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BETHANY COMMUNITY CHURCH

April 17, 2016

TERRY: Good morning. Welcome. So happy to see you here this morning. We're going to sing songs and worship God together. Please stand and join us.

Please be seated.

TIM: Good morning, everyone. For those I haven't met, I'm Tim Quigg, director of youth ministry here at Bethany Community Church. I would like to welcome you all here.

Right now we're going to have our offering. This is one way we worship God here at BCC. It's for our members and regular attenders to invest ourselves in the work we're doing here. If you're a visitor here, please just let the bags go on by. No obligation to give.

I want to direct your attention to the communication card in your program. If you're new or visiting, please let us know who you are and how you heard about BCC. If you have any changes, put those on there also. On the back is an area for your prayer requests. The staff and elders pray for you guys every week, so please let us know.

I'm going to pray and then we'll start the offering.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for this beautiful day, Lord. The sun is shining and we worship Your majesty in any and every season, but when the sun is shining, it just shows us Your goodness. So we thank You for the sun.

And we just want to come before You, Lord, and lift up this offering to You. I pray You will use it to do great and mighty works in this community and around the world. I pray for those who are in charge of that, that they will be wise stewards, Lord.

We lift up all these things in Your name. We pray for Kevin and the message he will bring later. We thank You that we can participate in Your kingdom work. Amen.

Go ahead and start the bags.

I have a couple of announcements to talk to you about while they're doing that.

On May 22, we're going to have baptisms here at Bethany Community Church. There are several youth who want to be baptized, any adults or children who want to join, you can talk to me or call Jean in the front office and let us know that you would like to be baptized or get more information about that. That's May 22, two weeks after Mother's Day.

Also, another thing youth related. Usually the middle school is meeting downstairs during this time, but during this "Intimacy Redeemed" series, we're having all middle school and high school kids join us in here. Rita has been helping us out during this series. It's a rich time and we've had great conversations already in only the two weeks we've been doing it. I know that coming back on a Sunday evening could be tough, but if all the parents want to get together and have some time away from your kids, that's a great thing too while we're discussing that. So 6:00 here in the church, middle school and high school are meeting just during this series.

And then finally, Rita Platt is speaking at our retreat. Here she is. So she will be the speaker at our retreat and we're really excited she's going to be there. But we're going to a new place. We're going to this camp out in Virginia. We've been going to New Life Bible Camp for years and years, and it's really cheap, like the cheapest around. As I was investigating new places to go, I found out that everything is way more expensive than New Life. So we've been doing fundraising to offset the cost for the parents, and we'll also be offering scholarships. Lately, you've seen out in the lobby our sweets we've been selling. We're done with that and now we're slimming you down. We are asking you guys to give with this really simple idea. We have a bunch of envelopes on this white board out there with numbers on them. This is number 17. We're just asking you guys to grab an envelope or two or three or four, whatever you can give. They're numbered 1-60. So if you can only give a little bit, grab a smaller number. If you can give a lot, do it that way. And then bring back whatever number is on the envelope. Or add it up and give that amount. You can give cash if you want to. You can write checks made out to Bethany Community Church and write "retreat" in the memo line. Every gift is appreciated.

With that, I'll turn it back over to the worship team.

TERRY: Roman 6:6 says, "We know that our old self is crucified with Him, so that the body enslaved to sin will be done away with, so that we are no longer slaves to sin."

Please stand and join us.

Please take a minute to say hello to the folks around you.

KEVIN: Okay. So there's a big smile on my face. My goddaughter in the back row and her new husband, please stand up.

(Applause.)

They've been married two whole weeks now almost. Or thereabouts.

And here's their nephew.

>> Ahhh.


KEVIN: What a great response.

Okay. So I don't forget, before I tell you about the cute little boy and. Bunny, tomorrow night we have this thing called "The Conversation," where you can come back and talk about what we've been talking about during this series. Lots of stuff is being stirred up by this series, so we want to be able to talk about those things.

Over the last couple of years, I've learned a fair amount about spiritual warfare and healing prayer and how you can connect with Jesus that brings healing to the deepest places. I can't talk about all of that this morning. So come back tomorrow if you want to talk. I have a tough act to follow. Ann was up here last week. One of her friends shot her a note saying "Part of the time I wanted to shout BS! And part of the time I wanted to how is amen." We love that.

This is River up here. River is 7 months old and obviously adorable, right? But here's the thing. Whenever baby pictures start flashing on my screen on Facebook, which is just about every day, it makes me think about something that I really only discovered a few years ago. And that's that there aren't any baby pictures of me. They don't exist. None. Not one.

It's understandable, actually. I just had never thought about it. I was born with a pretty bad cleft lip and palate, so my face was split open. For the first almost 2 years of my life until the surgeries were completed, you know, I probably wasn't the cutest baby around. In fact, people might have turned away or at least been like, oh. What do you do with that?

I'm telling you a part of my story, because you have a story too. By the time I hit middle school, what had started before I even had words was now pretty firmly entrenched in my soul. And that's that I was unattractive. You throw in some braces, acne, ears that are larger than usual, and let's just say I never thought of myself as a chick magnet. By the time I entered that zone where boys no longer think that girls have cooties, you know that zone, by the time you get to that place, let's just say I entered that with a bit of angst about my own capacity to attract the girl of my dreams, who I eventually got, but that's later in the story.

I want you to enter your story with me today. If you're a guest with us, this is part three in a series we're calling "Intimacy Redeemed." We're taking a very frank look at the topic of human sexuality from the Bible. So today we're going to talk about gender. What does it mean to be a man, fully alive in Christ? What does it mean to be a woman, fully alive? Christ? You'll see the title, though, is "gender confusion" because we live in an age where we are literally awash in a sea of lies. We are literally buried daily in things that simply are not true.

Now, before we get to that, I want to take you back to where we've been briefly. There will be a quiz. Not really. But there should be because this is so important.

In week 1 we talked about how our sexuality is a gift from God. You were made as a man or a woman, we'll see, as a gift to the rest of us, the world. You live out your sexuality 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It's not just for married people. Sexuality, being a man, being a woman, that's all of us all the time. So if you remember one thing from the first message, that's an important thing to remember.

Now, we did look at the fact that then physical intimacy, expressing our sexuality, male and female, for marriage, that brings this sort of transcendent unity thing that we'll talk about again next week. So sex can bring joy, sex can bring babies, sex can bring oneness. But as Ann shared with you last week, all of our sexuality is marred. It's all been broken, at least to some degree. Now, how has it been broken? This is what's on the quiz. Three parts. I sin, you sin, the world is broken. That together makes our stories unfold with a lot of heartache.

So Ann courageously told you last week about how for generations the women in her family have struggled with different things, and how that impacted her. It's hard. It's just hard.

Now, let me take you to Time Magazine. Not so long ago, Time Magazine had this as their cover article. "Are at a transgender tipping point," they said. Let me say that a different way. Gender confusion is now overwhelming. It's overwhelming our culture, it's overwhelming not just young people but people of all ages, and we need to sort through that. And we will today.

But before we move on, I want to just again ask you, in the next few minutes, to allow God to deal with you and your story.

I was joking with some folks yesterday, I have to go home and work on my gender confusion. And they were like, what?! I was like, no, no, no, all of us. All of us have been attacked in our masculinity, in our femininity.

I will invite you to pray with me and then we'll go into our stories together.

God, thanks for this privilege that we have to be together and to sign and to sing those songs that we just did, that we're Your children, that we have nothing to fear. Because, God, honestly, one of the scariest things we do is interact with each other as male and female.

God, we have all been wounded so many times.

So we pray right now, Lord Jesus, that You would come and be especially present here. We pray that by Your Spirit You would open up those things that need to be opened so that Your healing touch can come.

So Jesus, we've been expecting this day for a long time, and we look forward to what You will do right now. We pray this in Your powerful name, amen.

Thanks for praying with me. I want to begin by fixing this microphone, and then with some really good news.

You were "fearfully and wonderfully made." Did you know that? The Bible is explicitly clear on this. You have a Heavenly Father, now, you have a biological father and a biological mother, but you also have a Heavenly Father who is really the One who created you. He made you either as a man or as a woman, and He did that in dazzling diversity. Look around the room. We are not all the same. No two of us are even remotely alike. David said in the Psalms, "God, You created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well." It goes on to talk about how we are each carefully knit together in our mother's wombs. The Hebrew here is like when my mom used to do her counted cross stitch. You were carefully made by God. But if I know you as well as I think you do, you have a hard time believing that.

I sure did. Remember what I just told you?

I would like everybody right now to just stick out your hand like this. And bend your fingers. Do you know how amazing it is that you can bend even just one finger? The engineers are working on robotic hands right now. That's been in the news lately. The best mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, hydraulic engineers, material science people, all those people they get together and make a hand that, you know, cannot do anything close to what your hand can do.

And by the way, if you cut your finger, what happens? It bleeds, but eventually it will fix itself. That robotic finger can't fix itself.

You were fearfully and wonderfully made. Your body is so amazing, that all of medical science, all of engineering science, it hasn't even begun to scratch the surface of who you are and how God made you to be. But still we struggle, don't we?

Look on the screen. The Apostle Paul in this passage that we love here at Bethany says that we are God's workmanship. The word there is like a master craftsman. God made you, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works that God has prepared in advance for you to do.

So you may not choose to believe it, but what the Bible teaches is that you are very significant to God. He has prepared a life for you and made you a man or made you a woman to live that out and to bring what you can uniquely bring to the world. You matter to Him. There's a plan for your life. And it's a good plan. It's an important plan.

So I'm going to ask you, why is that so hard to believe?

As I've already hinted at and I'll say directly now, from before you were even born, the enemy of our souls has been continually seeking to attack you and your identity. The enemy of your soul wants you to believe you are not who you were made to be. So he attacks you with lies, and the main lie, the number one lie that he uses in this area of our sexuality is that you are not enough.

Men, the devil wants you to think you are not man enough.

Ladies, the devil wants you to believe you're not woman enough. It's been happening since before you were born.

In the book of Revelation, this enemy of ours is exposed for who he really is. If you look at the text that's on the screen now, it says "He is the accuser of the brethren, and he accuses us before God day and night." How does he do that? He does that through our whole culture. He does that through the voices that are all around us, those people who have sinned against us. You see, when I was thinking I was ugly, I had a lot of people more than willing to agree with me. I had a friend at the Naval Academy, Mark, he had really bad freckles, big ears, red hair, we had a joke which one of us was the ugliest man in the brigade. There's lots of people who will be happy to affirm that you are not enough in some feeble attempt to make themselves feel better.

My wife very courageously last week told you about how she was often labeled what? A tomboy, right, as if somehow she wasn't girl enough, because she wanted to play sports.

My friend Mark, who has given me permission, to tell some of his story today, I'll introduce him in just a second, he was told all his growing up life that he wasn't boy enough. In fact, he told me hated the phrase "oh, that kid, he's all boy." He's the one who was up here playing the keyboards.

Here's four little boys. Which one of them is "all boy"? That guy for sure in the mud, right? And the little kid, you can't see the full picture, but he's got his first dead deer in the background. And then the football players of course are all boy.

What about that ballerina? Or what is a male ballerina called? Anyway, the boy who likes ballet, what about him?

You see, he's all boy too. But our culture won't affirm that. They'll tell him he's a sissy or something worse than that.

How about these four beautiful little girls? If you play with Barbies, that's girlie, so she's in. And I had daughters. If you like to wear dresses, especially the ones that spin, that's really girlie.

What if you would rather play football? You see, she's all girl too. And now, get this, ladies, what if you're smart? Hmm. Because it's okay to be smart if you're a girl, just not too smart, right? Just not smarter than the boys at math.

But you know, she's all girl too.

Let me tell you about Mark. Well, let's look at this first. God made men. And God made women. Remember what we studied the first week, God said "Let us make man in our image." So He created us, what? Male and female, to reflect His image. There's this line between men and women, and in our culture, they call that binary thinking. Right? That means two. Male and female.

And let's talk about this for a minute. In our culture, what is an ideal male like? Participate. What's an ideal male like?

>> Strong.

KEVIN: Yes. What else?

>> Tough.

>> Assertive.

>> Brave.

>> Responsible.

KEVIN: Handy, right, you've got to be a tool guy.

In our culture, you know, if you're a real man, you're a football playing, gun toting, power tool loving, you know, real man.

Or not. Here's a harder question. What's the ideal woman?

>> Emotional.

(Laughter.)

KEVIN: Emotional was the answer, in case you missed it.

Yeah. Let's not go down that path.

(Laughter.)

You know the number one answer is pretty. Right? The ideal woman is beautiful.

But after that, it gets really complicated. I was talking with Karla yesterday at the picnic. She's a retired Navy captain, very successful professionally. Boy, if a woman succeeds professionally, is that ideal or not? In the culture, it's a real mixed bag, isn't it?

We think about what our culture teaches us about who is ideal and who is not. Again, if you're smart, it doesn't necessarily make you ideal, but if you're not good in school, it will definitely hurt you.

Here's what the devil has done. He's drawn a line this way instead of where God drew the line. He wants everybody to think they don't get above the line. The beautiful people of Hollywood fall for Botox and plastic surgery and all that stuff, as if they're not pretty enough. Because the devil is just busy all the time.

So if you think that you're not man enough because you don't like power tools, you've been lied to. If you think, ladies, that you're not pretty enough because you're a size 12 and not a size 2 -- Jennifer Lawrence was just in the news this last week. She's a size 6 or 8 and is "breaking new ground" in Hollywood for being full figured. Are you kidding me? You see, we are lied to every day. We are lied to every day about what it means to be a man or a woman.

Here's Mark with his beautiful wife Michelle and their amazing kids, Timmy and Ivy. Mark is a stay-at-home dad. Growing up, he was shy and sensitive, and a little bit crazy. I found this on his Facebook page. When Mark was growing up, as you can see, and you can notice, he was more into drama and music than he was into power tools and football. So Mark will tell you all growing up, he was told he wasn't man enough. Just the other day, somebody teased him for being Mr. Mom.

You see, we live in a culture that lies to us. And I'm going to tell you a story about Mark in a little bit, but first let's go back into the scriptures. Within the body of Christ, we actually can celebrate being men and women. We can celebrate the binary, because at the same time, we know that we're actually in Christ made one. Let me take you to what Paul said to the Galatians. You see, once you're in Christ, it doesn't matter about your ethnic origin, Jew or Greek, whether you're slave or free. Here at Bethany, we say it doesn't matter if you're deaf or hearing. Doesn't matter if you're male or female. We are all one in Christ.

In what sense are we one? Well, we're called together. We have a common purpose. We have a common Father. We're one family. But it's more than that.

I want to read you a list of characteristics and I want to ask you if you can tell me whether these characteristics make you male or female.

Here we go.

Gentle. Male or female?

>> Both.


KEVIN: Both, right? Trick question.

Strong. Both. They're all the same answer.

(Laughter.)

Kind. Trustworthy. Spiritual. Wise, loving. Patient.

See, in the lay counseling ministry here at Bethany, they're taught by a guy named Dr. Bill Clark and he has this graph which we won't put up, but if you think about what a real man is and a real woman is in Christ, we're a lot more alike than we are different. Because we have the same fruits of the Spirit, like love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and all that stuff. So we're one in Christ because we reflect Him. But He did make us male and female.

Since it's polite for ladies to go first, let's talk about what it means to be a woman fully alive in Christ. You see, ladies, you bear the image of God in your femininity. And in that, what God says through the scriptures, and I'm about to try to prove it to you, is that through your love and through your strength, you have a supernatural capacity to lift others up. This is often described as "nurture," but I think the word "nurture" doesn't quite grasp all of what a woman is in Christ. You see, ladies, you're strong. This verse might confuse you about that, but we'll fix that.

God said, "It's not good for a man to be alone." Adam had a relational hole in his universe. God said, "I will make a helper suitable for him." Unfortunately, the scriptures have often been twisted to oppress women when, in fact, the word "helper" here is not like the help who does the dishes. In fact, the Hebrew word used here is used throughout the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures to describe only one individual, and that individual is God.

So God said, I'm going to make this special kind of human called a woman who has strength to lift others up. Let me give you just a couple of verses to prove this to you. Exodus 18. "My father's God was my helper." Same word, ladies. "He saved me from the sword of pharaoh."

Deuteronomy 33. Here, talking about God, "He is your shield and your helper and your glorious sword."

Hosea, the prophet, lamented. He said, "You are destroyed, Israel, because you are against me, against your helper." Speaking for God.

Ladies, the strength that you have coupled with that relational sensitivity that is distinctly yours and different from the way guys see the world, it's different, we're different, you talk about different things. All the sociologists, I could quote you study after study, when you all get together, you talk about people. When we guys get together, we talk about work. That relational sensitivity, partnered with the strength that God gives you, gives you supernatural capacity to lift others up.

I present as evidence my bride, who last week told you that she struggled growing up with her femininity but, because God rescued her, remember her story? She is not ashamed of the gospel because God rescued her. Look at the joy of those other girls' faces, my daughters. And look around the room not only today but every week and you'll see young people whose lives that Ann has touched. How? She's come alongside them as a nurturer, as a coach, and she has lifted them up.

Perhaps you can see this most clearly when you think about when is a woman least feminine? I can tell you it's not when she's playing football. It's not when she's fixing her own car. A woman is least feminine when she's not lifting up but when she is tearing down. The book of Proverbs is replete with verses about this. I won't quote them to you, ladies, you can read them for yourself, but when a woman is harsh and tearing others down, that is when she is least bearing the image of her Creator, making her as a woman to lift others up. Make sense? I hope so.

Ladies, you have supernatural strength, and when you speak into this broken world, you can lift up not only the men in your life, but everyone in your life, by who God has made you to be.

Now, men, there's good news for us too. You see, to be a man fully alive in Christ, bearing the image of God means that you can courageously sacrifice for the sake of others. That's what men do. Real heroes, right? Men long to be heroes. Real heroes sacrifice for others. One verse. This describes what a man is supposed to do in his family, with his wife. "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church." What did Jesus do for the church? He died for us. So men, all you have to do is die and you're golden. And most of us would happily jump on a grenade compared to dying a little bit at a time in relationships. But that's what God calls us to do.

Men, write this down. Three things: Accept responsibility, take initiative, pay the price.

That's what Jesus did. The world was broken. People couldn't save themselves. So He accepted responsibility. He took initiative; He entered the broken world. And He paid the price.

Men, we are called to do that. When we are at our worst, we're like Adam. Think about what happened in the garden. The enemy of our souls was attacking his new family, attacking his wife. And he was passive. He was absent. He was over on the couch watching TV or playing video games. He wasn't where he should have been, between his wife and the devil.

And then once things came unglued, what did he do? He blamed her. "The woman made me do it." He didn't accept responsibility. He didn't take initiative. He didn't pay the price.

But Mark did. I want to tell you his story. I've been waiting weeks to tell you this story.

So Mark is the father of Timmy. And if you haven't met Timmy, Timmy has a trach. He's had dozens of surgeries and been through all kinds of stuff.

So one day Timmy had some really painful surgery, and the anesthesia wore off and he was in agony. Because of his trach, he can't cry the way healthier kids do. So the nurses were kind of ignoring his needs. And I'm in the hospital with the family and I watch. And I watch Mark, and his masculine soul literally just came alive. It was like watching a Superman movie. So Mark like gets in the face of this nurse, and he says, "My kid needs pain medicine and he needs it right now and you're going to get it for him."

She's like, "Well, the doctor isn't here..."

He's like, "You don't understand. He needs it now and I have some with me. So either you're going to give him pain medicine or I'm going to give him pain medicine," which he knew was illegal, "and if you have to take me out of here in handcuffs, you go ahead."

The nurse is still like, "Uh..."

So Mark just gives him the pain medicine and Timmy goes to sleep and he's at peace.

And I'm like, that's a father.

He accepted responsibility, he took initiative, and he was willing to pay any price for his son.

See, when I grew up, I thought this was what a hero looked like.

That's what a hero looks like.

(Applause.)

But when Mark was growing up, Mark was told he wasn't man enough. But real men give up their lives for their wives and their kids.

Let's put this all together. We're just about done. You see, Jesus calls us to be so close to Him that we become pure in who we are. In our personal identities, He wants us to know who we are, male and female. And a whole lot more than that. Because once we become secure in who we are, we can begin to help other people in who they are.

This is an incredibly important passage. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone; the new has come!"

If you struggle with your new identity in Christ, and listen, this isn't just a thing that's out there. This is a thing that's in here. If you struggle with being a man or a woman, if you've been told you're not enough, I want you to ask just one question and I want you to ask it of Jesus and let Him help you figure this out. The question is: What's behind that? What's behind my confusion? In a few weeks, we'll ask, what's behind my same-sex attraction or my brokenness in whatever form it may come. Because I promise you, what we will find behind there is my sin, other people's sin, and the brokenness of the world, what Ann shared with us last week.

In our culture, we are now being told that gender is fluid. A dad grabbed me between services and told me in Howard County now, being bi curious is being taught as a really positive thing.

It's not. It's not.

Ann and I went to a seminar a week ago Friday night with a man who lived in a homosexual lifestyle for a time and God met him there, and he is now a pastor in western Pennsylvania and he helps people who struggle with their sexual identities. He said, one of the things we have to talk to one another about is this whole idea of identity.

So can I take you back? See, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." And if you don't like who you are right now, Jesus can meet you right in that place, because He wants to make you new. He wants to heal the most broken places inside of you. And He can do that. I promise you. Not only that He can, but even that He wants to. Even that He will.

So our response to the gender confusion all around us must be very measured. You see, we should not give in to fear. We sang about that. And neither should we shoot the wounded. Because people who are struggling in this area, they are wounded.

I'm old enough to remember when Bruce Jenner won the decathlon. I cheered for him that night as I was watching him on TV.

Okay. Do you know his story? Bruce Jenner won the decathlon in the Olympics. On that day, he was considered to be the greatest athlete in the world. If anyone wanted to put that on my tombstone, I would be cool with that, being the greatest athlete in the world.

But get this, the greatest athlete in the world somehow was lied to in such a way that he thinks he's not man enough. So now he's become Caitlyn.

If Caitlyn Jenner were to come here today, do you know what I would say to her? I would say, "Caitlyn, welcome to Bethany."

>> Amen.

KEVIN: "I am so glad you are here." I would tell Caitlyn that God loves her and has a plan for her life and that she matters to God. I would say, "Caitlyn, I know you have a story and it has a lot of pain in it. You know what? I actually have a story that has some pain in it too."

I told our small group a part of my story that I've never told anyone else before. When I was in high school, I had been waiting and waiting because I had been told when I was younger that there would be one more surgery and it was going to fix everything that was still wrong. So my mom took me. My dad had died by that point. My mom took me to the plastic surgeon, who looks at me and goes, "He's fine." And my mom is like, "Yeah, he's fine. It's all good."

Inside, I'm like, but it's not good. It's not okay. Because I'm still ugly.

And that was 40 years ago.

You know what I would tell Caitlyn today? "No surgery on the outside can ever fix what's broken on the inside. You see? But Jesus can. He absolutely can. He's done it for me and He's done it for my wife. We just want to walk this journey with you, Caitlyn, because Jesus has better for you than the chaos that Hollywood has lied to you about."

So let's forget about Caitlyn for a few minutes and talk about us. As your pastor, I want to encourage you to take care of yourself first. I want to encourage you to repeatedly affirm your own identity in Christ. So on the back of your outline, you'll see a thing put together by one of our seminary professors. It's a bunch of biblical statements that tell us who we are in Christ. And I hope you will take that and I hope you will look at that again and again. And if you find out it's hard to believe that stuff, I want you to come and talk to us. Because the second thing I want to ask everyone to do, because this is all of us, is to pursue healing. Because Jesus is the great Physician and He heals. Our friends out there at Ransomed Heart Ministry, John and Staci Eldredge, they remind us it takes four streams to heal us. We need the Bible. The Psalmist said, "How can we keep our way pure?" By living according to God's word. We hide His word in our heart that we might not sin against Him. So we need the Bible and we need discipleship. We all need friends. The lay counseling ministry is made up of people who have been through some stuff who can walk with you as you go through your stuff. We need friends. Pursue that.

I've been telling you all day, the devil has been attacking your soul since before you were born. Let's learn about spiritual warfare and learn how to fight back. We can't keep from being attacked, but we never have to lose.

And finally, there is a way to invite Jesus into our stories, and if you'll come back tomorrow night, we'll tell you some more about how healing prayer really works. But we should pursue that.

And finally, we want to commit to one another that we're going to respond with grace and with truth. This is just a review from the first week. You see, Jesus when He came, He was full of truth. But He was also full of grace. If you just have truth without grace, it's brutality. I read a story this week of a young transgender guy who wanted to become a woman, and he was in a Christian church and his parents took away his cell phone and his computer. And he took away his life. Because they had the truth, but they missed out on the grace.

You see, we don't want to fall into that pit that our culture has fallen into too that says, well, anything goes. You see, grace without truth leads people into bondage. Jesus came to set us free.

So in a minute, we're going to sing a song, and as we sing it, it's really to one another, encouraging us to find healing.

But I have one more story to tell you and it's about my dog. This will lighten the mood more than a little bit, I promise.

This is Miley, 142 pounds of happy. She is the most gentle animal I have ever known. I can feed her Cheerios one at a time, put it all the way in her mouth, she'll bite down on my hand, and I can pull it back out unharmed.

Miley was born a pure bred Newfoundland. Newfoundlands are water rescue dogs. Around the world, they're trained by the Coast Guard to jump out of helicopters to rescue swimmers.

Here's the thing about Miley, though. She's afraid of the water.

(Laughter.)

She has a trauma in her childhood where she fell into a pool or something so she's afraid of the water.

On the Sunday when this series began, we had a great morning here together. We went home, we had friends with us in our home for the weekend, and about 7:00 at night I looked over at Ann and said, "Where's Miley?"

She said, "I don't know."

She was gone. She got out. She got out of the fence and was gone. And we were a wreck. Because Miley is really our daughter Bryden's dog, and the last time she was overseas her other dog died, so the thought of losing Miley while Bryden was gone, we were a mess.

We were looking, we had friends looking. We looked all night. The next morning, she's still not back. We're putting out flyers and doing all the things you do. And we couldn't find her.

I literally fell to my knees in the park and said, "Jesus, we can't find this dog ourselves. We need Your help."

In less than a minute, I got a text from Ivan that said, "I've got her."

If you don't believe God answers prayer, you're nuts.

I texted back, "Where are you?"

Ann didn't see the text earlier. She's like, "I'm over at the playground."

I'm like, "I don't care where you are!"

(Laughter.)

Turns out Miley had spent the night caring for a deer that had been hit by a car. See, Miley was born to rescue. And her wounds keep her back from the water, and we'll help her with that, but she was born for something.

So were you. If you're a man, you were born to bring your masculinity into the world. If you're a woman, you were born to bring your strength into the world to lift others up.

Don't let the devil lie to you. Instead, come to Jesus, who can heal the broken places.

If you need someone to talk to this morning, our counselors will be in the back. We're all going to stand and sing a song written to one another. Stand with us as we sing.

TERRY: May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let His face shine upon you. May the Lord bring you peace.



Have a wonderful week. We'll see you back here next Sunday.




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