God’s Plan for a Canceled Year | Spark Talks Week 2

Canceled, isolated, quarantined, and shutdown. They’re words we’ve gotten used to hearing lately, and they’re also pretty good descriptors for how this year is going. It’s enough to make you wonder where God is in the midst of it all. Today Kyle Ranson, Ciara Harris, and Alex Harbin talk about finding God’s plan in the ruins of your own.

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    We've all been forced to pause, reset
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    and reclaim our futures in light of the chaos of 2020.
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    There's always darkness and adventure
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    when you're not sure where you're going.
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    Join us for Crossroads Weekend Spark Talks
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    and hear from people who will challenge you
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    with new ideas to ignite your life.
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    - Hey, welcome to Crossroads.
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    My name is Brian Tome, Senior Pastor.
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    It is great to be with you today.
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    This is a series called Spark that we do
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    pretty much every year for the last several years.
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    We're trying to spark and ignite new thoughts,
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    new ideas in you that could take your spiritual life,
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    could take your life to a new place.
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    Even though I'm kind of the senior guy around here,
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    I don't have to speak every week, because guess what?
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    I don't have all the best ideas.
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    And other people God is working in and through
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    have amazing things to tell us.
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    You're going to find that today.
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    We want to help you.
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    We want you to go on the adventure
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    that God wants you on, whatever that is.
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    And to do that, you're going to need His spark.
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    And we're trying to spark you today.
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    So let's get started.
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    - The lesson I've learned in 2020
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    is no matter how fast I run, I can't outrun trouble.
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    2020 turns out to be the year of trouble.
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    We've got big trouble all across our world.
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    We've got a nation deeply divided along political lines.
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    We've got the deep trouble of racism and injustice in our country.
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    And to top it all off, we have the trouble of a global pandemic,
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    which, whether you think it is nothing or the end of the world,
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    can we at least all agree it's brought a lot of trouble?
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    This is not what I had planned for the year, by the way.
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    My name is Kyle, one of the teaching pastors
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    here at Crossroads.
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    I lead our creative teams.
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    And this is not what I had planned for the year.
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    This wasn't to be the year of trouble.
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    It was to be the year of a great vacation.
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    It was going to be amazing.
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    I've been planning it since last year:
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    an all inclusive no kids trip to the Caribbean
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    with my wife and some of our friends.
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    It was going to be absolutely incredible.
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    Then the pandemic hit and shut the whole thing down,
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    can't even go there, and not happening.
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    And get this, I don't know if you know this,
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    but you can pay for a vacation online in four seconds,
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    but the company says it's going to take
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    four months to get my money back,
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    which means I needed a different vacation plan,
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    one that was free.
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    So I called my parents, who happen to live near the beach,
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    and I said, "Hey, Mom and Dad, can come to your house?"
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    They said, yes, which is great.
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    Mom and Dad, thank you so much.
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    Also, just here's a little thing,
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    a week at your parents' house is not quite the same
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    as a weekend all inclusive with no kids in the Caribbean.
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    It's a little bit different.
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    It was not the year of the great vacation.
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    Still, my wife and I were like,
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    "Not the great vacation.
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    Let's make it the year of the pretty OK vacation day."
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    My parents said we could have a day alone,
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    just the two of us to go out.
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    The day comes, we're very excited.
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    Get in the car, we drive,
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    we go to our favorite restaurant
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    on the whole entire island where they live.
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    We pull up and there's this handwritten sign on the door.
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    It says, "Closed indefinitely
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    due to COVID outbreak among employees."
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    We're like, "Oh, no, that is bad, but fine."
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    You know, we know the verse suffering produces perseverance;
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    perseverance, character, hope,we're going to get to hope here.
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    We're going to maintain hope.
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    And so we go to our second favorite restaurant.
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    We get there, same sign's on the door.
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    Go to our third favorite restaurant, same sign's on the door.
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    Go to our fourth favorite restaurant, same sign's on the door.
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    Shake it off, it's fine.
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    We'll just go to the beach.
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    We'll have a great day at the beach.
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    We'll just forget the restaurants.
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    We'll have a great day at the beach.
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    So we get to the beach. It's crowded.
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    We want peace and quiet, so we see a spot way in the distance.
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    We start hiking.
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    We get all of our crap, the cooler, and the beach chairs
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    and the towels and all that stuff.
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    We are hiking down the beach.
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    I can't even emphasize how far we walk.
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    Incredibly far down the beach.
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    Sit down, pull out my Kindle, start reading
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    and I'm in heaven. It's amazing.
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    And what feels like ten minutes later I look up
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    and coming across the sea is a great gray storm cloud,
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    like an intergalactic star destroyer.
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    And it's heading straight towards my chair.
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    It starts to whip rain at us before we can even move.
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    It's like bullets coming.
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    It's like Aroldis Chapman fastballs
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    just rain and wind whipping up the sand
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    and stinging places you didn't know sand could even sting.
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    It was horrible and it was awful.
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    Umbrellas are flying across the beach
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    where I assume they went to the ocean
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    and probably stabbed dolphins to death
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    because that's what happens in 2020.
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    It's the year of trouble.
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    The question is: what do you do when trouble comes your way?
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    There's really only three options how to handle trouble
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    and you probably default to one of them.
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    The first option is the ignore option.
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    Option A, you ignore the trouble.
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    You diminish it, you dismiss it.
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    You pretend it's not real.
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    You're going to shove it aside.
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    I did this once in my life with my teeth.
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    See, I'm a logical, educated person.
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    I understand that dental hygiene is important.
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    Still, I decided to ignore the trouble of teeth
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    that kind of hurt and gums that were a little sore.
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    And I didn't go to the dentist for ten years.
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    Children do not be like me, it's a bad idea. Bad idea.
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    As it turns out, when you ignore a problem,
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    it does not magically disappear; it methodically gets worse.
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    By the time I got to the dentist,
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    I had a little thing called periodontal disease,
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    which is basically bacteria that eats away your jaw bone
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    until you have no more jaw bone and no more teeth.
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    Which is all for I had to sit in a dentist chair
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    for an hour while they literally peeled my gums off my teeth
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    and power washed underneath of them.
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    Like you, like what you did last Saturday.
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    You rented that thing at Home Depot,
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    you power washed your deck,
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    it was just like that just for an hour, twice.
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    It was terrible.
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    When you ignore a problem, it doesn't get better.
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    Still, some of us fall into this trap
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    when we experience trouble in our lives.
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    We go with the ignore it route.
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    Maybe this is where you are.
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    Maybe you've been ignoring the trouble
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    of your stalled out career.
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    Maybe you've been ignoring the trouble
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    of your weight gain over the course
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    of the last four months in quarantine.
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    Maybe you've been ignoring the trouble in your marriage.
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    Or you've been ignoring the trouble in your finances,
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    in your debt.
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    Maybe you've been ignoring the trouble
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    of your addiction, of your anger.
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    Friends, it will not magically disappear;
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    it will methodically get worse.
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    Now there's a second option for what to do
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    when trouble comes your way.
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    Option B in many ways, is the opposite of option A.
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    In option B, you don't ignore the trouble.
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    Instead, you obsess over the trouble.
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    You just look at the trouble.
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    You read every article, every news story, every everything.
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    You think about all day long.
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    You bring it so close
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    that it completely blocks your field of view.
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    The problem here is you lose all sense of scale.
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    Take your fingers like this, just pinch them like this.
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    Remember this game used to play in elementary school,
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    Just do that right now, turn to the person next to you
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    and go, "I crush your head, I crush you, I crush you."
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    Now, what looks in your field of view
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    is that your fingers are so large,
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    they are so powerfully devastating
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    that nothing can possibly stop them.
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    Is that true?
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    No, of course not. It's not true.
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    The same is true of trouble.
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    If you pull trouble so close to you
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    that it completely blocks your field of view,
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    you will lose all sense of scale
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    and you will think that trouble is bigger
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    and more indestructible than it actually is.
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    You focus all your attention on trouble,
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    you'll do the only logical thing.
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    If you see it this big and this mighty
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    and this inconquerable, you'll do the only logical thing,
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    you'll give up. You'll give up.
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    You'll lose all hope, not just for right now,
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    but for the future.
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    You'll believe that the trouble isn't just for right now.
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    The trouble isn't just is, it is and always will be.
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    You'll give up.
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    I wonder if this is what you've done with the trouble in your life.
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    I wonder if you've pulled the trouble so close to you
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    that you can't see anything else and you've given up.
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    Maybe you've pulled the trouble of your physical health
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    so close to you that you've given up hope
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    of ever living pain and medication free.
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    Maybe you've pulled the trouble of your stalled out career
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    so close to your face. It's so painful.
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    And you just decided, "I'm never going to catch a break.
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    Never going to happen for me. It's over."
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    Maybe you've pulled the trouble and the disappointment
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    of the loss of your loved ones so close to you
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    that it's blocked your view from ever seeing
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    that there could be a good God.
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    Now there's a third option for how to deal with trouble.
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    It's the Jesus option.
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    Surprise! You're in church, there's a Jesus option.
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    Yes, it's the very best one.
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    It's a two part process.
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    Part one of the process is that you acknowledge the trouble.
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    You don't diminish the trouble,
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    you don't ignore the trouble,
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    and you also don't inflate the trouble.
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    You don't obsess over the trouble.
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    You look it honestly in the eye for what it is,
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    sober mindedly, candidly.
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    You say, "This is trouble. This is not good.
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    This is unlikely to change quickly."
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    There's a part two, you also acknowledge
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    and believe in the power of a good God
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    who promises victory in your life.
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    You say, "This trouble is real, but this trouble is not forever."
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    Jesus put it this way in John 16:33. He said:
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    "In this world, you will have trouble."
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    That's part one.
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    "But take heart," part two, "I have overcome the world."
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    Yes, there will be trouble,
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    but ultimate victory is coming your way.
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    It may not be exactly the way you want it.
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    It may not be exactly when you want it.
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    But the story isn't over.
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    The story does not end here. It doesn't end now.
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    The story extends into eternity
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    and you can hope for redemption and victory.
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    Now, I believe for Crossroads there is trouble.
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    Just look at the global pandemic we're in.
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    Can we just all understand and agree
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    it's not great for a church to close its doors
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    for as long as we have to?
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    We think it's the right decision.
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    We think it's a good decision.
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    We think it's a responsible decision.
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    And also, it's not great. It's trouble.
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    And it would be wrong of us to diminish it
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    or ignore it or pretend it doesn't exist.
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    It would be wrong of us also to say
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    that this is going to completely destroy us,
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    because that's not true, either one.
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    The trouble is real and the victory is real too.
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    See, I wholeheartedly believe the trouble
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    we're experiencing right now as a church, as a community
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    is not the end of the story.
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    In fact, I believe there's a day coming
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    when future generations will look back on right now
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    and the way that we pivoted, the way that we innovated,
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    the way that we continue to care for each other
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    through crisis, and they'll say, "That's it.
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    That was the moment.
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    That was the moment the tide turned
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    and our nation started to go back to God."
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    That's what I believe.
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    I think about my personal life.
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    I've got trouble in my personal life the same as you do.
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    I've got a child who we're pretty sure has ADHD.
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    My wife and I Sarah, we're choosing not to ignore the trouble
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    and we're also not bringing it so close it obscures our view.
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    Rather, we're believing what Jesus said,
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    "We'll have trouble, but take heart,I've overcome the world."
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    So we're learning. We're learning about the trouble.
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    We're embracing the challenges,
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    but we're not believing this is doomsday for our son.
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    We're believing this is simply a step on the path
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    to his destiny, the good one that God has created for him.
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    You know, personally, in my marriage, we have trouble.
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    We had three kids in three years.
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    Listen, if you ever think to yourself,
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    "How could I take my married sex life?"
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    Do that, have three kids in three years.
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    Because you know what you won't have time for?
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    Yeah, exactly.
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    But rather than give up, rather than go,
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    "This is never going to get good,"
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    or that this is never going to change.
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    Rather than ignore the problem,
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    ignoring the uncomfortable, difficult conversations,
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    Sarah and I are saying, "No, let's step into it.
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    Let's acknowledge there's trouble,
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    but let's believe that the best intimacy in our marriage
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    isn't what happened before kids.
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    It's what to happen after kids,
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    Don't knock on the door, kids, by the way,
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    just leave us alone.
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    What about you?
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    What if you took the third option when trouble came your way?
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    So this trouble is real,
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    this trouble is not small
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    and this trouble will not win.
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    There is victory for me.
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    What if years from now your family could look back
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    on what you did right now in this season
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    and they could say, "That was it. That was the moment.
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    That was the moment our family went
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    from completely dysfunctional to amazingly dependable.
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    That was the moment our family went from languishing
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    to loving."
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    What if you could look back years from now in your own life
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    and you could say, "That was the moment right there.
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    That was the moment my career started to turn around."
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    What if you could look back right now on this moment
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    and the way that you interact with God
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    and you could say, "That was the moment,
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    the moment I confronted the real trouble
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    of my pain, my grief, my disappointment,
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    of the loss of my loved one,
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    but I chose to believe the story wasn't over,
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    that there was a good God."
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    And that while it may not come today, victory is on the way.
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    John 16:33; "In this world, you will have trouble,
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    but take heart, I have overcome the world."
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    - I hope something is sparking inside of you so far today.
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    Generosity is one of the things that God sparks
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    inside of us who want to be more like Him and be generous.
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    Crossroads a tithing church.
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    If you want to be a giver or grow to that,
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    you can go to Crossroads.net/give.
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    You know, a few weeks ago we had another giving opportunity,
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    which I'm really excited about.
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    I want to make sure that you're in on
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    or at least you're aware of it.
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    We are partners with Compassion International.
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    We've had thousands of people come alongside
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    and have a direct one to one relationship
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    with a child in a third world country to feed
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    and educate them for their entire childhood for $38 a month.
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    If you missed out on that or you're still considering it,
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    hey, come on, chop chop. You can still do that.
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    Spark something in your life.
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    Spark something in somebody else's life.
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    You can go to Crossroads.net/compassion.
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    It's good to be used by God.
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    And here's some examples of what's happening with us and Compassion.
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    - The Crossroads community partners
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    with Compassion International in Nicaragua and Bolivia.
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    Compassion has been working for more than 65 years
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    to provide impoverished children
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    with a strong opportunity to overcome poverty.
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    For $38 a month children are given a real chance to succeed.
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    Not only does that money go towards a child's food
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    and educational needs, but it also leads to lifelong
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    relationships between the children and their sponsors.
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    - Hello. God bless you, esteemed sponsor Bill Vasquez.
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    - Hello, and God bless you. How are you?
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    I'm really glad to write this letter.
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    - I'm grateful to God for putting in your heart
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    the desire of sponsoring me.
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    - I want to tell you about my promotion to preschool.
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    - My school teachers name is Nyla,
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    and she has taught me to read, to write and to pronounce words.
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    - I participated in a parade in September at my school.
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    - I'm on vacation this week and I'll soon start preschool.
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    - I'm happy because I passed my school year.
  • 00:16:34
    I got good grades and I'm on vacation.
  • 00:16:37
    - Last week I had an exam in my school
  • 00:16:39
    and I got a 60 out of 60.
  • 00:16:41
    With God's help, we can do everything.
  • 00:16:44
    - I am learning to pray and drawing the project.
  • 00:16:47
    - I like to see the photos of your grandchildren
  • 00:16:50
    that you enclosed.
  • 00:16:51
    - I also like the letters that you sent me.
  • 00:16:53
    - I ask you to pray for God to guide my family.
  • 00:16:56
    - I ask you to pray for my grandmother because she is sick.
  • 00:16:59
    - And I ask that you pray for my mother.
  • 00:17:01
    - You are always in my prayers.
  • 00:17:03
    - And I will be praying for you and your family.
  • 00:17:06
    - I will always remember the beautiful moment when I met you.
  • 00:17:09
    - Goodbye with love and affection, Irvin.
  • 00:17:11
    - God bless you, Alexander and family.
  • 00:17:13
    - With much love, Maykes.
  • 00:17:15
    - Goodbye with a strong hug.
  • 00:17:20
    - I sponsor Lydia. She is six years old.
  • 00:17:24
    She reminds me of my daughter, they're around the same age.
  • 00:17:28
    And they're just so happy.
  • 00:17:30
    It just brings joy to my life.
  • 00:17:32
    - She was just a beautiful little girl.
  • 00:17:35
    I just can't imagine somebody not being able to help her.
  • 00:17:39
    And I'm just so thankful that it's Laurie and I.
  • 00:18:06
    - My name is Ciara Elisse Harris.
  • 00:18:09
    And I have not sat down and lived in one place for two years.
  • 00:18:14
    I'm an actor on the first national tour of Dear Evan Hanson.
  • 00:18:18
    And for the past two years,
  • 00:18:20
    I have been traveling the country performing with the show.
  • 00:18:24
    So you can imagine how this new way of life felt for me.
  • 00:18:28
    I couldn't believe that finally, after all this time,
  • 00:18:32
    I was going to get to unpack.
  • 00:18:34
    I wasn't thinking about not being able to go to work
  • 00:18:36
    or not seeing my friends
  • 00:18:37
    or the fact that I'd be moving back in with my parents.
  • 00:18:41
    All I was thinking about was
  • 00:18:42
    how I finally got the chance to rest.
  • 00:18:46
    So it didn't hit me until week three
  • 00:18:49
    when I realized what I was actually asking for.
  • 00:18:52
    Now I am a routine person.
  • 00:18:55
    I spent the past two years of my life with the mindset
  • 00:18:58
    of what can I do today
  • 00:19:00
    before I have to be at the theater tonight?
  • 00:19:02
    Which meant a lot of planning
  • 00:19:03
    and making use of my time every single day.
  • 00:19:07
    But with quarantine, the question became,
  • 00:19:09
    how many things can I do today
  • 00:19:10
    before I end up on the couch and it feels justifiable?
  • 00:19:15
    Before this, I had a plan.
  • 00:19:17
    I was going to finish the tour, move to New York,
  • 00:19:20
    finally have a designated grocery store
  • 00:19:22
    and audition for Broadway.
  • 00:19:25
    But since there was no plan to work towards,
  • 00:19:27
    I felt purposeless.
  • 00:19:30
    I didn't know what God wanted me to do
  • 00:19:31
    and I felt like everything I was supposed to do
  • 00:19:34
    had been taken from me.
  • 00:19:36
    Then on top of all of this, everything shuts down:
  • 00:19:40
    live events, concerts, sports games,
  • 00:19:42
    everything until further notice.
  • 00:19:45
    So while I'm stuck at home trying to make Zoom my new normal
  • 00:19:49
    and find something positive on the news,
  • 00:19:52
    I come across this article that says:
  • 00:19:55
    the arts are not essential.
  • 00:19:58
    But listen, this is nothing new.
  • 00:20:01
    I went to college and got my BFA degree
  • 00:20:03
    at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.
  • 00:20:07
    Here's the difference between
  • 00:20:08
    telling someone you're going to school for theater
  • 00:20:10
    and telling someone you're going to school to be a doctor.
  • 00:20:12
    If you tell someone you're going to school to be a doctor,
  • 00:20:15
    the response is usually like, "Wow, that's incredible.
  • 00:20:18
    You're going to be so successful and set for life."
  • 00:20:22
    But if you tell someone you're going to school for theater,
  • 00:20:25
    the response is usually like,
  • 00:20:27
    "Oh, what's your survival job going to be?
  • 00:20:31
    Do you have a backup plan?
  • 00:20:33
    Will you be able to eat?"
  • 00:20:36
    In our culture, being an artist is perceived
  • 00:20:38
    as this struggling, broke, hanging by a thread person
  • 00:20:41
    who's been making all these sacrifices to pursue a career,
  • 00:20:45
    which I can't imagine is that much different
  • 00:20:47
    than going to med school.
  • 00:20:48
    But regardless of getting an education,
  • 00:20:51
    regardless of talent, people are more concerned
  • 00:20:54
    with whether or not you'll make money.
  • 00:20:56
    And so they end up devaluing what you do.
  • 00:20:58
    So when people binge things on Netflix
  • 00:21:01
    or download their favorite singer's new album
  • 00:21:04
    or hang a beautiful piece of art in their home,
  • 00:21:06
    they forget that there is a living, breathing human
  • 00:21:09
    behind that piece of art they are consuming
  • 00:21:11
    who is incredibly passionate about what they do
  • 00:21:14
    and clearly successful too,
  • 00:21:16
    regardless of how often you find them talking to themselves.
  • 00:21:20
    And when you go to the theater and you see a piece on stage
  • 00:21:23
    that has characters that look like you,
  • 00:21:25
    have the same anxiety as you
  • 00:21:27
    or fell in love with someone who didn't love them back
  • 00:21:30
    just like you, there is a healing that takes place.
  • 00:21:34
    It's important to see stories written
  • 00:21:36
    about the human experience because that makes us realize
  • 00:21:38
    we are a lot more alike than we think we are.
  • 00:21:41
    This detour 2020 has taken us on has proven
  • 00:21:46
    that the arts have been the most consumed thing
  • 00:21:49
    getting us through this time.
  • 00:21:50
    Benefit concert streamed online,
  • 00:21:52
    theater companies hosting play readings,
  • 00:21:54
    and of course, the surprise release of Hamilton on Disney+
  • 00:21:59
    so that all of us who have been trying to see the show
  • 00:22:01
    for the last two years can finally watch it
  • 00:22:04
    from the comfort of our own home.
  • 00:22:06
    I mean, can you imagine how much happiness
  • 00:22:09
    was spread around the world that night
  • 00:22:10
    brought to you by the very people pursuing a career in theater?
  • 00:22:16
    These moments have been monumental to people
  • 00:22:19
    trying to find a bit of light in this very difficult time.
  • 00:22:23
    With everything going on in this world,
  • 00:22:25
    it's easy to feel lost when you've lost your job
  • 00:22:28
    or your ability to do what you love
  • 00:22:30
    and feel passionate about, it can take a toll on you.
  • 00:22:34
    When I lost my job, I felt like I didn't know how to contribute.
  • 00:22:38
    I kept waiting for God to tell me how to take action,
  • 00:22:41
    how to move forward, how to find my purpose.
  • 00:22:45
    But what I was really doing was fighting His attempt
  • 00:22:47
    to tell me to just be where I was.
  • 00:22:51
    God was saying, "I know it looks like
  • 00:22:53
    you're even further away from what you really wanted,
  • 00:22:55
    but just be here and see what you can find."
  • 00:23:00
    If you have faith that God has you here for a reason,
  • 00:23:04
    then you can have hope in His plan for you.
  • 00:23:07
    And if I've learned anything during this time,
  • 00:23:09
    it's this: God's plan never looks the way you think it will,
  • 00:23:13
    and it never arrives in the time you think it will.
  • 00:23:16
    But it is always exactly what you never knew you needed.
  • 00:23:21
    Artists all around the world have been doing what they can
  • 00:23:23
    from where they are to bring people together,
  • 00:23:26
    hosting panels about the racial injustice in our country,
  • 00:23:30
    creating new songs about world peace,
  • 00:23:33
    collaborating with people from different backgrounds.
  • 00:23:35
    I thank God every day, that even without my job,
  • 00:23:38
    I can still use my voice as an artist
  • 00:23:40
    to talk about mental health, to encourage positivity,
  • 00:23:44
    and to spread healing to the world
  • 00:23:46
    by letting people know that they are not alone.
  • 00:23:50
    If I can do all of that from behind my computer screen,
  • 00:23:53
    there is nothing you can't set your mind to.
  • 00:23:56
    So if you are an actor who was just about to start your career
  • 00:24:00
    or a mom who was planning to use this time
  • 00:24:02
    to finally find yourself after your kids left the house
  • 00:24:06
    or someone who is about to take that trip
  • 00:24:08
    you've always dreamed of
  • 00:24:10
    or anyone who feels uncertain of their future,
  • 00:24:14
    just know this: you are still valuable.
  • 00:24:18
    And all this means is that God has other plans
  • 00:24:21
    to use you and bless you in your life.
  • 00:24:26
    So don't be afraid to start where you are
  • 00:24:28
    and do something right here, no matter how big,
  • 00:24:31
    no matter how small, no matter how essential.
  • 00:24:48
    - In a world that is often disconnected,
  • 00:24:52
    negative, and stifling, my team and I
  • 00:24:55
    have been on a mission to bring people together
  • 00:24:58
    where they can grow inside of a positive
  • 00:25:00
    and encouraging environment.
  • 00:25:02
    And on the afternoon of March 16th, 2020,
  • 00:25:05
    I received news that would make
  • 00:25:07
    an already challenging mission nearly impossible.
  • 00:25:11
    My name is Alex Harbin and I'm the founder
  • 00:25:13
    and operator of a gym in Cincinnati, Ohio,
  • 00:25:16
    called Iron Sharpens Iron.
  • 00:25:18
    And I get it, I get it.
  • 00:25:19
    When you hear me say gym, you already have an idea
  • 00:25:21
    of what it's like, a bunch of muscle bound bro
  • 00:25:23
    sitting around drinking protein shakes,
  • 00:25:26
    talking about hitting their macros and bench press PRs.
  • 00:25:29
    But I promise that's not us at all.
  • 00:25:32
    You see, we are a community of diverse individuals
  • 00:25:35
    from different racial, economical, occupational backgrounds.
  • 00:25:39
    We're all different ages, genders, races, shapes and sizes.
  • 00:25:44
    We don't all think the same. We don't look the same.
  • 00:25:46
    We don't even believe the same.
  • 00:25:47
    But we do all know that you can come as you are,
  • 00:25:51
    but you don't have to stay as you are.
  • 00:25:54
    You see the gym for many people
  • 00:25:56
    beyond Iron Sharpens Iron is a place of peace,
  • 00:25:59
    a place of stress relief.
  • 00:26:00
    For some, it's therapy.
  • 00:26:02
    For some it's an escape.
  • 00:26:03
    But for all of us, it's a place
  • 00:26:05
    where we can choose challenge and create change in our lives.
  • 00:26:09
    But what happens when challenge chooses you?
  • 00:26:14
    That's exactly the question I was faced with on March 16th
  • 00:26:18
    when I received orders that I had to shut my business down
  • 00:26:21
    with no return dating sight.
  • 00:26:24
    And I knew when I turned the lights off that day
  • 00:26:27
    at Iron Sharpens Iron, it may have been for the last time.
  • 00:26:31
    I, like many of us, upon receiving news of a shutdown,
  • 00:26:36
    began to experience a wide range of emotion.
  • 00:26:40
    I went from angry and confused
  • 00:26:42
    to moments of happiness and clarity.
  • 00:26:44
    I went from moments of discouragement
  • 00:26:47
    to moments of encouragement from doubt
  • 00:26:49
    to full certainty of what was to come.
  • 00:26:52
    If there was an emotion to be had, I was having it
  • 00:26:56
    all within about five minutes.
  • 00:26:59
    I felt like life was just happening to me,
  • 00:27:01
    like I was having this outer body experience.
  • 00:27:04
    It was like I was watching eight years of hard work
  • 00:27:08
    and building trust and rapport with the community,
  • 00:27:11
    thousands of lives impacted in a positive way
  • 00:27:15
    was all brought to a halt with no sign
  • 00:27:18
    of when it was going to be able to come back, if ever.
  • 00:27:21
    I felt helpless, I felt like I was at the mercy
  • 00:27:24
    of things completely out of my control.
  • 00:27:27
    But it was in that moment that I heard an invitation from God.
  • 00:27:31
    He said, "Commit to expansion."
  • 00:27:35
    Commit to expansion?
  • 00:27:37
    How am I supposed to do that? Everything is closed.
  • 00:27:40
    People aren't coming in, revenue's not coming in.
  • 00:27:43
    I've got a seven month old daughter
  • 00:27:45
    and a wife that are depending on me.
  • 00:27:47
    I have people that come to the gym.
  • 00:27:48
    I have people that work at the gym that are depending on that.
  • 00:27:51
    How do you expand when everything is being chopped down?
  • 00:27:55
    I didn't know how expansion would happen.
  • 00:27:59
    I just knew that that invitation from God
  • 00:28:02
    was a reminder that I still had a choice.
  • 00:28:07
    No matter what was happening in the world around me
  • 00:28:10
    or to me, God reminded me that I still had a choice
  • 00:28:14
    on how to respond and reacted to those things,
  • 00:28:18
    and I still had a mission.
  • 00:28:20
    And going back to that mission
  • 00:28:22
    brought me clarity on how to move forward.
  • 00:28:25
    I had to decide, were we still on mission
  • 00:28:28
    or was it time to abandon ship?
  • 00:28:30
    Could we still bring people together?
  • 00:28:32
    Could we still help them grow?
  • 00:28:34
    Could we create a positive and encouraging environment
  • 00:28:37
    even though we didn't have a physical space to do it in?
  • 00:28:40
    I chose to say yes to God's inviting
  • 00:28:43
    and within just a few short days,
  • 00:28:46
    we created a YouTube page where we uploaded workouts
  • 00:28:48
    for people to perform at home.
  • 00:28:50
    We began to lead live workouts through Zoom.
  • 00:28:53
    We even led one for Crossroads on Instagram live.
  • 00:28:57
    One night a week, people would show up
  • 00:28:58
    from all over the city of Cincinnati, the country,
  • 00:29:01
    and even the world to hear a few encouraging words
  • 00:29:04
    and to break a sweat together.
  • 00:29:06
    This was still a business,
  • 00:29:08
    remember we still had to generate income.
  • 00:29:11
    But another bold decision we made
  • 00:29:14
    was to give away all of these services.
  • 00:29:16
    Now I get it, giving away your services
  • 00:29:19
    isn't the best business plan.
  • 00:29:20
    But we were on a mission and we wanted
  • 00:29:22
    to increase positivity and we thought we could
  • 00:29:24
    do that more effectively through generosity.
  • 00:29:27
    And wouldn't you know it, people were generous right back
  • 00:29:29
    and still found a way to support us financially,
  • 00:29:32
    even though we didn't ask for it.
  • 00:29:35
    God invited me to commit to expansion
  • 00:29:38
    in a time where everything was shrinking back.
  • 00:29:41
    I didn't know how He would do it,
  • 00:29:43
    I just knew that His invite was the first reminder
  • 00:29:46
    that I still had a choice.
  • 00:29:49
    Even though it felt like life was happening to me
  • 00:29:51
    and things were happening all around me,
  • 00:29:53
    God reminded me that I still had a choice
  • 00:29:57
    on how I responded and reacted to those things.
  • 00:30:00
    Over the past few months, I've never been more aware
  • 00:30:03
    of the sadness and the despair
  • 00:30:06
    that we experience in our world.
  • 00:30:08
    And yet at the same time, I've never been more aware
  • 00:30:12
    of the hope and the peace that we have in God.
  • 00:30:16
    And we have weathered the storm so far as a business.
  • 00:30:19
    And and I say so far, because the reality is
  • 00:30:23
    this is still a story that's unfolding.
  • 00:30:26
    Things seem to be changing by the minute.
  • 00:30:28
    But you know what's not changing is God.
  • 00:30:32
    God is still growing.
  • 00:30:33
    He's still expanding His kingdom
  • 00:30:36
    and He's still sending that invitation to all of us
  • 00:30:40
    that when we commit to God, we commit to expansion,
  • 00:30:45
    expansion of our faith, expansion of His grace,
  • 00:30:50
    expansion of His presence in our lives,
  • 00:30:53
    expansion of our reality that He is our ultimate provider
  • 00:30:56
    and not anything that we have in this world.
  • 00:31:00
    I don't know where you are in this whole thing,
  • 00:31:02
    but I do know this:
  • 00:31:03
    God is calling you to expand in something.
  • 00:31:11
    - Even though we don't always understand what God is doing,
  • 00:31:14
    we can choose to trust Him and engage in worship.
  • 00:31:17
    We can declare that we believe
  • 00:31:19
    that what He wants for us is good.
  • 00:41:16
    - I hope you were encouraged today or helped with something.
  • 00:41:19
    And if you want to interact with somebody more on this,
  • 00:41:22
    you can go to Crossroads.net
  • 00:41:23
    and we'll have somebody chat with you.
  • 00:41:25
    It's a real live person who would love to interact with you.
  • 00:41:28
    And if you'd like to get some more things
  • 00:41:30
    that could spark something inside of you,
  • 00:41:32
    you can go to sparktalks.net and look at our archive.
  • 00:41:37
    Thanks for being with us today.
  • 00:41:38
    We'll see you next week.
  • 00:41:40
    - Crossroads is a church that is about
  • 00:41:42
    more than just a video a week,
  • 00:41:44
    but we actually want to help you take the next step
  • 00:41:47
    in your spiritual adventure from anywhere you are right now.
  • 00:41:50
    I'm Lena and I'd love to get you connected to community.
  • 00:41:52
    And one of the ways to do that is
  • 00:41:54
    if you chat with us on the Crossroads website.
  • 00:41:56
    Just head to Crossroads.net
  • 00:41:58
    and click on the chat button and we'll chat with you soon.

Process, journal or discuss the themes of this article - here's a few questions to get the ball rolling...

Welcome to the Weekend Follow Up.

  1. 2020 has challenged us in so many ways, especially in travel. Share how you and your family adjusted your summer plans to still make the most of it.

  2. Read John 16:33. Jesus said, you will have trouble. Grab your floaties, we’re going to the deep end of the pool, but we’re together. What has your “trouble” of 2020 been?

  3. When trouble comes our way, we can choose how we respond. We ignore it, become obsessed with it, or we could run faster towards Jesus in the midst of it. Which of these is your natural response?

  4. Let’s go back to John 16:33. Jesus said, “that in me you may have peace—” Brainstorm what this can actually look like in your life today. Maybe it’s even a new opportunity when something looks like a closed door in front of you.

  5. We definitely have experienced a shake up in what may be certain for tomorrow. Take this time to pray for each other specifically in the areas each person shared today.

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If you want more ideas that spark something inside of you look at our archive here.

Live an adventurous life by giving someone else a lift through Compassion International, click here for more info.

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Aug 8, 2020 42 mins 20 sec

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