Do You See What I See?: What Is Most True About Me?

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As a community, we are diving into why we exist and where we think God is taking us. We are taking time to catch the same vision of what our community is about and asking, “Do you see what I see?" If you missed last week, I invite you to listen to the podcast and catch up. Last week, we looked at what is most true about God...that God is love. In this message, we are talking about what is most true about all of us and why that changes the way we see the entire world around us and how we move and act in the world. We're going to spend some time looking at the familiar section of scripture (Romans 8:35-39). What implications does this have for us as individuals and as First United? Lets see if we can all catch the vision together!

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Do You See What I See?: What Is Most True About God?

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Over the past two years, First United has gone through a renovation in many ways. Through emerging leadership, countless volunteer hours, and generous financial supporters, we've literally paved the way for newcomers to join this unique community where "no one belongs here more than you."

This Sunday is an important day in the life of our church. Pastor Sarah shares a vision statement that our Leadership Board has prayerfully developed as they collectively sense God's unique direction for First United. Our hope is that this series will further unify us as a church and inspire us to keep loving our community.

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Follow The Leader: A Leader Is a Catalyst

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If you grew up in the church you probably knew the story of Zacchaeus and the catchy song... “Zacchaeus was a wee little man.” His story can be so familiar that we miss out on its scandalous nature. A tax collector encounters Jesus and finds that there's room for him in the Kingdom of God. This is a powerful story about stepping away from comfort and toward something completely new! After having this powerful experience, Zacchaeus doesn’t just stay in the tree or even in his home. He becomes a force for good in the world. A real leader doesn’t just leave us where we are but is a catalyst for the Kingdom that has offered us grace. This story is almost too risky for us to have children sing about it! The story of Zacchaeus invites us to be fully seen and to become catalysts for change in the world.

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Follow The Leader: A Leader Helps Define Purpose

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This week, we continue our series on leadership as modeled by Jesus. As a reminder, Jesus shows us that good leadership is about seeing people based on their potential, not by the names they have given themselves or been given by others. Good leadership takes pain and transforms it into possibility. This week, Pastor Sarah Heath looks at the conversion story of Paul to see how a life lived in the way of Jesus requires us to move from what is comfortable, to what has the power to help many. Paul will learn there must be movement in his life after encountering Jesus. A good leader helps us see where we are is not where we should stay. Even if we don't think of ourselves as leaders, we are all being invited into something more!

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Follow The Leader: A Leader Knows Our Faults

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Have you ever realized you messed up and were afraid to address it with the person you wronged? Making mistakes is part of the human condition, and frequently, our reaction is to avoid dealing with it. Often, a hidden shame begins to grow and that shame can paralyze us from moving ahead in life and realizing our full potential. The right person (or leader) can help us move past our shame and move toward a more authentic life. This week, Pastor Sarah will look at a time when Jesus helped people address their own shame - empowering them to move forward in their own lives, while also impacting the lives of those around them.

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Follow The Leader: A Leader Restores Dignity and Identity

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Leadership development seems to be a buzz phrase lately. No matter your stage of life or type of work, you're probably being offered leadership development to help you become a better leader. From mentorship to apprenticeship, it seems like we're all looking to follow a good leader and become someone worth following ourselves. But, what is healthy leadership? If we say we follow Jesus as a leader, how does he teach us to be a good leader and follow healthy leaders as well? Join Pastor Sarah Heath over the next four week as we learn how Jesus leads by example, so we can become better leaders while also discerning who is worth following.

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Across The Room: A Conversation on Addiction

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With 12 years of sobriety, Chris Logan, CADC-II, ICADC, is the Program Supervisor at Simple Recovery, an intimate, client-centered licensed addiction treatment center that distinctively treats addiction and co-occurring disorders in Huntington Beach, California. His experience as both a counselor and case manager has equipped him with a uniquely powerful way to connect with each client. Chris oversees the residential and outpatient programming, providing one-on-one support to clients in early sobriety and overseeing the clinical programming at each facility.

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Across The Room: A Conversation on Human Trafficking

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Amber Davies, MSW, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been the Director of Clinical Programs at Saving Innocence since 2014. Amber began her career working in group homes and alongside law enforcement in a juvenile diversion program before becoming licensed in 2011. Her professional roles include a therapist for foster youth, a professor of social work education and Team Leader, managing teams both locally and in Australia. As a part of Saving Innocence, Amber oversees a team of advocates, trains front line responders, service providers, and foster/ resource families in the best practices of working with Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) and youth. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Westmont College, and a Master of Social Work degree from CSU, Long Beach.

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Across The Room: A Conversation on LGBTQIA Beyond Inclusion

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Justin Massey is a program associate for Equality California responsible for organizing Southern California Pride events and supporting the organization's healthcare, immigration and safe schools initiatives. Prior to joining Equality California, Justin worked as an independent political campaign consultant for local progressive candidates in Orange County. He is active in local politics and non-profit organizations including as a board member of the Orange County Young Democrats and an active partner of the LGBT Center OC. Justin graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science from Wheaton College in Illinois, where he came out, began his LGBTQ activism and started the first-ever LGBTQ student group at the school which was ranked in 2011 by the Princeton Review as the "#1 Least LGBTQ-Friendly Campus" in the nation.

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Across The Room: A Conversation on Immigration

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For years, we've been hearing about all the challenges with immigration in the United States. Most of us have little first-hand experience with what's happening at our borders, and that's why we are excited to hear from Rev. Dr. Bill Jenkins, founder of Christ Ministry Center, which has provided a "safe harbor" for over 6,000 refugees, immigrants, asylum seekers, migrants in detention, and families broken by deportation. Based in San Diego, his ministry has a working relationship with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) as they bring families in need to the ministry. He grew up in Mississippi during the 1960s Civil Rights Era, and he earned a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Delta State University, where he did his student teaching at an all African-American high school in the Mississippi Delta in 1969-70. This began a lifelong passion for social justice.

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Across The Room: A Conversation on Race

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Last Sunday, we learned that everyone has a story when it comes to the challenging topics of our day. Rather than metaphorically standing across the room and assuming what people think, our desire is to walk across the room to seek to understand the experiences of others. This Sunday, we have the opportunity to hear about the experiences of Pastor Cue Jn-Marie, pastor of The Row Church, a church without walls that gathers on Friday evenings on Skid Row in Los Angeles. For the past eighteen years, Cue has advocated for many of the most vulnerable in our society. Through an engaging conversation, our hope is that our minds and hearts will expand, and we'll be motivated by the love of Jesus to take action. 

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Across The Room: Everyone Has a Story

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Whether you're scrolling through social media or watching the evening news, it's easy to see that our nation is facing quite a few challenging issues such as race, immigration, LGBTQIA, human trafficking, and addiction. Unfortunately, many interactions with friends, family, and co-workers can be polarizing when these issues arise and ultimately leave us standing on two different sides of the room. What would it look like to walk across the room and learn their story as a way to begin a healthy conversation? Listen in as Pastor Sarah Heath and David Trotter we kick off a series of conversations! 

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After God's Own Heart: Nathan Restores David

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This Sunday, we end our summer series on the life of David - someone described in the Bible as being a man after God's own heart. After last week’s message on David’s actions toward Bathsheba, it's hard to see him in a positive or faithful light - much less someone running after God’s heart. This week, we see how God uses the prophet Nathan to call out David's behavior and how David still has something to teach us even as a flawed hero. His reaction to being called out and Nathan’s ability to hold fast to the unpopular truth can instruct us as we seek to be people “after God’s own heart”. Listen in as Pastor Sarah unpacks this difficult section of Scripture.

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After God's Own Heart: David and Jonathan

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People are designed to be in relationship with other people, and we need each other to help us navigate this sometimes difficult life. As we continue our summer series, Pastor Sarah shares on David's friendship with Jonathan. Scripture tells us that their souls were bound to each other. As we think about our own relationships, are there any we would describe as deep enough to be considered soul level? Listen in as we look at how friendship can be one of our greatest callings and how God uses friendship to continue the work of the Kingdom.

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After God's Own Heart: Being Prepared

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The story of David facing the mighty Goliath is known throughout our culture by those who grew up in the church and even by those who didn't. While we tend to think of it as an unlikely hero overcoming a large foe, we can also learn a great deal from David’s stance toward his own identity, not just the battle itself. In this message, Pastor Sarah shares how we can face our own giants and the giants that exist in our current culture.

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After God's Own Heart: David's Calling

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Awake, awake, Church, and clothe yourself with strength! God is calling each of us to rise up in courage while keeping the word ever before us, and remembering that our calling is to GO and DO GOOD. May we learn from David, a man after God's own heart, how to find strength in the wilderness and contentment in the waiting. May we rise and go knowing the One who goes with us. (Message by Abby Martin)

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Panic Attack: Fear of Being Alone

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In this message, we end our series on the fears that can overwhelm us and cause us to feel a sense of anxiety. Many of our fears, if we boil them down to their essence, are wrapped up in our fear of being alone or excluded. Scripture reminds us again and again that there is nowhere we can go from the presence of God. Pastor Sarah talks about how God’s presence can help tackle the feeling of being alone even when it feels like the divine is far away.

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Panic Attack: Fear of Failure

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As we continued in our series on fears, Rev. Nicole Reilley shared about the fear of failure by diving into the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. Although this was a high point in David's life, we were reminded of all his challenges including the loss of a best friend, the loss of a child, and his own inner demons and sin. Failure is a fact of life, but not a way of life. It is a reminder of our own humanity, and we have the opportunity to gain wisdom and compassion in the process. 

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Panic Attack: Fear of Death

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Last week, we began a series on the fears that can control our lives and lead to panic and anxiety. Fear is a good instinct when it keeps us safe, but when we live in constant fear, our mind exists in "fight or flight" mode making us incapable of living in the present. If unaddressed and unchecked, fear can become a general, unnamed, always-present anxiety. As we look at scripture, it is clear that this fear-based life can keep us from the shalom (a sense of wholeness) that God would desire for us.

As we discussed last week, there are times when anxiety is a medical issue, and this isn't the kind of fear we are talking about. Instead, we are talking about the daily fears that add up - often part of a bigger fear, perhaps our biggest fear, the fear of death. Not only do we fear physical death, but we also fear the death of relationships, death of jobs, death of independence, and many other smaller more subtle deaths. In this message, we look at the fear of death and the 1 Corinthians declaration that death has been swallowed up in victory.

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