The frame I was trying to put around the story of Stephen was that of an unsung hero. But now that I think about it, I'm around unsung heroes at New Hope already. Our Child To Child girls came up during announcements and read a card that they received from LOVE146, and amazing ministry working to end slavery. The girls work so hard making crafts they sell for donations to our church family and are reminding us of "the least of these" every time they make an announcement about their next ministry they'll support. So thank you girls. You are heroes. And thank you New Hope for your support.
We began with "Blessed Assurance", moved to "Forever", and finished the worship music with "From the Inside Out." We're so blessed to have a group who love to praise and worship and love old and new.
From there we moved to the message.
The story of Stephen has so many applications for us.
- He steps from the shadows into service.
- He allows the Holy Spirit to direct his actions and his heart.
- He speaks truth to power, but with gentleness and respect when possible, and with directness and uncompromising truth when he must.
- He lifts Jesus high. This is never about Stephen, even though he's the one on trial. Stephen knows that and he makes sure everyone understands that.
- He gives his life away, forgiving those who take it, just like Jesus.
If you're surrendered, if you've given your life over, you never know when you might be called to be a hero.
"When you were born, you cried and everybody else was happy. The only question that matters is this - when you die, will YOU be happy when everybody else is crying?" — Tony Campolo