God has created three divine institutions to protect and care for us in relationship. The family provides love to counter loneliness; the government provides order to counter chaos; and the church provides growth to counter immaturity.
Made for a New World | Isaiah 11:1-16
Made to Be Saved | Genesis 3:15, 21-24
Made to Work | Genesis 3:17-19
Made to Gospel Our Relationships | Genesis 3:12-13
Made for a World Without Shame | Genesis 3:7-11
Made for a Different World | Genesis 3:1-7
Made for Relationships: Marriage | Genesis 2:18-25
Made for Relationship | Genesis 2:18-20
Made to Rest | Genesis 2:1-3
Made to Flourish | Genesis 2:4-25
God’s Heart for The Nations | Revelation 7:9-17
Made in the Image of God | Genesis 1:26-27
Great Questions Q&A Panel + MADE: to Teach | Genesis 1-3, 2 Timothy 2:24-26
How to Hear From God | Genesis 1:1-31
The Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit | Genesis 1:1-5
To Know God is to Worship God | Genesis 1:3-25
Is Your God Too Small? | Genesis 1:1-2
It is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). To ensure that every person can live in relationship with others, God has provided us with three divine institutions—the family, the government, and the church—to care for us and place us under His protection. All three are strengthened and held together by the King, Jesus, and our relationship with Him.
Last week, you got a phone hack. Hopefully you employed it and got significantly fewer telemarketer calls and spam calls. You're welcome. This week, I'm giving you a life hack. This life hack, I would imagine, you've not seen on TikTok or Instagram. This is coming fresh to you today. You're welcome for that too.
The way I want to tell you about this life hack, in particular, is by story and someone I met once. When I met my friend Larry, he was passed out. Like, first time we met him, passed out, unconscious, on the floor. In case you're like, "Oh! So, we're going BC days, throwback to when you were an alcoholic," no. That actually happened here in this church.
We were at re:generation on a Monday night. We were closing down around 9:45 or 10:00. (It doesn't last that long, by the way, in case you're like, "I'm never going. It lasts till 10:00?" It's just people hang out and talk afterward, which is awesome.) We were in the Loft. I'm walking by, and the doors are kind of open. I peek in, and there is a guy lying on the floor where we meet for groundwork.
I go in, along with another guy Jack and our security guy. We're like, "Hey, hey! Are you all right?" Clearly, he wasn't. I'm like, "Are you okay? What's going on?" We kind of shake him a little bit, and eventually he says, "Juice. Juice." So we bolt. We're ripping open every fridge, trying to find any juice. His blood sugar had crashed. He has type 1 diabetes.
He went through re:generation and eventually became a leader multiple times over. Yesterday, we were at the fall re:generation leadership event, and he and I were sitting there. He was sitting in a chair beside me, and we were just talking. I was like, "Larry, do you remember when we first met? How are you?" He goes, "John, I am so blessed," just emphatically.
I'm looking at him, and I'm thinking, "No, you're not," because what I see in Larry is his amputated right leg from diabetes, now with a titanium artificial foot that he walks on, his right eye clouded over because he has gone blind in his right eye. He still has diabetes. In fact, the reason he was sitting in the chair even talking to me was because his blood sugar had crashed to 50 or below, which is medical level. They were like, "You have to sit down," and people were tending to him and getting that blood sugar back up.
I said, "So, how have you been?" He was like, "Well, after the stroke…" I was like, "Stroke? When did that happen?" He was like, "Oh, September." I was like, "Like a month ago?" Yet out of his mouth came, "I am so blessed." He could say that because of the life hack I'm giving to you today. He said that because he goes, "John, everything I ever wanted in life I now have." He was gesturing to the body of Christ, his brothers and sisters in Christ who love him gathered around him.
As we're sitting there talking, somebody walks up. He has his phone in his right chest pocket. Someone walks up from behind, pulls out his phone, and starts doing this. He puts it back in his pocket and goes, "You're almost there, buddy," and just walks away. I go, "What was that?" He's like, "Oh, he's checking my blood sugar level." I mean, the level of care… He's like, "People in my condition don't have that. That's the love of Christ."
I go, "Well, Larry, you know what's amazing? You're now giving that to others. As a re:generation leader, you are now meeting that ache of soul, that longing to not be alone and isolated. You're now giving that to others. You're that to them." He goes, "John, what else would I do? What would even be the point of anything?" because of that deep sense of community he has found in Christ.
We were made for relationship. Until we put ourselves under the God-given relationships he has established, we're just going to be wandering and aching and in pain, because every single one of us needs the body of Christ. So, I have here onstage with me… This represents a roof. I'm not a carpenter. I follow a carpenter. In case you're like, "That is a bad roof," I know. I recognize that. I got splinters making it, but I needed a roof, or something that would image that.
God has given us three divine institutions, and they appear in the Bible in this order: the family, the government, and the church. He has given us those three divine institutions, that we might come under them to be sheltered and protected spiritually, relationally, that we would have these three divine institutions to care for us as we walk through life. So, as we walk through this Made series, we now find ourselves at Made for Relationship. Where that is in the Scriptures is Genesis 2:18-20. I'm going to read it to you now.
"Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man [Adam] should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.' Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him."
When God says, "It is not good for man to be alone," thus God saw fit to make for man a home, and he did so with these three divine institutions that can create a shelter for him to not be alone. Two things. When he says, "It's not good for man to be alone," you're like, "Hold up. I thought God was perfect. He doesn't foul-tip things or make mistakes, so, what do you mean 'not good'?"
In the creation account, he made light, and it was good. He separated the heavens, sky from water, and it was good. Plants, land, and dry ground, good. Animals, good. People, good. Birds, good. Fish, good. Man alone? Not good. You're like, "Did you have a bad day? What happened?" It doesn't mean not good as in bad. It means not good as in incomplete.
God is like, "I'm not done yet. It is not going to be good if Adam, who's made in my image, is alone. He is in an incomplete state, so I'm going to give him a person." So God gives him another. Now, if you were talking to Adam and were like, "So, Adam, when he said it's not good for you to be alone and he gave you Eve, that was for marriage, right?" Adam would say, "Yeah, that was for marriage."
But when we read the totality of the Scriptures, and we're looking at it, we're like, "Oh, no, no, no." Yeah, it was marriage for Adam, but pregnant within that passage (pun intended) was that every person would have a person, that nobody would be alone. It's not good for Adam to be alone. It's not good for anybody to be alone. Adam was the first, and then Eve, and then from them begat every single person of the world, so that every person would have a person, because it is not good for any person to be alone. God sees that, so he has made these institutions for us to walk that way.
Now, we're going to jump ahead to Genesis 3:20. "The man called his wife's name Eve [Hebrew word], because she was the mother of all living." From Eve and the procreation of Adam and Eve came every person, that no one would be alone. Sidenote here. When it says, "A helper suitable for him" or "A helper fit for him," that's not a misogynistic thing, like, "Okay. So, women are subservient, second class. They're helpers." God himself in the Scriptures gives himself the name helper. So, there is this dynamic together, Adam and Eve not being alone together.
This roof… A roof is a triangle shape, generally. So, residential building, you have a roof. The triangle is actually the strongest shape in geometry, the reason being it cannot collapse in upon itself. Because of tension and compression, it can't fold in on itself like a rectangle could. It can switch either way, but a triangle is incredibly strong.
This three-sided triangle the Lord has given us in divine institution is strong for us. Each of the three institutions has a very significant purpose we're going to walk through today, because we were made for relationship. So, family will give us love. That's to counter loneliness. Government is created to give us order and to counter chaos. Then we have the church, which is given for our growth to counter immaturity. That's where we're going today.
So, to begin, family. The family gives love to counter loneliness. This is a common grace of God. Since Adam and Eve, God has given every single person walking this earth family. Now, there are different kinds. There's a spectrum of whether you would say it was good or bad or easy or hard. There are different cultures, different dynamics, and different structures within the family system, but God has given every single person a family.
Even Osama bin Laden, someone we would not hold in high regard… God gave him a family. Knowing everything he would do, he was like, "I'm going to give him a family." It is a common grace of God that he gives to all people who are walking this earth. It's a kindness of God that he gives us that we would experience love.
There's love in marriage. That's where it all begins. You can't have a family apart from marriage. So, God gives us love in that. It's not a legal contract, though you can go down to the justice of peace. Biblically speaking, this is a covenant made in love, an unbreakable covenant because of love for one another. Not romantic Hollywood love, but Ephesians 5 love, that a man would lay down his life for his wife, that he would have a covenantal, unbreakable love in marriage. We're going to cover this more next week. Next weekend is the Uncommon Marriage Conference. Then TA is going to do a deeper dive next week specifically on marriage. If we're talking about family, we have to start there.
Secondly, there's love in parenting and kids. God has modeled this for us, and now we see it in a family system. A parent is intended to provide for his kids. He is there to protect his kids. He is there to discipline his kids. That's Hebrews 12. "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but rather painful, but later, it yields a peaceful harvest of righteousness for those who have been trained by it." Now, if you asked my kids, "Hey, how's discipline at home? Do you like that?" they would be like, "No."
I asked two of my kids recently, "Hey, do you want to get spanked or do you want to lose media?" They were like, "Lose media. Lose media." I was like, "Really? A spanking is momentary." My oldest goes, "Especially if it's three spankings." I've told them, "Hey, it's better that I discipline you than the world does. If I discipline you, I will discipline you because I love you. If you're not disciplined in my household, the world will discipline you, and it will not be loving. It will not feel loving, because the world doesn't love you." So, a family provides that as well because of love.
Also discipleship (Deuteronomy 6), that as we're walking, as we're talking, we're talking about the things of the Lord and pointing children to Jesus. Then parents, the love a parent receives from their kids. This is described in… You get this in diapers and insomnia. Like, "What do we get?" No, we get an incredible amount. As a parent, you get Psalm 127 and 128 where it says children are a reward, a heritage, and a blessing.
I remember crying over our firstborn as I held him in the hospital. Not tears of joy. I was crying, pleading that God would save his soul. I had never before in my life longed so much for someone to be saved and not spend eternity in hell, because God had given me this small shadow glimpse of creating in my image, that he was bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. I was like, "Oh my goodness!"
That child gives me a further understanding of God's love for me. I see Jeremy right here who, when he prays, says, "Daddy," because he has a good understanding of God's love for him. I know it. I went to seminary. I've read about it. I know the Bible. I know God loves me. I sometimes don't believe God loves me. That's one of the theologies where I'm like, "Wait, really? With all I've done and still do and the thoughts I have, you love me?" I wrestle with that still to this day, yet it's true, and he does.
But it's not just marriage, parenting, or kids up to us. It's also that we parent up. We now, as adults, generally, are going to be parenting up. It says in Exodus 20 in the giving of the Ten Commandments (and then is repeated again, carried over in Ephesians), "Honor your mother and father so that it would go well with you in the land. It's the first command with a promise." So, we are to honor them. They cared for us in our young age. Now we care for them in their older age.
First Timothy 5: "Honor widows who are truly widows." Here's the family unit. This is love for an aging parent. "But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God." We are to show love in the family system by caring for our aging parents.
Now, it has been said that people can relate much more to your failures than they can your successes. So, I'm venturing today to share some of my sin recently with you, because I think if I do, it's going to make it safe for everybody else here to be like, "Okay. Well, if he can when he's miked up, then I guess I can to my Community Group or to the person I came with. I can share my sin and know that I can be forgiven in Christ."
Recently, I was with one of my kids, sitting at the kitchen island. We're doing homework. We're into multiplication. He doesn't know multiplication yet, but we're learning. I'm like, "Hey, it's 3 times 10." He's just staring at the page. I'm like, "So, it's a grid. There are 3 columns. There are 10 rows. It's just 3 times 10. Like, 10, then 20, then 30. It's three times." He's like, "I don't know." I'm like, "What do you mean you don't know? Watch this…10, 20, 30. There are 3 rows of 10. You could even count them. You don't even have to multiply. You can count them."
At this point he's like, "Dad, I don't understand" and starts to cry. I'm like, "Hold on. Hold on. No, we're not going to cry. Look at this. It's three…" He gets up and just starts walking away. I go, "No, no, no! No, sit down. We are doing your homework." I exasperated my child. "Fathers, do not exasperate your children." I was not loving in that moment. I was not the family system, which is there to create love, and I sinned against him.
We were driving yesterday in the car, and I said, "Hey, I'm teaching tomorrow. I have a question. What's the most often used phrase in our family?" One of them was like, "Can we go out to eat?" Another one said, "I love you." I was like, "That's right. I think we say that a lot. We don't just say it at night or in the morning."
I said, "What do you think is the second most used phrase?" They thought for a little bit. The one I had sinned against with homework said, "Will you please forgive me?" I was like, "You're right. You're right. Mom and Dad say it a lot to each other and to y'all, don't we?" They were like, "Yeah."
"And you guys say it to us, right?"
We sin against each other, but that doesn't mean we don't love each other. Even in the family system that is there for love, we're going to create mother wounds and father wounds. (I don't know why nobody ever talks about children wounds, because that's real. Somebody write a book about children wounds.)
Those wounds are there not because you're not a perfect parent. There is one perfect parent, and he is God, and you are not. So, at some level, it's kind of inevitable that you're going to have a mother or father wound that you impart to your children, but it doesn't have to stay there. You can remove it if you repent from your sin and ask for their forgiveness.
So, you go and say, "That was wrong. I didn't love you in that moment. Will you please forgive me?" and then change. Ask the Lord to change you so you're not doing it on repeat. When love is not modeled, you model forgiveness. This would be transformative, as we talk about strengthening families this year as a strategic priority, if we just loved, and when we didn't love we asked each other's forgiveness. Like, earth shattering, home changing.
I think some of you, though… You're hearing me depict a family system, and you're like, "Hey, I didn't get any of that. I practically raised myself…broken family, divorced parents. I was abused physically. I had to stand up to my dad because of what he did to my mom. I started working before I could even work legally just to make ends meet. I had to buy the groceries." There are probably people in the room who are like, "Oh, you're talking about… That's a unicorn. I didn't live that life. If that's God's intention, he was asleep at the wheel when I got my family."
I want to say to you today that that pain is real to you, and it's real to God, and if your family of origin is not what you wanted, you can have a family of destination that can be exactly what your heart has always longed for, a spiritual family. Though your physical family failed you, you can have a spiritual family in the Lord that never will, brothers and sisters in Christ, what Larry said: "I have been looking for this all my life."
If your father failed you, today you can have a perfect Father as your own, but in order to have God as your Father, you must have Christ as your brother. There is no other way. If you want God as your Father, you must have Christ as your brother. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me, the Son."
If you place your faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, then the Father adopts you. That's the language the Scripture uses. You are adopted in the Father, and then indwelt by the Spirit, and no one can snatch you out of his hands. He is perfect, and he will provide for you, and he will protect you. He will discipline you for good and holiness, and he will disciple you and raise you up in Christ. That's the family system.
The next divine institution is government. These go in Scripture. So, you have Adam and Eve. There's the divine institution of family. In Genesis 9, you have the divine institution of government that just begins to show, and it will expand throughout the Scriptures, but you see this. The government is there to create order and to counter chaos.
The first glimpse of government is given to Noah in Genesis 6:6. God wipes the earth with the flood because of all the wickedness. Every intention of man's heart was evil all the time, so he was like, "All right. No more. Noah, get your family. We're going on a ride." They land, and he says to him, because he knows sin is still in the seed, it's still within Noah… Noah gets off the boat and gets drunk, for crying out loud.
He's like, "Okay. If anyone sheds the blood of a man, by that man his blood will be shed, for man was created in the image of God." It's talionic justice. "If you kill someone, you are going to be killed. There will be justice." So, God gives Noah this order via government to say, "You're going to push back chaos. There was a lot of murder before, beginning with Cain. We're not doing that anymore. So, if someone does that, you now have governmental authority to take their life, because that is going to push back the chaos and bring order to this."
It still continues on to this day. You see governmental authority through Artaxerxes, Cyrus, Nebuchadnezzar, throughout the Scriptures. Then you have Nero. Peter writes under Nero…Nero who lamp-lit Rome with burning Christians impaled on stakes; Nero who also had Peter executed. He wrote and said, "Be subject to the governing authorities and be good unto them." Here you have Paul writing in Romans.
"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." Verse 4: "…for he [the governing authority] is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer."
So, God has given us government as a divine institution, another one of these we can come for under the protection as we're made for relationship. He has given it for order to push back the chaos. He has given it for the establishment of laws that you see throughout the Scriptures. He has given it that we would have judges who can discern between right and wrong according to those laws, and he has given it as a system of justice, that when there is evil, evil can be placed under a justice system from the judicial one. So it's a good thing, this thing God has given us…government.
Now, it's unique timing right now where we are in the series, Made for Relationship, because we have voting coming up on November 8. Maybe you've already early voted, but voting is coming on November 8. This is something that would be entirely foreign to the biblical writers, like, "Wait. Hold up. I was under Nebuchadnezzar, and they changed my name and made me do crazy things. They wanted us to worship this idol. You're telling me you get to vote for the person who you want to lead your city, your state, and your nation? You get to choose? My goodness! What an incredible privilege."
Yet sometimes I think we can be marked by passivity, kind of fatalistic, like, "Man, it has already run its course" or "The majority is going to vote him in anyway, so why bother?" I want to tell you today that passivity is an activity. To do nothing is, in fact, to do something. You've been entrusted with a vote as a US citizen, which is an incredible privilege, but the privilege has a purpose, and it's found in Jeremiah 29:7.
"But seek the welfare…" The Hebrew word there in Jeremiah is shalom. Shalom is a word we will encapsulate as peace, but when you expand it out, it's the wholeness and wellness, body, mind, and soul, the shalom, the overall, overriding peace of the city, state, or nation where you live.
"…where I have sent you into exile…" Some of us can get really discouraged about where we live. It's like, "Hey, you're an alien and a stranger and a sojourner," says Hebrews 11. So, of course it's broken. This is the kingdom of man. We will one day be in the kingdom of God. This is the broken version. You're in exile. You're not going to be here forever. This home is not home, but while you're here in exile, seek the peace, the shalom, of the city, state, and nation.
"…and pray to the Lord on its behalf…" We miss that a lot. Paul writes to Timothy and says, "Pray for kings and those in authority." We have a sin of omission. I think we grumble a lot more about our elected officials than we do pray for them. I know that's the case for me. I don't pray for President Biden or Governor Abbott or Mayor Johnson as often as I should. That's sin, because I'm commanded to.
It says, "Seek the welfare of the city and pray, for in its welfare, its shalom, you will find your shalom." He's like, "When you seek the shalom of the city and pray for the shalom of the city, you're going to find shalom because you live in the city." The government you're praying for and seeking for and voting for is going to bring about order, and when that order is aligned biblically, it's going to be a good thing.
So, we need to vote according to biblical principles. That should be the Word of God, which is inerrant and eternal. He has laid out righteousness and unrighteousness. This should be forming how we cast our votes. Now, unfortunately, we don't get to vote a la carte. I wish it was the case. I wish we could be like, "Hey, I'd like to vote this way for the economy, this way for immigration, this way for international policy. I'd like to vote this way for the poor, this way for single moms, this way for education, and this way for life," but we don't.
These days we're voting for a person, or people, and those people have platforms and policies. So, it's important that we understand how our vote is going to affect the city, state, and nation we live in. What I would offer for you today is that if you cast a vote and the policy that person has is 99 percent on lock (it's good; it lines up with the Bible), but in one area… For example, say they lead pro-choice.
If you cast the vote for that person, then in reality, you're voting for the realization and legalization of the killing of children, even if it's just one aspect of their entire platform and you agree with the others. You're like, "I don't land there, but I like everything else." As you cast that vote, you are voting for the killing of children, and the literal blood will figuratively be on your hands.
Now, I know that with a population this large there are people in the room who have had an abortion or funded an abortion. I want you to know the Lord loves you so much, and there is forgiveness in Jesus Christ. The pain or maybe shame you might feel right now… The reason I'm talking about voting specifically in regard to life is because we don't want that to fall upon any other individual ever. God commands, "Thou shall not murder."
In Romans 1:32 it says, "Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval [or votes] to those who practice them." So, there's an awareness of it, but when we start to approve of it or endorse it or support it or vote for it, then we're taking part in it.
Now, some might say… I had this conversation once. One person was pro-choice, and the other was pro-life. I was talking to the pro-life individual, and they were like, "I understand. I don't want abortion, but there's no way I can vote for this individual. I just can't stand how they treat X, Y, or Z." I was like, "Well, then I think your biblical options are to abstain from voting or to vote third party that's not trying to legislate sin or, perhaps, to even consider running for office."
That would be an alternative. Can you imagine if someone here or at another church here in Dallas was like, "You know what? I don't feel like I have two good candidates to choose from. I think the Lord may be calling me to run, that I would legislate and enact and lead in a way that aligns with God's Word, and I would never seek to legislate sin." That could be an incredible thing.
I'm encouraging you to vote, because on November 8, we will be able to vote in a way the biblical authors never had the opportunity. You should make plans now. It's on a Tuesday. Schools are going to be canceled, so you need to figure out what to do with your kids. Talk to your employer. Talk to your spouse, and find a way to go and vote. It's an incredible privilege. Vote according to order. Vote in a way that will bring about order for our city, state, and nation, the shalom, and in it we'll find our shalom.
Now, we're also out to transform platforms. We don't mold or conform ourselves to the platform, but rather, we should be transforming those. It's not just A or B, but rather we should influence those or support people who we can support with full integrity. Then the last thing. This is very important. It matters who you vote for, but it also matters how you treat those who vote differently than you.
You don't get to tear out 1 Corinthians 13 in election season and be like, "Well, so much for love right now. I'm just going to hammer them with truth, because they land in a different place." Love still applies. It says in my version, "Even if you vote according to the Bible, but you have not love, you're a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal." We have to love others, especially when they land in a different place. Second Timothy 2:24: "And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome…"
So, family is to provide love to counter loneliness, and government is to provide order to counter chaos. Then we have the church, which is to provide growth and to counter immaturity. There is much you can say about the church, but our context today is Made for Relationship, and we're going to talk about how relationships foster the growth God wants for us.
We talked last week, in Hebrews 13, about how the elders keep watch over our souls, and now here in Ephesians 4, you have that as they keep watch over our souls, we're to be grown up in Christ so that we're not stunted or immature in our growth. Here it is. "…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood [mature personhood]…" There's a maturation that's supposed to be happening as we are with… He's talking to the church, the body of Christ. "…to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…"
Here, one of the ways we make a big church feel small… Because you can pull into the parking lot and even be in this auditorium, and you're like, "Are you kidding me? Nobody even knows my name here. How am I going to grow in maturity here?" Well, you're going to be fed the Word here by the Spirit, and then to get into a smaller group. It's not a "this church" problem. Even if it was a church of 300, you can't live out all of the "one anothers" of Scripture with 300 people.
So, God has given us the gift of community where we can live in a smaller setting together and walk life through life. We call it community. It makes a big church feel small. In our house… So, three kids. Laura has a little hippie in her. She'll go homeopathic, kind of more traditional Eastern. She's of Hippocrates. He said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." So, old dude who saw that he could do holistic medicine. Well, she's of that ilk.
She gets this stuff. I don't even know what it is. It's liquid. She puts it in little one-ounce containers for each one of the kids. Elmore kids do shots in the morning. (There's a sound bite for you.) It's herbal. I mean, it's bitter. So she will cut the mixture (you know I'm an alcoholic if I'm using the word cut with drinks) with lemonade. If she doesn't, otherwise our kids are like, "Ugh!" and they choke it down, gag reflex. But she makes it with lemonade, and all of a sudden, they'll take it. There is truth and there is love. There is hard and there is good. So she mixes it up.
Why is she giving our kids these crazy vitamins? Because she wants them to grow. She doesn't want them to be three feet tall the rest of their lives. She wants them to grow. She wants to nourish them and feed them. In the same way, some of you are like, "Community? Oh, it's such a requirement." You see it like the bitter medicine. Well, if you envision it that way, that's how it's going to taste every time, but you can add some spiritual lemonade and make it amazing.
Let me tell you about our community, because it's the one I know. It's not because it's best, but I think it's good. I love it. I look forward to it. We have it this week on Thursday night. Already, Laura is giving me the rundown of this week's agenda, and I'm like, "Oh, community?" It's not like, "Oh man! What a whip. I wish I could watch the game." It's like, "Oh, that's great. Who's hosting?" Who's hosting matters, because there's always food, and it's always good.
There's always a charcuterie board. You guys are like, "Have you never heard of COVID? Y'all eat off the same plate?" We do. It's like sliced meats and amazing cheeses. There's usually a bowl of honey in the middle where you can dip meat and cheese. If you've never done that, you might be in sin. There are olives and grapes. I mean, it's amazing. Everybody comes together, and we're all feasting and catching up and celebrating.
One time (true story) we had unpitted olives. I love salty, so I'm eating olives and discarding the pits in a bowl. Mike Frizzell comes in late from coaching a soccer team, walks over to the charcuterie board, grabs some nuts, and pops them in his mouth. He's like, "What are these?" I was like, Gasp! "Those are my olive pits!" Chewing on my olive pits. Oh, community. It's hard but good.
Then if it's somebody's birthday… It was someone's birthday last week. Marisa Frizzell in our Community Group is a nurse practitioner by trade but missed calling as a baker. She makes this chocolate cake. She rolls in because it's somebody's birthday, and not only do we get to have that, which is just sick it's so good, we also just flood the person (Mike in this case) with words of encouragement. We're like, "Brother, you are faithful. You are present." We're just washing words over him.
Then we're not like, "Okay. Let's get to the community curriculum. Which page are we on?" We go to the living room and sing worship. You're like, "Of course you do. You have three professional worship artists in your group." I want you to know that before we had any worship leaders in our Community Group, generally no one could sing. I bought some used hymnals on eBay, and we'd just open it up and be like, "All right. Turn to 323. We're going to sing 'Rock of Ages.' We're going to sing 'Come Thou Fount.' We're going to sing 'Praise to the Lord.'" It was humbling to sing, no music, nothing, but you're singing hymns, but it was holy.
Then we will just spend time in prayer. It's not a mechanical thing. We're just singing, and then somebody will start praying. Somebody will read a Scripture. Do you know what that does for the temperature of our Community Group? When we get to start sharing about our struggles and pressures and difficulties, it's so much better, because we have set our hearts and minds on Jesus. There has been hospitality and fellowship. Then there has been worship and prayer.
Nobody is coming at each other in our Community Group, because we've just sung to the Lord, keenly aware of our Savior needed by our sin, and now we're going to shepherd each other. So, couples will share, and then we'll pray over them. It's not like, "Dear Lord, help the Elmores this week. Amen." People are listening, like, "All right. We're going to pray for your brother. We're going to pray for your daughter, that God would give you wisdom in this situation, for that, for loss of a parent, for the mental health struggle." Like, all the things.
We're praying very specifically, which is a gift. He tells us in Colossians 4, "Pray and watch, and then give thanks." Why is he telling us to watch? Because he's like, "I'm going to do something." If you're just like, "Lord, bless Texas," you're like, "Did you? I don't know. Maybe." As you pray specifics, you see the Lord moving, and you're like, "Oh. Oh! He did." Prayer works. God works according to the prayers of his people. So, there are prayers over all of us.
Then we'll break up… Not on those evenings, but then we'll have our guys and girls times as well. In those, we walk through the Community Group three questions. It's "How have you fed your soul, how have you fed the flesh, and how have you fed others?" "How have you fed your soul?" embodies the first two community values of devote daily and pursue relationally.
We'll come together and be like, "Man! This is what I read in the Word. Can you believe that? Has that always been there?" or "This worship song… Have you guys heard this, 'Worthy of It All'?" or "This podcast I just discovered" or somebody has a new book they're reading. We're letting each other know, "Hey, this is what the Lord has been giving to me," and then we're feeding each other with this mutual encouragement, transformed by Christ to love like Christ.
Then, secondly, "How have you fed your flesh?" That's not like, "All right. Come on. Air out your sin. What did you do?" It's for the purpose of healing. If you want healing in your life from sin, God's answer to that is to confess. You know this, right? If you want to be forgiven, confess to Jesus. If you want to be healed, confess to brothers and sisters. Here, this is live authentically and admonish faithfully. Those are the two values. It's James 5:16: "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." When we confess and pray, God rains down healing.
Then, thirdly, "How have you fed others?" This is for counsel biblically and engage missionally. We're not spiritual narcissists feasting at the trough of spirituality, but that we would look up and exercise our gifts to reach others who, frankly, are not under the covering of the church, who have no community, who haven't experienced what Larry experienced, like, "I've been looking for this all my life."
That we would go and engage others in the name of Christ and be like, "Would you come to church with me on Sunday? Would you come to The Porch? Do you want to go to re:generation? I know you're struggling. I'll go with you. Hey, would you like to jump into our Community Group?" (Ask the rest of the group before you do that.)
So, I have these dowel rods here. Just like Ben, one of our elders, read earlier this morning, when it's just you… It's like, woe to the man who is alone, because in the pressures of life and the stress and the financial strain and the temptation, we break. We're not made to be alone. But you put some community around you, and then you have the financial strain and the stress… You're like, "It's because you're not strong." It's true. It's not breaking because it has others.
This is what the Lord says in Ephesians 4. That's the gift of the body of Christ, that we would be grown up in Christ as we are together. In the Bible there's no "Me and Jesus." It's you and the body of Christ, who is the head, Jesus. Laura, when speaking of her cancer journey last year (she's good), said, "I don't want anyone, ever, to have to walk through what I walked through," the surgery and radiation and anti-cancer meds and all that. "But I wish everyone could experience the body of Christ coming around and supporting and texting and loving." That's the gift of community.
So, two things I want to share with you now. If you're not a member, if you just attend here, that's good. It can just be better, because you're leaving this roof of protection the other six days of the week, when really, you could be under this roof 7/365 by becoming a member and having our elders keep watch over your soul. Our next Membership Class is November 13, where you can be like, "You know what? The Scriptures say I'm to be a member of a church." That's Hebrews 13 and 1 Peter 5. "I'm going to join."
You can join any biblical, God-fearing, Christ-exalting church. We don't get a commission. But join a church. If it's this church, join a Community Group. You're like, "Well, I don't know how." Here's how. Here are three ways. First, you can just get a group of friends. There were some here in the first service. They were like, "Yeah, we just met each other, and we wanted community, so we decided 'Let's do this together.'" You can form your own organic Community Group and just let the church know. "This is our group. Here's who's going to be leading."
Secondly, if you know of an existing group, you can be like, "Hey, man. Could you do plus one? Could my wife and I jump in with you guys?" That's a thing. You can do that. There are no rules there. Then, thirdly, you could go to Formation. Formation is happening next weekend. It already happened this morning. You can go to the East Tower, 9:00 to 10:30, next weekend and find community.
In case you're like, "Man, I want that. I want the charcuterie board. I want the hymnals. I want that chocolate cake," you can have it. You just have to make it. It's like that cake. We didn't buy that from the store. She made that. A lot of effort went into that. In case you're like, "Well, my Community Group is not like that. Mine is not like you described. That would be nice." Well, nobody said, "Thou shalt have a charcuterie board and eat cake and sing songs."
It was like, "What do we want it to be?" We want it to be encouraging and refreshing to your soul, so we shaped it. We're still shaping it. People eat olive pits. It's terrible. So we have to shape that thing, but you can. Make it your own. Make it the Lord's. So, God has given us family, government, and church, these divine institutions, because we're made for relationship.
Do you know why this thing actually holds together? It's because of the middle piece. If you're in construction, you know this is actually the strongest truss for a roof. It's called a king truss. It's called a king truss because this middle beam actually supports and holds together all of the weight. This has the maximum load bearing because of this middle post. I take out that middle post, and all of a sudden, it's not as strong. There is a strength in a relationship of Jesus. In him we live and move and have our being. Jesus is the one who makes every other relationship work.
This in construction is called the king post, the king post that holds all other pieces together and gives it its strength. In the same way, Jesus, your King, gives you the strength to endure everything else that comes against you and supports every divine institution. Let me tell you, there was a king on a post in Jerusalem for you. Two thousand years ago, Christ your brother took on humanity, became man, and lived a sinless life.
This king's post was nailed here by three nails, but it wasn't three nails that held Jesus to the cross. It was God's will, your sin, and his love. That is what held Jesus to the cross, that king's post in Jerusalem. If you go to Jerusalem right now, you will not find the king's post, because the post and all of its sin is gone, but there still remains an empty tomb. That tomb is there, and it is empty, because Christ has risen again.
Here we are. For those of you who have trusted in Christ, you have the strength of Jesus, but there are many others who are out there who don't have the relationship. They're not under the roof of God. So we have to go out and tell them, "There is a home for you. There's a family for you of love, order, and growth found in the person of Jesus Christ." Our redemption, our salvation is in his blood. Stand with me now and sing praise to your risen King.