Summary: Judas first stole a few shekels and then made some more wrong choices until he was pulled deeper and deeper into depravity. Be careful about minimizing your sins because they may lead you to something even darker and more destructive.

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The month of February reminds me of my candidating weekend at Edgewood five years ago when you were checking me out and I was checking you out to see how God might be leading each of us. I think I preached at least five times, attended a number of groups and met with a ton of people. I still don’t know how I got through those sermons because the week before we came my computer crashed before I could print out my notes!

The number one reason I was interested in coming to Edgewood was your desire to grow in outreach to the community and to the continents, to your neighbors and to the nations. While we have more to do, I’m thrilled with how Edgewood’s reach is extending beyond our building and at the same time, how God is using our facility to reach boys and girls, teenagers, young adults and grown adults with the gospel. I’m looking forward to seeing how an expanded and renovated building can be leveraged for future intergenerational ministry impact. All this will involve change from what we’re used to, which is hard for some of us, but these changes will help us more fully live out our vision and mission.

I often get asked what my vision is for Edgewood. Simply put, I long for us to live on mission where God has placed us as we gather, grow, give and go with the gospel of Jesus Christ to our families, our neighbors, to our co-workers, our classmates, to the community and to the nations.

One of my greatest joys as one of your pastors is to watch how God uses His people as they live on mission for Christ in the community. Props to Pastor Dan and the Celebrate Recovery team for stepping up to help people in Rock Island County struggling with opioid addiction so they can get the treatment they need. The name of the program is the Safe Passage Initiative, which allows users to voluntarily bring in their drugs and paraphernalia to law enforcement without being arrested. Law enforcement will dispose of these items and get participants to a treatment or detox facility. When these individuals need transportation to Rockford or Chicago a servant from Celebrate Recovery will drive them there.

Lieutenant Jon De Loose from the Rock Island Sherriff’s department and Lieutenant Dan Knittle from the Rock Island Police Department (Dan and his wife Kit now attend Edgewood) are running point on this initiative as they have worked to find “Safe Passage Guides.”

Here’s a quote from the front page article in the Quad Cities Times on Wednesday – “Twelve volunteers from Edgewood Baptist Church in Rock Island have stepped up to make that happen, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.” Wednesday’s front page of the Dispatch/Argus contained this quote from Sheriff Bustos: “The initial cadre of volunteers is from Edgewood Baptist Church...” How cool to have Edgewood’s name come out of the Sheriff’s mouth!

Incidentally, there have been 64 opioid-related deaths in Rock Island County since 2011 and the number jumped from six in 2016 to 21 in 2017. Pastor Dan told me that he knows of 8 people that have had some connection with CR that overdosed and died this past year.

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