Celebrating the Past and Looking Forward to the Future (Gateway South Life Giving Life)

Yesterday at Gateway Austin South Campus, I shared a message celebrating the past and looking forward to our future!

You can work through the Next Steps with your running partners, family, or life group.

The message includes a spoken word piece from James Wilson and my story on Kidnapping a Muslim (which I originally shared in my book Not Like Me: A Field Guide For Influencing a Diverse Community).

Here is the video from the message:

Eric Bryant | Dec 13 2015 from Gateway Leaders on Vimeo.


Here are the notes from the message:

In my search for God’s message for us at this time in our history, I came across Psalm 107.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.” – Psalm 107:1-3 NIV

In the midst of the sales at Best Buy or holiday parties at work or time with extended family or all the Americanized version of Christmas, ultimately we are celebrating that God came for us! He did not leave us all alone!

If you ever find yourself struggling or doubting or in the midst of a challenging situation, give thanks to the Lord!

We have much to celebrate!  We’ve had an amazing year!

We have so much to be thankful for!

Know He is good, and know He is loving.

God’s character is good. He can be trusted. Right now may hurt. Right now may be painful. The past may be filled with evil done to you or done by you, but He is good.

He gave us freedom. He pursues us. He put us in the exact time in history and place on planet earth where we had the best chance to find Him.

We’ve got a story to tell!

We’ve been telling our stories – in our serving teams, in our life groups, and on Sundays. Knowing the stories of others and being known by others is a gift and a path towards healing!

We’ve been redeemed!

Like an empty bottle that can be turned in for cash…

We’ve been rescued from darkness and brought into the Kingdom of Light!

There is a battle over our souls – “redeemed from the hand of the foe.”

We are diverse!

We have come to this place from the North, South, East, and West

We come from different ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic backgrounds, and different political bents yet united by Jesus!

  • We have transplants from different parts of Texas.
  • We have immigrants from Mexico, India, and even California!

So who are we?

  • We’ve been wanderers.
  • We’ve been in the dark.
  • We’ve been foolish.
  • We’ve been overwhelmed by storms.

Listen to the four types of people the Psalmist describes and consider which one may be who you most resemble from time to time.

“Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.

Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains, because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High. So they were subjected to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help.

Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death.

Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters. They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep.

They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end.”
– Psalm 107:4-5, 10-12, 17-18, 23-24, 26-27 NIV

We’ve been wanderers.

For 8 years, we’ve been a pop up church on Sundays, but now we are moving to a place to call home – place to settle down for the next 10 years.

We have the opportunity to start new ministries by serving the city with our gifts and skills.

We may not be in Austin forever, but you were here now “for such a time as this.”

We’ve been in the dark.

Some of us have been trapped by addictions, but God has set us free!

We’ve been foolish.

We’ve rebelled against the ways of the world. As a result, we’ve experienced the painful consequences of these choices.

We’ve been overwhelmed by storms.

Even when we follow God down His path, we still face challenges and difficulties.

No matter who we are or have been, if we allow Jesus to meet our needs. He will comfort us and we can comfort others with the comfort you’ve received!

Even still, some among us are still wandering, still in the dark, still foolish, still overwhelmed by storms.

Or maybe you are trying to help folks who are stuck.

So how should we respond?

  • Be honest!
  • Be patient!
  • Be grateful!

Be honest!

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble…
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble…
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble….
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble….”

– Psalm 107:6, 13, 19, 28 NIV

You cannot receive help when you do not ask for help.

We used to tell our kids. Instead of screaming, use your words!

We slip into the same bad habit! We walk around angry or irritated or discouraged, we need to be honest with God.

Maturity is knowing when to ask God for help. Often God helps us when we ask others for help. Having the humility to let God help you and to let Him help you through others.

Be patient!

Crying out to the Lord implies urgency and persistence.

Not just one time.

How many times would be worthwhile to discover God’s heart for you?

Consider this: are you asking God to help you in one area while ignoring His best in other areas?

Are you keeping one foot in the dark but wanting your face in the light?

Are you asking God to rescue you but unwilling to do what it takes to be rescued?

Notice what God did for those who have been stuck:

He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle….
He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains….
He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave….
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed….
– Psalm 107: 7, 14, 20, 29

Be grateful!

Responding with gratitude means thanking Him by the way you live your life.

Responding with gratitude means living a life or worship by sacrificing your pride, your thoughts, your finances, and even your reputation.

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things….

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron….

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy….

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders….
– Psalm 107:8-9, 15-16, 21-22, 31-32

Sacrificing our pride:

If you are a wanderer, are you willing to let Him be Your source of satisfaction?
“He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”

If you are trapped in the darkness, are you willing to let God break through the chains of addiction?
“He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.”

If you are trapped in foolishness, are you willing to let Him He heal you – to rescue you?

Sometimes we are suffering because we’ve made bad choices. Turn back to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. Get help with a counselor or go through recovery.

Sometimes God cannot show us what He has next for us because we aren’t willing to follow Him with the last thing He’s shown us! Are you willing to sacrifice what may be distracting you or slowing you down?

Or do you go to other sources when you are stressed?

As Americans we tend to binge on work, on television, on the news, on entertainment, on sports, on shopping, on alcohol, on painkillers, on weed, on anything that will take the pain away or at least numb us or keep us distracted.

Some of us don’t even realize we need help because we never pause long enough to consider what our soul wants and needs!

God satisfies our longings with good things – when we let Him!

Instead we strive for satisfaction from things that aren’t so good.

Sacrificing our thoughts:

Did you know we have 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day?!?

How many of those thoughts are anxious or ridiculous or negative or judgmental or angry or impure or positive or thankful?

Last week, we looked a bit at the battle in our mind. Take every thought captive and replace it with the truth!

Not a sin to be tempted. We feel condemned and even give up! We feel guilty for even having the bad thought even though we aren’t the source or that’s not who we are anymore in Christ!

Use temptation as a reminder of who you want to be not who you were!

Our thoughts affect our emotions which affect our actions.

The path to peace for the wanderer, the person in the dark, the fool, and the person overwhelmed by the storm includes “giving thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.”

Notice the order of this: Don’t wait until He gets you through what you are facing right now, thank Him for who He is and what He’s already done.

Sacrificing our finances:

Are you willing to give whatever God asks you to give?

“Let them sacrifice thank offerings….” – Psalm 107:22 NIV

God doesn’t need our money! He invite us to trust Him!

He invites us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves!

He invites us to invest in what is eternal!

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
– 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Because of your generosity, we are moving in the new year to 6800 West Gate Blvd., Suite 120 78745!

Now, our challenge is that we have $500,000 more we want to pledge towards this project by the end of this month so that we can complete the build out without having to go into debt!

With $500,000 pledged, we can also buy new equipment and pass along all of our equipment to our team starting our new Gateway Central Campus! 

We believe that if everyone gave something, we would have all we need!

If Gateway South is your church home, consider how God may want you to give beyond what you are already giving.

If all who attend on Sundays gave $20 per week for the next 15 months, we would have over $500,000!

  • Some of us may be led by God to give just $1 per week.
  • Others of us may be led to give far more per week or in a one time gift.
  • Some will sense God leading you to fulfill your current pledge sooner than you planned. 

This is not about equal amounts. This is about equal sacrifice!

In our new place, our prayer is that:

  • Children will discover a relationship with Jesus and grow up and choose a different path than their parents did – avoiding some of the same pitfalls and pain and heartache.
  • Teens will learn to hear God’s voice.
  • College students and young adults will discover their calling.
  • Adults will discover life and freedom in Jesus like they’ve never experienced before and bring that life and freedom to their neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends!

To Get Involved:

Sacrificing our time:

“Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy….
Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.”
– Psalm 107:22b, 32 NIV

Are you willing to reorient your life to make serving Jesus a priority?

Are you willing to tell others about God?

  • Maybe inviting to our Christmas service next Sunday.
  • Inviting a neighbor over for dinner to hear their story and share yours.

Stay connected to the community of faith – the assembly of the people and the council of the elders.

Become more like Jesus means to be more willing to serve.

Who are you serving?

Neighbors? Co-workers? Family? Unlikeable people

Listen to what God can do.

God gives life and knows the number of days we will live.

God gives us freedom to choose whether we will trust Him and His ways.

God gives us what we want – even if it isn’t what He wants for us.

God woos us with His kindness and with His loving discipline.

God can also do the miraculous!

In fact, it’s in the context of sacrifice that we can experience the miraculous!

Listen to what can happen when we sacrifice our pride, our thoughts, our finances, and our reputation.

“God turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs; there he brought the hungry to live, and they founded a city where they could settle. They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest; he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased, and he did not let their herds diminish.

Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.”

Psalm 107:8-9, 15-16, 21-22, 31-32, 35-38, 43 NIV


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