• Will Spink
    Senior Pastor
  • Rita Clardy
    Executive Assistant
  • Ron Clegg
    Assistant Pastor, Discipleship
  • Peter Render
    Assistant Pastor, Youth/Families
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    High-Life Assistant Director
  • Kim Delchamps
    Administrative Assistant
    High-Life/Children
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    Director of Children's Ministry
  • Sarah Niemitz
    Director of Community Development/Assimilation
  • Janice Crowson
    Director of Facilities/Office
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Express Grace Conference 2018


We are finishing up the holiday season where we celebrate the coming of the Son of God in human flesh.  What a glorious thing our God accomplished for us in the birth of Jesus.  Why did He come?  There are multiple reasons we could list, but the Gospel of John tells us that Jesus came into the darkness of our ignorance and our rebellion to make the Father known.  We were initially created to know God personally and intimately, but our sin disrupted that relationship to such an extent that it was irreparable from our side.  Help had to come from Heaven.  And it did in a most glorious way.  God Himself came in the incarnation of His Son, sending Jesus to be the bridge between the rebel creature and the Holy Creator.

The fact that we can return to the personal, intimate knowledge and relationship with our Creator is wonderful beyond imagination.  But it gets even better than that.  In John 17:20-21 Jesus prays this for us: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us.”  We are not just brought into acquaintance with God, but we are deeply united to Him just as He is united to the Son and to the Spirit.  We can know Him at a level that boggles the mind. We are loved with the same passion and joy as the Trinity loves one another. 

This is why the Father sent the Son into this dark world, to make the glory of God known once again.  What grace He has given to us who deserve only His curse!  Our sin gained for us the darkness, but in the love of God, we are shown grace that we might know Him intimately again, not as our condemning judge, but as our beloved Father. 

The implications for us in all of this are huge.  First, we are the recipients of a gift of grace that we cannot fully fathom in this life.  At best we can taste of the glory of our new position in Jesus.  But we are also given hope that one day we will know this reality in full. 

Jesus also says, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” ( John 17:18). The “them” He is speaking of is us, those who would come after the Apostles and who believe their word.  Jesus was sent into the world that the Father might become known.  Now Jesus is sending us in the same way, to make the Father known.  That is our purpose and calling as believers in Jesus.  We are now ambassadors of the glory of God and the salvation accomplished for us through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.  We have no greater calling than to be the personal representatives of the Creator King of all things to those who remain in darkness. 

Sharing joyful news actually makes us more joyful.  When I was married, I invited many people into our joy to celebrate our wedding with us.  Sharing our joy actually enhanced our joy.  In Christ we now are blessed with news so much greater than a wedding.  We now are sent with the news that the darkness is broken and that the curse brought about by our sin is undone.  We are now sent just as Jesus was, joyfully to make the source of our joy known.

This is the idea behind the phrase “experience and express grace.”  Our mission as a church is that we might experience more deeply the extravagant grace given to us through Jesus, because that is the fountain of eternal joy.  Yet, that joy is not just for us.  We rejoice to make the source of our joy known to those who remain in the chains of sin and despair. 

This is also the idea behind our Express Grace Conference.  Its design is that your joy in God’s grace will be heightened, and that you will be encouraged to see that joy flow from you to a needy world.  This year we are focusing on our work in making God known through global missions.  We are involved in many places sharing the joy we know in Christ.  We will have several of our mission partners with us for our conference so that you might be encouraged at how Southwood is bringing the light of the knowledge of Christ to the world, and that you might find your place in the work of making the glory of God known around the world.