Connecting Point – September 20, 2023

This past Sunday at our Celebration Campuses we learned about the primary struggle we have to deal with in our lives. While we all have struggles from time to time with the Devil and devilish people around us, our primary struggle is with ourselves - with what the Bible calls our "flesh. " The "flesh" is our "sinful nature," our predisposition towards selfishness and sin.

It's that nature that makes us want to lie, to steal, to cheat, to hurt others, to deceive, to hoard, to overtly focus on our own personal physical, and emotional pleasure. And the truth is, we all (even the best of us) struggle with our "flesh" or "sinful nature" from time to time. Do you ever struggle with anger, anxiety, bitterness, a critical spirit, discouragement, envy, fear, frustration, greed, hurt, insecurity, jealousy, lust, meanness, narcissism, pride, rebelliousness, selfishness, or unforgiveness in your life? If you answered "yes" to any of the above, you struggle with your "flesh." We all do at times, but when we give in to that sinful nature that we've had all of our lives, it leaves us feeling frustrated and fatigued throughout much of our lives. By the way, it's also that "sinful nature" that causes us to get involved in "sinful activities. Paul wrote in Galatians 5:19-21, "When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these."

 "You will know the truth, and the truth
will set you free." John 8:32

The good news is that there is hope and help for grappling with and overcoming our "sinful nature." While we're grateful that Jesus came to forgive our sins, make it possible for us to become members of God's family, and have a future in heaven, He also came to free us from the struggles and strongholds caused by our "sinful nature" in our lives. Jesus said in John 8:32, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." And Paul wrote in Galatians 5:16, "Let the Holy Spirit guide your life. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves."

Another verse written by Paul in Romans 6:16, where he said, "Don't you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey?" This past Sunday in our CHOICES THAT LEAD TO CHANGE series, we learned why we oftentimes choose to give in to our "flesh" - why we choose to allow our "sinful nature" to dictate the attitudes, ambitions, actions, and relationships of our lives. If you weren't able to join us in person or online last Sunday, you can do so by going to www.celebrationchurch.org/change. You definitely want to catch that message, if you want to live a vibrant and victorious life rather than a defeated and discouraged life. And you will want to join us this coming Sunday as we learn how to "let God's Spirit" guide our lives and give us victory over the struggles and strongholds of our lives.

Our Recovery ministry at Celebration has helped lots of people overcome their struggles and strongholds - and this Thursday (September 21) we're going to be celebrating our 20th Anniversary of CELEBRATE RECOVERY. Over the years we've seen hundreds of people from all walks of life overcome their struggles with chemical dependency, co-dependency, grief, hurt, pornography, sexual abuse addiction, and all kinds of trauma through their involvement in Celebrate Recovery, a Christian-based 12-step recovery program. And this Thursday various Celebrate Recovery groups from our Church and other Churches are coming together for one big celebration at our Airline Drive Campus.

Beginning at 6:30 p.m. on September 21 (in our Celebration Activity Center), we'll have worship, fellowship, testimonies, and a brief explanation of what Celebrate Recovery is all about. And then our Guest Speaker will be Cheryl Baker, one of the co-founders of the Celebrate Recovery movement many years ago. And afterward, we will have a party celebrating what the Lord has done and is doing in people's lives through Celebrate Recovery over the past 20 years.

If you've been involved in Celebrate Recovery at any time, please plan to join us this Thursday. If you've been in some other type of Recovery ministry or program, plan to join us as well. And if you have friends or family members who need to experience some type of recovery in their lives, please bring them to this 20th Anniversary Celebration. And if you need some type of recovery yourself, you're always welcome to join us. My testimony and the testimony of thousands of others here at Celebration Church is that God is in the recovery and transformation business. You can learn more about Celebrate Recovery by going to www.celebrationchurch.org.

One upcoming event that you most certainly want to "save the date for" is our DIFFERENCE-MAKERS CONFERENCE scheduled for Saturday, October 7. On that date, we will be hosting the event at our Airline Drive Campus for Celebration leaders, future leaders, and members from all of our New Orleans Region Conferences for a great morning of worship, encouragement, equipping, and empowerment.

 Our special guests on that day will be Pastors Robert Barriger (from Peru), Steve Kern (from El Salvador), and Moses Odhiambo (from Kenya). Those great Christian leaders will be challenging us and training us to be great leaders in God's Kingdom. We will also have an interactive Missions Fair between two of the Conference sessions. Breakfast and snacks will be provided, as well as a great fellowship from our Celebration members. To register for the DIFFERENCE-MAKERS CONFERENCE on October 7, go to www.celebrationchurch.org. Don't miss this great day of teaching and training.

Pray for Vicki and I, Pastor Trevor Truitt, and our Celebration Mission Team that is serving the Lord and helping people this week down in Costa Rica. We actually have 3 Celebration Congregations in Costa Rica, and we've been involved over the years in training many Pastors and supporting many ministries in that nation. Costa Rica is characterized by beautiful landscapes and people, but the vast majority of their people have never experienced the transforming power of Jesus in their lives.
Pray that the Lord will grant us safety in our travels and ministry ventures and that many people will respond to our ministry while we're there. If you're interested in participating in future mission trips to Costa Rica or to other countries, go to www.celebrationchurch.org/missions.
Be sure to join us this Sunday (September 24) as we participate together in Communion, and as we continue our CHOICES THAT LEAD TO CHANGE Spiritual Growth emphasis. As I mentioned earlier, this week we're going to be learning how to "clean up our act" - how to really get victory over the struggles and strongholds of our lives. Plan to join us, and invite someone else who needs to experience some type of victory in their lives to come with you.
Remember, Jesus Changes Everything,
  
Pastor Dennis Watson
Lead Pastor, Celebration Church
dennisw@celebrationchurch.org
  dennis.watson.96
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