Week 3

Shannon Lovelady
July 8, 2018

The fact of the matter is who we say Jesus is, determines how we respond to Him and how we live.
— Shannon Lovelady

We've been spending the last couple of weeks talking about this question that Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” First, He says, “Who do the others say that I am?” They answered. Ultimately, Peter says, “This is who I say you are. You are the Messiah.” We talked that first week that He was the Anointed One, then His being the Son of God. Next, we discussed that He was Fully God, and then last week we talked about the implications of the fact that He's also Fully Human. We learned how He understands our pain in John 2, because He's walked through suffering. He understands how we feel. He understands insecurities. He understands when we think that life is just too much. That's what I love about our God, that we serve a God who empathizes with us and understands that. 

But today, as we continue this series, we're going to be in John 5. I think it's really important as you guys flip there, that we understand why it matters who we say Jesus is, as we continue this series. The fact of the matter is who we say Jesus is, determines how we respond to Him and how we live. 

You guys heard me talk a little bit about my story last week and actually that was my daughter today that did the offering prayer. That was Kay-Kay whom we had talked about last week. She’s beautiful. That's where you can clap and applaud and you go, “Yes, she is,” and say, “You did it! You did a wonderful job,” until you get to the part that we look a lot alike. It was about ten years ago or so that there was this girl in our youth group and, honestly, she was that kid you guys hated to see come in. If you have ever worked with youth ministry or as teachers, you know what I'm talking about, and don't judge me because you felt the same way. She was that kid. You just couldn't stand her. When she walked into the room, you were thinking, I was hoping she would be sick today. It was just reality. I would stand up and preach and there was this kid that would sit in the back, and she would just roll her eyes and talk to her friends, and make it crystal clear that she could not stand me! She could not stand my wife and she could not stand being there. It was just like that every Wednesday night when I would speak to the youth. I would think, Why are you here, as you roll your eyes? 

Some of you guys this morning, remind me of that. Why are you here, as you roll your eyes at me? No, I see you. I can see you all the way in the back. I see the eye rolls. 

We went into this honestly weird relationship being called “that guy” and Natasha was “that woman.” That's who we were for the longest time. Eventually, this little girl named Kay-Kay started to break down her walls a little bit and I ultimately became her youth minister. She actually would call me her "youth minister,” but Natasha, for a long time, was still “that woman.” Finally, Natasha began to lead her life group and as Kay-Kay began to trust her a little bit more, and eventually we started to become “Shannon and Natasha.” Then as that trust grew, we discovered one night that Kay-Kay needed a place to stay for at least that night. It turned out to be something like eight or nine years now. She needed a place to stay so she moved in. As the days and weeks moved forward after she moved in at our house, we went from Shannon and Natasha to basically Natasha became “mom.” She called her mom quickly and I was “white daddy” for a long time. And so it was “white daddy and mom.” Then finally now, we are “Mom and Dad,” and Kay-Kay is blessed. She's got two moms and two dads that love her dearly and as time has progressed, who she thought we were, greatly affected how she responded to us, and how she lived her life. 

The fact of the matter is this, who we say Jesus is matters a whole lot. The bottom line is Jesus knows very well who He is, but we're the ones that have to discover who Jesus is and what that means for us. It starts with this. The verbal acknowledgment of Jesus is Lord and Savior. He is the Messiah. He is who He says He is. That verbal acknowledgement ultimately leads to behavior. It does. It's like when Kay-Kay began to soften her walls and began to treat us like mom and dad. She understood that we did want good for her. As we understand who Jesus is, it changes us. It leads to verbal acknowledgement and finally to action. 

It's what baptism is all about honestly. When people ask me, “Is baptism essential?” I say, “Of course baptism is essential. Why? Because Jesus said to do it. Period!” We believe that scripture teaches baptism by immersion and that was how the first church did it. It represents death, burial, and alive again in Christ. That represents crucifying Shannon and being alive in Christ. Christ alive in me! I tell people all the time, if you're not willing to surrender your life in baptism, how in the world do you think you're going to be willing to surrender your life the REST of your life? So do I believe it's essential? Of course, I believe it's essential. It's the first step in surrender. It's the first step of saying, “I'm all in.” Make no mistake, the Gospel is all in. That's what today is about, our response to who Jesus is. In John 5, Jesus comes along and we discover that Jesus is the Healer. He's a healer. He has this incredible interaction with this man, by this pool at Bethesda. We're going to open that up in just a second and look at that. I'm going to pray and just ask God to speak to us this morning.

God, we thank you for your Word. God, we thank you that you are the Healer. We thank you that you are alive. God, we come before you as broken people in desperate need of a Savior, understanding that you were the One that can bring us life, abundant life to the full. So God, we just come before you this morning believing that you are the Messiah, believing that you are the Son of God, and believing in your grace and your mercy, and that you do want good for us. God, we come before you surrendering our lives. God, other people that have walked into this room may have all kinds of walls up. They have all kinds of defenses, all kinds of hurts and hangups that are just keeping them from being able to clearly see who you are and what you desire of them. God, help them to know what you want to do in their life. So just for the next few minutes, I pray that they can lay that down and allow your Spirit to speak. God, I believe where your Word is spoken, that incredible things happen. Your Word has life. It has power. It's not some old antique, antiquated book, but God, it is God breathed. We would come before you now just asking you to speak through your Word, God. Get me out of the way. You know my words are meaningless and useless, so God where I'm muddied and confusing, I pray that you would speak in spite of me. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for Jesus. In His name we pray. Amen.

Today we will be in John 5.  Last week, Jesus had this life changing moment in John 2, where His mom says, “Hey, it's time. It's time to start this ministry. The whole reason that you are here and placed on this earth is to live this life and to die this death so that we could have life. So that we could be restored to the Father.” In John 2, he begins that, but up until this point, John chapters one though four are where John is recording his different interactions with people. Honestly, there hasn't been a whole lot of kickback yet. People are starting to realize this guy teaches a little different. They're starting to see healing. They're starting to see some things happen, but at this point the religious leaders aren't too worried about it. The religious leaders are still comfortable with who they are. They're comfortable in their place and he hasn't raised or ruffled a whole lot of feathers yet, but in John 5 is where it all begins to unravel for Jesus. This is where everyone begins to go, “Wait a minute, this guy is actually saying that He is God. This guy is actually saying that He is the Messiah.”  Everything starts to unfold from here on as we move forward. So we get to John 5. We're just going to read this together and see what God would teach us this morning. 

Verse one says, “Afterwards, Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days, and inside the city near the Sheep Gate was the pool of Bethesda with five covered porches and crowds of sick people, blind, lame, and paralyzed lay on the porches.” 

A lot of you guys know I went to Israel for the first time this past year, this past November. I went with a group of pastors and it was just an incredible thing for me. There's just something about seeing these things that you've always read about in scripture come to life. This is one of those places. I am going to take another group back in October from here, There's about forty of you guys going and I cannot wait for you to see this. You can still see the pool of Bethesda. You can tell right where the Sheep Gate is going into Jerusalem. You can walk in and walk over to the pool of Bethesda and still see some of the columns. You can see some of the ruins and it's just this incredible picture. This is where this took place. We learn that at the pool of Bethesda, all of these sick people, whether they were lame, blind, whatever, would go there because they thought that at the pool of Bethesda, they could be healed. 

Now you'll discover there's a certain thought about how they thought they would be healed, but most of your versions probably don't say that. You guys notice anything weird? This is crowd participation time. Help me out. What do you guys see after verse three? There's no verse four. Now here's the only reason I point that out. I am begging you guys not to be Biblically ignorant. I am begging you guys not to be southern cultural Christians. That because you grew up in the south and because you grow up in Carrollton and it's Sunday morning, we're supposed to go to church and you're supposed to listen to what the preacher says. Take him at his word and then go home and be on about your life. I got news for y'all, man. I am flawed to the core. I am not perfect. Not even really that smart. I know y'all are shocked. The scariest thing about being a teacher of the Word on Sunday morning is that it terrifies me to think that I'm going to stand up here and I'm going to speak wrongly on something and it's going to steer you guys down the wrong road. Whether intentional or accidental, I'm begging you. Christians, I'm talking to you right now. I am begging you to KNOW what His Word says. If we truly believe what this whole series is about, “Who Do You Say That I Am” and what we talked about last week, that He is the Messiah and that by believing in His name, then we can have what? Somebody help me out life. (Audience - Eternal Life) Good! If we truly believe that, then you ought to know that! 

I’m going to tell you, and I'm getting off of my soapbox here for a second. We live in a time where parents have to deal with the Internet, and the evils of the Internet, and the video game Fortnight. I know some of your parents are what? Trust me, pornography and the things that are accessible to our kids weren't around when we were young. But I have to tell you there's a good side to it as well as ZERO reason for us, as Christians in today's day and time, to not be knowledgeable about the scriptures. Somebody was asking me the other night as we were sitting out here in open court basketball. We were just having a conversation and they asked me, “How do you go about writing your sermons?” And I said,”Well, I've got a set of commentaries that I really like, but honestly, like pretty much everything, all the research that I do is online now. I mean everything there is to know about scripture, everything that you guys hear me say on Sunday mornings is at your fingertips.” 

But we're content just to sit back and say, “Huh, does it really matter?” Again, I want to go back to what I kicked this off with. Who do YOU say that Jesus is?” Christians, specifically, Bible belt, southern Christian. If you really believe Jesus is who He says He is, it changes everything, not just what you do on Sunday mornings! 

in case you're wondering. The reason verse four isn't there, is that most scholars believe that it wasn't in the original manuscripts. I think some of you guys may have the King James version in your hand. Some of you guys may have the new King James. It's in there, but most scholars believe that it wasn't in the original manuscripts. What it actually says in verse four is that the reason that these sick folks laid around the pools of Bethesda is because they believed that an angel would come and stir the waters. Now here's the deal. It doesn't matter whether an angel came or not. The fact of the matter is they believed it, but they believed that an angel stirred the waters and the tradition was that the first person that was able to get into the waters as they were stirred and bubbling would be healed. Now whether it was from a natural spring or whether an angel really did come and stir the waters. I have no idea, but the point was they believed it and so that's what these people did here, wait with the goal of being be the first one in the water. 

So in verse five, one of the men lying there had been sick for how many years?  Thirty eight years. This guy had not been able to walk for thirty-eight years! Let's do a little experiment. How many of you have not been alive for 38 years? I wish I could still say that. Flip side of that. How many of you guys can't remember what thirty eight looked like? Yeah man, I am so in denial that I'm forty-five and just getting older. 

I told you I was playing basketball and I'm hobbling out here. Well, the other day while playing with these twenty-five year old dudes from West GeorgiaI, I thinking that I can hang on. The game was on the line and this guy had been guarding and I knew he had been being nice to me and pulling up for jumpers. He asked what the score was and I was thinking, he’s taking it through the hole. I was thinking, “NO, he's not!” He is maybe a foot taller than me and he's taking it to the hole. I slide in front of him thinking, “Oh, not on my watch, man.” Next thing I know, I'm slamming into something and I was like, what? What just hit me? I'm on the ground. He's coming over. He's saying, “Man, I'm so sorry. That wasn't intentional.” I answered, “No, that was just you playing hard and I was playing hard.” But I did tell him, “Hey, here's the deal. You might not know it, but the house rules are that if you knock the pastor down, you have to come to church on Sunday.” Now, I don't know if you're here today or not, but if you're not, Jesus will smite you. That's not Biblical! 

But thirty-eight years? For thirty-eight years, this dude has not been able to walk. I know some of you are sitting here and it may not be that you're paralyzed or can't walk, but you understand pain, right? You understand suffering. Some of you may have been experiencing pain and suffering for thirty-eight years and it feels like an eternity. It's just become who you are, this life. Some of you have experienced addiction. Some of you are in marriages that just feel like it's the same old, same old and it's never ever, ever going to change. I mean, for some of you, it’s the job thing right? You keep thinking you're about to get a leg up and you keep thinking circumstances are about to change and before you know it, you're back off your feet again and asking God, “When?” Can anybody identify with this guy? You're just desperate for circumstances to change, but at this point in life, it's been so long, and it's so familiar that it has just become who you are. 

We don't even know this guy's name. I mean his identity is “a man that sits by the pool hoping to be healed for thirty-eight years.” Some of you are coming in here this morning and you believed the lie that your identity is that you are widowed, or your identity is that you're divorced or you're an addict.That’s just your identity. Go down the list. You believe the lie that this suffering, this pain, these struggles in life are what define you. You’re allowing them to define you and you understand what it's like to be this guy that's been sitting here for thirty-eight years begging for a change. You are desperately not wanting to be bitter anymore but continue the bout with depression, or the marriage. Let's be real. Why should you feel any different? For thirty-eight years, the same old, same old spinning in circles and then Jesus comes along in verse six. Jesus saw him. What's it say? He knew. He knew. You need to understand that Jesus knows that thing you're dealing with. He knows. He gets it. You're not alone. I know you feel alone, but you're not! 

Jesus knew that he had been sick for a long time and He asked him. Listen to this question. He asks, “Would you like to get well?” What kind of a question is that? As you hear that question sitting here this morning and you're going, “What kind of a question is that? What? What do you mean? Would I like to get? Well, of course I would like to get well! Did you see I've been sitting here for 38 years! Of course, I want to get well. What kind of a stupid question is that?” I know some of you have walked in here this morning and you're frustrated with God and feel like God is going. “Do you want to get well? Do you want to get well?” You are thinking, “Come on, give me a break. Of course, I don't like my circumstances. Of course, I don't like the pain I'm feeling. Of course, I don't like the suffering I'm feeling. Do I want to get well?” 

Let's just be real. Maybe the question is not that out of the ordinary because listen to what he says in verse seven. He says, “I have no one to put me in the pool. When the water bubbles up, someone always, someone else always gets there ahead of me.” Jesus asked him this question, “I know that you're broken. I know that you're hurting, but do you want to get well?” What's the first thing that the man does? Makes excuses about why he can't and who he is. This guy has got it bad and he says that there's no one there to even help him in the pool. I don't know. Some of you have fought the fought. You've tried hard with your marriage. I know some of you before you even got married, your relationship was toxic and you've been battling it for years and years, and you feel like you're spinning in circles. You feel like it's one step forward, two steps back.  You feel like what in the world? You're in this place of just feeling like I can’t anymore. I've been there. I've done that. No matter what I do, it's never going to get fixed. I've tried for thirty-eight years, I've tried to be whole. I've tried to be healed. I've tried to fix life. I've tried, I've tried, I've tried and I need you to hear it. There's a whole lot of “I's" in that. This guy is sitting here by the pool saying, “Man, I have done everything I possibly can to make myself better!” 

You have missed the whole point of life. It's never meant to be about us. It just wasn't. Some of you desperately need to hear this morning that no matter how hard you try to be God of your kingdom, you will ALWAYS fall short. Why? Because you're not meant to be God. The Gospel is simply this, that there is one God, but we desperately want to be God and to be in charge of our own life, to be in charge of our own kingdom, to live life in a way that we were never meant to find life, to live life in a way that we were never meant to understand life. To find our identity in God and God alone is how we were intended to live. We say, “Nah, I got this.” But thank God we have a God that loves us enough that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on a cross after living a perfect life and that perfect life was simply this. Finding His identity in God, the Father and saying, “Not my will, God the Father, but your will.” He lived perfectly and He died so that we might become the righteousness of God and the Gospel when we choose to lay down our life so that He can live in us. And this guy says, “No, I've tried. I've tried. I've tried and it's never going to work. It's never going to work.” 

So again, maybe the question isn't quite so strange after all. Honestly, I believe there are people, and this is tough to hear, I believe there are lots of people sitting in this room and I've been there in your shoes is the only way I can say this. There are lots of people sitting in this room that do not want to get well, that you're comfortable being in charge of your own life. You're comfortable trying to figure it out on your own. You're comfortable in your brokenness. You're comfortable in your bitterness. Your hopelessness in this life has just become a part of who you are. It's your identity and to be real, the thought of a whole new life is is terrifying because the reality is as much as some of you guys want out of your circumstances, as much as you want life to look differently, at least you know what to expect, right?  Again, you've been spinning your wheels forever in marriage. You've been doing marriage this way forever and as long as I don't get my hopes up, as long as I don't think that my marriage can be healed, as long as I don't think things can be different than that, I can't get hurt.

At least in living life this way, at least in living life for myself, at least in living life with what's familiar, not surrendered to the Lord, I don't set myself up for failure. So we'd rather bury our heads in the sand and turn our backs on the Savior than to step into the unknown. The reality for some of you this morning is that you just aren't desperate enough. You still think that you can be God. You still think that you can be in control. You still think that you can figure it out. Some of you guys think that your own will, your own effort will get you into that pool and heal you. I mean, the reality is, especially in our culture, man, that's the American dream. It's just work harder and anybody can be anything they want to be in. Guys, I’ve got to tell you something, that's not the gospel. It's just not. The Gospel isn't about working harder and trying harder. The Gospel is about crucifying self and surrendering self so that Christ can live. That's the gospel. That's it! 

But some of us are more comfortable in our same old problems and our same old messes. We really don't want real solutions. We'd rather pray a prayer. We'd rather just figure it out. I'd rather just try harder. We just refuse to listen to the truth of scripture, the truth of what Jesus wants for your life, who He is, who He truly is. Again, who do you say that He is? if that's you this morning, in your stubbornness and your selfishness, if that's you. I, I’ve got bad news for you. Jesus has nothing for you. That's not just coming from me. You remember the rich young ruler when he came to Jesus and he said, “What do I have to do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said, “Obey the commandments.” The young man answered, “That's awesome. I've done that since the time I was young. I keep those perfectly." And Jesus says, “Actually for you, there's this thing, you refuse to let go of this thing, and for you, it's money. I'm asking for surrender in this moment.” The rich young ruler says, “I can't do that.” You know what Jesus allows him to do? He allows him to walk away. The walkaway. Sad scripture. 

We’ve got cops in the room. Have you guys ever heard of a partial surrender, Mario? Yeah. Partial surrenders don't generally go well. No such thing as a partial surrender. Guys, you need to understand this morning, and this isn't about condemnation, this is about grace. This is about life and life to the full. You need to understand this morning that the gospel is an all in proposition that says, “I've tried to do it my own way. I've tried to be God of my own kingdom and it just bombs, duh. I'm a terrible God. I was never meant to be God.” You were never meant to be God. Surrender is terrifying, but you must be able to say, “Take me where you want to take me. Do what you want to do.” 

If you're in a place of surrender, listen to what Jesus says in verse eight. He says, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk.” Instantly the man was healed. He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking. But since this miracle happened on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can't work on the Sabbath. The law doesn't allow you to carry that sleeping mat.” Don't you love religious people? But he replied,”The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” I love that man. He's like, “Y'all can tell me what you want to tell me, but that man just healed me and He told me to walk, so I'm going to walk!” The man didn't know Jesus, who had disappeared into the crowd. I need you to see this as a theme over and over again in the gospels. These people are ticked off. These people are coming after Jesus and you know what he does. He disappears in the crowd. You want to know why? Because Jesus is in control. Make no mistake. Just like He told Mary and John in chapter two, He says over and over that His time has not come yet and people are getting riled up. Jesus goes, “You know what? Excuse me, I’ve got to go. I'll let you know when my time has come.” Some of you again, I’ve got to say it are walking into this place this morning thinking you're in charge. You’re thinking you're in control. Thinking that you call the shots and you may keep thinking that, but you need to understand that there is a God in everything that was created. You need to understand that He is in control and the sooner that we can realize that He is in control and that there is one God and we are not Him, then life becomes a sweet, sweet thing. John 10 says that the thief came to steal, to kill, and destroy, but Jesus came so that we might have life and have it to the full. So that we might have life abundantly. He is a life giver, not a life taker. But we are so foolish and we think that life's about us.It was never meant to be about us. 

So the man didn't know Jesus, for He had disappeared in the crowd. Afterwards, Jesus found him in the temple and He told him, “Now that you're well, stop sinning or something even worse may happen to you.” Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him. I want to go back to verse eight really quickly and I want you to see why our response matters. 

He asked him, “Do you want to get well?” The guy says that he can’t. Listen to what Jesus tells him. What did Jesus first tell him to do? Stand up. Jesus tells him to do the impossible. This guy's been laying there for thirty-eight years but believes that there's something special about this man and that He actually can heal him. He believes that He can make him whole but He tells him to do what? Stand up. This man understood that Jesus was telling him to do something he’d never been able to do.  But do you know what he did? He stood up! 

There's a theme in scripture, that there is one God and we are not Him, and when Jesus says do something, what should we do? Do it! It is not rocket science and it is not punitive. It is life giving. Jesus says, “Listen, Shannon, you stubborn, ignorant man, if you will lay down your life, if you will crucify yourself and allow me to live, you'll experience life like you've never experienced before.” Galatians2:20. 

Of course, you still live in a broken world and, of course, there's still cancer. There's still job loss. There’s still death, pain, and suffering, but that's never where you are meant to find your worth in anyway, in any of that stuff. “Life is about me.” Jesus says. So Jesus tells him, stand up and he does it. I'm begging you, do what He says. Jesus doesn't stop there. What's He say next? Pick up your mat. See, here's the problem, and southern Christianity is that we want both. In southern Christianity, we love to say, "Of course, I grew up in the church. My mama and my granddaddy, my great granddaddy and my great, great granddaddy were all Christians and that's what we do. We go to church and so we say, yes, Jesus is Lord, but I also like the world.” So we try to stand in both worlds and say “I'm going to surrender, but just in case, surrender doesn't work, here's Plan B.”Jesus tells this man, “When you stand up, I need you to roll that mat up, because you're not coming back here.” But that's all he’s known for thirty-eight years. This has become his identity. This is who he is. What happens if you don't work, Jesus? You need to understand there is no plan B. It's all in surrender. Jesus says, “Get rid of Plan B.” But there is no, “I'm going to sing Kumbaya, pray a prayer, jump in a tub and and do these things, but in case that doesn't work, I'm going to hang onto this over here.” That's not surrender. There is no Plan B! If you've been told that there is, that's not the gospel, it's false. It's a lie, it's not true. Don't believe it. 

Some of you this morning are coming into this place and saying, “You don't understand. I've been an alcoholic for thirty-eight years. That's who I am, man. I'm ready to jump off the cliff. I'm ready for surrender. I'm ready to crucify self. I'm ready to be all in, but I'm terrified Shannon.” So what do I do? I'll tell you first, you go home, you pour out all the booze down the sink. Then you tell all your brothers and sisters in Christ the decision that you've made. Then you trust that we really are family and we belong to each other and you say, “Hey, hold my hand. Let's walk this out together.” Some of you are porn addicts and you're coming in here and it's wrecked your marriage. You need to go home today and you pick up your mat or whatever it needs to be. You need to go smash your computer and you think,”Shannon, that's radical man. Why would I smash my computer?” Well, because you've surrendered and you said, “Jesus, I'm all in, but I need a computer.” Forget that. Are you all in or not? Is porn destroying your marriage or not. 

If you've chosen to say, “Jesus, I want to be healed. I want to be healed.” Jesus is saying, “Stand up, get rid of plan B.” I talked with someone after the first service this morning and I told him, “You need to move. The circumstances you're in, you're all alone and you need to move, because you need community. 

Some of your jobs are wreaking havoc on your marriage and on your family, but your job has become your identity and you're sitting here going, “Okay Jesus, I surrender. I'm all in, but this is who I am.” And He says, “No, it's not. Crucify that, kill that.” Some of you need to walk away from that today, because you know it. I'm not trying to say that you are this or that, but these are the exact steps you need to do. You know you have His Spirit residing in you. You know what scripture says, “Pick up your mat!” It is radical amputation. Jesus said it. He said, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. If your arm causes you to sin, cut it off.” Do what you have to do to surrender your life to me. Why? Because that is the only thing that truly brings life. That's it, but you're going, “No, my job brings life.” It's false life. It's not true. It ultimately leads to death. There's a way that seems right to man, but in the end that leads to death against scripture. 

What is Jesus calling you to do this morning for you, your marriage and your workplace? Teenagers in your schools, some of you know that the group that you're hanging out with is bringing death and destruction on you and you need to change your friends. You’re saying, “But you don't understand. Those have been my friends my entire life and I don't have any other friends I know.” I do understand. I've been there, there's no plan B in the Gospel. It's surrender. It's crucifying self so that Christ can live, and then ultimately what's He telling him to do? Walk, walk and make no mistake, we aren’t the ones walking. Shannon in the flesh is a joke. I tried for years to walk it out and man, my legs wouldn't hold me. See, there's only one solution. It's Christ and Him being crucified. Because of that, I, Shannon, must crucify self daily, take up my cross daily, so that He can live. 

That's what life was meant to be. Some of you guys need to choose that this morning. There's going to be folks over here in the corner. They would love to talk with you. They would love to pray with you. We've got folks for Biblical counseling that would love to grab your hand and walk life out for a season. Some of you guys are coming in here and you're excited about this church. You're excited about hearing truth, but then you walk out and life hits you upside the head and then you have no community. Today's the last day to sign up for Starting Point. I'm honestly, telling you that I love you, but if you don't get in Biblical community, if you don't have people that you are doing life with, Biblically centered people that love you and who are going to speak truth into your life and allow you to speak into their life, if you're not involved with that, this time next year you won't be here. You won't. 

We weren't meant to do life alone. Tucker talked about it. It's one of our core values. We really are family. We really do belong together. Supernaturally. We are the bride of Christ and we are supernaturally connected. Some of you guys need to sign up for Starting Point. That's just an introduction to the small groups, to life groups and to what Biblical community is all about. Now, whatever that surrender looks like for you, whatever picking up your mat looks like for you this morning, Jesus really is the healer. He really does bring life and I'm begging you to trust Him with that and give Him a chance to lay down your life so that Christ can live. 

God, thank you for loving us. Thank you for the Gospel. Thank you for the truth of who you are. Thank you, most of all for Jesus, the grace and the mercy that you have so richly given. In Jesus’ name. Amen.