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Authentic: Let's Be Real. God Knows Anyway.

On Sunday, August 27, 2017, we met for the second time in our new facility!  (My first time!)  We had a new sound system and a beautiful experience of worshiping together.

Pastor Ed Allen preached about Authenticity, laying a priority before we invite the public for real.

His text was Jeremiah 20:7-18, where Jeremiah doesn't hold back in telling what he's feeling.  There's a place in the church for real people.

People who aren't in a good place - are at least in good company.

Jeremiah's saying that God has used him and tossed him aside.  He was the only person preaching an unpopular message, and he preached it for years - but nothing happened.  He looked like an idiot.

How did God's prophet get to this place?  Jeremiah was just like us.

When finite people relate to an infinite God, it is inevitable that we will get some things wrong.

We often respond badly to what happens when we do what God wants.  God doesn't make a deal that everything will go as we want it to.  In the short run, we'll get some challenges even as we do what's right.

When this happens to Jeremiah, he gets very, very honest.

Some of us may have thought we couldn't get upset with God.  This is not true!  Treating our disappointment as if it's shameful is not the right response.  Being upset isn't good or bad - It's inevitable.

Faithfulness is not expressed by denying our disappointment, but by persevering through it.

Jeremiah wants to quit, but he can't.  (verse 9)

A genuine encounter with God cannot be denied; it must be expressed.

Faith that can be denied is not genuine.

There's emotional whiplash in verses 11-13 with praise, followed by deep despair in verses 14-18.  Jeremiah put these together intentionally.  This is authentic faith, not flat and fake.

Some takeaways:

Faith is messy, hard, and often jerky.

We aren't the kind of people who always smile and pretend.  We're also not the kind of people who quit.

Faith isn't a neat ride for others, either.

This is a place for people who are a mess.  This is a place for Jeremiah 20, for people who question and doubt and don't have it all together.  All of us are sick, and we're all welcome.  It's not our job to look good.

Suggestions for Protecting Authenticity:

1)  Linger over life's tough questions.

Don't run too quickly to easy answers.  Jesus forced people to linger over questions.

2)  Press into your emotional pain.

This is the exact opposite response from how we train ourselves.  When hurt happens, don't be afraid to ask God why it hurts so much.

3)  Listen to your critics.

They're never always right and never always wrong.

4)  Express what's real to God's people.

James 5:16 - Talk about the mess and pray for each other!  Get yourself prayed for!

Our goal is to be real and to persevere.

G'Attitudes - Hospitality and Generosity

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Pastor Ed finished up his current series by giving us a double dose of “G’attitudes”! After a wonderful set of baptisms that officially christened our new “in-stage” baptismal pool (yes, that is correct no more horse trough) and a full praise and worship set (new sound system coming online next week), Ed presented in the last two of his “G’attitudes.” Attitudes that set the stage for Gateway as we engage our community in our new facility.

The first G’attitude, based in part on Deuteronomy 10:19 (“And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt”), was Hospitality.

Something that Gateway, as a church body has long been known for, Ed reminded us that we have always been strangers and “foreigners” from time to time throughout our lives. I know I myself only need to think back on every new school experience, every move, every new church, every new job, etc. It’s not hard to think of times when we have been the “new kid on the block” or the one on the outside looking in. It is also not hard to remember that special person who came along side you and “showed you the ropes” or made you feel welcome in some way.

Ed emphasized that many will come through the door in the days, weeks, months and years to come and as they enter it, part of each of our calling is to be one of those who come alongside and say “Hi, my name is ‘Ray’, welcome to Gateway. Can I show you around our home?”

The last G’attitude, based in part on 2 Corinthians 9:7 (“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”), was Generosity.

Again, something that has been a part of the Gateway DNA, Ed thanked the congregation for their consistent Generosity both financially and in action. Yet, he reminded us that we are just getting started and that now is the time to return to our knees and “give what you have decided in your heart to give.” He also reminded us that if everyone is leaning into God in this way and in this area, that Gateway will never be lacking in Kingdom resources.

Ed didn’t bring this up but, when I hear this text, I remember that the word translated as “cheerful” is the Greek word ἱλαρὸν or hilaron. This where we get our word hilarious from. So, if you want to look at it a little differently, “God loves a hilarious giver!” It always adds some emphasis for me. No matter the form our giving takes; money, deeds, prayer, etc., the joy with which we bring to that giving brings happiness to the heart of God.

Wrapping up the service, Ed noted we no long have to rush out of someone else’s building. We can stay and fellowship … for a while! How nice it is to be in our own home. Have a great week everyone!


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