February 11, 2024


Today's a day that's gonna matter for a lot of people. Mostly the people on the field. And I imagine that the men who are running around chasing after a pigskin today have dreamed of this moment since they were little children. And when we think back to our dreams as children, we probably.

Dreamed big dreams for ourselves. We probably had dreams that we would live a life that would have a massive impact. That would matter, like chasing a ball down a field in front of millions of people and bringing home a trophy. When I was young, my burning desire, the way that I thought I was going to lead a meaningful life, a life of impact was a dream that was gonna take me to Hollywood.

I wanted to dive headfirst into the world of acting, screenwriting and directing, and my ambition knew no bounds. I wanted to create stories that resonated deeply, stories that had the power to shape the course of the world. And at the top of like my extraordinary dreams, I saw for myself recognition. I wanted the ultimate recognition.

If you're going down to Hollywood, I wanted an Academy Award. Yes, which as far as I was concerned as a child, was a symbol of the utmost achievement. There's this thing inside of all of us, right? There's this itch to be part of something bigger. Like we're wired to want our lives to mean more, to contribute to a cause that goes beyond just us, like bringing home a Super Bowl trophy or telling a great story.

When we were kids, we dreamed of being firefighters, superheroes, astronauts. We all have this deep desire built within us to be heroes, thinking that we have a special role to play in the world, and as we grow up and we settle into our lives and careers, that longing for purpose and connection never really goes away.

And I believe it doesn't go away because we've been called to have a huge impact on this world, that sense that we're supposed to live a life that matters. That's honest. We are called to live a life that will have an impact.

And we don't need a trophy to do it though I'd still like an Academy Award. A huge impact. A huge impact that we can have while leaving, leading otherwise quiet lives. We don't have to get an award. We don't have to make the front page of the news. When I became a Christian, I felt this calling to share with others the life-changing experience that I had just had with Jesus.

I always wanted to be a part of something that would have a lasting impact. And gradually my perception changed from wanting to win an Academy Award. Maybe I would settle for an Emmy to wanting to be a part of the life and movement of the church. 'cause my perspective shifted and I began to realize that true significance wasn't about chasing Hollywood glitz, nor is it about chasing a football.

It was about being there for people. Helping them to have their own transformative experiences with Jesus. And this wasn't just to change my goals, it was a calling to be part of something bigger than myself, something that would leave a legacy that lasts forever, way beyond any fame or recognition. And the truth is, I could have gone to Hollywood to do it.

In some ways. I'm a bad example because I was ultimately called into pastoral ministry. But I believe that the core of my calling, the core of our calling, is to offer others a transformative experience of Jesus. I could have done that in Hollywood. You can do that on the football field. Last week as we finished our series on Jonah, we saw that when we experience the grace and compassion of Jesus, it should transform us into desiring to be a part of that for others.

Amen. Why is it then that often that transformative experience of Jesus turns into us attending church for an hour on Sunday? And little else

our leadership team met last fall? To answer the question, why do we exist as a church? And our answer was, we exist to help you have a transformative relationship with God. And it's been on the front of our bulletin all this year. It's been like four weeks, but it's been on the front of our bulletin.

Just to remind us, why do we exist? We exist to help you have a transformative relationship with God, and I liked it so much. I put it on the back as well. And this is a pretty outward focused way of saying our mission. We literally thought about it as it would appear on the church website for somebody who was just visiting us and getting to know us.

They would see we're about helping you have a transformative experience with Jesus, have a transformative relationship with God, and the reality is that if you call this church home, whether you're a member or a regular attender, I'd like you to read that as we exist to help others have a transformative relationship with God.

Because a relationship with God should result in transformation. It should transform your desires, your perspectives, and your actions. And when you experience this transformation for yourself, it should become a natural part of our response to want others to experience the same. And so our shared mission then is to help others experience the transformative relationship with God that we enjoy.

In today's world, we're constantly bombarded with messages about self-promotion and personal achievement. But as followers of Jesus, our purpose goes beyond ourselves. It's all about helping others experience the life-changing love of God. That's where our true calling lies, and we can do that while pursuing a career in Hollywood or working at a business or even being a stay-at-Home Parent.

Wherever we find ourselves, we have the opportunity to share God's love and be agents of his transformation. One of the most incredible stories of transformation in the Bible is Saul not king Saul, though he also had a transformative experience. But I'm thinking of Saul, who would then become Paul. He went from persecuting Christians, being responsible for the murder of Christians.

To become one of the most influential Christian missionaries ever. Paul dedicated his life to sharing the powerful message of God's love and grace with people all over the world. His transformation, his personal transformation, serves as a powerful example of the impact that a relationship with God can have on our individual lives, as well as a large group of people.

Now, Paul's transformation is first told in Acts chapter nine. And then at the end of that chapter, we get a transition verse, acts nine thirty-one. So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was strengthened living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit. It increased in numbers.

It's a beautiful picture of the church. Let's break that down a little bit. The world experienced an incredible transformation when people touched by Jesus joined forces with a common purpose, the glory of God, because that's what the church is. The church is not a building. You attend, a building you sit in.

It's a people that you belong to. It's the family of faith. And so when we see here in verse thirty-one, so the church throughout all, Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, so the people of God. Throughout all Judea, Galilee and Samaria had peace and was strengthened from the single verse. We uncover some characteristics of a church that's worth us attending, worth us belonging to, worth us partnering with.

First and foremost, it has an outward focus. Why do I say that? I say that because the church began in Judea. In Acts chapter one. Acts chapter two. And then it spreads throughout Galilee into Samaria, and we know shortly thereafter this verse, it's going to spread all throughout Eurasia.

So first and foremost, the church has to have an outward focus. It's not just about keeping the church, but about reaching out to others. It intentionally embraces diversity. Because not only did it spread to Judea, to Samarian Galilee, but it crossed ethnic and racial boundaries along the way.

You'll remember the story of the Samaritan woman and how scandalous it was that Jesus would even talk to her because of their different cultural divides. But the Christian Church spreads across all of those divisions, and while it spreads across those divisions and boundaries, the church is also unified in relationship.

There is unity within its leaders and prejudice against one another is set aside. That's what enabled the church to spread. This is a church that embodies passion. It embodies a sense of purpose, and it's a church that we can infer where the people we're all engaged in the life of the church. It was a church that was driven to develop its people by training.

In the word of God, and it was vertically focused. We see that where it says, living in the fear of the Lord, living in the fear of the Lord, and encouraged by the Holy Spirit. These were people who are dedicated to their relationship with God, and because the church had embraced these things, what happens?

What happens is God pours out his favor on them, and they were multiplying. God's favor had led to the multiplication of the church.

Starting a church is not as simple as putting a sign out on the street and some chairs in a room. Just gathering people together doesn't automatically make Community Alliance Church and Acts nine thirty-one Church. It doesn't automatically make us a church that's worth attending. We can't just wish that our church would be this kind of church.

Church is not a place where you attend for an hour. It's a people, it's a family. It's a movement that you are called to be a part of. And it involves all of us. We all do the work of ministry, all of us. And then God does his part. God multiplies his church. So how is it that you and I, personally and individually.

Make sure that our church here at Community Alliance is outwardly focused. How do we individually make sure that we're at peace with one another? How do we build one another up in faith? How are we making sure that as an entire church we are vertically focused, that we're focused on Christ and his mission?

Let's unpack that with another section of scripture. It's going to help answer those questions for us. It's going to talk to us about the power of personal engagement. This next passage was written by the Apostle Paul to a fairly new church in Corinth. It had been less than two years since his establishment, and it was quite diverse, but it lacked unity and it lacked a clear focus.

Like any church, there were issues to address, but Paul saw the amazing potential within this community. So in his first letter to the Corinthians, he passionately spoke about their journey. Will you turn to first Corinthians chapter three for me? We're gonna start in verse 10. It says, according to God's grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it.

But each one is to be careful how he builds on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly, stones, wood, hay, or straw. Each one's work will become obvious for the day. We'll disclose it because it will be revealed by fire.

The fire will test the quality of each one's work. If anyone's work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. He, anyone's work is burned up. He will experience loss, but he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. So Paul, here, he's laying out a divine blue. Print for building a life in a church that honors God, a life that leaves an impact on the world.

Let's break this down. Just as Paul acknowledges that his ability to lay a foundation comes from God's grace, we too have to recognize that every talent, every opportunity and every breath we take is a gift from God. Your life matters 'cause it is a gift from God. Our contributions then are not about our strength, but they're about his power working through us.

Amen. This grace is what empowers us to make a difference in the lives around us. And while Grace is the foundation, something that we bring, diligence is the structure that we build upon. Just like a skilled master builder does not haphazardly throw together materials. We are called to put in the effort, the planning and the persistence required to see God work through our service to God and others demands our sweat.

It demands our tears, and sometimes it even demands our blood. It's a labor of love that refines us even as we seek to contribute to God's kingdom. So God has gifted us with our experiences, our wisdom, our giftings. And then we are to be diligent to give that back to the Lord faithfully serving him. With all that we have.

All that we have. And in doing so, we actually are refined. We actually are going to continue to grow and transform as we are leaning into the work that God has given us. As I talk to newer Christians or I spent a long time as a youth pastor, as I talk to youth, and they wanna know how do they grow in the Lord.

You grow in the Lord by studying your Bible, praying, belonging to a church and serving with the church. Because in serving with the church, you're going to grow. You're going to grow.

And part of this is because when we're serving in the church, we're working together too often. The men and the women that we admire, we look at them as if they're individual super. Individuals who are having a huge impact by themselves and by their own skill. But what we really need to appreciate is that the Christian journey was never meant to be a solo mission.

All of us together collectively are the Bride of Christ, who often are Christian. Faith is boiled down to an individualistic experience. And we don't appreciate the value that our brothers and sisters bring to us. Truly reflecting the image of God to us, truly living out what he would have us live out.

Paul speaks of others building upon the foundation that he laid reminding us that effective ministry requires collaboration. So let me be really clear. If you are a solo Christian going it alone in the world, you are not succeeding at all that the Lord has for you. You absolutely need each other in order to fulfill your mission.

As a Christian, we are all part of a spiritual construction crew. We're each bringing our own unique skills to the project. Just as a builder building needs architects, carpenters, electricians, and plumbers. The church needs teachers, encouragers givers, prayer warriors, leaders and helpers. Every role is crucial, and every contribution is valued because every hammer, swing, every act of kindness, every word of truth.

We share points back to Jesus. Our ultimate goal is not to build a name for ourselves, but to elevate the name of Jesus. One of the great evils in the Christian Church right now is that too many men and women are seeking to build a platform for themselves. Rather than to build a church that glorifies our Lord Jesus Christ,

our ministries, our careers, our hobbies, our very lives should reflect the love and grace of Jesus, drawing others to join us in our shared work. And we need to do all this while giving our very best. God gave his best for us, his only son, and in return, he doesn't demand our perfection, but he does deserve our best effort.

This means not settling for mediocracy or half-heartedness, but pursuing excellence in all we do for His glory and giving our all to his glory to many of us are living the life of a lukewarm Christian, putting in the bare minimum. Or little effort at all. But what's going to inspire a world is for us to lean in wholeheartedly to give all of ourselves to the mission.

And as we do this, we need to remember that the true measure of our work isn't found in immediate results, but it's found in internal impact. What we build upon Jesus' Foundation will be tested by fire. And it will reveal the quality and the significance of our contributions. Our aim is to leave behind what lasts and what's going to last our changed lives, strengthened faith, and a legacy of God's compassion and mercy in the world.

So how are you building? Are you seeking to make lasting impact? Are you grounded in the grace of God? Are you dedicated to the mission of Jesus? I wanna jump over to one Corinthians chapter 12. Later on in Paul's letter, he says this, he says, there are different gifts, but the same spirit. There are different ministries, but the same Lord, and there are different activities, but the same God works all of them in each person.

A manifestation of the spirit is given to each person for the common good. It. Paul's words here remind us that the distribution of gifts and skills by the Holy Spirit is not random. The wisdom, the experience, the skills, the gifting that you've been given were not given to you randomly. They were given to you for a reason, as a part of a deliberate strategy to mobilize the entire church for God's mission.

And so when you're sitting on the sidelines, when you're not getting involved, our mission suffers. We need each other. Every believer is uniquely given talents, abilities, experience, and wisdom by the Holy Spirit. In this intentional diversity of skills and perspectives ensures that the body of Christ can thrive in all of its aspects.

This is similar to how the human body relies on the diverse contribution of its members, right? That's the other part of this chapter. As Paul talks about how we're all a member of the body and how there is no body part that is not significant in the work, no matter how minor it may seem, because some of us are called to teach others to encourage others to give generously, others to lead diligently and still others, to show mercy With cheerfulness, we all have a role.

This is a sacred system designed by God.

Where every talent compliments the other and every role, no matter how modest is indispensable, the purpose of these gifts goes beyond personal achievement is about the common good. It's about the common mission, the edification of the church, the advancement of the gospel, and the transformation of the world.

The spirit empowers us, not for self-glorification, but for the uplifting. And transformation of the world. Every act of service, whether behind the scenes or in public view, comes together in a beautiful picture of grace that reveals God's love to the world. Are you contributing to that picture? As we think about where we fit into the mission of our church, we should ask ourselves, how does my unique life story and abilities prepare me to make a difference in his mission?

Our involvement in God's work goes beyond just volunteering. It's a way to worship. It's a way to show gratitude for what he's done in our lives because the way you live your life is an act of worship, and our worship should be an act of gratitude for what God has done. This celebration of grace in our actions not only benefits others, but it also nurtures our own spiritual growth and connection to something greater.

If like me, you grew up wanting to live a life that mattered, a life of purpose. This is the life that matters. This is the life of purpose. Answering the call of Jesus to be a transforming witness to the world.

So where do we start?

Take time to pray. And reflect on your personal journey and the skills you've gained along the way. Pray and ask God to show you how your story and gifts can align with the needs of your community. Then seek opportunities in your local church and you can start small.

A few weeks ago I went to a training that the district did for church leaders on handling church finance and friends. I am seminary trained. I am not an accountant. I am not a financial expert, and I'm so grateful that some of you are.

I can't manage a 400, $500,000 budget. I probably could with the Lord's help, but I'm not gonna do it as well as I could if I had others to work alongside of me. I'm so grateful for the wisdom that came there. It wasn't just me who went. I went a few weeks ago, and then a lot of our leaders went this last Saturday, and we met on Thursday night.

We walked through this whole long list to make sure that we were doing the best we could to be good stewards of the Lord's money, of the resources that God has given us, and I so appreciated the insights and the contributions of our financial leaders. And I know that some of you should be a part of that team.

Some of you need to be a part of that team. Lord has given you wisdom and insight and gifting in this area. So we have an administrative team that is going to meet this Tuesday night at seven o'clock. I'd invite you to be a part of it. Now, maybe you're like me and you're like, I can maybe manage my own personal finances, but I'm not as savvy as others.

Maybe you have another skill, another area where you're gifted, serve in that area. And your bulletin. Today, there's a couple of inserts. One of these inserts says department meetings, and that's what I was talking about. We have an administrative department meeting, department meetings, and on the back there's a list of all kinds of different areas where you can serve and where you can contribute.

So we have disciple making. Our Disciple making ministry guides, our programs for children, for youth and adults. So that includes our adult small groups, our adult Sunday school class, our Disciple making efforts. Now, you'll see in here that Jeff Miller is the elder leader of that. But if you'd like to contribute in this area, maybe you were trained as a skilled teacher.

Maybe you have seen that the Lord has gifted you as a discipler. Show up to the meeting on Tuesday and find out how you can get involved. Then we have care and our care ministry is led by Precious. And let me tell you that this ministry, I probably could have divided into eight subcategories 'cause it is a massive ministry of our church with so many different opportunities.

They are our hospitality team. They facilitate our receptions. They are our people who seek out to care for others. They provide meals to the sick, and those who are grieving, they help coordinate our memorials, our weddings, and other life celebrations. There are so many different skills needed on this team, so many different ways that you can contribute.

There are no barriers to your participation in that group. Show up Tuesday night. Seven P.M. Find out how you can get involved. Then we have worship. There are some barriers in worship. You have to be talented, which I'm not. But even if you're not a talented musician, there are still opportunities for you to serve because that worship department is seeking to utilize the giftings of our church in musical worship, in tech with our greeting team, our ushering team.

There are so many different opportunities for you to contribute your skills and your gifts there. And the truth is, we need people there. We need people to learn how to work the cameras so that people at home can watch us online. We need people who know how to run the sound system, and if you have musical talent, we would love to have you help lead us in worship.

There's opportunities. And then of course our church. We have a global mission. And so we need people who have been given a heart or who desire to cultivate a heart for missions. That group's also meeting Tuesday night at seven. Have you noticed a theme? We're meeting Tuesday night at seven. So many different opportunities for you to get involved.

So that missions team, we're looking for people to be champions of global and local missions. We have a phenomenal outreach mission ministry called Operation Compassion. Where Judy, you're here. A hundred sixty-eight pairs of socks. Is that what we just donated? 3 0 300 pairs of socks, 300 pairs of socks for the homeless.

Just a phenomenal opportunity that we got to do in partnership with those who are ministering at the race track.

There's so many different ways that we can get involved and support local and global missions. So many different skills and gift teams we need here. If you have an administrative gift. There's an opportunity for you here. If you have a heart for people, or maybe the Lord has given you an awareness of a need, there's an opportunity for you here.

One of the opportunities that you have to get involved in missions is in your bulletin. Your bulletin is very full. Today we have this sheet that says, called A Prayer. We are a part of a denomination of a movement that is built around missionaries. That's why our denomination is called the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

It's about us aligning with missionaries who are around the world. And in this bulletin insert, there's gonna give you some words from different missionaries that are gonna help you know how to pray for the global work that we're doing. And so I would just encourage you to open this up, read it, and pray for our missionaries, the ones that are sharing in this month's little update, but also those all around the world.

And if you'd like to know more about our missionaries, join us on Tuesday night at 7:00 PM. Because we're going to be exploring more how we can lean in to the global missions effort of our denomination. Maybe you have a heart for men's or women's ministry. Maybe you have ideas for great social connection points for men and women.

Maybe you have ideas for things that we can do. To invite men and women, men together, or women together. Men's, women's events, that might be a blessing to our community, whether it's to encourage them spiritually or to provide community and a place of connection. Tuesday night, seven, P.M. Get involved.

You guys noticing a trend here? Tuesday night. Seven. P.M. Get involved Tuesday night. Seven. P.M. get involved.

The church is not going to grow off of the back of one person. Church isn't gonna grow off of the back of five people. It's gonna grow when we, the church, come together and allow the Holy Spirit to work through us. To work through all of our unique skills and gifts, our perspectives, to come together and accomplish what we can't do on our own,

to accomplish what we can't do on our own. We are a church in a community that has great needs. There are people who are hurting in big ways in our neighborhoods.

I believe that the Lord has us here to minister to them. We do that individually in relationships. We do that through programs. We do that through outreach ministries. We do that by inviting people to join us here in the mission of the church.

Maybe you're supposed to lead one of those efforts.

Tuesday night, seven o'clock,

because here's something that I want you to hear from me. I don't just have a list of things for you to sign up for as I'm waiting for the Holy Spirit to speak through you and nudge you and what the Lord has you to sign up for. I'm not that smart. I don't know you all well enough. The Lord created you.

He gifted you. He has a mission for you. He has a role for you to play in his church. Maybe you're already on mission, maybe you're not sure. Maybe you're not sure. There's some churches that will pass out a spiritual gifts test, like a personality quiz, and they'll score you and they'll say, you got the gift of encouragement.

And there's a role for that. There's a role for that. I think it's oversimplifies it a little bit though. I'd encourage you to discover your gift through prayer and through trial. Take a step of faith and try. I'm not asking you to commit yourselves for the next five decades to any one particular area of ministry.

Maybe you have a heart for something, you step into it and you're like, whew, I have a heart for it and I'm gonna pray for them, but I'm not gonna do it anymore. That would be me in worship ministry. Awesome. You learn something, try something else. Try something else. See where the Lord will use you. 'cause maybe he'll surprise you.

But the first step is to respond to the opportunity. Now, one of those is Tuesday night, seven o'clock, and actually, I'm saying seven o'clock, but six 30. At six 30 we're gonna gather here. For just a time of mutual encouragement, prayer. We'll give some vision for that rest of the evening, and then we'll send you to the department meetings at seven.

But there's another opportunity in here, somebody who responded to God's nudging on her life as Pam Patsloff. Another is Richard Anderson. They started the Help Ministry at Hutnick's Heroes a while back, and we are relaunching that and the heart of the help ministry is that we know that there are needs within our own congregation.

It. And one of the ways that the world is going to see the glory of God is by seeing how well we love for each other, right? The Bible says that they will know us by our love. And so we wanna be a congregation that loves and helps and serves others. And so there are so many different needs, needs that I can meet, like automotive, like my car battery was dead this morning, my poor car.

It just keeps going through things. And if you wanna. I can jump my own car. You don't need to drive down to Santa Clara to jump my car. But there are people who might need that kind of help. And so if you have that gifting, you could just say, I can do minor car repair. I can replace a burnt out headlight.

I can maybe change oil. I don't know, just mark that you're interested in serving in that area. And as you're looking at this list, maybe there's something else that you're like, gosh, I think people probably need help in this skill that I have to offer. There's another category as you can just check, mark some of your giftings and skills in areas where you might be willing to serve.

And as people with needs are made aware to Pam and Richard, they might call you up and say, Hey, you once said that you are gifted in electrical repairs and we have this person who needs to replace a light switch in their house. You have time to go over and it'd be beautiful if we could offer that kind of meaningful support to each other.

So my invitation to you is to fill this out to the best of your ability. Don't lie. If you can't roof don't say that you'll help with roofing repairs. And then you can just fold this up and you can put it in the offering plate when it goes by a little bit later on in the service. Or you can hand it to Pam or you can hand it to Richard or you can drop it off in the office.

And we'll just keep that in mind when there's an opportunity for you to serve and there's an opportunity for you to love somebody else. In our church, there's so many different ways that you can serve here, ways that are big and significant, because giving somebody a ride to a doctor's appointment that is significant.

That is a significant ministry. That is a significant way that you are going to further God's kingdom because people notice. People notice when the church is loving well on others. There's some other significant ministries that you can be a part of. One of them has been led by Sherry, who has just been faithfully leading our coffee ministry for about a year now, and largely doing the work by herself, not completely, but largely doing it by herself.

And we need people to step up and join her in offering that, that service of hospitality for us. Like how many of us have been blessed by just seeing Sherry there, getting a warm welcome from her in the morning as maybe we grab water. Or if you're like me, run by to my office. If you'd like to be a part of that ministry, go talk to Sherry.

But also Tuesday night, seven o'clock, she'll be at the care meeting because it's a hospitality role. There's so many different opportunities for you to serve and get involved. So many different opportunities. One of the best ways that you can get involved is by prayer. Pray for the efforts of the church.

Pray for the witness of the church. Pray for the growth of our people. One of the things that we're doing right now is we are piloting a new discipleship experience. That's going really well. We haven't talked about it at all publicly because it's a secret but it's not a secret anymore. It's called Rooted, and we have a group of 12, 12 people who are going through a rooted group that started a few weeks ago.

And so far it's been a really good experience and our hope and prayer is that this experience is going to continue to be something that is a blessing and that will then roll out eventually to the entire church. So pray for that ministry. Pray that the Lord would guide us in how we can best disciple our people, how we can best be worshipers here, how we can best live on mission.

We don't do this alone. We do this empowered by the Holy Spirit. We do this by being diligent to the work that the Lord has given us. We do this by being diligent to the ministry that we've been called to. If you have breath in your lungs and Jesus in your heart, you have a role to play in the life of the church.

Amen. Tuesday night, seven o'clock.

This is an open invitation. It's an open invitation to join in the work and the life of the church.