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Count Me In!

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On Sunday, May 21, Pastor Ed Allen began a new sermon series called "Count Me In!"  This week, we looked at Romans 12:1-8, and answered the question What should our relationship with the church be?

We're building a new building and will be inviting people into our home.  It's important for us to figure out what that home should be like.

Community is what the church is.  It's our main thing.

Romans 12:1-2.  "Therefore..."  This is the culmination of what Paul has written in Romans up to that point, and a high-level summary of what our life as a Christian is supposed to be about, how we are to live in light of God's work in us.

We're God's property!  But we should be involved in that, and it's continually repeated.

True worship is thoroughly thought-through and reasonable obedience to what God wants for our lives, and it's based on what God has done in our lives.

"Stop allowing yourselves to be conformed, continue to let yourselves be transformed."

"Pattern of this world" is the cultural forces that press on us from all sides.  Don't let these be the things that shape our lives.

How?  By the renewal of our minds, which is primarily God's activity.  But we're not passive observers.  We must yield to the working.

The result:  We'll know God's will!  In the world and in our own lives.  We'll be transformed.

Now, epic question:  Where does Paul begin after that?  What is his lead priority?

He begins with the church! and how we should function together.

"I say to every one of you" is emphatic in the Greek, and is Paul's way of saying, "If you miss everything else, don't miss this!"

We need to think rightly about ourselves.  We belong to one another.  Each of us should do our thing!

Why the church first?

The church is the hope of the world.

Not family, government, or anything else.

If we are operating effectively and fully within our church, then all other activities and priorities are elevated and benefitted.

We're not talking about church activity, but church life.

Almost everyone has a church they're devoted to, but it's not always a Christian church. 

Step in and give yourself among God's people.

You can give too much time to church activity, but not to the church community.

To the degree we hold ourselves back, God's activity is limited in us.

What is our relationship in church like?  Like a chair to a table?  Like red paint to white paint when mixed?

No, our relationships in church are like an arm to a shoulder - Ineffective without the other, yet distinct.

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What were your reactions to this sermon?  Please use the comments below!

Sermon Response: Managing Our Bodies

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Over the past few weeks, we have been engaged in the study of "Self Management."  Though our previous examinations of "time management" and "financial management" were extremely important, their importance pales in comparison to today's study -- which focused on how we manage our bodies.

 
The sermon began with JaRee Thompson and her Crossfit coach Kristen talking about how they came to love the idea of fitness -- and the importance of body fitness in their personal and spiritual lives.  What was immediately clear from Kristen and JaRee's testimony was that successful athletes emerge from using the right motivation, to pursue the right goals, which ultimately yield personal progress in the right direction.  Kristen provided us a clear example of this by telling us that she didn't really make progress in losing weight until she changed her motivation from the goal of losing weight to the goal of improving her athletic performance. 
 
JaRee then shared today's scriptural message from 1 Corinthians 6: 12-20 regarding the sexual immorality and the sins we commit within and against our own bodies.  
 
The critical point of this passage for today's sermon was that even in today's world we too often fail to recognize the importance of our bodies as physical temples for the living God.   For the Corinthians, this problem expressed itself as sexual immorality -- where the social mores of Corinthian society found it acceptable and commonplace to join with prostitutes -- even as part of the local religious rites and culture.  Recognizing the potential danger of this, the Apostle Paul strongly warned the church of Corinth that their bodies were not their own -- that they were in fact, part of the body of Christ -- so that for any member to consort with a prostitute, would be the same as uniting Christ with a prostitute.
 
Although our the social mores of Northern Virginia might make consorting with temple prostitutes less likely, as believers, our bodies are still part of the body of Christ.  As such, what we do to and with our bodies remains critically important.  In today's world of fast food, desk jobs, internet pornography, and stressful schedules it is far too easy to eat too much, exercise too little, and surrender our minds and bodies to nameless images rather than trying to pursue real relationships.   Today's members of the body of Christ face new temptations, but Paul's admonition is as valid today as it was in the first century following the crucifixion.  As members of the body of Christ, we must take special care -- not only to avoid doing things that would be harmful -- but more importantly, to do things that would be beneficial.   In strengthening ourselves we strengthen the body of Christ.
 
But we must also be cautious about keeping the right focus.   Strengthening the body for the purpose of getting 6 pack abs -- is not the same as strengthening the body for the purposes of honoring God.  As we work to strengthen the body, we must take care that we do it for the right motivation, as this will help us to set the right goals so that we can make progress in the right direction.
 
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Gateway folks, do you have any further thoughts about this topic as you try to live it out this week?