Postcards from the Edge | A Letter to Stuck People | Revelation 3:1-6 | Week 6

February 13, 2018
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"

The words from God to this nation were "keep going."  But they were words that were built on a story.  They weren't just said in a vacuum.  See, this nation of roughly 2,000 people found themselves in a valley, and they heard those words from God, but BEFORE that, they'd seen the hand of God.  It was God who'd led them out of 400 years of slavery into freedom, but he led them to this place where they were on this peninsula.  Water surrounding them on three sides.  Miraculously, the Red Sea parted and they walked through on dry ground.  But he didn't stop there.  Every morning when they woke up, there was a little bit of bread they called manna that was lying on the ground, just enough to get them through the day, and the next day it was there again.  Sometimes, quail came in, so they got a little meat in their diet, but not regularly.  They had just enough.  They were in the wilderness and walking through the desert and they had no water and God told Moses to hit a rock with a stick, and the rock turned into a well and water just started flowing from it.  They'd seen unbelievable things:  their clothes didn't wear out, their shoes stayed good, they saw God's gracious hand of provision all along the way.  He said to them, "Keep going.  Keep going.  You're out of slavery, you're in the desert, but I'm leading you to the Promised Land.  Don't stop here."  

They were sent to spy out this land.  A land that they found was flowing with milk and honey.  They brought back grapes for people to taste.  Evidently they were amazing grapes!  They said, "Yeah, there's milk and honey.  It's unbelievable!  It's wonderful!"  God said, "Keep going."  But they said, "There's also giants in the land."  I don't think you understand, God, or maybe you do, but we're sort of like grasshoppers and they're sort of BIG and if you really wanted us to keep going, you should have made us a little bit stronger.  So they stopped.  A people created for the Promised Land found wandering in the desert for 40 years.  Because God wouldn't force them to take that step.  He gave them every resource they needed; it was right in front of them and they said, "No, thank you."  People created for the vast horizon, for the expansive landscape, for the milk and honey of the Promised Land, SETTLED for the desert...."

Postcards from the Edge | A Letter to Apathetic People | Rev 2:18-29 | Week 5

February 6, 2018
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"Do we have any foodies in the house?  I've changed, dramatically, the way that I've been eating the last couple of months, but for some reason I've become addicted to watching travel food shows, where people go to other countries and eat what I can't eat right now.  My favorite new show is called "Somebody Feed Phil," about a guy named Phil Rosenthal, the creator of "Everybody Loves Raymond."  He travels around and experiences the cuisine from all of these different cities from around the world.  What's really interesting is that he bears a remarkable resemblance to an older Ryan Paulson.  {Shows picture}  

He (Phil) goes and explores all these different cultures and different foods.  I love that too.  If I'm traveling and I go to a city, the first thing I do when I get to my hotel is to open up my favorite app, which is YELP.  I look to see 'what is this city known for?'  A lot of larger cities are known for food or drink.  If I say Chicago, what comes to mind, food-wise?  Pizza.  Hot dogs.  New York?  Pizza.  Seattle?  Coffee.  Philly?  Philly cheese steaks.  Highlands Ranch?  {Laughter. . . . Chick-fil-a}  

Have you ever thought what your city was known for?  Have you ever thought about what your family was known for?  Have you ever thought about what your church was known for?  In the last several weeks, we've been in this series called "Postcards From the Edge," and we've been journeying through Revelations 2 and 3.  These are the seven letters to the seven churches from Jesus through John to the churches and to us.  We've been learning some real unique things about those cities.  Our hope isn't that we have just a bunch of knowledge about these cities, but that we could learn about the city and the church and figure out what does God want to say to the church at South today....?"

Postcards from the Edge | A Letter to Misdirected People | Revelation 2:12-17 | Week 4

February 2, 2018
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"

Over the Christmas and New Year holiday, my family and I had the chance to get away and we went up to a cabin in the mighty metropolis of Hot Sulfur Springs.  My whole family was there and we had a great time.  We had planned this pancake breakfast for New Year's Day.  There was no shortage of texts messages back and forth about the kind of pancakes we were going to eat.  Oatmeal pancakes.  Banana pancakes.  We got up on New Year's Day with sleep in our eyes and deprivation in our souls because we had stayed up past midnight.  We made the pancakes and were keeping them warm in the oven.  We started putting them out when someone in my family asks, "Did anybody bring the syrup?"  Here's the question: What do you do when you have a pancake breakfast prepared and you forget the syrup?  Here's three options:  1) You try to make syrup out of something else.  2) You don't eat the pancakes.  3) You eat the pancakes plain.  {Ryan has congregation discuss it.}   In my opinion, number three is the only non-option.  You CANNOT eat pancakes plain.  They taste disgusting!  You don't notice it when you put syrup on it, because syrup makes it all better.  It covers a multitude of sins.  The only reason we have pancakes is so that we can get syrup into our mouth!  

I want to talk to you about syrup this morning.  About the one thing that changes everything---with it everything falls into place and without it, nothing else matters.  Open your Bible to Revelation 2.   You'll remember that we're starting a series and journeying through the first few chapters of Revelation, where Jesus is writing, through the Apostle John, to specific churches in his day.  He's giving them encouragement, he's writing to the context that they're in uniquely, and he's got a word, both of commendation, of correction, of instruction for the churches he writes to.  Listen as he begins these letters with a letter to the church at Ephesus:  To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:  'The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.     Remember, last week we saw Jesus lifted up, we saw Jesus reigning above, we saw Jesus advocating for, and we saw Jesus walking among the churches, and John wants to reiterate that as he writes to the church at Ephesus......"

Postcards from the Edge | A Letter to Hurting People | Revelation 2:8-11 | Week 3

January 23, 2018
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"This Christmas I got my wife an Instant Pot.  It's a modern twist on the old pressure cooker.  It essentially works the same way----the top seals on there pretty tight.  Inside there are two things that happen:  heat that starts to buildup and steam that is released.  You can put in a whole frozen chicken and in three minutes it'll pop out to be dinner for you!  It's awesome!  Maybe not, don't try that at home.  It's a little nerve wracking with this 'bomb' you have in your kitchen.  We turn it on and my wife, Kelly, backs up, and all of the kids have their biking helmets on when she's cooking with it.  It's a little bit crazy.

I think sometimes life feels a little bit like an Instant Pot, doesn't it?  It presses in on us, and the heat gets turned up, and the steam gets released.  Sometimes in those seasons we have questions for each other, we have questions for God.  We ask God things like:  God, do you see?  God, do you care?  God, are you going to do anything?  God, in this situation that I'm walking through right now, what do you want me to do?  Sometimes the pressure situations can seem small......it's a child that won't behave, or the job situation that's not working out exactly the way you wanted it to.   But sometimes it feels like you're just in the thick of it and the temperature keeps going up and up and up and up.   The news from the doctor isn't good.  The relationship is falling apart.  It just feels like the pressure is just building.  What do we do in situations like that?  I sometimes think that as the Church, we're not good at talking about lament and grief.  Some seasons of life just aren't fun.  Can we admit that, even though we're in church?  Sometimes it feels like the pressure is just getting turned up...."

Postcards From the Edge | A Letter to Misdirected People | Revelation 2:1-7 | Week 2

January 16, 2018
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:

Over the Christmas and New Year holiday, my family and I had the chance to get away and we went up to a cabin in the mighty metropolis of Hot Sulfur Springs.  My whole family was there and we had a great time.  We had planned this pancake breakfast for New Year's Day.  There was no shortage of texts messages back and forth about the kind of pancakes we were going to eat.  Oatmeal pancakes.  Banana pancakes.  We got up on New Year's Day with sleep in our eyes and deprivation in our souls because we had stayed up past midnight.  We made the pancakes and were keeping them warm in the oven.  We started putting them out when someone in my family asks, "Did anybody bring the syrup?"  Here's the question: What do you do when you have a pancake breakfast prepared and you forget the syrup?  Here's three options:  1) You try to make syrup out of something else.  2) You don't eat the pancakes.  3) You eat the pancakes plain.  {Ryan has congregation discuss it.}   In my opinion, number three is the only non-option.  You CANNOT eat pancakes plain.  They taste disgusting!  You don't notice it when you put syrup on it, because syrup makes it all better.  It covers a multitude of sins.  The only reason we have pancakes is so that we can get syrup into our mouth!  

I want to talk to you about syrup this morning.  About the one thing that changes everything---with it everything falls into place and without it, nothing else matters.  Open your Bible to Revelation 2.   You'll remember that we're starting a series and journeying through the first few chapters of Revelation, where Jesus is writing, through the Apostle John, to specific churches in his day.  He's giving them encouragement, he's writing to the context that they're in uniquely, and he's got a word, both of commendation, of correction, of instruction for the churches he writes to.  Listen as he begins these letters with a letter to the church at Ephesus:  To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:  'The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.     Remember, last week we saw Jesus lifted up, we saw Jesus reigning above, we saw Jesus advocating for, and we saw Jesus walking among the churches, and John wants to reiterate that as he writes to the church at Ephesus....."

Postcards from the Edge | Upsizing | Revelation 1:1-20 | Week 1

January 9, 2018
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"The year was about AD 90, around two decades before the temple that stood in Jerusalem had been absolutely leveled.  Emperor Titus, along with his Roman army, came in and absolutely leveled the central spot of worship in Judaism.  In doing so, they started to remove even the very soul and heart of that religion.  They've never worshipped the same since that building was destroyed.  The Apostle John, at this point in time, is a friend of Jesus.  He's one of the only disciples still alive.  In fact, most people would say he's the ONLY disciple still alive, and he finds himself in exile.  He finds himself on this little island off the coast of what's now modern-day Turkey.  It's about 24 miles from the shore.  He's there as a prisoner of the empire of Rome.  Rome, in AD 90, is ruled by a man by the name of Domitian.  Domitian was the very first emperor that required that he was worshipped as both god and savior.  John refused to bow his knee.  Can you imagine standing before the emperor and being required to bow down to worship him as god?  John, this friend of Jesus, the one who cared for Jesus's mom after Jesus was crucified, risen . . . the one who leaned up against Jesus during the last supper meal he celebrated with his disciples. . . .this John.  This John refused to bow his knee.  Tradition says that Domitian got a pot of boiling oil and dumped it on the Apostle John to try to kill him.  It sort of backfired on him though.  The people there that were witnessing this 'murder' actually turned and started to follow Jesus because they saw that it didn't affect John in the way it should have.  Since he couldn't kill him, Domitian thought he'd put John on an island with other criminals....."

Advent | Comfort | Isaiah 40: 1-11 | Week 2

December 14, 2017
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"Turn with me to Isaiah 40.  We're journeying with the prophet Isaiah as he points us to the coming Christ, in this Advent season.  We're using lectionary passages, passages the church universal has decided on, in a given year, to lead us to the birth of Christ.  This Sunday's passage is Isaiah 40:1-11.  

As I was reviewing it on the plane back this week, I had an experience come back to mind.  I was a backpacking guide throughout my college years.  One night we were in the wilderness outside of Crested Butte.  There were high schoolers packed in next to me in our fly.  There was a sound out in the field.  It was a sound that could only be described as heinous and death!  If you've been in the wilderness at all, you know you hear everything.  There's some things you don't want to hear and that was one of those things.  I was lying there, packed in like a sardine and I hear a mauling going on in the field near me.  I snuck deeper in my sleeping bag, trying to give the aura of confidence to the high schoolers who were with me.  As I slid my feet down to the bottom of my bag, I encountered a little plastic bag that I had slid in there, and it had beef jerky in it.  I'm like, "I'm about to be the beef jerky!"  I said to everyone in my tent, "Hey, guys, good news-bad news.  Good news is you're going to get a snack.  Bad news is you might be a snack if you don't eat it quickly.  Hurry!"  I gave out the beef jerky because I did not want to get mauled by whatever I heard earlier.  

Wilderness can be a scary place, can't it?  If you spend much time out there, you know that you're at the mercy of the weather, you're at the mercy of the wild, you're at the mercy of the animals, and that can be a nerve-wracking place.  The Israelites knew a little about wilderness themselves.  They knew about the wilderness of being slaves in Egypt.  They did that wilderness for 400 years.  After they got out of that wilderness, they crossed through the Red Sea and wandered around in the wilderness for another 40 years.  It was during that season of wandering that the Israelites were solidified as a nation.  It was in that wilderness wandering that they grew to trust God, they grew to know God, and they were given the commands of God, solidifying them as a people and a nation....."

Advent | Presence (sermon from Africa) | Isaiah 64: 1-9 | Week 1

December 5, 2017
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"{Recorded at Denver International Airport on the way to Ivory Coast, Africa.  Ryan Paulson and Aaron Bjorklund went to help at a leaders' and pastors' conference.}

The English word 'advent' comes from the Latin word 'adventus.'  It means coming or visit.  It's a four-week season in the church calendar where churches all around the globe prepare for the birth of Christ.  It's a time that's epitomized by three postures of the soul.  One of those postures is intentional waiting.  We remember that there's a certain transcendent longing within us for something more, and we allow ourselves to hope.  The second posture is anticipating.  This emptiness that we sometimes feel in our soul?  We expect that God will come in and meet us and fill us.  Then there's this posture of preparation.  We take some inventory of our life, we take time to think and we invite the Spirit of God to work in us and move in us that we would become little bit different people, over the course of the next four weeks.  

No one really knows when the season of Advent started.  The church universal has been practicing it since 567, at least.  It was that year that a number of monks decided to undertake a season of fasting leading up to the birth of Christ.  Their practice of fasting was adopted by the church to eventually become the season we now know and celebrate as Advent...."

Dwell | Dialed In | 1 John 4:1-20 | Week 5

November 20, 2017
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Listen as Pastor Ryan Paulson continues in the Dwell series with "Dailed In" taking from 

1 John 4:1-20. 

Dwell | Our Great God and His Glorious Goal | 1 John 2:28-3:10 | Week 4

November 14, 2017
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Listen as Dr Wenig shares with us in week 4 in our Dwell series with his sermon "Our Great God and His Glorious Goal" taking from 1 John 2:28-3:10.

Dwell | Booths and Tables | 1 John 2:15-27 | Week 3

November 7, 2017
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"

The Israelite people were a people committed to memory.  They were committed to remembering the journey that they'd walked as a nation and as a people.  They had wired into the rhythm of their year certain mile-markers that they'd cross that were reminders for them....to not forget the story.  One of those mile-markers is called The Feast of Booths.  It would happen around late fall, every year.  The command came out of Leviticus 23:42-43.  You shall dwell in booths for seven days.  All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt:  I am the Lord your God.  Every year, an Israelite family would build a booth.  It was a temporary structure, one that they would decorate with some of the fruits of Palestine.  They would make these booths---they would call them tabernacles or, in Hebrew, Sukkot, which is the name of the festival or celebration.  They would take them into the wilderness and they would camp for a week.  And they would remember.  Remember when we were enslaved in Egypt and God miraculously brought us out.  Remember when He parted the Red Sea.  Remember when we walked through on dry ground.  Remember when He preserved us for forty years in the wilderness.  Remember.  

Can you imagine being a little kid with your family, your parents and your grandparents, and building a booth and going and putting it in the wilderness, and sitting around the fire and recounting the stories?  Telling of the faithfulness of God?  When I was growing up, my family and I did a few camping trips, not too many.  I can remember each of them.  I can remember sitting around a fire outside of Lake Tahoe.  My dad, with his guitar, taught us the song "It Only Takes a Spark to Get a Fire Going."  I was wondering, at the time, why it was taking us so long to get OUR fire going, but that's a whole other story!  I can remember it.  You have to think of yourselves as....back in their shoes....they were so committed.   These are going to be things that we pass down from generation to generation.  These are going to be stories that we tell.  We refuse---the nation of Israel said---we refuse to forget the faithfulness of God.  Because there's going to be times that it could happen.  There's going to be times when His provision in the desert seems like it's a really, really, really, long way off.  There's going to be times when it feels like we're running out of water in the parched land.  It's going to be these stories that preserve us....."

Dwell | Guarding the Goal | 1 John 2:3-14 | Week 2

October 31, 2017
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"

In 1918 the United States government finished the construction on Fort Knox.  Fort Knox is where you want to go if you're interested in stealing 5000 tons of gold.  It's the only place in the United States, or in the world, that you could do that.  But here's the problem---if you tried to break into Fort Knox, you would find that the sides have granite walls that are four feet thick.  This would prevent you from getting into the sides of the building.  If you say, okay, I will tunnel my way in.  I'll dig under, then dig up.  Good luck!   Down underneath it is a number of feet of concrete.  After you get through the concrete you have ten feet of granite that this building sits on.  Let's hypothetically say you made it in.  Once you got in, you'd find a vault.  The vault itself has a 22 ton door that blocks the way to get into that 5000 tons of gold that you're looking for.  If you say, "Well, I'm not going to break the door down, I'm just going to pick the lock."  You would need ten employees who work at Fort Knox, and each one of them have A portion of THE code that allows you to get into the door.  None of the others know the other parts of the code, they just know their own.  You need all ten parts of that code.  Let's say, hypothetically, that you actually made it into the vault, in order to get out, you would have to get passed the 30,000 military people who are stationed there.  Good luck!!  There's a reason why that at the beginning of the second World War most European nations stored their gold here.  The Magna Carta was stored there.  The Declaration of Independence was stored there.  The Crown Jewels from the United Kingdom were stored there. The vault is said to be atomic bomb proof. 

We protect the things that are important to us, don't we?  We guard the things that are important to us.  It's the reason that it takes an hour to get through the security line at the airport.  We guard the things that are important to us, don't we?  We put a hedge around them and we protect them.  Here's the thing, if you're a follower of Jesus this morning, the Scriptures are going to talk to us about guarding the things that are most important to us.  If you're not a follower of Christ this morning, you get to look in on what OUR Fort Knox should be as followers of Christ.  We've made it a lot of different things.  If you were to do a straw-poll --- What's the most important.....what's the thing we're suppose to guard above all else, as followers of Christ?  You'd probably hear....well, it's important for us to guard good theology.  Totally agree.  It's important for us to guard having the right world view.  Totally agree.  It's important for us to guard the religious liberties and the rights that we have.  I agree.  But it's not our Fort Knox.  It's not the thing that we're called to guard above all else.  If you want to find out what it is, open with me to 1 John 2....."

Dwell | Touching the Light | 1 John 1:1-2:2 | Week 1

October 24, 2017
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"

There are times when it's hard for us to believe that the authors of the Scriptures actually were real people.  That they lived real lives.  They had real struggles.  They had real joys and real successes.  The author of 1 John is a man by the name of John.  He was a real person who had some pretty unique experiences in his life.  He was one of the best friends of Jesus while Jesus walked the earth.  He was one of the twelve disciples, but he seemed to have been in the inner circle.  He had access to things that not everybody got access to.  The evening Jesus was betrayed, he had his disciples around the table.  They would sort of lounge, in those days.  John was the one who leaned right on Jesus.  Pause for a moment and imagine what that might have been like.  To smell Him.  To have Him rub up against you.  To hear Him laugh.  To hear Him chew (maybe with his mouth open).  John goes on to write in that same chapter of his gospel that he was the one that Jesus loved.  Evidently, the Apostle John and Jesus had a fairly unique and deep and meaningful friendship.  

In fact, it was John in John 19:26-27 who records the words of Jesus as Jesus hangs on the cross.  When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved {He's talking about himself here.}  standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!"  Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!"   Here's what's going on --- Jesus is hanging on the cross, dying for the sin of humanity and he looks down at his friend, he looks down at his mom and says, "Hey, John, from now on, you're taking care of my momma!"  John takes this seriously.  I almost expected to read, "Um, excuse me, could you repeat that?!"  What would somebody have to do to let their mom move into your house?  Probably die for you!  But even then, some of you are going, "Well, I'm not even sure I'd do it then."  But here's what John does:  And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.  From that moment on, John is caring for the mother of the Messiah.  Do you think he heard some stories?  Moms love to tell stories about their kids; if you think Mary was any different, you're wrong!  To hear the stories about what Jesus was like when he was a little kid.  To hear the stories about the way he frustrated her.  Can you imagine telling somebody, "Oh, that Jesus really frustrated me one time!"  Can you imagine what John has seen and what John has been through?  The fact that Jesus says, "Hey, John, will you care for my mom?" tells us something about the character of the person who's writing this letter...."

Freeway | Freedom | Luke 15:25-32 | Week 6

October 17, 2017
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"Over the last few weeks we've been living in the parable of the Prodigal Son that's found in Luke 15.  We're in our last message of this series that we've been doing.  Remember, a parable literally means 'to throw alongside of.'  In this parable, it's Jesus taking the story of a father and his two sons and he throws it alongside of the reality of the world we live in and the kingdom that Jesus came to inaugurate.  We said earlier that a parable presents a picture for us to climb up inside of and explore.  For us to ask questions about ourselves and about God.  It's a way for us to ask the question are we living in the way that Jesus created us to live and designed us live? Are there maybe some things that God would press on us to say, "You've pictured me in one way, but I'm different than you've ever imagined?"  Over the last four weeks, we've been exploring this through the angle of the younger son...."

Freeway | Acceptance | Luke 15:19-24 | Week 5

October 9, 2017
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Freeway | Acceptance | Luke 15:19-24 | Week 5

Freeway | Forgiveness | Luke 15:19-24 | Week 4

October 3, 2017
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Pastor Larry Boatright continues the Freeway Series, using Luke 15:19-24 to share about forgiveness.  

Freeway | Ownership | Luke 15: 17-20 | Week 3

September 26, 2017
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"Certainly we can relate to the feeling of pursuing freedom and finding ourself in cages.  That song (Cages) by NeedtoBreathe poignantly points that picture of the place we often find ourselves in.  It's the place that the prodigal son found himself in.  He believed he was on the pathway to freedom, but he found that he was actually on his way to confinement.  We're going to pick up that story again today.  If you have your Bible, turn with me to Luke 15..."