I’ve totally checked out.  It’s usually not until I mismatch the socks, put my toothbrush in the fridge or hear a chuckle from my husband that I realize I’ve been momentarily disconnected from the world around me. 
 
But when I travel to a foreign place - be it a different city, state, or country - this rarely happens to me. I think differently when I’m acting as a foreigner. Even when I’m thoroughly enjoying myself, the reality is that my surroundings aren’t comfortable to me. I’m consistently alert. I’m observant. And undoubtedly, I’m more cautious. Because I’m not at home.
 
In 1 Peter 2:11, Scripture tells us this: Dear friends, I urge you as, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against the soul.
 
We’ll get to the “war against the soul” part tomorrow. But for now, I want to challenge you to prayerfully consider your mindset as you live out the life and love of Christ in this world.
 
Do you know, as followers of Jesus, we’re called to be aliens in this world? We’re called to live different lives. Holy lives. We’re not home, friends. We are sojourners, passing through this weary land, and we were never intended to find rest in the ways of this world.
 
1 John 2:15 says: Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 
 
Not an easy truth, huh? Or is it? How about we take a look at Matthew 11:29-30 for a little more perspective on the matter? Here’s what Jesus had to say about the life he offers us:
 
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
 
So, the hard news is that we’re called to live as aliens in this world. We shouldn’t love the ways of the world, and if we keep seeking what the world offers, we’ll never find the rest we’re desperately needing. But here’s the amazing news: If we choose to trust Jesus, take up His yoke and follow Him, we will find rest for our souls. And in doing so, we’ll bring a little bit more of of Heaven to this place we call Earth.
  • Are you endlessly trying to fit into this world? Tell Jesus. He knows exactly how you feel. He wants to give you all you need and free you from the need to “fit in.” 
  • Being an alien is difficult and surely lonely at times. But when we’re joined with others walking the same path, our faith and courage are strengthened. If you’re in need of community, come to our next Launch Night in September. We’d love to help you find community.

Katie Bodager
Life Groups Administrative Assistant

I Know You Are, But What Am I?: Ambassador - Friday

Posted on Fri, Aug 22, 2014

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 
 
Here we are at the end of this week’s passage where we learn one more important lesson. The lesson is this: It is always the role of the ambassador to stand for the desires of his leader. Just as a U.S. Ambassador is a representative for the President, we are a representative for Christ. That means none of the power comes from me individually, but all of my power and ability to reach the fallen world resides solely in the one I represent. As an ambassador, I am not making my own case for God, but God is making his appeal through me. 
 
Isn’t it incredible that God has chosen us, a rag-tag crew, to share His love with the world? Because of his incredible love and grace, he has chosen you and me to share His message of reconciliation with the specific people He has put around us. Today’s reading says God gave Jesus to take our place, so that we might take Jesus’ place and become the righteousness of God. We didn’t do anything to deserve it, but as ambassadors, our best response to what God has done for us is to tell about it. Reflect Him. Share the message. It's all from God. What has He done in your life? Share it. I bet there is someone near you who is like you, who needs to hear your story. God has a way of putting us close those who need us...making us ambassadors in the right “country,” if you will.
  • Look around. Who do you know that needs to hear the story of how God reconciled himself to you? Share your story today. God longs to make his appeal through you! If you are not sure who that person is, ask God today to bring someone to mind. 
  • Memorize 2 Corinthians 5:20: We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Hanna Wahlbrink
Creative Team Administrative Assistant / Events

I Know You Are, But What Am I?: Ambassador - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Aug 21, 2014

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 
 
Yesterday we talked about the message of reconciliation we have been entrusted with. As Christ’s ambassadors we are called to share this message with the world: God is no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is a great and exciting message to hear, but why should people believe us? This might sound crazy, but I think one of the best ways to share this message with people is confession. As Christ followers, one of our biggest strengths should be sharing our weaknesses, our struggles, our brokenness with the world. Because it is when we expose our imperfections and deficiencies that others can see how great and gracious our God truly is. You see the world understands pain, hurt, guilt, and shame. And your friend is much more likely to receive a message of hope from a person that can say, “Me, too.” 
 
Sometimes we miss this in the church. If God is telling us to share this message with our friends, we have to believe it for ourselves first. As a Christian, there can be pressure to have everything together (or at least look like it). We have a tendency to talk about sin and struggle as if it were only a part of our past. But the beauty of being a Christian is that all of our sin -- past, present, and future—can no longer define us. No longer enslave us. God is not holding our sin against us, but we may be holding ourselves back from God because of unconfessed sin. Confession will bring freedom and healing for you, and for those with whom you share it. Confess today and shine light on a God who is so gracious that He is not counting that sin against you. 
  • If we truly believe God isn’t holding sin against us, we won’t mind to share our struggles with others. Is there something you need to confess today? Or could sharing a struggle with a close friend help them see the hope Jesus is offering them as well? Share it! Confess it! Don’t let your sin define you any longer.
  • Memorize 2 Corinthians 5:20: We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Hanna Wahlbrink
Creative Team Administrative Assistant / Events

I Know You Are, But What Am I?: Ambassador - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Aug 20, 2014

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 
 
This year at Southland, we are focusing on evangelism. We know the heart of God is to reconcile all people to Himself, and according to today’s passage, He is using His people (you and me) to do just that! Evangelism has always felt like a daunting thing to me. Like, in order to tell my friend about Jesus, I feel like I have to know them for a certain amount of time, make sure they trust me and don’t think I’m “weird.” After I have built up a certain amount of rapport, maybe, just maybe, I will work up the courage to invite them to church. After that, I can finally have that awkward conversation about how they probably shouldn't ________ so much. You fill in the blank. I don’t know about you, but I don't think that looks like God’s true plan for evangelism. 
 
That’s why I was so excited to stumble across this little line in today’s scripture: (God is) not counting people’s sins against them. WAIT. What? And did you catch what’s next? “And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” It turns out, the first conversation Jesus wants us to have with people is not about that awkward blank. The Word says that God is reconciling the world to Himself and He has commissioned us as ambassadors to share one message: God is not counting people’s sins against them. That is incredible news! Forget the whole rigamarole up top. What a fun thing to share with friends. What an easy thing to share, even with a stranger. 
  • What is your approach to sharing your faith with others? Write down a list of a couple people in your life with whom you can share this message of hope and love. 
  • Memorize 2 Corinthians 5:20: We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Hanna Wahlbrink
Creative Team Administrative Assistant / Events

I Know You Are, But What Am I?: Ambassador - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Aug 19, 2014

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
 
One thing I often ask for in prayer is to see the world the way God sees it, because I know he sees things totally differently than I do. My earthly eyes categorize and label. I am critical. He’s lazy. She’s promiscuous. They’ll never care about God. I hate to admit it, but these are my thoughts. 
 
Being Christ’s ambassador means we look at the world with totally new eyes. Today’s passage says that we no longer regard anyone from a worldly point of view. We are now to see others as our Leader sees us. We shouldn’t look at people for what they currently are, but for the glorious person that God could be turning them into. C.S. Lewis put it perfectly when he said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours…Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.” (C.S. Lewis essay, The Weight of Glory)
 
You see, if we are in Christ, we must view everyone as a potential new creation. We need the right perspective. You are I are not the saved looking down upon the sinners. We are all standing together simply inviting others to join us in looking up to Christ. We are ambassadors. A light in the darkness shining directly toward Christ.
  • How do you view the world around you? Pray today and ask God to give you new eyes to see the hurts and needs of the people in your life.
  • Memorize 2 Corinthians 5:20: We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Hanna Wahlbrink
Creative Team Administrative Assistant / Events

I Know You Are, But What Am I?: Ambassador - Monday

Posted on Mon, Aug 18, 2014

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 
 
“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Did you ever say that as a kid? In my experience, the only time I said that was when someone’s words had just stung me really badly! Whoever made up that line was a liar. Words can wound. And I have found that hurtful words can last much longer than a bruise. See, humans love labels. We love to categorize and judge. Often times in life, we end up with labels that God never meant for us to have. Ugly. Dumb. Mean. Alone. Unwanted. Defeated. And we can carry those labels with us for years. 
 
The Bible has something very different to say about who we are. This week we are going to be walking through 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 in which Paul has a new label for a Christ follower. He calls us Christ’s ambassadors. An ambassador is a person who resides in a foreign country while representing the country that he or she is from. A U.S. ambassador actually represents the President in an official capacity to foreign nations and communities. It is the role of the ambassador to bring peace and to extend help in times of need. They are meant to determine the local concerns and struggles of their assigned nation and have the ability to take those concerns back to their leadership. Are you seeing the comparison? As Christians, we are citizens of heaven who have been appointed as Christ’s representatives. We have a clear goal and mission: to represent our leader, Jesus, to the lost. This week we will take a look at what being an ambassador for Christ means for daily life. To the watching world we represent Christ. As a Christ follower, whatever we do, people see Jesus do. 
  • What are you an ambassador of? Who or what do you stand for? What does it look like for you to be an ambassador for Christ? 
  • How does your life reflect Christ? Make a list today of the ways you represent him to the world around you.
  • Memorize 2 Corinthians 5:20 this week: We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Hanna Wahlbrink
Creative Team Administrative Assistant / Events

Relationships and Stuff - Friday

Posted on Fri, Aug 15, 2014

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
 
My wife and I used to have a Jeep Wrangler. When you drive a Jeep, everyone else in a Jeep waves to you. When a fellow cyclist sees the bike rack on my Subaru at the gas pump, they’ll ask if I ride and we’ll inevitably start swapping stories from the road and trails. When I have all four of my kids by myself at the mall, the other dads without their wives give me the tearful headnod of both unity and mutual defeat. I bond with people all the time over the most superfluous of things. Everything from clothes to hobbies to facial hair seems to bring people together. People just like unity.
 
So reread that Colossians passage again. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. As introverted as I might be, I have so much joy from the unity that Christ brings to the Church. And, yes, I know that people in the church have messed it up here and there. We’ve all had our blunders. But when you see real love, the Jesus kind of love, the die-for-my-brother kind of love that we’re called to have within the church, it is the most satisfying sight you’ll ever see. 
 
Do you want that? I have to say, then: Let it start within the church. If you don’t have those relationships to build on, come to Launch Night and get in a Life Group. The love of Christ is what bonds everyone at that event. And that love binds all together in perfect unity. If you do have some friends in the church, I’d go back and reread this week’s devos with them. If you want more mileage out of your relationships, start with the verses that we used this week. Use them as guidelines to strengthen those relationships. 
  • Read these verses out loud with some friends. If you’re waiting to start those relationships at Launch Night, read them as prayers for your future relationships. 
  • Ephesians‬ ‭4‬:‭30"Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted."
  • Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times...”
  • John 15:12-13 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” 
  • Proverbs 18:24 “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
  • Colossians 3:14 "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

Derrick Purvis
Formation Pastor

Relationships and Stuff - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Aug 14, 2014

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
 
In the last eight years, I’ve spent a lot of time on a bicycle. I try to log several thousand miles in a twelve-month period. And with all that mileage, you’ll inevitably find me stuck on the side of a road changing a flat tire every once in a while. When I first started riding I was using cheap, Walmart bicycle tires. I’d average one or two flats a week. I was constantly patching and replacing my inner tubes. My commutes to work quickly went from 30 minutes to 45. Then on one ride, I got two flats back to back. I was seriously considering just giving up on the whole cycling thing. 
 
I had to find another solution. 
 
That’s when I started investing a little more into the tires that I purchased. They cost more in the front end. But I was more efficient with my time and ended up saving money in the long run. Yes, I could go buy eight tires at Walmart for the cost of one of these nice ones. But it was worth it.  The higher the investment, the more satisfied I was. 
 
The same is true with your friends. Lots of us have lots of “friends” (Read that again and make air quotes when you say “friends.”). But lots of friends isn’t necessarily a good thing. You might be able to maintain eight buddies with little investment. But you need some people in your life that won’t flat out on you when you hit a bump in the road. You want more mileage out of your relationships, right? Well, that comes with investment. That comes with sacrifice. Put more into a friendship and you will get more out of it. I have those friends. They’re the guys I call when I’m stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire!
  • “Spend” a little more on your relationships. I’m not necessarily talking about money, either. But invest in relationships. Make a phone call or write a note. Check on a friend who’s been struggling through something recently. Surprise a friend with a nice gesture today.  Remember, in God’s design, sacrifice is the rule. It’s not the exception. 
  • Are you just clueless as to where to start? I get that. Start at church. Volunteer somewhere and meet some friends who think the same way that you do. Serve with them. Maybe try Launch Night. Next month we’ll be launching lots of folks into Life Groups. They’ll be willing to invest that same effort that you want to today.  

Derrick Purvis
Formation Pastor

Relationships and Stuff - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Aug 13, 2014

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” 
 
I have this mental rolodex of guys in my life to go to for certain needs. If I’m looking for some good music, I go to Chris. If I want to know about fishing, Jim is my guy. Been outsmarted by my iPhone? Justin gets the call. When my bike is making a funny clicking sound, Jason’s on the speed dial. Those are the guys I look up to for different reasons in my life and I love catching their wisdom and example. It makes me a better, more well-rounded man. 
 
And surrounding myself with experts in all these different areas gives me some great opportunities to grow. So who do you go to for relationship expertise? Man, I’d go to the source. There’s no greater act of love than laying down your life for someone else. And who laid His life down for you? Jesus. Jesus is the best friend you’ll ever know. Take your cues from Him. 
 
I’d challenge you to read through the Gospels with the lens of Jesus’ relationships. Look how He treats His friends. Observe how His relationships grow and mature. Put yourself in the shoes of those folks He’s talking to. Where is love in those conversations? When is hard truth spoken? Where is grace and loyalty extended?
  • Consider this reading plan through the book of John. Read it through the lens of Jesus’ relationships.
  • Spend some time in prayer asking God for clarity on relationships. He’s the source for this stuff. 

Derrick Purvis
Formation Pastor


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