Psalm 85 The Crossroad of Ugly and Grace

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Invitation: Attend to Intersections (Loving-kindness/faithfulness, Righteousness/peace)

You, LORD, showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger. 4 Restore us again, God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us. 5 Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations?6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your unfailing love, LORD, and grant us your salvation. I will listen to what God the LORD says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps. [NRSV]

Intersections

The hermeneutical point of every sermon is the crossroads of our story and the story of Jesus Christ.

In that regard, every sermon is basically the same message in the context of where we are and where we meet God’s grace in outlives.

Intersections are locations

We are at the crossroad of Peavine and 95 or (Rock Spring Drive)

From a public relations point of view, we need to lobby to have the section of road between the post office up to Catlett be renamed Rock Spring Drive instead of 95. Not only is part of the crossroad already named such, it connects with our church by that same name and the community’s name and if the Baptist have a road, we need to have a crossroads in the community with our name on it as well. Making known our presence in the context.

Intersections are where journey’s inter-mingle.

One of the great seasons for faith sharing is Christmas and even more in the season prior to Christmas. The Christmas pre-season begins November 1st. It is All Saints day and the day the Halloween items go on sale and the Santa sect celebration begins to unfold.

This season between November 1st and December 31st we are more likely to be in contact with more people, spending more resources, traveling to more over-lapping circles of opportunity. This freeze can’t be sustained for 365 days of a year, but it is important to know we are are in the prime of our year of opportunity for intersections.

Where our stories, lives, work, play, celebrations over-lap with other people and others cults and cultures we are more chances to share our faith with more people.

Intersections have the opportunity or congestion and conflict, and we don’t need to let that become our excuse to avoid the crowds, and thus, the greater opportunities.

So it’s time to use the non-Christ stories to intersect with your Christ stories.

As someone who is celebration Santa Clause to explain how Santa’s celebration gives us opportunities to share grace, 1. Giving gifts to people who deserve no gift. 2. Care for those who are forgotten or rescue or save those who are lost. 3.

The Ugly Sweater Crossroad

“That is the ugliest sweater I have ever seen.” A Conversation Starter. 

Partner Practice Time: Find your partner and take terms having these conversations:  Start with the sweater, transition to faith, share the Good News of CHRIST-mas!

  • In a world filled with signs and acts of ugly, it is a good thing we have a season to see the good beyond the surface.”
  • That is a crazy sweater. Where there are so many crazy things going on in our lives, it is good to have a reminder that God brings order out of chaos.
  • That is the most obnoxious sweater, it’s good news that God loves us even though we obnoxious ways.
  • That sweater is in bad taste, it reminds me that God’s word is sweet like honey.”
  • “That sweater is just sad.”
  • That sweater scares me,” Be not afraid, the angels told the shepherds that Jesus comes to bring hope to our frightened world.

Faith Sharing with a stranger can start from the common opportunity as ugly, crazy, obnoxious, bad, sad or scary place we might find ourselves, and THAT is confirmation of the Goodness of the Good News we share in Jesus’s name.

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Faith Sharing: The conversation shared

Wesley’s fear

I do not fear that the people called Methodist shall ever cease to exist in Europe and America. I only fear that they shall exist as a dead sect knowing the for, of religion, but not the power three of, and that undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast to the doctrine, disciplines and spirit with which they first set out.” (John Wesley 1786, age 83)

Wesley did not have a simple statement about accepting Christ, he being a preachers kid, professor, theologian and preacher offer a process of profession.

Salvation:

1. God has saved us in Christ

2. The point at which I know/feel/experience the effect of saving Grace (our professing/accepting Christ)

3. The point at which I become aware that the Holy Spirit is working to shape my life toward the life/hope Jesus has saved

4. Glimpses, moments and finally when I am made whole through Chris, by the Holy Spirit I to the person God graces us with to live.

Accepting what God has done for humanity

Accepting what God has done for me

Accepting God help in becoming the person a God

Living fully as the person God hope, dreams, calls me to be.

Beginning: Understanding our desperate need for Jesus and reaching the lost.

Christian faith is uniquely personal

If you ceased believing in Jesus at midnight how would tomorrow be different?

Most important thing to know about witnessing is: what is the Holy Spirit doing in your life right now.

What adjustments do you make daily between what the Holy Spirit. Reds/expects and what you do each day

Our Task: Evangelizing the Gospel

Living the Gospel in “word, deed and sign”

Three people in the Evangelism committee proposed they way the church should plan to “do evangelism” this year.

1: One wanted the Church to focus on physically embodying the love of Jesus by serving people around them and acting on issues of social justice.

2. The second said, “Anybody could be kind or good to others. Only the Spirit could do signs and wonders.” We must study, listen and wait for the Holy Spirit.

Liam also believed in the Holy Spirit. Who didn’t? And of course we 3. We must communicate Jesus clearly to everybody because serving and praying might not be clear to everyone in the community or even the church.

The obvious answer is to combine all three, word, deed, & sign

Living in expectant hope of the Holy Spirit

Frame, guide your daily life in the Spirit

Live in Prayer is preparation and conversation

Start prayer,

pray with others,

pray for other,

read the prayers of others

Sharing in first person what Jesus has done for you, and is doing

Invitational statements….

Clearly inviting others to encounter Jesus through you

Graceful faith Sharing

No law rules or formulas

Reality of what the spirit does to meet our needs

Example 1)

Start with someone who wants to know how to accept Jesus.

What would to tell someone who asked you, “What do I do to become a Christian?”

1. They bring it up directly,

2. They want simple, direct, clear instructions.

3. They want your personal instructions

First let us pray: “I thank you God for loving ana saving us. I praise you for the opportunity to share the gospel with <name> today. Guide my words and my heart by your love and grace.”

A. I believe God so loved the world that he gave his only child to save all people who believe in God, father son Holy Spirit. Do you. Believe this too?

B. I tell the church, my family and friends, that I believe Jesus’ saving work, has saved me, personally. Do you believe this for you.

C. I invited God’s Spirit, scriptures, and church to guide my life until Christ returns to take us to heaven. Do you believe this for your life?

D. We are both believers on the journey together. I want to thank God for Sharing your faith. Do you want to pray to say thank you too?

Follow up with introducing them to another believer and Co tire the conversation. Pray for those God entrusts to you.

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Starting our conversation on Faith Sharing (Bible verses from NRSV)

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Romans 5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

2 Corinthians 5:17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ —by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Acts 10:36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Luke 15. Lost sheep, lost coin, lost child (prodigal son/elder brother)

Faith Sharing: some practical How to-s

-It is: Role as announcer of the gospel, God will use us to reveal

-It is not: Sharing your faith, verse persuading your point, using your faith.

Simple starting point:

1. Starting: The best way to share your faith is to start sharing your faith.

2. What to say: When it is your story

-you don’t have to figure it out,

-it is authentic, real and genuine

3. Pray for people around you.

-Pray for neighbor, even if it’s for 10 seconds.

-Pray for them to be receptive, open, willing

Start thinking of yourself as announcer: practice- “attention ladies and gentlemen..”

-think of a ball game, see the actions. Tell what you see

be an announcer of the gospel, God will use us to reveal

Prayer is essential for each session of preparing

1. out pouring of the HS

2. a ew awakening by God’s church

3. the teachers and participants of the class

4. God’s grace to empower you to build relationships and share your faith

5. the world to come to know Jesus Christ

What exactly do I say? How to start?

-Begin with invitational statement

-“a send of a question within it and waits for an answers”

Example: Good weather today… That looks like a warm coat… “

TASK: Start the conversation

1. Start with a statement

2. Speak in the first person: I hope you are doing well today.

3. Know you only need one minute to get to the point

or nothing,.. either, lead to conversation of the next

-Fruit any homework: Most helpful, personal experience determined,

I hope you are doing well today.. 99 I get a smile, most people are not interested in cashiers.

TAKE ONE MINUTE

Practice the transition:

“It’s raining cats and dogs”

“Yes”

“Jesus said it (Matthew 5.45) rains on the good and the bad”

“So what”

“I find peace knowing Jesus care about me when it rains and when the sunshine’s”

A statement

A bible verse, faith observation, that introduces faith topic

A person statement I believe

The door is open

Prayer

Preparing

Announce the gospel message and wait on the Holy Spirit, and follow HS lead

Why share our faith?

Motivation

-Christ commanded, not suggested, maybe you should make disciples, nope, you shall

-Christ loves disciples, we are more willing to do something asked by someone who loves us.

-We know what is at stake for us and for those who do not know,

Some success stats

Why should we refresh / share our faith?

77% people become disciples through someone they trust

a year of trust building make be required to earn/build trust

we have to be plain and clear, we can no longer use Christina language

we can no longer depend solely on programs of the church

many people have difficulty building new relationships with new persons.

lots of people have no christian memory

Reasons we stop Sharing (of Church people)

-unaware of sin 1%

-indifferent to sin 16% they live as they want, self id as Xtn, but don’t care

-worried about sin 39% (have not moved on, still worried)

-Forgiven from sin 9% (unhappy members, unfulfilled

-39% Forgiving/Active in Church 24% of those 89% have stopped being transformed or refreshed

Churches historically have been teaching that when you become a member that’s it, your done

11% (Even to 11% need to step it up)

6% have a holy discountent (Know the core, but

3% broken by God ( God will make life good and easy)

1% surrendered / submitted (Do what you will)

0.5% have a profound love for God.

0.5% love for people. (Isnt this the greatest commandment ) love God and neighbor.

NO WONDER WE ARE NOT WITNESSING

Mentally/Spiritually Want to be BUILDING NEW relationship everywhere we go, example is Jesus not at other example

DAILY INITIATING ONE MINUTE CONVERSATIONS

endless

….more practice next week

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2 Corinthians 9:6-15 Faith Sharing: The Abundant Witness

5GenWitness

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! [NRSV]

Abundance

This text is often misused by many, including popular tv-preachers, to justify a theology of material wealth abundance. The promise God makes us is to multiply what we give, but that is not a multi-level get-rich investment plan for our bank accounts.

Starting Balance

First, let’s look at our account. God has given us love, breathe and choice, in a broken world where sin, temptation, and selfishness keep these gifts in the balance.

Second, God further gives us the Word, (scriptures), the witness of the faithful who has gone ahead of us, namely, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the church.

Understanding Blessings,

A blessing is God taking what is ordinary and making it/us extraordinary.  Paul writes to the Corinth church and us, through several letters, know as 1&2 Corinthians, encouraging us to see how God is showing up through the many ways we show/witness God’s presence to the world.

The more we show the world Jesus, the more the God works with us to make our small part a greater witness, a longer-reach, a bigger impact, a more abundant gift.

Key Text: Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

It Only Takes a Spark 

Picture a time when your occasion that someone to whom you have shared Jesus Christ with uses the words you shared with them to inspire someone else.

Parents hear their children say all sorts of words. O e of my favorite kids speak moments was when a five-year-old smelled myrrh one Christmas Eve and belted out how terrible the smell was and it smelled like “$hit”. “This stuff smells like bull$hit” not the words of faith his parents and grandparents St had hoped they would share.

There are precious slices of life where a child will remind fighting parents that Jesus hears their hurtful words just as the child has heard them and that’s not what Jesus wants.

When the whole event is ruined by rain and the child stops to celebrate the promise of the rainbow, that God has saved us for a different purpose than the mess that has flooded today.

But when you hear campers at Glisson teaching another generation about what a friend in Christ is about knowing that you heard it started at camp in the summer of 1984 and summer after summer kids have experienced friends in Christ and will sing that song in 2017 to generations to follow another thirty years.

The challenge of Abundance

So we know God is with us. We have a great supportive cloud of witnesses to learn from, both those living and those who have gone ahead to heaven. We have the Word, the Wisdom and Wit God gives us, a World of opportunities…

  • WHAT are you committed to planning for an abundant crop?
  • What does my collection of tools empower me to do?
  • What does a house full of stuff afford me to share?
  • What does an experience of a job give me to teach others
  • What does the money, talents, resources give us the opportunity share?
  • What do the facts, stories, memories in our heads have for other hearts and minds?

We must recognize that we, while we all have different parts to share, we are all gifted.

  • If I want to see God’s praised
  • If I want to see others know what I know
  • If I want the next generation to be strong in the faith
  • If I want my enemy to no longer me, my enemy
  • If I want my community, nation, and world to be healed
  • If we have the same mind as Christ,
  • if we have the same love for God,
  • If we have the same journey as the Holy Spirit,

Key Text: Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

So what does this call us to be doing?

the obedience that follows our own confession of faith.

If I say that I am a follower, a Christian, a disciple, a member, a child of God, what follow is to be obedience.

What do we do to show that we obey?

We share our faith, our hearts, our witness, our love with others.

  • Not only, but continually,
  • Our whole lifetime.

God wants each of us in a relationship with God, AND with one another.

So we are getting to the gift challenge for this Christmas:

What are we suppose to do?

  1. Pray for someone whom you have not shared your faith with before.
  2. Pray for God to reveal this person/s to you, that you believe God wants you to share your faith story/journey with as gift this Christmas.
  3. Begin to set up the opportunity. Make a plan to be with this person during the Christmas season, December 25 and the 11 days following make the Christmas Season. Make a date to spend time with them, face-to-face, on the phone, online, but make a date inviting them to know that you have a most special gift you want to give them this year.
  4. Begin to listen in prayer for what God wants you to say. (It might be one simple thing, it might be a detailed list.) {Don’t tell him, yet if you see my brother} [God wants me to tell my brother that I love him, that God has Good for his life, and the Christmas is the time for him to be growing his faith, writing his heart and loving someone in the way God loves him. (He doesn’t have to love me, yet. The message is it is time to find your home in God’s house and God’s heart. Start where you have found in the past, with people who love God, go to the church closest to your home or work and meet God there; Talk with his people, listen to his call and song, grow and work in grace.]
  5. The Plan: In my plan, I am called to share a repetitive gift. Same gift wrapped in three ways. Mail it in a letter, send it in an email, and call and talk in person. I have not set up the day, but I know the message.
  6. The expectation: My exercise is not to get a response, not to expect feedback, not to expect anything. God’s expectation is that I share the message with love and grace.
  7. The fruit will be for his heart and God’s and that will be joy abundantly to me.

I cannot tell you who, or exactly what God wants you to reach out to, but I have not shared my faith with my brother in many years. I have assumed, that has not served him, God, nor our relationship. It’s time to be faithful in faith-sharing.

 

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Phillipians 1:21-30 Share Faith: Progress in Joyful Faith.

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For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again. Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them, this is evidence of their destruction but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ but of suffering for him as well— since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. [NRSV]

I’ve Got my ticket, Who Cares if you have yours?

One of the reasons that we find to justify why to NOT share our faith is summed up in the thought: “I figured it out, they can too.”

“They have the bible to read.”

“They could have gone to church.”

“They should have made other choices.”

“It’s their choice/fault/responsibility/issue.”

Paul acknowledging an affirmation we need to remember: Through Christ, we have salvation. While salvation is a ticket to heaven, it is not a pass from suffering.

The joy of finding Salvation ourselves is that we have the most wonderful and appropriate gift to share with those who are suffering.

Even though life is not easy, we have hope beyond this life, we have encouragement in this life, and we know how to love when everyone else is [Hobbes:] is selfish, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. T

In Jesus Christ, we have Joy knowing our future is more certain than our past and present and that What God has done for us in Christ and what God’s Spirit is doing through us now.

We live in the assurance of our place in heaven AND in the assurance that even though we might be experiencing hell on earth, we continue here to help each other progress in JOY and in FAITH.

We don’t want to be like Lot’s wife, don’t look back.

The tragedy in Las Vegas shows how broken one person’s mental illness can affect hundreds of others.

The tragedy of flooding in Texas, Peurto Rico, Culebra, Florida and again now in the gulf, the earthquakes in Mexico, Japan, and New Zealand; the nastiness in social media and divisive words, accusations and assumptions upon people’s character, the threats of war from

When the signs say run.

With melting glaciers, erupting volcanos, multiple hurricanes, and storms,

When we heart of attacks, wars, rumors of wars, and see people value political principle above God’s, when people would rather blame and attack rather than forgive and love.

It is no wonder we feel the call to be “traveling on”

I feel like traveling on,

My heavenly home is bright and fair I feel like traveling on
No pain nor death can inner there I feel like traveling on
Yes I feel like traveling on I feel like traveling on
My heavenly home is bright and fair I feel like traveling on
Its glittering towers the sun outshines I feel like traveling on
That heavenly mansion shall be mine I feel like traveling on
Yes I feel like traveling on…
The Lord has been so good to me I feel like traveling on
Until that blessed home I see I feel like traveling on
Yes I feel like traveling on…

Written by J. R. Baxter, William Hunter • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group, Capitol Christian Music Group, Popularized by Loretta Lynn, All Time Gospel Favorites.

The Reason for Staying and Standing In (Why doesn’t Vanderbilt call the game at half-time?)

If everyone who believed in Jesus left and went to heaven how would those who doubt, question, reject and run the other way have a chance?

We remain to encourage others.

We remain to enjoy each other’s company

We remain to strengthen each other faith

We remain to be that light on a dark night

Stay without Standing Still

Paul see’s the importance of sticking with people who are difficult, sticks in the mud and working with persistence for some measure of progress.

Joy is the passion that we are making a difference in a broken world

I’ve not reached my goal, but at least I’m making progress.

Joy in the progress

Celebrate the advances in what is Godly

Remember where we see God is faithful

Highlight where we experience the Holy Spirit showing up

Continue to call and challenge each other to progress.

Progress in Faith, Progress in Joy, Progress in Sharing

If you go-to story of faith is over a year old, we have not progressed in faith since that time.

We affirm the historic ways we meet God, but let’s be about the business of progressing, even where it weary, dry and difficult.

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Home Coming Sunday 2017 RSUMC

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We welcome former PK, ‘preacher’s kid’ of Rev Jerome & Maxine Hamm, Hans Hamm who will be preaching as our guest pastor for 2017 Home Coming at Rock Spring UMC in Rock Spring GA. We will have one worship service from 10:30 am until noon with dinner on the grounds following. Hans and his wife Margaret serve the New Hope UMC in Clayton County, Georgia. Come join the great music, stories, Good News and good eats at RSUMC Home Coming 2017.

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We had an enormous crowd at the 48th annual Show & Sell craft show yesterday with every vendor spot taken and lots of cars parked, fried pies flipped, cakes, pies, burgers, dogs and hand-made crafts galore. Thank you to everyone who made it a wonderful day. The featured prayer quilt containing pieces of 300 prayer quilts, tickets for music benefit this fall and the great live local music was enjoyed by all.

Join us next Sunday when we resume our preparing series: Sharing my Gift resume this fall to help us give the gift of Jesus Christ this Christmas.

 

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Romans 14:1-13 Share Faith: Encouragement and Accountability

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Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand. Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God. We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then, each of us will be accountable to God. Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. [NRSV]

The “E” Word

We are generally good at encouraging one another. Sometimes we are encouraged by fear. Examples:

  • The Hurricane is coming our way, it’s time to evacuate! or
  • There is a brush fire out of control next door, call 911 now!
  • I heard a gunshot outside, take cover and call the police!

Coaches motivate players by saying things like:

  • If you don’t come to practice you will not play Friday night
  • if you don’t play Friday night you are off the team
  • If you are off the team you will not be picked up by any college scouts
  • Now get out there and run stadiums until you remember why not to miss practice.

While this is motivational, it is never encouraging. (Even if you say you’re being helpful)

Encouragement is more than motivational

Paul offers us instruction and challenge to encourage one another.

The Bishop has motivated the clergy saying, if you want an appointment next year, you will baptize 3-5 new Christians each year.  [This motivates me to put an advertisement out in the paper and social media for unbaptized folks offering @ $100 to meet the requirement, but it does not encourage me to share my faith in transformative ways.]

To encourage someone with your faith sharing gift calls on you/me to

  1. Be Ready. be prepared to share: (Prayed up, studied up, practiced up, and looking for opportunities.
  2. Think about
    1. The difference of what inspires you and what motivates you.
    2. What is the difference between what scares you into action and what compels you to action?
    3. From that perspective of encouragement: write out these constructive ways to be supported.

Examples for John/Me

Deadlines, Requirements, Contacts, Leverage, Time, Money, Pier pressure, Approval are all motivators in my life.

When inspires me to share my faith is:

  1. When I do and see how God uses our conversations to open hearts and minds that were closed.
  2. When I ready and prepare to share my faith, God does not let that preparation go to sit still for very long.
  3. When I ask people to tell me what gives them hope, what they are passionate about that gives their life meaning and purpose, and they begin to talk about God it affirms my faith.
  4. If they realize gaps and holes in their foundations, then God uses those as places to share my faith.
  5. Songs, stories, and movies that capture a moment of for God encourage in the moment and become faith conversations in the future.
  6. Hearing someone say, I’d like to be baptized. I’d like to become part of the church. I’d want to learn more. I want to experience what my head know in my heart. These are open doors of affirmation and faith sharing.

If I’m not preparing and I’m not guiding conversations and relationship toward faith.. then I’m at best standing still, loosing time and opportunities.

  1. That becomes a movtivation.. to return to encouragement

Paul starts with don’t lead with judgment.

There is a time for decerning judgment and correction and accountability, but it comes after we are mature int he faith.

The gift for criticism.

Paul is challenging us to lead from the love of Christ.

  • Rather than I know you are a sinner! What are you at the well all alone in the heat of the day?
  • Rather than I know you have been taking advantage of people and working the system and calling it your job, I’m inviting myself over to your house.
  • Rather than sort out who is to blame, how can God be glorified in this broken situation?
  • Rather than stone the guilty, let’s talk about who is not guilty

 

PRACTICAL STUFF:  There is a part of me that might want to tell a young man with his pants hanging nearly to his knees, “Are you applying for the Universtiy of Sloppy or Thugs college this fall?” But that is neither a helpful motivator nor encouragement.

Encouragement: You can do it; keep trying; learn from your mistakes, let it go, keep up the good work, I appreciate you. I love you. I need you. We are honored to have you with us.

There are starting points. Resist the first response of pointing out the infractions, sins, failures, and shortcomings.

Motivational: If you want to get ahead in life, you need to stop playing video games and get a job.

Encouragement:  I’m sorry to interrupt, I know you have good eye-hand coordination from your video games, come help me rake leaves for a few minutes?

Motivational: If you don’t keep your things clean you are out of this house.

Encouragement:  I would like to know what it means to be a responsible part of this household.

Encouragement: After we establish who is to blame what, it would be most helpful to know what you understand each person’s responsibilities are in this household.

Faith Encouragement:

My faith perspective might seem wrong/hurtful/different/old-school to you, I would be an encouragement to me to know:

  1. what brings you hope when you are depressed,
  2. how do you find joy when you sad,
  3. where do you find the strength to do what seems impossible?
  4. who do you turn to when your friends turn on you

 

 

 

 

  • The “A” Word

Accountability is a word we too often excuse ourselves from invoking so that others will take it easy on us.

We are free to say whatever we want to say, but saying something will have consequences.

We are free to do what we want to do as long as we do not deny someone civil rights, but with those actions come consequences.

So much of the division of political parties, interest groups and fear-mongering individuals is the idea that we are not accountable for our words, thoughts and actions.

Paul is clear that our religious practices, our signs of spiritual growth differ among people and groups. Some express faith through rules about eating, some about which day they worship or which days are holidays. Don’t neglect encouraging all those in Christ despite our differences, encourage Christ’s in everyone.

Accountability to keeping the Rules or the commandment to love our enemies?

Pass on Encouragement to one another

Pass over Judging one another, leave judging to God.

Paul is writing from the experience perspective at the end of ministry which differs from his beginning in ministry.

Proclaim Jesus, Encourage One another

A plan to encourage:

  1. Don’t judge
    1. Takes personal prayer, study and maturity of faith
  2. Act, think, speak in Christ-like ways
    1. List/Identify how Jesus treated people who struggle, sin, search and surround him.
      1. To the sinner, he invites into the fellowship, table, well,
      2. To the sick, he invites into wholeness
      3. To the separated, he enters their home
      4. To the closed minded, he opens convertations
      5. To the
  3. Practice supportive examples and stay involved.
    1. Invite to Sunday School
    2. follow up. if SS is not for you how do you study/grow
    3. suggest studies, groups, others,
    4. ask to share with them in their disciplines
    5. set time/date to check in
    6. wait
    7. follow-up and try another suggestion,
    8. repeat.

Ways to encourage without judging:

  1. Send a card, note, email, text, phone call or face-to-face expression care for the person.
  2. Pray for this person and the need, struggle, concern truing God to open doors, hearts, minds and spirits.
  3. Discern how many people/relationships you can actively support. and
    1. try adding more than you can handle alone and
    2. replace new people/relationship when closure comes.
  4. Open our mouths, minds, and hearts to real conversations and relationship led by Christ.

As we prepare to be those who give the gift of faith: (Wesley Rules overlap)

  1. Do no harm: “Don’t lead with judgment” let God sort that our for now.
  2. Do all the good: “Encourage rather than just motivate.
  3. Practice Spiritual Exercises to keep us in shape for not judging and being ready to find the way to heart that doesn’t beat up the head and spirit.

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1 Corinthians 1:18-24 Sharing Foolishness

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For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.  For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  [NRSV]

We live in a world with a growing distrust of the faith we share.

  • Feed the hungry school children is important because of fairness rather than as an act of love of God and neighbor.
  • Caring for the sick has been identified as a human right instead of as an act of love of God and neighbor.
  • People want to live a neighborhood where folks love their neighbors but don’t make it a religious thing.
  • Business rally to support the Red Cross but not UMCOR and the church
  • I don’t need God or the church because I have government and laws instead
  • I don’t need Jesus because I can live with a different reality of what pleases me.
  • I trust what is preached in the name of “news” but not the “Good News”
  • NOTE: We waste precious time assigning blame, so may we encourage one another to be faithful to the task.

Blame: Because a few have been foolish

We must take responsibility and ownership, confess our sin and remain faithful to God.Before we share our faith: Our task is to be clear about our faith, hold to it, through the storm.

Foolishness and Wisdom

The Problem: Culture says, “When I can get enough people to agree with me that  YOUR wisdom is foolish, we can call our approved-proofed foolish pure “Wisdom” and truth.

The Reality: Wisdom and Truth have not changed. But the pillars of our faith have been discredited by unfaithfulness, exploited by those who are threatened by the Christain Faith and our believing/wanting more than God as our hope.

Our response

The reason why it is foolish to use social media to persued beliefs is: Anyone with any purpose can log on, speak what they call truth, wisdom, and salvation, but that does not make it wise, true nor the hope of our salvation.

Our charge is not to be ignorant, stubborn or inflexible, rather relying on SCRIPTURE, understood through Tradition, Reason, and Experience to inform and encourage us and God will not fail or forsake us.

Perspective:

  1. Tradition tells us the successes and failures of the past: learn from mistakes and successes.
  2. Reason tells us that God has purpose, order, relationship and love hard-wired into us and the universe and expects us to use the mind and reasons that set us apart from everything else in creation.
  3. Experience is the direct effect of God, Jesus, The Spirit, and the church that reveals something that tradition and reason cannot.

Remember:

  1. Being faithful is not a political position. My ultimate allegiance is to God, not any government. (We are called to participate in our civic community, but it will never be our hope, purpose or salvation.)
  2. Love cannot be summed up by ideas, scientific study, research, and theories.
  3. Blame/Fault does not mend spirit, heart, minds: This is God’s work in us.
  4. Being faithful is not something someone else can do for me. Faith is our way of life. with every breath, our task is to grow closer to God and one another.

Examples

Wise Acts of Foolishness

  • To assume God and religion were created and thus we can create something we like better.
  • To believe that the majority of voices of self-focused blindness can see better than God.
  • To believe the Bible is only a history book rather than a living point of access.
  • To let the world define
    • you and
    • your mission
    • your identity and
    • your value.
  • It is foolish to write off God and the church because you have been hurt, judged or offended by someone in the name of God.
  • It is foolish to think we have told our story once and that is enough.

Foolish acts of Faithness

  • To forgive
  • To trust
  • To give our gifts, tithes, support
  • Devoting time to prayer and acts of service
  • The study, exploration, and celebration our faith milestones: Staying current with our examples as witness and testimony. Don’t just tell the big story, also tell today’s story of faith.

Home Work:

  1. Be diligent, committed, intentional to hold, grow and share your faith

2. Trust God will guide us through the most twisted and backward reversal of what is good and evil, right and wrong, true and false, wise and foolish.

3. Test it: Take something you hear our culture say and ask what does God say? What do God’s people say? What Scripture says? What is God trying to have us hear/know/experience now compared to times in the past?

4. I mean we are called to wrestle with the hard stuff in our lives, in our families, in our word and trust God will guide us through. When we do this for the world to see, we are sharing our faith in everyday ways.

 

 

 

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Romans 13:5-14  Faith Sharing: Love and Time

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Therefore one must be subject [to authorities], not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason, you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. [NRSV]

Faith Sharing: Early in our journey toward sharing the gift of our faith, we need to address the WHY question. Why share our faith. Over the next few weeks, we will explore some basic reason WHY we share our faith.

Today’s text from Paul in his letter to the church in Rome we will look at two:

  1. Because of Love
  2. Because we have limited Time

LOVE Motivation

Paul reminds us of Jesus’ instruction to love our neighbor. God loves us and how to relate and interact with others around us reflects and influences others.

Invest/Trust/Living Sharing LOVE

  • Don’t get side tracked with politics, trust God is using every authority for God. If they are not, they must answer to God, err on the side of being a responsible citizen.
  • Don’t get weighted down with debt, If you must be in debt, do so in showing love, respect, and honor, to THOSE who it is due.
  • Do not split hairs over the law of the land or the church, devote your selves to loving sinners, so they/we will go sin no more.

Limited Opportunity

Look at the times, read the signs, know it is closer to the end than the beginning.

Live as though the test is TODAY, rather than next week.

Our physical bodies, our earthly structures, our laws and rules, needs and wants need to be focused on what is spiritual, Godly, and Christ-like.

THE PROBLEM

  • Live worried about your wealth of love instead of things
  • Live focused on caring for sinners instead of comforting the found.
  • Live devoted to satisfying the hunger of your spiritual relationship/s, for eternity instead of pacifying your physical urges and weaknesses.

Our Question: Why do we need to be sharing our faith with others?

We who know love trumps and triumph over all, need to show a

  • divided,
  • self-serving,
  • self-gratifying society,

that accepting world’s idea of good and the world’s understanding of love is not the love that stands with you in ‘firey’ furnace.

How do we share our faith in these conditions?

  • One way is by honoring and respecting those whom honor and respect are due.
  • One way is by being the best citizen and neighbor under the laws of the world’s authorities. If any leader, authority or government is not Godly, the leaders and representatives will be accountable,
  • One way is loving sinners, as sinners, who a seeking to not be sinners. (We don’t love a gambler by betting our farm when they have lost theirs, we love them but help them make new better choices.)

Why not let someone else share their faith?

  1. God loves you and me. God instructs that we respond to love by loving. We have skin in the game because we have been loved, we respond in love.
  2. Jesus is coming soon and you and I have to answer for those we have not reached out to love.

Examples of Loving

Jesus gave the command to feed, clothe, visit and encourage not as an exclusive list of rules/laws to fulfill, but as examples of everyday loving…

Love those who need to be loved so that your loving acknowledges God’s love.

Witness Trusting God by being honorable, respectful, contributing the good of neighbors and citizens. AND let people know that is your drive/motive/purpose.

          Model for your neighbors: honor, respect, and responsibility so they see you trust God.

The Caveat

Love, not so that they see YOU are a good person, rather that they KNOW God’s love drives you.

Participate in community responsibility not so they approve of you, but they see God can conquer brokenness.

The Temptation is to leave the light shining on ourselves.

This is the daily, “home work”

love others, participate in community life

1. In response to God’s love, AND

2. with the urgency that the world comes to know Christ through your faithfulness.

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Matthew 16:21-28 “Worth the Journey”

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From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” [NRSV]

Making Disciples: What is a life worth?

A very difficult thing asked of me was after mom’s death, from being hit in a head-on car accident was to give a value of her life. The attorney asked my brother and me, what was the value of mother’s life for the court case. To come up with a number for the judge. The determination was to be made on what her contributions to the common good would be. The value of her reading to middle school students, mentoring graduate school students, visiting in prison ministry, writing Sunday school lessons, volunteering at her church, and the impact would have a neighbor and citizen. If one were compensated for volunteering at a reasonable rate a figure could be determined for the projected number years she would likely live to serve and that number came to roughly $200,000. But was that value of her life? The young man who drove his uninsured luxury car into her had no assets, and his family had twenty-six previous suits against them, so the final assessment of her life was valued at 1000 hours of community service and no dollars. Is that justice? Is this how God measure our lives? For me, it was a life lesson about the misplaced value of one’s life.

What is your life worth to God?

  • You are worth the life of his only child,
  • You are worth designing energy, matter, gravity, physics, and mathematics,
  • You are worth sharing a relationship with God.
  • God has paid for our life, but does not force us to pay God back,
  • God offers a way to joy, peace, and wholeness, yet wants us to want to appreciate, trust and follow.
  • God says your life is worth it all, hoping you will choose the life God paid for you to live.

The journey of our life is about what we do with the time we have: Choosing God or humanity as our highest goal.

Discipleship: It Ain’t Easy

  • Peter declares: God forbid it to be difficult, hard, challenging, unpleasant or demanding
  • Jesus responds, Get away your evil thoughts away from me.
  • It is evil lived from only a human point of view.

Remembering we are Spiritual People in a Physical Incubator.

There are times that we make following Jesus even harder,

this is a charge against the church if we hold the keys and call the shots for what it means to follow, then there is room for abuse

Jesus models choosing God’s call for his life or the voice of emotions and reason alone.

Peter says: Don’t take the hard path, choose the path most traveled.

Sometimes things get in the way of our best plans:

A story about a country farmer who had a mule with blocked-up plumbing, he called the new veterinarian in town to come help. The young vet had a bottle of large laxative pills that modeled the phrase, ‘horse pill’ that was fast acting and guaranteed to unstop the most stubborn gastric stoppages. He found a long piece of pipe with a contraption to secure one end into the mouth of the mule and the other end he would insert the pill and make certain the pill went right to work. He secured the pipe and straps around the mule, added two horse pills, took a deep bread, but the ass blew first.

Jesus calls Peter a stumbling block

setting one’s mind on human things instead of divine things

Pray right now!

ACTION: “Lord, forgive me for being a stumbling block..”

  • Disciples recognize that life devoted to Jesus is greater than the life we can make without him. (justice)
  • Disciples recognize that life is a gift and God gives us a choice to use our life as we choose. (freedom)
  • Disciples recognize God desires good for us but does not force God on us. (meaningful relationship)
  • Disciples recognize that a good life is not measured by having stuff, or a comfortable life. (worth/value)
  • Disciples recognize God is willing to follow the choice we are called to make. (sacrifice)

Choose God’s self over the self you choose

To follow God is to find:

    • wholeness,
    • justice,
    • freedom,
    • meaningful relationship,
    • worth, value and
    • sacrifice.

in 2017 We live in mountain top period of thinking that is human focused.

  • What is best for humanity, the majority, the minority
  • What is best for me and those like me
  • My right and the right of others to choose what it good and right
  • It’s my life, my decisions, my definition, my right, my understanding, my dream, my ideal

When we exclude God or even allow God to slip into second place, we choose with the best of humanity has to offer, but without the love, wisdom, grace, and power of God.

When hearing this when others say things like: (Human limitations)

  •   Love me or accept me for choosing myself
  •   It is my life, my will
  •   Accept me for choosing my own way,
  •   Accept me for believing the common denominator is our safest place.
  •   Shame on you for not accepting my choice made from my perspective.

The court of public opinion may have the majority of human perspective and still miss the mind and heart of God.

   Peter, one of Jesus’ chosen, is telling Jesus,

     you know what is best for yourself,

     we don’t want to see you suffer

     You have God powers, just zap trouble out of your way,

The Heart of the passage: Losing and Finding

finding ourselves in following Jesus

The Journey of sharing our faith is affirmed where our trust, faith, and allegiance is grounded.

Faith means we see that for all you and I can do, we never can do enough on our own

Trust God means we know we are awesome creations with great minds and dreams, but without God death is our worst limitation.

Walking with Christ, we bring together the best of being human into a relationship with God.

Choosing a different path is ends in trusting what is evil, broken, limited, empty and apart from God.

How many people do you know today who have:

evil rules in their lives?

experience brokenness in their bodies, relationships, minds, and hearts?

find themselves living at the limits or out of bounds on a daily basis?

someone who feels lost and empty and distant from God and God’s people?

These are the people who need the gift of Christ that guides us..

  1. Step one for today: Pray that I am not a stumbling block. (At least don’t let me lead someone astray)
  2. Step two for today: know it is a daily choice to walk with Christ ourselves
  3. Step three for today: acknowledge it is not easy, and we need Christ to lead, bless, carry, push and call us on.

Let’s get to the journey today

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