Our latest episode is a captivating journey through the complexities of these narratives, drawing parallels that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for both. We start by unpacking the beginning of everything, the fall of man, and God's unwavering master plan. The Bible's grand tale, from Genesis to Revelation, is broken down into digestible segments, revealing the purpose of our existence and the ripple effects of our choices.
As the plot thickens, we move beyond mere spectacle to the heart of the matter: our active role in the divine drama. I navigate the treacherous waters of consumerism in today's church and how it clashes with our mission as believers. Our conversation is a wake-up call, urging us to reject passivity and instead, engage fully in the narrative of redemption and restoration. Madison Church stands as a testament to this calling, and as we celebrate its 10th anniversary, we delve into what makes this community a beacon of hope and collaboration.
Finally, we wrap up by inviting you to become co-authors of this ongoing epic. Madison Church's decade of dedication to fellowship and service sets the stage for a call to action. Whether you're a seasoned believer or simply curious, this episode is a rallying cry for everyone to join in the work of fostering relationships, healing, and connecting with the divine. Tune in and discover your part in an unfolding story much greater than yourself.
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Welcome to our online audience. I'm Steven Feith, lead pastor. Who, here, has seen a Marvel movie? Who has seen a Marvel movie? You know what it'd be easier to ask? Who hasn't? Who has never seen a Marvel movie? No, okay, just maybe one or two of you, Okay. And if you're watching or listening online, let us know. If you've never seen a Marvel movie, who has seen most, if not all, the movies? Most, if not all, okay, a little under half, maybe a third or a quarter. I'm a fan now. I'm a fan now, but I haven't always been a fan. The first, this is true, the first Marvel movie I ever saw was Captain America, civil War, and for those of you who don't know where this line's in the series, it's the 13th movie that they came out with. So there had been 12 other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I thought the movie was really cool, like when I saw it in theaters. But I was baffled throughout the entire movie because I'd never seen one before, and this is the first one. Why were Iron man and Captain America fighting each other? I mean, weren't they like on the same team? Aren't they both good guys? So, but this whole movie is about, like, this big dispute that they're having. I didn't understand that. There was all this talk about a Socovia Accords. Socovia Accords was like the United Nations got together and they're like we gotta put a stop to what the Avengers are doing, and it was like, well, aren't they the good guys? And why did everyone in the theater get really quiet and then share super loudly when Spider-Man came out? I mean, like Spider-Man couldn't have been that surprising, right? Well, it apparently was the first time they introduced Spider-Man to the Marvel Universe and people knew it was going to happen, but I didn't. I didn't watch the movies. What I didn't know, getting that first ticket to see that Captain America movie, was that I was going to have to go and watch 12 other movies and then rewatch it again just to fully appreciate what I had already seen. Now I'm glad I did it. But now, if you've not seen the Marvel movies and you were just going to go watch the most recent one today, you'd be more lost and confused than I am, because there are now 33 Marvel movies, and that's not including the 11 that they're presently working on, that we know about, and that's not including all of the limited series which they have now injected onto Disney Plus, into the Marvel Universe, and they're starting to take some of the old series from Netflix and including that into the universe. If you're wondering on the math, it would take you over a hundred hours to catch up at this point, so it's an investment of your time If you're going to want to get caught up with everyone else. The truth is, though, I told you I wasn't a fan, and now having little boys helps. At home. We have watched the Marvel Universe through two times in my house. We watched it in the time that they were released, like whenever they came out, we watched it. We also watched it in chronological order, because we're nerdy like that, and so I know that sounds absurd to you, but that's some pretty good family time, just sitting there on the couch watching superheroes with our kids, and I'm bringing this up. It is relevant today because we are in a series about the Bible, and the Bible is just like a series of Marvel movies. There are a lot of characters in your Bible, just as there are a lot of characters in the Marvel Universe. Now some of these characters interact with each other Captain American, iron man. If you're looking at the cover of the Spider-Man movie you see Iron man and Spider-Man. So there's some characters that work together and do things together. There's some characters that like each other, some that don't. There are some characters that never meet each other. They all have their own stories, their own back stories. They all have something that they're uniquely trying to accomplish themselves. Each movie has its own plot line. Many of these movies they don't overlap, but a lot of them do overlap. And despite the many, many stories being told in all of these movies, there is one overarching story being told in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and our relationship to our Bible is pretty similar to what your relationship could be with the Marvel movies. Some of us have seen all of the movies, all 33 of them, all 100 hours. We've seen it multiple times, and that might be true of your Bible. You've read this thing Genesis, the Revelation. You know the stories, you've done it back and forth multiple times, but you know, the truth is that just most of us have just seen some of the movies, some of the ones that everyone was talking about, some of the ones that got really good reviews. We don't go and see the bad ones because we're not that big of a fan or a true believer, as Stan Lee would call you if you were really into this stuff. So some of us have seen some of the films in this one right, genesis one and two, of course, creation, leviticus, the Law. We've seen some stuff about Jesus and only a few of us have only ever heard about the stories in this book. And so, as we continue our series and actually we're beginning to wind it down, as I mentioned to you guys, we're doing a Q&A next week, but as we wind down, I want to focus on the Bible's overarching story. I want to go from Genesis to Revelation, all today, and I want to concentrate on critical parts of the story. And so, just like there's the Marvel Universe they have all of these great movies what I'm doing today is picking out, kind of some of the really important ones that highlight and show the big story that's going on. So I want you to know about the Bible and the fundamental movements that get us from beginning to where we are today and where we are heading as humanity. So, if you want to follow along, grab your Bible, grab a pen. This is a good one to take notes. We're starting in Genesis one, if you want to follow along there, or this is a good one to just follow along at the table of contents too. That's probably a page in your Bible you don't look at very often, but if you want to jot some notes down, you can pretend like you're some sort of like super smart, super nerd by jotting those down in the table of contents. The first thing I want to talk about is Genesis one. This is like the first film of the series. It kind of sets a baseline for all of us. This is the beginning, and in Genesis 1 and 2 we read about the breathtaking moment of creation. God establishes the heavens and he establishes the earth, the living beings, and he does so with intention and purpose. There once was nothing and then there was something. So let's read Genesis 1, beginning with verse 1, but after verse 1, jump down to verse 26 with me. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and then God said let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will rain over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth and the small animals that scurry along the ground. If you're taking notes, highlighting or whatever that word, rain is really important. And so God created human beings in his own image and the image of God. He created them male and female. He created them and then God blessed them and said be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and govern it. Rain over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky and all the animals that scurry along the ground. You can circle and highlight that word rain again. It showed up so twice. It seems to be pretty important. God creates everything. I mean everything you see today. There's there's water, there's bugs, there's animals, there's mountains, there's outer space, there's planets, there's everything. And the pinnacle of this creation actually isn't out there, it's in here. It's you. You're like the highlight. God creates everything. And in the same way, you see a really pretty mountain First time in person and you're blown away. Or you see a natural wonder of the earth and you're blown away. God created all of that and that's not what blew him away. It was you People blew God away. And out of everything that God created, there's one thing created in his image. It's not the animals and it's not the mountains. There's one thing God created in his image and it's you. You are created in his image, but it wasn't just that you're created in your image. He asked you to rain alongside him. He asked you to manage and steward creation. He creates everything. You're the highlight. But he didn't give this whole thing to us to just do whatever he says. Now take Responsibility, this is ours. Look what I created for us to do together this profound identity and Purpose. It sets the stage for our story as people who were originally intended to be deeply connected, not just with God and not just with each other, but with creation. And In the beginning there was harmony. There was a perfect alignment of Relationships that mirrored the goodness of God's creation. This is how things were meant to be. If you woke up this morning, you scrolled on your news feed and you saw bad news somewhere else, or this week you saw bad news and something inside of you eggs and you're like this something. This is not how it's supposed to be. That's good. You're getting into something that's spiritually primitive, because what's spiritually primitive inside of you is you're like we're supposed to take care of this place. And we look around we say we haven't done a very good job. How did we get from a garden in which everything is great To where we are today. Well, genesis 3, right away. The author and Genesis makes no time or waste no time getting to this point. There is a pivotal turn and it's the fall. And in Genesis 3 we read how people fell from innocence and communion with God. It's depicted in Adam and Eve's disobedience. They're tempted by a Serpent, satan. They eat the forbidden fruit of the truth, of good and knowledge, of the knowledge of good and evil. They defied God's commands. God didn't make this really hard. If you're reading in the context. God was like look at all the good stuff you can do. By the way, there's one thing that I don't want you to do. It's that right there. This is. You know, whether you believe it's literal or a story. Let's take the principle of the text out. There's a lot of good options. There's only one really bad option. Some of you can relate to that in your life. Right? You're like why do I always choose the one bad thing? Hey, people have been trying to figure that out for a really long time, but this is what they do and, as a result, it doesn't just mess up their lives, it's messed up yours, it's messed up every person's life who has ever lived, because in doing so, in disobeying God. They're saying not your will but my will and, as a result, sin enters the world and sickness enters the world and death enters the world, and Selfishness enters the world. And because you have free will and because you can choose to do good or evil, a lot of times we choose evil. A lot of times we put our needs above the needs of other people in. This cycle didn't just start yesterday. It's been spiraling out of control for years and years and years. This act, this part of our film, explains the origins of evil and the pain and suffering that we all experience every day. It marks a fracture in the intended harmony that God had set us up with. The consequences of sin are Immediate and they are far-reaching and they affect every aspect of creation. It's not fair, is what I'm saying? It's not fair that animals can be hurt because of things that we do, that pets and people's pets can be hurt because of things we do. It's not fair that people can be hurt because of decisions that other people make. And that's the heaviness and that's the depth of sin, and that's the heaviness and that's the depth of our own personal responsibility. Well, with the close of Genesis 3, that marks kind of the first film, if you're following along with my analogy this morning. That's it. God creates everything and it's really good. People have a choice. They make a bad choice and now the world is broken. There are a few more stories in between where we're going next, but now we're going to Genesis 12. This is the next key movement in the Bible. We're introduced to man named Abraham. He will later be called Abraham and God begins to unveil his redemptive plan, not just for Abraham, not just for Abraham's family and not just for a nation, but for the entire world. You see, we might have messed up. Episode one is over. To be continued. What's God gonna do? Well, obviously, we get to Genesis 4. We see that God didn't just hit reset. God didn't say we'll try it again. Maybe give him less free will this time. We see God had a plan. It was almost like he might have expected people to mess up. He calls Abraham in Genesis 12 and he says leave everything familiar to you, your country, your family, your father's house, leave Everything that's comfortable and go to a place where you have nobody, you have no family. You've never been before, and just trust me in doing this. For some of you, you would never have left. You're so nice idea, god, but no, not for me. And so, right away, in this Movement, we see that Abraham has great faith. We read in Verses 1 through 3 leave your native country, your relatives, your father's family. Go to the land that I will show you. No Future tense I've not shown you yet. Just trust me, I'm gonna take you there, but leave everything you know and I will show you. And if you do that, I will make you a great nation, I will bless you, I will make you famous and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who treat you in with contempt, and all the families on earth will be blessed through you. This is Covenantal language. Remember, last week we talked about the covenant and how it expanded into the law. This is the first area. We start to see covenant being introduced. God said if you do this, I Will do that. It's a contract, it's an arrangement, and this covenant with Abraham is based solely on faith. Based solely on faith. God didn't give him a list of things to do or don't do. God said I tell you what covenant agreement. I will bless you if you take this step of faith, and this act of faith underscores the principle that a right relationship with God is based on the trust of his promises, not merely obeying a certain set of rules. Okay, this calls, accompanied by a series of profound promises. God says, I'll make you a great nation. God says, abraham, I'm going to bless your individual family. God says there's going to be a church in Madison, wisconsin, in 2024, getting together, they might be talking about this and they will be blessed. God says I will bless everyone through your obedience. And so then there's stories that flow out of this covenant. Abraham has a son named Isaac, isaac has a son named Jacob. Joseph rises in Egypt. And each of these, just like Iron man, spider-man, captain America, all of them, they're like get their own movie. And then there's, like this big movie that ties them all together, and we see them moving the story of God forward one generation after the other, and these stories point us toward the ultimate fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham in Jesus, through whom the blessings of Abraham reach their climax, offering salvation to all. I'm getting ahead of myself. In our movie, we're going to skip all the way to Isaiah. Now this is another critical movement in our overarching narrative of the biblical story. Here it's revealed how far God's redemptive plan is going, you see, because what happens is Abraham does take the steps, he does go where he's supposed to go. Things don't always quite work out. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. But what begins to happen is these people who are the descendants, the actual descendants of Abraham, these people who make up the nation of Israel, they begin to think that, like God's redemptive plan is for them and them alone, they begin to see outsiders coming inside as kind of an anomaly. It happens, but it's certainly not normal. God jumps in right here to clear things up. He says okay, hold on, a second, hold on. We're kind of getting off track here. And so we're beginning. I'm going to read all over Isaiah. The words will be on the screen. God says I, yes, I alone will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again. He's starting to lean into a new covenant. They already had a system for forgiving sins. So if you already had a system for forgiving sins and God says I will blot out your sins and never think of them again, and the future tense is forward leaning If you who lived under the old law and the old covenant knew. This, you'd be thinking, must be something new coming, because we already have a system in place. You will do more than restore the people of Israel. For me, I will make you a light to the Gentiles, that's, everyone who's not of Jewish heritage, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth. Wherever there are people, my salvation will find them. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously. So these passages in Isaiah, this part of the story, is really starting to lean into. Something's about to happen. There's a new covenant coming. Something's going to happen. There's going to be a radical shift, and not just Israel's relationship with God, but the whole world's relationship with God. God announces a redemptive, inclusive and transformative plan and he invites all people in the earth to partake in the divine promise of salvation. Now we're going to go into the New Testament. This is another story. We're moving on real fast here. Okay, we're moving to the New Testament and it's one phase into the next. Now, this is an interesting thing, we're going to keep talking about Marvel movies this morning. You may not know this. There are different phases within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There's phase one that's like Captain America's first movie, iron Man's first movie, and it kind of these four or five movies lean up to one video or one film and it's the Avengers, and the Avengers all get together and it's big. Well, the New Testament kind of marks a new phase in God's redemptive story. I am, however, going to skip the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as it's written in the Gospels. That's a part of the story we talk about all the time here at Madison Church, so I don't feel like I got to unpack it today. However, I want to move on to the next part, which is Paul, who is helping people in churches, believers, people far from God. He's trying to help people understand what just happened. Who is this rabbi who was killed on a cross and everyone's saying he rose from the dead and has this life changing power? Who is he? And so we're going to Ephesians one now, where Paul writes all praise to God, the father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, god loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Before he even made the world goes back to movie number one, right. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his son and forgave us of his, of our, sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. I'm usually not reading this many Bible verses on a Sunday. I usually take one sentence and make that a whole series, so we're really doing something different. But this passage, paul plainly states if you are confused about all of the stuff in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Old Testament says if you are confused and there's a lot of confusion okay, this is God's plan of salvation, where God's love and God's choice and God's sacrifice makes us holy and faultless. Paul highlights this concept of adoption. It's a powerful metaphor. It signifies that we have a new identity, a new family. We belong with God through Jesus. Paul's words remind us that our salvation is both an act of God doing something to create a way, but also something that we step into Remember. In Isaiah he says turn from your old ways, and here there's a repentance attitude. It is walking toward Jesus. And then we read in 1 Corinthians 15, paul saying again, explaining what just happened with Jesus. Let me remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the good news I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and you still stand firm in it. It is this good news that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you, unless, of course, you believe something that was never true in the first place. Paul gets sassy every now, and then you got to appreciate it. He says I passed on to you what was most important than what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the scriptures said, referring to that old covenant, those old movies in the series. He was buried and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the scriptures said. This passage now summarizes that good news and Ephesians Paul is announcing this is what's happened. And right here in Corinthians he said this is the good news Jesus died for your sins. Go back to movie one. Everything was perfect. Genesis one and two, creation act one this first movement. Everything was great. Something was broken. We all feel it was broken. What are we going to do? Paul says God had a plan, and this is his plan right in front of us, and this is what I mean. You've probably heard me say this before. This is what I mean when I say that Jesus lived the life that we all deserve, or that we lived the life that we all should have lived, and he died the death that we all deserve. Now Does that mean that I think that we should take all of you guys out and hang you up on a cross right now? No, that's not what I mean. But you can't read these words from Isaiah and Paul and look at the story, overarching story, and say that it's just okay to hurt people and do whatever you want and hurt creation and there be no consequences. It's just not that wrong needs to be made right. There needs to be this word justice. Something needs to be put back together that you broke. Remember there's a fracture in what used to be harmonious. And so Paul and all of these people are saying part of God's plan is by Jesus coming, and he lived that life that you should have lived. Anyone who has hurt anyone has not just hurt someone else physically, but you've caused damage spiritually. There's a spiritual realm, there's an unseen realm. There are multiple things going on beyond what our eyes can see. And so when you hurt someone else, it's not just bad because it hurts them that's awful enough, isn't it but it's bad because there are spiritual repercussions to that. It's bad because of that and as such, jesus dies the death we all deserve now, because justice would be dying for the things that we've done wrong. Justice and being made right would be getting rid of the ones who made it wrong to begin with. You don't wanna hurt people anymore. Remember, god could have just wiped us out to begin with, but he didn't. And at the same time, he doesn't just let the victim say, oh, you know, it's tough, that's tough. God is the God of justice. God is the God of making things right. God doesn't look away at the face of evil and pain and suffering and just say, oh well, he made it right for us and he also made it easy, because now we can walk in our salvation with Jesus. Paul's recounting of this gospel message serves as a reminder that the anchor of our faith is Jesus Jesus' life, death and his resurrection. We read in Romans 8, what? Now? There is no condemnation for those who belong in Christ Jesus. You're forgiven. The justice has been served. You're still gonna mess up and you're still gonna hurt people, but now forgiveness is widely available for you Because you belong to him. The power of the life-giving spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death, and we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to this purpose, to his purpose. Let me just point out in detail it doesn't say that God causes everything that happens to you. It says that everything that happens to you, god works together. So I can do something that hurts you, intentionally or unintentionally. God didn't have nothing to do with that, that was just Stephen behaving badly, but God can use what I have done for your good. Whatever has happened to you in the past maybe church people, not church people, a freak accident? Life has given you a tough hand. God didn't necessarily cause that, but he can make it work for your good. That's what he can do. And so we have the beginning everything is good. And then there's the fall. And then God makes Abraham a promise that this is gonna be good. Isaiah opens it up. We get Jesus life, death, resurrection. Paul is explaining that. This is where we are in the story, but let's skip ahead to Revelation, where we get to the end of the story and we read I heard a loud shout from the throne saying look, god's home is now among his people. He will live with them and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or sorrow, or crying or pain. All of these things are gone forever. There will be no more death, sorrow, crying or pain or sin. And if we're going back to the very first story, you see we get to the end of the story and what we see is that God didn't give up on you. As a matter of fact, god didn't give up on any of us. God doesn't even give up on creation. We're told that his throne comes here and that God is among his people. Once again, the story goes full circle at this point, except in the end, we all want to be there. Those of us who are, we want to be there. I don't know what that looks like pragmatically speaking. I don't think we're intended to. I don't know if we can handle it, but there's part of me that thinks we're going to have a sense of memory of all the pain, suffering and evil that existed in this world. There's going to be a sense of it Because we won't go back. We will choose God's will, we will know it and God's got to be able to help us. Because, if you're like me, even though you try, you come up short all of the time. This is full circle. Now let's get to the grown-up part. You didn't forget we're in a series called Mature Audiences Only, right? This was all the easy stuff. Let's get to the hard stuff. Let's get to the mature audience only content that I've prepared for you. Where we find ourselves in the story now is summed up really good by NT, right? He says in Scripture itself God's purpose is not just to save human beings, but to renew the whole world. This is the unfinished story in which readers of Scripture are invited to become actors in their own right. See, we're not at revelation yet we're. God renews everything and there's still pain and suffering and tears and fears in this world. Nt Wright says you know this Bible and all of these stories. You're kind of in here. You're before those last two chapters but you're after everything else. And he says he likens it to a play. I don't know if you've ever been in a play before, but usually when you're in a play you got a job to do. Maybe you're running sound, maybe you do lights, makeup costume. Nt Wright says you're like an actor and if you've ever done any acting, you know they give you lines to say, there are things to say, there are different places to walk, different. They call marks. Yeah, so there are different marks. We're going to go and stand right here, we're going to say that line, and there's other people we interact with in the play. But ultimately there's a purpose. Nobody has ever done a play and said there's no purpose, don't have fun, don't enjoy this, there's no, we're just doing this for no reason. But Wright says that is what it's like now. We live in this era of the mission of God. There is a purpose and you have a part to play in it. There's a part of not just saving yourself or finding salvation in God. But God now calls you forward. He says it wasn't just about you, it's about renewing something really good that I did, and so this is all about now being missionally effective as believers. We live in the era of mission. Paul's already written everything. We've got the book. It's published versus chapters, numbers comes in the box. We are now supposed to do something and there are things that hurt us as followers of Jesus and our emotional effectiveness. A couple of things. This claim we're letting a bunch of you off the hook. Right now. You're not sure about Jesus or following Jesus or who Jesus is. This next part's not intended for you. It just isn't Okay If you're again not sure. If you're just checking out Madison Church for the first time, watching or listening online, it's also not intended for you really. But as you're considering Jesus, here's my ask don't check out as you're considering Jesus and faith or as you're considering Madison Church. Listen to what I'm saying and ask if you think if all of Christianity would be better if we all did this. And if the answer is yes, keep considering Jesus and keep considering Madison Church. But for the rest of us you're a regular, you're a member at Madison Church. What hurts our emotional effectiveness? What hurts us in following Jesus? This is 100%. If you think I'm not talking about you, I'm talking about you. Let's just state that right now I'm talking about me also. Consumerism is number one. Our culture is very consumer driven and we have to recognize there's no escaping it. You are not above consumerism. I'm not above consumerism. Even the most minimalistic person in here today who does all of the things to be a minimalist. We are still consumer driven people. None of us are above the pole, but we can be aware of it and we can push back against it. And yes, some of you are great at pushing against consumerism, but consumerism hurts our missional effectiveness. What does consumerism look like in the church? Does the pastor talk, like the content, like really groundbreaking stuff, and you'd all say yes, of course. And is it presented in such a way that we could TED talk this and get 4 million views? Yes, absolutely. Just don't look at our YouTube views count. That's irrelevant. Is the kids program like Chuck E Cheese got saved upstairs? I mean silly string every week. Is it wild? Is it crazy? Is the band like Dan and Jeff up here, Is this like a Bon Jovi rager concert thing in the 80s? It's all about the consumerism and what can I get out of it? That's why I don't really like the word church shopping. I understand you got to do it. You're watching it, listening online, you're checking out other churches I get you got to do it. Don't just go to the first crazy cult you visit. Okay, check a few of them out, see what kind of stuff you like. I call it church surfing, though, trying to get away from that consumerism talk. When we're shopping, we're saying what do I get out of this? You see, when I bought a car, I wanted the heat package because Wisconsin winters are cold, I wanted those seat warmers. It was all about me and what I got out of it. Don't do that with a church. When it comes to the church, what's the opposite of consuming, contributing? So when you're looking for a church, you're considering Jesus. Look for a faith community that gives back, that talks about volunteering, that talks about giving and generosity and finances. And for those of us in the room, shake off the consumerism dust. Do something like that Like volunteering, like serving, like giving financially, like sharing about your faith, get beyond it and if something isn't quite the way you like it, be a part of a faith community that welcomes that and says how are you going to fix it? How can we come alongside you to help you fix it? Don't just be like, well, they don't have what I want. I guess we'll go to the next church, the next store. We've turned church. Here's another problem. We've turned church into an hour or two event per week. This is becoming less popular than it was before because people are just quitting the church altogether. They're not going to just show up because everyone else is showing up. So that's why I think church trend attendance is down. It's because who's forcing anyone to come to church anymore? We're not just going to do it. Nobody does it anymore if you're not into it. But our faith is supposed to be between Sundays. It's supposed to exist between Sundays. It's not just an hour a week where we come and we do the church thing and we read the Bible and we pray, and now we're off and then you know we're going to barely get through this week and we come to church again and we get revved up and we get through it. We barely get through another week. That's not at all how Jesus intended you to live the life that you have now Madison church. We've got to be a church where this is a recentering moment. This is a grounding moment, but this needs to be an empowering moment where you don't just get through next week but you conquer next week. That's what this needs to be. Or, for some of you, you've been conquered. You just need a place to heal. Well, we need a church that opens up healing between Sundays as well, not just an hour while we get here. The early church understood that better than any church has before, and since then We've turned faith into a single player sport. This is related to consumerism. We're very hyper individualized. What's my plan for reading the Bible? What's my personal prayer? Like life, like those, are important. You need to have an individual aspect to your faith. You won't get to have a great relationship with God because of the things I do. You got to take responsibility for your faith. With that being said, we need to pray with each other, out loud and around tables. You know, I've never done that before. Sounds scary, it is this horrifying. That's also really good. We need to read the Bible, not just by ourselves, but in groups like this and in midweek groups that we have. This is so important. It's in our bylaws that to be a member at Madison Church you have to be in a small group. That's how important it is. We could have chosen anything. We started the church, I started it. I could have picked any rules. I said small groups because faith is going to exist Between Sundays and will not be hyper individualized. You know, it's really cool about that. Going back to this idea of being a contributor, when you contribute at Madison Church, you volunteer or you give, you're contributing to something far bigger than yourself and something that you couldn't accomplish by yourself. I know generosity and money has become very private and we think, well, I'll be generous in my own private, siloed ways and look, there's an element in the New Testament of that. But the New Testament model is we're gonna share resources and together we're gonna do more together than we could do by ourselves. And so when we volunteer, it's not just the one off thing, guys. This is systematic restoration and transformation that's happening at Madison Church because of one another Another mistake that we make, and I'm wrapping it up, but information is not tantamount to spiritual maturity. Some of you know too much. I'm just gonna throw it out there. Some of you know you need to follow Jesus. Okay, well, like good job, you could pass more tests than I could pass. And your knowledge of the Bible and what Jesus said and what he did in the geography of the region, that's great. That does not mean you're spiritually mature. If it meant you were spiritually mature, jesus should have chosen 12 Pharisees to be his disciples because they knew more than anyone else, and Instead he chose ignorant and uneducated Fishermen to follow him. You see, knowing a whole bunch of stuff, that doesn't mean you're spiritually mature. It just means you know a lot of stuff. And so at Madison Church, we have designed almost everything we do to try to empower you to follow Jesus, not just individually, not just as a community, but as people who go out and actually do what Jesus said. Jesus didn't say come, learn a bunch of the things that I've said and you Know, no, be able to recite a bunch. He said follow me. And Discipleship literally translates better in English as apprentice. And what does an apprentice do? They follow someone along and they watch them work and they learn what they do. But then they got to do it while someone else watches them do it. Being an apprentice of Jesus is about doing. It's more about doing than learning. I'm not saying learning is not important let's keep learning together but doing is way more important. You know, we started this church 10 years ago in September. We're gonna have a big party this year. But 10 years ago and we started it not because Madison needed another church. I've never been convicted of that at all, never. Madison didn't need another church. There are mega churches in Madison and there are small churches in Madison. We have fast-growing churches in Madison and then we have slow-growing churches in Madison. Madison is home to politically conservative churches. If you want a politically conservative church, you can find one of those. We also have politically progressive and liberal churches. You can find one of those. If you're looking for something that is super traditional or liturgical, you can find that in the city. And if you're looking for a coffee shop where you guys are just gonna get together and discuss the Bible and that's gonna be your church, you can find that in this city as well. But why we came to Madison 10 years ago is that Megan and I Felt, and we continue to feel, and many of you continue to feel with us and have joined us on this mission since then that Madison needed our church, that Madison needed Madison church, a church that is focused on community, on Collaboration, a church that pushes against Individualism, even if it ruffles feathers, even if it's the reason that we don't grow big or we don't grow fast. But we're gonna stay faithful and dedicated to our ultimate goal that it's not about information acquisition, but helping people actually follow Jesus. We would contribute even when it hurt. We would contribute even when it hurt and our faith would be vibrant between Sundays. And if you've been coming for a year or two, dan mentioned there's been a lot of growth in the last two years. That's great. We're excited. This is awesome. We're about to turn 10 this year, which means for the last nine or eight years, a whole bunch of us have been doing this stuff. We're so glad that you're joining us. We need reinforcements and we're glad that you are here and now it's time to join. It's time to step up, it's time to step out. If you like Madison church and you're like, it feels kind of different, it feels kind of good. I just told you how we got here, like I don't know about that, that's how we got here. If you like the results and you like the Vision, then join us. For all the in-between stuff, the hard work, you can be a critical part of helping people find healing. It's the decision that you can make right now and today to take a step. It doesn't have to be a huge step, it doesn't have to be ten steps, but what does it look like to take a step in the direction of connecting people with God and each other through Madison church?