Episode 2
|
12 September 2022

Simple | Grow with Others

It’s simple: we were created for community. When we’re connected with others, we can help each other grow.

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i i believe that this is by far my
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favorite weekend of the year
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uh the reason is it's opening weekend
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for the nfl i don't know if
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no one else i know we're in southeast
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michigan it's more of a college area i'm
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more of a pro guy so but this is also
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kind of my favorite season of the year
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because uh this is when you know
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school's back in session like we're
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starting to to fall into our routines
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and rhythms in life and part of that is
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um some exciting things we have uh as a
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life of the church one of these is
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upcoming series here in three weeks
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called winning at home and i i just want
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to share with you like this series
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is one of the most invitational series
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we'll ever have
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because here's what we know about
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everybody and i say whether you're a
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follower of jesus or an atheist or
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anything in between
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we all want the same thing we want to
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win at home whether it's our marriages
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our parenting our relationships whatever
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it may be we want to win at home and
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this series is all about how do we do
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that so as you leave um these cards are
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on the tables as you leave through the
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doors we want to encourage you to grab
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one of these cards because my guess is
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you know people in your life that just
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want to win at home and we're going to
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look at what god has to say about
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winning at home and how we can do that
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um better not only in our lives but in
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the lives of others so so please grab
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these as you leave and invite people to
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be a part of that series i think it's
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going to be a just an awesome series for
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all of us as we discover
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how to win at home in our own lives
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i want to welcome monroe saginaw i'm so
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excited to be with you today brighton
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excited to be with you as well as we
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continue this series uh very simply
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called simple because we believe the
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following jesus really is that it is it
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is simple so i want to start today by
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asking you like how many of you have a
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bucket list item
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in your life mine is um i want to get a
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shark cage with great whites not like
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with like sharks on the outside of the
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cage i'm on the inside just to be clear
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my wife won't let me do it uh until the
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kids are out of the house
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like once we don't have that
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responsibility anymore she's like risk
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your life all you want uh you can do
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that uh maybe for you it's like
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skydiving or bungee jumping how many of
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you want to bungee jump
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if you've been monosaccharide you guys
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want to want to bungee jump um it's a to
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me it's a terrifying thing i mean the
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idea is you go to this bridge you strap
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a bungee cord to your
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feet and you just
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just jump in fact this is a photo of one
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of the tallest bungee jumps in the world
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that is way up there friends
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that looks absolutely terrifying to me
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uh statistically
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it's not a super safe thing either
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in fact statistics tell us a couple of
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things number one in between 1986 and
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2002 18 people died in bungee jumping
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accidents
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since 2015 five people have died in fact
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statistically speaking if you were to go
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bungee jumping you have a one in five
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hundred thousand chance of dying while
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you do so does that change anyone's
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opinion on whether they want to go
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bungee jumping
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let's imagine this imagine that we went
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to that that bungee jump we just showed
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you
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and uh we stood on top of this this
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giant bridge it's just like so far down
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and i said look here's the deal you're
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going to bungee jump
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and i'm going to give you the
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opportunity to pick which cord you want
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to strap to your legs there's five of
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them here you pick one in in jump the
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catch is
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only one of those is actually connected
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your job is not knowing which one is
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just grab one strap it on and jump
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like how many of you would do that
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now what what if we had what if we had
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two bungee cords and you got to pick one
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if it's a 50 50 shot guys like you just
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pick one strap it on the jump
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like none of us in our right mind would
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do that right like none of us are going
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to risk our lives uh in that way they're
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called they're calculated risks it's
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risk management in your life right you
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make determinations based statistically
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in your mind maybe you don't think of it
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consciously but but you weigh the pros
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and cons and the risks about doing so
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the problem is i think that when we talk
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about our faith
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that many of us are
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are jumping into things in our lives
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and we're not actually connected to the
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body
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we're not actually connected to this
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thing called the body of christ or
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or the church
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because here's the reality in our lives
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that at some point in time something
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will happen in your life
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you get a rough medical diagnosis from a
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doctor
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you lose a loved one
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your marriage goes through some
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difficulties
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and you just find yourself
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falling
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in life and and by then it's it's too
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late when we realized that we weren't
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actually firmly connected to anything to
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help pull us back up like we would never
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jump off a bridge
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not knowing that we were connected
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the problem is many of us jump into our
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lives and our faith
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and we don't really know if we're
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connected at all
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so in this series called simple because
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following jesus we believe is actually
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simple not easy but simple
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we talked last week about a follower of
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jesus knows god and this week we want to
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take step two and step two is a follower
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of jesus grows with others
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if you have your bibles i want to invite
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you to grab those and turn to acts
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chapter two it's going to be maybe the
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most familiar passage that you will ever
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hear at a church by the name of 242 so
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we're going to look at acts chapter 2
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verse 42 through 47 and begin to get a
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picture of what of what the church
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really really is but i want to remind
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you of
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of what jesus said in matthew chapter
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four this is kind of our our launching
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verse for the entire series when jesus
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says come follow me jesus said and i
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will send you out to fish for
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people
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jesus's call is pretty simple
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it just simply means follow me
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and in this series we're discovering
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what does it actually mean to follow
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jesus and today we want to propose the
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following jesus means that we grow with
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others would you pray with me as we jump
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in
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uh lord we are so very thankful to be in
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community right now to be uh worshiping
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you
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to be encountering you and experiencing
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you
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today lord there are um
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there are many of us that are firmly
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connected that if if something would
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happen in our lives and we were
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quote-unquote fall that that we have
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something to pull us back up but some of
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us got to be we don't have that
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we're not actually firmly connected to
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the the body of christ other believers
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people who are walking through life with
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us to help us when
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when things just take a
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bad turn
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so today was used to open our eyes and
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our ears and our hearts we may
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receive what it is that you have for us
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that we may discover what does it look
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like for us in our lives and our context
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to
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quite simply grow with others
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it's in christ's name we pray
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amen
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i think few would argue
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uh that in in the book of acts when we
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have the the pentecost sunday right this
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is the day that the holy spirit was
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given to the people that the entire dna
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of the church was kind of downloaded if
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you will into the into the body that
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that everything that the church needed
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to grow and be the church was was given
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to them so you got all these disciples
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in the upper room they received the gift
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of the holy spirit in their lives they
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begin to speak in languages they've
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never spoken them before and
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and all these people begin to hear the
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the good news and there's a message
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that's preached and 3 000 people come to
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faith that day 3 000 people who now have
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a relationship with jesus because of
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what took place that day like we begin
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to see this this movement just just
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launching right and the author gives us
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this this beautiful picture in acts
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chapter 2 that helps us see
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what the early church
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was like
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here's what the author says
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they devoted themselves to the apostles
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teaching
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and to fellowship to the breaking of
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bread and to prayer
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everyone was filled with awe the many
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wonders and signs performed by the
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apostles
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all the believers were together and had
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everything in common
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they sold property and possessions and
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gave to anyone who had need
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every day they continued to meet
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together in the temple courts
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they broke bread in their homes and ate
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together with glad and sincere hearts
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praising god and enjoying the favor of
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all the people and the lord added to
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their number daily those who were being
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saved
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it really is a beautiful picture of the
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early church there's all kinds of
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amazing things happening there's there's
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fellowship going on there's there's
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worship and praise or they're praying
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together they're sharing their possess
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possessions with each other there's
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there's a lot of
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really
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like normal things that we think about
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when we think about the church and how
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we how we function together
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but i think there's a there's a verse in
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there that sometimes we often i think
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skip right past and don't think too much
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about it however the author is kind of
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laying out this this continuum of life
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if you will so i want to go back to
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verse 46 where it says every day they
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continued to meet together in the temple
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courts
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they broke bread in their homes and ate
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together with glad and sincere
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hearts
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so here we see the author mention two
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different spheres of our lives there's
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the temple courts
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and the homes
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the two primary areas of our faith if
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you will so i want to talk about those
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real quick the temple was the worship
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space
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the temple was where the the community
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of believers would come together and
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they would worship and they would praise
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and they would glorify god they they
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were gathering community that way where
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the scriptures were taught
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the gospel of jesus was presented that's
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that's what would happen it's what
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you're doing right now
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it's the church it's it's sunday morning
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gatherings where we come together and we
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worship it's the temple
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but there's another primary space and
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that other primary space that he
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mentions is the home
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it's it's a smaller group of people that
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are doing life together
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like if we were to read on in the book
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of acts one of the things that the
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stories you're going to see is that
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peter's in jail and
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miraculously the power of the holy
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spirit he breaks out of jail and he he
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runs to
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a home
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the bible doesn't say he runs to the
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temple
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the bible says he runs to a home where
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his small group of people were praying
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for him we're supporting him
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thinking about him rallying around him
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so he runs out of the jail he doesn't
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run to the temple he runs to a home
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because that's where the community of
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people were
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so we see in the early church one of the
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foundational things is there's two
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like primary spaces
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it's the large gathering
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and it's the small gathering
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but in a few chapters something's going
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to happen
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something's going to happen that's going
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to make one of those two spaces
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crumble
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and it happens in chapter 7.
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in chapter 7 we see stephen now steven
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is
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is a guy who when we read his story just
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stands firmly upon his faith in jesus
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will not waver and
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and people don't like it
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so they they stone him
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and they take his life and he becomes in
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scripture like the first martyr this
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this first person who gives up his life
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for jesus in this way hey and i want to
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show you kind of kind of what begins to
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happen
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in scriptures in in chapter eight and
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saul approved of their killing them so
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saul is is the guy that's going to be
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persecuting the church and listen to
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these words
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on that day
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i want to stop there for a second
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because on that day is referencing the
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day that stephen was killed so it's not
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a week later a month later a year later
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it's on that very day a great
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persecution broke out against the church
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in jerusalem
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and all except the apostles were
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scattered throughout judea and samaria
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godly men buried stephen and mourned
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deeply for him but saul began to destroy
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the church
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going from house to house he dragged off
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both men and women and put them
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in prison
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so as a result of the killing of stephen
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the bible tells us that great
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persecution breaks out
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hey and the followers of jesus they
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scatter all over the place they're on
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the run
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and then saul goes from the bible says
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house
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to house
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arresting people
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now notice what he didn't say the author
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didn't say he went from temple to temple
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arresting people
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and the reason he didn't go from temple
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to temple arresting people was because
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the christians the followers of jesus
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knew that the temple was not a safe
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space so they stopped going
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like we're talking about an age where
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the temple gathering
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wasn't happening for jesus followers
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like that system broke down
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think of it maybe like a i don't know a
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pandemic were to hit
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and we would unfortunately not be able
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to gather together into public large
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spaces but the thing that could continue
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to happen is you could continue to meet
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together with people that you were doing
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life with
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it was the same thing for the early
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church
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when the temple system broke down when
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it wasn't safe to to gather in the
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temples the followers of jesus continued
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to meet together in their homes in
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smaller group communities and grew
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together
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because it was in the homes
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the development happens
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now over the next like 200 years
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up to the time about 313 when
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constantine uh decided that christianity
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was a favored religion like the temple
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wasn't happening
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now christians were not gathering
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together in large groups like we are
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right now to worship
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during the time of persecution and
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martyrdom and imprisonment
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when they couldn't go to the temple when
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being a pastor and a preacher only got
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you killed first
13:49
the church grew
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and it grew rapidly in fact randy starks
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who was a sociologist of religion who
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spent a great deal of his life studying
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the early church
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in the growth rate and how it grew
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said that during this time of
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persecution when the large gathering
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wasn't allowed
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they went from 120 people in the upper
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room to 54 of the roman empire
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i look 54 is a huge number
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they went from 120 people to 54 of the
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roman empire during a time when they
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could not gather in large groups
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when they could not come together and to
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worship together where all they had was
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the home no budget no buildings no
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programs they had the home
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and when they had the home
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the faith
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flourished
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to 54
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of the roman empire
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now nasim talib who's a
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lebanese-american sas scholar
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statistician spends a lot of time
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working with probability and
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uncertainties one of the guys that
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prophesied the 0708 economic collapse
14:56
he writes about these three systems
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there's fragile
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robust and anti-fragile
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now real quick a fragile system is like
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a piece of glass like when put under
15:07
pressure fragile system will
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it'll break if you hit a piece of glass
15:11
hard enough it will shatter right like
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we understand that it's kind of like the
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uh the china that we have at my house
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that comes out once every couple of
15:20
years because we're afraid it's gonna
15:22
break you have those at your house right
15:24
they're fragile so we don't use them
15:26
very often
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second system is a robust system
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a robust robust system is one that it
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will bend
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it will it will flex it will it will
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give a little bit to the pressure but
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but eventually under enough pressure it
15:39
will break think of a fishing rod
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like fishing rods are meant to bend
15:44
they're meant to flex but if you put
15:45
enough pressure on a fishing rod
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it will break
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thursday night we were having a
15:50
conversation
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before worship on the field and uh a guy
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was telling me that he had broken like
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three golf clubs
15:59
much more muscular than i am apparently
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but but golf clubs are meant to flex but
16:03
what he learned is once you put enough
16:05
pressure on the golf club it will break
16:07
too that is a robust system
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it's meant to give
16:11
but eventually it'll break
16:14
anti-fragile
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is according to naseem to leave a term
16:18
that comes up because there's no real
16:19
opposite of fragile
16:21
is a system that when put under pressure
16:24
actually gets stronger
16:27
it doesn't bend it doesn't flex it
16:29
doesn't break it actually just gets
16:31
stronger
16:33
so the argument can be pretty easily
16:34
said that the temple system
16:37
was fragile you can call it robust if
16:39
you want but when it was put under
16:41
pressure the temple system broke
16:45
but the small groups the the meeting in
16:47
homes the smaller groups of community
16:49
doing life together when that was put
16:51
under pressure
16:53
it thrived
16:56
it thrived so much so that 54 of the
16:58
roman empire called themselves followers
17:00
of jesus
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now don't get me wrong when
17:04
when they were able to meet in the
17:05
temple again they did because they knew
17:07
that was important
17:09
you will never convince me
17:11
that the corporate gathering of
17:13
followers of jesus to worship together
17:15
and grow together is not important
17:16
you'll never convince me of that
17:19
but you'll also never convince me that
17:21
the small group gathering a smaller
17:23
community of people in your life doing
17:25
life together isn't important
17:28
it's a both and it's not an either or
17:30
unfortunately i think for many of us
17:32
we've bought a line
17:34
that we've convinced ourselves
17:37
that one is more important than the
17:38
other
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we've convinced ourselves that we just
17:41
simply gather for worship but we don't
17:44
really need to be in small group
17:46
community
17:49
we we've effectively tied ourselves to a
17:52
to a line that's not really connected
17:54
it's just maybe connected ish
17:57
and at some point in in life something's
17:59
going to
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to push you over the edge and you're
18:02
going to find yourself falling
18:04
and what you'll discover is if you're
18:06
not connected there's
18:07
there's just nothing to pull you back up
18:11
i think one of the things we begin to
18:13
see in the early church what we begin to
18:14
see is followers of jesus is that the
18:17
small group community the the doing life
18:19
together the intimate relationships
18:21
where real development as followers of
18:23
jesus happens that is the thing that
18:26
that's the thing that pulls us back up
18:29
i mean i want to be really clear like
18:31
the temple the the corporate gathering
18:34
is important
18:36
it's an important part of your faith but
18:38
but so too is the the small group
18:40
gathering
18:42
so let's look at a stage of history it's
18:44
maybe a little bit even closer to us
18:46
there's a a movement called the wesleyan
18:48
movement and john wesley um
18:51
was a large player in that movement
18:53
hence the name wesleyan movement
18:55
planted churches all over the place and
18:57
just kind of kind of grew the church
18:58
they went where people were and just
19:00
planted a church meant where people were
19:01
planted a church
19:03
and and him and george whitfield were
19:05
two uh just major players in this
19:07
movement major like people who the holy
19:09
spirit just worked through in amazing
19:10
ways john wesley would would preach and
19:12
he was
19:13
i don't know he was adequate right i
19:15
mean he would attract some people but
19:17
george whitfield was man he was dynamic
19:21
he was engaging
19:23
he was inspiring he was handsome i'm not
19:25
like myself
19:27
it's a joke
19:29
thousands of people came to hear george
19:31
whitfield speak
19:33
thousands in fact scholars will tell you
19:35
that thousands more people were were
19:37
brought into the faith were baptized
19:39
under the ministry of george whitefield
19:40
than john wesley however i've never
19:43
heard of a whitfieldian movement
19:46
but we've heard of wesleyan movements
19:49
and there's a really important reason
19:51
for that it comes up in a conversation
19:52
that george whitfield once had with a
19:54
man by the name of john poole who was
19:56
also very prominent in the wesleyan
19:58
movement
19:59
this is their conversation
20:01
whitfield says well john art thou still
20:04
wesley and they talked weird back then
20:06
the pool says yes sir i thank god i have
20:08
the privilege of being in connection
20:10
with mr wesley and one of his preachers
20:12
here's what phil's response says john
20:15
that were in the right place
20:18
my brother wesley acted wisely
20:20
the souls that were awakened under his
20:22
ministry he joined in class which is
20:24
their term for small groups
20:26
and thus preserve the fruits of his
20:28
labor
20:29
this i neglected
20:31
and my people
20:32
are a robe of sand
20:35
see whitfield even though he saw the
20:38
baptisms of
20:40
thousands of people
20:42
looked back at his ministry and realized
20:45
that where he dropped the ball was not
20:46
in bringing people to jesus
20:49
where he dropped the ball was helping
20:51
them grow by putting them in in
20:53
communities where they were able to do
20:55
so where development really happens
20:59
you see for wesley it was such an
21:00
important thing for him that he made it
21:02
a mandatory part of membership
21:05
navi you should do this but they you
21:07
must do this
21:08
in fact he once wrote this about losing
21:10
it he said never omit meeting in your
21:13
class or ban there's again two terms for
21:15
small groups
21:16
never absent yourself from any public
21:18
meeting that's that would be worship it
21:20
would be the gathering
21:22
these are the very sinews of our society
21:24
whatever weakens or tends to weaken our
21:26
regard for these or our exactness in
21:29
attending them strikes at the very root
21:31
of our community
21:34
so so i think what he's saying is like
21:36
such an important part of of their
21:38
movement was the gathering together in
21:40
small groups now now when that was their
21:42
emphasis when that was their focus this
21:44
this movement is disciplining movement
21:48
resulted in 2.5 million people
21:52
but over time as often happens in any
21:55
movement like you begin to lose sight of
21:58
of those core principles and
22:00
and as the the methodist movement got
22:02
away from
22:04
this focus on on small groups and
22:06
ensuring people had those communities of
22:08
faith
22:09
the church the movement began to decline
22:12
and
22:14
shrink
22:15
now look at 242 we don't agree with with
22:18
mr wesley on the membership thing like
22:21
we believe that no one belongs here more
22:23
than you you don't have to be a member
22:25
here
22:26
but we do agree with the
22:29
the importance of of gathering in
22:31
community with with other people to do
22:34
life together to to grow with one
22:36
another to
22:37
to become more like jesus together
22:40
yes the corporate gathering is important
22:42
but so too is the gathering together in
22:44
small group community did you know that
22:46
studies have shown
22:49
that the people
22:50
who do not engage in small group
22:53
communities
22:54
are likely to not be a part of that
22:56
church anymore after five years
22:59
in fact someone who's in a small group
23:01
community are five times more likely to
23:04
still be connected to the body of christ
23:06
than someone who's not in a small group
23:08
community
23:10
largely because development happens in
23:13
smaller group community
23:16
see friends during the early days of the
23:18
church
23:19
like the followers of jesus knew this
23:22
that when they weren't able to gather
23:23
together in the temples they gathered
23:25
together in homes when when we fail to
23:27
connect we fail to grow
23:30
here's a statistic from 242
23:33
just i think it's something that we all
23:35
just should know
23:36
it's one that breaks my heart
23:38
over the past two years we can celebrate
23:40
this we've baptized nearly just under 1
23:43
000 people in the past two years friends
23:46
we celebrate that absolutely
23:50
but here's here's where my heart breaks
23:52
of those nearly 1 000 people
23:55
44 of them have not taken a next step
24:00
after that
24:04
think this is where like like whitfield
24:06
would say my people are but a
24:08
a strain of sand
24:14
one of the the most common next steps
24:17
after baptism and maybe maybe that's you
24:19
maybe you're you're here and you're like
24:21
well that 44 that's me because i got
24:23
baptized within the past two years and i
24:24
haven't haven't really taken the next
24:26
step one of the great next step is to
24:28
begin to lean into this growing with
24:30
others
24:32
in and
24:33
at 242 the best next step for that is
24:36
what we call rooted had to make sure i
24:37
didn't have it upside down
24:39
um rooted is an amazing like community
24:42
experience where you you gather together
24:44
not only like learn how to be a better
24:46
follower of jesus but you also begin to
24:47
discover what community looks like
24:50
for you
24:52
and in all of our campuses right here in
24:53
brighton monroe saginaw you have an
24:55
opportunity after service to to have a
24:57
conversation with someone about maybe
24:59
rooted that starts on the 27th of
25:01
september
25:02
maybe rooted is is your opportunity it's
25:05
your opportunity to begin to to step
25:07
into this
25:09
simple
25:10
part of your faith of just growing with
25:12
others
25:13
or maybe you've already done rooted
25:16
and maybe for you it's just joining a
25:17
small group or or finding some sort of
25:20
next step group i i don't know what it
25:21
looks like for you this is why we have
25:23
our small group experts ready to talk
25:25
with you and figure out what does
25:26
community look like for you
25:29
but what i do know is that like
25:30
development happens in the smaller
25:32
context that it happens in our
25:34
relationships
25:36
it happens when we we build real
25:37
community of people that
25:40
well they do life together
25:45
think of it this way
25:47
i take you to the tallest bridge i can
25:49
find and i say i've got these uh
25:52
these ropes for you
25:54
like you you get to pick one of the
25:55
ropes and just tie it to your ankles and
25:57
you're just going to jump
25:59
there's no money on the line
26:02
no prestige no power no position but
26:05
only this time like i'm i'm actually
26:07
going to tell you which rope is
26:09
connected
26:11
not one person here in your right mind
26:13
would pick a rope that wasn't connected
26:15
yet in our faith many of us were doing
26:17
it every
26:18
single
26:20
day
26:21
that we just go through our faith on our
26:23
own and we just assume that gathering in
26:26
the temple that the communal gathering
26:28
is enough for us where the reality is at
26:31
some point you are going to fall and
26:33
when you fall you need something to pick
26:35
you back up and the most sure way to get
26:37
picked back up is to be firmly connected
26:39
through community
26:41
because faith without connection is
26:44
fragile
26:46
faith with connection
26:47
is anti-fragile it grows it flourishes
26:51
it strengthens under pressure
26:54
i don't know what your next step is
26:57
i don't know like maybe you're in a in a
27:00
community of people
27:03
and maybe you just need to lean a little
27:05
more into that
27:06
or maybe you need to ask yourself like
27:08
what does it look like for me to invest
27:09
in community because i haven't
27:11
i haven't invested in that community
27:14
what does it look like for you
27:16
what is the holy spirit whispering into
27:18
your heart because the reality is
27:20
following jesus is simple
27:23
because followers of jesus know god
27:25
and followers of jesus
27:27
grow with others
27:29
would you pray with me
27:33
lord we are um
27:36
we are thankful that we don't have to do
27:38
life alone
27:40
that you have given us the gift of
27:42
community
27:44
and the reality is god for most of us
27:46
the the community is already there
27:50
we just need to embrace it
27:54
so god would you just begin to
27:56
open up our hearts and
27:59
help us to discover what does community
28:01
look like in my life
28:04
what is what does real
28:06
faith community
28:08
look like
28:10
for me
28:12
and god would you give us the boldness
28:14
and the courage to step into that
28:17
from monroe
28:18
saginaw to brighton
28:21
and all those joining online lord
28:25
there's nowhere in scripture we know
28:26
this there's nowhere in scripture that
28:28
talks about solitary religion
28:31
you call us into community
28:33
you call us to grow
28:34
together and lord we just simply ask you
28:37
to reveal how we take that next step
28:40
it's in christ's name we pray
28:42
amen

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