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Baptism and Belonging to Christ

This morning, Sunday, August 6, 2017, we had one of our last few services at Mercer Middle School - celebrating the baptisms of five young people - a middle school student, a high school student, two starting their first year of college and one in her last year of college.

First, we heard all five of their testimonies.  It's lovely to hear how each one came to decide to give their lives to Christ.  Hearts and lives are what it's all about!  And we prayed over them.

Then Pastor Ed Allen spoke about what baptism means, using Colossians 2:6-15.

Biblical faith is about stepping in, putting your lives on the line.  Baptism starts a pattern - and we're asked to live like that.

The spiritual life is not a static experience.  As verse 7 points out, we're "rooted," "built up," and "strengthened" - we should be always growing.

Something essential for us happened in Christ.

Everything rises and falls in Christ (verse 9).

Self-ruled life was removed (verse 11).

In Christ, we becoe our fullest selves, by faith.

Baptism says:  I belong!  I'm in!

When we were in our sins, it's like we were dead (verse 13).

Jesus disarmed the powers and authorities against us (verse 15).

After that, we went out front to celebrate our last baptisms at Mercer Middle School!

Developing the Heart Attitudes We Need: Excellence

Today, July 30, 2017, Pastor Ed Allen continued his sermon series on Developing the Heart Attitudes We Need for this next phase of ministry in the life of our church - as we open our new building!

Last week, we looked at the first two G'Attitudes, Solidarity, with the key phrase Connect in Full! and Service, with the key phrases It's my pleasure! and Nobody eats alone!

Today we looked at a third heart attitude we need to develop:

Excellence  Colossians 3:22-23

Do what you do really well, as if you're doing it for the Lord.

Ed quoted a study of child musicians, the ones who decided they wanted to do this for years to come - they were the ones who became proficient musicians.  If we're committed, we'll soar.

Two obvious enemies of God-honoring excellence:

1)  Sloth

Qualities for thriving organizations:  Pursue excellence, not success.  If we want to pursue excellence, we will have to convert ideas into action.  But every idea eventually degenerates into hard work.

God does ask for our obedience.  It will involve hard work.  Proverbs 10:4, 20:4

Sometimes, we let ourselves off the hook too easily.

2)  Control

Our culture admires hard work in all its forms.  Even more than excellence, we admire success.

People in this category rarely let themselves off the hook.

They're working hard, but for the wrong reasons - terrified of making a mistake.  Are you doing it to protect yourself?  To promote yourself?

Again, Colossians 3:22-24 speaks to this.  Work "out of reverence for the Lord."  As followers of the Lord, we work with excellence to please Him.

We don't engage in diligent work for its own sake.

God doesn't want automatons or workaholics.  Abundance and satisfaction are found in Him.

Working with excellence has got to be the focus of our lives together for this next season.

Do it with excellence - for the Lord.

You don't know the effects of your actions.  We won't be lazy.  Or controlling.  We'll do it as to the Lord.

Pursue excellence, not success.  This is where suburban Americans get it wrong.  Success is in comparison with others, excellence in comparison with your own potential.  We're aiming for excellence.

God has given us an amazing place.  Let's step into it with excellence!

Key phrase:  If you see a problem, own it!

And we'll do that as if working for the Lord.

The King of kings will be at our new building.  Let's give him an appropriate welcome!

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