Better Announcements
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ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast
ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

Better Announcements

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Life Hacks kicks off with a bang (of gender reveal balloons) and a "choose your own adventure" style sermon. Some things are just better than others. Today is all about "better announcements." Getting ready for Baptism Sunday next week.

Today we kick off a brand new series called life hacks when you just need a better way. Now, if you're not familiar with the term life hack, it's just a fun way of saying, like you could do something small, something maybe unique, something maybe sometimes even silly, that would like make your life a whole lot better. Like, for example, when you would go on an airplane. Remember those things when you would travel and you would get on an airplane and you bring your suitcase in your luggage and you check it in and you get on an airplane and then you fly to your destination and you got off. You know you had a great flight. You'd go find the baggage claim and then all the bag started rolling off for your Carousel, you know, whichever one you have to probably run to the one that you didn't think it was at. But then all the sudden you realize that everyone on the airplane had the same luggage as you. I can imagine that. A black kind of rectangular suitcase. You know, it's like why everyone seemed to pack the same exact thing and you had to check all of the name tags on there. You know, is this mine? Is this my clothes? Like, like, what if? What if instead of like trying to sort through all of that. What if you just like tied a pink bow on your luggage and so when you fell off the thing, you know you'd be able to Oh, there's my thing all the way over there. You're not sorting through all these ones that look exactly the same. That's an example of a life hack. It's just a little simple thing and if you did research online, life is completely different because of this. But the series also gives us an opportunity to talk about the idea that some things are better than other things. Like, I think we would all agree that the eagles are better than the cowboys and chocolate is better than vanilla and dogs are better than cats. Right, but let's think about filling the dishwasher for a second. Isn't there a better way to fill the dishwasher? You know you've never had, I know it's just me, but you've had all these dishes, you know, lined up in your sink and on your countertop and you know it's just plates and bowls and cups and all this stuff, and then you open the dishwasher to put them in and you're like, Oh man, that dishwasher is full. There's like four plastic large tupperware bowls in there and you're like, I guess I gotta run the Dishwasher and come back couple hours later pull the big bowls out. Then I can load everything else in. It's like no, no, there's a better way for this. Right, you take the bowls out, you put everything in the way it's supposed to go. I'm nicely organized. Then you run the dishwasher. You know that takes care of itself. And then there's this thing called dish soap and you put it in the bowls and you swish it around and then like two minutes later, you got clean bowls and you got a full dishwasher that's running. Like there's a better way to organize the dishwasher. Somebody said Amen for the first...

...time in their life, because that means a lot to you. Right, some things are just better than other things, and we can all agree on that. But some ideas are also better than the other ideas. And this is where we start to step on some people's toes, because we live in such a pluralistic world where everybody's ideas are should be treated equally and seen fairly. And you know, whatever you believe like you just believe it, and that's cool for you. And then whenever I believe, you know, I'm going to believe and that's cool for me. And like we can all be right, you know, if I believe something that contradicts what you believe to be true, we can't both be right, like that's just logic. You know, if if you think two plus two equals five, like you can believe that. Like I think it's important to fight for the ability to believe whatever you want to believe, like we should have the freedom to believe anything. But two plus two equals five. You can believe that too. Plus Two, I believe, equals for that's what I've been taught. That's what I've been told. That's just logic, and they can't both be right, like you can believe to plus two equals five, but you'd be wrong. Like there are some ideas that are just better than other ideas, and the same is true when it comes to faith and religious ideas, like some ideas are just better than other ideas. It's like in the Bible we read about US belief system, a religious system, that there was people that would sacrifice their infants, their babies, on an altar where I like a burning sacrifice, and they would put the babies on the altar and then they would bang drums because they didn't want to hear the baby screaming, you know. So they the babies are being sacrificed, they're being burned and they're banging drums because, like that's just crazy. They're sacrificing these babies to the god of Moloch, and you say, okay, like that belief system is like that's cool, you do that and like Jesus over here, like if you believe in Jesus, like that's good too. You know, it's like they're both, they're both could be the same, they both could be right. It's like like burning babies or like loving your neighbor, like like one is better than the other, one is better than the other, and you could think about it. In the modern day practice. I searched for some modern day religious spiritual practices of something called a sky burial, and there's different forms of this, but basically the people in this culture would would bring their the deceased, their loved ones who had passed away. They bring him up to the top of a mountain and they kind of leave them there. For the vultures to...

...pick at, and the vultures, they believe, would take the soul into heaven. And, like you could believe that. I mean just think about all of the work that has to be done and all the ickyness of all of that. You know, like you could believe that. You could live that way or you could live one of the thousand other belief systems or religious systems that are out there. And I don't know about you, but I want to live the best one, like I want to live the one that is true, the one that is right, the one that will actually change my life, and I believe that one is Jesus. Like Jesus is the best choice, the best answer, the only way to eternal life. He is the best way, but maybe maybe you aren't convinced of that just yet, and that's all right, you're totally welcome here. But I'm convinced, and maybe you're convinced too. And if you are convinced that he is the best way, the only way, then the question becomes, what difference does this make in your life, like how does he actually change your life, impact your life? And does anybody even know that you believe that Jesus is the best way that you've found, the best way see it. Some time in your life, somebody has to know that you will leave in Jesus and that you think that he is the best way, the only way, to eternal life. Somebody's got to know. You've got to show it, you've got to live it, you've got to proclaim it and you've got to announce it. And, speaking of announcing it, that's our life hack for today. We announced stuff all the time, don't we? An announcements are expensive. Think it just it takes a lot to work to announce stuff, like you're announcing a birth of a baby, you're announcing a wedding, an engagement, you're announcing that you are dating by changing your social media status. You know, we announced stuff all the time, a graduation, a new job. I came across something this week, maybe last week it was. It was somebody. You've probably seen this before where you could pay somebody like a couple hundred dollars, depending on who they are, to like send you a personalized video and they'll say whatever you want to say. It's kind of it's kind of interesting. So I was tempted to do that for today. Like that be cool to have like Mr Celebrity over there saying hey, welcome to connect US church. You know, come on in, like you could do it. I mean I think they do it. You just pay them enough money, they would do it. But I found this video on facebook. Somebody got them to announce their baby, their birth of their baby, and it was like this famous announcer guy. You know, it's like weighing in...

...a nine pounds two ounces. He's twenty two inches long. His name is Zachary who. That's my little, you know, little audition. You know, I'll take it, I'll take it, but it's interesting. It's an interesting way to do announcements. You could also go like the old school way and get something printed on a piece of paper, and you know there's expensive pieces of paper out there. Somebody put a lot of work into that design. It looks beautiful, it looks awesome and you could go online and buy all those things and it's I mean it cost you a fortune just to send out some invitations. So my life hack for today for you about announcements is that you can go online to some free software, Free Web APPs, and use some templates and put your information in about that thing. And then export it as a jpeg and then take that Jpeg File, upload it to Amazon photos and then get a bunch of little five by seven photos printed nine cents a piece. A lot of people do this with Christmas cards and we did this with prayer cars before we started the church. Nine cents a piece is just a fun little way to get the word out, to share it in a way that doesn't con us the fortune. So how would anyone know about your wedding or your baby shower if you didn't announce it to the world? Like if no one knew when it was happening or where it was happening, nobody could come to it. And the same is true with our faith. Our faith in Jesus is something that happens on the inside. Like you make the decision to believe in Jesus, you apply what he did on the Cross. He died for your sins, he was buried, he rose again the third day to give you new life. And that happens in a moment. You're saved, you're forgiven, your redeem your restore, you're born into the family of God and it happens. It could happen right here and it could happen right now with a simple prayer, a simple shift of belief, as simple act of saying God, I believe this, I believe in you, and no one can really see that. But God gave us something special to make what happens on the inside that no one can really see public on the outside. He gave us baptism. Baptism is a public, outward demonstration, a declaration, announcement of your inward faith in Jesus. And you might think that's a little strange of an announcement. To get in the water, to get all wet, to go under the water, like, what if he doesn't let me back up? You know, is there another way to do...

...it? As there another way that's the less strange. But this whole idea of going into the water and coming up out of the water, it's a beautiful picture of the Gospel. It's a beautiful picture what Jesus did for us and I want to invite you to turn with me to the book of Romans, Romans Chapter six, and if you don't have your Bible, that's right. The words will be on the screen behind me and we'd love to give you a free Bible before you leave today. But in Romans chapter six we read about this beautiful picture of Baptism, and Paul writes this to his letter to the Romans. He says, well, then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? And then he says, of course not, the hardest no possible in the Greek language. No Way. Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Jesus, Christ and baptism, we were joined with him and his death? For we died and we're buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the father, now we may live new lives. Since we have been united with him and his death, we have also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that our sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin, for when we died with Christ, we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know that we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. And when he died, he died once to break the power of sin, but now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ, Jesus. That's the picture. It's the picture of what God has done for us in baptism, in the symbol of baptism. So when we go into the water, like the act of going into the water is symbolizing Jesus dying and then going under the water is Jesus being buried, like Jesus was dead, like multiple days dead, and then coming up out of the water is symbolizing Jesus coming back to life, coming out of the grave. It's the picture. It's a beautiful picture of baptism, of what Jesus has done for us. And then you're like, well, what does that mean for me? Like that school Jesus did that. What about for me? And that's when Paul continues, when he says that we know our Sinful Selves Are Crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. How many of you know that sin is powerful?...

Like sin controls us. Sin Controls the way that we think, the way that we respond to situations, the way that we react sins. God had script. It's chain, it's strong, it's powerful, but when we died with Christ, we were set free from the power of sin. Like those that are identified with Jesus, that are believers in Jesus, with God, in Your Life, that power of sin that is so strong on us, you're like power. Sins not strong in my life. It doesn't have any power in my life. I'd do whatever I want to do. It doesn't control me. That's probably when it's the most strong, because you're not even aware of what it's doing to you. But when we die with Christ and he came back from the dead, he conquered sin, conquered death, and now there is no more power of sin in a believer's life. Like you can be set free. You are set free. It's like living in the reality of what God has made for you, that you are alive, you are made new, that that power of sin in your life doesn't have to control the way that you live any longer, but you are not bound by that you are not slaves to that anymore, because when he died, he died one to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. There is new life, new power to be found to overcome sin, that habit, that thing that you've been dealing with, that way of thinking that just can't be broken. I mean with Jesus, he breaks it, he gives you, sets you free. And so we see with baptism this powerful visual a powerful symbol of an internal reality. You like, what does it look like to live for God? How do you know? It's hard to see it, but baptism gives us a visual picture of it. And again, it's a picture, it's a symbol. The waters not magical. There's no special feeling that you get. You know, God doesn't come down and give you goose bumps that you've been waiting for your whole life. It's just it's just a picture. And if it's just a picture, like why bother, right? Why bother getting wet? Why bother figuring out the logistics of it? You know, can I just change my social media status to Christian? So here's where the sermon is going to take its first turn. I'm going to we're doing announcements today and multiple different ways, and one of my I don't know if it's favorite, but least favorite, one of my fascinating announcements has been gender reveals. Anybody ever been a part of a gender reveal announcement party? Yeah, okay,...

I've never been a part of one, so I figured why don't we do it at Church? So here's what we're going to do. I need somebody who's willing to come up here and help me, to come up and give me a hand. You gotta. You're going to cut a gender reveal cake. Anybody up for all right, joy joey's going to come out. We got one more later in the service. I think about it. All right, so I can come and stand behind this. All right, so me and the girls spend some time baking this cake. Let me set it up for you. Here's here's your here's your knife, and it's an angel food cake. So you're going to like you have to saw it a little bit. If you try and go right through, it's just going to be up smashed, and then we're going to cut like a square, like a triangle, and then scoop it with that thing and then people can you can hold it up. So hold on one second. So here's here's what's going to happen. It's an announcement. Okay, it's a it's a something that's going to change the direction of the sermon, right. So, if she picks the blue side of the gender reveal cake, we're going to talk about Jesus and that the reason that we do baptism is one of the reasons is is that Jesus said the example for us. Jesus himself was baptized and he commanded his followers, his disciples, to baptize other people. So we're going to talk about that. Or if she chooses the pink side of the gender reveal cake, then we're going to talk about how baptism is a picture of how the Holy Spirit baptizes us and the water baptism is just a symbol of what God does in us when we put our faith in Jesus Christ and all the reality that comes with that. Because, again, why do we get dunked in water? Why do we do all of that? Why do we make a big deal about it? Well, these are two answers, but I can only preach on one. So Joy, pick a side, cut a cake. There we go. Good Sawing motion. It doesn't matter the size. Now, all right, can we scoop it hold it up for everybody to see. Isn't this exciting? Gender reveals like amazing. where it is. It's a it's a boy. Wow, that's amazing. Minimal. All...

...right, thank you. All right, now you're wondering. Did I rig that? You know, was the other side blue too? I know I prepared two different sermons for today. I did so. Jesus sets the example of being baptized and we read about this in Matthew Chapter Three. Matthew Chapter Three, verse six, it says after his baptism, Jesus came up out of the Water and the heavens were opened and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And notice the little phrase here about what Jesus did when it came to his baptism. He came up out of the water. That means he had to be in the water in order to come up out of the water. It's just a little words that give us indication of how Jesus was baptized. He by submerging into water. The Greek word for baptism is Baptizo, which literally means to dip or immerse. It was used in other context and ancient Greece, where a white cloth was dipped into like a blue dye, and so the white cloth went in and identified with the die and when it pulled out, when the in, you know, came out, the white cloth was no longer white, it was blue, identified with the color of the die. And the same as true as a believer in Jesus, as we're identifying ourselves with Jesus is, you know, you go in and it's just they said, identification of I'm identifying what Jesus did, I'm applying it to me and I'm coming back, you know, coming out of the water, celebrating all that Jesus has done for us. The other thing that Jesus did when he talked about baptism was that he gave his followers this mission, this great commission. We've talked about this before, but as so important and so powerful for US believers today. Says, therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, son and the Holy Spirit, and teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I given you, and be sure of this, I'm with you always, even to the end of the age. So baptizing is a commanded by Jesus to his disciples to go and to baptize people, which means that more people are becoming disciples of Jesus. Like we want more people, more people to believe in Jesus, more people to be baptized, more people to to take that step of faith, to be baptized, to publicly proclaim their faith in Jesus. And then it's our job as disciples, as a church, to teach these new disciples to obey all the commands that Jesus has given us, to grow in their faith, to mature in their faith. And one of the biggest things about following Jesus is that you're actually doing what he's called you to do. You're on mission for him,...

...which means that you are making disciples and that you are having a role in baptizing people. And so we want New People, more people getting baptized, and those people growing in their face so that they can then turn around and baptize more people who grow in their faith and who turn around him baptize more people. It's this more people and better disciples, more and better disciples. Jesus gives us this beautiful picture and this mission of what he's called us to do, and it's really it's really a remarkable thing what Jesus did for us on the cross during his life here on earth to thousand years ago. That makes a difference in our life, in our world today. And when he ascended into heaven, he gave us, his church, his followers, the promise of the Holy Spirit that would empower us and that it would be even better for Jesus to go away so that the Holy Spirit can come. And it's just again, that's just an amazing thing that baptism pictures all of these inward things, all of these things that you can't really see, all of these things that you can't really wrap your mind around. Baptism gives us a picture of it. And when we do baptisms we announce our faith, we proclaim our faith, we shout our faith to the world, we display it to everyone, sort of like the way that we do announcement. So gender reveal number two. I need somebody, I told you, and it's somebody else, to come up and help me out. Today. Is it a boy or is it a girl? Come on, somebody, my name's coming or resourceful here connect this church. We got reusable utensils. All right. So here's the deal. Let's see. I told you I prepared for both. All right. So, if it's blue, I'm going to tell you a story now about how I gave a promise ring to Alicia and how that was a powerful announcement between me and her that we were going to get married. And then, or if it's pink, then I'll tell you how I was baptized and a little bit of buying baptism story. I only got one mouth, so have a DART weck. So this might be loud. If you don't want it to be loud, you can close your ears, but you can choose this one or that one. Be a whole bunch of confetti...

...inside, right. That is that is true. I would much rather clean up the confetti over here than over the pianos. I'm going to go over here. That's a thank you with the man. All right, it's a boy here got I mean, I know we want to be good, but can we just pop that one too? You're going to talk about the promise rate I am. I will, but I just want to show you that this will be pink, I hope. Here we go, beautiful, beautiful. We'll sleep it up. So thank you, Ford. Let's let's give a dem my hand. WHO. Who? There we go. We love our interaction here. So the promise ring story. I told you a couple weeks ago that when I first started dating Alicia, who's now my wife, it was kind of a rocky start, like I kind of used her for her car from auliple things, especially for going to this Adams Road Ministry event, and she kind of was aware of that and we can talk more about that dating thing later. But then a couple months after that we had our first kiss and it was amazing, as we have a special day for that, and I knew that when we kiss for the first time, that I had just kissed my wife. I just knew that that was that was kind of cool. But really, up until that point I hadn't really asked Alicia to be my girlfriend, like I just didn't. That was just part of that was just the way that I viewed dating and and think about dating, which is strange and it's weird and maybe I think there's some value to him, but I mean, Hey, I was it worked out for me, but I have no idea how. But I've been to that point when mean I didn't really know. I mean I didn't really ask her like would you go out with me or would you be my girlfriend? Like that wasn't really a what we did. And again, we can talk more about that another time, but that context of kind of like that unknown, that like we haven't really decided. You know what? I don't know what this is or whatever. You know, it's important because when it moved into now, okay, we're getting going to get engaged, we're going to get married, like these were big steps for us and up until this point, you know, we've been dating for maybe four years or so and the plan was to get married the year after, or the month after, Alicia graduated from college. So she went for six years. She's Dr Alicia, and then so the summer before her six year we were going to get engaged and we kind of...

...had this planned out. She kind of knew generally that that summer was going to be. So we'd have a year to plan for the wedding, get all the announcements out for all of that and all that fun stuff. But what she didn't know was that the year before that, like the fourth year that I graduated from college. Actually, I think it was the the wintertime of that or maybe the winner of next last year. I forget exactly when, but I wanted to give her like this promise ring, and the promise ring, if you're not familiar with that concept, some maybe a relatively new thing, but it's like hey, we're going to get engage, we're going to get married, but like it's not happening right now, but I promised that it will. And so we I went over to out to Pittsburgh, me and my me and a friend and and Alicia went to Pittsburgh and we went on to Mount Washington. If you're familiar with Pittsburgh, you know it's this awesome mountain that overlooks the city. Is Beautiful. You know all the lights, it's late at night, it's stark outside and and I told my friend the kind of like walk away. And so me and Alicia are standing on the rail overlooking the beautiful city of Pittsburgh and I pull out this ring. And let me just say, there's nothing special about the ring. Like it wasn't a ring, pop ring, but it wasn't, like it wasn't that great, and I pulled the ring out and I told her, I said, it's not an engagement ring, and she was just completely surprised. I said, you know, we have this plan that we're going to get engaged soon, we're going to get married, you know this time. But, like I was graduating from college and she was going into like her doctorate stuff, and like we were moving, I was starting a job, like there's a lot of things that were changing and I just felt like I wanted to give her something that showed, like, no matter what was going to happen in our life, like here's a symbol that we're going to do this thing and it's going to be us. And, as I'm we're promised that, like me and you, like we're gonna WE'RE gonna do it. And like it was, it was awesome, it was, it was really great and incredible moment in like in our relationship, and it was all a surprise to her. But this announcement, this this way of displaying this thing that was inside of me and like it was between me and her, like it wasn't anything flashy, it wasn't anything big, like our engagement was pretty awesome. Our wedding was again, it was pretty cool. But this promise ring thing, I mean it was just me and her standing on the edge of the mountain looking out, you know, over the city, but it was meaningful because it was again, it was a symbol of something like how do you how do you describe love? How do you describe relationships? You know, where are you at in this dating thing, but this thing was just a little symbol that, you know what, we were going to get through this and we were going to do this together. And I think baptism is...

...sort of like that. Again, there's nothing special about the thing. You know, it's not maybe this grand thing that changes everything, like the moment I gave Alicia that promise ring. We weren't engaged, we weren't married. You know, nothing really changed, but it was a symbol that showed my love and my commitment to her. And Baptism is a similar, similar thing. It's this, that outward way of showing that death, yes, this is what is happening, this is what I'm going to be doing. And so how do you announce your faith to your world? Do the people around you know that you're a follower of Jesus. Do Your neighbors know? Do Your coworkers know? You know, it doesn't have to be anything impressive or big or strange. You don't have to wear a name tag that says Christian or you know, it's just real, authentic, like Jesus save me, Jesus is my savior, he is my Lord. This is a real thing and now, because it's real in my life, like my life is going to show up. My life is going to be different as a result of it. And these announcements, these displays, these these proclamations, like announcements, call people to Action. It's why we do announcements at Church, because we want to remind ourselves the mission of why we're here. We're welcoming people to connect them the God's next step for their life. And then there's usually one thing that should apply to mainly everybody, that we want to invite you to be a part of. Like it. It's an announcement time where you can take a step in action. And so next week we're going to do baptisms. That's why we're spending a lot this time talking about baptism. The next week it'll be a little bit about baptism, but I'm going to ask the people that are getting get baptized two questions. Those questions are, have you put your faith, in trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? And, number two, do you want to follow Jesus with your life? And if you can answer yes to both of those questions, then you should get baptized next week like you should, because it's showing your faith, it's showing your their faith, proclaiming your faith in that way. And maybe you've gotten baptized a long time ago, you know, like I did that long time ago. That's cool. Here's the question for you that I'm always challenged with is, who is getting baptized because of you, like who have you been praying for, who have you been caring for, who have you been sharing Jesus with? And now they are being baptized as a result or as an influence from your ministry to them, your service to them, your love for them. I guess a good challenge for those of us that have been believers for years. Maybe who's getting baptized because of you? And if...

...you can't answer yes to both of those questions, have you put your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and do you want us follow him with your life, then that's okay. I invite you to keep come and keep engaging with us, asking questions, learning more, and that first step group is the place for you. We really love to have you be a part of it. Baptism isn't a part of a long or the result of a long process. It's a first step. It's a beginning of a new life following Jesus, and this could be you right now today. One of the verses in the Bible and Mark Sixteen. Verse Sixteen says anyone who believes in his baptized will be saved, but anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. Notice, it doesn't say anyone who refuses to be baptized will be condemned, which means separated from God, you know, facing judgment. It says refuses to believe. So what do you need to do in order to be saved? Get Baptized? No, you believe. If you believe you're safe. But there is a close connection with believing and being baptized, as we can see in a verse like this. But again, baptism, the physical act, the the the the men that of going under and coming up out of the water like nothing special is going to happen. God's not going to give you a special handshake and a, you know, a pat on the back to say, okay, now, you're mine now and now I know you're really save like that's like, that's not that's not it. It's our faith in Jesus is what saves us and what he's done for us. He died, he was buried and he rose again so that when you believe on him, you will be saved. The Bible says that if you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised them from the dead, you will be saved. And so I want to give you the opportunity now just to pray with me and just pray that maybe you're trusting in Jesus for the first time and you say, just pray something like this. Say, Lord Jesus, I know that I'm believing in you, I know that you died for me, I know that you paid the penalty for my sin, that you were buried and that you rose again to give me new life. I want you to forgive me, I want you to save me and I want to live my life for you, in Jesus name, Amen, and hey, if you did that, I invite you to be baptized with us next week. And and for those of us that, again, have made that decision before, a long time ago, like who, in your life will be getting baptized eventually because of you,.

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