Pastor Jon invited Carl Hempel from CRU to share their vision for college students and how his life has personally been impacted by their ministry. Carl mentioned that college can be a difficult and challenging place for young adults and it can be a time filled with loneliness. This tied perfectly into Pastor Jon’s message. Pastor Jon offered encouragement to us by referencing Exodus 3:1-3 and the story of Moses and the burning bush. He described how God is still with us when we find ourselves in lonely places like Moses did. He added that there is nothing that we can do to make God love us any more than He already does and that we don’t need to struggle in an attempt to earn our Father’s love. Pastor Jon also told the story of Davis and Goliath, concluding that the only way David was able to claim the victory over Goliath was by being both a worshipper and a warrior. He concluded his message with a call for the congregation to be intentional about making our lives less busy over the coming weeks and to use that time to draw closer to God.
Pastor Jon asked Rachel and Mark to each share stories of how God has been working in their lives. Rachel explained the story of how she was adopted by her family. Her father was walking down a hallway at an event he was attending and noticed her with one of the women from her foster program. She later learned that she had reached her hand out to her father and grabbed his finger. In that moment her father realized that his life was not complete without adopting her, and a month later she was living in her new home. She mentioned that although life is not always easy, she always has felt a tremendous amount of love from her family and is thankful that they chose her. Pastor Jon mentioned that one of the cool things about being adopted is that you are chosen intentionally rather than born into a family. He added that we are adopted into God’s family, as illustrated in Ephesians 1:5. Mark shared a story of how his grandmother had been praying for his family, that they would be all brought to Christ. He found out that she had been praying this at her funeral. Despite not having a relationship with Christ at the time, Mark felt a pulling on his heart that he needed to be the one to pick up the mantle of prayer that his grandmother had carried for so many years. Pastor Jon concluded his message by asking the congregation to write a love letter to God. The goal was to thank Him for everything that He has given to us and to express our love to Him.
Pastor Jon introduced the first sermon in a series entitled “Hope”. He explained that hope is based on an understanding that God will take even the bad things in our lives and make them good. He mentioned that too often we put our hope in our circumstances rather than putting our hope in God. Pastor Jon also described how we can sometimes get caught up in our own busy schedules and lives, but scripture tells us that rest finds grace in the eyes of the Lord. He wove in the story of Cain and Abel from Genesis 4 in his message and examined the difference between Cain and Abel’s offering to the Lord. The main difference between Cain and Abel’s offering was that Cain showed God what he was capable of and Abel showed God what God (He) is capable of. Pastor Jon concluded his message with a scriptural picture of how husband and wives should conduct themselves: “However, each one of you must also love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:33)” He also mentioned that respect is something that comes to us by the grace of God, it’s nothing that we can earn, our hope comes through Christ.
Kevin and Anna Barrett, educators by trade and by nature, shared an autobiographical message depicting the importance of God's word in the concept of Marriage. They shared there have been many outlets that teach on the subject of Marriage, Men are from Mars and Women are From Venus by John Gray is an example they gave, yet none of these educational seminars or books seemed to work. They stated that these other systems didn't work because they were not rooted in the Word of God. Perhaps the subtitle of Gray's work describes Anna and Kevin's point best; it states, "A Practical Guide to improving Communication and Getting What You Want From a Relationship". The Barrett's encourage us to not focus on getting what YOU want out of the relationship, but to focus on what the other person in the relationship wants. They told us to do the following:
- Remind ourselves where we came from: a place of Grace and Love
- Become Imitators of Christ
- Make Disciples
In Exodus 34: 5-7 the Bible states the following:
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Anna used this to point out that God's attributes are as such. He is compassionate, slow to anger and quick to rest. This is what is mentioned first, and thereby, we must remind ourselves of His attributes and where we come from - the source of Grace and Love. Anna then pointed us to Ephesians 2: 8-9 to further the parallel between grace and love. Kevin quoted Matt Chandler; stating that “the vertical has direct relation to the horizontal”. In other words, our relationship with the father should be the most important thing. If we see that correctly and allow him to be our only source of life, it allows us to be healthier in our horizontal relationships, friends, spouse, and co-workers. He used Ephesians 1:4-6 to prove his point.