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Chris opens his message with the video below.  Please view it prior to listening to the audio.

A balanced approach to living a Christ-centered life requires the continual integration of three critical dimensions of the gospel: word, power, and deed. Holy Spirit week placed an emphasis on “power.” This past Sunday (“Super serve Sunday”), we focus on “deed” as Chris spoke from the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30). Chris contends that while the emphasis of this parable is commonly on money, it is in fact about perspective. Specifically, the parable contrasts the perspective of God with the perspective of the “wicked, lazy” servant. While God views the world as a place of opportunity and worthy of investment, the servant views the world (and his master) in fear. This incongruity in perspectives underlies both the servant’s actions (or lack thereof) as well as his master’s disappointment. How we view the world and all God has allotted to us informs both our deeds and actions. Chris challenges us to take on God’s perspective to reinterpret what it means to be a good steward of the “talents” He has entrusted to us.

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Pastor Jon elaborated on Chris Parker’s message last week by explaining that serving is a key part of what it means to follow Jesus. He introduced the story of Stephen; a young man who had a heart geared for service and who continually blessed others in his congregation. Stephen intently waited on God’s word, even in the face of extreme opposition. Pastor Jon explained that Stephen used what little he had (a willingness to serve and being available to serve). God blessed him with His Spirit and used him to preach a message that was recorded in Acts 7. A characteristic trait of church plants is for pastors to be the primary cleaners, carpenters, ministers, worship leaders, and resource for their congregations. However, as churches grow, Pastor Jon concluded that they should discover gifts that other people have so everyone can enjoy the gift of service. He also explained that in even the most difficult of situations, God has the power not only to pull us through, but to also use our stories as a testimony for others who are struggling through similar circumstances. At the conclusion of the message, Matthew 14:15-16 was shared: “That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”  But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary, you feed them.” This call to action from Jesus in the story where Jesus fed the five thousand is a picture of what it means to ask the question: what’s in your hand?

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God’s love is unrelenting – this is an absolute. Pastor Alberto shared his testimony about being raised in the Bronx, participating in drug trafficking and addiction, and serving time in prison. Ultimately, it was not the criminal system, programs, or rituals that saved him, but the unrelenting love of God. His wife was pivotal to his transformation from a prison inmate to a follower of Jesus Christ. Through her, he was shown the undeserved overwhelming love of God – a God who would consider him part of his “chosen people” despite all of his transgressions. But how do we respond to God’s unrelenting love? Pastor Alberto uses Ephesians 5:1-2 as the framework for his response:

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2, ESV)

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Jon shared this week about the trials that we face in life, and God’s faithfulness in the midst of it. He shared a story about his dad when he was serving in the navy during World War II. He was sailing on a battleship that was making its way to the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic through the Panama Canal to join in the Battle of Okinawa. They were stopped when a typhoon hit that nearly capsized the battleship, tearing it apart in the process. Fortunately, the ship and its crew survived, but they had to sail for Pearl Harbor to make repairs. The Battle of Okinawa was one of the bloodiest naval battles in World War II. Many ships were sunk and their crew lost. It’s more than likely that Jon’s father, only eighteen at the time, would not have survived the battle and never had Jon. Jon encouraged us to, “thank God for the typhoons in our lives.” He then went on to share how God used Abraham and Moses’s mistakes and trials to shape them into the leaders destined to birth and free Israel. Both didn’t want to do what God was calling them to, but God kept them going. Abraham didn’t want to go all the way to the promised land alone, so he brought his family. God kept him going. Moses didn’t want to go back to the Egypt after he had fled but God kept him going. The power to keep going didn’t come from Abraham and Moses. In the same way the power to keep going doesn’t come from us. So, when typhoons hit and your world is rocked and you try everything and fail, sing to the Spirit within you and rely on God’s strength.