Change Is A Community Project

Week 3

Shannon Lovelady
August 19, 2018



God has given you a gift. You’re a part of the body of Christ. Don’t be selfish with it. Do something with it.
— Shannon Lovelady

All right, good morning everybody. How are you doing this morning? Y'all wide awake now? Raring to go? Interesting. Fun Facts. I mean, I love our family here at Southern Hills. I’ve got to tell you, the Patti Carnes one didn't surprise me at all. She's from Whitesburg, man, you don't play with Patti. She will light you up. You do not mess with Patti, man. And I know y'all were shocked that Jason was a debate champion. Actually, I'm shocked that he won. I'm not shocked that he debates, but, anyhow, I love, love, love our family here at Southern Hills. Well, we have an incredible community, and for me personally, our staff and our eldership, they mean so much to me, along with the rest of this church family. They pour into me, they’re there for me, they love me deeply. And that's what we're going to talk about today is just community.

If you've been here the last couple of weeks, then you know we've been talking about this idea of “Bear fruit.” Get it? Bear… fruit? Yeah. Okay. So, we've been talking about this idea of bearing fruit and what it looks like to allow the Gospel to be lived out in your life. We spent several weeks just talking about who Jesus is and what that means for us. Now we’re talking about how do we live this gospel out. If our identity truly is in Christ, how do we live this out effectively? How do we allow Jesus to change who we are? So, I hope that you continue to stay plugged in. Today we're going to be in Ephesians 4. If you want to flip your Bibles open to Ephesians 4, I will dive in here in just a little bit. 

Two weeks ago we talked about laying the foundation with our future hope. If you guys remember, I talked about Aidan, and I asked permission if I could share. I talked about how with Aidan that our future hope determines how we live today. The example I gave with Aidan was when he told me he wanted to be a Duke lacrosse player back when he was a freshman, I quickly said, “No, you don't, because if you wanted to be a Duke Lacrosse player, I wouldn't have to ask you to do homework. I wouldn't have to ask you to work out. I wouldn't have to ask you to do all these things.” Your future hope determines how you live today. We talked about how for believers that our future hope, obviously, is eternity, and what happens after we die, and being in the presence of Jesus perfected. But even more so than that, our future hope determines how we live today in that God is transforming us. Philippians 1:6 says that Jesus who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it until Jesus comes back. So our future hope is that Jesus is doing a work in us. 

Then last week we laid foundation number two of this vehicle, or this avenue of our future hope, and we talked about that we are married to who? Somebody help me out. Come on, we're married to who? Christ! We talked about this marriage relationship that we're in and that Jesus is our avenue of this future hope, of this perfection that He is working out in us. There's a very legal component or relationship. 

Remember when I married Natasha, she took all my debt. I took on her assets. She got the raw end of the deal and I forgot to mention last weekend that she actually wound up paying for her wedding ring, if you didn't put two and two together. She got the raw end of the deal. The beauty of this is that in our relationship with Christ, not only has He taken on our debt, and we've heard since the time we grew up in church, that we've been forgiven of our sins and that we'd been washed white as snow, as far as the east is from the West, but Jesus Christ also imparted his righteousness on us. He imparted his perfection on us, His Holiness on us, and it's legal and it's binding. So when God, the Father looks at me, scripture says that I am the righteousness of God. 

It's so important that we understand this identity that we have now. Because if we live in condemnation, if we live not understanding our identity, if we live thinking that our identity is in how good of a preacher I am or my identity is in how good of a husband I am, or how good of a father I am, or how good of a worker I am, or anything other than Christ and Christ alone, then it falls short. It comes in incomplete. Our future hope is that God is changing us and He's changing us because we are married to Christ, and it's legal, it’s binding, and it's relational as well. 

The longer that I’ve been married to Natasha, we'd been married for twenty-two years now, the more we began to look like each other, right? The more we begin to act like each other. The more we begin to like the same things and dislike the same things. Again, when we got married, you guys heard. That’s why I insisted that we do this game today because I wanted you to have dirt on other staff members as well. When we got married, we were total opposites of each other. But God in His providence and in His wisdom and in bringing us together, we began to look more like each other and to enjoy the same things. Before marriage, I never made the bed, now I enjoy making the bed. It's the same in our relationship with Christ, the longer we've been with Christ, the more we begin to look like Him, the more our behavior and our external matches up with the internal of what we've already been declared, righteous and holy. Does that make sense? 

Then finally, when we understand this gift that we've been given, a grace and the Gospel, it drives us to our knees in worship. There's this worship component to marriage. As I described on June 15th, 1996, when the back doors opened to Westview Christian Church and I saw Natasha come in, I cried and could not stop snotting all over myself, the entire wedding, man. Why? Because I knew I didn't deserve what I was getting. That's what worship is all about. Church, let's not get confused here in the south about what worship is. I mean, I love coming together and singing songs together and coming into a place like this. The main worship is a lifestyle. Worship is finding my worth in Christ and Christ alone. Worship of Christ and Christ alone and it's not out of obligation. It's not out of guilt. It's not out of “Now I have to raise my hands and say…” It's out of understanding that I've been given this gift that I don't deserve. 

So we've been talking about this idea of bearing fruit and how does the Gospel live out in my life, and my family, and my workplace, in the schools, and how does God really change me? We're going to get there. I promise, but you guys have to hang with me because if we don't lay the foundation of this, it's all just lip service. It literally means nothing. I'm not about checking a bunch of boxes and saying, if we do these things, then we’ll change. If we don't do these things, then we’ll be different.

 So today we're going to talk about this third foundation block and then next week we're going to start getting super practical. Again, I pray that you guys will dive into this. I pray that you guys will take this seriously. I pray that you'll go home with your families, and you'll talk about this and you'll allow the gospel and the grace of Jesus Christ to transform who you are and therefore transform your relationships around you. So today we're going to talk about this idea of we are not meant to do life alone, period. One of our core values here at Southern Hills is “we're family.” We're family. We belong to each other. The reality is change. Write this down.  Change is a community project. Change is a community project. 

Individual change happens in the context of community, period. You guys know that flies in the face of our culture. Our culture doesn't teach that. Our culture teaches today that we live in this individualistic culture. It's the American dream, if you think about it, the American dream. We've been told from the time we were kids, that if you work hard enough, if you try hard enough, if you just put your mind to it, you don't need anybody else. You can be whoever you want to be. Can I just go ahead and tell you guys already. That's bull. It's not true. It's not true. We all do it as parents. Don't we try harder, work harder, perform better with our kids. We do. You can be whatever you want to be. Can we just stop? Seriously? It's not true. It's not biblical. 

Yeah. The American dream, you guys know the American dream is to own your own house, right? It’s to find the perfect neighborhood, or if you're a country guy, find the perfect land, right? The American dream is a garage door opener. Come on now, y’all don't want to admit it in our individualistic society, but the American dream is to own something that has a garage door opener. You'll know exactly what I'm talking about. 

I pull down Windsor into Windsor Park every single day. I head towards 156 Hampton Way. Please don't stalk me. And as I pull down that road, I stop, I grab the mail, I get to the bottom of my driveway. Then you know what I do? I go “click,” so the garage door comes up so that by the time I get to the top of my driveway, it's already up. You want to why? Because I don't want to wait, because if I wait, a neighbor might see me. I’m being honest. Y'all don't judge me. You know you do it. Y'all are just scared to say it. Seriously, we're all about transparency. If we're going to  change, man, if we're going to allow Jesus to change who we are, we’ve got to be real about this. So I get to the top of the driveway, I pull in and the second I get in, I go “click” and it shuts behind me. I don't even have to get out of my car before the garage door shuts behind me. Don't tell my neighbor. 

I mean, seriously, we live in this society that says, “It's all about me,” right? We move into a neighborhood and what do we do? We built privacy fences. Why? Because we want to tell people, keep out. It's all about me. It's the American dream. We buy lots of land and we tell people, keep off, stay away. It's all about me. It's the American dream. So again, this idea of change happens in community of real change. Individual change happening in community flies in the face of Western culture, because we live in an individualistic society and we also live in that self made man society. Don't we? Again, whoever you want to be; pull yourself up by the bootstraps, right? I don't even know what that means, but we say it. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps. You get knocked down. You get up and work harder. Try harder, be better. Pick yourself up. You don't need anybody else. Guys, I can tell you. I’ve challenged you and again, I'll tell you this, every single Sunday, read this, read this, man. That is so unbiblical. It's not even funny. I mean, look at person after person, after person, after person in scripture and the beauty of the Gospel. I believe God is very intentional and the beauty of the Gospel is to take broken, messed up people who desperately need redemption and who desperately need a Savior because the world says you are nothing. You'll never be anything, and God says, “Watch this!” 

David, the shepherd boy, last in line. The last one that the world would ever say would be king and God said, “No, that's who I want. That's who I want to use.” I thank God that He's in the business to taken broken, messed up people and do something with them. Can I get an amen for that? Because man, let's just be real for a minute. If we're honest and if we can let down our walls and if we can be truthful about what the Gospel is and the understanding of who Jesus is, then let's be clear on this. A true understanding of Christianity is simply this. I know I'm a sinner and it breaks my heart. I am. It just, it kills me that my sin needed a Savior. 

Yeah, and then the other side of the Gospel is I am so full of joy that God loved me enough to give His Son and impart His righteousness on me. There is such freedom in being able to call sin, sin, and being able to say, “I need help. I can't do this on my own.” And that's what this community is about. So let's pray and then we're going to get into Ephesians 4.

 God, thank you for your mercy. Thank you for your grace. I thank you for your love. I thank you that you are doing a work in me and thank you, God, you promised that you're not done. That until Jesus comes back, you are not done and you are shaping me or transforming me. You are molding me more and more and more into your likeness. And God, I thank you that in the meantime, what I do, what I say has nothing to do with the righteousness that has been imparted on me. That was a gift given to me freely, your grace by faith. So God, thank you for that gift. Thank you for changing me. I thank you for those of us in this room, God that have accepted that gift and God, you're transforming as you're making us new, God. I know there are people in this room that maybe for the first time this morning are hearing this message and I pray that they're drawn to you by your Spirit this morning, God, as we open up your Word together. God, you know I am messed up and that I have nothing worth anything to say outside of you and your Word. So God, I pray that you would just get me out of the way. God, don't let me be a distraction for what you want to do in our hearts today. God, I pray that you would just speak to us, clearly encourage us where we need encouragement. God, convict us where we need conviction. God, draw us to you in Jesus' name. Amen. 

So again, we live in this United States of America. We live in this self made man, individualistic society. It's so hard for us as Christians to get out of that mindset. Honestly, it's why marriages are so messed up. That's why marriages are train wrecks. I mean, you think about it in a marriage. What do you have? You have two individuals, right? You have two individuals that come together and if we live in the United States of America and we haven't found our worth in Christ, the reality is as broken people, we have two individualistic self made people who have grown up in the United States of America who are coming together and trying to be one. Sounds like it's going to work really well, doesn't it? The fact of the matter is, we have grown up our entire life being told, you don't need anybody. Just you work harder, you do better. Then we enter into this covenant or relationship that God designed that's supposed to be a reflection of Ephesians when it talks about how we are supposed to be a reflection of God's relationship to us, his church, his bride, and we wonder why it's so messed up. 

If I can just be honest for a minute. This is a side note, little marriage class, quickly. I can't stand the “his needs, her needs” stuff. Sorry. Is it important that I know what makes Natasha tick? Of course! Love languages, all those things, man. Of course, it is. I know that. I know that Natasha likes quality time. She just likes to be with me. Can you blame her? Totally kidding. But she does. I mean she just likes to be with me. I mean that's her thing, honestly. It's crazy because you know, God again in his humor, guess who Shannon likes to be with? Myself. That's it. But I understand that and I know that. So Natasha, if I'm going to go the grocery store, I'm going to pick up the kids or whatever, she’s going, “I’ll ride with you,” and I quickly go, “No, it's good. I got it,” and then she goes, “No, I’ll ride with you.” Then there’s those times where she goes, “Oh yeah, that's right. I forgot you like to be by yourself. I need to let you ride by yourself.” 

Here's the point of this. His needs, her needs, five love languages, all that stuff is fantastic. Of course, you ought to know that for your spouse, but if a good marriage is contingent on you making sure that you always fulfill your spouse's needs, than your marriage is doomed for failure. Husband, wife, hear me right now. If your marriage is contingent on the success of how good you pick up on your wife's needs, and how often you do that, and vice versa, I promise you, you're either going to wind up divorced, hear me, you're either going to wind up divorced, or you might get lucky enough to make it until you die, but you're going to hate your marriage. 

The secret to marriage, the secret to life in general, again, guys, and I know I say this every week, it's the Gospel. It's laying down your rights. It's me understanding that, yes, of course I like to be by myself and yes, of course I would like to go hang out in the woods by myself on my off day, but it's me saying, you know what the Gospel says, “Forget you, Shannon.” The Gospel again, it's Galatians 2:20, says you've died to self so that Christ can live and that includes in your marriage. So I give up my right to go be by myself and instead I sit in my pj's on the couch by my wife doing nothing. Well, she's working on a spreadsheet. Seriously. It's really romantic. Why? While she’s working on a spreadsheet, doing the things that she loves to do, I know it matters to her for me just to sit there and can I tell you guys, we have a kick butt marriage. Why? Because I’m not trying to get my needs met. I did for a lot of years and we were that close to divorce. You have heard the story, but thank God for Biblical community that spoke into my marriage. I'm not trying to get my needs met anymore. See, the Gospel is now, I'm trying to meet my wife's needs and you want to know what's incredible about a godly marriage centered on Christ that lays down your rights is that my wife understands the gospel as well. So now it's like a fight to see who can meet each other's needs the most. Seriously, to see who can crucify self the most. Man, it is amazing guys, and I will just say that. 

So now let's get back to the church because again, as we talked about last week you know we're in this community of believers. Just like in a marriage, nothing brings out flaws like getting married. Nothing brings out understanding like, “Oh, wow, I'm messed up and I need to change,” like getting married. Can I get an amen? Y'all are scared to say that, aren't you? I would say the same thing in this community of believers. Nothing brings out our flaws like being married to Christ, and us being supernaturally connected now as the bride of Christ, as the body of Jesus Christ, and coming together one on one, and in doing life together. It's why you guys cringe when I say we're family, because I'll go “ughhh,” right? It's why you cringe when I say we belong to each other. You're like, “Oh really?” So right now, turn to your neighbor. Say, “Hey, guess what? You belong to me.” Go ahead. Go ahead. Say it like you mean it. Y'all are scared to say it. 

So how does this work then? How? Why? Why do we belong to each other? Why? What is God trying to do? We're going to go to Paul and Ephesians 4. We're just going to look at verses one through seventeen quickly, but before we do that, Paul, and again, I love it, he does it in every single one of his letters, he is careful to always lay the groundwork and he reminds us to not forget what matters. What matters? The Gospel, that's it. Christ crucified. I'm crucified with Him and He's now alive in me and it changes everything. My life is no longer lived for myself. My life was no longer lived for my kids. My life is no longer lived for anything except Christ and Him crucified and now alive in me.

Paul in Ephesians 2:7 says, “So God can point us in the future ages as examples of this incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us shown and all that He's done for us. Who are…” What's He say right there? What'd He say? Come on and say it like you mean it. “…united with Christ.” He's what’s. Who’s He talking about, Church. He's talking about us. He's saying, we belong to each other. We're family. We are united in Christ. As we understood the Gospel, we accepted this gift that we've been given, this gift of grace. We're now united together and again, He's laying the foundation. He wants to be clear. He says, “God saved you by His grace when you believed, and you can't take credit for this. It's a gift from God.” 

Again, you self righteous people in this room, I need you to hear that like your salvation, your standing with God has nothing to do with how well you obey rules. Your standing with God has nothing to do with how well you can memorize scripture or how many times you come to church. It is a free gift given by Him so that no one can boast. Scripture teaches us that our righteousness, no matter how good you think you are, is filthy rags compared to Jesus Christ. That's who we are outside of Christ. He says, “It's a gift from God. Salvation is not rewarded for the good things we've done so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s…” What? What are we? Come on, say it. We are “His masterpiece.” Some of you guys this morning, you need to hear that! Some of you this morning have been told whether it be by parents, boyfriend, girlfriend, coworkers, you've been told your entire life that you're worthless and you'll never amount to anything that your past is too dirty. God will never… Man, you need to understand you are perfectly made. You are wonderfully made. You're His masterpiece. That's who you are. He says, “We are His masterpiece, He has created us new in Christ Jesus.” Why has He created us new? What's He say next? “So that we can do the good things that He planned for us long ago.” I'm telling you, and I'll say it again, so we can do the good things that He planned for us long ago. 

You need to understand that you cannot encounter Jesus Christ, you cannot accept His grace and His mercy and not be changed. You can't, and if you're sitting here this morning wanting to argue with me and go, “No, I don't believe that. I don't think that's true because this is my life." I would challenge you. Have you really encountered Jesus Christ, seriously? If you're in Christ, there is no condemnation. But you better believe out of Christ, there is condemnation. There's a price to be paid for sin. The same God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. His wrath hasn't changed. Just the object of His wrath has changed in His son Jesus Christ. How beautiful is that, man? I would challenge you, if your life looks no different today than it did six years ago when you met Christ, I would ask you, did you really meet Christ? Because He says this salvation is a gift of His. We're God's masterpiece. He has created us new in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things that He planned for us long ago so that our family can look different today than it did yesterday. 

Dad, you better believe, if you've met Christ, and before, you were just this miserable leader of a family, and make no mistake, you ARE a leader of your family, well, whether you're doing a good job at it or not, you're a leader! That's God's design. That's the way He intended it to be. If this is who you were, pre-Christ, I would challenge you. Are you leading differently now? Has He changed you? Is He transforming you? If you're not, I'm begging you to ask for help. I had to. I went to two very dear friends after our Target parking lot explosion with my wife and saying, “I'm done,” and I WAS done. I meant it. I went running to them and I said, “Man, I don't know what's happening to me. I don't know what's happened to our marriage. I never thought this would happen and help me.” They poured into me and their wives poured into my wife. That's Biblical community, man. 

So Paul lays the foundation here and he says, listen, this is who you are now. Everything's changed. Everything's different now. This is who you are. And then we get over to chapter four, and I want to talk about exactly what does this Biblical community look like in chapter four, starting in verse one. He says, “Therefore, I, a prisoner.” And again, what's the “therefore” mean when you see it? “Therefore.” What do you have to ask here? What is the “therefore” there for, right. So he lays the foundation here. He says, “Remember the Gospel? Remember who you are. You've been created to do good works in Christ Jesus.” He says, “I've changed you. You're different.” And  lays the foundation of the gospel. Everything we just talked about. And he says, “So now, therefore, now that you understand this, therefore,..” verse one, “I, a prisoner, serving for the Lord, beg you, lead a life that is worthy of your calling, for you've been called by God. Always be humble and gentle.” This is getting hard now, right? "Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit binding yourselves.” What? “Together with peace.” Then he goes on and he says, “There's one body, one Spirit, just as you've been called to one glorious hope for the future. There’s one Lord. There's one faith, there's one baptism. There's one God and Father who is over all and in all and living through all.”

Dang. This is tough man. Paul says, now that you understand this church, now that you understand the Gospel, now that you understand that you have a new identity. He says, we as believers, we as a community of believers, we are the bride of Christ. He says to live how? United in love, united in love. Write that down. Live united in love. How in the world do we do that? He says, “Okay, so what's this look like? United in love.” He says, “Always be humble and gentle.” Anybody nailing that one? And here's the beauty of our God and I need you to understand this is what is so amazing. You remember we're created in God's image. God in Himself is three in one, God in himself is community! It shouldn't shock us that God wants to transform us and change us and help us to bear new fruit in the context of community. 

I’ve got to tell you something. When I'm by myself, I am extremely humble. I am. I've never heard me brag on myself when I'm by myself. I've never liked drop little hints to myself to say, “Did you see what I did over there?” I'm also extremely gentle. When I'm by myself, I am. I don't beat myself up. I'm extremely patient. When I'm by myself, I generally don't get mad at myself. I don't argue with myself a whole lot, but man, you enter other human beings into the conversation and guess what happens? Man, it can get nasty really quickly.

God in His providence, God in His wisdom, has given us each other. He has given me somebody like Keith. Keith and I get together every other week. You know what we do? Can I share this? Every other week we talk about our insecurities. We laugh at each other as he pours out his heart to me. No, cries to me about what God's doing in his life and how he's struggling and vice versa. Then we'll just look at it, and then go, “Man, we're morons, aren't we?” Yes, we are. The crazy thing is in this relationship that we've have, is that Keith goes way back with me to when he was an intern like fifteen years ago or something like that. God has built this incredible relationship with us in community to where we're very honest with each other. We're very open with each other and we have the opportunity over, and over, and over again to forgive each other. You want to know why? Because I'm constantly doing wrong things and if it weren't for our relationship together, Keith would never be able to learn how to forgive when somebody doesn't deserve forgiveness. Keith would never be able to learn how to be patient with somebody who does the same thing over, and over, and over again. Keith would never learn how to be humble and to step to the side, if it weren't for our relationship. It goes both ways. 

I want to encourage you guys in the context of Biblical community to understand that God is doing a work in this community. He very intentionally wants to use the relationships that He has put you in with other believers, in your families, in this church, in your life groups.  He's teaching you things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control. Parents, how are we doing? Are you growing? Are you seeing your kids and your spouse as opportunities to grow in Christ? Are you seeing them as an inconvenience to your kingdom that you desperately want to live for? He's designed us. He's wired us to be in community. 

So he goes on and he says in verse seven, “However, He's given each of us a special gift through this generosity of Christ, and that's why the scripture say when He ascended to the heights, He led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to His people.” Notice that it says, “He ascended and that this clearly means that Christ also descended into our lowly world and the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so they might fill the entire universe with Himself. Now, these are the gifts that Christ gave to the church, the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and the teachers” What's he say? “Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do His work and to build up His church, the body of Christ. This will continue until all come to such…” What's the word he uses? “Unity!” He keeps using that word. Dang you, Paul. “In our faith and knowledge of God's Son, that we will be mature in the Lord measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” What's the full and complete standard of Christ? Again, it's the Gospel. It's laying down my life so that Christ can live and He's given us all a role. Write this down. He created us for unity in the church. He desires to have unity and love in the church, but He's also given us a role in the church and my challenge to you would be, what's your role? Church? What role has He given you? What’s He asking you to do? What are the gifts that He's given you? 

Then he goes on and he says, “not only has He given us a role,” but in verse fifteen, he says. What does he say in verse fourteen first, he says, “We will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We’ll not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever that sound like the truth.” He says, instead we will what instead? We’ll what? “Speak the truth in love. Growing in every way more and more like Christ.” We’ll speak the truth. How church? In love. Guys, I cannot tell you, and you've heard me say this before, this whole “mind your own business attitude,” that’s not biblical. If you see me operating in a way that is bringing destruction on my life, in my marriage, and my workplace with my kids, go down the list, man, I don't care if you see me operating in a way that is unbiblical and that is bringing pain into my life, you better love me enough to speak up. Not in condemnation, because I'm in Christ, but he says, speak the truth in what? The most unloving thing you could ever do for me is to not speak into my life. When you see me living a way, that's counterproductive to what Jesus has called me to do, we belong to each other. 

Church, we’re family, so he says. We're united by love. Know your role in the church. Speak into each other's lives. Speak in love, and then He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow so that the whole body is what? It's healthy and it's growing and it's what church? It's full of love. What's Paul saying here? He says, do your part. Do something. 

One of my favorite stories is when the Israelites are fighting the Philistines and Jonathan is Saul's son and Saul's sitting under a pomegranate tree just scared to death to fight because they have two swords for the whole Israel kingdom, I think it's in 1 Samuel 15, or 14, something like that. They have two swords and so Saul doesn’t want to do anything. Jonathon's sitting around going, “I can't do much, but I know how to fight.” So he grabs his armor bearer and he says, “Hey, there's some Philistines up on this hill. Come with me now.” The people that had the swords were Jonathan and Saul. Right? So what did the armor bearer have? He didn't have anything once he gave his sword to Jonathon. Jonathan says, “Hey, come with me. We're going to go up and fight these, Philistines and perhaps,” his words, “who knows, perhaps God will be with us.” He says, “but all I know is I've got a gift and I can't just sit here and not do anything with it, so let's go fight.” 

So they go up there and the armor bearer says, “Well, how are we going to know if we're supposed to fight?” And Jonathan says, “Well, if they start making fun of us, then we'll know it's God's will.” And it's like, “Really, dude, you're insane.” So the Philistines start yelling down from this cliff and taunting them and they climb up. It says they had to use all fours to climb up this cliff. So they’ve got one sword strapped on their back or arm and “Dude, I'm with you. Apparently I'm a Ninja warrior or something." But they climb up, they get up there and it says they killed twenty dudes and their bodies are scattered over, I think, like a half an acre of land. Do something, man. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, He's asking you to do something. 

I know some of you guys are new here at Southern Hills. I'm not talking about just getting plugged into serving here. Of course, we need to do that. I mean, of course, we've got children's programs and youth programs with Keith and Tucker. I mean, yes, we need volunteers. I'm begging you, man, do that, but, men, do something. God has given you a gift. You're a part of the body of Christ. Don't be selfish with it. Do something with it. I mean, some of you guys, you need people to speak into your lives and you need to be speaking into other people's lives. It's why you hear us talk about why membership is so important. I'm begging you. Some of you are new here at Southern Hills. You've been coming a few weeks. You're just going, “This is great. We love it. This is awesome.” I'm telling you, if you don't get plugged in, if you don't join the church, if you don't get in a life group, if you don't serve, go down the list of all these things. I promise you I won't see you this time next year. You won't be sitting here. You won't because this isn't community. This is a crowd though, and I pray that you're hearing the truth of the Gospel. I pray God's Spirit is convicting. I pray He's moving and I'm glad you're here, but I'm begging you to dive into real biblical community. Be in each other's lives, speak truth into each other's lives. Create opportunities to have to forgive and to have to be forgiven. That's how God transforms us. That's how He makes us new. That's how He continues to make us more like Him. 

I know we've got a bunch of people taking the membership class today. It's too late for that, but sign up for next month. Sign up for Starting Point. That's all about learning what biblical community is and how we do that here at Southern Hills. Signup for an elective. That's another great way to just spend six or eight weeks around the table learning about community and pouring into each other's lives. Serve, serve, serve. Surround yourself with other believers that are going to pour into you, and that you can pour into. If you don't, you're missing out. You're missing what God intended for His bride. I know some of you guys are going now, “I don't need the church.” That’s bull!  You don't get to say I love Shannon, but I could do without Natasha. We’re a total package man. Christ and his bride are the same way. This is church. This is design. This is how He wants us to grow to be more and more like Him. I'm begging you. Get plugged in. 

Another thing here. You want to know a really practical way you guys can serve? As you've noticed, we’ve got another crowd here this morning. If you think it's crowded in here now, come to second service. Second service was nuts. I don't know if y'all heard. We had seventeen hundred people last week. Sixteen hundred and ninety six, I think, was the final total. We couldn't find four more people. I mean, really? But sixteen ninety six was the total. If you know church statistics, when  seventy-five percent are in a room, which we're at that looking around the room this morning, you can't grow anymore. If you guys are old Highway 113 folks, you know that happened. We had our 8:00AM service and then we peaked out at seventy-five, eighty percent and we just were bidding time till we could get here and guess what? We're there again. We've known that was coming or we hoped that that was coming. 

The staff has been prepared, the eldership has been prepared, but on Thursday, September 20th, we're actually going to launch a third service. If you guys want to know how you can help, what you can do if you're not plugged into serving, if you're not plugged into volunteering somewhere already, and if it doesn't take you out of serving here, or if you want to talk to whoever you serve with and it might help them out, I want to encourage you guys to be willing to move to Thursday night to make room for here. God is moving in this place. God is doing incredible things in His bride here at Southern Hills Christian Church. It's an incredible thing to get to be a part of it. Really, what I want more than anything in this world is I want you guys to really understand this incredible gift that we've been given in Jesus Christ and His grace. It was mercy. Link hands together. Let's walk this out. Look how good our God is and how He's transforming us and how He's making us new. 

I'm going to pray and I'm going to be done and if you guys need somebody to talk with this morning, if you guys need somebody to share with this morning, if you need somebody to pray with you, if you want to talk about any of this stuff we talked about, there's going to be folks over here. I'll be over there. I'd love to talk with you, pray with you. My challenge this morning is that you just do something, understand who God is and He's doing a work and He wants to do a work in all of us together. 

God, thank you for your Word. Thank you for your truth. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your mercy. Thank you that you have supernaturally, bonded us together by the blood of Jesus Christ. Thank you for transforming us and making us new. Thank you for Jesus. In His name we pray. Amen.